Remodeling

How To Turn Weeds into Lawn in just 99 Easy Steps

June 07, 2020

1. Get rid of your old Septic Tank
Think you don't have a Septic Tank? Well, maybe you don't. Maybe what you have is just a ghetto cavity deep in the ground that your toilet waste has been pumped into for the last 15 years. I don't know. Your sewer set up is really none of my business.

Wanna see a picture of OUR hole in the ground?



Those are actual wooden logs floating in it, FYI. We used a backhoe to dig it up. When we cracked through the slab of asphalt with that was laying across the top, the smell slammed into us like a stinky explosion, but after a bit it wasn't so bad. Probably because the smell floated into all our neighbor's yards. It's fun to live in our neighborhood.

Anyway, get that sucker pumped out and filled in and move on with your life as quickly as possible. Then you'll be ready to get to the actual yard work.

2. Chop Down Some Trees.
I mean, you don't have to. But if you are going to chop down any trees, NOW really is the time to do it. You don't want to tear up your pretty new grass during the massacre. This big ol' tree in front of our house was really close to the foundation. It also grew directly over the gas line. And, like half of the trees on our lot, it was growing into the power lines, so every couple of years the city came and hacked the top off. With so many strikes against it, we decided maybe it was time for this tree to move on. Good thing we still had the Manlift!


 
It started raining on us but I bribed Colin's friends with plates of cookies if they would help us drag all the branches into the backyard and we managed to get most everything cleared up.


Right next to that tree there was a plum tree and a snowball bush that we tried to save, but in the end, they didn't make it.

2. Remove all the Weeds.
First I used Vinegar to kill my weeds, cuz I had read somewhere that it was the best thing to do. It killed a few weeds, but apparently vinegar doesn't kill the roots, so it really doesn't get you much in the long run. So next I used a deadly weed killer and sprayed the heck out of my weeds. A few of them died, but I think my weeds are some kind of super strain, because mostly they just mocked me. I finally gave up and had the front lawn tilled. I found some guy on KSL who was just trying to make enough money to justify the tiller he had bought. 

Sep 23, 2019

2. Remove all the rocks. 
There is no picture for this, but I think you get the gyst.

3. Remove all the rocks. 
           You missed some.

4. Remove all the rocks.
           Nope, you still missed some more.  
 
5. Plan out your sprinkler system!
For this, we used Richard's brother, who planned out the whole system for us. If you don't have a brother-in-law with sprinkler skills, I think Sprinkler World will also work up sprinkler plans for you if you buy your parts from them. 



6. Dig your trenches. 
We rented this bad boy. 
 

It made the work easier, but it was still exhausting. And because of poor planning, there were still a couple of trenches we had to dig by hand. I swear, digging will be the death of me.


 7. Remove all rocks. 
I know you think you already did this, but apparently you didn't, because there are still SO MANY. Good luck finding somewhere to put them.

8. Remove all rocks. 
         I'm not kidding. 

9. Remove all rocks.
         For reals.  

10. Put in your pipes. 
 Use your brother-in-law for this too, if you can trick him into it.



11. Bake your brother-in-law a cake. Or cookies. Or maybe a pie. Or he might never talk to you again. 

12. Fill in your trenches and rake everything smooth again.

13. Remove all rocks. You are really bad at this. That's why you have to keep doing it over and over.

14. Wait all winter long because someone at the hydroseed place told you didn't need to call to get on the schedule until October 10th or so, but when you call on the 10th you find out that they stopped spraying hydroseed on October 1st. Try not to be too bitter about this. But pick a different company to use when its time.

15. It is Spring! Time to kill the weeds again! Good luck! They are even more resistant to weed killer than they were last year!

16. Remember just in the nick of time that you also need to get rid of the stump leftover from the tree you cut down last fall. Pay a tree service to grind it out for you because you've learned the hard way that removing stumps yourself is virtually impossible.

16. Rake the soil smooth again.

17. Remove all the rocks. It is possible that someone is sneaking the rocks back into the soil when you are not around.


18. Get some Topsoil
We had our topsoil delivered from Topsoil.Rocks. That is the name of the company. 
https://topsoil.rocks/wp-content/cache/all/index.html 
The price was good and the delivery was free and they left us with a big pile of dirt in the road. Good times. 


I spent ALL DAY with my boys shoveling dirt into the wheelbarrow (wheel barrel? I don't know what it is called! I could look it up but I don't care!) and dumping it in piles around the lawn. I made it about a 3rd a way through the pile. So the next day we rented a machine to help us because we wanted to not spend the rest of our lives shoveling dirt.


We wanted to rent a bobcat, but that big thing was the only one we could find on a Saturday. Those stupid tracks tore the crap out of everything. We tried to fill in some holes in the backyard, and it is now a total disaster. 

19. Rake the yard smooth.

20-46. Remove all rocks.  



47. Install Curbing.
Actually, maybe I should swap these. Do some research. I don't know if it is how all concrete curbing is done, but the guy who put ours in made the curbing really tall. He told me specifically that the curbing should go in after the top soil, but I really wished we had put the curbing in first. So, I don't know. Educate yourself on the process more than I did and plan accordingly.

Curbing is sold with a minimum. The guy I used charges for at least 100 feet. Some people require you to pay for 150 feet. So we figure if we were paying for it anyway, we'd put in as much as we could. We were just going to section off space for flowers in front of the house, but we decided to extend it all the way around the side of the house while we were at it. It came out to 90 feet. 

   

The lines looks so wiggly from a distance. I drew the lines. He followed my marks exactly. I'm hoping once it is full of plants the wiggly lines won't be as noticeable. 

48. Get angry at the weeds that think they own the place and dig them all out by hand. 

49. Rake the yard smooth, 
Despair of ever getting it smooth.

50-95. Remove all rocks.
Curse rocks to the deepest trenches of hell. Shake your fists at the sky as the rocks mock you, and recruit all their friends to help ruin your life. Refuse to give in. Never give up! Never Surrender! You will be victorious!

96. It's Hydroseed time!
We chose Hydroseed primary because of cost. I think I got a quote for sod once. It was in the thousands. I don't remember. Lots of money. The cost for Hydroseed for the same area? $180.00. 

 

 
Rejoice in the grassy future that awaits you!
 
97. Cry into your pillow when the city shows up two days later to replace the sidewalk in front of your house, trampling the hydroseed all to heck.



98. Sit Around and Watch the Grass Grow.
Hydroseed is cheap, but it comes at a cost. The first week especially we constantly worried that we were watering it either too much or not enough and had no idea if we were doing either one. But One Week later we had tiny blades of grass shooting out of the ground!


Look closely. The're there.

99. Take pictures of your brand new baby grass! Rejoice in your grassy future!
          
WEEK 2 


It looks like grass! It really does! And what the heck is that round thing pushing up out of the ground?

 
Why are you here, giant mushroom? 

WEEK3!



Hot dang, would you look at that? There have been several more mushrooms pushing up from the depths of the soil, but I eat mushrooms for breakfast, so they were no match for me. 

During week three, we got to mow the lawn and put down fertilizer. Exciting times!

WEEK 4!


Folks, we have grass. We also have weeds. Lots of weeds. But enough time has passed that we can put down a broad leaf weed killer. And weeds are normal in the first year, but hopefully by next year the grass will be strong enough that it will choke out the weeds. You know what they say: The best defense for weeds is a healthy lawn. 

So, that's about it. You too can have grass by following these simple steps. 

Here is a fun before picture. This is from Google Street View right after we moved back in to our remodeled house. I especially like how cute and tiny the minivan looks in this picture.


And here is how it looks today! 


Here is the WAY BEFORE, just for reference:

_MG_3502

That's the end. Go home now.

Perfectly Acceptable

May 24, 2020

The very best thing that has come from being trapped in this house with the same 3 looneys for the last two and a half months is that they all agreed that it was time they started helping out with dinner. 

Monday Richard cooks, Tuesday Colin cooks, and Wednesday Harrison cooks. Yes, they need lots of help, but I am determined to teach them and one day they'll be doing it on their own. 

Not only are Mondays now my favorite day, but our dinner menu has now expanded in new and exciting ways. 

Here are the Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwiches Richard made. 


Hot dang, they were good. It occurs to me now that I should share the recipe with you. Let me see if I can find it. 


Moving on. Colin made pizza. This one was half cheese, half Italian sausage. 


It was super good but the leftovers were only so so. Delicious leftovers is important to me. And maybe next time I'd like to try a thinner crust, cuz this one got pretty puffy. 

Harrison made Hamburger stuffed French Bread. 

Here is Colin demonstrating how big his piece is.


Colin's head is a very standard unit of measurement.

So, uh, yeah. Food. Food is the best thing going on in my life right now. How about you?

Family

Chillaxin'

April 17, 2020

Back in February when life was normal, my nine-year-old was playing Minecraft with the girl who lives next door and I heard him say:

"Pretend we like to chillax all day."

It makes sense that his idea of make believe is pretending to"chillax". I've made his life pretty difficult. I make him pick up his toys. I make him clean up his bedroom. I'm like a demented prison warden, just heaping on the torture.

It gets worse. I have recently starting making my kids help clean up after dinner. I know. I know. You would never do this. No sane, loving mother would do it. But I have a mean streak a mile wide and they are gonna help me one way or another.

The other night I laid down the law. Harrison had to clear the table, and Colin had to help me load the dishwasher. Don't report me, okay?

Colin had had enough. The tyranny just got to be too much for him. And he rebelled.

Eventually, I was standing at the sink loading the dishwasher all alone, while Colin rode his electric dirt bike through the house, sobbing,  "Why don't I ever get to have any fun? Why don't I ever get to do anything I want to do? Why are you ruining my life?"

And I laughed. As we've already established, I am very heartless. I will have to figure out how to stop ruining his life by allowing him to ride his dirt bike in the house while also NOT doing any work. Really, I've got to make some changes.

I only wish I had a picture of him crying on his motorcycle, but, alas, I do not.

Books

A Short and Rather Useless Book Review - The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge

April 15, 2020



This book is fun. It's as simple as that. I started off listening to the audiobook, which is FANTASTIC. But there was a problem. This book includes pictures:



The idea is that the pictures kind of contradict the narrative, which is really pretty silly, but helpful to know beforehand, because at first I was a bit confused.



And while I believe the audio book includes a PDF of the pictures, those are pretty hard to look at while you are driving, or gardening, or cleaning out your dungeon. But I fell so much in love with the voices on the audio book that I finally ended up listening to the audio while simultaneously reading the physical book whilst lounging in bed. I had to stop cleaning out the dungeon to do it, but it was worth it.

Something Good - April 12

April 12, 2020

Happy Easter! It's Sunday, which means it is time for more good things!

The first and best thing of the week was that it was Spring Break, which means no school. And since I am now the teacher, that meant more to me this week than it ever has before. No School! For a whole week! Woohoo!!

Last Sunday we had a game night with my family over Zoom. We played, at my request, Star Wars Trivial Pursuit.


It was fun and awesome and wonderful, because not only could I play with my sisters who live in the same town as me, and my mom and nieces who live within driving distance, but also with my sister who lives in Maine, and my niece who lives in Oregon. We're finally getting the band back together!!

The problem was that we tried to use the board. We had one camera aimed constantly at the board, but it was still too small for most people to see what was going on. We'd roll the dice for them (which in this game means bopping R2D2 on the head, and he randomly generates a number) and then move their peice and then ask them the questions. But there were like 8 of us, so it took forever for everyone to take their turn. (the game only comes with 4 movers, so we had to make some out of LEGO minifigs.)


It would have worked much better to do just ask the questions and let anyone who knew the answer shout it out or something, and just skip the board altogether, but live and learn.


Since it was Spring Break and we were going absolutely bonkers trapped at home, we decided to go camping. We found this little canyon in Fountain Green with some really awesome hiking that we had almost totally to ourselves.

The boys spent a lot of time pretending to be lost in the mountains. It was thrilling for them, and they were always within eyesight and there was a small stream burbling by and it was gorgeous.


We hiked through this cool slot canyon, but the walls were unlike anything I've seen before. It wasn't like the red rock you see in Southern Utah. This was more like naturally occurring cement, with smaller rocks all stuck together forming the canyon walls.





This was was far as we got. There was a rope, so we could have tried to climb straight up that waterfall behind us in the picture above, but maybe we'll save that next time.

Later in the week we got a drive-by visit from some family!


And the boys entertained themselves by laughing at their own reflections.



And yesterday I finished reading Cinder, by Marissa Meyer, a Cinderella retelling, wherein Cinderella is a Cyborg. Yep. It was every bit as awesome as it sounds.


It is the first in a series, and is totally incomplete on its own, which usually makes me really mad. Well, it made me mad this time too, but I loved it so much that my only option was to buy the next book on Kindle and start reading it immediately!

And that's all folk! Tune in next week for more good things!

Family

Something Good - April 5

April 06, 2020

I was born an optimist. But something about getting older has sort of changed that. Not that my outlook for the future is grim, it's just that life is hard, and the realities of its struggles tends to take a toll. The prophet, President Russell M. Nelson described it as "The heart wrenching maze of our mortal experience." Which is beautiful and sad and true.

But the world is also full of good things. Some big and huge and wonderful and some small and silly and insignificant. My memory is bad. And what if, ten years from now, I have forgotten all of the small things?

So it is time to write them down. I try to be a diligent journal writer, but it isn't always possible. So here I am, sharing good things with you. Or at at least sharing good things with me, which I appreciate very much. Thanks me. I'm welcome.

GOOD THINGS THIS WEEK

Utah's Current Pandemic Situation is "Stay Home, Stay Safe", (which I think means "We're advising you to stay home, but we aren't going to enforce it.") but I have had my kids under a pretty strict lock down ever since the 12th. We are all pretty bored of staring at each other's faces by this point. We are all pretty bored of never going anywhere.

But the 1st was My Birthday! And one must have fun on one's birthday, even if one is stuck at home with the same silly goobers day after day.

Our tradition is always singing and presents with breakfast. We try to make breakfast kind of big and special, but Richard was feeling overwhelmed so we ordered breakfast from Denny's. They were offering free delivery, and their online ordering system is seriously the best online ordering system I have ever used. 45 minutes later someone left breakfast on our front porch and ran away. Honestly, what else could a girl ask for on her birthday?


And then, Richard gave me The Murderbot Diaries:



I've only read the first one so far. The kindle book is $3.99 I think. But the rest are $10.00, which I just thought was way too much for an e-novella. Turns out the hardbacks are about the same price, which feels better somehow and if my husband wants to give them to me for my birthday, I will happily devour them.

My boys each gave me a clay creation of their own. Introducing Pig and Pear! The crime fighting duo!

They are so cute I can't stand it.

And this kid made me, and I quote: "Something cool, with a hint of Colin." 
He also gave me a small sea shell, so I would have something to put in it.


In other news, yesterday I made THESE cinnamon rolls:
http://tacpaskett.blogspot.com/2014/01/1-hour-cinnamon-rolls.html

They were only supposed to take an hour, but I guess I am slow cuz it took more like 2 1/2 hours.
And the recipe was supposed to make 24 cinnamon rolls, half of which you can see here:


But that is only if you want cinnamon rolls the size of your face.


And, oh, I do. PLUS, I swapped out the oil for applesauce and so that giant thing is only 332 calories! (I am still wondering if I calculated that wrong. Could it really be 332 calories for a sweet roll that size??)

However, I decided that 24 face-sized cinnamon rolls was maybe more than the four of us could eat. So after making those 12 gargantuan cinnamon rolls, I took the other half of the dough and made all of this:


Incidentally, rolls made out of cinnamon roll dough are fine, but I prefer my rolls a little more salty and buttery. 

Lastly, there is this, because pens make me happy. This picture here is like sticking a smiley face on the end of the post. 


The End.

How To's & DIY's

Do-It-Yourself Renaissance Faire on a Dime

June 03, 2019

For my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary we wanted to do something special.

But we kind of forgot to do something special, and then time passed really fast and suddenly it was just a couple of weeks away and we were like "Oh no! We ran out of time! Let's just give up and take them to dinner!"

Luckily my sister Faralee said that just dinner was unnacceptable. That, by golly, it was their 50th Wedding Anniversary, and we were going to do something special for them or die trying. (Faralee is SO DRAMATIC sometimes.)

So we threw together an impromptu, surprise, Renaissance Faire (with an E), and had it in my backyard.


For the first time ever my back "yard" full of dirt and weeds was landscape appropriate!

STEP 1: Collect as many Pop-Up Canopies as you could (I guess for us that was a total of 3. More would have been better, but we needed to spend as little money as possible. So 3 was our magical number.)

STEP 2: Dress up the canopies. Everyone donated all the old fabric and sheets they could spare. (It is times like this that it is handy to have so many siblings.) Faralee cut the sheets into these fancy scallop shapes using pinking shears--I'm sure this shape has a name, but I don't know what it is-- and then embellished them with stamps or simple lines.


As you can see from the picture we didn't have time for straight lines, and we just pinned the fabric right on to the canopies and you know what? It looked fine. It even looked kind of awesome. So being a perfectionist doesn't always pay off in the long run.

Then we took other fabric and pinned it too the back of the canopies to make them feel a little more like booths.

We had a tent for the King and Queen (my parents)


A tent for crafts


and a big tent for food.


The bunting along the back there is just made out of paper. Cheap and Easy-Peasy. Well, easy for me. Fae spent hours cutting and assembling bunting, because she is a champ.

STEP 3: Make Some Signs.

Here is a shot of the "entrance" to the backyard. You can never have too much bunting. I know the truck sort of ruins the effect, but what are you gonna do?


Here is a close up of the sign I made:


I bought the banner art, and then filled it in with words and had it printed at a local print shop. Then I taped it to a big piece of felt because that is what I had. It DID NOT work well. Paper and fabric are not great friends when you stick them in the wind together. Faralee also spent some time making some rag bunting, which had a very nice effect, but I don't have a decent picture of it.

Then there is this, cuz why not? Cardstock glued to cardboard, just like in ye olden times.


Why did I write some of the words in all caps and some not? I couldn't tell you.

We also needed a sign on the food tent. I found images of blank wooden signs and added the words. They are just printed on card stock (two pieces that I taped together so they were sturdier and could be read from both sides.)


STEP 4: Make Lots and Lots and Lots of Food.
As you can see we served Meat on a Stick (Brats stuck on a skewer), Chicken Legs, Cobbler, homemade icecream and my sister Faemarie's phenomenal peach pie. We also had corn on the cob, grapes, cheese and crackers and probably some other stuff that I can't remember. I really wish I had a picture, but we ate it too fast.

The chicken was way too much work. It shouldn't have been, but it took forever to cook, and lots of us spent the first half of the party in the kitchen. So figure out something more crowd friendly when you have your own Ren Faire.

STEP 5: Make and Set up Games. Ie.

Nine Men's Morris



I haven't the slightest idea how to play this. Faralee made this too, so I just don't know what to tell you.

We also set up some logs for the kids to stand on and hit each other with sticks.


Whoever stays on longest wins!

And then we had face painting which some of the nieces were more than happy to oversee.


STEP 9 (I lost count. What number are we on?): Invite a Whole Bunch of People!

When my whole family gets together there are about 40 of us, so we're a decent group all on our own. But we also made sure to invite all of my parents siblings who live close enough to come, and some of my parent's good friends.

We told people to dress up if they wanted to.


Some did, some didn't. Harrison put on some church clothes and Colin put on his SWAT costume and it was all fine, and fun and wonderful.

STEP 10: Don't forget to invite the Guests of Honor. Otherwise all your effort will be wasted.

STEP 11: Let the magic happen!

At some point, you must sit back, and let your hasty and inexpensive efforts come to fruition. So you can just enjoy being together. We were fortunate enough that a bunch of nieces and nephews wrote and performed a play, all without any prompting from the adults.





One of the little girls kept calling out from the stage "I'm doing a great job, Mom!"


We all did a great job. In fact, all in all we had so much fun that we talked about doing it again. Maybe every single year.

That was two years ago, and we haven't done it since, but my parents 52nd anniversary is coming up in July. Will this be the year we have another Renaissance Faire? Or will we decide once again that laying around eating Popsicle is a better use of our time? Who knows? Join us in two more years to find out!