Uncovering The Past

Our backyard borders the hayfield of a fourth generation farm, and while I’ve written many time about the farm, I haven’t written much about one particular area known as the farm dump. It’s as literal as it sounds. Many years ago when recycling systems weren’t prevalently in place and getting rid of trash was left to individuals, many farms buried items on a section of their property. The farm we live amongst seemed to bury recyclable items (some plastic,  but not much, lots of glass bottles, and some metal). My favorite by far has been the glass bottles.

DSC_9093-01Last week Andy brought me home an old Ball jar we dated between 1922-1933 and the fun began. The next day he took me back out to show me some of the other bottles he had found as well as look for some more. As we dug we started coming across some pretty neat glass. I decided to take some photos of some of my favorites for you guys. I haven’t done a lot of research on many of these yet but plan to. I’m currently in the process of carefully cleaning some of these up, and after we’ll go ahead and display them around the house.

DSC_9130-01It’s hard to pick a favorite of these bottles, but it might be this old Stark sparkling water bottle.

DSC_9114-01 DSC_9116-01 DSC_9120-04This bottle has actually cleaned up really nicely so far since the label wasn’t paper, and I think I’ll probably keep in our kitchen with flowers on the counter. As for the rest, who knows, but here they are!

I’m not sure what this Rawleigh bottle was used for, but preliminary research says it’s not very valuable. It’s still pretty darn cool though.

DSC_9113-01House of Cott was a brand of soda. I’m actually concerned about cleaning this one up because it’s a paper label and very faded. Like most of these bottles, I’ll be doing a very small test patch with some warm water before attempting to clean the entire thing. If the test patch doesn’t seem good enough I’ll simply rinse out the insides and leave the outsides dirty or dry cloth cleaned.

DSC_9149-01 DSC_9152-01 DSC_9153-01Here are some others in order to how they appear below: Seltzer & Rydholm Inc. from Auburn, Maine; Haig & Haig Five Star; non-descript bottle with “Enjoy ME” on cap; large Casco; small Casco.

DSC_9125-01 DSC_9099-01 DSC_9144-01 DSC_9146-01 DSC_9147-01 DSC_9175-01Behind the small Casco bottle directly above, you can see a very roached out brown label. This one is going to be near impossible to clean but is an old linseed oil bottle. The part of the label left intact caught me for some reason so it made it home despite being in horrible shape.

DSC_9173-01Overall we’ve had a lot of fun back there seeing what other people considered junk. There’s some interesting metal pieces as well, one which may make it into a flower bed per Andy’s idea. That’s another post for another day however.

In the mean time what gems have you found on your property or around?

xo,

Heather

Master Bathroom Ahoy!

I promised you guys a post on Tuesday and Thursday every week for the month of April at a minimum, and I’m bent on keeping that promise. I’m battling my first nasty cold in a while, and my biggest event of the year at work is in two days, so bear with me. I expect my post for Thursday will be up a little later than 10am, so I’d check back in the afternoon.

When we completed the addition, and especially the master bedroom, we left one place pretty much untouched-the master bathroom. We simply didn’t have the money or time to finish it up when there were other things (like siding) that needed to be completed first. So while our bedroom is beautiful ,the master bathroom continues to be roughed in only.

DSC_9025-01This room is one of the few rooms in the house that is extremely difficult to photograph. It’s quite small and will be nothing like the master bathrooms you see all over the place. Double sinks? Not a chance. Soaker tub? Sure, if you want to sit at the bottom of the shower and pretend you’re in a tub.

We really wanted this bathroom for function – i.e. shower, toilet, sink. Though, I’ll admit that I actually fought against having this within our bedroom. We had a bathroom in our bedroom in the house we lived in before we bought this place and I hated it. You read that right. I might be the only woman in all of America who absolutely disliked having a bathroom off of the bedroom. I also don’t like bathrooms directly off kitchens. Your bedroom and your kitchen are two places that should never smell a certain way. I was finally convinced when we realized the layout for a second upstairs bathroom wouldn’t work anywhere else and one stipulation would be adhered to – absolutely, positively, no…uh…number two…unless there’s an absolutely unavoidable world-is-ending emergency.

Now that the bathroom is there I’ve grown accustomed to it. Despite my initial reservations I had to agree that an upstairs bathroom was pretty necessary and space simply wouldn’t allow it anywhere else. Secret between us is that I’m looking forward to see how it turns out. It’s going to be tiny, but it’s going to be beautiful. Right now we’re talking a hardwood cherry floor, douglas fir custom vanity, douglas fir custom mirror/medicine cabinet, douglas fir ceiling perhaps and definitely 100% a sliding barn door since a regular door wouldn’t work in that space. The barn door was another one of my concessions to having a bathroom upstairs. I like them a lot, but it really came down to a big space issue. We couldn’t have the door swing out or it would hit our master bedroom door, and we couldn’t have it swing in because it would take up too much room. Also, we have a locking bedroom door so there’s really no need for a traditional bathroom door anyway.

Without further ado I give you all of the roughed in “before” photos with a little blurb about each photo above the shot.

Facing the shower. We’ll have about a 34″ shower stall here. We’re looking at corner units so we can have more open space. A traditional one would essentially give the feel of a wall and would make the space tinier than it already is. While I would like an acrylic base and tiled walls, I think Andy is going to go the full acrylic route. I admit it would be a lot easier to clean and less likely to leak.

DSC_9016-01The ceiling is currently vaulted and I’d love to keep it that way, but loving something doesn’t mean it loves you back. The vaulted ceiling just isn’t into me. While it would be a great way to add a spacious feeling to the room it just won’t work. We need the space so we can put in a strong ventilation system. Damn.

DSC_9018-01This is the toilet corner. I’m picturing a white toilet with a couple picture frames above and maybe a few plants on the top of the toilet itself. I also don’t love toilets in my bedroom. Might as well try to jazz it up a bit.

DSC_9017-01This is where the vanity will go. It will be tucked right into the corner. Because of the plumbing layout it will be flush to the floor since it’s not meant to go with a pedestal or legged vanity. It will work better anyway since we need the storage. Function wins, though I suspect it will be pretty to look at as well.

DSC_9021-01One more overall shot for good measure.

DSC_9023-01I’m not sure when we’ll start this project, but our hope is this summer. First, we need to finish siding the house and perhaps finished up the porch. If we have enough time this will be tackled too. It’s definitely on the 2014 roster though since we have to have this one done before we tear out the original house (and only current bathroom).

Hopefully I’ll get to update on some details in the next month or so, even if it’s just picking things out for the bathroom. You guys know you can’t wait until I tell all about the toilet we finally pick out. Sounds like another “How To Be Classy Like Me” post. I am nothing if not the classiest broad you’ll ever meet (she says while coughing up a lung).

xo,

Heather

Delicious Dairy-Free Lasagna Roll-Ups

Last week a craving for lasagna hit. We’re talking Garfield style craving. I hit two issues though. The first issue was that a pan of lasagna, even eaten as leftovers, is simply way too much for the two of us. The second issue was that I really needed to find a way to make it dairy-free (reasons why I limit dairy found here).

Lasagna RollupWhile looking for dairy-free alternatives, I started seeing a lot of lasagna roll up recipes. Excuse me?! I had not only never heard of them, I had never thought of making them. I knew this was perfect because it meant I could make only as much as Andy and I wanted. As far as dairy-free, that turned out to be a bit more difficult. A lot of recipes used processed vegan parmesan and other “cheeses”. Then I came across multiple blogs mentioning cashew cream and I bonked myself on the forehead. Cashew cream is incredible for both sweet and savory purposes. It’s simply cashews (soaked if you have a regular blender) and water thrown in the vitamix into a smooth velvety mixture. Add chocolate and you have a chocolate like mousse / pudding. Add basil, a little garlic, Italian seasoning and you get an absolutely delicious spread for lasagna or just to put on top of pasta as is.

DSC_8974The cashew cream really added a delicious velvety texture and awesome flavor. In addition, the cream really helped the fillings stick while rolling.

Speaking of fillings I did both a vegan filling and a meat lovers filling using local hot italian sausage from Farmers Gate Market here in Maine. The best part is that you can put whatever you want in these roll ups, just like any other lasagna you would make. I sweated down some onions, garlic, spinach and mushrooms. On the vegan ones I left as is, on the meat ones I simply crumbled already cooked sausage on top. Because these typically are just heating up in the oven for a short period I would definitely make sure any meat is thoroughly cooked.

DSC_8977When it came to rolling up I first put down a layer of cashew cream on the noodle, then topping, and then rolled it up. Note on rolling, as you roll press in to make sure it’s tight. Some of the filling might fall out but that’s okay. I found if I kept an inch or two of noodle at the end filling free it helped it all hold it together easier.

DSC_8979DSC_8984Once I finished rolling I topped them with tomato sauce, put in the oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes, and then served! So incredibly easy, and so incredibly tasty.

DSC_8986These are definitely going to become a staple in our house. I know the cashew cream might sound odd if you’ve never made it before but I definitely encourage you to try it—even if you’re a regular dairy eater! I’m going to be honest, I actually liked the flavor of these better than when I’ve had lasagna with cheese which I certainly didn’t expect.

Dairy Free Lasagna Roll-Ups
A delicious dairy-free lasagna roll-up using cashew cream.
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Ingredients
  1. Few handfuls baby spinach
  2. 1/2 large onion, diced
  3. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1/2 container small mushrooms
  5. Lasagna (as many noodles as rollups you want)
  6. 2 cups raw cashews
  7. 1 cup water
  8. Italian seasoning (to taste)
  9. Salt (to taste)
  10. Dried or fresh basil (to taste)
  11. Spaghetti sauce
Noodles
  1. Cook according to directions. Noodles should be al dente.
Filling
  1. Add onion to a hot skillet, cook until translucent
  2. Add garlic & mushrooms to the skillet
  3. Add spinach and cook until wilted
  4. Remove filling to bowl
  5. Add meat to skillet and cook thoroughly if using
Cashew Cream
  1. If using a Vitamix or other high powered blender, add raw cashews, spices and enough water to create a smooth paste. If using a regular blender, soak raw cashews overnight before using.
Rolls
  1. Drain noodles and slightly cool.
  2. One noodle at a time smear with a heaping tablespoon of cashew cream. Spread leaving 1-2 inches of noodle bare at the end.
  3. Add vegetables in a thin row and meat if using.
  4. Slowly roll the noodle tightly around the filling
  5. Place each roll, seam side down, into a rimmed baking pan for cooking
Bake
  1. Top the rolls with spaghetti sauce
  2. Bake at 350* for 10 minutes or until heated through.
Notes
  1. Fillings should be whatever you love best in a regular lasagna. Our favorite is spinach, onion, garlic, mushroom and local sausage. Meat should be thoroughly cooked before using as stuffing. Vegetables should be reduced properly as they will not cook down in the oven.
Like A Cup of Tea http://www.likeacupoftea.com/
Roll ups – win.
Cashew cream – win.

xo,

Heather

 

Retro Post: Septic Replacement

Some of the grossest jobs around here happened long before this blog existed. You could call yourself lucky, except for one thing – I had a digital camera. You’ve already been subjected to the high-quality musings of why my husband can’t stand certain fake scented apple products. Get ready for round two: replacing our septic system.

Preface: When I say “we” in reference to any work I very much 100% mean “Andy”. He replaced the entire septic, and built a new septic field, by himself. He took an entire week off of work to do it. Hell of a man? You bet.

When we bought this place we weren’t sure what state the septic was in. We weren’t sure what it looked like, if it was up to code, or the last time it had been pumped. This place was a fixer-upper, and a couple things were a crap shoot. Pun intended.

We knew one fact about our septic system: there was a pipe that came out in the side of the yard next to the garage. Gray water flowed out of this. For those unfamiliar, gray water is the runoff. It was, uhm, maybe a bit more gray than a normal septic system. On certain days it just didn’t smell right. Or rather, it smelled right, in the wrong spot. The neighbors even knew this. A good septic system should NOT smell.

Have you lost your appetite yet? If not, you’re going to.

We had a general idea of where the “septic tank” was. When the time came to fix the septic we first had to dig it up with our good and faithful Mahinda, as well as by hand.

IMG_1055First, we found an old well cover that was sketchy at best. Then we found this.

IMG_1056It turns out our “septic tank” was a cylinder block square, covered in a piece of round granite, covered in a well cover. An open pipe from the house flowed into it. Like all septics, the solids went to the bottom. The pipe by the side yard with the gray water? A pipe flowing out. Solids went to the bottom, liquids came out the second pipe.

Lovely.

For your viewing pleasure, the actual tank.

IMG_1057Now to assuage your shock I should tell this this is post pumping. Guys, I would never show you the tank pre-pumping. Even I have lines that I won’t cross on a blog. I don’t even have a photo of it. Ew. I can tell you this, the guy who pumped it said it was the worst tank he’d ever seen, and second, it probably had never been pumped.

Let me reiterate this:

Never.

Been.

Pumped.

How long was it in service? 15 plus years. I’ll wait here while you go hurl.

I think we need a visual break before we move on. Given that this is a retro post, I’ll give you a retro photo of me in college. I was having a nice, quiet, refined evening out full of intellectual conversation with my friends. We discussed great philosophy all night. We may have imbibed in a few couple drinks.

IMG_0044Have you stopped laughing yet at my college photo, and stopped hurling yet at the photo of the septic?

While I understand you’ve just regained your composition, I’m sorry to explain that I’m now going to go into destruction of the septic. Instead of showing you the video, I took a screen shot. I’ll just explain that we were knocking the blocks back into the hole, and then we back filled the hole in.

Old SepticOnce the old septic had been taken care of, it was time to start the new septic.

Andy ordered the tank, and in the mean time he dug the hole for the new tank which was placed next to the house – where it should have been all along – and dug up the yard to install the proper up to code septic field.

IMG_0085 IMG_0100As he dug up, we found the old pipe coming out of the house (the length of this was eventually removed as he dug up the new septic field as well, which the pipe ran through).

IMG_0088The brand new tank came in and was dropped into the hole, ready to be hooked up.

IMG_1014 IMG_1015 IMG_1017A few pipe fittings and hook ups later…

IMG_1019…and it was onto building the new septic (leech) field. This system brings the gray water (real gray water this time) out of the tank and disperses it properly into this area of the lawn through a series of piping. Yes, we have very nice green grass on this part of the lawn now, but no, it never gets wet (from below, rain yes), it never smells, and you’re never stepping “in” anything at all. It might surprise you to learn it’s the driest part of our entire yard.

To build the field Andy used both the bucket on the Mahindra, and the tiller attached to our 67′ holder.

IMG_1024IMG_1027 IMG_1028These photos really show just how much earth was moved.

IMG_1036 IMG_1037More earth was removed to create a fully level area, and then laser sighted in.

IMG_1045 IMG_1046Winnie & Rosie approved.

IMG_1049Next up came filter fabric, topped with stone for filtration of gray water as it slowly seeps out of the piping system.

IMG_1065Piping was laid, and then more stone.

IMG_1067 IMG_1069 IMG_1071The box in the photo directly above is the d-box (distribution box). This distributes the gray water from the septic tank into the other pipes which will, as the name says, distribute it throughout the leech field. The d-box is then covered in layers of insulation to help keep gray water flowing.

IMG_1073A final cover of stone and filter fabric, and the field and septic tank were ready to be back filled with all of the earth originally removed.

IMG_1074 IMG_1081 IMG_1082Andy then put a layer of soil on, seeded it with grass, watered, and covered it with seasoned hay. With the septic field done, Andy was able to grade out the area where the gray water used to flow, and use some of the left over earth to help grade our lawn in some areas that had been rough previously.

IMG_1091Years later and we’re quite happy with how everything has been performing. By “very happy” I mean “nothing has gone wrong”. We’ve since done a lot more to our yard. We took trees down and now have some fruit trees, and a soon to be (hopefully) second garden area where the leech field used to be. The new leech field? Well, it has lush grass since you can’t actually grow anything on top of it.

I might not look as ecstatic about the new septic as I lseemed to have been having during a very mature night out with my friends in college, but inside, I have the same big smile. Septic is a big deal. Trust me. You don’t want that shit hitting the fan.

Now let’s never discuss this again. Just thinking of the old system is gag worthy.

xo,

Heather

Renovation Update: Rail & Baluster Installation

It was really cool watching the staircase come together, since it was my job to sand and finish all of the stair parts. Even though Andy built all the parts and put the staircase together, this is definitely the project in the house where I feel like I helped the most. It made it so satisfying to watch come together.

In part 1 of this post, I explained how Andy installed the newel posts on our staircase.

DSC_8578-01

Part 2 – Rail, Baluster & Newel Post Cap Installation

Seeing the rails and balusters go up was very cool, not only because I had a part in it, but because it was the first time I really saw how things happened. I was too enthralled in the process, and admittedly busy taking care of other things around the house, that I sort of forgot to take photos of the baluster installation. I’ll explain as best I can with finished pictures. When it came to the rails, which are made of walnut, I was curious to see how the exact level and angle was determined. Turns out, you need a few levels and a few clamps.

DSC_8583-01 DSC_8586-01 DSC_8590-01This method was awesome because it really gave me a chance to visualize where the rail would fall, but also to figure out if it was at a comfortable height. Andy nailed it the first try, so he marked it off with painters tape, and measured and cut the rail.

DSC_8594-01To install the rails to the newel posts Andy attached them a couple ways. Most of them were attached through a groove in the bottom of the rail, but a few needed to be attached through the top. Either way, Andy drilled two angled holes on each end of each rail at the same angle as the rail and screwed them into each newel post.

DSC_8596-01For the rails screwed through the top, Andy made plugs and glued them into place.

DSC_8939DSC_8935Each rail attached through the bottom groove didn’t need to be plugged, since they were patched after the balusters were installed.

To install the rail to the wall where we had no newel post, Andy did a simple block. We debated on doing a half newel but though a block would look better.

DSC_8940For the balusters (painted poplar, also known as aspen) Andy and I decided on a spacing we liked (two balusters per tread). Andy then cut each baluster to the correct angle and nailed it into the bottom groove of the rail. Once all balusters were installed, he then cut and placed a piece between each baluster to fill in the groove. Each piece was secured with a finish nail.

DSC_8933Once the rails and balusters were installed, it was time for the crowning glory, and the final parts, of the staircase—newel post caps. When it came to what wood to use we debated on a nice maple, walnut, or beech. We finally decided on a chunky but simple walnut cap to tie in the rail. I loved the idea of bringing in some darker wood somewhere else. Even better, Andy had a piece of crotch walnut which he could make one of the caps out of.

DSC_8938 The other two caps were made of regular walnut and are also very beautiful. To keep the balance we put the other two on each end, and the crotch walnut in the middle. We also did this because the stairwell light is directly above the middle newel post, which highlights the beautiful cap even more.

DSC_8931 DSC_8934DSC_8961Overall we really love how the stairwell turned out, so here are a few more pictures of the final stairwell.

DSC_8929 DSC_8946 DSC_8952 DSC_8957 DSC_8959This spring we’re going to start building out the upstairs bathroom, and I can’t wait to share that process with you guys. It’s going to be beautiful when it’s done and should hopefully be an inspiration for all of those with a tiny 3/4 bathroom. Once the bathroom is finished, and funds permit, we’ll be able to start the big renovation on the original house which can only mean one thing—kitchen time!

For now we’re staying busy fixing our cars that keep breaking (oy vey, don’t ask – a new car is on the near horizon), working out in the woods with our neighbor, starting seeds for the garden should the snow decide to fully melt at any point this spring, and over all just doing the day to day working & typical house cleaning and errands!

xo,

Heather