When did Instagram become > Memories?

Today was a rollercoaster. It began early and I was out the door before 8am for a massage. I don’t go as often as I need to but after a month of tough workouts, still getting my ankle and shoulder back into alignment and a long ass launch month, I was super excited for the therapeutic massage and my therapist I see in town has become a friend, she’s even referred me a house sitter for my upcoming trip.

After the massage I had a productive client call, got some admin work done and took Jackson in for a nail trim. In 20 minutes he only tried to bite the technician 5 times so overall it was a good visit. But about this time I began to feel punky.

At home I gathered my weapons and retreated to bed surrounded by my current favorite candle (blood orange), laptop, cell phone, books, Kindle, work notes and calendar plus a stack of magazines, some pens, my wallet, chapstick, tea, water, heating pads, pain pills and comfortable clothes.

I successfully lounged for several hours, watching nothing of import on YouTube and resting while I worked through some papers.

When I felt better I went into the living room and had a picture perfect evening. But you’ll have to picture it in your head because there are no pictures.

This time of year I try to keep the lights on low, I found that too bright or harsh lighting in the winter can lead to headaches easily. Instead I’ll turn off the overhead lighting and light up some candles, lamps, my library lights and, of course, the Christmas tree.

I was sitting comfortably on the bench of my dining room built in, with an extra pillow for cushioning and blanket to keep me warm. I’d changed into my new pajamas which are adorable and make me feel like a child on Christmas Eve waiting for Santa. I brewed a cup of hot chocolate on the Keurig and turned on the small space heater. The dogs were snoozing on the couch and chairs, each jockeying for the best blanket or vantage point to watch me work on a puzzle.

I was comfortably full after dinner but not stuffed, had cold water and hot chocolate, a puzzle and a Netflix show playing on my laptop. All in all it was a lovely, quiet evening after a long day of ups and downs. 

But even as I enjoyed it there was an insidious part of my braining thinking I needed to take pictures for Instagram. And, if something looked off, fix it. You know, pick up the Fastrak receiver on the table and hide it away, straighten up the blankets Wilson always burrows under and tidy up the bookshelves where I’ve been stacking up the books I’ve finished. Wipe down the countertop, vacuum the rug, light a few more candles, move the sewing project…

…before I knew it I was planning chores upon chores and why? Not because any of those things were bothering me or needed to be done but simply because it would make for a better photo.

When did chasing an image online become more important than a memory. Sitting and working on the puzzle I felt content. Thinking about sharing it I felt discontent.

This evening I was feeling better, thank you pain pills, and my muscles were relaxed after the massage, my hunger satiated, my brain stimulated, my clothes comfortable. There was nothing I needed except, perhaps, the desire to share it.

Why share? 

I go back to this question all the time. Why am I sharing this? As a business owner and leader there are many overlapping reasons to share on social including to showcase my work, share client wins, give people insight into my life, maintain a public presence, show people I’m funny, brag about my adorable dogs, teach something I’ve learned and sharing to connect.

This year I’ve shared about funerals attended, events hosted, sick dogs and dressing up for Halloween, recipes I tested and workouts completed. But whenever I get the feeling that I’m sharing to project an image of importance or bragging about my life I reconsider. It’s not that the temptation isn’t there – this is the digital age – but I am so sick of seeing it from posters with way more followers than me.

No one really lives in those perfectly Instagrammed homes and I’d much rather have more relaxing evenings and hot chocolate than online likes and comments.

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Backyard Oasis Update

Well, my backyard might actually look worse now, in October, than it did when I last updated in July.

I am slowly finishing the long job of painting the exterior siding and trim and all that’s left are the really horrible bits like the roof eaves, the rake and the very tip top of the back paneling which required the purchase of a new 22′ ladder. So the #1 goal is to FINISH PAINTING THE HOUSE!

I believe I can get it done with one really good day of weather (not 100 degrees, no crazy winds) and the courage to get back up on the ladder. I should also have enough paint to finish the project which is, in itself, a minor miracle.

But other than the house, the rest of the yard is looking terrible. Dead lawn, dying flowers, lots of crap lying around, and a ton of projects I want to finish before my excuse is that it’s too cold to work outdoors.

Here’s my October-Get-Ready-For-Winter List to complete: 

Outdoor equipment

  • Finish building a cart for the table saw, cover it with a tarp for winter
  • Empty out the compost bin, put the lid on for winter
  • Move string trimmer, power washer and rototiller to the garage for winter
  • Wash the gas grill and then store for winter
  • Power-wash the outdoor chairs (6), swinging bench and side tables (4)
  • Spray paint the plastic adirondack chairs

Garden Beds

  • Add landscape fabric and new mulch to the flower beds in the backyard
  • Cut back the roses and remove 1 from the backyard
  • Take apart the narrow flower boxes and reassemble them for the corner.

Backyard landscape

  • Take out the corner patio and level the dirt
  • Remove the sprinkler system from the backyard
  • Begin digging down and leveling for new pathways and patios

Front yard clean up

  • Continue to pull weeds and level out the front yard
  • Add landscape fabric to the flower bed and new mulch
  • Cut back roses and mint
  • Cut back volunteer maple trees

Potting Bench

I’ve also been working on my potting bench and I’m just about finished for now. I used some dark walnut stain to even out the weathered wood and then stained some wood for the shelf I’ve wanted to build since creating this bench years ago. I couldn’t install it until the kitchen’s garden window was taken out so now is the time!

  • Add Thompson’s water seal to the potting bench
  • Install the shelf and cross supports
  • Screw in the hooks

Then there’s just a lot of crap to deal with…

Miscellaneous:

  • Donate the dog crate
  • Hang the old garden window in the yard
  • Install old gutters on the fence with flowers
  • Take old old gutters to the dump for recycling
  • Stack up bricks to use in new projects
  • Sweep out all the cobwebs
  • Install new solar lights in the front yard
  • Install hanging lights on the side yard
  • Install lights along the fence
  • Clean my garden tools for winter
  • Move empty flower pots to the front yard bench/storage for winter
  • Store leftover mulch and potting soil for spring
  • Plant bulbs for the spring
  • Deal with the lattices for the raised garden beds

Plans vs Sleep

I had great plans for the weekend, intending to go to bed on Friday early to get in 8 hours and then up by 6am to start painting the east side of the house before it gets too hot.

In a heat wave of 8 straight days of 100 degree temps, just going outside mid-afternoon feels like torture, much less standing on a ladder, sweating, glaring into the sun.

I still have no idea how the roofing guys managed to work outside in such heat last week.

Anyway, it’s Friday night and I can’t sleep.

I put the dogs to bed, got super comfy and even did 2 sleepy meditations on Insight Timer.

Nothing. Nada. More awake than I was before.

So I got up to get some energy out and worked as quietly as possible. In less than an hour I…

  • took out the trash and recycling
  • relined the trash cans in 3 rooms
  • threw out dead flowers
  • stocked the fridge with more bottled water and La Croix
  • did a little reorganization on the dining room built in shelves
  • cleared off the kitchen table
  • wiped down the kitchen counter (some of them)
  • loaded the dishwasher in the dark
  • got the vacuum tidied up since it’s always a mess of cords and accessories
  • made a lunch and dinner menu for the week ahead
  • organized and put away tools in the garage
  • pulled out the supplies I’ll need tomorrow including
    • the last gallon of tinted paint
    • the paint pitcher
    • the new screen & tools
    • garden shears
  • organized my Whole30 snack foods
  • put away receipts and mail in the office
  • refilled the paper in my finance binder
  • put away office supplies
  • put away glass jars in the garage
  • put away stray shoes, my new iphone accessories, clean dishes and purses
  • mentally reviewed my Saturday list and realized there’s nothing else I can do in the dark

Unless I want to make breakfast for tomorrow, paint at midnight or start loading the old gutters into my car to take to the dump, I’ll need to sleep at some point.

It makes no sense.

I was up earlyish today for meetings, spent a lot of time working and focused on tasks, did a really hard workout that made me sweat buckets, my muscles are sore. Granted, I did have coffee this afternoon so maybe that’s just hard wired caffeine to my brain and screamed STAY AWAKE for hours.

In lieu of sleep, here’s my Saturday/Sunday list:

  1. Finish caulk layer around garage window
  2. Second coat of paint on garage window trim
  3. Add more wood filler to the downspout soft spot near the front door, let it dry
  4. Sand and prime the downspout soft spot
  5. Mix in the 5th gallon of gray paint and stir well
  6. Refill the paint pitcher and keep the outside clean
  7. Load up the roller and roll paint on:
    1. side yard eaves
    2. backyard above the 8′ mark
    3. around the front door up to the eaves
    4. around the kitchen windows
  8. Use the brush to touch up the grooves
  9. Paint along the foundation on the side yard
  10. Finish painting the screen door white
  11. Install the new screen on the door and then re-install on the house
  12. Build the cart for the table saw
  13. Work with B. to remove sprinklers in back yard
  14. Take the gutters to recycling at the dump
  15. Catch up on laundry

Easy, right? Sigh, I might as well get started on the laundry tonight.

(Also, all of this is complicated by Nixon being on crate rest. He’s hurt his back and we can’t see the vet until Monday so for now he’s resting but I may have to move him around with me in order to keep a closer eye.

 

Backyard Update 02

Let’s call this edition “instant gratification” because the more I look at how many bricks I’m going to need to lay and how much grass seed will be needed and the whole house to paint, the more I need quick wins to stay motivated.

I started with some green stuff because after taking out 2 rose bushes and cutting back the bougainvillea constantly, I needed something new to start growing.

But since the dogs get into everything and kill it I turned to pots to get started. I picked up 2 small and 2 huge black plastic pots and here’s what I planted.

First is a light pink verdana:

Then a hibiscus that I’m waiting to see bloom:

And this red flowering plant which I’m pretty sure is a mandevilla:

A pink and yellow lantana:

It’s been a nice break to go outside a few times a day to water the plants and usually when I’m washing off my paint brushes I’ll water them again. The lantana will grow super well in the sun and the supposed mandevilla is thriving too.

I also unearthed an old metal strainer with a star design and spray painted it to fit my backyard oasis vision board. Before:

After > > >

Once the yellow paint was dry, I filled up the bowl with dirt and a couple of new succulents:

I wanted it to be a little more full so I picked up even more:

The best thing is that these don’t need very much water and the strainer guarantees drainage.

In the front yard I have a bunch of other succulents in different containers which will migrate to the backyard when the major renovations are done.

As you may have noticed in the mandevilla pic above or last week’s recap, the house painting project is coming along. In July I’ll have a scaffold at the house which means it’ll be time to go up to the eaves and hopefully make lots of progress. I’ve already mixed 5 gallons of outdoor paint and am hopeful that I don’t need more than 10-12 gallons total. The trim is coming along as well and looks so sharp next to the dark gray trim:

 

Backyard Update 01

Okay, it’s time for an update after sharing the sorry state of my backyard and plans to turn it into an oasis.

I’d set out a few goals for June:

  • install final kitchen window
  • finish framing kitchen windows inside
  • finish framing garage window outside
  • power wash and prep the siding *at least the back of house behind the fence*
  • maybe hire someone to remove backyard sprinklers

And I did pretty well on those goals.

The final kitchen window is installed and all the exterior frames are in. The window frames and corner pieces of the house are being painting with the white outdoor paint that I used to prime the window frames and it stands out really nicely against the dark gray paint:

As far as framing the windows inside well…

Not even started. Surely if I just add a bunch of crap to the ledge it’ll look finished, right? Sure.

The garage window is framed on the outside and I’m pretty excited because this was a total bonus window I wasn’t expecting to do this year.

The last week of June I started power washing the siding in the backyard and then painting almost immediately because yes, the spiders do work that fast.

Here are a few before pics:

Painting is tricky because the vertical panels means the best way to work is brushing paint into the crevices, top and bottom of the siding and then rolling on to cover the wide expanses quickly.

Of course, I also have to paint around various blocks like the backyard light, fence, windows, the faucet and hooks. Plus, whenever you’re covering with a darker color you’ll need at least 2 solid coats to prevent streaks and uneven tone.

Here’s how the back side looked after 2 coats:

and

As you can see there was still some patchiness and I still needed to paint the trim around the sliding glass door. I’m only painting up to the 8′ line because my ladder isn’t capable of reaching those 16′ eaves.

And here’s the side of the house after the first coat:

As you can see there is white paint showing through on the gaps and I haven’t started the eaves yet since that needs to be done with a brush. Some of the eaves haven’t even been primed so they’re going to suck up paint like crazy:

 

One of the big challenges when you’re using this much paint is consistent colors. To accomplish this I started by tinting 5 gallons previously purchased and mixing them in a 5 gallon bucket, 3 at a time. Using some oversized stir sticks I mix it all up and then use the bucket for rolling on in big sections.

(pic)

If I’m working with the brush then I need a smaller bucket so the bulk of the paint doesn’t dry out. I bought this pitcher so I could have an easy way to hold the bucket way up on the ladder.

Here’s another look at the back of the house with the trim done around the sliding glass door:

Already looking so much better, no?

I am working my way around the front of the house and cannot wait to show you what it looks like! I may still hire someone to take out the sprinklers in the backyard but I’m working on paint nearly daily.

Backyard Plans 2017

Well, I have huge plans for the backyard and I’m going to attempt to organize those ideas here.

First up is the biggest investment and challenge: painting the house. While installing the new windows I put in new frames and painted them white so I’m going dark with the paneling. I’ve tested a few different shades of gray and chose Asphalt Gray:

I did purchase Behr as shown above but in exterior flat paint. There are 10 gallons hanging out in my garage and I’ll be tinting them a few gallons at a time and mixing them in a 5-gallon bucket to ensure there are fewer color variations.

The second biggest project is a brand new build in the northeast corner. I’ll be removing this patio:

All of these bricks are going to be removed and the ground leveled again. Then I’m going to cement in some posts and build a pergola like this:

I won’t be building in those benches however, because I’d like to hang my hammock between the far left and far right posts instead.

I’ve purchased 2 amethyst falls wisteria which are growing in pots to eventually grow up the posts and hang down like such:

Until I can begin pergola construction I’ll be growing the wisteria in pots alongside some lantana and hibiscus plants.

The third big project is planting a new tree in the back yard, since all I’ve done since moving in is remove trees. I’m leaning toward a pink crepe myrtle like this one:

While it doesn’t seem like a big task there’s a lot of prep work. Experts recommend planting in the Fall so I have some time before digging a big hole for the tree root.  Since I’ll be laying down new garden paths and planting a tree, I want to remove the existing sprinklers so I don’t run into any issues digging. That is tentatively slated for early July so I can take out the stone and brick pathways which are cracked, buried in dirt and/or slope toward the house.

For paths from the back door to the pergola I’d like a simple path like this one:

Since I will attempt to replant grass around the paths, it makes sense to keep them low and flush to the ground. Also, having a space for the dogs to walk will keep the middle of my yard from dying thanks to the regular stampede of paws.

While I haven’t decided how I want the patio off the back door to look, I’m liking this path for the wider walkway to the side yard:

I’ll probably do mine in herringbone but I will surround the edges with river rock.

The guest room window is the only one that I can conceivably decorate since all the other windows are poorly placed. There I’d like to have gravel right up to the foundation and build a nice, big window box like this one:

The side yard gutters also drain in this corner so I would like to build a rain barrel and place it on the stone pavers I remove from the corner patio (reduce, reuse, recycle).

Smaller projects include cleaning up the side yard proper which tends to get over run with grass clippings, spider webs and debris. Most of this space will remain the same after I paint the siding and trim back the plants.

The side yard will have some projects like cleaning up the gas grill, emptying all the good dirt from my compost bin and possibly re-using the white trellis from my patio cover in the front yard to allow the lantana to grow up the fence.

Finally, I have some “just for fun” projects like adding plants to some old bird cages I have:

and taking the old silver strainer and turning it into a bright beautiful planter:

I took out the bay window from the kitchen and it’s hanging out on the side yard until I can mount it with some 2x4s and hang it on the fence. I’m considering it right above the raised garden beds or in the backyard under the pergola.

Aside from hanging the new hammock I don’t have much need for seating since I bought, stained and assembled new adirondack chairs this month and have 2 older ones that got a fresh coat of paint this summer.

The front yard is a whole other story so this summer, for Operation Backyard Oasis, I’m just focusing on the space behind the fence.

Oh, and painting the whole house.

Operation Backyard Oasis

Anyone who has witnessed my backyard knows it is far from an oasis but that is the goal of my work this summer.

I know, technically, that summer begins on Memorial Day for many but the last 10 days of 100+ temps means that June was a wash for me.

I’d like to share updates every Sunday to stay on track and before I get into my plans I want to share the before pics. Prepare to be underwhelmed.

Here’s a shot of the back of the house including 2 of the dogs and my lawnmower:

The northwest corner of the yard is pretty boring with just a couple of surviving rose bushes (I’ve already taken out 2 this year):

The northeast corner has the patio that I had installed in 2013 that hasn’t held up very well. Right now it’s the holding spot for everything else while I work.

Standing at the sliding glass door and looking east there’s some trash cans full of green waste, the dog kennel, and a walkway of bricks which has seen better days.

Over to the side yard I had a bunch of crap leaning against the siding. The only good thing here is the raised garden beds with bougainvillea and lantana which are thriving.

While the front yard needs work, I’m going to focus on the side and back yard for the season and focus on creating a comfortable, beautiful space.

Right now the strategy is to work outdoors on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, aka the days I’m not at the gym and to work consistently throughout the summer months.

I have big plans for the yard and I’ll share more of them with you next Sunday. Until then I’ll be slathering on the sunblock and pulling on my gardening gloves.