Our Big Outdoor Home Improvement Project

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

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I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

Woohoo! It’s done! It’s done! It’s donnnneeeee!

Remember how I mentioned that Mal and I “supposedly” weren’t buying each other presents for our birthdays, Mother’s/Father’s Day, and wedding anniversary because we were spending a lot of money on an upcoming home improvement project? Well, it’s finally done, and it was worth every penny. We couldn’t be more thrilled with the end result!

And, of course, a project with all sorts of awesome construction equipment was a huge hit with a 3 year old.


Qman was in heaven watching the crew from Mento Landscape work – it was hours of entertainment for him!


A little background on this project: When we bought our house, we knew that the retaining walls outside needed to be replaced at some point or another. They were pulling away from the house and a decent-size gap was forming. One of our contractor friends said they could stay up for another few years or maybe ten – it was hard to know for sure. Even still, it was a project that we wanted to tackle sooner or later because, honestly, they were just kind of ugly.


Additionally, our walkway and driveway were starting to fall apart with all sorts of cracks and bumps, so we figured we might as well go all in and get everything done at once, which, of course, was not a small feat in anyway. We started saving money as soon as we moved into our house, and we finally decided to get estimates from potential contractors this past spring.

We had three potential landscapers (all recommended by friends) give us estimates on the work that we wanted done: 1) replace retaining walls, 2) fix stone walls at front and back of house, 3) replace walkway, 4) give front stairs a face lift, 5) replace stones that line driveway, and 6) repave driveway. Obviously, this was a big undertaking and, boy, did the estimates reflect that. Yikes. I nearly had a heart attack seeing them. The estimates also varied greatly with regard to what was included and how much each part cost. We actually asked that the estimates be broken down just in case we needed to pick and chose what should be done now and what could wait. Plus, one of the landscapers didn’t pave driveways, so we needed to factor in that extra cost if we were to go with him. In the end, Mento’s estimate was by far the best value for the money (and they provided everything we wanted). In fact, their estimate included everything that we wanted for thousands less than other quotes that we received! Basically, it was a no-brainer. We signed the agreement and started to finalize the details on our big outdoor project.

When it came to selecting the design details for the walls, walkway, and front stairs, Mal and I headed to Mento’s showroom in Braintree to make some decisions. We figured seeing things in person was the best way to decide. While there, we chatted with John Mento, the owner, who took us around the showroom and explained the different options. I actually shared some images of potential stone choices and patterns on Instagram Stories to see if my followers had any feedback and received some great feedback. Thanks for the help, guys! 🙂 Mal and I eventually finalized our decisions and then hit the road to celebrate with a couple of cocktails since it was happy hour and all! 🙂

On the drive, Mal received a call from John. It turns out his son (and his wife) are regular CNC readers and recognized us at the showroom. Mento, as a business, is looking to grow their social media presence, so he immediately inquired about a potential partnership and suggested a discount in exchange for coverage on CNC. I was already planning to blog about our big ol’ outdoor project because it’s something we’ve wanted to do for years now and we were obviously really excited about it. Plus, I’ve shared a ton of home improvement projects (both big and small) over the years, especially from our old house, so it sounded like a win-win for everyone!

A few weeks later, it was go time and the Mento crew arrived at our house, bright and early, ready to tackle our project. Rodrigo Silva and his team worked so hard and put in some seriously lonnnnggg days, often working well into the early evening and even in the pouring rain. They were really efficient and, less than a week later, our outdoor space was completely transformed!









And, finally, here are the BEFORE and AFTER photos, which say it all! 🙂

BEFORE (retaining walls on either side of garage):






BEFORE (right side retaining wall):



BEFORE (left side retaining wall + stonewall):




SAM_3963 (1280x853)


BEFORE (wall lining driveway):




BEFORE (front stairs):


(I spy Murphy.)


BEFORE (walkway):




We are so happy with the way things turned out. We’re also really impressed with the Mento team and their work. We absolutely recommend them for any sort of landscaping, stone, or paving project you might have – and we can’t say enough about the value for the money. Their services are definitely priced right!

Question of the Day

Have you ever tackled a huge home improvement project? How’d it go? Was it worth it in the end?





  1. Everything looks SO nice!!

    We have had our basement finished and years later we redid our kitchen some and flooring throughout main level….with both projects I always said the “Pre” work of calling the contractors, getting bids, figuring out time to “discuss” the bids, questions back and forth and finally deciding is the biggest headache. **I feel the same way when I need a plumber or an electrician.

    I hate the hassle of calling, setting up the appointment, rearranging my day to be here when they come, talking with them and simply being at their mercy b/c hubby and I are illiterate when it comes to plumbing or electrical problems.

    Whew~ nothing like dumping all that on ya…ha!

  2. Looks amazing! We used to have a house with a yard, and never got our sh!t together to do anything with anything outside, even though there were huge gaps in the walkway and holes in the fence that our dog would escape through. We sold it and bought a condo last year. Outdoorsy things are just not for us I guess!

  3. Woah! What an improvement! It looks fantastic, wish we lived closer to Mentos, we need a stone patio! We are currently finishing our walk out basement, my father will be living there. We added a full bath, bedroom, living room and a small kitchenette.(no stove). It looks amazing so far, we are on week 10 and they should be done next week. If we ever sell our home in the future we can list it as a media room with bar and we are now a 4 bedroom home, yipee!

  4. Everything looks beautiful! They did a great job! I’ve never tackled a big home improvement project of my own as of yet, but ideally, I’d love to redo the kitchen with new countertops, cabinets and appliances!

  5. My husband and I are new homeowners, and the renters who lived here before us didn’t do much in the way of upkeep, so everything is a home improvement project! Recently we’ve painted our upstairs hallway, bonus room, and guest room. Every weekend we go to Lowe’s for odds and ends and attack some portion of a project. Yesterday it was trimming all our shrubs in the front of the house, and picking up millions of pine sprouts. It’s tough work, but I sort of love it in the end. I love the way your outdoor project turned out!

    1. @Valerie: I hope you got your house for a good price, since it doesn’t sound like the owner did anything to it after the renters moved out. I hate making decisions and spending money, but the end result is always worth it – and even better when you did the work yourself (cheaper plus pride of a job well done – and maybe learning a few new skills along the way!)

  6. WOW, that looks so great! We need to do a similar project at our house in Marshfield (driveway, walkway, front steps) and will call them for an estimate when were are ready! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Looks fantastic. I can relate to undertaking a big outdoor hardscaping project. We are in the process of getting bids for something similar in our front yard. This is our second home that we purchased in August of last year and the previous, original owners deferred so much of maintenance over the years. New driveways, concrete work, pavers are NOT cheap and neither is the labor involved. Our home is on a small hill so we have that to contend with as well. It’s such an investment but always worth it.

  8. The “after” pics are beautiful! As a new homeowner I love seeing all of the improvements that can be made. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Congratulations, everything turned out so beautifully!

    I remember a while back you did an interview with Christmas Abbott. You may already know, but in case you didn’t, I thought I’d give a heads-up that she’s on this season of Big Brother. She’s in jeopardy this week so I’ve got my fingers crossed she pulls through to safety!

  10. What a transformation! I will definitely keep them in mind for when we bite the bullet and move out of Southie 😉

  11. Amazing! They did a great job! We recently moved to Arizona, and when went to prep our last home to sell we realized how many projects we pushed off (and then had to complete in a month’s time). The next house we buy we’ll be a bit more responsible about getting projects done when they need to be done! 😉

  12. This looks incredible! And how cool is it that you were recognized?! I have never had a huge home improvement project (yet), but I know when I’m a homeowner, it will happen. Sometimes I wish I was a DIY-er so I could make improvements myself! Unfortunately, I don’t think I have the patience or the skill.

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