DIY, Dog Proof Drip Lines…For Dummies?

Dog proof drip line soaker house for pots

I’ll admit it, I am totally clueless when it comes to installing drip lines. Emitters, bubblers, reservoirs, lines, etc. the whole idea just seems way too complicated for watering plants. There had to be a better way?

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There also had to be a dog proof way? Anyone who’s raised a teething puppy probably knows drip systems, are prime targets. (Instant chew toy and tug toy rolled into one.) Luckily our dogs leave heavy duty/commercial grade garden hoses alone. Therefore it made perfect sense to construct our DIY soaker hose drip system out of an old hose.

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We already had an old black, heavy duty garden hose that needed replacing. However we needed a second one, for extra length since our water source was so far away. The last of the materials were 12 brass hose mender kits, and a 5/8 inch (inside diameter) 50ft black soaker hose.

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Then we measured and cut pieces of soaker hose for each raised planter box and pot. (Be sure to purchase the non-fabric soaker kind that doesn’t bend easily.)We were sure each piece could easily wrap around the inside of the planter box, creating a loose loop (and being generous with the lengths) Next we cut the hose, making sure there was enough length to follow the fence line. Dog proof drip line soaker house 007

Then we inserted the hose mender brass fitting into the hose, with the other end being the soaker hose loop. Essentially for each soaker loop/pot you will need two hose mender kits if you want several pots lined up. Be sure to string the metal bands onto the hoses, and tighten them over each hose with a flat head screwdriver.

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Then we secured each loop together with black zip ties and sunk them into the soil around each plant. Basically the pattern should be: garden hose, then soaker hose loop in the pot/planter, then garden hose. This pattern allowed us to spread out the pots along our side yard. At our last pot, we created a loop out of the capped end of the soaker hose. Dog proof drip line soaker house 013

Next came securing the garden hose to the fence and soaker hose loops in the pots.We sunk the soaker hose into the pots with garden staples.Then for the next step we used 3/4″shark bite plastic pipe brackets. Dog proof drip line soaker house

These brackets come with nails inside them for easy use. Just put one around the hose, place the hose and bracket on the fence and hammer it in place.

Dog proof drip line soaker house 014All in all, no special drip equipment required, very economical and if your dogs don’t chew garden hoses, pretty much dog proof.

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Also if you have a completely paved area and can’t install a sprinkler system, this easy drip system is a great way to bring a large amount of water to big pots, all you need is a water spigot. A simple solution for busy people (who hate hand watering their gardens).

Welcome to Little Houses California…

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…Such a lovely place…(Oh no we’ll all have the Eagles song stuck in our heads this Sunday)

I had already been inspired by a few other fantastic blogs and this pile of lights at the Sacramento Antique Fair

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I knew I wanted a marquee for a blank wall in our living room. However I didn’t want letters or a simple shape. Until one innocent Sunday afternoon…

Margarita + Sunset Magazine = Random DIY project

california marquee 013 I fell head over heels in love with the California Marquee Sunset magazine featured. Unfortunately based on the size and quality of it, I surmised it would probably not work with our budget or even the size of our house. Therefore with a little liquid courage, and a whole lot of project scraps…Could this be done?

(Don’t worry I did not try to use a hand saw and tools with a margarita on board) I only traced a large California picture onto a piece of cardboard and cut it out.

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Then I traced the picture onto wood scraps we had left over from our previous fences and roof flashing backsplash. Making sure to number each piece on the back so I could put all of them back together after cutting.

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The next evening I hunkered down, and using a clamp and coping saw started the painstakingly long process of cutting out the shape of California by hand. (By the second shape I was asking hubby for a scroll saw or dremel for Christmas)

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Once all the pieces were cut out I put them back together again, flipped them over and lined them up. Then attached two more pieces of scrap wood to the back and drilled them together with hubby. Mistake#1: We should have used metal brackets instead of wood so the pieces would’ve laid flush and tighter together.

california marquee 009 (However we didn’t know how the project would turn out so maybe using scraps was the most economical at the time)

Next came the roof flashing, we cut the rectangles in half creating a 2 1/2 inch border surrounding the marquee. Be sure to wear thin leather gloves for hand protection when working with roof flashing. Then we hammered the roof flashing pieces into the wood with little nails. We also hammered the flashing gently to mold to the contours of the California coast.

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Mistake#2 -As you can see we should have taken off the barcode stickers with goo-be-gone, before adding the roof flashing.

We next found there were uneven joints between the flashing, so we added a second layer of flashing to certain areas, (bending it slightly to create tension, then clamped pieces together with a horse shoe nail)

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Mistake#3-Also we should have drilled the holes for the lights and picture hanging hardware at this point, before adding the metal but again we had no clue if this project was going to work.

With a string of cafe lights leftover from our wedding, we used 7th House on the Left’s fabulous tutorial for drilling out the holes, and installing them. Except we took out the bulbs not in use and stapled them to the back of the wood. (Careful to not staple the cord) We’re saving the extra bulbs just in case a light or two burns out.  Then we tucked the cord behind the wood.

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Adding picture hanging hardware, both at the bottom of California and top, we hung it in the living room and plugged her in. If you noticed, we strategically placed lights to represent our favorite California landmarks and cities.

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Of course its very unfinished and even a bit industrial looking, so we added a shelf  behind the couch and some items around the house to make it work. (Pssst…But it was also to hide the light cord)

diy california marquee living room decor california marqueeAll in all a very interesting, at times frustrating, and full of mistakes, but nice to have our own custom art piece made by hand. (And for nearly free…priceless!) Hopefully this inspires others to make their own custom art pieces.california marquee diy wood metal lights

How “Oar” You?

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Do you have a recurring theme or trend in your home? Your friends and family randomly give you lace, mason jars, wine decor, ceramic animals, what ever your love may be? This happens to me all the time, my obsession is admittedly the ocean. I figured by the time we can afford our coastal dream home, we’ll at least have all the furniture and decor we’ll need for it, right? (Or that’s my excuse for the hubby)

Hence when your dad randomly gives you weather-beaten boat oars he found in his barn. (Let the girly squeal of excitement subside…)

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Now what to do with two boat oars?…Don’t want to spend money for curtains and curtain rods…Fab freebie, sea inspired curtains!

Luckily our house came with a studio apartment/guest house above the garage and this is where I can let loose, mess up and DIY to my heart’s content. (aka, Girl Cave) However I do try to keep my dog and sea inspired decor to a few spaces and a few rooms. (Like Martha Stewart would say, “regulating obsession… it’s a good thing”)

Firstly we used white wooden curtain rod brackets (left over from a failed DIY project). Installing them above each window in the Girl Cave. oar curtains and dog bed pillows 005

Luckily the previous owners left some curtains behind, (and after a good washing and ironing) they slid perfectly over the oars.

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We had some left-over towel hooks we never used for the bathroom, and drilled them into the wall upside down.

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Then tied two knots on each end of a piece of rope, and looped the ends onto the hook.

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Instant curtains!

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Very cheap, sea inspired and incredibly easy update. What’s the theme, trend and/or obsession for your home?

Hope everyone has a fabulous and DIY-filled week!

TOP 10 Reasons…You might be a DIY (Do it Yourself) Addict…

1. On the way to your friend’s dinner party they text you to ask, “Have you checked your hair for paint?”

2. The Home Depot staff watch for your car. 

3. Your best friend deletes your Pinterest App to stage an “intervention”

4. Your house has its own Twitter account (#DIYandLovin’it!)

5. You’ve just received your third ticket for 4×8 wood posts hanging out your front passenger window.

6. Your husband buys you a circular saw as a Valentine’s day gift. 

7. You go without a TV remote for a week, because it was misplaced while staging your living room for the perfect “after” shot. 

8. You just reached the Ideabook limit of “photos allowed” on your Houzz account

9. Your husband has set the parental controls and blocked you from HGTV, and the DIY network- he just can’t take anymore inspiration!

10. Better Homes and Gardens has filed a harassment suit against you for submitting too many projects to them. 

I hope this gives all my fellow DIYers a good laugh! Happy Sunday everyone!


Prioritizing Expenses for Your New “Old” Home

When moving into an older “new” home we often focus on the exciting stuff; paint colors, furniture, and the décor. Due to this, we forget about the important things like the “bones”.

You know the “bones,” the house’s structure, what is under all the plaster and paint. We also forget in the excitement of a home purchase and move in, the maintenance cost of older homes.

My dad put it best, “if you don’t want an expensive hobby, don’t move into an older home.”

Wait a minute! Before you stop reading …This post is not to deter you from buying or crushing on an old home. Rather to help you prioritize renovation and maintenance costs.

Hopefully through this post you can learn from both our good ideas and mistakes. Remember we’re just a few regular homeowners who learned a thing or two from buying and slowly renovating an older home. Maybe it will help you plan for lovin’on your new “old” home too.

Firstly the budget…

  1. Seriously analyze and itemize the major structural costs you see coming. Your home inspection will tell you what does or does not need work.

Our example: We needed a new roof and we knew this expense would be a biggy. Therefore we budgeted enough and squirreled it away as a future expense.

  1. Are there health concerns with your new “old” house? Possible asbestos or lead paint? (They have you sign a hazard warning in California.)

Don’t think the age of your home is a catchall. In the 1970s these hazardous materials were still in use because contractors and companies were allowed to use them in order to eliminate supply. In fact HVAC friends of ours have seen asbestos wrapped duct work even in 1980s homes. (YIKES!)

But don’t freak out yet… This is where you prioritize a possible cost and budget for encapsulation or removal. Have it tested, and bring out the professionals. They will give you the advice, do their thing and sometimes even calm your nerves. Also don’t go by what one professional says. Instead have several estimates and an independent inspector and/or lab help you. Don’t go with an abatement company who “happens to test.”

This often can be done prior to purchase. If it comes back positive get estimates for abatement and this may even become part of the negotiation process in home buying. If not you know the risks and costs and can have it professionally encapsulated and/or abated before move in.

Our example: We had the professionals come in and abate the popcorn ceilings, re-plaster and air test before move in

  1. Don’t ignore the small stuff, include those costs in the budget and priority list. It helps to imagine your home as a grandma. She may be a tough ol’ bird for 60+ years old but her bones are still 60+ years old. Don’t let that small leak in the guest bath or that saggy gutter go ignored, these can become a big problem with a BIG price tag for you later. Consider doing a mini-inspection with a handyman. Also by itemizing the projects you find, you can evaluate which ones can be a DIY project or left to a professional.

Our example: A small valve issue on an old toilet, turned into a quarter inch of water and a big clean-up for us later on. (Thank goodness for a great home warranty!)

  1. That leads to the next tip, consider extending your home warranty or adding coverage. Paying a little up front may pay dividends in a good nights sleep later.

Our example: Our real-estate agent arranged at signing for some additional coverage since there was some extra money left on the table. Our coverage included out-take pipe repair and some leaks so this has helped ease worries.

  1. Consider your future renovation plans, and start estimating the costs for materials and/or labor. You may have your dream home dancing around in your head, but once you start dreams may equal big dollars. Once the bones and maintenance are itemized and planned for, add the “dream cost” onto the list. Then you will see how much you can really budget for a kitchen remodel.

Our example: Looking at the end budget…Yikes! We knew if we wanted that kitchen remodel to happen we’d only have about $1500 left for it…This is when you know creativity and DIY can be put to use.

All in all, our best lesson, and one we need to consistently remind ourselves about, was to keep a running “home repair emergency” savings. It also should be separate and not mixed in with the renovation budget and funds. This turned out to be the best tool in helping us sleep at night when those little house catastrophes happen. (i.e. like rats moving into the attic, or an air conditioner stops working.) This little savings will help with home warranty deductibles and you’ll feel less pain in the pocket book when the maintenance issues strike.

I hope these tips help you prioritize and plan for your new “old” home, because like grandma, they may have great bones, but be prepared to take care of them.

We Don’t Do “Easy”

DIYers can attest to the mantra, “we don’t do easy.” Especially a DIYer with the guts and gumption to buy an ugly, old, fixer home. Did you experience “the look” from friends and family when you were showing them your “little bundle of joy” the 60+ year old bungalow/cottage/mid century/craftsman, etc that you were now about to buy? The one with the roof so bad that looked like it was a hobbit’s home. The one with the tri- color master bath, the twenty six different kinds of wallpaper, and the ultimate, modern day, home- buying sin… the one without a dishwasher. (For shame!)

You know, “the look” where the friends and family glance at you as if you’ve grown a unicorn horn and your freckles turned to skittles. DIYers know if we chose the “easy” way, we would be stuck in a cookie cutter home, possibly in a location that required uber commuting, and neighbors living on top of you. (At least out here in California). If we did “easy” we’d call for the nearest handyman, or contractor, and be overcharged for a renovation with no heart and a cost that left us with no money.

DIYers have learned there is an intrinsic value of not doing “easy.” Primarily that value is experience and knowledge. Yes, the creative, mechanical, part of us loves to tinker, craft and play in the mud. However the real reason we DIY is for the gained experience. We also want to save a ton of money, but more importantly we want to push the experience envelope. We want that badge of honor in the form of fork-sized splinters, rough hands, and biceps that would put Madonna’s to shame.

When friends and family ask “how did you do that? You will have the experience and knowledge to explain or help them. Gained experience is so much more valuable (and fun) than “easy”. Don’t do easy! This can be related to so many aspects of our lives, not just home improvement. If struggling with a decision, or life issue, remember this well known quote, “All things worth doing are never easy.” Instead do creative, frustrating, sweat equity, and cheap, do it yourself. Gain experience, start small, take classes. Also evaluate your skill level and time against the huge list of tasks. Oftentimes if you know yourself well enough through experience gained, you can diagnose a task quickly and ask for help. Sometimes professional help is necessary when it involves safety, but at least you had the wisdom. knowledge, and experience to know when to ask.

Does “easy” not work for you either? Not just DIY, but also other aspects of our life?

DIY Winebox Centerpieces

One of the questions I’m always asked about the wedding, “how did you create your centerpieces?” We wanted centerpieces that would be “green” and also double as wedding favors. (The flowers are potted and guests could take them home with them)


Believe it or not they are really simple, quick and inexpensive to make…Here’s how we did it:

(Pssst…the following How to is a reenactment…)

1) You’ll need a smaller winebox, 4 small pots of flowers (for this I used Lucia dark blue), a foil baking pan, 1 large can of tomatos (yes, I know this sounds weird so far), crinkle paper filler, ribbon pieces of your choice, a medium sized candle and holder. (Recommendation: water the flowers the evening before and outside of the arrangement. Don’t try to water them once the centerpieces are made)

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2) Bend and fit the aluminum baking pan into the wine box upside down.

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(Its ok if it looks ugly, the purpose is for it to give your plants a little lift)

3) Place your tomato can in the middle and surround it by the plants (1 plant in each corner is a good rule of thumb)

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4) Once all the plants are in place, add the candle and glass holder on top of the can. Then add the crinkle paper filler and ribbon pieces along the top of each pot. (For the sake of this how to, I used some left over materials from a recent gift. Craft stores have a variety of crinkle paper colors, the ones used for our wedding were a natural brown color.) Then hide the top of the pots with the paper filler, you want them to look as if you just opened a box full of flowers

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5) Here are some variations to the idea…Don’t like the crinkle paper filler? Then use pieces of sheet moss instead…Don’t like the ribbon?  What about burlap instead? You can easily attach burlap ribbon to the outside of the box by using a hand held staple gun.

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6) Don’t need a centerpiece? Then use them as pretty garden or porch decor…

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Best piece of advice for brides and to save money…Start collecting the supplies a little at a time if you have enough time. (Every time we had a Michael’s coupon we were off buying ribbon or paper filler) We also spread out the cost of the materials over a year and stockpiled them until use. We asked ahead from the local home depot which flowers would be on sale and available in September which was why we used mums and daisies. You can also save money by growing your own flowers, but beware this would take a lot of planning, care and a green thumb.

Put it down on paper…It is cheaper!

When inspiration strikes us, whether that be a new outfit, table lamp, even buying a new home, we get so caught up in the doing, that we can often forget the planning. We like that new pair of shoes at Nordstroms, or a new bed at Pottery Barn, and we forget this one purchase will blow the budget. I am totally to blame for this at times, it has been a challenge over the years to reign in the fuzzy feelings of inspiration. After a good idea strikes, I don’t just jump in with two feet, I do a running cannon ball!

Luckily we learned from the first house, that if you intend to remodel or landscape, it is cheaper to plan it on paper first rather than plunge into the project. We felt under the gun when renovating our first home;

1) Because we were surrounded by ugly (I’m talking purple hallways, popcorn ceilings, you name it, we had it, in that house)

2) It was barely livable (neither bathroom hardly worked, and we were living on swatches of blue outdoor carpet)

We rushed to finish projects and beautify so much that we had drained our savings quite a bit. Add a life crisis into the mix and we were struggling and scared for a time. In the trenches, is where I learned to budget, and put all ideas and expenses down on paper first, before the doing. Even now, as we know a new roof for our current home is a pending expense , we are hunkering down and slowing our roll. We’ll have to be satisfied with small projects and small purchases for awhile. Creativity saves the budget, and putting all the ideas down on paper will pay dividends in the end.