Grouting the live edge pebble tile backsplash....

Last week I shared the installation of my "live edge pebble tile" backsplash. This week I will continue that little tutorial...specifically the grouting and caulking!

Remove all your spacers and clean off any excess mastic that might have squished out or is on the face of the tile. Run a piece of tape along the counter, slipping it a tad under the tile.

It is important that you NOT get a lot (if any) grout in the space between your counter and the backsplash...again, you will run a small bead of caulk in that space when the grout is dry...caulk is flexible...grout is not. If you barely slip the tape under the tiles, it will pull out any grout that might slip in that gap when you pull up the tape.

Grouting is not hard! Quick tip...in general SANDED grout is for floors with larger grout lines...UNSANDED grout is for backsplashes and small tiles. Here is a good outline of the difference between the two...but as always I would suggest going with the manufacture recommendation for your specific tile or the advice of a PROFESSIONAL (not the kid at Lowes!)

In this case I used sanded grout. Why? Well, because that is what I had on hand and there are some pretty substantial gaps between the pebbles and it is in a wet area. But if you have small, uniform spaces between the backsplash tile or a tile that would scratch easily, I would go with unsanded grout.

Mix your grout the consistency of say, really thick peanut butter.

TIP: A little water goes a long way with grout so add a little water at a time and mix well. I used my shop spatula. I never dump ALL the grout in...save some in case you add too much water...otherwise you will have to go get more grout...trust me, been there, done that. 

Use a grout float to mash the grout between the pebbles/tiles, then wipe off the excess with the float. Make sure you fill the gaps well. I even use my fingers to mash in the grout in hard to reach areas. Again, TRY to avoid getting grout in the gap between the tile and the counter! Fear not...if you get grout in this gap it will pull out when you pull the tape up while the grout is still wet!

After you have filled all the gaps well and removed the excess with your float, use a tile sponge to gently wipe the pebbles/tiles. DO NOT use a plain ole' kitchen sponge...they "shed" and you will get little flecks of sponge in your grout...from experience. Buy a sponge specifically for this purpose.

TIP: I set aside a "gloob" of wet grout just in case I need to go back and fill in little spots here and there...just smash it in the gap, then wipe it with the sponge. 

On your first wipe, your goal is to get rid of the excess grout on the tiles...if you "gouge" the grout between the tiles just smash some more in and wipe.

After all the excess is removed, peal up the tape...it should remove any grout from the gap between the tile and counter. I take a utility knife or toothpick and "flick out" any that is still lurking. Then wipe again with your sponge!

I have found that using a "swirling" motion tends to "buff" the grout and give it a smother, more uniform finish.

Wipe well, let it sit for about 30 minutes, then go back and wipe again...keeping your sponge clean. You will want to do this repeatedly, every 30 minutes or so, until there is no more "grout film" on the pebbles/tile. 

I personally think grouting is one of the things that sets a “professional look” install apart from a “DIY” job…so take your time with this process. You want the grout to be uniform, smooth and even with or just a hair below the edge of the pebbles/tiles. You don’t want it on the face of the tile. Again, it never hurts to go back and add wet grout, then wipe again. Once the grout is dried and set, it’s a little tough to make adjustments…so take your time and do it right!

TIP: Just from past experience...don't rise your sponge in the sink...not saying it WILL clog your sink, just saying. Use a bucket, changing the water often!

After you have finished removing all the excess grout and the pebbles/tiles are sparkling clean, and you are happy with the grout lines, let it dry overnight.

After the grout has dried, put down another fresh line of tape to protect the counters and coat everything with the "impregnator sealer" (if you have natural stone) Brush on, let it dry for about 5 minutes, then wipe with a clean cloth. That will seal both the stones and the grout. Or apply a grout sealer (per the directions) if your tile is ceramic or porcelain. Let that dry well.

Then caulk...here I give you a pretty decent tutorial on caulking! Super important so make sure you do this one final step! 

Again, silicone caulk can be tricky for a novice and really not necessary in this area. I am a pretty proficient caulker, but if you are a novice I would suggest using this tape trick.

CAREFULLY tape both the tile and the counter...only leaving the "gap" exposed.

Apply the caulk, smooth away all the excess with your finger, pull the tape, and then smooth again with a clean, damp finger...you SHOULD get a nice smooth grout line.

I used white grout so I used white caulk. Most grouts have a matching caulk and you want your caulk to match your grout...worth the small investment.

And presto-bingo...a live edge pebble backsplash!

I LOVE it!

I know not everyone will love the "natural" look of a live edge backsplash...so many seem to prefer the structure of a "straight line" application. But as I look around my house I realize I really gravitate to a "natural" and random flow....

The dry stack fireplace tile....

The "randomness" of the tile kitchen backsplash...

Maybe it is all a part of my "go with the flow" attitude! I would like to think that in a world of structure and symmetry we all need a little randomness in our lives!

My son said it looks very "Coloradoish!" BINGO! That is exactly what it kind of reminds me of!

We leave next week for our annual fall trip out west! I finally get to check “a float trip down the Black Canyon" off my bucket list...we have a guided fishing trip scheduled! And then we will do our annual guided trip on the Colorado River with Cutthroat Anglers. This is a trip I look forward to every year!

I'll break out all the fall decor before we leave so I will be ready to kick back and enjoy the fall season when we get home! Hopefully the summer heat will have gone away and I will be able to pack up the shorts and flip flops for the year.

Live edge tile backsplash and a dresser makeover reveal...

In my quest to make changes in my master bath, I FINALLY decided on the a sliced white pebble tile for the shower floor and niches. One decision down...too many more to go!!!

When I first remodeled the master bath, I did a glass tile backsplash on the vanity...I like it, but honestly I am no longer in LOVE with it.

And to be honest, I think the glass tile backsplash craze is running it's course. In other words, it is a fad that is fading...at least in my opinion. Besides, it had brown in it and I am moving away from browns!

Since it is such a tiny bit of tile, I decided to change it up a bit.

AGAIN WITH THE DECISIONS!!!! But I got to thinking...I love live edge wood countertops, coffee tables, benches..."live edge" wood anything is just beautiful! If you don't know what I am talking about, google it!

Why can't I make a "live edge" tile backsplash?

The pebble tile I picked out for the shower floor has a "live edge."

In other words the pebbles are laid on the sheet in such a way that the edges of each section of tile are "natural."

This vendor carries a tile border but it is only 4" tall. You can also remove each individual tile from the netting and place each individually...nah, way to much work for me!

Since I have a small backsplash, I cut each 12x12 sheet of tile in half with a wet saw. I only needed 3 sheets of tile...less than $40!

Then I had to set it on the vanity for a few days to see if I was really going to like it!

LOVE!!!

So here is a tutorial for making a "live edge" tile backsplash...

First, I had to remove the old tile. There are times when the easiest thing to do is to cut the sheetrock along the tile down to the studs and remove the whole kit-and-kaboodle! That was an option, but I decided to remove the tile and scrape the old mastic....

Since that tore up the sheetrock AND the new tile wasn't going to cover the entire section I removed, I had to do some sheetrock repair.

No biggy!

If you decide to cut the sheetrock down to the studs, here is a super simple way to "patch" the section you remove!

I didn't have to do any patching, but the basic rules apply...mud, sand, texture and paint!

Apply a coat of mud, let it dry overnight, then sand. Then another coat, let it dry and sand again. I can not stress the importance of sanding sheetrock mud smooth...FEEL IT! If you can feel it, you are going to see it when you paint it! Sand, feel, sand, feel! I used an 80 grit paper. You are better off sanding too much and having to apply more mud!

This product is one of my favorite little DIY "hacks." Sheetrock texture!

If you have properly sanded, this stuff will blend old with new! Just make sure you shake it WELL and always test spray it before you start spraying your wall. On more than one occasion I have had to wipe off the wall and start over because the texture came out to thick or too thin...so take time to test it before you start spraying it on your wall! The knob adjusts for different "textures." Follow the directions on the can.

Let the texture dry WELL before you paint!

And again, I can not stress the importance of keeping spare paint on hand. Fortunately, I just repainted my bathroom a few months ago so I had fresh paint on hand...

So, on to the fun stuff...tiling!

First, this is a "natural" stone tile (if you don't know if your tile is a "natural stone" vs. ceramic or porcelain tile, ask!) The very first thing you want to do is seal it with an "impregnator sealer." Ask...they have it at most home improvement and tile stores. Super simple to apply...brush it on...let it sit for about 5 minutes, then wipe it with a clean cloth.

I would suggest doing this before you cut it with a wet saw, but definitely before you install it and grout it!!!

Since the top edge of the backsplash is going to be the "live edge" it was important to remove any "netting" from the edge...

The net backing is what is holding all the little pebbles in place so you don't want to get carried away...just trim the netting away from the edge that will be exposed!

I used a utility knife and my little sewing scissors (and I wonder why I can't keep a decent pair of sewing scissors!)

I used a premixed tile mastic. Mastic is for small tiles...thinset for large tiles. Always use the adhesive and trowel recommended by the tile manufacturer. I coated the back of the sheet with mastic using a properly sized trowel. I used a small craft brush to apply mastic to the edge pebbles...it is okay for the mastic to "squish out" between the pebbles a tad, but you don't want it squishing out on the edge pebbles...I kept Q-tips on hand "just in case." Just make sure you get enough mastic on the back of the edge pebbles for good adhesion. 

TIP! Never set a tile backsplash directly onto the countertop...always use spacers and then after you grout you will run a small bead of caulk between the backsplash and the top. In this case I wanted a very small space so I used dimes as spacers! Thank goodness we keep a change jar and I was able to fish out a few bucks worth of dimes!

Let the mastic dry over night before grouting! 

Now this is where I tell you to "tune in next week" for grouting instructions. Why? Well because as I mentioned I needed 3 sheets of tile to complete this task and I only had the two I ordered as samples. So now I am waiting on the other sheet to be delivered so I can finish this little project. 

I know...it's annoying to get engrossed in something only to be told "to be continued." But I promise...next week I will share how simple it is to grout, seal and caulk the new tile backsplash.

Until then, I will share something I promised last week I would share!

(The grouting tutorial is up…take a look!)

A DRESSER!

I shared last week that I have been in "dresser mode" recently. I currently have FIVE dressers and chests sitting in my garage ready to roll! 

Last week I took a dresser in and it sold that day! I think it has been in my garage for over 6 months...I just never took the time to work on it.

It wasn't in horrible shape...just a really bad paint job (you could see all the brush strokes) and the hardware was pretty chippy!

I didn't change it up too much...KTSP...kilz, sand, tack and new oil based high gloss white!

The hardware got a little makeover...I primed it with metal primer and sprayed them with high gloss black lacquer.

Again, not a huge change but enough to give it a new life!

Maybe next week I'll share another one...if I can dig them out of the garage!

Well, that and the "to be continued" of the tile saga! 

Old typewriter cart upcycled....

I am in "dresser" mode these days...lots of dressers and chest of drawers being "refinished" but after 5 years, I still can't remember to take good "before and after" pictures! So while I have refinished 4-5 dressers in the last few weeks, I have no good pictures to show for it! CURSES!

My garage is packed with dressers and chests I am working on now so MAYBE I will remember to take pictures when they are done so I can share!

One little project I DID remember to take pictures of is this old metal typewriter table....

I shared here the first little table I refinished. I have found they are perfect for my portable sewing machine. I commented on the first makeover that I wish I had one with a little drawer...low and behold I found one!

It wasn't in bad shape...just a really bad paint job. So I primed it with metal primer, sanded smooth, wiped it with tack cloth and painted it with a few coats of black lacquer....

This little table makes it super simple to store away my sewing machine until I need it...

...then I can just roll it out and set it up anywhere in the house! Just roll it out and put it anywhere...no more scratching my dining room table.

If you find one of these little metal tables that has a bit of a "rust issue" I shared here how to deal with that

I think these old metal tables can be used for many things...a portable sewing table, coffee bar, maybe even a little portable "prep" table for the laundry room, garage or kitchen. Roll it out then tuck it away when you no longer need it!

Simple!

A new bar top and Wayfair light fixture...

As I mentioned here, change is tough for me...which is why these things haven't changed much in 19 years.

I painted the dining room light years ago (antique bronze to black)...as much as I really didn't love the actual fixture, I loved what I could do with it during the holidays....

One year I removed the little shades and I liked that a bit better, but I still wasn't digging the light fixture itself.

Just too ornate and "heavy."

But I could never find one that would allow me to decorate it for the seasons...until I did!

(As you can see, I still have the Drexel buffet...love the piece...just not the color...waiting on "inspiration.")

The install was super simple...here I share how to install a new light fixture!

Not a huge fan of the Edison bulbs, but I think those can easily be changed out...eventually. For now I can live with them knowing that come fall (right around the corner...yea!) and Christmas, I can still decorate the fixture!

I think it is more of a "farmhouse" look but the nickel accents tie in with the more "modern style" brushed nickel bar lights. So it works for me....

Which brings me to the bar top....

...it wasn't totally offensive, but in my quest to go "light and bright" in my kitchen without painting all my kitchen cabinets, I impulsively ordered a white quartz top.

Truth is, I wasn't really loving it after it was installed. Just too "stark" and soooo white! 

I painted the little support corbels the same color as the trim...more "white." (They were originally black but since I didn't damage them when I removed the old top I just primed them and painted them with the trim paint...BM Swiss Coffee.)

This is what we refer to in the design world as "OMGosh what have I done" moments.

I decided what was really bugging me was the dingy old bar stool seats. They had certainly seen their better days. The bar stools are 18 years old and I still love the style dearly...heavy iron and super sturdy...but the "grey tweed" upholstery just didn't cut it any more!

Choosing fabrics is something I really struggle with...but I know I LOVE the fabric I used on this little chair makeover

Light and bright with just a touch of grey! So I ran out and bought enough fabric to recover the bar stool seats. About 1 1/2 yards for four seat cushions. If you don't know how to figure for fabric, take your measurements with you and they will help you figure it...just make sure you add 2" on each side! (Or better yet, just take a seat with you!)

Pay CLOSE attention to the direction of the fabric. This fabric doesn't APPEAR to have a "right or wrong" way, but it does. I put a pin in the top of each piece so I would know which way to lay the fabric on the seats!

Reupholstering chair seats is a super easy DIY project...probably one of the simplest DIY projects one can tackle! And this easy little project is an excellent way to make a pretty dramatic change in any room without breaking the bank or dragging out the sewing machine! There are thousands of great tutorials online...so again, do your research and find one that makes sense to you and use it!

In this case I had no desire to paint the stools...I like the black iron...but if you want to paint a dining chair or stool, do it after you have removed the seats but BEFORE reattach them. Again, super simple project! Use the KSTP method (kilz, sand, tack, paint...here is a pretty good paint tutorial.)

I removed the seat cushions! In this case, 4 little screws! I also scrubbed down the stools...pretty nasty after 18 years of use!

Then it was just a matter of wrapping the seats with the new fabric...I didn't even remove the old fabric or bother with applying a new underside....and reattaching them.

I guess that might be an issue if you are laying on the floor looking up at the underside.

Here I do share a few helpful tips on upholstering...pretty much applies to the simplest project!

While I had the camera out I played around with a few different "centerpieces" for the bar with knick-knacks I had on hand...

But honestly, with mischievous cats who insist on knocking everything off the bar, we are better off leaving it clutter free! Same with the dining table...too many broken vases and scattered flowers!

A few relatively minor decor changes that made a subtle but significant difference! 

Breaking the "rules"....

I don't know if it is an actual "rule" or if it is something I made up in my head.

But who made the "rule" that pots and pans have to be stored in a lower cabinet next to the stove?

For years my pots and pans were in a small lower corner cabinet next to the stove. Total nightmare to dig out a pot or pan....something I use EVERY day!

A few years ago, I installed this nifty pull out for my casserole dishes and mixing bowls and eventually moved the pots and pans to the space to the left...across from the stove. (The crock pots and extra casserole dishes went into the nightmare cabinet!)

Accessing them still required that I move this little stool...

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...and crawl around on the floor to get to them all.

(This is one advantage to having a small kitchen...you can put anything anywhere and still access it in just a few steps!)

When I was shuffling things around in my pantry thinking I MIGHT put a microwave in there I found that I had a bit more room than I thought! Again, I am not cooking for a family any more, so food storage is not as big a deal as it was years ago!

Truth be told, there are food items I rarely use (like my daughter-in-law's gluten free flour and boxes of dry goods) as opposed to the pots and pans I use every single day. So that got me to thinking...WHY do I store things I use daily in an inconvenient place? Is there some kind of "kitchen rule" I would be breaking and risk being fined by the kitchen police? Can I not move the things I use EVERY day to an easier space to access and store the stuff I only use occasionally in their place?

ABSOLUTELY! So I did....

I moved the pots and pans to the pantry...eye level and easy to access. I installed another slide out shelf and use it for boxed and dry goods I only need to access to occasionally.

And you know what...I LOVE it!

I guess if the kitchen police show up to inspect I will have to move it all back. In the meantime I will enjoy being just a tad rebellious.

Keep in mind I have "purged" down to the daily essentials...that is something you need to take into consideration when you feel cramped for space! Do you really use 4 identical casserole dishes...or 3 egg pans...or 2 full size crock pots on a regular basis. If you only need them during the holidays or for family gatherings, consider moving them out of the kitchen. I store my large three crock cooker in my laundry room because I only use it during Thanksgiving...no need for it to take up valuable kitchen real estate year round. 

Think about it...are rarely used items taking up valuable space...are you storing every day items in a space that is "proper" but just doesn't work for you? MOVE IT! 

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Change is tough....

All change...changing a hairstyle (which is why mine hasn't in 15 years!), kid's going off to college (dang near killed me), losing weight (still going slow but steady)...and then the ever dreaded "decor" changes.

That one gets me every time. I don't do big change well. But occasionally something will bug me for so long I finally take that first bite (how do you eat an elephant...one bite at a time!)

I know I need to make a change...it's all the decisions that go into it that get me every time.

Take my master bath for example.

I NEED to make a change...specifically, remove the whirlpool tub that hasn't been used in decades and put in a walk in shower. We need to do that now while we can still walk upstairs to use the other bathroom during the reno. If we wait until we break a hip, we would just have to sit around and smell for a few months. Not a good plan.

And of course if I am going to change out the wall tile, I might as well change the floor tile. Thank goodness I am still happy with my vanity and cabinets (after a recent little modification!

Years ago I replaced my carpeted stairway with hardwood...I did it knowing there would come a day when I would not want (or be able to) drag a vacuum up and down the stairs. As much as I now dislike the color of the wood stain, I am grateful I made the change when I could...because dragging a vacuum up and down the stairs just isn't something I would want to do on a regular basis.

So where do I start. I outlined that process here a few years ago when I changed up my den a bit.

First, I had to find my inspiration. I searched the internet, Pinterest and blogs. The only thing I found that I really like is this....

I love the "river rock" look and I like the "light and bright" of the white tiles. I found some other "inspirations" I like but most have painted cabinets. I MIGHT change my doors to a shaker style and paint the vanity a lighter color...might...maybe...we'll see. But for now I am planning around the darker "modern" style vanity that is there.

So really the wall tile (large white subway) and the shower floor and niche accent tile (pebble) are pretty easy choices. What is hanging me up is the floor tile.

As I said before, I like the tile choices I made 19 years ago. Not really liking the ole' 12x12 with a 1/4" grout line that was popular 19 years ago, but I like the color and the texture of the tile itself. 

Picking a new tile has been a real challenge. Some people can do design boards...me, I have to bring home every sample I think I MIGHT like and lay it on the floor...these are the last three choices...the first four have already been returned....

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And I have ordered a few more online...so we'll see!

Hopefully I can make a decision in the next week. I am actually hiring this done so I am meeting with two contractors this week for bids. 

My half bath hasn't had a real "makeover" in years.

So I was thinking I might want to change it up a bit...I'm just kind of "bored" with it. It is a tiny space and wouldn't take much to change it up! But truthfully, I still like the color of the walls and the vanity. 

I was digging around in 410 Vintage a few weeks ago and found these two vintage prints by "M. Devoe." A tad more than I usually spend on art, but I like the style and I like that they were vintage. I know they are a tad quirky (or as my daughter said...ewwww!) But I like "different" and they are that....

I had two "ho-hum" prints hanging on this wall for Lord-knows-how-long...just a change in the wall decor freshened up the space...now I don't feel an itch to change the entire space. (I ordered a new wreath...I think boxwood wreaths have run their course!)

Sometimes change is as easy as changing the wall decor or moving a few pieces of furniture around. Sometimes it requires weeks of fretting and nail biting over expensive and long-term choices....

Good thing I have trained my self to take things in stride and I quit biting my nails!

Simple "before and afters"...

Some of the simplest "befores" turn out to be my favorite "afters."

Which explains why I often don't have decent "before" pictures...I think "oh, that's no biggy" and dive right in to giving them a simple little makeover. Then they turn out so stinking cute I wonder why I didn't take time to take "before" pictures.

They are a reminder of why do this blog...to show you how easy it is to take a simple, boring, out-dated, dark piece of furniture and turn it into something you will want in your home rather than in your yard at the next garage sale!

We DIYers live for those hidden treasures...pieces of furniture that people want to get rid of... they drop them at their local thrift store or sell them for pennies in garage sales or just set them out on the curb...we take them home, clean them up and work a little DIY magic. 

The worst...you live with the ugly, dark furniture because you can't afford to replace it!

I get it...you paid a small fortune for your "matchy-matchy" bedroom furniture so you can't bring yourself to get rid of it.

I've shared "makeovers" hundreds of time...too many times to link ALL the pieces I have "upcycled" over the years. But I would bet money you still have a few pieces lurking around your house that serve a purpose or are "family heirlooms" or you paid too much to get rid of it...so you just live with it.

Don't fret...take the plunge...buy some primer and some paint AND CHANGE IT!

LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO LIVE WITH UGLY FURNITURE!

This shelf was your typical Target cheapo...dark finish...no I did not take a picture of it "before." Honestly, I think it was a piece someone left at the apartments so I loaded it up and brought it home.

I removed the back panels...primed and painted the frame and shelves with one of my "sample" pots of white (KSTP). I painted the back panels with a sample pot of teal and then reattached them.

Super simple and too stinking cute!

This little bedside table came with a set I bought at an auction. Someone bought the dresser, chest and bed but didn't want this little table.

Meh....

Simple makeover! I removed the drawer and simply brightened it up with some Restorafinish. I primed the cabinet, sand, tack and white gloss paint. It was missing a knob so I ordered two new ones...

....again, SUPER SIMPLE and so stinking cute!

This old oak dresser...the finish and the little applique' really dated the piece.

I popped off the appliques using a chisel...lift carefully...chances are they are applied with a little bit of glue and a few tiny nails.

... sanded the old glue, stained the top with gel stain (no need to strip the old finish) and chalked painted the rest of it....distressed and sealed the whole thing with poly...

Too stinking cute!

Simple...simple...simple! 

Nothing earth shattering on any of the pieces...just super simple little makeovers that updated the pieces and gave them new life! 

Walk around your house...what simple little piece can you haul out to the garage and work a little "DIY magic." Trust me...if you don't like it when you are done, you won't get any less for it at a garage sale! 

The death of the rose bushes....and a peak at the rest of my landscaping!

Que sad music...the knock out roses finally bit the dust.

They were beautiful little additions to the side yard when I first planted them....

I walked around the yard and took a few pictures a few months ago and they looked halfway decent then!

I built this flower bed and planted the knock out roses because it is an area of the yard I rarely tend to...

Rarely...as a result they were looking REALLY pathetic!

Two bushes died last year so I removed them and planted another. This year the another died and two were near death.

In their defense, knock out roses tend to stop blooming in the heat of the summer...but they obviously had other issues!

So this past weekend we decided to pull them all out...except for the one little bush I planted last year. It may eventually get transplanted when it is cooler if I decide to go another direction with this bed.

I'm not sure what caused their demise. Age, disease, neglect...maybe a combination of all. I did throw a little fertilizer down on them occasionally but I can honestly say I probably didn't tend to them like I should have...a weed eater is probably not the proper tool to use to prune rose bushes.

Knock out roses don't make the best "cut flowers." Cute in a little ironstone creamer...but certainly not something you plant for the purpose of creating indoor arrangements....

Que sera...

I think I will leave the bed "vacant" for the time being...let it winter just incase it is harboring disease or fungus.

Besides, I can't decide what I want to plant in their place and honestly, it is really too hot to plant right now.

I would love to plant hydrangeas but evidently they don't take well to direct afternoon sun...and that is exactly what this bed gets...hot afternoon sun. Curses. I like crepe myrtles but they get very full and bushy and are probably not ideal for a narrow bed against a fence. 

When planning your plantings pay attention to what sunlight and care the plants will need. Do your research!

Maybe I will just resort to more potted plants...those tend to do well but they certainly can't be neglected this time of year. Right now I am watering every day.

I will leave you with a few pictures of areas of the yard I don't neglect...

After YEARS of struggling to landscape this front bed, I finally resorted to flagstone and potted annuals..I love it!

Hostas are a super simple perennial that require little maintenance! They can easily be split every spring which explains why I have TONS of them in my yard! I have even started planting some in containers!

Planting in containers has become my "thang." I'll scatter a few annuals around in the ground, but just about all annuals go in containers these days!

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Make your yard an extension of your home...

BTW, last year I shared here the new fescue sod...I thought the "difference" between the fescue and bermuda would bug the heck out of me...not so much! I see the difference...but I can live with it! As you can see, it made it through the winter and that is a good thing!

Until next week....

The "compact" microwave and new stove....

It is done...the new microwave, stove and tile are installed.

And I LOVE them!

It all started with my quest to get rid of the over-the-range microwave.

As I mentioned here, it really became an issue for me when I read that over-the-range microwaves are now considered a kitchen "faux pas." Truth be told, it has bugged me for years...I hated the big ole' hulking thing hanging over my head while I cooked. 

And of course there was the whole issue of the black stainless refrigerator and the fact that the range, microwave and dishwasher were black. We bought the black stainless refrigerator almost two years ago, planning to transition all the other appliance to black stainless. Unfortunately I can't bring myself to buy new appliances when the old work just fine.

The microwave worked just fine...but my "obsession" with getting rid of the big ole' hulking appliance drove me to the point of madness...so I bought this awesome little thing. I guess technically it is still an "over-the-range" microwave, but it is really not much bigger than a vent hood and doesn't bother my aesthetic senses at all!

I ordered the microwave in black stainless, knowing one day I would break down and buy the black stainless stove I had been drooling on for several year. Low and behold my oven went out a few days after I ordered the microwave....curses! Now I HAD to buy a new stove. (Honestly, it was just the ignitor....a relatively easy and inexpensive fix...but that is beside the point!)

The only real issue I had with replacing the much larger microwave with a smaller one was the tile back splash. Several years ago I replaced the original tile backsplash with travertine.

I tiled to the bottom of the microwave...but the compact microwave is about 7" shorter than the original, which means I was going to have to add tile. Fortunately, I am a hoarder of "scrap construction crap" and managed to piece together enough scrap travertine tile to fill the gap.

All I had left from the original install were scraps...so to make sure I would have enough (and not have to order a few pieces of this extremely expensive tile!) I made a little template the size of the space and began laying out the scraps. I numbered each piece on the back so I could install it in the proper order!

If you do not have any scrap of your backsplash (and can't buy it), think about adding a little "decorative" accent...Pinterest is full of inspiration! 

Another little issue was the fact that I had tiled over the original tile (not something I normally do!)...as a result there was a 3/8" difference in thickness. No biggy really, I just put a piece of 3/8" board (scrap sheetrock) to fill the space then tiled with the travertine! 

I picked up a few sticks of travertine pencil liner at Lowe's to create little borders on the sides and under the microwave. Not a perfect match but close enough!

I have one really serious problem now...the dishwasher doesn't match.

Since it was replaced 5 or 6 years ago, I don't see it going out any time soon! Dang it! I'm trying to convince myself that I can live with this unsightly thing....trying! 

I have also ordered a new quartz top for the bar...

I have tired of the black and want something "light and bright." Again, I am always looking for a way to lighten the kitchen without painting the cabinets. The granite counter tops now seem a little "busy and dark" but that has to wait. I desperately want to make some serious changes to master bath and that has to be my next big project!

I haven't used either appliance enough to give a proper review but I can say I LOVE the look of both. The microwave is plenty large enough to do what I do...warm leftovers and melt butter. (Whirlpool is the only company that currently makes a "compact" microwave and their "black stainless" blends well with the Samsung black stainless stove and refrigerator.)

I love the new stove top but I have one minor beef...no drip pans. Not a huge problem...I ordered silicone "cut to fit" drip mats from Amazon. Not sure how happy I will be with this solution but I guess I will find out. It has a "wok grate" but I don't have a wok so whatever! The middle griddle is a neat feature but I'm not sure I will use it much...again, we'll see! The oven has both a "traditional bake" as well as convection...and it will automatically calculate the conversion...which is nice for someone who has been cooking with a regular ole' stove for 40 years! 

I want to share Matt's entry...he is having his kitchen cabinet painted so he wants me to wait to take pictures until he has his kitchen finished...so MAYBE next week!

Until then...

Another Facelift for the storage shed....

A few years ago (okay so it's been FIVE YEARS!!!!) I gave my storage shed a little facelift! I rebuilt the door, added little scallops in the gable and added some trim to cover up some siding boo-boos!

At the time I primed and painted most of the trim with some paint I had on hand...most of it...not all of it. I figured I would eventually find the time to pick up some quality exterior paint and paint the rest of it. I didn't. 

So when Brian hit it with the power washer a few weeks ago much of the old paint and primer came right off! Fortunately the siding color held tight so I didn't have to repaint that!

Some of the trim around the door had cracked so I used wood filler to repair it. Caulked the gaps between the trim and siding.

The hard part, scrapping peeling paint, was taken care of with the power washer. I used a metal brush to remove what little peeling paint was left.

I had a little bit of leftover deck stain so I decided to freshen the deck as well!

A high quality exterior primer and exterior white paint...

Not only did a good coat of paint freshen it up a bit, it seals the wood to prevent the wood from deteriorating!

It is important to use a high quality "exterior" paint and primer on exterior projects. Exterior paint is specifically formulated to resist mildew and fading from sunlight. I would bet that I did not use a good quality exterior paint and primer on the trim a few years ago...which would explain why it could not withstand the beating from a 2800 PSI power washer!