A brief update…

Things have been quiet here lately! I’m sorry! I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things real soon, I promise!

I’ll have more details to share soon but let’s just say I’ve been working hard on my biggest (and most tiresome) DIY project to date…  ;)

Posted in DIY

Fall Apothecary Jar version 2.0

I apologize for another blog hiatus – this one is due in part to the quick trip we took to Disney World for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler (recap coming soon!) and the fact that Hubby’s Grandfather’s house finally sold! Yay! The closing was scheduled for Monday but has been pushed back a bit since the buyer’s are getting an FHA loan and they demanded requested many repairs.  We’ve spent every non-sleeping and non-working hour over there since the beginning on the month and I can finally see a tiny glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Finally!

I thought I’d repost a popular DIY from last Fall that has been getting many hits recently thanks to Pinterest.  Feel free to pin this year’s jar and mantle, too! :)

Fall Apothecary Jar

This great and easy Fall Decoration you can put together in only a few minutes that can make a huge statement on your mantle or dining room table!

Last year my Mom purchased a box of small pumpkins and gourds after Halloween at Michael’s on major clearance.  They vary anywhere from about 3-5 inches long and are different colored – some even have an icy, glittery look to them!  I wanted to find a way to display them without having to set them all out individually so I gathered my box o’gourds, some leaves (mine are faux but real ones could work too) and some corks.

You can use a vase or big glass bowl for this project, this time around I chose an apothecary jar I usually have about an eighth full with corks on the hearth of my fireplace.

I set out my materials – in this case pumpkins, leaves and corks…

And then the fun begins! Just start arranging until you find a look you like. I started first with leaves at the bottom and quickly noticed that no one would see them so I dumped everything else and started over.  I found the corks to be the most substanial ‘bottom’ and just started adding things one at a time until I had this:

I added some more leaves and corks and in a few minutes had this:

Finally, after a few re-dos to ensure this piece looked just like I pictured, my new Fall Apothecary Jar was complete and on display on our Mantle.

As you can see, this project was SUPER easy and very fun to put together!

This year, I actually forgot to include chose to leave out the corks and used only the pumpkins, gourds and leaves.

I also have a few new accessories: my mercury glass Owl (thanks, Kohls!) and fun sequin pumpkin from HomeGoods.  Also, the walls are now a nice, neutral gray – yay!
I love modifying my decorations each year… they’re familiar and give me a cozy feeling but also feel new at the same time!

A Deck Makeover… part 2!

To tackle staining our deck we chose semi-transparant Olympic Deck, Fence and Siding stain in Coffee. The Acyrlic/Oil formula is supposed to ensure the stain penetrates deep in to the wood, conditioning it and hopefully prevent it from peeling away. It was very dark in the can, and a bit frightening, but the other color swatches just appeared too light for the look we were going for.
Though I’m aware you can spray on stain, and also use rollers or a big push brush I chose to use a 6″ paintbrush.  Crazy, I know, but again I was very nervous about the stain not adhering correctly and waking up to our deck looking like this again one morning:


If you’re like me and have never worked with stain, it is incredibly thin, almost like water!  I stirred it for about 5 minutes expecting it to thicken it up a bit before I realized it wasn’t making a difference.

I started with the top rails after taping off our siding. I took my time and made sure to ‘backbrush’ the stain into the wood.  I also quickly learned that you need much less stain on the brush as you think you do. Since our deck had sat un-sealed for so long the wood was very porous and just seemed to suck up the stain.  Over an hour later I could finally step back and notice a difference.
Even Caesar liked it!

After the rails were finished I was thrilled the “hard part” was over.  I thought the floorboards would go much more quickly since I could use bigger brush strokes and not worry so much about stain dripping off the boards since I wouldn’t see it under the deck.  I figured if the rails took an hour, the floor itself would take maybe a little more than 2 and I would still have time to shower and make a nice dinner for Hubby and I!

The next picture taken of the deck was this,
Notice, it’s incredibly dark out and the floor isn’t even fully stained!

Yes, it took a good 8 hours for me to get this far.  Poor Hubby came home from work to me looking like a train wreck and holding back tears.  That nice dinner I planned on making that night? Umm, we ended up at Chili’s at 10:15.

 I’m still not sure where I went wrong…I focused on 2 rows at a time staining the entire length of the deck back and forth, back and forth, for literally hours!  I think the most time consuming part was coating the sides of the boards – I had blisters from pushing the brush in-between.  Thankfully someone in our neighborhood was hosting a Sweet 16 party and their DJ kept me entertained from about 7pm on.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit I tend to take my time and focus on doing things right, not necessarily quick, but I have no idea what happened that afternoon/night!?! I don’t know why it took me so long!

It was a good thing we had plans that weekend so I was forced to take a 2-day break until from staining.  Finishing the last few rows was not as hard as the previous day.  Perhaps I was just used to it by then? Not as tired? Whatever the reason I was thrilled to be able to complete the remaining boards less than a day a few hours.
Loving the dark stain accented with the white rails I chose to only stain the top treads of the stairs and painted the backs of the stairs with the leftover paint from the rails (Sherwin Williams Duration in Satin White).  I was nervous to use blue tape on the newly stained wood so I instead cut a paper bag from the grocery store apart and used it to prevent the white from dripping.
The stairs were finished in only an hour (quite an improvement from the floors) and are probably my favorite part about the deck now. It looks much more finished and I just love how crisp the white makes it look.
There are a few touch-ups still needed to be made – seems I got a bit cavalier with my staining around hour 6 or so – so I’m hoping to finish that up this weekend!  We are also waiting for our new outdoor rug to be delivered and the deck will finally be complete.  We’re hoping to add some lights to it as well but that may wait till next spring.

Despite the fact that this project took incredibly longer than expected I love that the finish is so smooth because of the brush and I take comfort in knowing the stain was worked into the wood reallllly well.  I pray that it prevents the stain from ever peeling off and would be happy to re-stain again in a few years if the color fades or the waterproofing-ness (technical term) starts to disappear.  However, as I was staining I think I would have happily forked over a million dollars pretty penny to a painter to finish it.  Let’s just say I’m happy I did but am even happier it’s over!

Have you ever stained a deck? Did your project take forever too?!

A Deck Makeover – part 1

Our previous house had a covered back patio that we spent a lot of time on – it had never been a ‘must’ on our house hunting list but we did enjoy it.  It was just a coincidence that the house we fell in love in with came with a large back deck, we’ve spent so much time on it since moving in we couldn’t imagine living in a home without one now.

Unbeknownst to us as the time, the previous owners did a fabulous job hiding the fact that the deck was deteriorating, fast!  Fast forward 6 months and our deck looked like this..

Three different painters quoted us very high prices and told us they couldn’t guarantee their work to fix this…not to mention the wood underneath was soft and starting to rot from improper sealing.

So we took matters into our own hands and replaced the whole thing ourselves…

Our newly re-floored deck had not been ‘weathered’ enough for staining last year – the lumber yard recommended we wait at least 6 months for the wood to dry out and neither of us wanted to stain in the middle of winter :) – so it was on the to-do list this year.  Of course, we’d have loved to have completed it in early spring, so we could have enjoyed it all summer, but with trying to clean out Hubby’s Grandfather’s house time just got away from us.

Thankfully, we have a good friend that owns a hardware store and a few weeks ago he let us know about an upcoming sale they were having on stain.  It was the push we needed to get this project crossed off our list – just in time to make sure the wood was protected for the snowy winter ahead.  Obviously, I love painting and projects in general but for some reason staining the deck terrified me.  Perhaps it’s because the horrible painting job by the previous owners was the reason we were forced to spend a pretty penny and many long days reflooring the deck in the first place…?

The wood was definitely not as bright and new looking as it was last year this time.
So we invested in some wood brightener, a new deck scrub brush and got to work…
We needed 3 containers of brightener for our 900 square foot deck but after reading how critical this step is to ensure a good finish we knew we couldn’t skip it.
After washing the deck we had to let the wood dry out a few days – unfortunately the weather was not cooperating with us so we ended up having to wait two more weeks to stain it.

What color stain did we chose? Was it hard? Come back Friday to find out :)

End of Summer Harvest

It’s gorgeous outside today – no humidity and bright sunshine – the perfect day!

It may unofficially be Fall, but my tomatoes are still going strong! The raised beds I made seem to be a great home for my tomatoes and cucumbers, just look at today’s ‘harvest’…
I had to add a trellis t0 my tomatoes since they got so heavy.  Next year I may invest in some tomato cages but I think the trellis is much prettier!
The cucumbers are still producing veggies as well.  Look at this lil baby that just sprouted over the last few days.

I’m keeping a close eye on this guy – he’s ready to pick any day now!
Unfortunately, my zucchini and pepper plants were not as ‘bountiful’ as the others the other two.  I’ll still give them another shot next year – I think I planted them too late in the season.

Though the calendar says September I’m still holding on to summer – and my garden – for as long as I can!