April Showers Brought May Flowers…

May 04, 2012   //  Posted in: Backyard, Beach, Gardening   //  By: Emily   //  4 responses

… and also, lots of beach glass.

Can you believe I’ve been gathering a full cup of beach glass each time I walk on shores of Lake Ontario? This was just one trip. Two pockets. Half an hour.

Beach glass. Keep on littering, people.

Things are back to feeling springtime-ish again, it’s finally nice enough to enjoy the garden and the beach. I dismissed every old wives tale and most rational landscapers when I prepared the flowery, overflowing potted plants on my deck prior to May 1st. In nothing short of rebellion, it snowed the very next day, so I carried all of the plants, even the gigantic planter (now weighing at least half as much as me thanks to 1.5 cubic feet of wet potting soil) inside and allowed them to begin their planted life soaking sunlight through the window.

As May 1st came and went, the weather improved on cue, and all of those planters moved back into the deck. They’re thrilled. The strawberry tentacles reached outward another 10″ in 48 hours in an extreme celebratory feat.

Strawberry explosion.

Adding to the floral fun, I dropped the some yellow pansies into the tangerine hanging baskets that I painted last year, lined with some 14″ Coco liners that I picked up on the cheap at JoAnn’s with 50% off coupons (bringing them to just $2.99/each).

Planter, filled with pansies, very happy.

The baskets themselves are shaped more so like an abstract flower than other baskets I’ve seen and owned, and to add a little flair to the standard liners, I trimmed the edges with ordinary scissors to appear scalloped, each coco petal aligned with the orange metal petal.

Planter, filled with pansies, but now scalloped and cute. Extremely happy.

They’ll still need to be hung from one of the pergolas, but I’ll get around to that soon.

Twinsie planters; 18 pansies total.

The Bellis needed a new home too, anything really, it just needed to spread its roots. It fit nicely within a planter that I’ve had for years, but had forgotten about, a clean-lined IKEA find that looks nice against the deck and the other planters. Hopefully Bellis will grow into it a little bit before it stops blossoming.

Happier Bellis, barely planted.

I’ve also been seizing the short-lived opportunity to, uh, prune flowering branches in the neighborhood. Not from other homeowner lots or anything, just, publically accessible and within arm’s reach on dog walks. Worth it just to have some fresh blossoms over the kitchen sink for a few weeks.

Cut branches, blooming indoors in water.

Planting anything this weekend?

DIY Network: Tiny Yard Tips

May 03, 2012   //  Posted in: Backyard, Curb Appeal, DIY, DIY Network Projects, Gardening   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

I preface this with a very upfront “I’m No Landscaper” disclosure, but my little 1/10th-acre lot is a great place to start learning the landscaping essentials without getting totally, whole-heartedly, and robustly overwhelmed. I can mow the whole yard 20 minutes flat, I can drop $20 and have the whole front yard sufficiently mulched, and I’ve been able to keep up with other regular upkeep by workin’ the 5 tips that I outline in today’s post on DIY Network.

First signs of springtime, a happy sight. Not so happy, the mulchy leaves from fall, but they did their job.

Go check it out for yourself, and add to my little list. There are plenty of good easy-to-do tips out there for the common homeowner!


Behind Closed Bi-fold Doors

May 02, 2012   //  Posted in: Closets, Organized, Stairwell   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses

I’ve briefed you on this situationĀ before. On any given day, the possibility of the linen closet explosion knocking you down the stairs was 8-in-10. The contents within were crammed like a clown car, and there were many days when a-blind reach into theĀ darkness could not yield a pillowcase or dust rag.

Closet disaster, revealed.

After I made some adjustments to the door frame and installed a new and fully-operational bi-fold door, there were no excuses keeping me from taming the wildness that had been slowly gathering in this closet over the last few years. Eagerly, I stripped it clear and assessed the situation; I can’t recall if I had slapped a fresh coat of white on the inside when I moved in, but there’s an completely equal chance that I didn’t do as much as spray it down with Lysol. In any case, the closet was a bit ragged. More ragged than you’d expect a closet that stored rags to be, anyways.

There we have it, a stark naked linen closet.

First things first, with the racks removed, I cleaned the space and started planning a hand-painted stripe design. By using paint from my own basement stash, I managed to complete this update for $0.00, and in just a day with no excessive trips to and from the store. And by using paint that already flows cohesively through the house (Behr Summer Field, shown as the upper half of the living room), it was an easy win in keeping with the defined color palette.

Hand painting the stripes in the closet meant fully embracing the soft edges and streaky effect left by the 3″ paint brush, while trying to reach the point where it looked neat and intentional and not like I gave a child the paint brush and turned my back. With the first wall, I spaced out some pieces of painters tape that were level to give me some sort of guide line (for similar reason that I did this with the painted pillow cases, just so my natural motions didn’t leave me with curved lines like when you write on unruled paper). It worked well. I didn’t have a specific line width and spacing planned when I started, I just followed what felt right after the first few lines, and was happy with the overall organization.

As I moved onto the second wall, I penciled off level lines from the already-painted stripes so that they would wrap fluidly around the wall.

I used tape to help mark out level lines initially.

Painting with the brush and avoiding paint trays and rollers made it a really quick and neat process. Because the linen closet had been built so the base had several tiers, I comfortably sat inside and had all of the stripes done within an hour. With the door partially closed, I’m told I looked like I was in a confession chamber. And Cody had no idea where my voice was coming from, which made for hysterical howling and him running up and down the stairs past me during the entire project.

Confessional or closet painting?

With all three walls painted, I left the tiered base white. It cleaned up pretty well, so I left it to dry overnight.

Cleaned, shiny, ready to be refilled.

The coated metal racks I never really liked for no good reason other than that they’re not especially pretty, common, and expected; I had immediately planned to lose them all together and replace with some stained 1×12 boards, but in trial, I didn’t really like the way the stained shelves were looking so I ditched the plan. Back in went the metal shelves, although note that instead of creating really deep shelves like what was there originally, I only replaced the shelves that rested along the back half of the closet, leaving more open space in the front. Immediately, it was apparent that reaching into the depths of the closet for a beach towel or painters cloth would be dramatically less dramatic, while still giving us plenty of room to stack our linens. I guess sometimes it’s about limiting how much space you give yourself to store clutter?

Hand painted striped closet.

When it came right down to organizing the contents back into place, I followed some advice and donated a whopping 1/3 of our junk towel stash to a local animal shelter (that’s two paper garbage bags full). Considering further that much of the time we’re using rags and painting cloths in the basement, I moved another 1/3 of the towels into a bin in the basement so they were more handy, leaving the final 1/3 in the best condition to be stored upstairs. Most often, the little towels are used for dusting and the big ones are used for drying off wet dog feet, so we didn’t actually feel like we needed to have 45 on hand anymore.

All of the linens went back in, and I even still had room for our three bigger beach towels and the 4 seat cushions that I remember to put on the outdoor patio chairs from time to time. Things like Pete’s Carhart suit, a random unused kite, and a few table cloths that I’ve never once draped went into a trunk in the attic where they can stay nice and dry and accessible, but totally out of the way.

Perhaps the best outcome of this reorg is that I still had some leftover room for cleaning supplies and toiletries. The cleaning supplies, previously stored beneath the bathroom vanity, and in two kitchen cabinets came together simply and can rest out of child’s reach on the top shelf of the closet. The toilet paper and excessive boxes of tissues (I had a coupon) fit along the bottom shelf of the closet, accessible to all, and thankfully clearing them out of the guest room’s closet. Because there’s nothing like waking your guests up at 7AM when you need a new roll.

Oh, I'm so happy to be organized.

When you look into the closet straight on like in that above photo, you don’t really get a taste of the hand painted stripes. But they’re still there, and very visible when you’re glancing in to either side of the space. Voila.

Oh, I'm so happy to be organized.

I know everyone’s in full-on spring cleaning fever, so what have you been plowing through this week?