September 15, 2012

The last section of my Love Shack Project make-over is the back patio!  Like the garden side, the patio is also long and narrow, but the patio side has a smooth cement floor and is about a foot wider ( 4′ x 20′).  That extra foot gives me enough room to actually have some tables and chairs out there!

My first task was to re-hang the large wooden door so that it opens out, instead of in;  thus freeing up that previously unusable space.  Next, I used the left over exterior paint to paint the unfinished section under the covered roof, the wooden door,  and the electrical housing.  Once that was finished, I put up a few hooks so I could neatly hang the ladder, tools, and hose.

To break up the length of the patio and add texture and intimacy, I decided to build an arbour!  This was very simple.  I  bought 5 ladder trellises from  Home Depot,  and placed 4 of them ( 2 on each side) against the walls of my patio alley.  Then I connected them across the top with few lengths of redwood.  Lastly, I took the remaining 5th trellis and laid it across the top, between them, as the roof.

Next, I added  2 sets of tables and chairs, both of which I got free from Craig’s List.  They were all mis-matched colors, so I simply spray painted everything white to match.  I also spray painted my metal utility shelves, planter boxes and baskets;  and just about anything else that was going to be on the patio!  Spray painting makes matching easy, however, its messy!  Make sure you have a large drop cloth, plastic gloves and booties on your feet! ( I spray painted my feet and ruined a pair of sandals and a pedicure the first time!)

Lastly, I added some plants and climbing vines to start climbing up the arbour;  and for the finishing touch,  wove white twinkle lights throughout all the trellises on both the patio side and the garden side.

The first time I turned on the lights was amazing!  I had created my own private, magical, oasis;  perfect for entertaining very small parties!  I am thrilled with the result!

Thank you!

Here are two before pix:

And this is my pretty patio now!

August 28, 2012

The Kitchen has been particularly frustrating to me, because it really needs to be completely re-done with new cabinets and counters.   I’ve tried to do what I can until I’m able to do that!   Its long and narrow with one overhead cabinet and a long counter with nothing underneath!

I’ve framed some of my linoleum block reduction prints and hung them on the other side of the wall  I built;   and added curtains underneath the counter and  in the doorway to the pantry.

Here are some pictures!



This is what it looked like when I moved in.

And this is what I”ve done so far!

August 4, 2012

Here are some updated pictures, showing how well my alley garden is coming along!  It is flourishing, despite the ongoing assault from the public urinators and deficators!!  ( EEWWW!!!)

I am currently working on trying to finish the kitchen and patio side of the back yard!


July 22, 2012

For the past two weeks, I have been working on the back yard!    Trying to transform a tiny  3′ by 20′ strip of dirt into an oasis of peace and tranquility.   This turned out to be a lot more work than I had anticipated!

The  dirt I brought in when I first started these renovations had a lot of clay in it, and over the last couple months had hardened into one solid rock!  This all had to be broken up and mixed with lots of organic materials!  Translation,  lots more manual labor and hauling manure!   I ended up doubling the depth of the dirt,  and as a result,  needed to add  two more rows of  bricks to separate the house walls from the dirt, which I got from Awesome Al’s construction site!  This time, Al was there with all of his sons, and they loaded  the bricks into my car for me!  What a nice family!

After I  got the bricks and dirt taken care of, my next task was to install a fence.  I wanted  more privacy, but didn’t want to completely obliterate the sun by making a huge shadow;  so I decided to go with couple rolls of reed fencing.  They are inexpensive and easy to install!

I didn’t want to drill into the cinderblock wall to secure my fence,  so I let the  helpful  folks at Home depot direct me to a concrete adhesive, which I applied in small spots with a caulking gun, all along the top and bottom of the wall.  Then I cut small  lengths of rebar wire and inserted then into the adhesive so that when it dried, I would have a whole bunch of tie wires to attach my fence to.  ( It was kinda like making cookies!)

It worked perfectly!   I was able to easily unroll the fence and secure it to the wall.  I then  also used the same  tie wires to secure trellises to the fence!   I put up 3 fan-shaped trellises and one large ladder  trellis right in front  of the  back door.  I shortened the ladder trellis and used the  cut pieces to extend the middle section.

After that, I  was able to finally start planting all the plants that had been patiently waiting to go in  the ground!    I also bought a few flowers and climbing vines  for my trellises.    I planted all the succulents that my wonderful friend Uzi had given me as a house-warming present.  ( they have grown a LOT over the past few months!)

Next,  I used  the remaining bricks to make a  walking path down the middle.  As a last touch, I repurposed a discarded wooden end table into a tiny bench by sawing it in half,  making a few alterations and painting it!

While it’s not completely finished yet,  it’s starting to look really really  cute!


June 15, 2012

This last project has me re-evaluating what I thought I was capable of,  and realizing that most of my percieved limitations and barriers have been self-imposed!   This feels like some kind of awakening!  I’m feeling so greatly empowered,  strong and capable;  and yet at the same time,  bittersweet at the realization that I’ve been my own biggest limiter!   I don’t necessarily need to  know  how  to  do everything, or how  it’s all gong to come together, before I can start.   I JUST HAVE TO START!   WOW!   I feel like a self-help guru this week!

This week I was tackling my tiny living room!  The living room  is a narrow rectangle, and  not separated from the kitchen;    so I decided to build a wall!   Thereby dividing the rooms, and  creating more wall space to hang my very large paintings.

I went back to  home depot, where the fine folks there helped me plan out how to build a 5 foot room divider wall.  Since I was doing it all myself, I picked out  the lightest sheet rock available,  ( 1/4” since that was as much as I could lift! ) and  used 2×3’s to  make the frame.  I also wanted to avoid  disturbing the plaster walls,  so my entire wall would be almost free-standing, only anchored by a few screws into the exposed support beam along the ceiling.


Just getting the sheet rock home was a challenge!  Each piece is like a giant  heavy  4 foot by 8 foot  cracker,  ready to snap at any moment!  I drove home very slowly with it all strapped into my  truck, tailgate open,  red flag hanging off the back,  and hazards on.     Then I almost blew away trying to get it  all into the house–  it  was like a sail!

Once inside–  I  hard to figure out  how  to  build the frame ( did I mention,  I’ve never done anything like this before!)   Then once the  frame was built,  size and cut up the sheet rock and attach it!   Once the sheet rock was all mounted, I had to tape and spackle the ends and seams.   After that was dry,  I used a scrubbing sponge from the  kitchen to smooth over  the  spackle (its less messy  than sand paper).   Then finally, it all had to  be  painted !





(  I may be roaring, however my back is whimpering,   and has requested that I keep the  heavy lifting to a minimum )


here are some pictures of my wall!

June 8, 2012

This past week and a half I have been  completely immersed in my most challenging project yet; the bathroom!   There were a couple of times on this one, where I really hit a wall and didn’t know how I was gonna finish this!

My tiny cottage has an equally tiny bathroom, with no storage, no cabinet, no linen closet,  not even a towel rack!!  Being a bit of a product-junkie, I have a LOT of stuff that needs to be put away–  and now,  after my successful bedroom transformation,  I really wanted  to make  something  that matched that, and didn’t feel claustrophobic or cluttered.

So,  I perused  Craig’s List again, and found a group of small white shelves that I could use as my “raw materials”.   I  have found this to be an easier way to build things–  kind of like altering clothes to fit you!   The shelves were cheaper than buying wood and  starting from  scratch,  and  are easier to cut-and-piece and alter into what you want.  And I did a LOT of altering on  this one!!

I started by building the over the toilet space-saver/shelf  first, and built it almost up to the ceiling!   I added doors and lots of small shelves inside to house all my  cosmetics!  I also traded out the wooden shelf I built for a smaller, less bulky pre-made shelf,  which I  adjusted to house a hamper on the bottom!   ( Don’t worry, the wooden shelf  is not going to waste, and has moved to the pantry.)   I also added a  ring of shelves  around the ceiling for  extra storage.

Next, I built an under the sink cabinet, with a shelf inside.  The whole cabinet actually pulls out, in case you need to get to the plumbing!  Like in the  bedroom, I tried to make most everything free-standing with  only a  few anchors for safety so as not  to mess up the  plaster walls.

I’m very proud of myself for pushing through all my doubts and frustrations on this one, and really pleased with my results!!  I can’t believe I built this all!!  WOW!


Here is what I started with–  pretty  much nothing!

June 1, 2012

I have been  immersed in a soon-to-be-revealed,  very  challenging construction project in the bathroom all week,  so, to tide you over until the big reveal– here’s  a couple of pictures of the beautiful window boxes and Geraniums I got from Remarkable Rita.

It was really easy to put them up because I totally cheated– and used Rebar  wire to install them instead of nuts and bolts.  Who needs  nuts and bolts when you have the wonderful pliable bendyness of Rebar wire!   The kind folks at Home Depot introduced me to my new friend, Rebar wire;  and for anyone who doesn’t know,  it’s the metal equivalent of fishing wire!  Two items one should  keep on hand to fix almost anything!

Enjoy!  And look how happy all the plants in the front  are starting to look!

Thank you!

May 23, 2012

For the past week, I have been working furiously on creating a storage system for  my tiny 9 1/2 by 9 1/2 bedroom.    My challenge was to  devise a way  to  put everything away, ( including my  very large shoe collection)  without making the room look cluttered or cramped.

To start with, I had all the shelves that I had gotten from Marvelous Michael during  my adventures in shelving.   But those alone were not enough to hold everything!  I  needed to double to capacity of the shelves, which I figured could be done by dismantling one and combining it into the others, as well as adding more levels.

I  went back to Home Depot for more wood, and  Super Saul helped me pick out a power saw!  Now  I was unstoppable!  It  took a lot of work; but by cutting more shelves, drilling more holes, measuring & remeasuring, and painting,  I’ve been able to create my own masterpiece of organization!  I have to admit, I’m  pretty impressed with myself!  This definitely turned out better than expected  and  is much more than I ever thought I could accomplish!

Amazingly,  EVERYTHING  is  put away, organised by color, and it doesn’t look cluttered!  And on top of that,  it’s basically free-standing!  I anchored it at a  few places for safety, but that’s all!  The plaster walls are unscathed!

Thank you!

Behold my masterpiece!

May 15, 2012

This past week, I tackled my most challenging task  thus far…the closet!   My tiny cottage only has one very small and narrow closet! —  (30″x 60”)   That doesn’t even come close to accommodating my very  healthy wardrobe!    I investigated closet systems online but found everything to be way too expensive and the wrong size!   It seemed like the only way to get what I needed would be to build it myself!!

I felt a little intimidated, I’m not a builder!   I muscled up my determination, and  went to Home Depot, armed with pictures and measurements.   The Home Depot staff was very knowledgable and helpful!  They walked me around to each department and helped me pick out all the right supplies!  For expert advice, I was directed to Super Saul!  Super Saul  was amused by my naive assumption that I would be able to screw 3 inch screws in with a screwdriver, and  hooked me up with my very first power tool!   I am now the proud owner and operator of a power dill!  (My lust for  owning all my own power tools has just begun!)

I went home, equipped with my  new stud finder- only to realize that I have old plaster and lathe walls! ( No wonder my stud finder was confused and whimpering! )  My only recourse was manual excavation of the plaster ( that’s hammer to wall) ,to find the studs– which I might add, were NOT a standard 16 inch  distance apart!   Once I found my 24 inch  spaced studs,  I was able to attach a large plank, length wise across the wall using  my 3 inch screws and my POWER DRILL!  (OH YEAH! ) This would be my support board to mount the brackets for the shelf on.    I did the same thing for the lower shelf, and then mounted 3 brackets each, attached a shelf across the top of the brackets,  and a wooden dowel for hanging my  clothes!

It sounds simple,  and would have  taken a professional a couple hours, but for me , it was five days in the closet  with  daily trips back  to Home Depot for  more supplies and advice from Super Saul!  But I surprised myself and actually  did it!    I successfully installed a double  row of closet shelves on the long side of the wall, and miraculously,  they did not collapse!!   Finally,  for the first time since I moved in,  my clothes  are out of the living room and hanging  up in the closet!

WOW!   I can build things!!

The world is my oyster!

Here’s some before, during and after pictures!

May 10, 2012

I spent most of the other day bent over,  painting lines on the parking lot and continuing my battle with the weeds in the rose garden!   It’s still up in the air, who the victor will be, but I’m putting my  chips on me.    However,  the vivid stripe of hot pink sunburn on my lower back is a tender reminder  to  pay  better attention to detail  and pull down my shirt and  cover my ass!  Ouch!  Point taken!

While weeding, it was amazing to see how pernicious the weeds are ,  how they seem to be deliberately trying to gang up  overpower the  flowers,  wrapping  themselves around and strangling them!    Getting under the skin of the parking lot and  undermining it!

I was struck by how much the  weeds  resemble  negativity in your  brain!   In the very same way, negativity can take over your thoughts and actions, undermining  the beautiful flowers inside you, and strangling your growth!  Even below   the seemingly smooth calm surface of the asphalt,  there is a web of weeds spreading out underneath, slowly  destroying the parking lot from the inside!

I’ve been  spraying weed killer on the weeds, and getting down on my hands and knees and ripping them out of the ground.  In the same way,   I realize that  I’m gonna have to get  in my own head, and  remove some old weeds of fear and negativity  that have been taking up residence for far too long!     WOW!


These are a couple of pictures of the weeds growing under the asphalt, or  the effects of negativity on your brain!

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