Curb Appeal & Priorities

I haven’t posted in several weeks, because basically nothing has happened in several weeks.  We’ve been on a short home-projects hiatus; we did so much in January, we kind of needed a break for the bulk of February, and it was worth it.

Even though we aren’t done with the kitchen yet, we’ve been really getting the itch to do something with the front yard.  Spring is just around the corner (except it’s freakin’ snowing again today, ARE YOU KIDDING ME), and we are in desperate need of curb appeal.

Current

Our home as of this morning, hopefully Anthony remembered to bring in the newspaper after he took this picture, which he only took because I blew up his phone with a million texts asking him to go outside and take a picture because it’s his day off and I neeeeeeeeeed iiiiiit, for my blooooooooooog.

It’s a million times better than when we moved in (especially in regards to the paint color, good Lord), but the yard is depressing.  The gravel addition to the driveway is super ghetto, we need grass so badly it hurts, and it’s all just bleh and yuck.  We’ve come to the conclusion that all of the prep work needed to get the yard ready for sod is actually a really really big job: there’s too much soil, it’s all full of rocks and old tree roots and horribly uneven.  We could try to do the work ourselves, but it would take us months, even if we committed to getting out in the yard and doing a bunch of work every night after work, which (as we learned when we decided to move the gravel) we honestly just don’t have the desire to do.  We both have long commutes and when we get home we want to relax, run errands, make dinner, etc., not go out in the yard and do manual labor until sunset (plus, we’d have to take all the extra dirt to the dump, which is more time and money and truck rentals…nope).  So we’ve gotten some quotes from local landscapers and are having someone come and prep the yard for us at the beginning of April.  We’ll lay the sod ourselves since it’s super easy, and we’re working on picking out what kind of trees and shrubs we want to plant as well.  We are SO excited to finally have a yard that isn’t mud.

We’ve also decided to do something about the driveway.  Back in late summer/early spring, we moved a bunch of gravel to each side of the single-car driveway so that we could both park in it without having to deal with the stupid tandem parking situation.  It was great for the summer, but it’s pretty ghetto looking and was never meant as a long term thing.  So we’re having concrete poured on both sides of the driveway, expanding it by about 7 feet in width.  It’s going to look infinitely less ghetto, and it’ll be way nicer to get out of the car on a nicely paved driveway instead of on muddy gravel.  The contractor we’re using told us that part of his quote was for the gravel he’d need to use as base material, and we said HAAAAAAAAAAA LET US TELL YOU ABOUT OUR GRAVEL SITUATION.  When he realized just how much gravel we have laying around on our lot (omg so much damn gravel), he lowered his quote a bunch since we’ve got more than enough to use as base material.

We’re also having our walkway expanded into more of a front porch.  Currently we’ve got a diagonal walkway from the driveway to our door, which is pretty narrow and flanked on both sides by mud.  On the right side we have a weird triangular-garden thing, but because our house is U-shaped it gets basically no sun, so it’s pretty soggy and unimpressive.  There’s a rhododendron there that’s not doing super well, and would be much better suited in a different spot in the yard.  On the left is just a bunch of mud, which used to be gravel.  I don’t like how close up near the door all the mud is, especially on the left side, so we’re moving the rhododendron to a different spot in the yard and having concrete poured on both sides.  Now, instead of having a super narrow mud-flanked walkway, we’ll have a nice level porch area!

See how close it comes to the front door on the left?  Way too close for my personal comfort.

And because nothing ever goes as smoothly as we’d like, before we can have the concrete poured we have to have the hose spigot-nozzle thing moved up higher.  For some reason it comes out of the foundation, so it’s basically on the ground.

Hose

WTF.

So that needs to be raised up higher, or it’ll end up encased in concrete.  Why is our house so freakin weird?

We have completed one yard-related task already, though: We had our weird stump ground out.  I’m not opposed to tree stumps.  I generally don’t mind them, they can be a cute place to put a potted plant or some seasonal stuff, but ours was in a weird spot and it had ants.  So, yeah, it had to go.  I didn’t take a “before” picture because I was actually at work when the guy came and ground it out, but I found an older one:

4

And here’s the after:

Stump Dust

It’s the world’s largest pile of woodchips!  Plus, the top of the stump, since it was actually pretty tall, so the stump-grinder guy took a chainsaw to it, cut it way down low near the ground, then ground the rest of it out.  We need to cut it up, or something, and put it in the yard waste, but we don’t have a chainsaw so we’ll get to that later.

Overall, having the driveway and walkway expanded and having a nice front yard with some simple landscaping is going to make such a difference for our house!  I’m very heavily impacted by my environment, and having such an unsightly yard has really been getting to me lately.  I don’t care as much what other people think about it (although I’m sure the neighbors have given up hope that we’ll ever fix it at this point), I care more about what I think about it, and I think it’s hideous right now.  But, we’ve been saving and planning and I’m really excited that we’ll be able to increase the value of our house, as well as the amount we like our house, without going into any additional debt!

Speaking of debt: we’ve over 25% debt free!  It’s taken a lot of work but I’m so excited that we’ve made so much progress toward our goal of debt-free living.  It’s interesting, though, how different interactions with some people become when you’re working on a financial goal and they just don’t get it.  Especially when you’re simultaneously working on paying off debt and saving up for big house projects at the same time.  I get asked why we can’t/won’t do/buy _________ (insert really about anything), because obviously if we’re doing all this work on our house we’re flush with cash and have tons of extra money laying around and can totally do/buy ________, right?  It’s really frustrating, I won’t lie, to feel like I’ve got to justify the way we budget and spend our money to people.  But some people really do expect us to when we say no to something.  It’s absolutely ridiculous!  It’s challenging having people around us who aren’t supportive of the goals we’ve set and are working really hard to achieve, but I try to take it with a grain of salt and remember that because we prioritize, budget, and spend our money differently than a lot of people do, some honestly just don’t get it.

So, that’s about it for now.  We’re getting closer and closer to being debt-free, and by the end of April we should have some serious curb appeal!  It’s been 11 months since we bought our house, I can’t wait to do a side-by-side comparison of the changes we’ve made in the last year in a couple weeks!

Ok and in the time it took me to write this post, it has started and stopped snowing at least 4 times, and now it’s kind of sunny.  The PNW is weird, man.

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