Autumn in Maine and Other Great Things

I feel like a bear coming out of hibernation. I miss you guys like woah, and I miss writing here for you. Alas graduate school and other life happenings are still taking most all of my time, but I’ve been doing my best to keep you guys updated on Instagram. Things are going good in the class and so far I’ve been doing really well, which is a huge relief to me. I’m taking two more classes in a row after this one but I HAD to stop in here and tell you about some exciting things that have been going on. This is going to be a long post because I don’t know when I’ll get to write again.

First, it’s fall in Maine. So that in and of itself is pretty exciting. It’s the most beautiful time of the year around here. Until spring and then I proclaim “Spring is the most beautiful time of the year around here” because duh, after a super long freezing cold goodness-gracious-do-I-have-any-feeling-left kind of winter, a 50 degree day is THE MOST GLORIOUS thing in the entire world. That won’t be for another handful of months though, so while my amnesia of what the end of winter is like is in full effect, I am just excited for the crunchy leaves, the wood stove starting to rip more often, and the anticipation of the first fall.

AutumMaineSecond, it’s my birthday month. I turn 31 this month. THIRTY ONE. Turning thirty had no bearing on me. Turning thirty one is screwing with me just a little bit. I am not longer TURNING thirty, I am IN my thirties. I don’t know why this makes me feel old, considering logically it’s not, and that most of the time I’m acting like an old lady anyway. I always had this sort of life plan of things that would happen, but they stopped at 30. Now I guess the fun begins. If by fun I mean anxiety at ripping the rug out from under myself and trying to embrace uncertainty. That’s totally my favorite thing to do in the same way accidentally bumping my hand on a hot stove is my favorite thing to do. You learn to deal with it and move on. That said, I thought I’d have a kid when I was 30. Not IN my 30′s, but 30. Life has a funny way of going “HAHA NICE PLAN.” I’ve been getting into running though a bit more again, which helps with everything.

Running

That’s okay though, because there is a new member of our house and she’s pretty great…which leads me into…

Third, we have a third dog. Surprise, it’s another six year old female yellow lab. We were fostering her part-time this summer, but we started fostering her full-time a few weeks ago. I get way too attached way too fast which is why I have never fostered. We’re fostering her from an older woman who could no longer care for her and was heartbroken about it, but it was the right thing to do. What this means is that we’re not fostering her through anyone but we’re trying to find an awesome home for her ourselves. What this REALLY means is that anytime Andy mentions a possible home for her I plug my ears and go “LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T DISCUSS THIS RIGHT NOW” and then snuggle Bella and remind Andy that we are NEVER GETTING RID OF HER EVER. Unless the perfect home comes along. I mean, more perfect than ours and ours is pretty perfect so….

We have a third dog and I’m not discussing any alternative options to that right now.

Bella

Fourth, the master bathroom has drywall! We started working on it this spring and then didn’t touch it again until last week for the most part. I wasn’t neglecting on updating you, we were just neglecting to work on the bathroom at all. So many other things needed to be done, like gardening, fixing a free boat, etc.

BathroomDrywall

Fifth, FREE BOAT. Sort of. Well, my neighbor got a free boat. Then Andy worked his ridiculous magic (I still believe he is a government experiment in talent and ability) and all of the sudden this boat that sank to the bottom of a lake works again. It works really well. So we now have a 1989 Bayliner at our disposal to use whenever we want in the summers. Requirements include Duran Duran, Whitesnake, and bikini’s that go up and over the hips.

80sBikinis(From DoYouRemember.com)

Sixth…okay there are a lot of other things. Let me sum them up so this isn’t much longer, and it will give me something to HOPEFULLY strive to find time to write about later. We pressed 20 gallons of apple cider from wild apple trees. After giving some away and drinking some, 11 gallons remain in our freezer. I intend on making some of this into hard cider. I haven’t ventured into that though so I expect that will be coming up shortly. We also turned under the garden for the year with the exception of the cabbage and carrots. Everything else is done. We’ll need to harvest those items, bush hog, and lay black plastic down soon so we can get our garlic planted. Andy has done a heck of a lot of firewood this year, and a few nice saw logs ended up out at the sawmill. Our neighbors bought their own large sawmill up at the farm and are building a shed over it. We have fire wood stacked under the porch this year to keep it dry and easy to access *deep breath* annnnnndd that’s about it right now.

Does that sum up well enough?

Like I said, follow me on Instagram in the mean time at @likeacupoftea. I update there pretty frequently with dog photos and other on goings. Hopefully I can get back onto here more, but you know, I’m turning 31 and I can officially predict NOTHING that will be happening.

All for now.

xo,

Heather

 

 

Upcoming Schedule

Hey everyone. It’s been a long while since I wrote, so I figured I’d give you guys a heads up on a few things. As you know from earlier this summer (if you read then), I am in graduate school. Graduate school means unfortunately having to step away from other things I love. That means writing consistently for this blog. I’m not planning on walking away entirely, but I can’t commit to a schedule at this point. There may be weeks I write multiple times, there may be radio silence. I don’t want to create content just for the sake of creating content, especially when my time is limited. As you can imagine, working full time, graduate school and living life in general takes up quite a bit of time. That often means in the little downtime I have the last thing I want to do is edit photos and write a blog post when I could be exercising, playing with the dogs, spending time with family, etc.

You can still follow me on Instagram (www.instagram.com/likeacupoftea) or @likeacupoftea. I still post snippits of life there. I guess I’m more of an “instagrammer” these days than a blogger. I’m not sure if that trend will continue, or what will happen.

Since I can’t give you a set schedule to check back on the website, I highly recommend looking over on the right sidebar and typing in your email under  where it says “Your Personal Cup of Tea”. This will send you an email each time I post.

I hope you’re all having a nice summer, and you have a beautiful fall. Don’t hesitate to read back through archives and comment, I’ll get email notifications of comments so I should be able to respond quickly to those.

Take Care,

Heather

Letting The Garden Fallow

I thought this post was scheduled to go up last week, but it wasn’t. This is what happens when vacation brain kicks in. Without further ado, a new post.

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August is a big month for us around the house. It’s my last full month before another graduate class starts, but it’s also the month we harvest a significant portion of produce from our gardens and start planning next summers garden.

2014BlueberriesExcept, next year, there won’t be a garden. At least not in the same format that we’ve had our six gardens in the last seven years we’ve lived here. Here’s why: the soil. I’ve found the most important part of gardening is learning to read the soil. This is something I’m still learning every year with every garden we have. It’s a science and an art. The soil tells me just about everything I need to know about my garden, and this year it’s screaming for mercy. We do crop rotations (i.e. planting a nitrogen fixer where the previous year was a nitrogen feeder) for both insect infestation control and soil management. I care a lot about our soil as it’s own living structure and don’t believe in perpetually placing synthetic petroleum based amendments, or even organic, to force it to continue to produce when it’s so clearly needing some rest.

This year we’ve had a pretty intense weed struggle, more so than any other year to date. The weeds are OUT OF HAND.

DSC_1249-01This is the same side of the garden we had the worst trouble getting anything to grow before the weeds announced themselves. Take a look in the bottom left corner. Those are basil plants. It’s the one area I’ve managed to keep a little bit weed free. Those basil plants should be double the size they are, and they almost haven’t changed size at all since being planted. The other side of the garden also has basil plants which are doing fabulous. Along with the better basil, the rest of the garden is growing healthy and with minimal soil pests, so we’re happy about that. Still, the weeds need some serious control throughout, not just in the horrendous “I give up” patch above.

DSC_1247-01After six gardens in the same (but slightly expanding every year) plot, we’re going to do a controlled fallow of the garden. Our plan is to use black plastic to starve most of the weeds, but we’re still going to plant some items through the black plastic like garlic and potentially tomatoes. We’ll be building a bean fence or tent somewhere else in the yard, and we’ll use another 2×40 ft bed we have to grow squash, cuc’s and some greens in. We’ll figure out the rest for the things like cabbage, radishes, broccoli, basil, etc. Perhaps raised beds somewhere else, perhaps another garden plot, who knows.

Here is, more or less, the proposed fallow plan:

  1. Prior to tilling the garden this fall, take soil core samples and send them to the University of Maine for soil testing to get an accurate reading. This has needed to be done for years. It’s about time.
  2. Spread manure and compost on the garden and till the entire plot.
  3. Cover the entire garden in black plastic.
  4. Cut slits in the black plastic and plant garlic in the side of the garden with the least weed damage.
  5. Early spring pull up the black plastic over the asparagus patch and heavily mulch with mulch straw or second cutting hay from the previous year.
  6. Hope for a hot spring and cook the garden until late May, early June.
  7. Repeat for a second year if needed.

There’s nothing quite like seeing a large beautiful garden filled with food in the back yard. However, taking care of the soil is vitally important or there won’t ever be food growing there again in any kind of quality or quantity. It will be nice to get more of our land into production anyway, and this is the perfect issue to force us into it. As for right now though, this beautiful August month in Maine, we’re going to keep harvesting, weeding, and enjoying the fruits of our labor.

DSC_1228-01Heck, worst comes to worst, we join a CSA for the summer to supplement our smaller garden. We’ll get to try veggies that we potentially don’t grow yet while also supporting a local farm. I’ll call this a win-win.

xo,

Heather

 

The Master Bathroom Begins!

Back in April I wrote all about our master bathroom, with plenty of before photos and a “I don’t know when we’ll start, but hopefully this summer” clause at the end. That may not be verbatim despite the quotation marks, but it’s pretty much what I said.  I’m super excited to now announce that the master bathroom, and the final piece of the interior renovation to be completed, is now underway!

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As noted in the previous post, this bathroom is insanely hard to photograph. Also, this is a master bathroom only in the sense that it’s in our master bedroom. Remove all expectations and notions of a large, grand bathroom, and replace with a teensy-tiny, grand bathroom. We knew we’d be limited with space because of the layout we had to work within, and we decided not to eat up a bunch of bedroom space just to make the bathroom a little bit bigger. It might be tiny, but it will be pretty and simple and perfect for us. We’re actually very okay with the size of this bathroom, but it’s different strokes for different folks.

The plan right now is:

  • Finish plumbing shower, toilet and sink in
  • Drywall walls and ceiling
  • Cherry floors
  • Douglas fir ceiling
  • Built in medicine cabinet
  • Custom douglas fir frame to fit over the medicine cabinet, need to get mirror fitted into frame at local frame shop
  • Custom build douglas fir vanity
  • Undermount sink
  • Bull nose moulding to extend around the wall, incorporating into the casement of the window
  • Hooks for towels under the moulding
  • Sliding barn style door on a track
  • Small corner shower, no tile
  • Fan with light built in for above the shower
  • Toilet

As of right now the first bullet point, plumbing, is being done. What was a clean bathroom (seen above) was a crazy work zone this weekend.

DSC_1290-01We did have one incident during this process while the floor was open under the shower and before those pipes went in. Apparently Andy dropped something in that hole, which hit the drywall, which popped a drywall screw in the ceiling of our living room. I apparently didn’t noticed for a few days, but it’s on the roster to be patched once the bathroom is done. C’est la vie.

Overall the progress is going well. The plumbing seen above is completed, and as of yesterday when I got home the base to the shower was put in and all plumbing pieces for the shower were attached as well.

DSC_1373 DSC_1370 DSC_1369Andy has also finished up the wiring (I think?) but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a picture of the box yet. Hopefully I can get that for you guys soon. HEY. Woah. Calm down, I can feel your tangible excitement from here.

I’ll let you calm down over the excitement of the wiring by moving on and showing you the framing for the built in medicine cabinet and the two electrical boxes for our lighting above it. The bathroom is cleaned up now, but this was a weekend photo when that place was crazy looking and the wiring wasn’t completed. Also, the hangers are now removed. I replaced our plastic hangers with wooden ones and what other place to hold hangers in the mean time than in a construction zone on wire.

DSC_1292-01 Are you calmed down yet? Good. Because I’m about to BLOW YOUR MIND.  This photo made me laugh. This photo could be a timed photo so I could get some width OR it could be a realistic interpretation of how friggen fast Andy moves all the time and gets things done. Both are true. 

DSC_1300-01Well, I’m totally losing it with this post. It started off so well, and now it’s just all gone to hell. So, I’m going to leave you with super human blurry Andy above, and go before this gets any weirder. Keep it weird, the tagline of the other Portland, and also apparently this blog.

xo,

Heather

 

Oscar and the Cedar’s

“Oscar and the Cedar’s” sounds like a band that might open for Mumford and Son’s, but I am much more literal that that. I’m heading back to this blog after a month hiatus, with an update on the cedar we sawed from my mother-in-laws property this winter, which you can read more about here. Oscar, our sawmill, is making an appearance this round.

DSC_0992I should start by saying that on the day we skid the trees out of the woods, I not only forgot my good camera, but I had neither my long-gone-missing point and shoot (found on the Fourth of July in my tackle box from the previous year) or my cellphone camera since my phone had long since lost all battery power. This is not a complaint in the least, more just to let you know that I have absolutely zero photos of the skidding process (getting the trees out of the woods) with our logging winch and tractor, loading the logs onto the trailer to bring home, or driving the logs over two hours home. I indeed totally failed on this front, but I had a great weekend so that counts for something.

That aside, this cedar is going to be the planks for our porch. It’s pretty fun being able to take a tree from standing to finished decking without any third party, or second party. Each board is five-quarter by six rough. The finished size will be approximately one by five for each deck plank. Here are some shots of Andy processing the cedar we brought back home.

DSC_1103 DSC_0979 DSC_0988 DSC_0993 DSC_0995 DSC_0998 DSC_1010 DSC_1019 DSC_1021 DSC_1095 DSC_1093 DSC_1062 DSC_1097 DSC_1108 DSC_1100 DSC_1024 DSC_1023 DSC_0986 DSC_1110Andy has laughed and told me I haven’t covered this nearly as intensively as I should be, and he’s totally right. I may never live down completely not getting any footage of the initial skidding.  We will likely be cutting, winching and skidding a few more out though so I should be able to redeem myself.

Until I have that chance, maybe I can distract you with photos of cute dogs in a field. Here’s to hoping.

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xo,

Heather

 

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