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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Garden Updates

Since we were going on vacation for a little while Patrick’s mom volunteered to come by the house to water our plants so they wouldn’t die while we were gone. Naturally other items continued to grow as well though…

The neighbor’s unstoppable kudzu managed to get all the way to our house!

Invasive kudzu

The Hosta’s look like they grew quite a bit – one of them even grew flowers! And the Red Fountain Grass must have gotten somewhat of a beating from thunderstorms – usually it perks back up, but this time it appears to be permanently down. We’ll have to tie them together or something so they won’t stay so droopy. (Compare to pre-vacation photo)

Fountain grass

The sunflowers were such a success. Yeah…well…or not really. Next time I’ll know better than to plant sunflower seeds on a west-facing wall. Those sunflowers took one beating after another. Some of them were doing alright in the beginning (See photo), but every time it rained those poor fragile little plants were beaten to the ground. Plus the ones facing north must not have received enough sunlight because they slowly but surely shriveled up. The only ones really going anywhere where the southern-most ones…and even though a few of them are at least blooming they’re not exactly standing up tall and strong! Like I said, I’ll know better next time…


Aaaaand the lavender. My sweet, sweet lavender. We’ve gone through a bit with these little ones too. Originally we had planted them in our “pond” spot where the Hosta’s are now located (See photo). We transplanted them to this (above) location because the area is much, much drier. The one on the left was the “Hidcote” variety that I had picked out; the one on the right was the “Sweet” variety that Patrick had picked.


Now that we returned from vacation I was sad to see that my poor lavender didn’t make it. Perhaps we had transplanted it too late? Unfortunately it had to go to plant heaven.


They still had some lavender’s left at Lowe’s, so we planted the “Province” variety that we also have at the front of the house.


We added some more flowers at the front of the house. Earlier we had planted the Japanese Boxwoods and some yellow annual flowers. Patrick’s mom forgot to water this flower bed, so one of the boxwood’s isn’t doing to well and we’re considering replacing it (the others seem to be doing ok after watering). Funnily enough the annuals grew bigger than the boxwood’s – perhaps because the rain still hits them but not the boxwood’s behind (See previous photo). We’ve added these white “Mum’s” because they’re quite beautiful and because they’re perennial’s. That way when the yellow annuals die the Mum’s will be there to keep the flower bed green.

Foundation plants

And lastly we have a new buddy around the house. To our shock our right-side neighbors had moved out while we were gone. They had only moved in in April, so we didn’t expect them to be gone when we got back. Unfortunately they have abandoned their two cats – momma cat and her teenager (born right around the time when the neighbor’s moved in). To make things worse we discovered that momma cat is expecting again. We are considering keeping the little teenager (above) around, but are not up for the task of keeping mom and her soon to be family additions. We’ve tried to contact animal rescue place after animal rescue place, but they are either full or claiming they can’t accept cats and to go through the city’s animal shelter instead. We’ve been hesitant to call the animal shelter because we know they put cats to sleep if they don’t get adopted within a certain time frame and we can’t bear the thought of that. So we’re in somewhat of a dilemma about what to do with this abandoned pregnant cat. :(

Neighborhood cat

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Repair To The Shed

We haven’t done too much interior work recently, but we did fix the shed…

Since we bought the house the back floor in the shed has had a rotten floor and has limited our storage space.

Repair shed floor

So we cleared out the shed (which was too full to even set foot in) and fixed the back area. We tore out the old rotten wood, built new framing out of 2×4’s and put down new plywood. So now we were able to organize the shed and are able to actually walk inside of it again.

Repair shed floor

Kudzu Update:


Watching the neighbor’s kudzu has almost become a game for us…”where will it go next?” It had already climbed up the electricity meter to the fascia board and had engulfed the non-existing gas meter. Or at least until recently when the gas company came out and actually hooked up the neighbor’s gas (and in the process removed some of said kudzu around the gas meter). The most recent excitement was that one plant was heading towards the window fan. I think it actually started to wrap itself around some of the fan!

So ironically we decided to go to Lowe’s recently to buy some Round-Up kudzu killer. When we left the kudzu was there. When we came back with the kudzu killer it was gone! Apparently while we were at the store our neighbor had decided that the kudzu on the side of the house was getting too much (maybe they started noticing the kudzu attaching to the window fan?) and chopped it down a good amount. Of course we were also surprised by the chopped off kudzu that was now covering our driveway. We weren’t sure whether to be ecstatic that the kudzu was gone or upset that our driveway was covered with the remains. So while doing yard work the other day Patrick took the liberty of going over the area with the lawn mower to ensure the kudzu was cut even shorter.

In the meanwhile the backyard is still covered waist high in kudzu and we attempted to spray some of it with the kudzu killer along the property line. Our neighbor has also informed us that they would tackle the back of the yard in the winter/next summer, so we’ll still have to fight it until then.

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We’re Proud Parents…

We’re Proud Parents…


…of tomatoes! So this may not be as exciting to some out there as it is to us, but as first time gardeners it’s pretty exciting when you find your very first tomato growing! Not only that, but yesterday we found a second tomato on the same vine. And this morning I was also very excited to find a tiny green bell pepper growing. Woohoo, we’re going to have some of our homegrown veggies before long. For good measure I took a picture of our first tomato with the port-a-potty in the background. Patrick put it on Craigslist, so hopefully we won’t be owners much longer?

Further Updates in the Garden…

A bigger view of our vegetable garden shows that the scrawny little squashes that we planted about a month earlier have nearly taken over the entire vegetable bed! (View photo from a month ago) In the far left we have the “Bigger Boy” tomato that has yet to create any tomatoes. In front of that is the green bell pepper, as mentioned above. Of course it wasn’t until after we planted the bell pepper next to the tomato’s that I read not to plant them next to one another – oops. In front of the bell pepper are the six squash plants, and in front of that (closest to the camera) is a honeydew melon. On the far right is our champion tomato that my parents gave us. In front of that is a zucchini plant, and in font of that (about to be overtaken by the squash) is our grape vine.


After planting the rose the yellow flowers turned brown and I made my first attempt at pruning. Initially I was scared I had done something wrong – nothing was happening. But about a week ago I started to see tiny growth, and before I could blink the tiny growth had grown some 6 inches on one particular branch! It looks like it’s getting ready to develop a new flower bud, so I’ll be pretty excited if it does.


Patrick likes the decorative grasses, so we planted these red fountain grasses by the back door stairs. They’re not super bushy and round, but when we planted them they were only about two cinderblocks high – now they’re a good four cinderblocks high with a ton of the little fuzzy “cat tails.”

Red Fountain Grass

On the morning of Independence Day we decided to plant the bulbs we bought at Sam’s Club. While we were shopping there the other day they sold a variety pack of 250 bulbs for $13! We just couldn’t resist and only thought about the fact that it wasn’t really planting season until we got home. What was even more confusing was that we then also realized that it said these bulbs were for the spring planting season. If anything I would have thought they were going to be for the upcoming fall? In any case, we decided to plant 110 of them underneath the Yoshino Flowering Cherry tree we had planted this spring. We planted 60 Dutch Iris (“Blue Pearl”) that are supposed to bloom between May and June, and 50 Acidanthera that are supposed to bloom between August and September. Now the question will be if they will ever bloom at all since we planted them smack in the middle of the hot summer. We still have 4 different bulb varieties left to plant in the next few days.

Planting bulbs

The sunflowers seem to be doing ok. I had planted them in three different sections and only a few were dug up by squirrels. The southern most plants seem to be doing the best. I think the rain really took a beating on them, so the majority of them are kind of mushed against the ground, but the one batch seems to be holding strong even after the rain. We also planted some cute annuals in between the sunflowers to add some color until the sunflowers will bloom.


Kudzu Update…

And lastly I thought I would display an update on how the neighbor’s “garden” is holding up. The kudzu has now completely encompassed the gas meter (if there were one that is – but there is not). In addition it has crawled up the electricity meter and is presumably touching the fascia board by now. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the kudzu in the back yard was waist high! (View yard about 1.5 months ago)


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Blog Break

I feel like I haven’t posted in a while, but we’ve still been busy working on things around the house. We’ve been working on the bathroom bit by bit, but I think I’ll wait to post the photos until I feel like we’re done to the point where they’re worth showing. We’ve been painting the base board and medicine cabinet. I guess the medicine cabinet mirror alone took 3-4 days to prep…but more on that when it’s time to show.

Otherwise I guess we’ve done a little bit more garden work. We planted more vegetables in our “vegetable garden”: squash, another tomato, green pepper and a honeydew melon….

Squash and tomato garden bed

Squash and tomato garden bed

In the meanwhile the neighbors kudzu is doing fabulous. I keep trying to fling the growing vines back into their yard when they come onto our driveway. Then I try to go along the fence to tear the ones that are creeping through to our side. What do you do in a situation where your neighbors kudzu is out of control and you care more about it than your neighbor? We bought some weed killer that I’ve utilized a little bit on the neighbors kudzu, but there’s only so much I can reach. It’s a weird situation.

Neighbor's kudzu

Neighbor’s kudzu

The last few days I’ve been working on prepping a flower bed against the back house wall. I discovered a pack of sunflower seeds and a pack of phlox that we hadn’t used, so since we’re probably already past the point of being able to plant seeds I figured I’d at least give it a try. Before we just dug a hole and planted plants. Now that I have the proper tool (“cultivator”?) I’ve been prepping the bed, loosening all the soil, etc. We should have been doing that stuff all along, but since we’re not only first time homeowners, but also first time gardeners we’re still picking up new stuff. On that note, it’s amazing what all I’ve found while digging up the dirt! I feel like an archaeologist with the items I find. It mainly seems to be tons and tons of rusted nails, and tons of broken glass. Definitely a “WTF, what were these people doing??” moment! In the picture you can also see that we need to repoint our bricks. The mortar is crumbling and disappearing, but through our research we’ve discovered that it’s not as easy as putting new mortar in. Due to the age of the house the mortar and bricks used to be made of softer materials than today, and if the incorrect (modern) mortar is used it can damage the brick and therefore the foundation. They offer mortar testing for something insane like $500 – so we’re kind of at a point where we’re not sure how to proceed.

Sunflower seed bed

Sunflower seed bed

Other than that we’ve worked on slowly removing the giant pile of roof shingles that have been sitting by our shed. We’ve been putting a stack of them in our herbie curbie every week, so I think we should have another 2 or 3 weeks before we’re rid of it all. Much better than paying $300 for a dumpster. ;-)

And as I’m typing this it is finally raining. I don’t think it’s rained since my last blog shows the picture of the “drowning” plants. I mentioned the drought and rain deficit we’re having…and it’s only gotten worse. As a matter of fact, before today our deficit was greater than the rain we’ve had for the entire year! I’m sure after this rainfall we’ll have made up for some of it. Every day the news reports about watering bans or show trees whose leaves are crumbling because they’re dry and brown as though it was fall. Since our grass consists of weeds anyway we’re not too worried about our lawn (still trying to decide which type of grass we’d eventually like to get). It’s funny how much I never cared about rain until owning this house and garden. Before I was sad when it was a rainy day – now I know what it feels like when people are hoping for rain for the garden!

Enough for today. Like I said, I’ll post some pictures soon of our progress in the bathroom. I’m sure it won’t seem like much, but it’s been taking enough damn time!

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