8.29.2010

Just Relaxing

We're just relaxing and enjoying cool nights and lots of naps in the hammock at the cabin.





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8.27.2010

Baby Shower for Suzanne!

I threw a baby shower for my friend Suzanne last weekend. It involved lots of planning, decorating, and cooking, and was an absolute blast. The best part was that all the ladies worked together to embellish 35+ onesies for the baby.
We finished all of these in an hour. Can you imagine the work these ladies could do around the Hive? We need a bigger team!

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8.18.2010

A Shiny New Porch Light = More Projects on the List

Have you ever finished a project that looked great and was a huge improvement, but when you stepped back and surveyed the overall picture, it made you realize that its shiny newness just highlights the need for more projects? It happened to us when our much anticipated porch light from Lowes was finally delivered.

We removed our dilapidated old porch light with the missing glass pane someone had obviously smashed out in an effort to get a CFL bulb in the fixture. Being the front door light and all, the smashed out pane was one of the first things we noticed (right after the shed that was falling in on itself) when we first viewed the house and was high up on the "things we must replace" list.
Pretty gross, don't you think? We know that our little beehive isn't our forever home, as much as we love it here. We're not fooling ourselves into thinking that we won't have to move again for S's job, and frankly this summer has me dreaming of a house in Maine where I have a gaggle of friends and the summers are ah-ma-zing. So, I think we often still look at our house from the view of sellers trying to appeal to the most buyers, as we did when we were selling in Florida. And having an entry fixture like this is just a big no-no when it's a cheap and easy fix to upgrade to something new and clean.

So the other day after getting a call from friends saying that they were 45 minutes away, we decided to do a quick swap-out. Because who doesn't install a new porch light just to show off to friends? We've honed our skills in the electrical department at our hive, so we knew 45 minutes was pleannnnty of time. I consulted the master electrical circuitry spreadsheet my dad created over the course of the past eight months, and killed the power to the porch (plus the little room, half the living room, a sconce in the basement, etc. I know, it makes no sense).

S made quick work of removing the old fixture, and had it in a box for the trash (above) before I was even upstairs from the basement, and I didn't even stop for a popsicle and cold iced tea along the way. We then unpacked the new fixture, being careful not to break its bubble glass dome (side note, I LOVE the way the bubble glass matches the pendant in the kitchen). S stepped up on the porch chair, used the new wire nuts that came with the light to attach the hot and neutral wires to the fixture, wrapped the ground around the grounding nut/wire and secured the whole fixture in place...all while I snapped a few photos of the old light. By the time I turned the camera lens up to snap a shot of his progress, he was securing the metal criss-cross protectors around the glass dome. I wasn't kidding when I said we've honed our skills!
And that's when it happened.... I stepped back to take a photo of our glorious new light and it struck me that the yellow glue-like remnants on the porch ceiling, from what I can only assume was someone else's duct tape fiasco, were making our new light look bad.

So this fall when it finally cools down to I-actually-want-to-be-outside, this-weather-feels-like-summer-in-Maine temperatures and I take on the door painting project, I'll pull out a little step stool and some goo-be-gone, which I hope will remove the mess. If not, we'll be adding "paint vinyl porch ceiling" to our to-do list, and as you can see from the list at right, we're certainly not wanting for projects at our beehive.

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8.17.2010

Happy Birthday S-Bee!

Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you!
 Happy biiiiiiiirthday my darlin'!
Happy birthday to you :o)

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8.16.2010

Very Berry Blueberry Cobbler

An aunt of one of my closest friends has an amazing high-bush blueberry field that her family planted with the hopes of opening a you-pick business. When insurance and other logistics squashed those plans, they were left with massive blueberry fields filled with plump fruit every year. It's the end of peak and the bushes still look like this:
We picked for less than an hour and easily had twenty pounds of blueberries. We had so many berries that freezing them on trays and in deep roasting pans had to be done in shifts because they couldn't all fit in the extra stand-alone freezer! Even with all those berries I want to go back for more. Berry picking is just one of my favorite summer activities.

I usually hate to bake recipes that use vast amounts of the fruits of my labor, but last night as I surveyed the pans full of berries on the counter waiting for their shift in the freezer, I decided to whip up a very berry blueberry cobbler, inspired by several I've seen around the 'net. When a big bowl of berries like this doesn't make a dent in the supply, using six cups in a recipe seems justified.
This cobbler is inspired by Smitten Kitchen's peach blueberry cobbler and is delicious. The lemon adds a certain zest that balances the sweet of the berries so nicely. Quick, go get some berries before the season ends; I promise you won't be disappointed.

Very Berry Blueberry Cobbler
serves 6

prepare the berries
6 cups fresh berries, washed (or frozen)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
juice from 1/2 to 1 fresh lemon depending on size (I used slightly more than half of a large lemon and also scraped in the pulp)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the berries by gently tossing the above ingredients in a two quart baking dish - I used a deep pyrex dish, but any 8 or 9" pan will do.

prepare the biscuit topping
1 cup whole wheat flour (or all purpose if you don't have any on hand)
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed (up to 2 T more if you want a sweeter topping)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold butter, chopped in pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk

In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients and cut in butter with your fingers until uniformly crumbly. Slowly add buttermilk, stirring with a fork or rubber spatula until the dough is sticky and wet, but not runny. Do not over mix. You may not need all of the buttermilk. If you add too much, throw in a few additional tablespoons of flour.

Drop the biscuit topping by heaping spoonfuls at random over the berries, you want the berries to show through in places and the entire dessert to look deliciously messy.

Bake for 20 - 35 minutes depending on the depth of your pan, until the top is golden brown and when the biscuits are cooked in their centers when you lift the edge of the biscuit slightly with a spoon. Cool slightly, if you can bear to, before serving. We couldn't bear to wait and thus have no finished photos of the dessert. As with most hot berry desserts this pairs well with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

It's also delicious the next day for breakfast, you know, topped with more berries.

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8.12.2010

Cutest Shed on the Block - New Windows!

We fancy ourselves window experts around here after the big sun room renovation, so when S's dad offered to give us their small basement windows that they were replacing with larger egress windows, we said "yes, please!" We figured installing "used" windows couldn't be too different from the new-from-the-factory windows we bought from Jeld Wen. We were pretty psyched when we learned that the new, used windows were made by Jeld Wen too. Seriously, we love that company.

After waiting a few weeks for S's parents' new windows to be delivered, we got a call from S's dad saying the old windows were ready to come out and we could head on up to their Bay house to get them. S jumps at any chance to wakeboard, so he woke up at an ungodly hour and drove to the Bay to help. Apparently the whole window operation took less time than they spent on the water, AND S was home by noon. Experts? I think so.

We didn't waste any time removing the temporary plywood "windows" we secured a few weeks ago when we finished the shed. With shims, long screws, and a couple of levels in hand, we adjusted the new windows and popped them in place.
We installed the window on the left first, then when we were about to install the window on the right we realized that both widows crank open to the left. Even though we'll rarely open the windows, we wanted them to both open toward the outside edges of the shed, so we flipped the window on the right upside down. It's not noticeable from the outside, but inside the crank is at the top of the window instead of at the bottom. Not a big deal, and way cuter from the outside. Now we just need to whip up some window boxes and plant a few flowers and we'll have the cutest shed in our neighborhood!

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8.07.2010

New Before & After Tour

We did a little blog redesign recently and posted a brand new tour of Our Little Beehive. Click on over and check out a bunch of before and after photos.

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8.06.2010

A Recap of the Sun Room / Office

We revealed our sun room / office renovation in a guest post over at A Design Story last week. But now that we're all settled into our new space and it feels like we've been living in this room forever, we want to sum up the project here too.

As you may recall, we started with an un-insulated, pine paneled, drop ceilinged porch that had been enclosed with fixed, single pane windows that kept the room cold in the winter and hot, hot, hot in the summer. It was in rough shape. A picture is worth a thousand words:
Room for improvement, no?

We started the project by removing the drop-ceiling tiles. We expected to see straight through to the rafters; we were shocked and ecstatic when we revealed an original bead board ceiling.
Next, on a sunny winter day we removed a few courses of aluminum siding from the exterior of the porch near the roof and carefully cut a square in the wood siding underneath just large enough for S to squeeze through. Then S climbed into the small attic of the porch and laid insulation as his dad and I passed it through to him. S also crawled under the porch to insulate the floor too.
We ordered custom sized double-width, double-hung JeldWen windows from the Home Depot and read-up on installation instructions while we waited a month for delivery.  Once the windows were delivered we got to work installing the four massive units, which was definitely a three person job. Thankfully, S’s dad subscribes to the “how hard can it be?” mantra too, so he was on hand to help.
It took us three days to get all four of the windows in place and then another few to install all the trim work outside and in. While S worked on interior trim, I primed the ceiling and walls a couple of times, and then painted the ceiling a pale bluish gray and the walls and light seafoam green. With a brush. A two inch brush. Switching to a three inch only for the second coat on the walls when I just couldn’t feel my arm anymore.
And then I moved on and primed and painted the 12 panel glass door. That was a pain.

After the paint dried we moved my desk into the new room, my new office. Then we waited patiently for the perfect storage and seating furniture to present itself. Which it did, in the form of Crate & Barrel’s annual sale. So without further ado, I present to you our new sunroom, my new office.

This is the seating area side of the room where we have two “nines” chairs from Crate & Barrel and a little wood bench that I covered with ticking fabric to give the space a beachy feel. Since the rest of our house is very blue and neutral, I used pink accessories to girl-ify this room a little bit.
The bear ottoman is from L.L.Bean and was a Christmas gift from S to remind me of the baby bears that came running through our campsite every night during our honeymoon at Mt. Katahdin. The round jute rug is from Pottery Barn. I bought two of these six foot round rugs using gift cards from our wedding and placed the second on the other side of the room, the “office” side, as a way to tie to two spaces together.
The Abbot cabinet from Crate & Barrel is where I keep my favorite crafty books and a few baskets filled with work necessities and printer paper. The file cabinet is from World Market and matches my desk, which is behind the cabinet. You can see Mr. Norman, the fish, on top of my desk in this photo. The tall bookcase from Crate & Barrel’s Payton collection, holds my second printer and more baskets of work stuff.

We're super proud of the work we did to take what was essentially storage space to make a comfortable place for me to spend my days. Check out the entire project by clicking on the project "sun room" at right.

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8.04.2010

Feeney Bonds with a Kid

Our guests who prompted the early weekend guest room re-do visited us for a quick 24 hour trip with their toddler son. Feeney was in heaven; he loves babies, going for walks with babies, and throwing the ball at the park while babies play.
Lounge chair or dog? You decide.
Feens is eying the baby's tasty diaper and gearing up for a good lick-the-baby's-leg session. Feeney is a bit of a paper product connoisseur and enjoys treats like paper towels, magazines, and diapers on occasion.  
The baby was happy to give affection and Feeney was happy to receive the attention. We're lucky to have a dog who is so good with kids. Feeney says he's looking forward to visiting more kids when we travel to Maine this summer.

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8.01.2010

Our Guest Room, Re-Done

I've wanted to re-paint the guest room pretty much since the day we painted it back in December, when we clearly needed a second gallon of paint, but were snowed-in and couldn't get to the store to buy one. Instead I eeked out every last drop of paint and ended up with a very poor finish from pressing too hard on the roller. Live and learn. Plus, after painting our bedroom and little room a pale gray and the bathroom a seafoamy green, the blue I chose was just too dark.

We've had two guests since we've lived at the Hive: my parents and Big Jim. Big Jim's visit came around the time when I was using the guest bed to store approximately 16 extra pillows. I am quite positive Big Jim didn't notice anything but the pillows. But, now that the pillows are gone I wanted to make the guest room into a welcoming room for our guests and a prime storage spot for me. With my mom scheduled to visit in a couple of weeks, friends from Maine stopping by for a night this week, and a penciled-in stay from law school friends in October, it was high time to get cracking on the guest room re-design.

Since I knew the room would take more than a gallon of paint, I decided to start with the leftover half gallon of pale seafoam green from my office / sun room, which also happens to be the color of our bathroom ceiling. Choosing the same color meant I only had to buy one more gallon of Benjamin Moore's Aura paint and cut our costs in half.

I started cutting in around the baseboard of the room on Thursday night and finished after work on Friday. By Saturday afternoon I had two coats on the walls and the fan on high-blast.

I wanted the give the room a beachy feel, so as the paint dried I dug through our storage boxes for suitable decor. I swapped out our old dark blue dust ruffle with a white quilted one that I found on clearance at Home Goods. I dug through our linen closet for the palest pillow cases I could find and grabbed a few ticking striped pillows from storage. I dug up a few ticking stripe panels that I had sewn for windows in an old apartment and in the same box found a simple valance I had sewn for my old office in Pensacola. I found a few curtain rods and curtain rings from previous homes and hung the panels from each of the guest room's two windows.

The guest room is also where I keep all of my clothing, shoes, handbags, and all of my non-sailbag project supplies, so everything in here has to serve double duty. The night stand has two glasses and a reading light with a lampshade (that I made) for our guests, but inside it's a file cabinet where I keep sewing and knitting patterns and project notes.

The tall candelabra on top of the short Ikea Hemnes dresser used to conceal an ugly gas heater in an old apartment. I placed upside down bubble glass tumblers on it that I had originally bought because the heater would have melted wax candles. I love how the candelabra looks like beach grass. Inside the dresser I keep my scarves, hats and other accessories. Underneath is a woven basket that I use as an inbox for my mom, storing magazines as I read them for her to look at when she visits.

The tall wardrobe is also from Ikea. I placed an open basket on top of the wardrobe filled with towels for our guests. Two covered fabric boxes flanking it hold knitting needles and half-finished knitting projects. The inside wardrobe section is where I keep all of my fabric and the napkins that S and I sewed for our wedding, which my mom would like me to sew her a quilt from some day.
I keep yarn in the two wardrobe drawers, which I've lined with cedar to keep moths at bay.


And because I've commandeered every available nook of storage in the room we put this wicker chair underneath the windows so our guests have somewhere to toss their clothes at the end of the day.
I still need to create some artwork for the room with dried starfish that I bought on ebay, and I would like to create a headboard or at least the look of a headboard too. But for now the room is ready is definitely ready for guests to start visiting more often!

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