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DIY Patio Deck Upgrades update fix (2)

Spring DIY Patio Update for under $100

This post is sponsored by Theisen’s. I would never recommend a company I don’t believe in.

It’s April 15. Our spring has never arrived and I’m not feeling optimistic it’s coming any time soon. Even to the point of considering spring cleaning, (or possibly just changing all the sheets), I’ll do anything to get out of the never ending winter doldrums. It’s  winter but never Christmas.

As a gift to myself, I’ve made a long, long list of spring spruce ups, and the patio and deck area is at the top of upgrades I want to do. Some of the updates I want to do just aren’t in the budget this year, but I host a lot of patio parties and wanted to upgrade as much as possible as cheaply as possible.

The kids and I raked and picked up and burned all the leaves and sticks  which had accumulated all year. I was impressed how much that alone helped! Brielle, who is highly motivated since the first patio party will be for her cast party for the Davenport Junior Theater play she’s in, scrubbed off the tables and chairs.  If it ever warms up and stops raining, The Handsome Husband will power wash the deck.

All our patio furniture is second hand and our plastic Adirondack style chairs were all broken and cracked so I headed to Theisen’s where they had them on sale! I was delighted that they even had my colors! I had painted the deck furniture (which my great aunt had given me 15 years ago) a few years back, and it seriously needed updating. I also picked up some Rust-Oleum Spray Paint which included a primer because I’m all about streamlining.  While I was there, I noticed some hanging plants who were optimistically trying to bloom despite this freezing Iowa April.  I bought a couple to eventually put on my patio swing. I want to paint it too, but I knew I wouldn’t have time this weekend.

I also wanted to have all of my cushions match. Some came with the furniture, a few we had bought, and some others my sweet mother-in-law surprised me with. I wondered if I could paint them too. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one to think of this idea. I read a few tutorials (this was one of them )when I thought of painting the cushions,decided it would work, and just went for it.  A few $3 cans of paint are way cheaper than new cushions!

Before painting in the foreground, after one coat in the back

I spent all day Saturday in the garage, painting furniture and the cushions. We couldn’t find all of the cushions, and they had gotten rained on , and it was too cold to properly dry according to the can, and I’m not a very patient person nor do I like to follow directions to the letter, but I was pretty pleased with how everything turned out.

Other than the fact that after I was through, and I was complaining because my pincer grasp wouldn’t work, the tendons in my forearms were completely exhausted and sore, and I couldn’t even cut my own meat, my husband then informed me we had a handy dandy trigger handle I could have used. (like this one)



My new snapdragons wonder what in the world is happening with this beautiful April snow.


I love having new grey cushions and like new furniture!


A new conversational area
The view of the deck
A fresh socializing area near the fire pit, which is flanked by our new Adirondack chairs.

Playing in the sand

Dada made a sandbox.
He plans to make a digger like these too.
See that tiny reddish blob right in the middle? That’s Denton–He crawled all the way from me, to the sandbox. It has quite the appeal.
Of course, it means I have to give baths more frequently now 🙂 and comb sand out of hair quite a little bit. But the delight we see is worth it.

Oh and the industriousness!
And there was enough sand left over that Dada made another one out the back door.

Square Foot Gardening (SFG)

So you may remember I have been in the past a gardening fail...

However, this year I may have turned the corner. I discovered Square Foot Gardening. My uncle gave me his book, and I fell in love. It’s a little different from simply raised beds and it’s working really well for me.
Words to the wise though: Even if your husband is sure that the manure behind the bed is completely composted because nothing is growing in it, you would be wise to check it first before you combine it with your Mel’s Mix.
Chances are it is full of weed seed and has not been heated enough to be fully composted, which thereby completely defeats the purpose of mixing it with vermiculite and peat moss to have ideal soil, because you’ll STILL have to weed!
But you’ll be able to keep up with it, and due to the beauty of the grid, you’ll know you’re not pulling up your baby plants.
Also? Broccoli looks nothing like red root pig weed. Don’t bother carefully weeding around it because then your dad will say, “What’s that weed you’re so carefully tending there?” And you’ll say, “Isn’t that broccoli?” And he’ll have to say, “Sorry sweetie, that looks nothing like broccoli.”

Besides, that broccoli was from old seed and was never going to grow; which brings me to tip number three.

Don’t use seeds from 2006. Or 2004. Especially if they’ve been stored in the garage. Even if you think there might be a chance they’ll sprout, and you may as well since you have them on hand, you’re really just wasting your time.
Keep these little tips in mind, and you may just grow something and it won’t be so overgrown with weeds that you can’t even find what you planted. You’ll be able to make Texas Caviar with cilantro from your very own garden and rosemary potatoes fresh from the yard!
You’ll be so proud of yourself you may just forgive yourself for tending to a pigweed for a whole month and not even knowing it.
early June
early July!

I think we’ve made progress


Baa, Baa Black Sheep

Or whitish grey as the case may be…

The shearer sits a sheep on its rump so it is quiet and still. He’s amazingly fast and doesn’t nick the sheep skin a bit. I had no idea how much fleece I would be getting when I asked our neighbor if I could buy one.
Two bags full.
That’s a lot of fleece.
Especially for a girl who had to google “how to wash fleece” and doesn’t know how to spin.
But when I learn, and get a spinning wheel. I’ll be ready!
That’s not a sheep. That’s a Great Pyrenees named Ranger, and some kids: mine and a mama goat’s.


All in a Day’s Work

We had a baby bull calf born this morning. Out in the snow, but in the sunshine. Kevin got him into the calf incubator, and came up to the house to let us know we could help feed him if we wanted. We got everyone bundled up and headed down to the barn.

Bundled up boy–too bad the snow was too deep for him to walk–I worked up a sweat carrying him and the camera all around the farm.

Kevin milking the mama.

I even gave it a go. It wasn’t too hard, but I was afraid she’d kick, because Kevin had just warned me to not let her kick the bucket out of my hand and waste the colostrum. I was more worried about my head!
Having his lunch.

After we finished with the calf, we had the girls try out the chicken feeder Kevin built. We plan to get meat chicks this spring, so we need an easy way to get more feed faster. Even the three year old can do it.

The tall white structure is about 1/2 full of chicken feed. The white building with red trim is our secondary chicken house, and the yellow building behind is an old corn crib used for nothing, but we let the chickens run in there and eat bugs.
Vintage soda cases converted to nesting boxes.
Our rooster and a few of his ladies


Spring in Farm Fresh Iowa

I would take a picture of the new baby calves under the barn, but the farmer doesn’t want them disturbed while their “dumb heifer” mamas are learning how to mother. In lieu of that I bring you pictures of water. I know. It’s exciting.

I stood in the deluge of rain in 43º temperatures with icicle hands to bring you this view. It’s because I love you, that I make these sacrifices for you.

Just south of and adjacent to our farm, the Department of Natural Resources is building a lake. Someday. Today, some of it looked like this. You may have heard Iowa is pretty much flat. That is pretty much true; we’re not really known for our waterfalls. So having this within walking distance of our house is pretty thrilling.

We lead a simple life.