All in a weekend.. (aka THE DECK)

SO. This past weekend when I should have been walking in Automattic’s Worldwide WP 5K, I was engaged in another form of exercise instead. Significantly less scenic, exceedingly expensive and 100% NOT FUN.

Saturday afternoon my husband fell through a hole on our back deck. I did not photograph my husband in the hole, opting instead to help him out. But here’s the aftermath. (He’s okay by the way.)

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The Office

I know you’ve been wondering where I’ve been.  While I’d like to offer some excuse, I’d rather brag blog about our latest home improvement project!

[Insert loud applause]

Thank you, thank you.  Now.  To recap.  My husband & I bought ye olde village manse 10 months ago.  Maaaaaaany people had looked at this house before us, but turned tail & fled when they realized the amount of work it would require to maintain, let alone restore.  My husband & I (dreamers through & through) saw a shining gem of a colonial that with much polishing & SWEAT EQUITY could be Home (capital H).

When we moved in 10 months ago – and that alone is hard to believe, this was our office.

Okay. technically it wasn’t our office yet.  Although it may look spectacular in the photo (if you are standing reeeeeeaaaallly far away and squinting a lot), our office needed HELP (capital H).  For starters, it lacked a real floor.  Also the walls needed finishing and the original paneling and columns framing the fireplace needed attention.  Plus those curtains had to GO.  But you know what?  Once those curtains came down, the light came in even better than it had before.  Sure it made the room look even worse, but that only propelled us to complete our task more quickly.

So fast forward 10 months.  My husband and I – once we’d finished lining the chimney, installing a wood stove, tiling two bathrooms, renovating our dining room and after that, kitchen, cleaning out the basement and tackling the garden outside – we GOT TO WORK!  And lucky for us – we had just the right combination of craziness, vision, and tools necessary to complete the job.  Well, mostly just insanity and a few tools.  But we needed more.  Like flooring.  Good thing we’d invested in stunning, wide white pine from Carlisle wwaaaaaayy back in the fall, before all that OTHER work began.  (B/c we’d run out of money shortly thereafter.)  BUT Those floors were worth every penny! (*wink*)

So where was I?  Oh yes.  Many saner individuals had taken a look at this task and run away.  Whereas my husband & I tightened our belts even further and took that first step towards NEW OFFICE.  And I am so glad!  B/c now I am sitting in my beautiful new office, writing this post, while also reading a book AND simultaneously playing the piano!!  Rather than bore you w/ more details of HOW WE DID IT, I am just going to SHOW YOU.  Before & After pics speak a thousand words, and frankly, I deserve a rest.  Seriously.

And here it is today, June 26th.  Office Sweet Office.

The Kitchen Project.

Eight months ago, my husband & I bought a new house.  And by new, I really mean 250 years old and in need of restoration.  While structurally sound, parts of the house needed to be rebuilt, others merely updated.  The kitchen fit into the latter category.  It was from the 1950s, the oven didn’t work well, but everything else was fine for the time being.  We made the decision to postpone the kitchen until spring, when our tax refund could cover improvements.  Last month it arrived.  Our refund wasn’t huge, but it would be enough.  And in true If You Give a Moose a Muffin fashion, one thing inevitably led to another, and…

Here are BEFORE shots of the galley kitchen & keeping room.

In combination, these two rooms provide efficient space for cooking as well as ample dining.  But they seem disjointed.  The 50s kitchen feels completely out of context tacked onto the colonial keeping room.  And although the kitchen gets great light, the adjacent eating area remains dark.  We wanted an open, unified space.  We set to accomplish this goal -first, by removing the large wooden cabinet dividing the two rooms.  We planned on keeping the structure intact, altering it slightly to fit in a corner.  But once we began dismantling it, we realized the cabinet had been built, piece by piece, in place.

There was absolutely no way to move it, save for disassembling it completely.  And so we did.

The former owner had built that cabinet himself from wood he’d found in the attic.  We understandably wanted to preserve it, but the question was.. How?

Although the kitchen cabinets themselves are 50 years old, they are solid and sound.  Much better, actually, than any of the cheap replacements we could afford to buy.  So we decided to keep them in place, and simply clean and repaint them.  Not only were we saving money, we were keeping all this stuff out of a landfill.  Win-win!  We removed all of the cabinet doors, along w/ hardware.  I looked online & found a way to remove the old paint from the hinges, so we didn’t even need to replace them.  Bright & shiny, like new!

I sanded all of the surfaces, cleaned and readied them for painting.

We tested a lot of paint colors on the cabinets before deciding which we liked best.  I cannot stress how important this is.  You’re going to be living w/ this decision for YEARS.  Custom colors are non refundable, so you’re out the money if you change your mind.  And there is waaaaaaay too much work involved, having to go back and re-paint everything.  How do I know this?  I just do.  And we will never speak of that again.

Once everything was dry, the process of reassembly began.  Beautiful brushed nickel handles and knobs for all the cabinets and drawers.  Colonial in spirit, but also fresh and new.

The old countertops had been removed before painting; now it was time to cut & install the new ones.  My husband & I had purchased solid oak butcher block.  Functional, natural and incredibly strong.  NOT TO MENTION UNBELIEVABLY HEAVY!  Egads..  We custom cut each slab to fit.

Taking a little time, in between, to celebrate a birthday.  (PS: Birthday girls make great helpers!)

My superhusband also spent time re-wiring.  New grounded outlets for the back splash, appliances and island.

Speaking of island..  We’d decided to use the remaining cabinetry as a foundation for our kitchen island, 9 x 3 1/2 ft, complete with professional grade cooktop.  Be still my heart…

Once the counters were cut, it was time to install the tile backsplash.

And sink.

Next up, finishing the island.  A perfect way to blend old and new.. wood, that is.

Then comes the floor.

Install the microwave and appliances.

And FINALLY!  Our new kitchen is DONE~!!

Talking turkey.

9 am and they just left.  A family of fifteen.  Talk about ANIMALS!  By the end of the meal, they’d knocked a tray to the ground, there was food everywhere, and 2 of the kids were pooping in the bushes.  And they didn’t even pay!!  I turned my back for a minute and they’d run off.  I’d try to catch them, but 6 ladies just walked in, there’s a group of 7 due any minute, and a party of 16 this afternoon.  You’d think they’d have the courtesy to call in a reservation.  But of course not.  They are TURKEYS after all.

When some people buy a new house they inherit a lawn mower, or even furniture.  But when we moved in, we got a whole flock of wild turkeys.  The Dole House – our new home – sits atop a hill (Dole Mountain), overlooking a salt marsh, a portion of the Portland Trails hiking system and an Audubon refuge.  And YES it is lovely.  As the turkeys can attest.  B/c daily, like clockwork, they make their way across the land & busy intersections to feast, roost, and do their turkey business in our yard.


more turkeys

These bird sandwiches have become an increasing point of fascination for our entire family.  They’re so engrossing, in fact, that we now adjourn upstairs, or to the kitchen, for a good ole dose of (what we term) Turkey TV.   All four of us – five including the dog – stand pressed against the windows gazing out in wonder at the prehistoric beasts littering our yard.

turkey tv

turkey watch

Each & every morning, and sometimes noon & night, I restock the buffet.  We have twelve feeders.  Several of them are empty w/in an hour or two of being filled.

those wild & crazy turkeys

So we’ve also taken to tossing them seed directly when they show up, much like chicken farmers.

feeding the turkeys

I cannot tell you how funny it is, watching full-grown turkeys hustle up the hill towards us like domesticated pets.  They’ve grown so accustomed to the routine, they barely even flinch when the dog comes out.  They just keep boogie-ing round the yard on their turkey stilts.  Keeping step w/ the sunflower seeds.  Vacuuming up every morsel.  And fighting.

That’s right.  FIGHTING.  I’d heard of turkey jerky, but never jerky turkeys.  The mommas and babies, you can’t help but go Awwwwww.. but some of the bigger ones are just plain awful.

the chase is on

If I weren’t utterly opposed to firearms, I’d be out there shopping for Thanksgiving.  Let’s face it.  Turkeys are not the cutest most cuddly birds to begin with.  Unless you’re an amorous turkey I’d be hard-pressed to find one appealing.  But it’s even harder feeling the love for a big ass bird who’s pecking his much smaller sibling over some free grain.  Especially when that trough of freedom overflows 7 days a week w/out fail.  Listen up mean turkeys!  You better get sweet, and soon, or we might be pulling out the mayo.