It's That Time Of The Year Again! Part 1

No, I don't mean tax time. It's time to start pulling up all the weeds and sowing the seeds and watch them grow. Working in the garden is one of my favorite things to do at this time of the year. 

When Justin asked me on Monday morning if I wanted to take little D to daycare on a day when he usually stays home with me, I was like, yeah! I made a mental list of everything I wanted to accomplish and it was a long one. 

According to the weather forecast there is going to be rain this week. Since it was sunny out, I decided to get the outdoor stuff done then I can work indoors when the rain comes later in the week. I trimmed one of the trees in front of our house and pulled out a bunch of weeds in an effort to clean up the sidewalk in front of our house. The day flew by, after the yard work, I barely had time to paint some book shelves before it was time to pick up the little guy up from daycare. 

I came home one day to discover that the tree I requested from Urban Releaf was finally planted in front of my house after almost a year of back and forth communication! The tree they gave me was not the one I requested nor the one they said they were going to plant for me. It's called an Evergreen Pear. I was so happy I made a small donation to the program as a gesture of appreciation.

The tree planters made kind of a mess with loose dirt scattered everywhere and you know who loves loose dirt? That's right, all the kitties in the neighborhood found their new litter box. 
I put down the landscaping fabric around the tree and dumped a bunch of mulch on top...ahh, much neater. 
This was how our house and its surroundings looked when we went to the open house. Notice all the random shrubs in the parking strip. I find shrubs that are trimmed into boxy shapes incredibly unnatural looking, not a fan. 
This is the most current picture of how things look now. There are still a lot more work to do, but it's definitely an improvement.
This part of the sidewalk needs a lot of help and the overgrown weeds certainly don't help. I don't know what happened to this part of the sidewalk that caused it to break up into such a weird shape.
I decided to keep the little green stuff on the right because I like the way the leaves look.
The is the perfect spot for the broken up dirt/concrete the guys who built the gates left in our yard. 
I put down a layer of landscape fabric and mulch to keep those pesky weeds from coming back after I planted this little guy. The tiny green thing in the middle is supposed to grow to couple of feet wide when it matures and it's an everygreen with purple flowers in the summer. 


Florida Find...

We did some shopping while visiting family in Florida, the only house related item we bought was a lampshade at Home Goods. We waited until the last minute to try to mail it back, but nothing was open on a Saturday afternoon, we were flying back the next day. The only place open was UPS and we made it there with 5 minutes before closing. The friendly clerk told me not to ship it with them because he has seen lampshades getting crushed in their boxes. Okay, I was surprised by his honesty and decided to find another way to get it home. I was going to take it on the plane with us but it was too big. Thankfully, the next morning Justin's dad agreed to ship it to us when he dropping us off at the airport. The lampshade arrived couple of weeks later, safe and sound in a homemade cardboard box filled with packing peanuts. Oh, thank you so much Larry!

The last time we were in Florida I found a vintage tripod lamp and fell in love with it. We had to ship it home and it sat in storage for a long time before we found a place for it in our new home. I have been looking for a proper lampshade for it for quite a while. I got a plain white Ikea lamp shade in the mean time as a temporary solution. So I was ecstatic when I saw the lampshade in Home Goods in Florida of all places. It was exactly what I had been looking for and I just had to get it. Maybe Florida is not so bad after all. What will I find the next time we visit Florida? 

Here's the lamp with the unremarkable Ikea lampshade. It's a little too white and a tad bit small., but it served its purpose.
The proportion is much better with the new lampshade and it's a natural linen color which I love. 
Close up to show the lovely linen texture of the lampshade.


Spring Vacation

We took a week long trip in the beginning of February to Florida to see Justin's parents. It was a much needed break for both of us. All we did there was eat, sleep, and shop without being bothered by any of troubles back home, i.e.work, bills... The thought of moving to Florida for its low cost of living and proximity to the grandparents crossed my mind for a brief second, but Justin immediately vetoed it when I brought it up.

We got to hang out with Justin's aunt who happens to be in town around the same time. She's a very energetic and passionate lady with a great sense of humor. My only regret was getting an awful migraine on the day that we were supposed to see Justin's grandma who lives 4 hours away. She hasn't met her great grand son yet and it will be a while before we return to Florida. Well, all in all, the trip was a success.

We were lucky the flight had lots of empty seats. The extra room made the over 5 hour long flight a lot more bearable. 
 Spotted a banana tree on a walk in the neighborhood, the flower is very alien looking.
Little D really enjoyed his cousin's company. 
The little dude was feverish for most of the trip. We finally took him to see the doctor but he got better as soon as we got to the doctor's office. Then I noticed a little white dot on his gum, the little guy is teething, no wonder he was in a bad mood. 
I saw this lovely giant throw up of a couch at one of the thrift stores we visited. It's really too awesome for words.
Justin's mom is a fantastic baker and cook. She baked this delicious cheese cake and blueberry pie for us on top of making roast chicken and roast beef dinners. 
My dinner at Red Lobster. Justin and I went on a date while his mom put D to sleep. It was my first time dining at a Red Lobster and will be my last time there. The food was one step above KFC.

Hope It's Not Too Late

Okay, I've learned a big lesson after spending almost an hour trying to clean the tiled shower today, in addition to the half hour last week.

Right after the tile guy finished tiling the bathroom, I told the him I was going to put some sealer on. He insisted that it was unnecessary, so I didn't put the sealer on. How I regret listening to him. After a year and a half of daily use, the tiles and grout in the shower got kind of gross in certain spots. Then I saw a DIY blog where the homeowners are installing penny tiles on their kitchen backsplash, identical to ours in the shower. One of the things they stress was sealing the tiles and grout after installation. They had done the same to the tiles in their bath in a previous home and they swore the grout stayed pristine after six months.

It took me 3 days spread over a week to get the tiles as clean as I could possibly get them to look. Then I applied two coats of the sealer I got from Home Depot with 24 hours in between to dry. We were lucky to have a vacant unit downstairs where we got to take our showers while all this was going on. But I was so happy to have our shower back in order. Only time will tell if the sealer will keep the shower clean for a longer period of time.

This was before I spent days scrubbing away the soap scum and other unsavory stuff that was showing on these tiles. 
I am not sure if this looks that much better than the before but at least I know it's a lot cleaner than before. The color on this photo looks very different than the one above because they were taken with different cameras.


Spring Cleaning

I have the whole month of February off from my office job, so I finally have some time to declutter and organize the house.

So far this week I have sold a gigantic scanner that I got for free and given away a car seat to a couple with a new baby by using Craigslist. Another item that I just put up for sale is a messenger bag that I haven't used in 2 or 3 years. This bag is one of a kind that was custom made for me and it cost a pretty penny too, hate to give it up but what's the use of having sit in the attic collecting dust?

I took a bag of old clothes to one of the metal drop boxes in the neighborhood that take used clothing and give them to needy families. There's another bag of clothes ready to be taken to either Crossroads or Buffalo Exchange to sell. And I have to promise myself this time that whatever they don't buy will go directly to the donation bin instead coming home with me. I also have a bag of old sheets and soft toys are waiting to be donated to the animal shelter. I am so happy to be making progress!

Cluttered places make me fell claustrophobic and it's hard to keep track of where everything is much less what I have. I remember going on mya four month long around-the-world trip in my 20s with just a travel bag and how great it felt to not be weighted down physically and metaphorically.

In the Steve Jobs biography, his biographer shared that Jobs lived in an almost empty house for a very long time because he couldn't find his ideal furnitures to put in it. I wouldn't go as far as that, but I really want every piece of furniture and item in our house to have a purpose and that's why I am vehemently against tchotchkes and knickknacks in the house. As I am writing this, I am eyeing a glass vase collecting dust on top of a cabinet, its' days are numbered...