Backyard Transformation: DIY Paver Patio

Our house continues to become a home, one project at a time. Since buying the Apple House in October 2018, we have demolished walls, refloored the entire upstairs, gutted the bathroom, changed windows, and painted every wall and ceiling. With warmer weather and COVID keeping us home, Spring 2020 was the perfect excuse to complete another project as well: designing and constructing our own backyard paver patio.

Continue reading “Backyard Transformation: DIY Paver Patio”

Watching Grass Grow

I am amazed that it is already mid-June. Michigan has been a dealt a very wet and cool summer thus far, but G and I continue to design our house into a home. One very big project that will be stretching across the summer and into the fall is regaining control of our unbelievably jungle-like yard. There was a weekend in April where my husband said, “I’m going to go mow the grass.” and next I knew there was a waving tree outside our bedroom window — he was wrestling one of the many spindles down in the backyard. Since that weekend, many a hosta has been removed from our yard, grass has been seeded, and trunks ground down.

The following are images of parts of the yard in their “Before” state followed by images of their “Current” state. Within the next few months, I’ll share how progress is going and debut the completed lawn look.

The first area of hard work outside was the Northside of our home. When we initially looked at our home prior to putting an offer down, we knew this side of the house would require extensive work. You’ll notice a hole or two in the “Before” shot, but the photo does not do the yard justice. In fact, where the dirt is shown was like walking through landmines — you never knew when your foot was going to fall through the ground and into the cavern beneath. When G and his dad dug a large trench here, they found numerous twisting root systems from hundreds of plants that came and went over the years. The result was a thin layer of dirt over the roots and a trampoline-feeling ground which was perilous to walk. Fearing for anyone’s safety and for the drainage on this side of the house, G tackled this area before even considering any other part of the yard.

As I said, he and his dad initially had to dig a trench the length of the house and width of that dirty area below. It was not an easy job! Then he painted the base of the house, and lay drainage piping into the backyard from the front downspout. This piping was to decrease any erosion in the future and hopefully dissuade any future caverns being created like there was previously. Next G refilled the trench with stone and dirt, and laid grass-seed and hay on top. This was all done mid-April, and we now have a thick patch of grass taking root.

The backyard will be a continuous work-in-progress over the next year or two. However, G and I have been working tirelessly to remove and/or move plants around to make the yard more usable. We have removed all the trees except our magnolia, and most of the random hostas and grasses growing in the middle of the yard. It is beginning to look more like a yard than a jungle!

Mostly, the backyard needed a lot of cleanup on top of removal of random pieces. The green single-pane windows that were not beneficial to our energy bill have been removed and rehung with double-pane Pellas. Unfortunately this little project came a bit quicker than anticipated after I caught my hand through the middle window during a clumsy accident. (No trip to the ER was necessary, but I do have a cool scar now – whoops!) The back screen door was thrown away and the back door was replaced with a steel door for security purposes also. G has patched up a few of the cracks in the foundation that are due to settling over the years, and we plan to paint the base soon.

We also have a pile of 300 foot-by-foot blocks to build a 12 foot x 24 foot patio outside the backdoor, and a fire ring with bricks to design a hang-out area. We already use our backyard weekly, but we’re looking forward to creating this outdoor space to enjoy the sunsets that can be seen over the field behind our home.

The latest area of work has been the South side of our home. Originally, there was a small landing that boasted several overgrown bushes behind a small fence and a busted rocking bench. We have removed the landing completely with only the rocky underlay still there. G dug out a trench (in-progress shot below), painted the house-base, and placed drainage from our front downspout to go down to the backyard. He also removed all the bushes and overgrowth pictured below and we have since planted grass along the entire decline.

I’m excited to see where our yard continue to grow. G and I have a lot of plans, but patience is key to having them come to fruition.

I have been loving seeing what plants pop up around the yard and deciding whether to keep them and/or move them. As someone who was not gifted with a green thumb, I am always looking for suggestions and advice on how to better our yard, specifically with plant recommendations, so please share!

Happy planting, my friends,

 

A Coffee-Inspired Bridal Shower Gift Basket

This post is made possible by the delicious chai latte from Starbucks I’m drinking. I’m at the keyboard early this morning, having a little Me Time before heading to Indiana to celebrate the beautiful bride-to-be. It’s wedding season! I love Spring because it is the mark of hitching season. And there is absolutely nothing I love more than celebrating marriages of those who have found their special One.

It is so fun to put together creative DIY gift basket ideas to give to friends and family getting married. I *clap* just *clap* LOVE *clap* it! Today I am sharing a bridal shower gift that is coffee-inspired for the couple who loves mornings together over a tasty brew.

I put together this cute coffee themed gift basket for G’s cousin Kelsey and fiance Nathan in mind. This adorable couple had engagement pictures taken centered around steaming mugs, and are all about traditional home-style delights. Seeing a request for Trader Joe’s Dark Roast on their registry and running across this set of coffee mugs while at Meijer, I put my thinking cap on and started piecing other coffee bar necessities together into the basket.

I was aiming for a visually-pleasing aesthetic to the basket apart from finding key pieces. Picking up my personal favorite Trader Jones blend as well (mmm French Roast), I decided the coffee bags themselves did not fit the look of my basket in mind. So I found some simple brown lunch bags, and made two cute labels to better fit. I apologize for the blurriness of this picture; I must be too hyped on caffeine in the final photoshot.

One label reads, “Love is Brewing” beneath the names Nathan & Kelsey. The other, “The Perfect Blend.” I found three earthy pictures to compliment the packages as well, and used Canva to create the labels. The pictures are of palm leaves, succulents, and coffee plants in rows.

Not pictured separately, this basket hides the remainder of the two Trader Joe’s coffee bags at its base, with six kitchen towels laid on top of them. A pure white sugar bowl and creamer server sit nestled between the couple’s mugs, and a Wood Wick Vanilla Bean Candle will provide a gentle back noise to those early mornings shared together. All in all, pretty much everything newlyweds would need for a bright morning rests in the basket.

The final two pieces in the basket were hand crafted by yours truly. I bought a Cricut Explore Air 2 after Christmas, and opened the box for the first time to complete this gift. Thankfully, Cricut supplies you with a few pieces of cardstock and instructions to teach you the very basics of Design Space prior to letting you go create on your own. The card created was a minimal little diddy that read “Enjoy” on the front. I couldn’t think of a better excuse to utilize that card than with this gift, and finished the message inside by writing, “Wishing your Happily Ever After begins with a good morning…”

After mastering the greeting card design, I decided to try something more difficult. I found the perfect blank chalkboard at Michael’s, and knew I wanted to add a cutesy saying to it as a decor piece for Kelsey’s home. I scoured Pinterest for ideas and fell upon this: “Good days start with coffee and you.” Could that be more perfect?! I fiddled with the fonts, liked what I saw, and decided to add a bit of color as well — a gold foil mug and coffee beans were the best additions.

I am so happy with how this basket turned out. I popped in a few fake flowers to add some texture to it (flowers from my own wedding’s arrangements.) The towels are stealthily placed so the porcelain pieces will not hit one another as I make the drive to Indiana, and my car already smells amazing after having the basket inside for only a few minutes. Oh! And the basket itself was a good find at TJ Maxx last autumn that I expected to use as a gift in the future. So the planning process all kind of fell together!

Do you have any weddings coming up? What are your favorite things to gift for the bride-to-be or to the couple at the wedding?

Good morning, friends,

Wine Pairings For Your Easter Brunch

It is about time for another Wine Wednesday, isn’t it!?

Easter falls late this year meaning you have plenty of time to find the perfect wine combinations for your holiday meal. With thousands of wine choices to choose from, finding that perfect pairing can be difficult! Fortunately, creating a friendly and delicious wine menu to pair with your celebration can be made easier when enlisting the help of others. Spring into the season with these foolproof menu options:

Whether you choose a traditional Easter ham for 2019 or go with chicken or lamb, you are covered:

  • Most people believe tradition states dinner wines must be dry. However, the combination of salty, smoky, and sweet flavors in an Easter ham diminishes the tastes of dry wines. Instead, look towards German wines such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Choose an off-dry version, and the delicately sweet flavors with underlying acidity will cut through the richness of the ham.
  • If you decide to roast chicken this holiday, nothing pairs better than Chardonnay. Chardonnay offers a perfect balance of crisp freshness with toasty notes. Try either unoaked or oaked for two diverse tasting experiences.
  • For the red enthusiasts, no Easter dish compares to lamb. Lamb is strong in flavor which can support full-bodied, tannic red wines such as a Cabernet Sauvignon. Enjoy your lamb roasted or grilled with a glass of Cab Sauv and even a chilly Spring day will be a bit warmer!

Salads can be as diverse as wines. Keep it simple. Opt for mixed greens with Balsamic vinaigrette, and you will be pleasantly surprised with a pairing of Merlot. The rich oak flavors found in Merlot combined with highly acidic Balsamic create an amazingly full profile that is sure to please everyone.

When it comes to side dishes, there is quite the spectrum of delightful wines to savor. With a potato side, you should be tempted by a dry rosé wine. Having a pasta dish? You can never go wrong with bubbly, which is always festive. Bubbly also enhances cheese dishes! Traminette or another semi-sweet white wine pairs well with slaws. However, if you are not wanting too many drink options on the table, it is always a good rule of thumb to pair the same “meat wine” with its side dishes.

For the grand finale, let’s talk dessert. Though a sweet bubbly always pairs well with dessert, there are wines called “dessert wines” for a reason. A late harvest or icewine will truly wow your guests! Wines with citrus hints or exotic flavors will create a richness on the palate to both lift and support any dessert of your choosing.

Happy Easter to you and yours!He is risen!

Our Bathroom Remodel

In October I shared with you that the first big project G and I were undertaking with our home would be remodeling our bathroom. (You can see our plans for this remodel here.) As our one and only bathroom in the house, this remodel had to be done quickly, yet accurately. Luckily I know two of the most hardworking, dedicated, and talented men available to do the job: my husband and my dad.

These two worked their butts off. G and my dad started the project on Friday, December 21st and completed everything except the closet shelves and decor details by Wednesday, January 2nd. The only piece of the original bathroom which remained was the toilet. The guys gutted the walls, rewired the electric, created a fan vent through the roof, replumbed, and brought in a new tub/shower and vanity. Plus, they hung dry wall, painted, and laid tiling on the floor. It was a rough way to spend the holiday break, but the final result was well-worth it — G and I could not be more happy with our new bathroom.

Since moving into our new home at the end of September 2018, G and I dealt with our bathroom in the state below:

The flooring did not match. The wallpaper was peeling from the walls. Our mirror was hanging from the wall light with a bread-bag tie due to exposed (hot) wires behind it. And our shower was a walk-in that took up space where we were already lacking. We bought the house knowing the bathroom would be our first remodel.

The remodel began with gutting the walls to the studs. We removed the walk-in shower/tub and replaced it with a light-weight Vikrell bathtub and a shower wall. We had considered tiling the shower area but decided that, with our time crunch issue, the one-piece surround would be as nice. We’re happy with this decision as the surround we chose has six shelves, plenty to hold the majority of our shower necessities.

Then came some of the more technical steps of the remodel: rewiring the electricity, replumbing with PVC piping, venting the fan through the roof, and setting the subfloor. I won’t pretend to know more about these steps than their general idea. All I know is the bathroom increased in outlets so I could use a hair dryer and straightener at the same time, and that our fan is now functional. Thank goodness for handy men!

Being such a small bathroom, I chose a very light color for our walls: Valspar’s White Sage. I matched our shower curtain — which is a treescape of dark grey fading to soft green — to the wall color in-store and am happy for the slight touch of color the walls now offer. Set against our white-and-gray tiling, the bathroom looks bright and calming.

The vanity has a similar veining as our tiles as well. We were able to find a vanity short enough to allow smooth passage into the bathroom, but also full of storage space underneath. Our mirror and wilderness painting were both gifted to us, and fit perfectly into the aesthetic of the space. All our finishings (the faucets, hooks, and rods) are the brushed nickle Lilyfield style found at Lowes. And our wall light, which has the appearance of dew-drops over candlelight, are the Alexa model made by Progress Lighting.

Following the main haul of the remodel, G and I had been patiently using the bathroom to see what changes needed to be made before finishing its completion. We realized right away that our daily necessities, such as toothbrushes and hair tools, needed to be easily accessible. I found these great racks on Amazon which now house these things for us right next to the sink — and I would highly recommend them to anyone! We also decided to utilize an additional shower caddy because even six shelves weren’t sufficient for all our shower needs.

And, after nearly three months, G and I finished our bathroom closet as well! My vision of open shelves came to pass with the help of my very talented husband:

Now I am no longer storing all our cleaning, medical, and bath supplies in the office. I never realized just how often I used ibuprofen and body lotion until when it wasn’t within direct proximity of the shower/sink! Our shelves, which G sawed, fastened, and stained, are 27 inches deep and over 36 inches wide. Plenty of space to store even the most unused oddity for our personal care needs.

I could not be happier with how our bathroom turned out or prouder of what G and my dad accomplished. Plus, watching this cute guy working to create a piece of our home was a great way to spend my holiday break…

Next on our list is the exterior of the house. Not only do we plan to remove most of the foliage from the back and front yards, we also have to redo drainage along the sides of our basement (we have a walkout), build a deck on the front and a patio in the backyard, and redo landscaping. It is going to take a lot of elbow grease and dirty clothes, but we’re excited to get our little home sparkling from the outside as well as the in!

Have you done any DIY projects on your house? Please share your stories and/or pictures in the comment below!

Happy projects ahead, friends,

 

 

 

*Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any businesses mentioned in this post. I did not receive any free merchandise and/or advertisement perks for mentioning their products.