We’ve Got Big, Major, Epic News Today!

Isn’t it funny how so many things come full circle? When I started this little ole blog {closing in on eight years ago!!}, it was all to chronicle the renovation and design of the first home I ever called my very own – a teeny tiny condo in Seattle {#34 of course!}. But as life has a tendency to do, things took a sharp left turn shortly after I purchased #34 and I didn’t manage to do a dang thing to it. Well I did remove the watermelon pink striped wallpaper, but that’s as far as things ever got. We actually sold the condo last year {as you may remember} and while I was happy to see it go, I also felt disappointed that I never got to see the project come to fruition.

Well I’m thrilled to announce that I’m finally going to get my chance to design my dream home, but this time, in a very big way because WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!

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Yup – we’re going to live there! I can still hardly believe it!!! Holy-begeezus you guys, this amazing, classic, historic Victorian is our house. It feels unbelievable for all kinds of reasons, but right now it’s still not quite real because we haven’t actually moved in. While it may look rather fabulous from the outside, we discovered a house that is a totally insane, over-the-top, and a major fixer-upper. To repair what’s broken or damaged, make needed improvements and update the space to make it conducive to modern life, we have to make a pretty dang extensive renovation. Needless to say, it’s going to be a little while before we officially call our new house, home. So what do we have to work with? Well, I’m so glad you asked!

The house has a lot of amazing things to love. Fabulous details like huge bay windows, dramatic high ceilings, period crown molding and fireplaces in nearly every room! However, it was a little hard to appreciate those details at first sight as they currently look like this…

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Built in 1870, the house has only had three owners – well four now. But the last inhabitants took liberties with their design choices. Very questionable liberties. Every room in the house is painted in colors I don’t think I’ve ever seen anywhere. Certainly not in any home. The dining room above, for example, features pale peach walls and a ceiling painted in what you might describe as magenta. It’s almost impossible to actually give the color a name. The fireplaces have lovely features – like a 2×4 as a mantel! And those chandeliers are a beautiful form of some sort of 1970s plastic. Now that’s classy. You may say, but Erin, the floors look interesting at least. They would be, if they weren’t a laminate. At least those really spectacular pocket doors dividing the dining and living rooms make up for it because they still open and close – even after 140 years!

But of course, everyone says kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. Again, that wasn’t exactly true in this case. This is currently our “kitchen.”

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The photos above don’t even do the kitchen situation justice. In case you can’t tell, there aren’t any permanent shelves in there. Nor counter tops. Nor any built-in appliances. Everything is just free standing or rigged up on the wall. The first time I stepped into the room was…a little mind boggling to say the least. And the bathrooms – well they’re just as special. This is the “master bath.” It can be described simply: as a formica museum!

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As you can see, we have our work cut out for us {and this is really only the half of it!}! And I couldn’t be happier. I finally have the blank slate I’ve always dreamed of. I’m sure I’m more than a little naive about what we’re really in for – but I promise we’re going to share everything we learn with you! From the fun of creating mood boards and setting a design direction to the brass tacks of how to pick a contractor, shop for slab counter tops or select the perfect shade of white paint {I’m on the hunt – anyone have a current fave?!}, we’re planning on taking you all along for the ride – however long that might be. We hope you’re just as excited as we are!

 

Happy {Sleep In} Weekend

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Summer is usually billed as the “slow season,” but in my experience it always feels quite the opposite. The days, weeks and summer months fly by, jam packed with trips or hosting visitors. Summer weekends are reserved for making the most of your time outside, running around and soaking in vitamin D along the way. Don’t get me wrong, I tend to thrive on that frenetic pace, but now that Fall is upon us, I’m eager to a take a different approach. I want to preserve these weekends. Rather than stacking them full of endless activity, I think Fall weekends should consist of nothing but lazy mornings of coffee & magazines {preferrably in bed!}, leisurely strolls through the farmers market once the chill has worn off, starting a good book in the afternoon. Maybe never getting out of your pajamas! With some seriously major projects on the horizon {spoiler – details on one of our biggest EVER is coming Monday!!}, I most definitely am going to revel in unscheduled hours for the next two days. I just might make pancakes!

Here are a few pretty rockin’ things that caught our attention this week! How are you planning to ring in the first day of Fall?

> Barney’s New York x my ultimate street style icon Yasmine Sewell?? I just died over this capsule collection!

> Whoa. Have you ever grilled romaine for a salad? You will after seeing this recipe!

> Our favorite Helsinki-based designer has outdone herself again with this restaurant.

> Obsessed with this editorial. It’s clear, jeans are in our genes.

> Women, never been a huge fan of whiskey? This might change your mind.

> This lady just keeps on doin’ it and doin’ it well. Obsessed with this new fall collection!

> We’ll move to Australia tomorrow if we can live in this house!

image via here

Great Taste in the Revolutionary City

​There aren’t many things I love more than travel and good food. The best scenario is when the two combine! So when I had the opportunity to jetset across the country to attend Colonial Williamsburg The Taste Tradition food festival over Labor Day, I jumped at the chance. Fine dining & cooking lessons with a little American heritage thrown in on the side? Sounded damn fine to me! So off we went to learn about historically influenced culinary traditions, drink good wine {and bourbon!} and generally have a fab time staying in one of the nation’s must unique destinations.

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Throughout Colonial Williamsburg The Taste Tradition program, which ran from Friday-Sunday and was spread across some gorgeous hotels and outdoor locations, we had the opportunity to interact with a ton of cool food experts. We chatted with everyone from wine and spirits makers to chocolatiers, cheese makers, mushroom growers and of course, some really amazing chefs. The locavore, seasonal, quality ingredient food movement is really taking hold in the area which was SO fun to see!

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I think my favorite seminar had to be with Colonial Wiliamsburg Executive Chef Rhys Lewis. Chef Lewis focused on creating great dishes straight from your garden {or your farmers market should you live in a loft like us!}. The CIA trained chef was not only unbelievably knowledgeable but also hilarious! He had so many great tips: for example did you know that you should use double the amount of fresh herbs for dried {and fresh are always preferred!} or that you can plant your own bay leaf tree?! I certainly didn’t know you could! Instead of buying dried leaves in a $7 jar how fun would it be to just pick your own? Adding to the wish list.

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​But must importantly, I took home recipes for some incredible dishes from Chef Lewis. My favorites included Carrot Almond Soup, Late Summer Vegetable Hopping John and Swiss Chard Banana Ice Cream. That’s right. I said Swiss Chard. I ate vegetable ice cream and I LOVED IT!

We also got to dive into the world of spirits at a Bourbon Tasting hosted by Garden and Gun Magazine {if you don’t know it, find yourself a copy now. It’s like a cross between Elle Decor and Gourmet for the South and I am OBSESSED!}. There we had the pleasure of hearing from the founders of the Bourbon Review who know pretty much everything there is to know about Bourbon. Like, it is in fact a whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. What qualifies as bourbon {the good stuff is 80% corn & 80% proof} is actually regulated by U.S. law! I think the husband enjoyed this session a bit more than I did, but it certainly got me excited to expand my palette for bourbon-based cocktails.

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I couldn’t recommend attending a food festival right before fall enough. The desire to nest is settling in big. After experiencing all that wonderful culinary inspiration I’ve been itching to get back in my kitchen and start whipping up hearty fall dishes {I’m saving favorites here!}.

Don’t think I was going to leave you empty handed. Check out my three favorite recipes from our weekend at Colonial Williamsburg Taste Tradition below!

Carrot Almond Soup

Ingredients:

1 lb carrots, peeled & diced
1 spanish onion, finely diced
1/2 C whole almonds
1 T ginger, peeled and chopped
1 T garlic, chopped
6-8 springs fresh thyme, stemmed and chopped
2 oz whole butter
1 fresh bay leaf
6 C vegetable stock

Melt the whole butter in heavy bottom pot and saute the carrots and onions over medium low heat for 4-5 minutes without browning. Add the ginger, garlic, thyme and the bay leaf and saute another 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer and cook until the arrots are tender. Blend in a blender until smooth. Use caution when blending hot liquids by leaving an air gap to allow steam to escape. Season to taste with salt & pepper and serve warm.

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Late Summer Vegetable Hopping John

Ingredients:

1 C jasmine rice
1 C filed peas, cooked until tender
1 spanish onions, peeled & diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 C carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini squah, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 T chopped garlic
1 oz butter
1 fresh bay leaf
2 C vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stainless steel sauce pot melt the butter and saute onions, celery, carrots, bell peppers over medium low heat until tender but not brown. Add the zucchini & summer squash, garlic and cook until the vegetables are tender. Remove the vegetables to a 2 inch pan to cool. In the same pot combine the rice, the fresh bay leaf and the vegetable stock and season to taste with salt & pepper. Simmer until the rice is tender and fold in the previously cooked vegetables and the field peas. Serve warm!
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“Going Bananas” Swiss Chard Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1 bunch swiss chard, washed & stemmed
2 T butter unsalted
2 C banana sliced
3 C Whole Milk
3/4 C sugar
4 egg yolks
1 C heavy cream
1 t vanilla

Blanch swiss chard in a pot of simmering water until it’s wilted but still colorful and remove with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Wrap swiss chard in a paper towel and squeeze out the moisture and reserve it. Place 1 oz butter in heavy bottom sauce pot and add 2oz sugar and the bananas, cooking over medium heat until the bananas are soft. Combine the milk and 4 oz sugar in heavy bottom sauce pot and bring to a simmer. Place the egg yolks in a mixing bowl and tmeber in the hot milk in 1/3 increments and return the mix to the sauce pot and heat until you hit 165 degrees. Quickly transfer the mix into a clean bowl over ice and the vanilla the heavy cream and teh cooked bananas and stir until chilled.

Place the swiss chard in a blender with the ice cream mix and blend 30-40 seconds until smooth. Strain it through a china cap and freeze in an ice cream maker until firm. Allow to set for 4-6 hours.

Brought to you by Colonial Williamsburg. With so much to do, stay and make some history. Book your trip at colonialwilliamsburg.com. Thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Thanks for supporting posts that keep Apartment 34 alive!