Friday Project Day!

It's Friday, which can only mean one thing: it's time to start another project!

I'm re-painting the guest room with the same shade of seafoamish green that I used in the office/sunroom. The blue I chose when we first moved in is just too dark compared to the rest of the pale colors at the Hive.
I need to get this finished before out guests arrive this weekend. Wish me luck!

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes from Scratch

I discovered Annie's Eats the other day and was completely mesmerized by her double cookie dough ice cream recipe. Then I read that the recipe was inspired by a chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake that she claimed was "live changing" and I just had to try it out.

I have a favorite vanilla cupcake recipe that I perfected last year in advance of our wedding and then re-perfected after baking 300+ for the wedding when it failed to translate into huge batch proportions during the cupcake fiasco (which I still have yet to blog about). But, Annie claims that her brown sugar cupcake recipe gives the cakes a cookie dough-esq flavor so I put aside my favorite vanilla and gave her recipe a try. I was not disappointed; the cake is delicious.
Unlike many cookie dough-stuffed cupcake recipes on the 'net, these ones are made from scratch and filled with raw dough after baking, which to allay any salmonella fears, does not contain raw eggs. The frosting has flour in it, which is typical for some recipes from the South, but uncommon in our kitchen. The flour combined with a bit of brown sugar gives the frosting an almost grainy, thicker, very cookie dough-like texture. The whole package is just divine.
I baked these in anticipation of a visit from good friends from Maine this weekend. They wait sealed in the freezer, padlocked so I keep my picking fingers away. If you visit the Hive, I'll make you cupcakes too, but for now go ahead and make a batch for yourself; they're delicious.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

  • 1½ cups (3 sticks) room temp. unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • ¼ t. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
For the filling (I doubled this so as to use the entire can of s.c. milk and froze the leftovers for when we try Annie's ice cream recipe):
  • 4 T. room temp. unsalted butter
  • 6 T. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 7 oz. sweetened condensed milk (one half of a can)
  • ½ t. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips
For the frosting:
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks) room temp. unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ t. salt
  • 3 T. milk
  • 2½ t. vanilla extract
For decoration:
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Annie also suggests decorating with mini chocolate chip cookies, which is just adorable
For full instructions how to make the cupcakes, including a printer-friendly version, head on over to Annie's Eats!
Thanks for the inspiration and the wonderful recipe, Annie!

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In a Nutshell

This is me in a nutshell:
Created by Jen of Made by Girl and available in her shop.

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Big Sun Room / Office Reveal!!!

We made the big office / sun room renovation reveal in a guest post over at A Design Story today. Head on over to Lindsay's blog to see a recap of how we did this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this, and went from this:

 To this:
 And this:
Thanks for having us, Lindsay!

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Wedding at an Aquarium

We went to a wedding at an aquarium this weekend. The cocktail hour took place throughout the exhibits, so we were able to snack on crab cakes and ahi tuna while hanging out with sharks and sea turtles. The wedding cake was and ocean-to-sky theme with a plane on top for the pilot groom.
 I was served this cute little fish with my piece of cake.
I tried to take him home, but he didn't survive in the humid air for too long and ended up as a pile of mush. Sorry little fish. The aquarium was definitely one of my favorite wedding reception locations I've been to!

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Drooling Over Someone Else's Dining Room

I was over at House*Tweaking today and happened to click on her recent "Feature Friday" post where she shared a few photos of her dining room. Holy heck I just saw the West Elm chandelier that I've been drooling over for months now, in real life. And I assure you, it's even better than in the store.

At the store:

And in real life at House*Tweaking.

Do you think S would notice if I swapped out the Pottery Barn pendant above our dining room table for this one when he's away?

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It's Hot.

It's hot outside. I'm miserable when I run, Feeney gets too hot on a short walk, and everything living out there is drooping. I hate being cooped up inside. Thank goodness for Lipton cold brew iced tea.

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The Three Shoves Demo

The final step in our shed project was to get rid of the horrible shed-that-was-falling-in-on-itself. Note how I said was?

Our town noise ordinance says that we can start mowing lawns, pounding nails, and demolishing sheds at 7am on a weekday. Since we're not ones to disturb our neighbors, S was outside before 7 quietly removing roofing shingles from the old shed. Roofing shingles. From all sides of the old shed. That beauty had roofing shingles on every side but one, which our home's previous owners covered with vinyl to make it look pretty for the sale.

Feeney and I woke up just after 7 to the sound of hammering. We went outside shortly thereafter and found all shingles, rotten walls, and rats nests removed.
I grabbed my camera just in time for the one handed, three shove, final moments.

An there it was, fallen in on itself.
We spent the rest of the morning cutting everything down into four foot long pieces and bundling them into tied bundles of about 50 pounds each. S stacked everything at the curb and I watched on Tuesday as the county trash collectors loaded our ugly, old, rotten shed into the trash truck. Good riddance!

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Custom Recycled Sail Bags

I was busy every night this week making custom sail bags for a few new clients. I had to take a photo of this "M" bag before I shipped it this morning; I think it might be my favorite bag I've made.
I love the way the bottom of the "M" curves under the bag and the top corner comes just to the top edge of the bag.

Check out my etsy shop www.beehivedesign.etsy.com if you'd like your own sail bag, or if you have an old sail that you'd like to trade for a custom bag!

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Shed Day 6: The Final Day!

On the sixth full and final day of the shed project S borrowed a friend's truck and drove for what seemed like the entire morning to pick up the shed doors. I never saw the original doors that he owned for a hot second when he thought I'd actually be up for bondo-ing and painting them both, but he assured me I would have lost it had I seen them. So I was pretty happy when he backed in the driveway with two white, nearly perfect, fiberglass (not dent-able) doors in the back of the truck.
And even when you factor in the price of the doors, plus the price of the new tire and wheel for S's mom's car, we still paid less than we would have if we bought the doors new. Thank goodness the tire place paid for towing, otherwise I don't think we would have come out ahead.

Apparently installing doors is very similar to installing windows, and since we're pros at that around here, the doors were up and swinging freely in no time. We did have to wait for S's dad's help since I've all but given up my daily push-ups routine since our wedding and couldn't lift the doors high enough to get them out of the truck without messing up yet another person's vehicle.
After the doors were in place, S was able to finish the siding on the front of the shed and nail up trim pieces around the windows while I zipped over to the Depot to pick up a lock set. They didn't have a lock & knob set with a deadbolt that has a key hole on both sides, so I spent an hour taking apart the entire stock of locks and door knobs in every single brand trying to find a matching deadbolt and doorknob codes so that we could use one key for both. It was a rather manic mission and in hindsight I should have eaten lunch first; perhaps I would have calmly given up sooner. Needless to say, we don't have one key for both locks. And, of course, it's not a big deal at all since we have both keys on one key chain.

So after six full days plus a few extra hours of hard work during the hottest days of the year, we have a huge shed for our stuff to call home.
Of course we still have a few finishing touches up our sleeves; windows, for example, and some window boxes to make this massive focal piece in our yard look extra cute. The windows will be a donation from S's parents' weekend house basement renovation, we just need to wait for their new windows to arrive before we can pilfer the old ones. For now we'll be keeping ourselves busy organizing all our stuff in this new shed,  demolishing our old, rotten shed, and planning out our next major project at the Hive.

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Shed Day 5: The Siding

Official day five of the shed project, which doesn't really count those few days where we only put in a couple hours of work here and there, started off early in our attempt to beat the heat of another 100+ degree day. In very little time (as in before I went outside with a second round of ice waters) the remaining straight pieces of siding starting where we left off yesterday were up on both sides and the back of the shed.

Progress slowed a bit for the time consuming angle pieces on the gable ends. S used the tin snips we bought for the sun room renovation to cut the vinyl siding.
But even without instructions, or my searching the interwebs for Youtube video instructions, the siding went up pretty easily. We considered using Hardiplank siding, but decided against it since it was more expensive than vinyl to begin with, would required special saw blades, and I would have to paint it. The last one was the biggest determiner in my mind; it's hot outside and I don't want to paint. Besides, have you seen that fence? I have enough on my painting palate this year.

By the time S's dad left in the early afternoon, we had three of the four sides finished, which is as far as we could get before installing the double doors.
Because it was still light out, S and I decided to cut the holes for the windows. Of course when we determined where to put the windows a few days earlier I didn't take into account that the siding would cover the shed sills too. I thought the windows might need to be a touch lower to balance things out, so I had S hold up the old sun room windows again before we made our cuts.
Voila, a shed with window and door holes.
Later in the evening S made plans to borrow a friend's truck to pick up the doors, again. His mom's car, after all, was still sitting in his parents' garage with its doughnut spare on, waiting for our ebay wheel to arrive.

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Shed Day 4.5: Starting the Siding

Just to prove that we don't work on house projects all the time, S spent the morning of the 4th wake boarding while Feeney and I went for a run in one of our favorite Maryland parks. In contrast to our local run, the trail was nearly deserted and we ran into more deer than people.

When the Bay started to get too choppy to wake board we went inside for breakfast and then packed up and headed back to the Hive for a few hours of work. S's dad joined us and as temps reached 100 sweltering degrees they wrapped the shed in black siding paper.
We all had Fourth of July festivities to attend, but before we quit for the day I had made the most amazing buttermilk spice cake with roasted walnut cream cheese frosting, subsequently raising the inside temp to that of a toasty oven, and the guys had all the shed's siding corner pieces up and even managed to slide in the first few rounds of vinyl siding.
Since were aren't finishing the inside walls, we stuck scraps of 2x4's on the ground in line with the interior studs so we'd know where to nail the siding to the shed without having nails popping through inside. We just don't need to risk grabbing for a hammer some day and ending up with a nasty cut resulting in the inevitable tetanus shot since no one can ever remember when they had their last one, can you?

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Shed Day 4: Making up for Lost Time

Saturday turned out to be a pretty good day in comparison to our no-good Friday. S was on the roof hammering in a final course of shingles and the roof cap before I woke up.
He managed to get the entire roof 100% complete before the morning temperature got too high. It was downright stifling in the shed when he cut the holes for the gable vents, which we decided were probably a good idea to install since we plan to use the shed for a lot of household storage.
I hope the angled vents and screens keep water out of the storage areas. I suppose we'll have our stuff in rubbermaid bins, and they're the same vents used in houses everywhere so I don't expect they'll give us any problems.
We planned to start siding on Sunday and expected our shed doors to be ready on Monday or Tuesday so the only thing left to do was to frame out the front. We put a call into the shed guys to confirm the dimensions of the doors and discovered that they were going to be too tall to clear the roof overhang. Thankfully they hadn't yet assembled the doors and agreed to cut the doors down by several inches to fit the space. With new measurements in hand, or written on a scrap of plywood, S framed out the door and window openings.

Then S called me out to show him where the windows should go. We still had the windows from the sunporch behind the house so we grabbed one for him to hold up while I stepped back to judge the height.
We were pretty pleased with the progress we made on Saturday given the hours we lost on Friday.
So we made the call to pack our overnight bags, we loaded Feeney in the car, and headed over to the Bay to escape the 100 degree heat for a relaxing night by the water.

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Shed Door Fiasco

Friday was the day from hell. I have no photos to prove it 'cause it was just that bad. The day started off with an argument about our holiday weekend plans and then just escalated from there. I had way more work than anyone should ever have on the Friday before a holiday weekend, which was only compounded by the hours I lost the night before with the whole freezer issue (it started working again, which was the only saving grace of the day).

Since the Volvo S60 is the world's most useless car S had to borrow his mom's 'wagon first thing in the morning so he could drive an hour south to pick up the shed doors. Once at the door place S discovered that the steel "scratch & dent" double doors that were supposed to be in "pretty good shape" were an absolute mess. He loaded the things in the car before calling me to tell me they needed some bond-o work. I'm no stranger to bond-o, but the shed is BIG, it's an annex, a major focal point of our yard. Neither S nor I were confident that we could make the dented-up doors look good enough, especially with weather forecasts hitting the 100+ degree mark every single day in the foreseeable future and our project list growing by the minute. After driving a half mile down the street, S turned around, returned the doors and the door guys agreed to build us a set of fiberglass doors...which wouldn't be ready until after the weekend.

On his hour drive home in his mom's empty car, S hit a construction metal plate thingy and had a blown out tire. It took forever to change, and then he had to wait for hours at the tire store for the guys to put a new tire on the rim. Then a couple hours later, when I was finally finished with work several hours after our "early release" Friday, as we were headed out to Home Depot to get a few sheets of plywood to create storage shelves in the shed, S said to me, "how do you like your new tire?" I looked down and replied, "it's flat as a pancake."

So the tire place sent a wrecker over to haul S's mom's car back to their shop. Wrecker #4 in 6 months to show up to the Hive. Thank goodness it wasn't for the Saab again. S rode in the wrecker squeezed between the driver and his girlfriend. At the shop they discovered that the rim of the tire was cracked, so they put the spare back on and sent S home to look for a new alloy rim: $280 at our local Volvo dealer, which added on to the $100 new tire wiped out our entire savings from buying a door used instead of new.

We did manage to buy the needed plywood at the Depot, so that was a plus. We got home to find that Feeney had eaten a handful of q-tips and some tissues from the bathroom trash can as a payback for not taking him for a run. And then when we decided to just call it a night, S knocked the ceramic toothbrush holder onto the floor and it shattered all over the place. Happy Friday.

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Day 3: Hot, Black Roof

S's dad had a few hours to give us before he had to head into a meeting at work on Thursday and offered to stop by first thing to help with the roof. S's brother offered to lend a hand too, although I'm not sure he knew he was volunteering to spend the entire day on an hot, black roof.

At eight o'clock sharp they lifted the roofing plywood onto the rafters and nailed it in place. Then they added the trim board that S and I picked up at the Depot Wednesday night.
Before nine it looked like a real shed, or annex depending on how big you think a shed should look. It is undoubtedly the biggest room of our house. After S's dad left for work, S and his brother started shingling the roof. First they nailed roofing paper into place:
And then starting at the back of the shed, they ran a starter course of plain 3-tab shingles that S's dad donated to us from his stash.
One of those home building web sites suggested that we run a first course up the sides of the roof to create a neat edge, and since we had plenty of three tab shingles, the guys ran them up the side as well. We had a little snafu when I got home from a lunch time run and didn't think the first course of architectural shingles looked right. Fortunately they hadn't gone farther than the first row when we spotted the problem and the Timberline Youtube video set us straight. After ripping off a few shingles and starting over, both sides of the roof were finished before the end of the day.
We would have celebrated our progress with a big pizza dinner, but just before five I discovered our freezer door was open and all the food inside was thawed out. I spent the rest of the night cleaning out spoiled food and trying to save melted ice cream (you can't save melted ice cream). I fed S and his dad a few of the gladware containers of meals that we freeze for S to take for lunch before we called it a day.

S and I ended the work day by stopping by the Depot to pick up ridge cap singles. We decided to splurge on the pre-cut option to save some time instead of making our own from three-tab singles. Little did we realize just how much we'd appreciate that time savings once Friday rolled around....

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Day 2 Cont.: We Don't Mess Around!

Earlier in the afternoon on day 2 of shed building, S, his dad, and older brother built all of the roof trusses. Once those were laying off to the side they started in on the shed walls.
The new nail gun helped them make quick work of the project because really soon after I stepped outside to take photos of the roof trusses, S was calling my office telling me to come out to watch them raise the first wall.
S's dad designed our shed for us; I'm impressed with the little details he factored into its design. For example, they built the walls so the plywood hangs down a bit over the edge of the floor, which gives a nailing edge along the outside of the shed in addition to along the 2x4's at the floor. I know, not a big deal, but that attention to detail is kind of cool, no?
Once the back wall was up, they assembled the two side walls, making sure that everything was square as they went along.
Before S's brother left after 4 pm, they had three walls and rough framing for the front in place. S and his dad continued on with the roof, lifting each truss into place.
We all took a break when S's mom showed up with a picnic dinner for us. My involvement for the day included snapping these photos, chilling in my a/c'd office, and bringing out ice water periodically. I couldn't have felt more spoiled when she knocked on the kitchen door, cooler in hand, and all of this inside:
Including the home-brewed blueberry beer. Delicious. And recharging, 'cause the guys were back at work soon after filling-up and cooling-down inside. Before they broke for the evening, all the trusses were nailed in place.
Since sunset doesn't come until after 9 around here, they even managed to cut out and put up the plywood covered end trusses before running out of light.
Remember, day one of shed building commenced at 5:30 pm and day two at noon, so all of this was accomplished in two half-days of work or less. This new family of mine does not mess around.

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Shed Day 2: Roof Trusses

Day 2 of shed building started at noon on Wednesday when S, his dad and his older brother all convened in the yard hungry for some wood working and BLT sandwiches. The shed floor provided a nice level work space, so the guys decided to assemble the roof trusses before building the shed walls. S cut a template so he could quickly cut each 2x4 to the right length and then chopped each piece and handed them off to his brother.
Meanwhile S's dad cut pieces of plywood into funky shaped puzzle pieces to hold the truss pieces together.
They sell metal plates for this very purpose, but we didn't pick them up on the previous evening's shopping trip, and we were all about using up as much scrap wood as possible and minimizing our waste. In less time than it would have taken me to zip over to our local Depot, we had a pile of trusses laying on the lawn.
I wasn't on vacation on Wednesday so I could only pop out of my office periodically to check on the progress. I just don't think I can explain how impressive it was to see a bunch of roof trusses sitting on the ground and the guys starting in on the walls before I had even finished my lunch. This is one seriously efficient operation.

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