Saturday, May 17, 2014

Has It Been That Long?!

I knew it had been a long time since I'd posted anything on my blog.  But I didn't realize just HOW long it had been!  I wish I'd come on just to add a few little tidbits here and there of what's been going on - remembering everything will be a task! Let's see what I come up with...

Since September of last year, I've been very busy - too busy to sit down and get things put in writing.  October is, of course, Halloween.  My son and his best friend dressed up for our church's Harvest festival.  My son was dressed as Robin, again.  His best friend made a Minecraft costume that was the hit of the festival.  What an original idea!

November was busy because it's when I finish my Christmas shopping, and it's also Thanksgiving.  We were blessed with my sister and brother-in-law spending Thanksgiving with us for the first time.  It made the holiday less lonely having them with us.  Of course it made the thought of Christmas even lonelier.  God knew how I was feeling, so He surprised me:  my sister and brother-in-law came back down for Christmas as well!  It made for a very busy but very joyful time for us.

December also marked a huge milestone for me.  I've now officially lived on this earth for half a century.  Ugh.  It doesn't sound very glamorous, does it?  I didn't have a party (too close to every other holiday), but I chose to do something different, and that was in my home.  I love decorating, moving furniture, choosing new things and shaking old things up.  My choice for my home's new look:  something with a Northern feel.

I'd always wanted one of those media fireplaces!  I thought they looked so cool, giving the home that warm, cozy feeling, even though we rarely need a fireplace in South Florida.  However, when I saw this media fireplace by Better Homes and Gardens at Walmart for $249, I didn't care what the weather was like - it was just what I was looking for!  Add 2 matching bookcases at $60 each, and I was able to give my living room a newer, more contemporary-while-still-traditional look for under $500.  It made turning 50 a little more tolerable ;-).

That was completed in January, after all the Christmas decorations were put away.  February brought new decorating challenges, this time in the form of the outside of the house.  Our house was in desperate need of a paint job.  Before that could be done, however, the roof tiles needed to be cleaned.  I hired someone to do that - no way was I climbing up on the roof with a pressure cleaner! - and not a moment too soon.  Our town was sending letters out to all the residents who hadn't cleaned their roofs, giving them a deadline to get it done.  I was glad I didn't have to be told my roof was disgusting!  Once the roof was nicely scrubbed (it turned out even better than I'd expected), the painting began.  I started with the dividing wall in my backyard.  It's a cement wall that our old neighbors behind us had put it.  At one point it'd gotten full of ivy which peeled the paint off.  The difference after painting was night and day.

That's a glimpse of the before and after, after being on the left.  It looked like a brand new wall!  After that was done (it took a total of 4 days), painting the actual house was next.  Yes, I painted it.  Me.  Why yes, I am insane.  Why do you ask?

The color on the house had faded to the point that it was peach colored - not what I wanted at all.  Besides, our dog Molly had gotten into the habit of rubbing herself against the wall, leaving a long dirty mark all along the back of the house.  I went with a brown color, Country something-or-other, to create contrast with the roof which is lighter and has terracotta and light grey tiles.  The difficult part of painting the back and sides of the house was 1) the sun burning down and roasting me, and 2) getting up and down the ladder.  This was a piece of cake, though, compared to doing the front of the house.



Getting good pictures of the front of the house is hard due to some trees that block the view.  Still, I think the contrast is noticeable.  The trim went much lighter - the color is called Milk Toast - and it set off the color of the house and garage/front doors beautifully.  The garage door was originally white.  It was painted some 7 years ago in a brown color that, like the walls, had faded to peach.  It was hideous.  Now the doors are dark chocolate brown and they look clean and sophisticated.  I'm very pleased with the results.

Of course, getting that done made the area next to the front door stand out in a bad way.  Because of the way the roof pitches, the area in front of the living room window would get flooded, causing mud and dirt instead of a nice planting area.  Anything I planted there died or was stunted because of the excess water during the rainy season.  There was only one way to fix it.  Get rid of it.  How?  Pavers, that's how.

And once again, I did it myself.

 I had to start with clearing the area, laying down sand, then installing Brock Paver Base.  The hardest part was working in a tightly confined area - just 9' by 6'.  It made putting everything down level a challenge.  In the end it did work out very nicely.  My daughter helped me with the design.  There are some pipes that stick out of the ground that had to be left that way, and getting around them was yet another challenge, but she did a great job.

The end result is neater, cleaner, drains well and No More Mud!!!  It looks great, and the feeling of accomplishment at having done it myself (another project costing about $450) is beyond words.  I'm thrilled with the look!

So, what have I been up to lately?  Gardening.  I've started a veggie garden in my backyard - small, just a little corner by the patio.  I've planted butter crunch lettuce, spring mix lettuces, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, cilantro, basil, and oregano.  Along the edge of the house we have blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.  For the kids, of course.  I'm allergic to berries.

I started my cucumbers from seed.  They sprouted in less than a week.

I saw how my cousin was growing lettuces in bags, and decided to give it a try.  They are progressing nicely.

This is my green bean plant the day it sprouted. Just barely noticeable.

And here it is, the very next day.  I was so excited!  It's continuing to grow and thrive.

Well, that's my recap.  I hope I'll be more diligent in keeping my blog up, especially now as I become Arlene the Gardener.  Thanks for sticking around, if you have.  More fun to come!

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