Stuff to this this weekend…

Renovating an old house, there are always projects, and the joke is when you own your home there are never ending projects. But I’m pretty sure with an old house, more projects accumulate and they can pile on quick…

Ahh, C’est la vie. This weekend is no different, except it’s crunch time because next Saturday we our hosting a family reunion in our backyard! [Eek!]

August 8th is my mormor’s 85th Birthday and my Aunt Judith’s 70th Birthday (she married my mormor’s brother), so that’s reason to celebrate in our family! There will be around 40+ people here! But they’re family right, so they won’t judge us by the fact that the paint on our garage is peeling, or our hanging flower plants on the porch are dead… right?

This weekend’s To Do List to prepare for the party:
Paint the garage
trim some tree limbs (not really party related)
Vacuum up all the dog hair floating around our house
mow the lawn
weed whack
polish the silverware (yes, we eat with silver from our paper plates)
make homemade tzatziki with cucumbers for the garden
purchase the beer and wine for the party
gather kindling for the fire pit
dust off some tables and chairs
put up our pop-up tent/make sure we have all the pieces
put together music playlist
discard Leo-landminds
decide where we want the rented tent/table and chairs to be set up
regular chores: dust and mop the house; clean the bathrooms; laundry

I’m forgetting a ton of stuff, but that is the gist of our busy, fun-filled weekend. We did manage to sneak in a game of dominos with some friends tonight, and I tried my first go at pickling cucumbers from our garden, which I will post later.

Now, I will leave you with a few backyard party photos from our rehearsal dinner, which will be two years ago this month!

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Veggie Garden

I find gardening very rewarding. When you think about it, growing plants is not rocket science. Plants need water and sun. Simple. Yet keeping plants alive is a craft and not everyone has a green thumb as they say.

Luckily I inherited a gardening itch from my grandparents, and for the most part my thumbs are green. My mormor (mother’s mother in Swedish) can turn a pile of dirt into a lush green garden. Her talent amazes me. A lot of our house plants were given to me by her.

When we lived in Albany, we participated in the Community Gardens and grew our own vegetables for several summers in a row. Growing your own food is the most rewarding gardening there is.

This summer with the help of Sam’s mom and her husband Mark we made some raised garden beds in our backyard. We thought this would be an easier option, rather than having to dig up the hundreds of rocks that are hidden under the soil. First, we searched everywhere for cedar planks to build the beds out of, but after doing some research hemlock is a more common and naturally not resistant.

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Rocks and Fire

Summer nights are for bonfires at our house.  That’s what you do when you live in the country. We inherited a fire pit when we moved in, but it was small (maybe 2 feet wide) and built into a slope. The spot was right off our deck, so that was convenient. If there were more than four people it was crowded and if you had too many beers there was the issue of falling into the fire because your chair is tipped at a right angle.

As usual I do not have a before picture of our fire pit, except for this awesome shot when we were power washing the deck. Forewarning, our house was a dump when we bought it and the pit was burried by three years of weeds.

Behold the fire pit pre-fire days. You don’t see it? It’s under that big pile of weeds (see it behind the deck steps). You can see the rocks peaking out from the burr bushes.

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Old Deck Furniture

We have been in our house three years now. That’s THREE summers with no furniture on our deck. Other than our grill and a few plants, the deck was naked. My grandparents had given us a large round metal table with 5 chairs, but it was too big. So they found a home on the grassy knoll next to the deck, which sits under the canopy of 100+ year old beach tree. The spit is picture perfect, if I do say so myself.

This summer my mormor (mother’s-mother in Swedish) had more outdoor furniture she wanted to trash. It was a small metal bistro set that had seen better days. The plastic seating had started to disintegrate, so that needed to be replaced and there was some rusting. When I was transporting them to my house, I stupidly left one in my car all day. In case your wondering, rotting plastic on a hot, humid summer afternoon releases a toxic smell that is pretty horrific.

The first step was to remove the old plastic weave, which was rotting so bad it basically crumbled in your hands and did I mention it smelled? It took me a good hour or more to strip both chairs and the table.

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Before

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Flash Back to Spring

You might remember this post: Knott-the-Pine. Well this past Spring we tackled the hallway, which was covered floor to ceiling with knotty pine. I took a few days off, and my plan was to do both the hallway and the office. Three days later, a bucket of water and Trisodium phosphate (TSP), a gallon of paint, and the hallway was the only space gleaming with delight.

It took some convincing from my husband to help me with the project because for some crazy reason he actually LIKES the knotty-pine. Luckily the rest of the world agrees with me and this trend is never coming back in style, so I showed him a few pictures of how clean and bright our spaces could be if we painted. The transformation was exactly was I was hoping for.

First we cleaned and stripped the walls with water and Trisodium phosphate (TSP). Sam’s dad is a cabinet maker and recommended this stuff to us. It’s basically a cleaning agent and it removed the varnish from the pine. We wiped the walls down once, and you could see the varnish start to drip down, so one of us washed and the other followed behind to wipe up the mess.  Then we started to paint the walls with a two in one-primer. We were going for a weathered look so I rolled on the paint while Sam used a big brush to create a wood-grain look with the each stroke. I had to compromise with Sam because I honestly would have done a second coat. With this technique you could still kind of see the dark pine underneath, but as I said, Sam likes the wood. I do love that you can see the knots and cracks from the wood. I think it adds character and our house is 135+ years old so nothing is perfect around here.
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I’m back!

Hello again….blog world – I have been MIA for a very long time, and I’m hoping to stick around this time…

Over the past few years we have been busy with house updates, family, friends, travel, and life.  I have fallen in love with a lot of other DIY and fashion blogs, and reading them has made me miss writing in mine.  I started my blog in 2006, and I’ve documented a lot of my life’s adventures.

Unfortunately when I switched servers recently I lost some photos, so hopefully I can try and get those back! Or hey – I will can start over with new beginnings! Today is a raining Sunday, and I can’t think of a better way to spend the day than updating my blog.

Etsy

I have an obsession with Etsy.com. I love everything about this site and the thought that a lot of people have never heard of it boggles my mind. This needs to be bigger than EBay and Amazon people! Not a day…or hour goes by where I am not taking a peek at what’s new. For me it’s a place to find cool one of a kind treasures from individual people and sellers.
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Kitchen finds

So I have this is sickeness – OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). If you want to leave out the fancy terminology and call me a neat freak – that works too. I think it’s in the genes because my dad has it as well.

Last summer when we were visiting Sam’s brother and his wife in Connecticut we stopped at a Scandinavian store in Mystic, CT that my mom use to take me to when I was little. We found these fabulous Swedish dish cloths! At seven bucks a pop we only bought one, but that is all you need because they are made of this all-natural cellulose and cotton material that never smells. They are are also very absorbent; can be machine washed; they never leave any streaks; and they are SWEDISH!

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Honeymoon – Part II

The first week of our honeymoon was spent in Venice, Italy and when it came time to say “arrivederci” it was extremely difficult to leave! I’m pretty sure this city has some mystical magical powers….and it’s a little bit of heaven on earth.

Our next stop was Florence, a complete change of pace from the slow moving Venice. I think there was a moment when Sam and I looked at each other and we both thought…lets turn around and go back to Venice! But after a few days we found Florence to be a special place too. The city is a walking city and walk it we did… it also sits smack in the middle of the Tuscan mountains, which is an amazing site to be seen.
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