Archive | Exterior

Patio Progress

It seems like most people get to enjoy their patios during the summer: backyard BBQs, pool parties, eating al fresco… This is not the case in Houston. We face temperatures in the upper 90’s most of the day, and when that sun finally goes down there are mosquitos galore. So unless you like being sweaty and/or bitten, summer down here is not prime patio time.

But fall. Fall is AMAZING. Fall is when we dust off the fire pit, bust out the projector (we use this one and LOVE it), and binge on Fixer Upper out in the crisp air. There’s nothing better.

Simple Patio Inspiration -

So in honor of it finally starting to cool off in Texas, we’d like to walk through our patio updates, which we haven’t shared much of on the blog. When we first introduced it to our backyard, it looked a little something like this.

Simple Patio Inspiration -

It’s come a long way, but we’ve still kept it pretty simple out here. The first thing was did was order some LED globe string lights (three sets to be exact, so you can see what that amount looks like on our 280 sqft patio as an example).

Simple Patio Inspiration -

We hung them using quick links that we hooked into eye hooks on our house, and into zip lines on our trees. Using the links made it easier to take down the lights or move them if necessary (since you can just unlock the links instead of having to unscrew or detach anything). There are probably about a hundred different ways you could attach these lights, this is just how we did it. They’ve held up well for a year now!

Simple Patio Inspiration -

The thing we love most about these lights, aside from the fact that they’re LEDs, is that the bulbs are plastic – meaning you don’t have to worry about them breaking if they get knocked around. This saved our butts when the storm ripped our gutter off the house and took the lights with it. It was a bad situation, but would have been way worse with broken glass everywhere.

We also got this timer for the lights. They come on automatically at dusk and you can set them to stay on for 4 hours, 6 hours, etc. Since they’re energy efficient, we love that we can have them light up every night. They’re pretty even from the inside.

Simple Patio Inspiration -

Even though they’re LEDs they have a pretty warm glow. Not straight up incandescent warm, but still very cozy :)

Simple Patio Inspiration -

Next up on our list was to create a secondary seating area. Spoiler alert: we found wicker lounge chairs and you can see them in the photo above. Even though we already had chairs to gather around the fire pit, space to chill and read sounded nice too. The problem is that outdoor lounge chairs can get expensive! Also, we didn’t want cushions because this space isn’t covered and it rains a lot – even outdoor cushions get gross. So we were limited to cushion-less chairs.

After lots of online shopping around we finally found these. Two wicker lounge chairs that looked nice, stored well, and were less than $350 for the pair?? Yes please (and thanks mom and dad!)

Simple Patio Inspiration -

We also got a couple of these cute teal side tables from Target that add a nice bit of color to a mostly neutral patio. We have one between the lounge chairs, and the other in the fire pit seating area.

Simple Patio Inspiration -

Last we added some plants. Some have thrived. Some have… not thrived haha. The cement gray planter and taller black planter are from Target, the shorter black planter is from Home Depot (some of these aren’t showing up as available online anymore). FYI, these plants are plumeria, aka the plants lei flowers come from. Apparently they do well in Houston!

Simple Patio Inspiration -

Well there you have it! This is where we are on the patio so far. We know this may not be the fanciest patio… but darn it we love it. Can’t wait til it’s chilly enough to light a fire!

Simple Patio Inspiration -

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Gut(ter) Reaction

Welp. Today’s post was supposed to be about how we’ve continued to update our patio. About how we bought some more furniture and lights on our path to turn it from just functional to functional AND pretty. Then we woke up to find it NOT functional and definitely NOT pretty.

When our gutter was ripped off, how we fixed our fascia boards - Yep. Not something you want to see as you’re headed out the door for work. A big storm blew through last night and knocked off over 20 feet of our gutter, bending it at a weak point and taking our fascia (the wood trim that caps off the ends of your rafters) with it. And it broke a strand of my lights darn it!

So yeah, not exactly the patio update we were planning on sharing with you guys… BUT the good news is we are earning +10 home exterior DIY skill points and we get to share what we’ve learned with you. Lesson #1: clean your gutters.

The other good news is I’m going to write this post as we go, so as of now as I’m typing, we are still in progress. Dunno how it’s gonna turn out yet. Kinda scary, kinda exciting, but we are all in this together!

Day 1:

So before we could leave for work, we had to address the 6 inch tall, 20+ foot long hole leading into our attic. You can see it in the photo above right under our roof line. We didn’t want rain getting it wet or squirrels letting themselves in, so we set to cover it up with plastic tarp til we could fully deal with it.

As we climbed up to take a closer look at the hole, we realized that the still-attached part of the gutter was starting to pull away too so we decided to cut off the detached piece (in retrospect we maybe shouldn’t have cut it since it may have been salvageable, we’re not sure though). We couldn’t find our flashing clippers so Evan grabbed his saw zaw. Then that died so we grabbed our jigsaw. Lesson #2: owning the right tools is great, but if you can’t find em or they’re not charged, they aren’t any good.

When our gutter was ripped off, how we fixed our fascia boards - By the time Evan got it cut he was covered in gutter juice.

2016-03-24 (1) But at least we didn’t have this hanging from our house anymore:

When our gutter was ripped off, how we fixed our fascia boards - Next we put up a strip of plastic tarp with a few quick tacks from our staple gun, called it a morning, and headed to work, leaving our patio looking like a war zone.

When our gutter was ripped off, how we fixed our fascia boards - After work Evan swung by Home Depot to get supplies and then pulled off the remaining few feet of gutter that was still attached to the house. Now that we had a clean slate, we could replace our fascia. Having a big hole running into our attic was no bueno, so our goal was to install new fascia by the end of the night. Since at this point we didn’t even know what fascia was (we’d just been calling it “siding under our roof”), we weren’t too hopeful haha.

2016-03-25 (2) But before we could add anything new, we needed to figure out what was going on with the hot mess we left behind.

When our gutter was ripped off, how we fixed our fascia boards - We just decided that anything that didn’t seem structurally sound we would cut off. Seems logical right? And here’s Evan using hedge clippers to trim the flashing above the wood. Still couldn’t find those metal clippers so we used what we had haha.

IMG_7498 Once we had all the bad stuff off we could start adding the new stuff. Time for power tools!

IMG_7503 IMG_7510 We saw that the existing boards were cut at 45 degrees so we did the same with our new boards. One at a time, we lined them up along the roof line and screwed in at every rafter tail. In the photo below you can see the hole into our attic and the rafter tails peeking out. And oh hi there soffit vent chutes, we remember installing you and almost stabbing our heads with roofing nails.

IMG_7504 So I held up the board on one end while Evan screwed it in on the other. Once we got a couple screws in I could let go and get the next piece ready.

When our gutter was ripped off, how we fixed our fascia boards - We noticed that under the old gutters there was a 1 inch thick piece of trim acting as a spacer between the top of the fascia and the gutter, so Evan had also picked up some trim on his Home Depot trip. It was getting dark at this point but you can sorta see the trim along the top of the board in the photo below after we screwed it in.

2016-03-24 (4) We were luckily able to finish our goal of replacing the fascia by the end of the night! It’s hard to see much in the photo, but it sure looks good to us :)


Day 2:

With the hole to our attic officially closed off, we could sleep easy. The next day we hit our fascia with primer, caulk, and paint to really seal the deal. We read somewhere online that sometimes primer can help caulk stick to wood so we decided to do the primer first. We used Zinnser Cover Stain primer, which felt nice and solid.

IMG_7514 As the primer dried, I was on caulk duty. We used the same Dap Alex latex caulk from when we patched our siding out front and it worked just fine.

IMG_7518 After letting it dry for a couple hours, it was time to paint! I took first paint shift and thought it would be cool to take painting selfies. #shouldbeholdingontothatladder

2016-03-25 (4) When our gutter was ripped off, how we fixed our fascia boards - Then Evan got out there for shift 2 of painting. All in all this was the easy part so we don’t have too many photos. But we are super excited because now we are DONE with replacing the fascia, woooo!

IMG_7521 Just need to power wash the patio. And put up our lights. Oh yeah and add gutters! Well we can at least do one of those three things tonight.

IMG_7524 IMG_7528 We still need to do more research to see if we want to tackle installing gutters ourselves or hire it out. Looks like it’s not terribly complicated to DIY, but the downside of DIY-ing it is that you have to buy gutters in smaller sections (which is weaker) instead of getting a seamless run from a professional. So we will keep you guys posted! For now, it feels good to just not having a gaping hole leading to our attic. Have a great weekend guys!


Patio! Finally!

Do you guys remember wayyyyyy back when we first bought the house and wrote a couple big lists of all the projects we still wanted to tackle? Let’s take a moment to throw our heads back and laugh at those lists. Ha! Hahahaha! Most of that stuff never happened.

IMG_0812 copy BUT there is one thing that did happen. One BIG thing. We upgraded our patio y’all!

20151108_103834 You may remember our teeny patio of yore. It was about 10ft x 10ft and had sunk several inches into the ground over its 38 year lifespan (we’re prettttttty sure it’s original to the house. It was in that bad of shape). It was barely enough space for a grill and a couple fold out chairs.

IMG_0813 We naively thought that we would someday bust it up ourselves and lay a new patio like true DIY-ers. We even bought a sledgehammer for that very purpose and went as far as taking a practice swing. We should have listened to Evan’s mom in the clip below.

Thinking we had done enough work for that day, we hung up the sledgehammer. And the patio stayed as is for almost 3 years.

Along the way, my parents gave us their old fire pit and we squeezed that onto the small space. Then we scored 6 free curbside patio chairs a neighbor was getting rid of and things got really crowded. Like can’t-even-walk-back-there-without-banging-a-shin crowded. So-bad-we-never-took-a-photo crowded.

20150913_175341 We held off on upgrading the patio for years because we weren’t sure how much we would actually use it (Houston weather is humid 60% of the time, all the time). But for some reason, getting these free chairs spurred us into action. Probably because with their addition, it was really pretty impossible to get around, and our options were either get rid of them or finally commit to something we’ve kinda been wanting to do anyway for years. Commitment it is!

First we had to figure out what we wanted. We knew we wanted concrete instead of pavers since it’s quicker and cheaper, and we didn’t mind the clean look of it. But having concrete means you can’t pour over any important lines buried under your yard. (Pavers are different because they can be pulled up individually if necessary). So we called the utility companies to come out and mark where our lines were. They spray painted but it was hard to see so I photoshopped the lines in.

IMG_1361 copy We decided to expand away from the house as far as we could (up to the edge of the gas line), go almost the neighbors fence back there, and almost to where our gutter drains (didn’t want to deal with drainage issues) . This gave us a pretty solid working area.

We called a guy we found on Angie’s list, he met us the next morning to give us a quote, and by that afternoon we pulled the trigger and he and his team got started ripping the old patio up. Can you believe there was about 6 inches of concrete buried into the ground? That’s how much it had sunk over the years!

IMG_7873 He texted me pics throughout the day of the progress they were making. I don’t think I’ve ever stared at my phone so much waiting for a text (except maybe when Evan and I first started text-flirting back in the day).

New patio! Usually I have little pangs of doubt when we decide to hire out a job instead of DIY it ourselves. But look at all this stuff that was hauled out of our yard. No more doubt here.

IMG_7879 By the next day we had a finished patio!

New patio! Crazy to think that such a big change can happen in just a couple days!! We basically tripled our patio square footage!


20151108_103834 We’ve since taken a few steps to pretty it up, but this post is already getting long so we’ll save those updates for another day! For now, please excuse us while we dance around our patio simply because we ACTUALLY HAVE THE SPACE TO DO SO! :D

New patio! Oh and what’s that ladder doing out there you ask? That’s news for another post! :)


DIY Industrial Outdoor Bench

Hey y’all! As usual, work is crazy- crazy enough that we realized we have a few projects we totally spaced on and never posted about. One that we are super excited to share is our DIY bench!

We wanted to create some flexible additional seating that could be used inside or outside. So these were our requirements for the bench:

1) it had to be ok to use outdoors and indoors

2) it had to fit 2-3 people

3) it had to be relatively cheap and easy to make

We pictured in our mind something industrial looking using metal and wood. Basically we pictured this: (spoiler- it’s our finished bench)

DIY industrial bench - We went to Home Depot and found some aluminum angle stock that we could use for the legs/frame. Totally did not know that’s what it was called until writing this post, but hey we are all learning here! Anyways, this stuff is great because it’s lightweight, cheap, and rust-proof. Perfect!

For the top of our bench, we got some pressure treated wood. It’s a little more expensive than normal wood, but it will hold up outdoors against the elements so it was a must. And it’s fine to use indoors too unless you’re preparing food on it, which we didn’t plan on doing.

So first off, we decided what size we wanted our bench to be. Based on research of what’s out there, we decided about 4 ft wide by 10.5 inches deep (the depth of three 2×4’s) and 14 inches tall. So we measured out 4 legs and 4 pieces for the frame. The aluminum is pretty light/thin, so we were able to just cut it with our jigsaw.

IMG_6900 IMG_6902 We cut our legs first. And got really excited about it :D

IMG_6906 The cuts were pretty rough, but we sanded them down. You can see the difference between unsanded and sanded in the photo below.

IMG_6908 For the legs, we left the cuts at right angles. But for the frame pieces, we cut them at 45 degree angles for a nicer looking seam.

IMG_6922 Once our frame was cut we could see it coming together!

IMG_6921 We laid it upside down on the garage floor so that we could fit the legs into place. We tucked them inside each corner and used a sharpie to mark where we wanted to screw in the screws to hold it all together.

IMG_6924 Each leg was attached to 2 pieces of frame. In the photo below, you can see the leg (the vertical piece) and one side of the frame (see the 45 degree cut in the corner?). Hope this helps make sense of how everything was attached.

IMG_6929 IMG_6933 The awesome thing about this frame is it is so light!

DIY industrial bench - To add a little extra stability to the legs, we also took these flat aluminum pieces and attached them about 1/3 up the legs on both sides.

IMG_6942 Woohoo finished frame!

IMG_6945 Next up we tackled the wood we wanted to use for the top. I was on sanding duty while Evan made the cuts.

DIY industrial bench - We used three 2×4’s with a short trim piece on each end to finish it off, which we attached with pocket screws. We may have gone overboard with the pocket screws… but the kreg jig was still new at the time and we got excited.

IMG_6956 We set it on top of the frame to test the size… perfect fit!

DIY industrial bench - We took it one step further and gave it a nice stain.

IMG_6966 With the wooden top upside down on the ground, we sat the frame on top of it and screwed through the aluminum into the wood.

DIY industrial bench -

IMG_6973 And tada, finished bench!

IMG_6974 Not the most glorious completion photo since it was late at night in a dirty garage, so we got some nice photos of it where it used to live on our patio:

DIY industrial bench - And where it currently lives in front of our living room windows:

IMG_7428 DIY industrial bench - Evan even 3D printed some little feet for it so it doesn’t scratch our floors (you can see them in the photo above). But you could also use felt pads (or just not worry about the feet if it’s gonna live outside full time!)

Well there you have it! A simple industrial bench that was easy to build, can live inside or outside, and didn’t cost much at all.


How to Patch Siding

Some DIY fixes work like a charm. Some don’t work at all and you end up making things worse than they started. Others work just long enough for you to get comfortable and forget about them. I’m looking at you old siding patch.

You may remember a post from about a year ago when we noticed some holes in our siding and patched ’em up using this badass goopy stuff. If you don’t remember, click the link above :) Basically, our T1-11 siding (which is pretty much cardboard) had some weak spots at the bottom where rain had splashed up over the years. We patched it with Ready Patch (the aforementioned badass goop), let it dry, slapped on some paint, and called it good enough! It was pretty awesome for a year… and then the floodgates opened (literally, it flooded like crazy here in Houston) and our patches decided they had taken enough wear and tear.



We decided ok… time to suck it up and pay to get this siding replaced. But while talking to the siding guy, he said if we didn’t want to replace the whole face of the siding, we could just patch the bottom of it with a protective board. He pointed to the board you see along the bottom of the siding in the photo above. See that? He said that was actually a patch that the previous owner had probably done. Basically, as long as there’s no moisture currently trapped, you can just patch over the bad stuff with a new board to protect it!

Since we didn’t want to pay $1000 for the whole face of siding to be replaced (after all, the rest of it was in good shape), we decided to try our hand at this new type of patch.

First things first, we had to rip off the old board patching the bottom. Evan used a utility knife to score the paint/caulk where the board met the siding. Then he used a tiny crowbar to pry it off. See below!


Yep we are incorporating gifs now. But only sometimes. When we remember to :)

When Evan pulled off the board, it took off a good chunk of the old siding with it. Lots of damage, but all dry at least!

Update - how to patch siding -

Then it was time to put up the new boards. We needed about 10-1/2 feet of wood, so we picked up two 6-foot pieces of 1″x10″ because we couldn’t fit a 12-footer in either of our cars. We grabbed some bricks from our garage to support the boards and used a level to make sure everything was aligned correctly.

Update - how to patch siding -

Evan nailed it in and grabbed the second board. Halfway through nailing it in, we started noticing that at least one of these boards was not flat. Or maybe the side of our house was not flat. Either way, it was not good.


It may not look like much in the photo, but every time we tried to hammer in whatever part of whatever board was gaping, it would pop out a different corner. With daylight fading, we decided not to waste any more time on dumb non-flat boards. We went back to Home Depot looking for other options. And what we found was even better than our original plan!

First off we found this roll of waterproofing tape called Protecto Wrap that’s typically used to seal off windows and doors. We decided since our wall isn’t totally flat/straight we might end up with gaps even if we buy new boards… so we should seal it with the wrap as extra protection.

Update - how to patch siding -

We scraped off all the loose bits from the old siding before rolling out the wrap. It was definitely easier doing this with two people. Evan held the roll while I pressed it against the house. This stuff was SERIOUS. The adhesive was sorta tar-like and it molded to all the grooves in our siding.

The second thing we found at Home Depot was some hardiplank siding we could use instead of regular wood. This was awesome for three reasons- one: it’s waterproof, two: it’s flexible, and three: it’s cheaper!

It wouldn’t fit in our car so we had to borrow Evan’s dad’s truck. Worth it though! You can see how flexible it is in the photo below.


We cut it down to size with a jigsaw. It was a little tricky to cut because the blade wanted to do its own thing, so Evan used our right angle (and some elbow grease) to keep it in line.

Update - how to patch siding -

It did WAY better than the original wood boards. We did have some trouble finding places nails would stick on the left side (hence the bajillion nails you see in the photo below) but in the end we got it pretty secure. And to be honest, we weren’t tooooo worried about it because the real protection was coming from that wrap we used.

Update - how to patch siding -

After securing it, I took over with my handy caulk gun to caulk over the gaps. We went up the sides of the window frames a bit as well where the paint was cracking.

Update - how to patch siding -



That was sarcasm. It was pretty messy. But once we painted over it everything looked great!


And now I know gifs make you looks like a crazy person. JUST PAINTING HERE I LOVE PAINT WANT SOME PAINT?!

Update - how to patch siding -

We are pretty confident about this fix! Guess we’ll check in again in a year and let you know how it’s holding up!


Patch Em Up

**Edit: This patch held strong for about a year. We’ve since replaced it with something we hope is better! Check it out here**

What you’re about to read is not the most glamorous of home updates. There aren’t any beautiful “Afters,” or photos with great lighting that make you want to drop your hot pocket, put on your DIY pants, and get at it. But if you’ve been getting rain like we have down in Houston, this post could be very helpful!

Our 1978 house has T1-11 siding, which is basically cardboard. I knew pretty much nothing about siding until I started doing the research, but basically this stuff is not the best over time and if it’s not sealed by a nice paint job, water damage is gonna happen eventually. Hence the two big holes you see before you.

IMG_6152 How to patch siding -

Most of the time these holes don’t even show from the front of the house since they’re hidden behind a couple unruly bushes. (Dang, that is one hot mess of a photo. Crooked light and all. Eeek!)


But hidden or not, these guys were getting splashed with water and I’m sure all the humidity wasn’t helping either. We got quotes from a couple siding replacement companies that were crazy high (thousands!), then found a handyman who said he could do it for less, but he ended up being booked for the next couple months. So we did a little research and found a way we could put a little patch on our problem.

This badass stuff.

How to patch siding -

Basically, it’s safe for outdoor use, it’s waterproof, it goes on like spackle, and it dries rock hard. Exactly what we needed.

I waited til we had a sunny day, and before I started I wiped the whole surface down with a mixture of dawn soap and vinegar to get off all the dirt and stuff that had splashed up there. Then I scooped out a bit of the patching compound on the corner of my putty knife and went to town.

How to patch siding -

Unlike normal spackle, this stuff is more sticky and less crumbly, kinda like marshmallow fluff. So you can more easily pack it into large holes like this one.

How to patch siding -

There you go, all patched! Just to be safe, I did wait the appropriate drying time and give it one more passover just in case.


I filled the other hole too, which was even easier because it was a lot smaller.


We let it dry and after a quick coat of paint it was looking good as new!

How to patch siding -

Now we know this is definitely not a permanent fix, but it will help keep all the rain these days out of our house. And it cost a total of $5!


DIY Floating Ghosts

As I mentioned in our last Halloween decor post, any money we spent this year on Halloween decorations would be devoted to things we could put outside. It’s our first Halloween in the house (eeeeep!!!) and we want to lure in some innocent children get some trick-or-treaters without breaking the bank or having loads of decorations to store later.

So after much Pinteresting and Googling, we decided to make some fabric ghosts to hang in our trees! It seemed like they would be pretty cheap and easily storable, but we couldn’t find tutorials we liked to we decided to wing it.

DIY Floating Ghosts -

The idea was to get some fabric, make a round “head” for the fabric to be draped over, and somehow attach a string to this “head” that we could hang from fishing wire.

We wanted to make 7 ghosts, so we went to Joann’s and found some super cheap white muslin fabric and bought 7 yards of it. Then we passed by some 50% off “Halloween fabric” that was light gray, sheer, and quite ghostly. We decided to pick up 7 yards of that as well so that we could overlay it on top of the solid white fabric.

DIY Floating Ghosts -

To make our “heads,” we considered several options: styrofoam balls, light plastic upside-down bowls, and balled up plastic bags. We ended up going with the bags idea because it was free (we always have a collection of grocery bags) and easy. Who knew styrofoam was like $17.99 for a ball the size we wanted?!? Shit cray.

So here’s how we did it. I cut the fabric into seven 1-yard-long pieces (you could make yours bigger or smaller depending on how long you wanted your ghosts to be). I separated them into piles to keep everything straight.

DIY Floating Ghosts -

DIY Floating Ghosts -

We tested out the length of the cuts to figure out how big of a head the ghosts needed (we wanted it to be proportional their length). It was decided that something between a Mochi sized head and a Katelyn sized head would suffice.

DIY Floating Ghosts -

Evan started forming the heads. He would basically take one plastic grocery bag, stuff 5 or so more inside it, and bundle it into a loose ball. At first we were just going to use enough tape to keep the main bag closed, but we decided to just wrap the entire head in duct tape to make it a little more sturdy (and hopefully to prevent rain/moisture from getting trapped in the bags).

DIY Floating Ghosts -

DIY Floating Ghosts -

The little white things Evan is holding the balls from are wire hangers. He used some heavy duty clippers to cut them and pliers to bend them into little loops that could be taped to the top of our bag-and-tape balls. This is is what the ghosts would hang from.

DIY Floating Ghosts -

DIY Floating Ghosts -

He sort of rounded the “arms” so that they fit nicely with the curve of the ball. Then we just placed them on top and added a little tape to secure them.

DIY Floating Ghosts -

I snipped a little hole in the center of each fabric to poke the hanger loop through. We put the first whole ghost together and he looked just like we hoped for!

DIY Floating Ghosts -

For eyes, I wanted something that would be water proof so construction paper and poster board were not an option. I decided to cut pieces of black gorilla tape into round eyes and tape those on the inner solid fabric so that the outer sheer one would overlay the eyes.

DIY Floating Ghosts -

Mochi approves!

DIY Floating Ghosts -

So at this point the ghosts were pretty much ready. But we had one more bonus element we wanted to add:

DIY Floating Ghosts -

Of course, something battery powered or wired would be way brighter and longer lasting. But we wanted something easy, water proof, and cheap. But glowsticks aren’t going to last more than one night, so we had to rig a way to prepare the ghosts for a quick and easy glowstick attachment come Halloween night.

So we decided to attach the little plastic caps (that come with the glowstick bracelets) to tape that was hanging under the ghosts. We wanted it hanging so that the light was lower than it would be it we just attached the cap directly to the bottom of the ghosts head.

DIY Floating Ghosts -

We took some of the gorilla tape (just duct tape would be fine too) and taped a cap in between two long pieces. We closed it around the cap but left the other end open so that we could stick it to the bottom of the ghost heads. On Halloween, we can just pop a glowstick into the cap under each ghost.

DIY Floating Ghosts -

Hehe. That ghost looks violated. Now they were ready to hang outside! We used some clear line from Michael’s to hang them as invisibly as possible.

They’re pretty light so they didn’t require any super heavy branches or anything. We decided to hang them at staggered heights in our trees.

DIY Floating Ghosts -

DIY Floating Ghosts -

We used our staple gun to tack a few staples to the underside of our roof overhang to hang some more ghosts by our windows.

DIY Floating Ghosts -

We really like how they turned out!!!

DIY Floating Ghosts -

Because there are so many of them, there’s always at least a few with their eyes turned towards you at any one time. The outer fabric is super light and flowy so it catches the breeze really well and gives them that ghostly transparent feel, while the inner fabric is opaque enough to conceal the heads underneath.

DIY Floating Ghosts -

DIY Floating Ghosts -

The super awesome thing is that all the fabric cost us $28 because of Joann’s coupons, and the rest of the materials we had on hand! At $4 per ghost, I’d say this was a pretty sweet deal. We aren’t adding the glowsticks until Halloween day but we will be sure to post some updated photos with our ghosts looking all glowy after the 31st!


Haha, the glowsticks were a total fail. They just weren’t bright enough to really make a difference. You win some, you lose some. So I’d say if you want your ghosts to glow, stick on a battery powered light to their underside.


Timber! How To Trim Your Own Trees

Evan got to play with the ultimate zombie weapon a chainsaw on a stick this weekend.

It. Was. Badass.

The excuse for playing with this new toy was a tree in our front yard that was all up in our house’s business. Check this out.

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

Having a tree touching your house is bad. Having a tree pretty much EATING your house is even worse (which is sorta what we had going on). When tree branches are resting on your roof, it allows moisture to collect there and blocks light and heat (so the moisture doesn’t evaporate) and that can cause mold and rot. Since we had to replace our entire roof when we first moved in, we did NOT want to have to put any more money into that thing (roof replacement = empty pockets).

We also had a couple other trees that were starting to tickle our roof line. This one by our garage:

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

And this one near the guest room by the side of the house:

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

It was hot as balls in Houston this weekend so Evan started out in normal Texas heat outdoor attire.

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees - Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

But after those first two little trees were trimmed, he decided that a shirt and some sneakers might be a little more practical. And still super sexy. Especially the socks.

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

He started slicing away at the big tree and we could not believe how many branches needed to be removed. It was wayyyyyy more than it looked like from the street.

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

And some of the branches, like the cut one in the picture above, were pretty thick. If you’re going to tackle something like this, make sure you cut the branches at the correct angle so that they fall away from your chainsaw blade instead of on top of your chainsaw blade. Here’s what I mean:

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

So if the cut part of the branch will fall down, you want to cut from above so that as the branch starts to crack and fall the cut you’ve made opens up and you can keep going deeper with your chainsaw. In this scenario, if you cut from below and the branch is falling down, it will close the gap that you’re cutting and trap the chainsaw inside. Does that make sense?

And this doesn’t always mean cut from the top. There are some situations that you would cut from the bottom, like if the end of a branch you’re cutting is resting on the roof and the part that falls will be the part that you cut (as opposed to the end of the branch, which is supported by the roof) so the cut will open up as it’s falling if you cut from the bottom and close up as it’s falling if you cut from the top.

Basically, just look at the branch and see which way it’s going to start falling as the cut goes deeper, and make sure the cut widens as it falls instead of closing in on the blade.

Anyways, Evan sawed away and I was on branch duty, dragging them away to make room for more fallen branches. These branches were bigger than the trees in our backyard! The one in the picture below wasn’t even as big as they got.

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

Evan tackled the big kahuna. Look at that thing! The part where he cut was as big around as my leg!

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

While Evan drug out that giant branch, I hopped up in the earlier trees and cleared away branches that we had cut but hadn’t fallen (they were still kinda stuck up in there).

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

Then Evan did some climbing of his own and used the leaf blower to blow away all the tree debris that was still on our roof.

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

Finally we got all the branches into a pile and marveled at our work. Because seriously, how did we end up with that much tree!?

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

By this point we were too exhausted to saw it into bundles and tie it up with twine so we just drug the pile to the backyard to await its fate.

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And now the view outside our bedroom window kinda looks like we are living in the treetops.

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

It was an hour and a half of hard work, but it was definitely worth it (and it was kinda fun!). We saved ourselves $100-$150 bucks by doing it ourselves, which is what we were quoted JUST to trim the big tree (not including the little ones). And now our house can breathe and our roof is safe :)

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

To save you some scrolling, here’s the before and after:

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

And here are the less dramatic before and afters for the two smaller trees:

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

Timber! How to Trim Your Own Trees -

Glad to be almost done with this project! Will be even more glad when there’s not a forest chilling in our backyard. Anyone else have a tree trimming experience where it ended up being like 10x the amount of branches you expected? Seriously, how did that happen??


Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching

I reeeeeally wanted to title this post “So Mulch Fun” but the cardboard technique we used here was too important to leave out of the title. I’ll save “So Mulch Fun” for a future inevitable mulching post and hopefully by then you guys will forget you’ve already heard it mwahaha!

DIY cardboard mulching -

Today we are on the third and final day of working on our front garden beds! (Check out part 1 and part 2 too!) After removing our mega-palms, adding solar lights, removing the old weed barrier, and digging up unwanted grass and bushes, we had a blank slate that was ready to be mulched! Well, almost ready. Before we laid down mulch, we wanted to add a couple things that would make our garden maintenance easier: a weed barrier of some sorts, and a soaker hose.

We had a soaker hose the previous owner left in the garage so we tested the length by winding it around our beds. It was a perfect fit! We thought this step was especially important because one of our little foxtail ferns was not doing so hot.

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching - Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

We then realized we needed to remove the soaker hose while we put down the weed barrier (we wanted it to be above the barrier but below the mulch), so off it went.

For the weed barrier, we looked into a few different options: traditional fabric weed barriers, newspaper, and cardboard. With the semi-degradable fabric ones you apparently have to remove them eventually (like we did ours) and replace it, but newspaper and cardboard biodegrade after a certain period of time and just become part of the soil, and when it’s time to add more you just add another layer on top. After digging up our old weed barrier, we didn’t want to have to deal with doing that again down the line. And we just so happened to still have a TON of cardboard boxes leftover from our attic clean-out and our Ikea shopping spree. So our decision was made! Plus little earthworms are supposed to love cardboard and that is good for our soil.

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

When using cardboard for this purpose, you can’t use any that is shiny or waxy. It has to have that flat “cardboard-y” feel. And you need to remove any stickers, tape, staples, etc since they aren’t biodegradable. After spending some time sorting/prepping the boxes, we had a pile waiting and ready to go.

But before we laid them, we wanted to go ahead and buy our mulch. Partially because we didn’t want the cardboard to get blown away if there was a time gap between cardboard-ing and mulching. And partially because having your garden bed lined with cardboard looks oh-so-classy (not) and we didn’t want it to be in that state for any longer than necessary. So I measured the square footage of our garden beds and we needed to buy WAY more mulch than I would have thought- 17 bags! That would give us 2 inches of coverage, which we were ok with since Google told us 1″-4″ was recommended.

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

While we were at Home Depot picking up our mulch, I spotted some little potted foxtails for $6 a piece. Since we dug up our rosemary it felt like we needed something else to fill the space it left. Foxtails to the rescue! Plus I think they’re cute. Like little Mochi tails.

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching - Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

We’ve never planted anything before so we just followed the instructions they came with and crossed our fingers. So far we’ve kept em alive!

Once our foxtails were in we turned our attention to the cardboard. We made sure to implement tips we had read online as we went. Before we started, we flattened the soil the best we could (this meant filling in the big holes we still had from digging up our giant palms. And we pulled any large weeds/grass that we spotted (we didn’t worry about the little ones though).

Then we just started cutting and laying our cardboard on top of the dirt, leaving 4-6 inches of breathing room around the base of each plant. Everywhere the cardboard met we overlapped it by 6 inches (so the less overlaps you have the better- try to cut the cardboard as little as possible).

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

This also required squeezing into some tight spaces, but hey if we were afraid to get a little dirty we would not have considered spending a day laying mulch to be a good time!

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

As we went, we sprayed the cardboard down with our hose so that it would flatten out (and not get blown away by a sudden burst of wind or anything). Also, see how nicely the two new foxtails fill in the space that used to be occupied by the rosemary?

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

After we had fully laid and sprayed (ha! rhyme!) our first layer, we laid and sprayed a second. Most sites recommended 2-4 layers, and we had enough cardboard for about two and a half so that’s what we did.

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

This is why we wanted to start and finish this part of the project in one evening: it looked more like a hobo bed than a garden bed (I’ll be here all week)! But by the end of our second layer we had a nice base to start mulching over. Evan used his manly muscles to lift and pour the bags while my hoe and I (‘sup!) smoothed the mulch out over the cardboard.

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

Of course, as soon as we finished laying all the mulch we realized we had completely forgotten about putting down the soaker hose first. Doh! So we had to lay it down on top of our mulch and then try to bury it.

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

In the end we used 15 of our 17 bags, and since the last two were maybe worth $6 (and they were heavy and messy) we just decided to hold onto them for touch ups rather than return them. Also in total we spent about $50 on mulch and the two additional foxtails (since we already had the soaker hose and cardboard, those were free). It was kind of a dirty job, but it was cheap and so worth the results!

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching - Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

Finally we rinsed off our dirty sidewalk and driveway and took some pretty pictures for ya!

Here is the area in front of the guest bedroom when we first moved in…

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

The same area after the grass invaded…

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

And after we fixed her up!

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

Here is that same area from a different angle, again when we moved in…

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

Then there was so… much… grass…

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

And now here’s the after! Nicely mulched and grass-free!

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

Here’s the straight on view of the front door before we touched the garden beds at all. Look how closed in and itchy it looks!

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

And here’s the nice clean after!

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

Lastly here’s a little peek at the area to the left of the front door. Here it is before (notice how that palm looks like it’s eating our doormat).

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

And here it is after! Without all that extra palm and grass, it looks so much cleaner!

I’m thinking about buying some large planters for either side of the door where the palms used to be, but first I need to find a flowering plant that won’t die on me. I just recently learned the term “perennial” so… yeah I have a ways to go before I finish my plant research. Any suggestions about low maintenance flowering plans would be much appreciated!

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -

We are so happy with how our garden bed makeover turned out, we could just dance!

Yard is Hard, Part III: DIY Cardboard Mulching -


Yard is Hard, Part II: Clean Up On Aisle Grass

Hey guys! We’re back today with Part II of our front garden bed progress (check our Part I: Attack of the Palmzillas here). Things have been super green and beautiful around here lately.

Yard is Hard, Part II: Clean Up On Aisle Grass -

It’s very picturesque! Until you look a bit closer at our garden beds…

Yard is Hard, Part II: Clean Up On Aisle Grass -

Holy poopsicles Batman! An army of grass has infiltrated!! How did this happen?! (St. Augustine grass is a beast.) Did we really neglect things long enough for this to take place? (Yes.)

So we pulled that grass ASAP. It was quite satisfying. But we knew we couldn’t let this happen again. It was time to finish what we started two months ago: tackling our garden beds.

Yard is Hard, Part II: Clean Up On Aisle Grass -

So here were the problems we faced:

  • Pulling out the palms left us with big unsightly dirt pits on either side of our front door (something we mentioned fixing in our big to-do list). Not exactly the first thing you want greeting people who show up at your door. So we needed to prettify things there.

Yard is Hard, Part II: Clean Up On Aisle Grass -

  • You’ll also notice in the picture above that pulling up the palms revealed some weed barrier fabric and part of what must have been an irrigation system at some point. Those needed to be removed as well.
  • We weren’t crazy about our rosemary. It was taking over, and even though it smells nice it wasn’t the prettiest plant. It was actually kinda scruffy, especially that woody part in the back.

Yard is Hard, Part II: Clean Up On Aisle Grass -

  • We needed to either seriously trim back the grasses that lined the walk way (see em in the picture above?) or get rid of them altogether.
  • We needed mulch (ours was skimpy/nonexistent in most areas) so that the grass and weeds had a harder time popping up (and because it looks pretty!)

Before we could do anything else, we needed to remove that old weed barrier. It was already exposed in several places and it was deteriorating into this furry-like material so it looked like we had patches of dead rabbit in our garden (awesome).

Yard is Hard, Part II: Clean Up On Aisle Grass -

We had to wrestle with it a bit to dig it up from underneath the dirt while crawling under/behind plants, but overall it was pretty easy.

Yard is Hard, Part II: Clean Up On Aisle Grass -

And when we pulled up the weed barrier, the rosemary (and a good chunk of the grass) came too!

Yard is Hard, Part II: Clean Up On Aisle Grass -

We dug up the rest of the grass with our shovel/hands.

Yard is Hard, Part II: Clean Up On Aisle Grass -

Here is is before digging up the grass and rosemary (and before trimming that crazy looking bush on the left):

Yard is Hard, Part II: Clean Up On Aisle Grass -

And here it is after we cleaned her up! It’s like our walkway can breathe again.

Yard is Hard, Part II: Clean Up On Aisle Grass -

We didn’t stop at the garden beds though. We decided to give our lawn a little love and attempt to get that nice clean edge (so we don’t get yelled at anymore). When Evan started edging, we realized that our beastly grass had actually grown over our driveway by about 4 inches!! And it took the dirt with it!!! See the darker part of our driveway along the edge? That’s how far out the grass had grown. Seriously this stuff is relentless.

Yard is Hard, Part II: Clean Up On Aisle Grass - Yard is Hard, Part II: Clean Up On Aisle Grass -

After all this digging up and de-grassing, things were ready to mulch! Check in tomorrow and we’ll share how we tackled the third and final step of project garden bed.