Let's Talk About Rocks

Our backyard has a little problem. A big problem, actually. It's patrolled by two adorable and incredibly destructive mutts named Shiner and Rory. We call them our nuggets. Here they are enjoying the new patio:

We love them, but they dig. They really, really like to dig. We leave them in our backyard when we go to work and often come home to new holes in the grass. It's hard to be mad because they give us those doggy grins with the stupid dirt and mud all over their face, completely guilty, and I can hardly resist. Does that mean I will be a terrible parent one day?
Anyway, the reason we need to talk about rocks is because of the notorious nuggets. We plan to fill in the portions of our backyard surrounding the patio with landscaping rock that we're hoping won't be very fun to dig. We think that is our best solution for the digging problem, but who knows? They may enjoy digging their paws into big, sharp rocks. They've done weirder things in the past, like eat whole sections of carpet and go to the bathroom on the wall (yes, that takes talent for two girl puppies). 

We'll be going shopping for rocks this weekend at the local supplier where we purchase the base sand for the patio, Soil Building Systems. We feel like they have a great selection and great prices. They're used to filling semi-trucks with huge loads of materials, but they don't blink when we ask for 1 bag of crushed granite. I like that!

The question is, what type of landscaping rock should we go for? The goal is to create something visually appealing that will also provide a good base for tons of potted plants that I want to place on top of the rocks (eventually). Maybe it will have the same look at this?

(Photo from www.home-landscape-plan.com)

Or maybe something like this? (Minus the pond, of course.)

(Photo from www.4seasonsoutdoors.net)

Anyway, these are some of the rock choices on from Soil Building Systems. Leave a comment to let me know which one you think would be best in our backyard, surrounding the new PATIO!

I need help, so let me know your thoughts. I guess rocks aren't my thing because I'm feeling pretty indecisive on this one! You never know, maybe they will have even more options in person and I'll be completely smitten with something.

* Happy Royal Wedding Day! *

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*twinkle twinkle*

We're pretty excited about the little UPS delivery that arrived today... twinkly patio lights!

Solar twinkly patio lights, to be exact.

Actually, they are Phillips 50 ct. LED Solar Powered String Lights- Warm White Bulbs if you want to be really exact. I ordered them from www.Target.com because I wasn't able to find them in my local store.

I'm not really a fan of the bright white/blue light that solar LED lights normally give out, so the "warm white" section of the product description really appealed to me. I was worried they would still be that bluish white, but they are actually that great gold-white of the classic Christmas and patio lights. I was also encouraged by the good product reviews for the lights on Target's site.

They hardly got any sun because we took them out of the box right before sunset, but they still came alive once the sun went down. We were quite impressed!

It's going to be really fun to have them come on automatically when the sun goes down. They're also quite small, so they definitely give a romantic-outdoor-space vibe instead of a festive-Christmas-tree vibe.

Random side note: Does anyone else love that scene at the end of She's All That where Freddie Prinze Jr. is dancing with Rachel Leigh Cook by the pool, and her dad sneakily flips on the pretty lights he had strung through all the trees around the pool? So romantic! I loved that movie...

*Happiness on a string*
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Easter Weekend Project: A New Patio!

First of all, I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend. It's just like Christmas– so important to remember the true reason for the holiday.

Scott and I were both off from work for the Easter holiday on Friday, so we attacked the patio project with a vengeance! It went so well that we had everything done by today and have been able to enjoy a beautiful Easter and true Sabbath Sunday.

It's pretty, right?!

Scott had rented a tiller and dug out the space last weekend:

Then we woke up early on Friday and got to work. Using two PVC pipes and a 2x4, we leveled out the sand base for the pavers:

Then he misted the sand and we started laying pavers. It was such hard work! Between carrying the pavers from the driveway to the backyard, squatting to place the pavers, and then putting all our muscle into pounding them into the sand with a rubber mallet, it was quite a workout. My lower back, thighs and right arm are all very sore!

I did 1/4 of the patio by myself while Scott was out picking up more sand, so I was pretty proud of that. By the time he got back my whole body was killing me and I was ready to retire. I'm so thankful that I married a very hard worker. Scott worked on that patio nonstop until it was done, and it took about10 hours of work on Friday. My husband ROCKS.

Once all of the pavers were in place, we installed the border to keep them in place through heavy rains and big storms.  

Then Scott rented a plate compactor and used it to make sure all of the pavers were pressed down as far as possible and would remain stable.

That was all for Friday because it got dark and we got hungry. :)

Saturday morning, my mom and I went shopping for plants to decorate the patio while Scott and my dad used polymer sand to "grout" the pavers. When I got home, the patio was finished! We weren't allowed to walk on it for 24 hours, but we spent plenty of time admiring it from the french doors...

What's a beautiful patio without a patio set? We were going to make do with the dinky little set we had, but my dad broke the pitiful folding chair during the work process so I took that as a sign to invest in something more... substantial.  We picked up this beautiful set at Target, and we love it. It's so much heavier and prettier than anything else we saw at this price point (and believe me, I shopped around)!

(Scott likes to put his cell calls on speaker phone and then rest it on his shoulder like that while he talks. He's weird. )

We still have big tasks to finish for the rest of the backyard, but Phase 1: Build a Patio is complete. :)

We just had a relaxing Easter lunch out there, and it was so nice. I'm looking forward to many more meals on the patio...

Meanwhile, we need the local hardware spot to open so that we can rent a chain saw and cut up this huge thing that ended up in our front yard after the big storm last night:

We headed to Easter services this morning feeling very blessed that this didn't fall on our roof. 

* Happy Easter *

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Online Shopping for Outdoors

It may be raining outside, but I'm daydreaming of beautiful [rain-less] evenings on the patio.

We've even made some patio purchases in anticipation of the finished product!

Now, this first purchase was an exercise in proper marital compromise. Scott is a total audio-geek, and he really wanted speakers for the back patio. I wasn't thrilled about having two big black speakers hanging from our roof. We were able to compromise with this lovely speaker from Amazon.com:

Cool, right? We haven't received it yet so I'll let you know about sound quality and all that when we finally put it to use. Scott is excited because it is wireless, and he should be able to control it with his iPhone from anywhere near the house.

Then I ordered my lovely lounger from Walmart:

I see sunbathing in my future (with SPF protection, of course)...

Lastly, we ordered these solar string lights from Target. I'm a little on the fence about them because I don't usually like the white/blue light that a solar light fixture gives off. Maybe this will be more of the warm color that I really like. These are great for us because our outdoor outlets don't work and we didn't want cords running all over the place. We plan to string these through the tree about the outdoor eating area... can't wait!

Want to see what else I have in mind for the patio? Come visit me at Pinterest to see my patio inspiration board

Scott is off from work for the Easter holiday starting tomorrow, so I think we can make a lot of progress this weekend! I'm just hoping the weather cooperates because there is a 30-60% chance of rain all weekend. That would really be a bummer because we have totally reserved this weekend for the patio project and have my parents coming up to provide extra hands. 

Of course, we're going to celebrate Easter as well, so if it rains we'll just enjoy church and family time.

* it's raining, it's pouring...*

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Patio Progress & More Scenes from the weekend

I'm glad I had my trusty phone around this weekend to snap some photos...

1. The pavers arrived! It was dark but I couldn't help but lay some out to see how they would look with the existing concrete slab.

2.  My best friend arrived and I took her for a long jog/walk at beautiful White Rock Lake. Our style is one headphone in, one headphone out. That way we can hear each other talking and don't get run over by cyclists.

3. Scott rented a tiller from Ace Hardware. I took this awesome picture from our master bedroom window as I watched him use all his strength to battle the very tough Texas soil in our backyard (that's the window screen pattern you're seeing on the photo). LOL @ his facial expression!

4. Our sweet nuggets relaxed while mom and dad did all of the hard labor. Well, dad did all of the hard labor while Kelsey and I helped pull up the old brick path. Notice our dead grass and weed problem. Oops...

5. We dug out for a big ol' patio! I CAN'T WAIT! This is definitely one of those projects where I want to snap my fingers and magically have a fabulous patio. Our hope is to finish it this weekend when my parents come up for Easter and my dad helps Scott lay down the pavers.

* daydreaming about a patio party *

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Patio Inspiration

This weekend is patio time!

I was gung-ho to help Scott start the patio on Saturday, but my best friend in the whole wide world found a great rate on a flight yesterday and spontaneously decided to fly in for the weekend! Looks like we'll be out shopping and sightseeing (woohoo!) while Scott recruits some buddies to help him on the patio.

Did you know Lowe's has great How-To videos on YouTube? Even before we decided what pavers to use, Scott found this video to show him how to do a paver patio. The best part is we ended up buying the exact pavers they are using in this video, so it's even more helpful than we thought!

During this process, we also started scoping out patio furniture. I honestly had no idea it was so expensive! Sheesh. One of the things I really want is a lounger so that I can lay on the patio and get some sun. Most of the loungers I was finding were $200-$300, and that is definitely not in the budget!

Finally, I found this lounger on Walmart's website. It has pretty good reviews and lays all the way down flat, which was one of my requirements. Plus, it's only $88!

photo from Walmart.com

Here are some of the other items on my outdoor space wish list (notice I said wish list, implying that there is very little chance I will actually pony up the cash to buy these):

photo from landscapelighting1.com

photo from Pier1.com

photo from CB2.com

photo from PotteryBarn.com

Isn't that margarita stand cute?!

Speaking of margaritas, have you tried the Skinny Girl Margarita yet? I highly recommend! I love margaritas but I always feel guilty because they are so high in calories. This stuff totally solves that problem. I can't wait to have one with my best friend this weekend!

*Hurry up, Friday!*

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Big Backyard Plans!

Things have been SO busy lately, but we're finally ready to take on another big project. The weather has been really beautiful in Texas lately, and it has motivated us to work on our backyard.

Truth be told, the backyard is somewhat of a disaster.

The good:
Big yard on a corner lot with a beautiful fence
Big beautiful trees providing some shade

The bad:
Our dogs like to dig. A LOT.
We don't have a working sprinkler system to keep the grass looking green

Did I mention we have a rogue rosebush that's trying to take over the back patio area?

Yes, the dogs have a digging problem.

Exhibit A:

Holes galore!

Exhibit B:

The grass used to come all the way around the tree, and there were even these beautiful bushes with purple flowers on them. Then we moved in and the furry nuggets proceeded to dig out every single root of this tree. I'm sure they think something is living in that hole at the base of the tree.

Anyway, we're fortunate to have a large lot for our neighborhood. We can afford to give away some grassy area (or in our case, hole-filled space) in favor of a bigger patio. That's just what we're going to do!

We traced out this faint white shape so you can see where we want to go with the patio:

We inherited that table and chairs from the previous owner, so we threw it out there to see how much room we would need.

Here's the view from the opposite corner of the yard, if that helps. 

Anyway, here's the plan. We're going to use these pavers to create the look we want, building off the existing concrete patio.

photo from Lowes.com

I'll post pictures on the progress as we go!

*Where did the weekend go?*
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*L-O-V-E* Vase

 I  picked up this cute vase at Pier 1 the other day.

Our geraniums are surviving, and the roses are blooming!

*Go Butler!*
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I picked up my painted pottery yesterday!
Is it perfect? No.
Does it look handpainted? Yes.
Do I love it? YES!

It's been a crazy week, and I am so thankful for the weekend. I'm leaving right now to pick up Scott's dad at the airport. We're going to give him the DFW tour and show him the house for the first time. Should be fun!

PS. Scott's baseball team won 30-0 yesterday. The mercy rule came into effect after the fifth inning. Ouch...

*Happy [baseball] opening day weekend*
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