28 June 2012

What I Was Up To Yesterday


GRADUATION!

J. graduated middle school yesterday with an awards ceremony last night, graduation dance at the school and {can you believe this?} poolside after-party at the house of one of their fellow graduates. Crazy. And apparently exhausting. He's currently skipping most of his last day of school today and "sleeping it off" deep into the morning (all that pop and chips and midnight swimming really takes it out of a buddy); I expect he'll wake up in time to clear out his locker and the head to the next party, an end-of-year celebration being thrown by another graduate. Holy cow.

I hadn't realized grade 8 grad was such a big deal, but evidently, it's huge. Most of the kids will be moving on to a new high school that's opening this September; they'll be the first students to attend. A small handful - J. among them - will attend a smaller, established high school on the other side of town. (Point of interest? It's the same high school I attended, and my mum and her brothers before me: the benefits of a small town.) Old relationships will be forgotten; new relationships will be formed. His social construct will change dramatically over the next few months, in ways he can't even begin to imagine, and though he doesn't realize it, it's begun already. His world is changing ~ he's changing ~ and last night brought him one step closer.

Adios, middle school. Thanks for the memories, grade 8. It's been a slice.

J. (on the right) and his buddy L.

The boy and his proud parents

J. and his grandmother (my mum)

THE WHOLE FAMILY!
L-R: Matthew (my brother), me, J., Mum {or 'Grimmy', as the kids call her), Daryn

  

26 June 2012

IT'S GROOOOOWIIIIIIIIIING!

I don't know if you could hear me screaming with joy from where you are, but trust me: it totally happened. It was loud enough to scare the pants off of Littlest, who had just gone to bed when I sat down at my computer to Google my suspicions, and my suspicions were confirmed.


THE CLOVER IS GROWING!!!!!!!

{I think}

After just two days, when I was out moving the sprinkler around the yard this afternoon I spotted these little green beauties:


New growth! How lovely! But the question was: What was it? The wild strawberry has been quite virulent - it proved nearly impossible to kill and even after being treated with the vinegar/soap solution, managed to remain green in the shadiest spots - so my first thought was that it had taken advantage of the turned soil and all the watering to spread some more. Alternatively it could be that bane of my existence: dandelions. We raised quite a crop of them this spring, and just maybe they were coming back for a second turn at bat. Naturally I snapped a few photos for posterity, and once the kids were fed, watered, bathed and at least one of them was settled into bed, I Googled this phrase: white clover seedlings. And you know what came up?

This.

{via}

And this.

{via}

Which looks remarkably like this, don't you think?


My only concern is that my little leaves are a bit pointy, and the leaves in the other photos are more rounded, but I'm choosing to think positively and believe that maybe it's just the particular brand we've purchased, rather than it's a completely different (and therefore unwanted) plant. Whatever. Time will tell, but the fact is that we have growth! And it's beautiful.

And if you know in your heart of hearts that these are not, in fact, clover seedlings, please don't feel obligated to share it with me. Let me live the dream just a little while longer. Thanks :)

So that's that. We've toiled, we've tilled, we've seeded, we've watered and now, possibly, we rejoice. I'll update you guys in a few days but for now, let's break out the bubbly and start celebrating!! Or at least, let's raise a glass of iced tea and give a little woot-woot :)

What about you guys? Anything exciting in the offing for your gardens or lawns? Or have you all already done your major gardening for the season? What exciting things are you and your green thumbs up to?

25 June 2012

The Neighbors Are Not Amused

It goes without saying that we are not the most popular people on the block; having a front "weed" versus a proper yard does not make us any friends in our very curb-appeal conscious neighborhood. Our next-door neighbor to our immediate right probably suffers the most: he is of the trim-your-lawn-each-evening-at-dusk-with-nail-clippers-and-a-magnifying-glass type, and his lawn - except where it borders onto ours and except where our dandelions and thistles have run roughshod over his every effort at preventing them to take root - is pristine. Thick, lush and deep, deep green, it is a marvel of yards. The perfect lawn. And then there's us:

This photo was taken before the town laid a bunch of replacement sod over the new grading (we just had sidewalks installed on our streets last year). It'll give you an idea, though. All that greenery? Dandelions. Seriously.

Yes, we are mighty trailer-parky around these here parts. But it's always been our dream to somehow get rid of the grass (and, of course, the weeds) and to plant a lush green lawn for ourselves. Only our lush green lawn would be made of clover: low-growing, drought-resistant, eco-friendly clover. We made a few inroads over the years by stripping back the existing layer of sod, tilling the soil, buying the lumber to create borders, etc. but it never seemed to come together. And now the with the deadline of a family visit looming over our heads ... well, we knew we had to kick things into gear!

Early last week we had a farmer friend come out to the treat the lawn (I won't say with what). It was supposed to kill off everything, grass and weeds alike, after which we'd rake it up and start seeding, but things didn't so much go according to plan. Here's what the lawn looked like after the first treatment:


Dead grass, yes. But the weeds? Still kicking. Not enough of this:


and waaaay too much of this:


Our farmer friend offered to come back over and treat it again, but it's a long drive for him and we didn't want to inconvenience him more than we already had. So instead, I turned to the trusty internet for a homemade weed killing solution, and man did it ever work! Basically, the recipe I used was this:

Homemade Herbicide
1 gallon cleaning-strength vinegar (10% acidity)
3 tablespoons liquid dish detergent (we use Sunlight)

Gently mix the ingredients together (so it doesn't foam too much), pump into your hand sprayer and spread it evenly over the lawn. I waited until I knew it would be a sunny day without any chance of rain, then sprayed first thing in the morning after the kids went to school (around 8.30am) and by noon on the same day everything was dead. Deader than dead. Almost blackened, and definitely not coming back. Woot woot!

Raking the dead stuff up also didn't go as planned: our soil is more like bedrock and wasn't going anywhere. We did make an attempt at it but even the stronger boys couldn't make a dent, so we wimped out this weekend and rented a tiller. MUCH easier. MUCH faster. EXCELLENT investment of sixty-five bones, I'm not going to lie. And with the tiller on site and doing some of the heavy lifting for them, the boys set to work and toiled relentlessly on Saturday churning up the dead sod and weeds (which we didn't even have to pull out - they'll just decompose into the soil and basically work as mulch), digging out and laying the border between us and the neighbor (so the clover doesn't take over his lawn) and putting down the seed (which is a lot harder to do by hand - evenly - than you might think). Here are some action shots of the "in progress":



And of the fabulous stepped border between us and the neighbors:


So nice! So straight! So permanent! I am IN LOVE with it ... totally in love. And I should say that though I happened to snap a photo of J. in a (sort of long, protracted) moment of rest, he and his dad worked like champs the entire weekend. We couldn't have done it without him so I suppose the break was well-deserved :)

And if you're saying to yourself Wait, isn't a heat wave at the end of June possibly the very worst time to plant clover? Well, then, you'd be right. It is. But we're watering the crap out of the lawn and keeping everything nice and hydrated (our water bill next month is going to be atrocious!) and hopefully by the end of this week some little green shoots will start making an appearance. Keep your fingers crossed!

And if you're keeping score at home, here's what the to-do list looks like now:

Exterior
  • Front yard
    • Collect the wooden ties (currently creating a loose "border") from around the lawn and store in rock garden
    • "Round Up" (read: kill off) the entire front lawn
    • Rake up dead lawn
    • Till
    • Dig out border trenches and lay wooden ties
    • Create patio-stone pad at street level for garbage cans (so we don't kill the new clover on garbage days by piling our bins on top) [we've opted against this idea, but will revisit in future if it turns out the clover is indeed being killed off by our cans]
    • Seed with clover seed
    • Water 'til the cows come home ... or the family does
    • Plant some new plants in the planters (you know, curb appeal at what not)
  • Backyard
    • Clear out any garbage and debris
    • Power wash the patio
    • Tarp the pool
    • Remount shed door (it fell off. I don't know why)
    • Mow the weeds back to an acceptable level; clear out the debris
  • Transition
    • Replace the screens in both front and back screen doors
    • Tidy up the upper driveway/transition to the backyard, just to make it a little more presentable and a little less trailer park-y

Interior
  • Paint the outstanding window and door trim in kitchen and living room
  • Apply final coat of paint to the hallway ceiling
  • Paint hallway ceiling trim and install
  • Touch-ups as required
  • Install hallway lights
  • Hang artwork
  • Paint master bedroom
  • Install master bedroom chandelier
  • Cleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleanclean

18 June 2012

Mistress of My Domain

OR: I will kill those mother-farkin weeds if it's the last thing I do


We made some excellent progress on the to-do list this weekend which is good, since we've been pretty much ignoring it for most of the week. There is still tons to accomplish and the clock is dwindling, but at this point we're sort of adopting the attitude of What gets done, gets done. And what doesn't? Meh. No biggie. There are more important things than weed-pulling and trim painting, like this:


The little one in the middle, in the yellow jersey and black shorts ... she's mine. And while it doesn't look like she's motoring along very quickly, in fact she won first in her heat (by, like, a mile) and placed second overall in the finals. Pretty good considering it was a six-school track meet!

Anyhoo, it's true that I've been abandoning the housework in favour of hanging out at track meets, and over coffee with friends, and just generally getting out and about. But the to-do list won't wait forever, so Daryn and I strapped on our work clothes yesterday and gave the backyard a kick in the pants.

Now before I show you the photos, I want you to know that I'm showing you these because I trust you. Obviously this state of the yard causes us much distress and embarrassment, and except for those neighbors who border us and can't help but be offended by on a daily basis see the sad, sad yard situation, we generally aren't keen to broadcast just how terrible it really is. So my showing you photos is kind of a big deal: I'm trusting you with my dirty little sort-of secret. Be gentle with me.

The Horrible Before:


Admittedly the "before" of the patio was taken after we'd already pulled up a ton of the weeds, because I always Always ALWAYS forget to take "before" photos when it's actually "before". At least I got the shot of the table shell and the millions and millions of pieces of tempered glass all over the patio, which shattered one weekend while we were away (hit with a tree branch, maybe? Lighting? Our resentful neighbor? Who can say...) And what you can't see in the overgrown "garden" in the second photo? The giant, four-foot thistle that took umbrage at our attempts to hack it out with a dull shovel and stabbed me numerous times in the hand, twice in the leg and once in the head. It wasn't an easy transition. But after several dedicated hours, a lot of grunting and back strain and some considerable cursing ...

The After-in-Progress:




Like, a thousand times better, no? The grass between the flagstones has been taken care of, too, with a homemade mixture of pickling vinegar and dish soap; I'll have an updated photo of dead grass in a day or two when it succumbs to my superior will and weed-killing skill.

For those of you keeping score at home, here's a review of the to-do list progress:

Exterior
  • Front yard
    • Collect the wooden ties (currently creating a loose "border") from around the lawn and store in rock garden
    • "Round Up" (read: kill off) the entire front lawn
    • Rake up dead lawn
    • Till
    • Dig out border trenches and lay wooden ties
    • Create patio-stone pad at street level for garbage cans (so we don't kill the new clover on garbage days by piling our bins on top)
    • Seed with clover seed
    • Water 'til the cows come home ... or the family does
    • Plant some new plants in the planters (you know, curb appeal at what not)
  • Backyard
    • Clear out any garbage and debris
    • Power wash the patio
    • Tarp the pool
    • Remount shed door (it fell off. I don't know why)
    • Mow the weeds back to an acceptable level; clear out the debris
  • Transition
    • Replace the screens in both front and back screen doors
    • Tidy up the upper driveway/transition to the backyard, just to make it a little more presentable and a little less trailer park-y

Interior
  • Paint the outstanding window and door trim in kitchen and living room
  • Apply final coat of paint to the hallway ceiling
  • Paint hallway ceiling trim and install
  • Touch-ups as required
  • Install hallway lights
  • Hang artwork
  • Paint master bedroom
  • Install master bedroom chandelier
  • Cleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleanclean


Not great, but OK. Still working on it! And tomorrow: an update on the front lawn.

Happy Monday, folks!

PS ~ Speaking of photos, I apologize for the crappy quality of all of these. Tough to take a great pic on grey, hazy days.

07 June 2012

Janet Leigh Ain't Got Nothin' On Me Right Now

Every now and again as I'm chug-chug-chugging through life I come up against something - an event, an appointment, a deadline - that lights a considerable bonfire under my butt and throws me into an absolute panic. And folks? I'm panicking. Like, full-blown, short-of-breath, cold-sweats, laugh-cry panicking, and all because of this bad-boy date:

JULY 7, 2012
{insert long, drawn-out, Janet-Leigh-in-the-shower-scene type scream here}

Part of the reason the Money Pit exists in the first place was to keep out-of-town family and friends abreast of our renovations, decorations and general goings-on. I have no idea whether said family actually reads the blog, but it still stands that they were the driving force behind: it is, after all, their childhood home.

Side note: Say whaaat? What am I talking about? Long story short: Daryn and I moved back to Milton, where I was born and raised, in 2004. We purchased my grandparents house, the only family home my mum and her brothers ever had. You can check out the whole story here.

Additional note: Clearly the claim that we'd be finished our renovations in two years was a complete lie, but everything else is true.


So what's this got to do with anything? And why am I still screaming?


Because July 7 is the date the family flies in to Ontario for a two-week visit, and will mark the first time they've set foot in the house since 2004.


And I am
NOT. READY.

I should clarify that beyond losing my I mind a little bit I am also super-excited: my out-west family members are totally awesomesauce and we definitely don't get to see each other as often as I would like. I love them ~ I could gush about them for hours ~ and I'm totally stoked to hang with them for two whole weeks. It's just the house, you see. The house is not ready, people.

But ever one to find opportunity in crisis, it's clearly time to revisit ye olde To-Do List and to

{via}

... but for realz this time. I've got four weeks, folks. FOUR WEEKS. To get a whole boatload of stuff done that, yes, if we're being honest, probably should have been done months if not years ago. Because we're over-achievers like that. Let's not judge. The point is, we're doing it now but the list is long, friends, and a little overwhelming. This might just teach me not to procrastinate.

Probably not though.

But I guess that's beside the point.

The POINT is, here's the list:

Exterior

  • Front yard
    • Collect the wooden ties (currently creating a loose "border") from around the lawn and store in rock garden
    • "Round Up" (read: kill off) the entire front lawn
    • Rake up dead lawn
    • Till
    • Dig out border trenches and lay wooden ties
    • Create patio-stone pad at street level for garbage cans (so we don't kill the new clover on garbage days by piling our bins on top)
    • Seed with clover seed
    • Water 'til the cows come home ... or the family does
    • Plant some new plants in the planters (you know, curb appeal at what not)
  • Backyard
    • Clear out any garbage and debris
    • Power wash the patio
    • Tarp the pool
    • Remount shed door (it fell off. I don't know why)
    • Mow the weeds back to an acceptable level; clear out the debris
  • Transition
    • Replace the screens in both front and back screen doors
    • Tidy up the upper driveway/transition to the backyard, just to make it a little more presentable and a little less trailer park-y

Interior
  • Paint the outstanding window and door trim in kitchen and living room
  • Apply final coat of paint to the hallway ceiling
  • Paint hallway ceiling trim and install
  • Touch-ups as required
  • Install hallway lights
  • Hang artwork
  • Paint master bedroom
  • Install master bedroom chandelier
  • Cleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleancleanclean

And that bullet with the strike-through text? Yeah, that's pretty much the only thing we've accomplished so far, which probably explains why right now I'm totally living in PANIC ATTACK CITY.

Countdown = 30 days.
Exactly.
No more, no less.
Holy crap.

One month to get the whole list done: ready .... Set .... GO!!!!

  

01 June 2012

Friday on the Fly

Happy Friday, peeps! WHAT A CRAZY WEEK THIS HAS BEEN (in particular on Wednesday and if you follow me on Twitter, you know what I mean). Still trying to digest it all, but I can tell you one thing: I am definitely looking at our neighborhood now with fresh eyes and sans rose-colored glasses.

In other news, I'm still flying high from BlogPodium and my brain is snap-crackle-and-popping with creativity. Despite all the neural activity I've got going on, though, it's actually going to be just a short post today, I'm afraid: I've been up a good deal of the night and will spend today and the rest of the weekend working on something very new and very big (which I'm very excited about). You won't be in the dark for long, though, so no worries: I'll share the big secret on Monday!!

Until then, I hope everyone has a great weekend! We're heading out to the year-end volleyball party on Saturday, so I'm hoping the weather clears up (it's supposed to be a pool party). I'm also hoping to hit up the farmer's market tomorrow morning before the big shindig, which will be the first time for this season: it opened May long weekend but you  know ... we were busy ... cheering on the National Champions and everything (sorry, had to give them another shout-out. We're all still pretty pumped over here about the gold!) And Sunday will be dedicated to getting my ducks in a row and preparing to reveal my big project on Monday ~ wish me luck!

HAPPY WEEKEND, FRIENDS!!

{via}