Archive for the ‘Outdoor projects’ Category

Life is unexpected.  It’s spontaneous.

We’ve been tossing around a lot of ideas lately — ideas for the house here, ideas for the house in Pennsylvania.  Finally, in a spell of wonderful decisiveness, we decided to finish the backyard project and save the other stuff for another day.

On Saturday, the three of us piled into trucky and headed to a sod farm to get, well, sod.  We’ve given up on growing grass, folks.  After five years of bald spots and thin green pretenders, we decided to just buy the look of lawn.  We’re no strangers to sod–we used it at the last house, and it worked marvelously.

Nellie enjoyed watching the sod get loaded into the truck.

We’ve only gotten about half the yard done — we need one more truckload.  But it looks AMAZING.  I’ll post when it’s all done.  You can hardly recognize our yard — it looks so lush!

On the way home from the sod farm, as we crossed over the river, we passed a white sign, hand-painted with red paint.

“Waterfront. For sale by owner. Call …”


On Sunday, Nellie, G, and I started our weeklong celebration of Father’s Day with brunch at the resort.  After loading up on eggs, meats (<– mostly G), homemade donuts, and other deliciousness, we walked around the pier and enjoyed the sunshine.  It has changed so much since our wedding four years ago, but it was actually Nellie’s first time down there.

After walking around, we took a visit to see a waterfront property on the river.


I don’t know what the next couple days or weeks or months might bring.  After seeing the property on Sunday, we took a look at listings in the area, and picked a few more that caught our eye.  We saw one today, and we will see one more each on Tuesday and Wednesday.  And that’s all we have planned.  We might find our next dream home — the waterfront we can’t pass up — in that time; or we might decide we love this house too much to even consider moving.

Either way, this week has been an unexpected diversion this summer–a path we didn’t expect to take.

But, that’s usually what happens when you turn off the road at a hand-painted sign.


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It’s popping up everywhere around here — evidence of sunshine and long days and lazy, happy afternoons.

It’s appearing in the form of swimming pools catching afternoon warmth on the front stones…

(And I don’t think this is actually a spot for beer bottles, but it does seem like this pool was kinda made with Mama in mind, too, no?)

…and dogs spread out in the sunshine, imagining they’re best friends so long as the deck is hot

…and pink swings hanging from the bottom deck, catching the afternoon shade that the pool is ignoring.

Even our meals are embracing summer, as tomatoes from the top deck find their way into roasted eggplant and lamb and mint meatballs.

(Kid LOVES lamb meatballs.)

Last summer was incredibly special — I was pregnant, and we were counting down the weeks before Nellie’s arrival.  This summer, magically, means even more.  It hasn’t officially begun, and already it’s spreading its warm charm around our house.

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It was a normal afternoon today: I was inside with Nellie, mostly keeping her away from the treacherous things she can now access on her own; and G was outside, painting the bottom deck (what else would he do on his Sunday off?).

G’s running out of stain coincided with Nellie needing a nap (a car-nap opportunity that I was certainly not going to miss), so when the little monkey started yawning and rubbing her eyes, I scooped her up in my arms and headed toward the top deck to call down to G and see when he would be ready to go.

Nellie and I made it to the screen door at the same time as the dogs–they were locked out from downstairs and not pleased about it.  Sally, thinking the screen door was already open, went head first into it and bounced back.

“Silly dog,” I said, watching her instead of my footing as I slid the screen door open.

And then I heard it–the frantic swooshing sound of a large, black rat snake slithering quickly over my bare toes and across the wooden floor of our living room.

I ran outside shrieking, and Nellie shrieked with me–hers in delight, mine not so much delightful.

“Honey, come down and look at the deck,” G called.  I must shriek often in real life, because apparently it was NBD.


Well, I must say, it was unfortunate on my part that I ended up outside and the snake ended up inside.  What is more unfortunate is that not one of our three labs seemed bothered by the LARGE SNAKE crawling across our living room.

By the time Greg got upstairs to the home base of my hysteria, the snake was gone.

Where’d it go? ::shrug:: Wherever a snake can go. And by that I mean, freaking ANYWHERE.


We caught a lucky break, however; when we got home from the paint store and G made his way downstairs to finish up the deck, he discovered the snake, coiled up outside the theater door, just waiting for movie night.

You should know that the snake is no longer in our house.  Regardless, I will be walking around in boots with a snow shovel in hand for the rest of the night summer.

In happier times:

G’s amazing project.  Pre-paint, our lower deck was a mess of composite and mixed materials.  It was gray and dingy and ugly.  Definitely the ugly deckling of our house. (Punny, right?)

NOW, our deck is gorgeous.  It matches the house, it’s a beautiful color called pine cone, and you can almost not even tell it’s gray composite under there.  (To note, G only got to the flat surfaces today.  The railings and such are still not painted.)

Nellie and I got a lot of bonding time in today while G worked outside.  Don’t we look cute in places where we’re not afraid of snakes (ironically, outside in the grass)?

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Sometimes I make promises I can’t keep.  Promises like

I promise this is the last time we will paint this room.


I promise this is the last project I need help with.


I promise I won’t buy any more roses.

As to that last one, I offered up several suggestions — that at least one of us considered to be very helpful — as to where the four new giant rose bushes could go.

It’s fortunate that G knows me well enough to know that when I say our projects are done, they’re not; and when I say I don’t need help with anything else at all, I do.

And when I mentioned that we have this weekend off, what I really meant was that we have no commitments–what I also meant is that I might have a super short list of things I need help with around the house:

Things like hanging Nellie’s new pink swing, inflating her fabulous pool, constructing her super awesome ball pit*, and planting just a few more rose bushes.

*Sidebar: sometimes telling your husband that you ordered hundreds of plastic balls from Amazon in order to create the world’s best ball pit for your 9 month old daughter does not result in the reaction you would expect.  Even when those balls arrive in a giant box of happiness.

But G knows to expect no less.  He really deserves a lot of credit, that guy.  Because he puts up with all my crazy ideas.  For example, last weekend I came home with new planter boxes and a pair of grape vines to cover the trellises that surround the hot tub.  The result? Awesome.

In fairness to me, there is one promise that I always keep: that after a busy spring of projects and, yanno, complete backyard remodels, we have the summer off.  It’s our season to celebrate living on the bay and to make up for the time we spend commuting to the city all year.

This year, our summer is starting with a trip–a vacation to Florida to see family.  I realized this morning that our plane ride is only one week away, so tonight I started pulling things out to pack–things that smell like summer and look like summer and feel like summer. Nellie’s bathing suits, cover-ups, sunglasses, pool float, swim diapers, and hat — or, yanno, basically every item known to mankind babykind.

Of course Nellie checked out her suitcase as soon as she saw it…

…rejected everything I had packed for her…

…and proceeded to unpack her suitcase.

After watching the monkey dismantle all of my hard work, I carried her out to the screened porch for the late spring edition of a toy picnic.  Last night’s impressive thunder and lightning show gave way to a beautiful day today and to a calm evening tonight, so it was the perfect evening for a toy picnic, set to the sounds of the frogs and crickets who have already moved into our yard for the season.

It’s not summer yet, but it’s close.


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Yesterday, after shopping and lunching, Mom, Nellie, and I put out a big blanket in the grass and enjoyed the sunshine.  It was a beautiful afternoon, and we stayed outside until dinnertime.  Mom stayed an extra day today to spend time with Nellie, but she’s off tomorrow to visit Grandma in New Jersey.  We’ll all be reunited on Mother’s Day at the farm, but until then, here are a few pics from our adventure in the front yard, which Nellie found very enjoyable.

Our flowers are in bloom.  It’s absolutely beautiful around here.

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…cocktails around the firepit are as awesome as suspected.

Pre-fire celebration:

Relaxing around the fire (Nellie loved it):

Picture credit goes to Mom’s iPhone.  She is home with Nellie today because playing with her grandma is waaaay better than daycare.  For example, Nellie has not been able to go from a crawling position to a sitting position–a source of much frustration for her.  I mentioned this to Mom, who then spent yesterday’s playtime showing Nellie how to slide her foot under her little butt to sit.

And now the little monkey can sit after she crawls.

It’s unfortunate for Mom that she is such a good teacher of monkeys: I will be ripping up her return ticket home.  Oops!

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I imagined it with brick-lined paths and boxwoods, and it became so much more.  G has worked so hard for the past few weekends, and this morning he met me at the nursery so I could pick out the finishing touches– lilacs and broom bushes.  The backyard is an evolution, and it will never be ‘finished’.  But this project–this amazing remodel–is in the books.

So how’d we do?

Brick paths? Check.  Boxwoods? Check.

Pergola, comfortable seating, slate table with fire pit, bird houses, and beautiful, fragrant flowers? Check.

Remember this mess?

It’s a lot more awesome now.

Here are some shots G took of our new outdoor space.

I’ve got some lemon syrup and rosemary waiting in the fridge, and it’s possible we might be having celebratory cocktails tonight around the new fire table down below.  And I’m tagging this post ‘being fancy for no reason’ because I feel pretty fancy tonight.

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