As fall’s rainy months kick in, we are in a race to finish the exterior on our river cottage renovation. After removing the old and worn stucco, replacing the sill beam, raising the house and digging a french drain, we were ready to chose the siding. We had a great deal of debate about whether to go the least inexpensive route (vinyl) or the most expensive (a concrete composite, like Hardy board). In the end we went with cedar planks, which are classic and strong. Another feature to the cedar planks, which could be a pro or con depending on how decisive you are, is that they are primed and ready for the paint color of your choice.
Though our house was originally butter yellow, we knew we wanted to paint the renovated version a dark color — something that would help it meld into its surroundings but also not be drab.
We zeroed on grey blue hues and started testing out strips of the cedar board. It is unbelievable how different the colors all looked in the bright sunlight compared to the color strip from the store. Our first choice, Benjamin Moore’s Oxford Blue turned out to be much too bright and light. So we opted for Evening Dove. You can see from the photos below how different it looks depending on the time of the day and sunlight position. I love it!
Another big debate we had was how much of the trim to leave white. At first we left the top and side board trim white but realized it made the house look too cutesy and rather small. In the end, we painted everything — even the gutters — the dark blue color, which really makes the white window trim pop.
Next up: Picking a bright color for the front door. We want something really bold and modern. Chartreuse? Sunshine yellow? Classic red? Let us know your suggestions!
The other night we were at a friend’s house for dinner, and the two-six year-olds decided to “make” some candy. The patient mom allowed them to pour some sugar in a bowl, toss in some honey, a few drops of fruit juice and a pinch of cinnamon. They heated it on the stove until it was gooey mess, spread it out on a piece of parchment paper and stuck it in the fridge. About an hour later it was thick enough that they could roll into a ball and pop it into their mouths. Without a doubt, this was one of the happiest moments of Isadora’s life thus far. A big light bulb went off in her head. You can make candy!
Her new discovered passion bubbling, the next day we looked up candy recipes. Many of them call for thermometers and double boilers, so they were off the list. Then we spotted this one for gummys at Goodie Goodie. Brightly colored squares of goodness that barely required anything special. The only thing we had to buy was some unflavored gelatin and flavored extract. Luckily, we had a few silicone ice-cube trays that worked nicely as the molds. I sprayed them with a non-stick spray first, which helped when it came time to wiggle them out the next day. The hardest part of this recipe? Waiting! You have to leave the gummys in the fridge overnight to solidify.
Homemade Gummy candies – adapted from Goodie Goodie who has many gorgeous photos of the process.
What You Need:
4 Tbsp gelatin (get two boxes)
1 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups boiling water
4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp flavored extract – we used orange, lemon and peppermint
1-2 drops food coloring
sugar for coating
How To Make:
1. In a large pot, soften gelatin in cold water for about five minutes. Meanwhile, but the kettle on to boil water.
2. Stir in the boiling water until gelatin dissolves. Add sugar.
3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 25 minutes. Stir constantly.
4. Divide evenly into bowls, one for each flavor and color you want to use. I used three.
5. Add 1/4 tsp extract and 1-2 drops food color to each bowl. Stir to combine.
6. Pour into spray-coated pans, cover with plastic wrap. Chill overnight in the fridge.
7. The next day, remove gelatin cubes from trays. I did them one at time and it took a bit of wrestling, but they all came out perfectly. If you’re not using a cube tray, cut gelatin mixture into 3/4 inch cubes using a knife dipped in hot water.
8. Roll cubes in sugar and let them sit at room temperature for a day or two to crystallize.
9. Store in an airtight container.
Isadora was so proud of her homemade gummys that she brought them to school as a snack. We actually ended up cutting the cubes in half because no one really wanted to eat a big cube. They are lovely, super sweet, and very chewy.
This summer during our annual pilgrimage up north to Mt. Desert Island in Maine, we were lucky enough to nab a rental property that came with a hot tub on the back deck. Every night, we’d take a soak outdoors, taking in the gorgeous views and letting our hike-weary muscles relax. Our six year old girl thought it was the coolest hot thing in the world (though instructing her not to try to swim in it was another matter). Back home, the thought of having a permanent hot tub is less appealing. We know we wouldn’t use all year round, and we imagine it just taking up space and getting yucky in our tiny backyard. Enter Vanish Spa! An inflatable, portable hot tub that might be just what we need. The project is trying to raise some starter funds on Kickstarter, so they’re offering a tub for $499 — what they say is $300 off the future retail price. These six person tubs inflate in ten minutes, and come with head rests, 88 jets and a heating system that will take the water to 104 degrees. Granted, the camouflage exterior may not suit everyone’s mod aesthetic, but the idea is you could put it out in the woods and “vanish” into the scenery. They remind me of nests filled with water. Of course, we need to finish remodeling our upstate cottage before we can think about adding extras like a hot tub. But it’s fun to dream a bit. Click to watch the Vanish Spa demo video.
What do you think? Portable hot tubs: Genius or cheesy?
Spring may be teasing us with these hot and cold days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t partake in some fruits of the season. Or should I say, vegetable of the season, since rhubarb is a not a fruit but more like a vibrant cousin of celery. I made this crumble last night, inspired by recipe from Good To Share by Sara Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan. I admit I tossed a few strawberries in — but you don’t need them. I also eye-balled the ingredients because I wanted to make a smaller amount than the recipe called for. This is one that is easy to wing it. Crumble away!
Rhubarb Ginger Crumble — serves 4
What You Need:
4 to 5 stalks of rhubarb cut in 1/2 inch small bites
6 tablespoons of cold butter
1 cup of flour
2/2 cup of light brown sugar
1/3 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of diced crystallized ginger
1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
1/2 cup of crushed almonds
1/2 cup sliced strawberries (optional)
Vanilla ice cream – for serving
How to Make
1. Preheat oven to 350. Cut up the rhubarb and strawberries (if adding). Stir it in a bowl with fresh ginger and the granulated sugar. Add sugar slowly — you may not want to use whole amount.
2. In your electric mixer, use pastry blade to mix light brown sugar, flour and 4 tablespoons of butter until, well, crumbly. Add in almonds and crystallized ginger and mix with your hands until moist and clumpy.
3. Pour fruit mixture into a baking dish. Cut up remaining two tablespoons of butter into small pieces and sprinkle around.
4. Cover fruit with the sugar-butter-almond mixture. I like my crumble thick and crunchy, but you can decide how much you want.
5. Bake about 50 minutes or until bubbling and dark brown on top.
6. Cool slightly and serve warmish with ice cream.
7. Repeat all summer long!
Don’t miss another favorite recipe of ours: Easy Berry Crisp.
This post was originally published early last summer. Things are finally starting to look green here and we can’t wait to start entertaining on our deck. The paint held up well over the long harsh winter. We’ll be getting to work on our front porch soon!
The straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back was when Isadora’s BFF Sophie got a splinter in her foot. This has become a common event in our home due delicate bare little feet and a back yard deck that is past its prime. When it is our own girl, we just grab the tweezers and muscle through the splinter extraction … but with Sophie, that was not an option. The girl wouldn’t sit still to save her life, so we sent her home early, teary-eyed and limping. The next week, Chad started investigating our deck options. At first he thought merely flipping the boards would do the trick. After testing a few, we sadly discovered the underside of the wood was not much smoother than the top surface. Our current budget and life-improvement-plans do not allocate for a brand new deck, so we went for plan B: Lets paint it. We debated using a traditional stain, but wanted something that would literally change the texture of the deck under our feet. After much debate, we went with a product called Behr Deckover. (We considered something called Rust-Oleum Restore but that seemed a bit more heavy duty than we needed.) Soon we began to embrace the fact that our deck would no longer look like wood, and instead decided to embrace its colorful future. We chose a slate grey for the floor and a pale grey for the railing. The resulting effect reminds me of a traditional Cape Cod feel. Chad also mixed in some sand with the paint, which gave it a bit of grit. That way the texture is not slippery, even when wet.
To complete this project, our deck had to be sanded, and then three coats of Behr Deckover were liberally applied. With all the rainy days we had recently, this took about a two weeks to complete. At $35 a gallon, the total project cost us about $280.
We finished it off with a new, vintage-inspired table and chairs from OnWayFurniture.com that we got on sale for $350.