Dark picture but this is leftovers from our short rib feast. I also made potatoes, popovers and brussels sprouts (shown here with kale I made last night). The recipe I posted previously is definitely good but it came out more like pot roast, I was hoping for meat that had more of a glaze. Ah well, better luck next time. It was still delicious!
I’m usually kind of a grinch about the holidays because it’s not just Christmas and the New Year, it’s also my birthday. Which generally, without fail, makes me more bitter each year because it’s forgotten, or I get something wrapped in Christmas paper, or it feels like we’re supposed to be doing something special and instead it feels forced. I’m a major downer when it comes to my birthday. Two years ago I stopped counting down in order to remind people when it was, and the husband and I ended up missing our flight home and instead had to spend my birthday in the airport after shelling out $1000 to get home after missing our flight the day before. Major bummer. Now I will always count down (10 days!) so we don’t forget what day it is.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, how about ten reasons that I actually AM looking forward to the holidays this year!? In order of the 10th most exciting to the very most exciting, I give you my ten reasons to be excited for the holidays:
10. The husband and I have all our Christmas shopping done already and so we don’t have to stress about running out for last minute shopping.
9. Eating whatever I want (within reason) and having an excuse: it’s the holidays!
8. Presents. Because how could I leave that off the list?
7. Hopefully going to see a movie at Chunky’s.
6. Getting to wear my cold weather wear—gloves and hats and scarves!
5. Playing in snow.
4. Work from home! My commute on a normal day is an hour each way so since we will be back east, I don’t have to deal with the commute or office “antics.”
3. White Christmas! I’m fine with snow when it’s just for a visit and/or when I don’t have to drive in it. Then I know a few days later we get to return to a place where I don’t have to deal with snow and slush.
2. Spending time with family that we don’t see enough.
1. These guys (or gals):
Let’s start in the backyard. When we moved in, it was pretty bad. The previous owner obviously loved to garden, but since he was no longer around, things got pretty out of control. There was a tree right next to the corner of the house to be taken down, an awning on the over the back slider to be removed, pavers to be pulled out, a cement fish pond to be broken and removed and tons of plants to be pulled out, cut down and thrown away. We’ve gotten rid of so much junk in our time in the house we could have made our own little landfill.
The first picture here was the first weekend that we started working on the house and we had no idea what was ahead. But we removed everything that needed to be removed and we still ended up with a yard of weeds. All that green in the second picture? WEEDS! After failing at planting grass by seed, we finally broke down and put sprinklers and sod in with the help of my dad and step-mom. But not before we had to pull out a cement pad that used to be a patio and hired a landscape guy to just remove everything. Weeds, bushes, a tree. We had him make our slate clean so we could entirely start over.
We put the grass in and a beautiful redwood deck.The grass is still doing well though some weeds are making their way through the sod in the front yard, a couple spots died because they weren’t being hit by sprinklers, and the wettest corner of our yard isn’t doing so well with sod but it was to be expected. We also put a row of hop bushes along our back fence that will grow wide and tall in order to make our yard more private without us having to build some sort of structure. The house behind us is foreclosed anyhow so we hope that whoever buys it repaints the ugly turquoise garage wall and doesn’t play mariachi music all the time. Too much to ask for? Maybe. I can hope. It would also be great if they cut down the squash vines that grow over the fence and up into our tree. The backyard is finally a nice place to hang out and while there will always be weeding or mowing, it’s nothing compared to where we started just over a year ago.
You may remember the picture at right from when we moved in. The roses were overgrown, the weeds were taking over the flower beds, there was no lawn because it was all weeds, and everything looked a little haggard. While we did start cleaning it up outside, there was still no lawn and we had a row of hedges along the front of the house. It was a conundrum having the inside of the house look really good but the outside still looking pretty dismal. Honestly, it was a little depressing coming home and being reminded how much work we still had to do on the outside. But we put our first time homebuyer’s tax credit to very good use and had the house painted.
Check out those new windows, new gutters, new mulch, new sod, and that fantastic new paint job! Oh, and the new fence since the firefighters broke down our side gate when the fire happened next door. Luckily, we were able to also have the fence (used to be a gate) moved up so that it’s in front of a side window on the right side of the house. We still need to do something about that funky rock flower bed thing in the front, there, but it’s obviously not a priority. We also need to figure out what to do about our patio/foundation but there is some belief we may be able to just have the patio replaced for less than a foundation fix would cost.
Remember the hedges! Ahhh I hated the hedges. I declared war on them in order to get both cars out of the street but when we had everything taken out the hedges also went. Despite the neighbor across the street not understanding why I would want to get rid of them. We found some interesting stuff in the hedges. Condom, pregnancy test, metal fork, tons of trash. Trash that may have been there since the house was built in 1947!? In this Google Maps picture you can see the front porch set up as the previous owner had it. He had it enclosed with clear Plexiglas and there must have been something on the porch floor because there are still marks from it on the concrete.
Here’s the house sans hedge!!! Yay! We’re supposed to paint our fence white but we haven’t gotten around to it yet. I also put our house number back up with new numbers and a freshly painted hang thing. On the left side of the yard, we just left it alone and grass has started growing with not many weeds. I think we’ll see how it does but I suspect summer will be tough when it stops getting natural precipitation.
Now we get people driving by and complimenting us on how well the house has turned out. We’ve come a long way, but there are still projects to be done. I would love to have those solar panels finally taken down but apparently we should have done it before we got gutters. Whoops. I’m sure there’s some way to get them off the roof that sags a little with them up there.
Can’t wait for my dad and step mom to come help with more projects this weekend! Hopefully we get some clear weather because those rose bushes need a trim (my dad is banned from rose bush trimming because he thinks cutting them down in trimming), the rain gutters need screens and the crawl space needs insulation!