DIY curb appeal, part 2

Hey there!  First off, I hope everyone had a lovely mother’s day!!  I know I sure did!

Remember how I said I was going to tell you all about our flower bed re-do in my next post and then I didn’t?  Yeah.  I’m blaming the sickness that descended yet again on my house.  This time, poor B was the only one who succumbed (poor kiddo got hand/foot/mouth AND an ear infection at the same time.  Let’s not talk about little sleep everyone got).  Poor kid has had 3 ear infections in the last month- so guess what we’re doing today??  Getting tubes.  Fingers crossed it all goes great and we can put a stop to all the ear infections!!

Anyway.   Last I left you our flower bed looked like this:

 

house with flowerbed

Oh wait…maybe not quite like that.  But do you see the area to the right of the driveway, and the evergreen trees (aka leyland cypresses) in that general area as well?  I’ve never liked that side of the driveway, so I’ve always cropped it out of photos.  Well, we (aka T) finally decided to make a change.

First those leyland cypresses came out.  They were giant (at least 30 feet tall), crowding all the other trees on that side and slowly dying from the base up.  It was time for those to go- so T went out there one day and cut them down!  It was amazing how removing those opened things up!

The flower bed used to have a skinny strip of grass in front of it (right next to the driveway)- not even big enough for the lawn mower.  I don’t know why it took us 4 years to decide that maybe that grass didn’t even need to be there, but after cutting those trees down, T dug the grass out so we could extend the flower bed all the way to the driveway.

There were already peony plants in the flower bed (I was delighted to discover that the year we bought our house) but the rest was just weeds.  I went to a local plant sale and bought some heuchera, columbines, creeping phlox and bleeding hearts (the bed is mostly in the shade).  We got another 10 yards of mulch delivered since we’d run out the last time we mulched, and here’s the end result:

front flower bed

You can see the stumps of the trees T removed to the right of the mulch pile.  And that tree that looks like we pruned it too much is a vitex that blooms in the early summer, and is doing great (although I have to admit, I was a terrified a little afraid that we’d killed it by pruning it back too far)

Soon after planting everything, our resident deer decided to munch on my heuchera (even though it’s advertised as deer resistant).  So now all the new plants are sporting a slightly more “industrial” look (tomato cages plus bird netting):

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Hopefully they won’t need this extra layer of protection next year, but we’ll see.

 

Here are some pics of my favorite flowers in there:

 

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Peony

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Bleeding Heart

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Columbine

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This is an azalea, which isn’t in that flower bed they were blooming when I was taking these photos and I love them, so here’s a bonus shot of one!

 

That concludes my little tour of our flower beds!  I hope you enjoyed the pics- I’d love to see some pics of your outdoor spaces!  Feel free to share a link in the comments!

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Some DIY curb appeal

**Linking up to Katie Bower’s spring photo link party!!**

Hey y’all- I hope everyone had a happy Easter!  We were pretty low key around here since we have no family in the area, but B did get to do his first egg hunt (actually 2nd hunt- his school did one the week prior, but this was his first hunt with us)!  I didn’t think he’d understand what to do with his basket, but he carried it around on his arm like a pro (probably because of all the practice he’s had playing with my purse- ha!)  Thankfully the weather was lovely so we got to be outside most of the day…

easter

Speaking of outside (and happy Earth day by the way!), we’ve switched gears around the house and have been taking advantage of the lovely (albeit a bit weird with temps in the 80’s one day and a frost the next) spring weather we’ve been having lately and putting in some work on the outside of our house, before the weather here gets too hot and humid.

We usually mulch our front and back flower beds yearly, although we skipped last year due to the crazyness that being a new parent brings with it!  Also, we usually (stupidly) wait way too long and mulch in the summer which is just ridiculously sweaty- this year we were on top of it and ordered 20 cubic yards at the end of February.  We got so much mulch because we decided to mulch our backyard after trying (unsuccessfully) for several years to get anything resembling grass to grow back there (mulch is the new grass right?)

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My boys, happy with the newly mulched back yard

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We changed the path leading to the garden from gravel to mulch

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We get a lot of erosion here due to rain water, so T added in a 4×4 post (half buried in the ground) to create a tiered effect and stop the mulch from washing down the hill

Then we got 5 cubic yards of gravel, so we could extend the gravel path in the above photo, as well freshen up the existing graveled spaces

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T is such a hard worker. I just spread the mulch/gravel and take the photos

B enjoyed “helping” with the mulching process- I’d gotten him his own shovel and he was thrilled to help his daddy load up the wheelbarrow:bmulch

And wear his daddy’s work gloves around:

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Believe it or not, we blew through all 20 cubic yards of mulch and had JUST enough to do the front beds, minus one…

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Ahhh, freshly mulched = happy plants

 

Which actually worked out well because we decided to modify that bed, so we were able to wait to mulch it.  I don’t have any photos of the bed before we got to it (bad blogger), probably because it was nothing much to look at so I always cropped it out of my photos!  Just a narrow long bed with some peonies in it (that I have managed not to kill despite doing absolutely nothing to them- we inherited them with the house, which was a fun surprise the first year they came up!) and a narrow strip of grass/weeds.  Boring!! If you look at the below photo of our house, it would be to the right of the edge of the driveway (and under the snow):

house with flowerbed

T was the driving force behind the bed re-do, and we are both so happy with it now.  It just makes so much more sense.  I will post more about it in my next post, because that much work deserves its own post and this one is long enough as it is!!  I will leave you with one more pic of B, probably my favorite of him to date:

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Pure joy at being outside, in the wheelbarrow!

 

The new normal

Well hey there!  LONG time no blog- I didn’t mean to take a 3 month blogging hiatus, but our latest DIY project has taken up A LOT of my time.  Would you like to see what we’ve been up to?

Meet Mr. B!  This was taken on his 2(!!) month birthday

Baby D (aka Brandon or Mr. B as we like to call him) made his appearance on 12/1/12…at 21:12 (9:12pm)!  I’m a bit of a numbers nerd so that was pretty cool.  He weighed 7lbs13oz and was 20.5in

Showing off his guns

Parenthood has been great, but has thrown us our fair share of challenges.  I seriously admire those parents who can do anything beyond taking care of the baby and themselves.  Babies are a full time job!!  It’s also very hard when all your family lives across the country- there’s no one to help out if something goes wrong.  Luckily we had my parents in town for the first 3 weeks of his life (and Christmas!), and T’s parents are coming to town this week for 2 weeks.  I’m hoping my parents will be coming out often to visit and help out- it sure makes things easier.  I’m secretly hoping they’ll move out here- my sister just moved to NY city, so what’s tying them to the west coast??

Dad, baby and mom getting our Christmas tree.  B is about 2 weeks old here

Holding his Nana’s hand

 For the first 7 weeks of his life, Mr. B did great with breastmilk only…and then one day we found blood in the diaper.  Yikes- talk about scary.  This indicated a potential food allergy- most likely milk/soy.  On top of this, we were battling some reflux issues that started getting worse- lots of spit up and very little sleep for Mr B (and his mommy and daddy).  We had to take him off of breastmilk for 2 weeks to let his tummy heal, while I cut out all dairy and soy from my diet.  So just around the time we were finally settling into some sort of a routine, suddenly we were back to square one- formula feeding (how much do you give him? how often? gas bubbles! stinky diapers!), pumping to keep my supply in tact, medicating him to manage his reflux.  Ooof.  I felt like a brand new parent all over again.  I am very grateful that I was not back at work yet during all of that!!

Baby mullets make everything better, especially when they stick out like a little bird tail

We survived those two weeks- and Mr B is doing great.  Smiling and “talking” away.  He is even back to breastmilk which makes both of us happy (actually it makes all 3 of us happy because formula diapers are serious stinky business folks).  He’s not showing signs of an reaction to my breastmilk, so fingers crossed we’ve cleared that hurdle, as long as I stay off dairy/soy.  Which, by the way, is a great way to lose those pounds gained during pregnancy!!

I go back to work next week (tear) and am having mixed emotions- I’m sad about leaving Mr. B all day with someone else (even though his daycare is amazing and I know he’ll do awesome there), I’m excited to be around adults again and I’m nervous about figuring out another new routine after JUST (sort of) getting the hang of this one.  I am pretty sure the first day I take him to daycare I will forget at least one thing at home and be really late for work.  But we’ll figure it out eventually, just like we do with everything else.  Right?  Right.

Mr B and his daddy, rooting for their favorite team

Anyway, that’s the new normal for us!  I’d like to get back to the blogging world, but seeing as it took me 3 days to write this post, don’t expect great things from me too soon!! 

Back in action

Hello!!  I’m back!!  Thanks to all of you for hanging in there while I took an unexpected 2 month blogging hiatus- I got held up by a pretty large project we have going on behind the scenes (don’t worry, I’ll share what that is soon) and also a few trips (for work and play) that got in the way of blogging.  But I’m back now, and going to make another effort to resume blogging!

I thought I’d give y’all an update.  Since the theme of 2012 is “flooring” around here at DavenportDIY (read about it here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here– wow, that’s a lot of posts about floors!) I’m going to talk about…you guessed it…flooring!  ha.

The last bit of flooring we had installed was the Trafficmaster Allure in “Tradition” in the kitchen and living room.  You can see the finished results here and here.  I’m going to try and keep it real here on the blog, so I’ll tell you that we loved it…until the dogs entered the picture.  It became like an ice skating rink for them- and just like skates leave scratches in the ice, the dog nails left scratches in the floor (we keep their nails fairly short, using a dremel to shave them down every couple of weeks, so this was not caused by untrimmed dog nails).  After a month of use, the floor looked like we’d had it for 30 years instead of 30 days.  It broke my heart to see the floor look so beaten up already.  Luckily, we had some floor polish on hand, which, according to the manual that came with our flooring, is recommended for scratch removal.  I applied the polish as instructed- and with a little elbow grease, the scratches were gone!!  Hooray!!

Sadly, that’s not the end of my story, although I wish it were.  As soon as the dogs did their skating trick on the floor, the scratches were back.  Boo.  A quick Google search told me I was not the only person having these troubles with their floor.  A few people mentioned they had filed claims with the company who makes the flooring– and after a lot of foot dragging I decided to go down that road.  I gave them a call and they asked me to send them photos of the damage.  Here’s what I sent (it’s really hard to take a decent photo of a scratch, by the way):

Can you see them??  They are between 4 and 8 inches in length, depending on how far the dog slid. It’s much more noticeable in person- especially when the sun shines on the floor.  Imagine these covering all of the high traffic areas in our house- sigh.

About a week after sending the photos, we received a package in the mail.  A bottle of spray on scratch remover.  Hmmm.  Not quite the response I was hoping for, but I decided to give it a try and see if it would solve our problem.   Here’s what I got, after following the instructions to the letter:

Oh goodie- shiny scratches!!  And a REALLY slippery floor.  All of us about broke our necks on the spot I tried it on, until it finally wore off on our socks/paws.  So I sent the above photos to the company, waited a few days and then called about the claim to see where we stood.  Surprisingly, they offered us a full refund without any hassle.  I was able to go to my local Home Depot and get our money back on the boxes of flooring that we used.

It breaks my heart that we had to go this route- I did a lot of research on this floor before we purchased it and a ton of people said it held up great to dogs.  And we have a similar floor (Trafficmaster Allure in Cordoba) in our bathrooms that we LOVE and looks fabulous, with no scratches in sight.  I also am a huge fan of Home Depot, especially our local store.  We shop there all the time and it hurts me a little to get our money back from them on such a large purchase.  But we’ll definitely be shopping there again in the future.

Do we still have a scratched up floor after all of this?  Yes.  But at least now I won’t cringe every time a dog runs on it or something gets dropped on it, because we were able to get our money back on our purchase.  I hope this post gets found by other people looking for information about Trafficmaster Allure floors, because it’s helpful to know the truth about what you’re buying before you buy it.

One day down the line we’ll probably end up covering them up with something else, but for now we can live with them.  This also frees up some money to do some more flooring in the last part of the house needing new floors- so stay tuned for that post in the near-ish future. 

Thanks for reading and thanks for sticking around!!