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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Life Lately + Link Love #11

Life Lately + Link Love is a series where I talk about what I've been up to and share posts from the blogging community and from around the internet that I think you'd enjoy. You're always welcome to share what you've been loving lately in the comments. 

belfast maine harborwalk

I promise I'm not going to use this post as yet another opportunity to whine about everything that's going on with the house, but as for life lately...that's about it. My days have been filled with working on the house and slipping out for a few minutes to play Pok√©mon Go (is anyone else still playing?). 

I know I've already mentioned it, but living in Belfast really is absolutely wonderful. I spent the past 2.5 years living at least a 20 minute drive away from everything, but now I can be somewhere in just a couple minutes. I can walk places! I mean, I don't do much walking right now since it's freezing and icy outside, but when it warms up I'll hardly need to use my car at all. It's just so nice, I feel much happier and far less isolated. 

Oh, another new thing is that I'm trying roller derby. Actually, I can hardly skate at all, so right now I'm really just learning how to skate again. I've fallen a lot, gotten a lot of bruises, and bent a fingernail back way too far but I'm learning a lot and I'm quite proud of myself. A year ago, I was way too scared to fall on my butt multiple times in front of strangers. 

  • Yesterday tickets for the 2018 All Roads Music Festival went on sale! The All Roads Music Festival takes place right here in Belfast and features artists of all genres from all over Maine and New England. I'll definitely be there and if you live kinda nearby, I hope you will be, too!
  • Looking for a new YouTuber to watch? I've been loving Caitlin's channel. She's a vegan powerlifter and is definitely inspiring me to get off my butt more often. 
  • If you're ever in Kingston, Ontario and looking for some vegan charcuterie, flatbread, gnocchi, or other delicious things, check out the menu at this restaurant that Dora tried.
  • Fellow Maine blogger Anna reviewed some products from Maine Magic Mud, which is (obviously) a Maine-based company that makes bath products that sound pretty darn nice. 
  • If/when I finally go to Germany and put my years of German classes to good use, I definitely want to stay in this hotel that Laura reviewed-- they focus on sustainability and they're a totally veg*n hotel. 
  • This is pretty freakin' cool-- the Midcoast region of Maine (where I live) made it onto Lonely Planet's list of 10 places you need to see in 2018. We're number 6 on the list! Also on the list is the capital city of my home state-- Richmond, Virginia, and the Space Coast region of Florida, which is a little north of where I lived. It's so cool to see some of my favorite places getting such awesome recognition! 
  • As usual, Kimberly is killin' it. She's one of my favorite style bloggers so please don't sleep on her blog.
  • Lauren articulated some thoughts and feelings about being "the flaky friend" that I've had for, um...years. 
  • A couple weeks ago I picked up the inaugural issue of Moxie Maine, a magazine that shares inspiring stories of women from all over Maine. It's definitely worth the $6 and I can't wait to read future issues. 

What have you been loving lately? Tell me in the comments! 
Monday, February 12, 2018

1 Month in the New House

This post contains affiliate links meaning if you click and/or make a purchase with one of those links, I make a few cents at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting Poppyseeder!

restoring victorian house maine

I've spent the past month sore, exhausted, and overwhelmed. The house definitely isn't coming together as quickly as I had hoped and I feel a bit beaten down. House-related stress and winter blues don't mix well. Buuut I still see the potential, I know that eventually it will be great, and I am absolutely loving living in town and not in the middle of nowhere anymore.

What we've done in the new house since we moved in:

removing kitchen cabinets

• Knocked out a cabinet 
Our kitchen is small, the space isn't used wisely, and the storage is limited-- so I really didn't want to lose the cabinet above the fridge. However, I also wanted a fridge that wasn't older than me. The fridge that came with the house had seen better days, so we ordered a new one. We were very careful to get the width and depth right, but we totally forgot about the height. It turns out, the fridge that we ordered was two inches too tall (but the fridge we were replacing was also unusually short), and thus the cabinet had to go. We removed it then covered the gaping hole with gypsum board and put putty around the edges. It was a pretty quick little project and we're probably going to use the space above the fridge to hide plants from my cat.

• Got new appliances
Obviously, we got a new fridge. We also got a new range. I hate shopping for large appliances. It's so much pressure. I don't want to spend a ton of money on something that I need to use every day and then end up hating it. I also hate having to get used to new appliances, especially with some being so advanced and needlessly complicated these days (am I 25 or 85?).

We settled on probably the most basic fridge that the store had, and I'm so happy with it. There are no stupid fancy features-- it's just a fridge that isn't trying too hard, and that's exactly what I wanted. We also downsized a bit. When it comes to refrigerators, my mentality is usually "the bigger, the better," but we needed a smaller one. Space in our kitchen is limited and the old fridge really jutted out, so we opted for a counter-depth fridge instead of a deeper one, which gives us less space for food-- which sounds like a bad thing, but not really.

When we lived further away from essentially everything, I would go on huge grocery shopping trips once a week and stock up in the name of efficiency, but I ended up letting a lot of food go to waste. Now that we live in town, I'm just a couple minutes from the store so I can run out and get fresh produce whenever I need it, I don't need to stock up anymore. So here's to more walking space and less food waste!

• Installed Nest systems
We put in the Nest smoke & carbon monoxide alarm, thermostat, camera, and motion sensors. This stuff ain't cheap, but the peace of mind it gives me and the convenience is so worth it to me. The Nest app puts everything in one place and makes it all so easy to use. I live in a pretty safe neighborhood, but due to a past experience I am very concerned about intruders, so the camera is definitely my favorite of the Nest products and makes me feel so much more at ease knowing that I can monitor my whole property via the app. I'm so pleased with it all so far and can't recommend it enough.

google home mini broadcast intercom

• Became dependent on Google Home
When we purchased the Nest systems, there was a promotion going on and we got three Google Home Minis for free. My initial thought was that I didn't even want one, what the heck was I going to do with three?! Within a couple hours of setting the first one up, I was hooked. Mostly I use it as a speaker for my music, to set cooking timers, and telling it to add things to my shopping list (which I can access anywhere via the app), but my absolute favorite feature is Broadcast. Broadcast works as an intercom between multiple Google Homes in the house. This house is pretty big and is very soundproof, so this feature is incredibly helpful. I thought three was too many, but now I'm wondering if we should get more.

• Painting, painting, and more painting
You may have seen in the previous house post or on my Instagram stories that the walls in this house are uggggly. The two large living spaces downstairs were covered in wallpaper and the rest of the house is painted with flat white paint or maybe even just primer. Flat paint doesn't exactly clean easily and I can't put into words how dirty the walls were/are.

So far I've painted the downstairs bathroom, inside of the pantry, living room, dining room, our bedroom, and my office. I've primed the walls in the dining room (shown above) but so far I've been too pooped to finish. When I think about how much more I have to do, it seems like I've barely made a dent, and holy poop we've already spent so much money on paint. However, the rooms that I have painted are so much more welcoming now and it is definitely necessary to keep painting. The painted rooms have been transformed and I can't wait to get the rest of the house painted, though it's kicking my butt.

• Started piecing together my office
My desk had been in storage for the past couple years because we didn't have room for it, which meant I usually did my work from the kitchen table, which meant I was always surrounded by distractions. Now that we have plenty of space I can create my ideal workspace. The desk I have is from IKEA, it's not my favorite-- I would prefer some drawers. But it has such a large tabletop, there's plenty of room for working on some art or a few projects at once.

But I finally have my desk back, I finally have a space for my keyboard, and I made the room truly mine by painting it light pink. I still have a lot of work to do in there, but I already love spending time in there. 

• Discovered the vermin
It's not uncommon for older homes to have mice, so when I started hearing little sounds in the walls, I definitely wasn't happy but I also wasn't surprised. Then I started hearing bigger sounds in the attic which reminded me of a situation I dealt with a few years back-- a flying squirrel infestation. I had someone come out and they confirmed my suspicions. Flying squirrels chewed through the side of my house near the roof and into the attic, and apparently there are a lot entrance points from mice and/or red squirrels into the basement. Ya gotta be kidding me.

The thing that bothers me the most is that the previous owners definitely knew and didn't do anything. They left it to be our problem. Our very expensive problem. Flying squirrels aren't discreet, you know when they're in your house, and they can do a ton of damage. The pest control company said it's obvious that the squirrels have been here for a while and I'm flabbergasted that the previous owners didn't do anything about it, especially since they were living in this house. I'm a quiet, non-confrontational person, but I'm at the point where if I ever see them around town, I might not be able to bite my tongue.

But anyway, we're getting it taken care of. 

restoring victorian house new england fixer upper

Over the past month we've had a lot of WTF moments when discovering how dirty the previous owners left things, how they took a shortcut to "repair" something which made it more difficult for us to fix or replace, and the numerous things that they neglected. I was trying to keep my cool about it because I know these things happen when you buy a house, but the flying squirrel thing made me mad.

It's all so overwhelming. There have been many nights when I lay awake wondering if we rushed into buying this house, wondering if we chose the best home inspector in our area, or kicking myself for not looking closely enough while touring it. Now we're at the point where a lot of the excitement has worn off and we're trying to beat buyer's remorse away with a stick. Don't get me wrong-- I love this house, I'm thrilled that it's mine-- but within a week of buying it, we found so many things that we needed to fix that we didn't know about beforehand. But I mean, I watch HGTV, I should have expected this, right?

It all seems like so much right now but I know this is all part of buying a house, especially such an old one. I know that eventually this will be a great house. I just need to be persistent and patient.

You can see more behind the scenes stuff on my Instagram and follow the hashtag #thefawnhouse.
Friday, February 9, 2018

Don't Panic: L.L. Bean is Ending Their Lenient Return Policy

l.l. bean changing return policy
Schoodic Peninsula 

Earlier today L.L. Bean, Maine's most famous company and one of our largest employers, announced that they were putting a stop to their oldest policy-- unlimited returns. Over 100 years ago, founder Leon Leonwood Bean guaranteed satisfaction and put a never-ending return period into place. When L.L. Bean's chairman Shawn Gorman announced the change...people kinda lost it, complaining that the return policy was the only reason they shop at L.L. Bean, they'll shop elsewhere from now on, etc. Ya know, throwing a fit basically.

I don't typically report on the changing policies of clothing brands, but when this story broke I immediately felt the need to share some of my stories from when I worked at an L.L. Bean outlet.

l.l. bean changing return policy

In 2012 I was working at an outlet store in Virginia that has since closed, and at the time it was the most southern L.L. Bean location. To this day, it was still my favorite retail job that I've ever had. Besides re-folding the shelves of sweaters at the end of the day, my least favorite part of my job there was processing returns. Not because it was difficult, but because it was absolutely disgusting.

There was one man who came in a couple times a month right before lunchtime. He would buy a new dress shirt then return it a couple hours later. Sometimes the shirt would have food dripped down the front, but the shirt the man returned would always have huge sweat patches in the underarm area. Each time I and my co-workers would ask what the problem with the shirt was, he would reply, "I just didn't like it" with a smile. It was obvious that he was wearing these new shirts to lunch meetings with clients. We would have to "code 3" the sweaty shirt every time-- code 3 means throw away. Eventually a manager suggested "if you don't like the shirts, stop shopping here." He got the hint that we were onto him, and we didn't see him anymore.

Then there were some teenage girls who were really into the trend of wearing soft-soled shearling slippers to school. They would wear holes through them, then come back to our store, exchange them for brand new ones, and we'd code 3 the old slippers. They did this a few times before a co-worker finally caught them. She asked "is there anything wrong with the slippers?" and the girls responded "oh no, we loved them, we just--" and my co-worker said "whoops, sorry! I can't return them. Satisfaction was guaranteed and you were satisfied." The girls walked out of the store scowling, calling my co-worker awful names, and complaining that they were no longer allowed to essentially steal slippers.

Oh, and then there was the man who returned some L.L. Bean dress shoes that he had for God knows how many years. I can't express how horrible the smell was. And they were still warm and moist when he handed them to me. I had to throw away the shoes and give him a full refund.

I can't forget to mention this gang of old ladies who turned the return policy into a hobby. They would scour thrift stores for L.L. Bean merchandise, buy it for probably a few bucks a piece, and return it to our store. We knew what they were doing but we had no way to prove it, we just had to give them refunds and watch as they cackled their way out of the store. And then we had to throw the thrifted L.L. Bean clothing away.

When word got out that our store was closing, chaos erupted. People were very upset. I had one woman who was a very loyal (and honest) customer, who held my hands as she told me how much she loved our store and that I and all my co-workers could use her as a reference for future employment. The store closing brought out kindness in many people...but not so much with others.

Two days before our store closed for good, I was frantically walking around the sales floor trying to keep up with the mess, and I came across an Adirondack chair sitting smack-dab in front of the front doors. Upon taking a closer look I noticed that it was growing all sorts of fungi, had tunnels all over it from woodworms, spider webs hanging off it...basically, it was a gnarly chair. As I was carefully moving it out of the entrance way, a co-worker came over and told me that a man had come in to return the decaying chair. It was a chair that he bought 37 years ago and it was intended for indoor use only, though he clearly didn't follow those instructions. see where this story is going, I'm sure. We had to give him a full refund and we threw the chair away.

l.l. bean changing return policy

These are just some my stories from the short time that I worked at L.L. Bean. Think about the big picture and how many other people were doing things like this. Don't get me wrong, my stance isn't "boo hoo, people are taking money away from the L.L. Bean executives."

Ultimately, this was unfair to the retail workers. They had to deal with people returning foul, soiled merchandise and give them full or partial refunds for it with a smile on their face. L.L. Bean is one of the biggest employers in Maine and if they kept on with that lenient return policy, they probably wouldn't be for much longer.

One year is plenty of time to decide if you want to return something. I'll admit, getting used to the change may be difficult for me too, but I'll manage. It's not the end of the world, L.L. Bean still produces quality products that I love, and I'm going to continue being a loyal L.L. Bean customer. It isn't 1912 anymore so why hold on to policies from 1912 that aren't working? If you ask me, it's about darn time they implement this change.

But if you're upset about this change and you know someone who was taking advantage of the return policy and thinking they were so slick for it, you can thank them for ruining it for everyone.