Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Whirlwind Trip

A six day trip would not usually be what would be considered a whirlwind trip, but trust me, this felt like one.  My job (other than home improvement) as a Marketing Manager takes me all over the world setting up corporate events and trade show booths.  Last weeks trip to Washington D.C was my biggest trade show of the year and I am happy to say that I survived the planning process once again.  It is one of those things where I love planning/ organizing trade shows, but there are points when the stress levels get to be a bit much.  Needless to say, I am always relieved when the show close comes around.



While not able to sight-see too much, I did find a couple of great spots worth mentioning in D.C. I should also mention that this was not my first trip to D.C so I have already seen the obvious great tourist spots like the Capital, The White House, etc..  First up, some restaurant reviews!

Here in Colorado, we are land locked so anytime I go to the East Coast, seafood is in order.  One evening we ate at SeaCatch in Georgetown and it did not disappoint.  Located right on the canal in Georgetown, the restaurant had great views, interesting history and really great food.


Another great restaurant we visited was Proof.  Let me tell you, this place is now definitely in my top ten best restaurants that I have ever eaten at.


My starter was this Ahi Tuna Tartare and I could have just kept eating this all night long.  Sooo good.


Moral of the story- if you are ever in D.C., do not miss Proof.

One evening I was also lucky enough to run through the The National Museum of American History. We had about 45 minutes there before closing and tried to make the most of it.  My favorite part was an exhibition called The First Ladies.  It was dresses worn by Presidents wives all throughout history.  I was in heaven; I was born in the wrong era...


Although, I would have looked like a giant compared to these tiny little ladies.  Mary Todd Lincoln's dress on the left there was gorgeous.  It probably would have hit me just at my knee if I were to put it on though.

So, that concludes my sightseeing- told you it wasn't much.  The majority of the time, I was happy to get back to my room after a 10 hour day at the Convention Center and just relax.  Next year, I plan to make a bigger trip out of it all though.  The show will be in Los Angeles and Eric has already said, "we're going to Disneyland!".

Monday, June 17, 2013

Fun With Concrete

Hello!  Sorry to have disappeared for a bit.  We are back in action though with some updates to share!  This weeks theme is working with or on concrete.  Eric and I chose to divide and conquer on these projects playing to our strengths.  So, while I was in Washington D.C. last weekend, Eric set out to pour a new cement path to our shed.

These pictures are from back when we were landscaping, but you can make out what has now turned into our path.  See that rail road tie to the left?  Well, that used to have a wood covering over it.  We ripped it out months ago because bunnies had made a home under there and the wood was rotted out.



We left the railroad ties in though because they created the perfect form to pour concrete in.  Seventeen bags of concrete later (he also laid rebar and rock in the bottom to form a nice base), we had a path!


My job involved painting concrete.  When building our deck, we covered most of the old concrete pad we have in are yard, but one portion was left exposed.

You can see below that previous owners had painted the concrete at some point, but it was looking pretty bad.



A few months ago, I noticed a new product at Home Depot especially for painting onto concrete or old decks.  Perfect!  I checked with the paint associates and they said that it has been selling really well and that they had heard great feedback.  So, I picked up two gallons in a very light grey/ almost white and set to work.


My first task was prep.  I started by power washing off all the paint that I could.  Then, I brushed and swept the remnants off.  Any paint that was left and looked loose, was scrubbed with a wire brush.  Twenty four hours later when everything was dry, I got to work painting.

I started by filling any cracks in the concrete using a paint brush.  This special paint will fill cracks in concrete up to 1/4" wide.


I let that set for a bit per the instructions and then started just rolling the paint on.  It took about three hours for two coats (two coats are required).  And two gallons covered this space which is about 100 square feet.



I am really happy with how it turned out; definitely a huge improvement.  I will keep you posted on how it holds up.  One thing that I did notice is that it has a grittiness to it so it will not get slick in rain, which is nice.

So, we are near done with our yard transformation of 2013.  We hope to still accomplish a couple of more things, but here is what we have done and have left to do:

Completed:
Landscaping beds
Re-seed grass
Rabbit fence around garden
Paint trim on shed
New path to shed
Strip and stain deck
Chicken coop
Automate outdoor watering system

To Do:
Lattice on sides of deck
Add weed barrier and rock to back bed
Add cherry tree in far corner or yard?

Almost done!  At some point, we would like to add a pergola to our deck, but for this year, we are pretty happy with what we have accomplished.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Traveling

Hello!  Don't worry, we haven't forgotten about our corner of the blog world.  I have spent the past week in Washington D.C for work and Eric is on his way to Canada also for work.  We will be back to our normally scheduled blogging program next week!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Reveal

Well, this isn't exactly the deck reveal that I was hoping for, but we will have to do with what we have.  We have had a rainy couple of days, which hasn't given me the sunshine that I would like for the deck photos.  In an effort not to delay any further though, I will go ahead and post some and then hopefully, get better pictures at a later date.

Without further adieu:



Close up shot:


It is definitely a big upgrade from this:


So, how did we accomplish this transformation?  Well, refer to these posts for the details-  stripper and sanding. After getting everything nicely sanded, we had to pause for a moment due to my parents being in town and landscaping happening.  Unfortunately, that time period caused exposed parts of our deck to darken and covered parts (under our deck boxes and tables) to stay light.  Knowing that we were not leaving anything to chance this time around, we decided to use a deck wash prior to staining.  Our wash of choice was Olympic deck cleaner, which we applied with a outdoor bleach sprayer (bought at Home Depot for $15.00).  This stuff is great.  You just spray it on, let it sit for 5-10 minutes and wash it back off.
Olympic 52125A 1G S-74 Premium Deck Cleaner



With our deck all nice and evenly colored, we were ready to stain.


These were our tools.  Three gallons of Olympic Deck stain in light cedar.  I poured all three gallons into this large bucket to mix and to ensure even color.  We also used a deck brush and a 3" all purpose paint brush.


From there, we just took turns either being the deck brush person or the back brush person.  Let me tell you, being the deck brush person was the job to have.  As the back brusher, you had to be on hand and knee getting into all the cracks and brushing every bit of stain that was applied.

We did this in two board sections and would go the entire length of the deck.  This ensured that we would never touch a board twice with stain when it was already dry.  We learned in the past that this is where you can get into trouble.


Four hours later, we were done (our deck is 15 feet by 35 feet)!  


So much better!!!  Now we just have to have a big BBQ to break it in.


After months of work, I am very happy to say that this deck it done!

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Deck is Done (Until Next Summer)

Hello and happy Monday to you!  Today I am jumping for joy because I can officially say that our deck is done!  Well, staining is anyway, and we are not messing with it again until next summer (at which time we may add a pergola).  If you remember, we have had quite the past couple of weeks battling our previous years bad stain job. With that lesson learned and behind us (I still have a nervous twitch when I talk about it), we were ready to get this thing done.

I should actually point out that I say that I listed some important deck lessons in previous posts, but the real lesson that I have learned from all of this is that Trex is worth every penny.  I will never again have a wood deck.  Eric doesn't fully agree with my stance, but he didn't do as much stripping and painting as I did.  We will see how he is feeling a couple of years from now.

Anyway, this is just a deck preview because the lighting was pretty bad yesterday and I want to photograph it in its fully glory.  Here is a sneak peak:


Ahhhh, nice even stain!  I will be back with a full recap later this week about our technique and the products that we used.  Hopefully, someone out there can learn from our mistakes.

Until then though, how about a little chicken and garden update?
The garden has taken off!


The peas are climbing!



And we have more lettuce then we know what to do with.


Speaking of growth, check out these chickens.


They look like real chickens now (imagine...)!


So, there you have it.  It was a weekend of staining, gardening.  See you again on Wednesday with a deck staining breakdown.