Friday, April 29, 2016

Conquering the Weeds

You've heard me talk about it before. Our side yard is just a pit of weeds that we try to ignore and very seldom venture towards. I have weeded it a few times before but it always ends up looking like this again.'s pretty bad. Everything to the right of those rocks are weeds. Our neighbors had a really smart, low maintenance solution for it. They put gravel down all around it. Not my favorite look but you can't see it from the front of the house and in the end, low maintenance won out over looks!

I look a selfie with our most impressive weed. I'm standing at full height in this picture....I told you, impressive.

While I was at it I decided that I also needed to get the rest of the yard under control as well. My Dad trimmed this tree for us one time. That's the only time it's ever been trimmed while we've lived here so it's gone a little wild. 

These are all a little wild and overgrown.

And the Dr. Seuss tree is all over those rose bushes!

I should have picked my battles but instead I did a full weeding, then trimmed everything, and then still had to made the gravel bed around the HVAC system. I should have done one project at a time because I am feeling it today! My back and hamstrings are so sore!

I filled 5 of those bags up with weeds.

And that is 25 bags of pea gravel, about 40 pounds each, that I had to transport from the garage to the side yard. I think this is why my hamstrings are killing me today.

We have these large flat rocks that had to go so I could edge this whole area in. I still have them and I'm hoping they can turn into a little spot for under our trash cans.

Crosby helped by digging up the weeds and chilling in the shade. EXCEPT for that time the UPS truck turned onto our street and I realized a second too late. Next thing I know Crosby is in the culdesac chasing the UPS truck! Not a good moment for the Cros.

I got this metal edging from Lowes to help corral the rocks. They are supposed to be easy to work with with built in stakes that just snap off. I tried so hard to get those stakes snapped off and could not do it. In the end I had to trench the entire edge so that the edging would stay in place without stakes..

Then I put down weed paper because I will do anything to never have to weed this area again!

Ok, ready for the afters? This took me from 9 AM to almost 5 PM straight. I took two breaks to eat a PB&J and I had to make a Lowes run but that's it! It was an exhausting day but worth it!

These next two are anti-climactic but in person it is a lot better!

And the beast! Those flat stones on the left are what will hopefully go under the trash cans, I just ran out of energy. And we'll have to try to grow grass in that area because it's down to dirt. Overall though, I think it came out pretty well. Definitely much cleaner and *fingers crossed* lower maintenance!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"It's just riding a bike"

Jay and I went on a huge adventure this past weekend and I am paying for it today! I am sore and tired and sunburned but I wouldn't undo it! While we were on Mom's birthday phone call last week Jay mentioned that he was going to bike the Capital Trail which is a trail that stretches from Richmond to Williamsburg. It's a 50 mile trail. His plan was to bike the 50 miles there, get a hotel, and bike the 50 miles back.

Derrick was on call so couldn't go but I decided that it sounded like a good adventure so I bought a bike for $60 on craiglist and met him in Richmond on Friday night.

We both got some dumbfounded looks from real cyclist when they heard we were doing 100 miles on mountain bikes. Apparently we made it a little tougher on ourselves that way but I think it was the way to go with our skill level. The cyclists did give us some great advice. Padded compression shorts, gel seat cover, and gloves. Also...anti-chafing cream. Lots and lots of anti-chafing cream. We took all of their advice and are so glad we did, I think those padded shorts saved our lives.

Here's our route! All 50 miles of it!

On Saturday we got going around 9 AM and did about 7 miles before we even got to the trail. Jay's condo is seven miles from the trail head so we had to make it there first. The ride through Richmond was beautiful!

Get ready for a lot of selfies. That's what happens when you take a trip for two on a 50 mile bike ride. No one around to photograph you.

The trail starts at the river in Richmond and is paved the entire way to Williamsburg. We made it to the trail and the adventure began!

The trail was amazingly well done. There were mile markers every marker and they were so motivational. To start at 50 and make it to 0 feels like a huge accomplishment. There were also larger landmark signs telling you how far you were from rest rooms and picnic areas. Our first goal was about 8 miles in at Dorey park.

The weather was amazing! We could not have asked for better weather. The temperatures were probably high 60's or low 70's both days and we only got about 3 miles of rain. When it rained it poured! Freezing cold, wind blowing, sideways rain. We put our rain jackets on just barely in time and then just put our head down and pedaled for about 3 miles. It was more of an adventure than anything else but besides that rain the weather was seriously perfect.

Mile 25! Halfway there on the trail and soaking wet!

At around mile 32 was Courthouse County with a little burger joint right off of the trail called Cul's Courthouse Grill. Burgers, fries, and coke never tasted better. We ended up switching from a bar top to a booth because of the padded seats...40 miles in and we were feeling it.

Oh my gosh. The big boss. This is like a cruel joke at mile 42. We were riding and I hear Jay: "****". I looked ahead and there is a massive bridge looming ahead of us. I took a head of steam and powered a third of the way up before I had to walk. It was the only part of the entire 100 miles that Jay and I had to walk.

Here's a good view of the hill....and this was already about halfway up.

I don't know what I was expecting at the end of the trail.

That's a lie. I know exactly what I was expecting. I was expecting a large crowd, applause, a banner for us to ride underneath, and a line of taxis waiting to load our bikes up and take us to our hotel for the evening.

Instead....selfie time! No one was in site and it was a little anti-climactic.

We ended up having to bike across the street to the Jamestown settlement, get info for a cab, wait 30 minutes for our driver and then Jay had to sit on the floor of the cab so the bikes would fit. When we got to our hotel the power was out and we couldn't check in. Good news though! We could still order our pizza from the lobby and the hotel had a washing machine to wash our padded shorts for the next day!

We went to bed early Saturday night because we were wiped out and had an early morning ahead of us. When we got up we had breakfast and called our cab back to come pick us up.

Here's Jay crammed on the floor of the cab with our bikes.

We were both pretty sore and I was a little worried about the day and how it was going to go. I think the biggest surprise was our knees. Man! I had no idea how sore our knees would be. Luckily they loosened up a few miles in but Jay and I were both yelling and shouting about our knees for the first couple miles. I think the ibuprofen we took that morning helped with our knees and our butts.

Our plan was to go straight through on Sunday. We stopped for various snacks and water breaks but we weren't going to do a long stop at the burger place again. I took some video along the way which I may add later but long story short, we made it! It was easier on Sunday than we both expected. I think part of it was we knew what to expect and we would recognize land marks on the way or recognize if a big hill was coming up.

Here we are just as we're coming in to Richmond. You can see the city in the background.

And at mile 50!

The hardest part of the day came after we had finished the trail and were trying to navigate back to Jay's place. We were trying to avoid some major hills and busy roads so we tried out a "greenway" for bikes that took us up and down stairs, over majorly difficult terrain, and down some fairly busy sidewalks.

The upside was this amazing view from over top some train tracks.

In the end I was fading pretty fast and Jay could tell so he amended the plan and we stopped at a Jimmy Johns to get some real food. Then he took a quick uber ride to his house and brought my car back which we loaded up with our bikes and drove the rest of the way. No guilt there. I feel very accomplished with our weekend and hope to do it again! I'd love to go again with Derrick. I think he'd enjoy the endurance test and the steady grind towards the goal.

This bike trip was amazing and totally impromptu! With less than a weeks notice I snagged a bike on craigslist and made arrangements to meet Jay. I am so glad I did. We had a great time and renewed our sibling bonding. I don't remember the last time Jay and I got good one-on-one time and I know I'm going to value this time together for a long time.

Friday, April 22, 2016

No more poop

Sorry...I didn't clean up for you. What you see is what you get around here.

Since we've moved in I have hated this brown wall on the kitchen island. I mean seriously...could you have picked a poopier shade of brown?

I don't know why I didn't fix it took $0 and 45 minutes yesterday. First I wiped it down with a magic eraser. I think the magic eraser made it dirtier...check out the streaks! It was pretty gross though so I wiped down the walls and scrubbed the baseboards.

Our house is only 9 years old but it's showing signs that it's been well lived in already. Two kids lived here before us and we've had dogs and company galore. I haven't touched the baseboards up yet but it's on my list. I think the entire house really needs to be painted so I've got that running through my mind too. Paint makes everything feel so much fresher!

I had a few different navy blue paints from testing for our bedroom and the stripe upstairs so I grabbed a quart of Hale Navy that I already had and 45 minutes later it was looking way better!

Now that it's blue though the green has got to go! room is going to get a face lift and we'll probably go a neutral greige. The foyer is a tan that stretches up two stories and into the superbowl room. I really want to go grey but we need something that ties into the tan foyer because it's not getting painted anytime soon. So, I'm thinking a grey with tan undertones. I got a quote from our house painters and it would be $400 to paint the foyer plus I'd have to figure out how to work around the stripe upstairs so I'm just going to see if we can work around it for now.

I'm just happy to finally have that poop brown was a long time coming and I'm loving the navy so much more!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Birthday Switch-up

Most of you know that my family does a full family facetime call for every birthday. Every. Birthday.

This time of year we do this a lot because Mom, Jay, and Derrick all have birthdays within 3 weeks of each other. Typically it looks like this:

That would be each household (so 4 total) has their different apple device and we hold all the phones up for each other to see. In this case I think it was Mom and Dad on the iPad and Jay on Alison's phone. Jack's phone was out of commission so he wasn't in on this one but typically Mom and Dad would have had him up on their iPhones. It's hilarious and difficult.

Derrick and I had been thinking Skype might be better but change is hard. On mom's birthday we took 30 minutes and Derrick's engineering mind to get everybody set up and it's a game changer!

Derrick and I can Skype using the Xbox so everybody looks gigantic!

Lessons learned:

Skype was a good call
Thank goodness for Derrick
Jay's camera is amazingly high quality