BEST YEAR EVER!!

Since moving to Waterloo, Halloween has taken on some new traditions at our house. While we don’t have any kids of our own and our neighbourhood is a little too downtown for suburb-level trick-or-treater traffic, I’ve found that a little marketing really does pay off.

Year one, we bought and carved a pumpkin. Sat back and waited. Results: 0 kids!

Year two, I put up our awesome porch decorations and carved our pumpkin on October 31st and we gave out rockets (a favourite of mine; but lame in Jeff’s books). Results: 2 kids and 2 exchange students.

Year three, I decided to market to the weekday kids traffic (we are between neighbourhoods and close to a school). I put up our decorations a week early and we upgraded to full-sized chocolate bars. Results: 6 kids! Boom!

Year four, I again got our decorations sorted out a week in advance. We picked up two handsome pumpkins at the apple farm and carved them on the 31st. I left Jeff in charge of candy and he got these adorable Russell Stover candy boxes wrapped in Halloween paper, as well as a ton of Tootsie roll small candy. Results: 16 kids!

You guys, I am changing the holiday on this street! Our neighbour mentioned that this was the first year she has given out candy; well no wonder! No pumpkin, no decorations = no kids.

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I know we look like the crazy Halloween house, but the decorations amount to $10 worth of black paper, three year plastic table cloths, and two red lightbulbs that we’ve not had for a few years. This year I also used some electrical tape for spiderwebs.

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The other thing that made this year extra special was that my sister decided to come down to the city for trick-or-treating with my nephews. It was so much fun walking around house-to-house with these guys.

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Hope your Halloween was as wicked as mine! Not sure if I can top it next year; I might have to up my marketing game to social media or direct mailers. ūüėČ

P.S. I was a vegan’s worst nightmare: an egg. Her?

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Hey guys! I’ve got another long, long, long overdue post for you today. Summer has come and gone, but I’m happy to report it was chalk¬†full of summery stuff (drive-in movies, a family wedding, camping, market shopping, and drinks in the yard) as well as plenty of productivity.

We took full advantage of the no-longer-February weather to tackle a bunch of outdoor projects, including an early-spring regrading project and an exterior power update.

So before we jump into it, and just in case you’ve forgotten what our neglected rear exterior looked like, here’s a refresher:

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Ugh! So ugly. So leaky. So many layers of concrete and asphalt. Our May demo started the rehab, but definitely made the yard look even worse:

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Thankfully, 5 yards of fresh soil (and several weekends of intensive labour) had things looking a little more cleaned-up. Plus, the regrading stopped water from leaking into our basement every time it rained. Win-win!

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A few weeks later, with our grass starting to fill-out, I decided to tackle our ugly, flaking parging. Queue a month of work with the steel brush, cement caulk, and masonry paint. This project was simple enough, but it honestly took hours and hours over several weekends to get it finished.

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But, it was worth it. The parging looks light and bright again, and our “door to no-where” finally got it’s phase 1 update. Phases 2-3 will involve replacing the door with a huge window and having a custom sill cap made. Obviously we also still have some masonry clean-up to do (scrub the bricks and patch that crazy, broken corner post) but, gee, isn’t paint is a wonderful thing?

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Up next, the summer spruce-up continued with a little recycled brick project. Last year (yes, 2014) we picked up a hundred or so used bricks for free from a near-neighbour via Kijiji. Originally I had planned to attempt a full-scale patio, but decided a smaller project (or two) would be a good way to see how the bricks wintered without over committing. Our remaining asphalt pad, from the old drive-way-to-nowhere, seemed like the perfect spot.

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Step 1: Dig a trench. Ohia, although a serious digging enthusiast, was less helpful than you’d think with this precision work.

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Step 2: pack in gravel. Step 3: pack in (and level) sand. Step 4: Add yo’ brick. Step 5: Add paving sand (the kind with a bit of glue). Step 6: mist with water (to set).

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The rustic pavers cap off the asphalt pretty well, I think. I love the mix of color and texture — hello patina! I also decided to paint the back door, at some point this summer. Taking it from that awful brick-red (see the second photo in this post) to a nice charcoal grey.

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But… I still needed to do something with that awful metal awning. Ideally (eventually?) we’ll replace it all together with something more substantial and hearty. But, until we finalize our¬†final backyard plans (should we add ANOTHER door to the back of the house? lol) I decided another quick sand-and-paint job was the best approach:

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So, we now have this greatly improved side-by-side.

Flashback 2012:

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Progress 2015:

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Overall,¬†I’m stocked about this year’s progress and I feel significantly less embarrassed when hosting people in the yard. Many details still need addressing (those left-over cement stones outside of the door, the crazy corner, the door-to-no-where, the awning, and a bunch of brick cleaning) BUT, hooraw! Things are looking so much better.

Up next? We’re back indoors with another long overdue update, this time in the master bedroom.

Take it easy, weirdos!