Monday, June 10, 2013

Front Yard Phase One Complete! Kinda.

A few years ago there were some ugly, overgrown, starting-to-die bushes in the front of my home. This was before I was married, or even engaged. Being the smart single gal I was (Not that I'm not still smart, just no longer single.), I had my dad pull them out.

To make a long story short, he cut them down, but left me to dig them up. Yeah, right. Like that was going to happen. Fast forward a few years, and I'm itching to remove the stumps. I'm embarrassed to come home from my morning run to this:

A few weekends ago, Husband and I (but a little more Husband than me) pulled out this stumps! You can read all about it here - complete with directions and advice if you're ready to rip yours out too. It looked waaaaay better, but still very incomplete.

This weekend, we can finally call phase one of this project complete! It only took 2 trips to Menards, 1 trip to Home Depot, 10 bags of top soil, 10 bags of mulch, a few hours, and a little bit of muscle. Okay, maybe a little too much muscle was involved. Husband did manage to break the metal rake in half. But we now get to come home to this:

Lovely! Lets take a closer look at those garden beds shall we?

My what large/long hips you have!

I picked out Plantain Lily Hostas and Petunias. I kill basically everything I plant so I went with hardy plants that didn't need a ton of maintenance. 

The hostas are best suited for partial sun, so we'll see how those do in our yard that gets a lot of intense afternoon sun. I hear that the worst that would happen is the leave will turn brown, and if that's the case, I'll just replant them in the backyard later. My neighbors all have hostas that look great, so I'm crossing my fingers for these guys. 

Petunias are just really hard to kill. I've had them growing in my backyard (we live near Chicago) in December in previous years. I made sure to get them in a fun bright color.

We also decided to go with black mulch. I love how the plants pop against the dark mulch. From a distance it almost looks like we have perpetually perfect soil. 

How about a before and after? (Sorry these aren't fancier, getting used to a new computer...)



We still have a ways to go in the front yard. We're hoping to:

  • Kill the ants in the yard
  • Kill the weeds in the lawn
  • Dig up three more bushes in the far front corner of the yard (Phase 2)
  • Reseed the lawn (In the fall)
  • Build up the garden beds with paver stones (Phase 2)
  • Plant a tree (This year, if I can convince Husband)
  • Add additional garden beds around the tree, outlined in pavers (Phase 2)
  • Paint the house! (Phase 2, or maybe 3?)
And as you can see, we still need to carry this front yard makeover to the side gardens, and eventually to the backyard. Our goal is to have the entire yard tie together as simply and low maintenance as possible. As we have the funds and free time to clean up more of the yard, I'll be back with more updates. 

Do you have any outside projects going on? 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Happy Running Day!

So today is National Running Day. Which has nothing at all to do with interior decorating, but much to do with this interior decorator. So I'm taking this National Running Day to tell you all a little bit about my secret addiction other hobby.

I love running. It's crazy and stupid, believe me, I realize that. No one in their right mind actually likes running. Are any of us runners really in our right minds though? Cue quote from Tim Burton's Alice and Wonderland (Because how could I write a blog post without a reference to a kid's movie?)

And ain't that the truth? Runners really are the best kind of people. Kidding! (Butnotreally) Not that I'll seem any less bonkers, but I thought I could take the chance to justify my running habit. In no particular order...

Why I Run:

I'm overly competitive, and I may never beat anyone in anything, but I will beat myself over and over again. I love the feeling of setting a goal and blowing it away, or accomplishing something I never thought I could do. Remember Presidential Fitness from grade school? I was always the chubby kid that finished last in my class. I ran a mile in 12 minutes, 30 seconds. Now I'm averaging a 9 minute 30 second pace on a 3 mile run! I win!

Maybe it's something to do with my fun new shoes?

Charity: There's this great organization called World Vision that does so much for communities all over the world. I sponsor a young girl from Rwanda. $35 a month provides clothing, food, books, and training for her and her family. I wish I could tell you more about them (World Vision that is), but they seriously just do so much. You can visit their website for more info. Well, they fund-raise through half and full marathons around the country (world?). This year, I'm training to run my 2nd half marathon to raise money for World Vision. The money is used to build wells to provide clean water to people in Africa. Team World Vision's slogan is "I run because I care." Too true.

After finishing lasts year's (my first) Chicago Half Marathon

The 30 to 60 minutes a day (okay, so most days) I spend running is my chance to zone out and let my stresses go. If I have a particularly rough day, I will often run until I feel better. Even if I don't actively spend time mentally solving my problems or praying, the endorphins themselves cure me of my cares.

Running is a great workout! And I'd be lying if I said that a small part of the my reason for running wasn't to lose weight. I'm always trying to lose weight - anyone else?? I don't over exercise, and a try to eat to fuel my body. After a few good months of training, the pounds come off, my butt gets a little smaller (and firmer, and higher if you wanted to know), and the stomach gets a little flatter. Clothing options are way more fun and as shallow as it sounds, I'm always a little happier when I fit into my "skinny" jeans.

Not quite as "mad" as you thought huh? Are you completely motivated to run yet?? Well just in case you are, here are a few hints and tips to get you started:
  • Start small and slow: You're not trying to win a marathon here, go run a mile, run it slow, and enjoy it!
  • Get good shoes: They don't need to be hundred dollar Mizuno's, but they do need to be in good shape and fit well.
  • Run outside: The elliptical or treadmill may seem easier, but running outside in the sunshine will feel so much less like work
  • Do it with a friend: Find a buddy to chat with or a local running group to hold you accountable. The more the merrier!

Even Husband is getting into it!

Us with our running group - whom I've blurred out because it was easier than asking permission from 20-some people to post this...

Any runners out there? How are you celebrating National Runner's Day? (I heard you could get $20 off of Rock 'N' Roll Marathons today only!) Anyone feeling inspired to give it a go?