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Backyard Jungle

Behind our garage,  leading into the house or into the backyard,  is an enclosed breezeway/porch.  A previous owner planted a holly bush and some flowers along the outside of the breezeway. 

We’ve spent most of our landscaping time on the front and side yards and in the apple orchard in the backyard,  so this section has been neglected.

Yesterday changed that!  Armed with pruning shears,  hedge clippers,  a hand saw,  and random other tools,  we tackled the jungle. 

First to come out was the holly bush,  which had grown to almost 6 ft tall and about 8 ft wide. (By the way…the thorns hurt! ).

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It took 10 trips with the wheelbarrow to take all the branches and debris of just the holly bush to the fire pit. 

Hubby went to dig out the stump and found out…there’s a patio under there! 

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Not any more though! 

A few more hours of taking the jungle,  armed with a hand saw that I wielded like a machete, and I had all the berry vines removed.  Hubby took out the sumac trees that appeared last year out of the blue. 

And as of quitting time yesterday,  we were at this point:

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Now we just need to dig up the stumps,  get the irises transplanted to the side yard,  level everything out,  then decide if we want to see if we can rebuild a temporary patio with the old stones, leave it bare ground for now,  or call in someone to do a stamped concrete patio. 

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New Planters – Recycled

We decided this year we would try planting a container vegetable garden. But rather than spend $$$ on containers, Jason had a great idea for recycling some we had.

If you’ve ever bought cat litter, you recognize this:

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What normally happens to these containers is they end up in a landfill. Thousands and thousands of these litter buckets thrown out by thousands of people. So J decided, why not reuse them? He saved all the ones we’ve used over the last year or so.

A couple cans of Green spray paint:

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And Ta-Da! We have green containers for planting our seedlings into.

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It may only be a tiny drop in the bucket, but at least there are seven less litter buckets in a landfill right now.

Busy, Busy, Fall-Over-Exhausted Busy

The past few weeks have been busy around here. My sister-in-law got married, so we spent a long weekend in New Jersey with her, her new husband, and our nephew, and her and my hubby’s parents. She had a nice not fussy wedding. I’ll have to see if I have permission to share some of the pictures that I took.

I also took on a job of repairing and finishing a partially done crazy quilt. It ended up being a lot more work than we originally thought. The quilt is intended as a wedding gift but I’m not going to be finished in time for the lady to get it quilted, bound, and packaged up by the end of this month for the bridal shower. Luckily the wedding itself isn’t until august.

Now for the OTHER big┬ábusy stuff: we just did an upgrade on our living room, dining room, and foyer. We ripped out the loose and icky carpet and padding. Then I washed and washed and did more washing of our wood paneling to get it prepped for painting. I’m amazed how much oil was soaked into the wood from the previous owner’s obsession with Murphy’s Oil.

Then, finally, I was able to start painting. THREE coats of paint! And a couple walls ended up with four!

Yesterday and today we had a couple of guys here putting in a gorgeous vinyl tile floor.

Picture time! Some before, during, and after pictures (if you compare the first and fifth pictures, you can see what a difference the paint made by how much the front entrance shows up better after the walls are painted):

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I still have to paint all the trim and the baseboard (which is currently in the basement). Then the little trim at the ceiling is going to be removed and we are going to put up some 2- 2 1/2″ wide trim. The long wall will have a decorative piece of trim that goes from ceiling to floor to separate visually where the living room and dining room meet. The dining room is a shade or two lighter than the living room.

Oh…and of course, putting all the furniture back so we can access the kitchen again!

Since We’re on the Topic of Landscaping

If you’ve been a long time reader of this blog, then you may remember last summer when my hubby and I started working on the front of our house.

This is what it looked like before we started all the work:

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Last summer we removed the front porch, removed all the evergreen bushes and a few other plants:

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Then we called in a company to do a stamped concrete walkway and front porch:

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This summer so far has been spent removing a flowerbed from the front yard and adding a flowerbed to the front of the house. Plants were transplanted from various other flowerbeds into the front one. The only plant we’ve spent money on was getting a second Japanese maple from the front.

Today my hubby and I added weed blocker and cedar mulch to the front:

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We still have some work to do but I’d say we’ve made some huge strides toward making this house a little more modern looking (bye bye aluminum awnings and porch) and welcoming:

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Another Uninvited Guest

I don’t recall if I shared with my readers about us having an issue with uninvited animal guests showing up IN our home. First, We own our own private apple orchard, which we inherited with the house. 50 apple trees, pear trees, cherry tree. None of which was maintained in the 20 years or so before we bought the house. The fruit attracts…friends.

We’ve had quite a few mice drop in to say hi, and depending on if they hit the trap, met the cats, or we managed to catch them, their parting was either swift and painless, rough and painful, or involved a trip to an open field miles away.

We also had this little guy sneak in one day:

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We patched holes, we replaced insulation, etc. Still had the occasional mouse show up.

When we took off the front porch, we found this:

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Finally! We found their access point! It is now blocked off until the guys come to do the new steps and patio.

So…we should be good…right?

Well.

We came home from dinner about an hour ago. I stepped into the bathroom, turned on the light, and:

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A bat! In the bathroom! Took about an hour but it has safely been coaxed out a window and back into the great outdoors.

Now, how in the hell did it get in? That’s the question we need to answer now.

Small Update- House

If you saw my last post, you know my Hubby and I are working on the front of our house. Due to extreme hot weather, and concrete being much much heavier the more often you lift and carry some…things have gone slower than planned.

We found some damage to the eaves from the old metal roof from the porch:

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We also found some wires under the concrete that we “think” goes to our well and our coach lamp. Luckily nothing was damaged, although one set of wires is in a scary location, right under the leaky water spigot.

Once all the bushes were removed, my main project became removing the walkway that went from the driveway to the porch:

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What I had thought were just concrete squares…ended up being solid concrete with wood set down into it to make it look like squares. 3-4 inch thick concrete.

Want to see what approximately 3,000 pounds of concrete looks like? (if no…ignore the next picture!):

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I think Hubby and I both have a hatred for concrete right now….

House Updates

When my hubby and I bought our house, we knew it was going to need some work to a)fix the things that were wrong and b)change/update things to our taste and more modern times. Our house was built around 1968, it’s a nice ranch that’s perfect for us.

 

Our list keeps growing, but we have knocked a few items off the list in the 2 1/2 years since we moved in. The main bathroom is no longer wallpapered, although it still needs to be painted (has that plasticy wallboard) until we have the money to completely remodel it. The basement is painted and the ductwork is now covered with some nice white vinyl instead of sagging, funky paneling. The backyard now has a few less apple trees (we thought we were getting a home with 6-7 apple trees…not 50+ apple trees, pear trees, and a cherry tree). The guest bedroom is no longer an icky peach/salmon/dead flesh color and is now a pretty ocean blue with some decorations. The other spare room is now the computer cave and is done in a pewter gray with bronze outlet plates.

 

The biggest item on our list for getting done as soon as we could afford it though, was taking down the old, outdated, crumbling front porch and re-doing the landscaping. Putting in low-maintenance greenery and stamped concrete.

This is what the front looked like before:

 

Yesterday, my hubby took down the porch awning and railings, ripped out the steps (which turned out to be rotted through), and busted up the concrete slab and bricks:

When we started this morning, it looked pretty much the same as the above picture:

 

J’s dad came over with his truck and helped pull out the shrubs/bushes in the front (except for the Japanese maple under the living room window. I made many threats of the damage I would do if they ripped that out…).

See the green tractor there in the bottom left corner? That’s what I got to use to drag these big bushes to the back yard! Of course once there, I still had to manually drag them into the woods to wait for the next bonfire night. (Hubby makes fun of me when I’m driving the tractor, says I have a grin on my face and I must be competing in the Front Yard 500).

 

After a very hard day’s work, with still many more days of work ahead of us, our house looks MUCH bigger now, and much much better, even with not being finished.

The front entry is going to get re-framed and we will be replacing the storm door with a full screen so that the front door can be seen. We also have to replace the eaves where the metal awning damaged and rotted the wood. We will most likely paint a different color than white when we get to that point.