June 25, 2011

The Great Garden Taming of 2011

I took a hiatus from tiling the shower the past couple of weekends* because 1. Ryan was traveling for work and 2. our back yard started looking like this:

Jungle-licious, yes?

Umm, no. With the potential for friends or neighbors stopping by over the July 4th weekend, we just couldn't put the weeding off any longer. We picked up some mulch for the front yard and some veggie plants for the back on Friday, and I got to work early this morning. The garage and crepe myrtle give us a little bit of shade in the morning, so I wanted to get out there while it was still somewhat cool. I rounded up my gardening gloves and the trowel and clippers that Ryan gave me for my birthday this year, heavy-duty trash bags, a rake, and a hoe - and yes, "Inch by Inch, Row by Row" was stuck in my head the entire time. Roughly five hours later, I have mosquito bites, blistered fingers, and thighs that can no longer move into the squatting position, but I also have my patio back!

I also finally planted our vegetable garden. This year, we chose four kinds of tomatoes (Early Girl, Taxi, Brandywine, and Beefsteak) and two hot peppers. We also have lettuce that carried over from last year, basil, and a mystery squash. We've never planted squash, so we're not sure where it came from. I guess we'll let it grow and see what we end up with. Our tomatoes are never particularly successful - neighborhood squirrels tend to steal them before we can get to them. But sun-warmed tomatoes fresh out of the garden are one of summer's great pleasures, so I'm determined to do whatever it takes this year!

As for the chimney pots used to border the raised beds, the Corinthian column, and the random fence door to nowhere, all I can say is that we've done the best we can with what was here when we moved in. When we decide to take on a more extensive patio renovation, these things will be among the first to go!

Now I can get back to tiling with a clear garden conscience!

* This seems to be a theme. Is this why our shower project is taking an eternity to finish?

June 4, 2011

Past Projects... Refinishing Floors

We took a break from working on tiling today to focus on the important task of relaxing. It's been fabulous, and I'm confident that we'll get back to work tomorrow feeling all the more refreshed and enthusiastic.

I thought I'd take this day off to share one of the very first things we did with the house, back in the winter of 2008 - refinishing the wood floors. And by that, I mean we hired someone to do it for us. We're pretty into doing-it-ourselves, but this was one job that we just weren't prepared to take on.

The house's floors are the original 1897 heartwood pine, but over the years, they'd been stained dark brown on the first floor, and were mostly painted on the second floor. Our house can be pretty dark inside because it's a row house in the middle of a block, so we figured that restoring the floors to their natural lighter color could make a big difference in brightening things up.

And it made a huge difference. These are before and after photos of our guest bedroom and master bedroom (don't worry, these are old pictures - we've done a lot of work since these were taken).

The guest bedroom...

And our master bedroom...

The feeling of the whole house completely changed with this one relatively simple project. We've moved a few walls around since then, so we'll have to have those spots of the floor sanded down and polished in the future.  But for now, we couldn't be happier with the new life breathed into some old wood!

June 3, 2011

Subway Tile Layout

Our first subway tile layout dilemma of this past weekend... do we go with butterfly or wrap around style corners? Ryan and I completely made these terms up, so I found a couple of pictures to illustrate what we're talking about.

The one on the left is what we're calling butterfly style because the tiles are the same size on either side of the corner, and they look kind of like wings (at least to us!).  The other type's tiles are cut to look like there's one full-sized tile wrapping around the corner.

We went back and forth on which way we preferred it. When we worked the math out though, we realized that we'd have the same size tiles in each of the four corners if we went with the butterfly style. That appealed to the neat-freaks in both of us. Here's a shot of our handiwork.

As you can see, one of our cats, Sabi, is very interested in this project. She's been checking it out daily, but I bet that ends as soon as she figures out its true watery function. 

We're really excited to finally see this project moving ahead!