July 30, 2010

Friday Farm Share!

**Every Friday through November, Holyoke Home is posting images from our weekly farm share at Mountain View Farm. I hope you'll enjoy seeing what the farm has to offer! Please follow if you like this post.**

Tomato WOES! A terrible, terrible tomato disease called Late Blight was found on tomatoes in a neighboring town. Late Blight all but DESTROYED last year's tomato crop. And despite how pretty they are, and how much alike their name sounds, the Tomatillos at the farm will not replace our thirsty lust for a BLT with a fresh local tomato. No blight yet at Mountain View. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

I'm taking you on a quick tour of the 'pick your own' beds. In addition to our weekly vegetable share, we also have access to beautiful, fresh flowers and herbs. 
Parsley, sage, rosemary and......wait for it..............thyme. Oh, and basil, oregano, and cilantro.
If this animal does not pull on your heart strings like God's own harp, then maybe you and the Tin Man have something in common. This is Tucker. He was visiting the farm. I thought - just for a second - about knocking out his owner and putting him in my pocket.  But I didn't. 

July 29, 2010

Squee! Wait. Crap. Oh Heck, Squee Anyway.

If I get a birthday present in the mail before the actual day of my birth? I'm going to open it. On Christmas eve, if you say it's okay to open one present, I will try to talk you into opening all of them. I have a remarkably child-like lack of patience. And this weekend, I was reminded of why that can be a problem.

Remember that coffee table I found at a garage sale and wanted to paint despite your protests?  Well I finally got around to it.  I sanded down the table, tack-clothed the heck out of it and - here's where the object lesson in patience and preparation comes in - I did not prime it.  I skipped this step and applied four very thin coats of Atrium White (Benjamin Moore) in semi-gloss.  And because I didn't prime the piece, there are now a few tiny spots where the stain is coming through.
The other thing I did not do? WAIT for the PAINT TO DRY before putting paper under tempered glass pieces I had cut.  See the wrinkles? Gah!
Oh well. I still think it's still pretty freaking cute.

July 28, 2010

If Money Were No Object

If money were no object, I would have a couch like this. And you? You would have a seat while I make you a refreshing adult beverage.

Image via Mabel & Violet

July 27, 2010

Gooseberry Bush Finds Loving Home

The awful prickly gooseberry bush we inherited from the previous home owners found a new home.

Mazel Tov to us all.

July 26, 2010

Mid-Century Modern Find?

Found this cool wine rack at an antique shop over the weekend. I've never seen anything like it. It's like a teak honeycomb for adult beverages. I could tell you where I found it, but then I'd have to kill you.

July 23, 2010

Welcome Blog Of Note...Ers? Blog-ers of Note? Hi.

Welcome to Holyoke Home! Lovely to have you!  I'm very good about following back on TwitterFacebook and Google Friend (over there on the left) and I look forward to visiting you!

Holyoke Home is one couple. One dog. One achingly lovely historic brick row house. One very cool city. One VERY LONG renovation 'wish list.'  One project at a time?  So far?   Not so much.  

Here are a few of my favorite posts:
This is actually the SECOND weirdest thing we found left behind by our home's previous owner.
Happy Halloween!! Want some candy?! (sound of crickets).
If you were born between 1965 and 1975, this might make you cry.

Farm Share Friday!

**Every Friday through November, Holyoke Home is posting images from our weekly farm share at Mountain View Farm. I hope you'll enjoy seeing what the farm has to offer! Please follow along if you like this post.**

It was pretty hot again this week at the farm. They've had to irrigate the crops in a big way to keep them from wilting away.  

Eggplants were new this week and I was bowled over by the variety: Long thin lavender matte purple, plump squat light violet, shiny dark oblong purple (purple so dark it was almost black.)  I slice them into thick.....well......slices, marinate them in fresh chopped garlic and basil, EVOO, balsamic vinegar and a little dijon mustard. Then onto a medium hot grill they go. 
Okra was also new this week to the 'pick your own' list. Holyoke Home tip of the day: YOU MUST EAT FRIED OKRA BEFORE YOU DIE.
Remember the greenhouses I showed you? Well, some of their tomatoes were ready. For $3/lb, I'm saving myself for the real thing. I swear on a stack of Domino magazines I did not adjust the color on the image below. THAT is what they REALLY looked like.
Hi honey.
Bye honey.

July 22, 2010

Holyoke Home of the Week

**This house is STILL FOR SALE as of 12/17/10. Sale price reduced to $69,000!**

Periodically, we feature a property for sale in Holyoke that we think is special. We call it the Holyoke Home of the Week.  Visit our Disclosure page for the deets.

I am super excited about this week's Holyoke Home of the week because the listing agent, Traci Gagne actually let me get inside to document some of the amazing original details of this Holyoke home. You should make an offer on this house.  2500 square feet of living space, a corner lot, front and side yard, and off street parking. And it's one block from Wistariahurst Museum, which serves as a property value anchor.
It's located at 241 Oak Street in the 'tree street' area of town. Let me say first? The kitchen and bathrooms are complete disasters. Complete. Epic. May-jah. There is a new roof and new boiler. White vinyl replacement windows and vinyl siding throughout. There's a nice summer sleeping porch off a master bedroom that could easily be restored to enjoy a gorgeous view.

The property features the original solid wood doors and original Eastlake brass door pulls and plates throughout.
As well as original window surrounds and original big high baseboards. We think we found original tin ceilings in one room, but don't quote me on that.

But the fire places. Three of them in total. Just try not to WEEP at the gorgeous.
The downstairs floors are covered with plywood and vinyl, so we weren't able to pull up a corner to determine the quality of the original wood floors, but the second story hardwood floors are in very good condition.
The house was (obviously) a single family home that was - at some point - turned into a two family. When they turned it into a two family, they REMOVED THE FRONT STAIRCASE, leaving the back staircase as access to the 2nd floor apartment. BUT they RE-USED the original front staircase in a weird second floor addition that you'll want to remove. So the original front staircase is still IN the house, just not in the original location. Look at those details.
My heart aches a little at the potential.

July 21, 2010

Trash to Treasure Table

There are a lot of incredible furniture before and afters on the web. I think renovation before and afters are the internets very own crack cocaine. We really need some side tables, and I found the Christmas tree green one below at an antique store. I paid $15.  I liked the height, angled surfaces and proportions, but the color was awful.  The table is nothing fancy. It's poorly put together and made out of soft pine, so I didn't feel bad about spiffing it up.

I stopped by Clark Paint - our newest sponsor - for a little advice. I wanted a shiny surface in a color I described as "Brown that's almost black". Since the table will get a lot of use, Clark recommended oil -based paint for its durability. They mixed me up a quart.

This is the first time I've used oil based paint. It's application is so forgiving as compared to acrylic paint! I caught drips and smoothed out brush strokes easily that would have already dried to sticky blobs with acrylic paint. 

Of course, oil paint smells more toxic than a seventeen year old girl's perfume, but hey.  

I applied two very thin coats on day one and two more coats on day two.  I started the process outside, but had to move into the basement, as every litle breeze or thought bubble brought dust, pollen, seed pods and sawdust to the wet painted surface.  So now the basement smells like oil paint. Which is - I guess - what basements should smell like? Here's the 'before.'

Then, using 180 grit sandpaper, I roughed up the surface evenly and used a tack cloth to remove ALL specks of dust and paint debris.
Here is is after a couple weeks of curing. 

July 19, 2010

Final Front Garden Design - Planting Trees

To recap: a few months ago, we tore out a very ugly metal fence from around our tiny front yard and asked for help from an ACTUAL. LIVE. Landscape Architect! Nancy Howard documented our current conditions and we told her our landscape goals. Then from all that, she created a garden design.  Looking at the plan below I feel grateful, inspired, and totally overwhelmed. Wow. I want to thank Nancy Howard Landscape and Garden Design for her thoughtful re-design of our little front garden. 
As we expected and wanted, the plan includes lots of  trees. She picked tree species for their summer shade, winter sun (we want winter heat on the south facing side of the row house in the winter), year round visual interest (handsome bark, or spring flowers, or fall color, etc.) size friendliness (we don't want 50 foot tall trees)  and 'next to house' appropriateness (tree species without a tendency for surface roots.)

The goal of all these trees is to execute the before and after below:The largest tree in the image above is a Yellowwood. Related to black locust and redbud trees, Yellowwoods feature beautiful bundles of white pea-like flowers in the spring.  Though it will be awhile before ours look like this, there is a possibility it will happen. Photo courtesy of Tom Gill 

Nancy also suggests a Shadblow next to the Yellowwood. Shadblow is also known as Serviceberry. Shadblow are very early to bloom, and their nectar attracts polinators. It also has beautiful fall color. I can't find any pictures online that are available for download. Damn you copyright protection!

On the other side of the big Yellowwood, Nancy suggests one or two smaller red Witch Hazels. Witch Hazels flower EARLY, in late winter. And the foliage turns warm shades of yellow and red in the fall.

Last, our street is lined with Bradford Pear trees. Despite pretty white spring flowers, and fall berries for birds, the trees are not great street trees. Due to their combination of vigorous growth, weak wood, and poor branch structure, more often then not, they split and fall apart after only 20 years.  So Nancy also suggests planting a few Red Maples on the street apron to grow alongside the Bradford Pears.

I am so excited to get started!

July 16, 2010

Friday Farm Share!

**Every Friday through October, Holyoke Home is posting images from our weekly farm share at Mountain View Farm in Easthampton, Massachusetts. I hope you'll enjoy seeing what the farm has to offer! Please add us to your Reader!**

It was not as suffocatingly, horridly hot and humid this week at the farm. But I was still afraid to venture out to the field to take flower pictures or pick beans. I found comfort - as we all do during the summer - in a freezer case.
Oh. Hi there handsome.  Wanna get in my belly?
This ice cream sandwich was brought to you by Flayvors of Cook Farm in Hadley.  

The fresh onions are growing! They are so sweet on the grill.
I swear on a stack of House Beautiful Magazines I did not adjust the colors in the image below. That is the ACTUAL color of farm fresh, local produce. I could eat a bucket of those carrots.
Such a lovely day at the farm.

July 14, 2010

Asking For Help When You Need It

A couple months ago, we removed the fence from around our small front yard. While it looks better without the ugly metal fence, it's still pretty sad lookin'.  I had no idea how to make our front property elegant, user-friendly and welcoming.  In other parts of my life, I ASK FOR HELP WHEN I NEED IT.  Why should gardens be any different? 

Nancy Howard, a landscape architect who lives here in Holyoke, said she'd be happy to help for a little bloggy love. I've seen her work and met her at last years' Bring your own RestaurantSo Nancy came over, books, measuring tape, and camera in hand to document the current state of things. Click on the image below to see a larger version:

Nancy's first thought to liven up this space and increase our quality of life? TREES. Why does Nancy love trees? Let her count the ways:
1. Trees slow down the velocity of rain to prevent runoff and flooding.
2. Trees provide summer shade (yes please) and year-round privacy (uh-huh).
3. Trees provide winter visual interest and allow winter sun (as long as you pick a tree with an airy canopy)
4. Trees provide a calming visual transition from the busy street to the front door.

Hmmm....I think there may be some trees involved in our final plan. Come back on Monday to see Nancy's final beautiful front garden design  Have any questions for Nancy Howard about landscape design/maintenance? E-mail her at nhowardsmith [at] comcast [dot] net or visit Nancy Howard Landscape and Garden Design on  facebook.

July 11, 2010

Back Porch Colors

For those just joining us - I am having back porch color conundrums. There is no consensus about which colors we should use. Lately, today, this minute, RIGHT NOW I am leaning toward a light, purply gray for the floors and ceiling, a purply dark brown for the posts and railing, and something bright and to be determined as an accent on the party wall upstairs (that's right bitches. I have a PARTY WALL.)

I went to Clark Paint (The. Best. Paint. Store) in West Springfield to pick out colors and stopped in my tracks at this:
They were nice enough not to kick me out after two hours. Needless to say, picking colors is a process.

July 9, 2010

Friday Farm Share!

**Every Friday through October, Holyoke Home is posting images from our weekly farm share at Mountain View Farm in Easthampton, Massachusetts. I hope you'll enjoy seeing what the farm has to offer!**
It was so FLIPPING hot this week in western Massachusetts. Like Africa hot. Like just kill me now hot. Like I didn't know my body could produce that much sweat at one time hot. My pictures seem a little off. I'm blaming the heat.

The new flower beds opened this week and they were so beautiful. Unfortunately the sweat cascaded into my eyes, burning them as I crouched down to get the best angle, so only one image passed the review committee. (NB: I am the review committee.)  
I moved to a shadier spot. This is the 'pick your own' table, where you can grab a pair of scissors (if there are any left) and a quart container to borrow while you pick beans, peas, strawberries, whatever's on the 'you pick' board. 
Mountain View sells other local products, including soap and El Jardin bread (let me tell you: this bread is LEGIT. If you haven't tried it yet and you live in the area, GET THEE TO A FINE EL JARDIN RETAILER SOON.)
Did I show you the gorgeous chinese cabbage in last week's Farm Share post? I'm too hot to remember. I adore chinese cabbage. I chop it up in a giant bowl (SERIOUSLY. BIG BOWL) and add seeded cucumber, mint, cilantro, some red onion, pepper flakes, rice wine vinegar, chopped peanuts and some satay sauce. I could live on that when it's so hot you'd rather dance a jig with Dick Cheney than turn on the oven. Also? garlic.  
Okay. I gotta go stick my head in a refrigerator.