Our backyard… Holy Moly (inagoodway).

I am a lucky woman.

First, I get to stare at this all the time…

Relaxing on the sofa while a hot man performs manual labor in plain sight is pretty much living the dream (especially if you’re married to pictured hot man).  Am I right, ladies??  Answer: Yes. Yes, I’m right.   ;)

And now, thanks to all that manual labor, I also get to stare at our newly beautiful back yard as well.   Before and after pics are totally my favorite things.  Guilty pleasures, if you will.   So, that’s what this post is gonna be.   Before and afters of our yard.  Now, keep in mind that “after” isn’t really a legit term since nothing is completely done yet. So, consider them “current”.  And then give Joey a virtual pat on the back because he did this all himself.   I had very little to do with it aside from taking pictures of him working.  I’m nothing if not helpful.

First, let’s take a look at our covered patio shortly after moving in…

It was dirty, with spots of mold on the ceiling, and a decrepit railroad tie retaining wall which did nothing more than collect moisture and insects.   We started by cleaning up the porch, and I sealed and enriched the terracotta floor, Joey replaced the moldy boards overhead, we had the exterior of the house painted, and Joey installed a new stone retaining wall (along with better drainage and many plants).  He also built a stained wood surround for our HVAC unit (the inspiration for which I found on Pinterest).

Now, our patio looks like this….

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And here’s the other view…

And now…

A few detail shots….

It’s so cozy out there now.   We love just chilling out here with a glass of wine (or coffee  — I remain convinced that coffee and wine can solve the world’s problems) while Lucas plays on this…

Oh, no.  This is no swing set.   We jokingly refer to this giant child-haven as the “Clarington Resort” (insert hoighty-toity accent and French-sounding “huh-huh!“).   That’s the actual name of the playset, which we found at Costco. This monstrosity should have it’s own zip code if you ask me, thus “playset” does not suffice.   The “Clarington Resort” (Huh-huh!) was purchased with our tax refund, and despite it’s massive size (it’s nearly 22-feet long including the slide), it’s actually quite charming with all the trees, all nestled up into the corner of our yard.   When we saw it initially, set up on this high platform at Costco, I was all “No way.  That thing is huge.” and Joey was all “Yes way.  That thing is awesome.”.   It took some serious convincing on Joey’s part to get me to agree to it.  He measured it out for me and showed me how it would work in the yard, and then he gave me that look.  You know the one.  The you’re-totally-raining-on-my-parade-and-killing-all-of-my-dreams look, which is sometimes confused with the stop-being-bossy-and-just-trust-me-for-the-love-of-Pete look.   And I caved.  And now that all’s said and done, I’m kind of enamored of this little area.   Like I said before…. it’s charming. And Lucas really seems to love it.  Having our friends over just got way more fun for the kiddos.  That’s for sure.

Joey boxed in the playground with landscaping timbers and used rebar to secure it to the ground (he drilled the holes for the rebar a size smaller and then pounded them in for a nice, tight fit).  Then, he filled it with pea gravel which he found most inexpensively at a local place called Living Earth.   It was $25 for an entire truckload (and this area took 4 truckloads or about 2 yards).   He used concrete pavers for the walkway, and dug them in, surrounding them with decomposed granite (also found at Living Earth).   He bordered the walkway with metal border and river rock.  Then, he added sod (we needed a total of 1 palette which equaled about 150 squares for all areas of the yard).

Here’s a before shot of that area….

And Now:

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And the other direction…

And now:

You can see that the HVAC screen is “L” shaped to still allow access to the unit, while making it more attractive from the porch.   Here’s another view of it…

He also added a plant bed beneath our bedroom window for both drainage purposes and aesthetics…

Ignore that satellite dish… it’ll be gone soon.   On the other side of the porch we have this area, which looked like this before…

And now looks like this…

One of my favorite new additions was Beyonce…

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This lovely metal chicken was a housewarming gift from one of my best friends and is a total reference to this hysterical blog post.   Beyonce makes our yard happy.  And me.  And I love her.

Here’s another view (I still owe y’all a completed pool post so ignore the pool for the time being)…

And now…

Last one…

And now…

The area around the pool mainly just needed some love.  Joey pulled out all the weeds, trimmed the trees, added mulch, river rocks and liriope plants.  We plan to also add more lighting around the pool eventually.

Seriously though, did Joey kick bootie out there or what?

I can’t wait to get out there and really enjoy it.   Things still on the agenda include updating the decking around the pool, removing and replacing the remaining railroad ties along the perimeter of the yard, Making the fence look better, attacking the part of the yard on the side of our house next to the “Clarington Resort” (huh-huh!), painting the ugly brick surround for the pool filter (which I’ve tactfully cropped out of these pictures. You’re welcome.), boxing in the columns on the covered porch to give them a wood look, plus more.    But seriously, I never thought that our backyard would look like this just 6 months after moving in.   I’m fully in awe.

So, that’s where our back yard is currently.  And we couldn’t be happier with it.   Anybody else have yard projects going on right now?

The office/guestroom is, like, a room now

Wah-hoo!!   It’s amazing what a little impending overnight guest does for a little kick in the pants. It’s been a crazy week.   I know I’ve said it before, but I really mean it.   We’re having company this weekend (really, for the first time since moving in), so it’s been a mad dash to try and get some unfinished projects done.   The house is (of course) nowhere near finished (that’ll take YEARS, I’m sure), but we just wanted to clean up a few things that were needing some immediate work.   And in this mad race, I didn’t stop to take “after” pictures until today. #mybad

On top of the recent house-project mania, there was also work stuff that dominated my time… for those who don’t know, I’m an oncology dietitian.  I work with people undergoing chemo or radiation to help keep them nourished and hydrated, as well as to help them manage side effects during treatment.   My license renewal is happening this month and for the first time in 9 years, I was chosen for audit, which means that I’m supposed to send in proof of my continuing education.  When I went to send in my continuing education credits, I was told that of the 12 required credits, only 6 of mine would be counted since they were all self-study.  (FYI… I’d knocked out 32 self-study credits over the two year license period (a surplus of 20 above the requirement) and only 6 counted. Ugh.).  I guess I didn’t realize this little caveat since (1) I’d always had at least 6 in-person seminar hours before, and (2) there’s no limit on self-study for our registration (the other requirement to practice).   So, I’ve been scrambling to get another 6 “live” credits before the end of the month when they’re due.  As of now, I’ve signed up for them all, and am knocking ’em out one by one, but I nearly had a heart-attack when I initially realized my mistake.   It was several days of heavy-duty networking, and online research to even LOCATE said education opportunities within such a short period of time.  I’m a planner and a total goodie-goodie when it comes to work, so I couldn’t believe I’d let this slip by me.   Lesson learned. Never again. So, cross your fingers that all of the moderators to the seminars/webinars I’m attending get our certificates of completion out to us quickly.  (please)

Anyways, as the days go on, things at the ole’ homestead are slowly coming back together again and my head feels like it’s gradually reattaching to my brain, which is nice.  So, here’s what’s been going on house-wise.  Joey’s been a mad-man out in the backyard (I’ll have a post about that soon), and I’ve been checking off a bunch of items inside.   Among them was the office/guestroom.   Here’s how it looked the last time I showed it to you…

It’s a great room in that it gets really fantastic light in the mornings and has a pretty view out of the window.  Which you can sort of see here (sorry about my photography skills)…

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It’s the smallest of our bedrooms, but is still a decent size.   My main issue with it was that it REALLY needed to be painted.   It was the same peach color as the master bath and since it was a flat paint finish, it was really dirty in spots.  Plus, this was the room that we had the flood prior to moving in, so the drywall was patched, but not painted.

Not a good look if you ask me.

This room contains most the decor remnants from our very first house that managed to survive our multiple moves.   That house had a very “Tuscan” color scheme.  Taupes, greens, reds, with cherry wood accents.  Very different from our last and current houses.   So, the brownish accents that I still liked enough to keep, are pretty much in this space only.   Now, I’ll admit, my taste has changed and I’ve mentally dubbed these as “for now” pieces.  But regardless, I’m grateful to be able to use them to decorate the space (forfree) until I find new stuff to replace them.

With this plan in mind, I wanted to select a paint color that worked with these items, but would also work with a cooler color palette for when I eventually change this stuff out.   And the color that I landed on was Loggia by Sherwin Williams (ie: the same color that we painted our house’s exterior).   Its a neutral taupe tone that has more grey than anything.   It could easily work with cool colors, but fits in swimmingly with warm as well.   Basically, if Joey’s personality was a paint color it’d be Loggia.  He gets along with everyone.

I’d originally intended to get the paint color-matched with a cheaper paint to save some money, but when I went to Lowes I realized that they now sell an affordable line of Sherwin Williams paints!   Perfect!  They were able to simply pull up Loggia in the computer and mix it exactly.   I chose the cheapest paint (Ovation) in an eggshell finish which ran me just over $28.   Not too shabby. Once I got home, I got down to business, which pretty much resembled the state of my brain the past few weeks…

I have to say that was super impressed by the coverage of this paint.   In the words of that guy in that Indiana Jones movie (you know the one ;))… I chose wiiiisely.    Here’s the difference in the peach vs. Loggia…

I loved it immediately.   It’s taupey grey neutrality.  Even in it’s half-wet state.

Once I had the walls painted, I moved everything back, hung some curtains and the art that I already had on hand, which left this…

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It always amazes me how much a set of curtains adds to a room.

In reassembling the space, I actually tried floating the bed on the adjoining wall (with the head beneath the painting) so that everything wasn’t so crammed against the perimeter, and it looked much better than the current layout.   Then, I realized that functionality-wise, I wanted more floor space.  I sometimes do workout videos in this room and I like just being able to plop down without having to rearrange the furniture.   So, in this case, I’m sacrificing looks for function.  Honestly, I’m just glad to have enough space to do that.  Our last house had such small rooms, that I really didn’t have space to workout in any room without bumping into furniture (even after I’d moved it out of the way).

Here’s the desk area as of now…

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I simply styled the shelves more and switched out the desk drawer knobs for those delicate little guys that I found at Target on sale for $5 for a set of 10.   See that old school camera and the lenses on the lower shelf??

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I got that as a white elephant gift at a good friend’s Christmas party.  I’m not sure who gave it, but I happen to think its completely awesome.

And lastly the wall that that backs up to the hallway…

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I still have some more tweaks that I’d like to do in here…  I’d love to someday get a headboard, jazz up the nightstand, improve the bedding, get a wireless printer so that we can hide that eyesore, and add a nice area rug for interest, but this room definitely jumped leaps and bounds from where it was.  I’m just glad to have this done and to be able to say “…and this is the guest room/office…” minus the “…we still have a ton to do in here.  Pay no attention to the walls…” part. ;)