Thursday, April 23, 2015

Curb Appeal

The move into our new house went wonderfully, easily, and quickly thanks to lots of help from our family and friends! Thankfully, the furnishings that my wife and I picked out (separately from each other) work really, really well together to fill out and breathe life into the space.

Of course, a homeowner's work is never done. So while the inside looks marvelous, the lawn is plagued by giant patches of dirt on every side (due to the tremendous renovations by the previous owner, including reinforcing all of the basement walls). While I didn't have the foresight to take any proper photos for a "before and after" segment (and the photos from the listing were taken during the winter with heavy snowfall that hid the lawn), I think you'll get the idea when you see this picture I snapped during move-in day:
I promise you that there's a lawn somewhere in this photo.
While the previous homeowner did his best to plant grass seed before winter hit, we didn't have much faith that all of the seeds survived the freeze. There's also the small matter of the house looking terribly boring at a glance.

So, in line with our goal to create some massive curb appeal, we set out purchasing several bags of topsoil, grass seed, decorative bricks, some potted flowers and bulbs, borrowed a few tools from our parents, and got to work the very next weekend after moving in.

Looks pretty easy and straightforward when you see it like that, doesn't it? In truth, everything did not go as perfectly (or quickly) as we'd hoped, and we ended up scrambling to finish with the grass seed before a thunderstorm rolled in. This was mostly due to a completely embarrassing miscalculation of how much topsoil, how many bricks, and how big of a yard waste bin would be needed to finish the task. We made a few unplanned trips back to the home and garden stores just to get it all done, and at the end of the day we felt completely drained and sunburned ... because it turns out that sunburn doesn't care what season it is or what the temperature is.

The toughest task was, by far, aerating the dirt patches. With only some basic hand-tools to work with (some of which broke during use) and so much dried, hard dirt to break up, we ended up taking turns having at it just to get a break from the annoyingly difficult task.

I'll update you with some photos of the results as soon as I get to it, but right now my hands are quite full since we also just adopted a beautiful new dog ... but more on that later.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Melting Pot Movies

Watch the trailer for this upcoming movie titled "Every Secret Thing" and tell me what you notice about it:

If you need a hint, check out the actors. Count them at the end when they're mentioned; how many white men do you see?

I count four lead women and only two lead men (neither of whom are white). How many movies can you think of with female-led casts that aren't chick-flicks where the girls are fawning over men? How many movies where the only leading men were black can you think of that weren't about being black?

This is something I'd love to see more of. It seems plainly obvious to me that the easiest and most effective way to spice up movies and television in an age full of sequels and remakes is to replace most of the white men with anything other than white men, without necessarily making the movie/show about how the characters aren't white men. "Every Secret Thing" seems to be a standard crime thriller that just happens to star four women and two black men rather than a cast full of tried-and-true white male actors, and I give it huge kudos for that.

Of course I'm not saying that we should have a never-ending cast of Michelle Rodriguez-type characters wherein we shoehorn a diverse cast into stereotypical white roles, but if America really is the melting pot of the world, shouldn't some of what has melted in our culture pour over into our movies? TV is starting to get the hint with shows like Empire, Fresh off the Boat, and Jane the Virgin popping up, and I think it's about time that Movies caught up to how innovative TV has been recently.

Can't wait for this movie to come out, and I can't wait for more to follow.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Fantastic news! Today is the last day I'm not a homeowner!

My wife and I will be getting the keys to our first home together tomorrow evening, moving everything in on Saturday, sorting it all out on Sunday, and hopefully enjoying a relaxing day off of work on Monday.

Living in an apartment has been alright, but we've watched way too much HGTV to really enjoy it anymore. Three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, a medium-sized kitchen, a dining room, two-car garage, a large yard, and unfinished basement (which we, of course, intend to finish into an awesome den) await us in our new home. What's better is that, though we were willing to purchase something cheaper that could use some updating (so we could customize it to our wants and have a smaller mortgage), this place was not only in our budget, but had been recently "flipped" to include all new kitchen appliances, beautiful refinished original wood floors throughout, and basement walls that won't be shifting anytime soon.

While my wife is all excited about decking out the interior (and exterior, to add "curb appeal" as she puts it), I'm perhaps most excited to start practicing my recent interest in gardening. The biggest thing missing from being apartment-dwellers, after all, has been a yard to take care of, and the idea of little seeds producing edible food is like magic to me! Taking care of a peace lily in our apartment has been surprisingly fun, and I cannot wait to be able to grow even more plants!

Oh yeah, and until we start popping out children, which is a part of the long-term plan that this house gets us one step closer to, I get to have my very own office at home in which to write!

It feels a bit surreal that I'm already married and moving into a house, but I couldn't be more excited! After all, I'm fairly certain that I said I wanted to be "married and living in a house" in the ten-year goal I filled out in 8th grade (ten years ago) - or was it a five-year goal and I've just always been really, really eager?

Maybe I'll start blogging about my garden, or the patio we're going to build ASAP for the combined house warming/anniversary party we plan to throw, or other home-related things!