Maxi-Minurism- Things Are Changing In The Kitchen

Last year alot of money went out as alot of our appliances, big (refrigerator) and small (iron) just decided they were not going to make it into 2016.  So we watched the sales, did our research and bought a new refrigerator for the kitchen – which had to be ordered and is scheduled to arrive sometime this week.  It will most likely get its own blog post since it is kinda the biggest addition to the family since the beagles.  (Hah!)

One of the reasons we needed a new refrigerator was that the one we had just was too small for our family now that I am feeding what seems like three NFL football players every day – though Chip can probably still out eat them all – well – except Jesse.  The current refrigerator is also a side by side design which does not really accommodate a Thanksgiving turkey the size we need to get.  But at the time it was the best option because we couldn’t fit a bigger refrigerator into our kitchen.

You see, we have this “L” shaped counter top that runs into the frig.

blog post pics 007

So while I would love to be telling you that Chip agreed to do a major expansion of our kitchen and double its size so we could fit in a bigger refrigerator and be able to fit in all of the cooks we have working in this kitchen (yeah – he kinda laughed at me again when I suggested it) – we settled on just trying to cut down the cabinet which ran alongside our current refrigerator to give us the extra space.

But before we could really start this we had to address the first dilemma, which was how do we get the refrigerator into the house?  Our existing back door is only 27 inches wide – and we have never had an appliance make it into our house through that door.

blog post pics 032

blog post pics 010

Clearly we needed to replace the door with a bigger one.  (The door knob went awhile ago.  Don’t ask.)

So working with minurism, we knew we had a door in storage that we had bought at a salvage store 10+ years ago that we thought would fit with the house and would be a good replacement for our existing back door – but there were always so many other things to do that this job never made it to the top of the to-do list.  So Chip and the boys pulled it out of our storage room and moved the door into the basement where they were working on it – caulking around windows, scraping off old paint and making sure it was ready to take it’s rightful place in the back of our house.  I did not see it during this process – I just trusted that it was there and functional.  It had to be, right?  Otherwise Chip would not have started removing moldings and cutting up my wall – right?

blog post pics 030

As the week progressed, I kept seeing more and more of my walls exposed.

back door construction 013

Chip installed the new header along the way.

back door construction 014

Okay – the minurism part.  Alot of the wood that we used for these bigger wood installations came from our friend Gaspar – who loaded Chip up with a truckload of wood to help complete this project.

We also had some wonderful and timely assistance from our friend Ray who helped us with moving the electrical outlet over (and fixed the connection issue we were having with one of the switches at the same time – Thanks Ray!) and with getting this major early construction done before Chip moved onto the next steps – which were scary.

back door construction 015

(See?  Much better wiring.)

For the trim pieces, Chip went into the loft and pulled out boards we had that he cut into the trim pieces.

back door construction 016

back door construction 018

And then he started cutting a hole into our house

back door construction 020

back door construction 022


back door construction 023


back door construction 024

Breathe. . . . .

I had to run to court yesterday and when I came back home there was this BIG rectangular opening cut into my house with Chip and Jesse in the middle doing something.  I thought it was better not to ask and just run in and hide out in my upstairs office – next to my radiator.

When I came downstairs later – there was a door in that space.

back door construction 025

Which Mattie needed to get through please. . . . .

As Chip was still working late into the night, we ordered take-out for dinner.

back door construction 028

The kitchen was still a construction zone and Chip had to get the insulation in.

back door construction 030

But as the new day dawned – we were alot closer to being done with the door – and now we get to see the outside from our back door.

back door construction 033

Obviously we are not done with this project but there was enough done to show you what Chip did.  We were able to do this really big project without hiring anyone else to do it and with wood and a door we had and with the assistance of friends.  And now we should be able to get the refrigerator into the kitchen once it arrives.

I am really really proud of my husband and my sons who helped.

So today’s bonus pic I also took yesterday.  It is Vash reading.  This is how he usually reads – sitting on the couch or a chair with beagles curled up and sleeping on his lap.  This time it was Roxie and Birdie.  He is their boy.

back door construction 029

Life is busy.

Onward and Upward.

Posted in Chip, Home, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Mini-Minurism – Kitchen Sink Curtains

So today’s blog is about a “mini” contribution I made to the apartments we are rehabbing.  We are at the point where we need to get a certificate of occupancy (a “CO”) on the downstairs apartment so that a friend of ours – who is a contractor (Yay!!!) can move in.  Once he is in, we will be able to barter some of the rent against additional work he will do in the apartment to get it to the type of place that a family would like to live in.

That means that the kitchen overhaul is going to wait until after we have a tenant.

The kitchen cabinets and sink are all presently usable and will pass the inspection but there are no cabinet doors under the sink.

blog post pics 013

Because we want to wait to put in the new cabinets, we decided to just go with a curtain stretched in front of the cabinet – which is acceptable for the CO.  So I ran to JoAnn’s (using one of my many coupon/discount offers) and found some kitchen towel fabric and turned it into curtains.  The advantage to getting the towel fabric is that it is narrow with woven edges so I would only have to sew the top and bottom – and it looks kitcheney.

It was pretty easy.  Chip measured the opening and I cut two pieces of fabric 4 inches longer than length I needed.  It was a 24 inch opening so I cut two pieces that were 28 inches in length.  I then folded over a half inch on each end and ironed that down.

blog Xmas concert 178

Okay – quick interruption to tell you that I finally got a new iron!!  (I got it in 2015 – before minurism 😉 )

blog Xmas concert 177

Isn’t it cool?!!  I don’t know how long I have gone without a working steam function on my old Hamilton Beach one, but once the heating element just did not want to get hot enough to press my fabric (even using the shot of steam constantly to keep it going) and after enough water had leaked onto my fabric, I finally rationalized getting a new one when JoAnn’s had a 40% off sale on irons.  It produces steam, it gets hot AND it even has an automatic cord rewind.  This is exciting folks!!  Next – a new ironing board cover (Hah!)

Okay – back to the curtains.  Next I folded the bottom hem in another one inch and the top casing down two inches.

blog pics 004

Then I sewed along the edge of both edges.

blog post pics 012Alright – not really obvious what I did so you will just have to take my word that I sewed the edges.

Then Chip brought them up to the apartment and hung them on the tension rod we had put under the sink (and forgot to remove the useless hinges – sigh – that will be done this week) and Voila!!

blog post pics 015

Kitchen sink curtains. Hmmm – got to paint that baseboard – and maybe shorten the curtains – Chip hung them when I wasn’t there so I better check.  We haven’t been up there much this week because of the project I will tell you about tomorrow.  So many projects – so little time. . . . .

This reduced our costs since we did not have to replace the doors or install a new kitchen cabinet until we had an income from that apartment in place.   And while I did get the fabric, it was a minimal cost in both money and time.  Yes folks – minurism at work!!

Today’s bonus picture is actually two.  The first is of Vash when he was in kindergarten. The second is his school picture this year – as a 6th grader.  It just amazes me how fast he is growing up.  My baby boy will be a man before long and it just blows my mind.

042blog post pics 016

Sigh.  It is going so fast.

Onward and upward.

Posted in Adventures in Real Estate, Family, sewing projects | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Monday Project Report – Completion Project 1 – Christmas Sweater

Completion was added as a second new focus for this year because I have more unfinished projects than I can count.  I tried to make a list of them and had to stop because I felt totally overwhelmed.  So I am breaking it down to just one project at a time.  The first project which needs to be completed is a sweater I am making for Christopher.

It is a Sirdar pattern – similar to the one that I had made Chip a few years back but with a different pattern – I am hoping it turns out as well.

notebook aran sweater top dill dip 038

Anyway, I am knitting Christopher’s Sweater in a green wool yarn made by Queensland – Kathmandu Aran.  I have the back completed.

blog pics 001

You can see the pattern in this picture.

Kinda crazy to have put this much work into a project and then just leave it sitting.  It has to be finished.  It is a big job so I am putting this project first to give me enough time to complete it before Christmas 2016.  I have started the front – finally!!

blog pics 003

I will show you my progress on this sweater as time passes.  I am hoping to get 24 rows done a week – which is a full pattern repeat.  There are about 7 pattern repeats in the back so that means I should have the front completed in about 7 weeks.  What you see in this picture is 12 rows – one half of the pattern repeat.

There are alot more projects which will be following this one as I work toward completion. At least it is begun.

The bonus picture for today is my very silly family on New Years Eve – getting into the spirit – with a guest photobomb by Maxwell (wondering why he didn’t get a hat too).

blog post pics 003

I hope you all had a great New Years Day and that you too are able to get to all those projects you want to complete.

Onward and Upward.

Posted in knitting | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

2016 – A Multi-Focus Year

Every year I set a focus – that area of life I want to focus on and try to achieve something that goes with that focus.  Some years I am successful – some years not so much.

In past years I have focused on Minurism – minimal consumerism – and was fairly successful in cutting down my spending.  Last year was my Money year – and I was likewise successful in increasing the cash flow into the home both through working hard on increasing the amount of billable work I produced each month and in increasing the number of assignments that came my way by being diligent in meeting deadlines.  Hawk Studio also took a big step forward by going back to Faire and carried us through some iffy times during the summer.  But without the Minurism aspect being combined we still were not pulling ahead.

There was also a negative that came from focusing on work all year – I spent alot of time sitting behind my desk and that just was not good for my health.  Both Chip and I knew it, so I promised that 2016 would be my Health year.

But as we got closer to 2016, I realized that I have to learn how to integrate it all.  I need to learn to be healthy and still bring in the higher level of income because we still have to build a booth for Hawk and finish rehabbing the upstairs apartment and meet our monthly bills.  We also have to reduce our non-necessary spending so we can do those things and get out of the debt that necessitates this level of work.

So I decided that I need to build on the prior years – to continue what I started when the focus was Money – and Minurism – and to add a new focus on Health to that mix.

But there was one more thing to add to that grouping – and that was Completion.  I found that another negative of focusing on work was that I was drained at the end of my day and let too many other projects fall by the wayside – Chip did too.  We have so many unfinished projects in the home and in the craft room and they need to be completed so we can let go of that feeling of being overwhelmed all the time.  That means we need a more focused down-time.

So you may see a different direction with this blog as I try to do it all and to (hopefully) show you it can be done.  I hope to show you projects we did using what we have rather than what we bought to support Minurism.  I hope to get your support in making healthier choices in activities and food choices.  (I may have to throw in some great recipes from some new cookbooks I got this year that are why I will never be able to be TOTALLY healthy but moderation in all things, right?)  And I want to show you projects being finished!!

My family is coming on this trip with me – mainly because I don’t give them alot of choice in it.   🙂

So I have already started.  I signed up for a yoga class that starts today.  I am walking a mile in the mornings with a goal of running a 5k in August.  Believe me when I say that this would be a big deal for me because my craft work and day job have always been pretty sedentary.  As a result, it is going to take some time for me to get strong in my legs.  I also went cold turkey for the last week on sugar to give me a jumpstart into the New Year.  Okay, the family did not agree to go along with me on that, but their sugar consumption will start to go way down if I am the one (not) baking the sweets.  I can say that I already saw a difference in how I feel just from that short a time.

I have also chosen the first knitting project for completion – a sweater for Chris that will also be his Xmas present – so that will go toward both Completion and Minurism.  I will show you that in a later post.

So starts 2016.  I have lots of goals – I will need LOTS of support and hopefully it will be an interesting year to blog about.  So here we go.

Onward and Upward.



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Hawk Studio – Some Custom Work From Faire

One of the great things that comes from being at Faire is that Chip gets the chance to make alot of the things he really enjoys making which are not your standard fare.  Many of these creations are inspired by the ideas of our patrons.  I thought I would post a few pictures of some of the pieces he did this year.

The first is a knife sheath he did to fit a wonderful dagger made by our friend Lars of Lundegaarde Productions.

hawk soccer kilt boys 008

Next is another knife sheath he did for a friend who works with the raptors in the Birds of Prey show – the blade was made by our Faire’s blacksmith and the handle makes a fine perch for his lovely friend.

hawk soccer kilt boys 009

One of the musicians at the Faire asked Chip to help him with designing a cool way to carry his penny whistles.  The came up with a small version of a quiver that he could wear on his belt.

End of Faire 004

Early on Chip started working with a young man who wanted a cool sheath for his sword.  Because of the size of the blade, they decided to also fashion a back rigging so he could carry it on his back during Faire.   Here it is.

End of Faire 003

One of Chip’s friends had contacted him early on and had wanted to replace an older belt Chip had made him with an 8 inch wide new one.  After looking at the sizing, they agreed to reduce it to a 6 inch wide belt with a triple belting system.  Here is what it looked like from the front.

End of Faire 008


And here is the back

End of Faire 013

End of Faire 012

It came out great – loved the colors.

That’s all I have for now.  We were so busy that I did not stop alot to take pictures.  Chip has more on his phone that he will be sending me so I can post more of these.

Today’s bonus pic is a rare one – since I am not one for posting pictures of myself.  Something I got from my Gram I guess.  She didn’t like it either.  But this one taken by one of our boys of Chip and I at Faire is one that I like – maybe because it feels like us in our element.  So here we are – the working folks at the leather booth (and yes, he made my belt and my dagger sheath – and the backpack over his shoulder).

roxy hawk faire 007

Now we shift onto the next year for Hawk Studio.  Hopefully with a nice new booth at Faire.

Onward and Upward . . . . .

Posted in Chip, Hawk Studio | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hawk Studio – Coming Home

For those who don’t know, I met my beloved husband at the New York Renaissance Faire.  (You can see my post of May 31, 2011 if you want any background – I wrote about him there).  He was a leather craftsman at the time, working with his mentor/partner in their booth – LeatherWorx.  It was 2001 and his 11th year as a leather craftsman at the Faire.  He continued working for LeatherWorx at the Faire the following summer – 2002 – though that was his last year working at LeatherWorx as we made our relationship official shortly after that when he moved up to our village full-time and Hawk Studio was founded.

Hawk Studio has functioned on many different levels in the past 13 years.  We have had stores in two villages, we have had booths at different types of community events and we have had booths at smaller weekend Renaissance Faires and the New York Faerie Festival.  Throughout this time we continued to take our growing family to the New York Renaissance Faire during the summer because, well, that is just a part of who we are.  Chip maintained his friendships with all those wonderful folks we would see each summer and we would regularly talk about whether it was time to go back – to have our own booth at the Faire.  We thought we would do it in 2014, but we always seemed to have reasons why we could not do it each year and 2014 was no exception.

But this spring we took the plunge.  Chip contacted Dale – who coordinates the vendors – and put in an application.  Not surprisingly, he was accepted.  But by the time we knew for sure we were in, we had only a short amount of time to pull it all together.

The first hurdle was a booth.  Were we going to build a booth; rent a booth; rent a tent; buy a tent, try to make a tent, build a vardo/booth on a trailer base – we went all over the map with ideas and research.  Chip spent hours on the internet researching tents and how to construct them and we did field trips to look at our options on building a portable booth on a trailer base.  There was a possible booth for rent at the Faire but someone else had first dibs on it – and they took it.  We were not many months ahead of opening day and we still had not figured out this issue.  The only thing we knew was that the screen house we had been using for shows was NOT going to work at Faire.

That is when our friends Kevin and Hildy Hallisey jumped in.

Kevin had a 10 x 10 tent that he was not using which he offered to Chip to use for the season to help get us down there.


Whew!!  That offer made it possible for us to not only get to Faire but to finally stop worrying about  booth space.

This is what is great about Faire.  People look out for one another.  We try to help each other.

It was soooooo good to be back with those friends again.

Once we knew what we were going to use as a tent and the size, the next problem was where at the Faire should we set up.  So Chip and the boys went down to the site with their tape measures and looked at sites.


14 feet from son to son

They found a perfect site near the Chessboard – shady, no shops on the other side of the road and best of all – right next to Kevin and Hildy’s Halfmoon booth.

There was alot of running back and forth to Faire while we were setting up and it was a little wearing on the boys.


Vash on the way home

We were able to get gravel for the floor of the booth from Chip’s brother Jimmy and pavers were lent to us by the Faire.  Jesse did alot of the work on setting the floor of our booth.  So much so that he earned some extra money helping to lay gravel at another booth too.  He is turning into my construction dude.  🙂


Jesse filling in between the pavers

Chip worked on ways to enlarge the booth by removing the walls of the tent and expanding beyond its perimeter.

roxy hawk faire 012

The booth in action

He built wooden walls for the back of the booth to hang our product from and set up tables and benches for display and work.  We even had our “back room” where we kept most of our stuff in our trunks and extra production was done.

Ren Faire booth 054

Chip worked late into the night at the booth, building inventory by candlelight.


What was really wonderful was how we were welcomed back at Faire.  We literally sold almost all of Chip’s work.  We found out that we won best new booth at the end of the year vendor/actor’s party.  That felt really good.

There is alot of work to show you that Chip did that I will save for later posts.

For now, I want to wish you a happy December 26th – my personal favorite day of the year (yes – the day when its all finally DONE!!) and get to working on some new blog posts to get us moving into this next calendar year.  It is going to be a busy one.

I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season, whatever your holidays are, and that life has treated you well this year.  2015 was a lot of work for our family and we are really hoping that 2016 just builds on what we were able to accomplish.  I am hoping to show you alot of that in the coming year.  Thank you for checking in.  🙂

Onward and Upward.




Posted in Chip, Family, Hawk Studio, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Adventures in Real Estate – Back Porch Steps

The past year and a half has been kinda crazy – we probably have taken on more than we should have but what else is new.  Chip and I both have a habit of saying yes as our initial response to just about anything, and  a couple of years ago we said yes to buying a two family apartment house.  It has been an. . . .


While there are ALOT of stories I can tell about this . . Experience . . lets focus on what a great learning Experience it has been.  We have learned that our Jesse has an aptitude for woodworking – and Chip can build staircases from scratch.

When we bought the place it came complete with an upstairs tenant who had not paid rent in 10 months and did not believe in bringing her garbage to the street for pick-up.

4-2013 thru 11-2013 759

Yeah, she just left it all for us when she finally left.

The porch was in pretty rough shape when we got the place and the whole thing had to be replaced.  The stairs were a real mess and just were unsafe for use.

4-2013 thru 11-2013 7614-2013 thru 11-2013 760

So over the summer Chip and Jesse got to work on it.

They did the floor of the deck early on, but when Chip laid out the boards, the deck had about a 3 inch overhang.  That was when Jesse jumped in.


He used his math skills and worked out a new pattern for the layout of the boards which removed any overhang.


He was pretty proud of that.

He also worked with Dad with putting in the new posts.

20150704_181904(1)Chip did alot of work on this.  The angle of the staircase meant he had to build the stringer and all the steps, 20151027_135159as well as build the railings.


Including around the entire deck.




The last part was putting in the balisters and it was done.

20151105_125432Well, it could be painted but Chip tells me that the wood has to age before he paints it.

I am pretty proud of my boys.

We have all put alot of hours into rehabbing this apartment house – though Chip has done the grand majority.  I don’t really think we will ever really make our money back on this place, but Jesse discovered a new skill, and the house will be a much nicer place when we are done.  Hopefully we can turn a negative space into a brighter spot on the street.

We are trying.

I am sure I will be showing you more on what we have been doing with this place down the road.  It will get finished . . . it will get finished. . . it will get finished. . . . .

Onward and Upward.  🙂

Posted in Adventures in Real Estate, Family | Tagged , , | 5 Comments