Since we moved into our house we’ve been working a little bit here and there on the front and back yards.

Most of the work has been on the backyard – tearing down a lean-to chicken coop was one of the very first things we did to the house the weekend we bought it!

Here’s what else we did:

  • tore out bushes and weeds that were in the miniscule backyard that hadn’t been cared for in forever
  • this spring we tore down the carriage house-turned-garden shed so we could get rid of the trash at the annual city clean up for free, and it snowballed from there.
  • leveled the back yard with shovels and dug out bushes, blackberries and railroad ties and broke down concrete foundations to the chicken coop
  • we continued to dig out the mounds of dirt, we estimate about 4 yards worth in order to clear out mounds of trash, ceramics and glass so it would be safe to walk on and live on
  • we rototilled the yard to death to really loosen and mix things up. It sat that way for a while…oops
  • finally we began installing paver stones around the perimeter to raise up what would soon be the yard to the level of the concrete patio. That was a lot of hard work to make sure everything was perfectly level and set along all three sides of the yard (the fourth side is along the concrete patio).
  • in time the yard grew a lot of weeds, so we had to do a lot of weeding before….
  • this weekend we added topsoil (4 yards!). It sounds so easy, but the whole process was so much work – shoveling, raking, rolling and compressing, over and over and over again until the yard was perfectly level and ready for sod
  • of course the next step was to lay down sod. It looks fantastic – I love the instant gratification it brings, especially after all that hard work! The sod was super easy to lay down and we have found a lot of great information online with tips for laying it properly and watering it for the next few weeks.

Okay enough chatting. I just liked reflecting on all the hard work it’s taken to get to this point!!
Front yard before:

Front yard after:
This would have cost about $180, but the sod place gave us way too much for the backyard, we we used that plus about $50 extra. So we spent $50 on sod for this area, plus $40 in topsoil and $5 in fertilizer for a grand total of $95.

old carriage house turned into garden-shed, lean-to chicken coop, tiny slanted yard with blackberries, railroad ties and more trash and glass than you can imagine (I filled a 1 gallon bucket with glass pieces). This is the entire back yard space, so we had to do something. We saved nearly all the wood from the carriage house (likely 100+ years old (the house is 120 years old)).

Next up is to build a pergola for the wisteria to climb and plant something behind the retaining wall. Luckily all our backyard neighbors have really nice privacy trees that we get to benefit from. 🙂 This sod cost us $130, and we put in about $80 worth of topsoil and $5 of fertilizer, plus the gravel and retaining wall bricks were about $160 (we still need more bricks, though) So far we’ve spent $375.


front porch colors

Last week I talked about painting the front door, and I’ve spent some time thinking about what color to choose. I definitely want to go with a green/yellow color:

So, that’s that. I’m on a mission to find the perfect green that pops with the light blue house. We’ll see! I have to prime the door first, which may be an ordeal

front porch plans

While we’re hacking away at the backyard, I was recently inspired to work on the front porch. I had really hoped to paint the front door this summer, and unfortunately the weather has been terrible in the NW this year. Cloudy, rainy, low temperatures, it’s just been depressing! And the few days it got up to 80 we were on vacation and weren’t around! Luckily we have been able to take a few vacations to warmer weather, so we don’t feel like we’re missing out on summer. Now that it’s finally August, though, Seattle has decided to get with the program and summer is emerging.

So I’m excited now because in the next week I plan on tackling the front door! The house color is a light blue, and I had thought I’d paint the door yellow, but I’m now leaning towards a summer and fun green-yellow color that will match with the inside of the house and bring a pop of unexpected color to the outside of the house.

Someday we’ll have to ge to work on our overgrown front yard, too. I always say our house looks abandoned, and we keep getting landscapers putting their business cards in our front door….who knew weeds could grow as tall as they do here…? yikes

This is us the very first day we started working on the house. Hopefully I can find the right green-yellow color to go with the house. I’m kind of obsessed with the color lately – the PNW is so green all the time that I have come to really love the lighter colors that stand out against all the evergreens and darker colors:


In about a week we should have the backyard retaining wall finished and sod on the ground! SO EXCITED.

backyard work

well I’ve taken a break from writing in the blog, but we’ve still be working on the house.

We prepared the upstairs “summer bedroom” in anticipation of moving up there, but then had to revise our plan when we realized our queen sized mattress wouldn’t fit up the stairs. Darned old houses. So I moved the twin sized bed into that room, then put a double sized bed in the pink/craft room.

Mostly, though, we’ve been spending a lot of time outside. We weeded the whole property, tended to the garden, and pretty much demolished the back yard. First we shoveled out about 3 yards of dirt, picked out a 1 gallon bucketfull of glass, ceramic pieces, plastic, and trash out of the remaining dirt. Then we rototilled the area, pulled out more glass and ceramic pieces, and left it. We decided we need to build a small retaining wall around the perimeter of the yard because it sits on a slope, and the only wayt o have a nice level lawn is to dig down in some areas, and contain the slope with a retaining wall. We’ve planned out the backyard renovation:

  • digging out 3 yards of dirt: free
  • renting a rototiller: $80
  • 130 bricks and paver base gravel: $265
  • topsoil: $50
  • sod and fertilizer: $130

That should be about it. We already have connections to a sod roller, so after we build the retaining wall we’ll use the sod roller to flatten the dirt a couple of times to make sure it’s level, then mix in the fertilizer and lay the sod. I’m so excited to have a YARD!

here are a bunch of pictures!

tafter we dug out 3 yards of dirt. The dirt you see on the patio is just a small portion of the dirt we dug out. You can see the back left corner used to be quite a bit higher than the rest of the yard.

Johnny rototilling

after rototilling

this is just a small picture of all the glass and ceramic pieces and junk we found. Some of the glass and ceramic is pretty old, as well as some old tools we found.

I thought this piece of ceramic was cool! Too bad I can’t tell what it was. Some simple searching tells me that it is a pottery trademark that used to say: Dieu et Mon Droit,” or, “God and My Right.” It’s apparently the British Coat of Arms and Motto. I’m not sure how old this piece is, though.

Johnny unloading our pallet of retaining wall bricks and gravel.

the unloaded pile of bricks for the retaining wall.

next up: building the retaining wall! We hope to do all this work in the evenings after work, since all our weekends from now through August are booked!

While at Pacific Fabrics today I stumbled across this Paris-themed fabric. At $19 a yard, I didn’t want to get too much, so I settled on a 1/4 a yard just to make something small. I ended up combining two different free tutorials to make this cute wristlet purse:

This is the primary pattern I followed:

Triangular Bag

and I used the strap instructions and instructions to attach them from this Wristlet Tutorial

You can follow the instructions for the Triangular Bag, but I took some photos of the points where I struggled.

Step 1: cut fabrics (directions on the triangular bag tutorial)

Step 2: cut strap fabrics (found on the Wristlet Tutorial)

Step 3: cut 2 small bits of fabric 1 inch wide and about 2 inches long and sew them to each end of your zipper. Follow the directions on the Triangular Bag tutorial. Don’t cut 1 inch square pieces, make them 1 inch wide and 2 inches long! More is better – you can cut the excess later.

Step 4: attach 1 lining and 1 outer fabric to the zipper, the Triangular Bag tutorial has a photo of how to layer the fabrics and the zipper. The outer fabric should be facing DOWN, the lining fabric should be facing UP, so they are facing right sides together. The zipper should be sandwiched in between, with the zipper facing UP.

Step 5: attach the 2nd lining and the 2nd outer fabric to the zipper.

In this photo, I had sewn the zipper to the lining and outer fabric, and was working on attaching the 2nd piece of lining and outer fabrics. I struggled to figure out how to layer the fabrics. This photo shows how they should be layered.

Step 6: unzip the zipper so it’s open. DO THIS or you will have nothing to pull the whole bag through once you’re done!

Step 7:  put the bag aside and make the strap. Follow the measurements and directions on the Wristlet Tutorial website. You can get away with using 18-20 inches long by 3.5 inches wide, whatever your preference. Just remember you will cut off 2-3 inches of the strap to use for the zipper pull handle.

Fold the fabric in half “hot dog style”, iron, and then fold each side toward the center and iron again, so you end up with this:

Iron again, and then stitch a line down each side. All this fabric folded over and over again makes it quite sturdy.

Step 8: arrange your bag so the inside fabrics are facing right sides together and the outside fabrics are facing right sides together. Pin them in place this way.

Step 9: attach the straps to the bag. Remember, there are two straps: one to help you grab something when you pull the zipper, and the other for dangling the purse by your wrist. You cut them from the same strap of fabric you just created.

You have already pinned together the right sides of the outer fabric. The straps go in between the right sides, with the scrappy ends facing out with the scrappy ends of the outer fabric:

This is peeking inside through the bottom of the bag pinned together, showing the straps.

Step 10: sew around the edges of the outer fabric, sealing in the straps in the process except the corners. (pictures on the Triangle Bag tutorial)

Step 11: pinch each corner of the outer fabric together and sew across (pictures on the Triangle Bag tutorial)

Step 12: repeat steps 10 & 11 for the lining fabric, except leave a 3 inch gap along the bottom, to pull the purse through when you’re done (pictures on the Triangle Bag tutorial)

Step 13: pull the bag through the hole in the lining,

Step 14: sew the hole in the lining closed.

Step 15: push and pull fabric to all the corners are poking out and not bunched up.

Step 16: admire your adorable bag!

oops. Life kind of got in the way of keeping my blog updated!

Currently I’m working on our Summer Bedroom still, with hopes of moving in within the next few weeks. I’ve accepted the wall color, and have forged ahead, busily working on a multitude of projects at once:

  • DIYing roman shades
  • DIYing a headboard
  • bleaching and stenciling (?!? maybe?!?) a white IKEA rug

I just can’t sit still. Plus, a relief to my frustration with one project is to start another.

However, I did successfully make some pretty cool necklaces the other day, my first finished project taken from something I pinned on Pintrest:

I also made one with royal blue beads, and used so few beads that I am now tempted to go back and buy the more expensive “precision cut” seed beads that come in WAY cooler colors, like turquoise from the tutorial:

After I made my necklaces and compared them to the inspiration picture, I went back and re-braided them more tightly so they sagged less and the definition of the braids were more apparent.

My comments about the project are these:

  • I used half a of a jar of size 5/0 beads (the jar says 40 grams). The salesperson at Ben Franklin told me the “precision cut” beads come in 7 gram bottles. These smaller bottles came in a much wider variety of sizes. (Since I didn’t know how many beads I would need, I bought the cheap-o ones at $1.99. After the project I realized I could have bought about 3 of the  smaller bottles (priced at $1.75 each) and it would have been a worthy investment for the prettier colors available. Next time!)
  • The recommended 20-22 inches for the chain was too much in my opinion, and I ended up using about 12 inches total, and I still find it hangs a little low for my taste. Luckily I used a lobster clasp so I can adjust the necklace length as I want.
  • Braid the strands tighter than you think you should – they sag a little once they aren’t being pulled taut. I went back and re-braided both of my necklaces.

I think that’s about it! It’s a great tutorial and is very easy to do. I’ve always wanted to do something with beads and chain and make a necklace or something, and this was definitely easy for a beginner. In fact, I feel a little inspired to make a bracelet, strictly a braid. Cute, huh??

Since my birthday was Friday, I was treated to a Goodwill expedition on Saturday. I found some pretty awesome lamps that I set aside (no real need for them…) but I did go home with this AWESOME chair for a whopping $4 and it had been sitting on the shelf for 10 DAYS. I love my Goodwill.

It’s a mid century modern style dining chair made of teak and made in Denmark. It has a few scuffs and what looks to be a little bit of water damage around bottoms of the legs, but otherwise is in shiny and smooth condition. The vinyl seat has one tear on a front corner, a couple of flecks of paint (like someone painted a room with a roller and didn’t cover/move the furniture), and has come separated from a few staples on the underside. I think I’ll replace it with a white vinyl seat much like this one:

I just love the contrast between the seat and the wood. Then I’ll have to decide if I want to keep it or not. hmmm. It’s so cute, but I am getting to the point where I have a lot of chairs…

Here’s another of the same chair:

click the photo and check out how much they are selling this set of chairs for! wowza!