Insta-lawn

Happy May two-four!  What a great long weekend we had.  And it wouldn’t be a long weekend without some yard work, and boy, did we have some yard work to do.  After this year’s ridiculously long, cold, winter when the snow in our backyard finally melted (last week…ok, I’m kidding… sorta) it revealed a beautiful lawn entirely devoured by grubs.  It was really a pathetic sight.  We’re generally pretty diligent about our yard and enjoy gardening, but I must say, even our neighbour’s dog-poop-covered-in-dandy-lions yard was looking better than ours.

We considered throwing down some top soil and seed, but it would be weeks before the girls could play back there, so we bit the bullet and went for insta-lawn (read: sod the whole darn thing!)

Here is the lawn before.  Really, it can be better described as dirt with patches of weeds and clover.

 

What's left after the grub-buffet.
What’s left after the grub-buffet.
The view from the deck.
The view from the deck.

So as I got to work digging up the left over grass and weeds, hubby went out with the truck and got 40 rolls of sod and then two truck fulls of top soil.  We filled 4 compost bags full of weeds and such and got down to laying the top soil.

We're underway!  Good-bye weeds.
We’re underway! Good-bye weeds.
Grass, yes, it really is you!
Grass, yes, it really is you!
Finally a lawn is starting to take shape.
Finally a lawn is starting to take shape.

It took most of the afternoon, but by evening our yard started to resemble a yard and not an abandoned lot.  The grassy area closer to the deck stairs, was salvageable, so we dropped some top soil and seed on the bare spots.

 

Yeah - we have a lawn!
Yeah – we have a lawn!
Lush and green and room to play!
Lush and green and room to play!

 

Here’s a little look at the before and after:

BEFORE
BEFORE
AFTER
AFTER

Not bad for an afternoon of work.  Though, haulin’ 40 rolls of sod to the backyard and countless wheelbarrows of soil, had my muscles screaming for a long, hot bath.

Ann

 

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The Big Apple

My day job has had me criss-crossing the county over the last few weeks, so I feel like I’ve barely slept at all in my own bed.  I really shouldn’t complain too much, I do love hotels… well, OK, I love when someone else makes the bed every day.  Don’t you just love climbing into a freshly made bed?  Anyway, my last trip brought me to New York City.  I love New York City.  I’ve been to NYC a bunch of times so I’ve done the touristy things (Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park, Empire State Building etc.)  But because this trip was for work, there was precious free time for all the fun NYC has to offer.

This was the first time I was staying in the heart of it all, Times Square.  Most of the other times, particularly when I’ve been there on my own dime, I’ve actually stayed in much more affordable New Jersey.  So it was fun to stay at the Marriott in Times Square.  I actually had a room on a fairly low floor, but it had a decent view of all the action and I could even see the infamous ball.

The action in Times Square.  Thank goodness for black-out curtains.
The action in Times Square. Thank goodness for black-out curtains.

I literally had about 3 hours of free time in total, so I made the requisite stop at Sephora (must stock up on American cosmetics) and then came across the Cake Boss Café, which is at 42nd and 8th.

Did someone say cake?
Did someone say cake?

 

Mmmmmmm........
Mmmmmmm……..

I had a coffee and cannoli.  I’m no cannoli expert, but this one was delicious.  The coffee, not so much.  But it was fun to see the little shop and all the baked goods.

While wandering around in Time Square I noticed a kid holding a Nintendo store bag.  I thought, “There’s a Nintendo Store?  I must find this place!”  A quick Google search on my phone showed that it was mere blocks away!  With two kids who love (OK, who’s kidding who, they’re obsessed) with Super Mario Bros, I had to check this place out.  My apologies for the picture quality, my hands were practically shaking as I walked in… it was like Super Mario on steroids!  What to buy first?!

Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach oh my!
Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach oh my!
Stuffies, stuffies and more stuffies!
Stuffies, stuffies and more stuffies!

After dropping a ridiculous wad of cash (but knowing that I would be Mother-of-the-Year when I got home) I headed back to my hotel to pick up my luggage and bid New York farewell till the next time.

Good bye Naked Cowboy, good bye.
Good bye Naked Cowboy, good bye.

What are your favourite places in the Big Apple?

Ann

 

A Good Read

Like a lot of people, I like a good book.  I’m not sure I would consider myself an ‘avid’ reader, but in general, I always have a book on the go.  I read some stuff off the best-seller list, but not everything (I still can’t bring myself to read The Hunger Games).  I generally like to switch between a light read (ie. Shopaholic series)  and a serious read or historical/biographical book.

Far To Go by  Canadian author Alison Pick
Far To Go by Canadian author Alison Pick

I just finished reading Far To Go by Alison Pick.  I picked this book up at the airport and hoped it would be a good page-turner.  Now bear with me, I haven’t done a ‘book report’ since, well, I can’t remember when, but this was a good book and thought it was worth sharing.

Set in pre-World War II Czechoslovakia, it chronicles the lives of the Bauer family, a well-to-do secular Jewish family that slowly begins to lose their family fortune as the Nazi’s increase their presence in their town and their country.  Written from the perspective of Marta, the Bauer’s young nanny, she sees the angst in Mrs. Bauer as the Nazi’s seize control of the family’s factory while Mr. Bauer seems unprepared to face the realities of Nazi rule.  Ultimately this is the story of the Kindertransport, the true story of how thousands of Czech Jews placed their children, many still infants, on trains bound for the UK, hoping to save them and hoping to eventually re-unite with them.  As history will tell, the re-uniting part did not happen.

The author weaves a powerful story, interlaced with a mysterious narrator who provides glimpses into the future.  The character development is strong, if not long, and the full urgency of the story doesn’t truly unfold until at least halfway though.  The author does a remarkable job of creating a sense of “this can’t possibly happen” voiced by some of the characters, a sentiment that history will dictate an entire continent held in the late 1930’s.

Is it a gripping page-turner? No.  But anyone like myself who is humbled by the extreme sacrifices made by those living in Occupied Europe during the Second World War will find this to be a good read.

Ann