Archive for the ‘Kitchen Redefined’ Category

We are normally big New Years Resolution people.  Justin usually stiff arms me into doing something dramatic, like giving up pizza or burgers for an entire year.  He believes that a resolution should be significant, disciplined and a reminder of how lucky we are, by giving up something that we really enjoy.  It is kind of like doing Lent for an entire year.   I would imagine that we probably seem pretty smug in November.  “Look at those two, they gave up burgers/soda/fast food/pizza”….haha.  Even I’m sick of us.

This year we aren’t giving up any food items and instead focusing on our meals.  There is always room to cook more meals at home.  A few weeks ago, we purchased a share of a local, grass-fed cow.  It has been fun coming up with recipes and trying out new cuts of meat that we wouldn’t normally buy, with the added bonus of eating healthier meats.  We’re definitely going to do that again in 2012.

We don’t usually cook meals together, but tonight, while Justin was getting our dinner ready, I started cutting up the veggies for a crock pot meal that I’m going to cook tomorrow.

Nothing crazy, just some carrots, red potatoes, onions and a cut of beef (with a splash of whatever wine we have open in the house).   I’m still on the fence about whether to cook it tonight while we sleep or while I’m at work.  I’m a bit of a worrier, so if I use the crock pot while I’m at work, I set up my laptop webcam so I can watch it.  I’ve declared it the most boring web cam in history.  Piper the dog does occasionally make an appearance to sniff, so I can tell when it must be starting to smell good at the house.

Crockpot Cam

I threw everything into gallon sized plastic ziplock bags.  If we decided that we didn’t want to have a crock pot meal tomorrow, I could easily just freeze everything.

While I was cleaning up, Justin set the counter for our meal.  We try to use our china as much as possible.  We also put it in the dishwasher.  Why wait for a special occasion and baby it?

And of course, no new year meal would be complete without a delicious, fresh salad!






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The span of time in between when the kitchen was finished enough for us to start putting our belongings back and when we were expecting about 35+ of our local friends and family for our annual Festivus Party was four evenings (after work) long.  We had about a month to demo and box up everything and now…BAM, everything had to go back in and be organized and functional enough that I could cook for a houseful of people in hours.  I’d be a lying liar if I didn’t tell you that I still have about a box and a half of mystery stuff without a home or that two of the cabinets just have random stuff wedged in them.

Obviously the long-term plan is to find a home for everything we need and pare down stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time, but probably doesn’t have to be in the kitchen all the time.  In which case, we have storage shelves in the garage to hold the special occasion stuff.  Not a big deal.

The prettiest cabinet in the kitchen kind of proved the most difficult.  Think about it, what would you want everyone who comes into your kitchen to look at?  If we didn’t have our china, I’d probably pick out some items in our accent colors and pair that with our regular white dishes.

My only regret is that we didn’t get our electrician friend over before the cabinets went up to put lights in there.  That would have been very pretty.

Next up, our everyday cabinet.  What used to take up two, we’ve consolidated into one.  Our glassware, mugs, plates and bowls!

We picked up a space divider from a certain big box store to create a second shelf.  Tremendously helpful.  That pink mug on top is a “grab in case of fire” owl mug from one of my dearest friends.

This was also a great time for us to put together a cabinet of our entertaining pieces.  Instead of having to pull from a bunch of different places when we have guests over, one place, closest to the living room so that you can easily access it from either side of the counter tops.  Wine and martini glasses, our ice bucket and our vegetable shaped dip dishes, just about everything you could need to throw a pretty darn good get together.  Justin and I both come from a long line of party throwers.

Do you know what drives me nuts?  A spice cabinet that is up so high that I can’t see into it.  For now, this hot mess is going to have to do.  I tried my best to layer the smaller spice jars in the front and as potential solution for the future, we picked up some magnetic spice jars to put on the side of the fridge.

I know that you all wanted to see what my drawers look like.  Ha.

I like that the idea of a junk drawer is universal and that we all probably have one or even a couple.  However, with this new kitchen I wanted to start organized.  Justin and I picked up metal containers in a couple different sizes and picked out the few things that actually should live in a utility or junk drawer.   I think after a few cocktails at the Festivus party, I actually made guests look at it.  Yup.  I was that proud.

Are you a newly wed and you aren’t using all of your new stuff yet?  Don’t sweat it.  The silverware you see above were wedding gifts, but up until the kitchen remodel was finished, we hadn’t been using it for everyday.  In fact, we were only using it for parties.  I kept it all in a cutlery basket in the scary pre-makeover pantry (over share).

We also decided to split our most used kitchen/baking utensils between the big center drawer and the single drawer on either side of the sink.  We’re still grabbing for forks and knives in that smaller drawer, where they used to live, but boy is it helpful to have everything so easily accessible.

And I think that this post wraps up kitchen posts for a good long time.


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It’s done, folks.  All done.   I’ve been cooking and baking up a storm.  I can’t help it.  The room calls to me and I’m helpless against the cool, gray counter tops, or sitting on the pergo floor feeding the puppies treats.

When we were putting our stuff back, we kept the basic set up pretty similar to how we had it in the past.  Our beachy blue bowls are the same color as the pantry closet!  Synergy!  We also picked up red in two of our countertop appliances.

And we totally love the glass cabinet.  It breaks up the room and makes it feel airy.  Plus we get to keep our china out, which means we’ll be reminded to use it more often!

So now I need to figure out what my next project will be.  Too bad it has been so cold here in the Northeast, I’ve been thinking about refinishing our fiberglass tubs, but you need to have some serious ventilation and you all remember how silly I got with the granite seam glue.




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I said, gosh darn it, we need to get an electrician.   You know when aforementioned electricity professional describes your overhead kitchen light as “being perfect for a garage, so don’t throw it out” that you are clearly not hitting the mark on style. 

The purpose of having our new electrician friend come over and spend time with us at a rate of $150 per hour was initially so that he could replace all of our bathroom vanity lights.  He did such a great job with that and only scared Justin a bit, so we decided to ask him back to install our new kitchen light.  


On a lunch break a few weeks back I ran into our local Ikea and purchased the BAROMETER.  I liked it enough and it had an Ikea name that I could pronounce.  Win Win.  Justin also liked it.  I should have bought a lottery ticket that day.  

Anyway, our electric friend saw the Ikea box and promptly declared that he charges double for “that sh*t” because it always requires extra work.   Since he had already taken down the “awesome for garages” light fixture, which is now OUR ONLY LIGHT SOURCE on the first floor (thank you, contractors for screwing a cabinet into the wire cable, thus knocking out power to the back-end of our house) (this is also why I wake up every morning with the desire to start with the strong stuff) I had no choice but to whimper pathetically and beg that he give us some light.  How mighty and powerful the tradesmen are!! 

Obviously I’ll have to get up there and tickle the ceiling with a paint brush in the very near future, but here it is in all of its Swedish glory.   It has bendy arms, so instead of pointing all the lights straight down in a cook-the-cook formation, I artfully arranged them to shine their goodness on our cabinets.


Now the kitchen has that museum quality that kind of works perfectly since we aren’t able to (touch) put  anything away until after they fix the oopsy daisies from construction.  

Today is counter top day and this evening will either be sponsored by unbelievable happiness or bourbon, so expect an update either way!


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Between a rock and a hard place. Yup, I think that is it.  Right now, that is where we are in terms of our kitchen remodeling project.  We are nearing the completion and the return to having running water in the actual space, something that I promise myself I won’t take for granted for at least a couple of days. 

When I tell you that I’m beyond ready for everything to be back to “normal” that might be the understatement of the year.  Phew boy, 2011, you surly bastard, you.  

The lingering issues aren’t so horrible, but everything feels so much more intense when it means more days without being able to cook meals, clean dishes or have stupidly easy water access.   In the grand scheme, we are so amazingly lucky.  Truly.  

This is a small sample square of our granite countertop that will be installed tomorrow.

When we initially picked out this particular granite out in the store, it read more gray/white, but the slab we picked has hints of green to it.   I’m happy about that.  I think a little color will warm up the room nicely. 

I was a pretty avid rock collector when I was younger.  We lived near some woods and I would come back from hikes, pockets filled with mica, quartz or some oddly shaped stone that looked cool.   They would live on my bookshelf until I forgot about why I had picked them up in the first place.  

I’ll fully admit that I think granite counter tops are trendy and that to be a homeowner these days,  there is this unspoken pressure to update to granite for the sake of potential future resale.  From  a leftover childhood wonder perspective though, there is something amazing about all the  different natural elements that combined millions of years ago to create what will now be our counter tops.   Very cool.  

So that’s where we are at right now.  Being grateful for granite!


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As you may or may not have noticed during our kitchen renovation was the hugely messy pantry closet. The contractors took the door off to replace the flooring, so our disorganized mess of a closet was on view for everyone. I finally hit a wall on that this weekend.


I’ve tried to hunt down storage baskets for a while now and was pretty shocked at how $$ they can be. I hit the jackpot this weekend though while I was picking up supplies for my Thanksgiving Weekend Project (you’re going to want to hang our for that). Joanne Fabrics was having a 50% off sale on storage baskets so I scored five!

I started with cleaning out the closet of everything, sorting into piles of non-expired food, doggie stuff and kitchen supplies. Then I pulled out the shelves and painted them with a semi-gloss white to match all the trim in the house (I always have a can or two of the trim paint in the house for those quick touch ups).

I asked Justin how he felt about a color. I had leftover turquoise paint from when I painted a roadside find table about two years ago. The paint was a semi-gloss though, more appropriate for furniture or trim. It was also bright turquoise, a bit scary for an actual wall. To fix both problems, I dropped in some white paint specific for kitchens and bathrooms and mixed. The color mellowed out a bit.

What we both liked about the color immediately is that it matches some of our kitchen accessories (our cast iron pot and nesting bowls that are on display on top of the fridge), plus once we put the door back on, it will be our secret and not as visible as it is in the picture above. And yes, those are the baskets I bought sitting on top of the dishwasher.

I started sorting food items into the baskets. I’m not sure if this will be practical long-term, but I’m going give it a shot.

So here it is as of now before we put the door back on. The kitchen guys will be back to run the Whitewashed Pine Pergo Flooring into the closet and drop baseboard trim in there too. I’ll go back in then and touch up the trim that I hit with the blue paint brush. I also put a secret message in there to honor the renovation.

So as I mentioned earlier, stay tuned because this week is going to be nuts. The counter top gets templated tomorrow and the contractors come back this week to finish up installing the small stuff. I know I left a bit of a cliff hanger last week, but everything is A OKAY! I’ll also be starting a pretty ambitious bathroom project. I can’t wait!

I hope everyone has a great short week.


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So the kitchen project is moving along.  Each day there are new things to see.  Yesterday though, there wasn’t enough done to put up a post.

This is the view as you enter the kitchen.  The microwave still needs to be installed over the stove.  I think that plus the knobs will really make it seem real and close to the finish line.

The cabinet boxes are all in though, which is very exciting.  What isn’t exciting is the two scratches that appeared in the lazy Susan in the corner.  Ugh.  I’m sure that will get taken care of though.

So you can see that the toe kick has been installed.  Pretty!

The paper towels mark where the sink will go.

We picked beadboard for the knee wall.  At some point I’ll paint it.  We’d like to do picture frame molding in the dining room, so I suspect we’ll keep the bead board white.  I don’t know the rules for that.  I don’t dig the very visible seam in the middle but maybe there is an easy fix for that.

Now is where we cue the record scratch followed by the wah wah noise.  I was taking the pictures and I noticed something not good.

I leaned over the future countertop to take a picture of the new baseboard that the workers installed today and there, by the fridge is a gap, a big gap, between the floor and the bottom of the baseboard.  I busted out my level and the baseboard is level, the floor as you get closer to the fridge, is not.  If you’ve been with us all week, you know that we specifically focused on fixing the floor in that corner of the kitchen by reinforcing the existing joists and replacing the subfloor.  Insert head scratch.

We are meeting with the project planner, the Big Box Store scheduler and the General Contractor bright and early tomorrow to figure out if any of the minor hiccups (scratches and uneven cabinet doors) and the floor by the fridge are issues that can be easily remedied.

I have to say, I think I’ve rolled with the punches of this whole kitchen remodeling experience.  It is what it is.  That being said, I need easy.  I need the right answers tomorrow and I need this to all be done.  I still have stitches IN MY FACE.  I deserve a break universe!

On that note, I’m going to go pick up the wine I ordered at the fantastic Junior League Wine Tasting that happened last week, get a super fancy meal out of a drive thru window and come home to watch the Thursday night NBC line up (quick plug for our friend Sam.  He wrote tonight’s episode of Whitney so please watch and do much laughing).

Keep your fingers crossed for us!


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