Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Vote for America

I'm not one to discuss politics. In fact, I've never really been that interested in the topic, regardless of my father's strong views.  Sure, I have my feelings on the economy and social issues, but I don't feel the need to broadcast them. It's kind of like religion to me...keep it to yourself. We all have our opinions, strong or weak, and why does the whole world need to know?!

As with many people across the country, I've been struggling with this election. Frankly, I am so disgusted with our candidates and this election process that I do not think either candidate is worthy of the White House. I will never understand why we only get 2 options and both are pitiful. But that is not for me to decide...apparently this is the best America can come up with, so we must cast our vote regardless.

But here's the thing, I haven't been sure I wanted to cast a vote at all. I know, I know, "so unAmerican of me", "how about your civil responsibilities?", "every vote counts" and the list goes on. I keep going back and forth. Over the last few months I've joined the "vote for the lesser evil" idea which is literally the worst reason in my opinion to vote for someone. Then I jump on the bandwagon of supporting the candidate who I agree with on the economic front, because I personally don't see how social issues are included in politics in the first place. And then I go back to not voting at all because I just cannot consciously vote for either person as the next leader of our country.

This morning I woke at 5:30am and rolled over to grab my phone. I briefly scrolled through social media and came to this article by YellowHammer.  I read the article twice (and I recommend you do the same). There was no backstabbing, no name calling and no leaning to one side or the other.  Just the plain hard truth that whether I vote today or not, Hillary or Trump will be become our next President.  It brought to light for me the reason to cast my vote today. Not for Hillary and not for Trump, but for the people that stand behind them and the ones they'll vote in to make our big decisions as a country.

"The only way you can possibly vote this time and have it matter is to vote for the America in which you wish to live." 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Back to Cooking

I wasn't always the best cook. In fact, in the beginning, I quite frankly sucked. 

It became a running joke actually in the early years of us dating, that if the fire alarm wasn't going off, Maria wasn't in the kitchen. My yearly attempts at lemon meringue pies would send us into hysterics, I ruined just about every pot and pan we owned (thankfully most of them were hand-me-downs), and there was a steep learning curve when it came to cooking all things Gluten Free - cue the chalk board taste. 

Luckily, when we moved to 82 Middle, something changed. I got better. In fact, I got so much better that I became the sole cook in the house. It was something about having a kitchen of my own

This summer our culinary adventures took a turn. We learned to master the grill and either eat simply or eat takeout. In fact I have eaten just about the same thing for every breakfast and lunch in the last 4 months. Breakfast burritos and smoothie bowls for the win. 

Thankfully, October has opened up a whole new world for me - we moved back into our kitchen!! Our gorgeous soapstone countertops were delivered and installed, Andrew finished building and installing all the drawers and shelves for each cabinet, our sink and faucet became operational (goodbye bathtub dishwasher - thank you Lord!), and ALL our kitchen belongings and food from the basement and attic were given a brand new home. And I started cooking again

In fact, we had friends over for dinner on Friday night and the kitchen was humming. Full of fresh, fall smells, bubbling sauces, and free flowing wine. 

This new space that we've created, its a DREAM. Probably the best renovation of our house to date. Open, bright and cheerful, full of storage, inclusive of the living room, and the perfect space for entertaining our friends and family. It has most dramatically changed the flow and energy of our little fixer upper.


It's not finished yet (full reveal next month!), but come Thanksgiving, this kitchen renovation will be one for the books! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Adventures in Maine

We packed up our duffles last week, put the kitchen renovations on hold, and headed to the land of lobsters, wooden boats, and moose.  Andrew and I got the chance to sail in the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta for the better part of a week. The ERR has been an annual tradition for Andrew now for 16 years! I have only been able to go up once in 5 years and I was so grateful to have a break in my work to escape and be out on the water. The race is a feeder race where you sail from one port to another. It starts out in the quaint town of Castine, Maine, home of my in-laws and Maine Maritime Academy. Then we sail to Camden, one of the most charming, classic, and beautiful New England town. And finally we spend 2 nights in Brooklin, Maine at the famous Wooden Boat School.

It was 5 days of limited cell service, camping out, beautiful sunsets, gorgeous classic yachts, and time away from reality. IE. Heaven. As Andrew said on the ride home, I was very present for the first time in awhile. I couldn't have agreed more. I find it increasingly tough these days to be entirely present in life - between social media, work, and all the other distractions, its easy for me to lose focus. I guess it's the world we live in. So for me, this time was precious. It was time for Andrew and I to spend quality time with each other, and refocus on our marriage, while also spending time doing the thing that brought us together - sailing.

Even though I feel like a camera has been in my hand every day of this summer, with 8 weddings and 20+ family sessions so far, I was determined to capture this time away for myself. I think you can tell from these photos that this trip to Maine was anything but ordinary.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Life without a Kitchen

If we were ever going to renovate our kitchen, now was the time. Summer is the time. The grill has been our savior. I'm keeping my bikini body as I never feel like "cooking". The freezer is stocked with ice cream 24/7. There is no need for china - plastic works just fine. It turns out yogurt, peanut butter, chia seeds & fruit is a staple food. And Moose's bathtub has turned into the perfect kitchen sink.

This is life without a kitchen.

We are about 6 weeks into the renovation and Andrew has been rocking along. After my parents visited and we finished gutting the original kitchen, it was time to spend a week or two figuring out the design and what we actually wanted in this new space. The big question was, where do we put the downstairs 1/2 bath? It was originally in our kitchen and frankly, it was just weird. Real weird. But, with 3 bedrooms upstairs and only one bathroom, we knew we had to keep a bathroom downstairs. The question was, WHERE?

We came up with a plan to take the bathroom out of the kitchen completely and move it to our now dining room. Before you say, "ok, that's even weirder"...we are moving the dining room to the room beside the kitchen, allowing for the most logical flow. The now dining room, located just off the front entrance to our house, will be transformed this winter into a half bath and an office. Another project, but hopefully a pretty easy one!

As for the rest of the kitchen design, Andrew blew out the wall that was in between the kitchen/bathroom and the back living room. We spend 90% of our time in the winter in that living room and my goal has been to connect the kitchen to this space where we can better entertain and live on a daily basis. With the wall removed and a smaller half wall built, this space is taking on a whole new look and I am so excited about it.

Here are some of our design thoughts and ideas...

  • Kitchen Island - Butcher block top with a small bar sink and disposal and two large silver pendant lights - drawers for silverware + storage for trash bins + microwave stored underneath
  • Light grey Soapstone countertops
  • White cabinets & trim with silver hardware
  • Light grey/blue wall color to coordinate with the living room
  • Sea-foam green glass tile for the backsplash tile
  • Yellow leaf pine floors
  • Inlaid cabinet doors  
  • Built in pantry surrounding the fridge
  • Kitchen bar with stools and a nice countertop for serving food
  • Command center desk for keys + family calendar + purses + cookbooks etc. 

As we wait for the walls to be sanded/mudded this week, Andrew is busy installing a new fence for our backyard and I am busy designing the interior of the kitchen & living room. 

I have settled on 3 colors - navy, sea-foam green, and hints of light coral with lots of tans and silvers in the mix. The middle fabric I've already purchased for my curtain panels and plan to pair them with bamboo roman shades. The other fabrics I am contemplating for throw pillows and accents. Both our couch and 2 arm chairs and light tan linen or twill. I also purchased a BEAUTIFUL jute/sisal rug from Home Decorators that I think will really tie the space together. Andrew is worried its going to look too beachy, but I assured him that my goal is "the Nantucket classic chic". 

I think we are in the home stretch for this renovation - I am hopeful that the floors and appliances will be in in 3 weeks and I can get back to using an oven and dishwasher!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Kitchen Demo

Last week was a productive demolition week at the Coughlins thanks to Andrew and my sweet parents who came up from Virginia to help out. The 20 yard dumpster got filled up in a matter of 3 afternoons and hauled out first thing Tuesday morning. 

Andrew & Dad spent the better part of last weekend ripping out the old plywood, sheetrock, and plaster walls (yes, all 3 kinds!), cabinets, countertops, and that fabulous 1970's bathroom. It was incredible to see how much extra space we had in our kitchen without the bathroom! 

I wish we could keep those quality baseboards - said no one ever! 
With the walls back to studs and the old wiring removed, the boys tackled the wooden floors. These were original to the house and we LOVED them, but there just wasn't enough to fit our new layout, so out they went. The boys also ripped out the original subfloor and put in 2 layers of plywood for an even, fresh start. One of the reasons my parents drove up from VA was to deliver some beautiful yellow leaf pine floor boards that my dad had accumulated from some rental property of his! They will match perfectly with the back living rooms' floors. Score! 

The BEST part about the demolition was ripping out the wall in between the living room and kitchen. We really have envisioned a very open kitchen and living room combo. The rooms in our house generally have nice flow, but they can seem small and a little cramped, especially when we are entertaining. 

In removing the wall between the kitchen and living room, we also decided to shift the doorway closer to the back door, allowing for better flow. In order to remove the wall, which is load bearing, we got some help from friends putting in a laminated beam and 2 6x6 pine posts. 

Moosie Moose has been having a bit of a rough time with the kitchen reno. Like his mama, he hates the loud noise, dust, and make shift kitchen. Although all the attention from my parents and extra treats has helped:) 

The demolition was somewhat bittersweet, though lets be honest, mostly SWEET!!  This will be our last interior demo in THIS house!  And I am thankful to be minimally involved in the manual labor aspect this time around, and focused on the design aspect instead! Super thankful also for the 

Stay tuned for our design layout and the windows we installed today! 

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