Reclaimed Shoe Rack

Once in a while when Andy brings a salvaged piece home, I can tell he’s extra excited about it. A few months back he seemed particularly excited as he brought me out and hit the garage door button. As the door opened I could tell why. This beautiful what-the-heck-was-it shelf was sitting in front of me.

woodshelfA super unique aspect of the piece were the wheels. I can’t get over how much I love the castors and how smooth they are despite the wear of the piece.

DSC_7675-01Guesses from family and friends ranged from a mini candle drying rack, to a bread rack, to a shoe rack, to a soap drying rack, to a wine rack. As a couple weeks went by we settled on likely a wine rack or a shoe rack. A few days after I saw my good friend Abigail (from Adventures with Abigail) she happened to be in Standard Baking Company in Portland and saw the exact same rack. She asked and they told her it had originally been for shoes, but they used it for bread. (Now I’m doubting my memory, but I’m 90% sure that’s what she said it was).

Regardless of what it really had been, it is definitely one of the coolest pieces Andy has found and I had to keep it. There was no way it was getting put on Craigslist or given to someone else. After thinking about what I wanted it for, I decided to also use it for shoes (assuming it’s original use was for shoes too).

DSC_7662-01DSC_7677-01I’m not sure where we will put this when we renovate and come up with a mud-room, but for now the beauty is staying in the original house right where I can see her every day. It’s actually right next to the step down in the living room, which makes for a great sitting point to put shoes on. I love when things work out like that unintentionally.

DSC_7665-01I’m glad Andy proclaimed it was “too cool not to have” when he spotted it, because I couldn’t agree more. Are there any cool items in your house you’ve re-purposed – or re-purposed for their original purpose unintentionally?



Reader Request: DIY Concrete Hearth Update

On my Facebook page this week a reader named Glenn asked about our concrete hearth

“Just discovered your blog while searching for concrete hearth stones. Michele and I have also been searching for the right stone and have looked at granite, slate, etc. We think we’re going to go with the low cost concrete alternative. Have you finished the hearth and any pics? Would love to see how yours turned out.”

I realized it would make a great reader request update and immediately went to work taking photos. Hope this helps you out!

DSC_7929-01First things first, we really enjoy our concrete hearth. Post pour we had planned to seal the hearth as it was. After the concrete cured we realized we had a mild dusting issue on the very top surface of the concrete which led us to change our plans to polish the hearth instead. Polishing would expose the stones within the concrete for a smooth salt and pepper look. The more we talked the more we realized we actually liked the look of the raw rough surface if we took just a wire brush to it. The decision to forgo the polish step was solidified, and we don’t regret it at all.

DSC_7934-01DSC_7937-01The rough rustic nature goes well with our reclaimed pine floors and our design preferences in general. We easily could polish the hearth in the future (after not so easily removing the wood stove again), but I can’t imagine that we will. For a finish, we used Thompsons Water Sealer. Andy can’t remember how many coats he did, but it wasn’t many.

As far as any issues we’ve had with the hearth there has only been one…ish, and one we don’t care in the least about. To be honest, I’m not sure I would even classify it as an “issue”.

DSC_7932-01Once we put the wood stove on the hearth, which was task in and of itself, we adjusted it. As we did the adjustment the stove came off the planks we were using and it scratched the hearth. It’s not even a gouge, just a surface scrape. The white is just a light dust that shows up when you scrape concrete in general. If we touched those with a damp cloth they wouldn’t show up as prominently when they dried. As you can tell, we haven’t done that because it bothers us that little. You can get a better glimpse of it in the photo below.  The white dots in the photo below are ash. The scratches are directly by the legs.

DSC_7940-01Over all, we’re really happy with the concrete and we’d absolutely do it the same way if we had to do it all over again. No doubts about it. It saved us a ton of money, it fits our style, it suits the need, and it looks nice. The difference in color in the photo below is because the light was streaming in and hitting the hearth. It’s uniform in color.

DSC_7941-01Hearth aside, I’ve also been asked if the wood stove being in this location means the other areas of the house are cold. 99% no. The 1% is the toilet seat in the bathroom. Even when that room was heated with oil when we first moved in, the toilet seat would be pretty cold. Let’s just say this – it wakes you up in the morning. The upstairs bedroom on the road side is slightly chillier in the morning than the master but that’s often because we keep that door shut, and because the master bedroom is directly above the living room. The heat not only comes up the stairs to get in the room, but it also resonates through the floor. The house in total stays toasty warm with just this stove. It’s going to be even toastier once we fix all of the insulation in the original house. We also have a monitor heater in the same room which will kick on at a certain temperature. This helps keep the house comfortable enough when we’re gone that the pipes won’t freeze. It never kicks on as long as the wood stove is going though. Even when the wood stove goes out it takes a long time for the house to drop low enough for the heater to kick in.

I hope all of that helps! If there’s anything else you guys want to seen an update on let me know in the comments below. There must be other things I need to tie up the loose ends on!




Supreme Vegan Nachos

The other night all I wanted was loaded nacho’s for dinner. I can only think of one other time in my life I craved loaded nacho’s, and I’m pretty sure it was a couple drinks in on a Thursday night in college. I knew this time around I wanted to make a healthier dairy and meat free version (i.e. vegan).  Note – healthier does not mean healthy. If you take out of the processed vegan chipotle meat I used crumbled on these it would be significantly healthier but hey – I wanted fake meat so I used fake meat.

DSC_7911-01I was wondering how to tackle the dairy on nacho’s because vegan “cheese”‘s fall short for me. From “Feta” made with tofu, to cheese slices at the grocery store made of oils and chemicals to melt like cheese, I just don’t love them. I’ll eat them once in a while, but I don’t love them. The one “cheese” I like a lot is a vegetable based cheese from Maine based Little Lads which is great on sandwiches. That said, it doesn’t melt at all and forget about it on nacho’s.

I wanted to find a veggie based, low oil, cheese that I could drizzle on nachos.

Something I could dip veggies into.

Something I could eat and not feel like I just ate a pile of chemicals.

I’m not a vegan; I eat meat and I eat some dairy once in a while. I prefer vegan things to be called what they are and not some substitution of something they taste nothing like. It’s not that marinated crumbled tofu isn’t good, but it’s not feta. It’s nothing like it.

Needless to say, I was hopeful but a little skeptical of this nacho “cheese” recipe from Vegan Yumminess. It’s a carrot and potato based recipe (keep reading, I promise). It looked legit. I have to say, it taste pretty darn good to but let’s be frank – this does NOT taste like the Velveeta pumped cheese you get at the ballpark on corn chips. It tastes DELICIOUS though and is as close as I’ve ever tasted from a vegan “cheese”.

Next time I make this I am likely going to add in just a little more salt, some cumin and some cracked red pepper to make a spicy vegan nacho “cheese”, but damn if it isn’t delicious the way it is. Note that once you pour the cheese into a container it will form a thin skin on top of it, but just pull it off – no problem.

Supreme Vegan Nacho's
Quick and easy delicious vegan supreme nachos.
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For the Cheese
  1. Visit the "Adapted From" link above.
For the Nachos
  1. Organic blue corn chips
  2. Re-fried beans (most already are vegan if you read the ingredients, so you likely don't need to splurge on the vegetarian/vegan versions which are more expensive)
  3. Onion
  4. Green Pepper
  5. Fake meat of your choice (optional)
  6. Cumin
  7. Chili
  8. Avocado
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Lime juice (couple teaspoons)
  11. Other veggies/legumes as you like.
For the Cheese
  1. Follow the direction on Vegan Yumminess (link above)
For the Nacho's
  1. Dice the onion and pepper. Add a little water, or oil (NOT BOTH) to the pan. Saute together in a pan with cumin and chili powder to taste. Add salt if preferred. Once translucent and slightly browned remove from the pan.
  2. Add a few teaspoons of water to the pan to loosen browned veggie bits, and add your fake vegan meat to warm through if using.
  3. Dice the avodado into small bits and toss with a little cumin and lemon juice. Set aside.
  4. Dice a couple tomatoes. Set aside.
  5. On a baking pan, layer the chips with re-fried beans, some of the onion/pepper mixture, diced tomatoes, and the fake meat. Drizzle with vegan nacho "cheese". Add a second layer (optional).
  6. Once you've completed your last layer, drizzle with the rest of the nacho cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, just to heat through.
  7. Remove from oven and top with avocado.
  8. Eat!
  1. These are nacho's, not rocket science. Add whatever you'd like to the nacho's. Black beans would be great. Grated carrots would give a sweet crunch. Love taco spice? Add it! These are nacho's - the only requirement are chips and delicious delicious nacho cheese—go to town!
Adapted from Cheese from Vegan Yumminess
Like A Cup of Tea
 I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. This “cheese” is definitely sticking as a regular in our house. Though I have to admit, I think I satisfied my nacho craving for another couple years.