2017: Week 2

I have such great friends in Rochester. Beth and Adam delivered a meal for me because of a sprained ankle. We celebrated Jennifer’s birthday with an awesome night of Taboo and Cards Against Humanity. Love how we have a growing list of inside jokes that we can fill the blank cards with!

DIY Shed Progress!

I’ve made progress on my shed! Last I talked about it – it looked like this: in the middle of my yard, with no boards and no door.


I needed to put the horizontal boards up on all four outside surfaces, to make it look nice. I had bought fence boards for this purpose. They are pine wood, which is a lighter, blonde wood color. So first order of business was to stain each one of those 32 boards. I did all this in my garage. I stacked them up and stained all the edges first, then I lined them up against the wall and stained just one side of the boards. (I used the same stain color I used on the shed’s plywood “skin”, which is Olympic’s Maximum Stain + Sealant in Tobacco, Semi-Transparent. This did require me to go back to Lowe’s a few more times to get more quarts, as I grossly understated how much I would need for these suckers!)


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Once the stain was fully dried and ready to go (this took a couple of days, thanks to some rainy weather). I started to lay some boards out on the door, playing with different gap measurements between each board – from no gap (each board touched the next board) to a wide gap (which you started to see the ugly plywood backing). I ended up settling on one in the middle, where I was able to use some scrap wood pieces as a guide on how much space to leave between each board. Once I made that decision, I laid out each board on the door and marked out lines on where the boards would be nailed on. (But this part turned out to be totally useless, as I ended up not using these guides! Total waste of about 2 days worth of work – since I had a lot of trouble keeping the boards level to the ground – one side would always look higher than the other!)

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I began to affix the boards to the shed, starting with the left side of the shed first. That first board was the most important one – it had to be perfectly level – which I used a T-square against the front side of the shed, drew a line (said a little prayer)and nailed that one into place. After that, I would follow this pattern:

  1. Measure the length of the side of the shed. (Keep repeating the number in my head as I walk through my house to the garage.)
  2. Grab a board, mark out the measurement. Measure again. (Measure twice, cut once!)
  3. Use the chop saw to cut the board. (I may have giggled manically once or twice at using a power tool.)
  4. Carry the board back through the house to my backyard (While praying that I didn’t cut it too short.)
  5. Hold it up against the shed, using two shim pieces to keep the gap in between the boards even and nailed that one into place. (Then remember to breathe again)
  6. Repeat process for next board. (here I go again!)

I used a nail gun, which I borrowed, that was connected to my own air compressor (thanks Mom and Dad!!!!) to drive the nails in, starting at the top and working my way down. When I got down to the part where the little shed-butt sticks out, I had to make some custom cuts on that particular board. I used the circular saw to cut out a notch in the board to allow me to be able to install one long piece into place. You can see in the image below that I have a  board clamped to my Workmate bench for me to use the circular saw to cut the notch out. The next image shows a dotted line of the kind of notch that I needed to cut on the boards (one for each side!).




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Then… more digging (y’all should know how I feel about this by now.) I needed to make sure there was room for the door to swing open.

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Once all the boards were on (I did the door separately), and I had a nice little spot dug out. It was time to slide this baby into place.


And…. womp-womp… we realized we miscalculated some measurements – specifically, we made it too short.


But I didn’t worry too much, after all… For every DIY project: You must expect the unexpected! So what we did instead was we removed some of the deck railing boards off from the outside (you can see that in the above pic), and slid the shed so that the roof slid right underneath the railing top, instead of going over it.

Then we went ahead and hung the door. I put my veggie container garden on top. And this is where it is today! I rather like it!

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Still left to do:

  • Put concrete pavers into the shed floor
  • Affix a latch
  • Make some sort of door handle
  • Build and attach the top frame for my string lights
  • Figure out organization for inside shed
  • Dig more around it (*cries* digging! *cries*) in order to level out the ground instead of having a little “pool” that this shed sits in

TL;DR (too long, didn’t read?): I stained, cut and nailed horizontal boards on the shed, and moved the shed into it’s place! Still have more stuff to do.



For the last few months, I’ll look outside my kitchen window and look into my backyard, I see this….


More importantly, I see and think this:


Autumn is going to be here in a couple of months, and I have absolutely no desire to endure the raking-of-leaves ordeal that I went through last year! So I hired a good friend, Pat, who runs a handyman business on the side, and we got down to business. We marked out the 4 trees I wanted gone. We removed some fence sections in the back and on the sides. He used a ladder to cut off some lower branches. Tied a rope to the top, which I yanked on as he cut through the trunk, so that the tree would fall into my yard. Let me tell you – every time a tree fell, I held my breath since I was terrified that it would fall the wrong way and smash either my neighbor’s shed or my fencing – but no casualties occurred!

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Then his wife, another good friend of mine and I started to pull all the leafy branches and tops out to the curb for the town to come pick it up. That was quite a bit of laborious work, but we got it done! We ended up cutting down 5 trees in total, and the result? A much happier me knowing that I have that many less leaves to rake! (Trust me, I’m not naive enough to think I’ll have no leaves to rake….I just hope it will be significantly less!)


It’s ironic, because growing up: I was a pretty big tree-hugger. I would give anyone who merely thought about cutting trees down the death stare. I judged people as evil for killing these wonderous living things. Even cutting branches off? I equated that to cutting off human arms! (So phone and power companies were never well-respected in my book… they cut trees to save their silly wires!) The horror! ….. But today? *ahem* After one fall’s worth of raking leaves? CHOP THEM ALL DOWN. Less is more! It’s sorta sad how growing up changes you.


As of right now, Pat needs to come back with his smaller chain saw to cut the pile of wood (that’s in the middle of the lawn currently) into logs. I’m debating on leaving that back section of the fencing off for a longer period of time, since I’m enjoying that big boulder and the extra space there is beyond the fence. (in case you wanted to know, my property actually extends beyond that – if you can spy a tree with a pink tie wrapped around it, in the back-left by the chain link fence – that’s the marker of the edge of my property.

The tops of each tree were all put to the curb, but the trunks – I saved. I have them stacked up in the back, and will let them dry out and then use them next year for a FIRE PIT that I want to add!


But look at that… all that space! Please ignore the lovely pile of junk that is in the middle there. The previous house owners used this area as a garbage dump. I’ve started clearing out all the rotting wood and trash (plastic wrappers, old garden containers, rusted chains, ropes, old fencing material, etc) that is in there. But I can salvage some of the junk, such as these concrete pavers (you can see them in the middle of the above pic, covered in sawdust) to use as flooring in my shed.

New Shed!

Yup, sorry for the long-time-no-post hiatus that I unintentionally took here! Life just got busy for me: I’ve been on many trips, for both work and fun, been sick in between each trip (stupid airplanes and their recycled air), am on an intense work project and then managing to find time to just chill in between was few and far in between – I have many updates that I want to add into here. Hopefully I’ll be able to get them in here relatively soon!

Rather than trying to stick to a chronological timeline here – I’ll just jump into what’s my latest and greatest: my shed! I’m affectionately calling it my little chicken coop, since the design reminds me of one.

My backyard, in its all-fenced-in-middle-townhouse-unit glory, does not have any storage spot for my lawn mower. Which meant that every week that I go to mow my grass, I have to take the lawn mower out from my garage, which is in front of my house, and bring to my backyard. That means pushing it around my neighbor’s house and through her backyard (where I always stay on the perimeter!), opening her dog gate fence, closing it, then opening my fence’s gate and then I can get down to my blade-cutting business. Then do it in reverse, to put the lawn mower back into my garage!


That got old, real fast.

I was talking with a friend of mine, he’s a handyman… he found some plans online (Thanks Ana White!: http://ana-white.com/2012/04/plans/small-cedar-fence-picket-storage-shed). That kickstarted some brainstorming conversations between us. Then a little Pinteresting by me. He came over work one afternoon, took some measurements and we came up with a mini-shed plan that takes advantage of the space under my deck! Here’s my rendering of the initial plan – as you can see it’s all customized to:

  • Take advantage of the small space underneath my low deck. Just enough to be able to stick the lawn mower front in.
  • A back door that opens up on the deck side, I could put a little shelf in to access it from the deck.
  • The roof would be slightly sloped for rainwater to run off, and with a removable grate so that I can put all my container garden right on top! The grate would be removed easily to brush off dirt if needed.

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Then I got to thinking a little more, one of my dreams to have on my deck is to have overhead string lighting. I already own said lights (they may or may have not been one of my first purchases for the house, before I moved in). The problem though, is that I don’t have anything to string them to.

Additional planning.

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I settled on the middle version. A modern framing to attach to the shed, that I can affix the light strings to. We’ll have to modify the deck light that I have there now, which is located above the patio screen doors, in order to be able to feed power to the string lights.

Off to Lowes and Home Depot we went! Lumber! Bolts! Nails! (and of course, a little drooling in the power tools section… sorry! *cleanup in Aisle 7*)

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Memorial Weekend Saturday: In 4 hours, we got the frame together and started on the plywood walls. (Random sidenote: I kept calling the process of putting the walls up “skinning.” Is this a real word-terminology, or just my computer geekiness showing?) I built this at my friends’ house, who had all the tools I would need to put it together. I used a chop saw to cut the boards. A nail gun for the nails. A power-drill to drill holes for the bolts, and to drive the wood screws in. They used a circular saw for the plywood cutting and a table saw for additional cutting. ALL THE POWER TOOLS! My little heart was singing.

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Memorial Weekend Sunday: We finish putting the walls on, and start on the aluminum surface for the roofs – this is going to prevent water from seeping into the shed. We used a brake to bend the aluminum into specific angles so we can wrap the roofs like a present!

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Then I go home to dig. Dig. There’s too much dirt right underneath the deck and I also need to remove the grass. Dig. This was the part I was dreading. Dig. Can I just tell you…. I hate digging. By the end of the day, in that little corner, I did manage to get out a ton of rocks, an insane sized root (must have been a tree around here in the past), and about 15 wheelbarrows of dirt. Freaking digging. I don’t ever want to dig again.

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All those wheelbarrows of dirt went into other parts of my yard, I’m trying to work on making it a little more evened out. Next year, I figure I can focus on making the grass look a little bit more appealing – as in: less weedy, less baldy, and more evened out and grassy. You know, like a LAWN.

Memorial Weekend Monday – I didn’t want to keep my friend away from his family for too long, so all we focused on was bringing the roughed-assembled shed over to my yard. This required me to take down a section of my fence, so that we can bring his pickup truck, loaded with my shed, back up into my yard. Once we got it off his truck and set it down in the lawn, we glued and nailed in the aluminum tops. I also borrowed his hammer-drill to chip away part of the concrete block that was blocking part of the under-deck area. POWER TOOLS! (but……… yay…….. that means more digging to come later. Imagine my joy that settled in after the “new-power-tool-I-get-to-use” high. Espeically when I look-at-and-feel all my lovely blisters on my hands from yesterday’s digging. But I have to get all the chiseled concrete pieces out… I *sarcastically-love* digging.) After the concrete chiseling bit, I went ahead and stained all the plywood with a stain-sealant that I found on clearance from Lowes.

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That last picture above is where I am today, at the end of this beautiful-and-productive Memorial Day Weekend for me! What I will be doing this week is starting to measure out and cut the fence board wood pieces to size in order to nail them up against the plywood, in order to get that horizontal plank look, for three sides (left, right and front door. The back side would be half above deck for the deck-side door and half below deck where no one is going to see it).

Time for a LONG shower.

I hope you all had a fantastic Memorial Day Weekend as well!


TL;DR (Too long, didn’t read?):  I started to build a little shed for my backyard this Memorial Day Weekend. And I hate digging.

Gutter go boom.

Two days before I headed back home to DC for the holidays, I wake up to see that one of my gutters fell off the house.

Yep. Completely off the house. In the back, sitting not-so-pretty on my deck.

Granted, in my favor, it was not a roofline gutter, but a downspout one that hugged the house’s walls. Still, this happened in the middle of a wet winter. On that particular day, it was raining with forecasts of more rain, which meant any real fixes (as in = using sealant) was out of the question. And of course, add in the fact that I was going to be out of town – I didn’t want to just let water run onto my deck – possibly damaging the deck, and then there’s that whole water near the foundation issue. Water + foundation = not good.

I did suspect something was wrong with that particular gutter, because before that point in time – there was a HUGE ice dam building up off of it. It was pretty to see, but man, dangerously lethal if one were to try to walk under it and it fell. Thankfully it was not in a location where a person would normally walk under it. I knew I would need to be replacing all the gutters in the spring (which was something I already had in mind after replacing the one gutter in the fall). I just didn’t think this would happen!

Joys of home ownership, I know, I know. Yay.

So with 8 hours of daylight left, I called on a friend who has handyman skills and he came over to help me pick up my poor gutter carcass and put in a temporary fix. Something that was going to allow the water run out and AWAY from the house. Instead of having it drain the water back into the other downspout gutter, which was where it was connected to before (we couldn’t put it back because you need to seal the connecting gutters together, which the wet weather prevented us from doing), he flipped it around and set it up so that it would drain out towards my backyard. Thanks Pat!

Since this still let water run all over my deck, I needed to go out and get some more gutters in order to direct the water to the yard, so off I went to Home Depot. I decided to get some flexible gutters, since I was planning on getting some in the spring for the front of my house. Because I’ll end up permanently using these flexi-spouts in two different areas out in the front, I grabbed one in brown (where it’ll end up in a mulch area) and one in green (going in a grassy area). Came back home, connected those to the metal gutter. It wouldn’t hold by itself, so I scrounged up some screws and drilled them into the connecting part so that it would hold. This required 4 hands – two to hold it in place, and two to do the drilling/screwing, so I asked my next-door neighbor to come over to help me out. So standing out in the rain, she held the flexi-spouts in place for me while I attached them all together with the screws.


There! Temporary fix done, I hope it holds out till Spring! So far so good….

It’s sooooo classy looking (sarcastic). Half painted gutter, brown spout, green spout, in the middle of my deck, where I can see it everyday from my kitchen.
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Many Updates…

Yikes, it’s been since October since I’ve last posted. There’s been plenty of things that’s happened since my last post!

A weekend trip to Raleigh to see a girlfriend. I kept remarking on how I felt the whole area reminded me SO MUCH of Fairfax, VA! I spied a new store that I thought was really neat to check out, Moon and Lola. They’re an accessories (mostly jewelry) store apparently really well known for their monogram necklaces. I loved loved loved the store’s decorations! Their marquee letters, bright pink seating, white rhino, vintage lighting, exposed brick wall and white shelving. There was nothing I didn’t like in there! On that trip, I ate my first beignet at a place called Sugarland. And there’s Kitty Coco, her kitty! I am a complete pushover for all calico kitties. This one had me wrapped around her little paw.
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Happy Halloween! Where I spent the holiday with the nephew trick or treating. He dressed up as a Cool Cruel Ghoul this year. The black candelabra in the picture below was a mini-DIY project. It was originally a brass one that I bought from a thrift store and hit it up with black spray paint. Once dried, I put in color drip taper candles (where the melted drips are of a different color). That was a HUGE hit with the kids! “Look! It’s bleeding!”

Happy Thanksgiving! I celebrated the actual turkey day with a friend’s family, and then celebrated it again with friends. My two plates below! *burps*
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Merry Christmas! (and Happy Hanukkah!) Check out Fuzzy’s (my nephew’s kitty) swanky suit.. hahaha! He was pretty cool with it as long as we didn’t try to give him his reindeer antlers to wear. Although I noticed he was *much* more playful once he wriggled out of the suit an hour later. I decorated my new place with some candles in the window, two wreaths, and my tree (yes, people, it’s a FAKE tree – go ahead, go on, and shout out your horrors and shake your heads, get all that out of your system. I still love my tree!) I didn’t go all out with my decorations this year, though I did buy one new decoration item – an LED lit hanging basket. It was originally filled with cranberries and pinecones, which I felt was a tad too traditional for my current tastes, so I yanked them all out and replaced them with my candy-colored ornament garland and extra ornaments in the basket.
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During the whole [super fast] Christmas holi-daze, I went to a couple of holiday parties (I didn’t get pictures of those), spent an afternoon volunteering at the FoodLink operations place helping them build “BackPacks” (bags of food) for 1,600 kids throughout the region, and had my annual trip back home to DC.  In DC, I went through a SuperBowl-esque marathon of choosing paint colors for my parent’s house (they’re going through major house renovations), seeing my family friends, my family and my friends all in the DC area.

FoodLink BackPack Volunteer afternoon

But that’s not all folks! I got some DIY time in too 🙂 Those were all Christmas related.

Ornaments: I bought round wooden discs from JoAnn Fabrics in the hopes of making some cute ornaments for friends. I made one successful ornament for a friend with their child’s silhouette, but the 4 other ornaments were total DIY fails. I had attempted to print out family photos and transfer them to the wood, but in the transfer process, the images were all too destroyed to be successful. Oh well, chalk it up to lesson learned – print on better paper and use better quality wood.
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My Christmas hanging basket with the ornaments hack.

I pulled out some old wine glasses and drew a bunch of stippled dots on them using a gold Sharpie marker. That was about a night’s worth of dotting. It looked great! But in less than 24 hours, during an unfortunate moment of me trying to figure out how to work them into a little holiday vignette, one of the glasses hit the deck. And shattered. *sighs* But I still have the one left!
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I went with a theme for my gift wrapping this year: brown kraft paper with white paint pen. Every single present I wrapped was in brown paper. Most of them I painted on the decorations using white paint pen (I actually had a lot of trouble trying to find which paint pen worked best on the brown paper, which sucked the paint up, thus making the white color look translucent. I bought and tried 4 before deciding on which ones to use. The most opaque white came from Pen-Touch Permanent Paint Marker, with the 1.0mm Fine Point tip. My second favorite was the Sharpie Oil-Based White Paint Pen because it had a fatter tip, Medium Point.) I had a lot of fun doing this, even if it took up a lot of my time. I thought the end result was really cute!
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 Oh and sprinkle in four voice-killing colds that’s been dogging me non-stop since early November. Crazy whirlwind end-of-year times!
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And let me be pre-emptive here, Happy New Year!

Color themes, by room.

I’ve been thinking on colors for my place, this is [hopefully] gonna help me try to figure out what I want in the long run. I know I love the bright colors.

Living Room: Orange for sure (hello new rug!), Purple, and White. (but a fave blanket I use all the time is pink…. hmm)
Picture of Inspiration: Urban Barn store from Toronto

Kitchen: I have lots of reds in my own utensils/appliances. Current curtains in there (from previous owners) has reds and oranges, and the walls are a warm yellowish orange. I have my FLOR carpet in there, which is made up of oranges, purple-fuschias, and reds.

Dining Room: …. No idea. I need a new dining table and chairs.

Master Bathroom: Gray and white. I’ve painted it gray and added a white clock.
MB_before copy MB_after1 copy

Master Bedroom: …. ummm, I have a dark gray bedspread. No idea.

Powder Room: Thinking about blue/teal to work with front door/foyer teals. If that fourth paint job doesn’t work out, then I’ll go with some tone-on-tone neutrals.


2nd Bathroom: I haven’t really thought too much about this yet. The walls are still the original yellow color. I’m thinking of maybe going with an industrial-steampunk style with this room. But that’s just the current thought of the moment.

Deck: I’m thinking warm colors – like oranges/reds/yellows. Maybe aqua-turquoise blue accents. Definitely a modern theme, with some bohemian/Moroccan pops.