We are enjoying an amazingly mild January. Mind you, I’m not complaining. I hate snow. Well really, I hate having to bundle up every time I step outside. This year the winter has been really strange; although, that is working in our favor.
Northern lower Michigan is normally buried in snow by this time of year. This year we can still see some grass in patches in the yard, its dead grass but still that’s weird. Much as I hate the cold and snow I do hope that we get some before the winter is over. Otherwise we could be in for a very dry spring and that isn’t good for our plants.
I am really starting to look forward to being able to be out digging again. We have been poring over the plant books. I know we are going to be ordering two re-blooming lilacs. I love lilac bushes but they never stay in flower long enough. They are beautiful for two weeks and smell so fresh, and then all the blossoms die and you are left with a nice green bush. I have never tried the re-blooming ones before, but the nursery book says they should do fine in our zone. I’ll be posting more on them during the summer when we find out how they do.
I should be building up some more muscle this spring as well since we want to get the hole dug for a pond. We haven’t worked out the exact dimensions of it yet. My roommate would like to be able to have fish in it as well as water plants so the pond could end up being a major job.
Yes, I know, this is perhaps not the best way to look at it. However, I have spent the last 3 days doing nothing but cooking getting ready for a family dinner. We had 16 people invited over for that holiday dinner and some were coming from as far away as California. Talk about a stressful meal to prepare.
Keep in mind that we have only been in our new house since August 3rd. We were actually not planning on having the holiday dinner this year because my roommate and her children were planning to visit family out of state. Those plans fell through and suddenly we were doing a holiday dinner anyway. Which meant really that I was doing a holiday dinner since my roommate has a permanently broken leg. She helped as much as she could.
It was all going pretty well, we had most of the cookies and deserts done when suddenly we got thrown another curve ball. Our main breaker died. Got to love surprises that take away all your electricity and heat. That’s when we found out that the fuse box in our new house was made by a company that is no longer in business and is almost impossible to find parts for. We had a choice to make. Wait two more days with no heat for the part to be special ordered, or call every electrician in the phone book and hope that one of them had the part in stock.
We went with option 2, two more days and nights with no heat in Northern Michigan did not sound like a good idea. Not to mention that we were supposed to be hosting a Christmas dinner the next day. All in all I’m just glad that the holidays are over and we can get back to normal. Well as normal as it ever is around here.
Thank goodness that my roommate’s brother is good with his hands. He came up and helped us replace the portions of the deck that someone who lived here previously had torn apart to use for firewood. It’s a wonder to me that anyone at all is willing to rent out their property. So many renters have no respect at all for the homes they rent.
In our case this worked in our favor. The people we bought the house from were tired of trying to find good renters and decided to sell the property on a land contract. We are so glad they did. At the moment the house has a few rough edges for us to work on, but most of the improvements are cosmetic.
To us this means that we can make it exactly what we want it to be a bit at a time. We are trying hard to complete one project at a time but we are only human and we get sidetracked now and then. Speaking of sidetracked, I started out talking about our deck.
While our deck is now structurally sound it does look a bit strange. We are working on a tight budget trying to get things done. So at the moment our deck is part weathered wood and partially new clean wood.
Next spring we plan to rent a power washer and get it all back to new condition and stain it. It will be a slow process but we figure that we have the rest of our lives to keep tweaking it.
We are trying to decide on the color of stain we want for the deck in the spring. We are leaning towards a cherry color. Of course we also talked about roofing it over and making a screened deck out of it. I never said we had small plans.
It looks like winter might have finally caught up with us here in northern Michigan. This means that instead of digging outside I can start doing the research on what I want to do next spring. Well that and working on the inside of the house.
We are trying to recycle and reuse when we can. Thank goodness for low VOC paints. I can still get a lot done in the winter because these paints don’t have the strong smells and chemicals that make painting in enclosed spaces a problem. I really need to pick up a new digital camera so that I can show everyone exactly what we are doing.
The only room that we really have finished is the living room, but then again it was the one room that needed the most help. When we bought the house the living room walls were the worst possible shade of greenish black that I have ever seen. Do you remember those really old blackboards in school? The ones that you couldn’t really tell whether they were black or green? That was the color on the living room walls.
This is how it looks now. We are so proud of how it turned out.
Add to that a ceiling that looked like a coke bottle exploded and sprayed pop all over it and you can see why we had to work on it first. There is no overhead lighting in the living room so it was like having a cave off the dining room in the evenings. I really wish we would have thought to take a before picture, but all we were thinking of was getting rid of that hideous color on the walls. It’s a little cluttered but then again we moved two households into one house so we are still in the process of weeding things out.
After getting the inside of the house working for us, we started on the landscaping.
For some reason mother nature is giving us some extra time this year. It is now November and we are still having some very nice days although the nights are dropping below freezing. The point behind all this is that we had more time to work on the yard than we thought we would this autumn.
We got a few of the flower beds dug up and ready to go for spring. Although, I did make one decision that may not have been all that smart. It sounded really good at the time though. At some point in the past people had planted a bed of orange daylilies between the deck and the back porch. If you’re a gardener you probably know what my mistake was.
Yeah, I decided to move them.
This doesn’t really sound all that bad does it? If not then you obviously haven’t tried to do it! We have no idea how long this bed of daylilies had been growing there, but to say that they were overgrown would be an understatement. Root bound is the term that comes to mind when I think of what we found.
To continue, we only dug up a small section of flower bed, maybe 3 foot by 6 foot. From that small space we recovered so many daylily plants and bulbs that we had enough to line the 50 feet of picket fence in front of the house. That left us with only about 6 grocery bags of mixed bulbs and dormant plants.
My roommate keeps laughing at me when she looks at them.
I have promised to try and find a way to dispose of them and at the moment we have several listed on eBay. If that doesn’t work, well we do plan on fencing in the rest of the 2 acre yard so we’ll have more than enough room to find them all a home.
A new house means a lot of tinkering to get things the way you want them to be. We are working on a short budget so most of what we are doing is cosmetic for now.
We did get the deck fixed. Other than that we are working on the interior and trying to sneak in a few flowers before winter closes in on us.