Re-purposing

Happy Friday everyone!

Sometimes I get stuck on finding something for a space in our house- example: we needed a place to corral shoes by the front door, because I was getting sick of tripping over a big pile of them every time we came home.  So I searched, and searched, and searched for a shoe rack that would look decent, with no luck.  Problem was, I had tunnel vision and was only searching for “shoe rack”.  Sometimes I need to step back and think outside the box.  What else can hold shoes?  What else do I want to use this for besides holding shoes?  How big do I want it to be?

After thinking about what I really needed (shoe holder, mail and key holder, something medium height and not too deep because we have a small entry)- I stumbled upon the idea of using a bookshelf!  Duh.  I wanted something with a warm wood tone, and it needed to be well made, not out of particle board.  One day, I stumbled upon this:

Riley bookshelf from World Market**

I loved the look, color and the dimensions were perfect for the space.  Sold!!  When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised- it has a lot of craftsman details that you can’t see from the online photos, and it’s solid wood.  My husband put it together for me, and we both loved it.  He even had the idea to add some shelf paper to the shelves to protect them from mud/dirt from our shoes- genius!

Here it is in its new home:

Sorry to blind everyone with my running shoes- whoops.  It’s a perfect fit- to the left is the downstairs bedroom door and our front door.  I dressed it up with a basket to hold keys/wallet/cell phone/mail and a couple of accessories that we already had.  Verdict?  We use it all the time!  I can’t believe we lived here almost a year without it- it makes such a difference.

Here’s the entry before we got organized:

Ok, it was never this messy- this is from when we first bought the house!

And here’s the entry now!

It was a happy accident that the color almost perfect matches the frames above it and the front door- I guess it was meant to be. 

What do you think?

Have a great weekend everyone!

**Disclosure:  I was not paid or compensated in any way by this company for this post.

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DIY art

Ok, I’m finally going to write a DIY post- I know, it’s been a little while.

So has anyone seen the crayon art kicking around Pinterest lately?  When I first saw that I was like “I can do that!!  It’d be so fun in a kid’s room!!  Oh wait, we don’t have kids.  Hmmm.”  Then I saw this one, and thought it’d be a different twist, plus something I could hang in a guest room.

This turned out to be a pretty cheap project.  I got two 2-packs of 11×14 canvases from Hobby Lobby**- they were $5.99 per pack and 30% off on top of that.  I also picked up some silk flowers- two single stemmed gerbera daisies and a bouquet of orange/yellow/pink/purple daisies- these were all 50% off, so my total at Hobby Lobby was just under $16.  Then I went to Office Max** and picked up some crayons.  I did this project right around the time school was starting again, and I got a super great deal on crayons.  I knew I’d need a lot, especially because I was only planning on using the greens/yellows/oranges.  Crayolas are expensive- and Office Max’s biggest box was 64, for around $5 a box.  Eek.  I happened to walk by a display that had generic brand crayons (eh- a crayon is a crayon right?  especially when using it for melting, not coloring) that were 2 boxes for $3 (!!!!).  I snatched up 8 boxes for just over $12 and ran out of the store (well, I paid for them first of course…)

I then spent the next 4 years hours peeling the labels off my crayons.  I really didn’t care for the labels being on the crayons, and since it’s a guest room, I didn’t want it to look too childish.  This was quite a bit of work, but worth it in the end, I think.

After I finished peeling, I lined up my crayons along the bottom of my canvases, in a random assortment of colors, and hot glued them all down. (Leave it to me to once again not take “during” photos…sigh). Then I took them outside and used my blow dryer to make them melt!  I found out that the higher the speed, the more the wax spatters on your canvas, so go slow when applying heat to your crayons.  And you have to hold your hair dryer pretty close to the crayons to get them to melt.  After I was done melting, I just popped the flowers off the stems and glued them onto the canvases.

Want to see the finished product?

Tada!  Excuse the unmade bed- our kitties have been sleeping up here lately and they get fur everywhere

I also made one using just blue/grey/silver crayons- I thought it turned out pretty neat as well:

I love the way the silver looks melted

And an up-close:

Here you can see some crayon spatters, but I was able to cover a lot of them up with the flowers

  What do you think?  I thought it was a fun, easy, relatively cheap project- under $30 for 4 pieces of art for that room.  Plus hours of endless entertainment peeling crayons right?  Haha.

Has anyone else out there attempted their version?

**Disclosure:  I was not paid or compensated in any way by this company for this post.

Spicy!

And how was YOUR weekend?  haha

Actually mine was pretty spicy- food wish anyway.  My jalapeno plants decided all of a sudden to grow a million (no exaggeration here folks, none at all…) peppers all at once, so I picked as many as I could on Saturday.  See:

Then I chopped them up and pickled/canned them- because there was no way we were going to consume that many before they went bad!  I used some pre-mixed dill pickle spice and just diluted it down from the guidelines with a little extra water, to make sure they didn’t taste like dill pickles instead of jalapenos! 

For dinner on Saturday, I made spicy open faced pulled pork sandwiches, using leftover pork from a pork shoulder I cooked a week ago- we have been eating that all week.  Usually when we do a pork shoulder, we do 2 nights of sliced pork with roasted veggies, then 2 more nights of cubed pork in gravy with mushrooms, over rice (my husband’s favorite- he would eat this every day if I let him…) and then I cook the remaining in the crock pot with bbq sauce and shred it.  This makes for a fairly cheap (and delicious) week of meals.  For our sandwiches, I used Williamson Brother’s BBQ sauce– they’re located a little under 2 hours from us (their bbq is delicious) and you can buy their sauce at the grocery store.  I tried out their spicy chipotle sauce this time and it was really good.  I topped the pork with spicy habanero cheese (can you tell we like spice at my house?!?) and it was spicy enough to get a good sweat going!  I wish I’d taken a photo but they were inhaled by both of us!

My garden has also been producing an abundance of sweet potatoes, which I’m super excited about (if you remember, they’ve been taking over my garden with their vines- I was going to be sorely disappointed if there wasn’t any potatoes in the ground after all that!!), so I decided to make sweet potato fries, via a recipe that I pinned on Pinterest.

The sweet potato harvest so far!

The fries were decent- they could have been a little crispier but I’d definitely make them again.  The dipping sauce added more kick to our day of spice- cayenne, sriracha sauce and mayo- yum!  Again no pics because those were inhaled too.

We finished off the day with a fire and s’mores in the backyard- I love where we’re located because we can have a fire and no one can even see it.  It’s just barely cool enough out for a fire, but who can resist s’mores?!?

Kirby enjoyed his first s’mores fire- we’ve only had him about 3 months, so he’s new to the whole backyard fire fun. 

I hope everyone had a great weekend- ours was excellent, although I’m still breathing a little fire after our day of spice- ha!

Happy first day of fall!

And happy Friday everyone!

I have to say, I’m excited about the change in season.  Not that it’s going to be much different here in Georgia- instead of super hot with a giant side of humidity it’s just going to be hot with a tiny bit of humidity, probably for at least another month.  But- it’s fun to see fall stuff popping up on Pinterest and to know that soon the leaves are going to be changing colors.  And sometimes the weather gives us a break so I can wear some jeans every once in awhile!!

Fall in Moscow, ID- I took this photo while visiting my sister who was going to college there. 

 I’ve decided I really enjoy seasonal changes and the anticipation of the change- looking forward to cooler, crisp days and falling leaves in fall, cold frosty mornings (yes, we get those here) in winter, things getting green and warming up in spring and even the long, hot summer days. 

What’s your favorite thing about fall?  Do you have a favorite season?

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Random

This post has absolutely nothing to do with DIY.  To tell you the truth, I’m a little stuck on what I should be writing about next as far as house projects go (and I’m also lacking in the photography department) so I’m going out on a limb here and writing about something completely different!  Hey, it’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to, right?  FYI- I’m open to all suggestions- anything you want to see/read about in my house?

So anyway- aside from DIY and my full time job, I do have some other hobbies.  I like to knit, try really hard to sew (but am not very good, much to my mother/sister -in-law’s disappointment), I love to read and I do agility with 2 of my doggies.  One thing I just recently discovered I really enjoy doing is running.  I actually have been running on and off for quite awhile now, more steadily since 2009.  I’ve even run 3 races- a 5K in 2009, a half-marathon (!!) in 2010 and a 15K in 2011.  But just recently I discovered that I really like it.  My big “aha” moment?  I fell.  Ha!  I totally tripped on a sidewalk half way through a 5mi run (probably because I wasn’t paying attention) and bit it big time- I was bleeding from my knee and elbow.  And you know what I did?  I got up and kept running.  That was when I realized I was a runner!

I also have been running pain free since July of this year.  What changed?  My shoes!

Vibram Five Fingers- Bikila LS**

So I thought (and still think) that these look bizarre.  BUT- a friend of mine started running in them after having a bad case of shin splints, and REI was having a sale/I had a dividend- so I caved.  And I am SO glad I did.  Before switching to these, I had constant, sometimes severe, knee pain.  I wore a knee brace on every run and had pain going up/down stairs.  Now- absolutely no pain.  Buh bye knee brace!!  I’ve never been happier- and running has never felt better!!

These shoes definitely take some breaking in time- don’t expect to put them on and go out for a 5 mile run the first day.  They make you run differently, and work your calf muscles like crazy- break them in SLOWLY.  I ran 1 lap around a track the first time I ran in them, and the next day my calves were KILLING me.  Seriously.  Take it slow- otherwise you can get injured.

Here’s some good links about barefoot running, for those interested/curious about running barefoot:

Harvard University:  Running barefoot
Barefoot Running: FAQ
Wired Science FiveFingers running review

That’s all I’ve got for now- don’t expect this blog to turn into a running blog, but I might throw in a random post now and again!

What sort of hobbies do you have?  Any other runners out there?

**Disclosure:  I was not paid or compensated in any way by this company for this post.

You’ve got mail (aka How does your garden grow part 3- final installment)

Happy Monday- seriously, I can’t believe how quickly that weekend went!!  If only the week would go as quickly!!

I’m going to show you the last big outdoor project we’ve done this year- oh man I love doing outdoor projects, I just wish they weren’t so expensive!!  We have so many more projects we want to get done, but require both time and money- we have to pick away at them slowly.

This project was actually one of the first outdoor projects we tackled this year- our mailbox!!  Believe it or not, my husband actually suggested this project- probably because it’s the first thing you see when you drive up to our house, and every day we lived in fear that one day it was just going to fall over when we opened the box to check the mail. 

So we dug the post out of the ground- lo and behold, it wasn’t even cemented in!  And it was rotting.  Ick.

Yuck.  Dirty and rotten.

So off we went to Lowes** to buy a new mailbox post.  We ended up getting pretty much what we already had, for around $25.  We also grabbed a new mounting board, as the one that was on our post was pretty sad.  Then my husband coated the post and mounting board in several coats of Kilz latex primer– we wanted to make sure it would stay white and not mildew.  A bag of cement and new house numbers (not shown- privacy folks!) completed the job:

Oooh la la- so clean!

But wait- why stop at just a new mailbox post?  Why not dress it up a bit!  This was again my husband’s suggestion (trust me, I’m still in shock).  So we decided to get some large wall stones (I actually don’t really know what these are called, I call them pavers but I know that’s not their purpose- anyone?) and make a flower bed.  40 stones, 2 bags of mulch, 2 lights and 7 plants later, we had this:

March 2011

Let me tell you, this makes mowing SO much easier!!  Plus, we don’t have to worry about the mower/weed eater chopping up the mailbox post- this flowerbed makes a nice little buffer. 

How’s it looking 6 months later?

September 2011

Wow- what a difference some warm weather makes!  Everything has gone bananas.  I’ve got a purple vining flower on either side of the post that has just taken over.  The rosemary has tripled in size (directly behind the mailbox if you’re standing in front of the box).  I had to remove a couple of plants that didn’t like it there, and replaced them with some pink lantana (oh darn- more of the pretty plant I can’t get enough of!)  Everything we chose for this flower bed is drought tolerant (it’s too far away from the hose, so I wander up there every couple of days with a watering can) and deer resistant (as long as there is food elsewhere for them to eat- so far they’ve left everything alone- I think the rosemary helps, because they don’t like strong smelling plants). 

Well, there you have it!  That’s all the outdoor projects I’ve got up my blogger-sleeve.  There will be more one day, I promise.  Have a great week everyone!!

**Disclosure:  I was not paid or compensated by this company in any way for this post.

How does your garden grow (part 2)?

Happy Friday!

I’m back with a more picture filled post- I hope.  This time about the non-edible stuff we have growing around our house.

Here’s what the front looked like when we bought the house:

You’ve seen this shot a few times before, since it’s the header of the blog!

Blah blah and blah out front- I hated that it was all just green, green and more green.  Nicely manicured, sure.  And LOW maintenance.  But seriously- yawn.

The first thing we did was rip out the first row of bushes you can see- the really low lying ones.  Those were harder to do than I thought they would be, but they had to go- they were scruffy and boring.  Actually we ripped out all the bushes on the right side of the house- the ones kind of in front of the garage/off the side of the house.  Then- we waited a whole year before doing anything!!  Haha- this was because we were too busy working inside to do much to the front.

But this spring, we finally got our hands dirty!

May 2011

You can see just how much we ripped out- really the only original plants that stayed were the farthest back row- I *think* those are some sort of holly because they get a red berry in the fall and have prickly leaves- they are super low maintenance and I actually kind of like them.

We planted hostas (first row), azaleas (middle row) and 2 dwarf butterfly bushes (off to the right).  There’s also a tea olive tree (to the right of the bird bath, behind the butterfly bushes) that we did manage to plant a year ago and it’s doing awesome.  Yeah, I know it’s green- but it gets these lovely small, cream colored flowers twice a year that smell AMAZING.  The tag on it read “a tree that makes you glad you live in the south”- how could you NOT buy that?!?  Oh yeah, there’s also a hydrangea hiding in there, you can’t see it in any of the photos though. 

I’ve also got some tulips and daffodils lining all the way around the beds that come up yearly- well, they came up this year, seeing as I only planted them last fall.  I hope they come up again next year! (We’ve tramped around in these beds so much I’m a little worried we did some damage to the bulbs)

This was before we did ripped out more bushes and planted- March 2011

How are things doing 4 months later?  Take a look:

September 2011- can’t wait for things to get bigger!!

The hostas took a beating from the neighborhood deer- we’ve had a DRY summer here in Georgia and there just wasn’t a lot of food available for them to eat.  Luckily they only munched a couple and actually left a good portion of the plant in-tact- I have faith that they will come back next year just fine.

The butterfly bushes have seriously tripled in size:

love these- they make me smile!

The azaleas are doing pretty well, considering they don’t like clay soil (which we have in abundance here).  We got one variety that blooms all year, and it’s not disappointed:

*Almost* more flowers than leaves…can’t wait for this guy to get bigger!

We also planted some plants in a small, narrow bed to the right of our garage.  There used to be a rather large (ie taller than the garage) holly tree in there as well as some nondescript green bushes.  We were afraid the holly tree’s roots were going to do some damage to the foundation, so out it came.  I wish I had a good before shot, but here’s the after:

The holly was located almost where that bright blue flower pot is- TOO close to the house!  Now we’ve got a crepe myrtle (farthest back) that has lovely dark purple leaves and magenta flowers, lantana (love love love these flowers!), another bush that I’m drawing a blank on as to what it is, but it gets these lovely light pink flowers and is pretty common to see in the south.  Again- I can’t wait for this bed to fill in, but it’s looking decent right now.

Close up of lantana, just because I love it so much. 

What’s in that blue flower pot you ask?  Morning glories and moonflowers that I started from seed- so excited that these are thriving.  If you’ve never grown a moonflower, do it!  They smell so amazing, and their flowers are the size of salad plates.  Mine took all summer before it produced a flower, but now I can’t stop it.

Moonflower blossom almost fully opened- too bad monitors aren’t scratch and sniff
Morning glories- so pretty!!

Well, there you have it.  That’s some of the non-edibles around our house!!  I’ve got one more post up my sleeve about the outside landscaping, so stay tuned next week.  Have a great weekend everyone!!

What’s your favorite flower that you have growing (or wish you could have growing) around your house? 

How does your garden grow (part 1)?

Happy Wednesday everyone!!

This year was the first year we were able to do a full scale garden- I’ve done container gardens before, but we now have 0.6 acres and I was itching to grow some stuff in the ground!!  Lucky for us, the prior owners had made a small-ish (16ft x 16ft) fenced in area in the back yard- they kept their dogs in there during the work day.  With a little work, we figured it would be perfect for a garden spot.  Last fall we rented a tiller (about $30 per day from True Value- a cheaper option than buying one) and tilled up the space.  We also tilled a spot next to the fence because I wanted to make the garden a little wider than what it was already.  Then we purchased 2 yards of soil (gardeners choice- a blend of soil and compost) from our local landscaping supply store to amend the area with, mixed that in, covered it with leaves and let it sit all winter.

Around the end of February (the planting season starts early here in Georgia- I had seeds started inside mid February and things sprouting all over the place in April!) we tilled things up again and extended the height of the fence- we have 5 million (no exaggeration) squirrels in our neighborhood and I needed a way to keep them out- so we made the fencing 6ft tall on all sides and wrapped everything in a fine plastic mesh to keep squirrels, birds, dogs and deer out.  Here’s where we stood at the end of February:

The garden as seen from the deck- we added on to the side with some 6ft kennel panels that we already owned, and extended the wood fencing with some 1×4’s that we had laying around.  We made a frame for the roof with some 3/4″ PVC pipe and used plastic mesh to wrap everything to keep squirrels and birds out.

I decided to start all my plants from seed inside, figuring this would be the cheapest way to do things- this year is the 2nd time I’ve grown anything in Georgia, and the 1st time I’ve done anything of this scale, so I didn’t want to buy a bunch of plants, only to have them die because I didn’t do something right.  I think I was overly ambitious this year- I planted zucchini, cucumber, watermelon, onions, broccoli, sweet potatoes, corn, beans, green and hot peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, chard, carrots, peas, basil, oregano and cilantro- whew!

Here’s where the garden stands today (September):

Do you see all the vines on top of the garden??  That is ALL sweet potato.  I planted 8 and they have just gone bananas, taking over the whole garden.   I’m excited about this, but it’s also a little bit of a problem- do you notice how shady the garden is? (FYI- This picture was taken around 5:30pm, but see all the trees in the background?)  Yeah- unfortunately most of our yard gets very little sun during the day- we are blessed with a lot of oak trees in our yard (and it’s AWESOME to clean up after them in the fall.  Awesome.  Insert sarcasm here.)  The sweet potato vines don’t help that problem- and as a result, I’ve had a very pokey garden.

What has done well:

  • Sweet potatoes (duh)- they are just starting to poke up out of the dirt.  I’m guessing another week or so and I’ll be harvesting some! 
  • Cucumbers– also went bananas.  And added to the shading problem.  But they were great for pickling- I made several jars of pickles this summer which was exciting- the first time I’ve done that.  They’re just about done now.
  • Beans– these don’t seem to care whether they get sun or not, and produced about a pound of beans per week all summer.  Yum.  Can’t get enough green beans!  I just re-planted some for the fall- fingers crossed they do as well as the spring/summer crop.
  • Jalapenos– these plants grew about waist high.  At first they weren’t doing much, but all of a sudden they’ve decided to take off, and I have more jalapenos on the plants than I can count- at least 30 if not more.  I’m planning on pickling these.
  • Chard– this is actually doing decent, especially now that the weather has cooled off.  It slowed down during the heat, but has picked back up again.  
  • Lettuce–  we got a bunch for sandwiches.  It doesn’t like the heat, so died off mid-summer.  I don’t have any more seeds so I don’t plan on planting more for the fall.
  • Basil, oregano, cilantro– these I did in a hanging basket.  The cilantro did great, I often have a problem with it bolting before I can pick it, but I got a slow bolt variety this year and it was awesome.  Once it looked like it was thinking about bolting, I picked it, chopped it up and froze it (an awesome trick for preserving the flavor- just chop and freeze into ice cube trays!).  The basil has also done well and I made a batch of pesto with a bunch of it.  It’s still going strong.  And the oregano is just too pretty to cut, so I’m just letting in vine all over the basket and smell nice!

What has not done well:

  • Zucchini– the plants did great- I could barely walk through the garden for all the vines.  The fruit did not- they would get about the size of my pinky and then rot.  I attributed this to blossom end rot (calcium deficiency and high humidity) and supplemented with lots of bone meal, but I think it was too late.  A few weeks ago I ripped out all the plants.
  • Watermelon– these took FOREVER to produce a vine, and then they were kind of wimpy and the flowers never produced any fruit.  I’m blaming the lack of sun for this one- watermelons love hot and sun.  I did these in containers the first year we lived in Georgia and did get some watermelon, so if I do them again next year, I’ll have to try something different- maybe a container in a sunny spot of the yard, if I can find one.
  • Onions– no luck there.  They produced a sprout and then died.  I left the bulbs in the ground, hoping for volunteers next year?
  • Corn– I think I planted too early- they grew but then produced ears really early on.  The saying is “knee high by the 4th of July” which they were, but with ears already which isn’t right.  We had some weird weather in April/early May and I think this did them in.  
  • Carrots– these have taken FOREVER to do anything, and all they have are tops.  No roots.  Boo.  I think I need to dig up the soil a bunch next time I plant them, so they have less resistance to producing roots.  These might need more light too- so maybe another container plant?
  • Peas– these did great at first and then rotted from the root up.  I’m thinking root rot- too much water, and it got too hot too quickly.  Next year I’m starting them earlier since they are a cool weather crop.
  • Broccoli– I’ve got one plant hanging on, but something ate all the rest.  boo.  Ironically, the shading has probably helped the one straggler since it’s stayed alive all summer.  No broccoli heads though.
  • Tomatoes– these have grown and grown and grown.  And grown.  Seriously, I’ve got one plant that’s at least 8ft tall- no joke!!  But very little fruit- again, not enough light.  And then- attack of the tomato horn-worm!!  I squished 15-20 of these guys in a week!  They are big and hungry eaters.  And unfortunately, because my garden is completely fenced off, the birds can’t get to them!!  Wanna see?

The biggest one I found- probably 4 inches stretched out.  Uggh.  He got squished not long after posing for this photo!

I *think* the horn-worm problem is solved- I haven’t found any more in the last couple of weeks.  Luckily they didn’t completely defoliate my tomatoes (good thing those plants have grown like crazy!) and I hope I can still get a few tomatoes from them before the weather gets too cold.

Phew- that’s the latest from the outdoors at my house!  Stay tuned for another post about the non-edibles in our yard- I’ll try and make it more picture friendly and less wordy!

Do you have a garden?  What did you plant?  How did it do over the summer?

Deck “before”

Yay- I found my missing pictures!  Now I can show you what the deck looked like before we started staining.  I wish I had a good picture of the deck with green algae all over it, but I think I was too embarrassed about it looking like that to take a photo.

So the first thing we did to prep the deck was to pressure wash it with a cleaning solution.  You can easily do this yourself- places like True Value** will rent you a pressure washer (if you don’t want to buy one) and you can buy a cleaning solution to put in it.  Make sure you don’t wash the deck on a super high pressure setting, because this can do more damage than good to your deck.  We opted to have a professional painting company do the pressure washing, only because they were already going to be pressure washing our house.  9 times out of 10 we prefer to do work to our house ourselves, but we have a 2 story house with a SUPER steep roof (my husband went up there once, turned white as a sheet and got right back down) so we called in the pro’s for that job (we had them pressure wash the entire house plus paint all the white trim- it looks SO nice and it was so refreshing to come home to find that done in a 3 day time frame instead of the weeks it would have taken us).  Anyway, I digress.  So the pro’s pressure washed our deck with a cleaning solution (Krud Kutter).  Here’s what it looked like after they were done:

Deck minus green algae

Notice the step is not where it should be- we had to have a piece of siding replaced that ran behind the step, so we detached it and moved it out of the way.  I think it’s a good thing we did this, because obviously the wood underneath the step is not protected in any way- we’re planning on putting down a coat of stain before putting the step back, because water can go through the step and it would be terrible to have that part of the deck rot out.

A lot of stains recommend you use a brightener (to restore the pH of the wood) after cleaning it- we didn’t, because we felt that the Krud Kutter did the job.  This could always be a mistake that might come back to bite us in the end, but we’ll see.  Also, you should wait at least three days after cleaning to apply your stain to allow the wood to fully dry out.  We had our deck cleaned in early August, so it had plenty of time to dry out in our hot summer heat.  It did rain early this week, but we’re projected to have at least 3 dry days before we start staining again, and the rain was fairly light so again we should be fine.

After the deck was clean, we my husband went around and re-set any nails that were coming up with a nail set.  This is pretty simple and worthwhile to do- there’s nothing quite like stubbing a toe or ripping open your foot on a nail that’s poking part way up from the deck.  Alternatively, you could replace the nails with stainless steel screws.

Then we scraped between each board to remove the dirt and fur (it was an embarrassing amount of fur, let me tell you- I’m hoping it wasn’t all from our dogs!!) and also went underneath the deck and swept off the underside of the boards.  Using a garden sprayer (this is a super handy trick if you’re applying a clear stain- it goes SO fast.  We did both sides of our 300 linear feet fence in a day using two garden sprayers and rollers- life saving!) my husband sprayed the underside of our deck with a clear stain/waterproofer (leftover from our fence staining)- we didn’t want to take the time/effort to stain the underside of our deck that no one sees, but we did want to protect it from the elements.

That’s about it as far as deck prep goes- the only other thing we did was to sweep and blow off the deck with the leaf blower the day we started applying stain (we’ll do that again this weekend since it’s rained and our dogs have tracked dirt all over the deck).  It’s important to make sure your deck surface is as clean as possible so the stain can have a chance to bind to the wood and not the dirt that’s coating the wood!

You already saw what our deck looks like to date, and read about our color choice (and mishap!)  Stay tuned, because after this weekend I should have some good “after” pics to show you!  I’ll leave you with a couple up close photos of our deck prior to staining…

Railing prior to staining- the light spot on the left hand side of this photo is where a squirrel decided to start chewing on the railing.  Seriously.  Does anyone else think squirrels remind them of giant furry cockroaches- especially the way they scurry up and down trees- or is it just me?  Anyone? 
Kirby would like to show you the deck surface- a lot of that wear is from doggy nails, unfortunately.  Here’s hoping this new coat of stain holds up!!

**Disclosure:  I was not paid or compensated in any way by this company for this post.