29 May 2013

The Garden Tour

Calling what I am about to show you a garden tour is actually sort of comical.  You have to promise not to laugh though, ok?  There is a reason I haven't shown you much of the backyard (or the front yard for that matter) over the lifespan of this blog.  It's a mess.  Greenery is not our forte.  BUT, remember my post where I said I wasn't going to put stress on myself to be perfect?  This is a pretty darn good example.  My old self might not have even shown this to you, but my new non-perfect self is going to share away.  If nothing else, in hopes that in a few months it will look a bazillion times better.

Before I get started with the 'tour', I have a confession.  We love to DIY around here, but we also know when to hire out.  This year we hired a lawn company and a dog poop company.  Yes, we actually did it, we hired someone to pick up the poop.  And let me tell you, it is the best $10 a week we have ever spent.  We also hired a company to come and do lawn fertilizer, re-seeding, etc.  This is why....

Back yard.

See those giant dead spots?  That is what a Great Dane does to your yard when you don't watch him each and every time he goes outside.  Basically we got lazy over the winter....and this is the result.  Our postage stamp of a yard needs major help.  The company assures us that they can fix it for us, so we bit the bullet and signed up for a whole summer package.  I look forward to showing you nice lush grass in a few months (cross your fingers for us please!).

So, let's just forget about the uglyness and move onto the flowers, shall we?

If you saw The Week's End post on Sunday then you saw that we had a little family planting session last week.  Planting flowers with a toddler is an experience I won't soon forget.  Keeping things organized and in one place just didn't happen.  I embraced the dirt (sort of...).  Many flower heads were pulled off and many rocks were re-positioned, but in the end we managed to get everything in the ground (and have lots of fun while doing it!).

kid was here
A kid was here!
I added a few pots to the umbrella base that I showed you last week.

Ikea umbrella base with lavender plants

The green and white pots are filled with lavender.  It has the most amazing smell, I love having those plants right next to the table so I can smell it while sitting out on the deck.  

I also filled an old Ikea watering can with some flowers.

watering can planter

The pots going down the stairs received some purple petunias.  Petunias = easy to keep alive!

purple pentunias

The little orange watering can is Fin's.  She is in charge of watering all of the pots in the back yard and she takes her job very seriously.

Along the fence we have a lilac tree on standard (for those of you who, like me, who didn't know what that means - on standard means it's on a trunk. Or in our case, on a twig).

lilac on standard

This poor little tree has been through the war year after year, but this year so far it's looking good.  The blooms are about to pop.

purple lilac tree

Underneath the lilac we have 4 Day Lilly plants.

day lilly under lilac

Last year Mr. Swell got a little too aggressive with the weed whacker one day and chopped 3 of them right down to the ground (total accident).  Those are the 3 little ones.  The one in the back wasn't chopped, and it's really going gung-ho this spring.  I think this little area needs a small fence around it to prevent further whacking incidents. Another thing to add to the ever-growing list.

We also have a couple of garden plots in the back yard.  One year we were quite ambitious and actually planted veggies.  The last 2 years they have been weed gardens.  This year we decided to try planting some wild flower seed.  It won't be veggies, but at least it won't be weeds.  Apparently they take 4 weeks to germinate, so we are still waiting to see what's going to pop up.  (There are little green sprouts right now, but I am not convinced they are actually flowers, I think it might be clover invading the garden.)

Moving onto the front yard....

Last year I planted all purple flowers in the front, but this year I decided to change it up and went with red and white. (Very patriotic of me!)

window boxes

The flowers are called Nicotiana, which I have never planted before, but they are quite pretty.

Front of House at www.aswellplacetodwell.com

I am hoping that they are are going to spread out and fill up the window boxes and the little flower bed beside the sidewalk.  (I also hope that cedar tree is going to come back to life!!).

hanging wicker basket

In the flower bed under the front windows I planted 3 new red poppy plants.  About 2 days after planting them they were looking a little worse for wear, but I have been babying them and I think they are slowly coming back to life. 

front planter

I also added a row of chicks & hens along the front and hope that they will spread out and cover up some of the ugly dirt.   We did think about adding mulch (and still might), but for now the dirt will stay exposed.  (My fur helper was quite good at photo bombing, wasn't he?).

I also did up a little pot of chicks & hens for the front step.

hens & chicks in planter

I think painting those front steps is going to have to be moved up to the top of the to-do list!

Garden 'tour' complete!  I hope that with a little rain and sun our pathetic 'garden' will look much more robust in a month or so.

How about you? Any planting going on?  Any tips for me?  Please tell me I am not the only one who has paid someone to pick up dog poop....please....

We are off to see the rental house AGAIN this weekend.  Things are super close to being done, and it's taking some effort to make sure that everything is up to our standards.  I can't wait to show you the finished house...it's come a long way from its sad flooded state.

26 May 2013

The Week's End - May 26, 2013

The week's end -aswellplacetodwell.com

24 May 2013

The No Fail Way to Clean a Paint Brush

Now I've put the pressure on, haven't I?  The no fail way....ok, disclaimer....it's no fail for me - every time! I hope it will be no fail for you too.

I have my fair share of painting experience.  I don't think a week goes by around here that there isn't a paint brush of some kind being used.  After much trial and error, and a lot of brushes being tossed into the garbage, I have finally perfected my method. 

First, let's talk brushes for a quick second.  I believe in quality paint and quality brushes.  Please don't cheap out.  Cheap brushes = a cheap paint job (I could keep going, but I'll stop there on the cheap references...).  Purdy brushes....they are THE best and the only way to go.  This is completely my opinion - Purdy has absolutely no clue that I even exist.  The Purdy brushes are the only ones that seem to hold their bristles, and also don't give me goose bumps from the rough handles.

This method will only work for latex based paints.  If you are using oil based paint/stain you will need to use mineral spirits to clean your brush.  

Ok, without further adieu, here's my tried and true paint brush cleaning method.

The no fail way to clean a paint brush from aswellplacetodwell.com

#1. When you are finished painting, toss your brush(es) into a mug of hot water.  Let  it sit.  An hour, a day, it honestly doesn't matter.   ** note: If I am going to use the brush again the next day with the same paint, I will just wrap it up in plastic wrap without washing.  If it's going to be more than a day I wash the brush so that clumpies don't form.

The no fail way to clean a paint brush from aswellplacetodwell.com

#2. After letting it soak for while, dump your mug and run your brush under hot tap water until it starts to run mostly clear.  Then take a dish scrubber (I prefer the round plastic ones.) and scrub the brush going in the direction of the bristles (from the handle down). Don't go all crazy and start doing circular motions or anything, as that will cause the bristles to go all wonky.  The scrubber is really the key here - it's what gets all of the left over latex bits out of the brush.
**note: I am sure this goes without saying, but please dedicate a mug and a scrubber to paint brush cleaning and don't let them mingle with your regular mugs/scrubbers.

The no fail way to clean a paint brush from aswellplacetodwell.com

#3.  Once your brush is clean then fill your mug back up with half super hot water and half white vinegar and plop the brush(es) in again.  Yes, vinegar.  Just the plain white stuff that you can buy at the regular grocery store.  Let them sit.  Again, doesn't matter how long.  I usually leave mine overnight.

The no fail way to clean a paint brush from aswellplacetodwell.com

#4. Take the brush(es) out and dump the mug.  Squeeze out as much water as you can from the brush and then fan the bristles out just a bit.  It's all in the vinegar.  The vinegar helps soften the bristles up again so that you don't have a stiff stuck together brush the next time you paint. 

That's it. Let it dry and it will be good to go for the next time you are ready to paint.  

Just to prove that this method actually works - I've used this brush more times than I can count and it still has a lot of life left in it. 

Let me know if you give this a go and how it works for you.  Does anyone else have a tried and true method?

Linking to: Remodelaholic

disclaimer: contains an affiliate link

21 May 2013

We Are Finally Able to Eat On Our Deck!

When we last left off talking about the deck we had sanded and stained it, and it was a great big blank gray deck just waiting for some furniture.  Well, I am happy to say our deck now looks like this...

Deck @ aswellplacetodwell.com

Well, obviously not exactly like this all of the time.  I rarely keep glassware and wine bottles on the table with a very busy toddler running around, but I can pretend that this is my life for a little while, right?  Mr. Swell thinks it's very odd that I take such joy in setting a table for nobody.  I think it's sort of fun to shop around our house and figure out what I can move from room to room.

Deck @ aswellplacetodwell.com

This year we've only purchased 4 new things for the deck.  

The big umbrella is from Ikea. 

Deck @ aswellplacetodwell.com

It's the big brother to the Baggon Umbrella, but I can't seem to find it on Ikea's website any longer.  We spent way too many hours looking at umbrellas at different stores (a toddler and umbrella shopping are not really the best of friends!!), and found the Ikea umbrella to be the best deal without being total junk.  It's actually not junk at all for $89.  

I love that it covers our whole eating area. 

Deck @ aswellplacetodwell.com

The only thing that it didn't come with was a heavy base, so we had to buy 4 cement pavers to hold it down, which were another $30.  Still less expensive than umbrellas at many of the other big box home improvement stores.  Although the pavers take up a lot of room, I actually prefer it to a heavy base as I can move it around easier when Mr. Swell isn't home.  It doesn't do really well in wind (the actual shade part flaps around quite a bit), but then again, what umbrella does?

The outdoor rug is also from Ikea.  It's the Springkorn rug, and it comes in a multitude of bright colours, but we both really liked the teal.  The Ikea website says it's $49, but our local Ikea had it on for $40.  Strange.  At $49 it was WAY cheaper than any other rug that I could find.  We've tested it out quite a few times and it washes down really easily - even blueberry smoothie came right out!

Deck @ aswellplacetodwell.com

The placemats were $2.49 each at Target and I love how they bring together all of the colours in the rug.  A total steal. 

Deck @ aswellplacetodwell.com

Deck @ aswellplacetodwell.com

The last thing I bought were the flamingo napkins.  I am not sure if napkins count as something I bought for the deck, but I did buy them with drinking outside in mind, so I guess they sort of count.  They are also from Ikea.  

Deck @ aswellplacetodwell.com

I really wanted the flamingo glasses that they have that match, but I couldn't justify the purchase as I have nowhere to store them.   

Fin really liked the glasses too. 

Ikea madness

This is how we roll at Ikea.  Immerse yourself completely in the scene.  

I plan on putting some flower pots with herbs on the cement pavers, but for now a few of my garden-y type things are holding down the fort.

Deck @ aswellplacetodwell.com

Deck @ aswellplacetodwell.com

We have a long way to go with the back yard still, but at least the deck is looking about a million times better than it was.  For 3 summers we have hardly eaten out on the deck, and this year I think we've managed to eat out there at least a couple of times a week.  I love being able to take messy snacks (aka blueberry smoothies) outside and then just hose down the rug afterwards.  

Anyone else working on a deck?  Anyone have those flamingo glasses and want to bring them over to my house?  I'll fill them up with a cocktail for you and then keep them.

19 May 2013

The Week's End - May 19, 2013



Black Globe Eggplant

Evening Walk

Kid was here



17 May 2013

{13 Things}

13 things logo

1.  I feel like I have been lacking on the DIY lately.  Hopefully you guys are cool with a little DIY break.  I have a bunch of things in the works, just nothing quite finished.  May seems to be flying by faster than I can keep up.

2. Which brings me to my next point...the basement bathroom.  I promised you a reveal, didn't I?  Ack. Close...so, so, so close.  All I have left to tackle is the mirror above the sink issue (it's totally not centred).

3. Let's ponder it over this, shall we?

It's Summer Squeeze Grapefruit Ale by Alley Kat Brewing Company.  Alley Kat is a local brewery and we are regular (if once every couple of weeks counts as regular!) drinkers of the ApriKat, but this grapefruit is perfect for summer.   (this pic is pre-deck sanding....obviously...)

4. Target opened in Alberta last week!!! I know you Americans are rolling your eyes because it's OLD news to you, but seriously, this is a big deal for us.  We needed coffee cream the day it opened so I decided to check it out....to buy cream....was I insane?  The line up to pay was about 40 people deep and the cream was not worth it. 

Hot pink gnome - I was seriously tempted!  (Julia - the white one sort of looks like your kitchen gnome, doesn't it?)

5. I saw these Jelly Fish Air Plants on Yellow Brick Home this week and fell in love.  They are from Petite Beast on Etsy (and are totally affordable). Unfortunately they don't ship to Canada.  Not to worry though...I smell a DIY.

6. While we are talking Etsy....this is amazing.  Don't you want one?

7.  I downloaded the RunKeeper app a few weeks ago and it's my new best friend!  It records all of my runs, tells me distance, elevation, time, etc.  The best part is that it lets you take a picture and store it with your run data.   

My runs from this week:

Does anyone else have favorite running apps?

8.  My new favorite song to keep me motivated (which usually happens right around kilometer 4) is Serena Ryder - What I wouldn't do.  Love it.  (On a side note, have you heard Sleeping at Last's remake of 500 miles?  It's a slow song, so not so good for running, but it's ah-freaking-mazing.)

9.  I bought this buffet at a garage sale a few weeks ago.  It was a total steal.  I am still undecided on colour.  Any suggestions? I plan on selling it.

10. Chris wrote about his method for roasting potatoes.  As a potato lover, it has changed my life.  

11.  We bought a new laptop so that I didn't have to sit in the basement all the time when I'm on the computer. That sounds sort of wimpy, doesn't it?  I guess it sort of is.  With spring finally arriving I wasn't digging spending hours on end (I work from home some days) in our dark cold basement.  I am in love with our Mac, but we couldn't justify spending the money on a MacBook for a second computer.  We bought a HP that was a pretty decent deal.  BUT...what the heck is the deal with Windows 8?  It's enough to make me want to pull my hair out.  Has anyone else had to deal with it? Tell me that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Right now every time I seem to move my thumb against the track pad (which apparently I do A LOT), it switches from the internet to the email.  Annoying.

12.   The flooring is going into the rental house this week.  ya hoo!  We are hoping to get down there on Monday, so I will make sure to take some pictures.

13.  Lastly, I want to take a moment to say a huge thank you for all of your support of The Week's End posts.  I am really loving having a day every week to share my photos with you, and am so happy that you are digging it.  I have officially turned into a mamarazzi, and I am sure it's driving my family nuts, but I am just loving everything that I am learning and that I am able to capture our daily life in an authentic but still (somewhat) polished way. 

In case you want to learn more too, I will tell you that I have found Clickin Moms to be the most useful site in learning all about photography.  It's an online forum that is packed with tutorials and others who are willing to help.  It does cost a small fee to join, but is honestly the best money I have spent in a long time.  The advice is so down to earth and doesn't tend to hurt my brain too much.  (p.s. their blog is really good too!).

I have committed to taking a photo a day for May.  It's definitely challenging me, but I am really looking forward to having a full stack of photos at the end of the month that capture our memories.  

Have a great weekend!  I'll be back with The Week's End on Sunday and then some actual DIY stuff next week....

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