Friday, July 22, 2016

Goodbye Zulu

After only 11 years of friendship we said goodbye to our old girl Zulu last week. 
I have to say a few words about her because she has been the biggest part of my adult life. If you're here for home improvement feel free to skip ahead to the next post! 
Zulu went by ZuZu, Z, Zuluy, pony, houndie, and a zillion other silly nicknames. She was a birthday gift for me when I turned 22. I had moved about 3.5 hours from home for one of my first big girl job and didn't know a soul. There were times in my life where Zulu felt like my only friend. She was there for me through every break up. Every new job and promotion. Every illness (I had a rough couple of years there with mono, malaria, and MRSA hitting me in rapid succession). Every move. Together this girl and I moved to five different places. 
 She wasn't afraid of fireworks, the vet, or thunderstorms but barked like a lunatic if someone came to the door (or back in the landline days the phone rang). She has been a good little friend to the two other dogs we've had and our cat. 
 She accepted Chris as her family right away and tolerated a new baby like a champ. 
 She has always been a little sickly. She has always had nasty teeth. We have to put her under every year for a teeth cleaning and she barely had any teeth left. Her breath has nearly always been terrifying.
 In the last year or two she had become really arthritic and had a limp. We spent about $40 a month for the last year to medicate her, but near the end she could barely walk. 
I won't lie. Losing her was devastating but also a relief. With her barely able to walk near the end she got a pressure sore on her leg that I had to re-bandage in a multi step process daily. To take her outside I had to carry her in and out multiple times a day. She was cranky with Lila near her, afraid of being messed with or stepped on. She had to be carried to and from meals and would struggle to stand up and yelp with pain when she laid down. 
The day before she left us she got sick and threw up. Then she kept throwing up every couple of hours. 
 I had been at the vet a couple of years ago when a woman came in with her dying dog who threw up over and over again in the waiting room and died. I sat there holding Zulu bawling with the owner. I had never seen a dog die on their own and the smell stuck in my brain. The smell came back to me while Zulu was sick and I knew this time was different. Her quality of life had really declined and she was miserable and holding on for us. 
We gave her permission to let go. Chris came home from work and said goodbye and Lila and I took goodbye last pictures with her.




The innocence of a child is so sweet. It's the end but she clearly didn't know it. 
 My dad was kind enough to take her in for me so someone would be with her but I wouldn't have to see it. 
Lila woke up looking for "Z Z" for a few days but seems to have forgotten. Oscar was very nervous and confused but also seem to get it now. Linus is still struggling. 
 I've got no pretty way to wrap it up. Losing a pet is like losing family for me. We're so sad, but thankful she isn't in pain anymore and that there was no doubt that it was the right time for her to go. 








 Goodbye my faithful girl. Thanks for helping me get through some rough stuff!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Curb Appeal

We recently continued our home improvement mission by working on our home's curb appeal.

This is a picture of the house on the day it was listed for sale. You can see on the far right is a bare tree. Well the tree (like the bushes under the windows) grew and grew and grew. 
This was right after I moved in. There were three trees all twisted and growing together. One was dead so my mom cut that one off. 
 This was it after it was trimmed
This was last fall when we got our new roof. The tree is beautiful for a week in the spring when it flowers. Otherwise It scrapes the roof, chips the paint on the siding, and blocks the view in and out of the window and screened porch. It was obvious to an outsider that it had to go. I'd gotten used to it and quite frankly didn't really notice it.
 Finally it was just out of control and could no longer be ignored since it was growing so crooked
 It was about 18" from the ground and blocked the front window completely. A good trim would've helped this, but still wouldn't help the awkward angle or the fact that the previous owners planted a tree that was too big for the space 
 I did enjoy watching Chris limbo under it whenever he mowed the grass but otherwise this tree was just begging to be put out of its misery
I traded my brother two batches of cookies for him to take it down. I paid over $1000 to have my big trees trimmed a couple of years ago so I knew a great deal when I found one! One afternoon last week he came over and went to work. 
 It turned out to be a much bigger job than I expected. My brother came over with his sawzall DEWALT DWE304 10-Amp Reciprocating Saw" sure it could tackle it though. The tree was much bigger when it was laying down! Originally our deal was for one batch of cookies but about an hour and a half into a three hour job we agreed to up it to two batches! Lila is really into cars and machines and stuff lately so she loved watching him saw:
 The village chips and collects trees and branches for "free" on garbage day weekly. This happened to fall on garbage day so they literally were taking branches from him as he was cutting. It was so gratifying having clean up happen instantly!
It was amazing being able to see the screened porch and window again, not to mention our beautiful and expensive roof! 
I touched up the shutters after I took this to match the front door again. I also will move the pavers to the house line now that there isn't a tree jutting out. We're thrilled that something as small as cutting down one tree can make such a big difference! 
We tend to head out onto the porch pretty early in the day to play and I'm usually in some form of pajamas. I do miss the privacy the tree provided since we have one extremely nosy neighbor. If we find ourself here in the next year or so I'll probably find a tree that isn't meant to grow much and plant that further over- in front of the porch. So- that's our latest project. Thanks for following along!
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Friday, July 1, 2016

Rusty Patio Furniture & Ugly Cushions Makeover

This is our backyard these days. It's full of kid toys, but very serene and comfy. We eat dinner out here multiple times a week and spend hours every day playing. 
 Chris and I sit under the lights and talk in the evenings after bed time. Every time we say "why did we wait so long to put a table out here?!"
This was the deck a few years ago right after I treated it with Deck Restore and my dad built the pergola. It's been a nice seating area for two but hasn't had much function. Plus the Restore started peeling right off. Between the warped and rotting boards, the peeling surface, and the lack of seating this deck was sad. I already covered the deck makeover. This post will cover the furniture. 
Wanting to move to a more expensive area means that we need to sock away every penny possible for a down payment. For now I want to enjoy our current house as much as possible though. And I wanted our sad deck to look a little happier for staging purposes. So with a cheap as dirt budget I started check out Craigslist and local buy/sell Facebook groups. I found a table on a Facebook group for $10. It was rusty and rickety but it was a good size and came with a nice (yet very rusty) glass top. I realized it wouldn't fit in the back of our SUV and the woman selling it offered to deliver it for free. So the I really couldn't say no. 
I really liked the top because it looks like the lattice on the screened porch and back deck. It came as I was in the middle of the deck redo. 
So then I started looking for chairs. Again with a nearly 0 budget. I hit a garage sale about a block from my house and saw a table and chairs for $40. I asked if they would separate the chairs. The husband said no, the wife said yes. One look between the two and he asked me how much I would offer. I told him $25 and if he didn't take my offer today I'd be back tomorrow to see if they were ready to unload them. He looked at his wife and told me to take them and run. Except I could only fit 3 in the car... So again I got free delivery! His wife ran into the couch and came running out with 6 cushions telling me she has been really careful to keep them inside every night and she was throwing them in. Yay!
$35 dollars later and I was ready to get to work transforming the black rusty table and the brown rusty chairs and perfect (yet ugly) cushions into something that I could love. 
 Obviously you've already seen what they look like when they're done. But I'll show you how to give rusty stuff a makeover...

There were several holes in the table and chairs where rust had eaten them away. First I sanded everything down and smoothed it out. 
I spent $4 on liquid metal filler and filled in the holes. After it dried I sanded down the filler to smooth the surface out.

Then I used Rust Stop on all of the spots to prepare everything for the paint to stick and to keep the rust from coming back up to the top:




Before I painted the table I tightened the whole thing with an allan wrench. It went from rickety to sturdy! I used 4 cans ($22) of Krylon's Pewter Grey to cover everything:


I have some satin exterior paint and painted the lattice stripes white.

 Then it was time to address the brown cushions. I Pinterested how to paint fabric and the consensus was to mix some exterior white paint (that I already had) with a fabric medium. I used Martha Stewart Fabric Medium ($6). 



I just used a brush and gave each side 2 coats. 

I let everything dry really well and then flipped it and started the process over again. 
 I was going to sand it lightly between coats to keep the fabric pliable but honestly it didn't seem to need it. The medium did its job. They're now waterproof but still comfortable and don't feel painted when you sit on them. 
Then there was the rusty glass. I scrubbed it to death and it still looked murky in some spots and really rusty on the sides. 
I read that laying the glass out and soaking it with vinegar and then scrubbing it with a scrub brush would take the rust off. It worked like a charm! Except it killed my grass... Somehow I didn't get the vinegar kills grass memo. Whoops. 
Here are more "after" pictures because I'm so proud of how my project came out! 




The final total was $67! I haven't been able to find another glass top table with 6 chairs and cushions for that price so I'm patting myself on the back!
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