Update: Congratulations to Liliana on winning the Lowe’s $50 & Change giveaway! Please check your email . Thank you to everyone who entered!
It’s funny how sometimes time seems to fly by so very quickly. Or how some days it seems to stand absolutely still. I suppose it’s all how you’re feeling at that moment. There are days when I feel like this pregnancy is zooming past and I can’t believe we are six months along, and then there are the ‘other’ days when I can’t believe I have at least 100 days to go. But, as far as a belly bump update, it’s safe to say I’ve officially popped and it’s no big secret any longer. Especially to the grocery checkout girl (that’s when you know…).
The ‘pop’ happened overnight. The belly went from the ‘wow she’s getting a little round in the middle’ to ‘oh, she’s pregnant!’ a few weeks ago. Maybe just before this big reveal. I figured I owe you a belly bump shot, but since I’m not so keen on photos these days I rarely slip in front of the camera (I’m also growing the typical tree trunk thighs to support said belly). But! With such a beautiful, sunny, happy weekend, Liv and I were feeling photo optimistic and we took a couple of profile shots just after the Farmer’s Market on Sunday. (Poor second babe, I think I documented every month of Liv’s pregnancy). Liv is still sure there’s a little baby growing in her belly too…
Now on to today’s home update!
We are very excited to once again be partnering with Lowes’ $50 & Change campaign to share what recent $50 update we’ve made around the house. Funny how the everyday fix-it/Saturday morning projects tend to hover around that $50 mark, no? It could be installing crown molding or painting a room or planting a spring veggie garden… but $50 is that magic number!
For $50, we gave our front porch a mini facelift.
It’s been on my to-do for a while but now that the weather is turning in our favor and the sun is shining bright, it was time to add a little welcoming color to the porch of our Spanish casita.
I used my $50 to invest in a new pot, 4 new 1/2 gallon plants (3 red geraniums and 1 purple verbena) and a pretty pillow to add to the mix!
The sticks and basket have been relocated from our dining room – they look much better out here now and bring great height – and the other two pillows across from the new bird pillow had already called our bench home.
This part of the porch (and the lack of any direct sunlight) makes it really hard to grow anything. I’ve killed my fair share of beautiful potted flowers before and was near throwing in the towel, but I’m committed to give these no-sun-needed shade varieties an honest go.
To better my chances, I actually mixed in a few ‘faux’ Ikea plants as well. Can you tell?
Those green foliage hedge-like guys are actually fake! but when mixed in with all of the flowers and real leaves, you couldn’t tell even if you were just five inches away. Now even when all plants are not flowering the pots look full and green.
Here’s a rough before. This is ‘before’ paint trim had been decided (hence the two tone windows) and back when the porch was feeling very lonely for color (and our yard for anything flowery, for that matter).
I love walking up to my front door now!
Lowe’s is generously offering a $50 gift card to a reader who would like to take on the $50 & Change challenge as well! Your next Saturday morning project is on the house. More info on the $50 & Change program (with ideas and inspiration) here and here.
Giveaway: A $50 gift card to Lowe’s!
To Enter: Use the Rafflecopter giveaway entry form to enter once or multiple times.
Giveaway ends Thursday, March 7 at midnight PST, winner will be chosen randomly and announced on the blog. Good luck!
Posted in DIY, Gardening, Giveaway, Home, Our Yard, Renovating Adventures | 34 Comments »
While I’m busy as a bee inside, Kevin has been making some awesome progress in the curb appeal department.
When we bought our home four years ago, it had a nice, clean front yard with a covered porch and a large lawn.
By the time the house sold and we had moved in, the lawn was showing signs of wear and tear in the form of bare patches and browning grass. Rather than reseed, we decided that updating the front of the house would be our first project (maybe we’d earn a few brownie points with our new neighbors?).
Four years later, and this is our Spanish bungalow:
Kevin built a retaining wall that helped to level out a sloping front yard (the left side of the yard was about two feet higher than the bottom of the right – now they’re about even. You can really tell the difference in that our neighbor to the left has an even higher retaining wall while our neighbors on the right need none at all).
We added flagstone over the top of the straight cement pathway to give it a little curvy appeal, then filled in the gaps with a warm goldish tan decomposed granite. (Ignore that red pot there, we moved him off of the porch to grout the tile.)
Eventually the cement porch was tiled over as well, this time with beautiful Spanish saltillo tile.
And these are the real deal! We actually picked these handmade tiles out ourselves in Mexico (it’s only 30 minutes away, after all).
I had a lot of fun picking out and organizing the plant arrangements. My mom was a horticulture master at one point in her life and I loved to watch her draw her bird’s eye diagrams of outside areas. They were full of various sized circles, overlapping and intertwining to create beautiful mock-ups of how a yard would progress and what the result would be.
The basic takeaway I’ve always held on to is the issue of layering and height. Keep those tall bushes and plants towards the back (keeping in mind where they’ll grow to be, not the height you buy them at) and then layer in various middle growths until you reach your ground covering up front. My favorite variations include at least three and often four layers of growth.
Here’s an idea of everything we changed!
Accomplishing the above on a budget was not easy, and the full transformation took several years (I didn’t start blogging until it was well underway, so I have few in-progress or before pictures ).
Our biggest secret included Craigslist and more Craigslist. In fact, we bought very little of the above not on that magical site. We scored 75% of the plants we purchased from a nursery we found on Craigslist that was getting rid of its entire lot, even though it was an hours drive for us it was well worth it. $3 gallon plants! $1 succulents! Yes please. We bought small knowing that these guys would eventually take over. The funny thing is, three years later and the nursery is still there. We still buy $3 gallon grasses from them.
A huge challenge for us in choosing plants was to keep them style appropriate to the house (Mediterranean, Spanish) and to keep them of the drought tolerant variety as we really weren’t looking to spend a ton on water to maintain the yard. San Diego is a dessert (if not a beautiful one) so our choices were limited, hence the massive amount of tall grasses, succulents and plants in the lavender family.
Our lawn was also a Craigslist score. Believe it or not there are plenty of landscape contractors who sell their left over materials – even grass! – online. This was a tricky one because we actually bought each side of grass (left side of path and right side of path) from two different contractors (we couldn’t find enough from one), and even though they were from the same family of grass, they looked horribly different after we unrolled and planted. Thankfully they cross bred (didn’t know that was possible) and today look close to identical. That would have been a tough lesson to learn.
Here’s the right side:
And here’s the left:
The saltillo tile is very authentic Spanish home – and buying it handmade in Mexico means that it literally is authentic in its look and style and it’s much cheaper than anything you can buy north of the border. We brought two huge truck bed loads over before the border patrol assumed we were attempting to resell illegally in the States and told us no more. But using it for your own land is legit, so it was all good .
We received two gifts when redoing our front yard, the first were two amazingly beautiful olive trees from our neighbor who had changed their mind about olives and had dug ‘em up. Olives are very Mediterranean which goes very well with our Spanish bungalow – it was a huge gift!
The second, my favorite yard addition, is a teak bench for the porch from my mom and step dad. It’s such a welcoming addition!
The funny thing about plants is how temperamental they are. Take this little cactus, for example. He’s done okay on this side of the pathway:
But has thrived on this side of the path! Just four feet to the right.
Kevin has the green thumb in this family and he keeps this yard looking ship shape all of the time. But we recently completed a couple of projects in the front and I’ll share those very soon. Now you’re all caught up on our curb appeal makeover!
(Do me a favor and just imagine a sunny sky above – today was a bit blustery in San Diego ).
Posted in Home, Our Yard, Renovating Adventures | 14 Comments »