Project Backyard: COMPLETED

Backyard update!!!

Well, you might have remembered from a few weeks ago when my backyard looked like the dumping grounds for the rest of the community below…

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It was sad, barren, dry and lonely. Nothing but beige and brown and the hints of green weed accents that nobody wants to ever see. It was like this for the last 2 1/2 years before we finally got around to putting something together. Like I mentioned in my previous post for my backyard – I just didn’t have the time nor the idea to start anything and I hate to start something without a vision.

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Shortly after, we made huge progress. The pergola was up, I still had about 200 lbs or more of rocks, weeds, and other debris that needed to go as you can see…

Well, fast forward to a few weeks and it’s finally complete! Yard work is a no joke – it looks easy – I mean, dig 4 holes, put the posts in, drill some other boards together and voila! Negative… It is back breaking, it is sweat-inducing and it is tiresome, but it’s all worth it in the end.

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Here is the finished product… Well like 99%. The last 1% is waiting for the grass seams to grow in and for it to root properly into the ground and turn green!

Laying the 1650 sq ft of grass was no easy feat either. The task itself is simple, but doing the work is brutal. Getting the grass, hauling it off the truck, bringing it 70 ft to the backyard, then rolling it out. Repeat.

I want to spend a few minutes just giving a huge thanks to Punit for spending his weekends and every ounce of physical strength he had in helping me put the pergola together, and laying the grass. There was no way in hell I could have finished any of this without the help of Punit. From using a two-man auger for the first time, to carrying roll after roll of sod to the back while he was sick – he never once complained and we kept chugging along. Thanks to Gopesh for lending another helping hand and for helping to carry a total of over 6000 lbs of sod in his truck to the house and for working like it’s also your damn yard. Thanks to JC for coming and completing all the small details and helping us get the little things that seem like they don’t matter – but actually play a big part in the big picture…

Anyway, I just want to share a few pics of how it all looks… It’s almost time to reap the benefits once the grass settles in!

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The awesome pergola – we also decided to put up a hammock on one side for more relaxation space…

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A shot of pergola set up. I’m thinking of one more swinging hammock… but this will do for now.

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One of our favourite additions were these solar LED mini lanterns. You’d be surprised how difficult it is to source these the way I wanted them. I literally only wanted white lantern balls made of weatherproof nylon, a solar panel, and LED bulbs – is that too much to ask?! I guess so because after searching every corner of the internet, the one place that had it was IKEA surprisingly. The bulbs themselves were literally almost sold out at the store and the lanterns were back ordered so we waited about 3 weeks for them. After about a month – we got them up and they look awesome.

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One last shot of the yard. We added stepping stones from the house to the pergola with some LED solar lights to illuminate the path. Near the back, we have a mini 7 gallon pink spire tree that eventually grows to an awesome looking cherry blossom tree with some red and silver shrubs in the other corner.

All in all – lots of sweat went into this and it all came together with the help of friends and family. FINALLY!!!

DIY: Pergola with Swinging Bench

Another DIY in the books! This one I’m particularly proud of… Especially when it’s something larger scale like this. It’s not a difficult project, it’s just time consuming. I’ve been planning the Pergola for the backyard for about a year now but never had time to do it. Last year I put it off because we had the fence to do and other priorities but I’ve had enough of being the only one in our quadrant of neighbours with the suckiest backyard. Even the guy that laid down just plain grass has a better backyard than me… You’ll see in my pictures shortly.

Anyway, this is a somewhat step by step progress of the Pergola I had planned out. I just want to give a huge thanks to Punit, Gopesh and JC for helping Diana and I build this. An extra shout out to Punit for coming two days in a row to get the hardest parts done and sacrificing every ounce of physical strength we had to drill the holes and mix the cement. It was a long, painful and hot weekend, but it all came together exactly as I had envisioned it in the end…

Let’s get started!

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Here is my rough sketch of the Pergola. I like to have these drawn out so I know exactly what the measurements need to be before we we get started. The last thing you need is to cut a board the wrong way or measure something incorrectly.

I planned the Pergola to be 10ft x 10ft x 10ft. A list of the materials we needed for that:

4 – 6x6x12 posts
16 – 2x6x12 boards
16 – 5″ lag bolts
8 bags of cement

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On the other side of that, I drew the bench I wanted to build. I decided a little late in the game that a 10x10x10 Pergola was a little plain. So I thought of putting in a swinging bench to add a bit of flavour and some seating room! Here’s a list of materials you need for that:

5 – 2x4x8
2 – 1x6x8
1 – 1x6x4
1 – 1x4x8

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Here’s what it all looked like Saturday morning. Punit and I got started super bright and early – the neighbours probably hate me. Luckily for me, Punit is also an early riser like me so it wasn’t an issue to get going. He was at my place by 6:45AM and we were off to Home Depot to grab everything we needed.

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Part of the reason we went so early was to get the two-man auger rental. I just didn’t want to take a chance that the auger wouldn’t be available if we were late. We also rented the cargo van so we could load up the lumber. I think it took us about 45 minutes to find all the good lumber, finish the rental contracts and load everything up.

Here you can see we started part of the first hole.

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This was about 1 ft down. I wanted to go down 2ft so that we could get past the frost line in the winter.

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Our first 2ft hole completed! Let me tell you – digging a 2ft hole sounds like it isn’t much work but it’s no joke. The two-man auger is heavy on it’s own but when you’re having to lift it up and down every few seconds to get the dirt out, it’s like a HIIT shoulder work out.

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The rest of the lumber. Saturday was really the most physically draining day because of all the physical work involved. Loading everything into the van, unloading the van and bringing everything to the back, driving the van back to return it, digging four holes… It was physical hell.

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The second hole went by smoothly. The third hole wasn’t so smooth…

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You can see the piece of rock embedded in the ground that caught on the auger. When your auger drill bit hits a rock that’s stuck in the ground, it has enough power to literally knock you off your feet or throw you if you aren’t hanging on. Luckily, nothing happened to us and we got by fine.

Digging out these rocks is an art – just like an archaeologist digging out bones – we carved around it and eventually Punit got it out. It isn’t terribly big but it can stop you in your tracks and really put a cramp in everything. Each hole took about half an hour to dig with most of the time taking breaks because it knocks the breath out of you every time.

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Well finally after about 2 hours, we had all the holes drilled and we mocked up a post to see what it would look like. Not bad…

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We spent the next few hours filling the holes with cement. Punit is pretty much a pro at making the perfect mixture of cement now… So now you know who to call.

We had 8 bags at 66lbs each… Meaning we mixed about 528lbs of cement on Saturday. Again, physically exhausting…

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Once we had all the posts in place, we braced them by nailing 2×4’s to the posts and small stakes to the other ends into the ground.

The most important part of this whole project is making sure your project is square and your posts are plumb. Meaning from one post to the other, it should be 10ft and from inside corner to inside corner, it should be equal as well.

Place a level on each side of the posts to make sure they are level and plumb while bracing so you ensure perfectly even posts, otherwise your project is a bust from the get go.

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There goes all that cement.

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We started working on the rafters. I cut a design out of the first four acting as the front and back of the Pergola. Using a jigsaw is probably the best bet for a design.

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Punit got started on staining the rafters…

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Not exactly the colour we had in mind based on the sample on the outside of the can… It was more red than we expected and we were a little hesitate of it at first… But once it dried, it got a little darker so we went with it.

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Meanwhile, I got started on the bench. I made all my cuts and was ready to assemble.

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The base assembled – went together nicely It’s basically 48″ long with support beams along the sides and middle. I used wood glue and deck screws to hold them together.

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Diana decided to come out and help out a bit with what she could.

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In short order, I was able to get the backing and arm rests up…

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While Punit and Diana were making good headway on the staining. PS – the stain is both a sealant and protector for the wood – not paint.

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And voila! The seat and back rests all done! Nice and easy – ready for paint.

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Another view of the bench.

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Our view at the end of the day… We called it a day at around 5PM. Punit and I were completely exhausted by the end of it all.

Diana ended up drawing me a hot bath with Epsom salts to help my sore ass body. I kid you not, I don’t think there was a single part of my body that wasn’t sore yesterday… That two-man auger took everything we had. I’m still feeling it as I write this post…

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Fast forward to today (Sunday)! Started bright and early again – just at around 9AM when the sun was just rising and it was still nice outside.

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The posts were set and they weren’t going anywhere. Gopesh and I decided to get started right away on the rafters while Punit finished off staining the boards.

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Staining took a lot of time on it’s own just to finish up. Punit did a great job.

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Here you can see Gopesh just making sure we’re level and fastening the rafter to the post.

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Progress pic…

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Here you can see the front and rear rafters up and bolted up with the lag bolts. They weren’t going anywhere with the thick lag bolts screwed into the posts. I was able to hang off of them and swing with no sway. Note – for the front and rear, I sandwiched the posts with a rafter on each side.

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The easiest way for us to do it was to hold the rafters up and then place a temporary nail under it to hold and position it. It will also help you make sure it’s centered.

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Next you can see the top rafters we started placing on top to get measured out.

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I figured that with a 10ft wide pergola, we could put a rafter every foot and have it looking nice. We didn’t really finalize anything here, we just wanted to make sure it all sat nicely.

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Diana ended up finishing the bench and JC finished up the smaller details.

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The rafters were all mocked up and marked… Now the detail work begins. Probably my least favourite part.

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What we needed to do was notch the underside of rafters to sit on the header rafters. You can see we did that with the two on the right.

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Another shot of Gopesh and Punit measuring to make sure.

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We ordered some Pizza and took a quick break…

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Punit and I went to Home Depot to pick up some hardware for the hanging bench. We ended up getting 32ft of heavy duty galvanized chain, 8 eye bolts, and 8 locking carabiners.

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I drilled pilot holes for the eye bolts and screwed those into the side of the bench. Easy peasy.

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A shot of some of that heavy duty chain that was probably heavier duty than we needed… LOL. They were expensive though – ringing in at $2.50 per ft.

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The finished project! All in all, a simple project that requires a lot of work. It’s not terribly difficult but there are small things that take time. Without the help of Punit, Gopesh, JC and Diana, there’s no way this would have been done in two days. I can’t thank you guys enough! Proof that we can do more than car things.

Next up, I have to finish cleaning up the yard – as you can see there’s still a ton of weeds left and I need to level out the ground. Hopefully we get the trees and grass in soon and it should be looking a lot better!

DIY: Mini TeePee for Mini Me!

It’s like a DIY party in the household lately! Like I said before, ever since we found out we were having a girl, it’s been like a mad rush to start decorating and getting everything in place so we don’t have to worry about it later.

I’ve got a lot of things on the go lately – the nursery and now the backyard. The backyard will be a few weeks worth of work since I only get the weekends to work on it. But anyway, thought I’d share some of my crafty DIY’s since I literally have no interest in shooting any cars right now lol.

Driven is coming up quick though so I’ll definitely have pics of that! Best believe I’ll get Arianny Celeste’s autograph!

Material list:

  • 1 x Roll of thick rope
  • 4 x Wooden Dowels. We bought ours at 5ft. You can choose whatever height you want depending on how tall you want your teepee.
  • Screws
  • 2 meters of cotton canvas (or whatever fabric you want)

We purchased some rope and 4 wooden dowels from Home Depot. Total cost $40. The dowels cost $10 each at 5ft.

Here we see Diana cranky about pulling off the price stickers because they’re stubborn as F to remove lol.

Next, measure how far you want the tops of your dowels to stick out of the teepee. I went down about 5.5″. Drill the holes through.


The other dowels marked to be drilled.

Feed the rope though two of them first and tie a knot at the end.

What you want to do is begin by positioning the two dowels as if they were the front legs of the teepee. They would cross – almost like chopsticks and you would tie the rope around a few times to get them together.

Diana still working on those stickers…


I didn’t have any pictures of the whole process but once you have the other two poles drilled and ready to go, position all the legs how you want them to be and begin wrapping the rope around the top neatly. If you wrap it so that the rope sits on top of each other, it looks a lot nicer than just having clumps of rope all over the place.

Ideally, you want the front legs wider than the back legs so it doesn’t look so square. That was my personal call, you can do whatever you want.

I actually purchased 3 meters of canvas just in case I messed up. In reality I only needed 2 meters. What you’ll need to do is wrap the fabric all around just so you can see what it’ll look like and have everything measured up nicely. It’s important to purchase a heavy and thick canvas so that it doesn’t rip.

Cut off any extra fabric.  Once you’re happy with the placement, drill a screw at the top on the back of the teepee right under the rope to hold the canvas there. Then drill another two screws on the inside of the front posts to hold the front of the canvas.

You’ll have three stationary points so the canvas does not move or slide up, down, left or right. Depending on the width of your fabric, you’ll probably also get a lot of left over at the bottom of the teepee. Instead of cutting it, I just rolled them on the inside. You can barely see it peaking through.

I figured it was a little boring with a plain canvas, so I took some leftover paint from the walls and painted a Chevron pattern on it to finish it up. We have a blanket and got a cool little pillow and we’re done! Total cost was about $80. It would’ve been cheaper if I didn’t buy the extra meter of canvas.

I don’t know if it was cheaper than buying one new since I didn’t really look, but it does allow you to customize it the way you like with whatever colors, canvas, and shape you want. All in all – cool project that took maybe an hour.

DIY: Paint The Town (Nursery) Purple

Since I haven’t had time to do car things, I’ll post house things! I had the day off today to just try and get some time away from work – it’s been hectic lately and my mind just needed some R&R. I needed to do something other than deal with problems all day and just do something relaxing. “Relaxing” in my world doesn’t mean laying in bed all day – I can’t stand that… Instead, I got to work on the nursery now that we know the gender and spend some quality time in the garage afterward.

Diana and I have been discussing what we wanted to do with the nursery for a while now – we just had to wait until we knew if it was a boy or girl so we could get get the colors. You see, Diana and I are a strangely effective team… Diana just throws out random ideas and I bring them to life. She doesn’t really lift a finger most of the time, but she is a tough critic. A lot of the time, my vision of her ideas work and all is well – I haven’t really come across a time where it hasn’t (lucky me). Until that day comes, we will continue being that strangely effective team where she blurts out ideas and I continue being the laborer without pay. I guess it all works out in the end – the day it doesn’t is the day I stop LOL.

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Here’s how the nursery sat for a few months. We bought all the furniture – more of which you cannot see to the right of me – and we just had it there so we wouldn’t have to worry about the expense later.

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Diana wanted a feature wall and we bounced many ideas back and forth. She knew she wanted purple, but we didn’t really finalize on anything until a few weeks ago… So I went to town. I taped off the surrounding area to get started on the edges…

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I can’t remember what the paint color was called but it’s similar to a very faint lilac purple.

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Edges first! Pro tip: Do the edges first so when you use your roller, you can roll over the brush marks and it looks more seamless.

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This was the first coat. It went on light and as it dried, it got darker. Pretty nice…

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While I was waiting for the paint to dry, I decided to run to Home Depot to pick up a Cedar board and start another project.

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I painted it with a kimono purple – another color we picked up for the walls.

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Here is where my creativity blossomed LOL. Diana wanted polka dots on the wall – and I was free to do whatever I wanted with them. The first problem was how to get perfect circles without using freehand brush.

So, I found my zipties, a Stella Artois glass holder, and an old shirt.

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A few minutes later I come up with this. A cheap and somewhat-effective stamp tool.

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Here’s what the first few circles looked like in the pure kimono purple. The problem with my stamp tool is that it wasn’t doing exactly what I was hoping it would do. Turns out when you go to stamp it, you just get a runny, uneven mess.

As a result, I ended up just stamping the outline and coloring in each circle one by one with a small brush and then running the brush along the other edge of the circle to keep them sharp. I am willing to bet anyone $100 I can now draw perfect circles after this project…

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I decided that I wanted to ombre the shit out of this wall. I know this term because it’s the latest fad for girls to do to their hair in every color imaginable. It’s a fancy word for fading the color – girls just wanted a prettier term I guess.

Anyway, as I made my way down the wall, I just added more and more white to lighten it. I also wanted the polka dots to look like they were raining. I didn’t want the uniformity of perfectly placed dots. Too cliche. LOL

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Anyway, I didn’t take many pictures in between it all because I was on a roll. This was the finished result!

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Here it is without the tape and a bit better lighting. Beautiful.

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After I finished that, I went on to complete the second project. A growth board for baby A. Thought it would be a nice addition to the room… People end up spending $60+ for this. I spent $4.20. SUCK IT

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And it’s all completed! I still have to mount the growth board on the wall but this is how it sits for now. Still lots to go but it’s getting there!