Chim-Chimineyo

Last weekend we decided it was time to remove and upgrade our old oil heating system and take care of a couple other issues in the basement. We primarily heat by wood, and the oil system was just too inefficient and old to keep. Part of this reno/upgrade included removing a portion of our concrete slab. We have two chimneys, one which is of no use. Around the unused chimney the concrete was at different elevations, so evening it out was a must.

The first step was a trip to home depot to get a hammer drill to get the concrete out. We could have rented a jackhammer, but that would have negated getting a cool new Makita. Said cool new tool also came with a free grinder – kind of hard to pass up. After we got home I started priming more of the living room while Mr. A got to work jacking out the old concrete he had marked off earlier in the day. At this point in the photo below a lot of the heating duct work has been removed. This is Mr. A’s wood workshop, so opening up the ceiling and taking the chimney out will give a lot more room to work around. It’s normally much cleaner than this, but demolition takes its toll.

Slowly but surely the concrete came out, piece by piece.

Eventually, after many hours and many photos looking almost the same, Mr. A finally got all of the concrete out. I  ran out to Sherwin Williams to finish up the livingroom and came home to the chim-chiminey gone-gonzerama.

From the roof it looked a little like this, and has since been patched up.

I was a little late getting home today and laughed when I saw the concrete mixer the boys borrowed from the neighbors to put the new slab patch in. This thing was old, but it got the job done and worked like a charm. He’s banging on the top of it with a shovel at this point just to help loosen everything up.

Side story, see that window above? It’s a hinged wall. When we first moved in we  scratched our heads and couldn’t figure it out.  It’s since been secured and weatherproofed.  However, it was one of the oddest finds of the house. I’d love to know the back story to how that came into being.

Back to the concrete. Once the boys put down the proper barriers, they were able to take the concrete and pour the slab back in. This is as far as I took with pictures, but it’s all smoothed out and curing.

That’s that. Now we have more room in the basement and a much more even floor around where the chimney was. We’ll be installing a different backup heat system, as required by insurance but we won’t be going back to oil.

 

Happy Renovations,

Kenny Bloggins (that’s for you Mr. A)

You Can Just Call Me Primey Painterson

This just in. Heather can’t look at shades of white any longer for the livingroom. So, with no shade chosen the preparations have begun, (see the start of this project here).

The solid pine boards on our walls are approximately grade z. This means there are roughly 500 knots per square foot. On Friday evening after work I picked up a small can of BIN at Home Depot. As a side note – this isn’t “primer” like you might think , it’s quite watery (and it’s suppose to be).  It worked great.

As a reminder, for the last 3 1/2 years the living room has looked like this more or less.

Friday evening it was looking more like this:

On Saturday, Mr. A and I went to Home Depot to pick up a couple things for this project, and a few things Mr. A needed for a basement project (to be posted later this week). I grabbed a bucket of 1-2-3 water based primer hoping it would be enough to cover the BIN and the wood, which as a reminder are solid wood boards not the typical wood paneling.

With one coat of primer the wall looked crazy. As you can see, the BIN does an awesome job. The 1-2-3 primer soaked into the wood everywhere except the knots (where it should be soaking in the most). Had I thought ahead I would have painted all the walls with BIN to stop the wood from soaking up the primer.

Two coats of primer definitely made a bigger difference. The discoloration by the stairs is from the light, not the primer.

I accidentally spilled the BIN, hence that awesome white spot on the floor. We are planning on painting the floors so I wasn’t especially careful (at all) in regards to getting paint on the floor. If you are planning on keeping your nice floors nice, I would highly suggest putting down drop cloths and using painters tape.

Once I ran out of primer I really needed to settle on a color scheme. On Friday when I grabbed the BIN, I popped into Homegoods and Marshalls and found an awesome blue and white lamp for $30.00 marked down from $60.00. Saturday as I was looking around my house for inspiration I realized my colors were sitting right in front of me.

News Team Four Assemble! (Ok, I might have had anchorman on while I was painting). I grabbed a pillow I made from Mardens fabric, the lamp I bought, my wire rooster I adore and paint samples. See the flowers in the pillow? Those are my colors.

Here’s a better shot. I had to get my beautiful wire rooster in, he can’t be left out because he will very much be in the decor. As the newest member to our household he deserved to be in on this.

I’m aware those blues look all the same, but in person they are very different. The square is more traditional blue, the rectangle one has a hint of teal in it and the two together are more gray blues.

The decision? The primary wall color will be “seapearl” (the second darkest). As for the floor and large wall, I’m thinking either the “square” color for the floor and the “rectangle” color for the wall – or the two grayish ones with the dark for the floor and the lighter for the wall. I’m going to get samples of each and test them out.

So as of Saturday, that’s where we stand. I’ll be getting those samples this week and updating on what happens next! Hopefully by then I’ll be painting, and maybe will even have the rug purchased. I’ll get into the rug choice later – some things need to be left for next time!

Happy Painting…and painting…and painting,

Heather

Spicy Cannelloni Swiss Chard Soup

It’s almost July here in Maine, but this year it’s still quite cool outside. In fact, today is barely out of the fifties. This completely abnormal summer weather has thrown my system for a shock – and for a craving of warm delicious stew.  Last week at the farmers market I picked up some amazing rainbow chard, which happens to be one of my favorite greens hands down. Not only does it taste delicious, but it looks amazing as well. So I knew this weekend exactly what to make with my chard. This one pot soup is warm, delicious and easily vegetarian if you omit the bacon and use vegetable broth.

Spicy Cannellini Swiss Chard Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches rainbow swiss chard
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • Couple cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can cannelloni beans
  • 4 strips Bacon (eliminate for vegan, or use fake bacon)
  • 1 pad butter
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 9 cups water or broth
  • splash of white wine
  • bullion (chicken or vegetable) if using water instead of broth
  • cumin to taste
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Prepare vegetables before you start cooking. Dice two large onions, mince garlic and chop carrots and celery. Chop stalks of swiss chard, remove greens and discard the ribs.  Chop or rip up chard to bite size pieces.
  2. Heat a large pot up with butter. Add in strips of bacon until crispy. Remove bacon, leaving fat (If skipping bacon, add butter to pot and skip to next step).
  3. Add onions and let cook for 5 minutes until translucent, stirring occasionally. De-glaze the pan with a splash of white wine.
  4. Add in garlic, carrots, celery and diced stalks of rainbow chard. Let cook an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Pour water/broth over vegetables and add bullion (if using). Let simmer 5 minutes, add chard. Let cook for 15 minutes over medium heat. Add cracked red pepper and cumin.
  6. Add 2 cups elbow macaroni.
  7. Once macaroni is cooked, turn the heat off and add can of cannelloni beans, including juice. Stir just to heat up beans.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Om.nom.nom.

On a side note, how cute are these measuring cups my friend bought us for my bridal shower?

Happy Warm Soup on Oddly Cold Days,

Heather

Fan-tastic

This weekend I was mercilessly staring at paint swatches (this post) because I’m still trying to decide what shade of white to go with (yes, even as it’s almost Friday I have no idea what I’m doing). After that got boring, I realized our fan needed to be cleaned, badly. The fan happens to be in the main room to the house, off of the room I’m painting. It’s also where the woodstove is. This means the fan is running quite a bit to circulate either cool air from outside, or warm air from the woodstove. Due to it running so much it collects a lot of dust. Seems backwards, but it’s the truth. You know what’s also awesome? The popcorn ceiling.

There I was standing on a chair with a wet cloth staring at this mass of brown and gold with flowered light shades. That’s when I found a screw driver and decided to go rogue on those fan blades.

I realized with one blade down I should at least attempt to take a photo of the fan before. I snapped this in about two seconds flat, threw gently placed the camera down and went nuts with my screw driver – stopping short of removing the entire assembly. First, I’m well aware this might be the best photo you’ve ever seen in your life. Second, don’t be jealous of the crack above the door in the background. If you really want one of your own, jack your house up so it’s level. You might get one or two in a ceiling as well*brushes shoulders off*, we are ballin’ around here.

About 45 minutes later, the gorgeous flower light shades were in the dishwasher for a thorough cleaning, and the fan blades had a nice coat of white spray paint on them. First I cleaned them with a super diluted soap/water mix on a damp cloth. Since these are wood I didn’t want to soak them. I made sure to dry them thoroughly, and left them in the sun for about 10 minutes to finish up. My first coat of spray was some left over white primer spray paint I had. After, I did 2 coats of white semi-gloss spray paint. Once they were dried to the touch I brought them back inside to put up.

Once I realized my original screwdriver was not only too short to put them back up, but I needed a magnetic screwdriver to hold the screw in place, I was slightly derailed. The next morning the tool saints had me walk into our back room, i.e. guest room, i.e. wedding storage room, i.e. craft storage room, i.e. shoe storage closet and lo and behold there was my longer, magnetic screwdriver *dance of success*. In about 15 minutes, at 7am, I had the fan blades back up and the floral glass in place.We don’t plan on keeping this particular fan, so I decided to just clean up the glass and not waste money purchasing new shades for it.

So instead of a gold fan with dark brown blades covered in dust, I now have a gold fan with white blades that are clean and a clean popcorn ceiling due to some serious vacuuming. You see those blue walls? That’s your sneak peak into the main room. Man, the suspense is just killing you. I can give you a spoiler – directly below that fan is a hump in our wood flooring so big my best friend thought she stepped on my sleeping dog when she stepped backwards and onto it. My dog was nowhere near her.

I genuinely find these things charming about my house, and I’m sure I’ll think fondly of all these things when their gone. It’s all the journey.

And that my friends, is six hundred and forty-one words on painting fan blades.

*takes a bow*

Thank you very much,

Heather

Oh, Hello Summer

There are many things I love about the summer. Popsicles for one. Long days outside. Warm weather early in the morning. Walking around barefoot. Wild strawberries. Oh, the wild strawberries. Dear God, thank you for wild strawberries.

Also, I love the morning. Have I ever mentioned I’m a much happier person when I get up early in the morning? That my body regularly wakes me up in the summer at 5am? Also, that I often ignore it, go back to sleep and wake up much more agitated than if I had just kicked up my heels at 5am?

For a week my body kept waking up earlier and earlier and my mind didn’t understand what my body was doing. Then it happened. Yesterday I woke up at 5am. Perky. Ready to get out of bed. Summer must be here.

So, I ran. Now, don’t go thinking I ran 12 miles at 5am. Me running 12 miles equals certain death. It was more like a huffing half mile with the dogs, then lots of playing outside. Then I looked up and realized I had never really seen our field at 5am. It made me smile with glee. There was absolutely nothing but the sun stretching a long morning yawn as it woke up, the birds starting their day nice and early and my dogs eating grass.

They were definitely cattle in a previous life.

Or goats.

I love our yard in the summer. Truly there are so many little details that just can’t be missed. Whether it’s little flowers, moss growing on the bark, or the ants going about their business. When all three are found together it’s like a little gem.

I might never ignore my body again when it wakes me up at 5am. Okay, after today. I definitely ignored it today. I realized I was sad to miss that hour where the world of people and technology isn’t quite awake yet, at least not out where I live. Tomorrow I will definitely be up at 5am. Unless it’s raining. Then I might sleep.

So incase it rains, here is a few more lovely photos of the summer. Oh summer, thank you for warming my bones – and for reminding me how wonderful 5am is.

Much Love and Many Happy Summer Mornings,

Heather