Our Next BIG Projects

Now that we've finished our basement renovation for the most part (still waiting to take a shower down there) we're excited to move on to our next big projects.
We're taking on an overhaul of the little bedroom upstairs, one of our three original bedrooms and not quite the littlest of the bedrooms now that we've added a fourth bedroom downstairs. Wait, you ask, isn't that Feeney's room? One of the only bedrooms specifically for a dog floating around blogland? The one totally paper-free room in our house?
Yes, it is Feeney's room with his elephant dog bed that matches the elephant valances and the turquoise bookshelf interior. But when we started our basement renovation this room became our storage room for everything we'd previously stored downstairs and Feeney moved to our room, which frankly, he preferred since he's practically my shadow and we all know shadows don't deal well with doors.

Perhaps more important, is the reason why we hired a contractor to renovate our basement at all, as opposed to tackling the project as we originally planned: I've been working on growing a baby bee for the past six months; we're expecting its big reveal in December!
F @ 25 weeks
Because it took more than a little effort and heartbreak to get to this point, we didn't want me doing a single thing to risk losing another little bee in the beginning, so any kind of demo, reno, or doing much more than pointing to where each closet, recessed light and outlet would be was off the table. Which was probably a good decision since the side effects of pregnancy came on strong and lasted for a long time - there's no way I could have swung a hammer much less held my weight in a full basement renovation. Good old nausea is the sole reason for the swift decline in Saturday Supper posts and the elimination of Tuesday Treats (the thought of baking just doesn't appeal, to say the very least), which will hopefully make their return in the coming months - fingers crossed.

Now that we've managed to make it through several ultrasounds without finding out if we're expecting a Bee or a Bea, we're getting to work on a gender neutral nursery. Bold, but gender neutral. Feeney will likely continue to sleep on his elephant tuffet in our room, but we're not blind to the fact that as my shadow, he'll be spending plenty of time next to the nursery rocking chair, so we'll make sure his bed still goes well with our vision. And speaking of vision, I spent the majority of the summer in Maine, where summer weather is perfect (shhh, that's still our secret, don't tell) and nothing like the swamp-like DC summers, with my sewing machine and a project list a mile long. Just wait 'til you see all the baby-related projects that I have to show you! And don't worry, we're not going all-baby-all-the-time...after all, that patio isn't going to build itself.

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90 Seconds Without Power

I'm in Maine again this week while S holds down the fort back at the beehive (the benefits of working remotely certainly outweigh the loneliness this week!) S reports that our little beehive survived both the earthquake and the hurricane this week, nary a fallen branch in sight. He didn't even have a flicker of lost power, keeping our streak of never having lost power alive.

Meanwhile we're without power here on the farm today. But in the land of nor'easters that could put this tropical storm to shame (no snow and ice covered branches weighing the trees down in this wind), we come prepared...with a huge propane powered generator that switches on as soon as the power is out for more than 90 seconds. Our freezers are freezing, water pumps are pumping, and there's no need to step away from the sewing projects today:

It's just another rainy craft day around here and we're hoping the cleanup down the east coast is sunny and easier than forecasted today.

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I Must Have Forgotten

I must have forgotten that just 1.5 years ago I swore I'd never sew lined drapes again because this weekend I'm giving my new Gingher scissors a workout as I tackle four floor length curtain panels.

The fabric is a quilting cotton from fabric.com that I got for a great price using a coupon code that I found online. I love fabric.com! I'm lining the panels with a black-out fabric that should block out any spec of light coming in each morning and prematurely warming up the house.

What room are the new curtains for? Well that, my friends, is a surprise :)

Happy weekend! Anyone else tackling crafty projects this weekend?

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Saturday Supper: Maine Lobster Rolls

I mentioned last week that it's my summer's mission to find the perfect lobster roll. I've spent a lot of time in Maine this summer for work, play and just to escape the heat in our nation's capitol. Best kept secret: Maine has the hands-down best summer weather anywhere in the country. Don't tell anyone though.

The "best" lobster roll is really a personal preference, but having consumed at least two dozen this summer and many more dozen in my lifetime, I'm convinced simple is best. This version that we made at home to celebrate S's birthday is the best so far.

Maine Lobster Rolls
serves two

- two whole, live Maine lobsters 1lb - 1 1/8 lb size - today's price in Yarmouth, Maine is $4.39/lb and going down. Lobsters are most affordable in the late summer/fall
a note on lobsters: the meat of smaller lobsters is sweeter and more tender, hard shells aren't worth the extra cost at all - you pay by weight, do you really want to pay extra for a lobster that tastes the same, but has a heavier shell?
- two soft, white hot dog buns "premium" style or four mini finger roll style buns (shown)
- Hellman's light mayonnaise (do not use a "dressing" style mayo like miracle whip)
- 2 scallions
- Romaine or other dark lettuce
- fresh ground pepper
- pinch of kosher salt

1. Cook the lobster in a steamer for 20 minutes, making sure the water is at a rapid boil before adding the lobster. Alternatively, many lobster pounds will steam the lobster for you while you wait

2. Remove claws and tail from lobster, drain and allow to cool a bit before picking the meat

3. Pick the meat from the lobster, including the body, being careful to avoid shell and cartilage (we do not eat roe or tomalley). tip: use a rolling pin to squeeze the meat out of the legs. Each lobster should yield 3 1/2 - 4 oz of meat.

4. Chop lobster meat into large chunks and toss in a bowl with scallions

5. Add just enough mayo to bind the lobster together. The key is to use as little mayo as possible so as to not overpower the flavor of the lobster

6. Season lightly with just a touch of fresh ground pepper and a tiny pinch of kosher salt

7. Split the buns and put one or two pieces of romaine or other dark lettuce in each

8. Divide lobster meat evenly between the rolls

Enjoy a little bit of heaven!

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Don't Forget to Enter!

Don't forget to enter to win a $100 gift card from Best Buy over on our reviews and giveaways page!

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Mission: Lobster Roll

It's my summer's mission to consume as many of these in my quest for the perfect lobster roll:

So far the ones S and I made the other day for his birthday dinner are the winners.

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Renovated Garden Level: The Rest!

Last week, before we took off for a long weekend at my parents' cabin in the mountains of Maine, we started showing you our basement renovation. Now that we've had our fill of blueberry pancakes, kayaking, swimming in the lake and having several blissful days of the way summer weather should be, we're back to show you the rest of the renovation.

We left off just as we walked down our new stairs and into the new den. If you remember back in June, S gave me Ikea's Karlstad couch for my birthday. And now it finally has a home in the new den:
Over on the little end table, which was my grandparents' back in the day, one of my Goodwill finds has a new home.
To the right of the end table are our awesome new built-in cabinets and shelves, which we've yet to organize.
I love the shelf up on the left that's sized perfectly for our Fenway Park paining that Buzzy Trusiani painted for us as a wedding gift.
Eventually we'll hang it on the dark gray wall behind the shelf, but we're not quite at picture hanging stage yet (those things under the couch are paintings). Just to the right of the Fenway shelf is a shelf sized for our Directv receiver and DVD player. Perhaps the coolest custom sized feature of our new built-ins is that the corner shelf is sized exactly for a 32" flat screen TV.
And just in case we ever decide that we want to bring the 46" TV from upstairs down here instead (yes, please), the right-hand shelf is sized exactly for it - second outlet and all. It was fun deciding to include all these little details in our plan.

To the right of the built-ins we have a little sitting area with the chair that used to live in the guest room and the coffee table that used to be in front of the futon in the old den. 
As much as I love our new couch, this is my new favorite spot to sit. It has a perfect view of the TV and plenty of spots of rest a cup of tea.
Plus, the little shelf next to the wicker chair is where all my loose leaf knitting patterns live in the pink folder and ongoing projects live in the blue cubbies. In fact, there are lots of little hiding spots with crafty supplies in this room. In addition to all the books on the shelves, the cabinets on the right are where all my knitting and sewing books live. Best of all, on the other side of the room next to the couch is my new sewing nook. I'm in love.
This is yet another custom-sized spot. The wall that my sewing desk is facing is the pantry wall, which we sized specifically for my four-foot wide butcher block table. The custom sized space almost caused a problem when the new-to-us stair set we used extended nine inches farther into the room than the original stairs. This left too little room for an out-swinging pantry door and was the impetus for the pocket doors we used throughout the renovation.

Just under those pesky stairs is another nook, sized perfectly for our freezer, which we've just recently discovered isn't a standard sized freezer anymore. Crap.
We maximized all the space we possibly could during the renovation and while it's hard to see here, behind the desk waiting for a new home, there's a funky door as wide as an 18 gallon Rubbermaid tote under the treads of the stairs so we can store off-season holiday decorations and clothes too temperature sensitive for the attic or shed.
Across from the freezer nook is our new storage closet, the back wall of which is nestled right against our furnace. We decided not to put built-in shelves in this closet and were shocked when we discovered that one Ikea Gorm shelf fits along the back perfectly.
The closet is perfect storage for decorations not being used elsewhere in the house, sails, sewing stuff, an extra sewing machine ('cause you know we all need an extra sewing machine) and much to S's chagrin, the Nordic Track.
Yes, we have a Nordic Track and yes, I use it just often enough when it's deathly hot outside that I refuse to get rid of it. Yes, I also have a gym membership, which I'm more apt to use, but that's just a minor detail now that we have such a perfect little storage spot.

Down the hall to the right of our new storage closet and just between the new bathroom to the right and the fourth bedroom to the left is another fabulous new nook....
The laundry closet!
It looks small and unassuming, but there's a lot going on in the laundry closet. There's a floor drain, just in case of an emergency leak and it's plumbed for a gas dryer in case a future owner doesn't have an electric dryer like ours. There's a dryer vent that vents out through the ceiling, into the bathroom closet and outside next to the bathroom fan vent. Plus, there's enough space to the left of the stacking unit for us to store the world's biggest ironing board, which despite its absurdly large size is perfect for working on sewing projects.

And just a note on floors. We absolutely love the engineered hardwood oak floors we installed throughout the renovation. But, because we know wood and water don't mix (remember we waterproofed the walls and lay several layers of vapor barrier under the floors) we installed large gray tiles in the laundry closet and under the stairs just in case the freezer ever leaks.

To the left of the laundry closet is the new bedroom we showed you a few weeks ago. And to the right is the new bathroom, but like we've said a gazillion times, the bathroom is still a work in progress.

And that's it, a BIG post for our BIG renovation!

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Renovated Garden Level Tour: Part 1

We're hosting a new giveaway over on our little reviews and giveaway page! Head on over for a chance to win a $100 Best Buy gift card from Samsung & BlogHer. 

Where is the summer going? All of a sudden it's August and mere days away from mid-August. Can someone please just order a slow down of time?

Despite being mid-August, we still don't have a fully finished basement renovation. The delay is 100% our fault at this point. First our contractor was on vacation and we wanted to wait 'til he was home, then S was flying and as we expected, the project can't be fully completed until September at least. No worries though, it's just the bathroom that needs a little finish work and the messy part is over, so we've been able to begin living in our new garden level. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I can't believe this is ours, I can't believe we own this. We such...adults. When on earth did that happen?

Let's take a tour of the new garden level, starting from the dining room entrance. The railing, stairs and trim are all entirely new. The stairs were taken from S's parents' house in the spring when they replaced their pine stairs with oak. We tried to stain them to match our oak floors as best we could and they turned out only a tad darker than the floors in the rest of the house.
I really love how the ends of the top railing angle back toward the wall:
And we love the trim all along the stairs and along the wall where two original depths of plaster meet. We didn't want to rip off the wall and re-plaster it above grade and think this actually looks nicer than if we had one smooth continuous wall. We even added white risers on the new stairs like I had painted on the old stairs last winter, just now with evenly spaced treads and shiny stain they look much better than the ones before!
At the base of the stairs there's a pocket door that leads to my beloved pantry. And up on the ceiling you can see one of the twenty some-odd recessed lights that are scattered throughout the basement. They put out a surprising amount of light for such tiny little things; the two in the pantry alone make it like high noon in there. No hiding dust bunnies behind the garbanzo beans anymore.
Check out the stairway railing - it matches the one upstairs exactly!

The pantry is full already, of course:
As you turn at the bottom of the stairs you enter our new den. The man room turned sewing room turned family room. One of my favorite views of the room is looking back at the stairs, which are now open to the room where they once were closed of with a faux wood paneled wall.
As I mentioned earlier S is giving up his desk in trade for a spot in the new bedroom closet for his office goods. For now his desk is living here while we search for a new home on Craig's List. It's also serving as a good spot for me to hide my staging bins - one for stuff that needs to go to the shed, one full of clothes that need to find a home inside and one for stuff that needs to be put away upstairs. It saves me trips up and down the stairs, but would be much more effective if I'd actually take the stuff from the bins and put it where it belongs at the end of the day. Minor details.

As much as I want to show off the new fabulous den and the awesome storage closet and laundry nook right now, someone is at my feet telling me it's time to go our and no, he will not wait twenty more minutes...so the tour will be continued....

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I Want

A hot pink kitchen aid mixer? Yes please!

If we didn't have such nice hardwood floors in our kitchen, I'd consider dropping my mixer on the floor just so I'd need a new one ;)

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Yeah, I like It.

We're hosting a new giveaway over on our little reviews and giveaway page! Head on over for a chance to win a $100 Best Buy gift card from Samsung & BlogHer. 

So it's kind of hot, as if you all didn't know. And you all know I ate my words a couple weeks ago. Now I'm back to officially say that I like the ceiling fans. I don't love how they look, but I like how they function. Not that I've given up my dresser-top fans yet, I can't do without the white noise just yet.
You may notice that the fan that ended up on the ceiling in our master bedroom isn't one of the two fans I originally brought home. After doing a bit of research I realized that we could get a fan for the same price, with good reviews and a remote control. I love, love, love the remote control. I can just flail around with my eyes closed in the middle of the night and turn the breeze up. And with the remote on my bedside table S can't do anything about it...except shiver.

Plus, look closely at the two fans I bought originally:
They both have BOOB LIGHTS!! I can't believe I bought boob light fans! I can't think of anything else that gets more flack around the blog world than ceiling fans and boob lights and I went ahead and almost combined the two. How could I have possibly fallen asleep at night looking up and giggling at boob lights? Thank goodness I noticed my mistake before S actually got the fans on the ceiling.

Speaking of getting the fan on the ceiling, if you're having trouble getting the remote control box in the housing of your fan, here's a shot of how the whole set-up should look:
The instructions were as clear as mud on this step and it took a lot of trial, error and consulting our friend Google to figure it out. Needless to say, the second fan in the guest room went up much faster...only to be taken down again when we discovered its motor was burnt out. We're experts at installing this fan now.

I'm a little bummed that my CB2 pendants are wrapped in black plastic bags and stored in the attic, but I know I'll find a home for them some day. Three in a row over a long dining table? Hung above the head of a bed each on their own switch as reading lights? Time will tell....

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