Between a House and a Hard Place

Before winter hits, we had one last (major) outdoor project to complete.  And in true Northeastern Ohio fashion, once fall hit, we've had about 1 nice day, every two weeks or so.  The rest has been all rain and once even a threat of snow.  Which are the two reasons we had to do this project in the first place.  So, since last Tuesday we found ourselves sitting pretty with sunny 65 degrees, it was go time.

The task was to fix the drainage problem next to our foundation between the house and driveway.  You can see the little half sidewalk/half mulch strip below:

The problem was the sidewalk part sloped towards the house which allowed water from rain and melted snow to flow down the drive, then against the house.  Not to mention our sump pump drain that you can see peeking out of the mulch in the bottom left of the photo above.  The mulch then allowed the water to drain down against the foundation.  Which had caused some leaks into the basement.  Lucky us.

While Mike didn't have any problem digging up the mulch and using some grout to fill in the deteriorated block to fix the leaking water, this didn't fix the bigger problem of the water, and left as-is, would only reappear later.

The solution was to remove the sidewalk, (I realize it's not a sidewalk, more like a driveway extension, but neither really make sense, so it's a sidewalk for now), and the mulch and replace with a more-appropriately sloped concrete slab.  We talked through a lot of different options like a stone base with a perforated pipe for slow drainage, or filling it in with lots of plants that would suck up all the water.  But the stones could become a nuisance and in large amounts, the water would still sit against the foundation.  And in the winter, when the chance of snow and melting is there, all the plants would be dead, duh.  So concrete was the way to go again.

Mike went old school and used a sledgehammer to break-up the concrete and piled them all by hand.

Before getting too ahead of himself, (and before we built the deck), he dug a trench to tie in the sump pump drain to the downspout drains that terminated back in the back yard in our dry well.

He dug a little tunnel right under that piece of concrete that was already there and fed the pipe through to the back of the house.

He then backfilled it with dirt and it's sat like that during our deck construction.  When we finally decided on our plan Mike dug out the depth he wanted and drilled holes about a foot deep into the existing driveway and placed 2-foot pieces of rebar into them.  This would allow the poured concrete to become a part of the existing driveway.  He also added some welded-wire for reinforcement.  He then added an expansion joint against the house, which for those that don't understand the properties of concrete, allows movement of the slab, without pushing against our foundation. 

Since we were short of time with bad weather coming, Mike took a half day at work, (don't worry he's been working most weekends, so he's definitely put in the hours) and scheduled for two yards of concrete to be delivered.

The truck arrived while I was home for lunch and Mike very quickly realized that he needed help, so I ran out in my work clothes and {wo}maned the shoot.  Which means, Mike was calf-deep in concrete while I stood on the driveway and moved the shoot back and forth and motioned to the driver to move up the drive for an even distribution.

Here's the moment that Mike realized he was in trouble and needed my help:

Once I got my groove I was fine, but let's just say I'm not going to quit my day job.  Which was why as soon as the concrete was poured, my lunch hour was over and I had to go back to work.  Our neighbor came over just before I left and was able to help even out the concrete while Mike screed and finished it.  I quickly snapped some photos on my blackberry camera before leaving to show you how they finished it.

For those wondering, the big triangle cut out of the driveway is because of some cracks in the drive that turned into corners that were completely cracked off.  Mike used a partner saw to cut out the drive to repour.

After work, I came home to a completely finished slab, that sloped away from the house and had a small curb against the house to further prevent water from sitting against the foundation.  A couple coats of cure and seal and some cuts with the partner saw and we were able to cross off the last major outdoor project of the season.

Pinterest Challenge | Fall Edition

If you're my mom or one of my regular readers you may have noticed I've been a little absent in my postings.  Well thanks to a fun freezing rain front that hit Northeast Ohio a couple weeks ago, I got a nasty cold that knocked me down for about 10 days.  Then, my laptop hard drive crashed.  Then, this weekend I got hit with the flu that kicked my ass.  So in short, I've been slowly dying, with no computer to keep me company in my last moments.  That's why I had to finally get out of bed, shower, and show my immune systems what's up.

And I did just in time too, because last week the girls from Young House Love and Bower Power decided to fuel my Pinterest addiction with the announcement of the Pinterest Challenge: Fall Edition!

Like the Summer Edition, (see my projects here), the rules were the same: make something inspired by something found on Pinterest. The only problem I had was doing only one project.  But since I scoff at flu shots, I guess my sickness made sure I didn't go overboard.  

So, on to my project.  I had so many ideas that I didn't know where to start, until I stopped thinking and out of necessity found something to jazz up our front door for the fall.  Something that would work from Halloween all the way to Thanksgiving.  Because I like things to be multi-functional? Nooo, it's because I'm lazy.  That's why when I found this burlap bubble wreath, it was love at first sight. 

(From Today's Fabulous Finds, and pinned here on Pinterest)

I grabbed my supplies at Joann's, which included 1-1/2 yard of light tan burlap, 100 pins, (with large heads), and 1-12" foam wreath.  Since I have never before made a wreath, I figured I would just follow Janet's directions and be done.  But after I read them I got busy and a couple days past, but I had my material so I just starting going to town.  I remembered to cut the burlap into 4" squares:

Then I started folding.  From memory.  You can probably tell where this is going.

I started by folding the square diagonally:

Then I took the left corner and brought it to the front:

The right corner I folded towards the back:

Which made a little dart thingy.

At this point those that have seen Janet's bubble wreath may have noticed mine doesn't look quite like hers. It took me a couple more steps to realize mine weren't coming out very "bubbly".  I'll explain where the mix-up came from in a minute.  

So back to my fuzzy memories of the directions.  After folding the squares I placed a pin where my fingers where holding everything together and attached to the foam wreath.  This is the worst photo, but in my defense I was sick and doing everything one-handed, while fending off the cat.  Okay, proceed.

I didn't pin in any particular order, just filled in as I went.  It was when I got to about this spot that I realized my "bubbles" were more "darty" and pointed then Janet's.  All very technical terms here.

I finally broke down and stopped folding long enough to look up the real directions.  That's when I realized I was folding them wrong.  I completely embarrassed myself and made a little video to show you how I was folding them.  Now remember I was sick, so I was all nasally and sounded like I was pinching my nose the whole time, so don't laugh, too hard.

Now I'll show you how you're supposed to fold them:

Here's both types of folds pinned to the wreath:

I have to admit I kinda dig mine.  And not in a "only a mom could love that face" kinda way.  I think it's a little funkier with the pointier fold.  So instead of completely starting over and throwing everything thing in a heap in the trash, I forged on and continued pinning, moving around the wreath and hiding the pin heads as I went.

After it was full, (exactly 97 squares+pins later) I added two pieces of ribbon on the back, (with two of the left over pins), and tied the pieces in a bow.  I used a Command hook to hang on the door and then quickly shut the door so I didn't hurt my brain anymore with meaningless debates of which fold is more pointy or bubbly.

What do you think?

I guess since I started out by hoping to merely mimic Janet's cute wreath but came up with my own take on it, I followed all the rules this time.  If you want to play along, you can visit any of the hosts and see what everyone else came up with:

Katie (Bower Power), Sherry (Young House Love), Ana ( and Erin (House of Earnest).