New concrete…oh yeah!

So we have these black wood mulch beds all around our house and I’m not really a fan.  Then, we also have rain gutters that wash the said mulch into our yard.  It’s frustrating to say the least.  We’re going to go buy those gutter extensions so that the water will run straight to the grass instead.  But first we jumped on a project that we felt was necessary.  Concrete!

We have 2 big garbage cans that MUST stay on the side of our house (love the HOA).  To put them on the street we had to pull them through the mulch beds which pulled the mulch into the grass.  We really wanted something to make the process of taking the garbage to the street more smooth and less messy.  I called around to a handful of local concrete companies and landscape companies and ended up going with a concrete contractor that was reasonable and friendly (those are my two big qualifications).  He showed me some pictures of work he’s done and was able to get to it within a few weeks.  I really wish I had taken some before pictures but I didn’t think about it.







Doesn’t it look great?!  I never thought I’d be in love with a concrete slab but I am.

After they installed the concrete, I also did some more gardening.  I took out a big Holly bush where you see these new flowers.  Holly bushes are the worst.  When you trim them, you get stabbed to death.  It was so annoying at our last house that I’d just end up leaving the branches, that I trimmed in place rather than collect them all and end up with war wounds.  That resulted in green bushes, sprinkled with dead branches.  The bush also seems to attract those big black carpenter bumble bees and wasps.  When I saw them install holly bushes here at our new house, I knew they weren’t going to stay long.  I planted a gardenia tree, hydrangea that I had in the house and different varieties of begonias.  I can’t wait to see them grow.

So now this little corner is much more beautiful and practical.  If we could just get the construction to go away on our street now.

Tree Removal – Don’t Attempt It Yourself!

As I said previously, I’m back at it after the move but it’s still slow going.  I’m so busy!  Part of being so busy means that I have to delegate out some projects I need/want done.  I’ll explain.

One of the things we had to do when moving into this new house was take down some old trees.  We have a natural treeline in the backyard that has a weird combination of trees.  There are newer trees that seem like they’re no more than 10 years old and old trees that basically look like 200 year old oaks that have slowly broken over time and are nothing but tall dead looking sticks.  Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of the picturesque sticks but this stock photo give you the idea. There was also a lot of brush throughout all these trees.  It was just a mess in the back of our yard.  The big dead looking trees weren’t close enough to our property to do any damage if they fell (I don’t think), but man, they were an eyesore!!!  It almost looked like a tree graveyard.  Looking at tree graveyards don’t make me happy.

We’re too busy to take the time to do this ourselves, PLUS, this is a dangerous project.  So I did some local online research because this is a fairly large expense.  I found a few tree removal companies with lots of good reviews and took advantage of their free estimates.  I ended up going with the one that I liked the personalities of the best and that had decent middle-of-the-road prices. Continue reading Tree Removal – Don’t Attempt It Yourself!


The downside of having a new home is that there’s not much to the landscape.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m super grateful that our builder put plants in and sod down for us…but it’s just blahhhh.  Here’s a prime example.  

The garden bed used to come out about 5 feet more into the yard but when it rained, the driveway drainage forced the water through that bed like a raging river and washed it all out.  I told them they needed to make the bed smaller and put sod where the water drains.  Now it’s always soggy sod.  Oh well, you can’t win them all.  We’ll have to figure out drainage issues later.  Anyway, in the front of our house it’s just bushes, nothing pretty…and I like pretty things.  So I went to Costco.  That in itself should be a blog post.  I also love Costco….so much.

Costco had just put out all their spring gardening things and even though I just went for eggs, I left with so much more…as always.  I bought some massive ferns and a whole bunch of perennial bulbs.  I took out the bushes in the front row and planted to my heart’s desire, about 25-30 perennial bulbs.  Fast forward two months.  I’ve been waiting and waiting for these bulbs to come up and some have been starting to sprout, especially the hostas.  I sent my son out to spray all the weeds around the house and neglected to tell him not to touch the front.  Needless to say, he sprayed all my emerging bulbs with weed killer, all except for the hostas.  I almost died.  I’m not sure much else will happen with this garden bed this year as far as these perennials go.  Not much has come up.  I will have to plant some annuals, although I have no clue where all the bulbs are in there.  It will be a bit tricky.  If you look really hard in the front, you can see tiny little green shoots that were supposed to be Bleeding Hearts, there is also some Astilbe and Hosta.  They’re all shade varieties of perennial bulbs as most of that bed is shaded.

I also bought a blue ceramic pot at Costco (wishing I had bought a cheaper lighter version somewhere else though) big enough to plant the hibiscus tree they also had.  I went to a local nursery after that and got some plants for the bottom of the tree in the pot.  Here is how it turned out!  Now I have something to look at out there on my still empty deck.  Next project is to stain that deck!  Well, we’re also pouring some concrete next week.  That may happen first.

Moved Again!

sold signY,all!  I moved again. It’s why the recent hiatus.  Move, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then some home improvement projects.  I think this was my 14th move in 20 years.  No, we’re not military.  This time though, we bought after 8 years of renting so I’ll probably have more blog posts about home improvement projects along with neighborhood issues.  Oh, have I got some neighborhood issues now.  I moved into a new build community and I’m currently surrounded by construction.  Yep, I’ve got stuff to talk about!

Last time I wrote about home improvement and facelifts and such.  There aren’t many facelifts needed in a new build but there has been some painting, some closets installed, some shelves installed and lots of unpacking, shopping decorating.  I’m not compaining about that!  We also just bought our first pet EVER.  She’s 8 weeks old and has turned our schedules upside down.

Right now our neighborhood has an HOA but it’s run by the developer.  At some point the residents will take over…I think around 50% occupancy.  Issues we’re dealing with are street parking, construction workers speeding through the neighborhood, theft from unlocked homes under construction, and of course tons of fixing of things done wrong.  Haha.

So now that life has crazied down a bit, I will be back on regularly.  Stay tuned!


Home Improvements

How hard is it to just spruce up the face of your house a bit?  Not too hard.  I’ve mentioned before that HOA’s are a love and hate thing with me.  I love them because they usually stay on top of properties and don’t let them get run down too much.  Sometimes however, there’s nothing they can do.  In older neighborhoods that don’t have HOAs, you get what you get. Some houses are completely run down and grown over, some houses are crazy colors, some have so much stuff in their yard that you can barely see the house.  One neighborhood I lived in was like this. You had no control over what the neighborhood looked like and we knew that going in. But really, how hard is it to give your house a facelift? Not hard at all. It just takes a bit of money or elbow grease or both. A great home improvement contractor is the way to go if you’ve bought something that needs some some help and you have the money to spend.  You also know that things will be done right and to code.  Some people though, like doing projects themselves. I’m a little bit of both. I love projects but I have to think about my time personal time constraints and overall deadlines.  I’ll pay someone if I have to.


Click on the photo above to see some great before and after facelifts.  Some are fairly minor home improvement projects and some are major. A can of paint and some serious yard work and sweat equity are all it takes in some cases. In others, major renovation is required. If you’re in this situation and trying to decide how to help your own community by sprucing up your house, get to know your community and ask for referrals for good contractors or jump in as neighbors.  I’ve found neighbors with some serious home reno skills!

You also never know what’s keeping someone from fixing up their own place. I’ve actually seen neighbors band together to help someone with a house and yard facelift because they were too old to do it themselves. So again, get to know your neighbors. Talk about the neighborhood and what can be done if it’s older and you want to protect home values.  One house being spruced up can sometimes create a domino effect in the neighborhood!  Everyone wants to look good.

Another thing you can do is reach out to your local Habitat for Humanity. They are known for building houses but have shifted and actually take on whole neighborhood renovation projects in a lot of areas around the nation.  Their focus much of the times is on a neighborhood that has many residents that can’t help themselves….elderly or disabled, etc.  It doesn’t hurt to reach out and ask!

Stay tuned for more neighborhood help goodies.


Crime Watch

So this blog will go back and forth with issues I currently deal with and issues I’ve come across in the past. This post will be will be about a current issue. Crime.

notice-neighborhood-crime-watchI live in a great neighborhood right now. It’s super family friendly and has a very strict HOA which can be good and bad, that’s a post for another time.  But lately we’ve had a bit of a crime spree going on. It’s very rare in our area but something we’ve been learning to deal with in precautionary measures.

We’ve had theft going on slowly around our road for the last few weeks.  First, a car was stolen in a neighborhood across the way.  Next, a night full of car break-ins.  The very next night another car was stolen in a different neighborhood next door to ours.  Then, our middle school around the corner had all of it’s landscaping equipment, including the ride-on lawnmower, stolen from it’s locked shed.  It was all our community could talk about.  In our own neighborhood we had the mass car break-ins. Some guns were stolen and many cars were rummaged through.  This made everyone VERY uncomfortable.  The police mentioned that it was a big group that comes in and spreads out to get a lot done in the shortest amount of time possible.

Well, our neighborhood decided to send watchmen out during the night.  Other neighborhoods did the same.  Some decided to leave their dogs on the front porches. Eventually the perps were caught in the next town over.  Much of their “loot” was found which proved that they were the ones responsible in our area. Thank heavens they were caught.  I hate criminals.

There is a lesson to be learned from this though.  We should always be taking precautions.  We never know when our beautiful, peaceful, friendly neighborhood will be a victim of crime.  Even within our own neighborhood are teens that get an itch for keying cars and stupid pranks.  I think I’m setting up cameras from now on.  I’ve seen it so useful time and time again.  Recently someone had been driving around stealing packages off of front porches.  Someone had a camera and that person was caught by the police because of that footage.  So cameras are a great option but can be a bit pricey to some.  An obvious thing to do is to leave all the outdoor lights on that you can.  No criminal wants to poke around your cars and house if it’s lit up like a Christmas tree.  Another thing we need to make sure and do is LOCK all our vehicles and our house.

Be a part of the crime watch community.  Go to your local meetings or set up a local meeting for your community or neighborhood. Starting a crime watch on your street is a relatively easy way to say NO to crime.  It can be as involved as you want it to be.  It can also be as simple as posting a sign. Usually there is some kind of minimum requirement to meet once a year or so.  Contact your local police department for details.

I’m so thankful our perps were caught and you can rest assured, our lights will be on, doors locked and hopefully soon…cameras installed.

Take action!  Click here for a directory of hotlines and helpful links for crime victims.


Dogs in the Hood


This is me.  Not really, but you get the idea.  Frustrated.  That’s what I have been. If you read my first post, you’ll know what this blog is about…so here it goes…

Neighborhoods. With HOAs or not, they’ve all got problems.  Now, overall, I like neighborhoods with HOAs.  They’ll obviously look better but they’re still frustrating to deal with.  The first time I lived in an HOA community was with my first purchase which was about 6 years into my marriage.  It was a townhome community.  Before that, we had been renting in apartments (that could be a whole separate blog!).  The first HOA wasn’t all bad.  They kept up the grounds and salted the streets and plowed during winter.  It was nice!  We were busy students and it was worth the monthly fees.

The second neighborhood was another home purchase, also with an HOA.  This HOA didn’t monitor things as well but overall the neighborhood stayed nice.  The problem in this neighborhood was DOGS.  I grew up with animals.  My husband grew up with animals.  We, however, didn’t have animals and for this good reason. BARKING.  The houses all around us had barking dogs.  Dogs would bark at guests. Dogs would bark at us when we took out the trash. Dogs would bark at their dog bowls….ALL….DAY….LONG.  Imagine a dog, staring at his bowl and barking over and over and over.  I couldn’t believe it.  I talked to the neighbors and they didn’t care.  Law enforcement didn’t care because it was during the day. I had no recourse.  I decided to try and buy some devices that emitted a high frequency when the dogs barked…..a noise that they wouldn’t like.  Didn’t work so well.  I’m honestly not sure what you can do if you’re caught in this situation. I pray you never are.  There’s got to be an invention somewhere that can put barking dogs to rest!  Currently, we don’t live in that house anymore though.  Another story for another day.  If you have any great ideas for getting dogs to stop barking…share!  Stay tuned for my next exciting post!


UPDATE: I meant to share this article that I found in case you have a dog barking problem.  Most of these will only work if you’re the actual dog owner.  You’re welcome!

Getting Started


I’ll be starting this little blog of mine to vent if you will about the neighborhood or neighborhoods in general!  There are many issues to address in neighborhoods.  I think all neighborhoods have the same issues for the most part.  It may be different based on geographical locations/weather but people are people and so there’s that!  There will be some tips and helpful links along the way on how to deal with particular situations and companies needed to keep the neighborhood a great place to live.  There is currently no association so I feel that this is needed and may be helpful to others.  Anyone in a neighborhood is welcome to comment.  Stay tuned for my next post!