curb appeal: part 3.

We started 2012 with high hopes for turning our weed filled yard into a beautifully landscaped area.  We started out the spring by meeting with a new landscaper who came highly recommended on the internet.  He had an amazing vision for our yard.  However, his amazing vision did not take into account that I told him I wanted little to no mulch, absolutely no annuals, and little to no maintenance.  Instead, we got at $30,000 quote that included over $2000 worth of mulch and meticulously planned flower beds that would need a fair amount of attention.

Since we didn’t happen to have $30,000 laying around, we decided to put the yard on hold and try to formulate a plan to DIY it.

Instead, we did nothing.  We let the weeds grow freely, and grow they did.  Let me assure you, our neighbors LOVED that.

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curb appeal: part 2.



So I suppose a quick recap of our timeline might be helpful for those following along with our landscaping journey.  We bought our house in March 2011.  The loggers came in late July of that same year.  Fast forward to November of 2011 and we finally got around to the next phase: stump grinding.

Now other than the stumps, the front circle (the area the driveway curves around) was pretty cleared out.  However, the area right in front of the house still had those pesky un-pruned rhododendrons.  They also got pretty crushed during the logging and were definitely past their prime.  Our front yard looked like a jungle.  

Stump Grinding/Clearing - Before

We also have a small yard area between the garage and the house.  When you walk down the front walkway, this part is on your right.  Previously, this area was home to three huge, slightly dead pine trees.  Post logging, we were left with some sad rhododendrons and some overzealous ground cover.  Oh, and huge stumps.  

Stump Grinding/Clearing Before

Now, as I mentioned, we had lived with this look for a few months.  I wish I could say we were carefully planning our next moves and researching landscapers.  But life just got in the way and we ignored things.  Then a landscaper happened to drive by, dropped off his card and said that he could squeeze us in within a few days if we wanted to get the stumps ground.  And rather than getting a full quote and then calling around to other landscapers to also get quotes and comparing these and choosing who we felt was the best fit for the best price, we just went for it.  Maybe not the best way to go about things, but hey, it all worked out.  

We met briefly with the landscaper to go over what needed to be done.  He made it clear that in order to clear all the stumps, the rhododendrons had to go.  Although they were the last remaining privacy we had, we knew it was time for them to go.

One day of work later and you could actually see what the front of our house looked like. 

Stump Grinding/Clearing - After

Just slightly different than the original picture, huh?

Stump Grinding/Clearing - After
Stump Grinding/Clearing - After


That pretty much wrapped up our landscaping activities in 2011.  We figured we could take the winter to start planning our new front yard and hit the ground running in the spring.

Next up: landscaping in 2012.

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curb appeal: part 1.

I always tell people that we fell in love with our house at first sight, but that’s a bit of a lie.  It was more like love at first sight as soon as we found the house hiding amongst the pine trees.  Seriously, check out this curb appeal:

Curb Appeal - BeforeThis was all you could see from the street.

Curb Appeal - Before

We loved the privacy and how cozy the house felt all nestled in the woods.  However, we didn’t love what was causing all that privacy: super, super tall pine trees and roughly 10-15 foot tall rhododendrons that had probably never been pruned.  The rhododendrons could wait, but those pine trees needed to go right away.  For those of you unfamiliar with pine trees, they have very shallow root systems and tend to uproot during storms.  We did not want to have our new house crushed by fallen pine tree.

There was no way we could afford to hire someone to take down all those pine trees, so we looked into our options.  The most affordable solution?  Loggers.  Cost?  Free.

Yes, free.  As long as you have enough trees that need to be downed, they will come do all the work in exchange for the lumber.  I’m focusing on the front yard in the pictures, but once you factored in the back yard, we had at least 50 trees that needed to go.


I need to stress that loggers are not for the faint of heart.  They are not there to make your yard look nice.  They are there to remove trees, make some money off the lumber, and get out and on to the next job as soon as possible.  They will drive their machines over anything in their way.  They will leave all the branches and limbs behind.  And despite their promises, they will leave behind some of the crappier logs that aren’t going to make them money.

Logging Devastation

You will have to pay someone to come clean-up their mess.  If you are like me, you will cry a lot at the sheer overwhelming destruction that they leave behind (emotions might have been running extra high considering we were having a housewarming/wedding anniversary party two weeks after the loggers finished).  And if you are lucky, you’ll have a great husband like Rich who will spend those two weeks moving all those branches into the woods so your yard looks semi-presentable for that aforementioned party.

Next up: Rhododendron clearing and stump grinding.

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apple picking.

I am not a summer person.  I do not do well in the heat.  I do not enjoy the beach.  I sunburn easily.

I am a fall person.  I love the start of sweater/sweatshirt weather.  I love the warm-ish days followed by cool nights snuggled under blankets.  I love fall baking –  I want to eat apple crisp every day.  Most of all, I love apple picking (which, of course, provides me the means for that daily apple crisp)

apple picking!

I can’t remember not going apple picking each fall.  I’m sure I missed a few years in high school when I was off being moody about everything, but I’ve made a point of going every year since I started college.  I actually went twice this year, and I have a feeling I’ll make my way down to my favorite farm one more time this year.  I might not pick my own for a third time, but I’ll probably grab a bag or two of seconds to finish up my canning for the season.


This summer was super busy and I did not pull out my canning equipment once.  I even missed strawberry picking for the first time in probably 10 or so years.  So I’m making up for it this fall.  The past two Sundays have been all day canning sessions.  I’ve been trying a lot of new recipes and have been slowly filling up our pantry.


There’s nothing more rewarding than a long day of canning.  Sure, yesterday’s session was kind of a hot mess.  I was working with all new recipes.  I canned tomatoes for the first time (a total impulse buy at the farm).  Halfway through the day I decided that I should also bake some cookies during the canning extravaganza.  A recipe for caramel apple jam did NOT want to work.  It took 3 batches of caramel to get one that was edible.  I ignored the fact that the recipe recommended using a food mill to remove the peels from the cooked apples and that I did not actually own a food mill.  After 15 minutes of trying to strain the cooked apples through a sieve, I said screw it and left the peels in the jam.  I have no idea if that jam will be remotely tasty, but I refused to let it defeat me.

After I pulled the last jar out of the water bath, I was ready for bed.  Instead, I faced a pile of dirty, sticky dishes that needed my attention.  I scrubbed and cleaned and got my kitchen pretty close to normal looking before finally collapsing on the couch.  But as I sat there, knees throbbing and completely exhausted, I couldn’t suppress the feeling of accomplishment that comes along with putting up your own food.

Now I just need to work on actually using up my canned goods instead of hoarding them…

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new toy.

Rich got me a new toy!

New Lens!

I’ve been having a blast trying it out.  It’s a little hard getting used to not having a zoom, but it’s been fun so far.

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the weekend.




Nikki + Frankie


Cookie Baking

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the recipe box.

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pyrex finds.

I scored quite a few Pyrex pieces over the past week.  Not only did I manage to get a few great deals, they somehow all ended up being patterns that I collect.

First up: Snowflake Garland mixing bowls #401 and #402 and a Pink Gooseberry Bake Serve and Store casserole #472.  I kind of fell into collecting both of these patterns.  My mom had a Snowflake Garland cinderella bowl that I grew up baking with and she has since passed it along to me.  That bowl will never be leaving my collection, so I might as well add to it.  As for the Gooseberry, my mother-in-law actually started that collection for me.  Last year for my birthday she gave me about 12 Pyrex that she had collected over a few months.  Talk about the best birthday gift ever.

Snowflake Garland / Gooseberry Pyrex

My next find was a Turquoise Mixing Bowl #403.  It’s a little beat up, but I’m hoping a little elbow grease can restore some of it’s glory.

Turquoise Pyrex Mixing Bowl

My last find was probably my favorite find: a Terra Bake Serve and Store casserole #472 with the lid.  Terra is one of my favorite patterns and I have been dying for a lidded casserole!

Pyrex Terra Casserole

Pyrex Terra Casserole

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the weekend.

Sorting Pyrex

BBC Lunch




Stain Test

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the recipe box.

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