A MERRY little EVERYTHING

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The day after Christmas has always been a little heart breaking to me. As a child, the thought of waiting 364 days until Santa returns was unbearable, but even as an adult, I can’t help but feel that something magical has vanished and suddenly all that’s left in its place is the thought that winter, the real bleakness of it, has only just begun. Sigh.

It’s so tempting to just curl up into bed with no honest plans to leave until Spring, but this year (like everything) I find myself wondering what I can do to make the cold days a little more bearable. But with a trip to Hawaii not in the works, and new snow boots waiting by the door to make their debut, I know that the only place the warmth is going to come from is a fire, the heat turned to full blast, or my own little shivering heart. Life in those precious weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas seems to be fueled by a frenzy of glitter and goodwill. People love to mumble about trimming trees and baking cookies and wrapping gifts for other people, but I have to believe that it’s part of the Christmas cheer equation. Hide behind your Grinch face if you must, but I know that tasting the first homemade cookie made you smile, especially if it was mom’s recipe, or maybe something new you came up with yourself. And there’s a reason that the tree looks a little more special when you go chop it down yourself, or when it’s hung with ornaments that each have a little story to tell. The more love you put in, the more love you get out. And that simple equation is the only thing that’s going to keep us warm for the next few months.

So hold your loved ones close. Treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate and put extra marshmallows in for the 3 year old you once were. Stay up past midnight to watch the snow start falling, and spend an entire Saturday in your pajamas writing letters to your favorite people. Be in awe of yourself and the things that your two little hands can make. Take the time to create little moments of beauty, and most importantly, share them with everyone you can. Because with the days so dark and cold, we need all the light we can get.

And now, from me to you, some Christmas moments of beauty. And my most successful (and easiest!) shortbread recipe of the season. I wish I had a million more pictures, especially of the faces that I love, but I so rarely have my camera on me for those perfect moments. Something I can’t decide if I should change or not. All the same, here’s hoping for the kind of snow that forces us all to watch movies for days and a simple, daily kind of magic that continues the whole year through.

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My Shortbread Cookies

3 cups flour
1 cup powdered sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, the softer the better
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325. Mix everything in a big bowl or food processor if you’re lucky enough to have one. Mixture should be light and crumbly. Press firmly into 9×13 pan. Poke holes to avoid air bubbles. Bake for 35 minutes or until lightly golden. cut immediately. Let cool for 10-15 minutes, Sprinkle with *sugar and remove from pan. Enjoy!

*If you want to make these extra special, mix up a little rosemary-lavender-lemon finishing sugar. About 1 tablespoon of each to 2 cups of sugar, but really whatever suits you. Mince up the rosemary, lavender and lemon peel, and mix into the sugar. Be sure to inhale deeply during the chopping process for maximum pleasure. Then just simply sprinkle onto cookies. Save the extra for next time, or jar it up to make a gift for someone you adore.

MINI-MAKEOVERS: Better with Kittens

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Yes, I used a cute kitten picture to lure you in. But it’s going to be totally worth it! We’ve been working on a mini-makeover the past few weeks, turning a barren apartment into a haven for a do-gooder client who absolutely deserves a place to relax at the end of the day. We finished up most of the work in the wee hours of the night, but I was able to snag some shots of the bedroom before the sun went down. And of course, a photo of the adorable kitten she was fostering at the time. Enjoy!

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And a peek at what things looked like before we got to work…

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NEW FINDS in our ETSY SHOP

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If you thought we were bad about updating our blog, clearly you’ve never seen our Etsy shop! Today’s the day.

We’ve capitalized on Cyber Monday in a big way, and by that I mean we posted a handful of new finds in the shop. Just about everything we found somewhere in our travels, fell in love with, and bought because we couldn’t not buy it, and because we’d probably end up using it in a design job someday, right? No, not right. We love all these finds so much it’s hard to part with them, but our hoarding days are coming to an end. Which means we can pass the legwork- and financial-savings on to YOU. So head on over and check them out.

A QUICK KITCHEN FACELIFT in MASS.

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As usual, it’s been way too long since our last blog post. We’re really going to work to change that in the new year. Seriously! We mean it this time! There’s just something about designing and executing everything ourselves that doesn’t leave much time or energy for photographing and documenting our work as much as we should. Especially when we have to pull a couple 12+ hour days in a row to meet an end-of-job deadline. ┬áBut believe me when I say we’re working on it! We even have an Etsy shop update and a website update in the works.

Until then, here are some photos from a little job we’ve never posted on our own site (though you may have seen it on Remodelista a few months ago): Justine Hand’s kitchen. What a whirlwind! We had less than five days and a $3,000 materials budget to work with, so it might have been some of our fastest work to date. But it turned out beautifully.

Big thanks to Justine for letting us use her beautiful photos!

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And here’s how it looked before we started:

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Big Indian REVEAL Revealed

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Last week we had the honor of sharing our Big Indian project with the world. In case you missed the beautifully done feature on Remodelista, be sure to take a look. We owe a huge thanks to Justine Hand for putting so much care into entire piece, and for taking the time to so eloquently explain the insane amount of work that went into the project.

It’s always so exciting to have these big projects revealed. We spend so many months working in isolation, doubting ourselves, sweating, sanding, etc, that it’s so thrilling-and slightly nerve wracking!- to throw the cover off and say, here it is! This article in particular was a total stunner, and I found myself bragging to complete strangers about the feature, something I swear I never usually do. So really, be sure to take a peek at it.

Luckily for all of you die hard fans out there, I am a compulsive picture taker, which means that even though Remodelista filled their post with tons of pictures, there are still tons more to share! So now, for your viewing pleasure, a personal peek into our Big Indian project, with some never-before-seen final shots. Enjoy!

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JERSEY ICE CREAM CO to HEAD WEST

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Yes, yes, yes it’s all true! We are packing our bags, leaving our lousy winter coats behind and heading west to a place where the grass may truly be greener. We’ve been secretly planning our big escape to west coast for months, maybe forever. I remember reading in some book, or lost article a brilliant quote. It went something like, “There are two types of people in this world. People who live in California, and people who wish they lived in California.” Based on a personal study of one, I would say that quote is completely true, and I have big hopes about transitioning from a wisher to a liver. As in, one who is living their big, glorious, beauty filled life in California.

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That all being said, we are happy to announce that we are on the hunt for our first California project. Just to really get the word out, I am going to resort to shouting. WE ARE ON THE HUNT FOR OUR FIRST CALIFORNIA PROJECT! So if you, or someone you know, lives in CA and has a renovation or design project that we might be able to help with, let us know! As always, we are up for a challenge, so don’t hesitate to overwhelm us with something that you might think is a little nuts. It’s the crazy things that we get excited about. Please send all requests and questions to jerseyicecreamco@gmail.com, where we will be checking our email compulsively.

California, here we come!

Stay TUNED!

When we last left you, the little full-of-potential-but-currently-devoid-of-any-charm cabin in the Catskills we were working on looked something like this:

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“Not great” doesn’t even begin to cover it. But now we’re done!

Actually, we’ve been done. We packed up and (begrudgingly) shipped out of the Catskills just before Labor Day, and we’ve been neglecting our blog ever since. As usual. And when I say neglecting, I mean neglecting so willfully I can’t believe I’m even doing this right now. Not that I haven’t wanted to! “I should really do a blog post” is a thought that has popped up in my mind every day and then sunk back under only to resurface just as surely the next day. But here we are! Sort of.

The entire house is going to be on Remodelista next week, so unfortunately you’re going to have to wait a few more days to see what we did with the place. It’s a shame we aren’t better about documenting the process, because I’m not even sure the before and after photos will do justice to the amount of work we did.

We moved walls–lots of them. We spent days in a crawl space no taller than a foot in some places, redoing pretty much the entire house’s plumbing since we decided the bathroom had to move. We demo’d a big ugly kitchen worth of big ugly tiles, laid some new subfloor, and then we sanded, stained, cut, installed, and poly’d brand new hardwood floors. We built furniture, modified antique pieces from Brimfield to work as kitchen base cabinets, built open kitchen shelves, and tore out the sagging kitchen ceiling. We painted, painted, painted, and painted some more. And that’s probably doesn’t even cover half of it.

In the end, we took this place, with it’s oddly-shaped, barely functional rooms…

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…and turned it into this place:

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So stay tuned for the after photos! We can’t wait to share them with you all.

LITTLE JOYS & The Great Outdoor Shower

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Today is the kind of day that makes you grateful. I’m not sure if it’s the blue skies, the unexpected warmth that means so much more now that an autumn chill has hit the air, or that it’s day two of the Oprah meditation thing I’m doing, but my guess is that it’s a perfect combination of all three.

The days here are filled with tiny joys and discoveries. Learning the name of a flower you’ve loved for years, bringing home boxes of fresh produce, finding a hike quite literally in your backyard. When you have such a simple backdrop, these details are easier to see. We now have an indoor toilet, a bathroom sink AND a bathroom door. That my friends, is happiness. Sure, there are still frustrating moments, there are still gloomy days, and I may never learn how to properly use commas, but when the sun shines and a hummingbird hovers in front of you for a moment, you can’t help but feel pretty darn lucky.

Whoa. I just swatted a daddy longlegs off my arm and it somehow shattered into a million pieces, or eight I guess. Did you know the little legs still wiggle around on their own, like a chicken with its head cut off? There’s your science lesson for the day. Also, powdered sugar is just regular sugar put through a tornado! Throw some sugar into a Vitamix and you’ll see what I mean. It’s pretty magical.

I digress, but perfectly. That’s what it’s all about these days. It feels like we’re building life from scratch sometimes, so little thing are something to be celebrated, or at the very least, noticed. Life doesn’t always feel this way, and so often it gets swarmed up into one big stress ball, so for now this change of pace is a blessing wrapped in a blessing, even though I still complain about it every three days. You can take the girl out of the crazy, but you can’t take the crazy out of the girl.

There are so many things to be grateful for. But you all need to SEE some beauty today. And I think you deserve to look at something a little more appealing than a bathroom door. And with that, I awkwardly transition into the second half of this post, which is an ode to the outdoor shower!

I’ve been swooning over the joy of showering outdoors since we waved goodbye to the confines of indoors a few months ago. There is no better way to wash off a long run or a hard day’s work. Fresh air, fresh water and naked bodies. I feel a little dirty writing that sentence, but it’s the perfect combination and it must be said. If you have the chance to get outside and lather up before the summer ends I strongly urge you to do so. Don’t let rain or a chill in the air stop you, they truly only add to the experience. And oh, what a glorious one it is.

So without future ado, an ode to the outdoor shower. I love you in the sun, I love you in the rain.
And if you don’t feel the same way after checking out these beauties, you’re just plain crazy.

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Awesome simple Outdoor Bathroom Design

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BIG INDIAN, NY

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Try as we might to plan our lives these days, our job seems to be leading the way, introducing us to new people, plopping us down in parts of the country that are nowhere on our “Places We Should Maybe Live” list. For now, it’s really the most perfect thing for us, since as the aforementioned list title might suggest, we’re a little unsure which way to point the wagon at this point. You know, the covered wagon that we’ll take to travel west, with hammers and saws and paint brushes and old mason jars falling out of the back.

So where in the world are we? Thanks to some soon-to-be famous Brooklyn restauranteurs, we are spending the summer in Big Indian, NY. A tiny little enclave up in the Catskill mountains, bursting with green trees, wildflowers, rushing rivers, and mosquitos. The project? To bring some charm and authenticity to a Catskill cabin that currently feels a bit too much like a modern condo in the middle of the woods. Well, currently it feels like a house with it’s guts hanging out, but one thing at a time here.

We are insistent that we have some time to enjoy the glories of summer, so we’ve tried to build in some time for weekends and afternoons trips to the local watering hole. (And yes, I do mean that in the good old-fashioned watering hole kind of way.) Still, we’ve given ourselves 8 weeks to take this place from an empty house with little charm, to a perfect, fully furnished and decorated, cabin getaway. As of now we’ve been here for about two weeks, and the place looks VERY different than it does in these pictures. But to give you an idea of what we’re working with, let the grand tour begin!

IMG_9147 View of the house! And our trusty Suburban.

IMG_9147a I didn’t manage to get a full picture of this room before we attacked it with our stuff. Clutter aside, this room is definitely the star of the house.

IMG_9148Tiny sad kitchen. Soon to be extinct.

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IMG_9402Second bedroom. Soon to be home to a new bathroom. (Can’t WAIT.)

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IMG_9404The great outdoors! Send lawn games please!

IMG_9405And the best part of all, our outdoor shower. Thank goodness for you.

So there you have it! The little house that is constantly on our minds. The project has really just begun, so stay tuned for the excitement! It’s got a long way to go, but this place is going to be a beauty no doubt. Just to give you a tiny little peek at what’s in store, this is how things look today…

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Eek, I know! It has to get worse before it gets better! Take comfort in these adorable kittens. And don’t take your running water for granted!

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xox

HOLY SHIPLAP and Other Pieces of Cake

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I can’t believe it was just a few weeks ago I was working in this gorgeous home, surrounded by some of the nicest things I’ve ever seen, including a personal favorite, central air. As I write this now I am continually being swarmed by ants and mosquitos, surrounded by tools in a house with no running water, no toilet, no tub, no sink, and nowhere to sit except the very chair I am sitting on. So you can see why it seems like a distant dream. A dream that I am very happy to sink into.

We knew this was going to be a great job when we walked in and were greeted with lemon squares, crumb cake and freshly pressed coffee. Future clients, take note. Kristian (names have not been changed to protect the fabulous) has spectacular taste, so his house already looked amazing, but we needed to bring in some warmth and texture to soften up the new construction-ness of it. The whole place is open and clean and filled with light, so we knew it was going to look great, but we didn’t know it was going to look THIS great.

We used wood from Lowe’s, and washed it with Farrow & Ball’s Cornforth White. (0kay, okay, we just color matched a sample of the color. Sue me.) A few days of cutting and nailing and sanding and caulking and touching up and voila! Best darn looking living room north of Spring Garden.

It just goes to show that shiplap, like baked goods, makes everything a little bit better.

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