Backyard Improvements and Brief 2016 Review


Where did the last half of 2016 go?  I’ve missed you, friends!

Here’s a quick run-down of what happened in 2016 at the Upcycled Ugly house:

  • We hosted our last AirBnb guests- what a wonderful experience!
  • We worked… a lot…
    • I (Erin) started teaching music lessons again and playing with a local symphony in addition to flying, which is my heart’s work (but dips heavily into my project/blogging time!)
    • Aaron played gigs until he was blue in the face in addition to his already heavy teaching load
    • Because of that…
  • We met our goal of “debt free” except the mortgage (No Secret: Dave Ramsey+ YNAB+Work)!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • We scraped together a 6 month emergency fund
  • We got the backyard to the point of not being a mud-pit

So, in 2017, we plan on being less productive.  We plan on spending more time with those we love.  We plan on making time for “us” and cherishing the time we have together.

Perhaps we are the only people that are aiming to accomplish less?

It’ll be hard to slow us down, but we’re “tapping the breaks” for an excellent 2017.

Since I teased you about the backyard improvements, here they are in order of progress:







Like any garden, it will be a constant work in progress, but we have enjoyed this peaceful space so much already.

As always, we owe so many people a big thanks for supporting us and for understanding when we couldn’t spend time with them the last two years while we got our finances where we felt they needed to be.  It is by God’s grace only that we succeeded and with health and relationships intact.

“In a heart filled with gratitude, there is no room for discontentment.”

-Rachel Cruze

Blessings to you and yours in 2017!


The Great, Ugly Backyard Cleanup of 2015

You all read a few posts ago about how we’re aiming to be debt free (perhaps with the exception of our mortgage). Part of our struggle is trying to find a happy balance between paying off debt and keeping momentum on house improvements- especially on the exterior!

There are many tasks, we’re finding, that can be done for free, or mostly free… Like cleaning up the backyard.

We shall call this segment of our lives “The Great, Ugly Backyard Cleanup of 2015”.

I visited my neighbor semi-recently.  I looked through her kitchen window and what I could see was a clear view of cr*p in our backyard.  Embarrassed, I told her “Ohmygosh… I didn’t realize you could SEE all of that!  We’ll get it cleaned up ASAP!”


I’m so embarrassed to even show this photo.

Before you submit our names to the TV show Hoarders, know:

We took immediate action. Our friend brought over a huge, 18-foot car trailer.  “We’ll have plenty of room for the junk,” we said.  “We could even take some of the neighbors’ cr*p,” we offered.

Um, no.  We filled up the whole thing and even had to reorganize to fit a tarp over it before taking it to the dump.  WHOA.  That was an eye opener. It’s looking better and we’re working on solutions for the remainder.DSC_0544
You guys also remember when we finished our shed redo over two years ago? shedfinished

So cute… then… but three years after purchasing the house, the left shed is basically rusted through and the right shed is sinking due to shoddy construction and clay soil.  So…


Bye, bye blue shed (and the grass is resembling a balding, middle-aged man, apparently).

So, the start of something new…


Until next week, behave yourselves!