Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Yum yum yum yum....

Spoils of the garden! I love having edibles around. Our blueberries are blooming, so much even Barkley has taken to having a blueberry snack now and then! 

We also ended up at Brandon's parents this weekend and picked some of their copious blueberries. With the two combined I made syrup! Unfortunately I think the first batch is too that just means more batches.....:)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


This weekend we decided to dig up a pathway from the driveway to the house - originally just grass, it gets kind of muddy in the spring and we wanted something a little more defined. We also needed to do it for free, so decided to take apart a stone circle in the center of the garden (which will get tidied up and replanted) and use those stones in a pathway. There weren't enough to do a smooth stone pathway (and we would have had to buy sand etc.), so we decided to interlace it with grass seed once done, so it'll be within the lawn itself, but we'll be able to mow over it keeping it tidy. 

Once finished, we'll admit we're not sure about it. But we'll see what it looks like once the grass is grown. Worst case is we dig up the stone again, so no big deal really. I think we both would have liked to put down pea gravel or do a smooth stone walkway, but for a free project I think it came out as good as it could. The big news is the reason we needed to do it for free - we booked a builder to take down an internal wall for us in the fall, so we can open up the downstairs and have a larger living space. He is very reasonable (and well recommended by friends) but because of it, we'll need to get new flooring downstairs, and we're both pretty set on getting some nicer hardwood (at the moment it's cheap looking laminate). We're just waiting on a Lowes sale to get the flooring we want and get the builder in! Exciting! 

First step was digging up the grass. Zoe decided to be helpful! 

Digging up the grass. it was more work than we thought! Dunkin Donuts coffee was essential to the process. 

While Brandon dug, I disassembled the stone circle and sorted the stones into small, medium and large. We both wish we'd had more of the large size, but it's what we had. We then arranged them and dug them into the newly turned over loam. Mostly they're set, others I think will take some grass growing around them to get them firm. 

The end product....minus the grass. 

Miss Barkley spent most of the process sitting in her new favorite spot - amongst the blueberry bushes and strawberry plants! We've had a GREAT harvest this year too - stay tuned for blueberry syrup and jam! 

And now the waiting. Brandon and Barkley are hiding from the sprinkler. Unfortunately it looks like a dry week this week, so we'll have to be good about watering! 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Kitchen Update!

Before I left, Brandon and I cut up another part of the leftover Ikea counter and created an oiled butcher block by the side of the oven, along with backsplash. Originally there was a slim cupboard and counter, and it really wasn't big enough to do much with. We also wanted to "hide" the trash can a little too and make that corner a little tidier (well, as tidy as it can be being the dog feeding area...!). It came out great, though neither of is has wanted to use it as a butcher block because it looks so nice! So with yet more leftovers from the counter (an awesome purchase!), Brandon is going to cut up another piece that we'll use on top as a butcher block! 

The area before (and before the counter went on the island). 

The whole area after. I also painted two stools Brandon had and we cut them down to counter height (they were originally bar height). They came out okay - the paint totally matches the dining set (which was the goal), but the paint didn't come out as neat as I wanted. Was rushing it too much I think to get it done. So at some point, they'll get resanded, and repainted. Barkley for size. 

The area after. The butcher block counter top wouldn't go with the dark wood of the kitchen, so I painted them the same cream as the dining set. This came out awesome, we're both super pleased. Still need to add hardware, but that will come when we're ready to drop enough $$'s to buy hardware for all the cabinets, as we want them to be all the same. 

The kitchen at present. The end goal is to paint all the cabinets the cream colour. A new kitchen is not even in the 10 year plan, so I wanted to do something to smarten up the kitchen. The cream will not only brighten the space (the dark wood is a bit drab too), but it will also go with the green counter too, so we won't have to replace that (as much as we both want to change it to the ikea counters!). The yellow walls will be toned down or maybe even migrate to a dusty green (like the island). These are all fall/winter projects we're looking forward to! 

Gulf of Maine Research Cruise

Arrived back late yesterday from a successful cruise! We had some great weather, and some not so great weather, but all in all we got a lot of great data. So it turns out there are A LOT of corals in the Gulf of Maine....and unfortunately a lot of trawl damaged corals too. Hopes are high for funding for next year to get back with an ROV. 

Avery Point in Connecticut, where we left off from. 

Home for 14 days - the pretty small, RV Connecticut. 

Testing out the camera before we left dock. 

Testing out the camera before we left dock. 
Testing out the camera before we left dock.

Heading out from Connecticut. 

Flying the flag! 

Lots of birds this trip! 

And some beautiful sunsets! 

First day in the water! 

A great spot on the bow to read a book after the midnight - midday watch. 

As this is a big fishing area, we were constantly followed by birds. 

Some even came and perched on the boat. 

As it was a small boat, and we were out for 2 weeks, we had to come into port (Rockland) to resupply water, food and fuel at the end of week one. We'd also managed to break the winch at the same time, so it ended up being an extended stay of ~18hrs, which meant that Brandon drove over and we had dinner together mid cruise! 

Mount Desert Rock

The weather turned bad midday way through, so we came into Blue Hill Bay and Acadia to hide for two days. 

Beautiful sunrise in Blue Hill Bay. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Snuggle time

Off to sea...

Heading off to sea tomorrow - out into the Gulf of Maine for two weeks. A PI dropped out of another cruise and I was asked to jump in last minute. Though not what i'd call eager, it's a group i'd really like to work with more, so it's an opportunity for a collaboration, and maybe some salary, in the future. No email and no updates i'm afraid, so i'll catch up with some photos when I get back!

Domestic Partnership

Last week, Brandon and I decided to formalize our relationship through domestic partnership. We see this as a long term commitment to one another, and although in the far (far) future marriage may have to happen to keep me in the country, for now this is our preference, and our choice, and we're extremely happy with it.

Brandon and I have talked about marriage, more and more over the last few months, but neither of us is particularly comfortable with various aspects of it - from religious, to financial, to inclusivity and pretty much everything in between. We both feel more than comfortable that we want to make a long term commitment to each other, and the domestic partnership lets us do that, with similar legal rights to those in marriages, and much less of the hassle. The reasons we didn't want to go the marriage route were varied - financially, we're just not in a place to throw the wedding we'd want, and we both have so many other things we want to do right now (house things, travel etc.) that doing that would impinge on; neither of us like the fact that not everyone as in love with each other as we are can get married in this country because of hopefully soon-to-change exclusivity laws; neither of us are even remotely religious - and yet we both want to move on with our lives together as an official couple, right now. Domestic partnership lets us do that. We're not ruling out marriage one day (like I said, legally it'll probably have to happen sometime) but we'd rather wait until we both really want it, and when we're ready to throw the wedding we want, and aren't just doing it as "the thing to do" to be an 'official couple'.

So the paperwork is in, and we exchanged rings with each other last week - on the 4th July, which is now our anniversary. We thought it would be a good day - the celebration of Independence from Britain, and the joining of an American and Brit - all rolled into one.

Baxter State Park

Brandon was furloughed July 4th week, so I decided to take the week off too, pack the dogs off to their respective foster homes and head to Baxter State Park for some much needed R&R! We went to KP Dam Campsite, which is one of my favorite - a single campsite, 1/4 mile walk in (so basically car camping), and no trail running through it, so it's totally quite and serene. We saw moose (even had one walk through our campsite at 5am one morning!), lots of deer and unfortunately a few blackflies! 

Filtering water at our own personal stream. The weather was so nice that we swam in the river each afternoon to wash off the trail gunk! 

Making the first round of smores! 


The blackflies were a real pain......

We were so glad we hiked in the large tent, because we then had an attached awning to hide in from the bugs! 

A visiting deer!

Day 1 hike to Ledge falls - a really pretty 2 mile hike! 

Ledge Falls. 

First day we also headed up to an overlook to get a good view of the mountains. 

And did usually one of my favorite hikes out to a chain of ponds. But we only got to the first one because the bugs were so bad. One of the rangers who'd worked there for 15 years said this was the worst year she'd seen! We've been here before in June and later in September, but July may be out for Baxter for us from now on! 

Day 2 - Horse Mountain and the East Spur Overlook! 

It was a super 90F that day, and humid! getting to the top, and into some wind, was a huge relief! 

The view of the Travellers - our intended third day hike, but we didn't end up doing it, because it meant two hours of hiking through bug territory before getting up high, and then another few hours on the way back. I was riddled with black fly bites by the end of day 2, and apparently i'm allergic to them, as they swelled up huge! 

So we drove around to some shorter hikes - like Stump Pond, where i've seen moose before, but not today!