Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Curb Appeal/More Adventures in Gardening (or shall we say: Landscaping)

I think it's safe to say that we no longer have the least amount of curb appeal in the neighborhood. After this weekend's activities, our house actually looks like 1. people live there, and 2. the people who live in the house actually care about the place.

We were starting to realize that our front bushes were an overgrown, unruly mess. Don't you think?

After we finished the tomato garden project on Sunday we decided we could no longer ignore the developing jungle. So we walked over to what we like to call Home Depot II. Better known among the neighbors as Mark's garage. He was busy upstairs replacing windows but yelled down that the hedge trimmers were behind the door, then added a slight warning about how they were in poor condition and very noisy. Didn't bother us considering we hadn't put in the effort to buy our own tool! So we located the hedge trimmers, dug out the extension cord from the basement and tested out the tool. It was in worse shape than Mark thought. I quickly realized we needed ear plugs for this adventure, so I ran downstairs, only discovering on the way back up that Michael had already decided that the hedge trimmers were useless. Of course as we're discussing this, Mark sticks his head out the whole in his house (remember, he's busy replacing windows) and yells at us to just throw it in the dumpster. Done.

While Michael was deciding if we should go buy our own hedge trimmers I attempted to get a head start on bush #1 with a pair of hand trimmers we'd picked up on one of our previous trips to the Depot. It was a slow process, one little branch at a time. I was quite proud of my success, but Michael thought the project was going a little too slow for his taste...

And off to Home Depot (the real one) we went yet again.

Well, the Depot let us down. They didn't have what we wanted so we were forced to go all the way to Lowes. Ok sure, it's not that far, but still!

Another hour later we came home proudly showing off our new hedge trimmers. We were a little cheap and decided to go with the electric version vs. the battery operated version. Boy were we glad we made this choice as began to realize what a long process this was going to be. The battery would have been long dead, not to mentioned we would have lost half the day charging the thing.
Anyhow...enjoy the photos of our successful adventure in hedge trimming.

Here's Michael taking this project to the extreme. All in the name of playing with his power tools.

How do you think we did?

p.s. I was on clean up duty. Check out how well I did raking and removing debris, bagging it up, and temporarily stashing it in the garage.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Adventures in Gardening

A small disclaimer: We are not gardeners. We do not claim to be, nor do we act like gardeners. However, we promise to try our best to do what gardeners would do.

What seems like forever ago, Mom and Dad K gave us some tomato plants. I was super excited about potentially growing my own tomatoes as we spend most of our salary on fresh produce each week. Particularly in the tomato section! Of course I needed to find a sunny spot with enough space to plant the suckers. (Thanks Mom G-K for that lesson on tomato growing!) By the time I was geared up for planting we had the lovely tree fall in our yard...directly over where the tomatoes were to be planted. Thanks to my laziness they hadn't been planted yet so they weren't killed by the tree! Was it really my laziness or just good luck?!

Having finally had the tree removed, we were ready to make this fictitious tomato garden a reality. Remember this scene that we were left with after having the tree cut down? Well just after Michael had moved all the pieces of wood from one area to this area...

we decided this exact area was best for the garden....so...he moved all the wood back over to this area:

Oh boy!

After that chore was accomplished, Michael and I plotted out the space we thought we needed, then headed off to Home Depot to get supplies. As with any home project...we underestimated the supplied needed, which resulted in 1 more trip to home depot later in the day. (Not to mention a trip to the local hardware store as well. I'll get to that later!) From our first trip to the Depot we brought home three 2 cubic foot bags of gardening soil and a bag of manure (per the suggestion of the friendly Home Depot grandpa) and a spade. We came home and got to work...only to discover that our "ideal" garden area was merely a thin later of dirt covering a hideously interconnected root system for god knows how many existing and non-existent plants. SIGH! We tore away at the mess with neighbor Mark's shovel, our spade, our small gardening shovel, our hands, and eventually Mark's saw. Progress!

However, remember how I mentioned the unanticipated trip to the local hardware store? Well...we quickly realized we must have a ground bees nest in our garden area which needed immediate attention. Typical! So off I went to buy bee supplies. I came home with a "ground bees nest puffer" which I was eager to try. Of course Michael quickly told me to back away as with my luck I'd probably get stung a thousand times while trying to use the device and swell up like a balloon and end up in the hospital. (He's probably right but don't tell him I said so.) A few minutes later we had the situation under control. We hope. (You can see the small device in the picture above.)

HOURS later we made this progress:

(I swear to you I was in there too...slaving away in the hot sun. Sadly Michael was too busy focusing on the project that he never picked up a camera to document me in action.)

By late Saturday afternoon we were both exhausted! We decided the hole was ready for planting but that we were not. So instead we saved the rest of the work for Sunday, headed for the showers, and off to yet another kitchen place followed by a little fun. By the way...who knew one's feet could get so filthy with socks and shoes on!!

Sunday rolled around and we got up bright and early to complete this project. Michael did a little work before I did and realized we did indeed need more soil. So...off to the Depot once more...this time coming home with more soil, and a cute little cucumber plant and a few marigolds per Mom G-K's suggestion (to keep the bugs away). Back home we got to work and here is what we created:

Cross your fingers I've developed some form of a green thumb. These poor tomatoes have been neglected and they might make me pay for it by not producing any tomatoes! Sounds like torture to me.

Next year-Red Peppers will be added to the mix!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Over-Tired and Under-Blogged

Did you miss me? Were you wondering if I was ever going to post anything new on my blog ever again??
Well too bad for you because...I'm back!

This morning I had high hopes for getting up early and going for a run. With the alarm set, I hit the sack. Blame it on the noisy A/C (that's what I'm going with) or on my extremely over-tired self (and over-tired Michael) but neither of us even heard the alarm until after it had been going off for 32 minutes. WOW. Kind of defeats the purpose of the alarm doesn't it?! Anyhow, I skipped the run and went right for the shower. Perhaps tomorrow I'll turn up the volume on the alarm. Perhaps.

Back to the reason you're here reading this. Sorry for the hiatus, we've been busy and haven't done much by way of house projects. Therefore, there hasn't been much to share with you!

The tree saga continues...
After leaving numerous messages for the "tree guy" we came home from work Monday to this scene:

Thankfully the tree was gone. Sadly, so was our grass.
Who needs grass anyway?!?! Besides...that's a project for the Fall. (Or so I'm told.) Need I remind you...I'm new to this!
With any luck the "tree guy" will show up again soon to remove the HUGE tree in the middle of the driveway, Mark (our neighbor's) tree, and to trim all the branches that hang over the garage. We'll see...I'm not going to hold my breath.

In other news I've been working hard every week at my super fun ceramics class! With lots of support and advice from my awesome teacher Jenn, I recently created these:

p.s. please excuse the messy coffee table and sofa...but not too much...because that's actually how we live in this casa.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Additions

Since I was too lazy to get out of bed and go for a run Monday morning before work, I promised myself I would do so after work. On the way home the sunny sky turned black, and as the raindrops started to fall I decided that instead of going for a run I'd make a stop in search of things for the house. Why not!

I'm not sure where I saw it first, but I've had this idea in my head for the living room/entry way by the front door. It involves a console table with benches sporting criss-cross wooden legs tucked underneath. The benches can be put away under the table and pulled out for extra living room seating when we have company. I spotted a couple of said benches at Home Goods over the weekend. They weren't exactly what I had in mind--but then I got to thinking. (Insert- "Uh Oh!") We ultimately want to replace the coffee table and end tables, and sofa, and entertainment unit, and rug...you get the idea. So, I figured these benches could be perfect for right now instead of the coffee table or end tables...and that one could always be used as an end table or foot rest in the future, and the other can get tucked away under the future console table. One could also be used in the future second seating area in the living room. (Remember-the odd living room layout that will require two separate "areas?")

And BONUS...for whatever reason, one was on sale!!
Why not purchase them, take them home, play around with some ideas and if they aren't right, we can always return them.

Option one looks like this:

Love the idea...but two many groupings of two. Two benches, two end tables, two sofa cushions. Not to mention that they're all rectangles. Not going to work for me unless we ditch the end tables altogether (which I'd love to do, but they hold the computer (s) so perhaps not until we have a suitable replacement.

Option Two:

I think Option Two is the winner (at least for now). I'm liking the sleeker look. If you haven't noticed, I'm making small changes towards a more contemporary and sophisticated look with cleaner lines and more streamlined designs. If I had it my way I'd have a horribly uncomfortable sofa like these because I love how they look:

Or like this:

But alas...two people live here and we want to be comfortable. Choices! Maybe we can compromise and get something like this:

So...what do you think? Should we keep them?

P.S. Please excuse the plastic on the benches. I didn't want to remove it until we knew we were going to keep them.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Weekend Recap

We had a lovely weekend with Mom and Dad B. Our weekend included visiting, eating, shopping for the ladies, projects for the men, and several trips to Home Depot and Lowes (or so I heard). Sadly, I can't take credit for any of the house progress that was made...but I am 100% overjoyed with the end results!

The men did a fabulous job fixing our light fixture fiasco and completing that project. I'm thrilled with the end result! I'm sure it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I love it! You'll see...

They even checked off another item on my wish list...lighting in the stairway to the basement. Now I have no excuses for not going down there to do laundry! (The lighting issue never stopped me-really it didn't, but now I don't feel like I'll fall down the stairs every time I go down there!)

I know, I know...you all just want to see the pictures! Calm yourselves. They're coming...

Thank again for coming to visit Mom and Dad B!
p.s. When are you coming back? We have a few other small items on our project to do list. ;)

It's unclear if they were working or not...but they claim they were! Here they are taking a short break while sporting the ever so helpful craftsmen hat with built in light (I think while looking for the screwdriver for the 19th time. Note to self-tool belts are very helpful!)

The Poochie

The poochie has been a bad boy lately. I think he knows it too because he didn't move an inch or even lift his head when I was getting ready this morning, or when I came over to pet him. He barely even looked at me.

Perhaps he's depressed, but I think it's more that he knows he's been bad.
He ate our leftover dinner right off the table last night when we weren't in the room. Bad boy! He knows better!

Last week when we had company over he was supposed to stay laying on his bed. We left the room for a minute and he went into the dining room, ate the treats right off the table, then went back and laid down on his bed. Sneaky little devil! (Mom G-K said "What did you expect? For him to just take one and leave the rest behind for later?" haha good point.)

He doesn't like to have his picture taken. When you come close with a camera he usually runs away. This morning...he just laid there on the floor and looked at me.

I think he's sorry...don't you? Look at that face!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Light Fixture Fiasco

Some people might tell you that paint is the easiest way to transform a room. Next runner up would be the light fixture...at least in my book. So...I purchased a lovely new light fixture for the top of our stairs/hallway. It's fun. It's different. And it goes really well with our new hall runner.

Well...after having the huge box sit in the living room for a couple weeks, I decided it was time to get the sucker up! Easier said than done my friends. Who knew?! We pulled out the step ladder and tools and down came the old light fixture. Here's a shot of the old fixture.

Of course...because nothing is easy...the new fixture came with almost nonexistent instructions. After several hours, and numerous mishaps that involved putting the fixture up, then having to take it down to connect parts, etc...we were 90% there. Mind you at this point our arms resembled jelly from holding the darn thing above our heads for hours. (You'd think I'd be sore after all this arm work, but sadly...not at all. Bummer!)

Anyhow...90% there and...and you guessed it...failure! The whole socket thing fell out of the ceiling...followed by insulation which just continued to pour out of the hole. Sigh. Now we're left with a fixture that's 90% put together, but too heavy to connect to the ceiling in it's current state and will require dismantling in order to be reassembled in it's new home, a huge hole in the ceiling, and an electrical box (is that what it's called?) that won't stay in the ceiling.

Here's a couple shots of the fixture. Much better in person!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Apparently we have Peonies!

That's right...hiding under the big fallen down tree in the yard we found these beauties. As luck would have it, they were not rising towards the sun as one might expect, but rather laying flat out on the ground...soaking wet and looking rather defeated. I decided to cut some and see if I could bring them back to life!


They're now living on my nightstand...in a lovely vase I made myself!
What do you think?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

In Progress

Progress on the back step...

Not sure what you call it, so I'm going to call it the kickplate. That's the last part to be completed...but the step is sturdy and fully functional. Nice work Michael!

p.s. Please note...giving credit where credit is due. Your welcome Michael. Love, Your wife.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Who Needs Stairs?

One day a couple weeks ago we stepped on the bottom step to our backdoor and the whole thing caved in. Nice. Another joy of home ownership.

Anyhow...with all the rain we've had, the step continued to deteriorate. This past weekend Michael decided it was time to attack the step! So...he dismantled the whole thing, took the lattice off the side, and cleaned out under the stairs. (You'll see the treasures that were hidden down below the stairs in the following pictures. Treasures I tell you!)

Of course, as with any home improvement project, removing the top of the stairs only uncovered further damage to the risers. Lucky for us...we had left over pressure treated wood from our washer/dryer platform project on hand. We also received a lovely circular saw from our neighbor (left over from another neighbor who moved into a condo and had no use for it. His loss=our gain!).

First, Michael did a little internet research on how to repair/build stairs. Second, he dove right in. He had to build new risers, a new step, and coming soon...a new kick plate. I helped with the cutting, as well as making lunch and bringing iced tea to the laborer. I was also quite useful for standing on the (new) step while the laborer screwed the wood into place.

The step is still in need of kick plate...I guess that's what it's called...but it's fully functional and much safer than the rotten, soaking wet, collapsing step that used to be there.

Granted...it's not painted grey like the rest of the staircase...but who cares! It works! A finished after picture will be coming soon.

Now on to the photos...