Front Yard: New sod and edging!

Remember when we got a new backyard? Well, we got a new front one too. Yes, we overhauled both yards at once. It was awesome because I didn’t do a thing!

Waaaay, way back, our front looked like this. It was tree mania!

DSC_0176

Then it looked like this, with a few trees removed (like that hulking blue spruce):

locust_trimmed

But, there was still A LOT going on:

frontyard_sideSo. Much. Mulch. And the scalloped edging. It went on and on.

Our landscapers worked hard, even moving this huge rock stuck right in the middle of our lawn. It was the size of a Wee Little Amelie!

amelie_excited

She’s so cute. Am I right, or am I right?

During:

sod_prep1

Another angle:

sod_prep2

And After:

sod_front

Cleaner. Simpler. Greener!

A before view from our front step (from this post):

DSC_0183

And now:

sod_front2

The landscapers trimmed back the juniper jungle on the corner too:

juniper

Eventually, I’d like that taken out. This space gets afternoon sun and I am hoping to plant some peonies or hydrangeas here. Hydrangeas might be best since it’s such a large space to fill up but I still want to make sure the fire hydrant is accessible. Any thoughts or tips are welcomed! I’m not a fan of the pine tree but the tree expert encouraged us to leave it since it was straight and the biggest tree on our property. I find them quite messy with the needles and acorns and sap, though.

I’m excited to add color with more perennials. I’ve already done a little work out here that I hope to show you soon. I think I need someone to help me develop a plan because I’m doing this piece-meal and already have regrets over a few plants I planted last year. Oh well, live and learn!

Three posts in a row? This is not like me. Are you wondering if I am alright?

Back Yard: Perennials

Every spring gets me like this. I want to dig in the dirt. I want to plant perennials, garden, and fill my porch with happy annuals! Then I get overwhelmed because I’m barely keeping up with my To Dos on the inside of my house. I try to remind myself that a little bit of work outside each season will eventually add up to something beautiful. I’m trying to be patient.

Since getting our big landscaping project done last fall, I finally feel like this is the first year where I can actually enjoy planting and planning instead of spending the entire summer trimming back trees and weeding. You know, have fun instead of taming the chaos. Remember my monster compost pile from last summer?

compost

Whoa, right?

Want to see what I’ve been up to these days?

So, first things first. I’ve done a lot of clean up. As I mentioned earlier, I cleaned up the play area. Then, I donated most of the decking to the old hot tub to a guy that’s using it for his kid’s play house. So sweet, right?

Lastly, I also got rid of all of these patio pavers leftover from where the hot tub used to hang out.

patio_pavers

It feels good to be rid of it all and we finally have some room to play with. I’ve been aching to do this every since we moved…I finally planted a tomato garden!

tomato_garden

Eventually, I’d love to have raised garden beds and grow more than just tomatoes, but this is a sweet start. Considering this is what it used to look like:

hot_tub_mess

I’m totally thrilled with my mini garden. Plus, my helper is fantastic. We’ve already got a few green tomatoes.

garden_helper

And you know what surprised me this spring? We have a lilac bush back here, next to the tomato garden!

lilac

It was being strangled by the neighbors grapes and smothered by one of the trees, which later we removed after it had already bloomed so I never noticed it. Oh, it smelled so good!
lilac2Next, I addressed the side of my deck where my happy Clematis greets me each spring. Note to self, must plant more clematis. It’s so beautiful!

clematis

I added more Columbines and some fresh mulch. I’m praying they come back nice and full next year.

side_deck

I’ve got a few annuals on the deck, like basil…

basil_helpers

And pansies too:

pansies

I want to do much more – hydrangeas, peonies, clematis, hosta, maybe roses and a snowball tree. But, I’m also trying to be reasonable with how much more I can get accomplished this spring. I hope to have another surge in the fall and plant a bunch of bulbs but that’s always a busy time with coaching so we’ll see. I’m happy with the little I’ve done already.

Are you playing outside too these days?

Backyard: New sod and edging!

Way back when, I let you tour our backyard. Two summers ago, we made big progress by having a few trees removed. And just before Cade was born, we gave away our hot tub.

And last fall? Oh, I forgot to tell you but we got new sod, metal edging and fixed our sprinklers. Like, a whole new backyard, in fact. And front yard too but that’s for another day. Wanna see?

First, we got fed up one day took that walkway to Nowhere out!

remove_hottub

Then we hired help. The strongest person I have ever met, Ty The Landscape Guy, came in to finish the rest of the hot tub demo. It was not the easiest thing to do to dig out those cement posts. He took that job personally!

Our landscape guys worked very hard back here! There was so much scalloped edging to remove. So much mulch. So much rocky bumpy sod!

Remember when I drafted up this brilliant sketch for you?

left_side_yard_skitch

Well, we/they did pretty much that. Some of the old edging and mulch went back more than 15 feet deep in the corner. Here it is all smooth, getting the lumps and bumps out.

level_back1

And this is what it looks like today:

new_sod_back1

Let’s keep going, shall we?

My “plan”:

hot_tub_mess_skitch

Before:

skinny_stretch

During:

level_back5

And after:

sod_back3

Working our way around the back side, a Before:

right_side_trees_removed2

During:

level_back4

And after:

sod_back4

Remember our Super Slope leading out past the Dead Space Turned Play Area to the gate?

gate

It was all mulch and dried up leaves before. The landscapers smoothed out the slope as best they could and it’s much better!

sod_back5

We had some pesky vole problems this spring, because of course we did. Those little dudes sensed we spent a fortune out here and decided to kill a tree and make lovely patterns in our grass. Grrrr. Our yard could use some extra tender loving care. I’m hoping to hire these guys again to help get the lawn back to where it was and get through the summer and fall. I’m finding I need a lot of help in this season of my life. I can’t get anything done!

Next up? Hopefully a second round of tree trimming and removal. It’s coming along though, isn’t it? I can’t wait to show you the few things I’ve planted tomorrow. Git rrrready!

Hey, did you nod off?

Friday Tidbits

So, you guys, I finished a project!

(I do not know what’s gotten into me.)

Like this stool, the previous homeowners left us these two stools as well.

stools

We’ve been using them all of these years just as they were but I thought they were nasty.

First I used a deglosser to clean them up. Then I grabbed two cans of Winter Gray spray paint and went to town.

winter_gray

I gave them a quick spray of sealer and called it a day. Actually, as always, this took me two weeks. It’s like my magic number of getting things done around here. What’s your magic number?

gray_stools

Now, I’m the first to admit. I don’t know what I’m doing. I probably should have painted these instead of using spray paint but picking out a paint color intimidated me so I just went with what was easiest for my brain at the time. I imagine they won’t hold up awesome with lots of use but at least they are not orangey-oak anymore. Right?

gray_stools2

For now, they are stepping stools stones until we pick out pieces of our own when we update the rest of the kitchen set. The best thing of all, I’m not going to freak out if one of the kids takes a crayon to them while I’m trying to use the bathroom.

Are you surprised I went with gray?

Of course you weren’t.

 

Home Sweat Home: A Painted Master Bedroom

Remember when Pieter the Painter came to help me? Not only did he paint and caulk all of the trim in almost every room of the house, but he also painted the master bedroom. It’s the only room I hadn’t tackled myself yet and I’m so grateful for his help. He patched holes, caulked trim, and caulked the three doorways. It feels so much less gross now!

I don’t have a before picture but here is a picture from way back during our home inspection, blue carpet and all. Oh dear.

master_scaled

Besides new flooring, it looked pretty similar actually. Just envision our own matchy-matchy dark furniture swapped into the same places but with an unmade bed. And piles of crap, of course. Always with the piles. I’m working on fixing that.

I chose Paper White by Benjamin Moore because I love that color in the office/Cade’s room. Oh, you didn’t know? I painted the office/Cade’s room a while back. More on that update later. Hopefully. I’m so far behind…

I picked up the paint and bam! Pieter painted it for me in a day. Oh what a glorious day that was!

master_bed_painted

(Please excuse the dingy and mismatched bedding. It’s on the Needs a Refresh List.)

Although the picture makes it seem otherwise, it’s a very light gray. You know how I lurve me some gray. It’s a few shades lighter than the living room and kitchen color, which is Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore. The lighter color made the room feel bigger…and all of a sudden I was drawn to look up! But what I noticed on the ceiling horrified me: tons of dust bunnies dangling casually from the popcorn ceiling! Yuck! We took a vacuum to them as fast as we could and frankly I’m surprised Pieter didn’t charge us extra for the deplorable working conditions.

There is still lots to do in here: new light fixture, new windows and window dressings, art and pictures of the kids, new furniture and bedding. I’ve got big confused plans, like always.

Another angle, but with the same poor photography. I promise you, it’s not this dark!

master_bed_painted2If you take your mind off of how creepy it is that we have almost the exact same pieces of bedroom furniture as the previous owners, then you might notice a sneak peek of the other project I’m working on – a little vanity for myself!

I’ll keep you updated. I hope to anyway. As per my usual, I’ve started three projects and finished none so my brain kinda hurts.

 

Home Sweat Home: Picnic Table Update

This is a teeny tiny post and probably not worth writing but what better things have I got to do anyhow?

Remember the picnic table I stained and built (well, kinda) last summer? The kids love it and we’ve been using it almost daily. I’m so glad we have it!

On a whim, at a local grocery store of all places, I picked up two yellow chairs to add to it.

picnic_table_wchairs

I think it looks so sweet, especially with Amelie’s pansies that she’s (kinda) in charge of watering.

It was perfect spot for enjoying root beer floats with friends on Memorial Day!

root_beer_floats

And that’s it. Two chairs. Hopefully more interesting posts are coming. We can all hope!

Home Sweat Home: Master Bathroom Update

After much effort, I figured it deserved writing some sort of progress post, you know? Hang in there with me, it’s still an ugly bathroom! As I mentioned in this post, the doors have been painted but surprisingly I’ve managed to finish a few more projects in here.

Where should we begin? The beginning?

We started out with a dingy beigy bath. It actually photographs better than it looked in person!

DSC_0111_scaledIt seems as though the previous owners started to run low on the taupey beige and patched it with the yellow used in the kitchen. The resulting effect was gross.

Then, if effort to use up paint in the overflowing linen closet, I started painting but never finished and we lived with it half painted for far too long.

half_painted

So it sat, along with my To Do List. Well, a while back, I got some of those To Dos crossed off! See?

Here are the plans for Phase 1:

  • paint doors
  • replace hinges
  • paint bathroom
  • caulk & paint trim
  • remove anchor bolts & spackle
  • replace outlet covers
  • add art/accessories/organize
  • possibly repaint vanity and medicine cabinet
  • paint ceiling white
  • replace vent cover — weeee!

I can’t take credit for all of it. Remember when I hinted at hiring a professional to help me get things done?

Well, I hired a painter. Now, I’m capable of nearly nothing except for painting and caulking. I cringe at hiring someone to do the one thing I can do but I have come to accept that I have very little free time in this phase of my life. I am barely hanging on, week to week. I hired Pieter The Painter (the same nice guy that refinished my kitchen cabinets) to finish caulking and painting all the trim, including the quarter round that we installed ages ago. He caulked and painted in all of the rooms that I hadn’t got to yet…which was basically everywhere except the living room and kitchen. It took him a week and some days he had help! Can you imagine how long that would have taken me considering I’m usually able to work for 15 minute chunks at a time at the costly expense of all of my other Life To Dos? Remember how ineffective I am?

I digress. Back to the update. One of the rooms Pieter worked on was this master bath. He worked hard in here since much of the trim was falling off the wall. He painted and caulked and even cleaned up the door frames. The bath doesn’t really look that much nicer but it feels so much less dingy!

Before Pieter worked his magic, I finally finished painting the walls. Finally!

master_bath_painted2

I admit, I really hate the color. I was hoping the green would be soft and muted, but it’s clashy and cheap looking in person. In hindsight, I should have picked a warm white or cream because the tile, floor, vanity, and mirror are warm. We are a long ways from renovating this bathroom completely so maybe someday soon I’ll muster up the energy to repaint it. O maybe Pieter will paint it for me!

Moving on. I also painted the ceiling! It took a couple coats but that really helped to brighten the space. It also inspired me to clean out the atrocious amount of dust hanging from the vent! Yuck!

master_bath_painted

The vent could use a fresh coat of paint too. Someday!

That’s all for today. Nothing stellar or beautiful but moving in the right direction. Maybe I’ll tackle that vanity! I’m kinda scared.

Backyard: Dead space Updated!

Remember last summer when I showed you this weird area of yuck?

wasteland

Back then, we had moved Amelie’s new sandbox there because we didn’t know what else to do with it.

sandbox2Then we acquired this obnoxious play structure for free. We cleaned it up and plopped it in the yard.

jungle_structure

And then all the grass underneath it died. Like, duh.

Last fall, we had some big landscaping done which I’ve been meaning to share with you but you know how I am; ineffective on my best days. Anyway, the landscaping work prompted us to move the jungle thingy to join the sandbox and the water table too. Our icky dead space was turning into a nice shady play area! The kids love it – especially Amelie.

play_area

Since the kids tromp around with their bare feet hopping from the sandbox to the structure, I really wanted to spend some time cleaning things up. I recently had access to a dumpster so I got to work making this area safer and way less gross. Look at all of this rotting wood! Piles of it!

rotten_wood

It was a centipede and spider haven!

The previous owners must have stored a vehicle back here, using the ramp to get in and out.

ramps_orig

Those had to go. It was rotten too!

ramps_removal

(Taking that apart wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, by the way.)

The “After”! Better? Yes! Oh, so much better. I took four car loads to the dumpster!

play_area_after

Admittedly, it’s still weird now that we have a gaping hole of mulch. I’m thinking of adding sod for now until we can put more money into the backyard.

play_area_after2

But progress counts, people!

Home Sweat Home: Kitchen Ceiling

As I alluded to in the last kitchen post (with much suspense) I checked another To Do off this list…

  • Paint maroon grout (shudders)
  • Fix baseboards
  • Paint ceiling
  • Paint light fixtures
  • Replace kitchen window
  • Replace kitchen window blinds
  • Replace almond outlets with white ones

A Before:

before_kitch_ceiling

Doesn’t look too bad, does it?

Incorrect. See?

before_corner

The ceiling was a beigy-yellow and very greasy. Two coats of white paint fixed that right up!

after_corner2

It could have used three coats but who has time for that?

And a useless After photo:

after_kitch_ceiling

I surprised Zack when he came home from work and asked him to “guess what’s different about the kitchen!”. He wandered around confused and replied “I have no idea but something about the kitchen certainly feels less gross.”

BINGO!

It’s one of those type of projects; lessening the Gross Factor. Well, yet another project I’ve started and completed. Just like Amelie says when she uses the big girl potty, “Yay, I’m so proud of me!”

More home updates coming. As per usual, with every move forward seems to encourage a step back. Literally. A corner of our front step fell off during the massive snow storm just before Easter.

front_step

Classy.

Home Sweat Home: The Kitchen Edging

I’m as shocked as you are that there is a home update to share today! If you creak open those rusty memory banks back to over a year ago, my last kitchen update was quite a big one: we had the kitchen cabinets painted white.

After that big overhaul, the kitchen sat like this for a long while.

cabinets_painted2Let’s not kid ourselves. It didn’t sit *exactly* like this ever again because our house is always a mess. I would say it’s a lucky day if we can see our countertops but have you seen how ugly our countertops are? The maroon grout is horrifying.

Anyway, there still are quite a few To Dos for the Kitchen Phase 1 Redo. I say Phase 1 because I would like it all reno’d in a few years when we can afford it financially and afford the disruption. Right now, that kitchen is working hard for me and I can’t give it up!

I tackled the grubby kitchen edging last week and you wouldn’t have guessed it but by golly, I finished what I started. I’m amazing!

Let’s take a closer look at what I was staring at over my morning cup of coffee.

paint_edge

I primed it and put two coats of pure white paint on it (even though it could have used three) and called it a day! Actually it took me like two weeks but you know what I mean.

A dark After picture coming right up, drum roll, please.

kitchen_edge

Another view:

kitchen_edge2

Makes that maroon grout even more maroon-y, am I right? Bummer.

In hindsight, I might have considered painting all of the edging/trim in the house a tinted white (like Benjamin Moore White Dove) instead so it’s not so stark but I had the pure white paint on hand and I was not about to buy more. So, at least it matches the rest of the house.

To Dos for Phase 1:

  • Paint maroon grout (shudders)
  • Fix baseboards
  • Paint ceiling
  • Paint light fixtures
  • Replace kitchen window
  • Replace kitchen window blinds
  • Replace almond outlets with white ones

I’ve already secretly crossed another kitchen To Do off the list but I’m holding out on you and putting it in a separate blog post to build drama. Ok?

Also, while I’ve been working feverishly and inefficiently, we hired a professional to help me make some real progress. He started today! My kids were just as excited as I was to see him. Here they are, waiting for Pieter to unload his truck:

waiting_for_pieter

Cue the collective “Awwwws”.