Archive for the ‘outdoor space’ Category

Deere Season

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Posted by Rebecca, April 2nd, 2012

Usually the only deer I post about are those that live in our backyard (who seem to have returned in the past few weeks). Mike and I spent a good 20 minutes yesterday sitting together in front of our sliding glass door watching the deer. We’re like old people… but now we’re old people with a ride on lawn mower 🙂

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago how we began our search for a ride on mower. Previously, we had been paying a service $40 per cut to mow our grass. This was supposed to be a temporary solution when we moved in and our grass grew to abandoned house status because we didn’t want to buy a mower. Last year we were so busy that we never cancelled the service and figured we’d just keep it. This year we cancelled it super early, then it got warm and we were like oh crap, we’re going to need to cut this grass soon. Since Mike left his full-time gig at Merrill Lynch to work on his own full-time gig at SongMeanings, we figured he’d have a little more time this year.

We started our search at Lowe’s where some nice young guy (okay, now I really sound like an old person but he looked like a 20 year old) gave us a nice, honest run down of mowers. Our requirements were simple… 1) something suited for a 1/2 acre of land 2) automatic instead of manual 3) cheap as possible. We also wanted something that would last a very long time and that wouldn’t be difficult to maintain. At Lowe’s the mowers started at $1000 for a manual and went up in price all the way to the thousands. The first automatic mowers started at about $1499.

There is a John Deere store very close to our house so we decided to check it out on Saturday. The man there was also very nice and very honest and gave us a run down of all of their mowers. The one we’d been thinking of was the D110, their smallest non-manual mower.

(via John Deere)

The nice sales man answered our questions about maintenance, storage and whether or not this was too much for our property. The good thing about John Deere is that the store is literally down the street from us, so any problems we may have with the mower we can bring it into them. He assured us that any other maintenance was easy enough to do on our own. He then also told us that they couldn’t match the deals they run at Lowe’s or Home Depot (okay we asked him, he didn’t offer this info out of the blue). None the less, we appreciated his honesty.

After some online stalking, I knew that Home Depot was running a deal where you receive a free dump cart with the purchase of a John Deere mower (a $199 value).

 (via Home Depot)

Plus if we opened a credit card we could receive 0% financing for 2 years and the mower would be delivered by a John Deere representative who would show us how to use everything. The price of the D110 was otherwise the same at Lowe’s, Home Depot and the John Deere store. So we headed to Home Depot!

We then looked around at some of their other brands (Cub Cadet and Ariens) and debated whether the free dump cart was worth the extra $200 or so in price. As we stood there debating, one random guy overheard us and told us to go with the John Deere. He said he owned a Cub Cadet before and hated it and that John Deere is, well, John Deere for a reason. We thanked him and went about our discussion. Then 5 minutes later another customer came by to look at a bagger who told us he had a John Deere and loved it. That was two completely random happy customers in a matter of minutes, so we decided to go with the Deere.

At first we were going to go with the 10% off promotion for new Home Depot card holders, but we learned that John Deere products weren’t eligible. Whaaamp whammmp. But that was okay because we were still able to get 24 months of 0% financing, which gives us a chance to pay for this bad boy with less pressure, as we have so many other expenses going on. We figure if we put the money we were using for each cut with the lawn service towards paying off the mower, we should be set.

Our new mower and dump cart will be delivered tomorrow. Once I am no longer pregnant, you bet I’ll be looking like this….

Image not to scale.

(original image from John Deere)

Goal Setting 2012

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Posted by Rebecca, January 16th, 2012

Since I finally put away our Christmas things, I feel as though I need to write out everything we want to get done around here while it’s fresh in my mind. If I could have tackled all of this tonight, I would have. I am so anxious to finally organize this house and make some progress on projects that were put on the back burner when I was busy with school.

Oh, and we have a baby coming in May so many of these items are marked urgent. Some are just marked as “they are bothering us and we’d like to do them ASAP”. Since we realize we have to prioritize (I’m approaching the third trimester here, eek), I’m putting them in the order we’d like to do them.

1. Finish built-in bench in new office

We scratched our heads and shopped for wood this weekend, but hit a standstill when we realized we need to buy a table saw or something. And we’re cheap a–es. Solution pending.

2. Move office furniture in

Mike needs this room to work in and be organized and our goal was to get him somewhat settled in the new office before the baby comes. We’re going to use the furniture we currently have with some potential hacks.

3. Remove wire rack from the baby’s closet, paint, stencil and add closet system

(from Roomzaar via Pinterest)

I put this as first in the baby’s room progress because the closet is the most needed to start to organize some of the stuff we already have. Hanging tiny little clothes in a huge closet is killllling me. Must. Make. Closet. Pretty.

4. Add board and batten to the baby’s room

(via Decorchick)

We plan to add molding high and all the way around the room, like Emily’s living room. Pattern to be determined 🙂

5. Add crown molding to the baby’s room, paint, add furniture, etc.

I know this category is huge and can probably be another to-do ist in itself, but we kinda have to wait until we get through other stages to work this part out. We have furniture in mind and a general idea of where we’re going, so we’ll share as much of it as we can as we go along (being sure not to spill any gender specific details :))

6. Replace playroom carpet

We originally planned to do this before Christmas but that didn’t happen. Since it’s not a space we’ll be using right away, we put the new office and the baby’s room first. But this carpet has got to go. If carpet wasn’t so expensive, we probably would have committed to this already.

7. Add bookcases to playroom

(via Centsational Girl)

We want to add some Ikea bookcases to the wall where the shelving is in the picture above and make them look built-in, like Kate did with hers.

8. Finish up the molding in our entryway

We need to add the box portion underneath our chair rail in the entryway and upstairs hallway. Mike is itching to finish this one but we reeeally need to do the baby’s room first. We’re just dying to get to number 8…

9. Start our gallery wall(s)

(via Sawdust and Paper Scraps)

I’ve shared this inspiration picture from Sandra before and we’ve been slowly accumulating frames to hang all the way throughout our entryway. We haven’t hung any yet because we figured we’d have to take them down to nail into the wall to finish the molding, so we wanted to do #7 first.

10. Build outdoor kitchen

Despite the fact that we’ll have a newborn, we’re hoping to make some progress in our backyard this year. We seeded back there in the fall and we hope to do something with the landscaping and start working on the built-in grill we’ve been dreaming of (and drawing in Paint :))

Um anyone else overwhelmed by this list? I’m about to have a Jessie Spano freak out moment and start screaming “there’s never enough time!!!”….

Our Favorite Projects of 2011

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Posted by Rebecca, December 29th, 2011

2011 is over already, can you believe it? Since this year was our first full year of blogging (and living in the house), we figured we’d jump on the end of year list bandwagon! So without further adieu, here is a list of our top 5 favorite projects that we completed around the house this year…

5. Powder Room Paint Job

Though painting is nothing all that special, we took a flying leap out of our comfort zones with this near-black paint choice. I think it paid off 🙂

4. Pencil Eraser Art

This was another project that didn’t take me long, but had a big impact. I still love looking at this thing and I’m thinking of ways to use some pencil eraser art in the future.

3. Entryway Chair Rail

This was our first molding adventure and we got a serious high off of conquering those funny angles. Therefore, we loved it this year.

2. Stamped Concrete Patio

While we did not attempt this one ourselves, we definitely did not expect to have an awesome patio this year. It’s a reader favorite so our wood plank stamped patio gets the runner up position on our 2011 list!

1. Office stripes

Measure once, measure twice, okay measure 5 times then level, remeasure… 18 hours later peel off tape and have clean stripes! The amount of blood, sweat and tears that went into taping this room and the almost perfect finished product (we needed a few touch ups) make this our favorite project of 2011. Plus looking at the stripes through our french doors everyday makes it even better!

Honorable Mention:

The Baby.

Look at the little chin chin! I couldn’t resist the baby bomb 🙂

Hopefully 2012 will bring even bigger and better projects. We’re really surprised at how many things we’ve checked off our to-do list this year. We have a bunch of things to get started on for 2012 ASAP! What should we tackle first?!

Outsourcing the Landscaping

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Posted by Rebecca, December 8th, 2011

Right before Halloween, I headed out to our front yard to clean up some weeds and put these mums in actual pots.


It nearly killed me. I was so winded from yanking weeds that before I went into the shower, I told Mike to keep his ears open in case he heard a loud thud. Thud being me falling over.

All of that work and I had not even attempted to pull up the bed of shamrock things that were covering an entire side of our landscaping. I knew I couldn’t yank all of those, so at the time I stuck to the big weeds and secretly hoped the cold weather would kill them. It didn’t. Whaaamp whaaamp.

You see, this year we didn’t put any new mulch down because we put some down late in the season the year before. By the end of this summer, it was noticeable. Weeds were popping up everywhere and with Darwin sick, fast paced summer classes and then getting pregnant, the yard was seriously neglected. Remember this beast?

And this was just the beginning of the weed invasion…


This weekend we want to decorate for Christmas and the appearance of our front yard has been killing me. I knew that with finals coming up at school and the fact that I get tired easily now, I couldn’t do it. So we swallowed our pride and hired someone.

Best. Decision. Ever.

(Please excuse the awful coloring in these pictures, we got a new camera and Mike used it over the weekend. I could not get the settings back to what I normally use and it was freeeezing out this morning. I snapped quickly then ran off to work!)

Not only did this guy pull weeds, but he dug up those stupid flat fern things I’ve hated since we moved in and wanted to dig up, as well as the dead seasonal flowers we planted. Did you notice they were gone? Here’s what they looked like…

Not just that, but he also re-edged all of our flower beds, which the grass was creeping into and we wanted to do this year, but didn’t get a chance to.

Then…

Now…

Those bushes have been looking weak all year. The soil here isn’t good and for some reason they’re not as full as the same exact ones on the other side of the house. We may possibly replace them next year, or at least move them to be less front and center.

Then! He trimmed all of our daylilies so they’re barely visible and trimmed our tall grassy things (which have since blown into a mess with a bad storm we had last night, ugh).


And last but not least, he asked us if we wanted him to remove those piles of dirt hanging around our patio that we never got around to landscaping. Why yes! Yes we do!

The only thing I still want to do is trim these little trees a bit, which I do once or twice a year.

Otherwise, I’m just enjoying this nice clean view 🙂

I honestly have no idea why we didn’t do this sooner considering the hell of a year we’ve had. We were just going to let all of this landscaping go until the spring, until we realized that depending on when it warmed up, I will either be 9 months pregnant or have a newborn. Therefore, the situation would not get any better. At least now we have a clean slate come April/May and Mike can put some fresh mulch down and we can get some new plants in. Because we know that the cleanup phase alone would have taken us 2 months working only on weekends… and that’s without the pending baby. Since this guy did such a good job and depending on when the baby actually comes, maybe we’ll let him do the mulch again. We did our own mulch once and it was not a fun homeowner project. We shall see where life takes us come spring, but at least our yard is no longer embarrassing 🙂

Fall Fail

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Posted by Rebecca, October 17th, 2011

This weekend, one of my main goals was to finish up some fall decorating around here. You can imagine my excitement as I finished my homework relatively early on Sunday (around 3, since we were at Darwin’s weekly vet appointment from 11-1). The minute I finished, I hiked myself down to the basement to fish out my beloved fall wreath. You remember the one, with the pretty orangey berries from Crate & Barrel that looked so nice on my door last year…

Well, something happened, remember Hurricane Irene and her nasty basement flood?

Well, this fall wreath lived in the office for probably, hm, 8 months.  I couldn’t remember where I put the nice sturdy box it came in, so it stayed put until I finally dug the box out. Buuuut, I didn’t remember doing this.  I thought for sure that wreath was separated from it’s box, thinking Mike got sick of looking at it in the office and just put it in the basement. Do you see where this is going?

There was a wreath box, in a plastic bag, in the basement through the flood.  #1. It was in plastic, sure to be dry! #2. I was lazy and the wreath wasn’t in there anyway, right? Right?? Wrong. When I didn’t spot my wreath yesterday I grabbed the plastic bag with the box in it only to discover that it was heavy. Heavier than an empty box should be. The box was moldy, but I thought maybe the wreath was spared.

What I saw was so disturbing that I only glanced. Not only did water get through the plastic bag, but mold had viciously attacked my beloved wreath. I’m talking I couldn’t even fully open the box because I was scared for my health, mold. I was so upset that I hadn’t realized the wreath was in there or that the box got wet. I mean there were cardboard boxes down there that got wet and didn’t get an ounce of mold. I’m guessing that the plastic bag hindered rather than helped the situation.

So I was wreathless. And upset. It was nearly 4 and all I had accomplished was finding a couple of spiders (huuuge spiders in our basement, btw).  Rather than sulk over a wasted weekend, Mike and I ran out to find another wreath. We first checked the Crate & Barrel website, but I’m not liking any of their wreaths this year. We headed to Target, with no luck there either. I also thought I could pick up the ottoman I’ve been eyeing at Target, but that was sold out of every store in our area. I had a serious whaaamp whaaaamp strike out shopping trip.

I did manage to pick up some mums last weekend, though I have yet to put them in actual pots.

When I took these pictures today, I realized that my mums aren’t looking so hot. They were so pretty, a pretty purple, deep orange and white. We’ve had a lot of rain lately so I thought maybe they got too wet, but the soil feels dry? I’m not sure what to do with them, I am a notorious plant killer 🙁

So here’s where I am…a bunch of pot-less mums, a wreath-less door and a single pumpkin (our CSA farm fell victim to the bad pumpkin season so we got a lot less than last year).

I did pick up a single game changer at Crate & Barrel. Meet the vine gourd I mentioned here.

I mixed him in on the entryway table with the round pumpkins I bought last year, which C&B still has if anyone is interested. No, they don’t still carry my wreath, but vine pumpkins they have (no, I’m not bitter).

I only got one small gourd because I thought the little round ones would offset it well.

I have a large pumpkin from last year that I stuck on the ottoman under the table for now. (ps- I swear I just mopped my floors and the direct sunlight is dark floors’ worst enemy)

Wait, ottoman under the entryway table? Yes, I bought this little storage ottoman from TJMaxx weeks ago but never blogged about it. It’s a little too small for the table and probably isn’t staying, though the pumpkin balances the size well!

That’s about all I managed to get done around here for fall. Maybe next weekend I’ll have more luck finding a fall wreath and maybe my mums will liven up again? A girl can dream.

ps- Here’s how I used the vine pumpkins last year and here is the outside of the house decked out for fall a year ago!

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