A New Garage!

When we bought our house back in 2014 the backyard was almost completely buildings! There was a detached two car garage connected to a one car a garage, connected to a workshop. This went fence to fence across the back of our lot.  The coming forward in an “L” shape was a man cave room.  In the summer of 2014 we tore down with the help of a demo company the man cave, workshop, and one car garage, but left the two car garage.


We have made the most use of the two car garage as we can and have held out for as long as we can too.  We used it to store tools and such, but it was so leaky and rotten in the back half when it rained outside it rained inside! 😦 Yuck!  We were afraid it would collapse and someone could get hurt.  The time finally came when we had to get rid of it and build a new one.  We contemplated all of our options such as just fixing the one we had, but it had a huge crack in the foundation that caused the tweak in the building.  So in the end we knew the best option would be to start over from scratch.

We got a few bids from different contractors for just a basic garage, four walls, one garage door, one regular door, one window, and electrical. Well…the cheapest bid was $40,000! Way over our budget! So, Todd decided to try and study up to build the garage himself.  🙂

Todd became the General Contractor and we did hire the same demo company to tear down the garage that tore down the rest of it back in 2014.

We spent days cleaning out the garage.  We moved the things we wanted to keep to the basement and got rid of bunch of stuff as well. Todd’s mom, Tammy was so nice to let us keep our pop up in her side driveway while our garage was being built. Once everything was cleaned out the demo company came in late March 2017.  I left for work one morning and the garage was there.  When I came home the whole thing was gone including the foundation like it was never there!

We also know we do not have the capability to pour concrete foundations with a sill, so we hired that job out as well. It turned out great!

Next, came Todd’s part to build. Todd read up and studied a lot.  He then drew up his own plans and made a list of what wood he needed and ordered it to be delivered. Over spring break Todd and many of our friends a family came to help.  We had our very own barn raising of sorts.  They would frame out a wall then put it up on the sill and bolt it in.  Then do the same for the next wall and the next.

While the guys were raising walls I was pulling apart the one old wall from the old a garage we could save.  One wall was old barn wood about 100 years old. I pulled out nail after nail saving as much of it as possible for future projects! More on this to come! Then I tackled the old Adirondack chairs we have around the fire pit.  They came from Todd’s mom Tammy who then gave them to Todd’s stepsister Lauren who didn’t want them anymore and gave them to us! They have had many layers of paint that after sitting outside was flaking off quite a bit.  Instead of sanding them and then painting again, I wanted to try something else. I was afraid if I painted them the same flaking would happen again in a year or so.  So, I sanded them down and they had a cool beach-y looking vibe with green, blue, and white paint as well as wood showing.  I then stained them and wiped off the excess.  They look much better and I might even add some clear coat and pillows down the line. 🙂

It took quite a few people to make this happen.  A big thank you to my dad, Todd’s dad, Todd’s Uncle Tom, our friends Jon and Grady.  Thanks to Uncle Tom for also loaning us many of his awesome tools! We are so lucky to have people like you to come help us! Especially to lift a super heavy header beam for over the garage door! Once the four walls were up we started to sheath it with plywood.  Todd contracted out the job of the truss building, delivery, and installation.  The guys came and installed the trusses and sheathed them in 3 hours.  My dad was there because they came on a weekday.  He said they laughed at our work the whole time.  Oh well! It’s still standing! 🙂

Once the walls were up and sheathed we covered the outside in Tyvek.  Then we rebuilt the fence between us and our neighbor Mari.  We had to leave the fence between us and our back neighbors until the whole project was done since the fence is only about one foot away from the new garage.  Our other neighbors Ben and Peter happened to be getting their roof redone that same week and they know their roofer really well.  We were able to get him to come do the roof and gutters for our garage that same week since it was a small job and he was already in the area! Yay!

After many weekends of work we were getting tired.  We started to install the siding and it was taking longer than expected.  Todd’s dad came to the rescue again.  His guys came and finished the siding, trim, electrical, and installed the window and regular door in just a few days.  My parents gave us a garage door as our Christmas gift! Yay! We picked the one we wanted and got it installed.  Last, we painted the whole thing ourselves!

To organize it we got some free cabinets from Craigslist including a white cabinet and a teal workbench.  Were were also able to reinstall some wall cabinets from the old garage.  Then we bought some tool holders and ceiling shelving and installed that as well.  The ceiling shelves hang above the pop up in the back corner and it works out great! Todd organized all his tools and even had room to move his workout equipment to the garage complete with a TV! He loves it!

We love the new garage and it feels great to have a structure that is safe and water proof!   Plus, Todd being the GC and doing a bunch of the work himself saved us a ton of money! Thanks to all that helped us with it, we could not have done it without you!



Pop Up Redo Part 2!

It has been awhile since we last blogged but that does not mean we haven’t been working on the house/ pop up! We have been quite busy, but just forgetting or not having time to blog!

Our last post was all about how we bought a used pop up camper on Craigslist in January 2017.  We worked on it bit before taking it on its maiden voyage to Joshua Tree, Sedona, and Scottsdale.  Since then we have continued to work on it and improve the old 1987 Coleman.


The counters were a beige laminate and we didn’t want to spend much money on them so we used a tip from PopUpPrincess website and used a thick peel and stick contact paper that looks like Carrara Marble.  Then we bought new white edging instead of the old yellow-ish beige.  Over all it looks pretty good! A few bubble but not bad for our first go at it.

We also took down the old dusty blue curtains and made new ones.  We took another tip from PopUpPrincess website and used painter’s drop clothes which are pretty cheap at a hardware store.  I cut the drop clothes to the sizes I needed to cover the windows and bed areas.  I had to piece together some pieces of drop cloth to make the right sizes but I like the way it looks.  The trickiest part was figuring out how to attach the curtains to the small rails that are in the pop up.  The old curtains had these plastic tabs that slid in the track but they were thick plastic that I didn’t think my sewing machine could sew through.  So I cut the strip with the tabs off the old curtains and just sewed that strip of fabric to the top of the new curtains.  Worked like a charm!

Then I painted the curtains in a strip pattern that mimics a Pendleton blanket to give the pop up a vintage rustic feel.  I also got this idea from someone else’s redo on PopUpPrincess.  Imitation is the greatest form of flattery right?  I love the way they turned out.  They give the pop up privacy and some color at the same time.

Next we bought the pop up new tires because when we were taking it to Lake Nacimiento for Labor Day we got a flat tire on the hottest day of the year in Paso Robles! It was 118 degrees according to my Instagram stories temp.  Ahh! Luckily we got the tire off and replaced it with spare which got us to the lake but once we got there we took off both tires and put it up on blocks and left it at the lake all closed up.  We took the original 1987 wheels home and bought brand new ones online.  I guess wheels reach their limit after 30 years. 🙂 We are lucky they didn’t go out on us while we were super far away in Arizona! When we went back up to the lake in fall we brought the new wheels put them on and drove the pop up back with us.  It was so great to have the option to leave the pop up there and not have to drive home on the old spare.  We even got our new spare a cover, to keep it nice! 🙂

We also bought some new read Coleman logos online since we covered up the old ones with paint.  The look pretty good!

Next on the list was cleaning a stain on the canvas which took cleaner and lot of scrubbing. Then we tackled the ceiling.  Since the ceiling was uneven from the water damage we needed something to cover it up.  We tried painting but the uneven-ness was still very apparent.  Then we tried peel and stick flooring but that wouldn’t hold with the force of gravity acting against it, so we went back to the drawing board.  The idea we came up with was to cover the ceiling with decoupaged paper collage. Since we travel in the pop up we decided to use cut up pieces of maps to cover the ceiling.  We went to AAA and got some maps (Thanks, AAA) and cut them up into different size triangles.  Then we used Modge Podge to coat it and stick it to the ceiling.  It took awhile and another trip to AAA for more maps 😉 but we got it done and we love the way it looks! It covers the uneven-ness and adds color! Plus we can look for places we have been or want to go to!


Lastly, we added a cute sign that my mom got for us to the door using Command 3M adhesive velcro strips.  Since our first trip we have been to Santa Rosa and Lake Nacimiento.  This year we have a trip planned with the pop up to go to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, can’t wait!


Home Sweet…Pop Up?

You guessed it…we bought an old pop-up camper trailer! I guess we thought we didn’t have enough to do with the house (yeah right!).  Todd and I had been tossing around the idea of a pop up, so we could take it camping and take it to Lake Nacimiento with Todd’s family because the house is getting tight.  Then I saw ideas on Pinterest of how people had fixed up old trailers to look amazing and I needed one yesterday.  See what I mean!?

We looked on Craigslist and were interested in a few with no returned emails.  Finally we found one in our budget in the area and jumped on it right after Christmas. We bought the pop up in Willow Glen and brought it home the same day. Good thing we already had a trailer hitch on our car! Meet our 1987 Coleman Sun Valley Pop Up!


When we bought the pop up it has a leak in the roof and of course a huge storm was on the way so we closed it up, covered it with a tarp and about 100 bungee cords, and hoped for the best.   After all the rain we opened it up to quite a bit of leaking in the ceiling of the interior. So we tore off as much of the ceiling as we could and let it dry for a few days. Then we did our research. We found that Pop Up Portal and Pop Up Princess are great resources for learning what you need to know about pop up remodeling.

We bought the materials we needed to seal the outside of the pop up and make it water tight again. The recommended material to seal the outside was truck bed liner paint, which is very toxic. So we bought the truck bed liner paint, special rollers, and a respirator. Luckily, you can buy truck bed liner in whichever color you want. We went for a dark charcoal grey.


While we waited for the truck bed liner paint to come we started on other projects when there was no rain to contend with! While Todd was away at a teaching conference I decided to surprise him by getting as much done on the pop up as possible. I started by priming all the cabinetry and ceiling with a sealing primer that sticks to laminate. After a coat of primer I painted all the cabinetry a nice grey color and which took 2 ½ coats. Then I started on the floors. For the floors I bought a peel and stick vinyl floor that looks like weathered wood and comes in plank pieces. This was so easy to do and only cost about $40! I love the way it turned out! Next, I replaced the knobs and drawer pulls with something that wasn’t made of plastic, a nice black iron look. Thanks to my parents for helping me get the floors in! Todd was very surprised when he got home!


Next up Todd needed to fix the leak in the roof. He donned his respirator and got to work! Man, that stuff is so stinky I couldn’t even be outside when he was painting it! I had to close all the windows and Todd worked as quick as he could. The truck bed liner was very sticky and toxic, so much so it ate away at the roller material and it said you could not use plastic paint tray liners because it would eat a whole through it! Todd worked as quick as he could! Afterward we coloring matched the truck bed liner and painted the bottom half of the pop up. It still needs another coat and we want to paint a red and white stripe and get some new Coleman logos to put where the old ones were.

With the pop up sealed we felt like it was safe to take it on a trip! This gave us a hard deadline to get as much done as possible! Next up was to recover the table cushions. My mom found some great fabric online of all places and it was a great price. We crossed our fingers that it would be what we were looking for and bought it! When it came I was so excited because the print was great and it was nice a thick, which is necessary when reupholstering cushions.

Recovering the cushions was easy because they had a wood backing that I could staple gun. All four cushions took less than a half an hour! We still have a ton more to do on the pop up but Todd and I had a great time taking it on it’s first trip. We decided to be adventurous and the pop up’s first trip was a week long adventure to Joshua Tree National Park, Sedona, and Spring Training in Scottsdale! It worked our great and was so much cheaper than flights and hotels. We can’t wait to fix it up more and take it on more adventures!





Dining Room Re-Do!

Our dining room was a hodge podge of items that looked fine, but lacked cohesiveness.  We had a dining set that we loved because it belonged to Todd’s great grandmother but….it was definitely showing its age.  It was covered in scratch marks, heat and water stains and two of the chairs were broken and unusable because they were missing part of the back.  With our budget, our option was to paint it, luckily Todd’s mom didn’t want to see it painted and offered to pay to have it refinished. Yay!

We found a refurbisher online and brought it to him.  He worked out of his house and did a great job! He even had us come over to see different stain options and choose which one we liked best! His Yelp page is located here.

He even had a “guy” who repaired the broken chair pieces and we couldn’t even tell which ones were fixed when we got them back.  We love the new stain and how clean, polished, and smooth the new finish is.  Thanks Marty for your great work and thanks Tammy for funding the preservation of a family heirloom.

Once we got the newly refinished chairs, table, and buffet home we needed to recover the chairs.  Todd and I headed to one of the only fabric stores left in the area and searched for a fabric that went with out color scheme and was the right thickness.  It took a while to find one that was in stock and not special order and was also not a million dollars, but we found one! Once we got home I got to work with scissors and my trusty staple gun! Recovering the chairs was simple and the whole process took less than an hour!

We love the new look of the dining set and feel we are now honoring this family heirloom. After we redid the dining set we wanted the room itself to have more character.  We decided to add this to the room by building our own built ins around the cased opening from the dining room to the living room.  That wall was already a feature wall that was painted a peacock teal and we we inspired by this re-do we found on Young House Love that showed a dark color through the shelves.  They started with built ins and just painted the backs but we started with a painted wall and had to build the built ins!

We found a tutorial on how to use IKEA cabinets to make built ins and were sold!  We headed to Palo Alto with our measurements and a long list.  A few hours and many distractions later we barely fit everything into the car and made it home! I even had to sit in the back seat behind Todd because the boxes were so long they went all the way to the front seat.

The supplies rested in the garage for a few months before we had time to tackle this project in the fall.  First, we started by figuring out where we needed to cut the prefab cabinets and then Todd got to work on the table saw and afterward built the cabinet frames.


Once Todd built the frames we had to figure out how to make them look built in! Todd took off the baseboards (being careful to save as much as he could to reuse). Then we attached them to the wall and started to figure out the top shelves that went over the cased opening.  This part gave us a run for our money.

We had to cover the shelves on the top with some backer board and we added some trim in a Shaker design (my favorite part).  Then we had to caulk the edges to make them look built in.  To make the top look built in Todd added crown moulding to the room with the help of my dad.  Thanks Papa!

Last, we gave the crown moulding, baseboards, and shelves 2-3 coats of white paint to crisp them up and then added all kinds of fun knick knacks and momentos to personalize the shelves!


We also added some art work to the opposite wall including an art print of our favorite coffee shop in Chico, CA where went to college called Naked Coffee Lounge.  We are still working on our gallery wall over the buffet but we have a good start with some monograms and a picture from our wedding! What do you think of the shelves? We love the look and the bonus of more storage!

Next on our list of projects is one we have been pushing back, because its kind of a monster. We’ll start building a new garage in the next few weeks…ahhh! Help!


It’s Been Awhile.

It has been 10 months since we last blogged! Whoops! Life has gotten busy and the project have gotten smaller! 🙂  Here is a compilation of the projects we have done since last November.

  1. Hanging/ Sliding “Barn” Door to Office.  We took the regular hollow core door off the frame to enter the office which is right off the living room and had a empty hole for quite some time.  Then we took one of the doors we had removed from the workshop we tore down and got it ready to hang.  The doors have already had some work to them (see here) but were still not ready.  The doors were a beautiful teal color, extra tall, and four panel, but someone had nailed and glued particle board to one side of them that was impossible to take off! Many hands and many hours of prying and scraping went into saving a repurposing these doors.

    Once the particle board and its glue was off we puttied one side to fill in all the gouges.  Then we washed it with a TSP and hot water solution (many times).  After it dried, we waxed and buffed it with furniture wax and the door was ready. Now we needed to get all the parts and gear to hang the door.   We looked into buying a barn door kit, but they were all about $300, no thanks.  Then I found a DIY tutorial of another couple who had made their own using mostly garage door parts and spray paint.   They had me at spray paint! We ordered all the supplies and made a few trips to the hardware store and had all the stuff we needed.  Here is link to the tutorial we used here.  We thought we paid great attention but still messed up a few times.  In the end we were able to hang the door safely and it slides great! We love the teal color that was originally on the door and we even bought a vintage door plate and door knob from a local antique store to top it off!


  2. Update of trunk entertainment center.  We bought an old trunk at a yard sale years ago and have been saving it to be our entertainment center.  We loved the way it looked and had it set up for while before we got around to updating it.  As you can see below it was a little too shabby and not enough chic.  I painted the fabric interior with leftover paint from the walls to freshen it up.  The Todd and I removed the front of the drawer for the top shelf to put our cable receiver and Apple TV in.  We drilled holes out the back for the cords to go through so we wouldn’t see them.  Then we removed the front of the second drawer and put it back on with a piano bench hinge .  It flips down to reveal the other electronic elements that don’t need to be open to get a remote signal such as the router and time machine.  Again we drilled a large space out the back for cords and to give the boxes air flow so they don’t over heat.  The drawer front closes with a magnet closure so it doesn’t fall down on its own.


    We love the new clean look and really love that the cords are out of the way and electronics are off the top of the trunk!

3. Myka’s Yard Fence Re-Do.  Well when we first got Myka the fence and gate Todd made that were about hip height worked perfectly.  Then Myka grew and learned how to jump the fence and jump on the top of her dog house too!  So Todd had to add lattice to the top of the fence and gate so that little, I mean big rascal can’t get out!


4.  Todd Built Us a Bed!  For my wedding present Todd said he was going to build me something.  Well 2.5 years later, he did! He let me find plans for a bed I liked online and then he built it all by himself! I love it and I am so impressed.  It is a look alike to a bed West Elm sells but I like this one way better.  Mine has lights built in and custom colors to match our decor.  Thank you Todd!


Lastly, we have been enjoying our home with family and friends! I should have a new post up about our dining room soon!


Front Yard Re-Do

When we moved in we heard about a lawn removal rebate program where the Santa Clara Valley Water District would pay the consumer $2 per square foot to rip out your lawn and replace it with drought tolerant plants.  After looking into it online (it is pretty complicated) we decided to go for it.  We scheduled our pre-inspection and they only had times during weekdays.  Those pesky kids keep showing up to learn on weekdays so that posed a problem.  Thankfully, my dad was able to come and be present for our pre-inspection.  They measured our lawn and told us we would get $1,300 to rip it our and replace.  Yes!


Yard before, looking dry!


Then we had to fill out an extensive application with a diagram on the yard, and list what plants off their list we would be using.  After we got the Notice to Proceed we went to A-Tool Shed and renting a lawn cutter.  This is a tool I didn’t even know existed.  It is basically a giant horizontal blade that jiggles back and forth to end up cutting a strip on lawn out that you can roll up like carpet.  That’s the idea anyway.

We had not been watering our lawn for a LONG time (sorry neighbors) so it was extremely dry.  When we used the sod cutter it did not roll up like it was supposed to.  Instead it crumbled everywhere.  This was not a pretty process. Eventually we got it all out and then rototilled the crap out of it.

Next Todd and my dad tore out the really bumpy and uneven brick front walk, which was a huge safety hazard.  We decided to replace the front walk with large rectangle steps made of brick that were framed in pressure treated wood.  Unfortunately, the days that Todd and my dad worked on this were the hottest days of the year.  100 degrees plus some.  They were baking and sweating.  In one weekend they managed to put in two of the three steps the made up the middle walkway.  But, we had decided to extend the walk way toward the driveway since we always used to cut across the grass anyways and extend it to the side yard since that is how we get to the basement.  This made 10 rectangle steps total!


We started to get worried about making our deadline for the rebate.  Thankfully, Todd’s dad Bill came to the rescue.  He is doing a remodel on his house has a crew of guys he knows and trusts.  He had them come over and complete the remaining steps and they even put the doors on the front of our washer and dryer in the kitchen!  Yay! That had been on our to do list for awhile! Thanks Bill and Lisa for the early Christmas gift!

Then Todd went to work on the irrigation.  We had to convert the pop up sprinklers to either micro-sprayers, soaker hose, or drip tubing.  This was hard work that took Todd a long time and was very complicated since we used a mix of all three kinds of approved irrigation.  We also bought a new irrigation timer that is water wise called a Rachio.  This new water wise timer also gets a rebate as well.  The Rachio uses the wifi of our house to go online and get weather data for our area.  So, if it rains the Rachio knows and will automatically turn itself off for the correct amount of days depending on how much it rained.  Crazy!


After the irrigation was done, we started building mounds out of dirt for visual interest and then…planting!!! We planted mostly low ground covers that will eventually spread out in a carpet like manner.  On the mounds we planted a variety of drought resistant plants from the approved plant list.  My parents also kept finding and buying great plants when they were out and about.  When we asked how much they cost, so we could pay them back, they said that the plants were mysteriously free! Thanks Mom and Papa!  We want to put a small tree on the top of each mound but we have not found ones we like yet.  We also have been bringing back interesting rocks from Lake Almanor to put around the yard for some hardscape as well.  Last, we bought two new large pots to put on either side of the new front steps and we planted those with a variety of plants as well.

Then we scheduled our post inspection and again they only had weekday middle of the day times.  Lucky for us my dad could be there for the post inspection.  We passed! Yay, we should get a check in early 2016.

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Yard After, sorry for the washed out picture!


A Bigger Deck (Good thing I can spell ;)

Another month went by without us blogging.  Amazing how life does that.  I’m glad that we thought of this blogging idea, because without this blog I would have forgetten quite a bit of this whole process.  I would’ve remembered the big stuff; a new kitchen, torn down buildings, and a backyard.  Yet, I would’ve missed all the pictures of people helping us out, the thoughts, and time that went into each project, and, of course, the “before” pictures are just amazing to look at now that we have lived here for almost a year.

Anyway, on to the update.  We have a bigger and better (more satisfying?) deck! This was one of our more ambitious “do it yourself” projects.  A deck is something you really don’t want to do wrong.  Luckily, our contractor had built a solid small deck.  The plan was basically to replicate what he had done, adding square footage in two directions. And, that is generally what we did.

This all began in late July/early August.  Laurel went to a work conference in Kansas City.  So, naturally, Todd stayed home and worked himself to the bone for the betterment of his family, while watching the new puppy… not so much. Actually, Patch stayed with us for the week while he was moving into his new place (and because I’m not sure how to function on my own anymore and Laurel gets worried). Honestly, Laurel was missed, but I got to use all kinds of awesome tools!

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Here is a good “before” picture for reference.

Now, my plan was to build the deck.  I calculated the materials with Gerry (of course) and then I set off to Home Depot and Economy Lumber to purchase the lumber and trex (composite decking). The trex was actually special ordered two weeks before.  So, my first step was to… CALL FOR HELP!  I’m a teacher, not a contractor!

I called Gerry and my Uncle Tom.  Gerry knows how to do everything I’ve ever had a question about, and Tom is amazing with construction.  He is a retired Police Captain who has built many houses with Habitat for Humanity.  I have done quite a few things, and I am beginning to feel comfortable with small projects, but this project was ambitious, and I was so thankful to have expertise present.


Every-other board! This made for fun walks into the kitchen…

We began by dismantling what was there.  The reason was twofold:

1. We wanted to see how our contractor built the deck.  How far apart were his joists? Where is the weight carried?  How did he build the stairs?

2. I wanted to make sure that there was not an obvious “line of extension.”  I wanted the deck to look like it has always been this size. So we took up every-other board and put them aside for later.


This is the extension of the main beam. I swear, it is bigger in real life!

Then we  got to work, the next day, planning and making cuts.  We planned in a bench and a trellis, to give it a finished look.  These had to be accounted for early on.  We then set posts in the ground for 2 days, and built out the structure (extended the joists) for 1 more.  Building out the structure meant extending the main beam (left) and adding joists to be able to add the decking material to.  Plus, we had to extend the joists out towards the driveway.  IMG_6965


Uncle Tom planning the next moves


Two extended joists on the left can be seen here. Plus, the bench posts are set.

So, after about 4 days, we had something to show for our work.  I had very naively hoped that we could finish the deck in 5 days.  I’m ridiculous with my time estimates. However,  with the help of Gerry and Tom and Patch, we had half of a new deck! Patch was instrumental in replacing boards and drilling them down- he became a well-oiled power-drilling machine.  I was busy telling myself I wasn’t afraid of table and miter saws while make lots of cuts.  I still have 10 fingers! So, that night I got ambitious and started, drilling down boards.  I got pretty far.  I was trying to impress Laurel, and the picture below was when I called it quits so that I didn’t bother the neighbors with loud drilling sounds!IMG_6975  I got all but that last corner!  So, that is what it looked like when Laurel got home.  We then went on a trip to Seattle and Portland for a week.  When we came home (early August) it was school set up time.  Except, for me, it wasn’t.  I had moved districts but due to some strange contract issues I couldn’t start working at all until 2 weeks later.  So, it was deck building time again!  Gerry and I set to work on the stairs for days, and they were technical but we got them done. The trellis got finished in one day, thanks to Gerry and Tom.  The bench got done in September.  All in all, we are SO happy with how everything turned out.  We also are incredibly thankful to Tom, Gerry, and Patch for all of their hard-work over multiple days. Below are the finished pictures.  Thanks for reading!  -ToddIMG_7117 IMG_7128 IMG_7130IMG_7374IMG_7347 IMG_7132

Some Outdoor Improvements

It has been awhile since I have blogged, probably because we have been so busy with our new addition to the family, our puppy Myka!  She is the cutest little Great Dane/ Lab rescue you have ever seen!  We had to drive all the way to Texas at the beginning of summer to get her, but she was well worth it (most of the time 😉 ).  She is now 5 and half months old and FULL of energy!


Before we went to pick up Myka from the rescue we needed to get the yard ready for her.  We had already built the vegetable garden with a fence around it to keep her out and done the grass, stone path, bocce ball court, and some planters.  We did not want all her puppy energy ruining what we had just done, so we made her a nice little home in our large side yard.  Our back fence neighbors, Terry and Monty, we so generous to give us their custom built dog house that had been a home for their German Shepard for many years.  The house was so big that they couldn’t get it through their gate and out of the yard when their dog passed away.  But… when we tore down the back buildings that acted as a fence between our yard and theirs we had a huge open gap.  They asked us if were going to get a dog and we said, “Yes!” and the dog house came through the gap before the new fence was put up last summer.

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Well the dog house has been sitting empty all year until the end of June when we brought Myka home.  She loves her dog house so much!  She better since it is so nice!  It even has a chimney and a nicer roof than our own house! 🙂

We put the dog house in the side yard where there was already a cement pad perfect for putting the house on top of.  The side yard has a nice shady lemon tree and even a small lawn made of the extra sod from when we did the lawn in the backyard.  On one of the last days before we left to pick up Myka Todd build a small fence and gate so we could keep her in the side yard and out of the back yard.  He used the same method as when we built the garden fence and did an excellent job!  It works great!

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We also got a new gate on the driveway side of the yard.  Our old one was functional but made of chain link fence.  We didn’t want Myka to be able to see out to every thing passing by all day or be able to be taunted by any cats.  So we called around with our neighbor and she found a guy who came and redid a small section of fence in between us and made new gates for both of us.  To save some money Todd broke out all the concrete where the posts were going to go himself.  This saved us a few hundred dollars and Todd got quite the workout! The look fantastic!!!

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My sister and brother in-law had an extra stereo receiver and were so generous to give it to us.  Todd found some cheap outdoor speakers online and he and Tony spent the afternoon drilling, climbing in the sweltering attic and hanging speaker wire.  By the end of the afternoon we had the receiver in the cabinet over the laundry connected to two outdoor speakers, one on the deck area and one pointing out toward the lawn.  They sound great!  Now we can listen to Giants games as we eat dinner outside or listen to music from our phones or laptops when we have friends over or are working in the yard!  Todd’s mom had an old but well made round redwood table that had been used by Todd’s family for years.  She no longer needed it and was kind enough to pass it on to us.  It has been many colors over the years but Tammy had already started to sand the paint off the beautiful redwood top.  Todd finished sanding off the paint and sealed it with a clear waterproof sealer.  Then we painted the bottom with a high gloss dark grey paint we had left over from the tub and the bathroom projects! We have already enjoyed many dinners at our “new” table!  Thanks Tammy!

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Tammy also had some old stacking plastic chairs that she didn’t need anymore.  They were faded, stained, and scratched, but that’s nothing a few cans of spray paint can’t fix!  I went with a teal and yellow for the chairs and made sure I bought the spray paint that bonds to plastic.  A few coats later and they look great our by the fire pit.

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The yard is now Myka proof (we think) and ready for her and us to enjoy!


Office, Hallway, and Bedroom Improvements

Our office which is really the front bedroom has been a mess since we moved in.  We had already done the desk but needed the rest of the room to come together.  We were in luck one day when we were going to Emi and Tony’s house.  As we were parking we saw a large white cabinet with glass doors on the curb across the street from their house.  We thought it looked way too nice to be one the curb for free, so we knocked on the door and asked.  They said that it was free!  Score!

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We brought it over to Emi and Tony’s garage and they delivered it in their big car later!  As I was putting things inside the cabinet I needed a place to put our files, so we bought some plaice file boxes to put on the bottom shelves.  The downside is that they were not nice to look at through the glass windows.  Time to get creative, so I got some pretty paper at the craft store and used some white card stock to create a screen to tape into the glass from the inside.  Then we added a few green and beige boxes from Home Depot and Voila! A great storage piece for the office.

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We were also very lucky that Todd’s cousin Jenyce gave us her chair that she no longer needed in her house.  It fit perfectly in the corner for reading or working on your laptop.  I needed a small table to put beside and I had a stool with no place to go, but it was a bright turquoise color.  So, I used one of my favorite tools…spray paint!  I had a can of light green spray paint so in a few minutes the stool was the perfect color to go with the chair and an extra floor lamp that we had!  Thanks Jenyce!

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Above the desk that I refurbished over the summer was a big blank wall and it needed something.  We were lucky enough to receive some large old school maps from our friend, Bonnie.  We love them and have a special place in our hearts for anything school related and add to it that they are vintage…a big win!  The maps were from a set that would hang in front of the chalk board in a San Jose State classroom from the 1950s.  So cool!  We took one of the maps Todd made a frame for it out of some cheap 1 x 3s and his handy dandy nail gun.  Then we burned the wood with a torch and sealed it with a clear coat.  Todd attached the map to the frame and hung it on the wall over the desk!  I think it looks great!  Thanks Bonnie!

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Overall, we love the way the office looks now, if only we could keep it clean!  😉

Next, was a small project for the armoire in our bedroom.  We bought it at an estate sale for $125 and it fits great in our room!  One of the only things that we didn’t like was the cutouts that had an orange fabric on the inside.  We have no orange in our room and it just didn’t work.  So, I went to the craft store and bought two sheet of scrap book paper that went with the bedroom.  Then I ripped the orange fabric off, which was harder than I thought it would be.  Last I duct taped the paper from the inside.  Yes, I said duct taped because who cares, no one will see the inside of the a moire, it was hard for me to see when I bent around and taped it.  🙂

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Before: Orange

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After: Light green and white paisley paper.

One of my favorite things to show people when they come over is the new linen closet, which I know sounds odd.  When we bought the house it did not have a linen closet at all.  We were able to add one when we redid the layout and added a small hallway.  See the post about the bathrooms for more detail on that! Well the door to our new linen closet is not new at all.  In fact it is original to the property.  Our property had many outbuildings when we bought it in the backyard.  One of them was a workshop and it had an old door that went to a tiny 1.5 foot wide side yard.  We saved the door and used it for the linen closet.


First, it had to be made to the right size.  The door was a bit too wide for out opening and Todd and my dad cut in on the table saw to be the right width.  Then the door was a few inches too short for the new opening, so they used part of the piece they just cut off and attached it to the bottom of the door.  Next we sanded and puttied and sanded and puttied and sanded and puttied until the door was some what smooth and you can’t even tell where the piece was attached any more!  Next, we painted it but only on the wide you see in the hall way.  We decided to leave it original on the inside to show it’s age.   Then Todd had the hard task on chipping away the spots for the hinges on the door frame and hanging the door.  He did and great job!  Lastly, we put the original door knob and hardware back on and we love the end result!

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More Backyard Fun!

Now that the bender board was in, it was time for a lawn.  Todd ordered the sod and we borrowed Tony’s Dad’s truck to go pick it up.  Thanks Tony Sr.!  Then one day while I was at a bridal shower Todd, my dad, and Tony laid the sod and made a beautiful lawn!  The only downside…Todd ordered WAY too much and you can’t return it.  So, we put some in the side yard and gave the rest to our friends Carlos and Maureen because they were interested in a new lawn.  Sorry for pressuring you into doing your lawn sooner than your wanted guys!  🙂  Todd had a great attitude about it and used it as a real life lesson when teaching his fourth graders about area!


The weekend after installing the lawn Todd and Tony went and got gold fines from the rockery and rented lawn roller from A-Tool Shed to compact it.  They put it behind the lawn where the fire pit area will be and in the veggie garden so the ground doesn’t get muddy.  It looks great!

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Now it is the last day of Spring Break.  We have been working all week on installing the flagstone pathway around the yard.  This is a big task, but it will be beautiful and nice to not track dirt in every time we go outside!

We love our neighborhood!  Everyone looks out for each other and they even do little get togethers and dinners!  One of our awesome neighbors heard we were going to put in flagstone and said that they had extra and we could have it for free!! Amazing!  We made a time to pick it up and when we got there they even helped us cart to our house! Thanks Arlene and Rob!

Todd and I did not have to buy nearly as much flagstone because of our awesome neighbors.  Todd and my dad used Tony’s Dad’s truck and picked up the rest of the flagstone we needed and brought it back to the house. Then we laid it out and dugout and and installed each piece.  First you have to place it, then see if it is level (it never is the first time).  Then take way dirt or add dirt or add sand, then slide it back and forth, then lay it down again,then stand on it to check….and so on until it is perfectly flat.  Now, the dirt we had was full of rocks which would not be helpful when you are trying to level flagstone, so my dad built a dirt sifter out of some two by fours and wire mesh.  Then we sifted out all the rocks so we had smooth dirt to use for leveling.



Flagstone from Arlene and Rob! Thanks!

Installing the flagstone took a few days and the end result looks beautiful! At the end we planted some ground covers between the stones that will hopeful grow out in the cracks and make it more plush!  Thank you to my parents for all their help!  Special thank you to my dad for all of his expertise and labor helping with this hard project!

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I think it looks fantastic, but I am a little biased 🙂  It might be time for a party soon!


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