Tag: yard

This Way to Narnia

Well, technically lamp posts are the way home from Narnia.

Regardless, we have a lamp post in our yard. I’d like to think Mr. Tumnus lives in the tree nearby, but he hasn’t made an appearance yet.

The lamp post in the yard was slightly worse for the wear.

Please overlook the terrible photo. I thought I had one of the lamp post, but all I could find were these pictures I took when we had our huge dumpster and it was in the corner of this one.

Don’t worry, you’re not missing much.

While the post was worn looking, the glass was a little cracked and the CFI lightbulb was quite charming, the basics were still in good shape.

Instead of replacing the new pole, we gave the existing (already installed, working and sturdy) one a facelift with Rustoleum Rust-Prevention glossy black spray paint.

We also purchased a new lamp… topper? What is the appropriate vernacular here? Lamp head? Lamp shade? Lantern?

Yes, I believe we have a winner with “lantern”.

We found this one on sale at Lowe’s with brought it down to about $40 with a 10% off coupon.

Moose changed the lantern one afternoon and we were in business!

Considering new posts go for upwards of $100, I think this will do just fine!

The Narnian time-continuum shall continue.

Winter Prepping our Fixer-Upper

We got our new driveway this week!! As you can see the caution tape is still up.

Our old driveway was old. See #6 of this article for more info!

Since the door was rotted out when we purchased the house, we also had a new garage door installed (from Home Depot).

I know we’re in the throes of Autumn, but around here most of our glorious burning leaves have fallen off the trees and are shriveled and brown all over our lawn. (This is the best time for leaf crunching.)

The last month we’ve put all of our focus on the EXterior of our house to prepare for winter. We’ve already had our first snowfall (and a big one at that) but fortunately it melted quickly, therefore giving us more time to prep outside before the long and snowy winter arrives.

1. Gutterball

Our colonial-style house has a traditional crown molding trim on the outside, which apparently most people didn’t put gutters on back in the day. We had gutters installed about a month ago – greatly decreasing the chances of flooding our basement, yard and garage. This is something you will definitely want to get a few estimates for – we had some people estimate our gutters as high as $8k! It definitely pays to bring in the competition. Although this was not a cheap (or DIY) project, it will be worth the investment as it should help prevent any kind of flooding in our yard that has deteriorated the foundation of the house from 60 years without gutters.

2. Screen it

We had a screened porch on the front of our house that leads to our front door. The screening was pretty old, full of holes and needs to be replaced. A few weeks ago I ripped out the screen and coinciding 100000000 staples. Now I just need to repaint the porch with exterior paint and then we will rescreen in the next few weeks. We are also going to install a new light and a beadboard ceiling.

3. Energy Audit

Last weekend we had an energy audit in our home – sounds exciting, eh? eh? A local representative came to our house (for FREE) and spent about 3 hours going through our home. He was able to tell us where we were losing energy efficiency and how to fix it. He also replaced all the lightbulbs in the house with the new CFI bulbs. The best part is, the government subsidizes a huge portion of the updates we can make. For example – the energy auditors will set us up with someone who will blow more insulation into our house. Most of the cost is subsidized and the amount we spend will pay itself off in our first winter in this house! Plus, being green is cool these days. Haven’t you heard?

4. Driveway

Somehow we didn’t think shoveling our 30 year old, crackling and crumbling driveway would be that fun in the winter. This was obviously not a DIY project, but another project you should definitely get multiple quotes for. We actually have 2 driveways to our house – one in the front and one on the side. We decided to redo the one on the side (that leads to our single car garage) and we widened it so we can park 2 cars side-by-side in the winter and not need to worry about the huge one in the front yard!

Also, you can’t really tell from the photo, but we had a drain put in the driveway so water will be drained away from the house and not into the garage!

5. Yardwork. My new least favorite word.

We have been preparing the yard as best we can for winter’s harsh friends called ice and snow. We’ve been trying to blow our leaves every weekend – because the last thing you want to deal with in the spring is a yard full of sopping leaves that have been buried and frozen for four months. We’ve filled in a few ditches with excess dirt and, as you saw in my post last week, we’ve been trying to turn our fallen trees into firewood as quickly as possible.

6. Concrete work

Moose has been patching up the concrete sidewalk to our deck and we also brought in a professional to help of resolve some foundation issues on the exterior wall of our walk-our basement (this was something we knew we would have to fix when we purchased the house).

7. New Windows

Okay, so we haven’t really done this one in the last few weeks, but when we moved into the house in June we had all the windows in the house replaced. The old ones were NOT efficient. Most of them couldn’t even open. Our new windows will be keeping a lot of heat on the INSIDE of the house. This was not a DIY job nor was it cheap, was it has definitely been a worthwhile investment.

“When Life Gives You Lemons, Make a Woodpile”

“When life gives you lemons, make a woodpile,” were the wise, tired, work-riddled words out of my husband’s mouth after a long, long day of yardwork.

Due to a few freak weather incidents this fall, we have gotten slammed with yardwork the last several months.

Call me naive (or just oblivious), but when we bought this house I was so focused on the work INSIDE the house I totally forgot about all the work on the OUTSIDE. Maybe that’s why I’ve had so few exciting house updates to share with you.

We don’t have a light in our kitchen because we’ve been too busy buying axes and chainsaws and leafblowers and snowblowers.

Yep. Man tools. They really eat into that superfluous decorating budget for lampshades and curtains.

I must admit, I love using our leafblower. It’s soothingly therapeutic. I believe I listened to Miranda Lambert on repeat for 7 hours on Sunday afternoon while cleaning up our lawn. And the best part about using the leafblower is that I can sing to Miranda Lambert at the top of my lungs and no one can hear me. Not even myself. I just look like a crazy gal to everyone driving by.

Back to those lemons.

I shared with you back in July that we had a large tree get struck my lightening.

Then came Hurricane Irene in late August which stirred up a lot of brush and took down limbs.

Since then we’ve also had 4 large (dead) trees taken down (for safety reasons) by professional tree removers. But, because we’re cheap (can I say financially selective?) we had them leave the trunks for us to deal with ourselves.

And then came the freakozoid Halloween Thundersnow (yes, we got a foot of snow the day before Halloween).

Because the snow was so heavy and the leaves were all still on the trees, a lot of the trees cracked. We lost two more trees and boatloads of large limbs.

Basically, our yard looked like a lumberyard with a Slurpee brain freeze.

Oh, and did I mention we’re getting our driveway replaced? So we’ve got a VW Beetle sized pile of dirt in our backyard and a dirt pit for a driveway.

Lemons, lemons. Our yard was a big bowl of lemonade.

Back to my Miranda Lambert induced yardwork coma.

This weekend we rented a log splitter. Not only do we enjoy the occasional fire, but we also plan on heating our house on a wood-burning fireplace in the future. And boy oh boy, did we, errr Moose, split logs. I think that machine ran for 14 hours straight.

And we turned our lemons into wood piles! That is for sure!

Why yes, the entire underside of our deck is a big pile of logs. Why not?

As you can see in Pile #3, we still have a bit more to chop up and then we’ll need to stack it all.

Hopefully by next weekend our yard will be lumberyard-free!

Where the Sidewalk Ends

This is our pitiful walkway to our home.

Some people like to have a grand entrance. A paved sidewalk flanked with ambient lighting and marble lions.

Not our house.

We have pebbly pink brick balance beam that barely fit both my size 7 flip flops down the lane.

But not anymore!

We ripped up the old bricks (of which some I was able to sell on Craig’s list!) and shoveled out the grass for the new width of our sidewalk.

Then we (HAH, and when I am saying “we” all of these times, I really mine my strong hubby) spread out leveling sand. We used Kolorscape Leveling Sand and used 4 bags for an area about 15 feet long and three feet wide.

Then we tamped down the leveling sand. My shoulders hurt just watching him tamp everything. Yikes.

Then we started to lay down the stones. Instead of getting pavers, Moose found these squares that look like multiple stones pieced together.

Less work and less expensive!

To keep everything tight and in place, we nailed a few of these sidewalk tracks into the ground.

Then we covered them up with dirt.

And voila! New sidewalk!

We got this awesome huge hernia-inducing rock piece in our backyard and Moose and another hulky friend moved it to the front yard.

(By the way, now is the time to buy your spring planters! I just got the one you see above and a second one for 70% off at HomeGoods.)

Hopefully the trick-o-treaters won’t be scared off now.

Happy Weekend!

Creepy Crawlies

I was a weird kid.

After it rained I would “save” all the worms that crawled on to the driveway by putting them back on the lawn. I am not afraid of earthworms.

(By the way, did anyone else play the computer game Earthworm Jim? I still have the CD.)

I am, however, afraid of snakes. Okay, not just afraid. A-man-with-a-rusty-chainsaw-is-chasing-me afraid.

Today, I discovered, I am also afraid of earthworms the size of snakes.

You see, our backyard is an earthworm haven. A previous resident was quite the gardener, so they have been welcomed, nurtured and undisturbed for quite a long time.

Today I was raking and, because I was disturbing their homes, they were wiggling all over the place. And they wiggle fast.

I didn’t take a picture because I was too busy crying in the corner. And I’m not going to post a picture because just looking at the Google image search results for “huge earthworms” gives me the heebie jeebies.

This leads us to another worm-related topic of the day.

Today we bought a compost tumbler! (Specifically the Lifetime Compost Tumbler at Costco.)

I have been wanting to compost for a while but our previous living situation wasn’t conducive to composting.

There were a few reasons we decided to purchase a tumbler (as opposed to make one on the cheap). Tumblers help turn over the contents to compost more quickly. They also save you time, as you only need to turn the tumbler over for a minute or so every day instead of getting out a shovel and manually stirring up your compost pile.

Lastly, moisture and odor are kept inside the bin, instead of the pleasant scent wafting around our yard. This will also keep animals away.

Composting will be a great help for our vegetable garden we hope to plant next spring (our yard is still in a state of disrepair) and will also help big time with our trash situation. Instead of having a garbage pick-up, we need to take our garbage to the town dump. Not having to transport all that decomposing material will help a lot!

I should mention, we will not be using this to compost leaves and sticks. We have a corner of our woods where we compost those. This compost tumbler will be for food-related waste.

I have been doing some research and stumbled upon many things I didn’t realize you could compost:

  1. Toothpicks
  2. Wine Corks
  3. Old loofahs
  4. Egg cartons
  5. Dryer Lint
  6. Vacuum Contents
  7. Old Matches
  8. Fireplace Ashes
  9. Hair
  10. Party Streamers

We shall see how this adventure goes!

Does anyone have any composting advice?