Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Operation Backyard Awesome : Private Parts

Normal people usually understand that someone's backyard is private property, for whatever reason there are a number of people in Lucan who are not normal; and don't understand this concept of private property. They apparently believe that all property belongs to them. Our backyard backs on to the back of a number of shops on main street, with apartments over them. Here's an old picture from last spring, before we took out the overgrown, useless raised garden bed pretty much smack-dab in the middle of our yard.

 It's come in pretty handy, since we basically back on to the only bar in Lucan, so it makes for a quick and easy walk home. Sometimes the neighbours cut through too, which we don't really care about. What we do care about are the crazy asses who come into our yard to steal our patio chairs after we only had them for three days. Or walk their dog around and through our yard, letting them crap wherever they want and not pick it up. Or my personal favourite (which happened the other day) biking through our yard. I was sitting in the van on the street, about to pull in the driveway when this lady on her bicycle came down it. For once, I was stunned into silence, although apparently the neighbour gave her an earful. She apparently thought there was a path there. Ok crazy, I can totally get how the vast green grass looks like a path, often people have dogs tied up to an umbrella stand, next to a garage, on a path; you're right. We're beyond frustrated with all these people. I suggested putting in landmines, but Jason says that's taking it a bit too far - really, it just comes down to we don't know where to get them. So we'll settle for a fence.
   That chain link fence on the right is the only fence we have, it's clearly open to the back, and it's open to our other neighbours as well. We get along splendidly with both sets of neighbours, so we never really cared about fencing in the yard. Until we got Kai. She wouldn't go anywhere, she's a great listener and stays when you tell her, but if she sees a squirrel she has been know to chase them...far. So last summer we started talking about fencing the yard. But then we discovered if we used the heavy, cast iron patio umbrella stand and some old random tools from the shed (like a mini pitch fork and a large spade and some railway ties) to secure it to the ground, then tie a long rope to it, it was sufficient enough to keep her in place. (Even when she's trying to kill Cujo, the neighbour dog) We almost won an award for most redneck pet corral, but the dog who lives in an old dryer won.

So now that we're actually having to be serious about putting a fence up (at least at the back) I've been searching for some nice looking options. I don't want the basic wood slat fence, if we're going to have to put one up, we might as well make it look as nice as possible. We're not sure if we're going to put a gate in or not. Here's some of my favourite "modern" fence ideas I've come across...








2, 3, and 7 are our favourites, although number 6 is pretty freakin' awesome! 2 and 7 are pretty similar, and would be the easiest to build. Regardless of what we're going to do, we're planning on doing some landscaping back there too. We've got to get a move on with this fence because we've put our awesome sectional outside, and we really don't want that stolen.

Which options do you like best? Have you ever had any issues with people coming through your backyard, or people stealing your things?

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Some Little Projects

I've been working on a few little things lately trying to summer things up a bit around here. Starting with the front garden. Last year we ripped out the brick at the front of the house to put a small garden, and it was ok. We had some blooming things (mainly because we planted things that already had flowers on them) but it was relatively sad haha. In the fall my mom and I planted a bunch of bulbs and I didn't really have high hopes for them, I'm a bit of a black thumb. I was always the kid who's stupid little bean never grew. That's why the only house plant we have is a succulent, because not even I can seem to kill them. But my garden out front looks great so far, and it's still early! So I had my mom and sister come out to help me weed, and we put up a little border around the garden, just using the bricks we'd pulled up.

I'm most excited about my rose bush. We transplanted it from the backyard last year, and it was pitiful, we figured it was dead, but it managed one bloom. This year it is looking WAY better, and I'm really hoping we get a few more than one this year.

There's still a few more plants and flowers I need/want to get in there, like some nice annuals, maybe some inpatients, and a few more begonias. There's some grape hyacinth in the backyard that we'll transplant up there as well as soon as we can (they're growing in the middle of the yard)

We also took off the ugly awning over the dining room window. It was one of those projects that take absolutely no time, and makes you wonder why on earth you hadn't done it sooner. And it lets is so much more light into the dining room now. We still want to take down those cedars, they're just too close to the house, but we want to wait until we're able to plant another tree first. Seems only fair since we already ripped out Bertha the giant bush. I also want to do some gardening/landscaping on this side, since it's not going to change at all, and it gets a bit more sun than the other side.

In terms of still summery, but less flowery things, I made some patio plates. I somehow have amassed a significant collection of plates, (I like to throw parties haha) so I decided to take the white plates I had and fun them up a bit. (they came from Dollerama) I started with a white plate and some Sharpie paint pens.

I was wanting to create something like the plates that Amanda from Love & Renovations scored from West Elm a while ago, I just loved them, but they don't sell them anymore, plus they'd probably be out of our price range anyway. So I figured why not try this Sharpie on white ceramics thing that's all over the place, and see if I could recreate a similar look.

Here's what I came up with. The colours are considerably more primary and bright, and a lot of my zig-zags don't line up all that great, but they're not too bad. I was a little disappointed with how they turned out, but Jase thought they looked good, and proclaimed they'd make good patio plates. So patio plates they shall become. The second plate I did looked better, and I devised a plan for the third one, so it should look even better. I've got 12 white plates kickin' around so I'll probably do it to all 12, and I've got an idea for salad plates, so hopefully I can get to those soon too.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Some Small Improvements

There have been a few small things taking place here lately, small, but very exciting things! Each big stage we hit in the kitchen is exciting. I remember when the fridge got moved in there, and the stove hooked up, it was like Christmas morning so I promptly cooked a most delicious roast beef. Then came the the instal of the cabinets, and sink, and I was actually able to do dishes, so I celebrated by doing the worlds largest stock pile of dirty dishes. And we were relatively good about keeping up to date with our dishes. The thing that I wanted most of all in there for a while were lights! We had one floor lamp in there that we'd switch between two different outlets depending if we were cooking or washing dishes. I was more than ready for lights, even if it was just the one over the sink. Thankfully I got more than that. (Sorry for the crappy pictures, I still have to use my phone, and it's really hard to get pictures of pot lights haha)

 Hello gorgeous illumination, where have you been all my life. We've had overhead lighting in here for a couple weeks now, and I still get all giddy and smile bigger than is necessary every time I flick them on. You can actually cook at night now, without getting the lamp cord caught in the oven door. Success! As if getting lights up in here wasn't enough excitement for me to handle Jason came home with this bad boy the other day.

 It's my favourite kind of dishwasher...FREE! That's right, that gorgeous beaut that matches the rest of our appliances was free! Jason switched it out at this guys house who got a new one, because this one didn't match the new fridge and stove he got. Jason called me to see if I wanted a free stainless dishwasher, I thought about it for a microsecond, then questioned why he even bothered to ask because what kind of person says no to a free dishwasher. I was thinking we'd take it as a temporary thing until we could get one that would fit better with our appliances. I didn't realize it was only a year old, and was super nice looking at fits in perfectly with his other appliance friends. We've already put two loads through, and he works like a charm. We feel like we're real grown ups now that we have a dishwasher haha.

Moving over a room, to the ever forgotten dining room, We've primed and painted (the top part), and the floor has been scraped clean of all the drywall mud slops and nails and other crud that was there, and it's ready for floor!

The floor is an engineered hardwood from Armstrong that we got from an auction before we even closed on the house, they've got a great reclaimed wood look to them. We're super glad we took every piece out of every box, because there was a ton of variation to them. There was a warmer more reddy/orange tone, and a lighter, blonder tone, then there were darker pieces to each tone. We sorted them into three piles, and decided to use the warmer toned ones in the nursery

It's even pretty in this poorly lit, night time phone picture. It should be going down Wednesday, then hopefully Thursday/Friday - or part of the weekend, will be devoted to putting down the kitchen floor so we can get this final home assessment done. I'm really looking forward to having the floor down in there so we can actually walk in that room without getting drywall dust all over our feet and traipsing it around the house. Just have to get my but in gear to do a few of the projects I've got for in there.

Nursery Mood Board: Scottish Bairn

It's been a little while since I've posted a mood board about a fun nursery. This one is one of my favourites, Jason and I both really like it, and could totally see our child taking up residence in a room like this. We both would love love love to go to Scotland, we've got a trip planned for when we meet certain goals in our life (and save up enough money). So until that time I'll live vicariously through pictures of the gorgeousness that is Scotland, and this cute little nursery.

1. This overhead light looks like it's wearing a sweater knit by your grandma!
2. A beautiful fine art oil painting of the Scottish Highlands. Oh how I'd love to be there.
3. Haud Yer Wheesht! Means Hold your quiet, or Hush, be quiet. Perfectly fitting for a nursery, no?
4. Along with rugby and Nessie, Shetland Ponies always make me think of Scotland. If you're not lucky enough to have a bunch of these weird little creatures tromping around in pastures near you to take a picture of, that's sad. Just google them, there's a ton of great pictures you could frame.
5. A branch lamp base paired with a simple white shade; rustic and charming, just like any Scot who opens his mouth.
6. It can't be a Scottish room without a nod to rugby...they love their rugby. We also love rugby, I picked up this ball from a 7's tournament Jase was in in NYC a couple years ago, and it's totally going in our child's room. Jason has said on more than one occasion he wants enough kids to outfit at least a 7's team.
7. A room deriving inspiration form Scotland isn't complete without something related to Nessie. There's so many cute prints on Etsy, like this one, or this one, or this one.
8. A flag shield to protect yourself from all those English invaders. This would be a pretty easy DIY with some leftover pieces of wood, or even a piece of ply.
9. I love postcards. We've collected a few from every trip we've been on, and I love when people send us postcards, so a vintage postcard would be a great addition to an art wall.
10. A vintage map of Scotland, to talk over all the places we'll go visit when we're there.
11. I once heard a Scottish comedian making fun of the fact that the thistle is the Scot's national symbol, and how they must've shown up dead last to pick that one, right behind us Canadians who get a leaf. Funny. These little thistle buttons would look really cute pinned together in a group of four in a shadow box on a fabric backing.
12. The cutest little sheep bookends ever, and since I couldn't really justify spending $135 (plus who knows how much to ship to Canada - if they even do) you could make your own (or rope a talented friend into doing it) (Use a cute crochet pattern like this one then stuff it with something to weight it down)
13. Refinish an old dresser into something that looks great, and will serve double duty as a changing area.
14. Keep the toes warm in the winter with this furry sheep like rug. Also would be fun to roll around in and run your face would probably like to do the same.
15. The Strandmon chair from Ikea, so lovely. This is what we plan to do with one of our wing backs that we'll use in our nursery.
16. Coordinate with some cute pillows, like this cute hounds-tooth one, or this plaid tartan one.
17. Hello adorable Nessie plush. I can't decide if I'd want to use this as a plush toy for baby, or stuff it full of something heaving to use it as a cute door stop. Either way, she's super cute and soft looking.
18. Dirty laundry should not have to be ugly, especially when it's cute little baby clothes. A woven basket would make a great laundry hamper.
19. Prop your feet up on this little plaid ottoman after a long hard day
20. The Sparrow by Oeuf.
21. Get some cute gingham sheets for the crib, and pair it with a quilt in your family tartan. Or just any tartan that you think looks good.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Operation Backyard Awesome : The Initial Plans

So, I mentioned that we were planning on tackling (at least part of) the back patio this year, and we're hoping to get started now that the weather's nice. We already ripped out the big bush, and cleared away a lot of other dead or dying plant life that would be in our way, so we're ready to think about the layout, and finalize a few things so we can dig the gas lines. This was my initial (super rough) idea that I came up with last year, more of a way to play with sizing. How, long and wide could we go, and all that jazz.

This idea doesn't work for a few reasons, but mainly it's just too small, and cramped. Here's a reminder of what the area looks like now. (minus Bertha the bush)

There are only four main things we're looking for with the patio:
  1. No more brick. We really don't like the brick. It's got copious amounts of weeds growing in between them, they're oil stained, and have massive dips in them from where the previous owners parked their cars. We'll be keeping the brick for the driveway for now, but it is our goal to eventually get rid of it, to put in something else.
  2. A dining area big enough to seat at least 8 off the back door.
  3. A designated "cooking" area close to the eating area. An outdoor kitchen if you will. (Since we plan on upgrading to a bigger badder gas BBQ down the line we'd like to run the gas line for it now so we don't have to make a mess of our pretty patio later)
  4. A lounge area with patio flame. We have a large outdoor sectional that will go around the patio flame making it like a conversation area.
  5. Must be made of wood, and must be pretty.
Not too big of a list of must haves. The first idea kind covered some of those needs, but not all of them, and it just seemed too small. We have a large back yard, so we want to patio to look like it belongs, and not be dwarfed. Here's what we  have in mind now...

It's got a little more oomph, and seems to hold it's weight better. See what I mean by we have a big backyard haha. And the blue spruce by the house is the only tree we have in our South facing backyard, so there's not much shade goin' on back there. You can also see, that this is why we need the help of a landscaper. We have a vast open space and no idea what to do with it. We need to put a fence up at the bottom of our yard to stop the crazy people from the stores and apartments above them walking through our yard. And we want to plant a few trees (we plan on planting one for every child we have) Anywho...lets take a closer look shall we?

Talk about a deck! This is definitely more of a statement, and definitely more our style and taste. Since we spend as much time as possible outside this idea covers our wants and needs better. It takes care of getting rid of the brick, it has a large eating area, under a pergola to provide some shade so our pasty necks won't get burnt (who am I kidding, we'll still get burnt - true story I got one of the worst burns of my life while sitting under a tree in the shade...I'm cool like that!) The pergola is attached to concrete pillars one of which turns into a bit of a bar area beside the barbeque. It's got a built in area for the BBQ, which is our designated cooking area. This area of the patio will come directly off the house, which means it'll be just over a foot off the ground, then we'll have a step down to our lounge area. This area has our sectional and the patio flame, and makes me want to sit there and roast marshmallows haha (and I don't even like marshmallows). We pulled this area away from the house so we're not blocking the basement windows, which we'll have to egress when we get to the finishing of it. It definitely covers our last's pretty and made of wood! I think this is a winning idea for us, Jason is wholeheartedly on board with it, so I look forward to getting started.

  Just for comparison sake, the first mockup I came up with was 29' x 9' (although I suggested bumping it up to 11') whereas this one is 36' x 27' considerably bigger. We're not sure how much we're going to be able to get done this year, since we still have a bunch of things inside to finish, and we're hoping to get a baby by the fall. We plan on starting with the lounge area, since we already have everything for that, so we'll run the line, and set up a temporary situation, and we'll likely stake everything out, and plan our all our materials so we can have a budget in mind. We'll set things up where they would go, to play with size and layout, and make sure it does work well, because we learned the hard way that things don't always fit as nicely in real life as they do online or on paper. The best part of having a giant backyard, is you can decide to build a 900sq.ft. patio and it doesn't cut into where your imaginary massive pool is, so we can still go pretend swimming. I look forward to hearing what the landscaping company I talked to has to say about what kind of plants and trees to plant and where.