Things I learned this week

The patio/driveway replacement is in full swing now. I am happy to report it is moving faster than expected, which is so exciting. I have learned a few more things this week.

  1. There is a lot of dust generated by this type of work.
  2. We have several different type of pipes in our yard: Sprinkler pipes to non-working sprinklers, drip irrigation tubes that went to old fountains, pipes that lead no where and just end, and the best ones are the pipes that just disappear into another part of the yard. A mystery for a later time. I wish I had more pictures of the backyard pipes but demo went fast.IMG_4465
  3. Did I mention that everything was covered in dust.
  4. I now know how to shut down the water for our house.
  5. It takes my father in law 7 minutes to get to my house when I call in a panic, see #4.
  6. Expect the unexpected at our house. Although, a lesson I learned when we renovated the house I was gently reminded by that around 2 yesterday afternoon.
  7. There is 20 tons of material coming out and going in for the project.

Here is the stone we picked, Belgard Positano. I love the colors and texture to them. Can’t wait to share the finished product.



Let’s get started

So we have had weeks of no activity on the house and then all of a sudden last week we took a huge step forward. I have discovered although my education was amazing what I should have gone into was masonry. Because as someone who has never had to replace a driveway or patio, I found myself saying things like, “How much could this cost?” The answer was not what I had expected to say the least. But as you can see from the pictures the driveway had become a hazard and the backyard is cracking apart, so we need to do something. And as I was told by everyone who came to give us a quote, “It really adds value to your home.” So I am repeating that mantra to myself as we start Demo Day.


So we spent this weekend ‘cleaning’ up the yard and putting things aside to start demo today. I am both excited at the prospect of a yard and driveway that I can walk on without tripping and scared of what we will find. Since we are only 30 minutes in and have already found a problem I am sure it will be an interesting few weeks.


Of Course

Weeks and weeks ago I planted bulbs in the front. It was going to be a kick off to the new yard. After weeks and weeks, nothing. Not a single one of them sprouted. So I gave up and  broke down and went to buy some plants.

So I rolled up my sleeves to finally get the front yard going. But of course I found this.


And of course not just one but 4 of the 5 bulbs I had planted.

So now we have a bit of a mixed bag in the front but hey it is something. Onto the next thing.


Little Progress – Yard Update

My husband keeps having to remind me that we are making some progress. For me the emphasis is on the “some”. Apparently, I am not independently wealthy nor is the yard my full time job so I have to take baby steps with this one.

One big win was the project that not one wanted to do. It has been on a to do list for let’s see, 2 YEARS! We have a crawl space under the back of our house where I am 100% sure the rats from NIMH are living. There was a very poorly done cover on it when we bought the house and we should have replaced it then. But, we didn’t have a saw, it was raining, we had a baby, you name it. But this weekend we borrowed a saw and cut a new door. Excuse the paint job as we just wanted to get it sealed before it rained agin which it did that day. I am sure in two more years I will paint it for real. So now NIMH will have to do their experiements under the house.


I marked the yard for the raised beds we are going to put in and the shade garden on the side of the house.

Ironically, for the pictures the garden is in the shade and the shade garden is in full sun. Might have to rethink the locations.

And out of shear frustration I dug one of the bulbs up in the front yard. It has new growth on  it so I replanted it. Note to self next time just buy the plants.

Backyard – Starting Point

The Backyard is overwhelming. I am just going to start there. I had a cold dose of reality this weekend that we are looking at a multi-year project to get where we really want to be. We are very lucky to have an amazing friend who not only makes the most amazing salad and gives the best hugs but also happens to be a master gardener. She came over this weekend to help us build a plan of attack, provide suggestions on everything yard related and provide real encouragement. We now have an amazing starting point.

But to know where we are going I thought I would show you where we are starting.

The theme of the yard was sheds, fountains, astro turf, trees and stuff.

When we bought the house there was a small strip of cheap turf laid over bark which was added as a selling feature.


Sheds, sheds and more sheds.

Plus, our trees are an amazing fruit called Green Sicilian Nectarines. Minus is that ALL the trees are the same. We had 5 of the same tree in the yard.

The stuff speaks for itself. We have since cleared out quite a few things

We have since cleared quite a few things out. Here is where we are starting from. from far away it almost looks like all the random grasses and weeds make a lawn.

Front Yard – Project One

The thought of all the work that will be going into the front and backyard is overwhelming so I thought it best to start with a small project. A quick win would be just what we needed to spur us onto the larger projects to come.
In a discussion with my husband it turns out we both hated the ‘bush plant things’ in the front yard. So why not start there? We started with cutting down the smaller of the plants but were quickly derailed but what can only be described as THE WORLDS BIGGEST SPIDER. My husband thought it best to try and get it off the wall it had clearly claimed as its own so we could continue to work but after the spider reared at us we said fair is fair and moved, temporarily, onto the other side of the bed.

The good thing is that most of the plants were mostly dead so they came out easily. The bad thing is that the roots are prolific and put up a fight.

Our yard gets a ton of sun so we looked for something that could tolerate full sun. So bulbs are planted but it is yet to be seen if they will “impress family and friends.” One project down.


The Backyard

When we bought our house one of the key selling points was the yard.  Now I recall as a child pleasant memories of playing in the front yard with the neighbors, helping to water the garden in the back, and the triumphant day when our tether ball was installed. I was clearly not paying attention to the countless hours of upkeep and constant trips to the home improvement store that made this wonderland possible.

We have a good yard but it is not in great shape. When we bought our house we devoted our efforts to the inside and it’s major renovation. I had intended to blog the entire transformation but honestly I was too tired at the end of the day and mostly forgot to take pictures as I was crying about another issue or cursing the house for being a money pit. So no several years in we are starting to focus on the front and back yard. I am going to attempt to chronicle this, fingers crossed, transformation.

We bought a house….

Pause for dramatic effect.

I will say all the pleasant things you say when you have bought the type of house we acquired.

It has good bones.

It is in the best neighborhood.

It has so much possibility.

The first week has been challenging to say the least. The reality has now settled in. It needs A LOT of work. Not the little we painted this weekend, rather the we need a dumpster and something called an air chisel to get this kicked off.

So for the few people who follow this blog you are about to embark upon, what I am projecting, as a 2 year experiment. Everyone grab your work gloves and safety goggles, we bought a house.


Adventures in Tie Dye

At one of the local ubiquitous art, wind, wine, craft fairs that liter the landscape over the summer months my daughter saw something her young eye had never witnessed.

It was an assault.

Of color. Of pattern.

It was loud. It was flashy.

It called to her four year old sense of aesthetic like a siren song.

It was a tied dyed dress.

After discussing with her that it was not worth the $45 price tag and stupidly mentioning that we could do it at home. I thought nothing more of it. Then week after week, day after day, she ask. When we would me making a dress? She forgets NOTHING. We were off to the local craft store for one of the less intelligent crafting projects of the summer.

It should be noted that here is where the step by step section of the blog begins. And here is where you will see NOTHING. Tie dying with a child is like herding cats that are hopped up on Jolt Cola and Pixy Stix in the dark.

It started out OK, as most adventures do. We bought a kit, which had the dye, rubber bands and gloves. It felt like it was going to be so easy….

DSC_2338We soaked the shirts in the solution that was provided.


DSC_2342DSC_2344Then layer out a giant old tablecloth. Because doing tie dye inside the house sounded like a really good plan. I mixed the dye. How could I have been so naive?

DSC_2349With primary colors my daughter was sure I could mix any color she wanted. This proved a bit complicated later as the ratios for lilac are a little more complex while wrangling a child.

So next is the step by step process of how we tied the shirts to make a “kind of” heart and the detailed way I was careful not to get dye all over the house. Wait, that is not what happened. It was a lot of ‘Don’t touch that!’, ‘Why is this spraying dye everywhere?’ and ‘Yes honey it is going to stain, it’s dye!’. So needless to say there were “NO” pictures, as I was changing gloves every two minutes and  having my daughter say, “That doesn’t look like purple.”

So magically here are the end results. After we dyed them, left them to rest, and had an argument with the husband about whether or not they needed to dry outside overnight, even when the instructions didn’t say it. Let’s all say ‘magic’, cause that is how I am going to remember it.

DSC_2356 DSC_2359 DSC_2361So based on what my daughter said we will be doing this every weekend. So in like three weeks I will be a master at this.

Final Stages

The guest room renovation needed a few more things and after a long debate we decided to do a floating bookshelf in the room. This offered us some extra space for the things we couldn’t bear to part with in the ‘great purge of 2012’.

We bought these shelves at the Container Store.


Next came the hard part, Math. There was an easy template for these shelves (bonus) but we wanted them spaced like a real bookshelf. I will not add the pictures of us moving and then removing them when the math was wrong. DSC_1750 Then drill and add the hardware. This is where you will figure out that like most things in this house, the wall is not flush. So you might want to take 20 minutes to find something to make the shelves flat. A small suggestion is to add a nickel (your denomination might differ) behind the mount on the bottom. This will stop pesky problems like things rolling off the shelve. DSC_1752

Then slide the shelves onto the mounts.DSC_1753

Stand back and bask in the delight that the room is almost done.