June 08, 2014   //  Posted in: Casual Celebrations   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

The month of May flew through without thought to two “celebrations” I’ve grown fond of appreciating: Buying my first house (this year was the 5 anniversary of closing! Read up on year 2year 3, and year 4 here! I don’t even live there anymore!); and quitting my job to go freelance, which was already 3 quick years ago. Moving on and settling in to the extent that you can is so happy. It feels good to be at a completely different point in my life than I was 5, 6, 7 years ago, and for that, I should probably celebrate (with cake, campfires, and maybe a splurge at CB2).

Anyways, moving on happened, but I’m actually still at the old house more than you’d expect. If you missed it back when we left, we decided to continue to maintain it as a rental property; it’s not so much as a way to make some extra dough (it just helps to cover the mortgage and taxes), but maybe in ~15 years when it’s paid off, it’ll be a nice little asset in my retirement arsenal. I have a note in my ever-shifting editorial calendar to give you an update on how that’s been going, because in reality, it’s not the same as what you see on Income Property. Oh, Scott McGillivray, you are one crazy tease.

Planting in the window boxes at the rental house.

And I’m still a freelancer, doing contract work for DIY Network and its blog Made + Remade (speaking of things I’ve been meaning to write about for documentation’s sake, I actually met my team for the first time in early May after 30 months of working together!!!).

The Made + Remade video shoot, May 2014.

In addition to nomming down s’mores and browsing the new selections of outdoor furniture (which I’m still not convinced is practical in a backyard that showers leaves and caterpillars), I made a modest list of things I’d like to try and accomplish this summer–not for the sake of publishing here because doing that will create way too much unnecessary pressure (bloggers, stop making to-do lists), but list things I want to get done as time permits–things like power washing the garage door and painting the window trim in the kitchen. And repairing the upper level of the barn, while reinventing the lower level as a radical play area. And buying rugs. And dining chairs. And a bed frame. And the beat goes on.

My weekly photo series continues strong. Honestly, it’s probably my favorite project ever-ever-ever, and I love it so much that I might just continue it as long as possible, even after we hit the 1-year mark. I think Hattie will appreciate it someday.

Our baby photo series, weekly photos with mama.

Thursday marks our 1-year since closing on this cool, new house, and it’s hard to believe the time has passed so quickly. If you never saw the “before” video of our house, watch it here; it will always be radically special to us. Here’s to many more.

Pach-ing It In

May 29, 2014   //  Posted in: Curb Appeal   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

Memorial Day weekend was a good one here; lots of yard maintenance bordered by picnics and time spent with friends around the campfire.

We practically live outdoors at this point in the springtime, I have done a few indoor projects that I’ve been meaning to write about on here, but in general, life is all outside, all the time. Thank god the baby is old enough to be entertained watching us work, squealing with happiness as we sing aloud and talk to her about the tools she’s going to be encouraged to use someday, we’re actually getting things done at home again. That’s the rototiller! You’re going to LOVE using this, almost as much as you’re going to like the leaf blower, and hey, stop ripping off your ear protection! Important learnings.

The front 10-feet of our yard has been covered by leaves since last fall, which in hindsight we totally should have cleared within a day of having blown them there because leaves are messy and kill grass and blah blah, it’s really a shame that the mega powerful leaf blower I bought doesn’t also suck and mulch; neither of us had the energy to clear them last fall in between days spent installing our maple floors and, well, birth-related things. After the longest winter of our lives and with just enough Mike’s Hard Lemonade for liquid motivation, we spent an afternoon this weekend clearing those leaves in another one of those backyard crossfit challenges. And for what it’s worth, we thought it would take 4-5 tarp loads and 30-minutes, until we realized that the leaves were packed a foot deep in some places, and wet, so it took more like 20 trips dragging tarps from the curb into the deep of the back woods.

Front yard leaf clean-up success.

One of the bigger discoveries during this mass cleanup is that there is actually a big sewer drain in front of our house, with side drainage and everything! Not only was it covered by leaves, but with broken asphalt and soil, so it had been completely invisible until now, not doing a bit to help with our street’s drainage (and not even something we noticed while we mowed the yard every week last summer). We’re sorta sticklers for keeping drains clear, it goes right up there with shoveling snow from around the fire hydrant, and changing the smoke detector batteries, engrained in the brain cavity that’s instinctively concerned about avoiding preventable disasters. It gets better too, Pete discovered and cleared 4 more drains that were covered when he paced off up and down our street with his pitchfork, a civic duty that I wish it could qualify us for a tax break, because holy smokes, wtf, Rochester!

We found 5 new drains on our street, completely covered by road debris, leaves, and soil!

O’er in the backyard, I initated what’s bound to be my never-ending project of transplanting pachysandra clumps into other parts of the yard, creating garden edging and accents that the deer are less inclined to nom on. The pachysandra migration has been driven by the appeal of the plants I edged our old deck with (you can kinda get a glimpse of it in this post); it took 3 years for those plants to go from scraggly to lush and amazing, so I’ll know I’ll need to be patient with these, but the payout will be great by year 2017.

I transplanted lots of pachysandra to create a clean border around the edge of our house.

Other projects continue on – still building our playhouse, still making necessary repairs to the barn structure, still pruning trees. Welcome back, springtime.

Buried Treasure

May 19, 2014   //  Posted in: Backyard   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

Last fall when the tree fell in our backyard, it pummeled a part of the property that it seemed the previous owners had used as a dumping ground. In its wild fall, the trunk of the tree shifted a large stump and revealed a few pieces of blue flagstone that we believe was leftover from our home’s construction in the ’50′s. The flagstone is one of our favorite architectural features of this house; it’s used on the front facade and also forms our living room fireplace, so to have a few extra pieces to see and handle in the raw, unused form is kind of special, especially if we ever wanted to take a few pieces to match it up to other stone or whatever. Quarry nerds.

Anyways, we thought it was just a few pieces until we started digging again yesterday. And digging, and digging, and digging, and we’re still not done, but so far, lots of flagstone.

Buried treasure, blue flagstone.

Fire pit? Cap for our living room planter? Stairs to the lower level of the barn? Endless potential for reuse. Ideas? Do share.