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Friday, April 5, 2013

I Used a Saw and It Was Awesome!

I just checked the last time I posted.

I have concluded that I am officially the worst blogger ever!

In all reality though, we haven't been doing a lot of "home improvement" things these days, and I'm pretty sure people don't want to read about how Vern and I have spent the last month basically working, sleeping, eating and watching every single episode of Duck Dynasty. (Which if you haven't seen that show - you obviously live under a rock.)

Anyway...Vern has been on spring break this week, so not only has he been hell bent on annoying me - he also decided that this was the time to rip our kitchen apart, install a garbage disposal, wire the electrical for under cabinet lighting and get everything set up for a dishwasher. Our kitchen was a serious disaster area for a few days....

It was awesome.....(not really). And I didn't take any pictures because Vern starts to get a little cranky when I'm hovering over him snapping pictures and asking "What are you doing?" "Where does that go?" "What is this thing called?"

It was best if I just stayed out of Vern's hair. So I switched my attention to the backyard.  

We have a decent sized backyard that is full of potential.  However, there is a lot of work ahead of us.  The yard itself is very un-level, with patches of dirt intermixed with the grass. Random objects left over from previous renters occupy two of the corners, and since we're coming out of winter the trees have littered the ground in dead sticks.  

For months I have been staring wistfully at the backyard envisioning all the different things we could do.  Patios, fire pits, barbecues, garden beds, lights - basically just a functional place we can use for entertaining and dining outdoors.  

With the project Vern was undertaking, it was best if I just was out of the house.  So I jumped in the car and took a quick trip to Lowes. Almost two hours and $110 later I came back with 8 bags of dirt, 12 plants, gravel, and four 2x8x8s. 

I unloaded everything and proceeded to threaten Vern that if he didn't take a break and show me how to use the miter saw I was going to proceed without him and most likely chop off a finger - which wouldn't be good for anyone. He mumbled and grumbled, but ultimately showed me how our saw worked and how to line it up to make the cuts.  

Here's the thing though - I am horrible at planning for something like this.  Actually I'm horrible with any sort of project like this.  While we had been at Lowes earlier in the day, I had grabbed wood out of one of the isles - just some plain white wood that was already cut to the sizes I needed.  I loaded what I thought I needed into our cart - only to have Vern tell me NO.  Apparently the wood I needed was in the lumber yard.  Nothing special - just plain wood. (Apparently the wood I grabbed wouldn't hold up outdoors) 

Vern started to get "hangry" so I took him home and headed back to Lowes for these beauties. 

I may or may not have just petted them lovingly for awhile. Don't judge me. 

I still didn't have a plan at this point.  I knew that I wanted a raised garden bed roughly 2ft by 4ft and I wanted it to be level with my knees. With the boards I had, I would be able to use one board for each long side and one board for the shorter sides. 

My cuts would be pretty basic - two boards cut in half at 4ft, one board cut at every 2ft. 

I thought to myself "Oh this should be easy. Not a problem. I got this." Until I started sawing...

I must make it clear that I have never sawed anything in my entire life. Our miter saw is as simple as 
  • Line up wood
  • Measure
  • Hold handle
  • Press button on handle
  • Push down into the wood. 
However, making a good cut...IS NOT EASY. At least at first. I even had the handy laser to guide me and my first two or three cuts were still a little off. :(

Vern later told me that the rule with cutting wood is "Measure twice, cut once".  Thanks for the help after I had already made all my cuts...jackass. 

Eventually I was able to get all the pieces measured and cut. 

Then came the real puzzler. How was I going to get the two side pieces on to stay on top of one another? 

We don't have a pocket hole jig and I sure as hell didn't want to just drive screw through the boards at an angle.  I was stumped.  (SEE, bad planning on my part). Luckily, I'm dating a guy who knows what he is doing and is very patient with my inexperience.  Vern suggested that I use some scrap wood to join the two pieces together.  Since they would be joined from the inside - no one would see them - and the outside wouldn't look like crap. 

So that's what I did. 

With everything joined by 2 1/2 in wood screws. Actually the entire thing pretty much is held together with those screws. 
At this point I stopped taking pictures and started joining things together. 

Those two boards shown are the ones that I did my first cuts on...not pretty huh. 

Then I got the bright idea that I needed to add a ledge as well - but once again, I didn't think that decision through entirely and just ended up attaching random things to the top ledge. 

I ended up with this. Which I would consider to be not too shabby for never having built anything in my life. I may have danced around it yelling "LOOK WHAT I BUILT! LOOK WHAT I BUILT" till Vern told me to be quiet. He's a party pooper.

In order to protect the plants that were going to be inside the bed, I laid down Landscaping fabric that I picked up for like $6. 
I made sure that I layered it a few times.  Vern didn't think I would have a problem with weeds, but I wasn't taking any chances. 

I also grabbed some plastic to line the sides of the bed to protect it from moisture and  anything else that might harm the wood. (Again, Vern argued with me on this as well.  I'm starting to sense a trend with him.)

As punishment, I made him dump all the pea gravel for drainage into the bottom of the bed (that's not true - the bags were just two heavy for me to lift.) :( 

Then came the fun part of dumping 8 huge bags of dirt into the finished product. Lowes had these on sale for 4 for $10.  Since we don't have truck at the moment to go buy things like a ton of dirt - this was just gonna have to do. 

Once again, I let my excitement get the best of me and just started planting away without planning or taking pictures. But I snapped some once I was done. :)

 Broccoli and lettuce 


I was pretty proud of my little garden bed, but sadly I realized that I needed at least two more.  This was a big enough project for the month, so new beds are going to have to wait till next month. Vern still wasn't done with working on the kitchen (which means I wasn't allowed in the house) - so I started digging a pathway from the back door to the newly raised bed...

And then I uncovered this....

Like I've said before, our house was built in the 50's, so it has a lot of  "character" (if that's what you want to call it).  Apparently someone, at some point in time, laid down a walkway...ALL THE WAY TO THE END OF THE YARD. Over the years, it got covered with dirt and the grass grew over it.  I was ecstatic that I wasn't going to have to lay a walkway down myself.  So after moving the garden bed so that it lined up with the fence I continued to uncover the walkway. 

By 8:30 p.m. we had this...

Exhausted, tired and dirty I gave up.  

And that is currently the state of our yard right now. Shambles. 

Le Sigh. 

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