Chim Chimney

We’ve learned lots of things about what happens to a house when it’s not lived in for 10+ years. Bugs – you betcha! Musty smells – yep! Chimney’s that leak water into your living room when it rains – we’ve got that, too.

And one thing about the South in the summer, it sure does know how to rain. Inches come down in minutes and before you know it, your once cozy living room looks like this (this was when we had our appliances delivered).

Water FromChimney

A bit of a shock to the system, needless to say … this little surprise also meant that the chimney repair that we knew we’d need to do at some point, ya know, far down the line in the future, just got bumped to the front of the list. GRUMBLE.

We had gotten a quote for a chimney repair before we moved in, and they said it would cost just north of $2k to fix our issue. Sigh. Since I didn’t feel like spending $2k, we decided to shop around a bit and got the price down to $1,700 once we found a 10% off coupon from a competitor. Still a sizable chunk of money for something, well, I really didn’t want to be spending money on. Chimney repairs are right up there with root canals in my book. Necessary, but expensive and not something you really look forward to.

Alas, our chimney looked like this.

Cost to Repoint Fireplace

Here are some of the photos that the crew took, so you can get an idea of the level of gappiness that we were talking about.

How to Repoint Chimney

Another close-up, showing the crack in the top cement pad as well.

Damaged Chimney

Remember when we moved in, and there were a bunch of birds in our house? Creepy, but true.

Birds Getting Into House

Turns out that was from the fact that our chimney was completely open on the top. No cap, no nothing. Just two big holes letting rain, and wildlife in and our AC and heat come winter – out. Eeek!

Repointing Chimney

So, we chatted with the chimney folks about what our options were and we came up with this list as our first round of chimney improvements:

  • Repoint of existing brick (adding new mortar in) and water proofing the chimney exterior (10 year warranty)
  • Installation of new concrete pad crown
  • Installation of new multi-flue chimney cap

And after their crew came through, our chimney looked like this (still sans the chimney cap):

Cost to Repoint Chimney

Here is a close up side angle view, so you can see all the repointing work that was done, too.

Repointed Chimney

After they left, I snapped a photo from down on the ground, too. Things are definitely looking better and much more importantly, no more leaking into the Living Room! 😉

Repointing Chimney

Take a Walk Outside

So it turns out, when you’re used to having a eensy teensy house, if you move into one that’s just a wee bit bigger, you feel like you’re living it up Kardashian style. Our last house was a meager 1,300 square feet, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much more spacious our 1,700 square foot house now feels to us. From the kitchen, to the living room, to the big old back yard. You guys, we lucked out big time with the lot for this house. Since we’ve always been (and always will be) urban dwellers, we’re pretty used to sacrificing some space and amenities for a great location, so when we walked around back and saw this, our jaws kind of hit the floor.

Designing Back Yard

It’s kinda hard to tell, but this yard is ginormous. Huge. Mammoth. Perhaps we should install a swimming pool? 😀 Even though it’s large, for the most part it’s a blank slate. And you guys, I’ve got a confession for you. I’m totally yard dumb. Although I’m the kinda girl that can walk into a room (or a house) and know exactly what I want to do with it, I’ve gotta tell it straight, backyards – not so much. Although I have some general ideas of what I’d like to do with the space, for the most part I’m really grasping at straws over here as far as design for our outdoor oasis.

On the plus side, the front already has a lot of curb appeal, so in the immediate future, there’s not a lot to do up there. I’m totally a smitten kitten with the front walk. Lurrrve it.

Brick Front Walkway

Here’s a side angle of the front.

Trinity Park Durham

The house has siding on it, which is nice for maintenance, not as nice for a fickle design girl like me that likes to switch things up at the drop of a hat 🙂 Luckily, it’s not blue siding, or purple siding, so it’s got that going for it. 😉

As you head around the back, you’ve got a side covered porch. When the weather is nice, I’m certain this will be one of our favorite spots to chill out and relax.

Side Porch on Home

Right off the side porch, there is the sweetest little slate path. I know it sounds a little crazy sauce, but I think this might be one of my favorite parts of the house. Odd, I am.

Slate Walking Path

I think I like it since it wraps around to a big old brick wall, which leads to our basement walkout. I’d like to think of something to make this brick wall a bit more interesting… maybe let the ivy grow over it? Time will tell.

Walk Out Basement

Right against this walkway is one of (2) azalea bush’s that are in the backyard. I just happened to catch this one when it was blooming last week – so pretty! But with the heat we had earlier this week, they’ve all since wilted off.

Azalea Bush

We’ve also got a small (but cute!) little garage that’s right off the covered porch. It’s not attached to the house, but it’s only a few steps over. It’s small enough that I’m not even sure our car will fit in, and we drive a Prius for goodness sake. 😉 Worst case scenario lots of good storage and great for bike parking!

Small Garage Off House

On the back we have a smallish deck. It’s in pretty good condition, with a few loose boards here and there. Overall, I’ve got pretty grandeur visions for what I’d like to do deck wise long term, but for now, we’ll have to make due with this guy.

Adding Onto Deck

Here’s one more view of the backyard, taken from the edge of the property line. That big Magnolia Tree is beautiful! I feel like a legit southerner with a Magnolia Tree in our backyard 🙂

Southern Magnolia Tree

Decadent Door

Man alive. Is trim just the best thing since sliced bread, or what. After seeing the flash bam alcazam transition happening in our kitchen with the crown molding installation, I got all motivated to address some other trim less areas in this joint. Like this door for instance. Yes, it needed something, that is fo sho.

Exterior French Door

After painting the sunroom, we decided to break down the door surround project into a few chunks. First, we needed some type of casing to wrap around the interior of the door to cover up all the framing. Next, we needed a step to help transition from the dining room to the porch and last, we need some trim around the door frame. I convinced Jay that this would all be a walk in the park, bought him a 6-pack o’ beer, and got to work. Actually, he bought the 6-pack. See, he knows how to incentivize himself, even better. 😉

How to Remove Brick

The brick that was left over from the last door was causing some issues, so instead of building a step around it, we decided the best move was to just chisel this stuff out. Mainly we were just trying to get the main pieces up and out of there so that we could screw the wood down into the brick, and have a level and even surface.

Once we got the brick out, we slide in a piece of wood, which was a 1×6, cut to size. Bam. Looking better already.

How to Build Step

Notice the wood panels that are up to the right and the left in this picture? We decided the best way to cover up all the wood framing was to slip in a thin, wood veneer, if you will. It’s basically a quarter inch piece of oak, that was flexible enough to deal with the inconsistencies in the wall (old house, not level walls), and finished enough to look schwanky. Just what we needed.

Before we added the thin piece of wood to finish off the surround, we did shim it a bit to get everything as level as possible. We knew our trim would cover up the shims from the front, so we were not concerned about them showing. You can see the wood we popped in below.

Shimming Around Door

There were a few spots where we had to come back through and add custom cuts, like at the top of the door, where it met up with the framing. It had a small bump out that we had to work around so out came the jiggety jig. See that jig saw, got it for $10 on craigslist. Holla!

How to Use Wood Jigsaw

Once the wood veneer piece was fit in up against the interior portion of the door, we had to move on to actually adding the trim around the exterior frame of the door. Since there is nothing better than chunkalicious trim, we decided to go with a big old 5 1/2 inch trim piece.

The large and in charge trim actually had two purposes. First, was function. When we installed the french door, there were quite a few bricks that got bumped out in the process, leaving some pretty substantial gap action. We figured the larger the trim piece, the less gapage, if you will. The second reason, it’s just so dang gorgeous. 😉 Go big or go home, America.

How to install trim around door

When we went to install the trim surround, we noticed that the interior trim piece actually bumped out a bit beyond the brick facade. At first we were all nervous about it, cause we thought we’d have to come back through and trim it all to make the end piece sit correctly. Once we popped the trim piece up to the side, we realized (to our relief) that no adjustments had to happen. Since this edge is exposed, we didn’t want to come back through and hack away at things, since it would most likely look jagged and uneven.

How to cut angled trim

After that, it was just a matter of measuring our miter cut and getting our Paul Bunyan on. Timmmber.

Above the door trim, we opted to just continue one flat panel of wood, which we will paint white to match the rest of the surround. We might come back through and add some additional detail on there in the future, but for now, it’s not offensive and it’s more(ish) in the done category, so I’ll probably just call it good for the time being. Plus, once everything is painted the same color, I think it helps to persuade the eye away from areas that are less spiffy than others.

Installing Trim Around French Door

After two coats of Benjamin Moore Simply White paint, we had this as our final door detail. Everything looks so crisp and nice. Me likey.

How To Install Exterior Door Trim

And her is a side angle. Still need to fine tune the hardware 😉 Got my eye on this buddy.

Installing Trim Around Exterior Door

On the second coat, we had some excitement. It looked like this. Actually, it looked considerably worse than that, but we humans in the house were oh so very busy cleaning up the carnage the cat left behind when he spilled over the paint, and ran, not walked, through it and into the house, that we only snapped this one photo for evidence.

Believe me, it happened, and it was bad. Picture lots and lots of white painted paw prints all over your dark wood floors and one smacked onto your jute rug for spite. Yes. The cat was on the bad list that night. We were just as much on his bad list since he was promptly hosed down in the tub (upside down) and looked like a very angry drown rat once he had a clean bill of paintless cat paws.

Spilling Paint

What would life be without some excitement thrown in. 😉

 

Screened-in Sanctuary

Psst, before you get all excited and start reading about our screened in porch progress, make a note to come back on Wednesday cause we’ve got a GIVEAWAY coming your way! TumbleRoot (website here) is giving away some awesome art work! Tune in tomorrow for the deets 🙂 And now, back to your programmed messaging. 😉

Now that the days of summer are dwindling away, my mind has turned to sprucing our screened-in porch and making it all purty. Right in time for winter, when I can put all the furniture away and never go in this room any more. Makes tons of sense, doesn’t it. More than anything, it’s that this room has been taunting me. Saying to me “You let all summer go, without sitting back and relaxing? Without putting your feet up and enjoying a glass of wine out on your porch?” Every time I glance out on that unfinished room (like I am, now), I get this feeling in my gut that this room should just have been done by now. By yesterday.

I mean, really, it did land up being a really good junk zone. Wall removal – meh, let’s just put the stuff in here! It’s close, it’s convenient, it’s perfect! Widening a door? Great! Just throw the bricks over there. But over time, the room started to see the best of it. It started to own up to it’s name as the junk yard of this joint.

How to clean porch

This is my plan of attack, to get this room back into tip top shape.

  • Paint the floor (it needs it)
  • Fix the door surrond, frame and trim it
  • Get an indoor/outdoor rug
  • Add some potted plants
  • Get new window treatments

Easy peasy, right? I mean half of that list involves no physical labor. Score. Since it was only going to set us back a gallon of indoor/outdoor paint. We decided to tackle the floor painting first. There were absolutely tons of small brick pieces and rocks that got stuck in the floor slats, so our first order of business was grabbing a screw driver and manually removing each and every piece of that junk. It was actually kind of fun. It became a game to see how high you could catapult the next piece. he he.

How to Clean Screened in Porch

After the floor was totally free of debris, we decided to test some colors and see which ones suited our fancy clancy.

Paint on Screened in Porch

I decided the easiest thing to do was just grab some of the paint we had left over from previous projects and slap it on the ground to see if it was going to work. I really had my heart set on using Northern Cliffs, but it just looked to darn light on the floor. Almost white, no? Which is weird, since this is Northern Cliffs in our downstairs bathroom. Whoa, nelly! That’s the same color? So, we went back to the store and just bought a gallon of paint that we liked on the paint sample sheet. Crazy kids! And ya know what, I really like it! See, I got really sick of taking our samples to Lowes, because I would buy a sample, test it out, and LIKE it, and Lowes could never quite match it right again. Whhaaa?? Weren’t you the one that told me to buy a sample for $3.99 so I could make sure I like it, first. Shrug.

We landed up going with Wildwood Crest, which is probably, most definitely the perfect greige. Yes, I know. I told you Northern Cliffs was the perfect greige. I LIED. This is. Until I find a more perfect greige. 😉 Here it is after the first coat. Loverly.

How to Paint Deck

Before we got to painting, we had to scrubba dub dub this floor to make sure the paint would stick, and that we wouldn’t just be painting over dirt, cause that’s gross. And pretty lazy, and it doesn’t look good. I’ve learned from experience. Don’t paint over dirt, it will never look good. 🙂 Public service announcement. So on my Friday night, I got my porch scrubber and started suddsin up.

How to Clean Screened in Porch

After we got the first coat of paint down on the floors, there were a few other details that needed our attention. The walls had lots of green on them from before, so we had to touch that up. Since our white paint didn’t match the previous white paint, we had to paint it all. Grumble grumble.

Painted Screened in Porch

After a coat of paint on the walls, and another coat of paint slapped down on the floor, things were looking much better.

Wildwood Crest Behr

Now that it’s got paint all around and up and down on it, this room is looking well on it’s way. The orange boy approves.

Wildwood Crest Behr

Once we have a rug some leafy greens and furniture in this room, I’ll be one happy little camper.

 

 

Off to a Bang: July Monthly Recap

July. The quintessential summer month. Bar-b-ques, beaches, and kitchen renovations. All in the sweltering heat, some more enjoyable than others. One thing is for sure, after our July of kitchen renovating, we were definitely ready for some good old R&R. Or some more house renovating, all the same round these parts 😉 Let’s cruze on back in time, shall we?

Table Talk

We started out our month by refurbishing the Dining Room table. Craigslist score for $90. Yes pa-lease. With a cherry on top. It was a bit of an iterative process (i.e. sander = not the way to go), but in the end, we’ve finally got a place we can put our food at dinner time.

Using Ammonia To Remove Old Stain

Mega Mulching

Another sure sign of summer, weeds sprouting up everywhere you look in the yard. Since we hadn’t really taken time out to mulch our lot this spring, the normal dose of weeds had a few extra friends along for the ride. Better late than never, right? The house is now looking totally mulchified. Which is a good thing, by the way. If you couldn’t tell.

Dark Mulch

Bathroom Sprucing

Our basement bathroom had a few lingering details that we were able to tackle this month, making the space that much more inviting. We scored an $8 piece of art from Target, and got around to finally painting and caulking the trim. Geesh. About time.

Bathroom Organization

Kill Dem Weeds

Staying on a lawn inspired theme, we decided to try a natural weed killing concoction to see if we could battle the enemy sprouting up in every crack and crevice in our driveway and patio. Mission weed kill was a success – doesn’t hurt that our home made remedy was only pennies on the dollar. Sa-weet.

How to Kill Weeds Naturally

Window Washing

After all the renovating that had been going down in this house, our windows were looking pretty grungy. It was high time for some elbow grease and scrubba dub dubbin. Best part about this little home sprucing extravaganza. Didn’t cost us a dime. Since kitchen renovations can make you feel kind of poor, that is a very good thing.

How to Clean Windows

Blessed Be Thy Counters

After what felt like years of waiting, our counters we’re installed and delivered, getting our kitchen one step closer to being checked off the big fat to do list. Best part, I’m pretty much ready to write my counters a love song. Beautiful is the only way to describe this hunka hunka engineered stone.

Silestone Lagoon

We even broke down the different prices we saw when shopping, to give you a lay of the quartz counter top land.

Price per square foot marble alternatives

Amortization Action

We finished off the month by crunching some numbers and saving ourselves over $60,000 in interest on the life of our loan. Now that is some serious moolah back in your pocket. Amortization is the key – we committed to adding some extra to our principal each month, and then sat back and watched the magic happen.

How to Pay Off House Loan Quickly

 

Kill Dem Weeds

Brick laid paths are lovely – very lovely – but very needy and very weedy. Along with weeds muddled through our backyard, we had some serious action going on with our garden path and patio. Weekly, I would be out there on my hands and knees, pulling these god forsaken things, and every week, they kept coming back. Mocking me. Taunting me with their green happy little faces. I’mmm back. Thought ya got me. Nope!

How to Remove Weeds From Brick

Well, my nimble fingers started to get weary, so I was all ready to pull out the big guns and buy a big ol’ can of weed killer. But then, my Auntie’s started chatting with us about an au’ natural weed killer that peaked my interest. First bonus, it’s waaaayyy cheaper than round up. That stuff is pricey! Plus, I always felt a tug of environmental guilt every time I sprayed that stuff all over my lawn. Like I was killing a fish far away in the big blue sea. Extra bonus, this stuff is as easy to make as pie is to eat. Like butta.

If you’ve got dish soap, vinegar, and salt – your golden.

How to Kill Weeds

To get this mix a lixin’ together, just combine one gallon white vinegar with one cup of salt and a few squirts of dish detergent. Yep. Easy peasy. That’s it!

Now, after reading up we found out that it is preferred to spray this stuff on in the full sun, it bakes onto the weed and slowly roasts it, apparently. Since I was so eager to try this little witches brew, I went ahead and gave it a good dousing around 8pm, on a semi cloudy day, with an hour and a half of sunlight left. Didn’t think I’d get much out of it. After a day or so, things were looking like this.

How to Kill Weeds Naturally

I did a happy dance to the tune of … Ding dong the weeds are dead. The weeds are dead, the weeds are dead! Here is a close up of one unfortunate soul. Yep, he’s a gonner. Nice knowing ya, Mr. Dandelion.

How to Kill Weeds

Before, the driveway was looking like this. Lots o’ green. Like an irishman’s dream.

How to Kill Weeds Naturally

A close up shot of all that green for your viewing pleasure.

How to kill weeds naturally

I took the picture below about a week after we sprayed, so some pesky weeds were already starting to pop back up but you can see that the driveway weed be gone mission was also a success.

A few things to note – We sprayed pretty lightly and haphazardly the first time around, since we had no idea if the stuff would even work, so I think that is partially to blame for our little spurts of green next to the dead stuff. Next time around, we’ll be aiming that spray bottle like a carefully aimed weapon of destruction. Mah haa haa.

How to kill weeds naturally

If I was keeping score, I would say this one is Humans 1, Weeds 0. And, believe me, I’m keeping score.

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Mega Mulching

Our garden looked so wonderful. For a week. Then it looked bad, really bad. Weeds came in, the peonies died, everything turned brown. Here I thought I’d inherited an effortless garden, and in reality, we inherited a beautiful garden, that is LOADS of work. Every time we had friends come over we would say – looks at this amazing garden we have – and look how little grass! It only takes 3 minutes to mow, it great! Well, turns out, grass takes a bit less time to tend. 😉 Our garden went from this.

White Peony Bushes

And two weeks later, we turned around to refinish the floors, and came out for a breather to see this. AHHHHHHH. Weeds. Where it’s all green next to the peony bushes – that should be mulch. Brown, not green. Oye.

How to keep weeds out of garden

Oh, and our sideyard, next to the screened in porch, was looking like this. Classy. Pretty sure the hubs got a serious case of poison ivy somewhere in this goody bag of weeds. One roid shot later, he appears to be on the mend.

How to get rid of weeds

So, in an effort to fix our weed problemo, we headed straight over to Lowe’s and stocked up on mulch. At $2.50 a bag, it didn’t hurt the wallet too much, either. Other bags of the same size (2 cu feet), were $4.50 each. I’ll call that a win.

Lowes Dark Brown Mulch

Our initial load was (8) bags – we went through that before you can say jiminy cricket, and had to go back for another (12). Total damage to my wallet – $50. Could have been worse, could have been better. A few general lessons learned in our first summer in the new house.

1) Mulching and weeding will happen in the spring. We let the weeds get a little too comfy, if you know what I mean. They basically took over. Fail.

2) Next year. I’m getting the truck load delivered. We did this on the last house, and it was like $30, and we got probably double the mulch. Since I was in such a hurry to solve the problem this year, I got all antsy pantsy and went out and bought as many bags as the good ole’ prius could fit.

Removing Weeds

After a good rain, when the soil was looser and the weeds were easier to pull, we went out in force and started plucking these babies up like it was our job. Look how happy Jay is to defeat Mr. Weed. For the most part, we were able to pull the weeds with just our hands, but we used a trowel for a few of the stubborn ones, too. If there was a large patch, we would come through with the larger shovel and skim the weeds off the top, trying to remove as little dirt and mulch as possible as we went.

A few hours of weeding later, we were ready to put the mulch down! Here are some after shots of the yard in all it’s beauty.

Hostas in Partial Sun

Check out the landscaping we did in the side yard. Remember this, it was all WEEDS! We moved a ginormous hosta (and a medium sized one, too) that we had chillin’ in the front of the house before. They were off center in the front yard, and kind of looked misplaced anyway, so I thought I would repurpose them back here as an extra deterrent to weeds popping up again. We also added lots of mulch for good measure. I love how the bright green hostas look against the mulch.

Rock Path to Garden

Along the driveway, there is a nice path up to the garden area that we thoroughly weeded and mulched. Looking much better, if I do say so myself.

And here is a shot of the backyard. Ahhhh. Weed free with a fresh coat of mulch. Drinking it in over here. We decided to move an azalea bush from an area in the back to a more visible location. It seemed like it needed some more sun, so I’m hoping it does peachy keen in it’s new central location.

  Dark Mulch

Outdoor Oasis

Now that the floors are finally wrapping up, I’m moving on to some new projects I’ve been dying to get my hands on. When we ordered our cabinets through Lowe’s, one of the extra little bonus’s we got was a gift card for 10% of the total value of our project. This was a promo that kind of popped up right before we were going to pull the trigger on our cabinets, so needless to say, it was a very welcome surprise. Although I kept harping to Jay at the time that I wish they just would have taken that $500+ off the cabinet total, now I’m pretty pumped to have that money land into my lap! I’ve got some plans for it. 😉

Ready to play my game – I’ve got $532 – let’s spend it!

This is our outside right now. Not a whole lot happening. The garage, it’s like a Christmas themed pole barn. I’m waiting for the man with the bag to hop out and give me a present. Not working.

Outdated Garage

Although, this garage does have some really nice features (it’s HUGE), it’s lacking some ommph factor in my book. Nothing my gift card from Lowe’s can’t fix! The lights that are mounted right now on the garage are really just much too small. And kinda dated too. To help balance out the large garage facade, I’m planning on popping some larger lights on there. Here is what we have right now.

Garage Lights

Got my eye on these babies right now. $110 each. Not shabby considering they are 27″ tall.

Allen and Roth Parsons Light

Or maybe these ones? Slighter smaller (17″) and more expensive ($134) and also not from Lowe’s. Triple fail. But I like them. Le sigh.

Craftmaid Riviera Collection

Getting two of those will knock $200 off my total. That’s a chunk, but for the kazam factor, I’m going to take the jump and go for it. $332 left. Another thing I’ve been wanting to do is to plant some ivy along our little rock path, which runs along the side of the driveway. This area didn’t drive me so crazy before, but now it’s got a bunch of weeds popping up, and I’d prefer to have something more manicured there. Here is a shot of our not so happening patch right now.

Rocks along side of drive

I’m budgeting $30 for this. I’ll get a dozen or so starter plants, and just let them go. That leaves $302.

I think the front of our house is cute, it’s quaint, it had me at hello. But there are a few things that I think we can do to pump up da volume and bring this house from an 8.5 to an 11. Yeeeaaahh baby – off the charts. I’m painting it. $100 bucks, and ya got yourself a beautiful new abode. When I was mixing up the paint for the downstairs bath, I kept thinking to myself – gosh darn – this would look pretty snazzy outside, too. So, I popped a wee little sample up on the back of the house. Thoughts?

Benjamin Moore Northern Cliifs

Still mulling over the paint color (perhaps something darker, with more gray?), but all things considered, I’m going to budget $150 for all the exterior paint, since I don’t think we will need much (most of the house is brick). Within that, I’d also like a gallon to paint the garage door white. Never done that before (painted a garage door), so I’ll be sure to share all the grimy details, and twists and turns, that come with that one 😉

After paint, I’ve still got $152 left over. If I get my way, those dollar billz will go toward a gorgeous new trellis / pergola over the garage and some creeping vines (not to be confused with creepy vines). Young House Love recently popped a pergola up on their abode, which overall is the look we are going for. Here is my inspiration picture. Drool.

Garage Door Pergola

 

 

A Garden Tour

Care to take a tour of the backyard? We are so lucky, because the previous owner (who owned the home for 27 years) had a serious green thumb!! Like emerald green. Every week there seems to be another wonderful plant blooming around here. It’s kind of incredible and exhilarating and it makes me want to have a green thumb as well – to join the elite green thumb club. The entire backyard is absolutely chock full of peonies, irises, and a bunch of other flowers I don’t know the name of. Can ya tell – no green thumb here. I’m desperately trying to learn enough though to make sure all these plants don’t die.

White Peony Bushes
Backyard

Here is a close up shot of one of the peonies. These flowers are my all time favorite bloom so I can’t even explain how excited I am to have 8 bushes lining the back of our house.

White Peony
White Peony

Right next to the peonies are some lovely purple irises. Offer a nice contrast, I think.

Purple Iris
Purple Iris

And another favorite of ours is this huge rhubarb bush! Can’t wait to make some pies later this summer (when our kitchen is back in commission…) with some chives right next to it. Edible arrangements. Bonus.

Rhubarb Plant
Rhubarb Plant

Since the back was looking so snazzy, we decided to pop some flowers in the planters up front, too. The front foliage is mainly hostas now, so it’s nice to have a little pop of color.

Flowers in Planter Box
Front Planters

My pansies will probably only last a few more weeks here (starting to get warm) but for now, I love their cheerful little faces greeting me at the front door.

Purple Pansies
Pansies

Probably one of the most enjoyable things about living in this house so far has been the pure abundance of beautiful plants around us outside. It helps to have somewhere to escape to when our house is totally covered in reno dust. Urrggh. #OverIt.

Tiiimmmmbbbeeerrr

I like my trees, but I also like my sun. MMMM – sunshine. Back in late winter, we had an epic ice storm that covered all the trees with a thick coat of ice. Most of the trees made it out alright, but we’ve got one the in the back yard that just didn’t fare so well. Exhibit A. Pretty sure the limbs are not supposed to be doing that.

Removing damaged fir tree
Damaged Tree

After watching our neighbor scratch his head with concern a few times, we walked out there to examine the damage ourselves and embarrassingly agreed that something had to happen before their car got boinked. Since it’s on a side of the house that we don’t pass by often, we kind of didn’t even notice this guy was the leaning tower of pisa until we started tending to the garden in late spring and saw this guy in all his glory. Oops. Bad neighbors.

Sawing down a tree
Sawing Down

On an afternoon off from work, Jay took his trusty little saw to this guy and got started on hacking it away. It was pretty tricky to get in there, since the limbs were only a few inches apart from each other. Of course the orange tabby had to manage the process from the window. He never loses out on an opportunity 🙂

The manager
Orange Tabby

Since Jay was home alone forging ahead on the tree – he had to do things pretty incrementally in order to avoid a limb falling in the wrong direction and causing trouble. He started by getting the smaller sized limbs, that he could hold onto with one hand as he went along, and then moved on to some of the bigger ones along the outside.

Removing Tree Limbs
Tree Limb

Here is one of his causalities, laying along the back of the house. It’s possible the tree could have been salvaged, since the limbs seemed pretty healthy as he was cutting each one down. Trouble was, we had no way of knowing how to stop the splitting from happening. It had grown to a point where it was really top heavy, so it just seemed like it was losing it’s fight against gravity, and kept leaning further in to the split. We tried tying some string to it, to keep the limbs from dividing out, but nothing seemed to be working the way we wanted it to.

How to cut a dead tree
Cutting the Tree Down

You can see our string strategy in the picture above. It is tied to the bush on the left hand side of the photo. It was helping, but not enough in our mind to justify the risk that it could fall on a neighbors car, or kid, or dog.

Tree Stump
Tree Stump

Lacking the best tools on the first go around, we landed up with the little stump above. It was progress, but not good enough 😉 After bringing a saw zaw out, we got to this point, but we obviously still need to get down a bit lower to have a stump we can cover with mulch, or something of that nature. Jay says he needs a hatchet. He he. Probably does. Something about my engineer of a husband wielding a hatchet kind of freaks me out – so I’ve been stalling on fulfilling his man wish. Any other thoughts out there? If any experienced tree removers want to chip in – I would love it! I’d prefer not to lose any limbs over here 😉

How to remove tree stump
Tree Stump

One of the advantages of hacking this tree down  has been seeing all the lovely things that appear below it. Look at this beautiful blooming bush! I think it’s azalea’s, no? Gosh, I need to learn my flowers now that I’ve inherited such a lovely garden from the previous owner!

Azalea Bush
Blooming Bush