It’s official- we have new carpet!!  Whoo!!  It took about 3.5 hours and there was a lot of scraping and hammering- it sounded like our whole second story was going to come crashing down.  But it’s in and looks awesome, so I’m going to sit back and let the photos do the talking here…

Carpet pad on the stairs- we went with the Nike pad made of recycled running shoes

Laying out the new carpet- they blew off the driveway before starting.  Once they cut up the carpet they rolled it up and carried it up the stairs- maybe I need to become a carpet layer and get super buff?

The stairs all done!!  Not 5 minutes after I snapped this photo, the cat ran up and tried to use it as a scratching post- if I catch her doing that again I’m chopping her legs off (not really, but seriously cat- you have your own scratching post)!!

Our bedroom

The upstairs guest bedroom.

Ahhh- it looks so great.  The color is perfect and it’s so squishy and clean!!  Now I just have to go around and re-paint all the baseboard- this carpet is a lower profile than the other carpet so there’s some unpainted spots showing now- oof.  My least favorite thing to do. 

What do you think?


Based on this photo, can you tell what’s happening soon?

If you guessed carpet, you’re correct!!  That’s almost all of our upstairs furniture crammed into the office- the only things that didn’t end up in there were our dressers, because we need to get into them for clothes.  The office has actually looked this way since Thursday evening, even though they’re not installing until Monday- a friend of T’s came over and helped move all the heavy stuff downstairs after work.  Why such an early move?  Well, this bedroom was the first room we I painted, and let’s just say I didn’t do a very good job.  I was in a hurry and so there were some spots, mostly on the ceiling, that needed a second coat, but we didn’t want to do it without moving the furniture out- so we just dealt with it.  The carpet install forced us to get into gear and finish those touch ups.  Plus we had a couple of squeaky spots in the floor that needed to be fixed which got taken care of today too.  We can hardly wait for the new carpet!

You’d think that painting/floor fixing would take up all our weekend time, but we are champion multi-taskers.  T did some of this today:

Yup- more gravel shoveling.  This is off our driveway and used to be dirt- we lined the right side with rocks from the yard and the left side with more landscape timbers that have been clear-coated so they match the fence. 

Here’s the current state of the gravel pile in the driveway- still quite a bit more to shovel!

I also got my garden cleared out and fertilized because it’s time to plant!  Yup, you read that right.  I had a mini panic attack when I realized that it was time to get started, but I managed to get things cleared out and bought some cow manure to fertilize the spots of the garden that I’m planning on planting now.  Last year I think I started a few cold weather crops too late and they suffered because of it- mainly my peas and broccoli.  This year I’m determined to get some good yields, so I’m starting those now (along with some fava beans, carrots, lettuce and chard).  If you want a handy website to visit- check out sproutrobot.com.  You can sign up for weekly reminder emails on what to plant when- you just put in your zipcode and it tells you what you should plant for your area.  You can also pay a fee and they’ll send you seeds when it’s time to plant them.  Pretty cool. 

Phew- I think that’s all I’ve done this weekend.  What have you been up to?


You know what that means right?  Yep- the gravel is done.  In the backyard anyway- by no means is the giant pile in our driveway gone, but we have plans for the rest of it.  I can’t take any credit for the rest of the gravel going in- work was slow for my husband yesterday, so he took a half day off and came home early to work on the gravel (he is crazy- he actually wanted to shovel it!)  He even took a couple of pictures of the finished product- check it out!

A view from the side- there’s a doggy under there!

Done done done!!  Excuse the teeter totter in the photo.  That’s for the dogs- really, I’m not kidding.  Not for Jackson (pictured) though- he’s too old to do any teeter-tottering.  Ellie and Kirby both use it as part of their agility training. 

Anyway- it looks so nice now that it’s done!  We got a decent rain yesterday morning, so half of it is nice and clean.  It should rain again Friday and wash off the rest of it, which will make for less muddy doggy paws- except when they tromp through the dirt flower bed- gotta get some plants and mulch in there pronto.  I think we’ve decided on planting clover in the backyard as a ground cover- it’s supposed to grow in any soil (including our crappy clay soil), adds nitrogen back to the soil (so it makes your lawn healthier) is drought tolerant, shade tolerant and dog urine resistant- plus you can sow it at any time in the year.  It does attract bees, but we already end up with yellow jacket nests in the yard, so I’m not too concerned about the addition of some more bees- we’ll just try and keep it mowed to reduce the number of flowers.  I think that the little bit of grass we already have back there will benefit from the clover and fill in even more- when we bought the house there was no grass back there at all because no one bothered to clear away the leaves.  Plus the clover is cheap- a 2lb bag of seeds covers around 4,000 square feet of lawn (which is WAY more than we have) and costs around $15.  Did you know that you can also sow clover seeds in your garden after your plants have come up and it will keep the weeds down AND help fertilizer your plants??  Pretty sweet.

That’s the latest around here, on the outside anyway.  We just got the call yesterday that our carpet is ready to be installed (eek!) so we have some furniture moving to do this weekend and then I’ll have a carpet post to share with you!!

28,000 pounds

That’s how many pounds of gravel (give or take a couple thousand pounds) showed up at our house yesterday- 14 cubic yards to be exact.  Yep- that means work is progressing in the back yard!!

A little while ago, I showed you the landscape timbers my husband put down.  Today we started filling in the space with all that gravel.  We were hesitant to use pea gravel, because in our experiences, that stuff goes everywhere, whether you have a barrier in place or not.  So we picked a crushed granite- the pieces are about 1-1.5 inches around.  It’s meant for driveways and we figured it’d be perfect for the space.  Not to mention it was $34 per yard instead of $85 per yard (the cost of the pea gravel).  Oh and did I mention we needed 14 yards?  Yep- saving over $700 on gravel works for me!

The truck wouldn’t drive into our backyard because it had just rained and he was carrying a 28,000+ pound load, which meant he probably would have gotten stuck.  Luckily our driveway has a y shape to it, so he dumped it off to the side so we can still get in and out of the driveway.  Unfortunately this means a lot of walking with the wheelbarrow and gravel is heavy.  We made a good effort today but I made my husband stop about halfway through filling the space so he wouldn’t regret all his efforts tomorrow!!!

Here’s what it looks like currently

And here’s what I looked like after crawling around under the deck (which is too short to dump a wheelbarrow under, so we had to crawl around with buckets of gravel)

One more look…just cause it’s so pretty

Ok, just picture it all done and that flower bed filled in with dirt and plants…and the yard covered in some sort of ground cover!  Ahhhhh yes- I can see it all now!  It’s pretty exciting though- once we get a good rain (which will wash off the gravel dust), the amount of dirt the dogs track into the house will a lot less.  I’m really looking forward to reducing the amount of red dirt they carry in with them (even though we wipe their feet every time we let them inside the house).

Hope you like it as much as I do!!

MORE flooring!!

I wanted to come up with a catchier title than that…but I’m drawing a blank.  Oh well.

Like I said, 2012 is a flooring year for us!  We kicked things off with the upstairs bathroom floor.  That was a fairly simple DIY project.  This next project is not a DIY, unfortunately- carpet!!!  New carpet is NOT something we wanted to DIY ourselves- so we’re leaving it to the pros.  There are too many things that can go wrong with installing carpet yourself- and mistakes can add up quickly ($$$).

The same day we were installing our floor, I had a guy come out and measure our whole house!  At some point all of our house is going to need to be re-floored in some material or another- we *think* the carpet is original to the house (although I have some doubts about that, because that would make it 23 years old and I don’t know if carpet can be that old) and is starting to slowly disintegrate- I vacuum up a little bit more of it every time I vacuum.  It still looks in decent shape for the most part (at first glance anyway), but there are stains and places where cats have decided to use it as a scratching post (or, in the case of the prior owners, a bathroom- yuck).  We had to pull the carpet back when we put in the bathroom floor and remove the transition strip.  When we did the downstairs bathroom, we just had a carpet installer come in (as a side job) and re-stretch it and re-install the transition strips, as new carpeting was not in the budget at that time.  We could have done that again this time around, but instead we opted to re-carpet!

We just ordered the carpet the other day, and it’s a special order item, so unfortunately I don’t have any ta-da, it’s finished! pictures yet.  But I can show you what we picked!!  I was highly influenced by Katie’s (at Bower Power) choice in carpet for her house- I loved the look (go check it out).  So off I went to look at it in person- no, not at Katie’s house- I wish!  (She is in Georgia though- hey Katie, can I come to your house and see your carpet in person??? ha!)  At Home Depot** (my most favorite store in the world, aside from the garden store down the street from us).  It’s Martha Stewart’s Winterthur:

See?  Pretty!!  In person I liked it even more- the middles of the diamonds are a berber-type carpet, which I like for it’s low profile and durability, and the cross-hatches are hook and loop carpet (I think that’s what it’s called).  The diamonds are only an inch in size so the pattern isn’t too loud.  And it’s oh so very soft.  And kind of fancy looking.  I showed it to the husband, and he said looks good.  Actually, he said “whatever you want is fine with me…”- don’t you love it when they say things like that?!?

Another couple of things I like about the carpet- it’s made from 25% recycled nylon- they call it cradle to cradle.  Which is awesome. And the recommended carpet pad (which we chose)?  Also recycled!!  It’s made by Nike, of all companies, and it’s called StepAhead and it’s made from recycled running shoe rubber!!  How fitting- maybe that will motivate me to get my butt out the door to run more often (I’ve been a running slacker lately)??

We brought home the entire range of colors they offer in this carpet- at first I settled on Potter’s Clay, which was a pretty, neutral “greige”

But the more I squinted at it, the more I realized it looked a lot like the carpet color we already had, and my husband wanted something darker.  So we settled on this color:

Perfect right?  Our dogs are black, why not black carpet to hide all that fur??

HAHAHA- just kidding.  No way!!!  Although it would hide the fur, that’s for sure!  We actually settled on the first picture I showed you- Wild Turkey:

It’s in the same color family as Potter’s Clay, but a darker “greige”.  Maybe a little boring to some, I know, but I think it’ll be really pretty with all the different wall colors we have going on.

We currently have 4 rooms and 13 stairs that need carpet.  We want to switch the living room from carpet to a solid surface, and continue that surface to the dining room and kitchen.  We would LOVE to do all the rooms all at once, but can’t because- 1. We’d essentially have to move out of our house to do that.  2.  We’re not made of money (although I’m still working on growing that money tree in the backyard!!).  So we’re planning to do this in stages- first, the upstairs, which is around 600 square feet.  Then, the downstairs hard surface (another 600ish square feet), and finally the two downstairs carpeted rooms (about 400 square feet).

I really, really, REALLY want to do the stairs in wood.  I drool over all the hardwood stairs on Pinterest (just look at how many wooden stairs I’ve pinned).  And I really want to do it ourselves.  BUT- the husband talked me out of it, and into keeping the carpeted stairs (with new carpet of course!), for a few reasons.  1.  We have fairly steep stairs and a 13 year old dog.  That combo makes for some dangerous trips up and down- visions of the dog (or human) falling and breaking a hip have run through our heads more than once.  We could put a carpeted runner down, but then most of the wood would get covered up- so what’s the point of doing all the work if you don’t see it.  2.  Our stairs are currently carpet and it would take A LOT of work (and money) to make them look decent.  Also A LOT of time- and there’s no good way to keep animals off the stairs while working on them.  3.  This house most likely isn’t our forever home- if it were, we might consider making the stairs hardwood.  So…sigh…looks like the stairs will be carpet.  I can’t win all the battles…but I can continue to dream about hardwood stairs!

I can’t wait to feel squishy new carpet under my toes, probably in another couple of weeks!!!  I will post pictures once that process gets started!

**Disclosure:  I was not paid or compensated by this company- we just shop there A LOT, and have had great experiences with our local store.

New flooring!

Look!  Another post!  See, I’m trying!

2012 is going to be the flooring year for us, I can already tell.  Up to this point, we’ve only touched the flooring in the downstairs bathroom, and that was out of necessity- a rotten subfloor meant the linoleum had to come up.  Ooof.  That was an eye-opener, 4 months into home ownership and we’re tearing out floors!!  But we survived, and the floor looks great.  Here’s a reminder of that process (and you can read more about it here):

Allure Trafficmaster vinyl plank flooring in “Cordoba“, mid bathroom re-do

 We’ve been holding onto an almost full box of this flooring for about a year and half, and I’ve been DYING to do the upstairs bathroom floor.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that floor (thank goodness!) aside from looking a little dated- but hey, we had some of the flooring already!  So I begged asked my husband nicely to help me install the flooring- I even said it could wait until after football was over- and he said sure.  He even got the DIY bug and we installed it over the weekend! 

Here’s a look at the bathroom when we bought the house:

And here’s what it looked like before the weekend:

Looks good- but it just needed that extra ooohmf from new flooring!

We choose the Allure Trafficmaster flooring (from Home Depot**) because of price and ease of install.  It’s around $50 per box, which covers about 25 square feet.  Three boxes was plenty to do the upstairs bathroom, with room for mistakes, and we only used a little over 2 boxes in the downstairs bathroom, so it’s a pretty inexpensive adventure.  It’s also waterproof, has a 25yr warranty and is scratch resistant- love all of that.

This flooring is installed as a floating floor, over the existing flooring or subfloor, with 3 tiles “combined” together in a plank (with fake grout in-between the tiles).  The planks get stuck together with overlapping sticky strips- it’s hard to describe but they stick together very well (although if you make a mistake you’re stuck- literally).  It’s kind of like click and lock flooring, but click and stick instead.  The best part is, it’s vinyl and you can cut it with a box cutter!  No saws involved- just score and snap.  Well, score several times and then snap- it’s not quite as simple as they make it sound, but it’s certainly easier than using a saw, that’s for sure.

Here’s an up-close photo of the “tiles” so you can get a better idea of the sticky strips:

The tiles are nice and thick (0.15 inches)- not flimsy at all- and each strip of tiles weighs almost 5 pounds- it’s pretty heavy duty.

Here’s a mid-install picture:

Why yes, yes we did use a rolling pin in this process- that’s to seal the seams after you stick the tiles together.  You can also rent a 100lb floor roller to press the seams, but the company actually recommends walking on it- the more you walk on it, the better the seal.  I wouldn’t walk on it until you get it all stuck together, since it is a floating floor.  Walking on it mid-process can make the whole thing slide around a little and throw your alignment off, which is key, especially around doorways.

Flooring a bathroom can be tricky-  you barely get one run of tiles laid out before you encounter a doorway or something you have to cut around, which can be a bit of a brain puzzle.  For that reason it took us about 8 hours from start to finish to get this done.  I’d imagine if we were doing a living room that was basically a rectangle, things would go a lot faster.  That’s what I’m trying to convince my husband anyway- Trafficmaster makes a wood version of this, and I want to install it in our living room/dining room/kitchen!  Which will be a lot of work, I know!  But I still think we can do it ourselves.

Ok, I know you’re dying for the finished product, so I won’t disappoint!

I LOVE it.  Love.  I can’t believe we waited so long to do it.

Just for fun- another photo, with the room all put back together:

Oooooooooh.  Ahhhhhhh. 

What do you think?

**Disclosure:  I was not paid or compensated by this company for my opinion- we just shop there A LOT, and have had good experiences with our local store

New year, new yard…

Sorry for the long absence again folks- I have no excuse except that I’m a blog slacker lately!  I’m trying to work on that!

So when we bought our house (almost 2 years ago now!), the back yard was kind of a hot mess.  There was no fence, save for a small fenced in area off to one side where the prior owners kept their dogs.  The deck was in desparate need of staining.  There was a lot of buried junk- bottle caps, tools, assorted baby toys (the old owners had a young child).  Little by little, we’ve tried to remedy that.  We put in a fence as soon as we moved in:

Looking at the back yard from the deck- we did three sides 6′ wood privacy and one side 6′ chain link.  You can see the fenced in spot that’s now my garden.  This was taken on the day the fence was finished and the dogs are LOVING the freedom!

 We stained the deck last fall (more on that here, here and here– it’s holding up great by the way!).  We’ve added some plants- currently there are 2 tiny fig trees, a blackberry and 4 blueberry bushes.  We’ve mulched around as many trees as possible and taken out some of the spindle-y ones.  We’ve been slowly working on a rock border (using rocks from the yard- of which there are a TON) to delineate the mulched area from the one day grassy area (as you can see from the photo above, we are severely lacking in grass due to prior owner neglect and all the shade our yard gets in the summer).  We even have a little firepit off to one side, made with rocks from the yard.

Needless to say, the backyard has been a very slow work in progress- and it always gets put on the back burner to other (usually indoor) projects around the house.  Hopefully this year all that will change!!  My very handy husband has been cooking up a scheme to get the backyard looking nice- and very recently has put that plan into motion!  Here’s what he did this weekend (I gave some input on placement, but he did the rest):

See the landscape timbers on the ground?  He stained those with leftover deck stain and then drilled holes in them so he could pound pieces of re-bar through them to secure them in place.  We are planning on putting gravel underneath the deck all the way to the timbers.  The timbers will keep the gravel from going all over the yard- and the gravel will *hopefully* keep the dogs from tracking so much dirt in the house.  Our septic tank lid is also right in front of the deck- so all we should have to do is move the gravel to access it.  To the right and left of the deck will be flower beds (one side already has blueberry bushes planted in it)- you can see one already marked out with landscape timbers.  You can also see part of the rock wall we’ve worked on- there’s a tree to the right, and we’ve mulched with all the leaves that fall off the trees every year (seriously, a perfect free way to keep your trees healthy).  We’re working on a similar rock wall on the other side of the deck.  You can even see some grass growing- hopefully it’ll keep filling itself in over time.  We’re thinking about putting in some moss or other low maintenance ground cover- something shade and drought tolerant.  I’m not a fan of fertilizing and watering, and this area gets a lot of dog traffic, so it needs to be something low maintenance.

Not much to see right now, but it’s still pretty exciting that work is being done, however slowly.  I put in the call today for gravel- 14 yards of it to be exact!!  That should be more than enough to gravel under the deck, and maybe leave us some excess for other parts of the yard. 

This wasn’t the only project we worked on this weekend- stay tuned for an indoor project!!  I promise I’ll post that soon- these week long silences aren’t going to become a habit!

What do you think?

Selbu modern

Wow- sorry for the un-intentional blog silence- technical difficulties with photos and an extremely busy week has left me little time for blogging.  I wanted to blog about a Christmas present (I know I know, Christmas is over and done with- boo!) that I made for my sister.  A couple of years ago, I stumbled upon the Selbu Modern hat pattern.  I immediately thought of my sister and knit her one with a grey background and white pattern (see photo here).  Apparently it’s become her favorite hat- and this year she requested a new one in a different color.  I was happy to oblige- this pattern is fairly easy to follow and the results are stunning.  I chose to make one with a white background and a burgundy pattern.  I really like Paton’s Angora Bamboo yarn for this pattern- it’s super soft and squishy, and I knit the hat on a size 2 US needle which makes it a nice heavy, warm hat.  The yarn does get a little halo about it when worked with, which was a little unfortunate for this hat because the red and white yarn made a pink-ish halo.  It doesn’t seem too noticeable, so fingers crossed it doesn’t happen more as the hat gets worn. 

Ok enough chatter- want to see the final result?  Of course you do!

The hat isn’t really that pointy- it’s folded in thirds for the photo to get the pattern to show up

A top down view- you can see the pink-ish halo the best in this photo.

And my sister’s response?  She loved it!  Hooray!!  Of course she does already own one, so I figured she’d like it!!  Just in case though, I stalked her Pinterest boards and got her a couple of things from there as well- such a handy way to get someone something they really like!!

Happy Friday everyone- I’ll be back in a day or two with a project we have going on here at home- now that the holidays are over, it’s back to work fixing things up around here!!