Category Archives: House

Working Until Winter

And exhale! September and October are (almost) over, and it looks like I’ll finally be reclaiming my home life. It has been a busy fall semester, but the things that made it crazier than past years have all been good. However, I’ll be happy to get back some work-life balance.

Living in Wisconsin, we know that the nice weather will soon give way to snow and cold  😥 With our nice days numbered, we have been plugging along at some outdoor home-improvement projects.

First, we have been working on improving the look of our side yard. There is a hedgerow between our place and the neighbor’s that is technically planted in the neighbor’s yard. While it provides a nice screen, it isn’t maintained well, and we get to see its ugly side. So, we are trying to create our own shade garden shield.

I failed to get a pre-edger picture, but this was our beginning point. (See the bunny?)
Side Yard Project

(Ignore the birdbath nastiness) Our initial birdbath/bird feeders configuration.
Old Birdbath Configuration

And the new set-up.
Revamped Birdbath Area

A new gate and exposed trash bins required some reconfiguring…
Driveway Before

With a new screen.
Driveway After-ish

Garbage Screen

We decided to move the hostas we had along the north side of the house. They were massively huge!
Massive Hosta Plant

We replanted about two and a half of the huge plants along the edgers.
Transplanted Hostas

We also planted dwarf burning bushes along the hedgerow.
Dwarf Burning Bush

With a little mulch, we’re basically done. Jason just needs to level out the edgers.
Shade Garden, Mostly Done

The second project was a little more serious: new windows. We couldn’t afford to do all the windows at once (stupid old house requiring us to special order the awkward sizes), but we took care of our massive picture window and four regular windows on the first floor. Hopefully sometime next summer, we’ll replace the one remaining window on the first floor and the three on the second floor.

We gave new meaning to brining the outdoors inside…at least for half an hour.
Out with the Old

New Picture Window

Isn’t it just so pretty? I’m in love!
New Picture Window

Goodbye old, drafty window. You won’t be missed.
Old Window

The other windows will look even better once we get rid of the old storms.
New Side Windows

We have already noticed a difference inside with the new windows. The light coming in just looks different. I’m also happy that I will finally have clean windows inside and out. They are tilt-ins, so I will actually be able to clean the outsides. I’m very excited about it  😉

The remaining outside project is to tuck point our crumbling limestone foundation. Fingers crossed we can still make it happen before winter. If we can get it done along with the new windows (particularly the picture window), it should make a huge difference in our heating costs. I’ll keep you posted…

Let There Be Candlelight

I’ve said it time and again: I love my backyard! I’m sure I’ll love the backyard of our future home just as much – hopefully even more. But this backyard is pretty cool, in large part thanks to Jason.

As promised, here is the chandelier he built to hang from our pergola over our dining table on the deck.

Jason and I got our hands on a bunch of mason jars last summer, and we decided to use them as candle holders around the deck. Shortly thereafter, in one of the many catalogs we get, I saw a picture of a backyard that included a chandelier. I wanted one! Around the same time, in another catalog, I spotted a photo of hanging mason jars with candles in them as a backyard lighting. (I’m surprised Jason hasn’t started burning every catalog that comes into this house.) An idea was born!

Jason designed and built this creation from scratch!

What I didn’t take a picture of is the base of each jar – it’s open on the bottom. While not a lot of light shines down, there’s just a little hint of it when the candles are lit.

We haven’t “used it” used it yet, but we will have to change that soon  🙂

In other backyard news, Jason got started on a new project, one from our initial, but now revised, project list for this house. Time to start getting things where we want and need them to be when the time comes to sell…

We are expanding the fenced portion of our backyard and adding a new gate. We probably didn’t think through the fence as much as we should have when we put it in. For some reason, we ended it along the back staircase of the deck instead of at the back corner. I don’t know.

Backyard 2011

When we planned on adding a garage and new driveway on the south side of the house, we figured we’d expand the fence the meet the new structure. Since those plans were scrapped, things have sat as they are. That’s about to change.

The new posts are ready for fence.

As part of the expansion, the gate you see will be flipped to the backside of the fence. It will then lead directly to the backyard instead of the side yard.

Once this phase of the project is complete, we will be adding a gate to the portion of fence that runs along the top of the driveway (between the house and the shed in the picture above). This will be a little trickier and will take some strategic planning, but I think it will make our yard feel better. I never realized how much not having a garage would impact day-to-day life. Needless to say, I would love for our future home to have garages up the wazoo  😀  Or at least just one.

I will have more pictures to come!


Getting in the Summer Spirit

Jason and I partook in that grand tradition of over-spending in celebration of the season. Yes, we bought our plants for the summer  🙂  Actually, this year was not so bad. Thanks to Menards’ rebate program, Jason’s new deck heater made this a pretty inexpensive planting season.

Saturday evening, despite being thoroughly exhausted from working our family rummage sale all day, we headed out to buy our flowers for the summer. I also picked up herbs and tomatoes that I’m hoping are more successful this year than they have been the past few seasons.

First up Sunday was putting the finishing touches on our deck set-up for the summer. There are still a couple things left to do, including hanging Jason’s “chandelier” (…which I don’t believe I ever highlighted on here – I must fix that soon  🙂 ).

Deck, Pre-Set Up (about a month ago).
Spring/Summer 2011

Ready to enjoy!
Deck, Spring/Summer 2011

Deck, Spring/Summer 2011

After getting more deck stuff out, I spent my time playing in the dirt. In this mix this year…

Tomatoes and belle peppers
Tomatoes & Peppers

Lettuce and herbs: parsley, cilantro, dill, oregano, chives, and basil
Herb Garden

Gotta have a few flowers to pretty things up.

The rest of our yard is also coming to life.

These peony trees are cuttings from those used for our wedding flowers.

We thought for sure that this lilac bush would die after the second or third move. But it’s still hanging in there.
Indestructable Lilacs

We also bought a new fire pit. Hopefully, we’ll actually put it to use 😕
Backyard 2011

Let Summer Begin!

I can’t wait for the weather to stabilize so we can enjoy our backyard. We’re still going back and forth between 80 degrees and 50 degrees. Ah, Wisconsin  😐

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb are anxiously waiting, too.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle...


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