The Project that Never Ends

I was getting my daily dose of blogs and Donna from Funky Junk Interiors asked her readers (that’s me) what was their favorite outdoor project from 2011.  Being new to blogland, I didn’t have many posts to share….  5 to be exact.  Well, 6 as soon as I publish this one.

2011 was a big year for me.  There would have been lots to blog about had I discovered this amazing world of bloggers before December.  So I’m just going to tell you now what 2011 had in store for me and somewhere in that list will be my favorite project.

  • In January I ended my 180 mile a day commute to work when I transferred to a different office.  I now only have a 90 mile a day commute. I could have written about Adventures in Commuting.
  • On the Fourth of July I gave birth to my 3rd (the family’s 4th) child, a baby girl we call our little Firecracker.  Now there’s a whole slew of things I could write about…..  pregnancy, cravings, bed rest, labor, etc.  But I am sooooo not one of those “I love being pregnant” women whom I consider to be CRAZY!  I’m more of a “get this thing out of me” kinda girl.  So it’s probably best that I leave that subject alone.
  • If you’ve read my page on becoming a blended family you will know that the summer of 2011 was quite an emotional roller coaster for the Murphy Family.  We had the high of the Firecracker’s birth and the low of being alienated from Hollywood.  I’m sure I’ll write more on our struggle to maintain a relationship with her later, as it unfolds and my emotions settle.
  • I married the love of my life on our 8 year anniversary in September.  So not only was it a year of crazy pregnancy hormones, but The Year of the Wedding.  There were more projects than I can count.  And I must say that I have some kick a$$ negotiating skills. Who knew?!

Even with all that, my favorite project in 2011 was the pond.  The pond is an ongoing project we started in 2010.  We continued to work hard on it in 2011 and we’ll be adding some more touches in 2012.  I can’t say the Hubs loves that it’s the project that never ends, but I love to add to it and watch the plants fill in the spaces around the pond.  It will only get better as the garden matures.

This is what the pond looked like in 2009 when we bought our home:

Yeah, I know… There’s no pond.  (And what is up with those tree-like weed looking things?)  Those shrubs (and weeds) completely encompassed my entire house and I needed to add some interest.  So the Hubs got to work pulling out all of the shrubs (and weeds).  I begged him to save the azalea, but the shrubs (and weeds) had taken over and already begun to kill it.  He tried, but wasn’t able to salvage it.

I wanted two levels in our pond and water fountains flowing to each of them.  So the Hubs dug two holes to fit our preformed tubs, one bought from Lowe’s and the other given to me by my dear phriend T.R.  Everyday on his way home from work, the Hubs would bring home giant rocks he found on the side of the road.  He would work his way around the preformed pond tubs adding rocks and building the sides of the pond.

Of course I totally would have helped but those rocks weighed a ton.  Literally, I’m pretty sure they weighed a ton!  Even his super manly truck was begging for mercy.  Instead I stood on the sidelines and gladly supervised while sipping on a glass of wine.  The Hubs just loves it when I sip on wine and “supervise.”  (I hope you’re getting my sarcasm ‘cause I’m laying it on pretty thick.)

Eventually enough rocks were in place and I could start planting some flowers and putting down mulch.  I wanted a variety of perennials that would eventually mature and make a relaxing oasis.  Right now it looks kinda bare, but it will fill-in over time.  I am not a fan of white lattice, but there was already lattice on the side of my back porch.  So I planted a clematis and let it go wild.  It’s a beautiful showing of purple flowers.  I love it.  I’m going to expand the lattice and clematis next year to cover the entire side of the porch and make a privacy wall.  I also added white twinkle lights to the lattice.  It emits a wonderful sparkle at night. It’s incredibly romantic.


While I was busy planting flowers and mulching, the Hubs worked on getting the water fountains just right.  He got the upper fountain to flow perfectly, but the lower fountain never did work until it was time to put the pumps and hoses away for winter.

The Hubs used 2 different pumps in the pond.  He placed a 550 gallons/hour pump into the upper pond to push the water through a hose from the upper pond into the lower pond.  Then he placed a 1,000 gallons/hour pump into the lower pond to push the water through a hose that ran out of the lower pond, around and behind the upper pond to then create the upper water fountain that recycled the water back into the upper pond.  We kept losing water and could not figure out where there was a leak.  I told the Hubs that the leak was between the two tubs.  Of course he’s the man and knows how to do all things manly, so I must be wrong.  He insisted the water was leaking from underneath the rocks in the upper fountain.  So he took a black plastic liner and lined the edge of the tub underneath the rocks that formed the upper water fountain and down into the pond.  It still leaked…

Finally, after much nagging he agreed to line the gap between the two tubs.  The Hubs had placed a flat rock between the two tubs.  The water was supposed to pump from the upper pond, through the hose, over the flat rock and fall into the lower tub.  It did not.  Well, it did a little, but it mostly just leaked out over the flat rock and down between the two tubs.  So the Hubs took another black plastic liner and adhered it to both the upper and lower ponds, eliminating the gap between the two.  Voila!  Leak gone!  I know I shouldn’t say it, but….. I totally told him so!  Of course now he denies that I ever told him.  Go figure. 

Now that we have the pond in, the fountains flowing and some plants planted, we can add a few touches.  The Hubs put in stepping-stones.  Then I added an old little bistro table where we can enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning and listen to the relaxing sound of flowing water.  The Hubs says the sound mostly makes him have to pee.

The pond is now closed up for the winter, but we have lots of plans for additions in 2012.  This summer I’ll be planting more perennials.  I’m also hoping to add lighting both inside the pond and behind the fountains.  I want to hang or grow something on the side of my house behind the pond.  If I were to do this again, I would leave room between the pond and my house for tall grasses.  I need to break up the vertical space in the background.  I’d love to hear if you have any ideas for that space.  I’d also like to add water plants and maybe, just maybe, we’ll be ready for that next step… fish.



DIY Chandelier for the Entryway

I completed my first project for the entryway! Before I start, I should tell you that I chose the peacock theme and not the purple theme. I thought it was best for my marriage; Chris strongly disliked the purple flowery theme. HA!

Chris got a jumpstart on the project and began to remove the old fixture before I could get a picture. But this picture will give you an idea of how outdated it was. It was an old brass light that had a glass shade with grapes etched into the glass. We saved the glass shade and I’m going to do something with it, just not sure yet what that will be. Nonetheless, here’s the “before” picture with the fixture half removed.

So here’s the shopping list:

  • Chandelier $40 Kristaller from Ikea (I actually had this on hand, but I doubt most people do)
  • Material: $3 on sale at my local craft store
  • Lampshade: $3 at the local Goodwill

Total cost: $46! Now, that’s a steal!

Additional Materials on Hand:

  • Spray Adhesive
  • Metallic Spray Paint
  • Hot Glue/Hot Glue Gun
  • Gold Acrylic Paint / Paint Brush

This project was done in two phases. Phase I was the lampshade and Phase II was the chandelier. The chandelier took some brainstorming on our part and I almost scrapped the whole project, but I’ll get to that soon enough.

PHASE I, The Lampshade

I must credit the hubs on his fabulous find at the local Goodwill. He found this drum barrel lampshade brand new for only $3. It was just what I was looking for to begin my entryway transformation. Our very next stop was the fabric store to search for material that I could use to cover the shade. I found this gorgeous blue fabric with gold flowers embroidered on it. (Yes, I found this one because Chris was busy chatting it up with the old ladies and showing off the baby. LOL) The best part… The fabric was on clearance at only $3 a yard. I bought extra so I would have plenty leftover to do a matching shade for the second fixture in the hallway, which still needs to be done.

That evening we were off to my MIL’s to measure, cut, stretch and spray the fabric over the lampshade. Chris went to play basketball with his buddies because we were being way too domestic for him. LOL. I knew I wanted the fabric to not only cover the outside of the lampshade, but to also create a small border around the bottom of the inside of the lampshade. So my MIL made all the measurements from the edge of the border for the inside of the lampshade. We then trimmed the fabric and wrapped it around the shade. Once we knew how we wanted it to lay, we each took a side of the shade. We would stretch and smooth the material over the shade, then one would use the spray adhesive and the other would hold it in place. We slowly worked our way around the shade, spraying adhesive and smoothing. After we got the outside sprayed into place, we glued the inside border into place. The seam wouldn’t lay flat with the spray adhesive, so I busted out the trusty old hot glue gun and hot glued the end down to make a flat seam.

My MIL mentioned that I should paint the inside of the lampshade gold to highlight the gold flowers in the material. I wish we would have painted it before gluing the material on because it would have been so much easier; nonetheless, it looks great. When we do the second shade, we will paint the inside gold first and use the spray adhesive sparingly because it does not dry clear.











PHASE II, The Chandelier

Man did we brainstorm to get the chandelier just right. The chandelier we had on hand from Ikea was too long for our ceilings. We only have 8 foot ceilings, and when Chris hung the chandelier as is, he had to duck to walk under it. That clearly would not do. We tried to remove pieces and alter pieces, but it just simply would not fit together properly and hang at the height we needed. I almost scrapped the whole project. Then Chris had a genius idea… We He completely removed the portion of the chandelier that attached to the ceiling and attached the chandelier directly into the old light fixture. This allowed the chandelier to hang directly from the ceiling instead of from a chain or rod out of the ceiling. It was shear luc k that the threads matched up. Guess Murphy’s Law skipped over us this time!

Now that we have that problem solved, it’s time to get to work. First I removed all the prisms from the chandelier and put them in labeled bags so I would remember where they go and thank goodness I did. Next I spray painted the chandelier with the metallic paint. I used a dark metallic color to contrast the gold in the fabric.

Once the paint was dry, I reattached each prism to the chandelier. This took forever and I am not a patient person. I whined the whole time. LOL. I was so thrilled when it was completed and Chris was finally able to hang the new chandelier.

 And here it is… The big reveal… My new DIY Lampshade Chandelier

This is just the piece I needed to add some sparkle to the entryway!