Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Outsmarted by a groundhog

I just stepped in one of his damn holes in the garage and almost twisted my ankle. I don't think it was his intention but I really wish he could just dig elsewhere. There's so much dirt around. C'MON!

It was a rainy weekend and our painting was put on hold. Instead we took on some yard work and watched movies.

This morning we got up and were quickly on the go up to Shokan where we buy our paint. We took the scenic route through the mountains which are already turning beautiful colors. Through sweet, sweet Stone Ridge and gorgeous Hurley.

Our first destination was Woodstock and food. We ended up at Oriole 9 where I had a tasty omelette and James had lentil soup and a Cuban sandwich. With happy bellies we continued down Route 28. We stopped in at Woodstock Landscaping to see if we could buy some Rhododendrons that we are planting where the half bay window was. They were very helpful and we left with 4 bushes.

We were looking for a hardy, flowering evergreen and our research brought us to PJM Rhododendrons, the best ones to grow in the area. This is the north east corner of the house and it gets little sun, but these guys are supposed to like it. Early fall is a good time to plant them and next spring they will hopefully go CRAZY with purple flowers.

I also stuffed 2 Hydrangea (haha! very silly homepage but oh so informative! I link a lot of these things so my Swedes know what I am talking about) bushes in the ground by the pastry shop entrance. This is NOT the best time to plant these so I'm going to have to pay extra special attention to them during the winter but I just HAD to do it. Ask any Kallerusian - patient I am not.

I've always had this useless skill at being GOOD at puzzles. We can't have them in the house - I get too obsessed, but today it came in handy. We keep digging out stones in the yard. They are everywhere! A lot of them a really pretty and today I used some of them to make an edge for the Hydrangeas. 

Big things are happening next week. We are insulating the pastry shop and the upstairs bedroom and bathroom. The dudes are coming from Foamco and will spray the walls to the outside. Then we will take a deep breath and start planning for sheetrock. In preparation for the spraying we had to cover up the opening to the crawl space that is above the kitchen and dining room. Could be our least favorite part of this house, but a little cool too cause the beams still have bark on them. James braved the nastiness and we stapled up some paper.

When I made tomato soup I bought plantable basil at Hannies and finally got to use my sister's herb sticks. 

IIIIIII know I could probably remember that this here is Basil but the sticks make the pot so much prettier. The mugs are also by her. And go here to see more of Kajsa's stuff!

And the weekend movie review by the angry critic... 

We tried to watch Boondock Saints and it's so bad it's not even funny, like funny-bad, so we turned it off and I packed it up in it's nifty little red envelope and James had to hold me back so I didn't run off to the post office in the middle of the night to mail it back to the slimepit from wherest it came. I suggest you just watch the documentary Overnight instead, which is about the dope who made the movie. Now THAT is funny. 

So instead we gave Taken a try. And that was at least FUNNY-BAD. One guffaw moment after another and the best inspiration we could ever get for writing screenplays. This sh*t gets made? Whu? Oh boy. Alright, so Liam Neeson's daughter gets kidnapped by the first guy she meets off the plane in Paris. But thank god, Liam is an EX CIA agent and he won't stop until he finds her. Yawn. 

Today we were slightly redeemed by That Evening Sun, mega slow Southern drama that some bad marketeerers would mislabel a thriller. When it's really just an emotional, simple story about forgiveness, redemption and letting go. Yeah to Hal Holbrook and Ray McKinnon!!!

We also plowed through Das Boot. In 2 sittings. Boy that is a long movie. But boy is that a good movie.

Finally, an early fall portrait of 19 Maple Ave. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Soup Season!

Even though it's still about 100 degrees out there in the sun I just couldn't wait for soup anymore and found this in the Williams Sonoma soup book. The leaves are changing and as far as I am concerned it's fall. 

Tuscan tomato soup

3 lbs of ripe tomatoes. It was 5 big ones for me.

1 yellow onion

3 garlic cloves

3 1/2 cups of stock

1/2 cup of sherry

fresh chopped basil

Slit the tomatoes on the bottom and dunk them in boiling water for about 15 seconds to be able to easily peel off the skin. Take the seeds out and the skin off.

Heat 2 table spoons of olive oil in a big pot and add the chopped onion. Saute for about 5 minutes. Then add the minced garlic.

Pour in the stock and the sherry and the tomatoes. Let this boil for 30 minutes.

Put it in the blender and don't do what I did but keep the lid on tight. There's so much less clean up that way. I realized today that I am a damn messy cook.

After the blender it goes back in the pot with the chopped basil and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until serving.

To serve - toast slices of Italian bread. Like this fine loaf from Hannafords:

Put in the soup bowl and spread grated parmesan on top. Ladle the soup over it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Won't you be my neighbor!

Looks like 3 houses will up for grabs soon on Maple Ave. First the blue house I put up a few weeks ago but here is a refresher!

And sadly - there are for sale signs outside Tom and Fran's house right next door.

It is cute as pie and in terrific shape obviously. It's unfortunate to loose a good neighbor but if we can help out and find someone equally great we all luck out, right?!

And FINALLY!!! The long house across the street is seeing some action! This is the Maple Ave Gazette not just the 19 Maple Ave Gazette so here's the scoop...

Today 3 sheriff's cars were there along with a whole crew of clean up guys and gals. The owners have been officially evicted and the house will be appraised and go on the market! It's a very cool house and has a huge barn in the back. The property is also great! James and I looked at it way back in the day and the owners were asking 350,000 - about 200,000 too  much, so hopefully now it will get a fair price and will sell to somebody that can turn it back to it's rightful shape!

I'll get more details if you are interested!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fall will be nice but I'm not ready to wear pants.

I was around all week long, happily unemployed. Got stuff done around the house and knocked off season 2 of Big Love. 

We are playing catch up on the outside. Want to be in the same place with all the windows, trim and porches. Which right now means primed and sanded and ready for a 1st coat of real paint. And we are getting there. 

My big accomplishment is the big porch. Primed. Phew.

No easy task with all those curves, crooks and nannies.

James primed 2 of the last windows and the basement door on the north side.

One titanic task was to finish the little porch and it finally got done. Up to primer that is...

The new rule around here is IF you walk through this entrance you have to LOOK UP and compliment us on our extraordinary work on this beast of a restoration job.

We experimented with GREEEEEEN. James painted a patch on the outside of the laundry room to see what SPACE will look like.

 I think we have settled and we like it. Space it is.

I don't now if these are the morning glories I planted or if someone had the same instinct as me but they are popping either way. 

OK. What else. I prepped the weekend menu during the week by "graving" a piece of salmon. I also cooked up a giant pot of borscht. That became thursday supper when James arrived. This time cold with chopped up hard boiled egg and cucumber. We ate it again for friday lunch and I added a side of kielbasa to please the tall one. We ate gravlax for saturday dinner with boiled potatoes and hovmästarsås. The left over potatoes and kielbasa went in to a pytt-i-panna for sunday brunch. Which is your left over scraps fried up with some onions and an over easy egg on top. 

We watched movies too. 
RocknRolla. Pretty silly. Mildly entertaining. Another Guy Ritchie too cool for school affair.
The Two Escobars. Great documentary about Pablo and Andres Escobar. One druglord and the other a soccer player. We watched Cocaine Cowboys the other week and THAT was AWESOME and this was a nice follow up. 
We gave In Bruges about 45 minutes and then it had to go. An absolute awful mess. Are you being funny? Is this a comedy? So why the sad classical music? And killing a 10 year boy accidentally is never funny. Same goes for Colin Farrell... Bye bye, you go back to Netflix now.
But The Messenger made up for it. Both James and I are in the credits on this one. Great little movie about two army officers who deliver the news to the next of kin of fallen soldiers. 
The one I really have to recommend though is Sin Nombre. We saw it last weekend and were both blown away. It's (very) BRUTAL and BEAUTIFUL and simple and real and just never misses a beat. A perfect chain of events that made for great story telling. You can give me that over and over and over. Like last year's absolute favorite: Crazy Heart. And Jeff Bridges is always a treat anyway. Mmmmmm...

Mmmmm... Treat....

Oh. Where was I?

Going back to work... A little passion project (somebody else's passion project...) but a chance to get to work with American Society of Cinematographer's member Nancy Schreiber, one of the few ladies there. Which means this year, I've worked with 3 of the most prominent female directors of photography in the biz. Lisa Rinzler, Eller Kuras and now Nancy. I like those stats.

And lastly a friendly Hudson Valley reminder...

This is the PRIME TIME to come visit our lovely area. Activities and beauty galore!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

1 year anniversary!

One year ago today James and I:

(A long time ago in Puerto Rico when life was simple...)

... closed on our house in Clintondale, NY.

So much  has happened and I am about to recap it all. 

Our BIG HUGE task right in the door was to install 16 new Marvin windows. It was already in the works and we had added that expense to the cost of the house. Most of the windows were only storms and one was just a garbage bag. 

New windows just in time for winter. This old lady is drafty enough without real ones so that was a smart move on these homo (wner) s' part. High five James!

Inside, the dining room was our number one priority. It was a doggy pee stinking hellhole to put it mildly. 

And this corner proved to be our first BIG challenge.

A piece of carpet left under the radiator. We tugged and pulled and puked and got it. All in the first 24 hours of homeownership. 

And to move things along. Here's the sweet afters:

No more pee corner and no more chewed off windowsills.

Table, chairs, rug and sofa are on loan from Rosemary. The white buffet is from IKEA. The shade is from Country Curtains. The paint color is Ralph Lauren: Polo Green in 2 different finishes.

Only wish I could hook you up with a virtual scratch and sniff before and after. 

Living room and dining room are joined together and we decided that if those 2 rooms got fixed up we would have enough living space to be happy once the pastry shop got torn out. They were also relatively easy to make nice. A little paint and a lotta love and whammo - homey.

So.... we stripped 3 layers of wall paper...

James tackled the knots on the ski cabin wall. We painted the bricks of the fireplace white and spray painted the doors black.

We took a break around thanksgiving and made nice for a feast.

And then we ripped it all out again to finish the floor.

The couch is from Rowe and Rosemary! The chairs are from Raymour and Flanagan. The hearth and side table are on loan from Rosemary. The coffee table is Salvation army and the rug is Lowes. Shades from country curtains. Floor lamp from IKEA. The walls are painted in Benjamin Moore: decorator white and all the trim including the wood panel wall are Benjamin Moore: dove white. The floor was sanded and stained white and then covered in a flat polyurethane. All that's left is a new rug and some art work on the walls. 

On Halloween we carved pumpkins and sat all night with a giant bowl of candy waiting for trick or treaters that never showed. But our pumpkins sure were nice.

And then it was christmas!

We spent 2 1/2 glorious weeks up here and got much done. The living room was all apart and cozy-time took place in the pastry shop.

Named so because both owners are dreamers. And one dreams of making fluffy, tasty pastries for all of Clintondale to enjoy.....


Where was I?

Oh. Yes. The blue room/long room/pastry shop/music studio is a gorgeous room that could become many things and it hosted our tree at christmas and a party on New Years. 

But after that it didn't stand a chance against Bigg Jimmy's Demolition Dang Up!

C'MON. Who gave this guy a sledgehammer?

Shortly thereafter we were introduced to the J's and since then it's been hard to keep up.

Gutting. Vapor barriers. Concrete support. New frame for the floor. Check.

Subfloor and steel beam to support upstairs bathroom.


This is where we are today. Our dear pastry shop is the tool shed and Grand Central Station for contractors and electricians and others. Next - we insulate and sheetrock. Half of the room we be our new mudroom and half will be James' office.

Now for the upstairs... The first time we looked at the house in February 2009 "the green room" was inhabited only by a large rodent in a cage. And smelled there of. When we moved in we realized it was the most finished room in the house... Lucky us.

We started referring to it as the dead zone. We would go up there once a month, sigh, pull up a couple of floor tiles and leave. But one day the devil got into BIGG JIMMY again and things would never be the same.

This is going to become our master suite. We could only do so much demo and soon the J's took over.

No more drop ceiling. No more green. Just space and clean slates. Again, this is up to date and we are soon ready to call the insulation guys to come and spray. And then the sheetrock guys to come and sheet rock. Our goal is to get her done by christmas.

We moved right in to our temporary bedroom in September. We call it the bay window room and once the upstairs is done it will become MY office/future screening cave/additional guest room. So very little has been done to it in the past year, and once the bed moves we might give it a paint job but that's it.

The four poster bed is on loan from Rosemary and the dresser is James'. The mirror was aquired through a recent neighborly transaction, Chris got a radiator and we got this. Fits nice!

This is blogging central! The desk is from salvation army and is all the space I need.

As far as kitchen and bathroom go we have only done small improvements. Enough to be able to call it ours. Our 5 year plan includes a major renovation on both these spaces, so we only have to live with these rooms temporarily. Buuuuuut - that said - some things just HADDA GO. 

Can't really explain why these squiggly edges make me so angry. Our contractor Scott put them through a router and planed the faux country right outta them!

So from this...

To that...

Yup. That's MY kitchen.

Bathroom underwent some minor changes in the first few months.

This is the shape it was in when James and I stepped in with scrapers held high.

Walls and ceiling painted but that pink... What to do about that PINK!?!? Rosemary said: PAINT IT!

And paint it we did. Crazy toxic epoxy paint. So horrible to work with that we only got half the bathroom done, but this winter we are gearing up to finish it.

In the spring we abandoned most inside projects and started focusing on fixing the outside. It's a very large paint job and we are chugging along. This weekend I scraped and sanded 2 windows. 

Hey! There I am!

The side that has gone through the most changes is the south side. 

The changes are subtle but make all the difference!

Other highlights of this past year include a crazy snow storm that brought me back to winters of my childhood and taught us a little something about country living. It knocked our power out and gave the trees a rough shake about.

A visit from my folks in the spring!

Full of Jambalaya on the patio by the Azalea in bloom. 

At the annual Ukrainian festival in Kerhonkson. About to devour some BEIGE food.

There was a lot of playtime but some work also got done. We built this bench under the sugar maple out of found stones.

And also - being able to follow along as the Gunk Haus has gotten ready to open its doors.

This must have been taken in the early spring. Now there are happy OPEN signs everywhere! What a great place and what a great thing for Clintondale!

This is our house. And next time you see it it will have some green spots and a white porch.

This spring brought us many great surprises in the yard. We realized we had inherited some beautiful greenery!

Four Azalea bushes in varying colors.

A pink Dogwood


Star Magnolia

Oh. And this. KNOT so beautiful...

And a Maple Ave Gazette post wouldn't be complete without some bird watching. We inherited a bird feeder from the previous owner and more out of scatterbrainedness than interest we ended up leaving it in place. And I can't believe how much enjoyment we have gotten out of it. We started with one feeder and last we counted we have 8 different dining experiences for our winged friends. It's like a dang food court around here. 

So you want some highlights? Oh, alright...

It started this fall and winter with Cardinals and Juncos mostly.

Every once in a while a very shy lonely tufted titmouse...

The opposite describes these bullies!

Along came the Robins...

And the occasional woodpecker.

Red bellied woodpecker.

Downy woodpecker.

Then spring arrived and we hung finch sacks and humming bird feeders. 

With outstanding results!

And of course I have to sign off with my favorite sunset snap of the year.

But I can't pick just one so here's some more nature porn. 

Here's to another year of great changes and more lessons in country living!