Category Archives: Home renovation

Easy Peasy lace curtains

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Easy Peasy lace curtains

As part of my summer diningroom makeover project, I needed some quick and easy curtains to finish it up. Our diningroom had shutters, so the purpose of the curtains was purely decorative. I wanted something antique and delicate looking, so I was excited when I found this lace at Fabricland…

  

I also bought these curtain rods, and clips which were both on sale.   

The rods and rings were just what I wanted, and for the right price, so I bought them, but the problem was that I wanted them to be silver, so I gave them a really quick sand wih some very fine sandpaper, broke out the silver spraypaint, and started spraying. 

To evenly coat the rings with the spray paint, I clipped them onto a roll of newspaper so I could spray one side, then flip them all over at once.  

And I gave the rods a quick coat of silver too.  The rings I bought open when you squeeze them, so I just had to sew a quick seam to turn under the top an bottom of the curtains, then clip them on! (I liked these so much I bought some more for another project… Will keep you posted)   I didn’t even measure, I just folded the fabric a few times and clipped the rings on the folds.   Then, I screwed in the brackets that came with the rods, hung them on, and popped them into place. Easiest curtains I have ever made… And cute too! 

Here they are, done and hung!   
   

As you can see, I tied them back, and my plan is to add a little hook on the wall to hold them back. I’ve added hooks to my list for the next time I am at Home Depot.

The last two little things I need to do to the diningroom is add the curtain hooks, and  I still have to attach the drawer pulls to the buffet…. But the good news is, the chairs are all done! 

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Inspirational Bathroom Wall

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Inspirational Bathroom Wall

I would like to think that every post I write is inspirational, but this one is particularly inspirational because I used a lot of my most favourite inspirational quotes. After we renovated the downstairs washroom (for the second time) It needed something on the walls. I think the washroom is the best place to put short inspirational quotes because you have a captive audience, with nothing better to do than read my walls! So, I was going to frame a bunch of quotes, but it honestly seemed like it would be too expesive, so I decided to make more of a mural or wall paper border instead. This is what the bathroom looked like after we finished installing the new vanity.

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Trust me, it looked a lot better than it did, but it needed some decorating. So, I started by searching on line and saving a whole pile of quotes that I like onto my camera roll (on my ipad). Then, I sent them to be developed, all 4 by 6 inch prints with white borders.

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I wanted to attach them to each other before taping them to the wall. I figured out that two horizontal photos will line up almost exactly with three vertical photos, so I taped the photos together in groups of eight.

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Then I taped the groups of eight together to make a border three photos wide. I used scotch tape for all of the taping on the backsides.

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Then, to tape them to the wall, I used masking tape. I figured it would do less damage to the walls.

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Then I continued all of the way around the bathroom.
I’m not sure how long I will keep it up for, but I think I like it!

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Now I guess it’s getting to be time to start on some Christmas projects!

A Dry Basement?? I think so…

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In every house that I have ever lived in, we have had a leaky basement. I don’t understand why this is such an issue for so many houses! Since about to weeks after we moved into this house, our basement has leaked in at least five different places…numerous times… not including when the sewer backed up. (That was a lot of fun, let me tell you)

We have tried digging up from the outside and patching the leaks, we have patched from the inside, and yes, we even hired someone to fix the leaks…. but somehow, the water keeps coming in…

Luckily, the water up until now was coming in from the unfinished part of our basement, but, when the water started coming in again this spring in came in from the finished part, so….I did what any intelligent educated woman would do… I took a hammer to the drywall! This is what the wall looked like when I was finished with it…

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There was a whole lot of mould and water damage, so we decided that the framing had to go too. So, my lovely and willing assistant, no, I mean my skilled and handsome husband, ripped it out. (Thanks honey!)
Here is what one of the cracks we found looks like…yes, there was more than one, but this was the big one. You can see in the photo that someone has already tried to patch it.

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So, we took a few days to look into some different products. (OK, OK, we left it a couple months, but who’s counting?) But, in the meantime, a friend told me about this product and it sounded pretty good, so we thought we would give it a try…

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Is is a two part product by Sika called an Injection Repair Kit. The way it works is that you chisel out the crack, attach these tubes or nipples over the crack, parge over everything, then inject the expanding foam into the tubes.

So, out came the chisel, and we started hammering. I would also recommend some earplugs and eye protection. It was loud, and there were pieces of cement flying everywhere. But, we chipped out the crack so it was exposed and then used a wire brush to clean out the crack.

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Now, I consider myself to be pretty handy, but unfortunately, I can’t hammer if my life depended upon it. It takes me about 20 hits to hammer in a nail, and I only hit the nail half the time! So, after hammering for half an hour, this is what my thumb looked like:

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Don’t worry, I’m OK, once again, my incredibly coordinated husband came to the rescue and finished the job!
So, the next step was to attach the tubes, we used a glue gun to attach them to the wall. We place them about about 6-8 inches apart.

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The next step was to parge around each tube, but I was a little worried that the cement would block the holes, so I stuck some paintbrushes in each hole, to keep the holes open. We also wet the wall at this point because the expandable foam only works when it comes in contact with water.

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Then we used the cement that came with the kit to parge over the tubes. I just mixed a couple tablespoons at a time, because it sets really fast.

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Once the cement set (the kit said to leave for 1/2 hour), we took out the brushes that were blocking the holes. The expandable foam that came with the kit works with a caulking gun. You simply insert it into each tube and squeeze until it drips out. The kit came with plugs to put in each tube to stop it from dripping.

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It worked amazing! The foam even expanded to the outside of the house. When I went outside to check, the foam had expanded so much it was coming out the outside of the house.
I have to say, so far, so good. It has rained twice since we repaired the crack, and not a drop of water!
We are working up the courage to turn on the hose on the outside of the house to test how well it worked. I’ll let you know!

We’re gonna have a baby!! (two actually!)

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We’re gonna have a baby!! (two actually!)

OK, before I freak out everyone I know, maybe I should clarify… I am not the one expecting…. (thank you lord!)…

Let me tell the story from the start. We are going to have baby birds!

Dylan and I noticed a couple weeks ago that a robin was trying to build a nest on an outdoor light outside his bedroom window. We watched it fly up with bits in his beak over and over.
Then we would watch as a gentle breeze would blow it right off of the light onto the patio. Here are some of the nest bits on the patio…

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The robin would just start again, and again and again. Over a week, we probably watched it restart the nest at least 10 times. I couldn’t decide whether to laugh at the stupid bird or feel sorry for it.

But, my compassionate side took over. So, I got John to help me dig out the tall ladder. Even though I am afraid of heights, I braved the extreme heights, an risked my life to help this stupid bird. (My wonderfully supportive husband held the ladder in case you were wondering…he didn’t think I was being crazy at all….) The window beside the light is Dylan’s room.

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Here is a close up of the light I took when I got to the top of the ladder, you can see a few of its failed nesting attempts hanging off the sides.

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I have to admit that this isn’t by far my prettiest work, but as I said, I’m not a fan of heights, so when I was on the top step of the ladder, leaning over to reach the light, making it look pretty didn’t seem as important as staying alive (ok, that’s a tad dramatic, but still) I got a length of yellow rope and a metal bread basket, and I tied the breadbasket to the light. Once again, not pretty, but it did the job. Check out my handiwork!!

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So, we patiently waited a few days, and nothing! I was just a tad bitter that I had risked my life and all, but I tried to let it go, and move on with my life.
But, wait, that’s not the end of the story! Dylan noticed the other day that the robin was sitting in the basket! But, we couldn’t see what was happening inside.

So, naturally, I leaned out the window over the nest to take a quick picture, and….

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I saw the most perfectly made nest with two perfect little blue eggs! Isn’t it amazing! I would have taken a little longer to admire the miracle of nature, but the momma robin really didn’t appreciate me leaning out the window over her nest, she was making quite the racket! But, don’t worry, she’ll get used to it, she’s not going to get rid of me that easy!

My plan is to stick my phone out the window everyday until I see some baby birds…. don’t worry, I will be sure to share the pictures. You will be the first ones to know! Keep your fingers crossed though, we are expecting thunderstorms tomorrow.

Maybe I need to climb up the ladder again to rig something else up to extend the roof and keep the eggs dry, I’m sure John will think that’s a great idea 🙂

********UPDATE********
I was contemplating sending out birth announcements, but I thought I would write a post instead…. Look at the picture I took yesterday morning!!!

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I was hoping the other egg would have hatched today, but
I tried to take another picture just now and let me tell you, those robins can be vicious…. Don’t let their cute little beaks fool you! All I did was lean out the window and stick my arm out over their nest to take a photo… and both the male and female took turns dive bombing me!
I guess I don’t blame them.
But isn’t the baby adorable???

Privacy Screen

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Privacy Screen

Our last job in finishing the backyard, was to build a privacy screen. When the landscapers put in the retaining walls, they left these posts up beside the walls, and instead of cutting them off, we told them to leave them so we could build a privacy screen. Our plan was to put up some lattice, but the more I thought about it, the more I am not even sure I like the look of lattice. And, we thought the posts were evenly spaced, but turns out they were all different distances apart. The posts range from 9 to 11 feet apart.
Here are what the posts looked like before…

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Here is another view, you can see the posts in the background in this photo…

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Here was my original plan…

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Then I saw this piece of art when John and I went to the beaches…

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And, it got John and I to thinking about cutting out a design. Why can’t we make a pattern or design? But, the problem is I couldn’t think of a material to use. I kept coming back to the idea of using fence boards. So here is my, sorry our, idea…

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By the way, I think this is a good point to mention the fact that I watched the guys carefully as they were putting up the fence…so, the way we made this, was pretty much the same way they put up our back fence. Lol.
We started by buying the wood. We bought 20 pieces of 10 foot 2×4, along with 20 framing or fencing brackets, and about 35 fencing boards (6 foot pieces, cut in half, giving us 70 pieces), plus nails and screws.
The first step was to measure down from the top of the posts and screw in the brackets.

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Then, we measured, and cut the 2×4 the right length, and nailed it in the brackets. Checked to see if it was level….

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Then measured down to add the bottom railing…

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Then we cut, and added a cross piece on the top and bottom. While John was nailing them in, I used a jig saw to cut out a few leaves on each piece. I randomly cut the leaves on each board, cutting out 2-6 leaves on each board.

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I used a 2×4 as a spacer to measure out the fence boards with a pencil on the top railing.

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Then, we nailed the boards at the top, with one nail,

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And used a level to level each board, and nailed a few extra nails at the top and bottom…

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And…a few hours later, here is the finished product!

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Not bad, eh? We had budgeted about $500, but it cost just over $300…. But, the best part is that we are now truly finished the backyard!

Flagstone patio

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Another area of our backyard we decided to do ourselves was the space around the bbq.
We had a few pieces of flagstone that we found around the backyard when we first moved in, but as the guys were excavating the backyard, they dug up a bunch of flagstone, so I ran out and dug them all up and stashed them at the side of the house to save them. One more piece of evidence for these landscapers to think that I am totally off my rocker.
Anyways, this is what the area looked like before we started…

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We raked the area level, then covered it with landscaping fabric. Then, brought in all of the flagstone pieces we had. I lifted all of the small pieces and John lifted the big.
Then, this would have been the fun part if they weren’t rocks, and weighed a hundred pounds each! It was kind of like a jigsaw puzzle, fitting all of the pieces of stone together. Although, we didn’t have enough puzzle pieces…So I tried..

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And tried…

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And I finally decided on this layout…

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I tried to put the larger stones on the pathways that would be used most often, like in and out of the backyard. Also, by making a pathway that forked, we used what stone we had without having to buy more flagstone. (I have to be honest here, I didn’t want to buy more flagstone not to save money, but because by this point, I just didn’t want to have to lift it in and out of the car!)
So, we filled in the cracks and spaces with the same pea gravel we used on the pathway…

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And, made sure the stones were level… it was hard to level them after the landscaping fabric was down, so I added some screening in places to even some of the stones out.
Overall, considering that I dug up all of the flagstone from the backyard, and it didn’t cost a penny, I thought it turned out pretty well. Maybe we will revisit it in the future, but for now, I am happy with it. And, I am happy with not lifting any stones for a while too!

Backyard renovation is DONE!!

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I am soooo happy we are finally finished the backyard renovations! We live about 40 minutes north of the city, and the advantage of that is that we have a nice big backyard. the backyard was one of the main reasons we fell in love with our house. but, we knew it needed work, so we have been planning this big reno since we moved in. let me tell you, it was way more complex and messy than we imagined, but we are thrilled with the finished product. If anyone in the GTA is debating getting landscaping work done, we would highly recommend Markham Landscaping. They took care of everything from the pool to fencing to even the sprinkler system!
Markham Landscaping Website
So, to make a long story short, we have been dealing with mud, dust and chaos for the last six weeks, but here’s the highlights…
Here is what our backyard looked like in May…

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Here is halfway finished, at the end of June…

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And here it is today…

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We also put up our new trampoline…

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Our side walkway…

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Here is what the side of our house has looked like for the last month during our renovations. They had to remove the neighbours retaining wall, and move our shed out of the way to get their machinery in and out of the backyard. And let me tell you, it was a slippery mess, like the rest of the backyard for most of the time!

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We paid the landscapers to move the shed back and build the retaining wall, but we decided to do the pathway ourselves. After all, we were the ones who laid the path in the first place after we ripped out the interlock to fix the leak in our basement a couple years ago.
Our thinking about the side of our house is that it is just a passage way to get to the backyard. We want it to look nice, be low maintenance, but an area where we could save a bit of money by doing ourselves.
Luckily, the landscapers were kind enough to level out the space for us. So, this is what we started with…

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And, a massive pile of gravel…(that’s a long story, I’ll spare you from hearing. You’re welcome.)

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Here are a couple different angles.

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So, we began by raking the entire area flat. There was a lot of limestone screening at the sides, so we raked that into the middle to level everything out. Then we covered the area with black landscaping fabric to stop weeds from growing.
We started with large cement pavers…Those of you that know me know I am not a huge fan of measuring, so 90% of the things I do, I put on a slight angle on purpose because I think that looks far better that trying to be straight and being a little off. It also makes stuff look a little funky, and funky is always good. So, we put down each of the pavers on a slight angle.

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Also, every couple months when the kids were babies, and whenever the mood hits me since, I have made stepping stones of the kids feet, so every three pavers, I added a homemade stepping stone…

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Then, we went around the garden and collected all of the rocks we had laying around, to make a border along the pathway, not a great picture, but you can kind of see where I was going with this idea…

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Then we stared digging gravel. We filled in the outsides of the path with the rough, larger gravel, and got a load of of pea gravel delivered for the pathway. (btw: the kids thought the name “pea gravel” was the funniest thing ever – you can imagine the quality of conversation between John and the kids here) So we spent quite a while shovelling. But, this is the end product…

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As you can see, we still have a little cleaning up to do, but we were happy overall. I would like to add a rock sculpture, or some painted rocks, or more stepping stones or something to make it a little more interesting. Right now, there is a lot of rock, not a whole lot else…let me know if you have any ideas! Now, onto the flagstone…

Touching up the stairs

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So we have been off for almost three weeks now, and it’s amazing how fast the time goes. I have spent a lot of time on sewing the cushions for the wicker furniture. I have also made a few batches of jam, and a few other small projects around, I just haven’t been that great about writing about them lately!
I tend to save up a lot of household jobs for the summer, so this is one that I have been meaning to get at for months. As like most houses with young kids, our furniture and floors take a beating. One of the things I loved about our house was the stair case, but it takes a lot of abuse! I love dark wood floors and furniture, but it does tend to show wear and tear (is that how you spell tear?). Anyways, I would love to say I do this every few months, but I have done it once since we moved in this house!
Here is a shot of our staircase, I still love my photos I put up last summer!

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Black and White Stairs original blog post
Now, when you look closely, here is what the edges of the stairs look like …

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At the dollar store, they sell these markers…

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So I thought, why not? What have I got to lose…a dollar? Why pay seven bucks for the ones at Home Depot when you can pay a dollar? All you do is colour,

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Then wipe it off with a paper towel. I only wipe it to blur the lines a little so you can’t see the exact marker lines.

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I did the stairs, and then moved on to the bannisters. The kids are always twisting these two loose ones…

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They look much better after a little touch up…

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These pens also work great on furniture. Here is the side of one of our kitchen chairs…

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And here is after a little touch up…

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That should last another few years!

Busy lately…

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Hi everyone.
I am tired. John and I have finally made the decision to have our backyard redone. So, I really haven’t had time to do much else. Every day after work, we have spent all our time digging and lifting stuff in the backyard. It all started with a small crack in the cement in the pool deck…

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This was causing the water to get in under the stairs, washing away the sand that was supporting the stairs, and the stairs were cracking. So, we decided to get it fixed this year, before someone ended up putting their foot through the stairs. Sounds easy right? Well, to replace the stairs, they have to replace the liner because our liner is so old and faded. Then they have to cut the cement to get the stairs out, so while they were replacing the cement we were going to expand the deck a foot around the stairs…and since they are expanding the deck they have to replace a section of retaining wall, and since they are doing that, they might as well replace the whole retaining wall….since they have to replace the retaining wall, they might as well rip up the deck…and so on….
The end result is they are coming tomorrow (hopefully) to move our shed and take down the neighbours retaining wall so they can fit their vehicles in our backyard… We are digging down a couple feet to expand our pool deck by a couple hundred feet, replacing the retaining wall around the whole perimeter of our pool. We are having our current deck ripped up, and everything is going to be covered in an interlock stone. as well as having the stairs and liner replaced.
To prepare for this, we have had to go through every garden in the backyard, and dig out the plants we want to save. Keep in mind that our back yard is 60 feet wide and about 75 feet long…So, every piece of furniture and every plant in our back yard is now shoved to one side…

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We also had to rip up the pathway at the side of our house and move every rock and the pile of interlock that has sat at the side of our house for years…lots of lifting. I feel like an old woman. (I am complaining, but really John has done most of the lifting and never complains…love you honey!)
Here is what our backyard looks like now… this picture is looking at the side that we are having dug up. Everything past the wall to the house will be dug up and will be level with the pool deck.

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Here is the deck now…

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and here is the other side of the backyard, beside the pool…

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So, as I said, I haven’t had time for much else. June is a crazy time for our family, and adding this to the mix, has made it a little crazier! So if I am not posting as often, this is my excuse!
But, I do have a new project in the works…I bought a wicker patio set from our neighbours yesterday, and it needs fixing up…so I am going to spray paint the wicker and sew new chair covers for the six chairs, love seat and table.

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Stay tuned…