Archive for March, 2011
Note: This is a retroactive post that I cobbled together in December of 2011 so I could make this page full of monthly recaps for the entire year (our first in our new house!). Yup, I’m just a bit type A. So here’s what we tackled throughout the month of March – high school yearbook style.
Most Archeological: Digging around in the dirt next to our driveway to find all sorts of things (and eventually cleaning things up after the treasure hunt ended).
Most Likely To Result In A Crack Joke: Hanging a ceiling medallion in Clara’s room (to solve a cracked drywall situation).
Most Times Square-esque: Our new chandelier from Ikea, which we hung right over our bed (while screaming Happy New Year!).
Most Likely To Result In “The Sprinkler”: Disco dancing in the kitchen, thanks to our new light.
Most Likely To Leave A Mark: Planning out our frame arrangement over the sofa, only to realize that we needed more frames (thereby resulting in extra wall holes).
Most Likely To Involve An Australian Outback Voice: This post about rug hunting for our master bedroom.
Most Likely To Go Topless: Our four poster bed, after we removed the top slats to allow us to raise the chandelier and make way for our new rug. You know we love to tweak…
Most Stodgy: Us, in this Stodgy Is Sexy mini-documentary that they came to our house to film.
Most Colorful: Making five dolla art with colored paper from Michael’s.
Most Violent: Knocking out an odd off-centered towel bar that taunted me in the bathroom.
Most Predictable: Hanging yet another round mirror – this time over a desk in the living room.
Most Tyra-esque: Hosting a finial fashion show to see which ones looked the best on top of our four-poster bed (“four beautiful finials stand in front of me, but I only have one photo in my hand”).
Most Anal: Using paper templates to help with the placement of our frame wall before swinging the hammer.
Most Shocking: Finding our mugs on the cover of the Washington Post’s Local Living Section (and announcing our book deal!).
Most Plush: Our extra thick shag rug for the living room.
Most Holes Made In A Single Wall. Ever. Adding a giant frame collage to our hallway with lots of anchors, screws, and nails.
Most Charitable: John’s parents, for handing down an old dresser for our bedroom when they were downsizing.
Most Sentimental: A little 29th-birthday breakdown, involving turtles, sushi, and bees.
Most Tragic: This impossibly heartbreaking scenario. Still can’t talk about it without doing the ugly cry.
Most Likely To Make You Say “Time Flies”: Sharing our progress after three months in our new house.
Most Cheerful: Switching out the old brass knobs on our dining room built-ins for fun greeny-yellow knobs that make us smile.
Most Packed Car: Somehow stacking eight $25 craigslist chairs (with a pretty crazy hotel pattern) in a borrowed SUV to get them home for our dining room.
Best Tan: Sprucing up Karl’s pale birch-colored legs with some oil-rubbed-bronze spray paint.
Most Likely To Result In A Blister: Limbing up a magnolia tree for more light (and so you can actually see our house from the curb).
I don’t know what possessed me to record nearly 10 minutes of mundane family time, but here’s Clara, Burger, John and my annoying behind-the-camera voice in all of their glory:
Don’t say I didn’t warn you about losing seven minutes of your life watching something so painfully uneventful that it even bores the people it stars. Haha. But for anyone wondering how we spend our evenings, sometimes this is it.
Psst- My girl Amy tipped me off that Michael’s has a “25% off your entire purchase” coupon that’s good thru Saturday the 2nd. We scored a few giant canvases that were already 50% off for an extra 25% off. Just wanted to toss that out there before the coupon and the canvas sale expires.
You might not remember what our first house looked like when we bought it so I’ll remind you:
And this is what it looked like five hours after John left and I went crazy with a clipper (surprise!):
Three cheers for being able to see the house. And we gained a view of the neighborhood from our front windows. You know, instead of the view of a dense “tree fence.” So much better. Plus it was free and gave me a nice little arm workout.
Of course that house’s curb appeal was a pretty constant four and a half year evolution (these things take time) so when we left we finally had it looking like this:
Isn’t it amazing what removing some stuff and bringing in some other stuff can do? And we’re huge fans of craigslisting bushes and trees that you don’t need to give them a second life (we post “you dig ‘em up and they’re yours for free” ads and people come and do all the work to clear our yard – it’s pretty amazing).
But I digress. Back to this house and my “me vs. tree” tally. I decided to surprise John while he was out picking up these craigslist chairs, so while he was driving to Mechanicsville and back (about an hour and a half round-trip) and Clara was inside napping (miraculous!) I realized I was free to go outside and go crazy on our giant blocks-the-entire-house-and-it’s-all-you-see-out-the-window magnolia.
You think I’m kidding. Here’s the giant ranch-hiding magnolia:
At first we thought we needed to get it taken down (it’s just way too big to be right smack in front of a small ranch, and it blocks so much light). But when my mom visited she recommended that we try limbing it up as an it-can’t-hurt solution to see if we could keep it – at least for a while. So I decided to give it a go. Couldn’t hurt right? Although I was kinda scared my tree tally would end up tied (since the magnolia is a lot more monstrous than the other trees that I tackled by myself at our first house).
Here’s what I used: a Corona branch clipper and a WoodZig hand saw, both from Lowe’s about four years ago.
And here are my other supplies:
A baby monitor, my cell phone, and the house phone. In case Clara woke up, I needed to be ready to drop the clippers and spring into action. And in case John called, I needed to be able to answer the phone and act like I wasn’t outside cutting down giant tree limbs so as not to ruin the surprise. John actually did call a few times so I tried not to sound too out of breath as I hurriedly dragged giant branches to the back of our property (one good thing about having nearly an acre of land is that there’s always a wooded spot in the back for dumping trimmings).
My method was basically to use the branch clipper to get all of the thinner branches that I could reach from the ground (since the clippers were so long they extended my reach quite a bit) and then to use the hand saw while standing on a nice sturdy wrought iron lawn chair (I probably should have gotten the ladder but I’m too wimpy to carry it by myself) to get all of the thicker branches that the clipper couldn’t handle.
The hand saw part of the job was the hardest (it only took about ten minutes to clip all of the low-hanging branches that I wanted to nix, but it took about 15 minutes per giant branch that I had to saw manually. And I tackled three of those for a total of 45 arm-cramping minutes spent sawing away. Oh well, still a better solution than me with a chainsaw (which I’m pretty sure would = death). Plus I am now the proud owner of Arnold Schwarzenegger arms.
Just kidding but how disturbing is that mental picture?
Anyway, the other hardest part of the job was dragging what felt like an entire tree into the back of our lot after trimming everything back (including a few dead boxwoods that I cut out from the front yard’s perimeter while I was at it)…
….while panicking that John would pull up mid project or Clara would wake up and start screaming for me. Luckily I got everything to the back just in time to snap a few “progress” photos (let’s face it, they’re most definitely not curb appeal after pics)…
… and run inside, toss all of my muddy clothes into the wash, and even take a quick shower before Clara woke up and John got home. And since some of my best ideas happen in the shower, it was there that I hatched the plan to video tape John’s arrival (I snickered at the thought of catching that what-the-heck-did-you do look on his cute surprised face). So here it is:
That’s right. He didn’t even notice that the bottom of the magnolia was missing (!!!) because he couldn’t tear his eyes away from his weird wife waiting in the carport with the Flip cam. Foiled. But when he did walk around front to see my handiwork he was definitely shocked and extremely happy that I did all the work without him. Haha. Mission accomplished (I kept saying that all I wanted for my birthday was to limb up the magnolia so I finally made it happen, if not a bit late).
I’m sure our front yard will continue to evolve over the years just like our first house did (we’ve got a long way to go), but for a free 1.5 hour afternoon undertaking, it was totally worth it. Even if only for the light that now floods into the dining room and a view of the neighborhood that we gained (instead of a big old mass o’ leaves out the front windows).
But come to think of it, I did end up with a clipping-related blister:
So maybe the tree deserves half a point for putting up a good fight.
Psst- We announced this weeks giveaway winners (along with a discount for everyone else). Check it all out here.