A New Addition to the Family

It’s been a big couple months for us. We paid off my school loans in March. We paid off our tractor this month. Well, we also had another surprise this month. Or rather, make it two. I’m both excited and somewhat still in shock, but mostly excited.

Andy and I have been thinking for a long time about expanding our family. We had been researching, thinking and we just kept deciding it wasn’t the right time for a variety of reasons.

  • We weren’t ready
  • We couldn’t afford it
  • We felt like we wanted to finish most of the renovations first

When it came down to it we just wanted the timing to be right. We know everyone says “there will never be the right time” and, “you’ll never have the money”, but we really felt like there WAS a right time and we WOULD have the money if we just were diligent, saved and waited patiently.

Everyone seems to have an opinion too. It’s not like anyone was pressuring us to expand our family, but we knew they would like it. We knew they would enjoy it if we did. It’s not that our little family now isn’t enjoyable, but sometimes when you know, you just now.

So with that said, I’d like to introduce you to the new members of our family…..

 

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Welcome home 2004 Suburban LS and Husqvarna XP 562! You will be loved. You will serve our family well as we work on the family woodlots, tow our tractor, and drive up to camp down the long and rough old logging roads. We’re so happy to have you.

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We are beyond thrilled. We have been looking for a good suburban for a couple years now. The issue is that in the northeast, especially Maine, they are often rust buckets and beat to high-hell from doing things like we plan on doing – towing and going to camp on rough roads. Finding a decent one is like getting a needle in a haystack. Well, on Sunday night we found that needle. On Monday, unbeknownst to me, Andy bought it. I knew he was going to talk to the bank about financing, but I didn’t know he was going to buy it.  It was all so quick and sudden but when you know, you just know. On Monday night while I was at Home Depot after work I called Andy and he told me it was sold. I was sad but something in his voice told me he was messing with me. See, I’m pretty gullible but I am very cognizant of it which means I try and pick up on it. His voice was just too happy. When I got home we went on a walk, all while I was saying “Are you sure it’s sold? I won’t believe you until we check every neighbors driveway and the farm.” All while in my brain I was thinking, “what if I’m wrong? Wait, am I wrong? Is it really sold? No. It must be here. Is it?” I wouldn’t have put it past him to park it somewhere in the pasture. Needless to say, he had to “return something” to our neighbor. Well, that “something” was a ploy because he had hidden the suburban in the neighbors garage.

As far as the chainsaw, this is my husbands dream chainsaw. Andy will talk for 20 minutes straight about it and tell you the entire story behind it. If you know Andy, you know that means he’s pretty excited. The long and short of is that it’s an amazing saw, which has an expensive handle on it, and it’s been ported for better performance from some top guy in the industry….and he managed to get it for the same price as if he bought it off the shelf completely stock. So yes, he’s beyond excited.

Yay for new additions to the family!

XO,

Heather

Wait…what?! Excuse me?! You thought this was a pregnancy announcement! Oh no. No no no. We aren’t there yet. The status of my uterus is how I like my wine glass, EMPTY.

Wednesday Renovation Recap: Stepping it Up

Last week was crazy at work with my first big annual dinner to do, so the blog took a bit of a hit. Working until almost 7 every night for a few weeks will do that. With the dinner over, and spring finally starting to show it’s face, I’m super excited to share with you a lot of things we’ve been doing on the house, and outside of the house.

So let me just say….

STAIR PARTS. BUILT. ME LIKEY. AHG!

DSC_3605-01Let me take a deep breath and back up. When we decided to renovate our home, we knew we were going to be building a lot of the final touches ourselves. I’m using the marital “we” because I really mean Andy would be building the final touches, since my level of building is something closer to a rugged potato box (I’ll be blogging on this later).

DSC_3531-01It has always been important to Andy to build a lot of the house himself, including the finishes. For one, he knows how to do it. For two, he can build it for less money than a cheaper quality version he could buy. For three, it’s a family thing to have little touches throughout the house to make it personal. Every single piece of wood has some sort of story of how it was found, or how cheap it was bought, or where it originally came from, etc. It gives the house what many houses these days are missing—character.

I trusted Andy to build a beautiful set of stairs, so I stayed out of the way and didn’t really give any input. I knew he would turn out something wonderful and I’m most definitely not disappointed. At this point we only have parts which need to be painted and/or sealed so let’s dive into the finishing process. The first thing we had to do was decide what treatment we wanted for each part. Since the risers and balusters are made of poplar we decided they should be painted. However, the railing, balusters and newel posts are made of walnut and beech. We absolutely knew those were going to stay as solid wood. We haven’t reached the painted parts yet, or installation, so I’ll discuss those in a later post. For now let’s get into the finishing of the unpainted parts.

We quickly decided the best bet would be multiple coats of the same clear finish we used on the exposed trusses. It would give a nice hard surface and show off the beautiful wood without adding any tint like a stain or oil might do.

It’s still too cold to do the finishing outside, so we had to set up in the house. We decided to use our master bedroom on the second floor as a staging area for finishing, and utilized the roll staging as a drying rack for the treads.

DSC_3571-01For finishing I simply followed the instructions on the water based clear coat, which in our case included letting each coat dry for two hours and a light sanding with 250-grit sandpaper in between each coat. I started with the rough side, since I knew it was important to get a coat on each side to help prevent warping. That said, I only did one coat on the back side but plan on doing about 5 or so on the front side.

You can see just how different they look after one coat!

DSC_3579-01After a light sanding I did a second coat and with each coat since then I’ve been loving the stairs more and more.

DSC_3584-01DSC_3588-01In addition to the stair treads I also did the newel posts (there is a third one but it wasn’t in the shot).

DSC_3597-01My favorite piece of the entire staircase so far has to be the railings though. I absolutely love touched of dark woods like mahogany and walnut, so these walnut railings are right up my alley. Once we put a clear coat on them they really took the cake.

DSC_3603-01Each of the three railings will get a few more coats, including the sanding in between, before they are finished. They keep getting prettier with each coat and I adore them. They all look like one piece of wood, right?

Surprise, they’re actually each three pieces of wood! Andy did an incredibly fabulous job making them all look like one cohesive piece.

DSC_3549-01Now that it’s the week and we’re back to work eight hours a day, it pretty much means I’m doing about one coat a night as each coat needs about two hours drying time. So far they are looking beautiful and shiny. I can’t wait to have time to get the other pieces painted and document that for you. Finally, and obviously, the biggest excitement will be getting everything installed!

In addition to the stair parts, we also finally finished sealing the beams above the stairwell, which means they are D.O.N.E. DONE.

DSC_3592-01And since spring has finally sprung, it means the tarp has been taken off the kitchen we’ve been housing in our garage. More on the kitchen later, but oh Lord, it’s beautiful even with the few dings. The granite knobs more than make up for any dings.

DSC_3703-01Spring is certainly refreshing, no doubt about it. It means finishing touches, fresh air, building new structures for the garden, planting the garden and getting to spend time outside with those you love. How does a park on a sunny Sunday with your friends and their kids not just make a soul happy?

DSC_3637-01All for now. While I’ll still only be posting once or twice a week there is a lot coming up once I find time to write again!

xo,

Heather

What Warms You Three Times, In Three Different Seasons?

I just thought you should know that as I write this, Rosie is up on the pillow behind me with her face smushed against the side of my head, and Winnie is laying down my legs. I might be quite cramped at the moment but it’s pretty much the cutest cramped ever. Not to be mistaken with the cutest cramps ever. Those are never cute. Ever. This is not up for debate.

With your just-started-snorning-in-my-ear dog update complete, let’s discuss the riddle posed in the title to this post. What warms you three times, in three different seasons?

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Firewood! We got our 10 cord delivered (lasts for years) and Andy and Casey have been at work, among everything else, cutting and splitting it. Firewood warms you when you cut and split it in the spring, it warms you when you stack it in the summer, and it warms you when you burn it in the winter.

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DSC_2908-01What also warms you up? Standing in the peak of a cathedral roof sealing beams. This is just one of the many things we’ve continued to work on over the last week. You knew we installed lights, and layed flooring, but I thought it would be nice to give you an update on where each item is as none of them really merit a full post of their own.

One of the things we’ve been working on this weekend is sealing the exposed beams in both of the upstairs bedrooms. We had already sanded them, but they needed to be sealed before we could lay flooring. We went with a satin water based sealant, and used two coats. It gave each beam a nice protection and brought out a little bit of color without going overboard. It was important for us to keep these as natural looking as possible to keep them light looking, or, as light as heavy wooden beams can look.

DSC_2899-01 DSC_2906-01We still have to do the beams in the master bedroom, but I’ve included a picture so you can compare unsealed to sealed beams. As you can see in the photo above the beams have a slight sheen to them when they have a sealant on them, and are very dull when just bare wood (as in the master bedroom photo below).

DSC_2903-01The other updates include better quality photos of the lighting we installed, as well as one new light that we actually bought. We really broke the bank on it too, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

The first light is the one in the upstairs extra bedroom. I really love the upper metal part, but will definitely be replacing the shade down the line. It’s not horrible, but it’s way too small for the room. Aside from the size, the style isn’t my cup of tea. It was free though, so I’m cool with it for a while.

RenovationRecap_040313 (22)The master bedroom light is still my favorite. While the post on lighting showed the upper part well, it didn’t really show the underside, so here you go. It’s just a unique light and I absolutely love the design of it.

RenovationRecap_040313 (18)We also have one more new light now in the stairwell. This is the light we actually bought, which is a big deal in it’s own right considering it’s the first light we’ve ever bought for the renovation. I should first say we looked at a lot of options. We had some criteria:

  • Can give off enough light to light the entire stairwell very well (how’s that use of the English language)
  • A little industrial or rustic looking without looking either too modern, or primitive country
  • Large enough for the space (16″+ in diameter)
  • Simple enough it’s not the focal point, but still looks good when focused on (we’re adding art to the walls eventually and I didn’t want too many competing items).

Andy and I both gravitated towards these industrial simple shop looking lights, but they were still fairly costly everywhere we saw—including one for over $300 dollars. Yikes!  Large lights were straight up expensive and I was starting to get a little discouraged. Then one day when we were at Lowes looking for a simple flush-mount light for the living room we came across a simple industrial light for about $30.00. We decided to get one to see how it looked but unfortunately it was out of stock with no ETA on when it would be in. A little defeated but still optimistic I went home and found almost the exact same light, and a little larger, at Home Depot. I ran down the next day and picked one up and we never looked back.

It’s the best $30.00 in lighting I’ve ever spent. We honestly weren’t sure if we were going to keep it there at first but once it got put up we absolutely knew it was staying. We both love it.

RenovationRecap_040313 (14) RenovationRecap_040313 (15) Searching for lights and making decisions on the details has also made us realize our style as a couple a little more; and it turns out we seem to both really like an eclectic mix tied together with industrial/rustic pieces. Andy definitely still leans towards more masculine traditional pieces, while I lean towards lighter brighter cleaner lines. It seems like these two preferences has so far created a really cool balance between anchoring pieces and light pieces.

One of the best examples of this is our reclaimed flooring. While it’s both rustic and charming, the new finish we just put it on it made it very dark and masculine. It’s absolutely beautiful and shows the perfect mix between our two styles. When you last saw it, the flooring had just been laid and was lighter.

DSC_2842-01We knew we needed to somehow seal the floor so we tested a water based sealer, danish oil and tung oil on sample pieces. The water based sealer just wasn’t a great option to hold up on a floor, and the danish added an odd yellowish tint to the floor which we absolutely didn’t want. So we decided on the tung oil. It was natural and brought out the colors in the floor in the richest way.

Before we were able to get started Andy had to thoroughly clean the floor. Once that was done he sanded very rough spots, and planed down the high spots between boards so, “the baby won’t stub her little toes”. He was referring to the baby we not only don’t have, but aren’t even trying for yet. It was incredibly endearing my husbands mind was on the well being of our hopefully future child.  Back off ladies, those overalls are mine.

DSC_2851-01 DSC_2855-01Are you ready for the reveal? Keep in mind this is only one coat, and it was still soaking in when I took this photo. There will likely be at least two more coats going down.

In the words of Rick Savage, BOOM BAAAABBYYYYY (there has been far too many references to this in our house lately.)

DSC_2888-01Let me show you a progress photo which really shows how different the floor looks with tung oil.

DSC_2883-01Finally, the other big thing I wanted to show you was the reclaimed pine flooring in the stairwell. This flooring isn’t quite finished yet underneath of the stairs so it hasn’t been tung oiled yet, but it will be.

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There has been quite a lot going on and the wheel keeps on moving: To get this addition “move in” ready, so we can rip apart the original house, we still need to:

  • Do two coats of sealant on the beams in the stairwell and in the master bedroom
  • Finish laying the reclaimed pine flooring in the stairwell
  • Finish applying the tung oil on the reclaimed pine flooring in both the living room and stairwell
  • Install the flooring in the three bedrooms
  • Install the stair treads, balusters and rails.
  • Apply a finish to the flooring in the three bedrooms
  • Do a second coat of paint in each bedroom
  • Paint the accent wall on the back of the stairwell
  • Put all the face plates on the switches and plugs
  • Install doors
  • Put the trim on the windows

There are other things we’ll need to do to “finish” the rooms, like get a real light (instead of a bulb) for the living room ceiling, install a shelving system in our bedroom, hang a rod or shelving system in each of the other bedrooms, install the wood stove in the living room, install the monitor heater in the living room, install a door to the storage space underneath of the stairs, and finally finish the bathroom in our bedroom which is still currently in disarray and will stay that way for a while (money speaks).

RenovationRecap_040313 (11)I’m pretty sure I missed things that need to be finished, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. For now, here’s a peek at the two trims we’re looking at (the final choice will likely be the left trim), and the beech flooring for the rest of the house.

image3026What have you guys been up to? Are you starting any outdoor activities? Have you been working on your house? Tell me about it!

xo,

Heather

That One Time We Ate Maple Syrup Over Snow And It Was Delicious.

Hey friends! I just realized it’s not Wednesday. Literally, as I was about to write “It’s Wednesday!” I realized it was Thursday. Excuse me while I place my palm against my face. While this week has clearly been busy for me, this weekend was super laid back and relaxing so let’s discuss what happened. There will be lots of photos coming your way.

DSC_2668-01My mother-in-law lives in the mountains and we decided it was time to get away from renovations and head on up there to meet up with my sister-in-law, her husband and my mother-in-law. In other words it was time to eat a bunch of food, make fires outside to cook on, and oh, there were four dogs. It was perfect.

DSC_2740-01One of my favorite parts of this weekend included tapping a few trees even though it’s the end of maple syrup season. We knew we wouldn’t get much and it would be a tiny boil down since we had about 5 hours of flow, when you minus out that sap doesn’t flow when it’s below freezing. We knew we would have just enough for some syrup over snow and pretty much that’s all we cared about.

DSC_2584-01We went on a hunt for sugar and some red maples on my mother-in-laws land, but stayed close to home so we didn’t have far to transport it. While we don’t have any snow left down here, there are still feet upon feet at her place. Truth be told, I was just excited to go snowshoeing. I’ve been on God’s great earth for almost thirty years, and I have always lived in the Northeast yet somehow I had never strapped on a pair of snowshoes. All it does it keep you from sinking into the snow since it disperses your weight but none-the-less I had a great time searching for trees, walking through the woods, and taking in the views with my husband and brother-in-law.

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DSC_2609-03After we finished tapping trees, it was time for waiting, cutting trees down, hanging out, cooking, baking, beer,, a hilarious homemade kazoo and singing around a kitchen table to hits of the 1990’s, and more relaxation.

DSC_2564-01DSC_2620-01Wait, you want to know more about the homemade kazoo? Or my husband rapping Warren G. and Snoop Dogg? I so wish I could show you but I respect the fact that Andy doesn’t share every single thing he does while I’m the over-sharer. So, out of respect for him I will tell you it was hilarious, loud, and we were in tears. Wax paper, a comb, Grooveshark and a responsible amount of adult beverages make for a very funny night. Then again, funny people make for funny nights and this is a group of funny people. So while you try to imagine that scenario, let me back up and delve into some photos of earlier in the afternoon.

What do you do when you’re smoking meat outside and it’s nice out?

DSC_2645-01You hang outside while looking good. Some people just have it. Don’t hate.

DSC_2622-01The dogs enjoyed finding fun places to lay down…and jump. You know your snow is high when this happens.

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DSC_2697-01So in other words, we’re classy.

Our dogs pretty much love each other but Rosie and Champ have a special affection for each other.

DSC_2673-01 DSC_2674-01 DSC_2677-01 DSC_2678-01Thankfully they completely zonk each other out as well.

DSC_2636-01 DSC_2656-01 DSC_2659-01 DSC_2666-01Rosie could barely keep her eyes open and was resting everywhere.

DSC_2750-01With a fun day of hanging out and hi-jinks the next day we had a nice breakfast, collected the sap and boiled it down. For most of the collections the guys were able to just grab the pails and bags no issue, except for one of the ones up the hill. Clearly this was the best way to bring it down. We were really going for the professional aspect of sapping on this super small, ridiculous, run of boiling.

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How professional were we? Look at this boiling rig.

DSC_2681-01I know it’s really hard seeing this level of class and wishing you could be part of it. With enough effort and classes, you totally can be.

DSC_2686-01Truthfully Andy did a good job using his Yankee ingenuity to put something together to boil this little bit of sap. It’s not anywhere near the evaporator and system used by my brother-in-law during his big (and much more serious) boiling he does at his house.

To boil down sap isn’t super hard at a very small basic level. Obviously, you can see the photo above. This isn’t rocket science people. Pour in the sap through a mesh strainer, skim it when it gets foamy, wait until it gets low and a nice amber to it and it drips of a spoon while still coating it and then strain again. If there’s fresh snow around, eat it on the snow. You won’t regret it but. If you do regret it then I need to seriously evaluate your judgement skills. Let me show you in photos.

DSC_2709-01 DSC_2716-01 DSC_2724-01 DSC_2747-01  DSC_2752-01 DSC_2755-01 DSC_2756-01 DSC_2758-01 DSC_2769-01 DSC_2783-01 DSC_2785-01 DSC_2789-01 DSC_2791-01I think my brother-in-law shows the deliciousness of this best.

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DSC_2808-01 So pretty much, yep. Do this.

DSC_2795-01 DSC_2797-01Also, be prepared to resist faces like this.

DSC_2814-01DSC_2812-01All in all we had an awesome weekend and came home with everything smelling like sweet smoke. Even my camera body still smells like smoke. It was exactly what we needed. Now, back to house renovations.

Which trim….which trim….

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xo,

Heather