No longer shielded by a fortress of weeds, we’ve been exposed. Or rather, our house has been exposed.


A few plants were left behind so that we’re not starting from scratch when it comes time to replant later in the fall or early spring.


Unfortunately our landscapers did not remember to save the hydrangeas. Clearly they don’t read my blog (hydrangeas always stay). There are also a multitude of leftover bricks, pavers, stones and other bludgeoning hardscaping devices that were left behind.

There’s still plenty of green in the backyard, just no longer overtaking the deck which will make things much easier as we get ready to repair/replace it. Can’t you just picture a square dining table, twinkly lights under an umbrella, and long summer evenings spent with friends here? No? Look past the rotten benches and missing and mildew-strewn floor boards. Try squinting.  It’s there. Or, it will be.


A side lawn no longer dominated by a 70’s evergreen monstrosity? Yay.


Weed barrier, chemicals, pure brute strength, and mulch are sometimes just not enough. Life will find a way.

Welcome to the Jungle


A plant is a plant. Unless you don’t want it, in which case it’s a weed. We have a garden full of plants, or weeds, depending on your point of view. I was told that once upon a time, these gardens were beautiful, but unfortunately they’ve grown into what might be best described as a suburban jungle. Tomorrow we take on the jungle.


We’ll be clearing out this bed and removing that mini boulder.


The rhododendron is staying, but that overgrown evergreen is getting the heave-ho. We’re hoping this will change the amount of light that comes into the front of the house.


Oakleaf hydrangea stays. Hydrangeas always stay.


There are two burning bushes along this side of the house that are being kept, but pruned back.


This overgrown wall of who knows how many plants provides nice privacy from the neighbors, but it will be getting cut back as well.


This poor ash tree fell victim to the ash borers that chewed their way through the area recently. It will have to be removed eventually so we don’t wake up to a tree slicing through our house in the middle of the night like a loaf of bread.


(Hi!) I didn’t think it was possibly to really visualize the scale of this enormous tree without some reference. So there I am, all five feet three inches and one monstrously overgrown bush.


Did I mention the deck needs to be replaced too?

We Live Here Now


For many people putting a doormat out is the sign of settling in, a small way of signaling, “We live here now”. While I love that little mat, I was itching for something much more important to go up at our new abode.


Did you see it? Look past the old paint job and blinding brass lockset.


Ah, there it is. Our mezuzah. It’s meant to look like a tree branch and is a sweet reminder of our wedding day. We were married at an arboretum and this was a wedding gift from a family friend.

We live here now.

Driveway Decorations


These little guys lined our driveway, front to back, side to side. Along with crabgrass, clover, and a multitude of others, they stood at attention to say farewell in the morning and welcome home in the evening. So I did what any person might do to such a sweet, constant and welcoming presence – I doused them in chemicals and ripped them up from the ground. A tiny little fix. A driveway sans decorations.


Had they not been weeds lining the cracks of our driveway I might have admired the heartiness of such little plants.

Amateur Electricians


This is what our outlets have looked like for the past 6 weeks that we’ve lived in the house. Yellowed, caked with years of paint build up, and hiding a cobweb amusement park for spiders behind its tangle of dusty electrical wires. It stopped today. In the guest room and master bedroom at least.


Binx was kind enough to gather the necessary supplies.


He even helped remove the old outlets*. We then brushed up on our CPR skills before switching back on the breaker and testing the outlets.


So much better. No sparks, no shocks, no CPR needed. Now, to tackle the light switches that connect to one side of an outlet. I have a feeling Google, YouTube, and fathers of the step and in-law variety will be of use here. Your days are numbered, light switch.


*No kittens were harmed during the making of this blog post.


IMG_0308Welcome to the Vaynerhouse. Here you’ll find the (mis)adventures of a recently transplanted couple navigating the waters of a full house renovation, adjusting to suburban life after almost ten years living in Chicago, and plenty of pictures of an adorable little black cat named Binx.

Shall we get started?