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Posts Tagged ‘Landscape’

Leaps and Bounds

What a difference two days makes. There are so many exciting bathroom milestones, I don’t even know where to start. I guess we’ll start with the color conundrum.

You’ll recall we were trying to pull inspiration from our new shower curtain:

Landed on bright sky blue:

And hated it. Susiemommy was here on Thursday, and the three of us were discussing it. She pointed out that blue paint can reflect harshly on a lot of skin tones. I don’t know if that’s true, but let’s just go with it. The she said “What about a peach or pink?” and I said, “Ew, fleshy.” Then Andrew said “Terra cotta!” (or something… probably not actually “terra cotta” because that doesn’t seem like a color he would describe) and I said, “Ugh, no.” Then, unprompted by me, Susiemommy suggested gray, and I beamed. Andrew had suggested gray in a separate conversation, so I felt like I now had permission to embrace my neutral-loving sensibilities.

Even gray is tough. The gray in our bedroom goes blue a lot of the time. Fortunately I had just read this blog post by Emily Henderson, listing her favorite grays. We went with Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl – without even testing it. I was swayed by Emily’s sales pitch: “this gray can do no wrong. Ever.”

First coat is on the walls.

It came out looking very putty-ish and has kind of a greenish tint. I’m not declaring love or hate until the room is done.

Guess what happened yesterday? Two big things. The window wall is tiled TOP TO TAIL.

And. (drumroll please).

We’ve started to lay the floor.

When I say “we,” I mean Andrew and his dad. I helped pick the exact layout, but then I cleared out for the most part. This marble was not cheap, and the installation was giving me heart palpitations, so better that I was not that involved. Especially when Mike (Andrew’s dad) laid the first square foot of mosaic and his reaction was “uh oh.” “Uh oh”!?!?!? The adhesive squished up between the tiles just a smidge, and immediately started to discolor the marble. We pulled up that portion, and I whisked it away to perform surgery, aka wash the evil thinset off. At that point, I wanted to halt the whole production, but I let the boys do their thing and figure it out. I THINK it’s all going to work out. Fingers (toes, eyes, legs, etc.) crossed. I would pretty much be devastated if this marble doesn’t turn out well. Okay, life would go on, but I might cry a little first.

There were a few spots where the stone seemed to be looking cloudier than it was, but the word on the street is that the porous marble sucks up some of the moisture from the thinset, releasing it (and returning to its initial coloring) later as it dries.

We can’t walk on the flooring for 24-36 hours, so work is halted for now.

No doggies allowed either.


Sorry Widge.

One more note about the marble, and then I promise we can move on. When I placed the tile order for the marble mosaic and the ceramic subway, the saleswoman sold me two bags of grout. Both are bright white, but one is sanded and one is unsanded. Sanded grout is more durable, but 1/16″ grout lines call for unsanded grout. So at the point of sale, when the saleswoman at Avalon was explaining this to me, I went ahead and ordered one bag of each: unsanded for the walls, sanded for the slightly larger grout lines in the floor.

Later research revealed NO! WRONG! SO STUPID! That sanded grout can scratch soft marble. Since we’ll be picking up a new batch of grout, Andrew and I have been considering a color other than white for the floor. Maybe a soft gray. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion to this discussion.

Andrew’s dad was here yesterday to help in the bathroom, but my parents and Aunt Maryann also came down to help out. They spent all day working on the outside of our house. So nice and generous when they have their own houses to maintain! Let me show you my favorite thing that my dad did. There’s a sidewalk that starts just beyond our house, and it’s typically the way we go to walk Widget. Yay for sidewalk, boo for boobie-trapped sidewalk. This big holly tree has a couple of nasty, prickly branches ready to scratch the ish out of our face if you’re not paying attention, right where the sidewalk begins.

My dad is a holly-pruning/removing and weeding pro, so here’s what that patch looks like now:

Wha…? Crazy, I know. It looks like an actual bit of landscaping now. We’re not 100% sure this is even considered “our” property (might be the neighbors’ or public property), but I think the entire neighborhood will thank my dad for nixing that scratchy bugger.

It’s hard to say what my favorite project of Susiemommy’s was, but it might be this:

Yup, after a long hard day of work, she fed us all.

It was a productive day, but now we have to wait to walk on our bathroom floor before we can continue. The mandated wait time might be a blessing in disguise. Andrew and I can try to clean and organize our disaster of a house, finish up some yard projects, and oh yeah, we have a wedding to go to tonight. It’s going to take me even longer than normal to get beautiful (how do I disguise legs covered in bruises?). In the meantime, a little before & in-progress? I think so.

Or did you want to go way back to the REAL before? Okay.

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It’s my favorite time of year. Days are warm and sunny, while nights and early mornings are crisp and chilly. Trees are gorgeously aflame, supermarkets have plenty of acorn squash, and I get to pull out my sweaters and Uggs.

Yesterday could not have been more perfect weather-wise, and I went to Baugher’s Orchard in Westminster, MD with some peeps. We picked apples and sampled (and bought) some of the best cider I’ve tasted.

I also discovered a new variety of apples. Usually a gala girl through-and-through, I tried an idared and found it exceptionally sweet and crisp. We just couldn’t decide if it was pronounced “i-da-red” or “i-dared.”

As an added bonus, I can use the produce I bought as home decor.  Here are my hand-picked idareds hanging out in our dining room fruit bowl:

The pumpkins I snagged, guarding our front door:

And here’s a peek at our front yard, in its autumn-y splendor:

Fall is good.

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First, let me say I really like our yard — about a 1/2 acre, corner lot, relatively flat, several mature trees, very nice when it’s looking its best.

But as summer gives way to fall during the first full-calendar year of homeownership, I’m still thinking about when I’ll have three to four hours in my week to mow this bad boy. And that’s becoming a challenge, as the days get shorter and the weekends are booked with weddings and short trips to visit family and friends.

So, last week, with a wedding to attend on Saturday and our one-year wedding anniversary on Sunday, I did something I’d only do as a suburban homeowner: I left work at noon on a Friday to mow the lawn. Yeah, I’m shaking my head, too.

As I worked my way up and down the lawn, around trees and along hedges, I couldn’t help but laugh and think this was the stuff that comes with homeownership. And on top of that, Katie called in the early afternoon to ask if I could take Widget to the vet’s office later that day.

A Friday afternoon off from work, and I’m mowing the lawn as fast as possible, so I can shuttle my dog to the vet.

Definitely a, “When did this happen?” moment. Adulthood creeps up on you, watch out.

I’m starting to sound a little too philosophical. The purpose of this post was to introduce a new, ongoing feature, “You Know You Live in the Suburbs When…” We’ll chime in from time to time when we’re caught doing things around the house we only used to laugh about because our parents had to do them.

The list begins with:

  1. You used to spend your weekends bar-hopping, now you spend them home improvement store-hopping.
  2. You take time off from work to mow the lawn. (Yes, shaking my head again.)

Help us out and add to the list!

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Walk This Way

Our front porch and walkway left a lot to be desired, and years of wear and tear had left it beaten, bruised and primed to collect huge puddles during even the weakest rain showers. 

The goal is to have a new, shiny porch and a walkway that curves from the front door to the driveway, with a flower bed in the area between the walkway and the porch. It will boost our curb appeal and hopefully be designed for better runoff so we can avoid the ponds that form just outside the door every time it rains.

But first, we had to remove the existing walkway and come up with a temporary fix. So, I enlisted the help of my father and my very strong younger brother on a Sunday in July to–quite simply–bust the walkway to bits. We rented a jackhammer and got started just early enough so we wouldn’t wake up the neighborhood.

The jackhammer sliced through the top layer of concrete, leaving us some big blocks for relatively easy collection. However, once we removed those big pieces, we were left with another 4-6 inches of compacted rocks and gravel.

That’s when the real work began. It probably took about 45 minutes to remove the top layer, but then about 3-4 hours to remove the junk underneath.

Another unexpected part of the job involved battling some unreal roots that had crawled along the front of the porch. My father spent most of his day chipping away at this beast:

It took the entire day, but I had ordered plenty of fill dirt to dump into the new ditch in front of the house, and when we finished, we were left with this: 

But we had to spruce it up a little before we have the time (and money) to tackle the full porch renovation and new walkway installation. So another trip to the home improvement store for some flowers, mulch and rocks completed the transformation from this:

To this (notice the temporary mini-walkway to the right of the porch): 

It’s not the final product, but it’s a step in the right direction.

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Insanely Pre-Mature Storm Prep

In our last post, I mentioned the storm “prep” Andrew and I performed this weekend.  I think the hands-down most important precaution we took was to clean out the gutters to prevent rain from spilling over the sides and rushing right into our basement.

However, I failed to mention another super croosh (ahem, “crucial”) precaution we took to protect our house way back when Irene was still in diapers.  Flash back to spring, when it seemed like everyone in our neighborhood was having trees trimmed or removed from their front yards.  Andrew came in one day from talking with some of the other neighborhood guys, and he had this excited gleam in his eye when he told me that “Dan the Tree Man” was scheduled to come prune some of our trees.

Debbie Downer that I am, I mini-spazzed about this impulse purchase.  Tree services, I quickly found out, are not cheap.  But, fast forward to Sunday, and I’m glad we did it.  That monstrous tree in our front yard (I think it’s a Chinese Elm? Dan the Tree Man gave me the rundown of what’s going on out there, but I forgot) went from this:

to this:

sometime while I was at work.  Doesn’t she look like she can breath now?  I think in Tree-Man-speak, we “lifted her skirt.”  Scandalousity.  I’m pretty sure without having done any skirt-lifting, we would have had a LOT more clean up this weekend.  Probably nothing damaging, just more grunt work.

How about you guys?  Any investments that had to mature awhile before paying off dividends?  Is that metaphor too much of a stretch?  How would you spell “croosh”?

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