A Sunny Afternoon in Rockport, MA

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Rockport, Massachusetts is one of my happy places. I spent a lot of time here in my college days, grabbing coffee with girlfriends, brunch with my parents, and dates with my then-boyfriend-now-husband.

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Rockport is most famous for it’s charming, decked out, red fishing hut with colorful buoys that sits in the middle of the harbor. I’ve been told it’s one of the most photographed places in New England. Rockport is also famous for being the location set of The Proposal. The town was temporarily decorated to look like Sitka, Alaska.

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Bear Skin Neck is the touristy area of Rockport, and I love it! A few weeks ago I spent an afternoon there with a good friend, and I thought I’d share.

Here are my favorite things to do in Rockport:

Where to Eat in Rockport:

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Tuck’s Candy Shop – If you’re looking for a sweet to nibble, pop into Tuck’s Candy Shop to watch them make homemade salt water taffy or fudge. They’ve got all the classics, like truffles, and vintage candies, as well as some new delights, like a Dark Chocolate Gummi Bear cup!


image from Cape Anne Magazine

My Place by the Sea – If you’re looking for a fantastic bowl of clam chowder, a lovely dinner date night, or a meal with a gorgeous view, My Place by the Sea is it. Whenever Moose and I debate where we can get the best bowl of clam chowder in New England, this place is always mentioned.

rockport11Helmut’s Strudel – Sharing a strudel here is not a good idea. Just sayin’. Buy your own and get it to go. Take it down to the end of the Neck and enjoy before the seagulls descend.

Honorable mention: The Blue Lobster Grill. This place has changed hands a few times in recent years, and I haven’t tried the newest version. Back in the day, it was called the Greenery and was a great spot to brunch! There is a cafe in the front (muffins! hot cocoa!), and a restaurant in the back that is all glass windows and overlooks the harbor. I can’t vouch for the food of the current place, but the view made for a wonderful experience.

 Where to Shop in Rockport:

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Lulu’s Pantry – One of my favorite kitchen shops. It’s a great place to get your favorite foodie or chef a gift, or splurge of some beautiful items, or hard-to-find ingredients, for your kitchen. The balcony off the back of the shop provides a picture-perfect view of the harbor.

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Milk & Honey – a beautiful little home decor store. HomeGoods doesn’t hold a candle to it.

What to Do in Rockport:

Bear Skin Neck: Walk (don’t be that person that tries to drive) to the end of Bear Skin Neck. Admire the ocean views and clamor around on the rock wall. Take in the salty air and sunshine.

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Gallery Hop: There are a number of fantastic art galleries in Rockport, many in which the artist makes frequent appearances! A long-time favorite of mine is George Anderson, with his colorful, graphic, and fun nautical pieces.

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Old Country Store: Pop into the Old Country Store. It’s full of vintage, hard-to-find candies, funny, nostalgic gifts, and (randomly) a large assortment of cookie cutters! Make sure you put a quarter into the old Nickelodeon and watch it play a tune!

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Walk out to the Fishing Hut: Use the colorful buoys as a photo-op, admire the lobster traps, and check out the boats.

Those are some of my favorite things to do in Rockport. Where is your favorite seaside town?

 

Our (Messy) Bathroom Renovation

A final “beauty shot” compliments of iPhone Panorama camera feature.

There’s nothing like a good old renovation to get you feeling frantic about your home. I posted earlier this spring about preparing for our bathroom renovation, and it’s well-well-well underway!

I mentioned before we decided not to DIY this product project because it was complicated and messy and would have taken us a significant amount of time in addition to the other projects we already have going on!

After we removed the toilet, lighting fixtures, medicine cabinet, and vanity we were ready for the team to come in. And come in they did.

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We had a Home-Alone-2-style tube hanging out our guestroom window for all the debris. I can’t say I miss demo and the heavy mess you have to deal with.

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In order to make this bathroom larger we reconfigured the hall closet, a guest bedroom closet, in addition to moving a wall between the bathroom and the guestroom.

bath7We clearly weren’t thinking ahead! Our bedroom was behind the sealed-off construction area!

Obviously there are 1 million elements going on in this process. As a quick overview, after they tore down the walls and ripped up the floorboard, we were left with our new open space. We moved the doorway to the bathroom over by a few inches to maximize the new square footage we were gaining. (Originally there was a radiator behind the door, which we removed.)

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Recessed mirror frames and plumbing for new double sink.

Rough plumbing was put in, and a significant amount of work needed to be done to move the toilet, like cutting through the floor joists and reconfiguring plumbing. From an amateur’s perspective, you would think you can move things anywhere when you are gutting a room, but that simply just isn’t the case!  bath3 New plywood subfloor, toilet plumbing moved and framing for new window is added.

Next, the plywood floor was put down and they cut down the wood floor in the guestroom where the new wall will be. The new wall structure was put up. Then we had rough electrical added (outlets, light switches, canned lighting, and where we’d like to put the lights above our bathroom mirrors).

bath8 bath5New guest room closet and rough electrical is added.

Additionally, we moved the access panel to our attic from the main hallway into the new guest bedroom closet. This allowed us to reconfigure our cam lights in the hallway. It’s easy to see how renovations can quickly spread and grow – you’re doing one thing you might as well do them all at once!

bath6Building the new wall between the bathroom and guestroom.  bath9Yep. I showered in that. 

bath11The skylight will no longer be in the bathroom, but become a part of the attic. It’s old and once it starts leaking we don’t want to have to rip the new ceiling out. Plus it will no longer be centered in the bathroom and will provide natural light in the attic.

bath4Recessed shelves for the shower and you can see where the old window frame in the shower was.

Although it’s been messy and we’ve been without a shower (for far too long) I’m extremely excited for our new bathroom and it’s definitely been worth the wait.

Have you experienced a messy renovation? Does it scream “adventure!” or “disaster!” to you? I can’t decide which one it is for me!

 

A DIY Drawstring Beach Bag

For the last few years I have tried to keep my New Year’s Resolutions short, sweet, and practical. One of my goals has been to get better at sewing. One of my best friends, who is a sewing extraordinaire, has been temporarily living in Boston and I’ve been trying to soak in as much knowledge as possible.

(I have tried persuading her to blog about all her amazing creations, but she’s not biting. She posted an awesome tutorial for an Elsa dress from the movie Frozen, and then decided to quit blogging while she was ahead.)

I am learning how to sew from patterns. I am a hacker, make-stuff-up-as-I-go kind of person, so patterns are intimidating. But I have made my first sewing project from a pattern – a beach bag for this summer!

I used Pattern M6338 by McCall’s which I got on sale at JoAnn Fabrics for $1.00.

Choosing fabrics is always the fun part, and I always tend to buy them before I know what I’m going to make. This never bodes well, because how can you know how much to buy before you know what you are making?

A DIY Drawstring Beach Bag - DesignLively

A while ago I purchased the boat fabric, which is the Waverly Sun N Shade Set Sail Atlantic Blue pattern. The stripes (also an outdoor Waverly fabric) were a design from last year, so I can’t share the link. The red interior/handle fabric is was a set of cotton sheets I’ve been storing in my fabric bin to eventually use.

I used the heaviest interfacing I could find at Joann’s, which was a pain in the fingernails to sew (literally), but I like the sturdiness it adds to the bag.

A DIY Drawstring Beach Bag - DesignLively

A DIY Drawstring Beach Bag - DesignLively

There are lots of large pockets inside, and the bag will easily hold two beach towels and all our other beachy-gear.

I usually store everything (beach towels, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, aloe, etc) in my beach bag all year long, so it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice and there’s nothing forgotten!

A DIY Drawstring Beach Bag - DesignLively  A DIY Drawstring Beach Bag - DesignLively

My next goal is to sew something I can wear – so a robe is next on my list. I already bought my fabric and I am in loooooove. Choosing fabrics is 100x more exciting than the actual sewing part, as evidenced by all my projects on the docket that I’ve bought the material for and have yet to begin!

Do you sew with patterns? Any recommendations for a beginner like me?

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum feels more like you’re traipsing through Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s home than an art museum near Fenway. For precisely this reason, it’s a must-go on my list. This unusual museum was the home of Isabella Stewart Gardner. She was an avid art collector in the early 1900s, who set up the museum in her Fenway home and ordered it to be left exactly as it is – which is how you’ll view it today. There are no white gallery walls with succinct wall plaques to identify the beautiful Gothic and Renaissance pieces the house holds.No photos are allowed in the museum, so I’ll be sharing images from the Gardner Museum website.

The Courtyard

The Raphael Room

The Short Gallery

The Little Salon

The Dutch Room

The Spanish Cloisters

Where: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA

When: Open daily 11:00am–5:00pm, Thursday until 9:00pm

Highlights: There are a number of large-scale paintings by John Singer Sargent, including a portrait of Ms. Gardner herself that was deemed so “scandalous” it was hidden from public view during her lifetime by her husband. Don’t miss the beautiful ceiling painting in the Italian Room and the Michelangelo and Raphael sketches hidden behind paneling. The glass courtyard is a beauty to behold with constantly rotating foliage to admire. There are a number of non-art artifacts as well, including a hand-written letter by George Washington.

Of Note: In 1990 a number of works in the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum were stolen, and the robbery remains the largest theft of all time. The thieves stole a Vermeer, 3 Rembrandts, a Manet, 5 Degas, and several other items, amounting to $500 million in art. Several of the frames remain empty on the walls of the museum to this day.

Things to Know: The museum is quite dark inside to protect the artwork. We went on a Thursday night, and the added daylight from the windows would have been helpful in a few rooms. This is cell-phone free museum, you’ll want to keep it tucked away, or one of the many lurking docents will kindly ask you to. Public transportation recommended, as parking in this area of the city is notoriously difficult.

Admission: $15/adult. Free if your name is Isabella. $5/adult if you purchase your tickets through a local library.

 

The G Cafe inside the museum looks lovely, and gets great reviews. However, we were there at closing time, so we walked around West Fens and tested out a great sushi/hot pot place instead – Swish Shabu. It garnered two sushi-sized thumbs up from all of us!

Does art theft fascinate you as much as it does me?