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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Work it Out!

I have a love hate relationship with running.  Right now its a like relationship because its getting a little hotter and I hate running when its hot outside.  When we first moved here a friend of our gave us a treadmill they never used.  Pretty cool right!  For a while we had it in the study but it was just taking up space and I didnt like how it looked there so we decided to move it.

One of the things that sold us on our house is the awesome storage space in the laundry room.  I used 1/2 of it for my Christmas decorations (the part under the stairs) but I had a whole bunch of space left and it actually was the perfect size for the treadmill.  It wasnt that hard to get it in the space since the treadmill had wheels and is just smaller than the door frame.  Once we got the treadmill in I had a GREAT idea...and I mean great.  We had an small TV from when we upgraded our 36" to a 55" so I thought it would be perfect in front of the treadmill.  Let be honest, its pretty boring running on a treadmill but its not so bad when you can watch GLEE!

We bought a wall-mount swivel mount from Amazon.com for $15 bucks and screwed it into the wall.  Make sure you find the studs so it doesnt fall out of the wall.  Luckily this was a swivel so although the studs were at the far side of the wall I could swivel the TV to be more in the center.


Pretty cool set-up right?!  My face fan, my towel, and of course the TV!  It is a little too close for me but I got used to it and it really helps when I have to run inside.  It gets pretty hot in Texas and isnt really safe to run so this is great. 

But guess what...thats not the best part about this post...what you cant see (well you can see the chord mess but not the rest) is the shelf we have holding the DVD player and the ROKU.  The ROKU is a cool streaming device for TV's that dont have internet, you can get stations on it like Pandora and Hulu so I cant watch GLEE on it...which makes running easier when you have some awesome songs punched in at great intervals.

While it looks a mess it was really easy to install.  we bought a pre-painted shelf from home depot for $5 and 2 brackets for $5.  We screwed the brackets into the wall, then the shelf onto the brackets so the shelf wouldnt slide off and in less than 15 minutes we had a shelf to hold our electronics!  Its not the prettiest but it does the trick.

All in all this cost less than $50 and makes for a great work out station when its too hot or raining.

Project Housewife Out!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pin-Stration

Going off of yesterday's pinterest post...we all have like a million pins on pinterest but dont end up doing hardly any of them.  I decided that Im going to share with you some of the things Ive made that have been inspired by something I pinned on pinterest.  The first pin-stration (pin inspiration...you get it right lol) I want to share with you is something I was actually a little reluctant to pin in the first place. 

Let me explain...while I have an awesome dog named Oreo, Im really not a huge fan of the cookie itself.  I know Im weird, but another shocker is Im not really a huge fan of chocolate in general.  So it was with a little reluctance that I pinned "Birthday Oreo Stuffed Brownies".  Main reason I pinned these is because...Birthday Cake Oreos?!?  That sounds awesome actually, and the other reason...its from Bake at 350 blog and I love that girl and her awesome blog.  Love of Harry Potter aside she has some great desserts over there, so go check her out.  On to the pin...

Like I said its Birthday Oreo Stuffed Brownies but I have a confession, I love to take short cuts when it comes to brownies.  As I said I dont love chocolate so I dont love making that from scratch, plus a brownie mix box is only like $2 so why bother!  Of course Bridget has an awesome brownie recipe that Im sure is awesome and if you love chocolate should try it. Here is the recipe so you can see for yourself...oh and a link to the actual post so you can see all her awesome pictures.

Birthday Cake Oreo-Stuffed Brownies
{from bakeat350.blogspot.com}

1 cup dutch-process cocoa (such as Hershey's Dark)
1 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 c. unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 TBSP vanilla
3 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
20 Birthday Cake Oreos (or regular Oreos)
1 tsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. water
sprinkles

Preheat oven to 325.  Grease a 9x13" baking pan.  

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low, until melted.  Add the sugar and stir to combine.  Continue heating about 1-2 minutes, until hot.  

Remove the pan from the heat and add the cocoa mixture, stirring until combined.  Add the eggs and vanilla; stir until totally combined.

Add the flour and stir again until smooth.  

Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan.  Top with 20 Oreos.  Cover with the remaining batter; spread gently with an offset spatula.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the brownies are done, but the center still looks soft.

{The Oreos will make the brownies a little bumpy....that's ok.}

Set the pan on a wire cooling rack and let cool 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, stir together the corn syrup and water.

After 10 minutes, lightly brush the corn syrup mixture onto the cooled brownies.  Scatter on the sprinkles.  (Adding them before baking will cause the sprinkles to discolor and become misshapen.)

Let the brownies cool completely before cutting.  (A bench scraper is the perfect tool for cutting brownies.)



For the brownie mix from a box the 9x13 baking dish, in my opinion was a little too big so if you have one size smaller you should use that.  Check out the "awesomeness" that is my brownies.

 So you can see by awesome I dont mean pretty, the awesome really refers to the tastyness.  Dont judge a book by its cover right!  See there isnt enough brownie mix to cover all the tops of the Oreos so thats why I say use the smaller pan so you can make them a little thicker.


You cant see the Oreo until you bite into it but trust me its there and its tasty.  I know its not the best picture, but I wasnt planning on doing this post then last minute (ok today) decided I put this up here.


Get out there and try it...or just try something from your Pinterest boards, Im sure we all have a lot to choose from (easiest to try is food...just sayin!).


Project Housewife Out!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Have you Herb?

I have been wanting to plant a herb garden for a while.  #1 fresh herbs get expensive, #2 if you dont use them they go bad and you wasted the money #3 they look and smell nice in the backyard.  When I was growing up we used to have a vegetable garden and I really liked having it there.  Of course my mom did most of the work but I liked going in there seeing everything growing and smelling all the fresh veggies.  My backyard now isnt big enough for all that but I would love to do a herb garden of sorts.  Enter Pinterest.  If you arent hooked on pinterest already WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!  Im just kidding, but seriously I do find some great inspiration there...and a lot of recipes...mostly recipes to be honest but I have found some great crafts and home improvement ideas from there.  Today Im going to show you some of the pinterest herb garden ideas I have pinned because Im trying to figure out what I for sure want to do back there...suggestions are totally appreciated!

This first one I thought was an easy project, you can see the site here

I thought the use of pots here was really cute and seperated the herbs well.  See the site here

I liked this one because it was in the ground, but the pots keeps them from spreading out.  No source here.

This one I loved because of the wine barrel, a really unique look that you dont see everywhere...now if only I could find a wine barrel.  You can see the site here.


So what do you think?  Which one would you do?  They are all such great ideas I am having a hard time making up mind!

Project Housewife Out!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Foodie Friday

Happy Friday everyone!  Its Go Texan Day at work so that means I get to wear my boots and jeans and rodeo clothes.  Only in Texas right :)  Im just happy to get to wear jean to work so Im not going to complain.

More good news on this friday...I have a super easy super delicious recipe to share today!  I dont know about you but I used to get the daily recipes from Campbells to try and inspire me to cook...it didnt really work but it did give me a huge folder full of Campbells easy recipes.  Today Im going to share one with you.  Its called Pineapple-Picante Stir-Fry Pork and Cabbage, but I used chicken rather than pork, mainly because Im not a huge fan of pork.  I made this the other day and loved it for its simplicity and its also pretty great leftover, which is also important to me too.  Try it out and let me know what you think!


Pineapple-Picante Stir-Fried Pork and Cabbage
(A Campbells Kitchen recipe)



Servings: 4      Prep Time: 20min    Cook Time: 30min      Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients
·         1 cup Pace® Picante Sauce
·         1 tablespoon rice vinegar
·         2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger root I used 1tbsp ground ginger but I dont really like ginger and even that was too much)
·         1 can (8 ounces) pineapple chunks in juice, drained, reserving juice
·         1 tablespoon cornstarch
·         2 tablespoons vegetable oil
·         1 boneless pork tenderloin (about 1 pound), cut into thin strips
·         1 medium head green cabbage, cut in quarters and very thinly sliced
·         1/4 cup water 

Instructions
Stir the picante sauce, vinegar, ginger root, pineapple juice and cornstarch in a medium bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the pork and stir-fry until well browned.  Remove the pork from the skillet.

Heat the remaining oil in the skillet.  Add the cabbage and stir-fry until tender-crisp.  Add the water and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove the cabbage from the skillet and keep warm.

Add the picante sauce mixture to the skillet.  Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture boils and thickens.  Stir in the pineapple chunks.  Return the pork to the skillet and cook until the mixture is hot and bubbling.  Serve the pork mixture over the cabbage.

Pretty easy and tasty too.  You could always use rice rather than cabbage but I think that the cabbage makes a nice change to rice.  Pace really isnt tangy enough but its thickness does well in the sauce.  What variations are you going to try?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday everyone!  Another week has gone by and again I have something to be thankful for.  Recently we bought a new grill and I am so thankful for it.  First and foremost because we arent going to be eating pieces of charred off grill bits anymore...I know its the little things.  Secondly because we love to grill and want to safely eat our grilled goodness.  Thirdly, we love to have people over for burgers or fajitas or kabobs and lets be honest those things just dont taste the same on the stove.  I've tried and believe me its just not the same as the flame broiled flavor.

Here is the grill, the pretty fancy website picture of course :)  We also have a grill cover for it to try and help with the rust issue to protect it from the rain.  We plan on building a stone fireplace out in the backyard and want to build this into that so the cover will hopefully give this grill a nice long life.


Check out our awesome grill here.  We got a stainless steel with stainless steel grates/burners to make sure they dont rust.  You do have to maintain the grills but they are a little sturdier than the normal grills, which also makes them more expensive.  The other great thing about this grill is you can convert it to natural gas from propane if you wanted to.  We have considered it but I really dont want a 20 foot long gas line out to the backyard so thats probably not going to happen.  Side note this grill is only available at Lowe's.  You may remember that I dont particularly like Lowe's but they had the better grills by far compared to Home Depot and Ace Hardware.

My puppy is also super thankful for the grill because he eats all the things that fall off of it and gets to spend more time outside with us.  Silly dog :)

What are you thankful for this week?

Project Housewife Out!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Crochet Part 3

As you all know I am on a journey to crochet.  So far I have only made one mess that cant even be called anything, and the other I claim is a pot holder but lets be honest it was another practice mess.  So this past weekend I went to my moms, looked up a pattern (which you can see here) and tried to make it.  Well as you can see here the hat is totally cute and looks pretty easy.

So cute right!  Well first it said you need a pom pom maker, and I dont know what that is, so that part I didnt do but I set out on making the hat under the supervision of my mom.  According to the pattern I needed a P needle but I didnt bring anything but my K needle, but hey how big of a difference could it make right?!  WRONG!  So take a look again at that cute orange hat that would have looked so cute on my head...ok and now look at what I ended up making.


Ok so its not an adult sized hat, but hey SUCCESS it does resemble a hat, a baby hat, but a hat none the less!!  Even though it didnt turn out even close to the picture, I learned how to read a pattern (ok well just that particular pattern) and something other than a square.  An overall success, a success that I will deposit in the garbage because really what am I going to do with it, but still.  Its pretty yarn right, I thought so too, Im trying to make a scarf so we will see how long I can get it before the ball runs out, Ill keep you posted on that one its taking a little longer than I though it would.

Have you checked out Lion Brand Yarn's website yet to get some awesome patterns and tips on how to crochet?  You havent?  Well why not!  Get your butt going!

Project Housewife Out!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Come Sit by the Fire

You know when you stare at something long enough you start thinking what you can do to change it?  Well thats my fireplace mantle.  I have my awesome Thomas Kinkade painting that I love and was so excited to get and I keep trying to find ways to make it pop.  First I had just pictures up there, then added my "Dream" metal art, but still felt like something was missing.  Take a look at the before.

The "Dream" isnt there yet but I put it in the middle of the mantle.  Ok so see it looks like its missing something.  I thought to add flowers up there but hadnt found the right thing yet.  I needed to go check Marshalls Home Goods for some baking stuff but decided to check their vase and flower section to see if they had anything good.  Well apparently Marshalls is my new favorite store for home goods because I find some great stuff there.  I was looking around and found a great white vase for a little more than I wanted to spend at $20, but honestly $20 isnt that bad when you think about vases.  The flowers were 2 stems at $6 a piece which isnt bad either.  So take a look at the after, what do you think?



I still feel like it was missing something so I took my white bath and body works pineapple candle holder and put it in the place of the pictures on the other side.  I cant really decide which I like best, so what you think, pictures or candle...or neither?!   Here is the mantle with the pineapple.


Pretty cool vase right...it was a hidden treasure and Im super excited to find it.  I think the pineapple is too short but I cant think of something better to put there.  I love the flower addition though it seems to make the picture look brighter.  I know the picture doesnt do it justice but believe me in person it looks great.

What small additions have you dont lately that you love and didnt cost too much?  Those are the best kind to me :)

Project Housewife Out!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Phat Molding

Happy Monday everyone!  Today I wanted to share with you the awesome chair railing my dad installed for us a month ago.  I didnt do any amazing projects this weekend so I thought I could share this with you.

I know this is a Christmas tablescape, but its my before picture of what the room looked like.  Not bad right, but something is missing (besides me raising the curtains which did wonders) so I asked my dad to install some chair railing.
Originally I was thinking of just the standard thin railing and then adding the picture frame boxes all around, but my dad had another idea, which I actually like better so thanks dad for again being smarter than me :)  I wasnt home when he installed it so I cant tell you all about the cuts, but I can tell you from pricing out molding for our bedroom that this stuff isnt cheap so dont think that just because this project looks simple that it will be cheap, unfortunately molding in all forms is a little expensive, but I think well worth the investment.  Here check out the after and you will agree with me.


 Looks a lot better right!  And the curtains are raised here too so you can see how much taller the room looks.  Thats what I love about valances, the curtains are the regular 94inches, but with the valance I can make them look so much taller since the valance is dark and you cant see behind it, so we didnt have to buy more curtains or more expensive ones which, yay for saving money!

But looking at this it is missing something, so I decided it would look awesome to paint the bottom half of the railing a darker color than the top half.


And now I think this room looks pretty awesome...what do you think?

Project Housewife Out!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Foodie Friday

Greeting all.  I have a confession, its a little hard to think of a recipe when your watching John Stewart...I mean he keeps distracting me with the funny funny jokes :)  But let be serious, I have my priorities straight and know we all want some food knowledge dropped on us.  I think Im going to go back to sweets this week, Ill try and switch weeks savory and sweet and since last week was savory this week is sweet...sweet :)  Sorry I couldnt help it.

I love this fudge, I hate chocolate but I love this fudge.  Its not too sweet or heavy, and...BEST PART...its Weight Watchers friendly so no guilty conscience after you eat one!  I mean honestly dont think any of us need an excuse to eat fudge, but just in case you do there you have it!  I hope you enjoy this fudge as much as I do...oh and did I mention its super easy to make...because it is!


Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge

(A Weight Watchers recipe)

Points: 3      Servings: 36       Prep Time:10min      Cook Time: 5min     Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients
·         1 2/3 cup(s) sugar    
·         2/3 cup(s) fat-free evaporated milk    
·         2 Tbsp reduced-calorie margarine    
·         12 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)    
·         14 large marshmallow(s)   

Instructions
Coat an 8- x 8-inch pan with cooking spray.
Stir together sugar, evaporated milk and margarine. Bring to a boil in a sauce pan, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Stir in chocolate and marshmallows. Remove from heat and stir until smooth.
Pour into pan and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Cut into 36 squares and serve. (Leave fudge in refrigerator or freezer for a firmer consistency.) 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday everyone!!  What are you thankful for today?  This Thursday I am thankful for water...all kinds of water.  I pretty much only drink water all day every day (unless Im at a fast food place then Ill get a soda) because its zero calories, refreshing, and readily available.  I love water because it recharges me after a workout, hydrates me, and cools me down.  I also love water as rain because it keeps my grass and plants hydrated and growing.  I cant wait for spring to be here for the colorful flowers and green grass, without water it would be all sad ugly brown.  Water also boils my pasta, and lets be honest, as an Italian girl I cant live without some pasta!  I dont make it by hand, who has that kind of time, but I do use water to boil my pasta.  I love water for making me clean while taking a shower or for soothing my aching muscles in my bath.  Water is great, and a simple thing I am very thankful for today.  Its something you dont really realize how much you appreciate it until you dont have it.  Man take away my water cooler and I realize how much I miss it!!

And because I cant be thankful without sharing a picture of my Oreo, here he is, at the dog park where he had a blast smelling anything and everything!  Such a pretty puppy!!

Project Housewife Out!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Get Organized

As most of you know today is Valentine's Day.  My husband and I recently decided that we didnt want to celebrate Valentine's day because we feel that our anniversary is much more important than a random day on the calendar.  Ever since I was young I never really got into Valentine's day so it just makes sense to me to not celebrate a holiday that isnt very important to me.  I have to say it is a little weird but celebrating something just because its expected its really for me, especially since I dont really love the holiday anyway.  Isnt it ironic that I have no love for a holiday all about love?  Dont think Im not a romantic, I love the romance but I would much rather have a spontaneous show of romance than the planned one every year.  But to all of you who do celebrate this holiday and look forward to it every year I hope you have a great day and that it was everything you hoped it would be, and enjoy some chocolate cake and a great glass of wine (thats really the best part of eating out!).

Alright, so now I want to share with you what my husband installed for me over the weekend.  You may not know this but I do like to cook, I stink at coming up with unique recipes but I sure can cook from a recipe.  And as any good cook does I have pretty much any spice you can think of.  It got a little out of control really, taking up a whole drawer and 2 shelves in my cabinets so I decided that I wanted to move my spices to the back of the pantry door.  We went to target and bought a shelve system.  You can get the product here. Here is the unit on my door with all the cooking stuff in place.


This has been up since Saturday and I keep forgetting that this is on the door and have almost run into it 4 times.  So remember that you have it on the back of your door otherwise you might smack yourself :)

The unit was very easy to install, and it only took about 15 minutes, its easy to screw into the door, easy to add the shelves but a little harder to add the spices.  Adding the spices was the most time consuming because Im a little OCD and want like things with like things but to me that makes it easier to find things.  Ok and by time consuming I mean like 10 minutes so the whole thing will take less than 30 minutes and gave me a lot more space in my cabinets.  What do you think, could you use something like this in your home?

Project Housewife Out!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Product Update

Happy Monday everyone!  Well today is actually Sunday but seeing as I start my new job monday Im pretty sure Im not going to be able to write a post tomorrow so Im scheduling this one yay!

You may remember (ok probably not) one of my earlier posts about a floral arrangement (see that here).  In that I showed you what I THOUGHT was a great product...the water beads that expand to be like the glass beads for floral arrangements but were much cheaper.  So this is what it looked like to start with.  So pretty and big and shiny!



Well after 3 months they have wilted to pathetic-ness.

PATHETIC!  The package did say you COULD add water periodically but sheesh I didnt think it would wilt to this my goodness!  So I have decided to go back to the tride and true glass beads (with a 40% off coupon in hand of course) and make this floral arrangement beautiful once more!  So a cautionary tale to all of your, water beads for floral arrangements that you want to keep out all the time, no good.  They are probably a good idea for weddings though since they stay pretty and glossy for about 1 month.

Have you had any products that you thought were awesome to only turn out terrible?

Project Housewife Out!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Foodie Friday

It Friday...and I am resisting typing the song that is in my head right now...its hard but I will succeed!!!! Today I am off, yesterday was the last day at the old job and Monday is the first day at the new job so my husband and I took the day off to just be together and have fun...Gurr du Sol dinner tonight, I am so excited!! I thought long and hard about what to share with you today, I wrestled with it really. Most of the posts have been sweets but honestly I dont make many sweets, I make a lot of chicken and Joe grills a lot, but I wasnt in the mood to share anything boring like chicken (ok chicken can be oh so delicious but if you have been eating it for 2 weeks straight it gets boring) so I decided that since we are firing up our new grill this weekend for fajitas I wanted to share my guacamole recipe with you. Not to brag or anything but I have the best guacamole recipe ever...just ask my brother there are no survivors when he is done with it! Now I will take 100% credit for this because I came up with it (which I have to say is unusal because I suck at making recipes) and now I am going to share it with you. The picture, however, is not mine because I havent made this yet for the weekend (gross leftover guac how nasty is that when it turns brown, I know your with me on that one).


Best Ever Guacamole


Servings: 10     Prep Time: 5min     Cook Time: 0min     Difficulty: Easy


 Ingredients
  • 3 large ripe avocados
  • container of pico de gallo 
  • garlic salt to taste (probably about 1tbsp to start)
  • 1 1/2 tsp lime juice

 Directions

Cut avocadoes in 1/2 and remove the insides, removing the seed. Discards the shell and the seeds.

Place all the insides of the avocadoes in a medium sized bowl and start smashing. Once the insides are are rather smooth consistancy (with chunks is ok but get all the big chunks out) add the container of pico (or as much as you want but with 3 avocadoes I usually use the whole thing and possible a little bit of another container), lime juice and garlic salt.
Mix well. Serve with tortilla chips
Note
I like my guac with a little more garlic flavor so I just keep adding until its the flavor that I want. The lime juice is to keep the avocadoes from turning brown so if you feel like you need to add more or less then go for it, it doesnt really add to much flavor.

  
So easy, so tasty and a guarenteed crowd pleaser! I hope you enjoy it as much as I am going to this weekend yay!!
Project Housewife Out!

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Its Thankful Thursday and I have something big to be thankful for...today is my last day at my old job and I am thankful for this because it means its time to turn to a new chapter in my life with a new company and a new job.  Its time for reflection on what I have learned here (the good and the bad) and what I can take to my new job.  Im sure you all have started new careers in your lifetime and you can understand its not easy, but sometimes the things that are the hardest are the best for you.  I know this was a hard decision to make, leaving my current hotel home but I am thankful that I did so that I can move onward and upward. 

This is a thankful post but also an in memorandum of the hotel I am leaving behind.  Its pretty right :)

If you are ever in the Woodlands stop by Hyatt at Market Street and have a drink in the bar and remember what you are thankful for.  I wish you all a happy thursday and while I enjoy my last day I hope you just enjoy your day and remember what you are thankful for, it will help you get through the day.

Yay for new beginnings!!  Happy Thursday and I hope you are ready for Foodie Friday I am searching for the perfect recipe for tomorrow!!

Oh and will SOMEONE PLEASE tell me what is the obsession with Nutella?!  Everywhere I look on Pinterest and the blog-osphere there are a million and one nutella recipes...YUCK if you ask me but someone needs to explain this to me!

And because a Thursday is not a Thursday here is a pic of my pretty puppy that my brother took last year while we were camping, great shot of him right!

Project Housewife Out!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Soaking up the Sun

This week has been an interesting week what with getting ready to leave my current job as well as getting up a whole 2 hours earlier than I normally do I have had no motivation to try any new crafts/projects this week.  I didnt want to leave you empty handed today though, so I wanted to share with you our backyard transformation.  I am sad to say however the grass is no longer as green due to the horrible drought we had this past summer but hopefully come this spring we can nurse it back to life.  Below is pretty much what we enjoy today.  The only addition we have is the awesome umbrella we got from Pier 1 last year...its really amazing very Moroccan looking.  They dont have it this year but let me just tell you I didnt want to tell anyone where I got it so I could have the only one, horrible yes, but hey I have the best umbrella in the neighborhood so thats what I wanted!


Wow look at all that dirt!  So our backyard was just grass and my husband was dying to do a make over to it so he drew up a great sketch and we went from there.  What we did was outline the area of the yard we wanted to dig up with stakes and sting.  Joe spent 3 days digging up all the grass in between the fence and the stakes (he took a week off of work so its ok he wanted to do it lol). 

For a while we had that brick as an extension of the patio (if we added concrete we would void the warranty on the slab and i didnt want to do that) to help with the rain run-off from the roof since we dont have gutters in the backyard.
 When Joe was digging he dug down about 1inch to lay the bricks.  The bricks are to hold the tarp lining in place which helps weeds from growing and also keeps the grass from growing back over the stone we are laying.  This is actually a pretty important step because it keeps you path clear.  Our path has been down for a year and we only have a slight problem with weeds, but no problem with the grass.  Using the tarp as a bottom layer is also important to minimize the weeds that come through.  You can see Oreo was a big help for Joe :)
 After all the tarp was down Joe started laying the mulch and grushed ganite.  I didnt want to do concrete I liked the look of crushed granite better.  This took a while because he had to bring wheel barrows full of the granite and mulch from the driveway where it was dumped to the backyard.  Long process I tell you.
 You can see from this picture that we actually seperated the path into 2 parts, one part is for plants and thats where the mulch is going the other part is for the walkway, both of which are lined with brick for the reasons mentioned above.  We bought the black mulch which is more expensive but after 1 year is still black.  The regular mulch turns an ugly color after about 3 months so the black mulch was definately worth the money.
After all the crushed granite is down the fun* (*not fun) part begins!  Laying flagstone is like putting together a puzzle.  You have to fit all the pieces together to make a perfect match.  Sometimes you have to break the stone (which is pretty easy this stuff is pretty fragile) to make it fit but take your time, lay it on the grass first and move it to the crushed granite when you know you have what you want.  Spacing is important, you want to find the right balance for the look you are going for.  I wanted my pieces pretty close together so thats what Joe did but if you like big gaps then you wont need as much stone, and if you want your pieces right on top of each other then you will probably need a lot more, just depends on what you are going for. 

So like I said this took the longest because puzzles are never easy and he had to bring 2 tons of the flagstone from the driveway to the backyard.  I think this took him 3 days to get it all laid out like he wanted, but it looks pretty good right :)  You cant tell from any of these pictures, but this stone has a metallic sheen to it which I love and was the main reason I picked it.  I love looking down and seeing the shine in the stone, so pretty.
 After the puzzle was done another layer of crushed granite goes on top to seal all the cracks.  At first the stones are pretty loose and move around a little but the longer it sits the more the granite becomes like concrete holding everything in place.  It has taken about 1 year for everything to settle and not have stray pieces of granite all around but Im sure it wouldnt have taken as long if I had swept but I hate sweeping so I just decided to wait it out.


 You do need to sweep here so you can make sure all the cracks are filled and you arent missing any spaces.  You will need to do this probably 2 or 3 times just to make sure you have a good filling.

Im such a big help I know, reading my kindle while my husband slaves, but hey I brought him 2 beers!  Im a good wife, I know when to stay out of the way!
 Oreo loves out backyard, sun-bathing on the weekends is one of his favorite things.
 With some added decor and plants the backyard turned into our little oasis.  I love sitting out here and just enjoying the day, its so peaceful in our neighborhood its great to relax here.
 Some great patio furniture from Target and a not so great firepit from Wal-Mart (seriously this thing started rusting after 2 weeks, piece of crap) we were ready to go! 
 Now I cant lie I do want to make changes and the main change is that I want to make an outdoor grill/brick oven in the back where the grill is now.  I think we may work on that this spring as we just bought a new stainless steel grill.  Other small changes are I want to add a trellis for some shade and 2 lounge chairs for sunning but the bulk of the work was done last year and we could not be more happy about how it turned out.

Do you have an awesome backyard that you love?  Did you do it yourself or did you hire someone, share!

Project Housewife Out!