I smile and allow myself to be enveloped by a medley of warm and fuzzy feelings when I imagine covering the walls of our home with one-of-a-kind art pieces that conjure up memories of times well spent and people greatly loved. But because I’m a girl on a budget, I’m not quite as fond of the price tag that comes with many unique paintings and prints, and I don’t have the skill set to put pen to paper and create epic masterpieces on my own either. To solve the conundrum of having champagne taste on a beer budget, I’ve been known to use three methods: repurpose projects my friends have created (like Eric’s concert posters), use canvaspop to print my favorite photographs, or get nifty with design software to make colorful mini-posters we can change with the seasons with minimal effort and cost.
Each method has proved an acceptable solution to my dilemma, so most recently, I’ve tried to bring extra pizazz to the house by once again employing the third of those tactics—creating art on the old lap top. Recently I’ve been carried away by the enthralling shapes of some of the succulents in our neighborhood, and I thought perhaps that recent obsession could make for some nice hallway flair. I conjured up this little number one recent afternoon based on two of my favorite neighborhood cacti.
Like me, the print is a little cheesy, but I enjoyed coming up with a way to incorporate my favorite colors and our love of gardening, neighborhood walks and each other in one fun and simple piece. I printed the finished design on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock and bought a frame on clearance at Target to spruce it up. Not bad for hallway art.
Whelp, the time finally came for Bro to move out of the doodle house. His departure came about a month ago, and with him went the Foosball table (at our request), which meant it was time for us to look into more sit-able table options for our newly naked back patio. Muah ha ha, another weekend project to put on the books.
I did some fact checking and number crunching and figured the best option for us would be to pick up a prefab picnic table from Lowe’s ($88) and gussy ‘er up with a bright coat of paint. It would be affordable. It would be easy. It would be done!
I chose to paint it what my pals calls “P-Terry’s blue” a sort of seafoam blue/turquoise color that is one the trademark colors of my favorite Austin hamburger chain. I’ve eaten many a meal on their blue picnic tables and it seemed as fitting a color as any to bring to the patio. Plus, I’ve gotten so accustomed to painting furniture and walls in shades of blue that not to just seemed wrong some how. You know what’s not wrong? The finished product…
In addition to prepping the picnic table, we also spent some of the weekend sprucing up the garden and freshening up things we had let go over the winter. The pallet planter got updated with some hardy succulents and we put in a handful of fast-growing, drought-tolerant natives along the back and side fence to give us some future privacy from the neighbors (and their incessantly barking schnauzers). Soon enough, I hope to have a really nice backyard space in which to romp with the doodles and host fancy pants backyard garden parties.
And, with luck, we will soon have edible goodies to fill the empty space on our PTerry’s picnic bench. Heath stayed busy by tending to the veggie garden, planting sugar snap peas, lettuce, onions, potatoes, broccoli and carrots.
I’m so excited by all that has developed in the backyard in the last two weeks with the rise in temperatures and rise in our morale. I better enjoy garden season while it lasts, because heaven knows by May the triple digit temperatures will be upon us again. Until then, who’s down for a picnic?
Admittedly, waiting a week between blog posts is unacceptable, and for this I apologize.
You see, I’ve been a bit busy over the past week. For one… I changed jobs, which has been wonderfully exhilarating but very time consuming. And for another, we have been wrapped up in a major yard rejuvenation. My garden guru (mom) has been staying with us for the past week to help us install a custom landscaping plan she designed for our front and back yard. She and Heath have been waking up at 7 am every morning to put the plan into action. I wouldn’t believe the transformation if I wasn’t part of the process.
I squeal with glee at the end result. What all did the plan entail, you ask?
1.) Weeding the existing flower bed
2.) Cleaning the succulent planter and adding gravel to cover the dirt
3.) Pruning the trees
4.) Marking a curvature for the bed
5.) Leveling and installing paver borders
6.) Scrapping grass from the walkway and landing
7.) Installing and leveling the paver walkway
8.) Shopping endlessly at various nurseries for the perfect plants and pavers
9.) Installing the plants
Already we are at step 12 and I can’t begin to describe the lengths they’ve gone to to make sure the new plan is not only installed but also poised for success. Every paver was perfectly placed and leveled and every plant was meticulously chosen, taking into consideration its water needs, soil needs, future growth, and cohesion with other plants. Nothing was selected on a whim. As good as it looks now, I know it will look even more marvelous once the plants mature.
Of course, the front is only half the story. The back is still in the works, but already we’re making progress to turn that from a wonky and weed-laden war zone to polished and pristine courtyard.
There’s more to tackle in the rear, as most of the projects taking place back there this week have been less the stuff of glamorous makeovers and more maintenance (taking care of some of the things we let slide during the school year). We removed a large brush pile we had long been ignoring, chopped down a dying tree, pruned up a tenacious Pecan and cleaned and reorganized the shed. And of course, there was a bit of harvesting.
Tomorrow is dear mom’s last day gardening at the old doodle house, but at this rate I wouldn’t put it past her to install a swimming pool back there just to prove she could. The woman’s a landscaping machine. I can’t wait for our next back yard bbq to show off the fancy new digs.
Handyman Heath has struck again, this time leaving a beautifully constructed horizontal cedar fence in his wake.
Yes, while I was spending my Friday night gallivanting with girlfriends Heath was getting acquainted with a handsome set of post hole diggers. Twenty four hours, three 2-foot holes, 240 pounds of concrete and $270 later we found ourselves the winners of a sort of fencing match.
It was our (Heath’s) first attempt at legit fence construction, but the final result couldn’t be more beautiful. Before the fancy fence, a significant portion of our backyard was visible from the street, as a 3.5-foot chain link fence didn’t lend us much in the way of privacy. And while I do post photos of our backyard for the world to see on this magnificent creature we call the Internet, I felt funny about so much of it being on display to every passerby in the neighborhood at any time of day or night. So after a bit of eye lash batting and finger hair twirling, I convinced Heath to gift me with this enchanting piece of back yard privacy.
Heath considers himself a novice craftsman, but proved to have a knack for fence building. To other “fencers” he offers this advice:
1) Keep a pickaxe handy. Blackland prairie soil (what we have here in Austin) is not easy to dig into. It’s hard and it’s thick, and you will save yourself a lot of trouble if you have the right tools. In this case, a pickaxe was the ideal weapon for tackling this muddy mess. Plus swinging a pickaxe back and forth is an easy way to get instant street cred on the East side.
2.) Make sure the faces of the fence post are even. While everything may be nice and level, the faces of the posts have to be flush with one another. Otherwise, you run into trouble when it comes time to put on the horizontal planks. A difference of an inch or two between the faces will result in a wonky, bendy-looking fence, which doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.
3.) Check that the wooden planks you select for the fence aren’t warped. This one got us a couple of times and forced a few unexpected return trips to Home Depot. A warped board will affect the leveled appearance of the fence. Instead of clean, even lines between each slat, you will wind up with variation that can diminish the entire clean and streamlined look of the project.
Building the fence was a big piece of completing the back yard puzzle, and while it will probably never be “finished” this, along with some extra weekend gardening, made the new house feel a little more like home.
I did not know that I lived in the desert, but it’s day 234862124 with no rain here in Austin and I have decided that it will never, never, never rain again. Despite our best efforts of regular evening watering, our plants and gardens are determined to stop living. But who can blame them? It. Is. Mis-er-a-ble.
The only plants that look to be somewhat, maybe coping with the recent break up between Austin and rain are the succulents. I was never crazy about the whole desert look. I opt more for the green-luscious-tropical vibe, but succulents have won me over and I have began brainstorming my next garden project–SUCCULENT CITY.