DIY Landscape Lights

DIY Landscape Light - After - light at night

We had a full landscape plan created by our landscaper (who happens to be my brother-in-law) shortly after we bought our house.   The plan includes everything from all the trees, shrubbery, perennials, as well as the patio, seat wall, and lighting.  The plan has been implemented in phases, some of which was done by our landscaper, and some was done by Bob and I.   Over the last two weekends, Bob and I implemented one of the final phases by installing additional landscape lighting to uplight three of our trees.  I honestly didn’t think this phase would be a DIY project, but Bob had done some online research that made us consider it.  We went to Lowe’s and bought the lights, cable connectors and wire.

DIY Landscape Lights - Light and cable connector in package

We needed 3 cable-to-cable connectors, 3 lights, and 100′ of 12 gauge wire.  The process was easier for us because we already have the transformer and main wire installed.  Our transformer is in our basement, and it is 600 watts, so we had plenty of capacity.  Before we started this project, we unplugged the transformer from the wall, just to ensure we didn’t zap ourselves.

DIY Landscape Lights - Transformer

This is just the inside of the transformer, while its unplugged, showing no lights are on.  The transformer allows us to have the lights on a timer to automatically turn on and off.

DIY Landscape Lights - Inside Transformer

Once the power was off, we determined where we were going to connect to the main wire that was already running outside behind our patio seat wall.  The cable-to-cable connector had easy instructions enclosed.

Step 1 – Connect the top to the existing cable wire.

Cable Connector Top

Cable Connector Top on Wire

Step 2 – Connect the bottom to the new wire.

Cable connector middle in place

Cable Connector Bottom on Wire

Step 3 – Place the middle piece on top of the bottom wire.

Cable connector placing middle

Step 4 – Connect the top to the bottom and middle.

Cable connector - connecting top to bottome and middle

Cable Connector in place

To be extra safe, Bob and I wrapped electrical tape around the whole connector piece.  It’s probably not necessary, but it made us feel better before we buried it in the dirt.

After the new wire was connected and buried, we buried the wire along the patio wall and side of the house to run it to the tree in the front.  This was the most tedious and time consuming part.  I wanted to make sure the wire was sufficiently underground, and I also didn’t want to mess up our fresh mulching we did the weekend before.

DIY Landscape Lights - Leslie placing wire

DIY Landscape Lights - burying cable

Puddy was helping supervise.

DIY Landscape Lights - Puddy in yard

Once we got the wire to the front of the house, we took it from the corner of the house directly out to the tree.

DIY Landscape Lights - Cable by tree ready for light

DIY Landscape Lights - Puddy with light

Then, we needed to connect the wire to the fixture.  This was just a few steps.  Insert the wire into the bottom, put the middle connector piece on top of the bottom.

DIY Landscape Light - Connecting cable to light fixture

And, then finish by screwing the top piece in place.  After we had it tightly together, we wrapped it in electrical tape.  Again, this was just for our piece of mind, not necessary according to the instructions.

DIY Landscape Light - Cable to light connector

Then, we just placed the light in the ground and buried all the connecting wire.  I plugged the transformer back in, changed the time and tested the light, and we had success.

DIY Landscape Light - Light in place below tree

It has much more effect at night.

DIY Landscape Lights - Tree close up at night

Overall, it was a relatively simple process.  I’m so glad that we decided to add the tree uplights.   We added the other two lights to each of our crape myrtles that surround our patio.

DIY Landscape Lights - crape myrtle at night

DIY Landscape Lights - crape myrtle 2 at night

Has anyone else added landscape lighting?  Anyone with solar lights?  We were considering solar, but the Lowe’s salesperson convinced us it wasn’t the way to go, especially since we already had the transformer in place.  I think we made the right decision.  We actually put in the crape myrtle lights first, and we were so happy with them that we bought an additional light for the tree in the front.  Plus, it helped us use the 100′ of wire we bought.


Upcoming Living Room Changes

I had mentioned that we would be looking for new living room furniture, when I last shared the room with you.  In the last month or so, it got moved to the top of our list.  I’m not quite sure why…I think it may have been the commercials for the sales at the furniture stores, and I caught Bob at a weak moment and he said we could go look.  Of course, we didn’t find anything on the showroom floor that we liked.  So, we explored getting a quote on a custom sectional at the one local furniture store, Wolf’s.  We took home some fabric samples, chose one we liked and then went back to find pillow fabric. I wasn’t thrilled.  I don’t think we were ever like “this is the one.”  So, we walked away.  Then, I had a day off of work.  I made no plans in advance, I just did what I wanted to.  And, that day I ended up at the other big local furniture store, Interiors.  I ignored all the salespeople and wandered around the whole store.  They had tons of sectional options, none that were perfect either.  But, a nice saleslady found me near the end of my rounds.  She showed me a Flexsteel sofa that was very comfortable and was available in whatever custom shape you could dream up, at least it seemed that way.  So, I picked out some fabric and had her work up a price.  Then, I took it home to Bob.  The price was a bit cheaper than at Wolf’s and it provided the option to add one more seat on the one side, so that it is basically 2 sofas put together (I think one more cushion than the picture below).

Living Room - New Flexsteel  Vail Sectional-2

Bob still wasn’t sure.  So, we stopped in the following weekend for him to take a look, and he liked the sectional.  He wasn’t sure about my fabric choices though.  My saleslady was not there, so we left.  We waited another week and went to try to pick out fabrics again.  This time, the saleslady was there to help.  Fortunately, she suggested taking the fabric I had picked out into the natural light and it made a big difference.  Bob liked it.  He already liked the pillow fabric I chose.  We tried and tried to find a second pillow fabric, but had no such luck.  So, we just went with a base couch color and one pillow fabric for all 4 pillows.  The couch itself is 100″ x 123″, so its big!

So, why am I sharing all this now, when we don’t have a new couch yet, and we have to wait 6-8 weeks total until it arrives!  Well, I got the fabric samples in the mail today.

Living Room - New Sectional Fabric

I love the tones and texture of the couch color.  It will be a nice change from our primarily all gold couch now.  And, the pillows will be a change as well.  We are adding blue into the mix.  I think it will lighten up the room.  Our living room gets great light, but sometimes it feels dark because of the traditional dark colors of the burgundy, greens, and gold tones.

So, with the arrival of the fabric samples, I got excited to look at rug options.  I already warned Bob  that the new couch would lead to a new rug 🙂  I was searching online for some rugs, and came up with a few options.

Rugs- Target Threshold Jacobean Floral Rug

Target – $199 for 6’6″ x 10′

Rugs - Target Threshold Hooked Wool Area Rug - Blue-brown

Target – $359 for 7′ x 10

Rugs - Target Mohawk Home Asian Branches Area Rug - Coconut

Target – $299 for 8′ x 11

Rugs - Lowes Allen + Roth Rectangularg Beige Floral Area Rug

Lowe’s – $364 for  7’10” x 10

Rugs - Shaw Living Blue Berries Area Rug

Lowe’s – $278 for 8′ x 11

Rugs - Lowes ARtistic Weavers Waikiki Green Floral Area Rug

Lowe’s – $328 for 7’10” x 10’10

Rugs - Artistic Weavers Pahala Beige Floral Area Rug

Lowe’s – $328 for 7’10” x 10’10

I looked a few other places online, Rugs USA, Overstock, and Ikea, but I didn’t find anything I liked there…well, at least nothing I liked that was in my budget.  I must be cheap, but I can’t see spending $1,000 on a rug.  I’m still struggling with how much the sectional cost!!

What do you think of these rug options?  I’m definitely more traditional with my rug choices.  I love how geometric rugs look in spaces I see, but when it comes to choosing for our house, I am not drawn to that look at all.  I seem to like nature – flowers, leaves, and berries were my natural instinct.

Do you plan your decorating decisions in advance?  Or, do you just let the room evolve?  Any suggestions for where to look for rugs?

My Craft Room

Sorry for the delay…I know I promised this last week, but right now my full-time job is taking most of my time and energy, which doesn’t leave a lot of time left for me to create and blog in the evenings.  I should get back to a better balance of work and fun soon!

When we finished the basement, one of the perks for me was that it freed up one of the spare bedrooms upstairs  so that I could create my craft room.   What is now the craft room, has had many different looks since we moved into our house.  Our initial plan for the room was to use it as the guest room.

Craft Room - Before as spare bedroom

It was very crowded.  And, we never used it as a guest room.  Then, we swapped the guest room with the office.  It worked better for us, and the guest room was transformed into its current look.  The office was originally a combination of furniture from my house and Bob’s house.  Then, eventually we got the desk that Bob now uses in his Music Room in the basement.  It was in the office upstairs before the basement was finished.  So, when the basement was finished, it left a blank slate for me upstairs to create my craft room.  I had a clear vision for the room – I wanted a large desk that I could have room to spread out when I was working on crafts, and I wanted a comfortable place to relax and maybe read a book.

Craft Room - After full view from doorway

I have everything I wanted, and was able to furnish the room with all used furniture.  I’ll admit I made a mistake on the desk at first.  I caved and bought a little desk at a used furniture store, but quickly realized that it wouldn’t suit my needs.  At the time, I still had a desktop computer, so I wanted room to hide all the components under the desk.  The little desk didn’t cut it.  I made it work until I found this large desk when I was out for one of my Saturday morning thrift store adventures with my friend.

Craft Room - Desk before

The desk matched the dimensions of the space almost exactly, and it was only $119 for this large desk.  It was a bit deeper than I originally wanted because of the windows in the front of the room, but I really did want all the space.  I knew I could change the look of the desk with a quick coat of paint.  Next step was the place for relaxing.  I began my search looking for a daybed, but I wasn’t finding anything.  But, then I found a sleigh bed on Craigslist and thought a bunch of pillows could make it function like a daybed.  I think I ended up paying $70 for the daybed.  I did the same thing with it as the desk, just gave it a quick coat of paint.

Craft Room - Desk and Bed before decorating

At this point, the room was very bare.  I did buy new bedding, I believe it was from Kmart.  After I got the desk and tried working at it, I ran into another problem.  Most of the chairs I had or found were too high.  Once I sat on them, I couldn’t fit my legs under the desk.  So, I spent a lot of time going to yard sales and thrift stores with my tape measure trying to find a chair that I could make work.  Finally, I had luck at the Goodwill.  Unfortunately, I must not have taken a before picture, because I can’t find one in my files.  But, it was a plain wooden chair for $5.  I inspected it and knew that I could easily remove the wooden seat, add foam and fabric to make a cushioned seat and give it a coat of white paint like the rest of the furniture in the room.  I did just that and I have a very comfortable desk chair, that I can actually sit in and fit my legs under my desk (its where I’m sitting right now).

Craft Room - Desk Chair - painted and reupholstered

The other projects I did on the desk side of the room, include the fabric bulletin board for family photos.  I found a cork board at a yard sale, popped it out of the cheap frame, wrapped it in batting and fabric and then used ribbon and bronze nail heads to make the grid.  I love that I can easily change the photos as time passes.  The floating shelves we originally in our living room, and we weren’t using them anymore, so I moved them to the Craft Room to give me more space to decorate.  I change them seasonally.  I just went back to mainly butterfly décor, because I have tons of it from my previous home.  The lamps are from the same thrift shop that I bought the desk.   The desk decorating is still in flux.  I had a desktop computer until a couple months ago, and I have not finalized how I want everything to look now that I have the laptop.  Its weird, but the desktop monitor provided height in the middle of the desk, and now I feel like everything looks flat.  The wicker chair is the mate to the one in the basement that I got from a friend at work.  I sewed the seat cushion and pillow cover.  Even the trash can and little chest were yardsale/Goodwill items that I picked up.

Craft Room - After Desk side of room

When I just added the new pillows to the bed, it led to me changing all the décor in the room.  It quickly went from this:

Craft Room - Before

To its current look, which includes the new pillows and a bit more butterfly artwork.

Craft Room - After sleigh bed with new pillows and wall art

I had bought this book years ago, because it had colorful butterfly book plates in the back.  It cost $1.48 at Ollies.  So, I used two pages in my new wall art.

Craft Room - Butterfly book for artwork

One is in the small 5×7 frame on the shelves.

Craft Room - Butterfly decor on floating shelves

And the other page is part of the gallery above the bed, in the center on the bottom.  I kept two of the frames the same – they just each have a piece of scrapbook paper in them.  The larger butterfly print was originally a fabric stretched on canvas that I bought at the monthly church thrift store for 10 cents.  I removed the fabric from the canvas (it looked cheaper that way) and then popped it in  a white spray painted frame.  The individual butterflies were from my grandmother.  They got a coat of spray paint too; they were originally very brassy with a wooden center.

Craft Room - New Butterfly wall art

The mirror that was here got relocated to the other wall, which is the small space between the closet and the door to the hallway.   The mirror now reflects the light from outside instead of just the other side of the room.  Framing the mirror are more butterflies with a fresh coat of spray paint.  These were originally dark brown.  They are very sentimental because my Mom has a set at home.  I found these in my thrift shopping travels and knew I needed to have them.  I’m happy to finally have a place to hang them.  The bamboo shelf is from the same thrift shop as the desk.  As I think about all my purchases from that shop, I’m very sad that it is now closed.  This whole wall, as skinny as it is, contains many sentimental items.  The little tin lamp is a tart warmer, that was a housewarming gift from  my Mom when I bought my first house.  The shadowbox is one I made with my wedding bouquet, Bob’s boutonniere and our wedding invitation.  The bottom shelf has all of my scrapbooks that I have filled with pictures of our trips, wedding, and just life in general.  And, they are sharing the shelf with our unity candle from our wedding.

Craft Room - Bamboo shelves and wall decor - after

I am thrilled with how this room has evolved.  It functions well for me as a craft room, and is pretty enough that I just enjoy sitting in it to relax.

Craft Room - After full view from doorway

I’ve seen some beautiful and amazing craft rooms out there.  Do any of you have a designated craft space?  Or, do you just use whatever space suits the project at hand, table, floor, etc.?

DIY Pillow Cases from a Shower Curtain

My mother-in-law bought this butterfly and flower shower curtain a while ago for her house.  She decided it didn’t work in her bathroom, so she asked if I wanted it.  I said of course.  I knew it wouldn’t work in my bathroom for two reasons.  First, I have a shower stall, and second I am very committed to my sand and shell décor.   We do have another full bathroom, but its the one that Bob primarily uses, and I was pretty sure he wouldn’t want it to be so feminine.  So, I decided to get creative and turned the shower curtain into pillow cases.

DIY Pillow Cases - Butterfly Shower Curtain before

I thought that the color of the curtain might look good in my craft room.  I had decorated it very neutral, but now I was ready for some color.  I already had an abundance of white pillows.

Craft Room - Before

In my stash of supplies, I also had two larger pillows – 24 x 24. I had bought them on clearance at Jo-Ann Fabrics for $9.97 and was just saving them for when I found the right spot.

DIY Pillow Cases - 24 x 24 pillow before

I’m not the best seamstress.  I love that I can sew, but it also drives me crazy.  I don’t have much patience, so I will find anyway I can to save some steps, and some fighting with my sewing machine.  The shower curtain provided some key steps already done.  I could use the nice hems to my advantage.  I planned out the pillow cases, so that none of my seams would be visible.  I cut the fabric out with the dimensions of 24 x 54, so that I could make a simple envelope pillow case.  After I cut it out, I ironed the fabric…another step that tries my patience. 🙂  I folded over the one short end and ironed it to make it easier to sew.

DIY Pillow Cases - curtain fabric cut to size

After I sewed that one end, I was ready to prep the fabric for my two other straight seams.

DIY Pillow Cases - one end stitched

I flipped the fabric over, so the right sides were in.  Then, I folded the fabric to overlap, so that it formed the 24 x 24 square, and had a few inches overlap to make the envelope.  I kept the original seam underneath, so that it would be the visible seam one I flipped the pillow case right side out.

DIY  Pillow Case - folded for side stitching

This is the only point that I used pins.  I wanted to make sure that I kept the correct dimensions, so I pinned each side.

DIY Pillow Cases - Sides pinned to prepare for sewing

I sewed straight (well straight enough for me) up each side.  And, that was all it took.  I flipped the pillow case right side out and was done.  I made two pillow cases from the shower curtain and still have some fabric left over.

DIY Pillow Cases - After on craft room bed

I flipped the comforter over too, so that it is just plain white so that the pattern doesn’t compete with the new pillows.  I really like the extra bit of color in the room.  So much so, that it motivated me to redecorate.  I pulled out more butterfly décor from my stash, and made some other new artwork.  I’ll share the full craft room with its new look later this week.

Anyone else ever use a shower curtain for another purpose?  Any other shower curtain to pillow case projects?

The conclusion of our Curacao Trip

As I prepared this post, I got distracted by all of our Curacao pictures all over again.  We had such a wonderful time, and got to truly experience the island.  I’m sharing one last set of pictures to give a few more of the highlights of our trip.  We stayed in two locations on the island.  The first half of the week, we stayed at the Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort.  It was tucked away on one side of the island, and was a very serene setting.

The beach

Curacao - Santa Barbara Resort Beach

The pool

Curacao - Santa Barbara Resort Pool

The main part of the hotel and restaurants

Curacao - Santa Barbara Resort - Hotel and Dining Area

And, the landscape around the resort.

Curacao - Santa Barbara Resort - Property

For the second half of our trip, we moved to the other side of the island, at Marazul Dive Resort in Westpunt.  We chose to stay in a vacation rental by owner, and had a great experience.  We had never done that before, but we are so glad we did because it was great.  The pictures of the place we stayed were exactly how they were listed on the rental website.  The owners provided us with helpful information in advance of our stay, and the property managers welcomed us after our arrival.

We had a beautiful view from our balcony.

Curacao - Marazul Dive Resort - View

Here are some views of the nature of Curacao:

Curacao - Yellow and black bird on deck

Curacao - Iguana close-up

Curacao - Flamingos in water

Curacao - Cactus

Curacao - Pink-Red Flowers

Curacao - Iguana in leaves on rock

Curacao - Tropical Bird

Curacao - Purple Flowers

Overall, it was a wonderful vacation.  Curacao is a beautiful place.  We enjoyed our whole trip.  You can find more of Curacao here and here, in case you missed the other highlights.

Where is your favorite vacation spot?