Posts Tagged ‘trees’

Peace Out, Irene!


Posted by Rebecca, August 29th, 2011

We made it through our first hurricane and let me tell you, it was not fun. We were in the family room Saturday night and around 9, we decided to head up to bed and bring the cats with us (meaning, lock them in the bedroom for the night). As we gave Darwin his fluids for the night (which we now do while he’s eating), the lights began to flicker. We grabbed everything we would need for the night and climbed in bed, only to have the lights go out minutes later. We were congratulating ourselves for our timing and our decision to confine the cats to one area. We had the cat carriers in our closet incase we had to make a run for it in the middle of the night.

Turns out, hurricanes are not very fun on the second level of your house. I wouldn’t know this since a) I grew up in a one story house and b) I have never experienced strong winds. The sounds were awful and we learned via iPad news streams that we were issued a tornado warning. I knew that was fairly common for hurricanes, but it made me nervous about being on the second floor. A little bit after the power went out, a generator must have blown or something because the sky was lighting up all sorts of colors. Have I ever told you about my extreme fear of fire? I am terrified. I have 3 cats, we are only 2 people. I know that if a fire broke out, it would not be good for us.

Cue the panic. It’s now raining sideways, things are blowing up nearby and I am on the second floor of my house during a tornado warning. Oh, and my only fear initially was that one of the trees in the backyard would hit the house. So add that in too! I had a good few minutes where my teeth were literally chattering because I was scared…. and I am NOT easily scared. I couldn’t fathom how people in the south do this several times a year.

Then Mike asked if we should move to the office. We had thought about this before, as it’s low, away from the back of the house to avoid trees and it’s about as close to the interior as the 5 of us can get together, but we really didn’t think we’d have to do it. There were way too many risks (and 6 windows not counting the bathroom/closet), so we decided to move our troops.

Two adults, three cats and a litter box in this space…

But you know what? It worked. After that we didn’t hear/feel a thing. The cats were fine, in fact, Macky was snoring at one point in the middle of the night. We hardly slept (though Mike tells me I slept through some really strong gusts), but my blanket and pillow did just fine on the floor. We moved the chairs out of the way, of course, so we both fit quite comfortably.

Our families did fine as well, despite the fact that my parents live close to the shore and were concerned about some trees in their area. In fact, we may have ended up the worst, considering we woke up to this in our basement…

Those are just wires that Mike ran for the network, don’t mind those 😉

While our basement has never been flooded, us rookies never realized that if the power went out, our sump pump would stop working. We have now learned our lesson and will no longer decline that option on our homeowners’ insurance…

Thankfully, Mike’s dad, brother and his friend Chris came by with a back up generator and emptied our basement rather quickly. We’re very fortunate that our basement is not finished and there’s not too much down there. It may be a blessing in disguise as we’ll now have to go through whatever the heck is in that cardboard box up there 🙂

Many of our neighbors were not as lucky as I saw houses and houses with furniture and carpet at the curb today. Another thing I didn’t know is that you can’t just clean up a flooded basement. I thought you can just shampoo those carpets and go about your day, but apparently not when 6 inches of water sits down there for 24 hours. I will be keeping that in mind when we finish ours…

Our power didn’t go back on until late last night, so late that we were in bed and Mike happened to see the street lights kick on. For those more than 24 hours without power, we showered at Mike’s parents’ place and had a few things that made life easier.

First, this USB charger than runs off of a battery, genius for keeping phones charged…

Then, the classic cooler…


There’s milk down there too… somewhere. Glad we have our priorities in order.

All in all, we’re glad everything worked out as well as it did. The only thing in our yard was someone’s plastic flower pot and some leaves. Which is quite amazing, considering even 12 hours after the worst of the storm had passed, we were still experiencing 30 mph winds…

Now you know why my initial fear was that tree falling into my family room windows 🙂

ps- Lana from Making a House a Home posted some more pictures from the Emily Henderson event, since I literally took just one. I am the one with the… creepily red eyes.

All Clear


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


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…


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


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

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

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