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The Exterior To-Do List

I didn’t do much to the backyard last year. Or to the front. Really, what I mean to say is that I didn’t do anything to the exterior of the house last year. This year, it shows. The garden needs tending, the grass needs seeding, and to top it all off, we should probably paint. The garage is starting to peel pretty badly, and the house could use some attention, too.

Jenny Lyons' Former Garden
(Not our yard! That’s Jenna Lyons’ former garden.)

I had a grand plan of things I wanted to do to the outside of our home that I put together back in 2009, two months before Eleanor was born. Allow me to quote myself: “Of course, the arrival of spring will also mean the arrival of our baby, so maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves!”

Nah, you think? Childless me was so naive.

So now, two kids and four years later, I’m reassessing. I’m copying and pasting my original exterior to-do list, below, with some clarification.

  • paint & repair the trim
    We still need to do this.

  • paint the front porch and the back deck
    I would miss the hand-painted rug that I did, but the porch needs to be refinished.

  • replace the railings for the front porch with a style more appropriate for the house
    I’d still love to do this, but at least our railings are functional.

  • cover the sides of the front stairs (lattice?)
    Yep. Actually, stucco would be a more seamless choice.

  • build a gate to hide the storage area under our back deck (lattice?)
    Still a good idea.

  • replace our ugly white screen doors with simple, unobtrusive ones
    I removed the front screen door entirely because I couldn’t stand it anymore, but I’ve yet to replace it.

  • install gutters with covers that supposedly don’t need to be cleaned
    We can skip this, and continue to have our gutters cleaned seasonally.

  • remove the aluminum siding on the addition and stucco it to match the rest of the house
    We had a couple of quotes and this is cost-prohibitive.

  • change the house color
    It would be nice.

  • paint the garage to match
    The garage needs to be painted either way, and of course it should match the house.

  • put up cute new house numbers
    Yes!

  • maybe change the mailbox?
    Maybe!

  • add an outlet out front and in back (there are none outside)
    We did this! And never use them. Yay.

  • add another metal sculpture in front of the house (we already have one)
    Really? One is enough, Nicole.

  • put in some foundation plants/shrubs
    I sort of did this, but more is needed.

  • plant a small tree (pagoda dogwood?) out front
    Probably not the best idea to plant a tree too near the house.

I feel bad, looking at this list and realizing how much of this has yet to be done, but it’s expensive stuff. And the only new item I’d like to add to the list? Build a wooden fence. The neighbor’s yappy dogs used to be an annoyance. Now that we have kids and they have a more aggressive dog that wants to bite their hands off, a wooden fence would be nice.

Coming Attractions

I’ve been bouncing around from project to project lately, not getting much farther than the initial “I want to do it” phase. I can make all kinds of excuses (two of them are upstairs sleeping right now), but that’s neither fun to write about (boohoo, I’m so busy) nor read. The remedy? A new list. Here’s what you can expect to see me working on in the near future.

Kitchen

Make Some Kitchen Curtains

Bathroom (Main Floor)

  • paint the exterior of the pedestal bathtub

  • paint the trim

  • paint the walls

  • replace the tub enclosure (hanging shower rod)

  • new shower curtain, towels, accessories

Dining Room

Living Room

Basement

  • organize the studio side (a big job)

  • repaint the playroom side

  • paint a mural on the far wall

Miscellaneous

A Lovely Life List

This isn’t a bucket list. These aren’t things I need to cross off before I die. Will I ever accomplish everything here? Probably not, but that’s not the goal. This list exists simply as a collection of things I would like to do in my lifetime. If writing them down helps me focus, and in turn helps me achieve some of them, the list has served its purpose.

A life list should never make you feel guilty for not accomplishing something! It should serve as a compass, opening you up to experiences that you may have discounted otherwise. I started this list in 2010, inspired by Maggie. My hope is that by sharing this publicly, I will hold myself accountable and achieve more than I would otherwise. I tend to do well with public lists.

I come back and edit this post as I cross things off, and I fully expect this list to change as time goes on.

Experiences

Sights

Just Plain Fun

  • Make a dollhouse for Eleanor
  • Finish a paint-by-numbers painting
  • Wear a ridiculous hat to an event
  • Dress up with friends for a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Experience weightlessness
  • Beat the classic Super Mario Bros. game
  • Learn how to solve a Rubik’s cube
  • Wear a sequined dress to a party
  • Have the Thriller dance in my repertoire

Family

Home

Style

  • Only wear lovely undergarments
  • Ruthlessly edit my closet down to only my favorite things
  • Find my perfect shade of lipstick
  • Sew a dress for myself that I would actually wear
  • Wear perfume regularly again

Skills

Professional / Career

  • Publish a book
  • Be a keynote speaker
  • Have a monthly column in a magazine
  • Start a charitable creative movement (like a chain letter but more fulfilling)
  • Do/create something worthy of being nominated as a MacArthur Fellow
  • Meet Martha Stewart
  • Meet Jonathan Adler
  • Redesign Making it Lovely
  • Sell my designs through a nationwide store
  • Art direct a photo shoot
  • Name paint colors
  • Design wallpaper
  • Judge a design competition
  • Create a proper portfolio for myself
  • Decorate someone else’s home from top to bottom
  • Make enough money to support my family
  • Make an appearance in five forms of media (book, magazine, television, radio, internet)
  • Have my home featured in a Domino-like magazine or book

Projects

  • Take a photo every day for a year
  • Start a family tradition
  • Choose a good cookbook and cook every recipe in it
  • Give only handmade gifts for a year
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