Friday, April 21, 2017

A New Roof



When we were looking at this house to purchase, a major concern of ours were the roofs of the house and the barns.  All the buildings on the property had cedar shake on them and while they looked rustic and charming, they were also clearly in trouble.  You could see daylight from inside the house (typically cedar shake does not have underlayment) and there were obvious signs of former leaks. Moss was also growing rampantly on the roof, especially where trees were keeping it shaded.  All of this to say, we knew going in that one of the first things we would need to do would be to replace the roof.

(old roof)



The question was what to replace it with?  We both felt that we could not replace it with asphalt shingles.  There is not a thing wrong with asphalt shingles, all of our other houses had them, but it just didn't feel right with a house of this age.  We seriously looked into using cedar again but, unfortunately, we were given the advice over and over again that cedar just isn't the same as it used to be (no more old growth!) and that we would probably have a lot of upkeep and might have to replace it in 15 years!  So that was a no go.



In our area, you often see beautiful slate on old homes.  Unfortunately, it didn't make financial sense to put slate on the house, but our roofer introduced us to engineered slate (fake slate).  At first, I was adamantly opposed to using any material that wasn't real.  However, our roofer had us go look at other homes that had used the product and I was impressed with how great they looked.  So after research and discussion and field trips and more discussion, we ended up using the product.   Now that it's done, it looks really lovely and beautiful.


 It feels good to get such a major thing done and accomplished.  We are trying to work on the basic foundation type of issues with the house, after all what's the point of a new kitchen if your roof doesn't keep water out?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter 2017



Our Easter was really nice and filled with laughter.  After church in the morning, we came home to get prepared for family plus friends for Easter dinner.  I had plans to have a long table (eating outside since our inside is, frankly, a mess) with daffodils down the center.  However, Mother Nature had other plans as the wind kept knocking all the flowers over causing the tablecloths to be soaked and the flowers to be a bit pitiful.



It was so windy that as we were bringing forkfuls of salad to our lips the wind would knock it right over to the unfortunate person sitting next to us!  Towards the end of the lunch, we even had a very surprising rain shower (two surprising rain showers in fact).



Those unexpected events didn't seem to bring anyone down and, in fact, added to our day.  It was lovely.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bryce's Birthday and a Walk



Yesterday was Bryce's birthday!  While we didn't do anything extravagant, we did go for a very lovely walk along the canal.  The weather was perfect, the light beautiful and it was great to be together with no end game in mind except to enjoy each other and the out of doors.





Here's Grace's gift to Bryce.  I think it's so fun, especially for someone who has multiple weather apps and a weather station running at all times!



Thursday, April 6, 2017

Two Rugs


We recently bought two rugs for our library.  We were all over the place in trying to decide what sort of rug to get.  At first we were sure that we would get a broadloom carpet custom cut for our space, but every sample that we looked at reminded me of a hotel carpet.


Fortunately, or unfortunately for our wallet, we ended up falling down the hand-knotted rabbit hole. As I've mentioned, I'm a big, big fan of buying quality, and buying it once, but even for me this was a hard pill to swallow.  The trouble was that we needed two not just one and that sure does add up.  In the end, the benefits won us over and we should never need to buy a rug again (and will plan on passing a rug each to Harris and Grace some day! :)).


We totally lucked out and found two that complimented each other beautifully (no two are ever a like) but will also work in any sort of room down the road.  Here's the short list of why we decided to go this route...


All natural fiber (wool) that won't release anything harmful into the air
Easy to clean and care for (water and soap!)
Will last a lifetime (or more)
Hand made by a human!
Also, these are the only sort of carpet to hold any sort of value (one would never resell broadloom carpet or wall to wall carpet)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Fireplace Detail



One of our favorite things about old houses are the details that can be hard to find in today's homes. Thick moldings, stairways that don't meet code, and quirky rooms are all things that I love.  However, every once in a while a detail seems to be missing and I have no problem adding them in.  While I love the double fireplaces in our library, I felt like the mantels were plain and heavy looking.  


We ended up attaching an applique to the front of the mantel.  When it first arrived I was surprised at how big and bulky it was, and I wasn't at all sure about putting it up.  However, after Bryce painted it (did you know you can buy custom spray paint cans?) and attached it, I'm thrilled with how it looks! And, of course, bows and flowers never hurt anyone!



Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Great Dixter Cookbook



Tuesday evening, as a birthday celebration for Gretchen, she and I attended a dinner at one of our favorite little stores.  The evening meal was based on recipes from Aaron Bertelsen's new cookbook, The Great Dixter Cookbook.  Aaron is a gardener and a chef at Great Dixter, one of the the great homes and gardens in the English countryside.  


It was especially wonderful that Aaron was there to sign his cookbooks and partake in the meal.  The meal and evening was very special, though I wished Aaron had spoken more about his experiences gardening at such an iconic garden!  


I'm still reading my way through the cookbook but the recipes served from the book were delicious, yet simple and attainable.  I think the book might be worth getting just for the Kale Pesto recipe alone!  One of the things I love about the book is that along with recipes, he includes notes about planting different vegetables, aspects of working in the garden each season, and basic cornerstones of gardening (tools, watering, etc.).  It seems to be a very practical book in addition to serving up seasonal, and delicious, recipes! 


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Trying New Sports


As many of you know, both children started at new schools this year.  Harris, surprisingly, began at Waldorf (where Grace went for 4 years) and Grace started high school!  While they both are happy with their schools, it has been a bit of a learning curve for both children and has taken a bit for them to settle in.


One of the things we love about both schools is that the sports programs are inclusive and open to all. While I realize that for many families a rigorous and competitive sports program is desirable, the more laid back approach has worked well for our family.  Harris ran cross country this fall and played basketball this winter.  I'm not at all sure that Harris would have chosen to try basketball if he hadn't been at Waldorf, so it's been a great learning and growing experience.




At Grace's school, the students are required to participate in a sport, something Grace doesn't have a lot of experience in as she'd been so heavily involved in ballet.  Grace chose to try field hockey. She was incredibly nervous coming in as a freshman and trying something she's never done before, but the girls on the team were very supportive and she had a lot of fun being a part of a team.  Plus, it was a great way to meet new people!



Friday, March 24, 2017

The Making of a Garden


This past fall, we spent time prepping for the new potager garden.  My vision is for vegetables and flowers to grow together in the garden and for it be to beautiful, not just functional.


We chose a spot for the garden that is sort of tucked away but also close enough to the house that we can jot out in the middle of cooking!  I"m calling it the secret garden because, eventually, I would like to grow a hedge along the front hiding the garden from view.


The spot where we've placed the garden was previously field that had been allowed to slowly get overgrown so we've got our work cut out for us getting rid of invasives and spindly, woody plants. Bryce spent a lot of time mowing and cutting to clear the space!



Once we had moved the old chicken coop to its new location (it will be our garden shed) we were able to plot out the garden beds.  We chose to make the beds 5x5, and while they aren't strictly raised beds, they will be slightly elevated as we are adding lots of materials to improve the soil.  Speaking of soil, I did a soil test, acquired from the county extension, and am happy to report that the soil is better than I could have dreamed!


We have 24 squares of garden beds and 4 beds of peonies!  In order to get the beds ready for plants this spring, we decided to do a version of lasagna gardening.  Using our plethora of moving boxes, we pinned cardboard down, then layered leaves, soil and cow manure on top of the compost.  The hope was that by spring the cardboard would have disintegrated while also taking care of any grass and weeds underneath.


I spent an entire day trying to figure out exactly how we were going to plant the garden.  You guys, it's so ambitious for our first year.  I'll be pretty happy if we get some tomatoes and beans!



We have a significant deer problem in our area so there was no question that we needed a deer fence. This was put in a couple of weeks ago and now I can rest a little easier knowing that hooves are not trampling my little buds as they awaken from their winter sleep!







Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy Spring



Just a quick note to say Happy Spring!  Our snow is receding, leaving massive puddles in its wake, and a few of the bulbs I planted in the fall our popping their heads up.  I can't wait to see the Narcissus and the bluebells I planted.  I'm just really hoping and praying the deer don't trample them!


Friday, March 17, 2017

Little Notes



Dear Snow,
Where were you all winter?  Your showing up right as we were all excited for spring sort of threw us for a loop.

Dear Bryce,
I like a guy with style and a good fashion sense, but I'd rather a rugged, outdoorsy type any day.  You fit both nicely.


Dear Grace,
We miss you.  Please come home, Florida can't be that much better than this frozen tundra, can it?

Dear Rosie,
Bryce is so surprised at how I've taken to you.  He says he never would have guessed I"d be a dog person.  I told him I'm a Rosie person.


Dear Harris,
Please don't ever stop being you, you make me laugh.  Hard.  Without you this family might take themselves way too seriously.


Dear Frog's Hollow,
Every time I get frustrated and overwhelmed with you, it makes me feel ever so much better to go for a walk through your woods.  Now, can you talk to the multiflora rose please?  Don't tell it I said so, but it's gotta go.



Dear London,
I can't wait to meet you in a couple of months.





 
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