Jul 3, 2015

Patio Makeover 2015


Back in 2011 we bought wooden deck furniture for the backyard. And we loved that furniture very much. Even the dogs loved it. But over time, the factory finish wore off, the wood started to weather, and it needed to be refinished.

wooden patio chair before

So two years ago I took a week of vacation time and spruced it up. I sanded down each of the chairs, tables, and loveseat, restained them, and gave them a few coats of varathane.

wooden patio chair after

But even with storing and covering the furniture up each winter, it started peeling again this spring. Add to that the fact that it seems to rain at least twice a week here, and we never had dry cushions to sit on. It just didn't seem worth it anymore.

wooden patio furniture

So we started to look around for something new. What we really wanted were chairs that didn't need cushions, but we couldn't find anything that was both comfortable and nice to look at.

Enter the new kids...

Hampton Bay Lynnfield patio set

We found a "conversation set" at Home Depot that we (I) really liked. Yes, I know, it has cushions. But they are made of a higher quality material than the old ones, so I was willing to give them a chance.

Hampton Bay Lynnfield patio set

I specifically looked for a patio set with only chairs. That's not so easy to find - almost everything comes with a loveseat nowadays. That's fine when you have it all to yourself, but not always so fun when there's a group and you're sharing the space.

While we were trying them out in the store, Tom mentioned we could buy tarps and I could fashion covers for the chairs for when we weren't using them. That way we wouldn't have to find a place to store them. I felt like an idiot - why didn't we think of that for the old set?

One huge difference with these new chairs is that they're made of metal, so no worries of peeling varnish and weathered wood. And if the metal gets some scratches or dings we can just give it a quick coat of spray paint and it'll be as good as new.

Hampton Bay Lynnfield patio set

Look how thick and cushy that seat is. This is a spot that is comfortable to hang out in.

Hampton Bay Lynnfield patio set

And the round centre table is big enough to hold food and drinks for everyone. There's even a shelf underneath for magazines or whatever we need to tuck away while the top is being used.

Hampton Bay Lynnfield patio set glass table


We still have our outdoor fold-down bar as well, though I'll be completely honest and show you that the top has not held up to our punishing weather. (Go ahead, zoom in, I don't mind.)

fold down backyard patio bar

It has been through 3 full years of sun, rain, and snow though, so it's to be expected I guess. I'd advise anyone building their own to hang it in a protected area if you don't want to have to refinish it.

The inside is still as good as new though. We love having this space-saver.

fold down backyard patio bar


The rest of the backyard is our big project this summer. First we're going to enclose the bottom of the deck to keep the dogs out from under there, but we'll put in a door so that we can still use the space for storage. Then we're going to pull up all of the old grass, put in new dirt, level it up, and re-sod. We've had a terrible time keeping grass growing - having dogs doesn't help - so we thought it was time to get a good solid base in first and go from there. Then maybe we can tackle that terrible, peeling fence that's in the background of all of my photos.

We always have a dozen projects on the go - hopefully we'll get time (and enough good weather) to enjoy our new patio!

Hampton Bay Lynnfield patio set

Hampton Bay Lynnfield patio set glass table

Hampton Bay Lynnfield patio set

Hampton Bay Lynnfield patio set glass table

Hampton Bay Lynnfield patio set glass table



Mar 28, 2015

Toilet Paper Roll Easter Bunny


I always have a collection of leftover toilet tissue rolls laying around. I have great plans for them - that often never come to be. Usually at Christmas time I'll dig them out to make stars/snowflakes for the tree or to tie on gifts.

toilet paper roll star

This time I was saving them up as I had a plan to make an activity for the dogs, but I'm still waffling on whether or not to do it. Instead I poked around on Pinterest and came upon this little project. Who doesn't love a bunny, right? So I dug out my scissors and my glue gun and got to work.

toilet paper roll bunny

To make this bunny you'll need to cut a toilet paper (or papertowel) tube into seven equal rings. I ended using part of a second roll to have enough rings.

toilet paper roll bunny

Start by taking one ring and pinching inwards in one spot to make a heart shape. Glue the heart upside down on a second ring, making sure to leave a bit of a point.

toilet paper roll bunny

Take two more rings and flatten them out a bit, squeezing a point at one end so that they look like ears. Glue these to the bunny's head (the bottom of the heart) any way you want. You can make them stand up or be floppy - your choice.

toilet paper roll bunny

Take two more rings and flatten them the same way as the ears, gluing them to the bottom of the body for feet. These you'll want to get as even as possible so that your bunny doesn't fall over. The flatter you can get the bottoms of the rings, the better. (Mine aren't very flat.)

toilet paper roll bunny

For the arms, you'll take one ring and do the "heart pinch" again, but this time pinch it all the way down until the center meets the other side. Glue the two sides that are pinched together to each other to keep them in place. Glue this shape to the inside of the body, right at the top, so that they hang down like paws.

toilet paper roll bunny

Take the last ring and make the same shape that you did for the arms. This will be the bunny's cheeks. Glue the ring to the inside of the head. How's your bunny looking so far?

toilet paper roll bunny

The tutorial I read calls for mini pompoms for eyes, nose, & tail, but I didn't have any, so I cut a nose and eyes out of construction paper. (My bunny is tail-less right now.)

toilet paper roll bunny

I took a piece of orange yarn and tied a bow around his neck for a little flare. You could also paint him white (before adding the eyes and nose, etc.) by hand or with spray paint. Mine's a rustic bunny so he's going to stay brown.

How's that for a quick Easter project? Even kids could help with this one if you use craft glue instead of a hot glue gun.

toilet paper roll bunny

toilet paper roll bunny

toilet paper roll bunny


Looking for more Easter projects?  Here are a couple I've done in previous years. Just click on the picture to take you directly to the post (it will open in a new window).

Yarn Eggs

yarn eggs

Bunny in a Jar

Easter bunny in a jar

Easter Wreath

Easter Wreath


Mar 21, 2015

Spring Wildflower Wreath

It's now officially spring, and even though old man winter is trying to stick around, I'm firmly pushing him out the door and locking it. And to make sure he knows to stay away I've hung a wreath on the door that practically shouts, "Spring is here!"

Spring Wildflower Wreath

You could make this wreath, too. All you'll need is a wreath base, 10-12 bunches of tiny flowers, ribbon, and twist ties or florist's wire.

Spring Wildflower Wreath

I started out with a grapevine-type wreath and arranged the flowers around it until I had an arrangement that I liked. There's a mix of white, light pink, dark pink, and yellow/orange that I tried to mix and match to make it balanced, but still keep a little randomness about it.

I thought I would cut off the thick stem of each flower bundle, but I didn't have any sidecutters handy that were strong enough to cut through. Instead, after I wired a flower bunch to the wreath, I would bend the stem inwards so that it was covered by the next group.

Spring Wildflower Wreath

I angled the flower bundles all in the same direction so that the wreath would look like a pinwheel when finished. Some of the flowers were laying flat but there is wire in the stems, so I was able to fluff them out and fill in any areas that looked sparse. You could also buy a couple of extra bunches and cut them up, then fill in any holes you notice.

Spring Wildflower Wreath

Once all of the flowers were attached I took burlap ribbon and cut it in half lengthwise to about 4 inches and tied a sweeping bow. The bow is attached to the wreath with more florist's wire. I tied a loop to the back of the wreath at the top to hang it and it was done. I'm figuring it took no longer than 20 minutes, tops.

Spring Wildflower Wreath

And now, even if a cold wind is blowing, and I still have to wear a scarf every morning, I can look at the wreath on my way in and out, and pretend that there are wild flowers and warm air all around.

Spring Wildflower Wreath
Spring Wildflower Wreath
Spring Wildflower Wreath
Spring Wildflower Wreath
Spring Wildflower Wreath






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