Monthly Archives: June 2018

How I almost died of self-neglect

One morning at 27 years old, I went to take down a phone number, and found that it was difficult to grip a pen.

Within hours, my legs felt so weak that I was doing this strange double-limp to be able to walk.

By the next morning, I was unable to walk without assistance. This mystery weakness deteriorated rapidly until the next day, I found myself clawing down my stairs, on my belly, to get my phone so I could call 911.

The paramedics arrived and had to break down our door to get to me, finding me face down at the bottom of the stairs. I had given everything to get the phone, and I had nothing left.

Within 24 hours, I was whisked to the emergency room and admitted, where after multiple tests and specialists, I was finally diagnosed with Guillaume Barre syndrome: a rare but deadly condition in which your own immune system attacks your body.

Leading up to this hospitalization, my life was in turmoil. I had given notice at a job that I absolutely hated, but one that provided my family of four with stable income and health insurance while I supported my then-husband through pharmacy school. I had taken a leap of faith to start my own business, but I was terrified of failure or not being able to provide for my young children, who were 1 1/2 and 5 at the time.

I was working miserable hours at my day job, then coming home, taking care of my children while my husband went to school, and then working on my side hustle until 2am. Every. Single. Night.

I was living on processed food, not exercising, not sleeping, and not addressing my stress levels. I was living chronically in survival mode.

So it wasn’t all that surprising when the specialists, standing at my bedside explaining Guillaume Barre Syndrome, told me that while the exact causes of GBS are unknown, it is possible that extreme stress could trigger your body to do crazy things like attack itself.

Even when my body was obviously breaking down in the days leading up to my hospitalization, I didn’t stop and say “Hmm, maybe I should rest.” The pen I tried to grab? That was for work. Walking with a limp? To take the kids to their activities. Walking with assistance? To a work gig that I refused to cancel just because my legs had stopped working. Clawing my way down my stairs on my belly? Because I had refused help when my husband was still at home and had shooed him off with the kids.

I know that my version of this story is an extreme version, but after working with thousands of women for years now, I also know the underlying theme to be universal.

We tend to take care of everyone around us first before we ever address our own needs, to the point of complete self-neglect. We would rather claw our way down stairs on our bellies than let others down, because we think we can live with disappointing ourselves.

But not them.

What kind of mother puts herself first? Well let me tell you, because now, I do.

I wish I could say that this experience left me a changed woman, that it was so shocking and eye-opening to neglect myself almost TO DEATH, but this was not it. It was 5 years before a divorce and my dad’s brain tumor (I know, I’ve been through some shit guys) woke me up enough to realize I had to take care of myself if I wanted to take care of everyone around me.

I just literally didn’t know another way. But now that I’ve felt the difference, I can’t believe it took me so long to get here.

Taking care of myself means I’m happier, healthier, more present, and have more energy.

This means that Austin, Gabby, Maddy, and Mike’s mom also is happier, healthier, more present, and has more energy. And Tony’s wife. And my clients’ coach.

If I’m feeling great, I can give more to them. And you know what? I just like feeling great!

What about you? Are you clawing your way through your life as a mom, or are you taking care of the caretaker?

Just like the oxygen mask goes on us first on the airplane, we have to be functional in our daily lives if we are to give anything, much less our best.

And I can guarantee, you will love how it feels.

XO,

Deanna

PS-If you are living more of a “clawing through life” existence and want to create more self-care in your routine but aren’t sure how, I just launched a . It’s for moms who WANT to get on the priority list but are struggling with it. If you are ready to take action towards creating energy and making yourself a priority, all you have to do is CLICK HERE to join. I’m so excited to work with you!

The post How I almost died of self-neglect appeared first on Fit To Be Pregnant.

Why “No Excuses” Doesn’t Work Postpartum (or ever)

If you know me or have been in this space with me long enough, you probably know that I hate the phrase “no excuses”.

I hate it so much that I have banned it from my Facebook groups. It’s literally rule #6. And as a coach, I am CONSTANTLY working to un-do the damage that this societal attitude has caused the women I work with.

If you are someone who finds the phrase “No excuses” inspiring, I don’t blame you – I understand what it can mean to some people, and I apologize for jolting you with my distaste for the phrase. Let me explain:

“No excuses” implies that I’m making excuses to someone else for my behavior – that I owe the world an explanation for the state of MY body. It invokes shame and guilt. It is condescending in nature: I found a way to be fit, and therefore you have no excuses not to be as good as me. It erases all autonomy and individuality, assuming that all of our lives and bodies are exactly the same and that just because someone appears similar to me on the outside that we’re living the same circumstances.

Whether or not that is the speaker’s actual intention is irrelevant: this is how it feels.

But there is no time that this attitude is more damaging than during pregnancy and in the first two years postpartum (really…all of motherhood). Most of us are overwhelmed with guilt, responsibilities, and leveled by the changes to our body and our lives.

We actually have tons of f-ing excuses. You really have plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t be pushing your body into the ground.

The first is sleep – or lack thereof. Exercise is actually a two part process: pushing and resting. The rest part is just as important as the pushing part. Without it, you’re just tearing your body down with no chance to recover. If you aren’t sleeping more than a couple of hours at a time at night, then intense exercise might be doing more harm than good.

The second is that you don’t owe the world a reason why your body hasn’t bounced back. Your body is yours and you are the only one who lives in it. You know what you can mentally and physically handle. Things are going to get easier as your baby grows, and you’ll be able to tackle more and more – IF YOU WANT TO. But no one is watching and judging you, and if they are, that is THEIR issue not yours.

This is the time to practice radical self-care. I liked to ask myself the questions, will this workout make me feel better or worse? If the answer was worse, I went for a walk or took a nap instead.

You don’t need the drill sergeant mentality right now, you need self-compassion and self-care. You need to learn to listen to your body and your intuition, and make decisions from a place of love. You need the same loving decision-making that you provide your children.

If this self-care mindset is unfamiliar to you, or you need help with your self-care game in general, then it’s not too late to join us in the #SummerSelfCare Challenge! 

This free challenge will teach you my MOST EFFECTIVE self-care tools and together, we can build momentum towards your healthy habits in a body positive way.
I’ll be sharing short video lessons with you with accompanying “homework” to help you FEEL the difference self-care makes. I’ll also be coaching in a private Facebook group, giving feedback and helping you with your questions.
By the end of 5 days, you’ll have a clear direction on how to implement radical self-care in the face of all of motherhood’s challenges.
To sign up for the challenge, all you have to do is CLICK HERE to sign up! It’s totally free so you’ve literally got nothing to lose! 
Hope to see you there,

The post Why “No Excuses” Doesn’t Work Postpartum (or ever) appeared first on Fit To Be Pregnant.

Everything I Know About Hydrangeas

Today’s post is all about my garden’s different hydrangea varieties and how they look as they bloom. Plus, I’ve added a few more answers to FAQs I get about my flowers!

Happy Sunday, friends! If you’ve been eyeballing my Instagram feed this spring, then there’s one thing you already know (other than I’m working hard to crank out those floating deck posts and videos this month)… it’s that my hydrangeas are blooming like CRAZY!

I have several posts in my more-than-8-year archive on hydrangeas already, ranging from bloom color to overwintering, but this year’s high bloom rate has made everything feel uniquely showy. Between the new vegetable garden, the deck, and the pub shed builds, I can’t help but LOVE seeing flowers in every direction as I work!

I suppose part of the reason I’m enjoying them so much is because they are a living, encouraging reminder of my previous efforts. They became what they are now because of the labor I put into them, so I get to enjoy that accomplishment as I am sweating and swearing in the Georgia heat.

If you just rolled your eyes at that, I know — that’s about as deep as a temporary tattoo. But it’s Sunday and I’m low on carbs, so let’s just agree to keep looking at the pretty flowers.

They’ve really been making the mess of my soon-to-be-posted deck updates look less disheveled, too.

I get questions on my hydrangeas frequently, but mostly on social media in random pictures, so I am posting today to kill two birds:

  • Answer some hydrangea FAQ and more quickly provide a resource (so I can share the link to this post when I need to answer them again) and

One of the biggest differences I see in my plants are the color and size of the blooms. That is mostly due to the variety of the plant that’s growing, so I’ll cover each of those first.

The Different Varieties of Hydrangeas That I’m Growing

“The Original”

That name by itself is kinda confusing, but the cheapest and most common ones sold in my area are this type (you’ll often see them sold in a telltale blue pot). I purchased several of these as early as 2013, but made new updates last year so they could hug the back of the house in a long row on both sides of my patio. I’ve learned not to underestimate their spacing; they may take a couple of summers to grow, but they can get VERY large if you let them!

That above photo was last year. This year, same spot:

It makes a great backdrop when Charlie decides it’s her favorite spot to cool down. <3

They can bloom anywhere from a light pink to a bright blue depending on the soil pH. I have a little more info on that further on in this post. Mine typically start a lilac color and get really blue (they almost glow!) or stay a purpley-blue color. The main cause for this is likely pine needles; even after removing my pine trees, the pH in the soil is naturally acidic from having so many years of pine needles decomposing and mixing in. The acidity encourages blue flowers — so, there you go!

(I had a moment of remembering My Big Fat Greek Wedding from that last sentence… anyone else?)

A small number that are closest to a water source come in pinker.

“Bloomstruck”

These were planted in one corner of the back yard as part of a sponsored series last year. What I love about these is that their colors are a lot deeper in hue in comparison.

I also noticed that, while the Original type have created really gigantic blooms, these seem to be smaller, more clustered together, and more productive.

This could easily be because they are less established or I haven’t yet figured out how the watering differs on this side vs the rest of the garden. So, we’ll see over the coming years if they bloom with bigger flowers or not (I suspect yes, since the ones closest to the Original type bloomed fewer, but a comparable size).

A few of them are also coming in pink, but it’s pretty distinctive how the pH of the soil can really change a lot, since the flowers that grow closest to the downspout from the house are the only ones affected!

“Blushing Bride”

While most of my hydrangeas are bright and colorful, my favorite flowers of just about any type are almost always white (anemones are some of my favorite, but I have never tried to grow them… maybe someday!). So, I bought exactly one of this variety and planted it on the other side of the fence, in the small garden I created by the air conditioning unit. These are supposed to range from faint blue-gray to white to pink, so I’m pleased to see the white/gray colors popping up!

“Twist n’ Shout”

Last year’s new garden had a huge mix-up from the local nursery I bought them from, and they mislabeled 3 of my plants as Bloomstruck when they were actually a different kind. As a result, I quickly learned the difference between a “mophead” bloom and “lacecap” bloom. These are honestly not my favorite, aesthetically, because they almost look like someone came along and blew off half the blooms (kinda dandelion-fluff-like?). So, I dug them up and replaced them with Bloomstruck as originally planned.

While I intended to return them, I basically got too distracted/lazy, and by winter, thought they were dead from leaving them in their pots. They all came back this year and are still happily living in their original pots. Of the three, I replanted one out in the front of the house to bring in some color by the trash can screen (another project I still need to cover in detail as a tutorial for you guys!). I think I’m going to plant the remaining two next to the pub shed when it’s finished this summer.

Hydrangea color changes

I’ve written a separate post a long time ago on how I get blue hydrangeas naturally, plus a few tips on what else you can do to make them change color, such as adding specially-formulated fertilizers. But the real key to the right color has two main factors: soil pH and variety. From Southern Living:

In strongly acid soil (pH below 6), flowers turn blue. In alkaline soil (pH above 7), flowers turn pink or even red. In slightly acid or neutral soil (pH 6 to 7), blooms may be purple or a mix of blue and pink on a single shrub.

While this is great info to know, there’s also the factor of the variety grown. Certain hydrangea types are less sensitive to soil pH changes, and some don’t change at all (mainly white ones). So, if you’re looking for a certain type of color, make sure that the variety you’re buying is even capable of the color you want. It will be on the label!

one bloom two colors - bloomstruck hydrangea
One bloom, two colors!

Hydrangea growth & maintenance

Honestly, these things grow themselves. As long as you avoid planting them in a windy spot and they have sufficient watering, they are very easy-care plants. I’ve planted mine in spots that basically do this on their own:

  • against the house
  • near a fence
  • next to taller shrubs or trees

There are a few parts of the country where they simply won’t grow, but if you have ever seen one of your neighbors with hydrangeas, there’s absolutely no reason to think you can’t grow them, too. I had a bunch develop spots from a fungus last year, but they came back strong. I suspect my efforts to keep a drip hose on them were what contributed to the problem, so I may have been better off to neglect them like I typically do!

I now trim them as they bloom for bouquets. Since the buds for the next year on my hydrangeas form on old growth and new, I don’t trim them back until they begin blooming (important dates and other winter care info here). Some recommend cutting them in later winter or early spring, but if you cut them when the new buds are forming, you’re cutting off the next year’s blooms.

Fall color changes

These same shrubs continue to form new buds and bloom in the fall. It’s practically a new show, because they drastically change in color. The green with pink tips are probably my favorite during this time of year.

Hydrangea bouquets

Because of the deck build, I’ve also had to trim them back early. Some were simply getting in the way, so I held off for as long as I could to get them to full bloom. Hello, bouquets!

I got my first official bouquet from my garden last year, but I’ve already had three this spring, so I consider that a pretty big win. The last bunch was really varied and colorful, so I played around with them one morning, just to see what they might inspire.

How to Keep Hydrangea Bouquets Fresh

While I have written before about how to keep bouquets (in general) fresh, I haven’t necessarily done much experimenting with my own cut hydrangeas yet. After all, this is still my first year of really cutting them for bouquets! But, I have done some online research for you, so here are some ways that people suggest keeping cut hydrangeas looking fresh after putting them in a bouquet:

I am very much an amateur in terms of styling or photography, so moments like this, with just a hot cup of coffee and a still subject, are a rare but appreciated opportunity to better know my camera and work with light. It’s also helping me to brave my bigger, but harder to use, camera that I bought a couple of years ago but haven’t quite mastered.

When I typically photograph, it’s in the middle of a tutorial (or the dogs), so I usually try to get the most interesting shot I can within about 30 seconds and then move on to the next step. Instead, this was a quiet time to play with the look of things, just for the sake of enjoying the process. I may even frame one of these shots to remind myself to do this more often. Pause. Enjoy. Appreciate.

Anyway, to those I promised to post this for, I hope you got the answers you needed! Thank you, too, because you gave me an afternoon’s worth of photography lessons as a result of your questions.

Got more questions about hydrangeas? Fire away! Oh, and have a great Father’s Day weekend!

P.S. I should mention that the nursery/brand who produces nearly everything I just mentioned were a sponsor of mine last year. I’m not getting paid or anything out of mentioning them today, but there are certain rules I have to adhere to legally (both US and elsewhere) when mentioning brands, so I still have to say it, even though you probably knew that already!

The post Everything I Know About Hydrangeas appeared first on Ugly Duckling House.

Get Ready for Summer With These 15 Modern and Fun Pool Floats

It was a long winter and it’s time to reward yourself with a little sun and pool time. Don’t just go for an ordinary poolside day, adorn yourself with the perfect accessory! Here’s a roundup of fun pool floats that make a day at the beach (or pool) memorable.

1. Mermaid tail

cool pool floats

Kicking your feet up? Why not your mermaid tail, too? Cool pool float by Jasonwell, available at Amazon, $24.

2-3. Angels have all the fun

fun pool floats and inflatable pool toys

Cool pool float designer FUNBOY created the Lips Float, $79, and the Angel Wings, $128, for Instagram-worthy floating.

4. An inflatable pool float for modern art lovers

fun pool floats

The famous Balloon Dog sculpture by Jeff Koons is now a floating sculpture, brought to a pool near you by Target, $36.

5. Poolside sweetheart

fun pool floats

Simple but to the point, Bando‘s translucent pink heart, $24, stands out from the blue colors of pool and sky.

6. The Golden Goose

cool pool floats gold swan float

Taylor Swift is obsessed with swan pool floats. This gold one by FUNBOY, available at Amazon for $79, must be in her collection.

7. Made in the shade cool pool float

fun pool floats

If you’re going to use an emoji by the pool, the shades icon is a must. This cool pool float is only $18 at Amazon. 

8. Star Wars fans float, too

cool pool floats

The Millennium Falcon float by Swimways is $30 at Amazon and makes a perfect gift for a Star Wars fan in a galaxy near you.

9. For the wine lover

cool pool floats

Some poolside rosé takes on a whole new meaning with this fun pool float available at Urban Outfitters, $25.

10. The world can be your oyster

fun pool floats

The clam design is cool and provides a back rest! And yes, it does come with a pearl. Intex Seashell Pool Float at Walmart, $30.

11. Life is all rainbows…

fun pool floats

Or at least it can be on a hot summer day, with a fun pool float. Rainbow Cloud daybed by FUNBOY, $169.

12. … and unicorns

cool pool floats unicorn inflatable pool toy

You can’t have rainbows without unicorns! And Jasonwell’s floating unicorn at Amazon, $34, is awesome for kids of all ages.

13. Keep the party going when the sun goes down

cool pool floats

A classic round floating pool toy has been fitted with colorful LEDS. By Pool Central at Amazon, $52.

14. (Rose gold) pink flamingo

fun pool floats

Metallics are hot in home design — and in pink flamingos, too. Rose Gold Flamingo float by Sunnylife at Nordstorm, $25.

15. Put the top down and go retro

fun pool floats

How about a retro convertible pool float? FUNBOY even has a matching float for your dog!

Want to see some modern, amazing pools that would be the perfect home for one or two of these cool pool floats? Check out this roundup of 40 sublime swimming pools.

Did these fun pool floats get you in the mood for summer? Which one is your favorite?

The post Get Ready for Summer With These 15 Modern and Fun Pool Floats appeared first on Freshome.com.

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DIY Floating Deck, Part 2: Frame & Waterproofing

I’m building a floating deck in my back yard! Catch the whole thing, start to finish, right here.

Hey guys! It’s time for the next post in this long-awaited (at least, for me!) update. I’ve finally gotten enough coffee in my system and quieted the dogs long enough to finish this post and give you another written + video combo.

Brace yourselves, we’ve got a lot to cover!

If you recall from the first post where I talked about the deck plan, I shared the overall design, explained some of the decision making that went in, and where my challenges/research led.

Once I’d come up with my overall plan… it was time to get to work!

Recommended tools and materials

May contain affiliate links or links to related posts

  • Ground Contact lumber – 2x6s, 2x4s, and 1x4s (more on why below)
  • shovel or mattock
  • stainless steel brackets/joist hangers

Ground Contact lumber

One of the biggest new pieces of info I picked up as I made my deck plan was discovering that I would likely need to use Ground Contact lumber for the entire project. I was excited to bring Wood Its Real onboard as a sponsor, and I’m so glad I did when I did, because it was through them that I learned about these new recommendations.

As common sense would tell you, outdoor wood projects need more protection than the stuff you’d use on the interior. And most of you probably also know about using “pressure treated” or PT wood for common outdoor projects to make them last longer. But as of 2016, there are new guidelines designating what kind of pressure-treated lumber should be used, and when. As you might guess, part of it is in the name. Since termites and fungi and all sorts of nasty critters live in the ground, that type of contact is especially important to protect against. There are a few other scenarios where Ground Contact is recommended:

  • Wood will come in contact with soil, vegetation, leaf litter, and debris that can hold moisture for extended periods of time.
  • You don’t expect good air circulation, especially on the underside and between decking boards.
  • Wood components are installed less than six inches above the ground and are supported by treated wood or concrete without a moisture-transferring barrier/break.
  • Wood is in direct contact with material that already shows signs of decay.
  • Wood gets wet on a very frequent, recurring basis and doesn’t have time to dry adequately.
  • You are building in a tropical climate.

Well, whaddya know… my new deck is going to meet a LOT of that criteria!

I noticed that my local Lowe’s was kind of half-and-half about having Above Ground and Ground Contact lumber, but the nearby Home Depot seems to have switched out almost all of theirs for Ground Contact. Honestly, it makes sense with a store’s limited shelf space.

Building a floating deck frame

Build outer frame

I began by cutting and building the outer frame. I could have started with the deck blocks and supports and laid it all out, but for whatever reason, this way just seemed to make more sense to me.

For the outer frame, I pre-drilled each hole and used exterior screws. Don’t waste your time like I did! Use exterior screws that don’t need pre-drilling. Like the Ground Contact lumber, you spend a little more for better quality materials. It’s worth it.

Elevate and level out

The frame, at this point, was screwed together, but it was still a rickety mess. To keep the corners square, I reinforced them with a piece of scrap lumber. I would later discard these once the rest of the frame and other supports went in.

I also lifted up the frame using some scrap lumber and my 4-foot level (one of my favorite hand-me-downs from my grandfather). It’s normal for things like this to still have a  s l i g h t  slope for water runoff (it only looks level, but isn’t), so I noted the way the level looked when laying it on the patio and tried to match the same slope with the deck frame.

Space out supports

I marked every 16 inches and placed another 2×6 in the frame. The longest boards I brought home were 12 feet, but the deck is longer at one end. So, I added another board a couple of feet from the end to give the 12-foot boards something to screw into. Kinda easy, but it helps to have someone assist by holding up all the other ends.

At all corners and in the one spot where I used a 4×4 to help elevate the deck, I added self-tapping structural screws (at this point, I finally bought better ones that didn’t require pre-drilling). For the rest of the structure, I went back through and secured with self-tapping 3 1/8″ fasteners (you can just do this the first time and avoid the double effort!). I also added some stainless steel brackets on some of those joists that I thought were high enough off the ground to add it.

Note: hardware not pictured — I did a lot of second-guessing myself at one point and chose to add more hardware/brackets on the joists of the highest side as the deck boards went on. But since some of my research argued against using it in areas with direct ground exposure, I used them only where I thought applicable. I can really only say “use your best judgment and consult a structural engineer” if you have questions, since this is still my first time building something like this —  and, of course, I’m a homeowner messing with her own house, not a professional contractor. This thing mostly sits on the ground, so I’m not super worried about falling down and/or not lasting for as long as I want it. But as with any large build, one tutorial is never enough! It’s always best to read multiple tutorials and make the most informed decision possible. <3

Waterproofing a deck

Somehow, a deck, the Wicked Witch, and cotton candy have the same greatest foe: water.

To combat this (at least, in the deck’s case), there are a number of different options. While we may call this “waterproofing”, what we’re really talking about is adding moisture barriers to help the wood dry out as quickly as possible. Rot is still a natural inevitability with just about everything; we’re just trying to prevent that as best we can. They’re all good suggestions, but doing a combination of more than one seemed like the right option for me:

  • Using ground contact lumber (6 inches or less above ground, in contact with concrete, etc.) –
  • Laying down landscaping fabric and gravel under the deck –
  • Brushing a sealant on cut joist ends
  • Using flashing tape on the frame (prevents water from sitting in between the deck boards and the joists) –

After spacing out the deck blocks and digging them down, I surrounded everything with landscaping fabric and gravel. K did most of the hauling, so he gets full credit on that (we wound up thinning out the gravel a little from these pictures to use under the shed too, but you get the idea).

I spent some time adding more braces to reinforce the structure as well. Then, I began adding flashing tape.

In order for the flashing tape to stick, the surface needs to be clean and dry. However, this whole deck was built as the spring rain storms swept through, so that was much easier said than done. In Georgia, spring can often be a full day of threatening rain (but not actually raining), or intermittent storms, or blazing sun. It’s always a toss-up. Hard to plan for outdoor projects when the rain is exactly what needs NOT to happen in order to get to the next step!

Whenever the rain splashed dirt on the wood, we’d wait for things to dry out and then apply the tape. A cheap dish brush (that I’ve used for outdoor projects in the past) made quick work of getting things clean.

Since the weather wasn’t always the best assistant, there was a lot of skipping around. We basically spread out the gravel, applied flashing tape, and put in a bunch of braces between the joists all at once… whichever was the easiest to accomplish in the moment.

Building a deck over a concrete patio

I put off what I thought was going to be the hardest part until the end. I’d been reading and researching a lot on this part, and I found my answer on Family Handyman. In order to create a small section over the concrete patio, I would have to screw wood “sleepers” into the concrete. Then, after lining it up with the rest of the frame, I could add the decking on top.

But, once again, one of the more important things to keep in mind is wood touching (or rather, not touching) concrete. I had already built the new frame to have a gap between the outer frame and and the sides of the patio, to which I also added gravel. Then, we drilled a drainage hole in the corner and fit a plastic pipe through (this is potentially where we might try to run power in the future out into the yard, but we didn’t actually do any of that yet… it’s more of a “let’s plan to maybe do this just in case we want it later” type deal).

In my research, I found that if I put some type of composite/plastic product in between the wood and the patio, the deck would last longer. But the thinnest composite trim I was able to find at the store was still too thick to fit the 2×4 on top and still have it line up with the rest of the frame. Enter: plastic shims.

As a solution, I stacked the 2x4s on top of 1x4s (yes, Ground Contact!) and cut them to length at 45-degree angles. I then used the plastic shims to elevate them and get to the correct height.

Using a hammer drill and specialty drill bit (it comes with the concrete screws), I slowly found a way to screw through and line it up. Basically, I put the 1×4 in place and marked for screws every wo feet. Then, I pre-drilled through the wood with a normal drill bit. Next, I drilled through the hole with the concrete drill bit into the patio. This marked the hole in the right place so I could continue with just the hammer drill.

Tip: drill a little bit at a time and deeper than you’ll need. Pull the drill bit back out of the hole periodically to help remove dust and drilling the hole a little deeper will prevent the remaining dust in the hole from clogging things up when you fasten the screw down.

Once the 1×4 and shims were fastened to the patio, I stacked the 2×4 on top and screwed them into the 1×4.

In some cases, shims were needed multiple times, but the main objective was to get it all to line up with the rest of the frame.

You can see in the pic below that I had cut composite trim to attempt to use them as spacers… oh well! Guess now I have to find a use for a long piece of plastic trim that I can’t return (I already have an idea for use in the kitchen).

Once things were all in place, more flashing tape went on top (though I cut the roll in half this time instead of thirds, since the boards were wider here).

I also wrapped corners where I thought screw holes or joints would allow moisture.

And just like that, we were ready to start adding the deck boards! In the next post in this series, I’ll cover the decking process in detail, along with a nifty tool that worked extremely well and kept things evenly spaced. It was a little extra work to get an angled deck instead of laying the deck boards straight, but in the end, I think it’s totally worth it!

Thanks so much for following along, friends! I hope you found this helpful so far. If it’s beneficial to you, I’d love it if you subscribed for more updates so you don’t miss the next deck post. There will be a few DIYs in between that I’ve been meaning to cross off my to-do list for summer (plus, it’s nice to break things up, because it feels like my whole LIFE has been about this deck for the last month! ), so you’ll see those next!

The post DIY Floating Deck, Part 2: Frame & Waterproofing appeared first on Ugly Duckling House.

Check Out Amazon’s Furniture Lines for Farmhouse and Modern Design Fans

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Amazon has its pulse on furniture design trends. And the proof is in its bespoke Amazon furniture lines, created for two of the hottest design styles today: farmhouse and modern.

According to Amazon, its farmhouse furniture line, Stone & Beam, “brings family-inspired, casual comfort home.” The mid-priced quality pieces range from furniture to bedding to an excellent selection of lighting.

amazon farmhouse furniture

Stone & Beam Parson Queen Bed, $749

The modern-style Rivet home line is a combination of “Mid-Century and industrial Modern design to bring you beautiful, affordable pieces for your ever-evolving lifestyle.” It’s even got a small-space living collection for studio and tiny house dwellers.

amazon furniture

A selection of items from Amazon’s new modern furniture line, Rivet.

Get your Prime membership ready, here are some of the best pieces in the Amazon furniture collections.

Stone & Beam Farmhouse Items
Rivet Modern Items

Amazon’s Stone & Beam farmhouse lighting

amazon furniture stone & beam farmhouse lighting

Stone & Beam Mesh 4-Light Pendant Chandelier With LED Bulbs, $139

Stone & Beam farmhouse rugs

amazon furniture stone and beam farmhouse

Contemporary Colorful Fringe Wool Rug, 5×8 $199, 8×10 $299

Farmhouse home decor from Stone & Beam

Amazon furniture from Stone & Beam

Modern Amazon furniture from Rivet

Rivet modern and industrial lighting

Industrial Geometric Cage Light With Bulb, $60

Rivet modern home accents

Modern Shibori Watercolor Gaurmet-Washed Stripe Full/Queen Duvet Cover Set, $100

All products from Amazon’s furniture lines come with free shipping and a 30-day return period. What pieces do you want to try in your space?

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Mini Garden Deck | Scrap Deck Boards Made Useful

This “mini garden deck” made from scrap deck boards has already made a huge difference in keeping my feet dry around the new vegetable garden.

Hey everyone! As you saw from yesterday’s deck update, I’ve been spending a lot of time outside. Between that, the new vegetable garden, and the new shed build, I’ve been in a summer state of mind for quite some time. I’ve also kind of HAD IT with walking on muddy dirt patches (Georgia’s spring rains this year have been nuts!). With summer officially starting today, and with plenty of scrap deck boards around, I decided to hop in with the #scrapwoodchallenge and created my own solution for better garden maintenance. I’m calling it my “mini garden deck” !

My new vegetable garden bed has been a learning process. One part of that has been realizing that this area is going to get a lot of upkeep-related foot traffic.

So, as proud as I am of how well things are going, I have noticed a major drawback: frequent visits have made the inner triangle of the L-shaped garden bed a little dirt-rich and grass-poor. I put down some landscaping fabric intending on eventually covering it with gravel, but then realized how well the leftover deck boards could solve the problem… without an additional materials purchase!

Recommended Tools and Materials

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  • scrap pressure-treated deck boards
  • stair balusters (other strips of scrap wood is fine, I just used what I had available)
  • pencil

The deck boards I used are designated for Ground Contact, which is recommended for wood projects that sit within six inches of the ground. You can find more about that here.

How to make a mini garden deck from scrap wood

Start in the middle

Keeping in mind that this was scrap, I basically took the materials available. I bought stair balusters and wound up not needing them, and I’m kind of terrible about returning leftover materials. I used these as stringers for fastening the deck boards together. Many had been cut already to fit the floating deck (and therefore could not be returned), but some were long enough pieces where they could be reused.

Since I was kind of winging it, I placed the stair balusters on the ground, on top of the landscaping fabric and spread them out, fanning in a sort of triangle shape. These would be what I would screw the deck boards to. If you’ve ever seen a wooden sign and looked on the back, it’s a pretty similar concept (such as here and here).

I began where I thought would be the middle (ish) of the L-shaped area, and cut my deck board at 45-degree angles on both ends.

From this, I cut more pieces to help form a triangle shape until the space was filled. I dry fit each board into place and then began fastening them to the strips underneath.

Spacing

For spacing, I used some old plastic spacers I bought a long time ago for installing the laminate flooring in my house (just held onto them, because I just knew they’d be useful again ). If you don’t have something like this, insert a few nails between the boards — anything that will serve as a temporary wedge to provide a small gap. You’re mainly looking for spacing to allow the wood to expand and contract with moisture fluctuations.

Screw together and fan out

I screwed in the first board on both ends where it met the stringers from the top down (2 screws on each end of the board, 2 screws down the middle). When the board was attached and spacing set, I moved the spacers to the next gap and fastened the next board. So on, and so on, until the entire triangle was complete.

If you were to look at the back, it would look like a hot mess — the stringers (the stair balusters) that attach to the deck boards are practically random in their placement.

But since you’ll never see them, all that really matters is that they are enough material to hold the entire thing together. Since the ground was soft from the frequent rain, I merely needed to stand on it the new platform to sort squish into the ground and hold in place. The corner was kind of an awkward spot with how narrow it got, so working an extra piece of the baluster (vertically) into the corner was a perfect fit.

And boom: no more muddy feet when maintaining the garden. It actually kind of finishes the area nicely, too.

There’s still a little more work to be done to make the widest end look more finished, but since I still have the shed build left to complete, I’ll wait to use up the remaining full-length deck boards before re-purposing one for the garden bed. This whole area is going to look so great!

I just love scrap wood projects… so feel free to do a little looking around at the links on this list. Jen from House of Wood asked a bunch of us to share some scrap ideas, and there’s LOTS more below!

Check out these other awesome Scrap Wood projects:

The post Mini Garden Deck | Scrap Deck Boards Made Useful appeared first on Ugly Duckling House.

Move Over, Millennial Pink. Melodramatic Purple Is Here

melodramatic purple

Melodramatic purple adds sophistication and visual interest to any space. Image: Elad Gonen

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Millennial pink has had its day. The warm shade shaped a number of decor trends in 2017. 2017 is over, though, and the new year is bringing hot new hues. One of the hottest is actually a cool, calming color. If you haven’t already been exposed to melodramatic purple, let us introduce you.

This color started its climb to the top just recently. The name “melodramatic purple” came into the spotlight in August of last year, when Lorde stepped onto the red carpet in a dress of this color. Now, it’s cropping up as a go-to shade for fashionistas and interior decorators. Why?

Melodramatic purple replaces the youthful vibes of millennial pink with sophistication and subtlety. While the pink was ideal for accent pieces and pops of color, this chic purple stands in for neutrals and shines when featured in major design pieces. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can incorporate melodramatic purple into your home decor.

Melodramatic purple yard decor

Decorating your outdoor spaces can be challenging. You want them to feel fun and fresh, but you also need to consider colors that can hold up when exposed to the elements. Fortunately, this year’s favorite purple can come to the rescue. Because melodramatic purple is already a soft hue, it doesn’t change much as it fades in the sun. It’s an ideal color for any outdoor upholstery and umbrellas.

Or, if you’re looking for a more natural way to incorporate this trending shade, grow it. Lavender bushes thrive with infrequent watering, making them ideal for black thumbs and water-conscious gardeners alike. Mexican sage is another low-maintenance way to add splashes of purple to your yard.

melodramatic purple - patio

This purple hue dresses up a patio and wears well in the sun. Image: British Association of Landscape Industries

melodramatic purple - backyard

Purple blooms keep your yard looking fresh without overwhelming it with color. Image: Peter A. Sellar

Melodramatic purple curtains

If you’re attracted to melodramatic purple but don’t want to be married to it forever, turn to your curtains. The changing season is a great time to swap out your window coverings and refresh your home. Add purple curtains to your dining room to give the space a luxurious feel. Remember, purple is the color of royalty. The soft touch of this drapery swap will make your space feel lush and inviting, even as it adds an air of sophistication.

This curtain swap is also ideal for rooms where you want to add a sense of calm, like a nursery or office. If you’re feeling frazzled sitting at your desk, this soothing hue can help you recenter.

melodramatic purple - dining room curtains

Melodramatic purple curtains look lush and rich. Image: Austin Bean Design Studio

melodramatic purple - office curtains

Add a sense of calm and softness to any space with curtains in this color. Image: D’Apostrophe Design

Melodramatic purple furniture

Even if you find an affordable piece of furniture, there’s still the time-investment factor. There are many choices to consider: shape, size and fabric. Statement couches in vibrant hues are fun and add a notable design element, but will you get sick of the color?

Melodramatic purple provides a happy middle ground between the same-old neutrals and high-saturation hues that could go out of style. The mellow but interesting color adds a cosmopolitan touch to any living area without overwhelming the space.

melodramatic purple - couch

Complement the soft purple hue with neutrals to add depth to a room. Image: Amy Schwartz Interiors 

melodramatic purple - sofa

Melodramatic purple couch and armchairs help create a warm and soothing space. Image: LA Home Photography

Melodramatic purple is making its mark on the design and fashion world. When you incorporate it into your home, you’ll not only be on-trend, you’ll also work an interesting but balanced shade with staying power into your decor.

How will you use melodramatic purple in your home? Let us know in the comments.

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Get Ready for Warm Weather With This Ultimate Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

Summer is almost here. Before it officially arrives, give yourself a chance to beat the heat by prepping your home for the coming season. If you aren’t sure where to start, you’re in luck. Below is our ultimate summer home maintenance checklist. Follow the steps described and, before you know it, you’ll be ready for the best part: summer entertaining.

curb appeal

Wash your windows thoroughly. Image: Roost USA Inc.

Wash windows and screens

Believe it or not, this task doesn’t begin with the glass. You want to start by cleaning the screens. Use a vacuum to bring up any loose dirt. Then, scrub each one with some dish soap and a bristle brush to remove any lingering debris. When they’re clean, set them outside to dry completely before using.

Now, tackle the windows. Make a solution that’s one part hot water and one part vinegar. Then use a sponge or squeegee to wash each window. After washing, use a rag to dry each one. Use extra caution when on a ladder for second-floor windows. Finally, replace your clean screens.

fan

Make sure your family stays cool. Image: Borges Brooks Builders

Prep your HVAC and fans

The last thing anyone wants is to find out on a blistering hot day that their air conditioning system and fans aren’t working. Before temperatures get too high, make sure your systems are in working order.

To work on your HVAC, start by turning off the power to the unit for safety. Then remove the grills protecting the system’s fan and use a refrigerator coil brush to clean out any debris that’s accumulated in the fan over winter. Replace the grills and take the time to either clean or change the system’s filter. Finally, look over the coils for any signs of fraying or obvious wear and tear before testing the system. If needed, call in a professional to make any larger system repairs.

After you’re done, prepping your fans is a much easier task. For this, you simply need to take a ladder and a rag to dust off your fan blades. You may also want to locate the fan’s spin direction switch to ensure the blades are spinning counterclockwise. This will push cool air downward and help you save on energy.

windows

Boost curb appeal. Image: Terracotta Design Build

Freshen up your exterior

Next up, take a look at your home’s exterior. It should shine in summer. Upon inspection, if there are any signs of rot or damage from the winter, repair those spots first or bring in a professional to do so. Then, power wash the exterior to get rid of stuck-on dirt and debris. Lastly, look to see if your home’s paint job needs a touch-up. If so, fill in those spots on a day when you have nice weather.

Keep in mind that summer is also the perfect time to boost curb appeal. If you haven’t already, invest in a few flowers to decorate the front of your home, make sure your lawn is well cared for, and consider sprucing up your front entrance by cleaning light fixtures and investing in a fresh welcome mat.

deck

Get your deck ready to party. Image: Randle Siddeley

Prep the deck

If you have an outdoor space like a deck or patio, now is the time to get it ready for entertaining. Start by looking for any loose boards or other signs of disrepair. Fix those first. Then, if needed, sand and restain the surface.

When the deck is in good shape, focus on the furniture. A warm, soapy rag should be all that’s needed to wipe it down after a long winter. Then, when everything is dry, put it out where it belongs and enjoy!

driveway

Give your driveway a new coat. Image: Mariani Landscape

Reseal the driveway

The final task is to reseal your driveway or give it a new coat of asphalt. To do this, start by power washing the entire surface to make sure it’s as free of dirt as possible. (If there is too much dirt, the asphalt won’t set properly.) Allow it to dry completely.

When you’re ready, fill in any large cracks or potholes with asphalt crack filler. Then, take a long-handled bristle brush and use the liquid asphalt to form a border around the bottom and sides of the driveway. Since asphalt is messy, this will give you guidelines to stay within as you work. Next, use a squeegee to spread the asphalt evenly across the entire driveway. Work in sections to avoid having the asphalt dry before you’re done.

Are you caught up on your summer home maintenance checklist? Which tasks are on your list? Share them with us in the comments.

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