Let There be Light!

It's amazing how much more light our living room get now that the three over grown loquat trees have been given a hair cut. Just like getting a new hair style, it looks kind of weird and different from what you've gotten used to. It feels a little strange to be able to see the side of our house and see the Berkeley/Oakland hills off in the distance. I also feel like we've lost some privacy from the passer bys on the street, but I've inspected from the street and couldn't see into the house. Which look do you like better, before or after?

The tree service we used was Elite Tree Service, a family run business in Oakland. They were great, a father and son team. I will definitely called them next spring when it's time to give the two walnut trees in the back their haircuts.

Before (the sun was shining on the day I took this before picture, which makes everything look better.)

After (now that the tree has been trimmed back, the ugly disuse utility pole is a lot more prominent. I am hoping the jasmin that I planted at the base last summer will climb it's way around it.) Now that the mismatched siding is showing clearly through, there is a new urgency to get the house painted. 



Only the stomps of the walnut tree and lemon tree are left. It would cost more to get the stomp grind down, so I opted for the cheaper option. 



Can you see the tree guy amongst the tree branches?

Here is another tree guy on one of the smaller loquats on the side of the house. 


I can see the neighbor's graffiti covered van AND the lovely hills off in the distance. 



Not mine, but only the rich can have such a "problem"...

Found this article here

How to Combine Two NYC Penthouses into One?
Here's a rich man's problem for you: two NYC East Village penthouse condos and the need for one combined living space. What do you do? Simply add a helical slide! When the homeowners came up with this fun idea for combining their two condos, they contracted architecture firm TCA to design and construct two separate options to descend and ascend between the two living spaces— an Italian-made "Rintal" stair (an open spiral staircase), or the much speedier and much livelier option: a stainless steel, Frank Gehry-esque slide. 
Says TCA, "The image of the stainless steel curves in front of the oversized window to the city beyond, to say nothing of the irrepressible glee of grown adults on the slide, is surprisingly poetic; with careful detailing, the playground element is an unexpectedly elegant addition to the space."
They should have omitted the stairs entirely, and forced all up-and-down to be slide-only. But I suppose that might be a problem when Grandma comes to visit...
How to Combine Two NYC Penthouses into One
How to Combine Two NYC Penthouses into One
How to Combine Two NYC Penthouses into One
How to Combine Two NYC Penthouses into One



We are officially landlords! Our tenant came by today to sign the lease and get her key. She is moving in next week. After all this time, I can't believe we are embarking on this next phase of our home ownership.

I am also excited to know that we'll be able to afford to paint our house soon. Justin and I both got good amount of tax refunds this year due to the house and the baby... :) Plus the rent money from our new tenant, we are going to have enough for the exterior paint job! I will make the payment to the painting company with my credit card with reward for airline miles to get enough for a round trip plane ticket. It's a win win!

Right now I am kind of obsessed with having some hostas in the garden.


Free Trees

I found out that Oakland has a nonprofit called Urban Releaf that offer free tree planting on sidewalks in low to moderate-income communities. Which means we can get a tree planted by this organization in front of our house for free! There are 30 species of trees to choose from. I've looked over the list and have narrowed down to three species. Now I just need to decide where to put the tree because our sidewalk out front has plenty of plants already.

Saint Mary Magnolia. The big flowers are so gorgeous!

Purple leave Plum, pretty pink flowers in the spring and little plums in the summer. Yum!

Maidenhair Tree (ginkgo tree)
The leaves turn yellow in the fall. It also produces the ginkgo fruit in which the pit is used for medicinally purposes.

I love the leaf shape. 

Around the Hood

Weather has been gorgeous, I couldn't resist taking Desmond out for a stroll and meet up with Desmond senior for a late lunch. It's a huge plus to have Justin's work so close to home. It's a leisure 30 minute walk to his work through some descent neighborhood streets in Emeryville. Unlike its' next door neighbor Oakland, Emeryville is clean and tidy with mostly condominiums instead of single family homes. The streets here are smoothly paved and warehouses are in use and well taken care of. Our neighborhood shares the Emeryville postal code and our house is three blocks away from the border, but we still have a long way to go with neighborhood appeal.

We missed an important neighborhood/district town hall with Oakland Mayor Quan last week but we learned one of the items on the agenda was creating a sidewalk on Lowell street and tree planting on the sidewalk. I hope we get a sidewalk one of these days, I know it's a low priority issue for the city of Oakland, I will keep my fingers crossed.

Here are some of the stuff I was on the way to meet Desmond senior for lunch. A house in Emeryville on Fremont street sitting on wood blocks. I wonder if it's actually getting moved to a different location or just getting raised to add head room for the lower level. The house itself is in pretty bad shape. 

A closer look. 

There are many reasons why one would want to use plastic flowers in their gardens instead of the real thing. For example, easy maintenance and allergy free...

The color on this house was retina burning in bright day light. Sometimes I wonder if the homeowners are color blind or was there a free give away? 

I came upon this really cool looking victorian with tons of amazing details. It's vacant and sits on a corner lot. I did noticed the roof in the back is damaged. How I wish I could take a look inside this house. 

This cute house has wisteria growing on its' facade. How pretty!

This is a house on our street, couple of blocks over that has had the scaffolding set up like that since we purchased our house over a year ago. From what I can tell, no work has been done for as long as I've seen it there.

Our neighbor from couple of doors down planted couple of trees on the sidewalk in front of their house. 
This is a Photinia fraseri. 

This is the other tree they planted. I don't know what it is exactly, but judging by the color of the leaves and flowers, I am guessing some kind of plum tree? I think it's so pretty, the branches and flowers are very delicate looking. 


Urban Garden

Cool little film from the 80s about turning a small back yard into a mouth watering edible garden. It's so inspiring, I might just have to start a tomato plant or two this year.


Gardening Bug

This wonderful weather (in the 70s) has me itching to do some gardening. I have already scheduled a tree service company to come trim our three Loquat trees. As much as I hate to cut down trees, the black walnut tree that is stuck in the corner and fighting the giant loquat tree has got to go. These trees were planted too close together, although it's possible that the walnut trees was planted there by a squirrel a long time ago.

I finally got organized and dragged Justin and the baby to Home Depot to get some plants and pots. I had wanted to get the geranium that's on sale but for some reason I thought it was the hydrangeas. So needless to say, I didn't get what I went there for. After a bit of browsing around the indoor plant section, Justin and I fell in love with "Heart-leaf Philodendron". I was surprised by the decent pot choices offered there and picked out couple to bring home with me. 

I have several tiny succulents that were purchased months ago which I have been waiting to find the right pot to put in. I dug up some soil from our garden because I didn't have any potty soil on hand. Time will tell if the soil from the garden will keep the plants alive. hehe...

I also planted a rosemary plant on the sidewalk in front of the house. This is my third attempt to put something in this spot. The first was a lavender, it died from dehydration, as did the second plant, a sunflower. The rosemary doesn't look like much now, and I will have to be more diligent about watering to keep it live. I got around to trimming the shrubs in front of the house too. Justin took out the weed wacker to clean up the weeds that popped up all over after the rain last month. 

This jasmine has wrapped around the Stop sign. I think it looks pretty cool. 

This is the current state of our yard. 

So over grown. But it's kind of pretty, so it can stay for now. I've doing research on what kind of plants will do well under those two walnut trees in the back and provide some privacy at the same time.