Thursday, September 18, 2014

TBT Sunroom - Rebuild

Over the last two weeks, we showed you how we needed to remove the back wall of our first house because it was completely rotted out and how we totally rebuilt it. We start this week with a refreshing look from the inside:

As you can see, we've studded out and installed two large windows, and opened up the space into a long (narrow) hallway. Since we converted our coat closet to a laundry room, we decided to create a space near the door in here for storing coats and shoes. Before that though we had to deal with the floor. Even though there was already a rough subfloor (not pictured, under this paper), we wanted to get a really nice smooth surface for our new floor so we installed a new subfloor.

When installing subfloor, it's wise to use plywood specifically designed for this purpose. It should be tongue and groove so that the seams don't rub (and creak), and it should be fastened with ring shank nails so they don't pop out... EVER!!!

As you can see, we have a beautiful door way to a 5 ft drop and a nice view of our crumbling in-ground pool.

Once we had the subfloor down, we were able to put the base in for our half wall and Cassandra went to work putting down the flooring. First, we applied a special adhesive that improves adhesion when using self-stick vinyl tiles... which we were using. You rolled on the adhesive and let it dry until it is tacky and then you can lay the tile.

Even though we were going to insulate this room, this space was still going to see more temperature fluctuations than the main house and so we wanted to have a flooring that would hold up to it. The self-stick vinyl tiles were perfect for this and they were soo easy to install. If we needed to trim one down, we could just score it with a knife and cut it.

Best part? They are designed to be grouted so they don't look like the sheet vinyl but more like real tiles. We intentionally left 1/8" gaps in between the tiles because we wanted this floor to look more like slate, so we then applied grout to the seams. A few short hours later, we had a finished floor!

Clearly, it needs a good cleaning. 

We also needed to get ready for what was sure to be a cold winter, so we applied a good amount of insulation to the ceiling and the three exterior walls.

This is actually a bit tricky, because the screws to hold up the insulation would, over time, pull through if we just screwed them in (gravity's a b*tch).. To prevent this, we used large washers to keep keep the weight of this foam board off of the sheetrock.

Speaking of sheetrock, we officially hate these huge plastering jobs and from experience, we aren't awesome at smoothing the walls. So this time we were smart and found a professional down the street who said they could do the whole space for $300. All we needed to do was get the right type of board (it was gray), and attach it to the studs. We were pretty psyched.

During the sheetrocking, we also took this time to frame out a small wall section for our "mudroom", and install all the necessary wiring for the lights. The wall shared with the house was the original exterior wall of the house (that originally still had siding) so we brought it down to the clapboard and attached bead-board sheets to lighten things up.

Things are really coming together now!

And then BAM: plaster. It is awesome when other people do work for you.

With this big step done, we were now able to start focusing on little things, like trim.

There were so many late nights and we were so glad we installed all those lights!

Tune in next week for the big reveal!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesdays with Will: Trip to New England Part II

Last week we shared the first half of our trip to New England. After apple picking, we spent Saturday afternoon at an Alumni event for our colleges track/x-country team. I even convinced my dad to run the 2 mile Alumni race with me. I think we're both glad we don't have photographic evidence :).

That night we had a little birthday celebration for me and my dad. Our birthdays are about a month apart so we took the trip as an opportunity to celebrate both together.

On Sunday we headed over to one of my all time favorite place, Pemaquid. We've been going every summer for years and it's such a beautiful and serene place. You also get to take in the wonderful Maine scenery on the way over.


For the last couple of weeks, shoes have been out for Will and it's been all about the socks... which he will not wear shoes with. There were a lot of dirty socks generated on this trip.

Will really like climbing on the rocks but he really wanted to get into the water!

We also got lunch down at the docks and found a quiet little spot outside to let Will run around and explore.

We left early Monday morning to take a train back to Boston. Will got his first taste of (watered down) juice and he spent quite awhile taking a sip and saying "yummmm".

We really miss public transportation! We took a train down from Maine and then took the T from the train station all the way to our friends' house for a Labor day BBQ and then took the T all the way to the airport!

It was so nice to catch up with friends for the afternoon and Will got to play which really tuckered him out for the plane.

We got to the airport with some time to spare so while I got us some food, Will got more play time in at the airport playground. How awesome is that?

Will amazingly slept the entire way home, which was AWESOME for us since we were also pretty tuckered. We had such a great trip packed with so many fun events that it definitely took a few nights of good sleep to recover.

Oh and we haven't even told you about this trips project yet!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tasty Tuesdays: Amazing One Pot Fall Dishes

I went a little out of my cooking comfort zone this week. I can roast a whole chicken and make a ton of dishes with chicken breasts but I don't really cook with chicken legs and thighs... mostly because I have a thing with animal fat... like a slight gag thing if I bite into a piece (TMI?). So, I did trim all the skin and as much fat as I could off before cooking. If you a slightly more normal person, you don't have to do that . 

These dishes were so incredibly good (and easy) that we may be switching things up more often. The best part? These recipes only require one pot! Yay for less dishes!

This first dish, Braised Chicken Thighs with Carrots, Potatoes and Thyme, came from the Williams-Sanoma so there was no doubt is was going to be good but it was oh so good and so quick to put together. You can even pre-chop your veggies so you can just throw everything in and go. The longest part for me was trimming the chicken. This dish even comes with appropriate GF substitutions.

The second dish is Chicken and Rice from Natasha's Kitchen. This dish includes an incredible garlic trick that took this dish over the top. You need to check it out. I really wanted to add mushrooms to the meal, even bought them, and then completely spaced. We need to make this again so next time I'll try it with mushrooms. I definitely could have eaten the whole pot. The only thing you need to watch in this dish to make it GF is the chicken stock... make sure you buy the right type.

If you want to try a couple of bonus dishes, we also made a ton of apple sauce with our Maine apples and Creamy Thai Sweet Potatoes and Lentils made a repeat appearance in our kitchen which is pretty rare. Everything only needs one pot so it's time to get cooking!