Yard renovation complete!

A month ago, I contacted a local landscaper to talk about getting our yard looking nice. Because it looked terrible.

The lemon tree had died, and was now just a scrubby bunch of spiky shoots. There was no grass, only weeds and dirt. There were soccer balls everywhere, and a big ugly shed, and a few bushes we planted a few years ago when we put in the patio. There was also a chunk of sidewalk from when a house used to be in our yard. (Well, I mean, it wasn’t our yard then, but there used to be a house between ours and our neighbor’s, but it was torn down at some point and now we have side yards.)

Before: (this is embarrassing)

Anyway, they ripped up the sidewalk chunk, removed the lemon scraggle, leveled the yard (including the unsightly mound in the corner that was made up of the dirt we excavated for the patio), squared off the patio, cleared out the weeds, planted plants, mulched, put gravel and sand down, moved the shed, and finally placed artificial turf down.

Seventeen years ago, when we bought our house, we planted a tiny tree and had a pretty nice grass lawn. Since then, the tree grew 20+ feet, we got a dog and three kids, and bamboo grew up from the neighbor’s yard. So it’s nice and shady, but not exactly conducive to grass growing. Hence the artificial turf.

LOOK AT THE GLORIOUS AFTERS!

The boys like it too. 😀

Oh, I have to do one of these fun sliders:

Home improvements

Last summer, we redid the kitchen, which was a big, dramatic improvement to the house. This summer, we’ve made some more subtle improvements that will save us some money over the long run.

First, we insulated the attic. The upstairs of the house has no insulation, and it would get uncomfortably hot in the summer. The air conditioner would run constantly, but it would never cool off, really. We have window units in the bedrooms, but not all of them, so at night we’d have to run window units and the central a/c.

So we looked into insulation, and after much research, we settled on spray foam insulation in the attic. It was done in early August, and the difference has been dramatic. The guys doing the installation said it was the hottest attic they’d been in all summer (one of the companies that came out to give an estimate said it was 140 degrees up there.)

The day after it was done, I stuck my head in the attic and was amazed at how not-hot it was. And we just got our first post-insulation electricity bill, and even though it wasn’t for the entire month, our average daily usage has already gone down compared to the same month last year. Woot!

Actually, that wasn’t the first thing we did. The first thing we did was pay someone to finish off the doorway to our bedroom that George and his dad started, cough, six years ago. So now we have a door that closes! And no more bare studs!

The door. It is not exciting, but my sister wanted to see it. So here it is.
The door. It is not exciting, but my sister wanted to see it. So here it is.

Which leads to…

…some updating of our living room. Hooray! I’ve been waiting so long to paint up here. Haven’t done it yet, but I’ve started working on making it a nicer space. The IKEA coffee table is gone, replaced by a velvet ottoman that I adore and George tolerates. New light blocking curtains also help with the heat. The toys and Wii U were banished to the boys’ room, as well as the LEGO table, which I replaced it with something more grownup.

Definitely there’s more work that will need to happen in here, but this is a start!

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Finally, the pièce de résistance: a new fridge! I just couldn’t stand how small our old one was, plus we’re paying for water delivery every month. So I sweet talked George into letting me get a new one (I mean sure, over time, it’ll pay for itself since we can cancel water delivery. I mean, it might take ten years, but still.) We now have almost twice as much freezer space! A necessity with three boys who are starting to eat more and more. Do you have any idea how many waffles I can now fit in there?!?!

Just little things

I keep thinking of little things to say, then I forget. Let’s see if I can remember.

  • Went swimming last night with the girls. Adults only, had festive beverages from the club’s bar. Too bad our membership runs out at the end of next week. There’s going to be a lot of evening swimming in the next two weeks, I hope!
  • School starts Monday! Second grade. Nuts.
  • The attic is getting insulated tomorrow, just in time, since it’s about a thousand degrees here.
  • I started running again, even though I am still dealing with Achilles tendinitis. I’m trying to do my stretches, icing, and rolling my calf muscle in hopes that I’ll survive the Jazz Half Marathon at the end of October.
  • Helpful hint: Don’t put the digital food scale too close to the hot element on your flat top stove. Unless you want a new digital food scale.
  • Promised I’d take the boys to see Pixels while we have to be out of the house for the attic stuff. I am not optimistic about the quality.
  • Took the boys to the dentist last week – no cavities!

Some pics ‘n’ stuff:

Oliver uses his head:

 

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What is the deal with these? I have seen “Asia” like eight times, but never a Linus, Oliver, nor Miles. But I had to buy these when I saw them both at Target. Sucker.

Thursday stuff

Oliver lost one of his top teeth, finally! Poor dude was getting a complex about it. Woke me up at 1am to show me. Glad he didn’t swallow it in his sleep! Looks like the adult tooth is already coming in.

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While getting in the van to take the boys to camp this morning, I stepped in a red ant pile that was hidden under some Asian jasmine. A lot of cursing and slapping at my feet followed. I hate those assholes. (Here’s the full video if you want to see them up close.)

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Today a company is coming by to give us an estimate on having the attic insulated. Hopefully we can afford to do it, because I imagine it would pay for itself in a couple of years. Upstairs gets so, so hot. Anyone have experience with this? Our a/c is just struggling to keep up with the heat.

I also am scheming to get the living room in order. Painting, first of all. And then just making it look a little nicer. Maybe it’s time to take down the baby gate at the top of the stairs? I dunno if I’m ready for that. Here’s what it looks like currently. At least I moved the lego table into the boys’ room. It’s a start.

Oh shoot. Two days til the triathlon. Better start thinking about that.



Happy houseiversary

I cannot believe I forgot our 11 year houseiversary the other day. Okay, okay, maybe I don’t have to mark every anniversary of every thing that’s ever happened. Yeah, I don’t have to. I just like to.

But wait…I’ve only posted once about a houseiversary, and that was ten years ago! So now I don’t feel quite so ridiculous for posting one today.

In the past eleven years, we’ve been through a lot in this house. Engagement, Hurricane Katrina, marriage, and the arrival of three kids at once (as you can imagine, we bought this house on the assumption we’d have one or two kids, max.)

We’ve redone the kitchen, rebuilt the stairs, moved rooms around, built in triple bunk beds, painted the exterior, and added a wall, but I still want to repaint the living room and get new floors downstairs and fix the ones upstairs and redo the totally ’80s downstairs bathroom and finally change the lightbulb at the top of the stairwell that has been burned out for a decade.

One day.

Would I love to have a bigger house? One without so much wasted space? God, yes. The boys won’t fit in those beds forever, and I’d kill for, say, an actual laundry room and a back yard. But I also love the idea of the boys growing up in the same house forever. And I can still remember the knee-weakening feeling I got when we walked through the front door for the first time.

(Of course, the previous owner was an artist, and had one teenage kid. And was more on the minimalist side than we’ll ever be.)

Details on our “new” kitchen

I thought I’d post some details about the kitchen, in case anyone was interested. I know I like reading posts like this, anyway.

Paint: Behr Premium Plus Ultra Super-Duper Fancy Nice Awesome (something like that) in Dolphin Fin

Granite: Cold Spring

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I love the metallic flakes. You know I like sparkly things.

Faucet: Glacier Bay Carmina Pull-Down faucet

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Tile: Daltile Rittenhouse Square Mosaic (white) and white penny tile mosaic bought from Floor & Decor (behind the sink only)

Grout & Caulk: Bright white non-sanded (hides my rookie tiling mistakes)

Stove: Samsung Electric Convection Oven (Black)

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Look at all THE BUTTONS!

If you have any other questions, just let me know. (And no, I am never tiling again.)