Gardening 101

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Our new house came with a very interesting and apparently specifically designated spot for a garden! It’s an almost perfect rectangle, and, to be honest with you, I was really excited to have that space. Growing up in Russia I spent most of my summers at a country house, or as we Russians call it Dacha. And not to mislead you, that place is no resort. Every Russian child has horrible memories of it, because that’s where parents and grandparents get to torture young ones, and well, to be 100% honest with you – it’s slave labor!

But all that dacha time didn’t go by wasted! I know how to use a shovel, I might even remember something about growing a vegetable or two, and I definitely know a lot about weeding, and trimming strawberries… And potatoes, don’t ask me about potatoes!

Now that wonderful gardening area looked perfectly fine when we first looked at the house, it looked fine when it was time for inspection, but then came the final walkthrough, and with that came the 3 ft weeds, that I had to pull out, and then shovel the whole area (yes, I got the last shovel at our local Super Target!).

I also started looking around the web for gardening ideas and inspirations! You can come check out my Pinterest board here. I was worried though, because by the time we closed and moved into the house, it was already the end of June! So I thought that if I planted anything, it wouldn’t grow. Plus, I never believed in having a green thumb!

That’s when my mother-in-law came to the rescue, and came over with some of her plants, and a book on perennials, that grow in Minnesota.

So after about an hour, my rectangle started looking like that:

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We’ve added on a few more plants since then, and I will be posting again with a few more pictures in a couple weeks!

Do you have any gardening tips or advice? Any inspirational pics you want to share?



Finding the Right One…

Finding the right house, is like finding the right person!


Even through the ups and downs we stuck to  it and

found our perfect house!


After having been married for a year and a half, Sam and I started talking about buying a house! Our original plan was to buy a condo in downtown Minneapolis, but after looking more closely into it, we didn’t want to pay association fees for the rest of our life, so that plan went down the drain! Besides, we both switched jobs early in the year, so living in downtown didn’t really make sense any more! It was very convenient to walk to work though.

Our search process began with finding the right realtors, and, thankfully, when you work in a day care setting, you are bound to find a realtor among the parents. We decided to go with Elke and Mike from the Weiland Group (Keller Williams). They were absolutely amazing! And we are so grateful Kate recommended them to us!

Our search started in January, when there weren’t as many houses on the market. Sam and I went to a few open houses by ourselves, which I definitely recommend doing.

Once the weather warmed up (which we thought it never would!), more houses started popping up on the market, and we knew something would definitely come up! But I am going to tell you upfront, the process wasn’t easy! I’ve been reading some people’s blogs and they say that the first house they saw was the one (HOW?!?!), or they went and saw 3 different ones and picked one of those! I don’t know how you people do it! We saw over 20 different houses, made 3 different offers, looked at police reports, neighborhood reviews, Google street views, and all the fun stuff! Though it wasn’t as fun then, sitting in my basement and writing about it now, it all sounds like fun and games, but the whole house hunting process was so emotionally draining, that I can’t be more than happy it’s over!

The other aspect of buying a home that I personally hated, was competing with the contractors. They come in, they offer cash, and they sweep the sellers off their feet. Thankfully we managed to outbid a contractor during our offer process.

Now the whole house bidding, offer, and re-offer process happened when I was in Chicago for the Verizon Wireless Voices event, and trust me – that added on to the stress! But we closed, and now have our very own house, with our very own backyard, front yard, story and a half and all the other wonderful things that the homeownership brings! Oh, and I now have my very own WASHER and DRYER! Let me tell you, those two are my favorite couple now, in the whole wide world!

Have a great Wednesday!

Sam and Zhenya