Saturday, June 24, 2017

Hosta Garden

Some of you may remember we started a hosta garden back in the fall.
It detracts from the ugly chain link fence that goes between the properties. 
 
This corner was so sad when we moved into the house.
It was a depressing area of dirt and weeds.
Now it is alive with lush, flourishing plants.
We added this sedum in the fall too which acts as a ground cover. As you can see it is starting to catch on with little bits sprouting up at random!
 5 years from now the area will probably be covered with this pretty lime green.
These hostas had lined our front walkway but did terribly last summer with the drought. Now they are super happy with a balance of sun and shade throughout the day.
 We planted 2 holly back here too last fall which are equally content. 
We are quite pleased with the result. We are going to leave it as is since these plantings will all get larger each year.

It also camouflages the telephone phone which is what you see in the back of the photo below.  Our street was developed in 1900 and the utilities were put in the backyards of this street only. No one seems to know why although I suspect we live on what was once a city trolley road since it is much wider than all the other area streets.

This corner has come a long way since we transplanted the hostas! (a before photo below) The holly and the sedum were to tiny.  The hostas were cut back as I read to do in order to move them properly. This did not effect their health at all. 😀

We have also applied grass seed which has made a huge difference in outlining the garden.
Thank you for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed our cozy hosta garden. ~Val






Saturday, June 10, 2017

Avocado Soup

I made this avocado soup on a whim one day when I had 2 ripe avocados lying around needing to be eaten.

How beautiful is our granite by the way? I am obsessed with its brown waves you see on the right side below. It is so much more enjoyable to be in the kitchen now than before with our decades old pink counter!
I referred to my cooking bible 1000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles and came across this simple recipe for which I had the 3 ingredients on hand.

2 cups of vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups of chopped ripe avocados (I found 2 hass avocados to be the perfect amount)
1 cup of buttermilk

First bring the broth and avocado to a boil over medium heat.

Then place in a blender or food processor (depending on size, 2 batches may be needed). 
Cover and process until pureed into this beautiful smooth color.
Then put back in pot and stir in the buttermilk. That's it! 

I first had a bowl hot. Once cooled in the fridge, it is a delicious gazpacho! Great for a summer snack or side with a sandwich.
The recipe also suggests adding a 1/4 cup of chopped scallions or cilantro before pureeing if desired.

It stays green too (no browning)! I am guessing the buttermilk is the reason for this. 

Thank you for stopping by. I hope I have inspired you to try something new in the kitchen! ~Val



Saturday, June 3, 2017

Revealing and Refinishing 117 Year Old Floors

We have been moving at a rapid pace with our renovations! The plan after the granite counter was installed was to move onto the flooring in the kitchen, hallway and half bath.

We got sidetracked with replacing our back and side doors which were original and in rough shape. This also included rebuilding our side steps and decking.

Then we moved on to the kitchen flooring. Well just before we had contractors coming to measure for estimates we tore up the carpeting in the hallway. 
Holy crap! The wood was in perfect condition (minus the paint of course which sands right off). There was no way we were going to tile over such loveliness.

There were no intentions of refinishing the wood floors anytime soon. At 117 years old we figured there would be some wear. But seeing the hallway we just had to see more!

The dining room (aka my office) was also in perfect condition (minus the paint again).
The living room however made us nervous. The prior owners told us there was a carpet inlay in there so we didn't know what exactly to expect.
Back in the day, to save money, inlays of pine were installed within the pricey woods that homeowners would throw an area rug over.

This took up the front half of the front to back living room.
As you can see there had been a wall in the middle so this was 2 rooms originally. To save us money, Jim did the prep work of removing the pine boards so the wood guy could work his magic. I was the carpet staple remover person. Not fun!

There were a couple of other areas needing patching where radiators had once been as well as the threshold areas. A couple of the guys who looked at the floor believed this is red birch which is now hard to come by. They all suggested red oak for the patching so that is what we went with.

Now for the big reveal! 

The hallway. The wood tone is gorgeous!
Below to the left you can see where the nasty kitchen floor starts. Soon to be replaced (we are currently working on this yucky prep work as I publish this post)! 
 Living room.
The oak looks beautiful where the pine boards had been. It looks like an intentional wood inlay. The contrast is spectacular.
The back of the living room was pristine to begin with so it is stunning too!
So now we need to put the heater covers back on and put the curtains back up. Eventually I will get around to touching up the moulding too. There was a lot of prep work in this one with the removal of the old carpeting, staples, tacks and pine but worth every minute!

This project was less expensive than we anticipated and we could not be happier with the results! Even though it was an unexpected expense, this will bring us back at least double what it cost us in resale. It makes a huge difference in the home's marketability too. 

I hope you enjoyed our reveal! Thank you for stopping by. ~Val













Saturday, May 13, 2017

Flowers!


I haven't been blogging much lately due to various ongoing house projects consuming me. Hopefully we will have things wrapped up by fall but I do have a long list of tasks to do, mostly involving painting. Very time intensive!

The weather has been cool and wet for the most part. The upside is the plants and flowers are loving it!

Our azaleas which barely had flowers last year are incredibly happy! They are ancient so their shapes are a little funny. I'm afraid trim them too much which could affect their livelihood.
Above is a bit on the red side. The shrub below it hot pink, still waiting for the flowers to fully open!
These purple tulips are experiencing a very long bloom life.
One of them is shy not wanting its picture taken.
We have these stunning red tulips that look fake! It was mentioned to me that these are sometimes referred to as peony tulips which makes complete sense considering how the flower opens and appears when in complete bloom.
The petals are amazing.

Our ancient lilac bush is back like crazy (we considered chopping her down last summer)!
Definitely a keeper now!

I hope you enjoyed some of the color we are seeing around the yard.

Thank you for stopping by! Have a wonderful week. ~Val






Saturday, April 22, 2017

Kitchen Update

From drab
To fab!
I am in love with our Fantasy Brown leathered granite. It has a matte finish with texture that is perfect for our 1900 house.
The old sink had 2 small bowls that were extremely difficult to work with!
Now we have 1 huge sink that is amazing!
The faucet is fantastic. I am loving the 1 piece that switches from single to spray stream and has the pull down sprayer.  We have more counter space now too!
The granite back splash was applied right against the brick facade. I was a little concerned with how this may look and 100% satisfied with it!

We still have details to address like the outlet that Jim will change to a GFCI as it should be. We will be buying decorative oil rubbed bronze covers for this and the switch. 

Another detail to address is the space right underneath the granite.
The old counter curled over the cabinets so I was not able to stain all the way to the top. For whatever reason I did not foresee an issue! 

Jim had the brilliant idea of applying a decorative corner molding over that portion. That will make everything even richer.

When we browsed the home improvement store we found many options so now we have to decide. Surprisingly there is even vinyl corner molding that is already the espresso color of the cabinets. No one would know that it is not even wood! 

However I am thinking of a really decorative one that can be spray painted with the same paint used on the hardware. Since it is metallic, there would be a pop of prettiness under the counter. We'll see.

The new dishwasher is not hooked up yet either. We need 1 more tube and a longer electrical cord. 

We also decided to purchase a new ceiling fan instead of upcycling the one we have. Another thing to add to the shopping list.

Time to start shopping for tile too!

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val





Saturday, April 15, 2017

Spring Has Sprung!

Spring is certainly revealing itself in our yard. 

I am very excited to report that the young magnolia tree our neighbor gave us which we transplanted in the Fall is starting to bloom!
Almost open! 

If anyone know which  variety this one is, please let me know. I tried identifying it online but that was difficult since there are so many. Its petals are quite floppy. We are in Massachusetts so it is hardy to the area. Maybe its leaves will tell me more when they start to show.
The daffodils are trying to get there.
The holly has berries starting (at least I think that is what that growth is!).
The sedum is growing very healthily.
We will have some tulips.
Lots of blooms will show on the giant rhododendrons.
We also have this little rhododendron which I believe is the PJM variety. It did not bloom last year since it was squished between 2 ancient burning bushes with a fence against its back side. Since we removed the old fence and routed the new one differently, this shrub is so happy and covered in soon to be flowers!
I think our roses survived too and will come back beautifully.
I hope you have enjoyed our yard's start to the season. Hopefully you are seeing all sorts of prettiness where you are too!

Thank you for stopping by! ~Val