Kingston.

City folk often wonder where exactly we live. Upstate? Catskills? Hudson Valley? Downstate? Upstate is different from the city in it’s arrangement of towns, hamlets, villages etc. We pay our taxes to the ‘town’ of Marbletown which includes the ‘hamlets’ of Stone Ridge and High Falls, but our zip code is in Kingston (go figure), and our ‘fire district’ is Lomontville! Lomontville might best be described as our neighborhood, since it is no longer a proper town, just a fire house. We feel connected to all these towns. Stone Ridge is really our town and Kingston is our closest city.

Kingston is an interesting place and, in 2016, feels very much like it’s on the upswing. Founded in the 17th century, it is full of New York history as well as colonial history. Kingston was settled, along with Albany and New Amsterdam, by the Dutch in 1651. It persisted as a Dutch settlement for many years, but like most of the area, was taken over by English-speaking colonists during the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1777, Kingston became the capitol of New York State for a short time until the city was torched by British soldiers during the American Revolution. The city thrived for over a hundred years but was negatively impacted in the 20th century by the loss of the railroad, the end of the bluestone trade, the closing of the upstate NY canal system and the departure of IBM in 1987. The current population is about 24,000. The city has it’s issues, including lack of jobs, an aging infrastructure and budget woes, but it is a beautiful town with lots to offer.

Kingston:

The 17th-18th century neighborhood is called Uptown or the Stockade district, and the more 19th century area, which used to be a separate town, is called the Rondout. There are some amazing houses & neighborhoods here. Many of the stone homes are open for tours, and there are walking tours of historic Kingston. You can have a nice meal in the 1679 Hoffman House.

I can’t claim to have discovered any of these houses on my own (linked below and found on design blogs, etc) but I am happy to share the info. On DesignSponge there was Hayes Clement’s home which I learned was designed by Calvert Vaux, who, with Frederick Law Olmstead, designed both Central Park and Prospect Park, among other things. Turns out Calvert Vaux married a woman from Kingston and lived here.

DesignSponge home tour  http://www.designsponge.com/2014/10/sneak-peek-hayes-clement.html

Uptown Kingston was first settled at the end of the 17th century by the Dutch and there are lots of beautiful stone houses here. Like these:

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This is a pretty rental/event space pictured below. We went to a party in this lovely courtyard but you can also find the entire place for rent on AirBnB.  http://www.churchdesartistes.com/ Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 9.37.12 AM

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Below is a fun design blog of a young Manhattanite renovating some pretty Kingston houses. http://manhattan-nest.com/

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Here’s another home renovation/house rental in Kingston, also featured on DesignSponge: http://www.designsponge.com/2013/09/a-young-couples-charm-filled-hudson-valley-home.html

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I can’t resist a plug for my fave restaurant in town: Boitsons!

It’s worth a trip.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 10.23.35 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 10.24.31 AMUs locals are also incredibly excited about the new National Premier Soccer League team coming to Kingston, the Kingston Stockade! Read all about it here: http://www.kingstonx.com/2015/12/01/soccer-made-in-kingston-semi-pro-stockade-fc-starts-play-at-dietz-next-year

http://www.stockadefc.com/

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So… I realize that this is just barely scratching the surface of Kingston and doesn’t include restaurants, shops, etc. but I have been thinking about how much potential this little city has with great history, architecture, a beautiful location on the Hudson river and only 2 hours from New York City!!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.