So excited to finally show off the finished house renovation

Back during the last week of January we started a big project to renovate our house. Because living in chaos is not easy, we decided to go big and get it all over with at once.

With the exception of the den, half bath and laundry room on the lower level we got the whole house painted and had all new floors installed. At the same time, they replaced many ceiling fans and lights, switched out all the outlets and switches to match white face plates and had the electric and cable updated. Along the way they did some extra little things like labeling our electrical box (because if you are messing with all the electricity, it’s a good time to get this done).

Today, it is officially finished. To be clear, we weren’t living in a constant state of upheaval, but rather timing things with our regular contractor, the carpet installation and then the weather.

Anyway, here are the befores, the durings and the afters.  It’s amazing how our little split entry seems so much more open and modern with these updates.

Here is the old kitchen.  Take note of the hideous linoleum floor. The whole room used to go with this hunter green and mauve theme. (Remember those old counter tops?)

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I was never a fan of the blue lights and the weird thing on the ceiling at it’s base.  Turns out it hid a hole in the ceiling, presumably from an old fixture.

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Here’s the old living room and hallway covered in carpet that had seen much better days.

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The entry and stairs were my least favorite.  That green tile in the entry wasn’t the worst but it was the only green tile in the entire house.  And since the cats frequently run up and down the stairs chasing each other and to get water and other things downstairs, they were always such a pain to clean.

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We got rid of all the carpets in the bedrooms and had the walls painted, except in the guestroom which stayed green.

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For about two weeks, our house was in a constant state of disarray.  Both our refrigerator and stove spent time in the living room.

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When they started on the kitchen tile, they discovered an old floor underneath.

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While the tile was being finished, they started tearing out the carpet and laying down the new hickory floors.

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I think they turned out great. I also like the new light green paint color in the living room.

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Here’s the hallway.  You can see the new light in the hall as well.

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Here’s the view of the two new floors from the kitchen.

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Check out the new light in the kitchen.

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We got this white wool area rug for the living room.

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And then after a break for a couple weeks, we moved everything from the three bedrooms into the kitchen and living room.

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We had new light gray carpets installed in the three rooms.

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At this point, it was the end of February. Because of the cold weather, our contractor decided to wait on working on updating the entryway and stairs.  The new stair treads had to get multiple polyurethane coats and he didn’t think they’d dry fast enough.  Then they were working on some other jobs.  Finally, near the end of May, they started the stairs.

On the first day, they finished with the last of the hardwood in the entry and took out all the carpet.

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And then today, it was finally finished after a brief pause because there was a missing tread!

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It feels good to be finished.

Getting the new year started with a short recap

Usually I am very excited to talk about all the projects I knit throughout the year but I only finished five projects in 2014. I didn’t knit as much this year (or post about it) but I like that the items I completed were very satisfying.

Eyelet and Cable hat

Hermione’s Cable and Eyelet Hat – this was knit for a friend’s mom who was going through chemotherapy.

lemongrass sweater

Lemongrass –  my first sweater and it fit!  And I wear it and it’s warm and cozy and hasn’t fallen apart!

age of brass and steam

Age of Brass And Steam – during the summer I needed to knit with more color and I love this yarn so much.

simple hat

Hat to Match – I wear this hat all the time and I love that I bought the yarn at Purl Soho when I was in the city with my friend Elena.

dropstitchcowl

Drop Stitch Cowl – I knit this for a special milestone birthday for a good friend.  This pattern had been in my queue forever and I was glad to finally have a reason to knit it up.

I hope I can finish more projects in 2015. I’m working on this vest right now and I’m itching do more color work and thinking of also casting on these mittens.  I want to continue to learn new things and just enjoy knitting.

Finished Project: The Age of Brass and Steam

Over the summer I decided it would be nice to have a smaller project after finishing my sweater.  I had some Wolle’s Yarn Creations color changing yarn in my stash that I was really wanting to knit up and The Age of Brass and Steam seamed to be the perfect pattern to show off the beautiful color transitions.

Age of Brass and SteAMI added one extra repeat of the pattern and then knit the garter stitch edge until I finished up the skein to be sure to make the most of all the wonderful color.

Wolle's Yarn Creations shawlIt’s much bigger than the original pattern but I love how the cotton fabric drapes.  I’m very pleased with this project.

Afternoon at Good Intent’s New Cidery and Tasting Room

Last year I posted about a great meal that we had that was made better with Good Intent Cider.

Good Intent Cider got even better because this weekend they opened their tasting room at 167 South Potter Street in Bellefonte, Pa.

Good Intent Cider tasting roomMike and I went after running a few errands and we were very excited to enjoy all the cider we know we already love in their tasting room. Their space is so quaint with lots of exposed brick and wood.

good intent 3We each enjoyed two glasses of cider.  We each had a Good Charmat and then Mike tried their perry which is called Calebasse Bosc and I had the original Adam’s Apple.

good intent 5good intent 4There were a lot of people coming in and out and everyone was so friendly.  It ended up being a great time talking with new people and enjoying cider on a perfect fall afternoon.

And of course I got a sweatshirt before I left because I love a good hoodie and I’m sure it won’t hurt if there’s another person out there wearing their gear.

good intent 2I really hope that Jenn and Adam’s success continues.  I know we’ll be back.

Finished Project: Lemongrass

Finished Lemongrass sweaterCheck it out.  An actual finished project!  I finished knitting my Lemongrass sweater  back in May.  It just needed to be blocked and I had to sew on the buttons.  But where’s the incentive to do that when you finish a sweater when summer is coming? So it was finished this week.

Lemongrass sweaterI used Austermann Murano which is a bulky self-striping yarn.  It’s now discontinued so I got it at a discount. I purposefully made my yarn selection because as my first real sweater, I wasn’t confident I’d even get through it or that I’d even want to wear it.

side of my LemongrassBut I did and I do because the pattern is so well written and easy to follow.  I love the cable pattern down the front and the way the sides come together with buttons. The only changes I made were to the stitch used to increase for the arms and putting two buttons on each side.

So I’m pretty pleased with my big warm bulky sweater and even though I’m sad to see summer go, at least I can look forward to getting to wear this new sweater that I knit myself.

Lemongrass sweater

11th Annual Gourmet Granary Candlelight Dinner

Last night was the 11th Annual Gourmet Granary Candlelight Dinner in Lemont, Pennsylvania. The event was catered by EcoVents and benefited the Lemont Village Association.Granary Gourmet Dinner - LemontIt was a cool evening, perfect to enjoy a Spanish themed multi-course meal in the John I. Thompson Grain Elevator and Coal Sheds.

Outside the Granary, Lemont, PAThe evening started with plenty of appetizers and wine from Mt. Nittany Winery and beer from Otto’s Pub and Brewery.

AppetizersTo start there were cracked marinated Spanish olives, salted almonds, a selection of cheeses, figs with goat cheese and serrano ham, and a variety of empanadas: mushroom and cheese, chicken and poblano cream cheese and beef and potato.   I tried two of the empanadas and the fig with goat cheese and ham.  My favorite was definitely the figs.

empanadas and figWe joined three other couples at our table for the rest of the meal.

table one in the granaryThe next course was a salad with arugula, grapes, and almonds with a saba vinaigrette and bread made my Ron and Sue Smith.

salad with arugula, grapes and almondsThe next course was a pumpkin and bean soup.

pumpkin and bean soupThe main course included papas bravas

papas bravasvegetarian paella

vegetarian paellaBasque-style chicken with prosciutto and olives

Basque-style chicken with prosciutto and olives and chick peas and chorizo (which was my favorite part of the main course).

chick peas and chorizoDessert followed with coffee from Cafe Lemont and a cherry almond tart.

cherry almond tartOnce again, it was a lovely event with a great crowd.

Sip and Paint

Today I hosted my friends for a Sip and Paint party on my deck. I had such a great time. Thank you to our teacher Amanda who guided us through the process as we recreated Kandinsky’s Houses in Munich.

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This is my finished version.

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They all turned out so good.

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It was a wonderful way to spend a summer day.

Chickpea and Vegetable Tagine

It’s been a while since we’ve tried a new recipe and one that I absolutely loved.  But tonight we made a great one.

Chickpea and Vegetable Tagine from the most issue of Cooking Light was really easy to put together.

Chickpea and Vegetable TagineThe recipe suggested serving over quinoa but we had couscous on hand and used that. It was so flavorful because of the cinnamon, cardamon, cumin and turmeric and the cooked tomatoes. We grilled chicken for the week and had that as well but this easily could have been it’s own meal.

Visiting Purl Soho

A couple weekends ago I visited my friend Elena who lives in New Jersey.  We decided to go into the city for a night.  While we were there our plan was to explore, take pictures, and eat delicious food.

During our explorations, we visited Purl Soho.

Purl Soho Store FrontI’ve only knit one of their patterns before but I admire their patterns regulary and read their blog.  I love their color choices and the style of their finished pieces.

Purl SohoTheir shop is filled with color.  And since I am a knitting nerd, seeing their samples in person was almost like spotting a celebrity.

I was able to control myself and only buy one skein of yarn.  I got their Line Weight in Desert Blue so that I can knit their Hat to Match for myself.

Purl Soho Line Weight

Finished Project: Cable and Eyelet Hat

It’s my first finished project of 2014!  It’s a Cable and Eyelet Hat.

Cable and Eyelet HatI changed the pattern a bit, omitting some of the straight knitting and purling rows between the cable and eyelet detail in favor of repeating the cable and eyelet rows an extra time.  I like the way it turned out and think would have been even longer if I did it the way the pattern was written.  I think my brim is shorter too.

This is the top.  I changed the decreases ever so slightly so as to not be knitting the two stitches together at the end and beginning of the next row.  I still think it looks pretty.

top of Eyelet and Cable hatIt feels so good to finally finish a project.  I started the first sleeve of my sweater last night and I am very pleased with how it’s looking.