Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Renovation... Phase 2

Yesterday, the second phase of our renovations started!  I never thought it would take this long to get started and, in fact, thought we would be done by now!  However, it's taken a long time to get the plans settled, get permits, and get set with a contractor.

What has slowed us down the most was that midway through we changed our plans completely (this little disaster really made us rethink everything) and decided to move the kitchen from its current location.  Our house is very old and therefore not set up like the newer, modern homes with open floorpans.  The current kitchen is at the very end of the house all by itself.  In its earlier iteration this was great as the help were separated from the family by a swinging door from the butler's pantry but seeing as how we have no help it didn't really work great for us.

Before buying the house, I was well aware that the kitchen was isolated even though we did have intentions of putting in a doorway/small hallway that would help a bit.  At first we were adamant that we did not want to add on to the house, it's not a super large house, but rather just right, and we didn't feel like we needed more room.  However, there is no mudroom in the house and it's a farmhouse where we really, really need a mudroom!  So our original plans called for adding on a small mudroom to the side of the house that would connect to the kitchen.

The current kitchen is all smoke and mirrors as it looks, at first glance, to be really nice but there is a lot going on that needed to be addressed.  Plus, as I've cooked in it for the past year I've learned that the set up really does not work well for me.  As we worked on plans to redo the kitchen, time and time again, we were bumping up against the fact that we were having a hard time fitting everything in and making it a comfortable area for all of us (there are five doorways!).  I do maintain that we could have done it and it would have been perfectly fine but the more we thought about it, the more we realized that we were trying to make something work when their was a better, and less expensive, way to do it.

pictures are from when we first closed on the house

Ultimately, we decided to remove the screened in porch and put the kitchen in its place. The current kitchen will become the new mudroom and a small farm office.   I should note that the porch was in desperate need of rebuilding and its only access was outside of our home so it wasn't by any means ready to be used.  I won't pretend that I'm happy about losing the screened in porch.  As you may remember, we LOVE screened porches and it doesn't really look like we have a way to put one on but in the end, the kitchen is most important as it's where we spend the most of our time.  So yesterday, the porch was taken off and in the coming weeks a kitchen will be added!  Also?  We are making a bedroom into a bathroom but I'll talk more about that in upcoming posts.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Library Table

I knew that I wanted a library table in some capacity in the new house, or at least some sort of table where books could be stacked facing upward, and there was a perfect blank wall between the two doors leading into the library.

I found the perfect table at a local antiques store where I got it for a great price.  Sadly, the owner told me antiques were "dead" and whereas he could have sold it for thousands in previous years, it was now worth much, much less.  Lucky for me I say!

I love the idea of switching out the books for different seasons or using the table for snacks during gatherings.  It can even get smaller if the sides are let down, so I consider it a very versatile table to have.

I LOVE the Hollyhock fabric that we had the small chairs recovered in.  It gave the chairs new life!

Above the table, we have a small gallery of photos and art work.  The large photo is from our trip last summer and you can just barely make out Bryce and the children hiking amongst the Redwoods.  The map is an old map that Bryce and I picked up in Paris years ago, the oil paintings are of our Airstream and Mount Rainer.  As always, I love our art to have special meaning.

A favorite detail of mine is this frog tassel.  We've had him since our days in Atlanta and he just keeps getting moved around to wherever he is best suited!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Garden Beds Outlined in Stone

We have been working so hard in the garden and I can hardly believe that I haven't posted about it. I've mentioned before that it was important to me that it be beautiful as well as functional and it has checked off every box for me as it churns out lots of veggies, flowers and is pretty to boot.   We are still working on some of the foundational bones of the garden but as we all know a garden is never really finished.

One of my most questionable decisions regarding the garden are the stone edges we used to outline each of the 24 beds.  I had the idea to use stone from our property and to dig them in.  At first, it seemed like not a huge deal but it sure turned into one.  

Finding the stones got harder and harder and digging the stones in was an exercise in patience and a lot of work for Bryce.  Each bed took well over an hour or two to complete.  It took almost three months to get each and every bed dug in.

It maybe wasn't the best idea but, in the end, they look fantastic and I love that it was all part of the property and speaks to the creeks we have. 

P.S.  I'm trying not to think about the frost/thaw heave that could potentially take place.  

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Harry Potter in London

Last, but certainly not least, was our time in London with Harry Potter.  On Sunday, we surprised the children with tickets to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and it was wonderful- truly a spectacular show!  The actors were wonderful, the sets amazing, the scene changes were like a dance and the story felt right (much different than reading the play/book).  

I've had lots of questions about how I got tickets and I'm afraid it was just luck and persistence.  Back in January, when we decided to book our trip, I started looking for tickets to see the play.  Much to my disappointment, tickets were sold out and even though I continued to check, they never became available.  I did look on sites such as stub hub but was shocked to discover that our family of four would pay up to $10,000 for the tickets.  Clearly, that wasn't going to happen.  

The day before I left for England, I just happened to check and there were four seats available!  I grabbed them up in record time!  While at the theater I asked an attendant about the seats becoming available because I wondered if they simply hold some back to release later in time.  She said that they must have been returned tickets because they do from time to time allow returns since they must be bought so far in advance.  Our seats were wonderful (I would say we paid the equivalent to a Broadway show) and, fun fact, JJ Abrams sat directly in front of us.  

After the show, we wandered around the area where the theater is and just so happened (I swear!) to walk past the theater to find the actors who played Hermione and Harry just finishing up talking to fans.  We approached them and chatted with them for a bit and they could not have been nicer or more gracious.  

While in London, we also took a bus out to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour.  This was fun to see all the artifacts from the actual sets of HP.  We learned loads of things about how they filmed the movies.  The time, effort, thought and money that went in to producing these movies is mind boggling.

The showstopper was at the end of the tour, where we got to see Hogwarts Castle in all of its glory. This model is what they used for all the castle shots and the pictures don't even come close to portraying its magnificence.  

And that's it folks, our England trip is a wrap!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Queen and Windsor Castle

I'm just going to start out by saying...we saw the Queen of England.  In person.  Less than 15 feet away.  It was all very exciting!

We took a day trip out to Windsor Castle and it just so happened that I, in my infinite ability to embarrass my children, joked to the ticket seller that I was hoping to see the Queen.  She told me, in rather hushed tones, that the Queen would be leaving for the horse races in about twenty minutes and if we left the castle and walked to the "long walk" we would be able to see her as she left.  We went for it and were rewarded with a view of the Queen in a rather festive pink suit!

With that exciting feather in our cap, we went on to tour the castle and its grounds.  We did tour St. George's Chapel and the Staterooms within the castle but no photography was allowed.

I'm trying to convince my family that we too should dress like this on any given Saturday morning.  I think Harris and Bryce would look dashing in a top hat.

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