Jan 28, 2015

the renovation: bathroom design inspiration

In thinking about our design ideas for the bathroom, our main focus was making the space as efficient and usable as possible.  It's not a large bathroom by any means, but it's big enough.  One of the most important things to us, both visually and practically, was to be able to replace the vinyl accordion door (yuck!) with a real door. After bumping the wall into the kitchen a few inches, we created enough space to allow for a door to swing and for a slightly larger vanity that wouldn't impose on too much of the floor space. We also decided to center the shower on the back wall, eliminating the awkward narrow cabinet, but creating wall space for hanging bath towels on either side.

the bathroom before (in a grainy panoramic shot)

In terms of the "look" of the bathroom, our ideas are very similar to that of the kitchen.  We want a bright, clean look with some traditional elements, some contrast, and the warmth of some natural wood.  A very traditional scheme for an early 1900's bathroom (just so you know, most of my "research" is done by watching Rehab Addict on HGTV) would have been a white subway tile backsplash with white hex tile flooring.  That just sounded like too much white for us, so while we like the idea of the subway tile as the backsplash, we're thinking of using a charcoal matte hex tile for the floor instead.  I think it would be a little bit of a modern twist while still giving a nod to traditional design.  We're thinking that a stained wood vanity, also in shaker style, would add warmth and break up some of the harsh contrast between the white and the black.  We are also planning to add in a built in medicine cabinet for extra storage.  It's a small space (which unfortunately makes it had to photograph), but I think that our ideas are going to make a big impact and I can't wait to see it take shape!

The plaster finishers should be done this week, so our next task at hand is choosing paint colors!  We're going neutral, so if you have any favorite colors, please pass them on!

Jan 23, 2015

twenty weeks // we're having a...

How far along: 20 weeks

Size of baby: An 11 oz. mango

Maternity clothes: I'm still holding out… although my wardrobe choices are getting a lot slimmer.  I'm down to just one pair of pants that fit, so I think it might be just about time to give in.

Gender: It's a girl!!!

Movement: A little!  Not too terribly often yet, but there's definitely something going on in there.

Sleep: This is probably the biggest pregnancy related struggle so far. It requires a body pillow, a humidifier (to help with uh, "loud breathing"),  and several wake ups to flip to the other side because of hip pain.  I already can't remember the last night of good sleep that I've had.  Needless to say, Riley's wound up on the couch more than a few times.  

What I miss: Regular coffee now and then.

Food cravings: My perfect meal would involve a nice steak, green beans and mashed potatoes. I've indulged a few times, but we'd be having it for dinner every night if Riley didn't loathe green beans.

Food aversions: I'm still not too fond of eggs or chicken, but it's not too bad.

Symptoms: Some nausea if I get too hungry and occasional acid reflux.

What I'm looking forward to:  Now that we know that it's a girl we're starting to seriously talk about names and other plans.  It feels much more real now and that's pretty exciting!

Jan 20, 2015

the renovation: kitchen design inspiration

When we started thinking about the design scheme for our house, which colors and which materials we would like to use, there were a few key themes that stood out to us.  First of all, we want to preserve and respect the integrity of the house.  It's an older house and it's always going to look like an older house, that's part of it's appeal.  We didn't want to add anything to it that would stand out as too modern or out of place.  Instead, we decided that we want to use colors and materials that would highlight the features of the house that we were initially attracted to like the hardwood floors, the wide trim and the high ceilings.  We also want our design theme to flow cohesively throughout the house. Personally, I'm attracted to light neutrals with a few dark elements for contrast and accents of natural wood. So that's where we started.

Thinking about the kitchen specifically, we realize that most of it is a narrow galley space, so it's going to be important to incorporate as much light as possible. I'm drawn to the idea of white shaker style cabinets and subway tile backsplash. Of course, this is a very trendy theme right now, and while I'm sure that fact has some influence on my decision, at least subconsciously, I have other reasons for my choices as well. The look of shaker furniture is an accurate choice for the time period and craftsman style of the house, and after seeing the bulky dark cabinets in the original kitchen, I think that white would be a much better bet. I also want to do away with the cabinet between the two windows because I feel like it looked too bulky and obstructed too much of the view.  I think that a few open shelves for everyday items would make the space feel much more open and also provide an opportunity to add in another natural wood element. Subway tile as a backsplash is also a historically accurate material choice for the era of the house. Now, we're not too concerned with making every decision historically accurate, but I do want to incorporate some such elements where possible. Hardwood floors and a dark countertop and dark grout would add some warmth and contrast to the space and keep it from looking too sterile.  As far as appliances, I'm actually not a huge fan of stainless, but it seems to be our best option, and with Black Friday sales we were able to purchase them in advance for a good deal.

the kitchen before
the kitchen currently

We have had to nix a few ideas along the way.  For example, a farmhouse sink would have put us way over budget. I was also really attached to the idea of keeping the breakfast nook in the kitchen, but Riley was able to convince me that using the space for a fridge and cabinets would be much more practical. As it is, the galley part of the kitchen is simply too narrow to be able to open a fridge door and actually stand in front of it.  All in all though, our ideas for the kitchen came together really quickly and meshed pretty well. In fact, after seeing the house for the very first time I came right home and sketched out the kitchen exactly how I wanted it. This was way back in July, and for the most part, our design ideas haven't changed much. Our only design stalemate so far is specifically which color and style tile we want to use for our backsplash.  We'll see who wins that one…

Our cabinets are being built, and we have a plaster finisher lined up for later this week. I can't wait to see how our ideas for the kitchen come to life!

A lot of the work in the bathroom is happening in tandem with the kitchen, so I'll share some of our design ideas for that next!

Jan 15, 2015

"stay healthy" potato soup

It's that time of year when all of our immune systems could use a little extra boost, am I right? Growing up, my mom used to make this potato soup pretty regularly in the winter time, and it kind of became known as the "don't get sick soup." The main reason being, it has enough garlic in it to scare away a cold, or at the very least to give you bad enough garlic breath to scare away any other people and their germs. Either way would be pretty effective!  It doesn't have a ton of dairy in it either, which is  nice if you're trying to avoid congestion.  

My mom, sister and I got together the other week to make a big batch of this soup, and as I was trying to keep track of measurements as we made it, it became clear that this is the kind of soup that you just make up as you go. A few more potatoes here, a few less cloves of garlic there… you really can't mess it up. The only thing I would caution you about is using a light hand with the cayenne pepper. The garlic already gives the soup a nice kick, and it's easy to make it a little too spicy.

"Stay Healthy" Potato Soup
makes somewhere around 6-8 (10?) servings

1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 cups of celery, diced
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons of thyme
12 cloves of garlic, minced
1/8- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
black pepper (to taste)
5 lb. yukon gold potatoes (you can sub in some russet if you prefer), peeled and diced
49.5 oz. chicken broth
1 cup water
1 can of corn
1/2 cup of cream (we used half and half)

1. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the onion and celery in the olive oil for a few minutes, then add the garlic, thyme, cayenne pepper and black pepper.
2. Add the potatoes and stir well to coat.
3. Add the chicken broth and water, making sure that you have enough liquid to cover the potatoes.
4. Bring to a boil and then turn down to low heat.  Cook until the potatoes are soft, for about a half an hour.
5. When the potatoes are soft, mash some of them with a fork or potato masher.
6. Stir in the corn and cream and remove from heat.
7. Enjoy!  And then you should probably brush your teeth.  Unless of course, you are planning to use your garlic breath as a preventative measure.

Do you have any family favorite recipes that you always make during cold season?

Stay healthy!

Jan 13, 2015

the renovation: behind the walls

To the untrained eye, it might not look like we've made much progress on our renovation in the last few weeks. But that's mostly because the work that's been done is more of the "behind the scenes" variety, or more accurately, the "behind the walls" variety. We've had the exposed exterior walls insulated and Riley has rewired the entire house.

Now, about that electrical…

I'm not the professional electrian in the family (but thank goodness there is one), so I know I'm not going to be able to accurately describe just how major the job of rewiring the entire house really was.  Riley knew from the get go that it was going to be the biggest, most time consuming job of the whole renovation, and quite frankly, he was dreading it. The house still had it's original knob and tube wiring, and not only was it found lacking in lighting, but much of it was actually a fire hazard. He removed the entire original system and began again, adding and reconfiguring the lighting scheme as he went. The end result is a well lit house with a lot of can lights (electricians seem to be obsessed with their can lights), smoke detectors, and well placed three way switches for the multiple entrances to each room. The end result was also something that we never would have been able to afford if we had to pay for labor! It took Riley, with some help from my father (another electrician) and an apprentice, a couple weeks of evenings and weekends of dusty plaster drilling, tight crawlspace creeping, and round about wire fishing to get the rough in work done. But all of his hard work will pay off now that we will be able to enjoy a safe and well-lit house! Now we get to do the fun part of the electrical, like choosing light fixtures!

Next on our project list is plaster (which is scheduled for this week!), paint, and having the floors refinished.  I think we're turning that corner where the exciting, more visible stuff is starting to happen!

Jan 7, 2015

currently… skillets and sonograms

planning: on taking down the Christmas tree… eventually. It smells so good though, and the little lights are so festive that I just can't bring myself to do it. I feel like we were a little late in getting one, though, so maybe it'd still be ok to keep it until the end of this week?

hoping: to find out the gender of our baby at our next appointment in less than two weeks!

baking: everything in a cast iron skillet. After wanting one for years but never getting around to buying it for myself, I finally realized that it was the perfect candidate for a Christmas list. I was so excited to receive one from Riley's parents this year and have been planning all sorts of goodness for it. Last night I made this deep dish pizza for dinner, and I also have my eye on these indoor s'mores (my sugar cravings are definitely back in full force…).  

wearing: fleece lined leggings. Every day.

resolving: to get back into an exercise routine now that the holidays (and lethargic first several weeks of pregnancy) are over. Cliche resolution, I know, but I wrote a little about my real resolution for the new year on yesterday's post.

What are you up to currently? Do you have any favorite cast iron skillet recipes to share?

linking up with Jenna and Anne today.

Jan 6, 2015

the word of the year

New Year's Eve celebration in Roanoke's Market Square, complete with a raising of a replica of the Roanoke star in lieu of a ball drop

I've always loved the idea of a fresh start at the beginning of a new year. I like entertaining the thought of making specific resolutions and finding ways to stick to them throughout the year. But I usually never even follow through on the "specific resolutions" part. Instead, it seems to work best for me to think about a general mindset that I'd like to adopt, or maybe even a quality that I feel like I could work on.  I tried something like this about halfway through the year in 2014 and I feel like I can actually tell a difference in how I think and behave.

This year I think I'd like to pick a word as a kind of motto or theme for the year. This year's word is "savor." We have a ton of new and exciting changes ahead of us this year and it would be really easy to get impatient about their arrival. But one of the things that I learned first hand on our sailing trip was that it's about the journey and not just the destination. I am so excited to have our house be finished(ish) and move in, but I also think that the renovation process is pretty interesting itself. Sometimes the anticipation of a thing can be just as enjoyable as the thing itself. Of course, when it comes to the renovation, it's probably a lot easier to enjoy it when you're not the one actually doing the manual labor, but I do think that Riley is finding the process interesting as well.  At least, most of the time.

I would also like to savor these next several months of pregnancy as well. I realize that I haven't yet experienced those last few weeks, so this is very easy for me to say now. But I also have been fortunate to have an easy pregnancy so far, and I don't want to take that for granted.  Most recently, I find myself feeling really impatient for that next appointment when we will hopefully find out the gender, but instead I'm trying to enjoy the wondering part.  Life doesn't hold too many surprise quite like this, and  that fact is pretty exciting in and of itself if you think about it.

Life flies by fast enough as it is, so this year I want to make it my goal to embrace the moment and savor not only the exciting events, but all of the steps that lead us toward them along the way.

What about you?  Do you have a word or motto for this year, or any specific resolutions that you're working toward?

Jan 1, 2015

the year to beat

What a difference a year makes!

This time last year we were living on a sailboat, moored in Key West (and slightly miserable).  One year later, we are living in a downtown apartment, renovating a house and expecting a baby!  That sounds like an awful lot of change for one year's time, but we have been so fortunate as far as opportunities and timing go that it all just feels as natural as can be.  I've come to realize, too, that I just really like change.  Thank goodness.

I love that this blog has captured some of the most memorable events of the past year, even if the posting was a bit sparse at times.  Here are my top 5 favorite moments of 2014:

1. Exploring beautiful places by boat.  Looking back now, it's hard to believe that we were even still on the boat in early 2014!  The end of our trip saw stops in some of my now favorite places: East Bahia Honda, Vero Beach, St. Augustine, and Cumberland Island.

2. Completing our dream of sailing down the coast and returning home safe and sound.  It was a bittersweet end, to be sure, but above all we were grateful that it was such a memorable and fulfilling experience.  And that we survived.

3. Finding my dream downtown apartment in just a few short days after returning to shore.  Since we had rented out our home before setting sail, we had no idea where we would live when we returned, which was a bit worrisome whenever we really stopped to think about it.  But like most worries, they were completely unfounded, especially since we loved the very first place we even looked at and were able to move right in.

4. Falling in love with Roanoke from a new perspective.  Before we left on our sailing trip, I was sure that I would fall head over heels with one of the coastal towns that we visited and become simply desperate to live there. And while I did in fact fall in love with many of them, as it turned out, I was still excited to come back and make our home in Roanoke.  I had lived in two very different areas around Roanoke for the last 10 years or so, but coming back to it with a fresh perspective and the opportunity to experience it from the center of the city felt new and exciting.  We made so many great memories from our Spring, Summer, and Fall in this city. 

5. Finding out (on the very same day!) that our offer on a house was accepted and that we're expecting a baby.  That was a day we won't soon forget!

2014 was an unbelievable journey, and I'm halfway tempted to say that it'd be hard to beat.  However, 2015 will see us continuing renovations on our house, moving in and making it our home, and welcoming a baby into our little family.  Adventure awaits us still.

Happy New Year!

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