Project A.D.D. At It's Finest


Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Of course the only sensible thing to do, after spending two days cleaning your ridiculously messy house for company, would be to decide after seven years that it is time to paint your kitchen cabinets.
I did enjoy a gloriously clean house for one afternoon before the destruction happened. And in all fairness, it was a rainy morning and I decided to tackle only one cupboard and four drawers to minimize the chaos.
I love that even though Alex has concrete floors to finish leveling in the basement, he came home that night after work and said, "Let's bring Cooper to his grandma's tonight so I can help and we can do most of the painting together."
I am so grateful for the help because we all know that painting kitchen cabinets two at a time would have taken me about ten years. Oh yeah, and I probably would have lost interest after painting the second one.
Right now I am trying to forget that I have the front door paint colour to choose for the Fixer Upper, emails to reply to, a sample pot of paint to test on the door of the shed, a post about our deck-survival-box half written, a photo session to finish editing, and about five loads of laundry to put away again.    
Project A.D.D at it's finest, folks. ;)
P.S. After I took the above picture I gave Alex heck and made him put on a mask while he was sanding!

Mudroom Closet Organization - Before and After


Sunday, August 17, 2014

You know how we have that extra little room off of our kitchen? (We call it the breakfast room even though no one ever eats breakfast in there.) It has an old found-at-the-side-of-the-road table that Cooper and I use for painting, colouring, and crafting.
Picture - Circa 2011
Most of the time, however, the room functions more like a mudroom. You see, a few years ago Alex cut a hole in one of the breakfast room walls so that he could install a door that would lead out onto our future deck.
Picture - Circa 2011
Well now that the deck is built, and we use the door about a million times a day, we were in desperate need of some storage and organization. 
Beside the door on the left, we have a mirror with hooks and a bench with some cubbies, but three little baskets were no longer working for all of our shoes, hats, sunscreen, bug spray, etc., etc., etc.
I also had no place to store all of our new outdoor cushions and accessories from the elements.
It became very clear that I would need to clean out the dreaded breakfast room closet, which for the last little while had become the catchall place for junk that we just didn't know what to do with. Now before I show the pictures (and you start looking for the "unfollow" button on this blog) let me just say that once upon a time this closet was organized. I'm still not sure how the mess got so out of control. It was mostly Alex's fault.
Are you ready? What horrors lie behind door #2 you ask?


Just for fun....... included in the pile of junk was...........
- a laminator
- Alex's stereo that was brought upstairs because of the basement reno
- a bowl full of clothespins
- a facial steamer
- a hose holder that I bought 4 years ago and never installed outside
- a Christmas wreath
- an old nintendo
- gauze
- a plastic bag full of random cables
- two dog cones
- a stack of Country Living magazines dating back to 2006
Gulp. How embarrassing!
Here's how I tackled the awful mess. First, I emptied out the entire closet - all of it's contents were spread out over the breakfast room for a good two weeks.

The closet was the only one left in the house that hadn't been painted since we moved in, so I decided to paint the inside a nice, clean white (it was cream coloured and quite scuffed up).
First, I gave every surface a good scrub with TSP. Once rinsed, I filled in a few nail holes with wood filler. Once everything was dry I primed over the really dark scuff marks, the wood filler, and the attic hatch that Alex made one year (apparently our little back roof had no insulation).
Once the primer was dry I gave the entire closet two coats of paint - Simply White by Benjamin Moore which we already had on hand. Once the closet was painted I started weeding through the junk figuring out what to keep, what to relocate, what to give away, and what to throw out. (Yes, the entire stack of old magazines went into the recycle bin. Sniff, sniff.)
I decided to reuse the white shelf that was already in the closet. I used the shelving unit to store our outdoor throw cushions, some outdoor accessories, and my deck-survival-bucket (more on that tomorrow)(or the next day).
On the top two shelves I stored our chair cushions as well as two galvanized bins for more concealed storage (more on those tomorrow, too).
Since Coopaloops can open the closet doors I made sure that I kept the bins and their contents out of his reach. I also stashed the cream cushions up on the highest shelf because they are really easy to put up and pull down.
To the left of the shelving unit I tucked in our large loveseat cushion.
On the right hand side of the shelves I tucked a large, metal lantern that would get rusty in about a day if I left it outside.
I was able to squeeze all four yellow chair pillows on one shelf. Alex was teasing me and said that I need a whole closet just for cushions. I guess he was kind of right, hee hee.

The galvanized tray is for when we eat outside. It's really handy for bringing out condiments, napkins, etc.
Every time I walk by the closet now I smile inside. I no longer have to live in secret shame. It's a great feeling.
Here are some side by side pictures to get a better idea of how much better this closet looks!

I learned a big lesson during this little project.

Dear Self: Don't be a hoarder.


White Shelf - Wal-Mart
Cream Cushions - Pier One Imports
Blue Pillows - Homesense
Yellow Pillows - DIY Project, Fabric from Fabricland
Tray - Homesense
Driftwood Ball - Homesense
Bucket with Rope Handles - Homesense
Metal 'Tool' Bins - Marshall's
Lantern - Homesense

I'm Bringing Grass Ba-ack


Thursday, August 14, 2014

In the spring we were worried that the grass in our backyard had reached the point of no return. Our poor lawn was suffering from:
- chinch bug damage
- a dandelion explosion
- moss
- clover
- and many, many burn spots from the doggies
The lawn in our backyard is by no means perfect, but it is definitely on the mend. Here's what we did to bring it back to life.
1. Lime
There were several indications that are lawn was very acidic (lots of moss and weeds). So, we bought a giant bag of lime and generously spread it over the grass with a rotary spreader. I think we are due for another treatment but I am planning to pick up a soil pH kit just to be sure.
2. Aeration and Over-Seeding
Since our lawn was in such bad shape, we decided to invest in this service from a lawn company. A few years ago we rented an aerator from Home Depot and did the whole process ourselves. This time, however, we wanted the professionals to do the job properly and quickly! We were a little bit skeptical that this would make a difference. Much to our delight, it did!
3. Sprinklers / Watering
The lawn company that we used recommended that we water our newly over seeded lawn morning and night for two weeks. Yikes! We decided to be all hard-core about it. Go big or go home, right? So, Alex invested in some new sprinklers and we were pretty diligent about the regular watering. What do you know, in two weeks we had new grass sprouting up everywhere.
4. Thatch Removal
There were several areas in the yard that had large patches of thatch from chinch bug damage. We probably should have removed all of the thatch before we limed and over-seeded but at the beginning of the season we just didn't have the time. So, where the grass seed didn't take (because of thatch) I've been working away digging out the dead grass so that new grass has a chance to grow.
5. Top Soil + Extra Grass Seed
Wherever there was thatch or burned grass I dug out the dead stuff and added new topsoil (PC Black Earth) and seed (Scott's Coarse Grass Seed). I ended up buying a huge contractor bag of seed because we had a lot of spots to fix. I only worked on one small area of the yard at a time so that I could keep on top of the watering. Many of the little areas are blending right in to the rest of the lawn now. Yippee!
6. Fertilizer
We waited quite awhile to apply fertilizer to the lawn. We didn't want to burn our newly sprouted grass. We used a rotary spreader and applied Scott's Turf Builder a few weeks ago. We plan to add another round of fertilizer in the late summer / early fall. 
7. Weed Control
Even though our lawn is looking better, we still have a lot of dandelions and clover. Here in Ontario, dandelion pesticides have been banned since 2009. Not that I'm a huge fan of using chemicals on our lawn - but the recent ban on pesticides means that every lawn on our street has dandelions and the seeds spread everywhere!!! It's been really hard to keep on top of. We did pick up an iron-based weed control product called Scott's Ecosense Weed-B-Gone. We have to spray each weed individually so it's a slow process. We also invested in a stand-up weed removal tool (Fiskars Deluxe Weed Remover) - which works great but is a tedious task when you have a lot of weeds. One day I had to stop after filling four large buckets full of dandelions. Oy.
8. Mowing the Grass Long
Alex raised the blades of the lawnmower so that they are almost as high as they can go. This keeps our grass nice and long so that it doesn't dry out in the hot sun. We do have to mow it more frequently but it's worth it because it really does make a difference.



Of course, I couldn't have done any of this without my little helper.
He's at the age now where he will occupy himself for a few minutes and then he will come along with his little shovel and fling topsoil e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. :)
If you have any lawn care tips or tricks make sure to leave me a note in the comments section!

An Update on the Five Ugliest Spots in Our Backyard


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

In the spring of 2012 I wrote a post about the five ugliest spots in our backyard. The pictures were sooooooooooo bad. They really show how the upkeep of our home went downhill the year that we had Cooper and bought The Fixer Upper. That was a crazy year, my friends, a crazy year.
Since Coops and I have been spending a lot of time out on our deck and in our backyard this summer, it's given me a chance to slowly work on some projects around the yard.
Even though these are pretty small before and afters I still feel like sharing them anyway. These days any progress at all is a huge accomplishment. :)
Spot #1: Along Our Neighbour's Fence
While this area has gotten a bit better this year, it's still pretty bad. Whenever our neighbour's dog is outside, Lexie runs up and down the fence like a CRAZY DOG. You know when puppies do those little, wild puppy runs? Well that's how Lexie behaves x100. No matter how many times I try to seed this area she ends up tearing up all of the new grass. So, it still needs work.
Spot #2: The Grassy Area in the Middle of Our Yard 
This is one of the areas in our backyard that is looking SO much better. It took a lot of work but with some TLC we were able to bring most of our grass back to life. I'm planning on sharing a post on how we did it very soon.
Spot #3: Along the Driveway Fence
This spot looks exactly the same (ugly as bleep) with the lovely addition of some neon toddler riding toys. Someday I would love to have a garden along this area but as of today it still needs some serious help.
Spot #4: Side Garden

This little garden beside our lower deck still needs some tweaking but it's looking quite a bit better. I shared a little bit more about it here.

Spot #5: Under the Upper Deck



I am absolutely over-the-moon happy with our new deck skirting on our upper deck. It has made the biggest impact to the overall look of our backyard. Neither Alex or I can take the credit for it though - my father in law has been working on it for the past few weeks. I'm so, so, so grateful! Because the yard slopes quite a bit we had to get a bit creative with the bottom. We decided to stagger the bottom boards in three sections to match the three sections of railing above. The pressure-treated wood is still pretty green but eventually the boards will turn grey just like the rest of the deck.

So, what's next you ask? I'm drawing up some plans for a privacy screen on our lower deck. If you take a look at the (old) picture below, you can see our lounge furniture on the bottom deck.

The screen will go behind the furniture to give our neighbours a little bit of privacy from us. You see, there are (unfortunately) many times when I have to go running after bad dogs #1 and #2 with pajamas, no makeup, and very, very, very bad bedhead.

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