February ’19 Wrap-Up

We are updating our kitchen and dining room lighting after almost fourteen years. Up until now, we’ve used the lights that were here when we bought the house. First up was the kitchen fan light. The others are purchased and are on the to-do list to get installed.

Here is a quick, mostly picture post to share the rest of the empty nest goings on around here.

I tried a new recipe, which we really enjoyed. We still have butternut squash to use, so I found a recipe called Butternut Squash Chickpea Coconut Curry. Really quite yummy (I also added some potato that needed to be used up).

We are making some good progress on the shop (garage)! Tim installed a heater, which we’ve had running to keep the shop comfortable and which is allowing us to do drywall work in Winter. Our electric bill was definitely on the higher side this month.

All of the new drywall is primed and painted. Unfortunately, the folks who taped/mudded the ceiling and wall adjoining the house, did not cover the tape. The tape and mud have been falling off and crumbling for years, so Tim is re-doing all of it. This is taking a lot of time, and requires constant shifting of the HUGE PILES OF STUFF. I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel, though, which is exciting.

Same wall, next day.

Previous ceiling mud.

I got my first ever work boots a few months ago, and they are getting a workout, and I love them!

I opted for a compromise on the kiddos’ bedrooms. Although they will likely only be home once a year, I still always want them to feel like their rooms. The eldest’s has a queen sized bed (our old one) and is our default guest room. I’ve now moved sewing machines, fabric and all other related items into the youngest’s room. She is the one who sews, so it made sense. It doesn’t change the character of the space so it still feels like it’s her room.

Although I’m not doing yoga every day, I am still making sure to include it 2-3 days/week. I’ve actually been putting in some treadmill miles since the beginning of the year. It’s been a long time since I’ve been consistently logging miles 4-5 times/week. I never thought I could be even more of a “back of the packer” than I was, but it’s possible.

Fargo and I take a moment to pause now and again and reflect on our empty nest life. In this moment, we were pondering the increasing number of gray hairs we both have.

There’s so much more, but I’ll leave on a fun note. One of the many amazing woodworkers I follow on Instagram, The Awesome Orange, came up with a shirt idea that I fell in love with. I couldn’t resist getting it and I was extra excited when I found the sticker she enclosed with the shirt. Trading stickers seems to be a big thing in the woodworking community and I now have my first one.

Happy 2019!

Writing a blog post has been on the to-do list for way too long. Although I’ve spent time watching woodworking youtube and Instagram videos, I’ve really kept pretty busy with projects that pushed the blog further and further down the list. Today seems like a good day to cross “blog post” off the list…til I add it back on there tomorrow.

The kiddos were just home for a week+ visit, which was so very wonderful. It was a year since they had been home, and it will likely be a year til their next trip back, so we all tried hard to appreciate squeezing each other. Hopefully we’ll see them somewhere on the West Coast during the year. Saying goodbye NEVER gets easier and I’ve allowed myself a few sad days since they left. We kept forgetting to take a really nice family picture while they were here, so here are our “smile through the tears” goodbye airport selfies.

When your kiddos live on the other side of the country, and you only see them three times/year, it’s hard. 2018 is when it really hit me that they’re not coming back. I’ve been blogging about empty nest for three years, but this is the year it really hit me, hard. They love where they live, they love the people who surround them. Unfortunately, where they live is not a place where Tim and I could ever see ourselves living. A lot of the past year (and probably the next few years) will be spent trying to figure out what this means for us.

I am proud of myself for the fact that through this tough realization, I was able to keep moving forward with my Hobby Adventures. Under the “better late than never” category, I found woodworking. I love it! If you’ve followed along here, you’ll know that with Tim’s help/knowledge, youtube/Instagram tutorials and inspiration, websites like Shanty-2-Chic, Ana White, Rogue Engineer, and more, there is a new workbench, miter saw cart, lumber storage cart, bed, nightstands, corbel lights, and more in the house.

This new found passion has led to the garage insulation project. Yesterday, we finished the ceiling insulation which was a HUGE accomplishment. We even managed to do it in one day!! Tim was amazing with how he maneuvered around in that tight space, something I tried to do and had small space anxiety.

I was in my protective gear the entire time.

The garage door insulation is done.

And one of two exterior walls.

Unfortunately, everything we moved is along the remaining wall, so it will take time to clear it all away and finish. Then we still need to mud/tape and organize EVERYTHING. After yesterday’s accomplishment though, I’m feeling really excited about it all. Can’t wait to finish because (as previously mentioned) I want to make SO MANY THINGS!!

Lots of changes are happening in 2019 which I’m really excited about. I will definitely try hard to take you along on this journey of learning. Thank you to everyone, especially my family and friends, who have supported me with words and actions, along the way.

Happy New Year to all, and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2019. Hoping we all have a year of fun, adventure, opportunity, achievement and education.

Nightstand Love

As I mentioned in a prior post, I built two nightstands. I built them mostly by myself, once Tim helped me get started.I am really proud of myself and I learned a lot through these builds. I used Ana White’s Mini Farmhouse Bedside Table plan with some modifications.

Some of this is repeat from the previous nightstand post, so feel free to skip if you read that one. I used 1×6 tongue and groove for the tops because this is what we used on the headboard and I wanted it to match. We used 1×8 tongue and groove, smooth side up, for the bottom shelves. If you viewed the original plan, you would see that there was a board set in between the horizontal supports. I just didn’t think that it would match the look I wanted. I probably could have used the jig saw on the originally called for shelf boards to set them on top of the horizontal supports, like I did with the the tongue and groove, but I’m really happy with it this way.

I used the same Weatherwash PINED stain, Clear Maintenance Oil, and Flat Varnish that I used on the bed frame. The color is beautiful. The second one came out richer/darker, which could be from using a new can of stain, or variations in the wood we purchased. I love them both!

Here are some finished pictures I took with the fancy camera.

The only thing I’m pondering about doing differently with my next build, is staining before assembling. Even having a tiny brush nearby didn’t make me feel like I could get stain into all of the joint areas. This may be because not all of my joints are dead on. So, assuming I improve in that area, it wouldn’t be an issue in the future. I think I’ll try it anyway.

 

Insulating the Shop…I Mean, the Garage…(with bonus ice storm pics)

We’re doing it! We’re really doing it!! Besides being darn close to breaking the record for wettest year ever, Mother Nature pretty much skipped Fall and went right to Winter. It’s been way too cold to do much work in the shop (we’ll just go with “shop” even though it’s really a garage, okay?). After much research, and thanks to Tim’s support, we are hoping that adding insulation will provide more uses/opportunities for the shop space.

In all honesty, the biggest hurdle for this whole project is the overwhelming amount of crap we have stored out there. It’s just been the repository for the “I don’t know where else to put this” stuff. It really is time to sort through it all anyway, but wowza, it’s a big job. There’s not just stuff on the ground around the perimeter, but on shelves on the walls, on shelving units, and on random nails everywhere.

We already replaced the side door (in picture above) a few weeks ago, because that had been on the list even before the insulation decision. At this point, we’re not investing in a new garage door, so we’ll add insulation to the existing door. You can also see above, that there is already drywall on the ceiling. On the plus side, less drywall to worry about, on the minus side, we need to crawl up above it and add insulation from the top. It’s not a big space to move around in.

It took a few hours, but we cleared off about 15 feet of wall, got a few rolls of insulation and got started.

Once again, I was ridiculously excited that I was doing this myself. Tim helped later after he got a few more things on his list done, but I jumped right in solo. It took way less time to put the insulation up than it did to clear the wall space.

As soon as weather and time permit, we’ll get wall board for this section and put up shelves. The plan is to organize as we move stuff over and then work on opening up the next section. We have another third of this wall, the back wall, around the garage door, and the ceiling to go. Tim uses the garage space for a lot of projects as well. I really think we’ll both benefit from this undertaking, with the added bonus of cleaning out more stuff we forgot we had and don’t need.

I have a random add on to this post. Last Saturday, we had a freezing rain event and I was able to get a few pretty cool shots with the fancy camera.

Very glad we were home and indoors for this weather. It’s super pretty to look at…from inside the house.

Chocolate Coconut Almond Tart

Hey there, been a while. It’s been two weeks of not doing much that is note or blog worthy. The weather has been all over the place, I’ve walked a few times each week, but not as much as I should have. I bought and cut the wood to make more beer totes and I’m looking forward to getting those assembled. I think we’re going to try and make a kitchen island on wheels, which I’m super excited about.

In addition, we are still working on the house. We moved some furniture out and did some rearranging in the dining room, which I like. The dining room and the garage are still housing more stuff that we are in the process of selling/sorting. Hubby did some work in the garage, and now, if needed, we could actually fit a car in there. We are doing a lot of research on a new range to be prepared since ours is twenty years old. We bought a new sink, pics of that later when the replacement process begins.

We also bought a new toaster oven, which is very exciting.

Because the old one (at least 15 years old) was creeping towards full failure (note the burned edges).

This past weekend, we finally spent some time in the kitchen testing out new recipes. I’ll post about the mac n cheese next, but first, the Chocolate Coconut Almond Tart. I don’t have a tart pan, so I opted for a beautiful pie dish our friends brought us from Poland.

The crust is three ingredients, which includes almonds (in both meal and chopped), coconut oil and maple syrup. It took longer to bake than noted, however everything takes longer in our oven. It didn’t get as brown, but I think it was a pretty thick layer. I tried to press it down, but I didn’t get much up the sides like it shows in Sally’s picture.

I mostly used Trader Joe’s dark chocolate, which I chopped, with a few semi sweet chocolate chunks thrown in. Yum! Besides the chocolate, there was coconut milk and maple syrup…that’s it.

It all turned out so pretty in the dish. Especially with the toasted chocolate and coconut on top.

I’d definitely make this one again, especially for any gluten free guests. It had a neat texture, and was delicious. Can anyone tell that I used the fancy camera for all of the tart pictures (not the toaster oven pictures). I’m still struggling with learning the non auto settings, but I do think that camera takes some beautiful pictures.

Here are two bonus sunset pictures from Sunday night. The first one was taken outside, the second (probably obvious from the window frame) was taken inside. I think the fancy camera did an amazing job, but it was still more amazing in person.

 

In Between the All Consuming Clean Out

The all consuming cleaning out continues. I’m trying to attack every inch of the house and remove everything that has not been used in the last 10+ years or has no sentimental/material value. This has resulted in many piles. Fargo may be concerned about the status of the house.

The air hockey table is gone to make room for a craft table. It went to a good home where youngsters will hopefully have lots of fun playing. The craft table is downstairs, but since I have everything pulled out of the closet below the basement steps, the furniture has not yet been re-arranged.

We did manage to move my in-laws’ jelly cupboard into the dining room and it is absolutely perfect. I think they would be proud of what we are filling it with.

I added a new recipe to to my baking toolbox, and it’s so yummy that I made a 4th batch this morning. Favorite Pumpkin Muffins by Pinch of Yum are easy to make in the morning. Warm muffins for breakfast pretty much ROCK!!

All of the ingredients go in the food processor or blender (which is on the max end of what my ancient work horse of a unit can tolerate).

I didn’t put chocolate chips in the batter because I thought that might put the machine over the edge, so just added them to the top at the end.

Unfortunately, the first time, I forgot to spray the tin. It wasn’t a complete disaster, and I did get to eat about a half a muffin’s worth of bottoms that were attached to the tin. You can see the raggedy bottoms.

I remembered to spray the next three times. These are definitely worth trying if you like pumpkin muffins.

When I do sit down to cross stitch, or attempt my (as yet to be identified) crochet project. Fargo has been extra good about keeping me company. He is an exceptional hip warmer.

Look at that lower lip!! I just love that lip!

 

 

 

Cleaning Out

This has been our focus the past few weeks. Dealing with so much stuff from my in-laws’ house prompted us to take preemptive action here. How is it possible to accumulate SO MUCH STUFF!?!?! Of course, much of it can be chalked up to sentimentality. But the rest is just not going back through it all every few years to clean out the crap.

We opted for a staycation last week to try and get a handle on our house. Four heavy bags of paper went to the curb for recycling. Garbage cans were full as well. But now there are piles of “what the heck should we do with this” stuff. It’s random, no solid theme, and very few large items. We have china, beanie babies, old cameras, sheet music, statuettes, Disney VHS tapes, etc.

It took way longer than it should have, but I posted 9 whole things in ebay. No takers yet. Here are a few of them.

See what I mean? No theme. I keep hoping, as most people I’m sure do, that something in the piles will be worth millions. So far, no dice.

I want it all gone. I want to work towards only having stuff we really use, or which has sentimental value left. It’s a LOFTY goal, that’s for sure. Hoping the kiddos appreciate this (way) down the road.

Pergola Proud

Every day I have good intentions of putting together a blog post. It actually takes way more mental energy than one might think, and I’m low on that lately. We still have a lot of rough family stuff to deal with, though I’m REALLY hoping we are on the other side of most of it now. The girls are good, which helps. We’ve crossed a few things off the huge to-do list, which helps. I’m cooking/baking some yummy stuff again, which helps. Fargo keeps us busy, which helps.

I realized, as we ate lunch in our new and beautiful outdoor space yesterday, that I never wrote the “we finished the pergola” post. Although it took longer than anticipated, and due to The Lost Summer we haven’t been able to use it as much as we anticipated, it is done and it is wonderful. Neither of us can believe how it has changed the patio space into so much more than it was.

You can go back and see the earlier stages of the project here: Pergola I and Pergola II. We had gotten as far as putting enough of the structure together that it was time to fasten it to the concrete. Unfortunately, that process was more intense than we had anticipated. Between needing (very good) friends and relatives to lift the sucker into place, to chalking out where it would sit, to moving it away again, and then moving it back once the rubber footers were fastened, all proved challenging. The fastening was a hurdle as well, since the lag bolts kept breaking off and we had to get new ones. Finally, the fastening was done.

And the structure was attached.

This particular pergola has a high table on one side and a bench seat on the other. Next step was the table.

Fargo supervised, as per usual.

At that point, we decided not to use the bench seat. After spending some time walking around the patio and assessing the things, it seemed like it would close in the space too much. I am very happy with our decision.

We found some high stools to go with the high table. We mixed and matched some end of the season outdoor furniture. We attached a shade above the high table that can pull down to the ground (if necessary) and block the setting sun. The shade makes the space usable, as the hot late afternoon sun was one of our main problems.

It’s pretty fantastic!

We are hoping to use the heck out of it starting next Spring. I enjoyed working with hubby on this project and I’m hoping we can do more empty nest building of stuff together.

Pergola Part II

This is such a huge project, that I think it will require a three-part series. I started assembly in the garage. I asked hubby to look things over before I put pieces together and then I did my best to get things moving.

I began on my own because the neighbors had some trees cut down and were nice enough to offer us the wood. When you heat with wood, you need to be thinking about the cold, even when you are sweating your a$$ off in the summer.

I only made it through step 4. The next one required the big posts, so had to wait for the hubster to be available. After a few hot, sweaty and tiring days, the main structure is up.

This was the first big project in a while that we were able to work on together. I really enjoyed it (95% of the time 😉 ). I did mess up a bit, but luckily hubby can cover for me. I pushed out of my comfort zone and really worked hard on something that I would have previously thought of as “his project.”

It’s not throwing much shade yet. We’re hoping to have some sort of climbing/trellising type of plant. We do have a shade for the side to block the setting sun, but may need to get something lightweight to cover the top for a while too.

There are quite a few more steps to go, but we already love it. It makes the back of the house more interesting, and somehow homier. Shoulda, coulda, woulda done this years ago.

 

Pergola Part I

As much as I love our house and our yard, one of the big issues we have, and never addressed, is that our patio is unusable much of the summer. The back of our house is bland and there is no cover. What there is, is direct sun all afternoon and evening. IT. IS. HOT!!!!! We’ve had a patio set with an umbrella for 20 years but even tilting the umbrella doesn’t help, it just throws the shade 5 feet away.

For a while, hubby was researching designs and lumber options and the plan was to create and build it on our own. Each year it didn’t get done and didn’t get done, and so on. In order to facilitate this actually happening, we did something unplanned and bought a pre-cut pergola that just needs to be put together.

Three very large boxes of pergola pieces have been in the garage for about 4 months now.

Hubby spent a good bit of time before building the new stecks (yes, that is the correct word), measuring to make certain they would allow room to enter/exit the pergola. If you look at the picture above, you will see there is a bench seat on one side and a high table across the other. We definitely wanted to be able to access the interior without having to go into the yard first.

Hubby had unloaded one of the boxes a few weeks ago, and now, I’ve finished unloading (and inventorying) the other two.

Now, let’s hope the putting it together (and the Pergola Part II post) happens soon!