We had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, including being back in the house, the weather cooling off, and the fact that I managed to successfully make oyster cornbread dressing for the first time without ruining a $22 pint of local oysters.
A Long Pause
Those of you who have been reading our blog for a while might recall that we arrived in Eastpoint in January. With my parents in assisted living in Jacksonville near my sister, our intention was to clear out and prepare their home to put it on the market in late March. One week before we were ready to pull out of the driveway, the pandemic stepped in and put a halt to our travels.
The next few months were a blur, with my father’s passing in early May and our decision to renovate the house in the dog days of a Florida summer. It was painful, all of it.
Click on any photo for a larger view
After living in the trailer during the hellacious summer of remodeling, we moved back into the house in October, with minor details requiring the help of contractors dragging on for the next eight weeks. We have almost recovered from the trauma we inflicted on ourselves. I wish I had kept a few of the holiday decorations we came across in our archeological dig. But who would have thought way back last March that we would STILL be here in December?
Enjoying The Fruits Of Our Labors
Now that the remodel is done, we are enjoying the serenity, light, and spaciousness of the house. Although it’s only a 1400 square foot home, it feels enormous after living in our 27-foot trailer for more than seven years. We’ve even left two of the bedrooms empty. It’s hard to conceive of needing that much space.
Furnishing the house was an interesting project during the pandemic, with all of our shopping done online. Sadly, we were only able to salvage a couple of items of furniture from my folks’ house. Almost everything else came from Wayfair, which is a great resource, but a vortex of options. If you’ve ever bought anything from Wayfair, you know what I’m talking about. Even with putting in every parameter possible, I was still presented with at least 500 choices in end tables or anything else I was searching for. I hope I’m done with shopping for a good long time.
We’ve kept things simple because we’re still intending to put the house on the market. The longer we’re here, the harder it is to think of leaving, though. I suspect it’s equal parts of loving it here, needing to recover from a long hard year, and inertia.
Fall In North Florida
Adding greatly to our current enjoyment is the fact that the weather finally cooled off in October. Summer was atrocious. But fall in North Florida is grand. The landscape is alive with color and sound. Scores of butterflies and dragonflies float by, birds strip berries from the bushes, herons fish from the dock, dolphins play in the bay, lizards skitter through the leaves, and a frog chorus rises from the marsh every night.
And we have friends, and that makes everything better. We’ve been enjoying kayaking, happy hours, and dinners with our fulltime traveling buddies Shannon and Ken, who’ve been stranded here since January, too. They’re using their time to build a home on St. George Island, just across the bridge. And on our daily walks and bike rides in the neighborhood, we’ve made several new friends with whom we have a lot in common.
We only socialize with people who are as careful as we are, and only on the screened porch. Which is kind of a bummer, considering that we have a house that’s all fixed up. But the porch is wonderful, and we feel extremely fortunate that the Florida winter will allow us to socialize outdoors.
A Thanksgiving Cooking Project
Being here in the oyster capital of Florida, I got the idea that I wanted oyster cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving and couldn’t get it out of my head. This was a project, making the cornbread from scratch and being afraid of ruining the oysters. But it turned out great! I had some for breakfast today, LOL.
If you should ever get a craving for the same, try this recipe for the cornbread and this recipe for the oyster dressing. (I eat gluten-free, so I subbed corn flour for the regular flour in the cornbread recipe, and used all cornbread in the dressing instead of a mixture of bread and cornbread. I cut the cornbread into small cubes instead of crumbling it. Oh, and add dried thyme to the dressing. And sage, if you like.)
We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, in whatever form it took in these fraught times. Stay well, dear ones. OX
Wow, what a spectacular backyard!! Wonderful! you guys are lucky too, to have such good neighbors and friends nearby, especially folks who share your interests. Thx for info about Ken and Shannon, as I’m building next year too, and their suggestions on their blog will help me tremendously.
We do feel lucky to have good friends and neighbors in these strange times, Terri. Definitely check out Shannon and Ken’s blog…they’re doing a great job of documenting their house build.
Happy Holidays Amigos. Stay Safe and Enjoy Florida👍😎
Thanks, Michael! Happy Holidays to you, too! :-)
What a transformation! You’ve done a beautiful job. Relax and enjoy for a while. You’ve earned it, and it looks like a great place to be in fall and winter.
Oh, thank you, Kim! We’re so happy to be done with this project. And it truly is wonderful here in fall, winter and spring. Enjoy a cozy winter in your beautiful Oregon coastal paradise!
Wow! What a spectacular reveal! Glad you made it comfy because this nightmare might get dragged out for awhile even if a vaccine works. Stay safe and enjoy life.
Brenda, we’re happy with the way everything turned out, and we’re REALLY happy it’s done. Imagine Eric in the heat and humidity, LOL. I agree with you, a vaccine isn’t going to magically return life to normal. We’re sending you hugs from the Gulf Coast to the Oregon Coast!
As always, you bring out the best not only with where you may be traveling but where you live, too! Congrats on the house and, coming from freezing-fog-filled Ashland, wintering in Florida doesn’t sound like a bad idea. I believe it’s 28 degrees here, with icy sidewalks and thick fog.
Doug, thank you so much for your always kind comments. :-) We hear that you guys have a new home in Ashland! I’m glad you got moved before winter set in. Brrrr, 28 degrees with ice and fog sounds really cold. It’s going to take us a while to adjust when we finally get back to Oregon. We feel like it’s chilly when it gets below 60 degrees now, LOL. Hugs to you and Sue.
The house turned out great, and if you have to be stuck somewhere, what a lovely place to be stuck. I love how you decorated with your own photography. Are you sure you want to sell and not rent? I think I’d have a really hard time selling, especially after the remodel. Enjoy those views and the FL winter.
Thanks, Ingrid—I appreciate your comment, knowing that you have been a contractor! We were trying to decorate in a cost-effective way and decided to go with canvas prints of some of our photos. We have a lot of big blank walls!
It is going to be really hard to sell this place, but I’m not sure how realistic it is to keep a home on the opposite side of the country. Sigh. Enjoy your winter in Arizona!
Laurel, I love the transformation of your Mom and Dad’s home. Renovations always take longer than expected, but what a nice reward. I loved that you used some of your photographs as artwork on the walls. The screened porch and the fire pit are perfect for enjoying Fall in North Florida.
How nice that your friends are building on the island and that they have been close by during your extended stay.
My senses are dancing with the thought of oyster dressing. That was my Grandmother’s annual contribution to Thanksgiving for many, many years. Unfortunately, the recipe is gone with her.
Enjoy! The best is yet to come.
Thank you so much, Suzanne. I suppose the remodel actually went rather quickly, but it seemed interminable in the intense heat and humidity of the summer! We feel so lucky to have the screened porch and fire pit. It’s the perfect setting for our socially distanced visits with friends (and yes, we are so lucky to have good friends nearby!).
I had a craving for that oyster cornbread dressing, and I’m so glad I made it. I ate it four days in a row, LOL. I hope the weather is starting to cool off for you all, too.
It’s been years since I’ve tasted Oyster dressing. Helen’s mom had a fabulous recipe. She is no longer with us and I miss both her and her dressing. Looking forward to eating fresh Oysters soon.
Congratulations on the remodel. You really opened the place up and furnished it splendidly. Enjoy your work and have a great week. Joe
Thank you, Joe. We’re so glad to be finished with the remodeling project! Just in time for enjoying the fall. Happy holidays to you and your family, and enjoy those oysters when you get them! You’ll need to make your own oyster dressing. :-)
The house looks great! I’m glad you get to enjoy it for a while. Good to know there are friends to spend time with there, too. It makes these times so much better. Happy holidays.
I’m so happy to hear from you, Joanne! It really does make a difference having friends nearby. We need some socialization to keep from going feral, LOL. I hope that all is well in your life. Happy holidays to you, too, my friend.
It makes me happy to know that you are safe, comfortable, and settled for the moment. Your opening paragraph reminded me of your optimism and was balm for my current curmudgeonly mood. Thanks guys.
Thank you for your kindness, Nancy. We all definitely need some soothing in these difficult times, and it makes me happy if our blog provided a moment of respite for you. Take good care of yourself…here’s to better days ahead for all of us!
Love, love your remodeled, open, bright home. That porch is awesome! Might I ask what material you used for kitchen countertops? We are winding down our 24 month gut of this house and are so looking forward to being in our new home.
I’m so glad you like the remodel, Janna. I didn’t realize that you had been immersed in your remodel for two years! You’ve really done an amazing job, and knowing that you’ve done everything yourselves is even more remarkable.
On our contractor’s recommendation, we ended up using a laminate countertop. We have quartz in our home in Oregon (which we love) but it is expensive! I was resistant at first to the idea of laminate, but after doing research I discovered that it has come a long way. We went with higher-end Formica that looks like travertine, it’s green certified (so relatively eco-friendly), and we chose a bullnose edge. We’re very happy with it, and it was 1/4 the price of granite (and quartz would have been more expensive yet).
If you guys want another do-it-yourself project, have you thought about concrete countertops? They are so cool! But more work than we were ready to take on for this project.
What a transformation, enjoy enjoy enjoy! Your photos look spectacular on the walls and delighted you’ve found like minded folks for the winter. And I do agree, inertia is one of the universe’s most powerful forces and sometimes, well resistance is futile❣️
Thank you, dear Leah! We are delighted with the transformation, and with having a comfortable place to be for the winter (and with the bonus of like-minded friends!). I’m glad you understand about inertia…and you are so right, resistance is futile, haha! I trust you will have a glorious winter in Arizona.
It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? I’m sure it was exhausting and stressful to deal with a remodeling project during the pandemic, but the end results are stunning. You did a great job and I can’t imagine that you would have any trouble finding a buyer. Not only is the interior gorgeous (beautiful artwork!), but that outdoor area is lovely and so inviting. Time to relax and enjoy the winter months in your beautiful home.
Take good care.
Les, it has definitely been a crazy year, both personally and globally. And you’re right, we added to our stress by taking on the remodeling project. But I think it was worth it, now that we have a wonderful place to be for the fall, winter, and spring. I appreciate your kind words about how it turned out. It was fun using some of our photos of local scenes for the artwork.
I hope you all are doing well and that you have a cozy winter in your beautiful Oregon coastal home.
Hooray! Extra thanks to give. (Envious of your outdoor seating weather right now.)
Gretchen, we are SO thankful to be able to be comfortably outdoors in the winter here. I know you have a long winter ahead of you on Lopez…and I also trust that you are going to do wonderful things with music and your writing during this time. Take good care.
Wow, seeing the before and after photos of the house really illustrates what a huge difference your reno project made. The property itself is gorgeous and now the house matches…. and to be quite honest your photos don’t fully do justice to how great the home looks and feels. It is no surprise that you are very comfortable living there in the lovely, calm oasis you created. Why plan on leaving anytime soon? This is the perfect time of year to be in Florida and especially to share your backyard fire pit with friends. :-)
Shannon, this really is the perfect time of year to be in Florida—and to share the backyard fire pit with good friends! We’re looking forward to some cozy fires and roasting (not cremating) oysters. At the moment, we have absolutely no desire to leave. We need some recovery time! Come May, we’ll probably think differently, lol.
We are so glad that you guys have been stranded here, too, and that we’ve been able to have so many fun times together. Plus, you’ve been so supportive throughout the archeological dig and the remodel! You even loaned your contractor to us. :-)
You guys did such an incredible job renovating that house. It is gorgeous; bright, open, and inviting. I would have a hard time giving it up too, and I’m really not sure that I would. Having a home base in a place like Florida makes a lot of sense. That’s where we all want to be in the winter anyway. I dunno. If you decide to sell it, maybe consider just gifting it to me instead. K? Cool.
I’m so glad you are really able to enjoy your digs now, too. With the nice weather and your new friends, you finally get to relax and decompress from a crazy year. Hopefully, by Spring/Summer, we’ll all be approaching some version of normal again. In the meantime, I am thrilled that you two are in a good place and enjoying yourselves.
Aww, thanks, Laura! It’s such a relief to have this project done and to feel like we can relax and enjoy it. I’m starting to think Florida is the best place to be in the winter, too, especially because we enjoy the wildlife (not the people kind) and kayaking.
We think about keeping this house, but that creates a lot of challenges since we have a home and family and friends in Oregon. At least we can enjoy it for the next few months while we figure out what our next step will be. Hopefully, we’ll all have a lot more good choices in 2021. I wish you guys were here, but I’m glad you’re enjoying beautiful San Diego!
Sweet remodel … such elegance in the country! So happy you have friends nearby and find all that work worthwhile and comfortable to host gatherings… makes up for your friends here getting stuck from any planned travels and visits. Still missing you both but can revel in the fruits of your labor … what a delightful open and inviting silk purse!
Diana, I can’t tell you how many times I wished you were here to help me turn this pig’s ear into a silk purse! We’re really happy with the way everything turned out, but you’ve always been my creative partner in our remodeling projects. We’re enjoying the beauty of this special place and wishing so much that you and John could have spent time with us this winter as we had planned. Stupid virus. :-( Hugs to you both, miss you.
You house looks wonderful – I love all the space, light, and your simple, clean decorating. My mother used to make an oyster dressing that our family loved. I’ve never tried to make it but I appreciate having your recipe in case I ever get the courage.
Enjoy your screened-in porch. It’s not something we need here in Southern California (very few bugs and – unfortunately – little rain, especially in the summer), but I’ve always been jealous of them when visiting other parts of the country.
Thanks for your kind words, Janice—we’re feeling much better in the house with the remodel complete. And the screened porch is wonderful! As you said, it’s a necessity here, but what a delight it is to sit outdoors under the ceiling fans and look at the bay.
That oyster dressing recipe was really easy and delicious! I like it made with all cornbread, but it might be more traditional made with half bread cubes as the recipe calls for.
Absolutely lovely and feels just like the two of you. Isn’t it fun to decorate with your own pics? One of my favorite things about our little house. It had to feel like forever in the heat and tiny quarters (so different when not traveling)! Wonderful that you’ve found like-minded souls to share some time with. We have friends here but I struggle with the like-minded part sometimes :-) My former mother in law was a difficult woman, but I sure loved her oyster stuffing!!
Jodee, it is fun to decorate with our own photos! We needed something for all of these enormous blank walls. I wanted to have photos just from the bay and the beach, and with all of the photography Eric has been doing, we had lots to choose from. I know you decorated your bedroom with your beautiful desert photos—perfect for your sweet home in Arizona!
We feel so fortunate that we’ve found like-minded friends here. It’s surprising how much we have in common, and our time together is making our time here especially rich. Now there’s the problem of good friends spread all over the country…
Look at the comments and I got here less than 24 hours after the post. I’m so happy to finally see the fruits of all of your efforts. Even before I saw this I wondered how you would ever leave such a place and now I seriously have no clue. Just fantastic inside and out. You should be very proud of yourselves. I only wish your parents could see what glorious work you have done. You know they would love it.
Sherry, we’re delighted and relieved to finally have this project finished. It’s been a long haul since last January, as you know. You’re right, it’s going to be hard to leave here, for many reasons. I think of my folks every day and how much they loved this place. I hope they would be happy with what we’ve done in caring for it and bringing it up to date. I think my dad would be happier than my mom—she would probably have a fit that we changed so many things, LOL.
What a heartwarming beautiful post!! You both did an incredible job of renovating the house. Quite the transformation! Bravo! It looks fantastic! Love the kitchen, the cozy areas, the spaciousness and attention to detail. And as for the yard ~ did I read correctly that you can kayak from the property? Now that’s amazingly cool and convenient. You put so much effort and time into getting it done and it looks so great that I can totally understand why you’d stay!!
As for all the treats of nature arriving with the Fall ~ well sounds totally worth waiting for!
So wonderful you’ve had good company and such good times. This post is like a big fluffy warm blanket on a cold winter night! Perfect.
I like that image, Peta—a big fluffy blanket on a cold winter night! The temps actually got down to 34 last night—in Florida! And it’s sunny and gorgeous.
I appreciate your kind words about the remodel. I know you know how much work it takes. You and Ben always create such beautiful spaces, wherever you find yourselves in the world. And you also know about leaving behind places that you’ve put so much love and energy into.
This is a really special location. As you surmised, we can launch our kayak in the bay in the backyard. And we’re just a few miles from the sweet town of Apalachicola and a few miles from the gorgeous beaches of St. George Island. There’s a lot to love about this place.
It looks great, my friends, and I can’t wait to see it in person! It’s ready at the perfect time of year to lull you into reconsidering selling it and moving on. I particularly like that little corner cabinet in the bathroom, but I think you should’ve kept a few of those rustic cardboard “pictures.” :D Save us a couple seats on that screened porch and keep the bird feeders full. I’m so excited!!!
Joodie, it won’t be long before you’ll get to see this place in person! Yay!! We’re looking forward to lots of adventures together, fires in the fire pit, and plenty of time on the screened porch. The bird feeders are always full, and the birdies are happy and busy. We’re excited to be seeing you guys in mid-January! Meanwhile, keep on enjoying your Florida adventures.
Nice Job on the Remodel!
Thanks, John! Wish we could have hired you for the work!! We miss you and Judy. Lots of good memories of our Florida adventures together.
Wow! The house looks wonderful. I love seeing your photos on the walls. I even remember seeing a couple of them. The house is bright and cheery with the opening up. Of course, the porch is perfecr especially being in Florida with warmer weather all year. Too bad you can’t relocate the whole area to the west coast. I can only imagine the excitement of moving back in to the house after a summer in the RV. Congratulations on your oyster cornbread stuffing! Looks yummy! Tell Eric thanks for sharing the lovely dock/water photos on Instagram. Take care.
Thanks, Pam. We’re so happy to be in the house! I wish we could relocate this entire property to the west coast, including the warmer, sunnier winters. Of course, I could do without the summers here, as you know. If we didn’t have family and friends on the west coast, I would consider staying here. It’s so peaceful and beautiful.
The oyster cornbread dressing really turned out good! I don’t usually like dressing, but I loved this so much I ate it four days in a row. I’m glad you’re enjoying the dock photos. Eric is having fun. :-)
Good to hear from you guys. The place looks great, happy for you. Stay safe and healthy
Thank you, Kathryn. I hope all is well with you—your photography is spectacular, as always. You create such peaceful, beautiful images. Take good care.
The stuffing looks so tasty and house so nice and cozy. Nice job. Having friends makes all of the difference.
Thanks, Deb. You’re right, friends make all the difference. We feel very fortunate to have met like-minded souls and are nourished by the time we spend together. Hope you guys are continuing to enjoy Tucson!
Love what you’ve done with the place…I know it was great therapy to keep the mind and body moving during this pandemic. It looks like “you”!
For what it’s worth, we’ve found that even having the perfect home in the east (or west) and also loving to spend time 3000+/- miles away grows old quickly. One can only make the long cross country drive so many ways before it becomes a dreaded chore. First world problems, I know, but a real consideration.
Your dressing looks divine! It made my mouth water.
Sue, I’m glad you like the remodel. I wish you two were here in Florida this winter to see it in person! You’re right, it was good therapy to have the house project to keep us busy. Now I need some serious recovery time.
As you know, we’ve made the trip across the country almost every year for the past eight years. Even though we’ve always enjoyed our adventures along the way, it just isn’t sustainable for the long haul. I hope the next few months won’t speed by too quickly because I’m not ready for any more big decisions for a while.
I think I’m going to make that oyster dressing again for Christmas. :-)
Local friends to do stuff with??!! What a blessing. I know how much your Ashland friendships meant to you, it isn’t surprising to me that you two would find folks of like mind to share fun things like kayaking and good food. I loved seeing your amazing transformation of your parent’s home. Such a huge undertaking, and loved seeing the before and after photo collages up close to each other. Dramatic!! And, summer in Florida may be atrocious, but have you been in Ashland during fire season? Or did you start traveling before it got really bad. I could see living in Florida full time in your wonderful home, and maybe just traveling in the summer rather than the other way around. My family is all out west, so I will stay here for the duration, but sometimes I really miss Florida. I loved it there so very much. Yet, as others have said, that cross country trek gets to be a real bear. Still thinking we might do an Air BnB thing at Indian Pass someday, with maybe a place with a couple of kayaks and fly to Tallahassee so that I can once again experience the Florida that I love.
Thank you so much for your kind comment about the remodel, Sue. We’re really enjoying being in the house now that it’s updated. I’m already feeling emotional thinking about leaving the house, this beautiful property, and this area that I love. And we’ve made some wonderful friends here, and that will make leaving even more difficult. You share my appreciation for the natural beauty and kayaking that Florida offers. There really isn’t anywhere else like it in this country.
As you surmised, we haven’t experienced fire season in Ashland—we’ve been traveling for many summers now. I must say I’m not looking forward to it. We’ve talked about possibly keeping this house and traveling back to the west coast to be with family and friends, but it’s just so darned far away, as you know. I’m grateful for options, and it’s also so hard to choose!
You did a fabulous job on the house. Quite a transformation! What a nice place to be stuck for the winter. When we lived in Pensacola my favorite month was October. Usually very little rain, pleasant temps, and lower humidity. Hope the pandemic won’t keep you there another October, though!
Thank you, Gayle. We’re really happy with the way the remodel turned out, and as remodels go, it was relatively painless (except for being stuck in our trailer during the hellacious summer months). This is a great place to be for the winter, as you know. We can pretty much count on good weather from now until next June. But even though the pandemic doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, I don’t think we can stand another summer here. It was horrible!! (As you know.)
WOW! what a great job you did! How could you leave that little paradise behind? I think it may be difficult to make that decision this time of the year since the temps are now gorgeous. Too bad we won’t be heading that way and see your labor of love and admire how you have modernize the house. I’d say your project had made you and Eric productive and well insulated from the madness of 2020.
Like you we too had been making changes to our new home making it our own. And we are excited to show it off to you on your visit. We even have the same display ideas, using our own photos!
Thanks, MonaLiza! I think it was good for us to have a big project…but we’re really glad it’s done. I wish so much that you and Steve were traveling in Florida this year and could be here with us.
We’re looking forward to reconnecting with you two in Arizona and enjoying in person your beautiful new home, including your photo art galleries.