When Yard Work Takes Over

Since becoming homeowners in May, yard work has become the bane of my existence—I’d much rather paint a ceiling or remove smoke-stained bunny wallpaper any day. Luckily for me, Pete is an outdoorsy type who enjoys mowing the lawn and weed whacking. The thought of working outdoors in 95 degree heat with our neighbors getting a lovely view of my weeder’s crack (note to self: wear a belt next time) and sweaty upper lip is not my idea of an enjoyable weekend afternoon. That being said, I’m very grateful to have a partner in crime who tolerates my screaming and flailing when I inevitably mistake a caterpillar for a small garden snake during my hallucinating-in-the-heat breaking point.

I understand that a yard is a reflection of the people inside and an extension of their home, but sometimes I just want to ignore our curb appeal and enjoy the comfort of our A/C. Unfortunately, our yard has been looking so frightening lately that we mildly resemble the Klopek’s house from The Burbs. The front of our house and our brick path has practically disappeared since being taken over by weeds. There’s something about being sweaty, smelly, aching and totally covered in bug bites that makes you feel accomplished at the end of the day…but I still prefer paint in my hair or spackle under my nails if given a choice.

On Saturday, we decided to attempt to tackle weeding our brick path in just a few hours before our friends were scheduled to visit. What I thought would be about a two hour ordeal ended up taking at least six hours between Saturday and Sunday. The weeds were underneath the bricks entirely, so each and every brick had to be lifted and replaced. Once the weeds were cleared, the gaps between the bricks were a lot larger, so the spacing was totally off. I tackled the main path on my own while Pete mowed the lawn and put his new weed whacker to use. I realized I should have used a guide to keep the path straight, since now it looks absolutely wibble-wobbly. Pete bought a bag of sand to help fill in the spaces, but we soon realized we underestimated how much sand we needed, so the cracks still need to be filled in for the most part. I plan on re-laying my part of the path since the gaps are too large and the sides aren’t straight, but I’m going to save that for a cool autumn day. I am pretty embarrassed by the wavy lines since I’m a total perfectionist, but I’m going to try to not let it bother me until the heat wave dissipates.

Pete was much more skilled when laying down the other part of the path. I helped pull out bricks and weeded underneath while he meticulously smoothed the dirt and made sure everything was straight. He even chiseled custom-sized bricks since we needed a few half pieces toward the end of the path. I weeded near our hedges and what is left of our flowers while he finished up. The lesson learned after the past two days is that we should tackle yard work bit by bit instead of putting it off after a few weeks. I suppose that’s what happens when you spend an entire weekend laying a black and white checkerboard floor or cleaning out a strange concrete circle of weeds—which we have decided is perfect for either sacrificing goats or adding a fire pit.

Pete’s mom stopped by today with two huge bags full of fresh produce from the co-op his parents belong to. I am really looking forward to trying out some new recipes, since a lot of these items are new to us (dandelion greens, chard, kohlrabi). We are having a small barbecue this weekend with some of Pete’s friends, so I’m thinking of tackling potato salad, guacamole, grilled veggies and cucumber salad. Any other ideas of how to make the best out of 8 lbs. of tomatoes for some BBQ food?

Speaking of food, Veronika and Bryan came over this weekend and spoiled us with some amazing home-cooked treats. They set up a photo shoot scene in our back yard because the talented Amber of Live it out Photography was itchin’ to shoot the handsome couple. Veronika’s attention to detail in styling is amazing, whether she’s whipping up a rustic boutonniere or mastering beehive hair, she never ceases to impress me with her creativity. I’m really looking forward to seeing Amber’s photos and think it’s pretty exciting that our backyard will be making an appearance!

A freshly-groomed Betty White wishes you guys a happy August—we have a lot to look forward to this month and are excited to share our latest happenings with everyone.

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Food for Thought

Pete and I recently purchased a Weber charcoal grill, which he was eyeing up for a few months. Rather than hosting a huge backyard bash out of our budget, we’ll be having an intimate barbecue with immediate family this year. We figure it will be good practice for next year, when we’ll likely have a bigger summer shindig.

I’m really looking forward to having our families over and have been browsing foodgawker for recipe inspiration. What are your must-have items on a menu for a backyard barbecue? So far, I’m hoping we can make burgers (black bean and meat), hot dogs, some shrimp skewers, grilled vegetables, guacamole & chips, berry bowls, potato salad (hopefully commissioned by Pete’s parents), deviled eggs (thanks to my mom), cucumber salad (my grandma’s contribution!) and hummus with naan/pita chips.

Pete and I made Teriyaki shrimp with mango, corn on the cob and grilled asparagus for our first grilled feast together. It was really nice eating outside with Betty and enjoying the last hour of sunlight together.

Betty White is looking forward to schmoozing at the barbecue, although she is in desperate need of a haircut if she’s going to be hanging outside with us all day (that mustache doesn’t groom itself).

I’ve been gathering some simple, DIY decor ideas from Pinterest to help dress up our party a bit. I love the idea of taking a plaid, plastic tablecloth and using it to embellish everything. I have a feeling I’ll be making a trip to the Dollar Tree or Party City to get some obnoxiously bright tablewares!

{Photos courtesy of Hostess With the Mostess}

Do you have any tips for hosting our first family barbecue, apart from wearing lots of sunscreen?