Archive for June, 2011
Have we mentioned that our house has something lacking in the privacy department in certain areas? If not, consider this the first of several mentions. It’s nothing crazy, but coming from a home where we could practically strut around naked in the backyard (not that we did) to one where we can hardly go birthday suiting inside (not that we do) – let’s just say that we feel a bit exposed sometimes.
Case in point – our lovely “alley” (first mentioned here) which is a straight shot to our neighbor’s back deck (see their umbrella in the distance?).
The pic above is a bit old (from this post) and as you can see from the new pic below, nature has already helped us out in the filling-in department.
Though I still can’t help but feel slightly self-conscious at moments – like one recent night when the smoke detector next to the “alley” went off minutes after bedtime. Suddenly I found my boxer-clad self changing a faulty battery… while standing on a chair… in front of our floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors at night with the light on. Yeah, um, howdy neighbors.
So not being vertical blind or curtain closing people when it comes to all of the common areas in our house (we’re weird, but we like our sliding doors and big picture windows unobscured to let in light and it feels like too much maintenance to walk around covering them all every evening – at least to lazy bums like ourselves) we figured that a better way to functional and long term low-maintenance privacy would be to block that shared sight-line between our houses with some fast-growing easy-care evergreens. We do like white faux wood blinds for privacy in bedrooms btw, but I guess since we were both raised in curtains-always-open-in-the-living-area houses that relied on nice wooded neighborhoods for privacy, it’s no wonder that we’re attracted to open curtains and wooded neighborhoods full o’ privacy.
So that’s the goal. Adding in more of that “wooded” adjective. Sure it’ll take some time for these little trees to grow in, but it’ll hopefully be worth it in the long run (and we’ll remember to toss on clothes if we’ll be standing on chairs in front of the slider at midnight before that point).
When it comes to the specifics, we got three Leyland Cypress trees on sale from Home Depot for $9.99 each (interestingly, they were $19.99 at Lowe’s, so we saved thirty bucks total by shopping around). They’ve been recommended to us countless times by local gardeners because they’re 1) fast-growing, 2) evergreen, (so the won’t drop leaves and ruin our privacy in the winter), 3) can become quite large, and 4) are pretty easy-care and hardy. Basically, the privacy screen
trifecta fourfecta. And by quite large I mean 30′ tall by 10-15′ wide. Pretty amazing, right?
We arranged them in a triangle of sorts, so that we could plant them at least ten to fifteen feet apart (as recommended by the tag) while making sure they each would layer behind and in front of one another (instead of growing into each other) to help densely block the view.
And after cutting out some dead boxwoods…
… and making friends with a frog (or is he a toad?)…
… I was ready to dig in our new Cypresses. With no help from my frog/toad friend, I might add. Make that former friend (he didn’t die or anything, he just doesn’t deserve friend status for not helping).
Through the magic of
television the internet, here they are all dug in. Not much to look at yet, I’ll admit.
But hopefully with a bit of watering, more of these sunny days that we’ve been getting lately, and a bit of time, this trio will go from this…
…to this. Though in real life they hopefully won’t have the weird blue-tinted discoloration (I added that to make my photoshopping visible).
Oh, and that frog wasn’t the only woodland creature that I came upon during my tree planting adventure. Notice anything else?
Yep, that’s a plastic duck just chilling on a log in a bush. Another fun discovery left by the previous owners (like Norman the Mailbox Squirrel).
The funny thing is that finding a random duck on our property is almost like a sign that the house was meant for us. See, when we moved into our first house, the previous owner had left a fake duck head (yup, just the head) on one of our fence posts. Needless to say, it didn’t last long after this photo was snapped, but it did make us smile.
Guess there’s something to be said for a faux duck (or part of a faux duck) to make you feel at home. I just left the full-bodied duck right where I found him in that shrubbery. After all, if things go as planned with those Leyland Cypresses he won’t be able to spy on us for long. And Clara will probably love discovering him for herself in a year or two.
Have you guys ever planted any Leyland Cypresses – or another fast growing tree or bush – in the hopes of gaining some privacy? Do you just use vertical blinds and curtains like normal people? Have you ever found the head of a duck (or an entire faux duck) somewhere on your property? Are you friends with a frog (or do you someday hope to be)? So many questions, so little time.
Ah yes, the much awaited Father’s Day post. First off, thanks to all of those who wished me a Happy Father’s Day on Sunday. Here’s a belated one back to all my fellow man-parents out there.
I had a wonderful weekend with my girls and my main man Burger. I learned from my own dad to think of celebrating these holidays not with things, but by doing things… together (like the trail run I took him on Sunday morning). That’s what fatherhood is all about, right? And this year Clara was old enough to participate in the weekend’s activities a bit more, which made it even more enjoyable. Not that she wasn’t fun to be around last year for my first Father’s Day (in the old sunroom- we miss you old house!):
So this year we packed as many activities as possible into the two-day-span (working around a few house projects, of course). The three of us (sometimes four) went out to breakfast, read lots of books, played outside, went on some walks, made some homemade pizzas, and hit up the Farmer’s Market – as you already probably read about here and here.
But perhaps my favorite activity of the weekend was christening my big gift from Sherry and Clara on Saturday morning. Yup, a yogging stroller (much more fun to say than jogging stroller).
Okay, so that pic isn’t representative of its first use (I don’t usually run in a button down, khakis… or with a tiny-legged chihuahua). We just forgot to snap a pic after I returned from our inaugural 3 mile jaunt around the neighborhood with Clara leading the way (so we grabbed this photo after using it on a family walk on Sunday night that capped off the weekend).
I love this thing. And Clara seems to enjoy it plenty too, which is the icing on the Father’s Day cake. Wait, maybe the icing is actually the awesome deal that we scored on it. Sherry and I had been casually stalking Craigslist for a used
jogging yogging stroller for a while. But none of the used ones turned out to be that much of a deal (one I found would’ve saved me $20, but was a 75 minute round trip drive away). Then I spotted a slightly upgraded model on Diapers.com that was marked down by $65 (from $189.99 to $124.99) with free shipping.
Though, as you can see, there was a problem: it was out of stock. With no assurance that it would come back in stock (or stay at that price if it did), I thought my deal was dead in the water. But Sherry suggested that I call their 800 number just to see if I could pre-order one or ask to lock in that price or something.
They didn’t let me pre-order. They did me one better. They honored the discounted price on the out-of-stock “Yellow/Grey” model for the very-much-in-stock “Grey/Yellow” version (which I slightly preferred anyways – sweet). So instead of paying $189.99 for the gray/yellow one in the picture above, I got it for $124.99. Score. Somehow the woman applied my discount over the phone – so within a few clicks, Sherry was checking out with this whopping $65 discount applied to her cart (along with free shipping). Thirty five percent off – just for taking the time to call and ask what they could do. So worth it.
It’s a bit over the $100 budget that Sherry and I originally set, but we’re both glad that we splurged on the upgraded version with a built-in speaker for Clara. I know it sounds kind of high tech and crazy, but playing her favorite kid songs during my morning runs and our evening walks have kept her so much more entertained (that and fishing for goldfish crackers in her cupholders). She’s a musical (and fish-loving gal). And since many jogging strollers are in the $300-400 range these days (be still my beating heart) paying closer to $100 felt pretty good.
Oh yeah and one other pretty major Father’s Day development occurred. Clara took her first steps! Completely unassisted. Two of them actually. From Karl the Sectional to Artie the Ottoman (ok, he doesn’t really have a name, but it sounded good). It was amazing. Even though I completely missed them the first time around (I was in the kitchen) I came running in while Sherry went crazy and Clara thankfully gave me a repeat performance. Here’s where I’d insert a photo but of course we didn’t have the camera close enough. So this recent video of her enjoying her walker will have to do (the self satisfied clap at the end gets me every time):
And to my surprise, the stroller and those first steps weren’t my only gift. Sherry used Father’s Day to surprise me with a custom 8.5 x 11″ rendering of our first house that she commissioned from a charming artist named Jennifer Ahnquist from Kentucky. How sweet and sentimental is that? It’s currently somewhere in the mail on its way to us, but we’ve seen this preview photo of it – and are both completely enamored with it (we’ll have to share a photo or scan of the real-deal when it comes since this is just a preview photo of the sketch).
We can’t wait to slap it into a white frame with a big fat mat in our hallway frame gallery. Jennifer sketches them using a pen and ink technique and then segues over to Prisma marker to complete each rendering. And to anyone interested, she’s running a “Christmas in June special” so the first 75 people to order a house portrait by the end of June can get an 8.5 x 11″ rendering for the same $50 deal that Sherry snagged (they’re regularly $90). Just email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As much as I love my gifts – especially how one reminds me of good times in the past and another promises more time spent together in the future – I really just appreciate Father’s Day for reminding me how lucky I am to have wonderful people around me, whether it’s the little lady I play father to, the gal who made that little lady possible, or the old guy who still runs faster than me. At least now I can use my jogging stroller as an excuse for my relaxed pace.
Sometimes one big drawer of junk isn’t nearly as easy to navigate as two smaller drawers full of half the junk each. So in that vein I decided to transfer all of the stuff out of our double-wide junk drawer, which has gotten increasingly “rowdy.” Especially in comparison to the obedient glasses, mugs, and vases in the upper cabinet:
We have some completely empty smaller drawers on the other side of the kitchen near the office which should do the trick. We’re blessed to have more storage than we know what to do with in this kitchen – and putting this stuff near the office is so much easier since we use 99% of it in the office anyway (but don’t have the means to store it in there yet). And now – how exciting for you guys on this fun Thursday morning – you get to come along for the entire junk-drawer-transfer adventure. Fasten your seat belts. It’s gonna get ca-ray-zay.
Here I am cheesily sorting stuff and trying to decide what should go where (I love taking drawers out and parking it on the floor to go through them- then I can spread everything out to see what I have – and then make “keep”, “store somewhere else” and “donate/trash piles”).
A few tips from an admittedly not-very-varsity organizer (I just dabble, so let’s call me JV):
- If you haven’t used it in 6 months to a year, you might not need it at all (or may be able to store it somewhere out of the way, like in a small storage box in the closet as opposed to giving it real estate in the everyday-use junk drawer)
- Try to group like items together so you can grab them all at once if you need to (ex: address book, postage stamps, and address return address stamp)
- Nobody needs five hundred pens
- Nobody needs five hundred paper clips
- I realized that we moved a stack of Post It Notes and hadn’t used one since the move. Or before the move. We’re just not Post It people. Which is good to know since we’ve had that same unused pad for years (taking up space that something we do use could have been inhabiting).
- Corralling the smaller items in little divided boxes is always nicer than having clips and pins and staples lying around without any structure around them to “contain” them
- More shallow piles vs. fewer deep piles are easier to go through when you’re looking for something (you can see more so you don’t mess up the entire drawer searching for something at the bottom of a deep pile)
- Snacks keep the organization effort moving (a handful of jelly beans = energy)
Here are those empty drawers located right off of the office in the corner of the kitchen:
And here’s the top drawer after packing in a ton of stuff in a slightly more organized manner (envelopes and stamps on the right side, our green address book with our address stamp and tape and stapler in the front, and a whole lotta pens, pencils, scissors, paper clips, binder rings, wire, band-aids, etc in the brown cubbied box).
Here’s the second drawer with batteries, rubber bands, safety pins, markers, crayons, 3M heavy duty velcro (great for keeping frames from getting pulled down by Clara) along with checkbooks and paper bank tubes for rolling change. Update: John didn’t like the idea of everyone on the internweb knowing where our checkbooks are so they have since been relocated (even though I countered that our alarm could stymie Clooney and the rest of those Oceans Eleven guys – did he not read yesterday’s post?).
Update: When it comes to babyproofing, we’re doing that as we go. Clara doesn’t open kitchen drawers or cabinets yet (and is always supervised in the kitchen), but the second she shows any interest (aka: even touches them, let alone opens them) we’ll babyproof and share a little update as things in our house evolve.
Oh and that third drawer got to house all of our cloth napkins, runners, and paper napkins:
And check out what I found at the bottom of the old junk drawer. Nope, not a cute baby girl, a permanent red ink stain from an old floppy disk. How random and retro is that? Ha.
Another random occurance: how many times my feet made it into this post. They’re in 33% of the pictures. That has to be an all time record.
But my best discovery was this old soccer button with little boy John on it. How cute was my hubby twenty years back? Of course he still is, but this is a whole new level of cuteness. And I see a whole lotta Clara in that sweet face. Note the eyeball cabinet knobs checking him out too.
My takeaway from this project a three fold. 1) Organizing always feels like it’s going to be a bigger/more annoying task than it actually is (this whole thing took me less than thirty minutes when I just parked it on the floor and got ‘er done). 2) Taking those thirty minutes out to do this will probably save me an hour a month if I stay on top of these drawers and keep putting things back where they go (since it’ll be much easier to find things that I search for regularly- thereby saving me time). 3) There’s nothing like waking up to a freshly organized junk drawer on a sunny Thursday morning. Yeah, that’s right. I know how to have a good time. It’s the little things, right?
What little things are you guys up to these days? Any organization to be had? Hope you find at least one floppy disk (or evidence thereof) somewhere. Ah, those were the days. John and I were just reminiscing about dial up internet. I can still perfectly mimic the sound of connecting to the modem. Oh yeah- I’m that shrill. Once again $herdog proves she knows how to have a good time.