Surprise! We’ve been on vacation

A few weeks ago, I explained our lack of firehouse progress due to the fact that we were recovering from the carport wrap and Aaron was working like mad to finish wedding portfolios. That was mostly true.

The whole truth is that we have been long overdue for a proper vacation (because, firehouse.) Over a year ago we helped Kim and Scott at Yellow Brick Home keep their blog active during their vacation. When a fellow guest blogger detailed the wonders of Portland (a city we’ve always heard good things about) we were sold by the promise of good food and good hiking. We looked up the prime time to visit the Pacific Northwest and opted to book two full weeks in late August. We locked in our airline tickets (thanks American Express rewards points!) and spent the next year researching. Our final itinerary mixed wine tasting, city exploration and lots of hiking/photographing.

In mid-August, we hopped a direct flight (Omg! I’m in love) to Seattle and started a relaxed trek that took us through the Willamette Valley, Portland, Mt. Rainier, Olympic National Park and Seattle. While we get back into the work groove (on all fronts… painting is progressing in the stairwell), I’m dedicating this week to a vacation recap with so so iPhone pictures. We are anxiously awaiting our film to be processed so we can start picking out some art for the living room.

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Willamette Valley
Wine collecting is a huge hobby of ours. If you’ve seen our basement you know we have an extensive collection that is just awaiting a proper wine cellar. Ergo wine tasting in the Willamette Valley seemed like the perfect way to unwind and kick off our vacation.

The plan: Taste and take home some awesome pinot noir (which the region is known for)

The lodging: For most of the trip, we stayed in vacation rentals, which feel a bit more comfy to us. We like having the option to cook (or at least make snacks) and would rather curl up on a couch than a hotel bed (because if I’m horizontal I’m very likely to fall asleep. I’ve very good at sleeping.) We booked this bungalow, which had it’s pros and cons. It was a great location with easy access to wineries and walking distance to McMinnville’s uber cute downtown. We also liked that it had a washer and dryer. The downside is that the kitchen looked great, but didn’t have a lot of the necessary tools to really cook. Because it was the start of our vacation we had limited plans to cook, so it didn’t cause a huge problem.

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The highlights:
Rather than give you an extensive rundown (like I did following our trip to Napa on my in hiatus food blog), I wanted to focus on this highlights of this wine area. Here are the wineries we enjoyed the most (and the ones I would send you to if you asked for my opinion.)

Brick House Vineyards – Brick House kept coming up in my research so I finally caved and made a reservation. We enjoyed a lovely, private tasting in the barrel room. This small producer has a gorgeous plot of land and they make excellent wine.

Beaux Freres – A reservation is required. Make one. They have delicious wine and major street cred. When we were asked what wineries we were visiting a mention of Beaux Freres always induced an “Oh, these people know what they’re doing” reaction.

Chehalm – Situated at the north end of wine country, Chehalm was positioned as a great first stop for our wine country tour. Their tasting room is intimate and manned by very friendly folks. There was zero pretension and good wine. We took home a few delicious whites.

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Eyrie Vineyards – Eyrie had a lot of good wines, including some pinot noir that we plan to cellar for a few years. But the biggest surprise was a light and fruity pinot gris that was a steal at $16.50 a bottle.

Trisaetum – They have a great portfolio and gorgeous tasting room. We were particularly impressed with the French style rose.

Seufert Winery - We came to Seufert as the last stop of the last day of our time in Willamette. Truthfully, we were a little worn out. We spent the morning visiting some large scale producers that left a bad taste in our mouth (in every sense of the phrase.) We were tired of wine that was clearly too young and clearly overpriced. A “meh” lunch in Dundee didn’t help our mood. We agreed to make one more stop, and I picked Seufert because it was out of the way compared to the other places we had been. Unlike the other wineries on my list, I had zero notes about this place. I’m not sure where I found it, but I’m so glad I did.

We walked into a release party for wine club members and were instantly invited to partake. The winemaker was grilling up small bites to accompany the new wine releases. We were basically treated to a delicious, fresh (second) lunch and an extensive tasting of delicious, aged pinot noir. We spent two hours there and basically fell in love. The food was amazing. The staff was super friendly. And the wine was exactly what we had been looking for – better, even, because of the price. It was the perfect way to end this part of the trip.

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The food: McMinnville has some seriously delicious dining. Thanks to Yelp and some local recommendations we enjoyed bites at Community Plate (the tuna melt was so, so good), La Rambla (fantastic happy hour), and Thai Country Restaurant. Our favorite, even though it was all good, was Crescent Cafe, which serves up made-from-scratch breakfast and is SO, SO worth the wait. Their elevated, but still home-style breakfast food was amazing.

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Next stop: Portland and hiking around Mt. Rainier. Then on to Olympic National Park and Seattle.

 

Testing, testing

Lest you think all we’re doing is buying random antiques (exhibit A and B), I dug through my “to be posted” list and came up with this safety reminder. As with any “pre-owned home” that was built in the mid century, we had a few concerns about potentially hazardous materials lurking within. Three materials were causing us to worry a little.

Upstairs the original paint (see red and beige in the living room) made us wonder what kind of lead was within.

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We also had a few asbestos concerns. The plaster in the upstairs living room:

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And some original pipes in the basement:

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Before diving into the upstairs living room overhaul, Aaron took to the internet and found a company that would economically test all of our materials. (We have since lost our reports and the name of the company… because renovations.) He grabbed a few samples of each area for testing.

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A few weeks later we had our results. Paint in the living room:

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Lead free!

Plaster in the living room:

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Asbestos free!

And pipe wrap in the basement:

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Womp, womp! We’ve got asbestos.

Honestly, this was the material we were most worried about. The good news is we have no plans to disturb these pipes, so we can coexist without fear. The bad news is that if those plans change, we’ll be in for a hefty asbestos removal bill.

Eames chair

We’re probably getting quite a reputation for hoarding mid century gems. We’ve got a fireplace in storage that we’d like to put in the master bedroom, an embarrassing amount of lights that will become awesome lamps, lockers that will be put to good use in the workshop, and now this:

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Back in April, The Future Antiques (TFA) launched some social media efforts and we both spotted a “needs restored Eames Plycraft lounger.” This chair has been on Aaron’s wishlist for quite some time, but based on price it fell just below “an original Ansel Adams print.” I knew he’d get it eventually, but not any time soon.

Even though we visited TFA just a few days after the picture was posted (and scored a coffee table and some side tables), we both thought there was zero chance the chair would still be available.

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After talking ourselves into the tables and negotiating a 10% discount on the set, we headed for the clearance section and saw this beauty was still waiting for us. I took one look at the price tag ($200!) and knew it was coming home with us. The owner even extended the discount to our entire order, so we only paid $180 for this chair. Giddiness ensued.

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Once the chair was home, Aaron turned to Ebay to find a foot stool in need of repair. He picked one up for just $60.

The plan is for Aaron to restore the wood and then turn it over to Jose (who did a masterful job on our couch) for the upholstery. We’ll ditch the camel color, but we’d like to keep the original feel, which limits our options to black or white.

It’s in waiting mostly because we don’t have a home for it right now. Eventually it will probably live in the downstairs living room. (Can we not talk about how it’s already August and we’re not getting as much done this year as we hoped?)

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Ok, fess up. What are you hoarding? Vintage or new/big or small?

Radio silence and random buys

Usually when we take a break around here it’s unintended. This time was no different. After what seemed like a Herculean effort to finish the carport turned garage, Aaron turned his attention to real work, like shooting and editing images for the lovely people who hire us for their weddings.

It’s all part of our natural ebb and flow with renovation projects. Right now energy is low and other priorities are taking center stage. We’ve also been drinking in the occasional free weekend in our wedding season. That means firing up the smoker (I’m still drooling over the beef brisket we inhaled a few weeks ago), hitting up the farmer’s market, grabbing brunch, spending some time on the most lovely couch in the world, and strolling through a few antique malls.

A recent trip produced quite an array of finds. Let’s take a look.

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It funny to see it all laid out because it seems like a true slice of our lives: construction, photography, decorating, adult beverages and cooking.

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These crocks are my favorite baking vessel when I’m making cherry crisp for the two of us. After shattering one, I was on a serious hunt to re-complete my set. In the very last row of the antique mall, I stumbled on two crocks as part of a larger set for just $8.

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These glass drink stirrers will look fabulous on the new bar we’re planning. We grabbed two sets for just $5 each.

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I’m a little obsessed with ALL the white dishes. I’ve been eying custard cups like these for a while. They are the perfect size for dip-able condiments. These six white cups with zero chips were just $5 so I snatched them up.

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We’ve gotten very picky on which decanters come home with us because our collection is quite large, and we don’t have the right bar for all those bottles. This one stole our heart with its simple, curvy lines. I think this guy was just $15.

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One of the things I love about antique malls is that you never know what will strike your fancy. These stone bookends jumped out to both of us. We have a growing collection of books, and one house can only handle so many stacks of books. The warm tones and clean lines on this set will play perfectly in nearly any room. At $25 we felt like they were a steal.

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Speaking of books… they are constantly on my scouting list. I love picking up over-sized tomes at antique malls, where they cost a fraction of the price of new books. My favorite to date is the one living on our bar that says “WINE” on the spine.

We’re partial to photo heavy books and this National Geographic book featuring lakes, peaks and prairies instantly caught our eye. I always, always look behind the dust cover because I know it’s coming off when we get home. This book won with a simple design cover design, a publishing date in Aaron’s birth year, and a low price tag.

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We love the shape of this glass piece. Ultimately we think it will be a lamp, but the “tea storage” label makes it a piece I’m happy to display as is.

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We love fondue. It’s a thing. It’s coming back. $3 for vintage forks = yes, please!

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After years (literally) of searching for a Viewmaster in good shape at a reasonable price, Aaron finally scored one a few months ago. So when we saw a rack of reels, we scoured them for interesting images. A few national parks and the Art and Space Exhibit at the Smithsonian (a nod to Aaron’s love of all things space related) were easy choices at just $1.25 a pop.

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At antique malls, we always gravitate toward “old man booths.” Old guys keep the most interesting stuff. And when it’s time to get rid of said stuff, it creates a booth that seems like you’re digging through your grandpa’s garage. In this booth, we nabbed some corner braces and string for just a few bucks.

So that’s our recent antique mall spree. Is anyone else beating the summer heat by killing a few hours at antique malls. I’d love to see your finds!

How we get into the garage and staining the backside

Apparently we caused a little confusion with our ipe garage post. I didn’t actually show you how we get our cars into the garage. My bad. The post was picture heavy and I really wanted something to chat with you about this week. Projects are slow because w-editing. That’s short for “editing wedding images” for those non-wedding photographers out there… of which there may be many more thanks to our recent feature on Apartment Therapy. Hi, new readers!

I digress. We can, in fact, get our cars into the garage thanks to the alley access on the backside of the building.

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Part way through the ipe wrap we got garage doors, which was a happier day than I ever imagined.

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Then we grappled with how to finish the alley side of the garage. We L O V E the look of the ipe and we usually choose aesthetics over… well, over everything else (specifically time and money.) But the ipe wrap had turned into a very tedious project, and we questioned whether the alley side really needed that treatment. We were also really happy with how the stain on the fence posts turned them into a deep brown the mimicked the tone of the ipe.

Stain (and common sense?) won. While Aaron worked (tirelessly) on the ipe, I spent a few hours on a few weekend days to coat the exposed wood with Behr Semi-Transparent Weather Proofing All-in-one Wood Stain and Sealer tinted to chocolate.

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We are really happy with the results. It gave the wood a rich feel that ties in nicely with the ipe AND it was a project I could tackle. It’s always nice when I can get in on the renovation and take something off of Aaron’s plate.

Here are a few angles: pre-doors, pre-stain and finished.

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These two pictures (above and below) are a good example of how the light (cloudy above, sunny below) affect the appearance of the cor-ten fence.

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A few people asked for pictures of the interior of the garage. I’m giving you an IOU for that, but I promise it’s not very exciting or photogenic. More to come!