Yard Makeover and a Recipe

I wanted to share some photos of our recent yard makeover! I am ridiculously excited about it. Our yard is very big. It’s a great space for a dog to run around. The problem is that the upkeep is very hard. Every year we end up spending the entire summer working on battling the blackberry bushes and weeds and we barely make a dent in it. That’s no fun AND it means we have to make a decision every weekend–do we do responsible adult stuff or go for a hike and enjoy the summer?

So this year we decided it was time to bring in a professional. I got a name from a friend and Oscar came out and gave us a good quote. We hired him on the spot. Him and his crew came out and in one day they transformed our entire backyard!

I wanted to share the photos because I’m so excited about it! (And if you live in Portland and want Oscar’s info, message me!)



They managed to get rid of all the ivy and blackberry bushes that were clogging up the fence and bushes (and edged the lawn).

And in the other corner of the yard, the blackberry bushes had completely taken over.



NO BLACKBERRY BUSHES! Not a weed in sight! They trimmed the trees and bushes and it looks amazing! We were so happy with Oscar’s work. There is no way we could have even come close to making the yard look like they did.

The next weekend we had Johnson’s Bark come out and put down bark. We went with the dark Hemlock. About 5 years ago Michael had done it all himself and it was a back-breaking, multiple day effort on his part. This time? They used a giant hose to spray the bark around the yard.

After the bark dust:

How amazing does it look now? We LOVE it!! Our yard makeover in addition to have the deck rebuilt last year means we are going to spend a LOT of time outside in the yard this summer. I’d really like to get a firepit and spend as much time out there as possible.

The next thing to do: plant our veggie garden and some other plants in the yard. (I also still need to plant our living Christmas tree, ooops!) Then we are going to build a little rock path through the yard. We’re also talking about building a fire pit.

Well the weather has been kind of nice lately. Last night we sat outside on our new deck to eat dinner and enjoy our yard! Here’s the amazing recipe we used:

My Sister's Phenomenal Grilled Green Chicken

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Category: BBQ, calories, Chicken, Dinner, food, Food update, gardening, Grilling, Low Calorie Recipes, low carb, low carbs, Manual Labor, meat, Portland, recipes, Recommendations, Review, Urban Farmer, Vegetable Garden, wine, yard

Servings: 4 servings

From: http://nomnompaleo.com/post/7486821187/my-sisters-phenomenal-grilled-green-chicken


  • 1 medium sweet onion, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1¼ cups packed basil leaves
  • ¼ cup packed mint leaves
  • ¼ cup Red Boat fish sauce
  • 3 peeled garlic cloves
  • zest from 1 lime
  • plenty ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice (or 1 teaspoon maple syrup if you’re not on a Whole30)
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 pounds chicken drumsticks or thighs


  1. Make the marinade by blitzing the onion, cilantro, basil, mint, fish sauce, garlic, lime zest, black pepper, Aleppo pepper, and apple juice in a high powered blender until smooth.
  2. Taste for seasoning and add salt to taste. The marinade can be pretty salty, saltier than if the marinade is used as a sauce.
  3. Place the chicken in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and pour the marinade over it.
  4. Store the chicken in the fridge and marinate for at least an hour and up to a day.
  5. When you're ready to cook the chicken, take it out of the fridge an hour before you're going to grill it. (If you are baking the chicken, roast on a wire rack for ~35-45 minutes at 400 F. Start with skin-side down, and flip skin-side up at the 20 minute mark.)
  6. Set the gas grill on high and after the chicken is placed on the grates, decrease the temperature immediately to low.
  7. Grill the chicken for approximately 25 minutes (or until the internal temperature reaches 165 F), turning every 5-7 minutes. But be patient: Don’t go and flip the bird (legs, that is) before they naturally release from the grill surface – otherwise, you’ll leave a lot of tasty, crispy, marinated skin stuck on the grates!
  8. Serve the drumsticks with lime wedges.

Nutrition Facts

My Sister's Phenomenal Grilled Green Chicken


Amount Per Serving
Calories Between 450-600 depending on chicken size
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0
Saturated Fat 0
Trans Fat
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 0
Total Carbohydrate 0
Dietary Fiber 0
Vitamin A Vitamin C
Calcium Iron

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


It was so nice sitting outside on the deck in the warm, sunny evening.

I had a salad and a glass of wine. Logan was refusing to go to sleep (we really need to get some black-out curtains).

The chicken was really, really delicious! This recipe is a winner. Definitely recommend. 🙂

4 Responses

  1. Wow, your yard looks huge, what a pain! And WOW I had no idea that they could use a hose on bark dust. That’s genius (and makes a lot of sense)! Is the hose super long? My yard isn’t really truck-accessible but a long hose could handle the trip from the driveway to the back area.

    It’s so inspiring to see the huge improvements you got with some money – talk about a worthy expense!! I know that I am interested in doing zilch yardwork (I never feel as wealthy as when my nice older guy comes to cut my grass), but I don’t want to pay lots for maintenance either. I’m slowly saving a little each paycheck and I think when I have the right amount, I’ll hire someone to at least come in and give me some ideas and options – then I can figure out if I’ll hire it out or do it myself (ha).

    Enjoy that deck and yard!

    1. YES! It is a huge yard. Which is nice…it’s great for Bella. She can run laps around the yard and get some energy out and it will be great for Logan. But it’s very hard to manage. Honestly, we probably should have had someone plan out something to make the space a better use…but we’ve kind of piece-mealed it over the years.

      It is a huge relief having someone else do it, make it look amazing (way better than we could ever do) and it didn’t cost a fortune. I’m so so happy with it!

  2. Very large lot here too. And we have dealt with our share of brambles. And poison ivy.

    Your yard looks really great. Very smart to have someone just do it. And it looks like it is now maintainable.

    Our strategy these days is one type of plant per area. So we have beds of ivy, beds of lily of the valley, beds of pachysandra, beds of fern, beds of vinca vine, beds of something with a red leaf that grew on its own and we are letting fill in the whole side. But each of those has been a battle. Get the right thing to grow. Kill the weeds and brambles. Once we finally get it done, the beds are great. But we are still not there. Several beds are still a struggle.

    We have planted milkweed twice, bed right outside our living room window, for monarch caterpillars and butterflies. last year and this year. Has not come up either time. Farmers can’t get it out of fence rows no matter how hard they try. And apparently I can’t plant it. My seeds came from butterfly nonprofit the first time. Nursery the second. If I can get it going, it will be really fun because it is a huge window with a window seat and we will be able to see the action.

    1. It’s definitely something we can maintain now. Much easier! It was just overwhelming before, and with a toddler? We had no time.

      I like the idea of working on planter beds like that. We’re going to plant our veggies here soon. I usually do some herbs, too. I’d love to plant something else but don’t have much of a green thumb.

      That’s great that you have butterflies! We do have some plants that attract hummingbirds and it’s amazing watching them!

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