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2013-02-18 15.46.00 I have added bison meat to our list of ‘go to’ dinners. There are so many reasons why I love making bison for my family.

Why bison, you ask?  Nutritionally, its healthier for you.  We like it because its the same texture and pretty much the same flavor as beef.  Here are some nutritional facts.

As a nurse, my mother instilled in us the benefit of healthy eating habits.  Growing up, she would harvest numerous brilliantly colored foods from my father’s elaborate vegetable gardens.  I remember playing in the soil while my father taught us to appreciate God’s abundance  in nature.  As an avid hunter, he would bring home his bounty from land and water to feed his family and friends.

With a culmination of both of these beautiful attributes under my belt, I love to share healthy eating habits with respect to God’s abundance.

Here I have included a yummy recipe using my neighbor’s bison meat.  I made this for my Moms group and it was so good I had to share. Enjoy!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound onions, peeled and quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground bison
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup dry breadcrumbs, such as Panko
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sage
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons flour
Method:

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse onions and garlic until finely chopped. Set aside 1/2 cup of this mixture. Preheat a tablespoon of the oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Transfer remaining chopped onions and garlic from the food processor to the hot pan and cook, stirring often until caramelized, about 15 minutes. When onions in pan are caramelized, transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, make meatballs. Combine reserved onions and garlic with bison, pepper, salt, soy sauce, ketchup, oregano, cayenne, breadcrumbs and egg. With a spatula, toss lightly to combine. Overworking mixture will create a heavy paste, so use a light hand. Roll into balls and transfer to a plate.

Return pan to medium heat and add remaining olive oil. Add meatballs and brown them on all sides, 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk beef broth, flour and sage into bowl with caramelized onions. When meatballs are browned, stack to one side of the pan. Pour in broth mixture and stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Redistribute meatballs evenly in pan and simmer over medium heat, turning meatballs occasionally with a spoon. Cook until gravy is thickened and meatballs are cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. To serve, arrange meatballs on a plate and spoon gravy over them.

Nutritional Info:
PER SERVING:310 calories (100 from fat), 11g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 125mg cholesterol, 770mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber, 7g sugar), 30g protein

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This year, our December has has been filled with so many beautiful moments.  I started the month collaborating with my mom to create a festive tablescape for the Willowdale Tea at our church.  I love hearing all of my mom’s stories as we sorted through her china.  I decided to use the tea cups and saucers, and the dessert plates she was given on her wedding day.

2012-11-02 19.51.46

My mother in law retrieved her wedding china from her basement and I used her dinner plates.  All of the pieces worked beautifully together. With each place setting, I brought my two moms together to celebrate this wonderful time of year.

Every evening, G plays his guitar for the boys and I occasionally join in by belting out our favorite tunes. The sheets of music under each place setting remind me of our evenings at home.

I love a great deal, and adding flea market finds is a great way to add beautiful things without breaking the bank.  The Crate and Barrel water glasses were found at a local resale store for $1 a piece and the chargers were found on craigslist at a steal.

The scene would not be complete without lots of bling, soft light, fresh seasonal flowers and the smell of fresh evergreens cut from our towering pine tree.

~~~~~

Tree farm #1

Tree farm #1

A few days later, G and I took the kids on a trip to cut our own Christmas tree at our local tree farmer(s).

Tree farm #2

Tree farm #2

Our tree with his buddies

Our tree with his buddies

We looked around at all the Douglas  firs, but I liked the look of the precut Frazer firs.  They were tall and narrow with blue-ish needles, and I thought it would look great in my blue/gray living room.

We bought this one, and then strapped our temporary house guest onto our SUV for the short ride home.

DSC_0344

As we decorated the tree with brand new, turquoise and green shatterproof decorations, we listened to Christmas music and reminisced about the previous Christmas trees. One of the more frightening holiday experiences for us newbie parents the year before was witnessing our precious boys grabbing glass balls from the tree and throw them around the house for our dog to chase after.  We quickly discarded the glass ornaments (most were damaged anyway!) to make way for the safe decor.

After the cleanout, we had few decorations left, so I stopped by Big Lots and found some great deals on all the fresh new colors.I was so excited to decorate the tree this year.  The fresh colors brighten my day!

I made a quick bow for the top of the tree as the boys hung the rest of the decorations.

As we tucked in our little boys that night, we took a moment to thank The Lord for all of our blessings during this busy season.  We are so thankful that we have each other and we are surrounded by so many loved ones.

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I found my outlet timer and put it to use for the tree. It is so worth its weight in gold.  I set it so the twinkling white lights greet me as I sleepily walk down the steps each morning, and the tree lights up again as I prepare our evening meal.  We get so much enjoyment from the soft glow of the tree as we gather together in the living room each night.  I smile each time the timer so effortlessly carries out its responsibilities of creating a festive mood for our enjoyment.

Mini tree

Mini tree

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This week the boys and I sent out our Christmas cards and added a few DIY decorations to our landscape.

This is a tree I created out of pine branches my boys picked up in the yard. The silver “berries” added a little sparkle.

Christmas cactus

Christmas cactus

Snowflakes

Snowflakes

And BAKING!!! I love inviting my friends over to bake cookies.  My friends; Erin, Jen and Manu and I taught the boys how to create snowflake sugar cookies.  We took some to my preschoolers Christmas party and packaged the rest for our friends and favorite neighbors.

Tiffany blue snowflakes

Tiffany blue snowflakes

And what better way to thank our equine-loving friends than with horsie sweets?

DSC_0413

Merry Christmas!!

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The upstairs bathroom served as the main bath for the house when we first moved into our home.  The inefficient layout housed a 1950’s cast iron tub and a toilet that was caving in the floor below.  On one side of the tub stood a half wall for the tub’s plumbing and hand held shower. Within a few weeks after settlement, my younger brother took pity on us and built up the wall around the tub and added plumbing for a stand up shower.

My husband turned an oddly placed outlet on the wall into a wall sconce.

Fast forward to our first floor renovations–as the  kitchen was fully demo’d, we discussed the 2nd floor bath layout with our contractor. On paper, we made changes to the bath entry and the locations of the vanity, toilet and shower.  The plumber ran new drainage pipes and water lines to accommodate the updated bath layout while the ceiling below was open.  

(Notice the toilet in the doorway)

More before and demolition pictures:

Tile falling from tub surround

Wall of new entrance- previous toilet location

New “master” entrance looking into old bath entrance

The bedroom view from entrance partially obscured on right by closet wall.

Toilet in the doorway. Fun!

Bedroom with old, narrow closet. Future site of new bath entrance.

Old closet removed, new entrance to bath added. Narrow bedroom entrance.

G and I had to remove a narrow closet in the bedroom to accommodate the new bath entrance (see above).  When we created a new hall bath a few years before, we built a new hallway wall.  This left a few feet between the new hallway wall and the now master bedroom wall.  G and I decided to add a closet on each side of the wall.  This would give us his and her closets and still have enough room for a chest of drawers in between to house the beloved television (see pics  below of closet demo).

Widened entrance. Removal of plaster wall for closets and electric

Doorway added for new closet.

New plywood sub flooring in bath.

The walls go up

I searched craigslist and found a guy who stored small lots of tile in the back of an old warehouse.  He said he had enough 12 x 12 white marble tiles to do our bathroom. His warehouse was located on the border of PA and N. Jersey on the ‘other side of the tracks’.  We decided to check out his inventory on the way home from spending the holiday with Gs family.  On New Years Eve, my husband and I took the exit off the main route and made our way through a forgotten town on the west side of the river .  After making a few turns through worn neighborhoods on potholed roads, we pulled into an industrial area and parked in front of an old brick warehouse.

I remember thinking it was a good idea to call mom to tell her we were taking a look at some marble and we would call her when we were finished.  How do you tell your mom “if you don’t hear from us in 30 minutes, call the police” without worrying her?

I jumped out and knocked on the door of the unmarked warehouse.  About a minute later, the man I spoke to on the phone unlocked the door for me. With my cell phone on speed dial in my hand, I followed him to the back of the bone-chilling, dark building.  He made small talk as he began turning on the overhead lights, and as the far lights lit up the back of the warehouse, I saw massive amounts of eye candy.   There before me stood two dozen crates of various sized tiles all in perfect condition.  I found white with various veining, grays, tans, and even found some amazing “couture” wall tiles.  Tiles that sold for over $50 a square foot were stacked here for as little as $5. I asked if I could get my husband, and the nice man agreed.  I ran to the door full speed as if I had just won the lottery.  Months of research looking for something beautiful for around $3 a square foot finally paid off! I couldn’t wait to show G.

Back inside we found beautiful white 12 x12 polished marble in a lot marked 150 feet.  We asked the price and he gave it to us for $1 a square foot!!! I could not believe it. Prior to this, all of my shopping found similar marble at $10 a square foot. We told him we would take this lot, and he disappeared.  He came back on a forklift and picked up our crate and carried it to the garage area.  G backed our SUV packed with two toddlers, our dog, all of our gear and holiday presents toward the door.  We knew it would be tight, but how could we resist a great deal?  As we loaded up the car, it was clear the dog would have to sit straight up for the two hour ride home. Tiles were under all of our feet and stacked up tight behind our pooch.  We said our goodbyes and made our way home with our loot.

Here is some inspiration:

Sarah R.’s sparkly master piece.

Love all the white with chrome. Inexpensive subway tile on wall.

Furniture like vanity paired with classic marble. Perfect for a farm house renovation!

Another view of a Sarah R. bath. All the marble, white cabinetry and frameless shower.

Soothing colors

Love the blue and gray together.

G installed the recessed lights and began adding more outlets to the bedroom and bathroom.

G added the marble over a new sub floor. Here is our $1 a sq ft marble tiles:

Love, love, LOVE! Luxury on a budget!

Our new budget master bath:

My ‘sunny’ mirror

Weekend project of adding subway tile to the ceiling in shower stall and floor to ceiling behind the vanity ($1.76 sq ft.).  The vanity came with the marble top and the chrome fixtures were found at closeout prices.

off to the right is the previous entrance to bath.

I dreamed of the morning sunlight coming in from a window on the wall where the shower is located, but could not fit an east facing window into the budget . On the bright side, I found this sunburst mirror in one of my favorite online stores.  I bought it when it went on sale, and it makes me smile every day.  Now, I don’t even miss the morning sun!

In the bedroom, the flooring was also in bad shape.  We priced out hardwood and carpet for comparison.  The nature girl in me searched for 100% wool carpeting on the cheap (the synthetic stuff can be toxic).  After I received various rug samples from a company, we asked a local contractor to install the carpet we found online.  He was able to get an even better ‘contractor’s price’ and forwarded the savings on to us.  The carpet and installation ended up being the same price as the closeout hardwood, only it would save us a ton of time because someone else is doing the work.

We had to replace the ceiling in the bedroom and decided to use wainscoting (lighter than drywall) and it gave the room a cottage feel.  G finished the room with crown molding.

I found coordinating fabric in a NYC shop to reupholster our headboard and sew drapery to conceal an off centered window behind the bed.

Our new bath entrance.

Our new bath entrance.

Our new ‘his and her’ closets

It is still a work in progress, but most of the work is behind us.  I hope this inspires you to update a room in your home and score a great deal of your own.  If we can do it, you definitely can!

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Our first floor renovation left us with a clean slate to create our new kitchen.  We took measurements of all of our existing appliances, windows and room dimensions, and I drew a rough sketch of our future kitchen layout.

Rough sketch of floorplan

Next I sketched out different ideas for the perimeter layout.  I needed to incorporate a built in pantry and work around the large windows.

Refrigerator next to sink.

Refrigerator on north wall.

We had the best chance of utilizing every inch of our kitchen with custom cabinetry.  Our friend, Tim, owner of Flegel Woodcraft is a fantastic cabinet maker who created our double vanity in our bathroom the year before this project. Tim agreed to take on our kitchen renovation as a favor, and thank goodness!   We met to discuss cabinet door styles, wood choices, paint color and layout.  I sketched out my ideas prior to our meetings so Tim could understand our needs and give us an accurate price.   To help us stay on budget, Tim allowed us to help install the cabinets,  and we installed the trim and hardware ourselves.

With the cabinet measurements and placement nailed down, it was time to add the lighting.  This side of the house backs up to a hill and is surrounded by mature trees, and we needed plenty of light to brighten up the room.  G added 17 recessed lights, 4 pendant lights and chose under cabinet lighting for additional task lights.

Ok, time now for some inspiration:

Love all the marble and white cabinets. Love bling pendants, and  all the upper cabinets. Dark wood island and big chrome hardware, too!

Candice O. does it best. Combining modern and classic elements for an elegant yet comfortable kitchen. And all the lighting makes a big impact.

Dark floors, marble island, stainless steel and white cabinetry. Elegant lighting

Classic kitchen with farmhouse appeal.  Homeowner worked within a tight budget and she inspired me to bring a few beautiful elements to add personality. Soapstone perimeter with creamy white cabinetry and a yummy marble island. Chrome hardware throughout.

This above kitchen truly inspired me. The homeowner was successful in creating a one of a kind kitchen on a tight budget.  Her choices on finishes prevents it from looking like a kitchen you would find in a big box store catalog.

I liked the idea of the island counter being different than the perimeter counters, and I knew that I would have to spend less per foot for the perimeter so that I could go for a sweet island counter top.  We chose to use soapstone counters for the perimeter and we will always recommend Scott at Bucks County Soapstone.

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Tucked on a quiet country road in Bucks county, Bucks County Soapstone is a must see for anyone who is thinking of renovating their home.  Don’t let the unassuming building fool you- as you walk through the showroom door, your eyes are drawn to hundreds of beautiful soapstone masterpieces. Raw stone counters with drain boards create  beautiful and efficient work surfaces. Polished stone work spaces showcase the natural veining details of the exquisite material.  Beautiful stone tiled wall murals  made me giddy with excitement and prompted me to ask my hubby how we could incorporate a masterpiece into our future bath.  My budget office (aka. husband) quietly shook his head and smiled, knowing our monetary limitations. Vessel sinks, wide basin sinks, polished floor and wall tiles, and hundreds of inspiring specialty items  filled their showroom and lined their hallways.  As he guided us through his showroom sharing his creative process, it was clear Scott Seuren and his coworkers are gifted artists who are passionate about their work.

After we shared our kitchen floor plan and our ideas with Scott, we walked outside to the stone yard to pick our slab.  Each piece is unique, with shades varying from greenish gray to blue gray to a deep, dark charcoal. Each slab has a unique veining, and after narrowing it down to a few choices, Scott explained how our floor plan layout would include certain veins.  Scott offered his expertise on how to cut the slab to offer the most dramatic veining and showcase it in a way to be fully appreciated.  His attention to detail is infectious. After our name was written on our stone, he offered us a personal tour of the factory.  I was amazed at the state of the art facility and detailed work he was currently working on for loyal customers all over the country.

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Next project on the list was selecting an island counter top.  My husband runs the budget office and gave me a tiny amount for the “showstopper” island counter I was looking for.  After visiting a handful of stone yards, my very pregnant body forced me to make my decision after I found a few slabs of white marble with more veining than I had in mind.

I haggled relentlessly with the marble owner over a slab of Manhattan Calcutta. After we decided on a price, we got to work making sure the cuts were perfect to show off the movement through the stone.

Just days away from moving in, we took a look at our second floor and realized it needed a major cleanup before we could return. A layer of plaster dust settled on top of every. Single. Thing.  I did not realize how plaster dust gets into EVERYTHING.  It was awful.  I cleaned closed boxes to open them to find dust coated every thing inside the box.   It was deep into the fibers of clothing, sheets, blankets, pillows, and I was just days away from bring home a newborn.  I remember crying as I cleaned because I truly believed I would never be able to get anything clean again.  Ahhhh, hormones!! But it was just awful!

Three days of constant cleaning allowed us to move our toddler back into his bedroom, and our bedroom and bathroom were clean enough to feel comfortable.

Our favorite part of this whole renovation:

Baby boy is here!!

Our perfect little boy is finally here and we are so excited to meet him.  We carved out a corner of our bedroom for him and all of his belongings, and took time to settle into our new roles as parents to two little perfect men.

As I returned from the hospital, the next phase of discomfort began: using our only working bathroom as our temporary kitchen.

I was quickly fading into baby blues without the convenience of  plumbing on our main floor. Fortunately, the first set of cabinets were being installed and the progress calmed my nerves.

First set of cabinets being installed.

I am sure I was not easy to work with during the days of cabinetry and plumbing  installation.  I was not sleeping through the night, and during the day I was busy chasing around my toddler and trying to keep him out of the construction zone.

Over the next two weeks most of the cabinetry was put in place and ready for counter top measurements. No pictures were taken during this time because I was not feeling it (I wanted to run away from it!).  Here are some pictures after the counters were installed.

It took a few weeks to collect all of the drawer and cabinet pulls.  I searched for modern pulls and found them at RH.  I had to buy 38 pieces, and couldn’t afford to pay retail. I stalked their outlet stores until I found all of the pulls at close out prices.

Island with counter

One of the big splurges is my pendant lighting.  I had a certain look in mind and I had to coerce the ‘budget office’ to spend the extra few bucks as my birthday present.  Because these pendants are technically a present for me, I am taking them with us if we ever sell our house!! 😉

Here is the finished product.  Let me know your thoughts!

Our new kitchen.  I saw these stools in an inspiration kitchen and they reminded me of seating you would find in a Midtown apartment.  Since my husband worked on Wall Street for years, I felt these chairs added his personality to the room.

Close up of back splash. I found this marble mosaic and fell in love. It was a little expensive, but we didn’t need much, so we were able to afford the splurge. I asked G to put the outlets on the cabinetry so it did not disturb the look of the back splash. I treat it like art.

My wonderful and perfect hubby built a little seating area on a weekend I took the kids to see their grandma. Easy weekend project that adds additional personality and plenty of seating.

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After five years and baby number two on the way we were quickly outgrowing our tiny kitchen.  Narrow, warped cabinets, leaky faucets, crumbling flooring and sagging ceiling would send even the most content mom running for the hills.

Below are some before pics:

stove with only two working burners. 

The microwave fit only sideways under the outlet next to the stove.  Our previous microwave’s door melted from the cook top heat.

Back door opening into stove.

Kitchen sink with deep window behind counter.

Narrow cabinetry opposite of kitchen sink. Full bath in kitchen

dining room into kitchen

Before dining room

Notice the new refrigerator in our dining room.  We saved money by buying it at a scratch and dent outlet, but it would not fit into the previous refrigerator’s spot.

Thick stone wall between kitchen and family room (22″ thick)

With an old house, you cannot expect to update a kitchen without finding ten other things that NEED to be updated.  After living with our new refrigerator in the dining room for two years, we saved up enough to start looking behind those thick walls.  We wanted the kitchen of our dreams but knew we had to be prepared to fix any surprises along the way.

Entrance to dining room from living room. Gregg put up drywall around the jagged edges to protect our toddler.

We decided to remove both inside kitchen walls, relocate the bathroom and open up the entry.

We finalized our contractor’s agreement as we packed up our house.  I told a few of my friends I was looking for a place to stay for six weeks.  Our friend, Bill, and his new wife graciously let us stay at her house. They had just recently married and a few weeks before had moved her and her children into his home. We were blessed to stay at her beautiful 100+ year old farm right around the corner from our house.  God is great- His timing is perfect (as always!).

Our temporary home

Boomer exploring the pond as C wishes he could climb in, too.

Meeting the neighbors

Right before renovations began, we were told we had to rewire the entire house to replace all the knob and tube electric.  Our insurance agent told us knob and tube wiring had a 49% chance of fire.

While 7 months prego, a 13 month old in tow, and trying to keep all the contractor’s on track,  I was ready to throw in the towel and book a trip to Hawaii!  Instead, I vicariously lived  through these inspirational rooms.

One of my inspirations for incorporating barn beams and rustic stone for the interior.

brandywine prime room

My husband and I went to dinner one evening to a restaurant that recently remodeled their historic building. Beautiful mix of rustic with modern elements to create a chic dining experience. The exposed stone walls provided the perfect motivation we needed to finish our walls.

brandywine prime room1

So much eye candy. Thick slab of white marble on island, chrome accents, creamy white cabinetry and dark wood elements. I can envision my next cocktail party right here!

All that marble makes me smile. Interesting lighting and a dark wood island with white perimeter cabinets.

Something’s Gotta Give kitchen. This is where I first saw soapstone with white cabinets and fell in love. Simple backsplash. Inset cabinets with nice details

Back to reality:

We widened the entrance to the new kitchen (from living room) for a more open layout. Our contractor found a old barn beam in our barn that he re-purposed for the threshold.

new widened entrance

G worked nights and weekends running new wiring for the electric and patching plaster.  On Friday evenings, we would meet with the contractor to discuss items needing to be completed by us over the weekend to make the contractor’s workload easier for the upcoming week.

As my belly grew, the rest of the stone walls came down and cleanup began.

Load bearing wall removed between galley kitchen and old dining room.

I would have loved to expose as much stone as possible, but we desperately needed outlets, and studding new walls was the easiest way to add more outlets.

stone wall studded for electric and drywall

We were disappointed the original main floor boards were laid right over the basements beams.  We had no sub flooring and no vapor barrier to protect the house from the damp basement.  We hired a flooring guy who sured up the flooring and used it as a sub floor. He laid a vapor barrier, and installed 5″ wide white oak flooring then added a dark stain.

Newly stained flooring

Tired hubby in the open entry

New half bath and entrance to basement.

The open room for our new kitchen!

Once the flooring was finished, the house felt fresh and young again.  It is a new beginning for everyone!

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As a little girl I dreamed of owning a horse farm.  I imagined a stable full of colorful horses right outside my front door. As I got older my daydreams became more realistic with less horses (no rainbow ponies!) and less land but still plenty of room to roam. I found a loving man who also wanted to live in the wide open country and together we worked toward the goal of owning a piece of the Pennsylvania countryside. We looked for over a year and found that in order to live in a home with a few acres we had to be willing to put in a little ‘elbow grease’.

We perused the ads in an equine newspaper and found a charming ‘farmette’ needing a little TLC and decided to take a closer look. As my fiance and I drove further west, the suburbs receded from our rear view mirror and the countryside welcomed us with rolling green hills and pristine fields.  The realtor explained the house was nestled inside a fox hunting community surrounded by conserved land protected from development.

My fiance and I were young, in love, and excited to take on the challenge of turning this relic into our family home. As we moved into our new place, we felt as if we were ‘settlers’ in a new land. We were unfamiliar with our country neighborhood, but quickly began to explore the area and meet new people. We were warmly greeted by neighbors and graciously invited into their homes.

Path to the covered bridges

Our new neighbors introduced us to surrounding landowners whom gave us permission to ride our horses on neatly kept paths carved into their property’s perimeters.  Every weekend, I ‘saddled up’ and head onto winding narrow paths through the quiet woods and wide open fields, over babbling creeks and under covered bridges to meet up with my new riding buddies.  Our new friends became tour guides as they introduced me to bucolic bridle paths leading to the “neighborhood’s” preserved land.

                                                                                                                           Rich History

While I am transfixed on the surrounding land, I am also intrigued by the life my home has lived.  Originally built in the late 1700’s, our house started its life as a small, single story family home along a winding creek that trickles into Buck Run Creek.  The building was later expanded and became Sunnyside Seminary in the mid 1800’s.  A two story addition was completed on the north side of the structure late in the 19th century.

As we pieced together the rest of its story, an accountant from Texas stopped by one morning to visit the home he shared with four generations.  He reminisced playing in the fields as a 6 year old while his grandfather added a side porch off the living room. As he walked through the first floor, he pointed out his grandparents’ bedroom and the room his great-grandmother slept.  His memories served as our answers for why the house was cut up into many small rooms with multiple entrances.

The original floor plan of the main floor.

Upstairs, he pointed to our guest room’s walk-in closet.”This was our kitchen, and your guest room was our living room.”

The upstairs “kitchen” still had the drains and water which we now used for our washer and dryer, and the 50’s metal kitchen cabinets still hung in the back of the closet were now sturdy shelving for seasonal items.

As we have made this neighborhood our home, many lifelong neighbors have shared stories about this quaint little stone building.  Centuries of people have taken shelter under the same roof we now call home and I am happy to contribute to extending its life.   My hope is this will continue to be a place where families gather and create lasting warm memories for generations to come.

Our neighborhood

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The year before, we had an architect draw us plans for turning our 5 bedroom/ 1 bath into a 4 bedroom/2 bath with laundry area on the second floor.  As we were gutting the upstairs bedroom for the nursery, we tackled the hallway, laundry area and new bathroom as well.

hallway window wall down to studs

Gregg creating wall between laundry area and nursery.

The wall between both rooms came down and we asked our friendly neighbor, Jerry, to install our plumbing.  Jerry gently told Gregg and I that we had to remove the ceiling below to add the plumbing.  It began to sink in that this job is bigger than originally planned. We pulled up our sleeves and began pulling down the ceiling as one hundred plus years of plaster, dust, walnut shells and squirrels’ nests fell onto our living room floor.

What the heck is up there?

“Superman” Jerry plumbing the new bath.

The stress of being 5 months prego while having both floors torn apart forced me to seek solace in idea websites 😉  Some of my inspiration baths are added below.

#1 Bath inspiration. Wall of rustic stone, dark cabinetry, warm neutrals, wall mounted fixtures for vanity.

Love the counter top storage and wood with neutral limestone.

Showstopper counter top with vessel sink

simple and neutral

I wanted an Italian/Mediterranean spa feeling- on a budget. As our roughed in dimensions were put together, I tracked down Gregg’s friends at Bell Stone in Chester for natural stone ideas on the cheap.   After a thorough search of their warehouse, we stumbled upon a small lot of beautiful Jerusalem Gold tumbled marble tiles.  Because it was the last of a larger lot, we got them for less than if they were a new shipment (stone colors vary with each shipment).

I found rustic marble sheets in their showroom and purchased just enough to incorporate a natural edge stone for the backsplash.

Gregg’s first tile job. Radiant heating under tiles.

With the marble shopping done, I had enough room to spend a little extra for custom cabinetry.  Our friend and neighbor, Tim at Flegel Woodcraft, is passionate about woodworking and brings his appreciation for fine craftsmanship to every aspect of his furniture.  We are both self-proclaimed ‘design geeks’ and I had so much fun working with him.  We settled on a classic mahogany style that offered a double vanity and plenty of storage.  After he sent me dimensions, I started my search in local stone yards to top the vanity.

We removed the radiator and decided on radiant floor heating. You can order it online -just plug in the dimensions and the company will send it to you with installation instructions.

Dad replacing cedar siding after installing the counter height window.

We had to remove the large window and replace it with a more efficient window to fit over the new vanity.

I found the vessel sinks and wall mounted fixtures on a discounted online store. The hardware was found at RH outlet store at closeout.  It took a few trips to get all the hardware for the vanity because they only stock return items, but they have excellent prices.

Uncle Mike trimming out our new window

Tiling the tub surround

We placed rustic tile into the inset shelf

It was so cold outside, the wet saw would freeze between cuts, so Greg and Gregg cut tiles in our other bathroom.

Here is our new hall bath:

Our budget bath addition includes a tub/shower combo.  This room later served as our kitchen and only bath!  I will tell you more about that later! ~D

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