Friday, April 26, 2013

What A Difference A Week Makes!

Last Friday, we has just gotten like 7 or 8 inches of snow, and I took all those "Winter Wonderland" pictures that were in my last post.

Today, it was 78 degrees!  We completely skipped Spring, and went straight from Winter to Summer in one week.  When I got home from work today, K was already in the front yard for our first day of yard work this year. 

When we bought the house, the front yard had 3 enormous over-grown bushes, 2 smaller over-grown bushes, and 2 badly-cared-for trees in it.  And there's another one of the enormous bushes in the side yard, and a long row of lilac bushes in the back yard that really need some care.

Basically, every plant in the entire yard has been neglected for about a dozen years!

Last year, Kristy immediately ripped out the smaller bushes near our front door, and the giant bush near the door.  We planted some grass seed over the giant dirt patch that remained, and as of now, it's almost all filled in and not very noticeable.

June 2012

July 2012

So today we got to work taking out the remaining 2 giant bushes, and starting to trim around the trees in the front yard. 

June 2012
April 2013...  brown.

The bushes are fairly easy-- just a bit tedious.  You have to reach under and cut each branch.  And then tackle the root ball and get that out of the ground.

K went at the roots with like a pick-axe (I forgot what she called it).  Very impressive!  It helped to knock off as much dirt as possible to help make the big gob a little lighter as she/we lifted it out of the ground and into the wheel barrow.
The gnarled tree that has my heart!


Meanwhile, I worked on trimming around this wonderful, craggly-looking tree.  Honestly, just looking at it, it was difficult to tell if the thing was even alive, since it seems to still be hibernating  (not that I'm surprised, with the weather we've been having).  But I looked back in photos from last year and saw that it was leafy and full last year, with deep burgundy leaves.  Really pretty.

The problem with this little tree, obviously, is how many new shoots it's been growing out of the ground.  I trimmed as much as I could, and then K came back to hack at it more below the ground.  And we're not done yet...  It's a big job.

We're hoping, if it survives our surgery, that it will put its energy and nutrients into the branches above and that it will stay healthy longer.  We're also removing the paving stones around the bottom of it.

Just like razor-wire...

And then there's a tree, kind of a double tree, right at the corner of our lot.  We definitely want this to stay here, since it separates our yard from the sidewalks, and helps define our yard.
This poor thing...  The tree seems to be doing okay-- it just has one rogue new trunk growing, and a handful of unnecessary branches.  But at the bottom, it is COVERED in 10 years of dead leaves and litter, and what can only be described as the MOST EVIL THORN BUSH I have ever seen!

No kidding, this is the stuff that grew around Sleeping Beauty's castle and kept all the knights away for 100 years!  It stabbed me through my gloves over and over.  I was being so careful with it, and kept imagining what the people driving by were thinking.  "Aw, look at the girl being all dainty with her yardwork and not wanting to get dirty."  That wasn't it!  I didn't want to get stabbed!!


Well, we'll probably head back out tomorrow and keep going.  We successfully got those 2 large bushes out of there, and now just have big dirt spots.  Time for grass seed! 

I'm thinking I should really go get a window box and some potted flowers to put out front, too.  Quickest thing I can do to make the house look cared for.  It will take a while to fill in these dirt spots and do some of the bigger projects.  But anything we can do to make it look brighter and happier will help our curb appeal.  And we definitely need that!

We've also realized how BIG our front yard actually is!  Now that the bushes aren't taking up half the space, we can see how much space we really have!

Monday, April 22, 2013

What Happened to Spring??!

It just keeps snowing!  It has been an extremely snowy April in Minneapolis this year.  The snowiest April since 2002, we got 14 inches of snow from April 1st to the 18th.  And it's snowing again right now, with an expected accumulation of 8 inches.  Crap.

Front of the house at midnight, very early a.m. of April 19th, 2013.

Snowy alley... 

Snow-covered cable wires and power lines
Tree in the back of the house, near the alley

Snowy, silent street

Fat 'lil robin is so confused!  April 20th, 2013

The really difficult thing about this weather is that we're having to postpone our plans for the yard.  We need to take down the really big tree in the yard, because it's where K will be building her garage, and it's at least half-dead anyway.  With every storm this year, we worried about branches coming down and hitting the power lines.

So, here it's near the end of April and K's garage is still only a plan.  No tree down, no space ready, no permits pulled.

For now, we just have to keep hoping the snow will end and the sunny days will arrive.  At the end of this week, we are supposed to have 70 degrees and sun.  But the way this spring has been, we can't be sure it will stay!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Continuing on the Living Room Ceiling

Last weekend, we got going again on the living room ceiling. We started work on it back in September, with scraping the popcorn finish off, and then K adding one skimcoat to the ceiling and coves. But then in October we had our housewarming party and wanted to use the living room, so we took the ram board up off the floor and made it back into a usable room.

Through the winter, we added some salvaged chairs, put stuff on the bookcases, etc. Now all that needed to be moved out again in order to work on the room We decided to pull off the baseboards around the floors, since it's in bad shape-- too many layers of paint, and too many dents through all the years of use. It will make painting the walls and re-finishing the floor easier, too.

K pulling off the base boards

And look at what we found underneath the trim --  More pink paint!
Was this whole house pink at one time?  That baby/cotton candy pink in the basement, and then this corally pink that's in the living room and the stairwell...  Fun!

Pink paint dripped underneath the trim...  Old wall color!

K added a new skimcoat to the ceiling and coves, and I went behind and knocked down the thick spots.  Mudding is certainly NOT her favorite job, but now that the room is all messy again, we're planning to just keep plugging away until it's done.

Yesterday we worked on rebuilding the coves.  We don't know if the popcorn finish was put on the ceiling originally or later.  K thinks that the coves are probably a bit uneven like they are, because they put the popcorn finish on it right away and so the coves didn't need to be perfect.  The coves are a bit thin in areas, and certainly aren't as sharp as we'd like them to be.  And in knocking off the layer of popcorn finish, bits of the coves crumbled off, too, so they're pretty lumpy looking, and we definitely needed to build them back up to make them look sharp again.

K added some thicker & stronger mud to just the coves to rebuild them, and after sanding they're going to look really nice!