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Around Here

27 Jan

Remember a few months ago when I talked about renovating our linen closet? Really, how silly is it that we renovated a linen closet? But we did. We enclosed a weird vent, covered the existing washer/dryer hookups with a removable cover, and finally added shelves.

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There’s a bit of trim that needs to be added, which you can see in the bottom left in the photo above. We’ll get that added eventually, but for now it’s done. And more importantly, it’s functional!

I also got around to adding some curtains to the guest room.

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They are Ikea Ritva curtains. I purchased 2 panels, cut them in half, added a seam to the cut edge, and hemmed them. A lot of work, but I wasn’t interested in paying $100 for 4 full panels. They do close completely and cover the window should guests want to close them.

A while ago, I shared a picture of this cute little black table we received from family.

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It was in really rough shape. I used wood filler on the top to smooth out the gouges. After a good sanding, I primed and painted, and here it is now.

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Pretty cute, right? I used Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze. I was going for more charcoal/black (which is what the swatch appears to be in the store and in my google image research), but I’m pleased with the green tone. Given the rest of my house, this isn’t a big surprise! It will live in this corner of the new office. Perfect fit!

Speaking of the office, my updates on the bookshelf progress stopped mostly because the actual progress did too. We got them to a decent place in time for Christmas and then life  got in the way. Here is how they stand now.

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Since my last update, we added the trim and backing to the shelves. We planned on leaving the backs open to the wall, but because the walls aren’t plum, there were huge gaps between the back of the shelves and the wall. Adding the backing helps disguise the issue. Obviously, it would have been far better to add these from the get go. Adding them so late in the game resulted in a lot of extra work and a lot of extra curse words.

Steve has started working on constructing the doors for the bottom of the bookcases, I’d guess he’s about halfway done with them. Between his work schedule and other commitments though, it will probably be months before they are completely finished.

This weekend I got started on recovering the chair for the office. I purchased it for $20 from Goodwill 3 years ago.

Before:

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And now:

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I got an itch to get this started, so I started stripping the fabric on Saturday. Doing this in the guest bedroom was probably not the best decision, but the chair won’t fit down the basement stairs (they are only 30 inches wide), and hauling it outside to the rear basement entry didn’t sound like any fun at all.  I still haven’t picked a new fabric, so I need to get on that!

Happy Monday, and thanks for checking in!

The New Dining Room

21 Jan

Happy New Year to you all!

I’m back with more details and pictures of our formal living room turned dining room. We got the room pulled together just in time to host a really fun Christmas dinner at our house.

It was lovely all dressed up for the holiday.

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And a far cry from where it stood only a few days prior.

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And here’s a few more pictures of what it looks like now.

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The two bookcases will be emptied once the office bookcases are complete. I’m toying with the idea of having Steve add doors to the bottom and top of them to turn them into china cabinets. I have no idea if that’s even doable, but I would like 2 matching cabinets opposite each other in here. The one we have now is an old Ikea one I painted and has several chips (despite sanding and priming, the paint didn’t adhere very well to the laminate).

Also, it wasn’t until I looked at these pictures that I realized how off center the rug is. Looks like it can be moved a good foot toward the back wall. Amazing what you see in pictures that isn’t obvious in person!

Anyway, I am thrilled with the end result and so pleased to have this room put together.

Some details:

Wall color: Benjamin Moore Coastal Fog

Light fixture: Hampton Bay Barcelona Chandelier

Rug: Seagrass from Natural Home Rugs

Upholstered dining chairs: Ikea Hendriksdal (I don’t think the armchair version is available anymore)

Sconces: Ikea Rodd Wall Lamp (spray painted gold and cord painted to match the walls)

Curtain fabric: Essential Stripe in Hickory

Chair Pillow Fabric: Braemore Fern Fabric

Bookcases and china cabinet are all old Ikea pieces purchased for our first apartment 7 years ago.

The rest was either passed down to us or purchased at an estate sale, antique market, or thrift store.

Not too shabby for such a hodge podge!

Merry Christmas

24 Dec

From our home to yours!

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Bookcase Progress

17 Dec

The bookcase bases are in!

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Originally we were planning on priming and painting each individual piece before the installation but at the last minute we decided against it. Since this is just the shell of the bookcases, only the insides and the counter need to be painted at this point, and that’s a fairly simple process in this state.

There are 4 individual cases along the wall. Each case is made up of 2 side pieces and 6 supports.

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You can see that Steve added the supports in the front and back of the case in key spots. Each case is held together by a series of dowels, wood screws, and glue. I wish I had a picture of the assembly process, but it required 2 sets of  hands. Putting them all together was relatively simple but made somewhat complicated by walls that are not square.

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Steve will anchor all 4 cases to the back wall and then to each other. This weekend he plans on adding trim to make them look like one unit. The trim will be added between each case above and below the counter, along the top, and along the bottom. Crown molding and base boards will be reinstalled on top of the trim leaving some reveal which I think will be a nice touch. We’ll be using preprimed boards for the trim so a final coat (or 2) of paint will be added once everything is in.

Painting is my job this week. I’m planning on 2 coats of primer and 2-3 coats of paint depending on coverage. I will leave the last coat for after the trim is installed. I got the first coat of primer on this evening 

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The final steps will be to make doors for the space below the counter and to add shelves above.

In other news, we got the new light fixture installed in the dining room which I love! More pics soon when it (hopefully) isn’t such a wreck!

Chaos

11 Dec

Steve and I are currently in the midst of our annual end of year push to complete projects in time for Christmas. Last year, it was the wainscoting and crown molding in the hallway. I’m crossing my fingers that next year it will be putting the finishing touches on our screened porch to sunroom conversion. This year however, it’s turning our dining room into an office and our formal living room into a dining room.

I mentioned it before, but we’re making the switch for several reasons. We need an office, a larger dining room would be nice, and we don’t have a need for a formal living room (the family room and eventual sunroon will make for plenty of seating areas). Steve has been drawing (and re-drawing) plans for his office for months. There are a ton of books in our house and not nearly enough storage, so building bookshelves in the office is a big priority. We looked into using the Ikea Billy bookcases and making them look built-in, but in the end Steve decided to build his own from scratch. Here’s a look at the plans he made in google sketch up. The bookcases will run against the entire back wall of the office.

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And here’s a reminder of the dining room looked like pre-office conversion:

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Before Steve got started building the bookshelves, we cleared out the old dining room and took out the base boards and crown molding on the back wall.

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While Steve got started building the first of 4 shelves with his father last weekend, I painted the room. We went with Sherwin Williams Intellectual Gray.

Last night Steve dry fit the first shelf against the wall.

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I am so impressed! This one will eventually be moved up against the left wall and the shelves will run wall to wall. He still needs to build cabinet doors for the bottom, a counter top above the base cabinet, and the actual shelves. Rinse and repeat 3 more times. I think we’ll get started priming and painting this week, and he’s hopeful to get the other 3 built this weekend. The cabinet doors and shelves may wait until after Christmas.

The existing seagrass rug that was in this room will stay. Steve will likely build a new desk. We picked up this cute little table from his grandmother’s house when she recently moved which will live here by the window. It needs a few repairs then I think we’ll give it a fresh coat of black paint.

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I picked up this leather chair at goodwill years ago. I had no idea what I would do with it, but it was so cute and so cheap (maybe $20) that I couldn’t say no.

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It’s in super rough shape and in desperate need of a new upholstery job. In the new year, I’m going to try to re-upholster it on my own. It will require taking it down to the frame and building it back up. Sounds scary, but I’ve been doing a lot of research and reading a lot of books, so I’m hoping it will work out. It will go in a corner of the office, and I think it will make the perfect reading chair.

We will use the office as an opportunity to finally frame and hang our diplomas, and we’ve got some other ideas for wall art. For now, the lantern light fixture will stay here as it’s too small for the new dining room. Steve would ultimately like something else in here. I think it looks great in the office and should stay, but if he finds something else I’ll probably move it to our bedroom.

Finally, I’m going to keep the brown and cream striped curtains in here. I actually already made another set and moved the existing set into the new dining room since there are two windows in there. For consistency sake, I decided I will make yet another set to hang back up in the office.

Moving into the new dining room, converting this room is taking much less work. Here’s where it stood a few months ago.

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We had an electrician add an over head light since one didn’t exist before. We purchased this light last weekend at Home Depot to hang over the table (still need to actually hang it):

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I also painted in here a couple of weeks ago using Benjamin Moore’s Coastal Fog.

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I rolled out the herringbone seagrass rug that used to be in our family room and moved in our pedestal side table and head dining chairs. The lamp was another goodwill find years ago. It originally was filled with seashells. I emptied those out, rewired the lamp, and used rub and buff on the base to freshen it up. The mirror is from the guest room. This room will be wood heavy and I felt like the texture on this mirror would make the room feel a bit more casual.

These shots are from last weekend before I hung the curtains.

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Once the curtains were hung the next morning, we emptied the old dining room into here which turned this room into pure chaos.

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You may notice 2 dining tables in here. One is our existing table, and the other we got from Steve’s grandmother. The table was her mothers and is from the sixties. We love it. It has 2 leaves and can go from a 4-8 seater. This is exactly what I was looking for in a table to use in the eventual sunroom, so we’re saving it for in there (the idea of eating our casual meals at a table with some much family history makes me very happy). For now, it will probably be used as Steve’s desk until he builds one, and it will be use for extra seating at Christmas which is why it’s here.

Here’s my new Christmas Tree skirt basket! How optimistic to take it out amongst the mess! I got it on Cyber Monday from Terrain (now that I have it, I think it’s overpriced but I love it and I got free shipping so what can you do?).

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On the back wall where the chairs are lined up, we will put yet another piece of furniture we received from Steve’s grandmother. Really, she gave us some great pieces, and there’s several more I haven’t shown yet. The caveat is that it needs a bit of work, but I’m hopeful that we’ll get most of that taken care of this weekend. Here’s a truly awful shot of it in the basement, but hopefully you can get an idea of what it looks like.

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I’m going to re-hang my arrangement of silver platters that I had in the old dining room above it, and I’ll add my milk glass and green plates to the mix.

As well as some sconces! I purchased these from Ikea last week and spray painted them gold to tie into the ginger jar lamp on the other wall.

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Those are the plans and progress as of now! Fortunately, I think we can knock out a lot of the remaining work this weekend (leaving just painting and installing the bookshelves left to do). Plus, we took the week of Christmas off so there will be time for finishing touches then.

This may be delusional, but I’m also hoping to decorate the inside of the house for Christmas this weekend. At the very least, I’d like to get a tree up! I’ll report back next week!

Coming Clean

30 Jul

It’s been awfully quiet around here lately. Not because nothing is going on on the home front, but because I’m way too embarrassed to show you what I’ve been working on. But in an effort to document my progress, I figured it was time to come clean.

You guys, my backyard is a disaster.

I’m not just trying to be dramatic, it’s an actual disaster, and I get a little anxious just thinking about everything that needs to be done with it. I made it my personal mission to get it taken care of this year, but progress has been excrutiatingly slow for several reasons. One, I’ve been at it mostly by myself. Steve has been working incredibly long hours this Spring into Summer, often going in on the weekends just to keep up. Two, the obnoxious amount of rain we’ve received lately has not been conducive to yard clean up (I recently heard it’s rained in Atlanta everyday in July except for 3 days). And three, I’ve been taken out twice with poison ivy. My arms, legs, and sides were covered in itchy blisters for probably a month total. If you’ve had poison ivy before I’ll let you take a second to commiserate with me on how miserable it was. If not, I hope you’re lucky enough to never encounter it. It’s brutal.

Our lot is pretty strange which has made things more challenging. We’re on a cul-de-sac so we have a nice pie shaped lot, and we back up into woods so it’s relatively private. But in the back there are some large slopes which make getting to some spots tricky. Oh, and it’s all covered in ivy. Oh, the ivy.

Here’s a picture of our lot on the plat (which I badly doctored, and the house is not to scale) to help you get acquainted with everything:

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The area to the right (we call it the side yard) is large and flat and more like the traditional back yard. The original owners had several sons and poured a black top back here for them in the 60’s. As you can imagine, after 50 years it was ready to go. Here’s what the side yard looked like in March:

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From the front yard

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Looking toward the front yard

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You can’t really see the black top, but it’s under the branches and dead leaves in the picture above. In the back to the right there’s a creek that runs through part of our property. You can’t really see it here either, but it is so nice to have.

Directly behind the house things get a bit challenging due to the hills. See the front of the house here?

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See the large drop off on the right side? The grade change is kind of extreme. Our basement is completely underground on the left side of the house and about 1.5 stories above ground on the right. So there’s a hill right behind the house. Here’s what it looked like in March:

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Out of control saplings and ivy. You can’t even see the concrete steps leading up the hill.

And around the screened in porch, things get a little crazier. Also from March:

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I know I’ve mentioned some of our plans for out here before, but next year we’re really hoping to convert that screened in porch into a sunroom and enclose the back of the garage.

Things get more complicated in the back of the house with the steep hill.

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Oooh the ivy! I hate it!

Our property actually goes back a good ways. The property line ends a bit before the back neighbors fence you can see in this picture. An awful chain link fence surrounds our lot, but it’s hard to make out in photos.

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I’m not sure we could ever really use the land beyond this little hill without spending a lot of money. For now my plan is clear it up to the top of the hill and keep it maintained there. We’ll also clean up some of the straggly trees.

In March, just after all of these pictures were taken, we hired someone to come in and remove the black top from the side yard and clear that whole area with a brush mower. Because of the steep terrain, they couldn’t reach the back of the house, but they did some serious damage in the side. Here are some befores and afters:

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Then Spring Sprung and plants and weeds popped up where nothing was before and here’s the state of the side yard today:

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The plan here is to clear all of the remaining ivy in the side yard. In the Fall we’ll have someone come out and grade the area and seed grass. I’ll also probably plant a few trees for more privacy to the right (Also, the ivy on the trees situation is obviously a problem. We’ve taken care of most of it, but it can take up to a year for all the ivy this invasive to die once it’s been cut). Long term I’d love a traditional potager in the back here. Wouldn’t something like this be lovely?

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Via Country Living

And/or maybe even a green house?

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Via Better Homes and Gardens

But for now, ivy control and grass are the main goals here. When we take care of the grass in this area, we’ll also take care of the front lawn. More on that disaster here. It was also roughed up when the blacktop was removed because the dumpster was put in the front yard.

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Onto the side hill. Reminder, here’s what it looked like in March:

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And after the brush mowing:

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And now:

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Look at that! Steps! And weeds!

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We plan on cutting down the trees by the foundation. Wouldn’t a row of limelight hydrangeas look fabulous here? With peony bushes? And creeping jenny? One day.

To the right of the steps is a true disaster.

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I was really hoping to avoid using herbicides here, but we’re to that point. I sprayed it two weeks ago with mild success and just sprayed it again last weekend. Once everything has died, I’ll take a weed eater to it to get rid of the bulk. Then I’ll cover it with pine straw until I figure out what to plant here (blueberry bushes! fig tress! options are endless!).

This hill by the porch will likely get the same herbicide/weed eater/pine straw treatment. Here it is today. You can see I’ve made a smidge of progress (we’re also in the process of rescreening the porch which I mentioned here. The screens are up, just need to add the wood supports.).

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I don’t want to block the view from the porch into the side yard, so I’ll need to figure out what to plant here that won’t get too tall. As a focal point, I’m considering a tuteur in lieu of a view blocking tree. Something like this maybe?

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Via Houzz

We also need to deal with the water/gutter issue that’s eroding the bricks on the back of the fireplace.

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Going back toward the garage, things aren’t looking much different these days. I’ve mowed the ivy on the flat parts and that’s about it.

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As I mentioned, I’ll clear the ivy to the top of the hill and plant a garden. I think I’ll also plant more trees by the fence line to block out the house back there in the winter when the leaves are gone. Loooooong term, I’d like to replace the chain link fence. Once we enclose the garage, I’d like to put up lattice against the new back wall of the garage and plant jasmine to grow up it.

As for a patio area, I’ve considered every patio surface under the sun. I don’t think it will make sense to add anything here until the porch has been enclosed since we don’t yet know where we’ll put doors leading onto the patio. Since I imagine we’ll be a little tight on renovation funds after taking on such a large project, I’m thinking a pea gravel patio may be our best option. I love the way they look, and they’re also affordable. Of course, they require more maintenance, but I’m totally willing to keep up with it. Here are some pictures of what I’d like to end result to feel like:

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Via House Beautiful

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Via Houzz

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Via Better Homes and Gardens

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Via Chicago Home Mag

I’ve gone a little crazy on Pinterest looking at garden and patio ideas lately!

So there it is. My needs-some-serious work yard. I’m hoping to have it all looking presentable by the Fall and then continually tweak it forever.

Around Here

12 May

We’ve been making small updates around the house over the last couple of months, so I thought I’d share some of the changes.

We made a headboard for the master bedroom and finally started decorating the space. Here’s what the room looked like the last time I shared it.

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And now (though still much to do):

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I liked the prints of the vintage eggs I had over the dresser, but since you can see the maps we hung in the hallway from the bedroom door, it started to look too busy.

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I found these John Derian plates 40% off and couldn’t pass them up.

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The light fixture came from the Ballard Designs outlet for $50.

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I decided to move the rug that I purchased for the bedroom to the family room and start over in here. The neutral rug was too plain. Ideally I would find a fabulous vintage persian rug for here but finding one in the size I wanted would be waaaay out of budget. I ordered a sample of Pottery Barn’s Isaac Rug, and I think it will add the pattern the room needs.

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While substantially less expensive then a traditional persian rug, it still isn’t cheap so I’m slowly saving up for it. Also left to do is add a chair in the empty corner by the window:

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And replace the existing nightstands that match the bedroom set in the guest room. I’m also considering repainting because I have to repaint a room at least twice to call it done.

Here’s the old bedroom rug in the family room now:

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The herringbone seagrass rug I had it here has been moved to the empty formal living room. Rug musical chairs!

The guest room has also seen a few tweaks:

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I came across these smurf lamps at Target on clearance for $13.48 apiece a few weeks ago.

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I spray painted them cream and replaced the small Ikea lamps I previously had in here.

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A couple of months ago I came across one yard of quadrille contessa fabric on etsy for a steal. I was initially planning on using it in the master bedroom but changed my mind and used it to cover the existing pillow in here.

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I also finally filled the empty frames over the secretary and found a lampshade for the old alabaster lamp I purchased last year.

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Lastly, I’ve been working in the yard every chance I get in an effort to clean up our overgrown (understatement) back yard. And even though we had to push off converting our screened in porch to a sunroom this year, we decided to re-screen it now so we can enjoy it over the next year. It’s only costing us $100 in materials (why didn’t we do this sooner?) and will probably take another 2 or 3 days of work to complete. Here’ some progress shots:

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I think we’re all caught up now! Until next time!