April 9, 2015

My summer goal extravaganza, OR All the simple things I want to do so I like my house and yard more

Here's two things you should know about me:

#1 - I do not have a lot of expendable money. Maybe $10 a week. 
#2 - I am pretty lazy. 

But I am not going to let those two facts get in the way of my Summer Goal Extravaganza! 

I spelled "extravaganza" correctly on the first try, which is amazing because:

#3 - I am a horrible speller. 

But this is me rambling. Back to the topic!

Now that the weather is getting warmer and windows may be opened and 32 degrees a thing of the past I am itching to get a few smallish projects done around the house.

For starters, the kitchen. Now if money weren't so tight I'd gut it and redo it all. White subway tile with a subtle, grey grout. Creamy, grey cabinets. Crisp, white countertops. A stainless steel fridge with the freezer on the bottom. A double oven and a great big stovetop. A new window with a stainglassed panel across the top.

But money is tight so instead I'd like to take down the floral wallpaper on the soffit and paint it white, then change the outlets and light switches for white ones.

Next, I'd like to buy a new storm door; one that doesn't drip grease and allows for a breeze and isn't dingy.

Instead I'll put a fresh coat of white paint on the front door... and maybe splurge for a new storm door anyways.

The main bath was filled with towel wracks and nail holes. It had ugly wallpaper and all I wanted was to take the paper down and paint everything blue. We didn't fill in any holes but everything got painted blue.

A pretty blue, but one that ruins the awesomeness of the tile. And it turns out that the holes drive me crazy. So my next little job is to fill in the holes and repaint the room white, possibly a very light grey. I'd love to rip out the sink and its cabinet and put something else in, add some shelves to the wall, put in a new floor. (We had this in our old house and I loved it. I don't like tile because it's too cold, hard, and difficult to clean. Give me linoleum!)

Now outside.

I want to paint this bench, which has a mate and together they convert to a picnic table. I was thinking of a clever almost charcoal color. What do you think?

From the back patio, which is where this bench sits, up to the sidewalk jutting into the yard below we would like to pour a nice, wide sidewalk. Next to the house I'd like to mulch and plant hostas, bleeding hearts, a butterfly bush, hydrangeas, yarrow, cosmos, snap dragons - a whole flower garden. 

To the right of the sidewalk there is a large oak and grass doesn't grow, as you an see from all the dirt. I'd like to throw down more mulch and place our St. Francis statue. This, in the cheapest version possible, may actually happen. (Depending on how many speaking gigs I'm able to book. so hire me! I'll make you laugh, cry, and praise Jesus, and then I'll plant me some flowers.)

Then there's this corner of the backyard. At the top of the rise is a rec trail so people cycle, run, and walk past our house all day long. And we will soon have new neighbors so we'd like to plant some bushes and get privacy. Evergreens, forsythia, maybe.

And then that nasty bump... well the twiggy mulberry bush needs to die once and for all, the burn barrel needs to be gotten rid of, and I'd be happy  to put up a simple but pretty fence and make it our compost (which it unofficially and rather sloppily already is). Maybe plant a boxwood or two. I love boxwoods.

Here's the back of the house. Not soooooo bad but you're not up close. We need a storage shed to store the bikes and some other toys. I need to get my benches painted, put flowers in some pots, and create a specific seating area. We also need to mulch along the house and to do some landscaping there. I was thinking oregano, lavendar, and a lemongrass with something flowering, too.

And I know you can't really see it but the space between the left of the patio and the trunk of the pine tree would be a perfect location for a cute, little pondless waterfall. I have the pile of rocks (you can see them in the bench picture above) so we'd just need to buy some river rock and the pump... and all the stuff to run electricity out there. I'd also like to fill the under boughs with white lights because: gorgeous. This part will not happen this summer, but I wish it could.

Then there's the front.

A few things:
 If the bushes don't start to regrow by mid-summer we will likely cut them down to the ground. I need some kind of edging to keep the yard out of my flower bed. The white columns need to be repainted and flower pots need to be planted and new mulch needs to be thrown down.

Some of those dreams are a bit too big: pretty fences, lots of shrubbery, and pondless waterfalls, but the cheaper versions will probably happen. And that's enough to make me happy. :)

Wish me luck on my Summer Goal Extravaganza and tell me about your goals. Do you have any plans for fixing up and prettying your house now that the weather's warmer?


  1. Wow, Bonnie, these are such lovely ideas! (Hi there, long time lurker here. *waves*) I'm currently in the throes of completely cleaning out and reorganizing my little condo in preparation for a new roommate moving in next month, and as I've been going I'm thinking about shelves. In the bedrooms, in the bathroom, and downstairs by the front door...Shelves would be nice. Like you, my budget is pretty minimal but your list makes me feel like I could do some little stuff and make the place more homey. :)

  2. You have a lot of great ideas! I love that bathroom tile and I think you are right - a lighter color will highlight them better. We painted our master bedroom a pale grey a year and a half ago and I am itching to paint every room in the house that color....I still don't have the nerve to tell my husband yet! :)

  3. Dreaming house projects is a favorite pastime, and doing them is my love language. Filling the holes in the bathroom will be easy as pie - just remember to gently sand down the spackle when it dries (pet peeve). Could you spray paint your storm door for a less expensive spruce-up?

  4. Such wonderful plans - the nice thing about having a variety of things to do is you can pick the one you have energy and time for out of the list. I have to watch my pennies this year too and I am starting with my front door and screen door. Painting them both, the paint guy at Lowe's coached me on how to prepare and paint them and I have every confidence they will be wonderful. I am buying my flower seeds for the front border and we are building a natural plant trellis for morning glory vines as a focal point. I love Pinterest - get so many wonderful-dollar friendly ideas there. Good luck with all your wonderful ideas.

  5. Your plans are great! Fresh paint makes a world of difference, and some of the landscaping work is just labor. I can't wait to see your progress!

    Our new house has terrible hunter green tile in the bathrooms, and I'm considering painting the tile (a la Little Green Notebook) as a stopgap until I can bust the old stuff out and put down something good (which will take some budgeting, since we have not one, not two, but THREE bathrooms worth of wretched green tile!)

  6. I've bought seed from this place before and I LOVED them. $10 would get you enough seed to make a stunning St. Francis garden.

    Also, forsythia is SUPER easy to root from cuttings. Go to a park or someplace that has them, cut yourself an armful of branches, and stick them in water. Keep changing the water once a week, and when the roots are about 5 inches long, plant them where you want them to grow. Easy and free. My favorite kind of gardening.

    Keep an eye out on craigslist during the summer. Sometimes you'll find people giving away perennial divides. Check and see if there's a FB gardening group in your area, too- gardeners LOVE to give away free divides of things.

    Last cheap tip I've got- at the end of the season (think, August/September) look at Lowes and Home Depot. They put their perennials on deep discount then bc they don't want to overwinter them.

    Oh! (I lied about the last tip)- scour craigslist or freecycle for paver bricks. Those are great for borders for your front garden.

    1. Oooooh! I have loads of tall, whippy forsythia that the previous owners planted in the back. Do you cut it before or after it blooms?

    2. I love forsythia too, and it is one of the few things I haven't managed to kill. :) Prune before it blooms. They bloom early! Our tradition is to pryne the week of Ash Wednesday and bring some bare, brown branches in the house, put them in a vase, and watch them bloom inside. Very new life-ish. :)

  7. (I promise I'll shut up after this last one)
    Boxwoods! Also easy to root from cuttings. Check out Kevin Lee Jacob's garden (Gabriel and I went to tour his place once- it's gorgeous). His formal boxwood garden was started from mostly all cuttings!

  8. I have a lot of the same things on my list as you! And I don't know that any of my list is ever going to get accomplished... But if you can do it, maybe I can too! We also have a giant stump from a bush we cut down in our front yard, and are trying to decide if it's worth paying someone to rip it out or not. And I'd love to rip out most of the old, diseased azaleas and replace them with blueberry bushes! But again, money... Good luck!

  9. Soooo we're renting and what we can do is limited, so I'm enjoying dreaming vicariously through you!!! Also, you can sometimes find free mulch on Craigslist or Freecycle or at County or state parks...worth looking in to! And do you have a Habitat ReStore in your area? You can score some awesome deals there!

  10. Soooo we're renting and what we can do is limited, so I'm enjoying dreaming vicariously through you!!! Also, you can sometimes find free mulch on Craigslist or Freecycle or at County or state parks...worth looking in to! And do you have a Habitat ReStore in your area? You can score some awesome deals there!

  11. Sherwin-Williams has quart-sized samples that are around $8. I'm not sure if they do them for exterior paint(I've only done interior), but that might be enough to cover your benches.

  12. Great plans! I want to wash the house this year, maybe paint the shingles, and pare down the landscaping so it looks tidy with as little maintenance as possible... neither my husband nor I tend to dedicate much time to it. Even though I'd love lots of pretty flowers, I need to be realistic, and that's just not my forte. Someday we need to get a machine to smooth out the backyard as well, and change it so water doesn't head straight for the basement when it rains, but I don't think we have the money for it this year.

  13. That is a pretty extensive to-do list! You have a great back yard! We are always so slow with our projects, ourselves. We bought an older home and have been gutting it inside and completely changing the outside, as well. We have re-done one full bedroom, bathroom, and living room from the studs so far in the past two years. This year, we are doing the other living room and my son's room, and we are adding curb appeal and foundation beds to the front yard, we stuccoed and painted the whole house and we are in the midst of making an outdoor living room/kitchen that is 40 x 20 feet. We are doing cobblestone concrete molds for the floor, a wooden pavilion that is 18 x20 feet over part of the living space, building a huge concrete "couch", a wooden farm table, a porch swing, a brick oven, a brick fire pit, and a Mary/ Bible garden. It is about 112 degrees in Central Florida already (so it feels, with the humidity) and we are doing it all by ourselves on nights and weekends, so it is slow going.