Archive for the ‘The Earth Friendly Room’ Category

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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When I got home from work the house was dark and quiet.  There was a noticeable absence of boxes, which could only mean one thing!  Duty called first though, and Ms. Piper needed to go to the bathroom.  After a quick w-a-l-k (you have to spell it around these parts), I came back into the house and threw on every light that hasn’t been shut off in the fuse box.

The center cabinet will have glass doors and HOLY LORD does that pantry closet need some organization.

THEY’RE HEEEEEERE!!   Or at least most of them are here.   During my youth, the Christmas morning tradition was to wait on the stairs while my parents plugged in the tree, started the coffee and warmed up the flash on the camera (this was the 80’s).  The anticipation was nearly as exciting as the gifts themselves.  Turning on the lights today and seeing the form of our new kitchen starting to come together reminded me distinctly of that great Christmas morning feeling.

So far I’m really happy with how they look.  I’m an occasionally inspired cook, but lately I’ve had visions of trying out new recipes in the space.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but we picked Kraftmaid Cabinets in their Montclair Maple style in dove white.  Wow.  That’s a mouthful.  They are full overlay doors because once you start paying attention to whether a kitchen door is a partial overlay or a full overlay, you’ve already lost your damn mind and well, trust me, full overlay is lovely.

Want to know why we went with Kraftmaid?  Easy, soft close drawers.

I took one more picture so that you could see the contrast of the white cabinets and the Whitewashed Pine Pergo flooring.

I really love it and it isn’t even done yet!  I think that is a good sign.


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In the most exciting news of the week, I harvested my first edible container garden item. Without setting myself up for naughty google search traffic, it was a cucumber and it was delicious. Everything else is growing like crazy too. All in all, I would definitely recommend trying container gardening and next year I would probably take a crack at some other vegetables.






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A few years ago our condo complex bullied us into redoing our patio.  At the time…annoying, but now I’m grateful that we were forced into it.

You can see the twin terrors in the door.

Justin and often take our weekend coffee outside to the lounge chairs.  The doggies join us until they act up and then back inside.   I wish that we were able to let them roam around but as you can see, we are very close to the parking lot and as much as they drive me crazy sometimes, I’d prefer them to not be pancakes.

My jade plant that lives inside during the cold and long Connecticut fall and winters gets a primo spot for the summer.  A strong storm a few weeks ago knocked the original pot off the table.  The new pot hopefully has enough weight to keep it from a similar fate.

My pride and joy this summer is our container garden.  My parents always had a summer garden.  I have such fond memories of all the great veggies that we could eat right off the vine.  In the past, I’ve attempted a tomato plant but after a heart to heart with Justin, we both agreed, we don’t really like tomatoes.  Any basil I planted would dry up from neglect.  The New England weather has been like living in the rain forest and for once, everything is growing like crazy.   This year we are trying out some basil, cucumbers, green peppers, lavender and sage.  If we have one edible cucumber or green pepper, I’ll consider that a victory.

I think some outdoor lights drapped in the trees would be very pretty and provide some nice ambient light in the evening.  Something to add to the list…

So once all of the sports championships are over, you can find us out here!


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Justin and I just celebrated our first anniversary.  We decided to get out-of-town for a week.  We spent most of the spring and summer planning and saving for a multi city trip in Europe.  The trip itself isn’t what I would call restful or relaxing but it did give us both tremendous insight into other cultures and we got some amazing pictures.

My husband Justin collects glassware, specifically, beer mugs.  He typically tries to pick one up in each new place he visits, whether it be somewhere here in the United States or on a rare trip abroad.  While he was buying his mugs I thought to myself, should I also be collecting something?

Collections are tricky.  They add a feeling of obligation to any trip you take because you find yourself looking to pick up a new piece, but at the same time, they give you a tangible memory of your travels.  They also take up space, which, as I start to gain control over clutter in our space limited condo, I’m starting to realize is just too valuable.

Justin can have his beer mugs, I think that I am going to be a collector of digital memories.

Do you collect anything on your vacations?


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Joseph DeRisi is the owner of Urban Miners which is located in Hamden, Connecticut.  Urban Miners “provides cutting edge, environmentally smart services in the areas of building deconstruction and materials salvage to residential property owners and commercial enterprises regionally.”  


Joe is truly an embassador of the earth with a big beard, friendly smile and endless enthusiasm about all things architectural.  The Urban Miners warehouse is a tribute to the quality workmanship of the previous generations.  In many ways, to walk through the warehouse is to walk through our collective past and with Joe as a tour guide, what was once just a simple door in your eyes, suddenly has a rich history dating back decades before you drew breath.  

Shona and I had the opportunity to visit Urban Miners.  


We arrived at the warehouse at about 8:30 am on what was shaping up to be another hot summer Saturday.  Tucked away on a side street off Dixwell Avenue in Hamden, the warehouse is unimposing from the outside. 



When you start to look around, you do notice a theme: bottles.  They are everywhere and in every shape, size and color. It makes sense because Mr. DeRisi caught the collecting bug from his father and grandfather who were both ‘Bottle Diggers’ and coin collectors.  


There are also more doors than you can even imagine and Joe could tell you where just about each one came from.  His favorite is the industrial door on the left.  


When we found out that there was a whole room dedicated to mantles it was hard to contain our perma-grin.  Fireplace mantles make me think of holidays, chilly nights in front of a fire and family.   To be in the presence of so many in one place, it was easy to let your mind wander to the experiences had around each one, especially if you think back to the not so distant past where they were used as a sole source of heat and for cooking.   


Urban Miners also has lots of accessories like door knobs (Shona actually bought a few). You could easily spend hours and hours going through each of the aisles finding treasures.  


Urban Miners definitely gets the Redefining Décor seal of approval and we recommend you go check it out for yourself the next time you have a house project to tackle.  Say hi to Joe for us, too!  

Urban Miners  – 30 Manilla Avenue, Hamden, Connecticut 

Wednesday: Open by appointment only
Thursday: 8:30 to 8:30 

Friday, Saturday: 8:30 to 4:30
Sunday: 12:00 to 4:30
Monday, Tuesday: Closed 

Internet Shopping: 24 hours/ 7 days a week 

Phone: (203) 287-0852     www.urbanminers.com  

-Kate & Shona 

(All photographs courtesy of Shona!) 



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