DIY Tree Ring & Herb Garden

So, we had all these pavers from around the yard that we’ve been pulling out (our yard looks like hell, overall, full disclosure) and I decided I need to make a tree ring with them around the tree closest to our house. The roots were well above ground and I didn’t think it looked that great in all honesty.


A super fast overview for the tl;dr crowd. Blog-TreeRing1

I started out by taking a shovel and digging a rough hole around the base of the tree. This was fairly quick and easy and I was all proud of myself. blog-treering2

I set pavers all around it to rough-in how many I would need. I should have been more careful so I didn’t have to end up chopping any pavers in half but I wasn’t so, in the end, Dale has to use chisel to knock some of the pavers down (also we didn’t want to hurt the roots of the tree so the first row of pavers were chipped out on the bottom in places to accommodate the tree roots). blog-treewring3

Here’s an overview of the first phase, which was the hardest part by far (actually, the hardest part was digging the pavers out of the ground from all over other parts of the lawn and picking them up and putting them in place–it was like a challenge on The Biggest Loser and I won). blow-treering3

Dale and Bela were a big help! Dale helped me by providing me with a long level that allowed me to level the first row of pavers (so I could dig deeper into the ground for some, shore up others, depending on what was needed). Dale did all the chipping of pavers to ensure they fit around the tree roots. Bela was there for moral

We were basically sweaty and miserable and this project was kinda hard? Dale kept me going, tho. You can see how dirty the pavers are as I ran out and needed to dig more out of the ground from around the yard, lifting two at a time and bringing them over to the ring. blog-tree ring5

We went with 3 rows of stone. Dale filled in a couple of gaps and then we had to go buy the dirt to fill it in.
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I was pretty pleased with the result and decided to turn the tree ring into an herb garden–it’s quick and easy access next to our back door makes it the perfect place to snag fresh herbs.

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The herbs grew like gangbusters within a couple of weeks! See that giant hole? That’s where some of the pavers were. It’s filled in with dirt but we still have a LONG way to go on the yard!

(In the background you can see our raised garden beds and Dale’s addition: a topper for the strawberry patch. I’ll post about that piece soon).

Directors Chairs


I picked up four directors chairs at a thrift store for $5 each. They didn’t have any seat backs or bottoms. And I spent the summer terrified to try to make my own patterns and sew up my first upholstery project. chairs sewing

I finally worked up the courage to make it happen! 
chairs3After a great deal of measuring and cutting and fretting and feeling like I was failing? I DID IT! And Dale and I sat in them and I felt triumphant.


Repainted Luggage

prelug1I picked up this cheap piece of luggage at an estate sale for $7. I needed something to keep my nail polish in. prelug2

I ripped out the lining (which was in pretty gross shape anyway).prelug

Then I created patterns for the lining out of heavy craft paper. I ended up using wood pieces to reinforce the top and bottom because it was a stiffer material. However, I could just as easily have used cardboard.luggage final

I painted the exterior with some Martha Stewart craft paint. I also eventually painted the metal parts with a gold all-purpose craft paint because I liked how it looked. Not necessary to make a cute new piece, tho. luggg

Carefully measuring my paper patterns again before wrapping it in fabric and securing it with hot glue (my favorite). lug2

Painted and ready for the lining. Which was the HARD part. lug1

Fabric-wrapped lining!

AND it fit! It took a little adjusting and lining up the fabric was a little tricky. But I just took my time with it. luggageAnd here’s a before and after.


Guest Bedroom Remodel


So when we first moved in this is what our guest bedroom looked like. Ancient rust-colored carpet (that had a disintegrated carpet padding under it), a ceiling fan with no light and white walls!120901-033It also has a strange little closet in the middle of the wall.

We did a garage repair and lifted a beam in the ceiling that tore the walls in the guest bedroom and office. Here’s what we were left with:


See the rips in the wall and the old ceiling fan? It was time for that to go!140908-002-3

A close up of the ripped walls before the renovation started. 140908-002-2

On the right side of the window. 

140908-008Dale started by tearing out the old drywall.


He opted to put in all-new insulation on the walls that face the window and the front doorway.


And this is how it looks now, with lovely new walls! Dale skim-coated all the walls so all four walls would be like new. Then we painted the walls blue and put up brand new trim. 141115-017

We hope to put in new windows next summer, maybe. 141115-015Lovely blue! Next up: We have to decorate the dang thing. We did get a bed for the room so it’s ready for guests. More pics to come when I actually get pictures on the walls (so…2016).



More Kitchen Updates

It’s been a long time since I updated but I finally have good pics of the changes to the kitchen.


I painted just about every surface in the kitchen–the cabinets, the cubby hole, the counters, the walls and even the tile backsplashes! Above you can see the cubby hole is now bright red against a soft green. The backsplash used to be a yellow/tan. And the counter, which was once just a simple formica, has been replaced by two IKEA modular pieces.

Dale eventually plans to gut the kitchen but I think with this refresh we can hold off!

A couple of before and afters:

This is how it looked on the first day we moved in–and how it looks now:

The only appliances we haven’t swapped out in past two years are the microwave and the stove.

I love that new clock over the sink! And while I still don’t like the rug, I picked up a couple of throw rugs that I like quite a bit.
Kitchen2014-1If I had to do it over again the only thing I would do differently would be the counters. I am glad I painted them but I would go a few shades lighter and I would put a few more coats of wax on it to make it stronger. Still, very happy with the new look in the kitchen!