September Ends…

September flew by. Even though I am spending my afternoon in the pool because of this beautiful weather, fall is in the air. that means there is only one thing left to do. Get ready for Halloween!

After working on the front yard, our middle child and I pulled out our Halloween decorations from the attic and they began to set up the front yard. Our entry is now a mix of autumn and Halloween- which I love.

Earlier today, the neighbors came by with a chainsaw and we cut down a tree in the front yard. It was at such a poor angle that I was unable to correct it over the past year. Once we cut it down, we noticed that the middle was starting to rot out. It was only a matter of time before it had to come down anyways.

After cutting the tree down, Darwin placed our axe happy gnome on display. A perfect ornament for the front yard! His name is HP Gnomecraft and he is scary.

I love the transition from summer to autumn. It gives me a chance to plant some new plants for spring. It also means that Christmas is just around the corner! I love Halloween and Christmas. Decorating is my favorite!

Have you begun decorating for Halloween yet? Perhaps you are working on some Christmas crafts.

Let me know what you have going on.

Expanding the Garden

My wife and I decided that we wanted to expand our flower bed in the backyard. So earlier today I went to the local hardware store and picked up some matching retaining wall blocks.

It only took me a couple of hours to dig out the expansion that we wanted. The challenge was having the original wall meet up with my new one and still line up with the patio. All while trying to keep the curves to match up with the other walls.

With summer over, it is time to work on the yard in preparation for spring. In our expanded flowerbed, I’ll be adding some fresh soil and seeds and can’t wait to see the results next spring. Our front garden is going to be the next challenge. The goal is to get rid of the grass and just make a nice garden. It’ll definitely take more than just a couple of hours like today.

Signs

Right before my vacation ended, a couple of decorative signs we ordered for our home arrived. Since we aren’t the type to have a sign that says “LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE” we needed something more, us and our home.

Which way to the pool?

The first sign was a generic POOL➡️. We put it up on the fence so that you can see it as soon as you walk out the back door. Yeah, most of our backyard is the pool, but it’s a little bit of fun considering how much we treat our home like a resort. I also find it humorous that you would need to see sign considering it’s the only way to go to find our pool.

The Deck

The other sign was closer to “LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE” and was installed in the upper part of our gazebo. It reads: “The Deck: Sit. Sip. Relax. Enjoy” A perfect motto for hanging out in our backyard. The feeling of calmness and chillaxin’ comes over everyone who sits back there. Our own private oasis, ready for friends and family to relax and enjoy.

Of course we did look at some silly pool themed signs, but potty humor or borderline stupidity isn’t our style. We wanted more zen and resort-like. I think we succeeded.

Furry Critters

Leaving our acre last year, I thought we would be seeing less wildlife as we hit the Suburbs. I was wrong. But at least we haven’t encountered any rats or raccoons.

The furry creatures are really tiny and almost seem lost. We had a baby hare hanging out under our deck. It wasn’t scared of me at all as I approached it to get a picture. In fact, it seemed as intrigued by me as I was of it.

The other little fellow that appeared the next day was a field mouse. It decided to cool off in our pool. I caught it swimming and then jumping onto our solar pool rings. Getting him out of the pool wasn’t too tough. I used our net and then released it back into the field behind our property. Maybe in the heatwave, it will return for a quick dip.

Of course our dog is often watching for wildlife as well. Generally she keeps the little creatures away, including cats. If she sees a coyote in the back field, she lets them know to stay away with incessant barking. Sometimes she does it from inside our home; other times she is in the backyard doing a proud stance on one of our rocks as she howls.

The wildlife is different in the ‘Burbs. Aside from the couple cute furry critters, it’s usually birds out and about. Most of the time I see hawks, owls, hummingbirds and a large assortment of other birds.

I have a feeling I will become a bird watcher pretty quick and start to get books and binoculars to view them.

One Year…

What a difference a year can make. For us, we have lived in our current home for one year now.

Castle Havelka

It was difficult to leave our other home. We had created some many memories while living there. We also did numerous changes on a regular basis to the house and yard. Yet somehow, it never felt as if it would end. Moving was the only way we could start with a clean slate and figure out what we really want in a home.

Kingdom Havelka

I never thought owning a pool would be high up on the list of what we wanted in a home. Yet now I can’t think to live somewhere without a pool. Trading the trees for open views has greatly helped with feeling better and happy thoughts. We are taking in more sunshine than ever before. My wife even commented on my glow the other day. I feel rejuvenated on a regular basis.

As summer approaches tomorrow, I continue to look forward to spending time outside. Relaxing by the pool. Watching sunsets. Sharing quality time with friends. Food and drink beside the pool…

I loved our previous home for the memories we created, but I love the one we are in because of the memories to come. In one year a lot has happened already. If we do another 15-20 years here, who knows what else this home will have in store.

Yard Pride From Front To Back

As the weather gets nicer, people are out working on their yards. My wife and I have spent a lot of time, elbow grease, and money on creating beautiful curb appeal. There is still more to come, but for the most part I’d say it’s looking great.

As I said, we aren’t the only ones working on their yards. I have seen the neighbors out on a regular basis tending to their lawns and gardens. My wife and I chose to keep up with the similarities of our neighborhood yards, not just because it looks good, but it also showed us which plants thrive in this general location. I also took the time to discuss with neighbors about their yards and experiences as the seasons change.

As for our backyard, since it is mostly a lounging location for us, the garden aspect is limited. Most of the edge gardens is established and we just need to trim back on occasion. My wife has been working on vegetables to be grown in a few planters around the backyard. So currently inside our home, the seedlings are beginning to sprout. Within a few weeks, they will be replanted outside as we await tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers to begin growing.

As wonderful as all of this sounds, there is a bit more chaos going on in our next door neighbors’s places. Both the house next to us and the one next to that are digging up their backyards. Next to us they are planning on adding a swim spa and the house next to that is wanting a pond. The crew that was hired is doing both at the same time and work began months ago. Now that the weather is nicer- they are working on it more frequently. I am looking forward to when the work is completed, not just because the noise will be over, but I want to admire the final results. I think the three of us will have outstanding backyards that we will enjoy for years to come.

Do you have big plans for your yard this year? Let me know in the comments and feel free to share previous work you are proud of!

The Pathway To Curb Appeal

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been working hard at creating “curb appeal” for our home. Most of the summer was too hot to do manual labor in the front yard. During that time, we enjoyed our backyard immensely, and who wouldn’t?

But it finally came time to start with landscaping the front. I would be lying if I didn’t say I had “Yard Envy” of our neighbors. They all had a decade to creat beautiful landscapes. The home we bought- the previous owners put the time and money into the backyard. The gave my wife and I pretty much a blank canvas to do what we want in the front.

All summer we talked and planned. We drew ideas, hit some nurseries, and finally started in the purchasing of plants and such. A few bushes, trees, dirt, cement slabs, and stones have arrived. It has been back breaking work, quite literally. I pushed myself too hard last week and felt it.

After that, my wife put our two youngest to work helping out. I utilized our middle for quite a bit of the work. So naturally I paid her afterwards- much to her surprise. Today, my wife also took a few minutes to assist me. (Do I need to pay her also?)

Here are some of the before pictures of what we have done thus far. We decided to add a stone path along the driveway that leads past the front garden and towards our back gate. I did this all the right way, so I won’t have to try and fix it later on. We dug up the grass, leveled it off, lay down landscape fabric, put in a border, spread some sand, put down the slabs and shoveled the tiny stones all around.

Last week we planted a few of the bushes where we want them to be the centerpieces once we finish pulling up the lawn and adding some garden islands. In fact, we are hoping to remove the entire lawn to create a beautiful, low maintenance garden. That will likely happen next spring.

Today was a delivery of the stones and it only took about two hours to spread it out. The final look of the pathway is amazing. I’m really satisfied with how it turned out. I always love a sense of accomplishment when finishing a project. Now on to the next one!

Temporary/Permanent Garage Shelter

Back in 2016 we bought a temporary shelter for our Honda Element. I put it up along the side of our home near the carport. And there it stood… until today.

We’ve been using it as extra storage for things like camping gear and outdoor Christmas decorations. I’ve also used it as a workspace for when I needed to set up some sawhorses and do some painting or building. It’s been extremely versatile. So we didn’t really want to get rid of it.

Instead, two of our children lay out the cover on the lawn and scrubbed the green film off the outside of it. I disassembled and reassembled the frame in its new location. The other side of the house. Which is a great location for this shelter.

We have a “dead space” on the side of our home that we have tried to utilize. We’ve set up a fire pit, a sitting area, even an herb garden- but it never lasted. Mostly because it is out of sight. So it’s a great spot for the temporary shelter. We moved the camping stuff, Christmas stuff and some other stuff that we don’t need out in the open. It’s a perfect storage spot.

It also made the front of our home have nicer curb appeal. Our daughter can park off to the side if she wishes. We can also access the backyard much easier once more.

Stick Village Maker

Our daughter has been spending time in our backyard being creative. She reads, writes, and draws while enjoying the fresh air. I’m proud of her for keeping her creative juices flowing. I also think she is quite talented. She loves to share her stories and art with everyone.

Sometimes when she is sitting on the lawn and at a loss for inspiration- she builds what she calls “Stick Villages.”

At least four of these “villages” have cropped up in our yard in the past week. She finds small branches and stabs them into the lawn. It’s cute and fun. I don’t mind if more of these show up in the yard.

The best part of all of these “Stick Villages” is she has to clean them up because she is the one who mows the lawn. So in the end, she gets to destroy them like a giant.

Yard Work is Hard Work

We have had the luxury of some really nice weather to start off May. Of course this means getting back into the yard work. Hooray!?

Today I finally mowed the back lawn. The grass was a few inches tall and kept stopping my mower. Even worse were the surprise dog poop land mines hidden all around our acre. So that was kind of gross at times. Especially when I got a rather fresh mound.

I also took the blower to the roof and driveway to clear off the pine needles. I ended up filling seven yard waste cans with everything that I accumulated. At least that goes with the green waste.

Before dinner, two of my kids helped to get the back patio furniture cleaned and set up. Unfortunately the chairs are wet and we won’t be using them this evening after I finish BBQing. Tomorrow we will enjoy our meals outside undercover.

After hours and hours of hard work, I needed a cool down. So I took a shower and cracked open a Smirnoff ICE Berry Blast. As you can see by the can- it tastes like the popsicle of the same colours. A nice treat to end my day. More work ahead of me tomorrow with the other deck and wiping the roof trim and windows.

I love taking pride in my little castle.