How to: Paint Your Farmer’s Porch

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When I started this year’s summer break, I had a lot of grand plans – the grandest, to paint our farmer’s porch (a project I abandoned last year.) As you can see in the picture below, the floor of the deck was somewhere between teal and green (and chipping where it hadn’t been totally replaced and not painted over). The ceiling was close to the same. I knew this would be a biggie, but with all the “free time” I had this summer, I knew I wanted to get it done.

For you first time DIYers out there… this is not a project for the faint of heart. I significantly underestimated how much work it would be, but it was so rewarding at the end!

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Read more to learn how to successfully paint your porch – even first time painters like me.

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Starter Perennial Garden

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Growing up, I was surrounded by gardens. Vegetable gardens at both my home and at my grandmother’s, and a big yard with perennial gardens everywhere. There weren’t any kids in my neighborhood, so when I was in elementary school, I spent my afternoons in my next door neighbors’ front yard, picking weeds and planting flowers and snacking on American cheese.

This past year has been my first opportunity as an adult to actually plant my own garden. Having a garden – a real one, not a New York City balcony herb garden and some succulents in my window – has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. Now, after countless Martha Stewart magazines, a few coffee table books, and endless pins, I have a yard with ample space for florals and veggies. Hence including the goal to start and maintain a perennial garden on this year’s summer checklist!

Last year, I planted a few hostas, some daffodils, and a hydrangea – and then basically walked away, because school took over my entire life. This year, I took on the gardening task early.

I started a greenhouse and grew some annuals and perennials from seed – nasturiums, morning glory, geraniums, marigolds (with some very old seeds), and a few other flowers I picked up at the store.

Then I got to work.

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See those grasses in the back of this dirt patch? This WHOLE DIRT PATCH was full of those grasses, and Mike and I got to work digging up those messy grasses and creating a clean slate for an entryway garden.

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Summer Checklist 2018

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Super great news – my first year at my doctorate program is over! While we only had about one month off last summer, we were blessed with 10 days off between the spring semester and the summer session, and we’ll get TWO WHOLE MONTHS off this coming summer.

With wedding planning in full swing and a bunch of projects on my list, the timing couldn’t be better. If you remember, I made a summer checklist last year and managed to finish most of it – but not all. Here’s what I hope to accomplish with my time off this summer:

1. Wedding Lawn Games DIY
This is a biggie. Our wedding is in October, in a huge field behind a gorgeous barn, and the entire setup was designed to accommodate lawn games galore for our guests to enjoy until twilight hits. On the list? Mr. & Mrs. Cornhole, Ring Toss for the kids, Giant Jenga. Stay tuned.

2. Finish our Farmer’s Porch
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Last year, I started painting our farmer’s porch with a haight-style blue on the ceiling, and my grand plans were going just fine until Mike proposed (not a bad distraction!) With a half-painted ceiling and a still-chipping floor, it’s fair to say that NO progress has been made in the last 6 months on this project, especially with summer weather hitting so late here in RI.

Goal for this project – July 4th.

3. Start and Maintain a Perennial Garden
I have always wanted to keep a flower garden, and this was never possible in NYC with my minimal apartment space and non-existent yard. I dug out a small garden last year and planted some hosta and hydrangea, just to test and see if the soil would keep for flowers this year.

IT DID!

This year, I planted a ton of different perennials, and I can’t wait until they bloom – IF they bloom! I’m so excited to share the progress I’ve made with my lillies, roses, and other plants this summer.

4. Refurbish a Found Park Bench
At the start of the summer, our neighborhood associated voted to replace the benches along our walking path. However, the bench at the end of our street, though rusted and a bit worn, was in perfectly good working condition. Mike, our neighbors, and I have taken this bench under our care and have decided to refurbish it to enjoy in our own yard.

It’s going to be beautiful – black metal supports with an early American oak style for the wood slats. We’d love to have this one done by the 4th as well to accommodate our guests for the fireworks.

5. Read 2-3 Books for Pleasure
During the school year, I resent reading a bit. Articles upon articles loaded with statistics and scientific writing have made me lose a bit of my luster for a good book. This summer, there are a few books I’d love to read – in particular, the new Gillian Flynn book that they’re making into the HBO Show, Sharp Objects. Beach reads a-go-go!

6. Master the At-Home Workout Routine
Now that I’m teaching spin classes 4 times a week at a local studio, I barely have time to enjoy the other workouts I love during the school year, like running and TRX. With the wedding coming up I’m feeling the heat when it comes to “bride body,” and I’m hoping this free summer will give me the opportunity to enjoy more of the workouts I love. We also just purchased a new paddleboard, which I’m excited to learn how to use and get some of that core strength I’ve always been lacking!

7. Eat More Protein
Along those same lines, Mike has been totally revamping his diet and has seen a ton of success losing weight and recomposing his figure. I hope to do the same in the coming months before the wedding, and beyond – especially since I’ve just found out I have Celiac Disease (more on that later). Protein has always been a struggle for me, but we’ve found a few ways to inject more protein into every meal that I’m excited to share.

8. Get Organized!
The forever task. There’s SO MUCH STUFF in our house, and the collection keeps on growing. A MAJOR task that we started this winter that I’m hoping to finish is our basement. When I say that it’s literally a pile of tools, surfboards, boat accessories and garden supplies, I’m not exaggerating. Things keep piling up, and there’s a lot of potential with the space. A big goal for Mike this summer is to make that space functional for us to take on more DIY projects – like the homemade bar cart he’s hoping to construct in the fall.

9. Find 3 New Go-To Recipes
A goal I always like to set myself each season is to find go-to recipes that are easy to put together for either me or Mike that we both actually like, that’s healthy and clean, and now that I’ve got this new dietary condition, that’s gluten free. I’ve always eaten gluten free because the diet makes me feel better – even my mood! – but now that it’s more medically necessary, I’m looking at this change as an opportunity to really refine my skills in the kitchen.

10. Redecorate our Bedroom
Last but not least – the bedroom. We recently built our own platform bed from scratch and it really upgraded the look of the room. Between that and the dresser I repurposed to be more “nautical” last year, the room is coming together. It’s a weirdly shaped space, and a lot of it is empty now that we’ve also removed a set of twin bunk beds that used to live there. My mission – make our room a cozy hangout spot for us and Reese Witherspoon the dog to rest in.

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DIY Platform Bed with Storage

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How many times have you woken up in the middle of the night, displaced from your comfortable bed “zone” by your significant other and your dog (or kids, for all the moms out there!)? Chances are, probably a lot. And, chances are, you’ve probably come to this conclusion one time or another – WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BED.

That decision was made in our house in early March, when Mike and I started shopping for mattresses (aka polling all of our friends, family, coworkers, waiters, etc). We finally decided to buy our brand new (King!) mattress from Nectar, which came highly recommended from a former coworker of mine and comes with a ONE YEAR Warranty, which seems like a totally reasonable amount of time to evaluate how much we liked the mattress.

With a new king mattress and a full/queen frame, it was clear we also needed to invest in a new bed. I browsed online for hours and found a million links to beds that I liked a little bit, but nothing truly caught my eye that would match our wall-to-wall carpet and go well with this dresser I upcycled last summer.

That’s when Mike suggested we BUILD our new bed – a more cost-effective option that gave us the flexibility to decide on features and colors, and also gave us a project that we could work on together.

First things first – it should be noted that building a DIY bed is not that much cheaper than buying a bed, particularly if you don’t have all of the necessary tools. That said, this bed has all of the features we want (read: storage) that we may not have found in the same price range from a furniture store.

The Plan
Mike found this great pattern on the Lowes blog in his great internet sweep for DIY beds.
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Halloween – Creepy Home Decor for that Scary Time of Year

There’s something about October that just sparks a little life into the fall season. The weather gets chillier, the coats come out, and everything gets just a little spooky.

It’s also sort of a divisive season. There are Halloween people, and there are not-Halloween people; costume people and the people that hide out to avoid the dress-up madness; the people who hoard their candy all year and the people who gorge that same night.

I am the ultimate Halloween person. Costumes make me so happy and the spooky decorations always crack me up. This year, instead of a small, shared apartment, I have an actual house to decorate! It’s the best. And now I get to share this deco with you!

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This year’s Halloween Centerpiece was inspired by a bouquet of roses that Mike had gotten me for our anniversary in August. Normally, the roses last about 2 weeks before they really start to wilt and harden – and that’s when I start drying them out to jar and preserve them. (Read more about my Jarred Roses here.)

That two weeks puts us mid-September, and two weeks more of drying out brings us to the month of Halloween! I decided it might be a good idea to make them the center of this year’s centerpiece before I jarred them up this time…. and the rest of the display comes from the Target dollar section – aka my favorite store. I think the flowers are just really perfect!

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Behind the centerpiece, hanging over our window, is this Bloody Weapons Garland I found on Amazon that absolutely cracks me up. It’s metallic, and really noticeable from the street, which I also love since our street has high walking traffic. Buy the garland here. 

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Last but not least, Halloween Door Decor. Last year around Halloween I had only been dating Mike for a couple of months. Probably against my better judgement, I bought this Rottingham’s “Dead and Breakfast” sign and decorated his doorway with it along with some cobwebs as a surprise. (I also dressed in a unicorn costume to hand out candy, right down to the blue wig and the rainbow tail, which I don’t regret for one minute. Mike is in the “not a costume guy” group, which makes this more entertaining for the reader.)

The sign had to make an appearance again this year for that reason. However, I cannot stand those cobwebs. They’re annoying to put up, they’re annoying to take down, and they don’t ever seem to stay! That’s why I opted for black creepy cloth this year, and this fun “keep out” tape – also from the Target dollar section!

Halloween has always gotten me so excited. The decorations, the desserts, and the costumes are just so fun. and there’s so much opportunity to tap your creative genius!

Stay tuned in the next few days for two new posts… a Halloween treat for the whole family, and some of my favorite costumes from over the years.

How are you decorating this Halloween? I’d love to see how you’ve done up your home!

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