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My birthday is coming up next week. It will be the very last year of my twenties.

Not gonna lie; I don’t look forward to getting older. Call it vain, shallow, or short-sighted… the feeling is still there. I don’t like looking at photos of myself and wanting to touch them up so I don’t look tired. I realize a lot of it is mind over matter, but I haven’t been able to shake these negative thoughts for the last couple of years. But the other day, I realized that I keep referring to my “old” house – and that it’s only two years older than me! Thankfully, I take better care of my skin than the previous owner took care of the house’s exterior, or I might be showing just as much wear and tear.

Anywho, this isn’t really supposed to be a depressing birthday post. In fact, I just wanted to share with you what I’ve asked from my family for my birthday:  manual labor.

Exterior Project #1: Trim

Some parts of DIYing by myself are particularly difficult. Take, for example, finishing the exterior trim. My Dad and a neighborhood friend helped me paint the house just over a year ago, and I’ve been working on the exterior trim ever since. I’m only 5’2″, so moving and adjusting a heavy metal ladder against the house isn’t very easy. I have an awesome extendable ladder (and yes, I still love and use it), but it only stretches to 12 feet and won’t reach the highest points that I need in order to complete the exterior paint job. I have a much longer (and much heavier) ladder that reaches the top of the house, but the houses in my neighborhood are close enough together that if I were to lose control of the ladder (which is likely considering my low center of gravity), it may swing backwards and damage someone else’s house.

Quite frankly, that’s a little more risk than I’m willing to bear just to get to the trim on the second story, so help to finish these areas is at the top of my birthday wishlist. I have no issues with getting on the ladder and taking care of the paint job myself; it’s really just the part where the ladder makes its way onto the house that I’m needing help with.

Exterior project #2: Bricks and phlox

Another item that’s on the list: getting the right side of the house spruced up. Last year I did a considerable hack job to the side of the house in order to get the bushes under control. It was a marked improvement to out-of-control shrubs, but the bare spots that I left over the winter allowed for weeds to take over, which now looks just as scraggly as it did before (if not more so). Looking at the bright side, the weeds are easy to rip out (except for remnants of that hard-to-kill bamboo), and all of the bushes are well-established, so they are sprouting new leaves and look much more under control (you just can see them because of the overwhelming weeds!). I also have plans to replace the areas between the bushes (which used to be completely taken over by overgrown branches) with creeping phlox, which will add a little color to a boring area (spoiler alert: the plants are already purchased, I just ran out of energy after my sneezing fit on Sunday to keep going). What I need help with is digging out and straightening the decorative brick that the previous owner used to separate the lawn from this area. The entire line is pretty wonky and hard to see (you can just barely see the scalloped tops in the photo below), which creates an issue for me when I am mowing the grass.

Sorry, another complaint I have to make about this area: for whatever reason, the garbage men in my neighborhood are sloppy and allow for bits of trash to randomly fall out of their trucks. And somehow, that  inevitably leads to these various pieces of trash blowing into this small area. It pisses me off because I know for a fact that it isn’t my trash that is blowing into my yard. These are containers and brands that I don’t use, so it’s neighborhood stuff and I get stuck cleaning it up. Part of me wants to clean up this area and make it look nice so that it doesn’t look like  an acceptable dumping ground. I don’t plan on making a complaint about this to the trash company just yet, but I’m hoping that the less my yard looks like I don’t bother, the less others will think the same and pick up the mess if they see it flying into my yard. End of rant.

Exterior project #3: Backyard fence

The time has come to finally get this back yard in shape, and it starts with a fence. A wooden fence. You can see from the photo that I already have a metal one on this side of the house, but it’s ugly. Plus, when Charlie hangs out back here, she can see people walking along the street in front of the house, which drives her crazy. She then barks, which then drives me crazy.

My sister and her husband installed a wooden fence in their back yard last year and had a surplus of materials left over. My Dad helped them install it, piled the leftovers into his truck, and promptly dumped them into a pile in my back yard last fall when I was in class. And to this day, this is where they sit:

While I am very happy about the free fencing supplies (yippee!), the pile is currently visible from the street. So my last and final request for my birthday is to get some help on putting these supplies to good use. I would prefer to be around to learn the entire process during install, but a majority of my weekends this summer will be spent in school. From a practical standpoint, I’d much rather come home to see it done rather than wait for a weekend where I can be around to snap pictures as we go.

There you have it; three items I’ve identified as projects where I could really use a second (or third) set of hands to finish. My birthday is a good excuse to get things started, but these projects will still take several weekends to finish. Are you laughing at the sloppy state of my house yet? I guess the truth is that in DIY, each decision I make inevitably means that I’m choosing not to work on something else that could really use it. And that’s sometimes how it goes when you do a lot of “do-it-yourself” projects too; they aren’t always just by yourself. I suppose if I were stubborn enough to insist on only doing it solo, I could. But since I’ve been looking at a scraggly yard for three years and am still working on the interior, I’ve decided that taking a shortcut and getting a little help here will go a long way for my sanity.

That’s also not to say that I don’t plan on working on each area alone where possible. There are still several things I can do on my own until help arrives, and doing the prep work beforehand will make their assistance stretch even farther. Stay tuned for a few of those posts (some of it’s already in progress as I type this). Got any big projects of your own that need a few helping hands? Do you rely on family to get them done, or do you hire help?

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  1. I can totally relate to your birthday wishes, mine is coming up this weekend so I’ve asked my family members to contribute to my privacy fencing “fund” instead of presents! I have the same chain link fence & the same barking issue :) Happy almost birthday to you!

  2. On the subject of aging – I am a 31 year old college professor who was hosting an outreach event for Girl Scouts from 4th-8th grade a couple of weeks ago, and a 7th grader says to me “you do not look old enough to teach college, you look like you are 18, WHAT is your secret?” — I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry that a 7th grader was concerned about the secrets to looking young!!

  3. Oh…thats not THAT bad. I mean…I wouldnt think it was sloppy – at least compared to my house, haha! Right now we have two bagsters full of crap in our driveway. That is sloppy looking!

    We need to have help to bust out the foundations of the old outhouse and the concrete path leading there that runs straight through the middle of the yard. Not even kidding – OUTHOUSE.

  4. I just began the last year of my twenties on Tuesday. I feel older already. I asked for money to go towards a lawnmower for my birthday. Last year I asked for a grill. Getting older means more adult presents and less fun ones I guess? Like you, I have been blessed with a family that helps each other out so getting stuff done around the house doesn’t always fall on me doing it alone. I hope you get your birthday “presents” and happy early birthday!

  5. Think of the ladder & neighbour’s house issue more of a safety measure, catching your fall rather then damaging their house! I’m in the process of taking down my chain link fence…its simple.

    I hope all your birthday wishes come true! (Also, when you become 40, you will look back at your 29 year old self and think you looked great!)

  6. I never comment, but I read your blog (and lots of blogs!) every day, but I must say that seeing yards that look as messy/unkempt as my yard is really heartwarming. We had a pile of concrete on the side of our house for two months – looked like a bomb went off. Our deck is in disrepair. We had a patch of gravel in our yard that is now a patch of dirt with grass seed on it. Making progress, but fug in the meantime. Thanks for sharing the less-than-pretty bits of your pretty home, makes me feel better about mine :)

  7. Me and my BF are getting ready to paint the exterior of our house too. Like you I am also 5’2″ and the tallest ladder we have only reaches 16 feet, sooo we’ll need a bigger one too. I’m excited to see how you tackle this. I think we’ll just attack one surface at a time but its going to be a lot of work. Ugh, I don’t even like thinking about it.

  8. Don’t get rid of the chain link fence! First, it belongs to your neighbors, not just to you. Second, you will want to use the metal posts to anchor your fence. There are special brackets for this. You will never have to worry about storms blowing your fence down.

    I have to chuckle about the ‘getting old’ comments. My youngest ‘child’ will be forty this year! Enjoy your youth!

    My winnings from the Great Stuff contest arrived today. Thank you again fr running the contest.

  9. You don’t look like you’re 28. At all. I honestly thought you were closer to 24 or so. And as far as your house goes, well I’m just glad mine isn’t alone when it comes to needing sprucing up. :)