31. May 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: Backyard

It’s been forever but I’m back! We’ve been busy bees working around the house so I have lots of stuff to post but haven’t had a break from the doing to talk about it!


Crysta from Fern Gully is after me. Well… at least I think so. If you don’t know what Fern Gully is… then somehow you missed one of the early 90’s greatest eco-propaganda movies for kids.  It was fantastic.

We took down a few trees from the yard at the beginning of May, and by a few I mean five HUMONGOUS trees.  Even though I don’t at all regret the decision, I still can’t help but feel guilty about it. I blame Fern Gully.

When we moved in, our front yard had two maple trees and an oak tree. Our house faces south so the trees in the front yard are great for blocking out the sun and heat. Unfortunately they were so overgrown that although we have a ton of windows, our house was really dark during the day.

In the back we had two large maple trees (along with a handful of smaller ones that had sprouted up over the years and been allowed to grow), an oak, a cedar, and a crepe myrtle.  Although our lot is .20 acres, it felt like one of the smaller lots we had looked at during the buying process because the trees were so large in proportion to the yard.

When we moved in, I thought I just wanted to remove the maple tree closest to the house in back (about 15 feet away) because I was concerned about the massive root structure and that it would damage the basement walls eventually if allowed to keep growing.  Then we found out from our neighbors that when they removed the maple tree from the back corner of their property a few weeks before we moved in, its roots had already reached their house.  That convinced me that we should take out the second maple. The oak in the back was hollow so we knew it would have to be taken out eventually though it could probably have stayed a few more years.   The cedar was growing right up against the fence and didn’t make much sense where it was planted.

The first week we were in the house we received an estimate from the tree service that had done our neighbors yard.  Their proposal included removing the four trees from the back and pruning the front three trees.  It was higher than we anticipated but didn’t seem completely unreasonable.

The second company, Absolute Tree Service, pointed out that the oak tree in front was not only hollow but infested and considered a hazard.  They suggested we take that tree down because they thought it was likely to fall in a storm.   Luckily even including taking down an extra tree, the second service was able to save us a few thousand dollars off the first estimate.  They did a great job and we definitely understand why they were rated so high on Angie’s List.  I would highly recommend them for anyone in Fairfax County needing some tree work done.

Now that the trees are gone our yard looks huge! I can’t even believe how much room we have now that we don’t have to work around the trees.

Of course even when you’re paying someone else to help out, one project always leads to another. The roots from the backyard have been redistributed since they were bug free (unlike the infested tree in front), and we saved a piece of stump to eventually use in the house as soon as I settle on a location.   I’ll admit the yard looks pretty rough in these pictures but we’ve been working hard every weekend since to clean things up  and I’ll have posts up detailing those projects soon. Soon-ish? Ok, eventually!

How do you decide which projects to contract out and which to do yourself?

Does anyone else have guilt over removing plants and trees from their yard or am I just crazy!?

Won’t you come in?

Montana and I looked at houses online for about a year before we finally bought our house. About a month out we drove around neighborhoods a couple of weekends in a row and scoped out around 30 homes before finally picking a handful we wanted to tour with our agent. When we walked in our stoneybrooke house we immediately felt at home. The layout on the main level was a huge part of that as it has such a great natural flow.

When you walk through the front door, the kitchen is directly ahead.

I love the kitchen because its spacious, open to the family room (living room? seriously who can tell the difference between those two!) and has enough cupboards for all my dishes.

Things I’m not so much a fan of about the kitchen are that the cabinets are mostly laminate other than the doors,

the sink is ridiculously shallow so water gets everywhere when you wash larger dishes,

…and the counters are tile which are very hard to clean.  Also, the kitchen is painted this loooooveelyy rag rolled salmon. Ahh. Unfortunately the previous owners were quite the fans of rag rolling. It’s all over the upstairs too.

Directly right of the kitchen is the family room. I’m so so so excited that we don’t have to tear down a wall to have an open kitchen!!!! The kitchen always seems like the place where people gather at parties so it’s nice to have the living room as a kind of overfill spot. The living room will be Ben’s (the bun buns) area since he LOVES the carpet and it’s something we could tell he missed when we lived in the condo. At the condo he didn’t run around and play so much because he HATED the hardwood floors. Ben’s been exploring the main floor a lot since we moved in.

The family room has a door leading to the car port which got some immediate love when we moved in. Introducing our new Schlage locks!

Connected to the family room and to the right of the front door is the office! How cool is that! Did I mention how this house is SO much more than we hoped for?! Right now Montana’s desk is in there but the sellers left us two desks. One of the desks David is using in his room and the other we have in our room upstairs. Montana’s been dragging his chair up and down the stairs so he can study in quiet and not keep me up. We really need to get another office chair but one thing at a time!

Between the front door and the office is a powder room and Samson’s eating area. We had Samson’s food and water a few places for the first couple weeks we were here but settled on this hallway.  This nook is a just big enough space, it’s on the tile, and its out-of-the-way of where we’ll usually be walking. We had to get him an oversized place mat because Samson could beat any toddler in a messiest eater contest. Guaranteed.

Got to love those hollywood lights. Haha. Oh well…

To the left of the front door is our living room. We’re using all the furniture we had before for now until we get more settled on colors.

The only thing “new” in that room is the TV stand which I found on craiglist last week for $75! So exciting! Our old TV stand was only 46” long which was fine for our 40” TV, but we got a second TV earlier this year that is 60” and is WAY too big for our old TV stand. The “new” TV stand had doors in front of where we have the verizon box and the PS3 and 3 drawers but we removed them to make shelves. We’ll have to clean it up a little more still and I’m considering painting it eventually or maybe just staining it darker.   It’s in pretty good shape though for now so it’s not something that needs to get done right away.

Our dining room is still pretty bare but has our AWESOMEST (yes that is a word) Craigslist find ever. Someone posted this Ethan Allen China Hutch for only $150!!!!! AMAZING considering that similar sets go for $4-$6 thousand there! Yes, it’s from the 80’s but I think it’s gorgeous. This also might get painted but I haven’t decided yet. Part of me feels too bad because it’s in such good condition.


Well that’s it! There’s been lots going on around here so I haven’t been able to post as often as I hoped but maybe things will calm down soon? Yeah, probably not.

Who’s found something awesome on Craigslist lately?

****I looked up the difference between family and living room on Wikipedia and had to switch them around in my post. I had them backwards!