It's Monday night, at the end of the holiday weekend. I'm on the couch in a heap, eyelids drooping and body aching. I'm also pretty sure I pulled a muscle in my neck. These are all symptoms of a post-entertaining slump, but boy was it worth it!

Sunday was P-Pay, or BS-Day (Baby Shower, duh), or in other words, the day that 20+ individuals arrived at our home to celebrate the impending arrival of our good friends' first born. Grandparents-to-be flew in from out of state, and a great assortment of close friends, family, and acquaintances gathered to party in style. 

Though a truly grand time was hopefully had by all, I'd be getting WAY ahead of myself if I didn't fill you in on all of the laborious chores we needed to knock off of our list before we could get to the fun stuff and make this infant-to-be's first official party a reality. Just to get the house in shape for guests, Alex and I had hours of work ahead of us. We had a list of flowers to plant, an ivy jungle to tame, neighbors' garbage to organize, a broken pond pump to repair, and much more. But let me back up and take you through the chaos leading up to the big day.

Though we had a number of party specific items to prepare, we first had to knock out our various home chore related items. Early in the week I made a little to do list for Alex, knowing he tends to work best under pressure and with the aid of a checklist. I tried to impress upon him the importance of finishing these items up early, as in, "not last minute," just for my own personal sanity. Though I left him with this bit of info, would you believe it if his list was largely unchanged when Saturday morning rolled around? Yeah, you might be able to guess, I was hardly pleased. However, come Saturday, he turned into a lean, mean, honey-do machine.

One of the biggest undertakings for the weekend was the taming of the ivy. After many years of moderately trimming back the ivy surrounding much of our yard's perimeter, we've slowly shaped it into something respectable. In recent seasons it's really taken off and somehow worked itself into a hulking presence in our yard.

This look is a little shocking when you consider what it looked like when we bought the house.

Outside the wall is equally as crazy, if not more.

I remember when we were able to actually see the wall where the stucco had fallen off of the cinder block. We were worried we'd need to fix it because it was ugly, but have found the ivy hides a multitude of sins.

Healthy as it may be, the ivy had become such a monster it was threatening to take over our doorway, was housing vermin and mosquitoes, and made our yard look much smaller.

To remedy this larger issue we needed larger tools. Alex stopped by our local Ace Hardware to pick up a pair of long handled trimming shears that would do the job much better than the small clippers we've been using.

He got right in there and started lopping the ivy where it stood, revealing portions of our yard I'd not seen in years. He snipped, shaped, and worked the ivy like Edward Scissor Hands until we had something tame and respectable, more fitting for our modest backyard.

We did learn one thing while Alex worked on the ivy. This is what a creeper breaking into our backyard might look like, and Lulu was there to protect us.

Alex (the would be creeper) kept working outside of the wall as well, and ultimately had gathered up several tremendous piles of clippings all over the place. This is the depression that follows the typically manic snipping of the ivy. Once you finish all of that hard work and looks so much like progress, you're left with bag after bag of cleanup effort.

Though it was by no means easy, his efforts were spectacular, and the yard (and outdoor area) felt like a different, more open, and less bug infested space. 

Alex even ended up climbing part way up the utility pole to ensure our ivy didn't disrupt anyone's phone or cable, leaving our back gate area far more free and clear.

We ended up with five large contractor bags of clippings and debris, and a yard that felt a little less like a jungle.

Once all of the ivy had been trimmed and picked up, the flower beds needed a little bit of help. Though they were looking okay, we had waited to mulch the space until all of the "helicopters" had fallen from the tree.

We spread the bags of dark brown mulch over the area and created a greatly improved and completely refined planted area...that Lulu will primarily use as her potty.

Another issue facing us was out lack of water feature background noise. You might remember that we replaced our pond fountain pump early this year, and it had been working great until a week prior to the party, then nothing. It just up and died. It wasn't clogged, hadn't had an issue, just stopped working. It was rather annoying to drop another $16 on a new pump, but we had no receipt or packaging for the dead one. We're going to keep our eyes on this new one for sure.

Next on the list was our backyard furniture that has seen better days. We bought this teak furniture from Crate & Barrel back in 2003 and have really loved it, but it's starting to get a little rough around the edges...literally.

Over the years we've oiled and protected it, but the buildup of products we've used have been restricting the wood's ability to absorb the oil. This year Alex decided to give it a major overhaul. The end results of his elbow grease and sweat are a rather beautiful looking table top that reminds me why we bought teak furniture in the first place.

As you can see from the photo, the project that started during solid daylight, ended well into the evening. Alex will surely go into more detail on what he did to the table in a future post, but it shows you that just about any wood can be saved if you use the right approach and a little patience (which I don't typically display).

What? Did I just say I'm not a patient person? Crazy talk! Speaking from experience, there's a thin line between impatient and irrational, and I'm a little worried I exhibited a bit of irrational behavior this weekend. Case in point, our neighbor's trash situation.

There's a large house split into several apartments just off of the alley next to our house. One of the apartments had been undergoing a pretty massive purge of late, and they've had the garbage piles to prove it. For our party we were instructing people to go around back when they arrived, walking down the alley and past said trash heap. I didn't feel this was acceptable. Sadly, I was apparently too ashamed in my obsessive tendency to actually allow my actions or the trash pile to be photographed prior to my excursion. I don't know if it was pride, or more likely shame that kept me from allowing photographic evidence, but I can paint a picture with my words.

The trash was spilling out from the parking area along the dark red brick backdrop. Bags, fans, boxes, all haphazardly thrown into a large heap without purpose or intent. There it was left to sit, rotting in its own disorganization until some future trash day. Bags had torn open, rags poured from the gaping holes. If I hadn't known better I would have thought the parking area next door had been replaced with a makeshift landfill. Is that dramatic enough for you?

I may or may not have (but probably actually did) sneak over to our neighbor's trash pile to tidy it up just a smidgen. You know, a little neat stack here, primp there, nothing too major, just a little friendly neighborhood trash organization on a Saturday. What's weird about that? The aftermath of my efforts seems slightly more appropriate. Sure, I would have rather doused it all with lighter fluid and thrown a match to it, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have ended very well.

Someone call a therapist, I might have a wee problem.

My final task was a quick refresh of the spiral topiaries out front. I started my efforts by removing a few of the flowers that jumped ship. So long once beautiful purple flowers. I bid thee farewell.

Next I turned my attention to giving the topiaries a quick haircut with a pair of sharp scissors. Nothing too major, just a little cleanup to welcome all of the visitors to our home.

And with that, a little window cleaning, and a quick removal of some spider webs, our house was in shape to actually begin prepping for the party, and we were both totally exhausted. Alex did most of what I described today, primarily because I was consumed with cooking, crafting, and creating for the big event. 

We have a whole ton of fun stuff to share with you this week, but that's going to have to be in a different post. 

What did you tackle this weekend? Were your chores geared towards party prep, or were they just for the fun/obligation of it? There's nothing like a long weekend to knock out a good todo list, even if you'd rather be relaxing.

Comments 6


5/29/2013 at 2:26 PM
Oh! I'd really like to know what Alex did to clean up your teak table - I need to do the same to mine. Thanks!
Thanks, Monica. Check back later this morning as we have an entire post dedicated to a step by step on restoring the teak. Thanks!
5/29/2013 at 4:47 PM
If it makes you feel any better, I probably would have tidied the neighbor's trash as well. I have a question about your organic waste. Doesn't Old Town have a way to dispose of it? I just wondered because you have the clippings in plastic bags. In my town, we put it in bins to be collected or large biodegradable paper bags made for that purpose.
Glad I'm not alone on the neighbor's trash! :-) Hmm, great question about the bags. I know in the fall you can stop by city hall to pick up the large paper bags for yard waste. We'll definitely have to look into this before trimming the ivy again, and plan ahead so we have them on hand even if the government offices are closed. Thanks for the suggestion!
5/31/2013 at 4:43 PM
Thank God I’m not alone with monster ivy problems. I actually love my house having ivies clinging on the walls because it was comforting for me I don’t know why, but I feel that way. But soon, they seem to have grown monster-like. Good job for Alex though; your house looks clearer and cleaner. How many days did it take you to trim the ivy?
It actually only took one day to trim the whole thing, but it was a long one day. We feel about our ivy the same way you do about yours.
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