22 November 2011

New nautical room

My daughter has long been obsessed with pirates and all things nautical. Even though she begged me three years ago to let her have a pink room (only a month after I'd painted it yellow), she spent the better part of the last six months begging me for a blue room. Pink and blue are the two colors I don't like on walls or in houses. I'm partial to warm neutrals. Alas, what's a pirate's mother to do in the end. We now have a blue room in our house.

New laminated nautical world map, blue striped duvet, and shark sheets. Arrgh!
Rope hung shelves to display all things nautical and trophies plundered and earned for feats of bravery.

Desk made by Captain's mum for arts and crafts and plotting ship's course.

Ship's wheel clock for steering young pirates to activities on time.

Book cases made by pirate's mum to hold treasure maps and booty and such.

Look! Space for more booty!

Savannah still has her treasure chest at the foot of her bed, filled with the egg money she saves and other personal treasures. We are only awaiting a low-pile chenille rug on back order to complete the project. I can say with great accuracy that this pirate's mum is looking forward to relaxing for the holidays now that the captain's quarters are in tip-top ship-shape.

20 November 2011

So long

My apologies for not posting in so long. My husband is working a new job this year that renders me a single mom about 95% of the time. I've been learning new habits to keep myself sane during this time and to keep the kids involved in their regular activities.

I am tired all the time, as you can probably see from this picture, but keep up with my little rascals as best I can. They've had plenty of new milestones I should've shared. William sings his ABCs in the cutest little voice. Savannah rides her bike without training wheels and is ready to graduate to a larger one.

William rides his tricycle now on the road all by himself and put his first pee in the potty (no pictures of that thank goodness!).

Savannah tested for her brown belt in Taekwondo and was praised for her positive energy, focus, and indomitable spirit. William fell in love with a race car blankie that nearly takes the place of mommy's tummy and Savannah became a full Brownie in her Girl Scout troop.

Because this will be a challenging year for me with little free time, I won't be able to post very often until Kevin's job changes next year. Probably best to subscribe if you want new happenings to appear in your inbox, rather than having to check back to see that I have or have not posted. Wish me luck and have a great Thanksgiving!

08 September 2011

Piano for S

In just less than a year, Savannah has come a long way in her piano lessons. I'm so proud of her that she can already read music better than I can. Sometimes I try to imagine where she'll be in one more year of piano lessons. Anyway, the time had come when her keyboard was holding her back. The keys aren't touch sensitive and there were no pedals. But the dilemma for us is that in our open contemporary house, there are very few interior walls. Add that to the fact that we heat two floors of our house with a woodstove and we have a recipe for disaster for a real piano. Fortunately, we discovered that the electronic pianos have really come leaps and bounds in the past few years and without strings and hammers, they aren't as sensitive, requiring even humidity and temperature year round.

So Savannah finally received a more suitable practice piano and it even comes with a view of the garden and pond, something a regular piano couldn't have. She enjoys the pedals and the three levels of touch-sensitive keys and we enjoy the sound of her playing. I don't know how long she'll continue her piano lessons, but I hope it's for a long, long time to come.

04 September 2011

Busy bee me

I know it seems like I let a time slip by without posting much. Summers are challenging because they are so busy. One of my projects has been renovating the guest/project room. It is a small bedroom and I needed a project room much more than we needed a guest bedroom so even though it took me two years to do it,  I finally sold our super-comfy queen size bed that didn't fit in the room no matter how you tried to arrange it. And then I built two more to fit into the space (yes two more!)

This is the XL Full daybed I built with a Full-size trundle beneath it - two beds in a smaller space. I already love how the smaller beds have transformed the space in the room. I also made the drapes and pillows (after all this room is also my project room!)

The dresser is an antique yellow pine one that I fell in love with at an antique show in Boston and have had ever since. I wouldn't dream of painting it antique white to "match". I like the Bohemian look to this room.

Kevin helped by finally replacing the closet doors in this room. They had to be removed during the radiant floor-retrofitting, but that was two years ago... The quilt on my design board is the most recent one I've completed.

On the other side of the room is my somewhat organized, always in use, sewing space. I built this desk as a Christmas present to myself last December but it's been in use from the day the paint dried so I've never taken a photo of it. I custom-built it 2" lower than average so it suits my height perfectly (no more stretching my toes down like a child to reach the sewing machine pedal!)

I've tried to make the most of the space by adding shelving to store fat quarters, peg board to keep my sewing tools within reach and a fabric covered design bulletin board for my lists and ideas.

On the corner wall I painted a pair of thread-holding racks and mounted them to keep my thread with reach as well. The sewing desk is large enough to accommodate both my serger and my regular sewing machine at the same time and for large projects, I can pull the table away from the wall to let the fabric drape over the other side as I'm sewing. Forms follows function is the motto of this room.

01 September 2011

Laundry renovation

When we first moved into this house, the laundry was in the basement, crowded in the mechanical room where we needed to put a whole house water filter and mini-furnace for the radiant floor. So we moved the washer and dryer upstairs, to a hallway in the master suite area. After the move, I really wanted to put cabinets up but there was a window, our only window for that area nearly flush with the wall and cabinets would have blocked half of it. I finally settled on open air shelving.

I'm glad I finally finished this project. I had cabinet-grade plywood ripped to 15.5" strips for wide shelves and painted them to match the trim in the room. The baskets on top (one is missing) hold little used items like candles and light bulbs (with the new energy-efficient bulbs, it seems we never have to change a bulb!) And the basket on bottom holds the things we use for doing laundry like stain removing mineral spirits, etc. Now it's easy to clean off the tops of the washer and dryer and they don't collect trinkets like rocks and acorns and coins from people's pockets.

I am still considering add a small ruffle curtain beneath the bottom shelf to hide the outlets but at the moment I kind of like the cold, utilitarianness of it. (Did I mention laundry is not my favorite chore?)

Utiliarianism, in architecture:
  1. The belief that the value of a feature is determined by its utility.
  2. The aesthetic of exposing necessary materials and features, such as metal or heating pipes, which are normally included in a design for their utility rather than their aesthetic appeal.

30 July 2011

Farmer's reward

Once our garden is in full swing, we feel pretty stinking rich all the time. And why is that you wonder? Because every day is like eating at a fresh gourmet restaurant. A typical trip to the garden will yield all this, and more.

Everything I could hold: a half pound of green beans, two zucchini, four eggplant, two cucumbers and two peppers.
This year I smartened up about my herbs and overwintered some of them so they had a huge head start in the spring. Most of my overwintered herbs are the size of small hedges, so I hope to keep that up this year. I love being able to pluck some oregano, thyme or basil for whatever I'm cooking in the kitchen. The eggplant and cucumbers are ripening at a pace of 3-4 a day and we eat the cukes as fresh snacks they are so sweet.

Our tomatoes are only just beginning to ripen. These are an heirloom variety, Beam's yellow. They look like light bulbs and have a very sweet, mild flavor that makes them a good addition to everything from eggs to salsa. The pumpkin-shaped Brandywines are green on the vine, as are the Roma and cherry tomatoes. The carrot tops are tall and lush and since I didn't have the heart to properly thin them, I have been plucking baby carrots 2 to 4 inches deep from the rows each week to thin them out now (except now I get to eat them instead of just discarding the seedlings). We've come up with some great in season recipes this year that I'll share this week.

05 July 2011

Baby fluff balls

Our fourth of July was special this year because we watched two chicks hatch. Words can't express the awe and cuteness of the experience, so we'll just share some pictures.

04 July 2011

Farmer's breakfast

First it was strawberries and lettuces, now it's sugar snap peas, cucumbers, and the first eggplant and baby broccoli crowns.

"Sugar snap peas for breakfast?" you ask. Sure! And cucumbers too, although we juice them with a few apples and carrots for a refreshing healthy breakfast juice.

And of course, a bunch of eggs we collected yesterday.

With sauteed chives, garlic and baby broccoli. Mmmm. This is the richness of the gardener's breakfast. Of course, it also matters what we didn't eat.

Do you see the two little cracks on each of the eggs? We can't wait to meet our newest feathered family members. To me independence is all about having having secure, safe and sustainable food and energy (here's looking at almost 14 megawatt-hours of solar energy generated). Happy Independence Day!

03 July 2011

Little farm miracle

Today we had a lot going on as usual but after our walk Savannah spotted something new while collecting eggs. Our broody hen was off her nest and two of the eggs were cracked. After a bit of searching we found something sticking out from our broody girl's breast.

Can you see the sweet not yet one-day-old baby chick peeking out from beneath her mama's feathers? Here's another close up just in case.

Welcome baby! We are eager to see the colors of this one as it grows since it is half Buff Orpington and half Rhode Island Red. But this wasn't our only surprise. Then we discovered a second baby that had fallen outside of the coop, it was running around frightened and cold. As soon as we caught her and she felt our warmth, she quieted and fell asleep. We decided to bring her in the house to raise her in the brooder.  That way we can be certain she will have food, water, warmth and will not fall out of the coop again. And, she'll imprint on us.

Even Aunt Megan got to hold our new baby fluff ball. But there was another surprise. William had been asking over and over for milk while I was preparing the brooder. When Kevin went to the fridge to get his milk, he heard peeping from inside the fridge! He brought out our bowl of freshly collected eggs and I quickly did the water test on them. Two of the eggs floated right to the top so we scooped them out. Aunt Megan heard the peeping from inside one of the eggs too. I made a little "nest" for the eggs inside the brooder where it was warmest and guess who wanted to snuggle with her sisters?

The first egg on the left already has a small crack in it from baby sister's egg tooth. Tomorrow we expect to have two baby fluff balls in our brooder and possibly a third if the last egg was also fertilized. For us, this is quite the miracle because our rooster Lucky (who is lucky to be alive in the first place) has half a brain and doesn't exactly know what he's doing when he mounts a chicken. We see very few fertilized eggs. Ever. So we thought our poor broody girl was nesting in vain. We left her alone though to do her thing with her clutch of eggs and now she's got one lovely chick to raise as her own and we have two or three to raise our way. Tonight or tomorrow we expect to see the miracle of hatching. And soon enough all the siblings will be together again, grazing the land with their mama and each other.

01 July 2011

Bathroom display wall

You might be wondering why you haven't heard from me in so long. It's not for lack of news. We thought would have to move in July for Kevin's work so I've been working like a mad person to complete all the unfinished home renovation projects on our house. Of course, Kevin was "transferred" to a new position in the same town so we get to stay for another year - yay!

I've been working hard to renovate the master bathroom, which has a large wall space that is not easily accessible. To me that screams display. Using Ana White's simple plans for ten dollar display shelves, I created a pair for the wall and painted them the same color as the vanity, which I've remodeled and the wrap-around built-in bench in the master bathroom. It's such a simple project, but I think they look great without cluttering the space too much. I wanted a subtle beach or shell-themed room since we take an annual vacation to the Gulf Coast of Florida and really love it. The only pictures on the wall are of us at the beach and shells that we've collected or purchased while in Hawaii or Florida. There's still plenty of blank space left to fill as we make new memories, although we've thought of adding a corked bottle with a secret message inside. I can't wait until the entire master bathroom is complete and I can show you the whole thing.

03 June 2011

Day on the farm

There's much going on everyday now in the garden, so I need lots of helpers. While I garden after dinner, I keep everyone else occupied to keep them nearby and out of trouble. My water-obsessed boy loves to water the asparagus bed. (Our mantra: Water plants, not people!)

The sugar snap peas have already grown up to the third level of my trellis, and are begging me to add levels four and five.

My solution to never having to weed the garden - weed cloth used in mounded up rows with straw around the perimeter. I roll up the weed cloth in the fall and re-use it for 3-4 years.

We've already picked some fresh lettuces from the garden for our salads. Nothing beats tender fresh garden lettuces. This is a head of Ithaca.

 And an heirloom favorite from France, merveille des saisons.
My big girls helping out in the compost pile to turn the pile for me so it cooks more evenly. Thanks girls!

 Blueberries springing up on a bush that Kevin thought was dead. I guess my special compost mix and two years of TLC revived it. We used to get a few dozen blueberries from this bush, now there are hundreds and this is our smallest blueberry bush!

Savannah works her magic touch with the babies. Even the more high-strung Americaunas love her and jump into her lap in the evenings before bedtime when she's in the hammock. She can be found after dinner with two or more babies on her lap, nestling into her warmth and enjoying the snuggle.