Sunday, August 30, 2015

One Year Ago...On The North Fork

From the outside looking in, Facebook makes it seem like lots of people I know have the perfect marriages and just love "doing life together."  I've lost count of how many times I've seen that phrase thrown about of late.  For anyone outside the church world it translates as, "I really like living with you and doing stuff together even though I don't like you sometimes."  But I know enough to realize that no relationship is perfect, least of all ours, and it's been a hell of a first year.  Everyone says the first year is the hardest and we decided to challenge that notion by taking it to "eleven" and throwing two home remodel projects into the mix.  In hindsight, this was idiotic and we should have maybe waited until the second year...put less energy into our house and more energy into each other type of thing.  We're figuring this messy business out as we go along, and hopefully in the process of doing that, will learn each other in different ways and laugh a lot at our mistakes. 

One thing that has carried us through this year is the memory of our wedding and the week when friends and family descended on Long Island to be with us as we made this big, scary life decision.  Being with my girlfriends, going to the Hamptons, eating Briermere Pies, and soaking up every ounce of summer the North Fork could heart aches when I think of the happiness it brought to my soul.  I get choked up when I look back at the pictures.

More than anything, it was my hope that our friends from out of town would get to see how incredibly beautiful the East End is, so we drove them around the North Fork and then took them down south for a day in the Hamptons.  We visited the Montauk Lighthouse and went to Bridgehampton Beach at the end of Ocean Road where the waves were rolling in.

The rehearsal dinner was held at the Soundview Restaurant and the sunset was everything we hoped it would be.

Photo by Solomon Davis

Photo by Ashley Thomas

The morning of, we all drank some coffee, steamed dresses, and put makeup on as I tried not to be sick while brushing my teeth.  The house we stayed in was a dream.

All Photos: Kimberly Barnes of Kimberly Barnes Photography

The only time I cried was when Jane brought the flowers.  I used to work at a flower shop and have been dreaming of this bouquet for years.  Jane is a talented designer who used to own the Greenport florist and is a sweet friend who introduced me to Hugh Prestwood and Nancy Lee Baxter as a teenager when I was really into songwriting.  I thought they hung the moon.  The bouquets were even more beautiful than I'd hoped and so much love went into making them.


I bought the shells at The Iron Gate in Franklin years ago and had been saving them for my wedding bouquet.  The dusty miller came from mom and dad's yard, the seedum came from Jane's, and the dahlia's came from a field down the street...all were lovingly cultivated for the bouquets.  A little bit of Tennessee and a little bit of home.

I spent hours putting the place cards together at mom and dad's dining room table using pieces of sea glass that Rob and I had found on the North Fork, along with shells that came from my great Aunt Jeanne's collection.  It was humbling to say prayers of thankfulness over each name, grateful for these special people in our lives, some of whom were sacrificing a lot to be there with us.

These are some of the most gorgeous women and oldest friends I have on this planet and their beauty took my breath away.

The guys were pretty hot too...

Brecknock Hall was this amazing backdrop, steeped in North Fork history.  We could not have found a more perfect place to celebrate.  There are so many special moments of magic that I remember, I could go on for days...

Our cute little parents

And when the wedding was over, there was just us, living our lives from day to unglamorous day with this incredible memory to smile back on.  I will always think of it as one of the happiest days ever, being home, surrounded by the people we love most in the world.

And so we press on...working on our marriage, loving our pets, fixing our house, savoring every joyful moment, and going back to the North Fork as often as life allows.


Friday, August 28, 2015

I'm In, I'm In, I'm In!! Home Sweet Office

In May I found out I'd be working from home, which has turned out to be a great thing and I feel like a more productive human being now.  The challenge was to create a space that wouldn't interfere with our home life and would also be peaceful and inspiring.  We had this crappy little room that ended up being the perfect size and place since it has a separate entrance off the patio.  Rob worked so hard to get this together for me and here's what it looks like now!



Rob built a cabinet and shelving unit to house and hide the water heater.  This also adds extra storage for supplies, etc.





On one side of the room where there used to be some shelves and a dirty old window, I wanted a cozy corner for when I don't feel like being glued to the desk.  This is the perfect chair to curl up with the laptop.



It's so exciting to have this project finished because I was so worried about feeling displaced and not being able to separate work and home life.  Now it won't be an issue anymore and this is a quiet spot to concentrate and get stuff done.  It took a lot of work and as always with this house, there were problems that arose which we weren't expecting, but all in all, we're both really happy with it.  Home sweet office!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The State Of The Office: Progress!

So, I'm officially working from home, following some vacations and much needed time in the wilderness.  Work on the office continues and for now I'm happily set up at my desk in our dining room, but am excited for the day when I don't have to worry about the cats knocking all my papers on the floor or the dog starting to bark just as I've dialed into a call (I swear she has ESP and does this to spite me because she knows I prefer cats).

As with every project we've done in this house, there were special challenges that had to be dealt with.  One of these was the installation of a mini split heating and cooling unit we purchased.  Online, the reviews for the unit were great.  People loved the efficiency and "easy installation" along with the fact that the price of the unit was about $500 less than the ones being sold at Home Depot.  However, these things are TRICKY as hell to install, plus most HVAC places will not install a unit that you didn't purchase from them.  So that was fun.  Rob did his best until finally we were able to find a guy who had worked on a home just down the street from us.  $400 later, our unit is in working order and I will hopefully not die from a gas leak in the copper lines.  Lesson learned.

Mini split installed, plus a new door too...with a window in it!!!

Another big piece of this room (literally) was the new window.  We ordered the window way in advance of when it would have to be installed and instead of three weeks, it took five and a half to come in.  Once it arrived and we stopped pulling our hair out, we got right to work.  Basically, we took two tiny 22 inch windows and combined them to make one nine foot by 24 inch window that looks out on the back yard. 

Rob cut the beams in preparation for a header and then used a sawzall demo blade to cut through old asbestos shingles and aluminum siding (he wore a mask).  

Both of us hefted the window outside after the raw edges of the house had been sealed with a tar tape to prevent any moisture getting in.  The result is this awesome new visage to the green outdoors that adds some natural light to this tiny, dark space.

Then all the old insulation (or lack thereof) was torn out and replaced with fresh new pink stuff.

Drywall is now up and Rob is working on a shelving unit that will house and hide the new, smaller water heater plus provide additional storage space for office supplies.

To be honest, I'm pretty freaking thrilled about where things are right now.  There is a lot of painting to do and we still have to put the tile floor in once that's finished, but there is light at the end of the tunnel!  This room is totally unrecognizable from what it was before and even though this most likely is not a project that will add significant monetary value to our house, it is the perfect space for what I need at this point with my job and I'm so very grateful that we are not having to convert our guest room to an office.  Now fingers crossed that all the furniture will fit!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Prince Edward Island: We Saw Seals And They Were Cuuute

As I write this, it's raining outside.  Through the window I can see the tide rolling in and my freezing cold self is warming up by the giant wood stove in the middle of the cottage.  It's so darn cozy in here, I barely know what to do with myself.  Oh, and the sheets in our bedrooms are made of fleece!!!  They are by a company called Brunswick that only ships to Canada, but I will find these sheets somehow, or die trying.

Today was...interesting.  We are out in the middle of nowhere on gorgeous Point Prim and we decided to head up the Points East Coastal Route to see what else this side of the island has to offer.  We discovered that it is definitely more remote over here.  The largest town, Montague, has a couple of restaurants, but what we've discovered over the course of the past several days here is that when you ask a local for recommendations on where to go in other parts of the island, they have a hard time coming up with an answer.  It seems, from an outsider's perspective, that many people stay in the town where they live and don't venture out too much.  Just the other day we asked a shop owner for a recommendation of a place to get tea or coffee, and she was wracking her brain and had no idea what to tell us except for a Tim Horton's in a town pretty far away.  When we turned out of the road her shop was on, we ran into a TEA ROOM, a bloomin' tea room, not half a mile from her shop.  I mean...what?

So today the only actual suggestion we got was to head to Souris (pronounced sawree) where the singing sands beach is located.  Souris is actually a pretty cute town.  We stopped at the beach there and walked out into the sea while the tide was low.  The tides here are blowing our minds.  When the tide is low you can walk like half a mile out, but when they start coming in, you'd better be near the shore because it happens pretty quickly.

Turns out the singing sands at Basin Head Provincial Park just sound like squishing, squeaking sand when you step on it.  While the sand serenaded us, we found sea glass and got to pet a giant Newfoundland dog who was the softest, cuddliest big guy ever.  We were so excited to see him because we learned the other day that the rum runners always had Newfoundlands on their boats with them, obviously so they could have a good snuggle after a long day of illegal activity.

After that, we took our frozen bodies back down to Souris where we stopped at a bakery and cleaned the place out.  Cinnamon rolls have been a very important source of protein for us.  There is an embarrassing amount of baked goods on our kitchen counter right now.  I can't even take a picture because you would think it was a Y2K situation up in here with us hoarding sweets for when the world ends. 

We decided to eat dinner at the Point Prim Chowder House tonight which has a great reputation all over the island for having the best seafood.  Since I don't eat seafood, I've been encouraging Ashley to eat lots of lobster so all this goodness doesn't go to waste.  I had a pulled pork grilled cheese and it was ridiculously delish.  Only thing is that it's unusually cold for this time of year and the place has no heat.  Oh well, our hands were warmed by the food!

The lupines are in bloom all over the island.  The roads and fields are lined with purples and pinks and it looks like a dream.

When we got back to the cottage tonight, I walked out into the Northumberland Strait just because I could.  I mean, look at this!

The cottage owner helped us light the wood stove and we learned that he used to work on the ferry out of Wood Island for 39 years!  In fact, when he found out I was from Long Island, he said that PEI sold their old ferry to New London, CT because it was too small and that is now the ferry they operate out of Orient Point.  He'd been to that part of the island and said the people were very nice there.  What a small world!!!

He also gave us a local nugget, that just down the way you can take a dirt road down to the beach, walk to the left about 20 minutes until you hit a cove, and that's where the seals hang out.  (!!!!)  So as soon as he left we jumped in the car and headed down the road just as it was starting to drizzle.  We pressed on over the rocky shoreline, that looks like no other shore I've ever been on, keeping an eye on the tide.  As we got closer to the cove, it looked like there might be something and then we started to see movement and little heads popping out of the water.  It was magical.  We actually were able to get relatively close and hear them honking their heads off in the water.  These pics are a little grainy because I had my zoom all the way out and it was raining (look on the right side of the rock), but the experience was like something out of a dream, standing there in the misty rain on a red clay beach, watching these seals frolic in the gray ocean.

We've pretty much covered the east side of the island today and we have several more days here.  We absolutely loved the central coast and can't get Rustico out of our minds, so we're planning to head back there tomorrow and stop at all the little places we passed, but never went to.  We might even do the Green Gables Heritage Place again because we loved it so much.  Having this amount of time here has been really great because we don't feel rushed and it's nice to know we can drive for hours if we need to and still feel refreshed from the scenery.  I never want to leave.