Patio Planning

We recently started planning out a patio design for our backyard. Currently, we have 10 x 10 concrete patio but we would like to add a more useful two-tiered patio made out of pavers.

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Before we started our design for the patio, we looked online at Houzz.com and Pinterest for inspiration and unique designs. We had some of our own ideas in mind but wanted to see how others designed their patios.

Here are some Pinterest pins of patios similar to our vision for the backyard:

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After we scoured the Web for inspiration and talked through our ideas, we came up with a plan of what we wanted to incorporate in our patio design (i.e. pergola, fire pit, gardens, etc). Next, we drew this quick rough design sketch using Adobe Ideas on the iPad (don’t judge our sweet finger drawing… we needed something quick… a more elaborate sketch is in the works).

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This sketch also helped us to decide where we are going to place our vegetable garden this year(more details to come). After the sketch was complete, we took a couple of rough measurements in the backyard so we could place the garden based on our sketch. That keeps us from having to move the garden or try to merge it in the design as an afterthought.

So what’s next? Our plan for the patio is to start building the two tiered section of the patio next year. In the meantime, we may add the fire pit this fall. With our design already planned out, we can add the sections as we want.

How do you tackle a large project like a patio? Do you hire a contractor? Do you do it yourself all at once? Or do you spread your project out and do it in smaller chunks over time?

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Loft Project Planning

It was still too cold to work outside this weekend so BJ and I took some time to plan projects inside. Last fall, we started decorating our loft. To continue the transformation, we’ve added a few items to our to do list.

The loft/upstairs to do list:
1. Paint the half wall
2. Add an entertainment center/storage area
3. Make a new coffee table (I saw a cool idea on Pinterest for a coffee table made of crates.)
4. Add two ottomans for the chairs
5. Add some more decorative accents to the room

Here is our current “entertainment center.”
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It looks a bit like a college apartment mash-up of electronics. Not really the vibe we are going for.
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This is the Ikea entertainment center that we would like to add to the loft. It’s a little more dressed up than our current set up and will add a significant amount of storage for games, puzzles and movies.
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Along with the addition of storage, we would like to add some color to the half wall behind the chairs.
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We haven’t decided on a color yet, but once we narrow down the options, we will pick out a few paint chips and hang them on the wall for a at least a few weeks to determine which one we like the best.
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We would also like to carry the color around to the catwalk on the other side of the upstairs hallway. This will tie the two areas together nicely.
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Now that we have a game plan for finishing this room, we can narrow down our paint selections and start saving for our new entertainment center.

How do you plan for upcoming projects? Do you create a game plan or just decide as you go?

Holiday Planning

I originally thought I would save this post for closer to Christmas, but if some of you are like me, your inherent need to make lists and plan starts to overwhelm you this time of year. I admit, it’s still too early to put up Christmas decorations, crank the ”NSYNC Christmas album or even drink peppermint mochas but for those that have already done all the things I just listed, I don’t judge. There is no shame in a peppermint mocha-loving, ‘NSYNC fan. I should know. 🙂

To kick off our holiday planning this year, I started by making personalized Christmas gift tags.

These tags are really easy to make and need just a few supplies.

To make these Christmas tags, you will need:

  • Sticker paper, a ink jet printer and scissors. I bought our sticker paper at Staples. It is the cheapest I could find.

  • Craft paper that you can find at Michaels, Jo Ann Fabrics or A.C. Moore. You can use two-sided or one-sided craft paper. I chose both to see how they would look.

  • Ribbon to hang the tags. I found this ribbon at Michaels.

  • A circle punch, which you can find at Michaels. This is the super size which is 2.5 inches. It works really well for cutting big circles.

To make the tags, I started by designing a template in Adobe InDesign for the smaller personalized circles. You can also use other programs such as Pages or Microsoft Word. Before I printed my template, I lightly outlined the circles so I could see where to cut them. Then I printed the circles on to the sticker paper using an ink jet printer.

After you print the small circles on to the sticker paper, use the paper punch to cut out a larger circle from the craft paper.

Next, neatly cut out your circles from the sticker paper. Remove the sticker backing and place the small circle sticker in the middle of your large craft paper circle.

Use a hole punch to create the hole for the ribbon. I used one punch of a three-hole punch.

Then, cut a piece of ribbon and loop it through the hole and tie it together at the end.

And there you have it! A fun gift tag for your Christmas gifts.

These tags are also great for wine bottles. If you are bringing wine to Thanksgiving dinner, you can make a few of these tags. They would even be fun with sayings like “Happy Harvest” or  “Give Thanks.” Last year I made napkin rings with fun Thanksgiving sayings on them that you could use for the wine tags.

You could also give some wine for Christmas with these tags and perhaps use a ribbon or two to wrap the bottle.

The Christmas craft paper I chose is two-sided so it’s even fun when you turn the tag around.

Another project I started early this year was our Christmas cards. I bought a Groupon for Zazzle.com and designed our cards on their Web site. I don’t want to give too much away before the holidays, but the cards already here and I can’t wait to send them!

Have you started your Christmas gift planning and projects already? What fun projects do you have in store this year?