Garden Plans (continued)

I wish I could take credit for all of this transformation, but the reality is that we lucked out when our neighbors decided to build a privacy fence at the same time we were doing a major backyard update.

Notice the junk and sad excuse for a fence to the left. Now turn your attention to the photo on the right. Your experience is very similar to ours - one second there was no fence and the next minute there was. Miracles do happen.

We can take some credit though. Dan and my dad worked to remove those gray bricks, level the ground, and replace them with nice big pavers. Dan whipped up that raised garden bed in no time and we planted tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and basil.

The bench didn't make it into this picture, but you can bet your bottom dollar it's out there just waiting for someone to sit on it.

We spend a great deal of time out here enjoying our little garden and yard. It's all I could hope for out of a yard. I'm grateful for the quiet morning reads and coffee, as well as the evening chats and cocktails we enjoy back there. Cheers!


Bench Ya Later

Hi, I’m Dan and I’m the guy who has been spooking around in a lot of Christa’s home repair photos. I’m also the one who pretends to be a hybrid J. Crew Model and amateur contractor.

Since becoming a home owner, I’ve had the opportunity to flex some of my atrophied carpentry muscles. Whether it’s building a workbench, leveling a backyard, or destroying plaster, I’ve enjoyed every minute of the work. My uncle calls this “sweat equity,” which is valuable in any economy.

But today I’m here to present to you a bench for sitting. I admire the craftsmanship of quality wood work and have always wondered why I couldn’t do the same. Humans have been crafting benches for centuries. Surely a millennial like myself, with a limited budget and unlimited YouTube tutorials, can build a bench from a couple of scrappy studs.

And thus my journey began.

We are standing on the shoulders of giants in terms of woodworking information. There is a YouTube video or article or Pinterest post about every technique or item you’d want to build. I knew that if I read enough tutorials I’d be able to build something that I’d be okay displaying right here on this blog. I based my project on the instructions shared on this DIY site and recommend you do the same if you want to replicate this greatness.

I’d define my work by saying it’s akin to West Elm being operated by a Hobo. From a distance the similarities are impeccable, but as you get closer you’ll notice a few missteps, an extra squirt of glue, and some gaps that add a dash of charm. It’s the imperfections that make us human, after all.

Once I had the measurements down, it wasn’t too tough to put together. I used a total of (7) 2 x 4 studs (my practice wood). After the wood is cut it’s a matter of gluing it all together. Make sure you have enough clamps!

I was drawn to this wood project because it relies on wood glue. No screws or nails. As a novice, I got a bit overzealous with the glue which resulted in a two minor dilemmas:

  • The bench temporarily getting glued to the table it was drying on. Whoops.
  • A couple of glue stains on the wood.

After sanding and staining here’s the finished product!

Man, that looks much better than it has any right looking.

Welp, bench ya later!


Garden Plans

Every apartment we had before this house lacked outdoor space. No yard, no balcony, not even that many windows. Having this little space to call our own, no matter how tiny it is, is one of the true joys of home ownership. We grill out almost every night in the summer and on Sunday mornings, I sit outside with my coffee, the New York Times crossword, and the rest of the neighborhood because dangit if these yards aren't right on top of each other.

It's not so bad, though. Our neighbor to the right keeps a beautiful garden that I envy from afar (3 feet away). To our left is a different story. As you can see in these picture, this never-ending renovation job takes place right on the other side of our modest little fence. The good news? They have started to build a double-walled privacy fence. Free fence for us and we never have to look at their mess again.

We noted it as a priority this year to really dial up our backyard game. The first step was to build a raised garden bed, which took all of 15 minutes. Dan drilled a few holes into some wood and joined them together. Not only is this great for our little vegetable garden, it also looks a lot better than the untamed soil that was spilling out onto our sidewalk. 

My dad was generous enough to spend a Saturday with us doing some landscaping and leveling out the left side of our yard. Before, it was on a total slant. We removed all of the bricks, leveled the soil and laid down paving sand in preparation for newer and bigger brick pavers that will create a patio to house a table and chairs.

Dan used an actual level out there to make sure the ground was truly Even Steven. It's a huge improvement already. Right now, we are working on the finishing touches of getting those pavers just right before we fill in the creases.

More to come on this. Our grand opening party will happen just as soon as that much anticipated privacy fence is raised.

Great Day Alert

That's the caption for most photos in my life these days. For one, they are great days. Also, it's backyard season. I would live in my backyard if I could.

My mom came over last weekend to help me prep our garden. Unfortunately, it's still a little chilly here in Pittsburgh to plant much, but the prep work was a solid start to what I hope will be a fruitful garden space.

Dan assembled our grill and patio furniture like the hero that he is so that we can enjoy delicious sausages from Marty's Market and grilled Brussel sprouts.

A special thanks to our Jambox for keeping the music and podcasts running into the evening.

In related news, Dan is trying to put together the ultimate Summer Playlist, so send recommendations this way.