Archive | March, 2012

Mailbox Upgrade

26 Mar

You know when you’re going to take on a super easy, quick project but then things don’t go exactly as planned and next thing you know, you your husband has spent half the weekend finishing it up?

Ugh. Welcome to my mailbox project. And maybe the least exciting before and after ever?

Since we’re about to re-landscape the yard, I figured it would be a good time to give our 53 year old mailbox a facelift.

Sadly, I didn’t take a proper before picture, and this was the best I could dig up. From August, 2010. 

The box itself needed to be replaced due to peeling paint and overall dinginess. The paint on the metal pole was chipped and was getting pretty rusty in places so I wanted to put a fresh coat of paint on it. Easy peasy, right? A new box, a little bit of paint, and it’ll be good as new!

I ventured to Lowe’s and picked up a new mailbox a couple of weekends ago. I opted for plastic after an old man told me to save myself the trouble when he saw me inspecting the metal options. I figured he probably knew what he was talking about and went with the low maintenace option. I also picked up a wire brush, a metal primer, and oil based paint for metal in black.

Once home, I started going over the post with the wire brush. I found that the paint was coming up really easily, so I switched to a scraper to make the job a little quicker. There wasn’t really a good place to stop so I decided to scrape the whole thing. May as well do it right, you know?

Two and a half hours of scraping later, Steve came home from a morning at the office. While inspecting my work, we realized the bottom of the pole had pretty much rusted out and needed to be replaced. Things I wish I had known 3 hours earlier! Oh well.

You can see where it looks like someone tried to repair it in the past

Since we had electicity running to the mailbox (there’s a light on top), we wanted to find a new one with a light on it. I did a lot of research and couldn’t find an afforable option ($260 for a mailbox? No thanks.), and rigging up a new one didn’t seem worth the effort. So I purchased this low maintenance one from Home Depot:

I had to order it online, and it arrived late last week. In the meantime, we stuck the new box on the pitiful pole and called it a day.

This past weekend we removed the old pole (after turning off the electricity to the light) which took surprisingly little effort…

Then dug up the concrete base…

Made the hole a bit bigger…

And mixed up a bag of concrete. Next we placed a 4×4 in the hole making sure it was plumb and filled the hole with concrete. We back filled it with dirt after that and gave it a couple of hours to cure.

In the meantime, Steve cut the wires from the old pole, put them in an outdoor junction box to “kill it” and buried it for now. We’d like to put lights by the mailbox eventually since we already have electricity running to it, but this weekend wasn’t the time to tackle that project.

Once we thought the concrete had cured enough, we put the new post up which was as easy as sliding 2 pieces of plastic over the 4×4.

I do miss the charm of the old light, but that mailbox served its purpose for a long time. An upgrade was in order.

The 185 on the front of the old mailbox was the only thing indicating our street number on the front of the house. In anticipation of replacing it, I purchased this address plaque a few months ago. The plaque does include our street name, but I photoshopped it out for privacy.

In the next few weeks we’ll add bushes around the mailbox bed and some annuals to fill the dirt. I love watching everything bloom this time of year – can’t wait to get some more color in our yard!

Kitchen Complete

20 Mar

But before we get into that, let’s talk about yesterday morning. I woke up to find that an upstanding resident of Florida got their hands on our debit card number and spent the weekend dining at fine establishments (Checkers, for example) on our dime. Then I spilled coffee all over my car as I spent 60 minutes commuting 15 miles (usually only takes 30). It was a rough way to start a Monday.

But then Holly Mathis, who I have been inspired by ever since I came across her a year ago, wrote a nice post featuring part of my house and blog, and my day was filled with sweet comments from new readers. It was so wonderful to hear from each one of you! Thank you all so much for the kind words. I’ll need them as encouragement as we continue working on the rest of the house!

One thing we won’t be working on is the kitchen … because since the installation of our new dishwasher, it’s done!

Here’s where we started at the end of 2009.

Neither one of us liked the curve at the top of the upper cabinet doors and the brown Corian countertops still don’t do it for us. But we didn’t have the budget to change these things at the time, and neither one of us felt right about tearing out perfectly nice solid wood doors and expensive countertops. So we worked with them!

Before we even moved in, I painted the cabinets. And we continued to work on the kitchen slowly over time. In all we replaced the faucet, added the beadboard backsplash and corbels under the cabinets, replaced all the hardware, purchased new appliances, added a cabinet and open shelves on an empty wall, and redid the lighting.

And now we have a finished kitchen.

What a great feeling! I really love how it turned out, and I feel so lucky that we started with good bones (tiled floors, solid cabinets, nice solid surface countertops) and were able to make it ours relatively inexpensively.

That said, if I were to do it again, I would do just a couple of things differently:

I would have purchased a counter depth fridge. I had no idea fridges came in different depths, and my heart sank when ours was delivered and it felt like it stuck halfway out into the kitchen. I don’t notice it anymore, but I’m glad I know for the future!

I also would have purchased a wall mounted range hood. At the time, the added expense of wall mounted vs. under cabinet mounted didn’t seem worth it. Plus, we would have had to deal with taking the existing cabinet out and then redo the crown molding.

But don’t let these caveats fool you. I 100% love my kitchen. And I’m 100% happy it’s D.O.N.E!

Our Landscaping Saga

18 Mar

Our yard needs some serious work.

It wasn’t so bad when we moved in.

March, 2010

But about a month after this photo was taken, the yard was ripped up to replace a pipe running underneath. I guess when the county saw the permits pulled, they decided it would be a good time to access our side yard (to the right) to do some work on the creek that runs near our property. In the process, they tore up the side of the yard with the machinery. We didn’t really care – the pipe needed to be replaced and  aside from the grass, the county didn’t do much damage. And they promised to be back to the following October to sod the area they tore up.

Since April isn’t exactly the ideal time to grow grass, our lawn turned to weeds when all the work was done. And we were so focused on the inside of the house that by August the landscaping was embarrassingly out of control.

August, 2011

So one weekend we went to town weeding, chopping, and pruning. In fact, we may have been a little overzealous in our efforts. When October rolled around, the county sent out a crew to sod the right side of our yard. Since the front yard was such a mess, we convinced them to use the sod there instead.

January, 2011

They worked around the remaining bermuda sod that was in good shape and put fescue down everywhere except at the very top since they didn’t have enough. In retrospect, we should have asked if we could pay them to to the area up top too, but I guess it just didn’t occur to us. So we planted rye thinking it was too late in the season for anything else to come up.

Knowing we needed to do something about the rest of the landscaping, in January, 2011 I took a 6 week landscape design course through a local arts center. It was money well spent, and I walked out with a full set of plans.

Before we started re-landscaping, I wanted to have the exterior redone so we didn’t risk painters stepping over new plants. So in May, 2011 we had rotting soffits replaced, gutters and trim painted, and the vinyl siding on the gable replaced with hardi-shake.

June, 2011

We also purchased a mahogany door that we stained, sealed, and hung (the door was being dry fitted in the picture above so we could make any adjustments to it before staining). The picture above is also a good representation of why you shouldn’t seed rye. We spent the majority of last summer getting bermuda to grow there (the only seed option here in summertime) as well as cleaning up beds in preparation for new plants.

But we burned out. And I realized that I would rather have the family room finished instead of the landscaping done at that point, so we turned inside and spent our money there.

So here we are today.

February, 2012

We’re in the process of getting quotes to have stumps removed and areas cleared for new plantings. Then it will finally be time plant. More on my plans later. And this fall, we’re going to have everything that isn’t fescue taken up and put new sod down. You know, what we should have done in the first place. I will be so excited to finally complete this project!


13 Mar

I’ve been on the lookout for more pillows for the sectional in the family room for awhile. I’ve had a hard time picking something out because I’m afraid something with too much pattern or color will compete with the oversized prints on the wall. I’m certain there’s a way to do it, but it would require someone far more talented than me to put it together.

It’s difficult to tell in this photo, but the lighter colored pillows are actually in the same fabric as my striped background image. The lighting blew them out in the photo, but in actuality it looks much more like the stripes you see here.

I recently came across pillows on etsy made out of Shumacher’s Betwixt fabric in Biscuit/Ivory.

This particular pillow is from etsy seller NelsonDesign. I think the color of this fabric would tie into the gold tones of the prints I have. I ordered a swatch of the fabric, and it is a high quality linen – very lovely.  I’m trying to decide if I should make them myself, order them from NelsonDeisgn to save myself the hassle, or order the fabric and have them made locally. A tip I learned from Eddie Ross over the weekend was that many dry cleaners will sew pillows for a fraction of the price of seamstresses, and they’re just as capable.

I’ll price it out and keep you posted!

Weekend In Review

12 Mar

I’d say this weekend was one of the most fabulous weekends I’ve had in a while!

Friday night we enjoyed a sushi dinner (my favorite) followed by some appliance hunting. Because our white dishwasher just wasn’t doing it for me.

We found exactly what we were looking for at a great price, and picked the new dishwasher up Sunday. Here’s a blurry pic of it taken at the store:

More pics when it’s fully installed (and my kitchen doesn’t look like a bomb went off in it).

Saturday morning I headed to Scott’s Antique Market for a tour guided by the incredibly talented and creative Eddie Ross. The two hour tour was a real treat, and I learned so much. I think I’m generally pretty open minded and creative when it comes to reusing and repurposing items found in thrift stores, estate sales, antique markets, etc, but I walked away feeling like a total novice with so much to learn.

I didn’t take any pictures, but you can check out Eddie’s twitter for a bunch of photos from the tour.

Afterward, I spent about an hour browsing and walked away with this beautiful alabaster lamp:

And these sweet antique pillow cases:

Once home, Steve and I headed to my parents house about an hour north to spend the night with them and my sister and her family. I’ve been collecting silver platters to group together on the dining room wall, and my dad saw the beginnings of my collection the last time he was at our house. He mentioned that I may be interested in my mother’s silver that she’s has stored away for years. I asked to see it while we were there and was blown away when my parents pulled out an entire trunk full of silver! Silver coffee and tea urns, a sugar and creamer, bowls, wine goblets, wine bottle coasters, bowls, several platters, candle sticks and on and on. And I had no idea any of this existed!

My mother is an accomplished golfer, and she won the majority of the pieces in tournaments in the 60’s and 70’s. She said they used many of the pieces early in their marriage, but it’s been preserved in this trunk for decades. She offered it all to me, and I am so, so thrilled to have it.

Here’s the inspiration for my dining room wall (from here):

I spent a little time playing with the platters I’ve gathered over the last several months and the ones my parents gave me this weekend. Here’s a rough idea of what I’d like to do (laid out on the family room rug):

Steve and I headed back to Scott’s after we left my parents Sunday morning. Steve hunted down some old hand tools to restore, and I enjoyed walking through the market again (so much to see!). The rest of the day was spent enjoying the wonderful Spring weather (even if it involved mowing the lawn :)).

I hope you all enjoyed an equally wonderful weekend!