How to Build a Path Of YOUR DREAMS

I wanted to title this “How to Easily Build the Path of Your Dreams” but I didn’t want to lie with the word “easily”. There really is nothing easy about building a path unless you hire people and watch them do the work. We have now created three paths in our backyard one was easier to build than the others and one is my favorite hands down….I’ll reveal which is which ON MY DEATHBED!!! JK at the bottom of the post I will. Here are the two types of paths we created.

The hardest part with creating a path is getting rid of the grass! (sod) Unless you rent a tiller it’s pretty tedious. I never rented a tiller because we didn’t have a plan for each space and didn’t want open dirt sitting for weeks while we decided. Looking back that was a really dumb reason to not get the tiller. I will never remove sod with a shovel again after doing it three times – because it takes three times for me to learn.

The first path isn’t edged with anything which is fine when nothing needs to be contained. To see how we did that check out my old blog post on it HERE. I think total we spent around $80 on this one. My landscaper friend told me they would’ve charged around $1200 to make it so we saved over a thousand dollars! Worth every back ache. Now onto the second path we created.

This area was tricky for me because I couldn’t visualize what I wanted. I knew I didn’t want to copy the other path – I wanted it to be a little different but pea gravel is expensive and I didn’t want to spend a ton. I ended up spending ON tons! I folded and got 3 tons of pea gravel delivered for $170. Gravel is so much easier!! First I removed the sod. Again I don’t recommend doing this manually – rent the tiller! In fact at this point I should’ve BOUGHT one! Here’s a little time lapse of me removing the sod to remind you to never do it manually… and check out that screen grab! Hellllloooo Marianne!

After the grass and roots were removed I laid down weed blocking fabric and dug the edge. I found wood in my backyard from the former owners and used that to line the path.

I don’t know how long this wood will last but it looks cute for now? After that I placed stepping stones onto the black weed blocking fabric and Robbie loaded the pea gravel onto the path. This was 6 wheelbarrows worth of pea gravel and we still have a huge pile left in the driveway!

OK! Slight update – this path (Above) wasn’t looking right to us and we stared at it and stared at it and realized the stepping stones weren’t working. We took them out and liked it much more.

We decided we want tall skinny junipers lining it so it will feel like an enclosed, cool hallway when they’re grown. On the hunt for some healthy ones now! I will post pics as soon as they’re planted.

As for which is my favorite? The first one. I love the variation of the stones and contrast between them and the darker dirt. I bought pretty moss and ground cover so once that’s established and filled in I won’t worry about weeds. For now I have been using white vinegar in a spray bottle to kill the weeds. Spray them generously and let them cook in the sun. They’re gone in 24 hours. It’s cheap and you won’t worry about harsh chemicals ruining bugs or other plants.

How to Build Custom Picture Frames WITH NO POWER TOOLS!

I’ve been so excited to hang this cute print I got from illustrator/artist Jessica Love. It’s a moment from one of our favorite children’s books “Julian is a Mermaid”. If you haven’t read it to your child you’re missing ouuuuut! Pick up a copy here

Once we got our print we realized it would be tricky to find a frame from the usual stores as it’s a unique size. Getting a print custom made can run you $150-$200 with a coupon so Robbie is going to share his method for making a custom frame for under $20 with no power tools. This can be done in a small apartment with minimal mess and supplies! Here’s the quick video showing the process and below are links to the stuff we used as well as how to figure out how to measure the frame before cutting it.

You really don’t need a lot to make a frame especially “Robbie’s way” which uses a self-made box to hold the frame in place while the glue dries. I suppose you could staple instead of this method but this prevents the glue from coming undone so you don’t have to rely on any other staples or methods to keep them together. And remember – once you have these things you can make tons of frames! The wood we used for the frames was in the hardwood section at any hardware store. We chose poplar because it was so affordable but get whatever looks good for you! The backing was out of project board but as Robbie said in the video you can use foam core or poster board. Anything to make it straight. We have a blog coming soon explaining how to properly measure your print so you know where to cut the wood for the frame. Soon….soon……SOOOOOON!!!

Titebond Glue:

Spray Adhesive:

Ratchet Tie down:

Hand Saw:

Mural Madness

It’s so cool that we finally found a starburst clock for our living room and now….I (Marianne here) want to mess with that wall a little more. I’ve been following a few accounts on Instagram where people paint very large, seemingly easy shapes on their walls. They’re so creative and dramatic that I thought I could do that so easily – until I remembered the playroom mural attempt and have been getting cold feet. Here’s the wall with no mural:

I love it but I do feel like that wall needs a little color. I was going to just paint it a dark color as a “statement” wall but I think i want to be a little more creative than that. I may just paint a green sun up there…..but exact color and placement is always tricky. Dahlia helped me paint a mock-sun and I’m moving it around to see where I’d like it

I think I’ll go with the “Sun” on the left as some Instagram friends pointed out the startburst clock is already basically a sun in this “picture” so the green can be a backsplash or a moon? Hmmm…not sure yet. I’ll have to stare at it a little more….What do you think?

Almost A Schmear

Robbie and I can’t wait to build a front porch onto our house. Not only will it be a great place to hang out it will change the look of the house. In the meantime we thought we’d update the look by getting rid of the outdated red bricks in the front. Painting them would be easy but means you have to retouch the paint quite often so we decided to do a German Schmear.

Here’s the house “before”

We mixed up cement and mortar which was schmeered all over the brick. Once Robbie put it on the brick I took a wet sponge and took enough off so you can still see a bit of brick beneath. Here’s where we made A MISTAKE! We didn’t realize the cement was a gray not white and although it all mixed well and went on perfectly it ended up looking like….well….cement. We ended up having to paint a light white wash over it to get the affect we wanted. Live and learn! Here’s a vid of the whole process:

Our Tick Tock Challenge

Yeah…no I’m not on Tic Toc. I tried to learn one of the dances and got frustrated after 4 minutes then bailed. But Robbie and I had a different kind of challenge which was finding the perfect piece for our small living room wall. I love the Syroco birds we found all over Ebay. The placement of them flying up and away mimics a tattoo I have on my back…

Ahhh to be young and have $150….

We really loved the idea of a mid century modern starburst design. We had our eye on one that looked like THIS one that we saw at a vintage mall in Virginia but we were 8 minutes too late. When we asked how much it was we were told a couple snagged it right before us. Dang it! I consoled myself by saying I didn’t really like it even though I DID! And the kicker was they were only asking $60 gahhhhhh!!!

One thing we did realize we wanted though was a clock for that room so a hunt for a MCM starburst clock began. I really wanted to find it at a shop – not online so I purposely didn’t search my favorite sites for it. I had a feeling the clock WOULD FIND ME. Then…..the pandemic of 2020 hit and we were all stuck inside for months. My friend Angela has an eagle eye when it comes to mid century modern treasures and she texted me a link to a bunch of beautiful Robert Shaw starburst clocks on Mercari. Since we weren’t going to be able to go to actual brick and mortar shops to thrift for the foreseeable future I made an allowance and looked at all the great finds online.

HERE’S the one we decided to get. Once it came Robbie noticed it was missing some of the wood dowels. The picture clearly shows that they were missing I just didn’t look very carefully so that was my bad.

Two are missing on the bottom if you look closely!

Robbie figured he could replicate them in his shop with some scrap pieces he had so he got to work!

Hard to tell which is the new one!

Gettin Stoned

One of the reasons we bought this little ranch was because of the giant, blank canvas that is the backyard. It’s maybe 1/4 acre of weeds and spotty patches of grass. We loved it. We knew one of the first things we were going to do was get rid of as much lawn as we could by adding stone paths, walkways, trees and flowers. We also wanted to add a big vegetable garden and possibly a greenhouse but those are last on the list. Today we decided to make a stone path going from our deck to the scary shed.

This is what it looked like when we moved.

I lined the grass around the shed with our cardboard moving boxes then got 3 yards of white stone delivered.

We then created the path with our trusty edging shovel. I debated making it really wide but wisely kept it more narrow because we didn’t know how many rocks we’d be able to collect from around town. You can of course buy beautiful stones that are the exact color and size you want for your path but we have a strict budget of zero dollars so I scoured Facebook Marketplace for free rocks and drove many miles to collect them. My Kia Spectra is a BEAST and I was able to transport a lot of them in her trunk. We were sagging but she got the job done! Next was flipping the sod, shaking the dirt off and putting the grass chunks in the backyard.

After it was flipped and raked we got all the stones in place for the path. This is the most fun part because it’s like creating a puzzle. We were so lucky to have a new landscaper friend give us some additional rocks to complete the path!

Now for the back breaking part. Each thick stone needs to be buried in the dirt so it won’t move around. You take the rock, lift it up, dig a hole the depth of the rock and place it back in. We didn’t use stone dust or sand because they were so thick burying them in dirt would hold them enough. We’re also planning on buying ground cover (We decided to spend some money afterall) and the roots of those would help hold the rocks in place as well.

Here she is for now! Can’t wait to get the pretty little plants for in between the stones and of course to PAINT THAT SHED!! One step at a time I guess…..

Wall Flowers

We have one teeny accent wall in our dining room that houses two former DIY projects: the console table and the mirror we sprayed gold. It’s quickly become the most worked over spot in our house and we’re not done yet! After putting up pink tinsel on this wall for Christmas we decided this space needed something bold and fun all year round.

What better way to do that than to add some colorful wallpaper? There are so many peel and stick options I thought it would be a quick weekend job but like everything it was more involved than picking and sticking. Here are some of the options we considered….

Either stick with the pink and paint the wall rose or get a cool pink design…

The wallpaper samples were about $11 and took about a week to get to me but I have to say they’re life savers. Once you see a sample on the wall it makes a big difference. If it’s big enough you can tell right away if it will work. I have so many samples now I swear I could wallpaper a small bathroom with them. I still couldn’t decide if I like the fern print so Robbie photoshopped some designs onto a picture of that wall. If you know how to do this I HIGHLY SUGGEST YOU DO! It’s the best way to get an idea of what it will look like in the space and it’s FREE!! I spent so much on samples I’ll never do that again.

What a difference once you see it on the walls right? #2 was my favorite hands down until I saw the final product on the walls. I’m now leaning towards the first one because it’s not as dark and the print isn’t as tight. Again – if you can photoshop the options on a picture of your space first – we suggest you do!

We were so excited to get the 4 rolls of wallpaper during the quarantine – there’s no better project than wallpapering a wall when you’re stuck inside. We got our peel and stick wallpaper from She delivered it fast and even helped me with a credit card mistake I made. Check out her great site if this is something you want to do. There are also sooo many options on Home Depot’s website and of course Etsy.

We learned a few things about removable wallpaper that we’ll pass on to you. One is to go left to right and it’s best to measure the width of the panel and draw a LIGHT pencil line to line up the edge with. I say light because we drew ours very dark and surprise! It popped through the paper. You can see the dark pencil line even after we erased it. The paper is A LOT more see-through than we thought. You can even see the pink paint swatch I painted under the white area. Fortunately the pattern is so loud your eye isn’t drawn to the pencil marks – so phew but beware!

The other tip is to pre-tape the paper onto the wall before laying down the sticky side. That way you can match the graphics and make sure it doesn’t start to line differently the farther down you go. We learned that even if it’s off a little it doesn’t show so be as exact as you can but don’t sweat minor off-areas.

We ordered 4 rolls thinking we’d have enough extra to cover the area above the door and we were wrong! We had plenty of paper but none matched the pattern correctly. We didn’t want to order an entire extra roll so Robbie stared at it for about an hour and figured out different pieces that *sort* of worked.

You definitely can’t tell when you look at the wall that there are panels that don’t match but because I like you I’ll show you a close up of his sneaky work!

Here’s the process sped up into a 1 minute video! It actually took about 4 hours not counting the arguments we had about “not communicating” well with each other while taping the panels up. Teeeeheeee!

Time For A Rainbow

A few weeks ago I decided to be bold and paint a huge, beautiful rainbow on the blank wall in the playroom. “It will be easy!” I thought. “What could go wrong?” I asked myself as I scrolled through pictures of rainbow murals on Instagram and Pinterest. Wow. Wrong. It was way more challenging once I started stenciling the different arches of the rainbow. Apparently drawing or painting rainbows requires measuring and math and science. Ok maybe not but it started to feel like it so I scrapped that idea and opted for some crazy free form waves instead. Way more fun and no measuring needed. Robbie and I sketched some waves with pencil and used a magic eraser to get rid of the lines we didn’t like. We definitely magic erased the paint off some spots but we knew we’d paint over it so meh….

Next was color selection! I spent a lot of time at the Sherwin Williams paint swatch wall trading different shades of pinks and yellows out. I knew I didn’t want a traditional “ROY G BIV” rainbow/wave and I didn’t want it to be too little girl bedroom-y. We were really going for natural more adult colors (if that’s a thing).

The final selections
The colors we decided on!

We finally settled on a light pink, a bright yellow, pale green and the darker butterscotch. We put a Disney movie on for our 3 year old and got to work! Ok so we aren’t ENTIRELY done with this room but I’ll show what I have for now….The picture below on the left is the original finished product. It didn’t feel right. I think the brown was so dark next to the white walls it made it look too stark….I added a ton of white to it and lightened that wave. It’s a lot better. And surprise! That curtain was hiding a random, useless door that totally doesn’t need to be there. I’m working on getting lighter curtains….

Here’s the completed wall! I’ll add a picture of the whole room once it’s not a disaster….

Console with Sparkle

We love to go antique shopping and in doing that we often see things we want but can’t afford. In this case we were on the hunt for a console table to sit under our mirror in the dining room. The space is super small so finding the perfect vintage piece that had the exact dimensions we needed was going to be tricky. This Teak, vintage table had the look we wanted but it was just a little too short, a little too deep and a little too orange. Here’s the dream table below….

We loved the lamps on top but the price was out of our league.

We we so close to buying it. I mean…..really, really close. We wanted the lamps on top and the suitcase for storage below but the final price tag was going to be about $1500. Thankfully one of us shook the other out of our vintage haze and we said we’d think about it. After getting home we measured our space again and realized the table wouldn’t fit even if the price was right. I took the measurements we needed and disappeared to my work shop for a few hours to gather materials. I found leftover wood from our vanity and some old pine planking that remained from the subfloor in the house from the 50’s. Back inside I found some epoxy, jars of gold glitter and some oil based stain and got ready for a wild Friday night!

I cut the top to the length we needed and cut all the legs to the height we wanted. I laid the top out and sanded it till I removed all the rough saw marks from the milling. This exposed some big knots and cracks. No worries about that I had a simmer and shiny solution for that.

This is were the subtle sparkle comes in. I masked up the back side of all the cracks and knots. Then laid on layer after layer of glitter and epoxy mix. I mushed as much as I could into the cracks and low sections. Once that had cured I went back to the sanding train. I sanded until I had a perfectly smooth surface then applied one thin layer of golden oak stain. After 2 days of that curing I applied 6 or 7 or maybe 8 coats (I don’t know I lost track) of semi gloss clear.

The legs were the next step. We wanted this to sit a little higher then most other console tables that we saw. To make them I cut left over 1″ by 2″ common pine boards from our bathroom vanity build too length. To make them wide enough that I could have a classic tapered mid century style leg, I glued up two boards together to make a 2″ by 2″ leg. After the glue had cured I marked the taper and cut and sanded them. Next step was to add a notch in the leg to attach to the skirt.

For the skirt I mitered all the corners and matched them to the top. I used these little corner blocks to hold everything together with the ratchet strap while the glue cures. I have used these blocks for all kinds of projects and I made them for scraps and cut offs.

After final assembly I glued and screwed the top on. I presented the final piece to Marianne on our 5th wedding anniversary. She got me a coffee mug.

Looks pretty at the holidays!!

Changing Our Vanity From Blah to Boho

Robbie here!! This is the vanity we had in our en suite when we moved in. It looks okay but it’s harboring some stinky mold and falling apart so we had to replace it.

We had to remove the old one, clean the mold off the walls and replace it with something that’s a little more our style. Vanities at the big box stores didn’t seem to have the look we wanted. They were cheaply made and too expensive so after some deliberation I decided to make our own.

I took measurements of the old unit and ripped all the old water damaged garbage out of there.

We went down to the studs as the dry wall was bad too. We then proceded to scrub down the studs and everything around with bleach, mold inhibitor and fungicide. After going over it all twice we sealed it up with oil based paint and then a coat of Kilz primer.

Two coats of the paint to seal everything and replacing the drywall put our minds at ease.

2″x1″ and 3″x1″ common boards

It was then time for our weekly trip to Home Depot. Using the measurements we took from the old unit we purchased some white pine common boards, a 4’x8’x3/8″ sheet of sanded plywood and, a sheet 4’x8’x1/4″ birch plywood

Pre glue mock up

From there it was a “simple” task of figuring out how each piece would join the other so the outside dimensions were correct. I decided to use miter cuts and rabbit joints, this would mean we would have no screws or fasteners showing.

Once I had the main structure glued up and grooves routed for the back I turned my attention to adding that little splash of magic to our custom vanity by including a custom inlay! I have years of experience doing reproduction and inlay work on instruments so creating a custom design on our vanity was a nice change.

Using Walnut and maple veneer I traced out my butterfly shapes and then cut them out with a jewelers saw. The antennae are made from left over copper wire from redoing our laundry room ( more on that later).

After one coat of Puritan Pine stain from Minwax , I laid on three coats of oil modified clear to prevent future water damage. The next step was making drawers and doors. One thing that has always bothered me was that the top two drawers on every vanity are dummies to leave room for the sink. Looking at our sink and measuring it up I saw no reason for doing this. We wanted all our drawers to function.

I cleaned up the salvaged hardware from our old vanity and added a lick of fresh paint. I only had to buy two more sliders to make our new vanity work which is great! It’s always a win when I can reuse or repurpose things.

I definitely lacked some of the necessary tools to do this part of the build so I improvised with ratchet straps from Harbor Freight. They worked great with four blocks on each corner to keep things square. The drawer faces I made the same way I made the vanity frame, miter cuts and biscuits. Each face was made with the birch plywood laid into a routed channel. The faces will then be glued on and held in place with our selected hardware.

We needed the sink to get ready in the mornings so the drawers came a little at a time.

I wanted to make a special drawer for Marianne and her hair stuff. It was a pain not to have a place for her hair dryer and iron. She told me when she was a kid the extra sink in the double vanity was used to hold the hair dryer so I had a little surprise for her.

I started with a really deep drawer and framed half the drawer out. This would be the section to hold these bulky items. I cut a hole the size of her dryer and iron and used aluminum lined PVC pipe to holster the items.

I left room for and future items that may turn up.

With all the drawers and hardware in place I have to say I’m very happy with the way it all turned out. I think it embodies our style and adds a little bit of that “boho” sparkle that others were lacking.