Deuce Cities Henhouse

Fall Landscaping and Garden Clean-Up

Hello Friends! You know it’s that time of year when you’ve got to starting thinking about all that boring, tedious, endless yard work you’ve got comin’ at cha. That’s how most people see it anyway, but I actually find a lot of satisfaction from getting my garden in tip-top shape. It helps knowing that that extra effort will give your garden and lawn the best shot at a great spring. Here’s a few of the things that are on my fall check list every year. Happy end-of-year gardening, to ya.

Lower Mower Deck

Give your lawn a good trim before you put it to bed for the winter. For the last mow or two set your mower blade low, cutting the grass between 1″ and 2″. Cutting the grass short prevents disease from setting in over the winter. It also allows that last little bit of sunlight to get to the roots. An additional benefit, leaves have less of an area to imbed themselves on.

Consider renting an aerator or having someone aerate your lawn this fall. Aerating your lawn allows oxygen and water to get to the grasses roots and also prevents against thatch.

Continue to rake the leaves as they fall. You don’t want the leaves to become matted on the lawn as they could create perfect environment for fungal disease.

Divide & Cut Back Perennials

In general, it is best to divide spring and summer blooming perennials in the fall, and fall bloomers in spring. By dividing the plant when it is not flowering, all the plant’s energy can go to root and leaf growth. There is always lots to consider and edit during this process. If I have a plant that did not do well in one location, now might be the time to move it to a new spot. Also, consider the size of the plant before dividing, I only divide a plant every few years or when it becomes to large for the space that it’s in.

If you have an interesting plant that winters well, such as sedum of echinacea, feel free to leave it in your garden. This fall I left the stems on all the sedum and phlox. The sedum were left for visual interest and the phlox were left because I lost many of them last year, and I want to a visual marker of where they are located for when the spring comes next year.

Take care when pruning and winterizing roses (reference the internet for specifics on roses) and heuchera (only remove leaves that look damaged) and make sure not to cut back woody plants such as hydrangea and clematis.

This is also time to cut back your perennials, do this once the foliage begins to die as this is a sign of the plant getting ready for winter. Cut the foliage back to 2-3″ from the base.

After your gardens are winterized add a good layer of mulch or leaves are added to help protect the perennials over the winter months. Don’t remove the mulch until after the frost has left the ground in the spring.

Here are a few perennials that can be divided in the fall:
Daylily | Peony | Phlox | Hosta | Ornamental Grasses | Cone Flower |Astilbe
Here are a few perennials that can be cut back in the fall:
Hostas | Daylily | Iris | Peony | Sedum | Salvia | Astilbe | Coneflower | Ferns | Ornamental Grasses | Asiatic Lilies | Phlox | Bleeding Hearts | Dianthus

Winter Summer Bulbs & Tubers

If you live in a cold climate you better consider wintering your bulbs and tubers if you want to plant them again next year.

After the first good frost (usually when you lose blooms and the leaves turn black), cut down your bulbs and tuber plants back leaving only a few inches of stalk remaining. Using a gardening fork or a small shovel, dig up the bulbs or tubers.

Store the bulbs or tubers in peat moss away from frost for the winter. I put my Dahlia tubers in the back of my kitchen pantry.

A list of bulbs or tubers you may want to consider saving this fall:
Dahlias | Cannas | Caladiums | Callas | Gladiolus

Harvest Seeds

Hey! Did you know you can collect seeds from your annuals to plant again next year? I am big fan of planting zinnia’s and impatiens by seed, usually sowing in doors in late February.

It’s easy to collect the seeds. All you need to do is collect the flowers, wait for them to dry out, seperate the seeds from the flowers and husks. Store your seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dark, dry location. Make sure to label the container with the variety of seed and year.

Here is a great resource for collecting seeds from annuals.

Common annuals you can collect seeds from:
Impatiens | Petunias | Marigolds | Coleus | Zinnias

Water Trees and Plants

Give your gardens a good drink of water before the frost and snow comes, and don’t exclude trees, they might need it the most. Make sure to water deeply and slowly making sure that you are getting the root zone. I set a sprinkler at the base of the tree to make sure that the roots are getting a good drink.

As a general rule of thumb, apply ten gallons of water for each diameter inch of the tree. For example, a two-inch diameter tree will need twenty gallons per watering. Make sure to get each tree one to two good waterings before the winter frost. Mulch will help the soil moisture.

Here’s a great tip: Hoses emit water at different rates anywhere from 1-6 gallons per minute. To test the emission rate of your hose, fill a garden bucket to measure your amount per minute.

Plant Spring Bulbs

Fall is the prime time to plant spring bulbs! In general you want the evening temperatures to be between 40º and 50º degrees to ensure the ground is cool.

You can plant bulbs just about anywhere in the garden, just make sure to read the label when planting to ensure proper planting depth. Bulbs don’t like to be too wet so make sure the soil you’re planting has good drainage. Loosen the soil before planting so the roots can easily grow throughout the winter.

For high impact in the spring, plant bulbs in clusters!

Protect Vulnerable Trees & Shrubs

If you’re like me, you may have a few tender plants, trees or shrubs in your garden that need a little extra loving to get through the winter. For me, it’s my Japanese Maple. Zone 4 is an iffy climate for a Japanese Maple, but if you baby it a little in the fall, the tree will be much more likely to survive the winter.

Burlap is recommend for protecting these sensitive trees. Burlap is eco-friendly, biodegradable and strong. It is ideal for protecting newly planted trees, and trees subject to powerful winter winds, sub zero temperatures and hard frosts.

image credit : found it on da net.

Trees and Shrubs you may consider protecting:
Flowering Dogwoods | Paperbark Maples | Japanese Maples | Ornamental shrubs and Connifers
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Kitchen Table Makeover with Amy Howard

Table and Bench Makeover using Amy Howard at Home paints and waxes
Hello, Budz! I’m excited about this post, like more excited than I knew I would be. I got the chance to work with an amazing line of products, something that was a real game changer for me.

Do you know about Amy Howard? I have to admit that I didn’t going into this, but have discovered a bit about her and a lot about her line of products, Amy Howard at Home. “I know”, I’m getting tired of myself starting these posts with “I didn’t know about this thing, but now I do, and it’s pretty cool”, but what am I supposed to do when that’s really true, and that really happened. Maybe I need to become a better story teller, or something.

Amy Howard at Home One Step paints and waxes
How do you feel about antiquing furniture and faux finishes? If you’re like me you’d say “meh”. However, once I got the Amy Howard at Home paints and waxes in my hands it was a different story. I was excited to use the chalk based One Step paint, and I was even more amped up after the first few strokes. This stuff went on like no paint I had ever used before. Can I say that it almost felt fool proof? It was nice and thick and smooth, it was easy to apply with a flat China Bristle brush (I was definitely doubting how well this would work) and within seconds I began to realize so many things that could be possible with this paint. I’m a real sucker for spray painted finishes when I want that flat matte look, but this One Step paint achieved that rich matte feel way better than my favorite can of spray paint could have. From now on I will have a can of black and white One Step on hand at all times.

Paint Swatches using Amy Howard at Home
Discovering this paint was just the tip of the iceberg. I started by doing a little experimenting by using swatches of the flat black as the base. I then began to add different waxes and even the ‘Dust of Ages‘ powder to see what other sort of finishes I could achieve. Two things happened during this process, I realized that antique-ish finish and textures that actually pass for old might change the way I felt about “faux” finished furniture. Secondly, I was amazed by how easy, creative and relaxing the whole process was. Like, I haven’t been so into painting something in a really long time, over the years it has become such a chore, but this time it was a real pleasure – don’t laugh at me, it was.

I spent the better part of an afternoon finding just the finishes I desired for our new/old kitchen table. Whut? Hold the phone! I forgot to tell you about the actual project – more proof that I totally blow at trying to convey a story using words and stuff.
Ikea Table before Amy Howard Makeover
Okay, Let me get you up to speed. I madeover, refinished and updated our mostly original century-old-kitchen two years ago. The whole makeover was a success and I invested a lot of time into refinishing and repairing cabinets for not a whole lot of money. I really wanted a new table for our kitchen but funds were limited so I made the most of the old formica table (with chrome legs) that I had been carting around with me for the last ten years. It was a good stop gap but it just didn’t fit with the style of the kitchen.

Recently, I was able to purchase a new/old Ikea Ingo table off the craigslist. I especially like looking for Ikea stuff on craigslist because there is such an abundance of it, and often the Ikea furniture is only slightly used and the cost is a fraction of what you’d pay at the store. I’ve also found our round Ikea Docksta table, as well as covers for the Karlstad sofa all on the old CL. I had to purchase the bench from Ikea, but it was pretty inexpensive. The bench was much longer than the table. I chopped it down so it would tuck in nicely but would still be large enough to accommodate two boy butts. If you’re interested in how I modified the Nornäs bench – you can find some photos I shot with instructions right here :)

Farmhouse Table Inspiration

The goal was to take this unfinished pine table and bench and transform it into a modern farmhouse table. Adding texture and depth to the top would give it the look of age, and painting the legs and skirt a flat black would give a nod to modern aesthetic.

How To : Painting with Amy Howard One Step Paints and Waxes

How To : Painting with Amy Howard One Step Paints and Waxes

How To : Painting with Amy Howard One Step Paints and Waxes

Table and Bench Reveal using Amy Howard at Home paints and waxes
So here is the cool thing, Amy Howard at Home has teamed up with Ace Hardware (aka the best place in the world) and you can now try out the Amy Howard line for yourself next time you stop in at Ace. Please, if you love matte neutrals, then at the very least you’ve gotta check out the black and white paints. I’m not kidding this paint is insane, I can’t image touching another project again with a can of spray paint. It goes on like butta, and there is no redudnant priming or prepping involved. The paint seriously only does good, I swear even drips will look great.

If you’re a little more adventurous the line also features furniture lacquer, antiqued paint, metal and glass effects, and custom brushes (which I totally got into). I wish I knew about this stuff earlier because I would’ve definitely used it on some of my previous furniture makeovers – so many possibilities with this stuff!

Table and Bench Facelift using Amy Howard at Home paints and waxesTable and Bench Facelift using Amy Howard at Home paints and waxes

Table and Bench Facelift using Amy Howard at Home paints and waxes

Table and Bench Makeover using Amy Howard at Home paints and waxes
So, you’re interested? Good. Amy Howard is hosting a free live online workshop later this week (Thursday, October 22 at 12pm CST) at Learn how to rescue and restore your old or (new/old) furniture using Amy’s signature One Step Paint™, You can pre-register over here.

The party doesn’t end there, people. In addition, you can also enter Ace’s Hardware’s Rescue. Restore. Redecorate. Amy Howard at Home Sweepstakes for the chance to win a trip for two to Memphis to attend an Amy Howard workshop plus a $500 Ace gift card.

Ace is also giving you the chance to win a $100 buck-a-roos over here on the blog too! Follow the link below (nestled in the pink) to enter – you can enter multiple times if you choose to follow along on with me on instagram or facebook. Good luck!

I’m excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided me with compensation and some of the materials necessary to complete this project! All opinions are my own. Thanks a biznillion, Ace!
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LED Lighting & Ace

LED Lighting Makeover
Whazzup! I’ve got some cool news that I’m excited to share with you today. My good pals over at Ace asked us Ace Bloggers to makeover a room using LED light bulbs, and I was all like “whut?, but I like my old fashioned incandescent bulbs – please, no”.

I always liked the warm light that a standard incandescent bulb gave off and I was pessimistic that any sort of new fangled lighting would make a room look anything but blue and clinical. Alright, Ace. Challenge accepted.

LED Lighting Makeover

I immediately thought of our living room. I love the deep moody dark blue walls during the daytime, and especially during overcast winter days, but at night when it’s lit by incandescent bulbs it looks much different. The warm light from the bulbs makes the wall color look like the inside of an overly-saturated teal gemstone, and unfortunately it doesn’t resemble the dark cool blue that I know and love. Not only that, but the woodwork turns from a rich warm brown with lots of texture and patina, to a flat trim that takes on a red-ish hue, I mean eew, I mean, hue. But whatever, I was stuck on those incandescent bulbs.

So, because I always like an excuse to visit the hardware store I happily obliged and headed up there to get schooled by my Ace buddies on the ways of the futuristic LED’s.

Here’s a few things ‘dat I learned:

⊙ LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States. It is estimated by the year 2027, use of LEDs could save about 348 TWh (compared to no LED use) of electricity: This is the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 large electric power plants, and a total savings of more than $30 billion at today’s electricity prices!

⊙ LEDs can direct light where it is needed. Incandescent and fluorescent bulbs emit light – and heat – in all directions.

⊙ Save over $60 per year on your electric bills when you replace just the 6 most used bulbs in your home with LED options.

⊙ LED bulbs are cool to the touch and use 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs – especially good if you’ve got little ones who can’t help but touch hot things.

⊙ Transitioning to LED lighting not only saves you money in energy bills, but also saves you trips to the store for replacements. LED bulbs last about 22 years, while the average bulb life of an incandescent is only 1.8 years.

LED Lighting Makeover
See the difference between daylight and those incandescent bulbs I was using? It’s unreal. It was actually hurting my eyes to edit these photos it was so different. What I discovered was that the 3000K 60w comparable LED bulbs do a really good job of staying true to the color of my walls, and they manage to do it without that fluorescent-clinical-look that had me holding out. And those bulbs I was using weren’t doing my interiors any favors. So you know what I did? I went out and bought a replacement bulbs for the dining room, entry way and kitchen, fer real. I got three way bulbs for my sconces so that I could control the brightness, dimmable bulbs for the dining room and kitchen pendants and standard bulbs for my table lamps. FYI, I went 800 Lumens (60W equiv) Soft White 3000K bulbs in the living room and kitchen and amped it up to the 100w comparable bulbs for the dining room dimmer. I tried the bluer more daylight-like 5000K bulbs as well, but no, that was not happening in this space.

LED Lighting Makeover

LED Lighting Makeover LED Lighting Makeover

LED Lighting Makeover
The new bulbs still emphasize the green undertones of our wall paint color, but now it looks much more natural. I am so happy about it. I was actually checking out my living room every time I walked past it.

LED Lighting Makeover

Facts about Kelvin:

⊙ Light color is measured on a temperature scale referred to as Kelvin (K).

⊙ Lower Kelvin numbers mean the light appears more yellow; higher Kelvin numbers mean the light is whiter or bluer.

⊙ For a warm-yellow light, use bulbs marked 2700-2900K.

⊙ For a whiter light, use bulbs marked 3000-4100K.

⊙ For bluer white light, use bulbs marked 4200-6500K.

Now’s the part where I get to tell you about a sweet deal and get all gushy about my local Ace. You guys know that Ace Hardware sponsors these posts, but I want you to know it is such an honor to work with them. I am so lucky that I get to chat with you about brand that I think is sincerely the greatest! I love my Ace hardware store, my kids love it, and we actually make reasons (aka excuses) to go there. I know a lot of the employees by name, I shoot the shit with them everytime I visit, we don’t leave without stopping by to pet the hardware store cat, and I always get greeted by the owners (who live upstairs and have a collection of whirly-gigs). I mean, it’s the best. I love the narrow aisles piled to the brim with all of the best stuff you never knew you needed, and I love that I can walk just a few short blocks to be with my handy people!

Anyway, you guys better love up your local hardware stores too! They’re seriously the best and they don’t even compare to those big-box places.

Alright, gushy stuff is out of the way. Here is the deal!

Visit your participating neighborhood Ace October 16-18 and take advantage of the Buy 2 Get 1 Free LED light bulb sale. You guys realize how good of a deal this is right? The downside to all the benefits of LED lighting is that they are more expensive up front to purchase, but Ace is making this easy for you! Buy two select FEIT LED bulbs and get one of equal or lesser value free. There’s no limit, so you can mix and match to get what you need to re-light your whole house – like me!
*While supplies last. Store stock only. See store for details.

LED Lighting Infographic

I’m excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided me with compensation and some of the materials necessary to complete this project! All opinions are my own. Thanks a biznillion, Ace!
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in Around the House, Sponsored

Not Scary Stairs

Transforming a Small Staircase
BUDZ! Behold, I built stairs. What started out as a quick and easy refinishing project turned into one of the hardest most satisfying things I’ve done as a homeowner to date. I honestly thought that I could take the old steps (see below) remove the staples and the construction adhesive, strip the paint and refinish the stairs. However that is not what happened.

Usually before I start a project I spend sometime staring at the project. This is how I make my plan. So I was staring at the stairs (get it? Mad shout outs to my people over at Highly Pun LLC), and I realized that I wanted to add a skirt to the stairs to give them a real nice finished look, thus giving me an excuse to trim them out, which in turn would make them look reminiscent of the main floor stairway in our house. If you’re not familiar, a skirt on a stair is that trim piece that runs up alongside the staircase. Making a stair skirt requires a lot of detail and intricate cuts and if I was going to spend all the time doing that, I might as well just replace the treads, and if I was going to replace the treads, well I better replace those beat up cracked risers too. And I’m sure you can get where I’m going with this.

Since I began designing the basement I was determined to have bits of it that I could use to give a nod to the history of the home. I didn’t just want a brand spanking new basement (well I did) that looked out of place in a 105 year old home. Okay, so I know it does a little, but that’s cause it’s new, but it also doesn’t, and that my friends is because I tried to add some old stuff to it (dur). I wanted to use baseboard trim, hardware and the stairs to incorporate historic elements into the space. So these stairs were important to the big picture, the grand plan, the whole enchilada!!! Get it?

Transforming a Small Staircase

Transforming a Small Staircase

Holy Balls! Look a the mess I discovered when I started taking the stairs apart! First of all, removing stair treads is a total pain, it took me an entire day and it wasn’t fun at all. Especially when I discovered that one of the stair case stringers was no longer connected to the stair landing. I guess that explains why they always sloped down quite a bit. I’m surprised that nobody noticed this was a problem during the whole basement reno thing.

Anyway, let the nightmares begin, because I had them. All night long after discovering this mess. Somehow my dreams lead me to a solution. I figured that I could hoist the stringer back up using 2×4’s as bracing. I notched out a right angle into the underside of the stairs using a jig saw and then wedged the 2×4 into place. I raised the stairs 2.5 inches allowing me to use some heavy duty screws to reattach them to the landing from below. Also, there were a lot of spider webs down there. In addition I added a lot of structural bracing, so that baby should not be going anywhere! I totally had a cocktail and took a nap after accomplishing this heroic feat.

Next step was cutting out the skirt. Typically you would put a skirt on after adding the treads and risers to the stairs, but because our stairs are so old I wanted to be able to easily access the guts if need be. Because of that, I choose to put the skirt on first and then nail on the treads and risers. Sorry to all you woodworker dudes out there who probably can’t deal with me admitting that little fact, I cheated.

Transforming a Small Staircase
Transforming a Small Staircase
Transforming a Small Staircase
Transforming a Small Staircase

Transforming a Small Staircase

Knowing that my kids wouldn’t die from falling through my stairs was a relief. When I started this whole thing I really didn’t know if I’d be able to figure out how to stabilize and secure that stringer. Once that dream was realized the rest was down hill, but then it wasn’t, because the rest was really tedious and time consuming.

I wanted these stairs to be pretty and that required a lot of trim work. There were many, many, many trips out to my garage to visit my sweet saw. I think I logged 20k on my fit bit during the first day. So many cuts, so much detail, so damn time consuming. I was ready for those steps to be done, but the reality was that I wasn’t even close. It took me two days to finish the trim work – granted these are not full days because the husband guy was out of town and I was single mommin’ it, but it took a lot of time. I added a cap to the skirt on both sides, a bit of trim on the underside of the treads and beefed up that newel post.

Then came the staining and painting. ‘Nough said. First I stained, then I painted, then I added a layer of poly to every other step so I wouldn’t trap myself in the basement (still got to do the other stairs this weekend). Lastly I caulked the crap out of those stairs. Now I just got to do a few touch ups and she’ll be good to go.

Transforming a Small Staircase
Transforming a Small Staircase
Transforming a Small Staircase
Transforming a Small Staircase
Transforming a Small Staircase
Transforming a Small Staircase

Transforming a Small Staircase

Transforming a Small Staircase

Transforming a Small Staircase

Staircase Makeover

Basement Stair Makeover
So I’m checking big things off my basement check list. Next it will be time for replacing that one little last piece of counter top, adding two sets of floating shelves above the cabinets, painting the doors black, and upholstering a seat for the bench under the tv. So. Close.

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Garden Beds, Man. They’re Never Done!

Editing Flower Beds
The thing I love about gardening is that it’s never done, at least for me. It’s always a work in progress and I’m always striving for that perfect flower bed. I’ve always had a tenuous relationship with our front foundation garden bed. There are two big reasons that it’s not successful, one is that I don’t really have the vision for it, I never have. In my eyes, the front of the house is far from done, I see lots of potential projects in our future years here; such as replacing the front steps and sidewalk as well as adding small border gardens and landscaping to the front of the house. Because I have no set vision for this space and specifically this garden, the front of the house is always in an as-is state of order. The other big reason is budget. I could go out and drop some dough on perennials and they would do their job in the foundation garden for the time being, but I just don’t really see the value in that when other perennials can be found around the yard or from friends and neighbz for free.

So when my god-given ability to be an awesome landscape designer (ha) doesn’t come through, I go elsewhere and I look for inspiration. You guys probably know by now that I’m an avid walker and I love looking at all of my neighbors flower beds when I head out on my daily walks. So many of them are so well defined and beautiful and I find so much inspiration from checking out what other folks are doing. My beds are lacking organization, definition and height. There is no berm at work here and the plants are crowded and topple over on themselves. I’ve tried twice to oragnize this bed, one time by dividing perennials, the other by adding a paver border. Both were good stop gap solutions but the flower bed needs to be edited once again. I needed to give it another go, so I decided to do my usual – empty the flower bed, divide perennials and put it all back again method. This time I reset the pavers and added some top soil mounds as well.

I wanted to have a fresh start next spring, and I didn’t want to spend the entire summer waiting for my perennials to recover from spring division – so I figured now (aka the fall) was the time. After dividing a few of the hydrangea and Japanese ornamental grasses, I began laying out a plan for how the plants would go back in the ground. Mounding the top soil helped to elevate the hosta row, which adds a lot of definition to the front of the house. Behind the hostas are a row of lime light hydrangea that I divided and spread out. Normally hydrangea is something I only divide in the spring, but being that one of the plants separated after digging it up, I decided now was as good of time as any to widen the hydrangea row. I allowed lots of room for it to grow and topple over hopefully in a pretty, intended way. Up in the front I have a mix of heuchera and Japanese ornamental grass. I removed the peony for good as it just wasn’t happy in the corner of this garden. In all the years we’ve lived here that peony has only produced one bloom. So to flower heaven it goes.

Editing Flower Beds
I also decided to bump out the garden a bit under the dogwood tree. It’s always hard to mow here and hell, I am always in use of a little extra space to garden in. The new border feels like the way it should have always been! I’m leaving this space empty for now, but it will be ready to go when next spring rolls around!

The pavers were barely noticeable from the street before. They were really helpful when it came to mowing, but not for any sort of bed definition. I decided a new look might go a long way, so I stacked a row vertically behind the second row which were laid flat. Now you can see that there is an actual border from the street and my flower bed doesn’t look like an after thought. More pavers will be needed next spring, but for now, all is good in foundation garden land.

Editing Flower Beds

Editing Flower Beds

Editing Flower Beds

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