Friday, May 22, 2015

Salmon, Rice, Arugula and Dijon Vinegrette = YUM!

This is Rod and I's favorite new recipe.  Especially with farm fresh arugula picked from the fields of our community farm today.   It's a compilation of a few of our favorites.  The salmon recipe our girls love, the vinaigrette that we love on fresh greens, and arugula by far our favorite green.  Love that peppery flavor with tuna fish for lunch too!  There is something about the combination of flavors that is so satisfying to our palettes.  Fresh, healthy and delicious!

First the salmon:

While it's baking you can prepare the rice.  We do jasmine.  Wash and prepare the greens and make the dressing.  We hardly ever buy store bought dressings any more.  It's hard to find ones that are gluten free and we prefer the fresh homemade taste of a salad dressing you make minutes before serving.  

Dijon Vinaigrette Recipe
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Fine sea salt

How it’s done

Combine vinegar and mustard in small bowl; whisk in 4 tablespoons olive oil. Season dressing to taste with sea salt and pepper.

Combine and enjoy!  Bon Appetite!  

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lake house loving

Just doing a little window shopping on line and this is what I'm loving for lake house living this month.  Getting so excited for lazy days at the lake this Summer.  Coffee in bed or on the dock.  Morning kayaks.  Reading a book in the hammock.  Afternoon canoe rides to visit the cousins.  Chatting with friends and family. It's 5:00 somewhere.  BBQ dinners.  Sunset paddles.  S'mores and stars.  Late night laughs.

The house is done.  We have everything we could possibly need there.   But it's still fun to shop.  If not for my lake house then for someone else's:

Shoe & Flipflop storage by the back door: (love the rope handles!)

The perfect pillow:  (Mother's day?)

A new Duckhead T-shirt: (Father's day for Rod?)

Decals for our cars and boats:

Another sign for the lake house:

Love this quote: (perfect for our little cottage)


Rug: (for kitchen, hall, under the colors and cottage look)

Some New Lake T-shirts:  (These are the ones the girls created for the annual Crescent Lake t-shirt design contest)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A home on the River's Edge

A good friend and neighbor of mine bought a property a few years back with a partner.  Their intent was to do a quick fix and turn around and sell it that same summer.  Well a few summers have passed, or maybe even 8, and the house is still in their hands.  The house used to have a restaurant attached to it on the same property and is on the road that circles Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.  They thought someone would see the potential that they saw in the property.  They thought someone would buy it and turn it into a restaurant, an antique shop, a gift store.  After lots of work, blood, sweat and maybe some tears they thought it was going to be quick.  It was not.

Over the years my friend Jeff talked about the property very little at first.  He called it his "Albatross" and whenever we were hanging out he would balk if the conversation turned to the house.  He never wanted to talk about it because he was already losing sleep over it.   I finally got him to open up to me about the project, to show me pictures, and finally to take me there to see it for myself on one of our trips to the lake to stay with them.

Jeff, who is a mason,  added the beautiful stone wall up front last Spring.  
When I first saw it I immediately saw it's potential.  I understood why they bought it and saved this home.  It's a gorgeous antique home on the banks of a river directly attached to Lake Winnipesaukee.  It has a big back yard, two docks, and great views.  The problem was that the inside wasn't finished.  I have learned over the years that there are people that have vision when it comes to real estate, that can see what a property could be with a little love and work.  Then there are people that panic when they see a hole in the wall and can't imagine what in the world it would look like when it's fixed.

They needed to finish the inside.  They needed working bathrooms and a new kitchen, finished floors and painted walls.  It wouldn't take much but the cracked ceilings, old linoleum floors, and broken bathrooms were not doing anything to sell the house.  So they hired a contractor.  His partner in this deal is kind of a silent partner.  He doesn't weigh in on much and is hard to get a hold of when it comes time to making decisions.  I helped with a few decisions like paint color ideas (neutrals-tans and grays for the main rooms and each bedroom a different color), and helped advise my friends on front door colors and bathroom and kitchen finishings.  We enjoyed quite a few impromptu cups of coffee talking about ideas for the house.  They couldn't afford to do a gourmet kitchen and if the property wasn't zoned commercially I might have tried to convince them to.  Trouble is if someone buys it and decides to rip out the kitchen to turn it into a store we didn't want all the time and expense to be for naught.

When we bought Duck Head and realized it was already rented for a good part of the summer it made me realize that this property could also become an income property for them if it didn't sell.  The plan was for the contractor to finish the project before the summer and then if it sold the family that bought it could enjoy it all summer and if it didn't it could be rented.  Due to uneven floors and other delays the Albatross project started late and did not get finished till July.  A hard time to sell.  No one wants to buy their property only to close on it just in time for summer to be over.  It didn't sell last summer.  Then it sat on the market all fall and winter too.

I kept hinting to my friend that I could furnish his house for very little money.  I'd found through yard sale sites and freecycle, while looking for furniture for DuckHead, that I could get furniture for practically nothing.  I offered to help time and time again.   He just couldn't have the stress of this house hanging over his head anymore.  The realtor had hired a stager to come look at the house and determine how much it would cost to stage the house.  It was going to be 3,000 dollars or more for several months.  Then if you wanted to extend the length of time the stagings stayed in place you had to pay additional exorbitant fees.  And if they opted to rent everything would leave with the stager so they'd have to start from scratch.  They opted not to do it.

Finally he caved.  He asked for my help.  First I told him we had to rename the property.  If we were going to be investing time and energy and money into this project then we needed to call it something other than the Albatross.  Something that had a good connotation and didn't conjure up memories of the years of stress this property had given him.  He told me the restaurant that had once been on the property had been named River's Edge.  Perfect!  We drafted a list of things we needed and a letter to go along with it.  We sent it out to both of our friends and families.  We figured if we could get some things that way it would allow us to just have to buy or find the smaller items on the yardsale sites.  We asked people for things that were cluttering up their attics or lives and that they would not be using anyway.

It started with a table set for $60 on one of the yardsale sites.  It looked like it was in nice shape and I didn't want to pass it up.  He was still not quite on board and wasn't sure where he'd store the things we got but I convinced him we needed this.  He has a truck so he and Rod and I piled in one Saturday morning to go pick it up.  Only after I had him in the truck did I tell him we also needed to go pick up a free couch someone had offered up on a yard sale site.  The thing about these sites is not only finding the things you want but being first or second in line saying you're interested in it.  You miss a lot of good deals on these sites.  I'm sure a lot of people have been annoyed by my name in the last year as I scramble to furnish two houses and occasionally grab things for family and neighbors as well.

Then generous friends started offering up things.  One friend emailed that she had a couch set and tv cabinet.  Perfect!  Three downstairs rooms- done!  Another friend had several dressers, a cabinet we could use for a sideboard in the dining room and some games.  A third friend offered up art work.  One of his buddies was clearing out a relatives house on the cape and offered him a whole bunch of kitchen stuff.  Another he bought a bunk bed off of for $50.   After buying a full-size headboard on a yardsale site he discovered he had one buried in his own barn.  We turned around and sold the one we had bought.  We got mattresses from friends and family.  His wife's parents offered up some side tables and a coffee table so we were able to sell the set we had bought for $30.  We struggled a bit to find a table to fit the nook in the kitchen but ended up getting bar stools on a yardsale site because Jeff had a pub height table in mind for the kitchen.  Then we found the table at a consignment store.  We thought we'd have to cut it down or alter it but it fits perfectly.  Perfect place for coffee or drinks for two!

I slowly started making lists of things we'd need for the bedrooms and doing a little shopping at discount stores like Christmas Tree Shops, Homegoods and Marshalls.  We didn't want to break the bank furnishing this place but we also wanted to make it look cozy and cute and fresh.  I kept all the receipts in my purse in an envelope knowing that if we found a better deal or if a seller came through we could return them.  I dug through my attic for curtains.  Anything house like that is still in the attic and wasn't used for DuckHead was fair game. I even had two twin beds I'd gotten on freecycle years ago to use someday.  We dug through his barn looking for treasures from his mom's house.  We found jugs and lamps, a desk,  a clock and a few furnishings for the house and kitchen.  Also a cool antique coffee grinder that Rod is now searching eBay for another one.

I got to get my craft on and paint some furniture with chalk paint, make a few personalized signs, and even took an old broken oar we found in the basement and turned it into a decoration in the house.  We also took some old postcards and pictures of the house and framed them in an old $5 window I found on a yard sale site.  Some artwork we had at home and others we found in stores.  The house was slowly coming together in my mind.  We wanted it to look cozy and functional for homeowners but also to have the potential to fit two families if we ended up needing to rent it.

We slowly started piling up furnishings and both his garage and mine was getting full.  We took three separate trips up there to bring up furniture, hang curtains, paint doors, and outfit the kitchen.  Long days but fun days.  We got a lot accomplished on each trip.  After the second trip we took these pictures.   On the third trip we added the master bed frame we had ordered before our second trip.  We also decided we needed some more artwork for some of the bedrooms and the upstairs hall and we brought in a fire pit and a patio couch and two chairs.  During this project I realized I truly enjoyed this.  I was not only helping out a very dear friend but I was frugally shopping (which I love) with someone else's money (which Rod loves) and it felt like I was given a great opportunity to play house and furnish and decorate an entire house from top to bottom.  This is most people's worst nightmare but I have to admit I thrive on it!  List making and shopping and organizing are apparently my forte.  It also helps that I had a great partner in crime and that we work very well together and had a lot of laughs completing this project.

The open house is this weekend.  I just hope someone else loves this place as much as I do.  It has so much potential for a family or a business.  Cozy light-filled rooms.  Beautiful views from the bedrooms.   Access to the lake.  A big lawn for games of croquet and a fire pit for stargazing.  Two docks for a ski boat, kayaks or canoes.  A walk up attic that could be finished off with a dormer to provide a stunning view of the lake, it could be a master suite, family room or bunk room for the kids.  Some people might think of that attic as a dungeon but I hope the right person sees it's potential.  It is one house away from the boat ramp and a short walk down that same dirt road to a small sandy beach for the kids to play on after a long day on the boat.

And if a sale doesn't happen this summer (which I hope it will!) then the lists have been started for what we need to rent it.  The kitchen is already mostly stocked.  The bedding and towels could be brought by tenants or rented from a local facility.  The fire pit is primed and ready to gather around and stargaze.   And our old patio furniture has found a home on the deck.  If nothing else it has helped me continue to spring clean and weed out at home.   I can't wait to see what is in store for River's Edge.  It has been waiting for a family to call it home.  I have a really good feeling about this place...


My children's grandparents each have or did have their own unique creative and artistic side.  I like to think my girls have inherited a little bit from each of them!

A Grandma that wrote a poem for me when I was a little girl that I still display proudly in my room as a forty something year old woman. She not only wrote it in her beautiful calligraphy but painted flowers around the border.  It is hanging on my wall above my vanity (how fitting!)  My mom writes in poem, every card, every letter, every gift tag.  She is both a writer and an artist with her words.  She always thought she would be a weaver and that that would be her gift to share with the world.  She had found her gift years ago but didn't realize how special it was.

Her husband, the girl's Grandpa, loves photography and maps.  He has a gift of remembering every place he's ever been.  The name of the river next to the campsite we stayed at in Alaska, the small town we passed through in Colorado and every place in between.  On route he is always taking pictures.  He sometimes hides behind his camera lens at parties and has the innate ability to capture life and people and love.  

A grandfather that not only has a green thumb in the garden but knows how to capture nature's beauty through a lens as well.  These favorites are hanging in the cottage.  I have others that I switch out with the seasons at home.  I love flowers both real and photographed.  His granddaughters like to take pictures of flowers and nature too.  

My dad's wife and the girls Gammie is a quilter and she invites all the grandchildren into her quilt space to create.  They use scraps of fabric and sew or glue their creations together.  She has given them each a quilt of their own but the greatest gift she has given them is to teach them how to create something from nothing.  

Another grandfather that the girls never met but who they emulate every time they pick up a paint brush or even white board marker and let their creativity express itself.  One of his favorite subjects was birch trees.  Rod loves birch trees and they remind me of Becket so we were so pleased to find that our cottage is surrounded by them.  We brought our favorite paintings by his dad to the cottage to decorate the house with.   Funny one of his granddaughters likes birch trees in her art too.  

painting by L
And a grandmother who the girls all knew and loved and miss.  Her musical ability now pours from her youngest daughter's fingertips as she plays her piano in our front living room.  This same grandmother started taking art classes in her 50's after her husband passed away because she loved his art.  

It's never too late to get in touch with your creative side!  I'm so glad my children get to look up to grandparents who are in touch with theirs.  Each of their artistic abilities is unique and is expressed differently through art, dance, music, creativity.  They have learned that art is an expression of yourself.  And they have had wonderful teachers.