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Brick Path

We’ve been working on a pretty exciting project lately…our front path! Although we still have a ways to go as far as the exterior of the house goes I think the path has been one aesthetically unpleasing sight that really pulled the rest of the house down in curb appeal. The path seemed to consist of more grass/weed patches than concrete! It has really been quite an embarrassment. Well thankfully we finally got started on changing that!

Back in May we posted about luck coming our way when we ran into acquaintances who were participating in the Inman Park Tour of Homes where they had built a wine cellar out of old bricks (from an early 1900s building that was torn down somewhere along Peachtree Street) and were generous enough to give us their leftovers. Just what we had been hoping for!! They had been sitting in our back yard since then and we had been waiting for the street and sidewalk construction to be done before we’d get started on our walkway. (Because we knew they were going to raise the sidewalks to put in curbs so there was no point in guessing how high to build our walkway until the new sidewalk would be done.) We were debating about hiring the same guys that repointed our brick to build the path, but then ended up deciding that we’d give it a try ourselves.

Since half of the path was already in crumbles it wasn’t too hard to pull it up. When we talked to our brick repointing guy he was determined to use cement in some way or another. We were determined not to. So we got some metal edging pieces to hold the bricks in place instead. Here are some photos of how far we’ve made it. We’re not done all the way, but I wanted to share how far we’ve gotten because I think it looks 100 times better already (even not being done, haha).

Our “lovely” crumbled path:

Front path before

Front path before

Tearing out the concrete:

Tearing out front path

Tearing out front path

Putting down gravel so there will be good drainage:

Laying out front path

Gravel path

Landscaping fabric to (hopefully) prevent weeds from growing:

Front path landscape fabric

Putting down sand:

Front path sand

We’ve laid out some of the bricks and are sweeping sand between the cracks to keep the bricks from shifting around:

Front path brick and sand

Our progress up until now:

Front path brick

Front path brick

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General Updates

I thought I would post some general updates…

Westview Bungalow

Front of our house

It seems like it’s been a while since I’ve posted an exterior house shot. We installed some hooks this spring so we could hang up ferns – and I’m loving them! Otherwise our house is still pink, still has that ugly tree stump, and still has that beat up path. At least one of them will get worked on soon…but I’m not going to tell you which one! :)

I’ve talked about our kudzu musings and frustrations in the past (See photos from May 2007, June 2007, July 2007 I, July 2007 II, and September 2007), and took a photo of the neighbors yard last October (2007):

Lost in kudzu field

Lost in kudzu field

Well I’m glad to finally be able to present some change! Our new neighbor moved in back in April. He’s fought unsuccessfully with the landlord to get the back yard cleaned up so his kids could play in it. He has finally decided to take matters into his own hands and look at how far he got! I have never seen the back of that backyard cleared up since we’ve lived here, so I’m just amazed at the view – I’m not used to it!

Kudzu field removed

Kudzu field removed

So in the meanwhile back to our garden…

Vegetable bed

Vegetable bed

…I think we have a vegetable garden buried under those weeds somewhere! This year we had planted tomatoes, beans, zucchini, bell pepper, hot pepper, and cucumber. Our tomatoes caught some disease so we haven’t seen any harvest from them. The beans seem to grow at a steady pace, so we’ve collected beans here and there and are freezing them until we have enough to make something with. We’ve harvested a couple of zucchini’’s and were a bit disappointed with how hard they were on the outside (any tips?). The cucumber has yet to deliver. The hot peppers have had a few that we’ve collected and dried. And the bell pepper had one of decent size that was ready to be harvested when we found a squirrel had gotten to it before us! (Next one is growing now.) The weeds have yet to be removed…we’re still not quite caught up from having gone on vacation, and the torching heat, killer mosquitoes, and “convenient” rain only on weekends has hindered us from tackling the bed. (The ever-growing grass has kept us busy in the meanwhile too.) Oh yeah, and don’t we look classy with our pile of crap on the driveway?!

And more gardening…

Front yard landscaping

Front yard landscaping

This bed looked so cute last fall, but isn’t quite as cute this year. We haven’t planted anything new, but I was excited to see the fern overwintered since it indicated it wasn’t supposed to. The yellow annuals obviously didn’t make it, but I’m glad to see the mum’s have made a return. In the meanwhile I’ve been really disappointed with the boxwoods. I was really fixed on having them as the evergreen backdrop in that bed, but they’re not doing well at all. I think they may not be getting enough water – whenever it rains the water doesn’t go on the boxwoods due to the houses overhang. I was sooo determined to have them there! We already replaced one of the plants in the spring, but now only two of the plants have survived. Anyone know anything about Japanese Boxwoods? Is it worth replanting new ones? They only get morning sun and like I mentioned hardly get any rain water. I’m simply determined to have an evergreen that doesn’t grow above approximately 3 feet in that spot that will survive in Zone 7.

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We’ve been busy, busy, busy!

We have really been slacking on the blog lately, but Steffi’s parents were in town visiting so we have a good excuse! Of course we did continue working on the house (and the neighborhood) while they were here. We have made some great progress in the garden. We enlarged our vegetable garden, came up with a garden plan, laid out a path, created some new flower beds, weeded the old flower beds, and started a compost pile.

Westview bungalow garden plan

Garden Plan

It took us a while to come up with the plan, but it really helps to have a clear vision of the garden.

We also finally put up the Westview street toppers yesterday. We have been working on these since October (Steffi was the lead on the project), so it was very rewarding to finally see it all coming together. We had a small unveiling ceremony at Ontario Park, and then neighbors drove around with ladders installing them. The street toppers are very important for Westview since people often think we are part of West End.

Westview street topper

Westview street toppers

Months of hard work finally paid off!

Lastly, a couple weeks ago (when Steffi’s parents were visiting) we went to the Inman Park tour of homes. Inman Park is a beautiful old neighborhood on the east side of town, and it holds a lot of historical significance to Atlanta. Their tour of homes is always one of our favorites.

As we walked up to house number six on the tour Steffi’s dad headed inside while we remained outside reading about the house in the handout they provide you. Her dad promptly returned with a huge grin and informed Steffi’s mother she was in for a big surprise! As it turned out Steffi’s younger sister had gone to school with the homeowner’s son. Surprise, surprise! They had recently built a traditional Austrian Weinkeller (wine cellar) in the basement using old bricks, so the conversation turned to where they acquired the bricks.

I’ll pause the story here to explain why old bricks are significant. We have been looking for old weathered bricks since we bought the house. We want to tear up the front walkway, which is currently broken concrete, and replace it with brick. We specifically wanted old bricks to match the old house. New bricks just don’t have the same character. Unfortunately we haven’t had much luck. It seems that when a building is torn down these days a lot of the time the bricks are sold, recaptured, and then re-sold. Additionally, we don’t have many connections to the demolition industry in Atlanta, so we had no clue how to go about trying to ask for bricks that are headed landfill. This has been a very frustrating situation for us.

Okay, so back to the story… Sandi told us she would have to check with her husband, but they had a pile of old bricks left over in the backyard from the construction of the wine cellar. Could it be true?! Had we finally found the elusive bricks we were looking for? We got her email and phone number and left with our fingers crossed.

We waited for the weekend to be over since we knew they would be occupied with hundreds of people touring their home! Steffi sent a couple emails back and forth with Sandi, and finally the email we had been waiting for came through. She told us to come and get them!!!

This morning our neighbor Carl from West End rang our doorbell bright and early (10:30am) and offered to help us with his truck. We made a trip over there and filled up the truck and the trunk of our car. Then we headed back to the house to drop them off. We probably were able to move at 1/3 of the bricks on this first trip. (THANKS FOR THE HELP CARL!) Steffi and I then returned four more times by ourselves and were able to move the remaining bricks in our car. In the end when we stacked them up they look like a palette of bricks. Lucky for us it seems as if it is going to be exactly the number of bricks we need for the front path. Hooray!

So we have to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU TO SANDI AND KEVIN for giving us the bricks!! It means more to us than we can really express in words. They also put a lot of hard work into removing the mortar from the bricks, and we know that is no easy task. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

We had a lowrider with all those bricks in the trunk.

Trunk full of bricks

Trunk full of bricks

Pile of bricks

A big old “Pile-o-Bricks”

Steffi with bricks

A girl and her bricks have never been so happy!

Old Bricks

Check out the beautiful old bricks!

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