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Taking the time to do things around the house

Most of us have very busy schedules, and there’s always things that we have to leave undone around the house. For some of us, it’s the laundry, and we just let it pile up until the mountain is too big. For others, it’s the cleaning inside the house, with dishes filling the sink until we get tired of the mess. For most with kids, it’s picking up the toys, and trying to avoid the meltdowns when your child doesn’t want to put the toys back in the bin. And for many of us, the lawn is the most formidable challenge when we have super busy schedules.

For our family that’s been the biggest challenge this year here in Fort Collins, is getting the lawn into the best shape, as you can see from the pictures below.

Ugly lawn Really ugly lawn

The dead brown spots are what is hard for us to swallow, and we have tinkered with our sprinkler system for the past two years trying to figure out what we need to do. I got in touch with Frank at Fort Collins Lawn & Garden – www.fortcollinslawnandgarden.com and asked him to go over what I need to do. First, he said that I should hire a lawn care pro to take care of all the sprinkler repair or servicing, and then while we’re at it, have them mow the yard either weekly or bi-weekly. The price is my sticking point in that it’s hard for me to stomach $40 a week to have someone else mow my lawn.

Here’s what Frank said, and we hope this helps some of our readers out there who might be having similar problems with brown spots on their lawn.

  1. Make sure that all your sprinkler heads are the same for every pop up. If you have a sprinkler system, you want to either have rotating heads on them all, or stationary heads on them. Frank says that if you have different heads, your lawn will not get watered evenly, even if you see that all of it is getting some water. Having the same heads insures that there is an equal amount of water going on all areas, which is the big factor – deep watering.
  2. Fertilize. Even if you don’t want to do this all that much because you feel that it’s harmful, it’s good to fertilize at least once yearly to give some life back to some of the roots that may have been damaged. When we moved in to our home, the lawn was in disarray, and we took our neighbors advice and fertilized three times over the course of 9 months, which did the trick.
  3. Mow evenly. This means don’t run the same route on your lawn with your mower. If you mow lengthwise one day, then a week or two later mow the opposite way. Clipping the grass the same way every time doesn’t stimulate growth.
  4. Listen to what the lawn care pros have to say. We have, just like many of you, been mowing our lawn for a long time without a lot of help, and it doesn’t always work the way we want it to. By calling a company to have it done for you (even if the cost is too much for you to handle), you can have a green, lush lawn, and it can stay that way for a long time to come.



Featured post

Another arctic blast

Another arctic blast is hunkering down in Colorado, and we are making sure that all of the winterizing around our house in Old Town is done so that we don’t have to do any more of it. Thankfully, we had the roof redone a couple weeks ago when the weather was still good, so that’s officially marked off the list. The Roofing Company that came in did a heck of a job, and we were so happy with the job that they did that we wanted to recommend them and their work. We sifted through so many options when it came to getting a new roof that we didn’t know which way is up. Do we go with a big national company, or do we go with a company that is local, small, and will take good care of us?

In the end, we went with the local company, and decided that because we had some bad experiences with big national companies for other services in the past where they made us feel like just another number.

Now that the roof is complete, we can concentrate on the weekend. It already feels like it should be Monday now because Thanksgiving was two days ago, and the long weekend is here, meaning that I’ve already had two days off, and tomorrow we will just sit around all day watching football and putting up the Christmas Lights. My wife stays on me pretty good about putting up the Christmas Lights right after Thanksgiving day, and I like to get it done so I don’t have anything to do but shop for presents until Christmas day rolls around.

Neither of us really have a hankering to go out and brave the long lines on Black Friday, and the last time that I went out to buy something on Black Friday was about 4 years ago when I went to Best Buy at around 11am to buy a LED TV. The lines were a little shorter by that time, and I didn’t have to battle anyone for a 46 inch Samsung. I’ve seen some online videos in the past couple of days that have been pretty funny but sad to watch. People fighting (with their kids close by) for a certain gadget or gift that everyone wants. Commercialism at it’s best!

Right now it’s about 20 degrees outside, and I can’t get much done outside of the house even though we desperately need to clean out our shed and get some of the holiday decorations out. I’ll go get a box or two, and that’ll be it  for being outside until I head down to the Broncos game tomorrow. That’s gonna be a cold one, but hopefully worth it in the end.

Have you put up your Christmas Lights yet, or decorated your house for the holidays? If you get it done before December 1st, it feels oh so good, and you can knock that off your list!

Oh, by the way, here’s a picture of the snow on my brand new roof. We got a few inches, but nothing that we can’t handle.

Our Roof with Snow on it 001Our Roof with Snow on it 003

D.I.Y. Here We Go!

So, since I pretty much publicly gave myself a few weeks to start figuring out DIY in my last post, I’ve been spending some time researching how to do fixes and such for the home so that I don’t have to spend a fortune on every last thing that breaks or needs fixing while we own this potential boondoggle of a house.

My thought is this: sometimes, things break and you need a professional to come fix whatever it is that broke. Plumbing or electric stuff for example. Sure, you can always tighten a leaky faucet or replace outlet covers and such, but if you find you have a serious plumbing or electrical problem in your home, you should put the wrench down and call an expert right away. I repeat: Put. The. Wrench. Down. Sure, you might get lucky and be able to fix the problem, but chances are you’re going to either screw things up way worse than they already were, or seriously hurt yourself in the process. Call a plumber. Call an electrician. Yeah, they’re expensive as hell, but it’s worth it in the long run, trust me.

On the other side of things, there are repairs that you can do yourself. You don’t have to call your sprinkler or lawn care guy to replace a broken sprinkler head, just google the process, figure it out and get it done yourself. I’m not advocating replacing a sprinkler line or digging up your yard or anything like that, as anything major should be left to the professionals (see above), but for small fixes, you should try to figure it out yourself. Aside from just saving a bit of money, I guarantee you will feel like a genius and a real hands on person if you manage to fix a problem that you would normally outsource to someone else.

A small example of this is when the latch to my son’s bike trailer broke this summer. Now, I could have headed to the local bike shop and bought a new trailer hitch, but I looked online, and the thing was twenty four dollars. That’s highway robbery! They know you’re in a bind if you need one, so they could charge $50 for all they care, and most people would probably pay it. Not this guy, though! I decided I’d try to see if I could find a way to rig it myself, and in the end I was able to take some wire from an old tomato planter that wasn’t being used anymore, bend it just right and thread it through the hitch onto the bike. Not only did it work, I daresay that it’s sturdier than the original hitch!

So, yeah, I’m taking the time to figure out how to fix things myself. It’s going to be a lot of trial and error at first, but I think it’ll not only save me a ton of money, but will be a cool and useful skill to cultivate. I’ll post some pics of any cool DIY stuff I figure out over the next few months! In the meantime, check out the sandbox I built this summer. I was pretty pleased!


Talk to y’all later.

Trying to get settled!

Feeding off our previous post of moving out west, we were greeted by a massive arctic snowstorm that basically kept us inside for the better part of the last week. Below is a pic of the snow in the front yard from a couple days ago.

car covered with snow

One day it was 7 degrees, the next day 9, the next day -1 at 9am, you get the idea. Finally today it’s about 25, which means all that time cooped up in the house and planning what to do with our cozy new home actually gets to take shape. After getting the carpets cleaned, we thought that we would simply hire a cleaning company to come in and whip the place into shape. The previous owners actually said that they did this, but whoever they used didn’t do the best job, as we found plenty of dust bunnies all over the place, to go with a bit of mildew that had settled behind the washing machine. It really is amazing when you buy a new home what the total amount of money is that you spend after closing on a mortgage.

Let’s add it all up shall we? New blinds for the windows. Potentially new windows because they look like they haven’t been replaced in at least 15 years. New fencing in the backyard. Replacing a couple of sheets of siding. Putting a small fence in the front yard so the kids can play and not wander out into the street. Most of these things are cosmetic, or simply things that we want to do with the house, but seriously, we might as well have a frequent flyer card at Home Depot, because it’s looking like that’s our second home for the next few weeks. Thankfully I have a good job, because if I didn’t, none of this stuff would be getting done anytime soon.

Fortunately, this wonderful small city seems to be very heavy on contractors, and we have already been referred to a few of them. So, if we get sick of doing all this work ourselves, we can simply bite the bullet and hire someone to come in and do what would take us much longer to accomplish.

If I don’t become pretty versed in DIY’ing over the next two weeks, then I’m not learning fast enough. The kids are banging on the walls with their plastic hammers whenever I use the real thing, therefore at least there’s some intent of help there, and amusement when I get frustrated. I only wish they could actually bang a nail all the way into the wall instead of just staring at me doing it!

Hopefully we get above 30 this week so the outside work doesn’t cause my fingertips to go numb within the first twenty minutes. That would be pretty slippin sweet.


Moving In….

Welcome to my new blog!

I just moved to sunny and snowy Fort Collins, Colorado and figured now is as good a time as ever to start the blog I’ve been talking about starting for forever and a day. So, welcome and salutations!

I’ve been in this beautiful little town for just over a month now, and I absolutely love it. My wife and I bought a home in Old Town and have been spending the past month cleaning, buying furniture, reorganizing and trying to figure out exactly what to do with the space. We knew the minute that we first visited Fort Collins that we wanted to live in Old Town – it’s an adorable little neighborhood situated in the heart of the city near the downtown shopping and dining area, with older houses and a nice community feel. As with any older, downtown community though, the houses and yards are smaller, and this definitely holds true for the house we bought. So, a large part of the process of moving into this house is trying to figure out how to make the space work for us. I’ll be updating this blog as we go through the process, and using it as a kind of journal or diary to record our progress.

First things first: cleaning. The previous owner of the house actually made several improvements to the structure in recent years and kept the place (mostly) tidy, but we managed to dirty the place up a bit throughout the move in process. This was mostly thanks to the snow, as we certainly picked a wet time of year to move into a new house. It snowed a few days before our moving truck showed up at the house, and the snow had not yet melted, so we had no choice but to track snow, slush and mud all over the clean floors and carpet. We managed to get the kitchen cabinets and wood floors all clean so that we could start unpacking that stuff right away, but we went ahead and contacted a carpet cleaning company to give our carpets a nice deep cleaning before we placed the couch and other furniture, as it’d be a heck of a lot harder to clean once the furniture is in place.

I did a bit of research, and settled on a local carpet cleaning company that did first rate work. I highly recommend them for anyone else who is looking for a seasonal cleaning. You can find their website here: http://www.ftcollinscarpetcleaners.com/

After a thorough carpet cleaning, we finally were able to place all of our furniture, or at least all of the furniture that comfortably fits in the space. I actually don’t know how we had so much furniture in our apartment in New York City, as our apartment was smaller than our new house, but we will have to donate or sell a few pieces nonetheless. I toyed with holding onto those extra pieces, but like I said, the house is small, so I really don’t know where I would put them in the future unless we built an addition, which we have no plans to do anytime soon.

Anyways, the house is cozy, but wonderful, with lots of older details, window shutters and a cute but small yard for the rug rats to run around in like maniacs. I’m going to sign off now, but will be back soon to update on our process of moving from the big city to the West!

See you soon!