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Author Archives: Still Learning

Dear Yard,

Today…you win.  You have displayed an incredible amount of strength and persistence.  No matter how hard we work, how many plants/flowers/trees we pull out, how much yard killer we spray…You.Keep.Coming.Back.  For the past 10 years, I have taken great pride in my ability to kill any and all elements of our yard.  Really.  It is actually quite amazing that I have yet to kill our grass.  BUT no matter how hard I try to kill you off…You.Keep.Coming.Back.

I wanted to let you know that I have a to-do list for the inside of our house that is as long as the Ivy that we have pulled out.  I’m tired of getting sprayed by our Kitchen Sink Sprayer and would love to replace it.  I would love to put the screens back in the windows, so we can turn off our A/C unit.  The popcorn ceilings are screaming to be scraped.  Just like the Ivy, the list goes on.

If you don’t mind, I would greatly appreciate it if you would just go DORMANT.  Please.  I don’t mean in the winter, I mean NOW.  I bow down to your ability to grow 7 types of ground cover in a 5 foot area, while I can’t even grow Parsley and Basil in the same backyard; you have proven your point and can stop at any time.

I am in awe of your power to grow Aspen shoots 30 feet away from the nearest Aspen tree; you have proven your point and can stop at any time.  I am jealous of your strength to hold on to the roots of each and every weed/tree/bush with the jaws of life; you have proven your point and can stop at any time.

Today…I am beaten down…by you.  BUT take cover, Yard.  Tomorrow is a new day.

Your friend,

The. Mrs.

We’re Sorry, Mr. Trashman

Just another trash day...

Mr. Trashman, I saw you cringe when you stepped out of the truck today to load our trash.  Please accept our most sincere apologies, as the past few weeks is only a taste of what it is to come.  Unfortunately, there is no end in sight.  Trust me…I feel your pain…I am the one who fills all those trash bags.

Sod and A Karate Kick

Yesterday I blogged about our decision to rip out the flower bed in the front yard.  It was a brief note in the post, which was about as brief as the discussion was.  I think it was always in the back of our minds and when the time came to decide, we just went for it.

The last home we owned was a New-Build.  From day 1, we felt like it was our own.  We picked out everything from the carpet to the shower heads.  The last home we lived in, we rented.  It wasn’t ours and we never confused ourselves on who really owned the home.  At one point, I literally sprinted across the house to stop Lil’ Man’s remote control car from banging into the baseboard.

This home is hard.  We own the house but we don’t yet own the home.  We’re working on that…starting with ripping out her flower bed and putting in our grass.

Yesterday, I left you with this…

This was Sunday and since we had a small fever for Lil’ Girl pop up on Monday, everything was put on hold.  By Tuesday, all was well, and I was itching to attack the dirt (sidenote – I’m still not itching to do anything with the dirt by the lamppost).  So, I headed off to our local owned Ace store and rented a Rototiller.  You’d think that being stuck in the house on Monday I would have spent some time researching how to lay sod and been armed with knowledge.  Nope.  Instead I rented the Rototiller, then went to the nursery to ask how to prep the soil.  Of course I needed 15 bags of Cow and Compost to till in with the soil.  Since there wasn’t enough room in our car for both the Rototiller and the Compost, it meant 2 separate trips; one to drop the Rototiller off at the house and the other to go back and pick up the Compost.

Awesome.  Off to a great start.  30 minutes later (that’s $12.00 in rental time, by the way), I was finally ready to get started.

If you haven’t ever used a Rototiller, spend some time in the gym first.  Rototillers are serious tools…especially for this inexperienced DIY{er}.  I had to hold on for dear life.  It will shake you to the core…but don’t let go.  Once I got the hang of it, it wasn’t too bad; but those first few minutes were teeth chattering.

I tilled the soil 6-8 inches down, laid down the Cow and Compost and then tilled it all in together.

Now…if you are have done this before (or have more common sense then I do)…you may be wondering at what point I removed some of the tilled soil.  I didn’t.  I left it all.  I even stopped at one point to google whether I needed to or not.  I decided I didn’t need to.

Sure as anything, Husband got home from work and wondered how exactly we were going to lay sod 2 inches ABOVE the existing grass line.

Hmmm…

Fast forward to Wednesday, when I moved the tilled soil out of the way to dig out the soil underneath that hadn’t been tilled.  TOUGH STUFF!!!  Thankfully, my neighbor noticed I had removed enough and kindly came over to tell me to S.T.O.P.

I covered up the hole from the under-soil (yep, made that word up) with the tilled compost and let the sprinklers water it later that night.

Beautiful, if I do say so myself.

This morning, it was off to the Turf Store.  Where again, armed with NO research, I asked a TON of questions and came home to get started.  Laying the sod was surprisingly easy.  I know everyone has their own way of doing things…but apparently, I prefer the hard way.  I laid the sod MY way (not Husband’s) and had to make a TON of cuts on the corners.

 The Turf Store said to lay the sod from the center and make cuts on the outside. Which was great, except if I had laid the sod the other way (vertically instead of horizontally), I would have had longer cuts on fewer pieces.  Oh well…lesson learned for later (that was a tease for what we did when we were done with the flower bed…)

In an effort not to bore you…I’ll skip the fun of laying, pushing, and cutting the sod and tell you a story instead.  Husband and I quickly realized that I was going to run out of sod.  I laid what I had and headed back to the Grass Store.  It was embarrassing enough having to go in to buy more pieces, but what was worse was being attacked (yes, attacked) by a Bee while I was waiting for the Grass Man to load the car up with more sod.

I was standing next to the car when, I kid you not, a bee attacked me.  I did the whole flailing of the arms and jumping out-of-the-way, but it wasn’t working.  So…I Karate Kicked that sucker, straight out of the sky, and stepped on it.  Hi-ya!!!  Then I realized how stupid I must have looked, and commenced laughing at myself as I walked back to the car.  I sure hope the ladies inside and the Grass Man, now waiting on me, got as big of a laugh as I did.

But it was worth it…I got my sod and headed home to complete the project.

Excuse the dirt on the right side.  It’s actually compost that I had to pull out for a piece to lay flat with the rest.  It will slowly get watered in to the existing grass.  Here’s the before from yesterday, so you don’t have to move between posts…

Lastly, here’s a beloved whole house photo after the sod was laid.

  

What do you think?  We think it makes the yard look bigger…and more like ours.

If The Duggars were Bulbs…

Now, I’m not a gardener…at all.  I have no experience whatsoever when it comes to anything green.  Brown…maybe; but only because I most likely got it to that state.  BUT I swear the bulbs in our garden are having B-A-B-I-E-S.  This is the only logical explanation, because no person in their right mind would plant the number of bulbs in a single space that we pulled out of our garden this past week.

On Sunday, we decided it was time to tackle the front yard.  I began by pulling out all of the dead stems from the area surrounding our front yard lamppost.  I’m not sure where the thought process was in the placement of the sprinkler head, but it literally misses everything behind it and is placed in the middle of a flower bed.  This left me with a bunch of dead flower stems…and you know how much I LOOOOOOOOVE dead flower stems.

I sat my happy tush down and got to work.  I pulled all those babies out of the ground, every last one of them.  Yes, this included the living stems that have yet to bloom in the month that we’ve been here.  I decided that I would rather start fresh in that area…or just leave a big spot of dirt next to our walkway…until next Spring.  Yep…Plan A is to plant nothing for the next 8-9 months.

I like it.  No Plan B needed at this time, thank you very much.

It was then time to tackle the main flower bed.  Husband and I had some differing opinions about how to handle the task at hand.

Problem: The flowers in this area are so tall that they are blocking the water from reaching all areas of the grass.

Solution – Husband:  Cut back the flowers to the ground, so the water can get over the bed.  We can deal with the flowers next Spring.

Solution – Right (aka Me):  Take out the flowers.  Many “REAL Gardeners” have commented on how the tall flowers/grass were poorly placed on the outside of the bed, with the smaller items interspersed throughout.  I have already cut back the flowers in the last 2 weeks and those suckers grow back with a vengeance.

Answer: Remove the entire bed and replace with sod.

We pulled and dug and pulled and dug and pulled and dug…until the area was clear.  While The Husband initially did not agree with my solution.  He definitely dug the solution…get it…”dug”?  Haha.  A little humor to tide you over.

The Husband talked to each plant as he dug them out of the ground.  Comments like, “You ain’t got nothin’ on me…”, “You ready for this…”, and the rest included words that are not appropriate for a family blog.  At the end of the day we were left with…drumroll, please…another area of dirt.  Just bigger.

It was during the process of prepping the area for sod, that I realized that the bulbs in the area had met, fallen in love, got married, and had babies. Lots. of. Babies.  I’m talking The Duggars on steroids.  You know, the Duggars.  The family who has a TV show displaying their crazy family of 21 for all the world to see? Not that I’ve ever watched it…I’m too busy pulling Duggar Bulbs out of my yard.

The picture does not do justice.  This is a GIGANTIC pile and are less than HALF the bulbs that were pulled out of the area.  The rest were in the trashcan and I wasn’t about to dig them out for a second time, just to share with the 3 people who will read this.

Come back tomorrow to see what replaced the The Duggar Bulb Family and hear about the Karate Kick at the Grass Store.

Us – 1; Money Pit – 0

After unloading all of our boxes, we quickly realized that the whole washing machine only using SCALDING (I don’t use this word lightly) hot water was not going to work.  This wasn’t like a regular Hot/Cold cycle, this was a Hot/Even Hotter cycle with boiling water (remember the cold water was simply spraying out of the pipe, so we had to turn off the cold water).  Needless to say, this was not going to work for long.

So, I quickly turned to my vast amount of DIY knowledge (okay, okay…shout out to the guys at www.diychatroom.com) and Husband and I knocked one out of the park!  With the plumber already called, I decided this was a great time to gain experience with plumbing.  I figured if we messed up, at least the appointment was already made.

Turns out that when the water valve is shut off for too long the packing material in the bonnet nut dries out.  Yes, I did use the technical term (just patted myself on the back)…BUT…it was originally described to me as the hex shaped thingy just under the valve handle.  Let’s just say my DIY Friend knew my level of my expertise.

This was easy as pie…

  1. Open the water handle(s) all the way open, then
  2. Back off 1/2 turn.
  3. Use a wrench to tighten on the bonnet nut maybe one hex at a time, 1/6 turn.
  4. Move the water handle back and forth just a bit to see if the leak stops.
  5. Repeat step 3 over and over, but not more than one complete turn from where you started.
  6. C.A.N.C.E.L. your plumber (or keep the appointment, if it didn’t work).

This worked wonderfully and even gave us the boost of confidence we needed to attack the dryer vent.  While it wasn’t causing us any problems, we have had trouble in the past and thought this was as good of a time as any to take care of blowing the vent out.

This was the highlight of my week!  If you have never blown out your dryer vent, you have to do so.  NOW.  Just as easy as the water valve solution, but much more fun.

We attached our leaf blower to the vent and used Duck Tape to create a seal between the blower hose and vent pipe.  Then we just turned it on.

Husband stayed inside to make sure nothing went haywire (you never know with us) and I went to watch the outside vent and make sure it was working.  To be honest, even with our new-found confidence, we were concerned this wasn’t going to do anything.

We were wrong.

Way wrong.

The lint went from the wall almost to the side fence!

It was so disgusting, all we could do was laugh.  I kid you not, there was a plume of dryer lint that came out of the vent on the side of the house.  There was a trail of lint from the external vent almost to the fence on the side of our house.

DIS-GUS-TING!!!  We laughed and laughed and then high-fived each other.  Talk about a boost of confidence.

Have you ever blown out your dryer vent?  If not, it may be time to do so.

Welcome Home

Ever since we moved in, I hear myself referring to our home as “her house”…”her garden”…  I don’t think I ever really felt like it was our house.  Until we worked on the front yard last weekend.  Unfortunately, you will have to wait to see some progress pictures, as there is still more to be done.  In the meantime, please enjoy the Botanical Gardens of Clayton Ct. from the “Main Entrance”.

The above photo was taken back in June before we had actually purchased the home.  Here are a couple close-ups from this past weekend…

 

I know, I know…it’s beautiful, right?  May I remind you of what our backyard looks like…

Are you as overwhelmed as I am?  While I would love to keep everything and hire a gardener; it’s not in the cards, people.  That’s nope to both…the gardener and keeping everything.  Everything looks so pretty in pictures, but in person it is an overgrown mess.  It’s just my personal opinion, but when flowers die they are U-G-L-Y.  Seriously, who wants a dried out, brittle, stem as a constant reminder that I have yet to come out and prune back the flowers becuase I’m stuck inside taking down a popcorn ceiling?

1 Husband

+ 2 Kids

+ 1 Dog

+ A Job

Zero Time for Gardening

Say good-bye to the flowers and hello to…hmmmm…wouldn’t you love to know what we are in the process of doing?

What would you do with our yard?  What would you keep or dig up?  Would you keep the Hawaiian flowers in the front (told you we had our own ecosystem)?  What about the wildflowers?

The Botanical Gardens of Clayton Ct.

You may think I’m joking, but I AM NOT.

So without further ado, Introducing The BoTaNiCaL GaRdeNs of CLaYtOn Ct.:

Still learning how to blog correctly…but you get the idea.  Yes people, THAT is our backyard.  The pictures don’t do justice.  Overgrown is the theme of the yard.

Come back tomorrow for pictures from the front.