Patio Plans

For the past 14 years, we have endured a cracked and mossy concrete patio poured by the original contractor over 20 years ago. No matter how many times I pressure washed the surface, it grew moss like crazy and always looked grubby.


Mr. Mole and I would sit on our patio about 10 months of the year to celebrate the end of our working day (cocktails and peanuts) and always the topic was the same, “Someday we will replace this cracked patio slab with a deck”.

I could sit and imagine the beauty of wood railings and steps and then I would look over at my neighbor’s wood patio and dread the maintenance he has to do just to keep it from aging and decaying. We never thought we could afford a real concrete one let alone replace all the broken brick pathways leading to the side breezeways and veggie patch. Then I called a few contractors and found out differently. While the price quotes were very reasonable to outrageous, we settled on a nice family-run business to do the work.

Then the Moles got to work removing the existing gazebo, barbecue, chairs and planters. You can see that the existing patio never did go all the way up to the house and the chairs (while flipped forward in case of rain) always sat in gravel. What a cluttered mess!P1040418-2

With most of the planters removed, chairs and barbecue Mr. Mole can get to work disassembling the rusting metal framework of the gazebo.


Once the railings were cut in half and stacked in the trash can, the walls could be saved for other uses in the garden.


When I lived in England I loved watching Bob Flowerdew recycle so many things for his garden so I asked Mr. Mole if we could save the walls for later for climbing plants like clematis and roses…luckily he agreed and stacked them down in the lower level of the garden which we call “the Dell”.P1040447-2

Now, what about that patch of gravel?

All of a sudden, I heard myself volunteering to scoop it up and move it to the lower level of the garden pathways leading to the Dell…little did I realize it took over 12 wheelbarrow trips to just level it. Do you know how heavy one shovelful of gravel and stones is? My outfit is appropriate…cut-off sweat pants, a music t-shirt from 1998, rubber gardening clogs and a baseball cap.


Here I am rolling the gravel down to the Dell:

P1040433-2    P1040434-2

In the end, after about 4 solid hours, we had this to show for our work:P1040451-2

It is ready for the contractor to bring in the jackhammer to remove everything else and pour a new concrete patio slab and side pathways!!!

A week later, the old patio and paths were removed, new wooded forms erected and concrete poured and smoothed. Diagonal lines were drawn and stamping was used to give a granite-like appearance.P1200006 All that is left is the sealing and we are ready to party!

Here is the final photo on a rainy day. The puddles are where the stamping and staining was done to resemble granite texture. The diagonal lines and darker border break up the expanse of grey. There are plastic pipes exposed for the sprinklers that were re-located and for the electrical wires that will run the pump for the fountain.


The 2 sets of windows to the left of the door are my sewing room and the sewing annex. My clients comment that it must be wonderful to just sit and watch all the birds in the fountain and on feeders but you know I rarely have time to just sit with wedding gowns stacking up!

Just so you have a little sewing treat this week, a follower sent me these photos of a skirt she had made for a friend (photos have been over-lightened to show details):

One of my best friends was having a hard time finding RTW clothes that fit and a couple of years ago I made her a couple of skirts which we fitted over Skype. Then she proceeded to lose some pounds and then some more and everything had to be taken in about 2 inches everywhere.
To spare me the trouble, she very proudly said that she would alter the black one.
When I visited her this summer, she said she would really like me to fix the lining on the black one and put it in my luggage and when I came home I discovered this!
The lining had been altered without ease. It was totally stretched and torn and then, I didn’t dare ask, mauled by a rabid dog or I suppose, cut with an office shredder.
She must have been pretty desperate for a black skirt to wear it like this for this long.
I replaced the lining with stretch lining, which as you all know, takes longer than making a new skirt.
Despite the hack job, she is still my friend…


Amazing isn’t it? She is very lucky to have a kind friend who will fix this mess!

As preparations for the Holiday season approach, I hope you all can find a little time to sit with a loved one and count your blessings for this year. I have so much to be thankful for…it is a very long list!


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41 Responses to Patio Plans

  1. JustGail says:

    The new patio looks great. Will the gazebo be replaced? And I like the new trellis from the walls of the old one.

    Yes, your reader is a good friend. I hate repairing DH & DS’s clothing (usually jeans 😦 ), I imagine repairing someone else’s would be a no-starter for me. Unless for someone very very special.

    • mrsmole says:

      We have ordered a roof mounted awning to be installed in the Spring so no more pillars of metal and shade curtains. Yes, my reader is a very generous person!

  2. Dorothy says:

    The new patio looks lovely. I do enjoy seeing some personal aspects of the bloggers I follow, makes it much more enjoyable somehow,

    I simply hate doing repair jobs for anyone – even myself but sometimes you just can’t get out of it.

    • mrsmole says:

      We do take pity on non-sewers, don’t we, Dorothy? And then we are shocked at the scale of the project! ha ha. I thought it would be nice to show something other than veggies.

  3. Tia Dia says:

    Your back yard looks so gorgeous! I know how much work goes into a yard that looks as fantastic as your does, so kudos and more kudos. The new concrete looks fabulous. I love the shaping of it and that contrasting darker edge. As for fixing friends’ clothing…. I’m starting to make a lot of excuses, unless they’re a particularly good friend… so selfish of me… soooo don’t care…. 🙂

    • mrsmole says:

      We sewers only have just enough precious time for the projects that really matter whether it be for financial gain or artistic satisfaction so working on crappy clothes of friends is way down the list. Gardening is a must as it supplies different uses for my muscles and food for the table.

  4. What a beautiful garden. It’s what keeps us sane in the midst of hectic client projects. Well done!

    • mrsmole says:

      There are days when I have to just get up and walk outside to breathe fresh air and put on my gardening gloves to escape the white dresses! Now with Winter approaching, everything has been cut down to the ground and mulched before the snow arrives.

  5. racurac2 says:

    We lived 11 years with the same patio ( same problems with mold, we also used a lot the pressure washer, lots of cracks, plain ugly). Then we moved and immediately decided to remodel the patio. It has been one of the greatest ideas ever! Why we waited so long before? ahhhhh…Now we love and enjoy our patio! You are a very good friend heheheh

    • mrsmole says:

      We love the crack-free slab and the color. I did not work on the skirt, it was a fellow blogger who didn’t want to share it on her blog. She is very nice to do it for her friend!

  6. Concrete over wood = wise choice for maintenance! Believe me, I know… And it looks fabulous!

    And you are a good friend beyond the definition of good friend to fix that mess!

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Jilly, I didn’t fix the skirt, another reader who cannot post this on her blog sent it to me with the story…she is very nice! We love the new patio!

  7. Monique says:

    Lovely patio! The concrete looks so natural, like stone, this way. Wishing you many enjoyable hours sitting there.

  8. Elle says:

    Spring on the new patio is going to be such a pleasure! I love seeing the work of skilled craftspeople.

    • mrsmole says:

      Me too, Laurie. This family was from Tonga and they spoke their native language and sang songs while they broke up all the old concrete with hammers and the jack hammer and then hauled it all away. Once Spring arrives and the snow is melted we can put out pots of plants and bring the table up from the dell and roll down the new awning. Then the fountain can be connected up to the electricity and the birds will be back to drink and bathe.

  9. maryfunt says:

    The new patio looks amazing. I’m sure you and Mr. Mole will spend many happy hours there recounting your bridal wonders. Fixing someone else’s mess is the worst! I do wish people wouldn’t try and “help” when they have no idea what they are doing. Enjoy your holidays and I’m looking forward to your hilarious experiences for another year.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Mary…yes, we have both seen lots of DIY sewing jobs or “releasing” jobs that went terribly wrong. Hoping none of your clients drop last minutes projects on your doorstep and you have time to enjoy the holidays in grand style!

  10. patsijean says:

    Years ago, 25 maybe, I made a very nice, full length, A-line, lined skirt in a fussy fabric woven of velvet, lame, and other stuff for a good friend. The skirt was lovely, a very nice royal blue, nicely fitted, the lining slip stitched to the zipper opening. She was so pleased with it and so was I. Barbara wore it once and it was a hit. Then it disappeared; just gone. Barbara has to this day no clue where it went. At the time, she did not remember loaning it to anyone and thinks an unknown person/friend took it upon herself to borrow it, never to be returned.

  11. mrsmole says:

    What a bizarre story! Poor Barbara…losing a custom made skirt but keeping you as a friend so the story has a happy ending. I know of people who dropped off clothes at the dry cleaners and never went back to pick them up.

  12. Shams says:

    A beautiful back yard, indeed, Mrs Mole! You were a trooper to move all of that gravel!

  13. Looking good in the garden despite having Moles!
    It feels so good when a long standing job is shifted – be it sewing or otherwise. I have a list of household jobs that need attention. Maybe after Christmas. Or whenever…..

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Kim, my husband’s father always used the term “IDC” which meant “In Due Course” which also was a nice way of saying he’d get around to it but could put it off for a very long time.

  14. June says:

    You put in a lot of sweat and hard work, but wow, what a nice end product! Enjoy your well-deserved breaks at the end of the day. 🙂

    • mrsmole says:

      We are looking forward to the Spring to re-habitate that area and toast to the end of the working days to watch birds splashing in the fountain. So happy to see rain return to the Northwest now with more snow to follow…thank you, Mother Nature! I’ll bet you are not looking forward to Winter in your area, June!

  15. prttynpnk says:

    That patio now matches the wonderful view- lovely!

  16. Mary says:

    Lovely patio, and concrete is much easier to maintain than stone or wood…

  17. mrsmole says:

    Sort of like horses…a little brushing, hose them off and let the sun do the rest.

  18. fabrickated says:

    It’s funny but one’s eye adapts and we don’t see the flaws, but it is nice sometimes to have a complete makeover even if it is backbreaking at the time. I love the look and colour of your home – it all looks very smart and inviting. And you will enjoy sitting out there with Mr Mole and do you really have cocktails and peanuts?

  19. mrsmole says:

    Yes, Kate we sit out there, weather permitting, every sunset, with drinks of some sort and peanuts or hummus and black bean chips/crisps. Our house is that green outside and inside and everyone remarks it is so spa-like they never want to leave while listening to calm music and smelling candles…anything to counteract the drama and frenzy of the brides!

  20. Karen Lyon says:

    Mrs. Mole, lovely patio reno, I think that people should wait until they have the money, time and energy when tackling major projects like this. You can’t tell me you would be willing to move that much gravel on a whim. You must seriously want this project done right. The patio looks serene and uncluttered. I am a fan of privacy screening, I would be using those gazebo walls to house morning glories or columbine to give you some privacy. I sympathize with your blog follower, I have a friend who had put on some weight over the years and did not like the way that pants were fitting her. She wanted me to sew some for her, but refused to give me her measurements! The only thing she allowed, was to take a worn pare of STRETCH pants for a model. I made her two pairs of lackluster fitting pants, but had difficulty in trying to duplicate the stretch value. What a nightmare. I still love her, but even though I swore to go to my grave before giving up her size, she won’t trust me. Lord save me from that much embarrassment over waist and hip measurements. Again, love your backyard, hope the weather is nice enough to still get some use out of it. Regards, Karen

    Date: Mon, 7 Dec 2015 13:02:20 +0000 To:

  21. mrsmole says:

    Yes, Grumpy Karen, I did want this done right and I paid for it with my sewing money. Mr. Mole asks how many wedding dresses did it take to cover the costs…about 6 months worth but it never has to be done again! I can’t wait to place the metal gazebo walls in the garden and have things crawling up them!!! None of my clients have ever balked at me taking their measurements and writing them down for them, so I am lucky in that way. I pity you making real pants from stretch pants…like where do you start…the baggy butt or baggy knees or loose waistband? We have been blessed with continuous rain this month and soon the snow will arrive so we have to wait until maybe March for any outdoor activities but by then we may have our roof awning!

  22. Girl in the Stix says:

    Beautiful job on the patio! I’m envious. We need so much work done in the yard, but we’ve both been so darn busy. Hope you have a time for a Christmas/holiday break before bridal madness 2016 ensues!

  23. mrsmole says:

    Thank you, Valerie! I’m planning on a January slow down before the brides find me in Feb and wish you and your family a very special Christmas/holiday season too!

  24. CarmencitaB says:

    I’m moving in ! Getting an alterations education plus drinks on that patio and fresh veggies? It’s a no brainer.

  25. mrsmole says:

    Bien sûr, vous êtes toujours les bienvenus, Carmencita!

  26. Pingback: Rainshore Update 0.4 – ground breaking adventures – Fabrickated

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