Month: May 2013

Inspiration Saturdays: a little home improvement

So I told you guys earlier this week that I had done a DIY makeover on my deck, and now I have the pictures for you! I have seen so many other bloggers getting started on outdoor yard and/or garden projects that it really got me itching to do something about our neglected deck area.

Here’s what my deck looked like before and after. The carpet was dirty and all I had up there for planters was a line of $5 grey plastic totes whose plants had long since died. I did go to the Home Depot two years ago and buy pipes and fixtures to create a raised run on the porch to hold the planters but that was all the work I had put into this area.

I wanted to give this area a makeover for about $100, so let’s see how I did.

I started by cleaning up the carpet, then taking apart all of the piping and refitting it in an “L” shape in the corner. Then I used cans of brown and “stone” look spray paint to give the tubs a facelift. I used two cans of brown spray paint specifically meant for use on plastics as a primer/opaque base, then two cans of the textured paint over the top; this was enough to cover all five tubs. Total cost to revamp the tubs: about $20.

The tubs get lots of sun, so I found some sun-loving perennials including columbine and a bleeding heart. The solar lights were picked up on clearance at Walmart a few years ago. I also have some chives from a friend, plus Cosmos seeds from my mom that I threw in the tubs and a mixed flower seed packet that should yield hollyhocks, echinacea, daisies, some ornamental grass, and one other type of flower (sorry, I can’t remember!).

It’s true that it’s cheaper to just plant seeds than to buy live plants, but I didn’t want the deck to be totally barren, so I went ahead and splurged on a few plants just to get started. Total cost of plants and seeds: $20.

Here’s the biggest part of my project: the privacy screen. There is nothing to block the line of sight from my neighbor’s deck to mine, and the lack of privacy really bugs me. I like to be able to enjoy dinner or a book on the deck without feeling like someone can see everything I’m doing!

Building the screen was simple in theory, less so in practice. I needed to go to Lowe’s for lumber and lattice. Unfortunately, while they did cut the strips of lumber to size, I was informed that they would not cut the lattice, which left me with two options: walk away empty-handed, or tie the eight-foot long sheet of lattice to the roof of my car and pray I made it home.

Did I mention how flexible and floppy these lattice sheets are? There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than driving home with a stack of lattice sheets slapping merrily against the rear window of the car with every tap of the brakes. I don’t blame the many drivers who sped up to pass me!

Once I got home I just had to cut the lattice down to the correct length with a hand saw, spray-paint the lumber strips, nail them into a frame, and attach the lattice to the back with 3/4″ screws. Then I added hinges to create a pair of two-panel screens. Total cost: about $65.

I wanted a rug for the porch but since I’d maxed out my budget at this point, I just grabbed an older throw rug from the kitchen. The table and chairs were a housewarming gift from my mom when we first moved into this house two years ago, and they haven’t seen nearly enough use up until now because the deck just wasn’t an enjoyable place to hang out. Not any more! Now we can enjoy an evening dinner on our lovely deck.

Blog every day in May x2: Days 9 & 10

Day #9 prompt: Are you a Twitter-lover? Or maybe you can’t get enough of Pinterest? Do you need to share every meal on Instagram? Do you waste away the hours watching YouTube? Or Facebook is your comfort zone? Tell us about your favorite social media channel and why.

I’m addicted to Pinterest–anyone who has read my blog for a while knows this–but other than that I don’t really get into social media on a hardcore level. I have fun chatting with people via Twitter or Facebook now and then, but I don’t really get into them like some people do. And since I am such a lame-o, I don’t even have Instagram. :P

Day #10 prompt: If you could go anywhere in the world right now where would it be?

New Zealand. I have wanted to go there for years. I think it’s a beautiful country!

Day #9 prompt: A moment in your day (this can be just a photo or both a photo and words)
Dinner on the newly made over deck! Fresh cantaloupe, mango and kiwi, deviled eggs (the husband’s favorite), a turkey and cheese sub for him and a roll for me. And lots of ice water–it’s been nearly 90 degrees every day this week!

Day #10 prompt: Most embarrassing moment (s). Spill.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying that I try to block out the memories of any embarrassing moments. But I can think of a few off the top of my head:

  • The time I called my boss by the wrong name.
  • The time I tripped over my own two feet in front of a crush and ended up tripping him, too. 
  • The time I went out on errands in my grungy sweats and ran into a girl I hadn’t seen since high school…looking much better than me, natch.
  • The time I slept right through my alarm and missed my doctor’s appointment. Luckily they were super-gracious when I called to apologize!
  • Any time I’ve almost fallen in heels.
  • The time I went to the dentist for aftercare due to having my wisdom teeth out the previous day (all four at once–but that’s a story for another post) and all her talk of needles and whatnot made me so woozy I almost passed out. While I was sitting down. She told me it was because I hadn’t eaten that day. Yes ma’am, I believe I’ll just file that in the “no shit Sherlock” section right next to “just had four of my teeth ripped out at the roots”.

Random Thursday: Confessional: Tell a secret

I sometimes go weeks without wearing makeup.
I know this is nothing particularly shocking or juicy. For some women this would be a big deal in and of itself, for some it wouldn’t be anything unusual. But since I blog about beauty and style, most people assume I must wear at least some makeup every day. 
It’s not that I don’t like makeup, and I do feel like I look better with it. But when I don’t feel good, or I’m super-busy, or in the summer when it’s like 90 degrees in the shade–I can’t be bothered. I rub in my moisturizer and slick on some lip balm and run out the door.
What’s your secret? Tell me in the comments or leave me a link to your own RT post so I can come visit your blog!

Blog every day in May x2: Days 7 and 8

Well hello! Can you believe I didn’t log onto the Internet even once yesterday? That’s unheard of for me! I spent twelve hours working outside to make over my porch, which involved a lot of work and multiple trips to the Home Depot but ultimately gave me a lovely outdoor living space for the summer, and I’m so pleased with it. (Sore and tired, but pleased.) I’m going to post pictures of everything later this week so you guys can see what I did!

Also, I know I haven’t done very many beauty or fashion posts lately–Blogger STILL refuses to upload my photos via Mozilla. :( I can use old photos that were already uploaded from prior posts, but I can’t add any new ones. I’ve had a bunch of new photos edited and stored on the computer for so long now, and I’m getting sick of this nonsense, so I’m going to switch browsers this week to upload my photos and then hopefully I can post my reviews and other stuff for you! 

In the mean time I missed out entirely on my daily blog challenges, so I’m going to get back on track with those today.

Prompt for day #7: Tell us all about your pets, past and/or present.

You guys are constantly hearing about Max and Jiao! My cats were both rescues. 

Max wandered into my yard one day, scruffy, underweight, and scared. He was trying to eat some Cheetos that my neighbor had spilled on the sidewalk but there were too many ants on them. He wouldn’t come near me but when I put food and water out on the porch he came and ate them. Little by little I gained his trust until I was able to bathe him and take him to the vet. He gradually got healthy and put on weight and now he rules the roost. Last summer he developed diabetes so he has to have twice daily insulin shots and a special diet, but he is worth it! I think he’s about 6-8 years old.

Jiao was a 4-6 month old kitten dumped at the local Walmart. One of my friends brought a raccoon trap to the store to catch her and oh my, how she howled! I think torties are naturally high-strung because it took her forever to calm down. She only weighed about five pounds and all of her ribs were showing, but otherwise she was okay. She clung to me like Velcro for days on end. She’s about a year and half old now and as wired as ever; she’s very talkative and spooks easily so she can usually be found racing around the house chattering to herself. She loves Max, but he isn’t so fond of her–she’s too hyper for his tastes!

Prompt for day #8: Tell us about your first job. Did you love it or was it horrendous?

My first job was a cashier at a fast food restaurant, and I loved and hated it by equal turns. I worked with a bunch of other high school kids so we had fun chatting, joking around and listening to the radio while cleaning. But it was soooooo hot in there in the summer (remember, the kitchen is full of fryers!) and very dirty and greasy. Also, the customers could be horribly rude. To this day when I go somewhere to eat, whether it’s the Panda Express drive-thru or a nice restaurant with fancy lighting, I try to be patient and polite to the servers, even if it seems like there’s no reason for the service to be slow. You don’t always know when all hell is breaking loose behind the scenes in the kitchen and it isn’t the server’s fault!

Prompt for day #7: The thing(s) you’re most afraid of.

Water, bugs, the dark, heights. These are my phobias. Worse than all of those is the fear of losing the people I care about most, or something happening to one of them and me being unable to help them. You know those newspaper stories about a parent finding their child trapped under a car or in a burning house, and they get that adrenaline rush and do something really superhuman to save them? I totally get that. When you really love someone you just get this protective instinct that propels you through anything. I can imagine few things worse than seeing someone you love in a situation where you literally could do nothing, like having cancer, because you’d have to just sit helplessly by while they suffered.

Prompt for day #8: A piece of advice you have for others. Anything at all.

Always listen to your heart. I know that sounds incredibly cheesy, but you have a voice inside of you that tells you what is most important to you, what feels right or wrong, what will make you happy or unhappy, and when to walk away from something. Some people call it a gut instinct. LISTEN TO IT! Whether it’s something relatively small like knowing a color is not “you” no matter how many people say you should wear it…or something big like a gut distrust of a person…or a personal moral conviction…or a decision you want to make…listen to your heart. 

Don’t let other people override you, don’t change your mind just to make someone else happy, don’t ignore your inner voice because it doesn’t make sense. Every time I have ignored that knot in my stomach or that pull in my heart that tries to take me in one direction, I’ve regretted it. I’ve learned that over time your “sixth sense” as it were becomes more and more-fine-tuned and those little tugs you feel are there for a reason. So listen to your heart, trust your instincts, and don’t stray from your path.

Ten on Tuesday: 5/7/13

1. I keep telling myself I’m going to stick to a stricter diet once and for all and stop eating so much sugar. And yet…and yet…

(image from Pinterest)

2. Am I the only one who thinks sloths secretly look really creepy? Like they’re harboring an evil secret or something?

3. You know those cans of biscuits you buy in the cooler section of the grocery store, and how you’re supposed to pop them open with a spoon? The other day I was peeling the wrapper off one of those cans while also telling my husband a story about a time I set one of these cans down on the counter so hard it popped open and into the air and scared the bejeezus out of me. In the middle of my story about the spontaneous popping cans, you can guess what happened–the can in my hands popped and I screeched. Oh, the irony.

4. Here’s the song of the week. I actually found this by reading some of the comments from another YouTube user whom I’m following. The girl is Juliana and the song is an acoustic cover of Miike Snow’s ‘Animal’.


5. And just since I liked that last cover so much, here she is covering Phoenix’s ‘1901’.

6. I’ve realized that I could waste hours between Buzzfeed and Tumblr just reading the bizarro conversations that people have. Some of these are so hilarious that I can’t even relay them to another person in the room because I’m laughing so hard. Others are just weird. The other day I started reading a thread about “the creepiest thing your child has ever done” and after half an hour or so of scrolling through I had to stop.  Honestly if I had a kid that did one of these things I wouldn’t know who to call first, the priest or the realtor.

7. I usually pride myself on being super-prepared for things, so I was fairly alarmed to realize that my anniversary is in less than two weeks and I haven’t a clue what to buy for the husband. Uh-oh.

8. I’ve given up and decided to count caffeine as a food group.

9. My hubby is in charge of the laundry in our house and for years he tried really hard to fold the sheets just so. I think he felt is was necessary to keep his nest mate happy. Then one day I admitted that when it’s up to me I just roll it on up and stuff it in the underbed bag that holds all the linens. I’ve never seen someone fold laundry so cheerfully.

(image from Pinterest)

10. I can’t think of a tenth thing so here is a picture of an overly excited cat.

(image from Pinterest)