Shed, Shed, Shed

Oh me, oh my, oh my shed. Here is the best before pic I had, and I use the term “best” very loosely.  The lighting here is a little off; it’s less yellow in real life. But you get the idea.

Backyard as seen from the breakfast nook.  Fenced and backs up to a park.

Backyard as seen from the breakfast nook. Fenced and backs up to a park.

My shed was nearly covered with pittosporum bushes. They were very tall, growing up under the eaves of the shed and over the roof.  They had to be trimmed. They should have been trimmed before the last frost, but they actually got trimmed last week.

In all of its glory
In all of its glory

Oh my god, that shed looks even worse. I didn’t know that was possible.  The overgrown shrubs were doing me a favor – who knew?  So, let’s start at the beginning. There used to be a big tree growing to the left of the shed on the fenceline. That tree came down earlier this year and was ground into a pile of amazing mulch, which you can see at the base of the freshly planted magnolia bush.

There used to be a piece of trim on the left of the door frame, but that piece just fell off when I tugged on it.  There is damage from ants and god knows what else on the frame of this door.


It looks kind of messy inside, but this is actually fairly well organized.  And I’m in the middle of digging beds and such, so cut me some slack, OK?

  1. DSCN0277The inside – oh the humanity!

But you can see in the center of the photo, that sliver of light blue? That’s not a plastic cone – why would I have a plastic cone? That is a tarp covering the back of the shed, because the walls have separated, come off the foundation, and sunk down.  If you scroll up to the first couple of pictures, you can see that the foundation is just cement blocks.  But if you come around to the back:

DSCN0289You don’t see those blocks at all! Very bad news, bears, bad news indeed. That bottom board will crumble if you poke at it – it’s been damaged by termites. There is not an active termite infestation, this is just damage from an old infestation.  But, geez, what a downer.  I had been entertaining hopes that this old shed could be saved.  My delightful handyman and I had talked about just wrapping it with new siding and repainting – a facelift.

DSCN0295But after looking at the damage, that didn’t seem prudent. I have been hating this tarp-covered shed since before I was even looking to buy a house, because this faces the park behind the house, and I walked the dogs there.  Ugh.  Another option handyman and I thought about was moving the shed to a new foundation to shore that up, but there is so much damage, that won’t work, either.

DSCN0272So say your goodbyes to the shed. Its time has come, and its time has gone.  Handyman and I don’t have a timeline set, but this old baby won’t last the summer.  And when it is gone, I might turn the area left between the bushes into a little hideaway place to sit, like a little secret garden.  We’ll see!

And please do admire the clover blooming all over my grass.  Clover is good at fixing nitrogen into the soil, and when it is growing in your grass, it is a sign that your soil is nitrogen-deficient.  The yellow leaves on the bushes are actually saying the same thing.  I’m slowly, slowly working on improving the soil in my yard, but until I get there, I’m not rushing the clover out, because that stuff is working for me! Source for my nitrogen info is here.



My sister from another mother, Victoria Elizabeth Barnes, is hosting a giveaway on her blog.

Click to enter the contest

Click to enter the contest

It’s a Sneeboer Trowel by the Garden Tool Company.  Look at that real wood handle. Look at it sparkle!  My last trowel I purchased broke in half as I was trying to dig up the canna lillies that will never die – I swear they probably date from the paleozoic era.  Anyway,.
Shiny AND a garden tool?  I cannot resist. Go get in on the goodness!

Ahoy there, mateys!

Please insert the usual excuses about my absence here. I’m terribly sorry to have been such a tease. Sadly, it won’t be the last time.

In the past four months I have:

Created one curtain for the living roomImage

Don’t mind the bookcase detritus on the window seat. There was room rearranging going on. If I only showed you perfect pictures, I wouldn’t show any pictures at all.  Curtain two is in progress. 🙂 I have cut and pinned panels for Craftopia, but that hasn’t been done yet.

I’ve welcomed several roommates to Elephant Culo, all of whom have been wonderful in their own ways. L has left for Chicago, J for Atlanta, but K is here until July. She has been a delight to live with – so laid back! – and has shared lots of Danish treats with me. I will really miss her when she goes back to Copenhagen in July, but something tells me she’ll be ready to get back home after a few weeks in the Carolina summer.  She’s staying in this room.  It’s not finished, of course, but it’s cozy.


The dogs have been doing a lot of work, supervising.


I’ve been quite busy in the garden, working on getting what passes for beds in the front yard blooming. We’ll get to weeding on another day. I have made a compost bin out of pallets and a pergola (well, the pergola is not quite finished, pics to follow eventually).


No picture, it seems, is complete if Goose isn’t in it. I had to go through a lot of shots to find the blurry awful low light one with Maverick, above, but I didn’t want him to feel left out.  Sibling rivalry and all, you know.  Lots of plans for this big old space, lots of work to do. K and I have enjoyed lighting a fire and relaxing in the spring evenings.


The photo is from a cell phone in low light, so that’s the quality explanation. You can see the ball fields in the background, and get an idea of why I am interested in planted a little bit of a hedge for privacy.  All in good time, right?  Ciao for now!

Love Affects Curb Appeal

Elephant Culo as she appeared on Zillow when she was for sale.

I haven’t done a ton to the outside of my house.  I really haven’t.  I spent $60 on plants (azaleas and pansies), I had the gate added to the left, painted the front door, painted the house numbers, lights and mailbox, and had the window trim wrapped in vinyl and the soffits painted.  Not a lot in the way of updates.  But look at how different the house looks.

The pile of unpacked but not put away tchotchkes in the bay window doesn’t add much.  I think the difference is just that someone lives here now and loves the place.

Tiny Steps

This week had more frustrations from, guess where, LoanTown!  After a promising telephone call after 7 last Friday night from Chris the “draft processor” at M&T Bank, I thought getting the drafts (checks) for the renovation part of the loan was going to go smoothly.


Wrong!  I get the happy trio together to do our first inspection, required for the draft request.  That trio is yours truly, Steve the contractor, and Dan the HUD inspector.  Dan and Steve have the work write-ups that were completed many moons ago, and submitted as part of the loan, and they check off everything that’s done.  Somethings are only 95% done, so Dan says we only get 95% of the cost allotted.  Then, on top of that, 10% of each line item is held back until the end.  When all is said and done, over $15,000 worth of work has been completed – over half of the amount I borrowed for renovations.

Awesome, right?  Well, sort of.  Because I ask Chris the next day if he received the paperwork, and he says “Yes, but . . .”  Guys, I don’t know about you, but I hate “Yes, but.” There is this apparent policy or rule or, I don’t know, bullshit, that if your draw is over 50%, the bank needs a second title search.  Why?  I don’t know.  Ass-covering, probably.  I don’t know how I’d manage to encumber this house further having taken out so much money between this mortgage and my student loans that my debt to income ration is officially a joke, so that must not be it.  I guess they are worried about liens from contractors, but that too makes no sense because Steve signed a lien waiver and besides, GIMME MY MONEY!

I wrote that in an email to Chris along with some of my favorite expletives (but not the f-bomb, because I do have some sense), a few ridiculous hyperboles, and the request that he not placate me or apologize.  I tried to convey anger and hysteria.  😉  It worked – a little while later I got word that the check would be UPS’d to me.  Oh, I also had to drop the whole, “I’m an attorney,” thing.  I hate using that; I don’t think you should only provide good customer service based upon the threat of a lawsuit from an asshole attorney.

Anyhow, I have been on a spray painting kick!  I showed you the porch lights, now I have the house numbers done.  Before, the numbers were a really tarnished brass and they were offset and diagonally descending.  A very reliable source told me that is not good feng shui, and we cannot have that.

I bought a little placard at Ace at Seaboard Station.  When I’m done and moved in, I owe half of their staff a beer.  Today they let me in when they were closed because I knew I just wanted to by a wire stripper and I would pay with a debit card.  They are darlings and I love them.  Anyway, I painted my little sign with the same exterior paint I used on the front door. I spray painted the brass – sacrilege, I know!  But I’m not a fan of brass, and I am a fan of reusing what I have.  I measured and measured and leveled and then drilled pilot holes for the numbers – they have holes top and bottom.  Then I realized I didn’t have the right sized screws for them at home – I have no idea what I did with the screws that were in them.  Oh wait, yes I do.  They were corroded so I tossed them.  Quick trip to Lowes to see George, my favorite cashier, and I was home with the proper screws.  I added some wire to the back to hang it.  I used the pre-existing concrete anchors on the facade of the house, popped in a screw, et voila!  Happy little house numbers.

I have to finish up the mailbox tomorrow.  I have no idea what would happen if it weren’t back up on Monday, but I feel like I’d get a ticket from the mail man.  I need to sand the first coat of paint a bit and do a second on the top of the box before I hang it up again.  I made an executive decision, because I am the boss of this house, to take the little newspaper hanger thingermajiggers off of the box.  They pop right off.  Why do we still have those things around?  The paper gets thrown on the driveway, not delicately placed under the mailbox.  That’s so last century.


I swung by the new house Friday to find that the roofers were hard at work.

Agreeable Grey was up in the living room, looking very greige in the afternoon sunshine.


And it was starting to go up in the kitchen, too. The cabinets are NAKED without their doors on. Scandalous!

I still need to grab the door pulls that I like for the kitchen cabinets.  I just got a $10 Lowes card in the mail from Blue Cross Blue Shield (did you know you can get stuff like that just for telling BCBS that you eat your veggies?), so I might spend that on the pulls.  🙂  Fun times.