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Un-making Waves – The Fire Pit Adventure, Part 2

Wow, I can’t even begin to describe to you the geography of the far part of our backyard. Wavy. Really, really wavy.

If you caught my Instagram story from a little while ago, I took folks on a tour of our undulating backyard. The fact of the matter is, the entire far part of the property was filled in with wood chips. And those wood chips are decomposing. Fairly rapidly, I’d guess.

a view of the yard where the fire pit will be re-built
It’s hard to tell in the photo, but if you follow across the photo from the base of the tree, that’s the ridge of a hill and a fairly deep hole on the other side.

The original owner of all of the neighborhood land was in the tree business and later in his life he decided to upgrade and build a larger, more modern house on his land. That’s our house today. And when he was selling off pieces of his property, he had to raise up some of the land. And what did he have a lot of? Wood chips.

Needless to say, it’s been a challenge to level out the ground. It took me a week to fill this hole!

filling in a hole with topsoil
I thought the hole was 6″ deep, but it was also pretty long. Very deceptive.

With any patio, you’ll need a good base. I used this screened topsoil that we had hauled in from a favorite local vendor. Under normal circumstances where the ground is already made of topsoil or even clay, your base layer would be made of gravel. Already being behind the 8 ball here, I used a lot of topsoil to firm things up instead.

using a tamper to push down the topsoil
So. Much. Tamping.
Using a level to make the ground level
Attempting to level it off.

We’ve got a terrible bittersweet problem in the area, so a weed barrier is a must. Plus I don’t want to have to be pulling up those tiny weeds on my nice, new patio. I am no stranger to weed barrier and I never pay attention to the brand I buy, but this time around I found this one at my local Ace Hardware. It was nifty in that it lightly stuck together to help with the overlap.

spreading out the weed barrier
It looks a mess, but I will be happy I did this later!

Once I had my immediate patio area filled in and covered with weed barrier, I had 2 cubic yards of concrete sand brought in. This is just another layer to help keep things stable, but also to give the pavers something to sit in.

A view of the tamped sand
My triceps are going to be ripped after all this!
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Getting Rid of a Sidewalk – The Fire Pit Adventure, Part 1

the old fire pit

Home Improvement: 1977

Outdoor home improvement can be easy weekend projects or multi-year commitments. One of the things I love the most about our home is the property. Living among the trees is something that B and I grew up with. Neither of us expected a mid-century staple to be our forever home. I didn’t grow up in a raised ranch and neither did my friends, so when we bought our house back in 2015, I was confused as to why there was a concrete sidewalk all the way around our house.

sidewalk around the house
Sidewalk alllllll the way around
sidewalk around the house

This was back in June 2015 and we thought, we’re young, let’s get this out ourselves. How hard can it be? We headed down to our local Home Depot and rented a mid-sized jackhammer.

Using the jackhammer to break the concrete.
If I recall correctly, we also ran a 5k that morning.
Using the jackhammer to break the concrete.
Oh to be 30 again… We also inadvertently dressed alike that day.

Let’s Go!

Well we started chipping away at it and nothing happened. And when I say nothing, I mean literally nothing. The photo of B on the right was after 20 minutes. The photo of me on the left was over an hour in. What was going on? Oh, that’s right, instead of installing decorative cement around the house the original owners installed 6″+ THICK SIDEWALK GRADE CEMENT around the house.

Our busted up sidewalk
This took all day.

The busted up cement sat there for a while. Like a long while. It was exhausting even to look at. I did decide to pull some up and make our very first fire pit. I hate waste and I like to re-purpose as much as I can (you know, reduce, reuse, recycle).

the original ring of busted up concrete that formed the fire pit back in 2015
Aw, how cute.
the last fire in the pit before the demolition
Our last fire before demo.

And this is where my journey begins to spruce up our “outdoor living room”.

Part II: Unmaking Waves>>

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Welcome!

Closing Day, 2015

Welcome to AllieCat Quilts & Crafts, a passion project that has turned into a business.

My name is Karoline and I live in Albany, NY with my husband, daughter, and our two cats, Odin and Freya. I’ve always been passionate about building and creating things, whether they are tangible or not.

I spend my days working my day job for the state where I expend my creative energy into the creation and development of our office-wide database (among other things, but that is my favorite). At home I let loose and create anything and everything for the home. It might be building an organizer to deal with a mess or some fun decor to liven up our living space.

People have asked me, “how did you learn how to do that?” Honestly, a lot of trial and error and being OK with an end product that might be a little messy or a little bit crooked.

When we were looking to buy our forever home, I desperately wanted something old or at least colonial-looking. We ended up in a 1977 raised ranch on an amazing piece of property. Not too much had been updated in the house, especially our bathrooms. In an attempt to bring a little bit of my farmhouse chic style without completely missing the mark with a raised ranch home, I’ve been able to find a way to strike a balance that I think does the trick.

So join me as I experiment in my own home, build things, and share what I’ve learned over the years to help you bring a little farmhouse chic into your life.