Backyard tour and a remodeling challenge

Our sweet little old house needs quite a bit of work. We have thoughts and dreams of a kitchen remodel (I HATE my kitchen) but it isn’t in the cards for quite a while yet. We have lots of other immediate needs that need to be addressed first and we don’t plan on going into debt to make a new kitchen happen. That means we have to check off the other, more pressing, items on our to-do list and THEN save up enough money to pay cash for the remodel. We’ll have to wait and see if that happens before we outgrow our tiny little house.

Lately, most of our focus has been on the backyard. Some changes have been planned and purposeful while others have been beyond our control. I spent my Sabbath afternoon on my mama’s quilt in the backyard with Samuel so I thought it would be a good opportunity to take some photos and give a little tour as a “before.” Hopefully this space will be quite transformed by the Fall.

Grapevine Privacy FenceOne of my favorite features in our yard is the grapevine growing on the fence. We don’t get good grapes from it but it comes up thick in the summer, making a natural privacy fence against the road. Since our yard is a little lower than the road, this keeps passers-by from seeing us in the yard if we’re sitting down. Or swimming naked in our tiny pool. Which we don’t do. But we COULD if wanted to and if we’d ever haul some sand in and get a spot set up for our pool.

The vines are also useful for craft projects like wreaths or yard projects like fence from vine weaved around bamboo to keep the dog out of the berry bushes.

Grapevine fence

HammockMy hammock is another favorite.

Maple Tree MurderOr it was until the power company came and chopped down the tree that provided the shade for it. I was over-the-top sad about this development. 1) I do not do well with change that I did not expect or plan and implement myself. 2) Now the hostas that I planted here at least 6 years ago from shoots my parents gave me from their house are getting burnt to a crisp. This is not the first change that has taken place in the yard this year. It’s just the only one that made me cry like a crazy modern-day version of “Pat of Silverbush.”

Old ShedThe first change was partly started by this eyesore. This shed has never been truly usable for me. It leaked and the doors didn’t work correctly the day I bought the place. I’ve been meaning to get a new shed for years but it has always worked “well enough” for shovels and the lawn mower so it never made it up to the top of the list. Then we had a baby, and our already full house started bursting at the seams. And Daniel started working from home full time. From the couch. Where I nurse a baby all day long. We’re a little cramped. We desperately need storage space so we can free up an area for a home office for Daniel. Enter our new shed.

New ShedIt’s huge. About 16’x11.5′. Or something. It has taken up the spot where my clothesline used to be but it will be worth it. I’m DYING for it to get finished. It’s going to be VERY useful as well as a beautiful addition to the backyard. So I’ve been inspired to get the rest of the backyard into shape so it will match the pretty shed.

Wicker chairThis area next to the old shed was supposed to be a natural little oasis. I planned to have a clematis grow all over the broken wicker chair but the crazy bush took over instead and it just looks snake-y and messy. Hopefully this will be the new home to our hammock. Once we get the contents of the old shed moved into the new one we’ll haul the metal off to the recycling place and hopefully get at least enough money back to buy some heavy duty weed barrier and mulch so that this area will become the new shady hammock spot.

That little project probably won’t start until the Fall. Right now I have the back deck/porch on my mind. It needs a serious revamp. It’s a big mess. This is me being real and showing just how ugly it is.

Back PorchThe wood needs weather treating in a bad way and it has somehow gathered a bunch of pots full of potting soil and weeds. Somebody must have snuck into our backyard and put them there. Definitely. Yup. Daniel did make me some steps with slices of my poor, murdered Maple tree. These pretties have inspired me to do some work on the deck to make it presentable. I never know where to start so I need some limits or parameters to follow in order to get going on projects like this or I’ll just stand in the middle of the porch staring and doing nothing. This time I decided to turn it into a fun challenge. I’d love to add on to the deck and have a big one spanning the back of the house for entertaining but we don’t have the funds for that now. What I DO have is a piggy bank full of change, though. Not sure how much, but definitely more than $10, less than $50. My goal is to do a back porch remodel/redecoration/revamp using only that cash and anything around the house or yard plus whatever I can find for free or trade. I’m going to devote Fridays to posting about my progress and call it the amazingly unique and inspired series title of “Frugal Fridays.”

I think it will be fun!

Something will get done eventually, right?

So the flashback to my tender years was brought on by me trying to decide whether or not it was ironic that the reason I hadn’t posted in two weeks on my blog (you know, the one about having too much on my plate & putting that plate aside for more plates?) was because I’ve been busy with hobbies and traveling and being lazy.  I put my shelves together and rearranged the sun room into something of a sewing room/library but left the shelf boxes propped up against a wall so, of course, I never took a picture to share.  And I went to dance class twice a week getting ready to dance with a local men’s choir this weekend but I never did go buy the shirt I’m supposed to get or the right pants so I’ll have to get both tomorrow.  And I never did write about how I got into dance class because I took some video in class to include and I need to edit the clips to make sure you only see feet and not the ladies in my class, cause that would be seriously rude.

Then I went to Memphis with Daniel for Labor Day to visit his family and do Memphis things.  Also we’re down a few people at work in my position so I’m doing lots of filling in so my brain is spinning by supporting 4 client groups instead of 2.  But I’m making lots of progress on the afghan I’ve been working on so basically when I get home I want to eat dinner, watch a movie and knit.  Or write lists.  About Daniel’s Birthday.  And the things I need to do to get ready for it. Which are a lot of things.  Including fixing the toilet because I can’t have dozens of people at my house and have them turn off the water to the toilet after they’re done because it runs constantly if you don’t.  And has pretty much all of 2010.  Yah.

But tonight I was productive!  There was much secret planning and arranging and MAYBE some doing tonight.  But that is all I can say.  Because I love surprises and I don’t want to spoil any of Daniel’s.

Making Progress

One of the dog-eared areas in my life is my house.

Not all of it.  Just bits.  I bought my adorable little yellow house in May of ‘07 and jumped right into painting and arranging some rooms before I even moved in.  But then there are the sad, neglected spots like the back room.  Sometimes I call it the den because there is a step down into it (it used to bet he carport I think).  A lot of the time I call it the sun room because there are 3 big windows lining one wall.  But I’ve never really DONE anything to it.  For about a minute I set up a little couch and chair and coffee table and it was a sort of reading nook.  But then my cat basically declared war on the couch.  She hangs out in the back room and laundry room during the day so she’s not breaking things around the rest of the house and trying to make soup on the gas stove and setting the whole house on fire.  Also I don’t want to come home to find my pillow covered with 6 inches of Tonks fur.  I’m picky like that.

So eventually I had a furry room with a couch that looked like it picked a fight with my paper shredder and lost.  Of course it then became the catch-all room.  So it was basically just a wannabe Hoarders episode without the decaying organic matter.  I attempted a revamp on several occasions but it always fell right back into disarray.  And the nice positive of the room—all that sun—bleached my lovely curtains to, well, I don’t even know what. And this is what it looks like today.

  • Poster on the wall from Bikes, Blues & BBQ 2008 including tiny posting stating “You are Here” so my family wouldn’t get lost
  • Papasan chair with no cushion because it either needs to leave my house or get more stuffing for the cushion which has done a pretty respectable job of trying to become as flat as possible in the last 10+ years
  • Pile of various work in the yard shoes/hiking boots
  • Canning supplies because I have the tiny kitchen from HELL and can’t figure out where to put my boiling water canner and beautiful mason jars 😦
  • Lovely Faded Curtains
  • Insane cat
  • Books, books, and some more books
  • Bags and bags of yarn and fabric

The last few are what have really inspired me lately to get in gear and do something with the room.  Last month my mom fixed my sewing machine that wasn’t really broken I just thought it was for the past year or so.  I still think it was broken, it just took one look at her coming it’s way and said “WHOA….this is serious.  It’s a professional so I better straighten up and fly right!”  I know it always worked on me as a kid.

Sewing is another one of my dogeared pages.  I sewed anything I could get my hands on as a little girl.  My mom used to give us a needle and thread and sheet of paper to sew pictures at the kitchen table.  Come to think of it, that might be a good idea for the kids in Sunday school.  I better add that to my list.  But I digress.  When I was 7 or 8 (correct me if I’m wrong, Mom.  But I think it was the same Christmas I got my Little House Books) I got a kid’s working toy sewing machine for Christmas.  Shortly after that my parents decided they should have just bought me a used real one at a yard sale and I moved up to being allowed to use my mom’s.  I really did keep at it for a while off and on.  I have made two attempts in my life to make clothes.  Once in the 6th grade my final sewing class project was an outfit that I never did finish for some reason or another.  And in 9th grade I decided to make a skirt out of ties that attached to the tops of an old pair of overalls.  But we moved Southeast Asia before I was able to get enough ties together to finish it, even as tiny as I was back then. haha

The sewing machine I have now was given to my by my grandma.  I borrowed in sophomore year of college and she never used it so she let me keep it.  At that point I was hemming pants and doing basic repairs or making Halloween costumes for my hall mates.  Looking back on it I should have put up posters and charged people. *sigh* another missed opportunity to build my evil empire.  Then I moved on to attempting to make a quilt.  I have a very nearly finished Drunkard’s Path quilt top folded up in the bottom of a stack of fabric.  Dogeared.

So this is where I sort of kill two birds with one stone.

  1. Pick one of the hobbies I have rudely cast aside and either develop it or get rid of it for good. (I’m about to become a sewing machine.  Hmm…that’s not exactly how I wanted that to work)
  2. Pick any area of my house that I have neglected and stop treating said area like a college kid in a sleazy rental property.

The clincher that REALLY motivated me was This Lady’s Blog.  She redid her studio and it ended up looking like this:

image  image

And I broke a Commandment.  Remember the one about Coveting?  Yah.  I covet the fact that this neat lady has an Ikea so close to her.  Because those fantasmical shelves would cost more to ship than they do to buy.  Lucky me, it’s back to school time and places like Office Depot, while they may have some real numskulls working for them (I’ll have to tell that story another time) do things like put these shelves on sale!


Mmmmm…Pretty.  So I bought two and hauled both the boxes home in my Saturn. ( I TOLD you they would fit annoying Office Depot guy who doubted me).  I had to go grocery shopping tonight so I didn’t have time to start putting them together but tomorrow night will be my night!  I am going to pop in Season 1 of Grey’s Anatomy and get started creating a beautiful space for creating works of sewing art!  And also knitting.  Aren’t those shelves going to look beautiful full of colorful yarn and books?  Woohoo!  It’s no Posy Gets Cozy and it’s definitely not quite Vanessa levels of cool just yet but it’s a start!