Thursday, June 2, 2011

DIY'n It

My parents are true DIYers. They can make, do, grow and fix almost anything. I've heard it from them both several times..."If you'd payed any attention at all while you were growing up, you'd know how to (fill-in-the-blank-with-task-I-am-currently-learning-about...)" and I know it to be all too true. If I'd watched and observed and learned, I'd have a wealth of information on building, assembling and repairing, cooking and baking, canning and preserving, gardening (vegetables and flowers!), sewing, mending and making...! You name it. But, of course I was not interested in doing any of these things until I had a home of my own. And of course, by then it was too late to learn it from them by osmosis. Luckily, in addition to being handy, they are also gracious with their skills. In fact, Neil and I both have talented parents who are willing to help us with any job that comes up, show us how to do things we don't know much about, teach about anything and everything, and (more often than not!) lend us the tools to complete the job!

We hit up our Pitman parents for advice on a regular basis, since they live here in town, and I'm pretty sure we need to start a log of all the tools we've borrowed! We've often come home from a trip to find an amazing, completed "project" that Dad has done in the yard, or they've both worked on in the house. It's always a nice surprise! And whenever my mom and dad come knocking at the door for a "vacation", we usually have a list of jobs as long as our arm. And they are always ready, willing and able to help us get them done. For all four members of the Rosedale Beautification Club...we are extremely thankful!!

The most recent visit of my Mom and Dad was no exception. Aside from the usual small jobs that pop up regularly, we tackled two big projects, one inside and one outside. (And I use the term "we" quite loosely, as my "help" was mostly confined to chasing a toddler, feeding a baby, and dressing, tending and diapering them both...!)

Project #1: Bathroom Reno
Our (tiny) bathroom had been having trouble for a while. If you look in the "before" picture, you may notice a crooked toilet, a dingy, faded wood floor, and an older, worn-out vanity. But you won't necessarily see the leaking produced by the crooked toilet and decrepit vanity. This began as a simple fix-it job; just stop the leaks in both fixtures, and spruce it up a little. But once we saw the damage to the floor from several decades of leaks, we decided it was time to replace it. And once we were ripping out the vanity to replace the floor, it only made sense to replace that too. It was quite a project (as evidenced from the toilet-in-the-tub photo!), but it sure looks great now that it's done. We chose an beautiful multi-colored slate tile floor, and a curved wood and porcelain vanity that is much smaller than our old one. The curve of the sink matches the curve on the old cast-iron tub, which is now exposed because there's more room. We love it!! It's hard to get a really good "after" photo in a 25 square-foot space, but it really does look amazing, and we're so thankful for all the time Dad took from golfing and morel-ing to do it for us, and for the hours Mom and Dad spent on their knees, installing that beautiful floor!

Project #2: Vegetable Garden Creation
I've wanted a vegetable garden for years now. But with our plethora of wildlife (deer, rabbits, woodchucks, racoons etc.) the challenge was always figuring out how to protect the tender little plants from the big marauding invaders, while finding a location that gave enough sun, without sticking a huge fenced plot in the middle of the yard. We think we found the perfect solution though! We decided to make use of the wasted space directly behind the garage, and have it multi-task for us, by making the garage wall into one side of our "deer fence", and also a climbing wall for beans. We fenced two more sides, used our existing wood pile as the fourth, added a gate and called it good! So animal tracks! I think it's secure! And it's so, so cute! Dad put up the fence, (with Iain's help of course!) and tilled the ground. We then made a raised bed with wood sides, filled it with soil (I have recently learned this is proper terminology...not "dirt"...!), plotted it out, and got planting! My mom was the brains behind the operation, and she somehow managed to squeeze three kinds of tomato plants, red, yellow, green and orange bell peppers, jalapeno, cayenne and habanero peppers, two kinds of lettuce, radishes and carrots, yellow and red onions and leeks, climbing cucumbers, potatoes, snap peas and green beans and a path down the middle into my little 12x6 space! This is without mentioning the rhubarb, strawberries and asparagus along the back that are perennial, and the cherry tomato, zucchini plants and herb garden (basil, oregano, rosemary, cilantro, dill, chives, mint and chocolate mint) that reside outside the fence! I love, love, love it!! We already have lettuce, onions and radishes poking up their little heads, and I can't wait to taste the "fruits of our labors"!

In our "spare time", we also did some backyard beautification. Mom and I planted flower planters, weeded, mulched and added perennials to the beautiful flower garden Dad P designed and built over the past few years, and bought and hung a hummingbird feeder. Dad put together our new Adirondack chairs and strung lights on our pergola (a Spring 2009 Patterson project!). Neil did the mowing and trimming and rust-proofed our new fire pit! Our backyard is ready for Mom and Dad just need to come back for another two weeks to enjoy it!

There is really no way to say thank-you for all the time, effort and energy expended by both sets of our parents on our behalf over the years...but we are very grateful for the work, the time, the help...and the legacy of DIY'n that you've shared with us! Someday, I'm sure we'll even be able to do it on our own...!

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