Homestead Project Update

Things are busy on the Vashon homestead! With our living room all put together and the door/wall project done you would think we would be taking a break for the holidays. Ha! That is what Matt thought too.

Nope, we are in full project mode even though we tried our best to take it easy. We really wanted to get the cat porch done before Christmas guest arrived so we started on that two weekends ago. I trimmed up bushes out front while Matt tackled the wall from the inside. We were way too optimistic on how long it would take to cut this whole correctly. 3 saws and 2 days later we have a hole, very well cut, but the cat door is not yet installed. With daylight so limited right now it is impossible to get work done during the week. So it waits again till next weekend.

To top that project off I found a free chicken coop and 5 hens that needed a new home! So onto the project board that went. Last weekend we prepped the coop site, clearing branches and liming up a tree. We also investigated and measured the coop to see how we needed to plan for transportation across the island.

On Sunday, the coop finally arrived at our house! It was a full day that included lots of supply shopping at Island Lumber, picking up a borrowed truck, calling some teenagers we know to help lift the coop…and finally FINALLY getting it back home. The coop is big, roughly 8 feet by 4 feet, and nearly 5 feet tall. Awkward to move to say the least. But four of us managed to load it into Mike’s truck and drive it across the island.

It fit through our gate by mere millimeters and now rests on some concrete blocks while we build a frame to set it on. We plan to put in a mini run under the coop, and a larger run attaching to that. Once we get the coop set next weekend (we hope!) we can pick up our 5 hens!

Comfort Food Favorites

Now these are staples of our family’s holiday table. They are not the tried and true “been there since great-grandma-whoever” but they are SO GOOD that we can’t have a holiday feast without them. In fact, they are so popular that every guest also requests the recipes. And they are vegetable dishes…totally healthy! :)

First up: Carrot Puff. My grandma introduced this to our family 10 or so years back and it is a stronghold year round. We have made it with carrots, or squash, or sweet potatoes…or a combination. We have made it in a Dutch oven over a fire. In deep round dishes and big flat 11x17s for picnics. It is best hot but we have been known to eat it cold. It tastes like vanilla pudding so even the pickiest of vegetable eaters will gobble it up.

Carrot Puff

  • 2 lb carrots or sweet potato or squash or mix of all – peeled, cut into cubes, cooked till tender ~ 20 min boiling
  • 1/2 c. melted butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 6 Tb flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients together in blender, adding cooked carrots a little at a time. Blend till smooth. You may need to do in 2 batches and mix together. Pour into greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 about 50 – 60 min until firm in the middle and golden.

Next up? Super awesome corn bake. Again, this one is pretty versatile in the veggie department. Sometimes we add cubed summer squash. Sometimes not. It is great either way!

Baked Corn (and squash if you choose)

this makes an 8×8 pan or so…….

In large bowl:

beat 2 eggs
add:
1/2 cup milk
salt, pepper
2 Tb flour (~ 4 if you add squash)
1 Tb sugar
1/4 c melted butter
2 -3 Tb onions chopped small
1/2 c grated parmesan
1/2 c grated cheddar (I probably use more)
add: a pound of corn / squash cubes mix and pour into greased 8×8 pan Bake 350 about 45 min. Done.

Enjoy!

The Perfect Tree

This will be our second Christmas on Vashon. Snuggled down in our little house, enjoying the glow from our stove, and watching the sunset over the Olympic Mountains. Things look pretty different too. The living room has been refinished…complete with the new door! Friday was the second to final touch – paint! Molding will have to wait till after the holidays. The view is different too. With the big tree gone we see so much more sky. The sunsets have been incredible.

In preparation for the holidays we spent a good portion of the weekend cleaning, dusting, moving furniture to make room for a tree. Bonus: there was snow on the ground.

We woke up Saturday morning to a rare treat: fresh snow blanketing (ok, thin 1/4 blanket) the ground. The temperature was still dropping and so it was perfect conditions for a beautiful tree cutting day. We headed out to the car and …. nothing. The car would not open. The door handles were frozen shut. We managed to climb through the hatchback of our little mini cooper (wish I had gotten a photo!), warmed up the car and took it on a scenic snowy drive. Sure, we could have gone straight to the tree farm, but in all likelihood the car would not have been warmed up enough to let us out the doors!

We first stopped at Augie’s Tree Farm, a place we had been planning to go since we moved here. Unfortunately we did not find what we were looking for. After much debate and more driving, we ended up stopping at the fish stand along the highway, where this month they also sell trees. 5 minutes later we had found the perfect Noble Fir. Paid, loaded, done! Not our typical tree cutting adventure but fun none the less! And it was so cold that quick experience was all I really needed.

We got the tree home and immediately got to put our new 36″ door to the test: it was perfect! So much easier to bring in a tree than last year! We set up the tree, let it defrost and dry, then decked it out in lights and vintage ornaments inherited from Matt’s grandparents. It is perfect.

We curled up next to the tree for a feast: roast duck with mashed potatoes and balsamic figs. Yum. Yum. Yum.

Happy Holidays!

Sticky Sweet and Tart: Cranberry Orange Cake

Thanksgiving was full of good things to eat. A few favorites: my mom’s carrot puff and corn casserole, turkey, green beans and of course, dessert. This year I made a revised version of last year’s cranberry upsidedown cake. Sticky and sweet and tart and fresh. The addition of extra butter, orange juice and a sour cream glaze really kicked it up a notch. Rave reviews.

Cranberry Orange Upsidedown Cake with Vanilla Glaze

INGREDIENTS

Topping

  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen whole cranberries (fresh float, frozen sink and make a bright red top to the cake…I learned this from last year)

Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp (plus more for buttering the pan)
  • 3 large eggs
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • fresh juice of 1 large orange (about 1/3 cup)

METHOD

1 Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch diameter cake pan. Springform works well.

2 In a small saucepan, place the stick of butter and the 3/4 cups of packed brown sugar. On medium high heat, stir the sugar as the butter melts. Once the butter is melted and mixed in well with the sugar, stop stirring and let the mixture simmer for 15 seconds or so.

3 Pour the brown sugar butter mixture into the prepared cake pan. Spread the cranberries on top of the sugar butter mixture.

4 Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl vigorously whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.

5 In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until light. Add the sugar and beat together the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and orange zest.

6 Mix a third of the dry ingredients into the mixture. Beat in half of the sour cream and orange juice. Mix in another third of the dry ingredients.  Mix in the remaining sour cream. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients.

7 Pour batter over the cranberries in the cake pan, and smooth the surface. Place in the preheated oven and lower the heat from 350°F to 325°F. Bake until a tester comes out clean, 55 minutes to an hour. Cool cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the inside rim of the cake pan to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Then turn the cake out onto a platter. Glaze when cool if desired.

Easy Vanilla Sour Cream Glaze

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbs powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbs milk (or orange juice?)
  • Vanilla

Whisk together in a bowl, adjusting ingredients as needed until desired consistency.

Stitch Fix Slump: Box #5

I am on to box #5…I think? That is how thrilled with Stitch Fix I am right now. It is kinda “meh” after two not-so-great fixes. I still have a small amount of credit left so I am hanging on to hopefully see at least one new thing I love, but it was not in this box.

Now, I say kinda “meh” but it is still fun. I like trying things on, the surprise of seeing what someone picked for me, and seeing things that I would not have picked up myself. Add a glass of wine and it is a pretty fun evening. I apologize for the lackluster photos. It is really cold in our house and Matt was busy drywalling (he is usually my photographer) and it was dark already so not ideal for photos. iphone images will have to do. And it was after a long day at work, sans makeup.

Bonus? I started working out again and have slimmed down a little bit! Clothes are fun to try on again!

So what was in this fix?

PIXLEY Martina Slub Knit Open Cardigan — $54.

It was good fabric…super soft and cozy, just a little too basic for the price.

image5fix

KUT FROM THE KLOTH Denna Skinny Jean — $78.00

These actually fit better than I expected, but they were slightly baggy around the knee and the whiskering went too low down on the leg. Just not quite right.

image6fix

LOVEAPPELLA Calisa Twist-Front Maxi Dress — $44.00

Slightly too big on top, but fit bottom well. The fabric was a beautiful color! However, I was not a fan of the twist front since the stitching seemed to always show. Good length though!

image4fix

41HAWTHORN Toullouse Collared Wrap Dress — $68.00

This one was so close! Great fit, great length, good fabric and color…but my husband said the stitching make me look like I had an extra set of boobs. Had to send back.image2fix

SKIES ARE BLUE Tory Textured Button Front Shirt — $48.00

I loved the fabric but the extra seam down the arms was not professional or “me” enough to earn a place in my closet.image1fix

So yea, back to the drawing board for my next fix in February. Fingers crossed I find something. Otherwise I am burning through my credit and sticking to shopping on Zappos.

Curious about my other fixes? Click here for #1, #2, #3, and #4!

Want to give Stitch Fix a try?  If you do, please use my referral link  :)

https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3354856

The Big Tree

Our back yard had a big tree. Tall and strong, protecting us from erosion and giving a beautiful frame to our view.

But our tree is broken. It’s double trunk was a tell-tale sign that the tree would not be a permanent fixture in our yard. Plus, it shaded our prime gardening area and soaked up so much water nothing would grow beneath it.

Bittersweet was the day the tree started to deteriorate. Two weeks ago we lost one of the two trunks in a spectacularly perfect fall in our yard. It landed cleanly only taking out one fence post in the garden we plan to redesign anyway.

With all branches on one side of the tree, and a huge wound in the side, we knew it was time to take our tree out for good. Armed with plans for replanting, both garden and slope stabilizing plants, we are ready to reshape the look of our property. We found a guy on the island willing to help us just for fun, so this past Sunday, the tree came down. It was a great experience. He coached Matt through the process and let him do all the sawing. After a few strategic cuts, the tree fell exactly where we wanted it to with a spectacular crash! Success!

Now we have a much wider view, more sunsets, more garden space. But we will miss that tree. Thank you for the life you provided while you were here.

Shades of Grey

With the new door drywall nearly complete we are back in painting mode. Since the living room (where the door is) already has new paint, this one is just a touchup project really. However, since part of the ceiling also needs to be touched up I am using the excuse of “the roller is already full of paint” to tackle the hallway ceiling too. And so then why not the walls? A paint color for the hallways and stairwell have always been a point of marriage contention for Matt and I. I blame Pinterest. All the walls in the immaculacy prefect looking houses? Grey. Warm grey, cool grey…but all grey and crisp and so fashionable. I think everyone and their mother has pinned something like these:

(Agreeable Gray by Sherwin Williams, Meditation by Benjamin Moore, Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore, Sandy Hook Gray by BM, Shale by BM, Coastal Fog by BM, Anew Gray by Sherwin Williams, Mourning Dove by Martha Stewart, Wood Smoke by Glidden, Gull by Martha Stewart)

Described as the best paint color ever. Benjamin Moore revere pewter

How-to Pick the Perfect Gray Paint  I am re pinning this because every color goes with grey, you just have to find the right grey, also grey goes amazing with white trim and any other accent color you want

Thunder (AF-685) by Benjamin Moore    I chose this for a client at a recent colour consultation expecting it to be a grey beige. Once the painter was finished I realized that this is probably the perfect, elusive gray that we are all looking for. There are no obvious undertones that take over as there normally are with gray. It’s deceiving on the chip though because it looks more grey beige than gray

With tones as varied as driftwood gray and creamy latte, neutrals are anything but boring. Browse BHG.com's top neutral paint color picks to find the right hue for your rooms. Plus, learn the best tricks for decorating in neutrals.

Matt hates the idea of grey. And to some extent I agree, but I am working the grey card for these small transitional spaces.

In the past I have always used Behr paint and been very happy with it. But now that Matt gets an employee discount on Benjamin Moore we are giving that a go. I stalked colors and found two greys that I liked from a classic collection. I showed them to Matt, pulled out the other room color samples and we both agreed on one: York Grey. It is a warm tone that will go well with the other more “colorful” colors we picked for the rooms.

So here is to painting…and marital color disagreement! I am so ready to have these projects done!