Category Archives: Home Improvement

I Fixed a Chair

Yup this is pretty much self-explanatory.  I made oura rocking chair usable again.  To start at the beginning, we bought a simple rocking chair from Wal-Mart (first mistake possibly…) before Tyler was born for, well you know, all that rocking new babies need.  We used it for quite awhile until Tyler outgrew all that rocking around 4 months, but the chair had developed some problems along the way. The springs were just metal zig zags that were stuck intp drilled holes in the seat.  Needless to say when the springs got a little bent they popped right out, and there was no going back.

The chair before.  The springs have been removed as well as the top pad.  If you sat down, you'd fall right through!

The chair before. The springs have been removed as well as the seat pad. If you sat down, you’d fall right through!

My plan of action to make this sucker usable again was to make a new seat like the lawn chairs that have the plastic weaved on the metal frame.  Since I didn’t have that plastic stuff that was used for that, I dug out some old burlap that I’d had for about 2 years now.  Since burlap isn’t exactly a fine weave, I decided make each strip doubled.

Cutting each strip of burlap to weave across the chair seat.

Cutting each strip of burlap to weave across the chair seat.

Each strap was measured to allow about a half an inch extra material past the side of the chair seat “hole”. To secure my loose weave burlap a little bit more, I sewed the ends shut with my trusty dusty sewing machine.  I created 6 straps, 3 for each direction.  It was then time to attach them!

The new "springs" for my rocking chair.

The new “springs” for my rocking chair.

I attached each strap with the staple gun, which I never used before.  It was way easier than I was expecting!  My plan was just to do two on each end of the chair, but to be on the safe side (and because it was fun!), I just decided to put as many staples in as I could.  This was a cheap chair, it really didn’t have to be a pretty fix!

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With the cushions back! All fixed and ready for some rockin’!

I tested it out after I finished just to make sure it held.  Tyler loves to rock in it (even before it was fixed), so I didn’t want it to fall apart immediately.  It seems to be holding on pretty well so far!  Now I don’t have to get rid of a chair that only had one very easy problem to fix!

Rockin’ the Landscape

This is a project that has taken us what seems like forever, but I have to remind myself this wasn’t supposed to be a fast projec,t and no project is speedy when you have a 15 month (and now nearly 17 month old) to watch.  I can finally say that all of our existing flower beds are finished.  Other than planting annuals, I’m hoping never to have to mulch, plant perennials or put down weed blocker again.

If you remember at the end of this post, I showed a picture of what our back flower beds looked like in the beginning stages of “Operation Never Mulch Again”.  It was pretty sad and weedy, but it’s looking a lot better these days!

The back patio and flower beds after putting down new weed blocker and mulch. A cute puppy always helps things look better too.

We decided to go with a typical large river rock that was somewhere around 1.5″ in diameter.  We got it at our local nursery Country Arbors.  After doing some bad math and thinking we needed somewhere around 11 cubic yards, yes it’s hard to compute inches to feet and feet to yards, we finally realized that we needed about 2.5 cubic yards, but figured we could get away with 2 c.y.  My parents came up a couple weekends ago, and my mom watched Tyler while Dad helped us tear up old mulch, put down the weed block, and shovel in the new rock. As we worked, it became obvious we weren’t going to get everything done. We got all of the back done, the small beds around the garage door and the front door, and about 2/3’s of the way through our 33′ front bed. We needed another load of rock.

How far we got with our first load of rocks, starting planting of our shade plants and what Tyler, Guster and I did while Eric planted.

How far we got with our first load of rocks, starting planting of our shade plants and what Tyler, Guster and I did while Eric planted.

The next weekend we went back out to Country Arbors and ordered another cubic yard of river rock. While we were there, we decided to look for shade plants. We have a huge maple tree in the front of our house. It shades the entire front yard, which faces east, in the morning while the house shades the front in the afternoon. We had had a few hostas there that had died at some point as well as tulips which do great but are dead by the middle of May (if we’re lucky), and also some irises that evidently don’t like all the shady time either.

Our show stopper middle of the bed plant.  A beautiful purple clematis (hopefully it grows in the shade!)

Our show stopper middle of the bed plant. A beautiful purple clematis (hopefully it grows in the shade!)

Our short filler plants.  Two Japanese grasses, a blue hosta, berry smoothie heuchera

Our short filler plants. Two Japanese grasses, a blue hosta, berry smoothie heuchera

We ended up spending a good $125 on plants just for our front bed. We ended up getting 4 berry smoothie heuchera plants, 2 blue hostas, 4 Japanese grasses that evidently don’t like water very much, and 1 other hosta to match one we already had. We alternated these plants around a “JackManni” Clematis. We had a wonderful person guiding us through the plants at the nursery who said the “JackManni” was the hardiest, most difficult to kill vine they had. We wanted something tall that can actually be seen from the road. We got all of our plants in the ground that weekend. We took turns planting and watching Tyler. While all the plants are pretty short at this point, it adds a little interest to the front of our house.

The front bed filled with rocks and finished!

The front bed filled with rocks and finished!

We got our final load of rock this past Monday and were able to finish it up this weekend. Our total price breakdown was about $320 for the rocks, about $125 on new plants, and around $50 for the new weed blocker liner. In the good news, we are done with the flower beds!! Hopefully now we’ll never have to touch these again! No new mulching every three years, no nasty pulling up old weed blocker and hopefully no new perennials! All of that is totally worth nearly $500.  Our landscaping is done…well maybe we still have this pile of rock left after putting down all the rock we needed…

The rock we have left over from our second order of rocks!

The rock we have left over from our second order of rocks!  I see a new flower bed in our future!

Adding Color

Well I went two weeks without writing a post.  It was bound to happen, and really I have nothing to blame other than just needing a break. Now I’m my brain is fresh and ready for a new (long) post.

When you live in a grey house that has black trim and white windows like we do, the outside can seem a little dull and lifeless all winter long with no plants to add a little color to the curb appeal.  When spring comes around I go a little crazy adding plants to the front of the house.  This year was definitely no exception.

One of the gerbera daisy plants in a flower bed.

One of the gerbera daisy plants in a flower bed.

 

One of the hanging baskets I created for the front yard

One of the hanging baskets I created for the front yard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, I started by adding pink and yellow gerbera daisies near our front door in an area that gets a lot of sun.  They were the flowers that were in my wedding bouquet, so they have a lot of sentimental meaning to me.  I try to plant a few of them every year.  I also create my own petunia hanging baskets to hang near our front yard light.  Every single year they had died nearly as soon as I planted them.  Not to sound like a commercial, but last year I decided to try Miracle Gro potting soil, and they’ve been amazing ever since!  They even looked great through the drought year last year, and they’re doing great again this year.  I’m all over the Miracle Gro potting soil from here on out.  It makes my life easier!

Eric's flower pot for the front of the house

Eric’s flower pot for the front of the house

 

My flower pot for the front of the house

My flower pot for the front of the house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every year we also arrange 2 flower pots for the front of the house.  Eric picks the flowers for one, and I pick the flowers for the other.  We always follow the rule of one tall grassy plant, a couple types of flowering plants, and then one vine to grow over the side.  I always have a couple of purple plants, which are  not blooming in this picture to go with my purple potato vine.  Eric usually goes with the orange flowers.  I’m pretty sure if he could find blue flowers he liked that he would have an Illini pot every single year!

This year all our flowers are looking really great!  We’re hoping to add some shade perennials to the front of our house this year to make it look a little more interesting, but I think we really added a lot of color to perk up the drab front of our house this year.

Our first ripe tomato of 2013!

Our first ripe tomato of 2013!

Also with our green thumbs, this year our garden is doing ok.  I’ll take some pictures and do a full update later, but we did get our first ripe tomato last week!  It’s the earliest we’ve ever gotten a ripe tomato.  Usually it’s not until at least the middle of July.  It’s tiny, about the size of a ping pong ball.  It also have a sad looking spot on the bottom of it, so there’s not a whole lot to eat there.  It’s still early though.  The best part by far was that I finally beat my Dad to having a ripe tomato!

Getting ready to clean up the back flower bed!

Getting ready to clean up the back flower bed!

 

 

 

 

The last thing I’ve been working on outside is around back.  About 3 years ago we redid the backyard patio and added these flower beds.  They’re gorgeous, but the mulch was looking really sad, and the weeds were coming up through the weed blocker, so it’s definitely time to redo it.  This is as far as I’ve gotten so far getting rid of the old mulch.  The question is do we go with rock, which we won’t have to replace again in 3 years and Tyler won’t try to eat, or with the cheaper mulch again.  I’d really love not to have to redo these in just another few years, but the rock can be really expensive compared to the mulch.  I’ve already gone with a higher quality weed blocker at least, so hopefully I won’t have to rip it up again!  What do you all think?  Cheap but short lifetime or long lifetime with a much higher price tag?

 

 

 

Finally Cushions!

Finally I have finished my chair cushions for our bar stools.  It only took a couple months.  They were busy months though.  At least that’s going to be my excuse.

First Eric and I went round and round about the fabric until we found this bamboo patterned fabric on Spoonflower.  Although it’s not multi-colored like I was hoping.  It does add a color to the room that certainly wasn’t there before.  I used this as my pattern for my cushions.  I made each cushion 15″x16″x3″ for mine.  The only features that were different from the online instructions was that I didn’t make the piping, and I didn’t put a handle on them to make them look more like chair cushions.  I got some foam cushions from Joann’s Fabric (that aren’t staying inflated all that well, but there’s a zipper so I can always replace it!).

Different stages of the cushion being made

Different stages of the cushion being made

The zipper was definitely the hardest part.  It is true that practice makes perfect though because the second one went a lot easier even though I had to rip some seams on the second one and go back and start parts again.  The online tutorial definitely had great directions for the zipper though.  It just took me awhile to get all the sewing lingo.

The chairs with their brand new cushions

The chairs with their brand new cushions

I think they turned out pretty well even though it was only my second sewing project.  I might still add some ties for the back so that the cushions don’t fall off, and Tyler can’t pull them off.  They’re done for now though!  I already have my fabric for my next sewing project.  I just have to find some time to start on them!

So Grownup

Another busy weekend is in the books.  I took Friday off to get things done around the house since we’d be gone a lot of the weekend.  Plus I needed to run some errands that are hard to get done after work (I have much shorter hair now!  Yay!).  Saturday morning we headed to Springfield/Litchfield/St. Louis for a whole bunch of activities.  We had lunch with Eric’s dad, step-mom and sisters in Springfield on the way down, and then dropped Tyler off for a fun night with Grandma and playing with his cousins while we headed to St. Louis for a friend’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Tik since I know you read this!).  Eric and I took some time to see some sights in St. Louis beforehand and went to BaconFest (why don’t I take pictures of these things!), went to the Western Expansion Museum in the Arch (we’ve both been there many times before but it was a good place to warm up a bit), and then we walked through the entrance to Comic Con (again why don’t I take pictures of these things) to see the costumes.  At BaconFest, we had a Toffee Oatmeal Bacon cookie and a Bacon candy bar.  Both were ok.  We also saw the “famous” 500 lb bacon log.  “That’s a lot of bacon!”.  Then we had a wonderful dinner with our friends, and spent the whole night worried about snow.  We were supposed to have lunch with Eric’s family to celebrate his birthday which is Tuesday!  We decided it was better to get ourselves home before the snow started, which we did.  It was a great weekend.  We just wish we hadn’t had to worry about the latest winter storm the entire time.  (Quick winter storm stats for Urbana/Champaign: the latest in the season 7in or greater daily snowfall total occurred on March 20.  It happened in 1906 with 14in and 1983 with 7.6in! So we have a new latest snowfall record for 7″ or greater storms!)

So now for the grown up part, because honestly yesterday we were pretty carefree with Tyler being with Eric’s mom most of the day and night.  We finally have “finished” our bedroom.  We got some new bedding which makes us feel like we have a very adult bedroom.  We got our new bedding from Linens N Things.  They’re an online store now.

Our new bedding with lots of pillows

Our new bedding with lots of pillows

What makes us feel grown up with this?  All the pillows.  We both have two kinds of shams and two throw pillows plus our regular sleeping pillows.  Other than needing some decor on our dressers yet and a few more pictures on the wall, I think we’ve finally finished with this room.  There is a small chance I may change up the curtains though to make them a little less matchy-matchy with the bed.  Once I actually clean the room a little better (i.e. get Eric’s clothes and the sheets that go with the bed off the floor), I’ll hopefully get some pictures of the rest of the room.  For now, we’re feeling pretty good that we have another room finished now!  Just 4 more to go!