July 27, 2015

A birthday, making my own herbal teas, and another 'saving our sanity' project~

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It's my birthday today. With the job loss we won't be doing anything, the cupboard is bare as well, and to tell the truth stress has taken all the oomph out of us, and it's just another day.

Recently the 2 of us singlehandedly demolished our ugly old asphalt driveway and went back to the original natural sandy/earth drive---Much better looking with this old house.
We are quite proud to have done such a monumental job in a few days, involving backbreaking manual labor and of course, spending no money.
It took hours with a pick axe and jack hammer and then many more to load 2 tons of broken up blacktop into our neighbor's big truck and make 2 runs to a recycling center about 45 minutes away. The local dump wanted hundreds of dollars to take it---Are you kidding me? This clean asphalt is re-usable, and a recycling place took it all for free. Sure, we had to load it, get it there, and unload it, but our sweet neighbors came to the rescue, lending us their huge cube truck and refusing to take a dime for gas.
The driveway looks fantastic now, and it's on to the next free "saving our sanity" project.
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We loaded 2 tons of heavy, broken asphalt chunks into the truck in 2 loads, and made 2 trips to a recycle center where we had to unload each piece...SEE ALL THE PHOTOS AND READ MORE ABOUT OUR PROJECT HERE ON OUR WEBSITE. 
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 I have been experimenting with herbal teas lately. I have period gardens, growing heirloom herbs that are now exploding with the summer sun and rain. I grew many from seeds, and am using lavender, mint, feverfew, elecampane, bee balm, and many more, in creating my own fresh, healthy, and medicinal teas, and I drink them every day.
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July 21, 2015

'Dutch baby' with raspberries and almonds, and dogs in a stroller~


Our raspberries keep on coming to our delight, and Adam likes to go out each morning and pick them. We have many jars of our homemade raspberry shrub made, and tonight decided we would make a ' raspberry dutch baby' pancake in the old iron skillet for dinner.
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I'll add a little almond extract and vanilla bean to my batter and when it's mostly baked, some sugar, butter, and almonds to the top. After 5 more minutes in the oven,  we'll top it with fresh raspberries from our garden, a drizzle of the homemade raspberry sauce we made last week (that has a little bit of Framboise added to it), and then dust it all over with some powdered sugar.
We are making good use of and enjoying every raspberry we pick!
After one of the most fearsome storms I have ever seen here the other night, we spend several hours clearing branches, rocks, and debris from our little stream.  We even found some artifacts---an old pewter spoon and shard of salt glaze pottery.
You can see photos on the PROJECTS page of our website. All is sunny and peaceful now and the moving water sound of the stream is a comforting sound right outside our bedroom window at night...
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 It's such a beautiful day we took our yorkie girls for a walk~

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July 15, 2015

Summer raspberries and an historical refreshment~

We have a bumper crop of raspberries in our yard this summer here at Lady-slipper cottage.
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We just made several jars of our own homemade raspberry shrub~
Here they are cooling on the bench outside the kitchen windows next to the herb garden.
Adam has been picking a lot of our raspberries daily this month~
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I made white chocolate scones for Adam today~
We now have many jars of our raspberry shrub in the 'fridge.  We put a few ounces of the delicious syrup in a glass and fill with cold water and ice, and you have the most delicious period drink. You can garnish it with a little dollop of whipped cream if you happen to have some made for your scones, and add a few fresh mint leaves from the garden~
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November 9, 2014

High Tea, 'bangers and mash', 18thc. finery, and period dancing~



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We were asked by our friends, owners of the wonderful Clipper Merchant Tea House in Limerick Maine to come and be a part of the Limerick annual 'Snowflake Trail' event on Friday, Nov. 7th. They asked that we come have tea in our 18thc. clothes and talk to the guests, pose for pictures for them,  and then do a period dance later across the road in the 1803 ballroom in the Custom House Antiques Gallery.

Here is a video of us dancing 'The Gay Gordons' in the 1803 ballroom.  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW6--lO1sp4
~We did it over 5 times that day for several groups of people.
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We now have a gallery of photos of our fantastic day up on our website. We hope you will enjoy visiting and seeing all our photos of the day while you listen to the period musick piece we danced to, 'Scotland the Brave'~
***The gallery is only on our website, and only for a short time~We change our galleries periodically to share many of our 17th/18thc. life and adventures.
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COMING TO OUR WEBSITE ON THANKSGIVING NIGHT AT 6 PM~ 
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October 15, 2014

A 17thc. 'guest bedchamber'~

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A box we made from period wood to hide the laptop! See more about this below~

We have finally been able to get around to DIY (of course) re-making one upstairs room in our 18thc. cape into a most snug and welcoming "guest bedchamber"---(aka computer room, sewing room, etc.)  This room was the pits when I was alone and bought the 1700's house 16 years ago, but so was the entire house. There was a seemingly endless list of priority 'to do's' before I could ever consider working on it.
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The window we put in ourselves in the 'new' old bed chamber. The lantern is old,  delightfully crooked and rusty. It was a $17. 'find'. We electrified it.

Because early capes are a story and a half, the 2 upstairs rooms have short knee-walls and charming sloped ceilings. The larger, which I always knew would be the 'guest chamber' went up in a peak, following the roofline. The original hewn beams added a lot of character and warmth. Unfortunately, someone in the 50's or 60's had covered the entire room with that nasty 1 inch thick, 8 inch wide board knotty pine paneling that seems to have been the rage back then, and a 'country look' to some well-meaning but warped minds. The boards glowed with the golden light of the hideous shiny varnish slathered all over them, calling attention to each and every knot. There was also awful, dirty, once-cream wall to wall carpeting on the floor. That was ripped up early on when all 3 of my fireplaces had to be rebuilt from underground to new chimney.
I had hoped to just have the original old floorboards, and although they were there, as is so often the case in early houses in New England they were pretty wonky and uneven, and worse, there were big patches here and there of funky pieces of 'modern' wood. Yankees used pieces of whatever was around---ugly old painted doors, etc.
---A new pine floor would have to be laid, and left unfinished to age .
Back in 1999, I painted the knotty pine paneling off-white, and had to content myself with that for many years until this room could be moved up on the priority list. (So virulent was the varnish, that even with 4 or so coats of KILZ primer and multiple coats of a good paint, the knots still 'bled' through.)

In the sloped ceiling, on the back of the house in this room was a fairly recently installed skylight, adding lovely light to a room that had only one window, at the gable end. It was nice enough and did not leak, so I kept that. 

Fast forward many years. Something HAD to be done with that "upstairs room". Adam and I painstakingly tore down every board of that knotty pine paneling a couple years ago, then hauling every one to the dump. This was a grueling job. The boards were over-nailed, as if someone expected a typhoon to blow through. Mouse poop would fall on our heads from the nether  regions between insulation and the boards. It was a miserable job.

I won't go into every remodeling detail here. We envisioned a period room, done in the 17thc. style we both love, and our efforts of the past couple of months have exceeded our expectations!
As usual, we had our stash of free salvaged/garbage picked materials.
It has been a lot of hard work. We've removed and rebuilt a window casing, installing a dream leaded glass casement window in that gable wall. I have hand plastered the entire room, and all boards and beautiful beams are exposed.
I have just now finished 'aging' the walls, and they look mellow and authentic. We love them so much, I have now also done it in our own bedroom downstairs.

We came up with an ingenious way to hang rods for bed curtains on a sloped ceiling, and I made the hangings from bittersweet-orange wool.
A lucky 'find' was the headboard only of a 17thc. bed.
Someone gave us 2 thick 18thc. boards, and even though we had never done anything like it before, we made the bed rails and bottom posts from it ourselves, even managing to match the finish on the ancient headboard!

We were able to get new, 12 inch wide pine boards for a bargain, and we laid the floor ourselves, face-nailing each board with reproduction rosehead nails, and then beating it with antique iron chains to distress it. (It will 'wear' and age over time and look like those we put in our kitchen a couple years ago.)

There were many other things we creatively came up with and then worked hard to create the upstairs dream room, and it was done without spending very much money at all.

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UPDATE, NOVEMBER 4~
We have now completely finished our room and the photos are up on the TOUR page of our website.


We wove a wattle shutter for the skylight ourselves, even cutting down every sapling to do it! The shutter is hinged at the top of the skylight with period iron hinges and swings up and out as a cage bar would, hooking onto the ceiling just opposite when not in use.
This is one of our favorite things, and looks "so medieval, I love it!", as Adam says.
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SEE OUR FINISHED 'GUEST BEDCHAMBER' HERE~

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SEE MORE OF OUR PROJECT HERE~
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TAKE A TOUR OF OUR PERIOD HOME HERE~
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