Archive for the ‘uncategorized’ Category

Hello Mid-June

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Posted by Rebecca, June 14th, 2011

Remember back when Mike and I had big landscaping dreams? Okay they weren’t big dreams, we just wanted to dig up some plants, add a little fresh mulch and some river rock edging, sort of like these pictures I pinned on Pinterest.

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We wanted to do all of this before it got brutally hot, especially since last year we were mulching into July. Pale ol’ me doesn’t do direct sunlight well and our front yard has loooads of it. I looked at the calendar this weekend and somehow it is MID-JUNE.

This wouldn’t be so bad if the temps were in the 80s or so, but for several days last week we were in the triple digits. We actually did bring our grass back to life in all of our problem areas and it was looking fabulous this spring.

Our daylilies finally bloomed.

And our hydrangeas were growing like weeds!


As we saw the forecast for last week, Mike’s response was “well it was nice having green grass for a while!” I thought he was being pessimistic, but nope…


My poor hydrangeas had a few droopy moments in between watering and I thought I’d lose their flowers to the heat like I did last summer. We thought about doing a sprinkler system last year when our grass got fried, but I honestly forgot about it this year until every neighbor around us had them installed. We already committed to the patio and we just decided we’d rather spend our money on other things. Which means we run outside and move our standard sprinklers several times a night, while our whole block probably chuckles. We sort of have to do this because our association will get on us if our grass starts looking too neglected. Granted, I’m pretty sure extreme heat is a good excuse but we can’t let it completely die without someone complaining. It’s good and bad all at the same time. It maintains the value and curb appeal of our neighborhood, but forces us to move our fiesty sprinklers. Last night Mike took a straight shot to the crotch and looked like he peed his pants. I wish I had a photo.

With summer quickly flying by and scorching us at the same time, we have decided not to do anymore landscaping in the front this year. We are already booked with weekend plans for the rest of June and a chunk of July. We’ve decided we want to enjoy life on the weekends and spend some time on our patio, catching up with friends and just doing some summery things. And for those weekends where it’s 100 degrees and we can’t breathe outside? We have plenty of indoor projects we’re looking forward to finishing and we just bought a pneumatic nail gun to do so 🙂

For now, we’re just planning on pulling these guys regularly and adding a tiny bit more mulch along the edges of the walkway where it’s always weedy (okay a good amount of the weeds are actually stray grass from when we seeded).


We have a couple of extra bags of mulch from last year and we can always pick up more just to maintain the front. But as for any major redesigning? I’d rather be making s’mores at this point in the summer 🙂

I made a lengthy to-do list early in the summer full of things to do around the house and the blog during my semi-hiatus from grad school (I’m still taking 2 online electives this summer). But I think I’m going to kick the list to the curb and just wing things this summer. I have to stop getting mad at myself for not accomplishing enough, when I’m pretty sure I run around like a busy looney 90% of the time. It’s just in my nature as a nerd. You know those kids in school who were mad if they got a 95 on a test? That’s me. As an adult. In fact I did that just two nights ago with a quiz. So in an attempt to stop being so hard on myself, I don’t think I’m going to look at that list this summer.

Okay for at least this week 😉

All Clear

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Posted by Rebecca, June 3rd, 2011

After a little photo mishap, a partial breakdown and a husband who came to my rescue by recovering my files, I am happy to report on our freshly cleared backyard!

The process started yesterday when a team of people pulled up to our house at 7:30 am and immediately started hacking away at our brush. They were so fast that by the time I left for work at 8:30, a good portion of our mess was flattened. How did they work so fast? They started with chainsaws and machetes. Mike and I were very happy to leave this one to professionals, could you imagine this scene?

We just so happened to pick the most graphic photos ever. But I laughed hysterically at that random head in Mike’s hand. Please substitute tree sap for blood and branches for faux head. Don’t worry, we aren’t really serial killers 🙂

But really, we are very accident prone. There may have been in incident last week involving a laptop and Mike’s face. And there may have been blood. I’m not sure I’m allowed to speak about it, but let’s just say that coding SongMeanings is apparently dangerous…

So after some tree hacking, done by professionals, our backyard is looking wonderful!! First, some before pictures…

This next picture looks like it was taken from under the stairs. I promise I was not sitting under there 🙂

Here are some close-ups of the dead and dying trees that were hanging around back there.

And the much more lively looking after pictures!

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the unexpected perks of our backyard is that our house acts as a natural awning for most of the day 🙂

We were enjoying the view and the weather so much that we decided to bring our dinner outside 🙂

We made some homemade pizza with fresh spinach since our organic farm membership started up again this week.

Mike took an after dinner walk to our new-found land and I love this picture for perspective…

Since I know it’s very hard to visualize spaces in pictures, I took before and after videos. I apologize if anyone gets sea sick from my after video. I was walking on the new dirt back there and it’s super soft, so I was stumbling around a bit 🙂

The Before Video:

The After Video:

The videos weren’t taken from the same exact place, since where I’m standing in the after is technically in the old brush, but you get the general idea 🙂

Now we’re looking forward to throwing some grass seed back there, maybe uplighting our freshened up trees and just enjoying our new view!

Land Ahead

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Posted by Rebecca, June 1st, 2011

Today started the backyard clearing process! When our house was built, the land was only cleared to a certain extent. We have a lot of sticky bush type things, dead trees and even an old log hanging out in our backyard. They all clearly had to go so we could enjoy all of our space, since we couldn’t even see our property markers before today. It’s not completely done yet, so I only took a few pictures to share and hopefully I can give you some before and afters when it’s all done tomorrow.

Here is the right side. All the way to the right you can see our neighbors also had their brush cleared and theirs is all done and looking pretty 🙂

A little more center…

Sort of left center…

And left field side.

We still have 3 dead trees that are getting cut down tomorrow, which is good news considering NJ has a tornado watch in effect tonight. I’ve never lived in an area of tornado watches in my 27 years living here. Yeah so, all the more motivation to get rid of trees that may fall on my house in high winds 🙂

Oh! More good news! Our tree buddy is going to dump our pile of wood at the back of the property line so that we don’t have to carry each of those pieces back there! Yay!

The backyard looks 10 times better already. I’m already thinking of whether I could defy the odds and grow grass in the summer. Hm worth a shot in the shady area between those trees? Then maybe I can do this, which I found on Pinterest…

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Or maybe build a kick ass treehouse, also found on Pinterest?

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Time will tell what we do with our new found land!

ps- two days later and both hydrangeas in the front yard are blooming!

Outdoor To-Do List

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Posted by Rebecca, May 25th, 2011

The weather is still playing mind games with us. There has been a chance of thunderstorms nearly every day this week, which makes it difficult to plan to do anything outside. We have a bunch of projects we want to do, large and small, so I wrote them all down. Since it’s a 3 day weekend (YAY!!!) I figure one of those days has to be nice, or at least portions of those days and the list will save some of the time we normally spend trying to remember what we wanted to do. Here it is, in no particular order. We’ll call it the Spring/Summer 2011 Outdoor To-Do List, because I am in such a creative mood 🙂

1. Paint garage doors

In a perfect world, I would love to have some craftsman style dark wood doors with square windows at the top. But for now we’ll settle for just painting them the same brown as our shutters and front door. Maybe someday we’ll look into replacing the top panels with some square glass windows.

2. Have brush cleared

This one should be coming very soon, since we already have someone to do it and he said it would be a couple of weeks before they could start. We actually have a decent chunk of land, but the builder didn’t clear all of the logs and sticker bushes and random stuff back there. So we’re having the brush removed and of course, keeping the large trees. Should make for an awesome treehouse someday 🙂 and I’m super anxious to see what our lot actually looks like in its full glory.

3. Stain backyard stairs

We plan to stain these stairs a dark color to compliment the furniture we bought and to bring out the awesome darkness we have going on in the “grain” of our concrete.

It’s funny because from a distance, the patio looks lighter than we wanted. We knew we could always stain it darker so we weren’t that concerned, but on Saturday when we finally stood on it, we saw where those 2 coats of sealer went. And I love it. It looks so realistic and has so much character now 🙂

4. Add mulch & river rock to garden beds

We need to freshen up our mulch a little and we want to define some edges with river rock.

5. Landscape around patio/walkway

We already planted a lonely hydrangea by the walkway, but we want to make this whole area an inviting garden that will hide the hose, air conditioning units and the awkward outside part of the fireplace.

By the patio, we’ve been saving any extra dirt (or rather, frozen peanut butter type clay) to fill in where the patio drops to make some raised garden beds there.

6. Replace dead plants in front (halfway done!)

These flat things aren’t dead, but I hate them. I’ve been itching to dig them up. I want something with more height to cover the bottom of the garage. So they’re getting kicked to the curb (literally)! Does anyone in the area want them? I’d like to see them find a good home 🙂

ps- that picture is from a few weeks ago and our grass is nice and green now

7. Install storm door

This picture is from the fall, but I thought I had another one on my memory card and I don’t… and it’s already dark out. But sadly, we want to install a storm door. I say sadly because I know it’s not going to be pretty for the curb appeal and ideally I wouldn’t want one. But we get such an awesome breeze through that front door and on nights like tonight when it’s 83 degrees inside and 75 outside? We could really use it. One of our requirements is to get a brown one with the lowest profile possible, so it won’t look as bad.

8. Pick up that damn pile of wood

I know you guys are probably sick of looking at this mess in our backyard. Believe me, we are too. But we know how time consuming it will be to return it to its former glory, hence the procrastination.

9. Build outdoor kitchen area

I wrote about our plans here. It may happen this year, it may not. We’re going to play the wait and see game.

10. Seed backyard

Pre-patio picture from the last weekend in April, but our grass back there isn’t looking so hot. Especially compared to our neighbors on either side, whose grass is much fuller in the back. We waited to reseed because we want to throw some seed back where the brush is going to be cleared.

11. Add planters and find a bench for the porch

These chairs were always a temporary porch solution and will be relocated to the patio for this year. I’ve been on the lookout for a character filled bench since we moved in. Maybe this year I’ll get lucky? I also want to plant some flowers in some pots we already have.

And because I like to cross things out and this was actually on my handwritten list….

13. Buy patio furniture (done!)

But I should probably change this to “Put patio furniture together” because that hasn’t happened yet 🙁

Now that I think about it, I should probably make an indoor to-do list incase of inclement weather. Though I’m pretty sure that would just say “paint entryway” 10 times 🙂

A Not So Formal Living Room

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Posted by Rebecca, May 24th, 2011

I’ve already declared my love of bookcases, but I’ve been scheming some more. Mike and I wanted to add some bookcases to the sitting room portion of our master someday, but lately I’ve been thinking about the giant wall in our formal living room. Yes, the room we never mention because it is completely empty.

I didn’t consider adding bookcases here because of those 2 skinny windows on either side of the room. We actually paid extra for those windows, as everything with new homes is an option. We added every optional window they had. Those two skinny windows are the only windows in the entire house that face that direction. Mowie is very appreciative of the morning light 🙂

I also thought we’d have to save that longest wall for a couch. Here’s the view from the dining room.

Here is a better view of the windows overlooking our porch.

At the moment, I am thinking of using my master bedroom idea for this room. We need some serious cookbook storage. Yes, we have a million vegetarian cookbooks we’d like to easily access, those count as books, right? 🙂

Mike and I were thinking of buying some Ikea bookcases. More specifically, maybe some sort of Hemnes combination.

There are a bunch of different sizes and styles we could chose from to make it look more custom. To round off our sitting room, I wanted to add two leather chairs, also from Ikea.

Okay, I’m panicking, they’re not on the Ikea website anymore! I hope they’re not gone! I first spotted them in Katie Bower’s formal living room.

Hopefully Ikea still has them since they were just $199 each. Otherwise this post is foiled. Whamp whamp! But I was thinking of putting them in front of the big double windows, with some bookcases on the large wall. We’re going for the effect that Sandra has in her living room.

But with two skinny windows we’ll manage to work with. Adding some bookcases would give me the opportunity to paint the back of them a fun color like I’ve been dyiiing to do! Here are some of my current favorites from the blogosphere…

John & Sherry of Young House love painted theirs a teal color

Jessie from Cape 27 went with a bright yellow (which is a Target bookcase btw!)

Megan from Honey We’re Home painted her built-ins a soothing blue

Depending on how accessories and what not go, I also like the idea wallpapering or lining the bookcases with fabric to add some more pattern to the room. Here’s an example of a fabric lined bookcase, also from Megan at Honey We’re home.

My fears of not being able to add a couch to this room if we had bookcases were alleviated this week when I spotted this image on Pinterest which is originally from Houzz.

Hey look, you can layer furniture! So even if I have a bookcase against the wall, I can then put a couch in front of that. I didn’t think of that 🙂

But after looking around, I think I want just a few chairs in this room. We still want to be able to extend our dining room table comfortably and we more than likely won’t be spending a lot of time in this room. The cats love this room though, so we want to keep the upholstered furniture minimal and animal friendly.

We shall see how this works out. Afterall, we should probably finish our entryway project first 🙂

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