Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Perfect Antidote to a Grey and Dreary Day

It's been raining for two days straight here and the forecast calls for more of the same tomorrow.

After working on the farmhouse this morning, I came home, started a roaring fire in the woodstove,  and ate a bowl of homemade cheese tortellini minestrone soup.

Though the house gradually warmed and the chilliness departed my bones, I still needed something to cut the dreariness of the day.

Lately, my antidote to this sort of thing is lemon.

The fragrance is well-known in aromatherapy circles to be an uplifting mood enhancer. To me, it's like a ray of much-needed sunshine on an otherwise cloudy day.

Therefore, in this house, dishes are washed with lemon-scented dish soap.  Lemon Cookie candles--which are back in the Harmony Farm Candles Etsy shop!--are burned for a very happy pick-me-up.  Eggs are kept in this lemon-colored ceramic egg crate on the kitchen counter.

And today, the chosen grey-weather-antidote-in-the-form-of-lemon was Lemon Meltaway cookies.

Very minorly adapted from a recipe found on Pinterest, these cookies are a new favorite!

If you're familiar with meltaway cookies, or melting moments as I'd previously known them, they are pure magic in the mouth.

The ingredient list is short:  butter, flour, sugar and cornstarch.

And that last ingredient is what gives the cookies their delicious melting property.

Topped with a smear of lemon curd, I almost don't notice the pelting rain as it hammers the roof.

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Lemon Meltaway Cookies
adapted from Landee See, Landee Do's recipe
makes approximately 2 dozen cookies

1 cup of softened butter
3/4 cup of cornstarch
3/4 cup of powdered sugar
1 cup of all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon of lemon extract

Turn on oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  While the oven warms, cream butter until light and fluffy with a mixer. Next, beat in cornstarch and powdered sugar until smooth.  Add flour and mix until thoroughly combined.  Lastly, pour in lemon extract and mix until incorporated.

Drop teaspoon-sized balls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Using the bottom of a small glass dipped in powdered sugar, gently press the cookies until flattened into discs.

Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven. Let sit on cookie sheet for 1 minute to begin cooling, then transfer cookies to a wire rack.

Top cookies with lemon curd and enjoy!

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Hope you're staying warm and dry this winter day,

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A First Look at the Farmhouse Interior

Happy New Year, everyone!

My apologies for being an absent blogger these past few months.  How about I make it up to you by sharing some interior photos of the farmhouse before work began?

These photos were taken just after the closing and the house looks much different now, but unfortunately not in the way you might think.

Right now, more than half of the house is down to the studs, which you'll see at the end of the photos. While we're making important progress necessary to improve the house's structural integrity, it's one of those situations where I feel like we're moving frustratingly backwards in order to ultimately go forward.

And I especially feel this way looking at these photos tonight, which I haven't done since November.  Ugh.

While the house was decidedly dated inside, I'd forgotten how clean and put together it was.  Alas, we have truly torn it apart in the name of creating load-bearing walls, adding insulation, re-wiring, adding HVAC, and more.

All great changes are preceded by chaos, right?

So, let's begin the 'tour' with a view of the outside.

The center 1-1/2 story section of the farmhouse is two-rooms deep divided by a stairway. On the first floor is a living room and a dining room; upstairs are two bedrooms.  The left-side addition was once a porch but is now the kitchen in the front and bathroom in the rear.  The right-side addition with the chimney is a 12'x32' den.

Through the front door you walk into the 'front room' as we're calling it right now as we haven't decided whether this will be the dining room or the living room.  Will explain later...  It's windowless and was filled with delightful 1970s paneling and ceiling tiles.  The one (and possibly only) thing this space has going for it is original heart pine flooring.

Another view of the front room while standing in the middle.  We're knocking out a section of the wall that divides this room from the kitchen to let in more light as there is already a 5-foot wide opening off this room on the opposite wall into the den that lets in a decent amount of light.

And speaking of the den, here it is, off to the right of the front room.

The paneling and ceiling tiles continue!   The fireplace is filthy but in working order.

To give you a feel of just how deep this space is, here's a shot from the back of the room looking toward the front.

And the den from front to back...whee!  I feel like bowling!

Now, let's head through the door that leads to the 'back room.'  We'll go up the stairs after we finish touring the first floor.

It turned out there was a massive hole all the way through to the foundation in the floor under that huge tile hearth.  But that's another story for another time...

Off the back room is the lone bathroom of the house.  It will be gutted and the plan is to put a vanity where the washer/dryer hook-up is located, close in the existing window, and put a window over the toilet instead.

Sorry faux pink marble Formica-topped vanity, your days are numbered.

Adjacent to the bathroom is the final room of the first floor:  the kitchen.  At 9' wide by 24' deep, it's a narrow and long space that will actually be expanded to about 13' wide (to match the depth of the bathroom) and will be completely rearranged.

Shield your eyes from the glare of the plastic walls.   An approximately 5-foot wide section of the left wall will be knocked out to open into the front room.

Alright, now that you've seen the downstairs, let's go back to the den and head up the stairs to poke our heads in the bedrooms...

At the top of the stairs you are standing in the back bedroom, which will be Jacob's room.   The previous inhabitants appeared to use the space as an over-sized walk-in closet.

To the left of the small landing is the front--and future master--bedroom.

Thank goodness the original wood floor lay hidden under the disgusting carpet. Though the wood floor has signs of old water damage it will be salvaged with paint. 

Two things I love about the upstairs of this house:  the abundance of light and the under-eave bedroom door.   It has a quirky charm, doesn't it?

So, that's how things looked two months ago.

Now, here's a peek of the downstairs as it looked this morning...

The front and back rooms

Getting ready to create the opening between the kitchen and the front room.

The den

No going upstairs right now until the new stairs are built!

Obviously a lot of destruction has happened between taking possession of the house and where it is today, so I'll be back in the coming weeks with some more photos of what was under the paneling, for instance, and the various plans I have for each of the rooms. 

Anybody have any advice for surviving a major renovation?