7th House on the Left

****THIS GIVEAWAY IS NO LONGER ACCEPTING ENTRIES****
Scroll down to see the winning comment chosen by Random.org…

Summer is here and it seems every Saturday morning we wake up to the sound of lawn mowers, trimmers, and mulch trucks. While we’ve been focusing primarily on the inside of the house we’ve been gearing up for some more exterior projects. We’ve been keeping up with helping the grass be all nice and green, pressure-washing and whatnot… but when it comes to actual landscaping… baby steps, people!

Last week the folks over at Black & Decker sent two packages to our doorstep. It was… drumroll… their new Lithium-Ion Cordless Trimmer and Sweeper! Knowing that B&D makes good quality products, we were really excited to break them out of their boxes and put them to work.

After some minor assembly and charging of the batteries, I headed outside to break them in. The first thing I noticed was that these tools are light. Actually the Sweeper was so light, I wondered if it could actually blow anything around! The build, quality, and finish on these tools is something B&D could definitely write home about. Everything fits together nicely, and while they’re made of mostly plastic and aluminum, the tools seem thick and sturdy where it counts. As long as you don’t abuse them, they would hold up for a very good amount of time.

First up to bat, the Lithium-Ion Cordless Trimmer/Edger

I fully expected the trimmer to do its job, and it performed just as well as I thought it would. I wouldn’t go trying to chop down any small trees with it (Yes, I tried. Sort of. It was a weed turned small tree. Don’t ask.) but it does a great job on hard-to-reach grass underneath the edge of bushes, shrubs, etc. This “little” guy would be great for those quick jobs where a gas-powered or corded trimmer would be too cumbersome… Like that line of grass that sticks up right next to the front steps you’ve neglected to trim because you would have to spend ten minutes pulling out the big trimmer for 30 seconds of work. We’ve totally been stalking you (kidding!).

Another perk of the B&D Cordless Trimmer is the adjustable angle on the handle. It’s smooth to click into place and makes the trimmer even easier to maneuver. A total plus in my book!

Another really cool feature on the trimmer is the edger setting. You loosen a piece on the shaft, turn the head 180 degrees, then lock it back down. Then you can pull out the guide, place it on the edge you’re trimming, and just slide it along. My only criticism here is the guide could stand to have some rollers or something to make it easier to slide along rough/hard surfaces. Overall, the trimmer did it’s job really well in both the “normal” and “edger” positions.

Next up to bat, the Lithium-Ion Cordless Sweeper

The sweeper is pretty simple (hence the lack of pictures) and easy to use as well. Now, earlier I voiced my doubts about the performance due to the blower being unbelievably light. Well, my doubts were laid to rest the first time I flipped the ON switch. This little guy packs some punch for its size! We successfully swept up all of the grass clippings that we had created with the trimmer, and did so in short order. I will definitely use it to keep the car port cleaned out and “sweep” the driveway from time to time.

Pretty cool, right?! Here’s what’s even cooler… the very generous guys (and gals) at Black & Decker are giving one of our lucky readers their very own Lithium-Ion Cordless Trimmer and a Lithium-Ion Cordless Sweeper!

PRIZE: One (1) Black & Decker 20-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Grass Hog Trimmer/Edger and one (1) Black & Decker 20-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Sweeper. A $200+ value!
2 CHANCES TO WIN: 1) Leave a comment on this post with the words “RECHARGE MY YARD!”. 2) “Like” Black & Decker on Facebook and come back here and leave a second comment letting us know (Don’t forget to enter their Recharge Your Life Sweepstakes for the chance to win a $2,000 Gift Card and tons of B&D tools! It’s a Win-Win!). If you already “Like” B&D, tell us what your favorite B&D tool is.
NUMBER OF WINNERS: One, Uno, Un, Eins… you get the picture.
PRIZE SHIPS: The US of A & Canada
GIVEAWAY WILL WRAP UP: Friday, July 1st @ Midnight EST. As usual, to keep things fair and square, up to two entries per email address. The winner will be selected using Random.org and will be announced right here on Saturday, July 2nd.

AND THE WINNER IS…

CHRISTY B! Congratulations Christy and we know you will enjoy your new Black & Decker yard tools! Have fun “recharging your yard” this summer!

Even though the folks at Black & Decker were super nice by gifting us these spiffy tools, the above comments were not persuaded in any way and as always, this is our honest-to-goodness opinion.

DIY: 4th OF JULY

posted by Ashley  /  5 Comments

Fourth of July is just around the corner and “Blogland” is completely full of fun creative DIY projects to make your 4th extra special. I’ve been noticing so many fun projects that I just had to share with you some of my favorites…

A 4th of July without Sparklers is like a Christmas without a Christmas tree! Dress up your sparklers with this adorable tutorial from Twig + Thistle. The tutorial also includes matchbox covers and drinking straw decorations. Click here to read the full instructions and to download the PDF to create your own!

Naomi from Bakers Royale takes the concept of fruit skewers to a whole new level with these super innovative fruit pops. Who knew watermelon, apples, and blueberries could be so adorable? Click here for a full rundown of tips on how to make your own.

Dress up your dessert table with a stylish (yet easy to make) Garland Swag from House of Three. They also offer a downloadable file (for $4) complete with artwork to make your own popcorn bags and sparkler holders. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to make your own garland swag and click here to purchase the printables for all three projects.

Who said entertaining had to be hard? You can whip up a 4th of July party in 20 minutes flat. Yeah, it’s true. Check out this post from Dream Green DIY (guest posting on NoBiggie) on how to put together an easy 4th of July shindig without the fuss.

Speaking of super easy… easy can be chic! For instance, these dessert decorations from Style Me Pretty. You could even use them on store bought cupcakes to give them that homemade-yeah-I-totally-made-those-myself look. Click here for the full (crazy easy) tutorial!

If you are looking to go all out this year, Anders Ruff has got you covered! Their 4th of July Pinwheels party is out of this world! It’s chic, modern, fun, and adorable all at the same time. I for real can’t get enough of it. All of their downloads for the entire party are available (for $15) in their Etsy shop here. For more photos, check out their blog here.

I hope this 4th of July round up gives you some inspiration of your 4th get-togethers this year! What are your plans? Are you hosting or going to someone else’s for the festivities?

THE LONG LOST PLANTERS

posted by Ashley  /  11 Comments

Over a year and a half ago we bought two of these planters from CB2…

We actually got them for the patio of our first place (a cozy two bedroom apartment on the other side of town). Back then, silver was our go-to metallic accent color. It matched everything we had, and it went really well with the exterior of our apartment complex. Around the time they came in, we were in the middle of the maybe-we-should-buy-a-house stage. In light of that, we decided to put the patio beautification on hold and store the planters in my parents’ garage. Fast forward a year and a half… The house had been bought, renovations were underway, and we were moving into our new (to us) house. While we were going through the “stuff” we had stored in my parents garage, we stumbled upon our unused planters – STILL in the box! We had totally forgotten about them. To make things even sweeter, we’d been looking to buy planters for the carport! Score!

Btw, it was SUPER hot outside. So the grass looked dead.

Since moving into the house, we’ve turned a page in the accent color book. While silver is a great color that we still use it from time to time, we especially like the way oil-rubbed bronze interacts with our dark floors and bright white trim. All of our door hardware (more about that here) are now oil-rubbed bronze, so it’s only natural that our planters be that color too – especially since they will be going beside the two back doors which were painted a black/brown. For our hue of choice, we went with Rustoleum’s Oil Rubbed Bronze Metallic Spray Paint. That stuff… is awesome. Great color, coverage and the whole nine yards. I wish we could find about a billion other things to use it on!

Obviously, painting plain planters (try saying that 10 times fast!) isn’t rocket science, so I’m not going to get into much detail there. You know the drill… keep the can about 10 inches from the surface, spray in steady back-in-forth motion, slightly overlap each stroke, yada, yada, yada. Just remember, you’re better off doing lots of light coats than a few heavy ones. It gives you better coverage and a streak-free final product. Oh, and we ended up using almost exactly two cans to do both planters.

Now that we had these spiffy “new” planters, we needed to fill them. When picking out flowers, we kept in mind they would be under the carport, so the plants we chose needed to be extremely shade-tolerant. We also wanted to get something self-contained that wouldn’t have to be transferred to a new container. Why? We wanted less fuss. Plain and simple. We’re definitely going to be getting our gardening on in the near future, but buying something that was already in a permanent home just made us feel more comfortable. Taking all of that into consideration, we settled on these beauties…

These are Impatiens. We picked them up at Lowe’s for $8.99 a pop. They haven’t fully bloomed yet, but if they end up looking anything like the tag, we’re stoked. The tag says they will bloom from spring through fall, they are fast growing (funny since they are Impatiens), and they are good to go in the shade. If you have brown thumbs (okay, enough with the puns… we are the Browns… brown thumbs. I know that’s got to be annoying but I couldn’t resist.) like ourselves, be sure to read the tag. The back of the tag is full of info about transplanting, water usage, pruning, fertilizing and such.

The flower pots are pretty shallow so we put some bricks we havd left over from a previous project in the bottom and set them on top. This puts the flowers just above the lip of the planters and keeps the planters from moving around as well!

After a little snip of the hangers and a drink of water, the flowers were all set in their new home…

The plants ended up being the perfect size for these planters. They aren’t too crowded so they have enough room to grow…

Yay for the long lost planters! Now we’re one step closer to completing Operation Carport Prettification. It’s a small step, but it’s a step nonetheless. We’re going to keep our fingers crossed that we have a bright and sunny weekend so we can move on to our other outdoor projects!