Stepping Stones

To tie in our new paver patio with our old concrete patio, we decided to replace the old stepping stones to the driveway with new ones made out of our new pavers. We needed a way to make our small pavers stick together to form a larger stepping stone, so Scott came up with a great idea.

He formed the shape of the stepping stone we wanted, and then he cut a piece of plywood to size. He used Loctite adhesive to attach the pavers to the plywood.

Once the adhesive was dry, he added polymer sand, which is the same product we used in between the stones for the patio. It's kind of like cement or grout and works to hold everything together. 

Brilliant, right? He placed them in a curving pattern to mimic the curves of the patio, and then he filled in the surrounding area with our landscape rock. Voila, a path to the driveway! This path is very important because this is how we come and go from the house everyday. 

Mr. Perfectionist made sure his stepping stone was level with the existing concrete patio.

I know the shade isn't helping you see the stones that well, but it's the only picture I have. You get the idea, I'm sure!

Now, if only we could get our sprinkler system working so that all of these parched earth would be covered with lush green grass. That would be nice!

* Go Dallas Mavericks! *

(Showing some love for our local team!)
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Outdoor Lighting

I couldn't get my blog to work the entire week, so I'm a full week behind on posting. Let me start by saying Happy Memorial Day! Now, on to the post that was supposed to run last Monday:

My husband spent a good portion of his weekend adding outdoor lighting to our casa. He's very particular about this kind of stuff, so I just get out of the way and let him do his thing. He only asks for me when he's not sure where to place the lights.

My role in the whole process? Pick out the lights!

I love a copper finish, so we went with THESE lights from Lowe's. The kits are definitely cheaper when you factor in the lights, wiring and transformer. Then we also bought THESE spotlights so we could up-light the trees.

The lights make a huge difference. They highlight the pretty parts of the patio and create a warm vibe in the backyard, which used to be pitch black.

Now I can't wait for my candle lanterns to come in that I wrote about LAST WEEK so that I can perfect the lighting situation out there. 

Scott also added some lights to the front of the house. I think it adds a nice "glow." What do you think?

* Happy Memorial Day *

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*Early Birthday Present*

I turn 25 years old this Saturday. As an early birthday present to myself, I bought myself 10 of these charming lanterns that I found HERE on Amazon.com:

So cute, right?! I wanted to buy some sort of hanging candles to put in our trees in our backyard, something like these photos:

Photo from instructables.com

Photo from kellyoshiroevents.com

Turns out these things can be a little pricey, especially if you want to buy a lot of them. I was thinking about a DIY version with mason jars when I spotted these little star lanterns. They're affordable and they are really fun, especially if you have a thing for stars like I do. The best part is I think the shape of these lanterns will look great all day long. not just at night when the candles are lit.

Speaking of stars, I spotted THIS neat 3D star on sale at crateandbarrel.com today.  It's rustic and modern all at once, which makes it automatically awesome. I'm still trying to convince Scott to let me buy it- he's not quite sold on it. He just doesn't see my vision!

Maybe he would understand better if he saw how cool these Moravian light fixtures looked in THESE ROOMS? Obviously this one pictures above isn't a light, but it could look equally cool if it were hung artfull from the ceiling in a corner, like a sculpture. That's what I would do with it, anyway.

* I don't want to be 25– that rounds up to 30! *
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Patio: Phase 2!

Remember when we starting putting down rocks around our patio, as a base for potted plants and my lounging chair?

Well, we made it halfway through before running out of rocks. Scott visited the rock supply store last weekend to get more supplies, but they were already closed for inventory. We were really focused on finishing that project this weekend, so he went to the store again.

He called me from the store to tell me they didn't have the same rocks we bought last time. Apparently they rotate the supply of "native rock" from several different places so depending on the weekend, the rocks that are classified as "native stone" could look vastly different. I was skeptical, but I really wanted to finish the patio. Scott said he still thought these rocks were nice, so I told him to go ahead and buy another ton and we would work with them.

I wasn't too thrilled with the new rock once I saw it in person. The range of colors in the stones just weren't anywhere near as pretty, and the whole lot looked pretty chalky. It wasn't like we could really take it back, so we had to find a way to make it work.

The bummer about this is that instead of just laying in the new rock to fill in the rest of the patio area, we now had to somehow mix it with the existing rock so that it looked somewhat cohesive. It was a lot more work than we anticipated, but we didn't have a choice. 

When we made the outline for the rock border, we really wanted to soften the hard lines of the patio. We added curves to make it look more organic and to accommodate the trees. I really love how it turned out...

There is still so much dirt with no grass growth, thanks to the destructive furry members of our household. We're also hoping that getting our sprinkler system repaired will help this grass come back.

By the way, I really like my lounge chair from WalMart. I think it was a great purchase for the price, and I have already used it so much. I've definitely gotten a good start on my summer tan, thanks to this chair!

We also added some black mulch to the bottom of our garden this weekend. I think it ties in nicely with the black shutters by the window and provides a really nice backdrop for the plants. 

We also did a lot of lighting work this weekend, adding landscape lighting to the back patio and to the front of the house (and by "we," I mean Scott). I'll have those posts up later this week. 

Want to see how we made the actual patio? Check out this post

* Gearing up for another week! *

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Random Thoughts Before the Weekend

Well, we had art lesson #2 last night, and I did my best to teach the girls how to draw horses. They're also getting better at using their shading pencils and blending stumps, which is something we're working on. I was pretty impressed with how their horses came out, and it's always fun to see how they inject their own personality into their work. (These girls are in first and third grade, in case you're wondering.)

We were going to have some friends over for a little patio party tonight, but the weather is not looking promising! I'm not a great photographer, but here is a picture I snapped of the solar lights on my phone:

We definitely want to buy more of these lights, but they aren't the cheapest thing around. They come on every night without fail, and it makes it feel like a party on the patio every night.  (And, unfortunately, it looks like they are out of stock.)

Our plans for the weekend? First of all, we have to go down to the Dallas County Tax Office and protest our 2011 home appraisal. They appraised it at a number much, much higher than we paid less than a year ago, and that number is not even close to what houses are selling for in our neighborhood. That appraisal raised our mortgage payments by $100/month, so we are definitely going down there to protest first thing Saturday morning. 

Then, we hope to finally finish this rock project! Hopefully the rock supply store isn't closed for inventory this weekend (like it was last Saturday). 

Scott bought some outdoor lighting for the front of the house, so we're hoping to get those installed. I say "hoping" because it's supposed to be rainy and gross all weekend, so who knows what outdoor work will actually get done?

We have a couple new followers on board this week, and I want to say WELCOME! I'm still somewhat new to this blogging stuff, but nothing makes me happier than a new follower. :)
* I love Fridays *
...especially Fridays at 5 pm. All you worker bees know what I mean!

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Weekend Recap: Outdoor Living

Wow, the weather was just AWESOME in DFW this weekend! I definitely took advantage of the prime conditions, spending as much as I could on Saturday and Sunday outside, soaking up the rays. Of course we cheered the Rangers to victory on Friday night, which was totally fun. The boys, who were inseparable in college until Scott married this ball and chain and moved away, were happy to be reunited:

They started the fireworks show on our way back to the car, so we all laid flat on our backs on the grass to watch it. The fireworks were being launched a mere 75 feet from us, and it was fascinating to watch them from that perspective. Something hit me in the face when I was laying there, and I realized it was debris from the fireworks! Maybe we were a little too close to the action...

Did we get the rocks finished? Of course not! After Scott went golfing with his two friends that were in town visiting, they went to the rock place to pick up enough to finish the project. Unfortunately, the store was "closed for inventory," so we'll have to wait until this weekend to try to finish that again.

They did a couple other random projects, though. They picked up new outlets at Lowe's and replaced our two outdoor outlets that hadn't been working since we moved into the house. That was wonderful news since it meant we didn't need to hire an electrician to come out to investigate.

Levi helped me put together my lovely chaise lounge from WalMart, so I spent the rest of the weekend reading books and soaking up the sun! Thank you, Levi.

Poor Jake found himself up in a tree, helping Scott string up the solar patio lights.

They also hung up the shutters we have been meaning to add to the back window that match the front of the house.

Plant Progress Report
I have managed to keep almost all of our new plants alive! One of our geraniums bit the dust, but the rest are still going strong. 

The lovely Bouganvilla...
Pretty, right?!

We closed the weekend at Scott's baseball banquet. Here he is with his precious little team of freshmen. They're so cute!

And here he is with the other baseball coaches:

He gave a great speech about his team, and I was really proud. Bonus part of the banquet? They gave all the coaches' wives a hanging plant, which is a great addition to my collection. I never thought I would get excited about plants, but that's my new reality. Ha ha!

* Monday Funday *

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Just Checking In...

I was doing so well with trying to write in this blog on a regular basis, but I've been pretty bad lately! In all fairness, we haven't made any progress on the house since we filled in half of our "rock garden" two weeks ago.

We got halfway done and ran out of rocks. Unfortunately, we still haven't been back to the rock place for more supplies because we have been too busy! Last weekend we went to a wedding and spent Mother's Day visiting my parents a few hours away, and we have no spare time during the week because of Scott's busy spring football schedule.

We planned to do it this weekend, but Scott's former teammates have spontaneously decided to come spend the weekend with us. I was thinking they would be great at hauling rocks around- big, strong college football players- but I think they have a relaxing weekend of golf and Texas Rangers baseball in mind. Who am I to ruin their DFW vacation?!

One new thing we have going on? Art lessons! This week was my first official gig as art teacher as I hosted my friend's daughters for some creativity time. It was so fun! I surprised them with sketchbooks, which they promptly decorated. Then I asked them to draw portraits of each other. They used their new graphite pencils and blending stumps. I hope they had fun because I know I did! Check out these beautiful pictures:

Precious, right?! I'll have to take a better photo next time. I just snapped this one with my phone.

In case you're wondering, this isn't some new business venture I'm going into or anything like that. My friend just had a baby and I wanted to help, so I offered to occupy her girls for a few hours a week doing something they love, art! They've said they want to learn how to draw horses, hands, and teeth. Haha! I'll do my best.

I hope you have a great weekend. We're off to watch the Rangers (hopefully) beat the Angels tonight!

* Go Rangers *
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Style Quiz

Back when I was a teenager (which was, like, SO totally five years ago ago), I loved taking quizzes in my favorite magazines.

"What Type of Friend Are You?"
"What Guy is Your Type?"
"What's Your Personal Style?"

Whether the results were totally on-point or completely wrong, they were always entertaining. Today I was reading the lovely Roost blog that featured the Sproost style quiz. The quiz shows you pictures of different rooms and you decided whether you love, like, dislike, hate or just plain don't care about the room in the picture.

I took the style quiz and my results were a mix of three different styles. I'm 40% Mountain Lodge Style, 40% Rustic Revival and 20% Nantucket Style. I would have to say that is pretty darn accurate. I love stone fireplaces and salvaged wood pieces, but also I love a preppy, graphic print.

Let's analyze the living room. The rug, with its warm colors and cozy vibe? Mountain Lodge style.  The coffee table, with its salvaged wood look and old casters? Rustic Revival. That cheeky chevron blanket and bright white flowers? Nantucket-y. I see where they are going with this!

Now, the kitchen. The stone backsplash? Mountain lodge-y. The open shelving with simple white plates? Rustic. Another chevron print and the grey-blue color of the cabinets? Nantucket-ish.

Ok, so I can agree with the assessment. If you take the quiz, make sure you click on "More" after your results so you can see the full percentage breakdown of your different styles. Before I clicked that I thought they had just pegged me as Mountain Lodge Style, which isn't completely accurate. It made much more sense when combined with the other two.

What's your personal style? Take the quiz and tell me!
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We Rocked It.

It turns out that shopping for rocks is actually kind of fun.

We set out on Saturday to buy some landscaping rock for the backyard, but the first place we visited was closed. Crisis averted, however, as a good friend of ours directed us to Custom Stone Supply. They had tons of options. We ended up buying one ton of "Native Stone," which was the most affordable option at $50/ton. This stone was cheapest because it is native to Texas.

Native Stone:

And then we went and picked out 10-12 oversized stones from the "New Mexico" pile. Those things were heavy! They weighed 320 lbs total and rang up about $36. 

(While I was at church this morning, I looked down at my engagement ring and noticed it was bent out of shape and was no longer a perfect circle. I think these stones were so heavy that they bent my ring when I was lifting them! Whoops.)

New Mexico:

Pretty, right?

Then we took it all home and started the process. The first thing we had to do was lay the landscaping edging to create a lovely home for our rocks. After last weekend's patio project, neither of us was too excited to bust out the shovels again, but this went pretty quickly:

Then we had to lay the weed protectant sheets and start hauling the rocks from the truck to the yard. 

Unfortunately, we ran out of rocks before we finished the entire project. The rock place is closed Sundays, so we'll have to go back and get more rocks at another time. We are really pleased with how it is shaping up so far, though!

Last night we had another couple over for dinner on the patio, and it was perfect. Scott and I agreed that moments like that were exactly what we had in mind when we set out to create more living space for the backyard. So far, so good!

*Monday? NOooooOOOOOoooo not yet!*

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