May 20, 2018:


Yesterday Prince Harry married American Meghan Markle and I couldn't get enough of the royal wedding. What a gorgeous dress, the bride was radiantly beautiful and the church at Windsor - oh my goodness, the flowers alone were soooo beautiful. There's nothing like a good love story to make one appreciate how precious we can be (and should be) to each other.

I'm glad the weather was perfect yesterday for the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex's wedding. I can't say the same for around here. Spring keeps teasing and then going away. This morning I woke up to a "balmy" 47 degrees F outside, rain, damp, and I turned the heat back on! It's May 20th, the heat. should. not. be. on. Period.

Last Thursday, however, was beautiful. I was able to get a goodly amount of yard and garden clean-up done over several days last week. I also took some photos of my flowering tree anchoring the north corner of my house and made the current collage. I think it's an ornamental cherry, and on the the other end of the house, I think that's called a purple sand cherry? I'll have to check that. The blossoms on the tree do not have a distinct fragrance, but the purple shrub that wants to be a tree (despite my hacking it back, back and back yearly - I'm losing, by the way) has myriad blossoms with a distinct fragrance. I can't decide if the scent is too beautiful to bear or too awful to smell, it certainly can be overpowering!

This coming week will be the third cut of the grass this season. We had rain late Friday night and then for several hours earlier this morning. This rain, on top of the rain we had over four days the prior weekend, and the grass is growing like nobody's business! I don't mind doing the grass, though, as long as it's not too hot, too cold, not raining, and not too windy. I'm not picky at all, am I...

I still have a lot of raking out of areas that suffered from snow mold over the winter, and have not yet really tackled cleaning out the north flower bed in the backyard. That will be a chore!

But Memorial Day weekend is coming. This coming Saturday I will be out with a friend (who has a nice large van - goody!) stocking up on potting soil, top soil to fill in never-ending low spots in the yard, grass seed, and lots of plants! For some reason, this spring seems busier than those in prior years. I can't figure out why that is...


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Cost List for Adding Curb Appeal Projects

Hola!  The heat index hit 102 degrees F today here in my hometown.  The "lows" this evening will drop down to the high 70's, so the AC will stay on this evening and the windows will remain closed, sigh.  Relief is promised for Tuesday when a cold front from the north is supposed to start pushing through dropping the temperatures into the more normal for this time of year 70's with much lower dew points.  Again today the dew point is over 70 and it feels like a combination of an incinerator oven and too much steam in the steam bath outside for me to be comfortable.

I was out again, however, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. cleaning out and adding fresh water to the concrete bird bath (acts as the equivalent of Grand Central Station in NYC), watering a few shrubs and plants that did not get the benefits of the thunderstorm we had Friday night/Saturday early morning, and sweeping up nut shells from my tribe of squirrels - the mess never ends even if the weather keeps them away in their nests for most of the day.  A few of my squirrel tribe who have nests around my house do come down to the yard and lay in the shade in the grass, with their hind legs stretched out behind them, just like dogs do.  So cute!

I thought you might like to know what it's costs me thus far to embark on this round of adding curb appeal projects to my front yard.  As I've mentioned before, I'm retired and on a fixed budget, so I keep a close eye on those "miscellaneous expenditures!  So far, this is what I've spent to add some pizzazz to my front yard.  Cost includes shipping plus sales tax, if charged:

New red mailbox:  $47.99
New black porch light:  $60.58
Apple Red Rustoleum Paint for front door:  $8.65 (32 oz., which will be more than enough to provide me with two coats of paint for the door)
Black shutters for picture window (15" x 70"):  $68.89
Two artificial 3-ball topiaries:  $49.93

Total:  $236.04

This does not include the cost of installation of the new porch light, or the mailbox and shutters, which requires a masonry bit on a power screw driver/drill and a good ladder tall enough to reach the top of the picture window framing.  I am going to ask a neighbor who owes me a favor if he has the tools and know-how to do this and if he would be willing to help me out.  If not, I will have to hire a handyman to do these 3 installs for me.

Stay tuned.  I am dreaming of lush front yard garden beds extended out from the house to cut down on the amount of lawn I need to care for/cut, and have been day-dreaming over endless Pinterest photos of gorgeous front yards that would be ridiculously labor intensive to keep looking that good.  My reality is that my well-tended stretch of lush green grass actually needs to be cut RIGHT NOW both out front and in the back yard, but I'm not going to attempt it with the heat index over 100 degrees F and dew points in the tropical zone, I'd keel over in 10 minutes tops!  If I'm going to have to cut the grass every 5 days during this time of year, I want to minimize the area that needs cutting for sure!  That means expanding the flower beds.  That is something I think I may be able to afford to hire a landscaper to do for me (remove sod and add edging, I'll do the planting and primping).

However, tomorrow I am going to be calling around to firms that specialize in poly-foam injections to raise concrete slabs and sidewalks, etc. to arrange for free estimates.  I want to find out exactly how much it would cost me to have my front sidewalk raised where it needs to be so I don't have a giant size step to the first step on my front porch. From what I've read, it supposed to be more stable over time than the traditional mudjacking technique using concrete and soil injection to raise a slab, etc.  I've been sitting on that project since I moved into this home nearly 4 years ago, and it's time to get it fixed.  No more procrastinating, Jan!

Updated June 18, 2018:  Oops - I made a mistake.  The two topiaries' cost (including shipping) is $116.29, not $49.93 as I previously reported above.  Thus, the total expenditures for my planned front yard pick-me-ups is $302.40, not $236.04 as previously stated.  Me bad, mea culpa!

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