the ravenna girls

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All around the campfire January 21, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — ravennagirls @ 4:56 pm
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Just like last Friday, the weather in Seattle is dreary, gray, and very very wet today. Its supposed to clear up this weekend, but until that happens I am longing for the warm and cozy that can only come from sunshine.

This outdoor fireplace from the Jan/Feb issue of Lonny, that was shot in the Hollywood Hills, fits the bill perfectly. Its so cozy with those wool blankets, but also modern and fresh. That cast concrete fire pit is awesome!

Perfect spot to kick back and have a Dark and Stormy.

We’re going to spend the weekend working on some website elements, and some projects around the house. Stay tuned! What are you all doing this weekend?

Here’s hoping for sunshine!


a little diy patio table September 13, 2010

Filed under: diy — ravennagirls @ 1:11 pm
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There is nothing better then enjoying your new patio and dahlias in full bloom.

Sitting outside and grilling.

We knew after the big patio installation we would want a table to sit and eat at outside. I mean, what is a patio without a table??

We searched for things that were a-nice looking (and found a few things…) and b-were in out budget (where the nice looking things were not located).

Back in the winter, Smith and Hawken was going out of business.  They were having massive sales and selling everything in their stores.  We picked up a few wooden store shelves for 5 bucks.  They were pretty, but could have used a good sanding.  We figured they would be good for something down the road….

Then, in the late spring, we pilgrimaged to IKEA.  For what I don’t remember.   I think I might have had a flight to NJ ..and since IKEA is so close to the airport….

Anyway, while there we stumbled across something in the as-is section.  It was a metal table bottom.  Perfect!  It had 8 holes on the top for your tabletop to screw into…. exactly like this one (retailing OVER $100 bucks)…


Best of all, it was only 25 bucks!

And then the patio table was born.


Here are the two sections as we were sanding them.  We sanded and then applied 3 coats of a polyurethane to seal the wood…


Then  we screwed two 2 x 4s to the bottom of the sections so that they would become one long tabletop.  Then we screwed the 2 x 4s through the holes in the IKEA base.

This is what we got….

For only 30 bucks …

+ a few screws + two pieces of a 2×4 (which we already had)…

And now, dining al fresco.


Backyard Part Two: Our Raised Beds June 29, 2010

Filed under: house before and afters — ravennagirls @ 9:16 am
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One of the fundamental parts of our backyard design was to put in some raised beds for flowers and veggies. Not only do they provide happy healthy soil for veggies to grow, we also felt they would give some definition to what was becoming an open expanse of a yard.

We first showed you the beds here where we placed them during the “dig” phase in order to have a place to put the dirt that we were excavating.

One last recap of the yard post-tree-removal, pre-raised-beds:

Mmmmmm tree stump

Well, here’s the story of their design and construction.

Firstly, we searched online to see if there was a simple design that we could use that was more than just pressure treated lumber or concrete. We wanted something that would add a little texture and height to that side of the yard. I went to one of my go-to sources, Sunset Magazine’s online site and found a couple of articles with just what I was looking for. We chose this design because we liked the sturdiness, but also practicality, PLUS it had a set-up to create a hoop-house for cold weather growing that was fairly hidden. So, we set out to look for materials.

Being the cheap eco-friendly gals that we are, we went to the logical first source: CRAIGSLIST. First we searched for the exact types of lumber that the plans called for. No dice. So then we putzed around “materials” “household” and “home and garden” to see if there was something we could repurpose: and JACKPOT! A fellow about 15 miles away selling enough sections of an old cedar fence that we could reuse the members and improvise.

Something like this: although this isn't the actual craigslist photo, i just pulled this off google.

Pros: The cedar was already seasoned a couple of years, so the naturally rot-resistent wood had become a little bit hardened to the elements. Plus, for a reasonable price we would have MORE than enough lumber for all the beds we wanted this year.

Cons: The individual lumber pieces were a little bit thinner than we would have like (1x wood instead of 2x, e.g.) So, we’d have to double up on the supports a bit. Also, the craigslist ad was selling the fence in large sections (approx 6’x8′) to transportation would be an issue.

Long story short, we beat out other interested parties, broke down the fence sections into individual pieces, and brought home our loot.

We modified the dimensions to fit our vision for the yard, including a stepped pattern for visual interest and to accommodate different types of plants. Then, we began assembly with 2 1/4″ coated deck screws (to make sure that the hardware won’t be a point of failure). A crucial element of the design is building the posts several inches longer than the sides of bed so that they can be effectively anchored into the ground.

Not us, nor a dad, nor a neighbor. This is the sunset man since we were slackers and didn't take pics of the actual construction.

After initial construction, we placed them in their approximate locations and begun to dig post holes. This proved to be a little tricky because of the previously mentioned heinous root structure throughout the yard. We had to modify several of the locations because there were massive pieces of locust trunk buried beneath the ground. Ugh. Pretty much anything closer than 3′ to the fence is un-usable ground for us.

Preliminary placement (phew, a lot of digging)

After placing in the ground and making sure all sides were level, we stapled in some weed barrier fabric (Nothing fancy – just enough to keep some of the stray grasses from getting in our way later).

Weed Block!

Then, we started the process of transfering our newly amended soil: equal parts top soil and compost (along with straight up manure once we ran out of compost and got cheaper more resourceful).

After planting either bulbs (in the case of the dahlia bed) or the seed starts, we spread mulch that we had from the tree stump grinding to even out the soil, enhance water retention, and prevent weeds.

Here is a last picture showing the hoop houses that we installed later. As the design shows, we installed 6″ lengths of 1 1/4″ diameter PVC to the center supports on the beds. Then, we inserted 1″ pvc into both ends, bending to create plenty of clearance for the plants below. They aren’t tall enough now to cause issue with the visquene cover, but in the fall they may be and we want to be prepared for that.

PVC installation; Photo Credit: Sunset Mag

Hoops! Ignore the scattered yard clutter

So, with a little elbow grease, we have four raised beds to start our garden. We did learn, though, that while we thought these 4 beds would provide AMPLE space, we had more dirt and more plant starts than we had room to fill. So, next year we’ll probably expand by a couple of beds.

And here, a photo to show some of our happy little plants starting to grow!



after day one…. March 5, 2010

Filed under: house before and afters — ravennagirls @ 12:02 pm
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look at it! 

between that and the ivy removal, we have come a long way from our first post about the yard!! Click here to see!



also look at how light out it is in these pictures taken at 5.30 pm!  Oh, spring , I love thee!

OOOO wood to chop!

(I think we might need a wood sculpture in our backyard like this one:

cool, huh?  via)

In other news, B and i got one step closer to raised beds last night at about 9pm.  It’s a pretty ridiculous story.  We might even tell you sometime.  I’m giving ourselves a pat on the back for being super sustainable, keeping our project on budget, and quite a bit of manual labor on our part.  We rewarded all of the above with a Dairy Queen Blizzard.  : )

Ah, Friday, I love thee.


there once was a front door December 11, 2009

Filed under: christmas,house before and afters — ravennagirls @ 12:05 pm
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that was oh-so-neglected.

are you ready for a little before and after?

I know it has been a while, but, well, its rough to finish projects outside and photo them in daylight in a Seattle November.

So now, we bring you a post with two purposes…

1.  To show you how awesome the front door looks painted, as well s the trim AND the front porch!


2.  To show you how cute this all looks when additionally decorated for the holidays!


{this post would not be made possible without help from my dad, made famous by our blog, and his electrical skills.  See here if you have forgotten!}

{also, see here for a little fornt yard history…}


Our Front Yard, so far… October 15, 2009

Filed under: friends and family,house before and afters — ravennagirls @ 5:56 pm
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When we very first saw this house, I remember loving the front.  It seemed darling perched above the street.   It had a halo of possibility around every corner.

When we actually got keys… I thought the front is okay, I mean, lets change this and that.  The halo of possibilities grew.

When I remembered what the rest of the house looked like, and saw the jungle that was our backyard (remember this?), and how long it takes to move….

…the front really looked just fine.  Because, our halo of possibility seemed stretched to the maximum at the moment.

Obviously we were blinded and had stopped watching Curb Appeal.



After getting many other  house projects out of the way — making our indoor spaces shine and taming the backyard jungle — Our halo was feeling ready to take on just a few more things.

But, we were very very lucky, because this halo had some serious help.

B’s mom offered up some time one afternoon to help with the rockery.  She and B pulled tons of weeds and grasses.  Then they planted some rockery type plants that she so generously brought over.  I exclaimed, wow, there really are rocks underneath all these weeds!


That little bit of help was huge. 

I then exclaimed, let’s put the front yard in our halo of now.  I saw the possibility of the rest of the yard looking just as good as the rockery in the front. 

You see, we had a fun event coming up … a little housewarming party to thank all those who have helped with the house and show it off a bit.   And, coming to Seattle for the party?  My parents.  Yep, my dad had been before (you remember this guy from his famous front porch lighting thoughts and bathroom tile know how?) …. but it was my mom’s first visit to the house. 

And, when she asked what we needed help with that weekend, I saw visions of a glorious front yard.  Visions that certainly could not be achieved with my black thumb.

They swoop in and whoa.  While my dad fixes the few things on his list, my mom takes us plant shopping after scoping out her task.  B and I had bought a few plants at the Conservatory Sale, but they needed some friends.  After a trip to City People’s and some generous garden investment on my mom’s part… we have a bunch of new plants.

Now, if B was writing this post she would probably insert names and stuff in here.   All I remember is Mr. Rudbeckia is out there somewhere.  (and who here thinks i can actually spell that name all by myself???)


For many hours on Saturday morning, there was planting planting planting.  My mom and B started out while me and my dad went to home depot for some things.  We came home to a great looking yard-in-process!  The paver wall was removed for the most part, and we dug up like a hundred rocks in the front yard too.  Oh and we mulched.  And my mom pruned a bunch too.  It was crazy how quickly it all happened…

whoa.  But it looks great!  Thanks everyone!


 (note, pumpkins are courtesy of the green-thumbed-pea-patchers, jackie and dave)

 front  yard bloggy

here is one of my mom admiring the yard and a job very well done!


Do you see some clue in these pictures about what the next project in our halo is?   Hm.  Well I might show you, one of these days….  But the curb appeal is awesome!

front yard


the front porch, a work in progress August 17, 2009

Filed under: house before and afters — ravennagirls @ 7:32 am
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Boy, we have been posting about the house a ton lately!  When If we ever complete it you guys will be too bored to read about us anymore!!!

For now, I would like to talk about the front porch.  Let me just warn you now… you will not get a pretty “after” shot to take home with you.  Nope. Most definitely not.  We are still making some decisions due to some unexpected happenings.

Sometimes though, unexpected turns out to be a good thing. 

Remember, MY DAD, the guy who was featured on the internet a few days ago?    When he was here we had a long conversation about the porch.   It all started when I told him I wanted a front porch light.

(remember this is the before shot… charming isn’t it?)

arc 090

So he gets out his electric tester thingy he made me buy at Home Depot that first day.  After testing the wires coming out of the terrible aluminum soffit he declares a problem:  “there is no power out here.”

Great, I think, this is going to cost me.

So I say, “what can we do to fix that?”

To which he replies, “why do you need a front porch light?”

“Um, well, you see, we have this thing called winter here, where i leave my house in the morning in the dark and I come home in the dark, and um actually, I’m not exactly sure it ever gets light out during those months.”

He stares at me.  “This is going to take a while to fix.”

“But, I saw a raccoon in the neighborhood once though, what if he tries to eat me after I fall down the steps in the dark and no one can see me because its so dark and he gets me?? ” (Plus, I think –What’s a while to him — an hour?  Geez, in one mere day he finished my whole shower, how long can an electrical wire and a bulb REALLY take?) 

He just looks at me.  At first, I think he is going to suggest like a battery powered flood light or something that will probably go off as cars drive by.  Now I’m having visions of this happening all night and me needing to buy blackout shades for my front bedroom.  Boy, this is really going to cost me.

But then he says, “OKay.”

But … then he says, “We need to go to Home Depot again.” 

Seriously?  I just better throw the house construction budget out the window now. 

And … then he says, “Did you paint this wall?”  He points above the switches in the Living Room. 



“So, how big is this hole going to be.”

“Is this plaster?”


“Hm”  he says….  “Are you sure you really want a front porch light?”

“Yes, yes I think so.  So, If you need to take the wall down to do it so be it.  I mean…. I see a few touch up spots anyway.”

So he starts working and measuring…

I scamper off,  determined to work on a different project (yes yes you will see!) and not think about my beautifully painted living room.

I hear some power tools start to go and come into a living room with a much much smaller hole then I imagined.  Seriously, this is what we were talking about.   No big deal!

july 022

There are two wonderful things that happened then….

One – best part was that he took off the aluminum on the underneath of the soffit to see what was going on with the wiring and run new.  This is when the unexpected happened.  What did he reveal, you ask?

augusto 043

Now now, I know, you are probably like, some old chipped paint (also yellow, charming!)?  No no, It is wood underneath that paint.  Approx 3″ slats of wood up there, probably from when the house was built.  Some idiot previous owner chose to disguise it with terrible aluminum. 

After much debate, my dad did also center the front porch light.  The old non-working one was off by a few mere inches, yet still bothered me everytime I stood on the front walk.  After finishing that he says that he is just going to put the aluminum back up there.

Um, I don’t think so!  I had already done my happy dance, envisioning that crap being taken to our nearest recycling place and made into something much more tasteful then re-appearing on my front porch.

So, we left it off.  In its place is the new-to-us but reclaimed from Second Use light fixture.  Centered. 

augusto 042

Two –  There was another spot for a double switch by the front door.  One switch went to the light, of course… but the other was free.  Free for something the house had been severely lacking. 

The porch/”veranda” is great, don’t get me wrong.  It is pretty out there, with the mountains in view.  We have grand plans for the paint on the porch and the rail color before winter happens.

Do you know what else happens in the winter?  That can be used on that empty switch we now have, all powered and ready to be used.

augusto 041

An outdoor outlet for Christmas lights!

Of course!  I don’ know how the house ever escaped without the outlet but where would you plug the lights into otherwise??? 


So, small updates now I know.  But all that really did take awhile.  Turns out electrical in old houses does that.  But, we are all ready for the next front porch decisions to be made.  …Stay Tuned.