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:

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. 🙂

Big Projects

It’s been a busy (and expensive) year at our house! August was an especially big month. We had a new roof installed, got a new AC, furnace and water heater. The AC desperately needed to be replaced (it was 22 years old!) and it just made sense to do the other two things. The roof also needed to be done.

The other big project left to do was the deck in the back yard. Our deck has been a hazard for awhile now. It was time to just take care of it. The problem was everyone was booked all summer long.

So we didn’t get to enjoy a new deck this summer but I can’t wait to enjoy it next year!



The deck has been rotting and breaking for awhile now. The gutters also made a sinkhole in one end which made the whole thing lilt. I hated going out there this year (and last year when I was about 5 months pregnant I fell off the step one morning and twisted my ankle, so not cool). It just wasn’t safe for us, for Bella. Next year when Logan is more mobile, a new deck will be a good thing!



The guys came and propped the roof up with new beams and then tore the old deck down and hauled it away. It was so strange seeing a big hole in its place.

Unexpected bonus: we found a bunch of Bella’s toys that had gone missing! 😉

The new deck was being bumped out two feet to make it a little wider and more efficient. The deck we had was a little on the narrow side, especially with patio furniture on it. You had to walk sideways to get around the table and sit in the chairs. It was just a pain. That extra two feet will be great.

It took them about three days to do it and I couldn’t be happier!


It turned out GREAT! The guys did a fabulous job. The two feet made such a huge difference. They also changed the way the roof was held up to get rid of the posts and open up the deck when you look out at it.


The railings look much better. They moved the gutter to prevent flooding. They also (for free) enclosed the bottom of the deck to keep leaves and stuff from getting underneath the deck. Which Bella will be happy about because she lost many balls under the old deck!


The contractor was super professional and nice and just really good. I’m happy with the work, happy to pay them, happy it’s finished! If you’re in the Portland area and looking for someone to do work, I definitely recommend him. Here’s his website: Tim Austin LLC.



So once it dries out for about a week (probably next spring, sometime before summer) we need to seal it. And then we can decorate a bit, maybe get some planters and stuff. I’m also looking forward to maybe getting a firepit for the backyard. We also want to get some canned lighting in the roof of the deck so we can really enjoy it all summer long. Then we can really enjoy our new outdoor space! I’m so excited!