Our Backyard Makeover: Before and After

So waaaay back in August I told ya’ll that we were going to redo the backyard, which we did! I hadn’t gotten around to taking pictures of it until this weekend, mainly because I am stuck in the office during daylight hours. But now I finally have the “After” shots!

Here’s the “before”:

And here are the “afters”…

Unfortunately, the grass was damaged by the recent “Backyard Pool” incident. Then again, it wasn’t growing in well to begin with! If anyone has advice on growing grass, I’m all ears.

We’d also like to paint the walls white, and eventually remove the potted tree and potted bush. We’re still thinking that one over, though… we really hate that tree, but it does provide good shade. We’d replace the tree with my new orchid tree. After my last post on it, a reader (Thanks, Pauline!) identified it as an orchid tree, not a plant, which is very exciting! No shade from that baby for a few more years, though. 🙁

The total cost for this makeover, including palm plants, grass, dirt and patio, was somewhere around $300 US. Not bad, eh?

Dear Chaac, Thanks a Lot.

After a week of lovely weather, Saturday afternoon was suddenly filled with ridiculous amounts of rain. Strange, since rainy season is now over. (Here in the Yucatan Peninsula, we like to attribute these shenanigans to Chaac, the Mayan god of rain.)

Luckily our house doesn’t flood, but several hours of non-stop heavy rain did cause my backyard to look like a pond:

Aaah, paradise.

Luckily the rain cleared out by Saturday evening. We had to cancel our plans of going to a nightclub in the Hotel Zone because of flooding, but we did get to go to one of my favorite downtown spots, Ora Si! Mariscos y Chan Chan (horribly long name, great place).

With the sun shining and the birds singing, on Sunday Jorge and I toured the Hotel Zone a little (our new Sunday tradition), then went to his aunt’s house for fried fish, pico de gallo and tacos.

In the end, a potentially wasted weekend was saved by sunshine once again!

My New Orchid

I was excited to walk out the door this morning to see that my new orchid plant finally has its first bloom! I’ve always been a bit of a “black thumb”, so it’s nice to know I didn’t screw this plant up.

We put it in the planter in our front patio because that spot gets some sun during the day.

Would anyone judge me if I said I really want a pair of heels in this print?

The leaves might be my favorite part! We’ve discovered that they open during the day (as you see in the photos) and fold perfectly in half when it gets dark. Very cool.

The leaves are a little lighter than they should be, which has me worried. Maybe if I lift it up a bit with some string so the sun hits it better?

In this shot, you can see that the plant has tons of buds on it... can't wait to see what it looks like in a few days!

We got it from a local plant shop that some guy runs out of his house (gotta love Mexico!). He had several huge versions of this plant in his front yard, and I fell in love!

If anyone can help me identify this plant, I’d really appreciate it! Right now, the only descriptive words I have are “orchid” and “pretty”.

My Three Day Weekend

So my 3-day weekend for Mexican Independence Day was busy, busy, busy! I’ll do a quick run-through for ya 🙂

Thursday

To celebrate Independence Day, we played it simple this year… tacos and potatoes at a friend’s pool. Just a calm evening sitting around and talking while listening to fireworks in the distance. Ended the night around 5 am, I think.

We really need to hang out with this group of friends more often. They’re friends of Jorge from high school, and we always have a great time with them.

Friday

Also a low-key day. We ordered the plants we want for the backyard, then went to Jorge’s cousin’s 3rd birthday party where we had tortas and raspados. Then we went home and took a long nap!

In the evening, we went to my suegros house for some pasta from Cheester.

Me and Jorge at Sofia's bday party

Saturday

My brother-in-law scored a dozen free passes to Xcaret. Since Jorge’s cousins were in town visiting, we went with them for the day. I’ll do a more detailed post later this week, but here’s a teaser photo for ya…

Sunday

On Sunday morning, we (and by “we”, I mean Jorge) planted some mini palm trees in our up-and-coming backyard, and laid some some dirt. I’ll post the full makeover later this week, so you can check out our little patio, palm trees, fancy grass and orchid (whaaaaat??)!

Here’s a preview shot of Jorge hard at work while I supervised (and by “supervised”, I mean ate cereal, took pictures, played with the dogs and decided where the palm trees should go).

I think we can all agree that Jorge is the best husband ever.

The grass and orchid plant came today, but won’t be installed until tomorrow. Boo.

Immediately afterwards, my suegros came and picked us up to go to the pool. My brother-in-law’s girlfriend’s parents (confusing, I know) own a piece of land out in the middle of the jungle where they’ve built a little private pool and garden, complete with hammock area and bathroom. We spent the rest of the afternoon there. I would have taken pictures, but I was too busy swimming, eating Domino’s pizza and napping in hammocks. Life is so hard sometimes.

Afterwards we did laundry at my suegros house, like we do every Sunday. Meanwhile, I caught up on reality TV online… Project Runway, new season of Survivor (hurray!) and America’s Next Top Model All Stars (go Allison and Laura!). Then Jorge and I went home and watched the first episode of Jersey Shore Italy. (Oh Mike, you scoundrel!)

So that’s it for my 3-day weekend. What did you do this weekend?

 

Dear Neighbors… Seriously?

So our house has been consistently invaded by animals this year, but I can’t figure out if they’re drawn to us out of love or hatred. Either way, they love hanging out there.

First there were the cockroaches and slugs (still there, but in much smaller quantities). Then, there were the evil cats (who no longer poop in our planter, thanks for all the tips!). I also saw a teeny tiny frog in the kitchen last week, but at least he was cute. Now… ok, I seriously can’t even explain this one. My Facebook and Twitter friends already know that one of our neighbors a few houses down has acquired a rooster.

A ROOSTER.

A ROOSTER THAT CROWS.

A ROOSTER THAT HAS LEARNED TO CLIMB NOT ONE, BUT SEVERAL BACKYARD WALLS.

Apparently our house is a Mecca for Yucatan wildlife.

What animal do you think will be next? Place your bets!

Around the House

Jorge and I have been spending the last few weeks trying to get the house together so we can finally actually USE the house instead of spending most of the time watching TV upstairs.

Currently our living room has our nice new sofas pushed face-forward against the wall because the dogs are home alone during the day and we don’t want them jumping on there. We also had our coffee table recently finished… it’s STUNNING! (and currently residing in our back room where all our storage stuff is) I’ll try to remember to post pictures of it soon.

In order to reclaim our living room from the dogs, we have to spruce up our backyard to make it liveable for them so they can stay there during the day. Luckily our backyard already has nice shade from a small tree whose branches spread out over most of the yard. Right now it’s half gravel, half dirt… we plan on changing it to half patio, half grass, with some nice plants thrown in there. We also desperately need to paint the walls.

As you can see, it needs work. Hopefully by the end of this weekend, it will be a miniature doggy paradise (or next weekend, depending on if we can find someone to lay the floor by… today)

So that’s the plan for the next few days: create incredible backyard for the dogs, reclaim living room, live happily ever after.

Oh, and my neighbor across the street gave us a plant in a hanging coconut. It’s the cutest thing ever! We hung it from the tree in our front patio and it’s started to bloom:

So that’s what’s going on around our house. Do you have any house projects right now?

Operation Chile Cat Part 2

Two weeks ago, Jorge began Operation Chile Cat to rid our front tree planter of cat poop. With just one night of chile powder set around the ledges of the planter, it seems we were partially successful. As it turns out, we had TWO neighborhood cats pooping in our planter, and now that number has been reduced to ONE.  *evil grin*

Saturday night we heard about 10 minutes of yowling from outside, and I just chalked it up to some “naughty business” going on with the neighborhood cats. Jorge looked out our front window to see 3 cats sitting outside our front gate, looking at our house and yowling. I think they’re on to us.

At the recommendation of my reader Johanna, we decided to kick it up a notch by using coffee grounds. Last night, Jorge poured chile powder and coffee grounds around the planter, then sprinkled some in the dirt.


Game on.

An Insincere Apology to Cat Owners Everywhere

So Jorge hates cats. This hatred goes all the way back to childhood, when the neighborhood street cats would tear open his family’s garbage bags and litter the remains outside their front gate.

In our current neighborhood, several of our neighbors have cats that they let roam free. We didn’t have a problem with this until they started pooping in our planter.

Tired of cleaning up cat poop (why does our life seem to center around animal feces?) and having a smelly front patio, Jorge came up with a Master Plan.

Chili powder.

Excited and with just a hint of crazy in his eyes, Jorge picked up a small bottle of chili powder at Walmart last night. It was time to put the Master Plan into effect.

He scattered a line of chili powder around all the edges of the planter so the cats would have no choice but to land in it if they wanted to poop in our dirt. I heard him mutter, “Espero que esos cabrones vengan HOY.” (“I hope those bastards come TONIGHT.”)

My Cancun Mailbox

Growing up in the suburbs of Virginia, I remember every house had its own mailbox set right on the street, next to the driveway. Each mailbox had a little red flag that you would put up to alert the mailman/lady that you had put something in there to mail. The mailman/lady drove by every day in a cute little van and placed our letters, bills and catalogues neatly inside the mailbox, where it was safely tucked away from the elements.

Here in Cancun? Not so much. Even when mail does reach our house (which can take months), there is nothing resembling a mailbox to put the mail in. So… we cancunenses have to be more resourceful. Every house here has a front gate or, at the very least, bars on the windows or front door. Since these bars are decorative, there’s always a place for mail.

Here’s an American Express card advertisement found in my “mailbox” this morning:

I could buy little black boxes that say “correo” to hang up outside the house, but I get a feeling the postman would ignore it anyway. 🙂

Cockroaches, Slugs and Poo… Oh My!

So the last week and a half has been interesting at my house. We had a very dry season for several months without a single drop of rain. Two Saturdays ago, however, that all changed. Torrential rains began all of a sudden. We had two days of rain, followed by a week of sunshine, followed by spurts of rain the last 2 or 3 days.

Rainy season at our house was ridiculous last year. To explain, we leave our back door open during the day when we’re not home so the dogs can go outside to do their business. (We have a back gated door as well, which remains closed. The dogs can slip out to the backyard, but no one can get in.) Anyway, when the ground is wet, my snobby princess poodles don’t want to get their precious little paws wet… which means pee and poo on my living room floor when I come home. (We hadn’t had a single incident in MONTHS, and now we’re back to square one.)

This year, however, has been far worse than last year’s rainy season at my house.

One on particular occasion last week, Suki got diarrhea and decided to leave evidence all over the living room and stairs. She also thought it would be productive to smear it around. That was a fun afternoon.

We also get some large cockroaches here in Cancun, which everyone’s kinda used to. We kill them on-site with chankletazos (meaning “hard blows with a flip-flop”… I love the Mexican language). A few days ago, I put the dog’s food bowl on the counter and poured some dog chow. I went to the fridge for yoghurt, and when I turned back around there was a huge cockroach in the dog bowl. Jorge and I looked on in horror as the cockroach grabbed a large piece of kibble, carried it out of the bowl and on to the counter, and began to eat it. A cockroach eating dog food on my counter. I don’t think I can even begin to describe how gross that is.

We also seem to have a slug infestation. I didn’t even know Cancun had slugs, much less our backyard. Since we’ve been leaving the back door open, on several occasions we’ve found a slug in the kitchen near the back door. Last night we went to the movies and got home to find about 30 – 40 slugs all over the walls and floors of our kitchen, hallway, living room, downstairs bathroom and stairs. I wish I’d taken pictures, but my memory card is broken. 🙁 But they look like this:

So anyway, after a nice movie date, Jorge and I finished off our romantic evening by cleaning puddles of dog pee (me) and scraping slugs off the walls with a floor squeegee (Jorge). Then we watched an episode of Law and Order, because there’s no way I was going to sleep after that horror of an evening.

I’m happy to say that soon we will be fixing up the backyard with grass, shade and a doghouse so that the dogs can stay outside while we’re not home. That way we can finally actually USE our living room and keep the back door closed so the slugs and cockroaches don’t get in. *shudder*

If I don’t invite any of you over to my house until 2012… you’ll know why. On the bright side, our trees and plants look lovely.