6 month progress report

autumnA very merry autumn to you. Has it been the most beautiful fall in your garden, too? Apart from that bit where we got a touch of that hurricane rain, the weather has been too perfect for words. I haven’t had this much sunshine since I lived in California. We were just talking about that, in fact, how our old home in State College gets more annual rain than Seattle. At any rate, I’m glad to be in WNC now and soaking up this sun like crazy.

autumn flowersOur measly flower garden surprisingly yielded enough for an autumn collage I was inspired to create for Emily Quinton’s #FridayFloralCompetition. Now, it’s a new print! Find it in the shop HERE.

Have you heard Adele’s new song? It’s been stuck in my head all day. Was listening to the interview with her on Radio 1 and say what you will about her music that gal can hold an interesting conversation. Something she said rang true for me, especially in relation to the blog. Something about how we are living in a society of oversharing and it takes away the element of surprise and uniqueness. She said she’s been quiet as of late because she didn’t have anything to say. Simple truth, and it resonated. My blog has been quiet because, honestly, I feel like I’ve been a bit boring lately and I have nothing interesting to share. Around here, the name of the game has been “fix it before it gets worse” and less about the pretty. I’m excited for spring, though, when we can have some fun with the garden a little. But for now, here’s a little bit of what we’ve been up to in our garden and our home.

IMG_0287 IMG_0462IMG_9635These photos were taken in April shortly after moving in. In some, we had already removed some trees and shrubs that were blocking the windows and discovered the brick patio under the grass. Jesse and I were looking at these photos earlier, and I think he summed it up perfectly when he said, “Why did we buy this house?!” We love it now, but at the time…we must have temporarily lost our wits.

house in october 2015 -2

house in october 2015

front 1

front 2 front 3 front 4 front 5 front 6Here’s how the front garden looks 6 months later. I think it’s even prettier in person, but maybe that’s because I’m still loopy from all the effort that’s gone into it so far!

Let’s start at the front of the house and work our way back. Some of the things we’ve done here are: removed some trees, brush and invasives, built some raised beds, extended the front border, planted a few hedges (roses, junipers and arborvitae), repaired the old brick patio, repaired the lamppost, removed shutters/repaired some rot, added a front path and small propagation area. Up next: Two more raised beds and mulched paths but, more importantly, exterior, exterior, exterior. The blue has got to go. I also want to add gingerbread trim and windowboxes.

IMG_9685IMG_0386 IMG_0473These photos were taken in April during our walk-through and shortly thereafter after I’d starting weeding out.

side 1 side 2I took the above photos only moments ago. Sorry they aren’t very great. In the picture above, you can faintly see the outline of the bed I’m working on now. The bed in the background, behind the rocks, is where the daylilies were and is going to get expanded, too. That birdhouse is hanging there reminding me to bring it up to the shed. It’ll probably still be there in a few weeks. 😉

Moving along the side of the house, what we’ve done here is: removed the daylilies/weeds, extended and weeded the two beds on either side of grassy path, planted some roses and perennials, installed a bird feeding station and a post for future dovecote. Up next: finish the bed around the dovecote (add the dovecote, of course), and perhaps install an arbor.

IMG_4560 IMG_4581The back of the house has seen the least amount of work, but recently we did powerwash the deck and give it a new coat of stain/poly. Up next: We’re still waiting for the rockery garden to get weeded out. It’s been like my tell tale heart and I can’t wait for it to get done.

IMG_9653No words.


The other side of the house has seen some dramatic changes. The native rhodies and scrub trees were literally pressing in on that side causing a lot of damage to the house exterior so they needed to be all cut back. The previous tenant used this area as a dog run and there were a lot of “gifts” from the dog we were left to clean up. Joy. Following that was some kind of retaining wall scenario. We were quoted anywhere from 5K-10K to have one installed professionally so that wasn’t happening. My husband built one himself and this is how it looks now. It was a bit of a job as there were many roots he had to contend with and it altered the path of the wall. It’s not finished, of course, but it looks so much better back there already. Up next: Finish the retaining wall by adding the trellis topper and there is a lot of work yet to be done on the house exterior. We initially were going to paint it, but now, looking at it more closely, feel it needs more of an overhaul. Ouch. Also, we’re getting pea gravel installed back here to make sort of a patio and I’ll be creating a bed where you see that mudpile in the foreground.

Note: There’s stuff you don’t see here in these photos like the termite eradication we had to perform immediately after moving in. I can’t even begin to tell you how important it is to test for termites as part of your home inspections. A very, very expensive lesson learned.

IMG_0220 IMG_0230 IMG_0281 IMG_0284 IMG_0313Taken just after moving in…

living reno wip-2 living reno wip-3 living reno wip-4 living reno wip-5These photos were taken about a month ago. When we moved, we gave away just about everything we owned which was equally brilliant and moronic. I desperately want to get this living space more pulled together and less like dorm-room chic but I think that’s going to be last thing on the list.

Inside the home, we painted the knotty pine paneling that lines the living room. Painting these walls made a huge difference for me as far as the house feeling more like home. Even though I’m not sure I’ll stick with this particular shade of white (Behr ‘Pot of Cream’ if you’re interested), it’s giving us a blank canvas at least. If you’re thinking about doing something like this, some words of advice: first, get the Zinnser BIN primer/sealer stuff. It’s more expensive and smells like 100 proof vodka, but it gets the job done. Second, paint the knots first with a few coats to really seal them. I also painted the brick fireplace but I actually want to do a separate post about this but that was an odyssey and I think the experience changed me. 😉


IMG_4602 IMG_4605You’ve already seen the one bedroom we started fixing up, but here’s the other so far. (Our house is a 2/2 with kitchen and laundry and everything needing a redo. Sigh.) This room is smaller than our master, if you can believe it, barely clocking in at 100 square feet. I don’t know what crazy pills I was taking when I thought I could make it a guest bedroom and a studio space. Like it was some kind of TARDIS? We quickly realized that error of thinking. Here’s what it looks like so far and I’ll post some more pics of this room when it’s finished.

Up next: We’re trying to wrap up all projects we’ve already begun and then take a couple of months off. What with November being right about the corner, our daughter coming in for a visit, my birthday, the holidays, etc. we thought we could use a break! That may or may not happen, though, because we both want to firebomb our laundry room so we may be back at it sooner than later.

And now back to you! What have you been up to this autumn?

autumn leaves

27 thoughts on “6 month progress report

  1. GOOD GRIEF!! I can’t believe how much you two have done. You’ve accomplished more in six months than most people do in years, and I know most of that has just been you laboring away. What a sense of accomplishment you must feel, it looks just beautiful!

    1. THANKS MOM!!!
      I was actually just looking at these photos again thinking, “well, shoot this doesn’t look like much.” But it really was!! There is so much more behind-the-scenes stuff that you don’t see. Thank you for all your encouragement over the past months! 😀

  2. Really? You don’t like the blue? I think it’s a nice colour! This post reminds me of when I was younger with grand plans for my new house. I wish I still had the energy!! The pussycats seem quite at home already.

    1. The blue looks way better in photos than it does in person. The paint is peeling, the wood beneath is rotting in places…it’s not a pretty sight. I wanted to paint it a bright white, but the condition of the wood makes me think we may have to do something else instead. Yes, the kitties are feeling quite cozy now. It was a rough start, but now they’re happy! 🙂

    1. Thank you Kate! Just when I think ok I’m wiped no more fixing up, I see something else that needs to be done. I think you might have an idea of what that’s like! 😉

  3. It’s looking so wonderful, Laurie! What a LOT of work you have done in a short amount of time! You make me feel like a lazy loafer!

    So funny what you say about how your spot in Pennsylvania got more rain than Seattle. We looked up the stats about Cleveland, so depressed by the crummy weather, and it had more cloudy and rainy days than Seattle, too. Nice to be in a sunnier place now. What a difference it makes. Glad you’re in a sunnier place, too.

    I love how you transformed that knotty pine with the white paint. Even if you’re not 100% happy with the exact shade of white, it’s so much nicer and brighter.

    Your gardens are really coming along, too! (Love that I’m not the only one who would have gotten rid of the day lilies. I think I’ll probably dig out the ones that are here next year. They don’t do anything for me). And what a happy sight your baby roses are!

    You certainly deserve a rest. I hope that everything wraps up quickly and smoothly and you can enjoy your break!

    1. Thank you Anne! I think our area, Ohio & PA, seemed to get more rain coming in off the lakes. I could be wrong, but anyways, it was surprising when we put the amounts in context like that. I’m glad you’re in a sunnier place, too!

      I’m on the fence about daylilies…the hybrids can be lovely. I had a neat little patch of those at the old house and a few were quite pretty. The ones we removed were those orange “ditch lilies” and someone else picked them up! So, win-win.

      Thank you for your input about the paint. Some people really love the wood paneling and I can appreciate that, but it was too dark and dreary for my tastes. 😉

  4. Oh my goodness. I am exhausted from your reading blog and I didn’t even work! Your house and garden looks fabulous.. What is the name of your green wheelbarrow and do you remember where you got it from? I have the old design with the 1 tire. I am about to kick it to the curb or recycle it.. Thanks 🙂

    1. Thanks! We’re pretty exhausted, too, haha!
      The wheelbarrow was purchased on Amazon. It’s not top of the line, but I’m happy with it so far. It’s hauled tons of mulch, rock and firewood this summer and has held up pretty well. Here’s the link for the product page. 🙂

  5. Wow, I feel like I need to sit down and take a break just looking at everything you’ve been up to! If your house were mine, it’d be painted a lovely earthy green– not dark olive or bright avocado, just a muted, weathered sort of color. But I think whatever color you choose will look awesome. I’m not a fan of the blue, myself.

    I dug out a new flowerbed, amended the soil, and moved almost everything from the sunny desert side of the yard to the nice moist shady side. I also found a ‘First Crush’ rose on clearance yesterday! Next up: tear down an old metal shed (the temple to tetanus, we call it) and build a little summerhouse out of scrap wood.

    1. That shade of green was just the color I was thinking for the shed! Or at least the shed door. Great minds. 😉 We have to wait to paint it, though, since I don’t want it to clash with the blue house.

      I’m so excited for you that you got a First Crush rose! I saw those at Lowes last summer and I couldn’t stop smelling it. Wow, what a scent on that one. I didn’t get it because I didn’t know where it would go but now I’m kicking myself. I got a chuckle out of your “temple to tetanus”…that sounds about right. 😉 How fun to build a little summerhouse!

  6. You guys put in some serious “sweat equity” – amazing! Thanks for the updates – it’s great to see your garden – I miss WNC so much, I’m glad to see some footage from your experience there! Have you got your rose order list readY yet? Have fun planning your new garden space!

    1. Hi Cole! I’m happy to share our experiences here in WNC and I can understand why you miss it. This place is so beautiful it takes my breath away sometimes. I haven’t put my rose list together yet because I’m still trying to make new beds and honestly it’s been an uphill battle with this soil. I did, however, splurge on a ‘Sister Elizabeth’ from Heirloom during their sale which should arrive any day now. Have you put your order together yet?

  7. First: the gravel outside is fantabulous! I am very jealous. Well done, it is very impressive.

    Second: the inside is moving along! here too we are remodeling, but it is not our first rodeo so I am no longer allowed to help with anything. This houses of ours will have seen every inch of it remodeled by the time we are done… and it was supposed to be move-in ready, HA!

    So right now it’s tiling and then some more hard wood upstairs, because I was very unreasonable and bought a pricey Italian sofa that will take months to arrive, might as well have the floors done! (terrible financial logic!)
    In the garden though, I am removing grass and planting cacti! but as you described, I don’t feel like writing about it.

    Stay strong, your updates make us very happy!


    1. Hi Juju! I totally get your financial logic. 😉 I want to buy a fancy-pants couch and I am trying to justify it by saying our daughter needs our old one for her new apartment. Haha! It’s reassuring to know we aren’t the only ones living thru renovating craziness. You stay strong, too!

    2. Oh ps: Thank you for the gravel encouragement! I wanted to do the whole drive but dang, gravel is expensive. (You’d think they were gold nuggets, not river pebbles.) Anywho, bit by bit. 🙂

        1. Thank you for the recommendations! I’ve added hyperlinks to your text, I hope you don’t mind.
          Yup, gravel is expensive and a lot of work to install yourself, but at least once it’s in it won’t be breaking down anytime soon. 😉

  8. Your new home has so much charm! And you are working wonders with it!

    It’s a lot of work to restore something, but there’s also a lot of satisfaction. Keep it up! 🙂

  9. Just came across your blog this morning and enjoyed looking at pics of your house. Love the low bookcase in what looks like a sun room. Can you tell me more about it? I think I need this!

  10. Thanks for the tour. It is coming along very nicely! Spring will be so welcome this year in particular as you begin to add the pretty outside! Good work! 🌟

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