Kitchen in progress

Here is a recap of the first weeks of construction: G needed to extend two structural beams so we could open up the room and get rid of the weird layout. The vertical posts, seen below, need to be removed. In this picture you can also see the floor at the bottom right needs to be patched and fixed since it will now be part of the visible flooring. This is Day 4 after the project began (counted in total days, not work days only).

IMG_1527New beams, floor being patched, walls open for electrical. Day 10, 2 images below.

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IMG_1728Beams boxed in, walls getting closed up, Day 16, above.

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Pickles on the test patches, above. This is the floor we picked, below. ‘Jacoby’ stain on sanded red oak. The patched areas should pretty much disappear.

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Walls getting closed up. Note 3 windows to the left because they are about to be removed. Floors are done but covered to protect them. Day 25 below.IMG_2153

Windows gone, LED lights! Day 28nowindow.

New window and wall finishing, Day 32, below.IMG_2214

Getting closer, cabinets starting to go in, Day 34, below. Color of cabinets is creamier than I remebered. Good thing the paint I picked is a tiny bit warmer than the paint colors in the other rooms, Benjamin Moore: Swiss Coffee on the walls. Fridge goes in large box at right, sink centered under new window, the dishwasher will be where the Shop Vac is sitting. There will be black walnut floating shelves in the corner with the white 4×4 staggered tile. Countertops will be cararra marble & green soapstone.

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This was a great idea Ann came up with, replacing the window over the new sink location really opens up the room, it’s going to look great. IMG_2269

This is the stove wall, there will be a large stainless hood as well as tile, and upper cabinets. Note the new door on left too, new doorknob, the old plastic door is gone! There’s a little ‘before’ reminder below.

IMG_2263Below, plastic door, horrible fridge, IMG_1420weird corner.

Today (Day 38) the countertops are being ‘templated’ so it’s all coming together!

Demolition is fun

Demolition photos, including ones of Jim looking normal and G looking crazy. We kept the lower cabinets and put them in the basement for use as storage with the beekeeping. We put the old stove out on the road and it got snapped up right away.

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Stay tuned, in progress photos coming first thing next week.

The kitchen: before

When we left Brooklyn we decided the time was right to renovate the kitchen upstate. The kitchen was usable but the layout was dysfunctional, to say the least. So, bad layout, poor lighting and VERY old appliances.

The sink was part of a weird peninsula that jutted out in the middle of the room. Behind the sink was an unused area in front of a bank of windows. Then there was a very deep closet/pantry. In the pic below you can see both the peninsula and the pantry. When we first moved in we thought the pantry would be great. It wasn’t! It was just too deep and too oddly placed to be of use. It became a crazy junk closet over the years. The kitchen was originally dark brown wood. We painted it gray, but that’s all we changed.

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On the other side of the room was the stove, which also jutted out making a narrow passage between the peninsula and the stove wall.

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We discovered the reason for this weird layout was that when the previous owners added on to the house they basically just kept the kitchen exactly where it was and added more house on. They never moved the structural beams and so the kitchen retained it’s shape despite the changes to the rest of the house.

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Behind the sink peninsula were 3 windows, and behind the stove was a room we couldn’t really figure out how to use. We referrred to it as ‘the old dining room’, because that’s how the previous homeowners had used it. We never used it as a dining room tho and found it to be more of a wide hallway behind the kitchen (see below).

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Our goal was to fix the layout, and make the room the welcoming center of the house as opposed to just a dark, semi-functional kitchen with no counter space. I collected 80 million images of kitchens, and in the end that was just too much! I ended up using the Remodelista book as a reference point because I basically love everything in there. The other book that proved helpful was Terence Conran’s: Plain Simple Useful.

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So we found a fabulous local kitchen designer and her husband the builder (slash professor) to make it all happen. The next post will chronicle the demo!

A Visiting Swarm

Last Wednesday Felix came running inside to tell us there was a huge group of bees hanging off of a branch in the yard. We all RAN outside as fast as we could and saw that it was, indeed a large bunch of bees hanging, shoulder-high, on a branch very near our actual beehive.

I remembered that swarms are not dangerous because they have no hive to defend so we went up close to examine it. It was really amazing to see this huge mass of bugs all clinging together. Jem & I ran to assemble an unused beehive to catch the swarm, as we headed back, they all seemed to be taking flight and within a few seconds we realized they were flying up up and over the top of a tall pine tree towards the woods.

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It was the perfect height for us to catch it if we had only gotten there in time.

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They’ve just left their other home because it was too crowded there (swarming is a natural part of life for honeybees), after they find a nice place to hang out for a short while, they send out scout bees to find a new home. When a particular number of scout bees return recommending the exact same location, then they all take flight together.

“The term ‘swarming’ is applied to the act of a family of bees leaving their home to establish a new home elsewhere.” –The ABC and XYZ of Beekeeping” A.I. Root, 1878

The other side.

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Below is a video of them taking off.

This is where we moved the beehive to before we installed the new package of bees in April, they seem to like it better here. This is immediately to the left of where the swarm was.

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Cousin Alex was visiting! and can be heard yelling to the bees in the video ‘Where are you going!?’

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Wintery winter.

Hello! It’s only January but it’s been a very wintery winter so far. The colors of winter are amazing, as is the winter light. The early morning sun turns the tops of the pine trees pink at the woodland edge.IMG_3089

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There are wonderful mature trees next door, which is also our sledding hill (big thank you to our neighbors Dennis & Chelsa).

sledding2Some instagrammed pictures below: shadows, fog & blowing snow.

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Flat grey sky.

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Doggie face.

Country livin’

Much time has passed since my last post. It’s October now and we are settling in to our new life in “the country”. Yes, it is very photogenic here.

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Above you see the upside of having a dog, I would NEVER have been outside at 6am to capture this scene if it weren’t for the dog.

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The flip side of that is not so lovely. These were my good, ie: “real”, reading glasses. Layla just destroyed them with her gigantic mouth and left them in the meadow.

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IMG_1096Much of the past month has been taken up with new school activities and new friends and also MUCH pet wrangling. The pets are pretty cute though.

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Pretty pictures give the impression that it’s all just pure gorgeousness up here. It is pretty, yes, but daily life is very similar to Brooklyn except with more driving and more time spent outdoors. I still work at home on my computer, still do the 3pm school pickup and still I still listen to wnyc on the radio all day, so for the time being I still feel connected to our old life in the City. One difference is I don’t recall having QUITE so many chipmunks in the house in Brooklyn! Both the dog and the cat seem to like to bring small mammals into the house which totally freaks me out.

IMG_1650I have also become a soccer mom, see below. F has been playing really well and he’s really loving it. He is a super Red Bulls fan, as well as a loyal Leeds United supporter.

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We have been taking the dog for walks on the local ‘rail trail’ which is a lovely way to start the day. It sure beats my former commute to Long Island City via the G train. Here is the rail trail in the morning light.   IMG_1949IMG_2014IMG_1950

Saugerties Lighthouse.

IMG_0946For anyone visiting (or living in) the Catskills, a visit to the Saugerties Lighthouse is essential. It’s a Victorian-era brick lighthouse set on a sandy peninsula in the middle of the Hudson River.

IMG_0911 copyIt’s a good idea to read up on tidal info here because the path can get soggy at high tide.

IMG_0933It is a short walk to a great place to have a picnic, or to watch the boats go by.

IMG_0989This was taken at high tide looking west back towards the mountains.

IMG_0936A sandy part of the path.

IMG_0941Believe it or not, this beautiful building is a B & B, and if you book way ahead you can wake up in the middle of the Hudson River. The history of the place is on their excellent website.

IMG_0943We visited on a day with a very rainy forecast so no one was there but this area is usually filled with picnic-ers and swimmers.

IMG_0945This is high tide, but at low tide this is a nice place to swim.

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View of the Hudson looking east.

IMG_0983Native beauty Joe Pye Weed in the foreground.

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