5.31.2012

Setting A Stepping Stone Path



The stepping stone path I recently set in my backyard is the third path I have laid over the years.  I still have a bit more finessing of this space to do this summer, but I like how the path carved out a little seating area that faces the yard.  With a little time and elbow grease now, the set stones will require little maintenance over the years.

Here's a tutorial in case you are looking to set your own stepping stone path into existing grass.

Choose your material.  In my last house I set stepping stone paths with irregular stones that I bought at a stone yard.  I was able to pick through and choose what stones I wanted, and was careful to choose ones that were somewhat flat on one side,  and fairly large (yet small enough that I could lift them myself).  You can purchase natural stone by the pallet or by the pound at many stone yards.

For this project I repurposed rectangular-cut bluestones form our yard.  Our front path (that badly needs to be reset - but that's a project for another day) had a little side path off of it leading to a door in our garage.  We never used this path or the door, so I decided to repurpose the stones.
The bluestones are mostly smooth on one side, but quite unevenly textured on the other, so setting them is much like setting an naturally shaped stepping stone.
The uneven side wouldn't make a very good surface for stepping, so this side was placed down.  When laying the foundation for the stones I took into consideration that the bottom of the stone would would need to be leveled.

PS - Those pavers weigh a ton!  Holy upper body workout!!

The first step is to determine where the path will go and how far apart the stones will be set.  A hose is a great way to mark a curved path.  Set the stones about where you think they should be set and then walk on them several times, adjusting the stones based on where your natural step lands comfortably.   My steps ended up about 6" apart.

Use an old putty knife or other flat utensil to cut into the grass around each stone to create an outline, then move the stone to the side and use an edger to cut out the grass.  
{Side note:  I found that after cutting around the rectangle, I could then use the edger like a pizza "peel" and take out the whole rectangle of grass at once.  
I put these pieces aside and then later on filled in an area of the yard where the grass hadn't come in well.  Fingers crossed my "sod" takes over there!}

After removing the grass, prepare each hole for the stone by squaring the edges and digging out the dirt, allowing about 2" for sand along with the height of your stone.  
For these stones, which are about 2" high,  I dug down about 4 inches.

Place a layer of all-purpose sand, which is rough in nature.  I raked my fingers through the sand so the textured stone would sink into the loose sand.

With textured pavers or stones, take care to add more sand as needed to make each stone sit level with each other and just beneath the grass.  You want to embed these stones within the grass, not have them protruding out of the lawn.
Movement equals shifting which equals cracked stones later on, so make sure each stone is level and has no movement when weight bearing.  After pressing on each stone and adjusting with more sand, stand up and rock on the corners to feel if the stone is set and not moving.
From previous experience, if you take the time to set the stones properly they will look great for a long time to come!
Fill in any gaps with bits of the removed grass and dirt, packing it in tightly.  

Then step back and admire your work!
Still a long way to go…...
….but this wasn't too hard...

…..how about a fire pit next???

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****Have you entered the Cutey Shamballa bracelet giveaway yet???  It ends tomorrow - hop on over and enter right now for a cute summer accessory!****



I'm sharing this project at these fine establishments with many thanks to the wonderful hostesses!



Tickled Pink at 504 Main


5.28.2012

Mangia Mondays:: May Features

Happy Memorial Day and Mangia Monday my friends!

Are you going to be a barbecue today?  Perhaps need to whip up a little something to bring with you?  Consider one of these delights, shared on Mangia Mondays over the past month.

Crystal of Crystal & Co. offered Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas with your choice of meat - yum!

No BBQ is complete without some interesting and delicious salads.  How about Cabbage Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing from Barbara of San Fernando Street?

All the boys in my house would love these Sticky Spicy Barbecue Spareribs from Louanne's Kitchen.

If like me you desire something besides burgers and dogs at a barbecue, how about a nice healthy piece of salmon?  Justa at Fantastic Frugal Foods From Justa's Kitchen shares Salmon with Broccoli Rice that sounds amazing!

Allison from Feeding My Temple shared S'Mores Pie which I will of course be making in the near future!

The Strawberry Margarita Frozen Pie Alyssa of What's Cooking, Love? made for dinner at her parents-in-law's house was so good she already got a request for it for her mother-in-law's birthday next year!

The Lady Behind The Curtain always has great recipes!  Check out these Patriotic Cookie Dippers, which are perfect for Memorial Day or 4th of July!

Thank you to everyone who links up to Mangia Mondays.  My awesome co-host
Kristin of Delightfully Dowling 
and I are so inspired by all of you and your fabulous recipes!  Help yourself to a button if you've been featured.

Shine Your Light
Before you go, did you enter to win your choice of one of these Shamballa bracelets from Cutey??  Head over now - the winner will be drawn this Friday, June 1!

And most importantly today……
THANK YOU 
to those who serve and have served our country.

5.26.2012

Grateful

But the freedom that they fought for, 
and the country grand they wrought for,
Is their monument to-day, 
and for aye.
-Thomas Dunn English






Let every nation know, 
whether it wishes us well or ill, 
we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty. 
-John F. Kennedy


Thank you to all those who have protected our land, our rights and our freedom.


In our Memorial Day celebrations with our patriotic fruit tarts, flying of flags and decorating with red, white and blue, we humbly remember your sacrifice.

Wishing you a happy and safe 
Memorial Day weekend!

5.25.2012

May After Party

Subtitle:  Where Did The Time Go??  


Can you believe it's already the last Friday of the month?  That means it's time to share some before and  afters!  Did you make any changes to your home or your life this month?  Do tell!!

My big plan for May was to recover my headboard, re-do my bedskirt and add new shades in our master bedroom.  Like the last time I committed to getting the bedroom finished up, I detoured and worked on a totally different project.  In fact I have several "projects" to share with you today!

These first two are still works works in progress but WOW, how far they have come!  I can hardly believe how amazing these projects are turning out.   Are you ready???

Here is the first one……ten years in the making!
That yummy baby who used to shimmy backwards under the couch turned double digits this week!!
WHAT?????  How on earth could that have possibly happened???  Boy of a million funny faces, wacky sense of humor, and most affectionate and loving kid on the planet, I adore you!!

This next project is twelve years in the making as of the end of May!
In the blink of an eye my quiet, sweet, shy baby girl blossomed into a chatty, outgoing, energetic girl who fills up the house with laughter, music and crazy dance moves. Kooky, zany twelve year old girl, you are a ray of sunshine in our lives!

Those are my two favorite projects ever for the month of May :)

And yes - despite the fact that I have yet to post any home improvements or DIYs this entire month, this is still a home improvement/DIY blog!!  What is it about me committing to working on my master bedroom and then getting distracted by other projects???  (Like my dining room table that I made over in February instead of working on the bedroom….are you seeing a pattern here?)  Well, I didn't get the headboard, bedskirt or blinds crossed off my list but I did manage to surprise Mark with a little labor of love for his birthday.

I haven't blogged much about the changes we've made to the exterior of our home, and it's actually been pretty dramatic.  When we bought our house in August, 2010, it was a heavily treed lot.  So heavy, in fact, that our roof had moss, mold and GRASS growing on it!

From the driveway the house was barely visible.  It was lovely and shady, and while we appreciate the trees, there were just too many!  A huge fenced-in dog pen took up half the backyard and we tore it down right after we moved in.


Trees came all the way up to the deck.
We had somewhere around 20 trees removed, loam brought in and grass sewn, and 21 months later….
 it's a great yard for the kids to play in!

We are thrilled to have a great open yard, but now it needs some gussying up.  

To surprise Mark, I removed bluestone pavers from one of our front gardens…...
(they led to a side door on the garage that we never use)….

….and set them to make a stepping path to the deck, and create a little seating area.

Eventually two of these wicker rockers that are "staging" my mom's house right now will come home and be used in this space - I've already scrubbed them with a metal brush and given them a fresh coat of spraypaint for the 2012 season!

I also took the window boxes that were on the front of the house, completely obscured from view by the tall shrubs in front of them….
…and with the help of a very cute double-digits assistant, prettied them up a bit.  The plants will grow up and add a nice splash of color to the space over the summer (if we remember to keep them alive!)
These window boxes are a little scrolly for my taste but then again they came with a pretty good price tag, like the pavers - FREE!
And last but not least - the true birthday present for Mark was the fact that I moved all the firewood that we stored on the deck for the winter down to a pallet in this alcove, so that he wouldn't have to do it!
My firewood stacking skills are not so good, but the deed is done, and the firewood is ready for summertime fun around our firepit.

I have a little space reserved for a potting bench, inspired by Pam's fabulous makeover, and I'm on the lookout for a little coffee table.

I love being able to use this little area now.  Little by little our vision of what this house can be is coming to life, and it's so gratifying and fun to make it happen!
I wish you could join me in this very spot for a glass of wine or a fun summer mocktail!

What have you been up to, my friends??  Link up before-and-afters of any kind and share what you've accomplished!
*Please include the party button or a link back to the May Party in your blog post.
*By linking up a before and after project to this party, you give your consent for me to use your photos with a link back to your blog if I feature them.  I would love to share your awesomeness!

Happy weekend all!