Archive for October, 2008

Fall flowers on the front deck!

Last time I showed you my sad-looking front planters (the day I mulched the garden). A week later, they looked even more pathetic, as the summer petunias had almost completely died out. It was time to put some color on the front deck! The first order of the day was to pull out all of the dying plants, making sure I got all the roots. The pot on the right-hand side in this picture is quite deep (about 16″), so I intended to leave some of the original dirt on the bottom third, adding new soil to the top and mixing it with the old before adding plants. The day I did our grocery shopping, organic potting soil was on sale at two 10-pound bags for $5, so I grabbed two bags. Wal-Mart had a good selection of fall annuals on sale (I started rather late, so many of the annuals were half off).

Here’s a picture of the plants I got, along with the two bags of soil:

The fiery orange flowers at the back are snapdragons (a favorite with my children). The deep fuschia flowers did not retain their little identifying tags, and I am not sure what they are, unfortunately! They look like miniature asters. The two pots at the front contained a mixture of trailing plants and one tall, spikey flower that I also cannot identify. Anyone who knows what I have, post a comment! I love to learn!

Here’s a closer shot of the snapdragons and the deep fuschia flowers. I love these!

Here are two of the pots cleaned out and ready for new soil. You can see that one pot is a wire basket with a liner. It used to be a hanging basket, but I don’t have anywhere to hang it. I was tickled when I found two black iron stands for these pots in the clearance aisle at Wal-Mart for $3:

Here are the pots with the new soil mixed in. Rich!

I placed the deep fuschia flowers in the center of each iron basket , then surrounded the edges of the basket with the snapdragons. In this photo, you see the plants still in their plastic containers. I did this just to see how many flowers would fit comfortably. I had some snapdragons left over, so I planted them in my front rose garden. I’ve discovered that snapdragons are actually perennials in my region of the South because of our long growing season. At my old house, they came back yearly, bigger and brighter every year. I can’t wait to see what they do here!

I placed the mixture of flowers into the larger pot all together. They’d have more room for their roots and could stretch out a bit. Here are the two pots finished and full of beautiful fall flowers:

And here are all four of the pots next to the front door. Cheerful!

It’s amazing what a little bit of foliage can do. These should last us through November and even early December, depending on how cold it gets. Then we’ll have a month when everything just dies or goes dormant, and I’ll be back at it again in February when the pansies are out and the daffodils are thinking about popping up. I love a long growing season!

Quick bathroom floor re-do

One Friday afternoon with the house freshly cleaned and the children watching a movie, I decided to tackle their bathroom floor. It had the same white linoleum that was in the kitchen, and with lots of muddy feet and little bodies, this floor was never clean for long! I had plenty of tile left over from the kitchen floor re-do, since I never ended up tiling into the large utility closet. I’m glad now that I didn’t, since reflooring the bathroom was a much better investment of the tile and the time! At left you see the bathroom before. I’ve removed the floor vent cover, and the linoleum has been mopped and stripped to remove any waxing remnants. You can see the vinyl sticky tiles waiting for me.

I debated on where to start tiling in this room, since it is so small. It seemed silly to mark the exact center and begin from there, so I chose instead to start behind the door (the lower right-hand corner in the photo above). This proved to be a very good choice, as I ended up not having to cut so many tiles to get around the air vent hole.

Here you see the first tile with a notch cut out to go around the corner where the door’s threshhold met the hallway’s carpet. As in the kitchen, I laid the tile down, fitting carefully, then used an old rolling pin to firmly adhere the sticky backing to the floor. I followed up with the second tile, making sure its left edge matched exactly to the first tile and its upper edge butted up against the hallway carpet. Below are the first two tiles in place. See how the second tile comes exactly to the edge of the air vent? I was so happy about that little bit of serendipity. (I confess I didn’t measure–I just eyeballed it and guessed; I’d recommend measuring if you’re having a first go at this sticky tile thing! Measuring in the large kitchen saved us a lot of grief.)

The first two tiles

The first two tiles

With these tiles in place, I quickly moved on, since I could just place all the tiles along the left-hand wall and match another row next to them before I had to cut around either the vent hole or the toilet. Cutting around the vent hole wasn’t very hard, since I only had to cut two tiles, and both of those tiles went up against the bath cabinet. The only tricky tile was the one that had to go around the door jamb (which you can see in the upper right-hand corner of the photo above). But after all my practice in the kitchen, I just sailed on through with my handy-dandy utility scissors.

The part of the bathroom floor re-do that took the longest was going around the toilet. Here you see the last bit of tiling yet to be done (and the tiling that required all the cutting for a perfect fit):

I should have been a good girl and made pattern pieces out of cardboard or paper for the curved base of the toilet, but I was in a hurry and just eyeballed and hand-cut a tile to go around the front of the toilet. I was tickled pink when it was a perfect fit and prematurely patted myself on the back:

I figured that, having eyeballed the first tile so easily, it would also be a piece of cake to eyeball the final tile, but the final one included not only the curved back edge of the toilet but the metal pipe running into the floor and the metal ring around it:

I sailed blithely into cutting the last tile anyway, doing my best to accommodate the little curve at the corner. That proved a bit more difficult than I’d initially thought. When I laid the tile down for a test, I saw that I’d cut too little away from the corner where the small ring sits and too much away from the curve to go around the toilet. Blah. I didn’t want to waste an entire tile, so instead of cutting a new one, I just picked up the scrap that came from cutting out the larger curve and cut a piece from it to fill in the half-moon area of linoleum that still showed. When I stepped back a couple of feet, I couldn’t even see the “patch,” and I was delighted to have the entire bathroom floor redone in under 45 minutes! The new floor is very nice to look at and much easier to keep clean. Total cost for this redo (at 44 cents per sticky tile)? $11! Can’t be beat. Well worth the elbow grease! Next bathroom project: painting over the vinyl wallboard’s “wallpaper” to give the bathroom a more updated look. Hurrah!

All's well that ends well!

All finished and looking good!


About the Queen…

Amanda Livenwell is the pen name of a stay-at-home mom who shares the adventure of living large on one income in, yes, a double-wide trailer! Join our family as we say goodbye to suburbia, trim down, and start saving to build our own home. We're going to talk about doing it yourself, living beautifully on less, making do or doing without, and counting it all joy in the process. We'll cover prep-work and painting, refacing kitchen cabinets, flooring on the cheap, tiling over laminate, upholstering furniture, and just rolling up our sleeves in general. If you love home improvement, this is the place for you. Let's get cracking!

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What Inspires Me Most!

"She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness." ~ Proverbs 31:13, 17-19, 27

"Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings;he will not stand before unknown men." ~ Proverbs 22:29

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