Thursday, September 22, 2011

Procrastination, continued

Today's edition of "things I do when I should be sleeping" is another blog post.  I'm totally worn out from a week of work that has been similar to drinking from a fire hose (and of course, my late-night crafting habit that hasn't helped the sleep schedule!), but I have another exciting kitchen update to share.

You may remember that when I last shared the kitchen, there was a little disorganization issue going on over in the corner:

Well, last Thursday night, we remedied that situation with a trip to Home Depot.  After some careful direction following, we have a pantry!

The amount of storage space is amazing.  It's really nice to be able to store all of our canned goods, dry goods, etc in a way that is easy to access.  (I should note that before our renovation, all of the aforementioned items shared a single kitchen cabinet with the crockpot, cutting boards, rolling pin, and baking dishes.)

On top of the cabinet, I placed the fern from our front porch (we had some cool evenings and I was afraid of it dying a premature death).  While I was in the process of deciding what else to put up top, my grandparents came for a weekend visit.  They brought the handmade nativity set that my grandmother has had for years.  Since I always admired it when we visited their house at Christmas time, she decided that she wanted Justin and I to have it.  We were both really touched by this very sweet gesture!  We talked about putting it on top of the cabinet at Christmastime, and by the end of the weekend it was set up there!  I imagine that we'll rotate seasonal decor and other things on top of the cabinet, but for now I'm enjoying seeing this gift.

Hooray storage and hooray generosity!  And now...hooray bedtime!  :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Things I do when I should be sleeping

In college, my mantra was "I'll sleep when I'm dead."  After graduation, I updated to a slightly more sophisticated description ("sleep deprived since 1986").  My mother can attest, I never was a great sleeper.  It's not so much that I don't enjoy sleeping (in fact, I do enjoy it very much, despite my high school psychology teacher's adamant teaching that this is impossible), it's just that I enjoy living more.  I'm always several steps behind all the things I'd like to do in a day (who isn't!?), so I continually seek "just a few more minutes" for several hours each night.

Case in point:  this week, while I should have been sleeping (or at the very least, when I should have been doing other important things like cleaning my house, or working on the grant I need to submit on Friday afternoon at work), I hung out in my sewing room.

Monday night, I was inspired by this pillow on


I headed up to my sewing room, looking to make a similar pillow, but in the process of getting out my scrap bag, my eyes fell on the boring beige lampshade, which I've been wanting to decorate for some time.

Although I like the clean look in the picture above, in real life, it constantly looks boring.  It's been boring me long enough that I accidentally killed the above pictured plant during the time that lapsed.

Doesn't it look much more dapper?

Yesterday evening, I suddenly decided that I absolutely needed a charcoal gray clutch purse to attend a wedding this weekend.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money, so I shelled out $10 for supplies at Jo-anns and, by the end of the evening, had a gray clutch purse!

I have to share that this is only the second time in my entire crafty life that I've purchased supplies and finished a project all within one day.  Hooray!

So while I'm a little extra tired, it was worth it to have two cute new projects!  Tonight while I was supposed to be sleeping (and still supposed to be finishing that grant!), I wrote this blog post :)  What exciting things keep you from meeting your recommended 8 hours??


Friday, September 16, 2011

A reminder

Today, I traveled about 45 minutes south to Owego, NY to help out at one of the disaster relief centers.  Our agency has an office in that county, too, but their staff is overwhelmed (both with the influx of needs, but also in dealing with their own homes, many of which also sustained flooding) - so staff from the neighboring counties have been taking turns heading down to help.  The center where I was working today was handing out the basic essentials:  gallons of bleach, cases of rubber gloves and masks, peanut butter, toilet paper....

I will not attempt to even describe all of the devastation.  Most of the people coming in to pick up items had between 5 and 8 feet of water in their first floors.  They still are without power, over a week later.  It was an unseasonably cold day, and raining.  Pictures cannot explain what it felt like to drive down a street and see the entire contents of each house piled at the curb - not just the furniture and belongings, but the walls themselves.  Drywall and insulation all had to go.

Seeing the situation particularly struck a chord with me, having just lived through the kitchen renovation.  It's an eerie feeling to have your house down to the studs.  Except that when we tore out our walls, we wanted them to go.  We carefully removed our belongings first.  Nothing was wet.  The walls weren't a toxic hazard.  Our renovation was isolated to the kitchen.  We had hot showers and clean clothes when we finished working.  I can't even imagine having to take a crowbar to wet, soggy walls - not walls you want to renovate, but the walls that were already decorated as you wanted, the walls that had surrounded 20, 30, 40 years of family life in your home.

So, tonight, please say a prayer for everyone who is facing such unimaginable clean-up.  And take a look around your own house and say a big prayer of thanksgiving.  That's what I'm doing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kitchen day 49: And then we feasted

Let's see.  When I last wrote, we had a mostly-functional kitchen, minus the trim, range hood, and refrigerator. It looked something like this, plus the counter tops (apparently my picture-taking became selective towards the end of last week; aka, selectively focusing on completed things, which makes looking back difficult!)

This weekend, Justin made me a window put in the microwave range hood.  Projects that involve cutting holes in the exterior of the house naturally make both of us pretty nervous, but I'm really proud of his persistence and creativity in solving the problems that cropped up.

He also hung all of the trim (another annoying project), but both paid off big time!  We rescued the refrigerator from the back porch, where it spent the better part of the last two months, and I focused on unpacking boxes from the basement, rediscovering wedding gifts I had forgotten (based on their exile in the basement pre-kitchen storage), and cleaning just about every surface I could find.

Things like washing dishes make me tear up with happiness.

We've got a few more touch-up things to do (like adding outlet covers, which always seems to take us forever).  We also will be getting two bar stools for the peninsula, and a step stool to take care of this issue:

And I'll need to take care of this pile of things:

Probably 80% of that pile is food that belongs in a pantry.  Since we moved the refrigerator from that corner, we're thinking of buying a free standing cabinet; something like this one from amazon.

                                            Prepac Elite Collection 32-Inch Storage Cabinet

But those finishing touches haven't stopped us from enjoying our kitchen.  It makes me happy to be able to cook for my man, and he reports that he likes to eat :)  Here's our table setting for our celebratory kitchen's done dinner.  (I had a lot of fun with my "new" dishes)  For those who are wondering, the menu was steak, mashed potatoes, zucchini casserole, salad, and homemade bread.

During renovations, we'd share a glass for dinner (partly because that was usually only find one clean one, but also because it meant less work to clean up), so now it feels luxurious to have a salad plate and a dinner plate ~ and put them all in the dishwasher!  Going from washing dishes in the bathroom and cooking all meals on the grill to having a functioning kitchen feels like we went from living in black and white to living in color.  And I'm loving it!  :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Kitchen day 45: Everything AND the kitchen sink

We weren't expecting kitchen counter tops for at least another week, so it was a very happy surprise when Justin got the call yesterday from our installer saying they'd becoming today!  The installers put all of the finishing touches on the cabinets (like the hardware, building up the peninsula, etc), and put in the counter tops.  This meant that we could spend this evening putting in our dishwasher and the kitchen sink.  This is an exciting development, given that for 45 days, we've been washing dishes in the downstairs bathroom.  To be a little more accurate, for the last 45 days, we've been piling dirty dishes in the downstairs bathroom.  (Hey, Mom, at least I'm honest!)

 I'm proud to announce that the majority of the items pictured above are now in the dishwasher for its inaugural run.  You may remember that we decided to hire the professionals to install the cabinets/counter tops (based on the tax loophole that makes it relatively inexpensive for them to do so), but we still took the do-it-yourself approach to most of the kitchen.  For our first attempt at plumbing, things went well!  (Both the sink and dishwasher are working without leaks, so I'll call that a success!)

We re-installed our old sink, which still looks pretty good, despite living on our patio for the last 45 days (including through a hurricane and many, many inches of rain).  With the new faucet, it practically looks new!  Justin deserves more credit; I was mainly the tool-hander and instruction-reader.  I did initially assume the mechanic position (see above) since the under-sink space is more Emily sized, but the strength required for the task ended up being more Justin sized.

Other developments today include a new over-the-sink light, a partial installation of the microwave range hood (halted because we need a part from a store that was closed when I went looking for it at 6:30), more work on the tile floor, vacuuming of flood waters from the basement, and lots of excitement on my part (for everything except the aforementioned flood waters).  Thankfully, our basement puddles aren't more than a few inches, and thanks to a lesson-learned from our sewage incident, most things are in plastic tubs, or far off the floor.  Justin was able to shop-vac the water al a my sister's spring break trip.

But back to the kitchen.  As if I wasn't already enamored enough, I think it keeps getting more charming by the day.

Not bad, since only 45 days ago it was looking like this:

This weekend, I plan to start moving everything into the cabinets, and cook up a storm.  Oh, and we'll probably rescue the refrigerator from the back porch :)  Stay tuned, I'll share more pictures of the whole room soon!

P.S. I linked to The Shabby Creek Cottage & Happy Hour Projects.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Quick craft project: Party favor turned pincushion

With all of the big projects going on in the kitchen, sometimes it is nice to get-away to my sewing room and finish a little project.  I had a little heart shaped tin, which came as a party favor at a bridal shower.  The mints that came with it are long gone, but I though it would be the perfect solution to my pins-gone-wild problem in the sewing room.  (Once was one time too many to get a pin directly into the foot).  I used the base of the tin, a scrap of fabric, some fiber fill, ribbon, and the trusty glue gun.

If you were to try this at home, I'd recommend a larger piece of fabric than you expect.  Working in small sections, I put a line of hot glue along the upper inside rim of the tin, attaching the right side of the fabric, and tucking it as I went around.  Once I had about 80% of the fabric glued, I stuffed a large amount of the fiber fill inside (more than what was pictured above), tucked the fabric down and added the last seam of glue.  A quick ribbon bow hot glued on, and my bridal shower favor (otherwise destined for the trash) became a delightful (and functional) addition to my sewing room!

Before.....and after! 

Sharing my project:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kitchen Day 43: Exploring my play house kitchen

You'll be happy to know that I found my camera cord this morning!  When I went to grab a towel this morning - in the dark - from the clean laundry basket, I ended up with the cord on my first try.  I suppose it was a lesson in not procrastinating at putting away the laundry (not one of my favorite chores, given our limited clothing storage), but don't worry, there's a post coming up about a big purchase we made this weekend that will solve that problem! (the avoidance-of-putting-away-laundry problem, the missing-camera-cord problem will likely persist from time to time!)  

At any rate, now I have both a charged camera and the camera cord - and thus, lots of kitchen pictures!  And so, without further ado...the tour!  I still feel like a little girl with a little play house kitchen, it's so perfect and cute (at least in my eyes!), despite the pending counter tops, dishwasher, crown moulding, etc!  Oh, and the cabinet knobs, the backer to the peninsula, and outlet covers.

Another angle, missing same items as above, plus the refrigerator.

Other angles, showcasing the newly painted trim and porch door.

Shelves, dishwasher, and remaining tiles waiting for installation.  Also, my computer.  I am so excited about the kitchen that I am sitting on the floor to write this post, just because I like being in here.  Despite it being a) a kitchen, and b) unfinished, it's already one of the coziest rooms in the house.  This is perfect since a kitchen is the heart of the home! 

I had mentally prepared myself that I wouldn't be able to store all of my gadgets, etc...until I saw the cabinets.  There is so much space!  I just like to stand here and stare at the cabinets and imagine the best way to arrange everything.  Also daydream about all the food I will be able to make when it's back up and running (the most complicated thing I've made in recent memory was microwaved soup...and a freezer pizza).

Look!  More storage space!  And nifty pull-out shelves in the cabinets so that we don't have to take out every pot and pan just to get to the one in the back.

Pull out trash can & recycling can in the peninsula

Close-up of my new cafe curtains (and the view of the needs-to-be-weeded garden and the needs-to-be-replaced fence)

I think fall was the perfect time to paint the kitchen a "fall" color.  Jo-Anns had plenty of fabrics in the seasonal section that would have worked, but this was perfect.  I love the whimsical vines...and the color is absolutely identical to the wall paint!  (Although both look too red in this picture)

Trim pieces drying in the basement after Justin primed and painted them.

And, one more shot, just because it makes me happy

Yay kitchen!  :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Kitchen day 42: Excitement has tuckered me out

Today was the day!  The cabinets are in place!  I feel like a little girl with a brand new dream play kitchen ~ and, as Justin happily pointed out, I can cook real food!

Literally, my first sneak peak today (when only the first two cabinets were in place) brought me to tears, I couldn't believe that it was really happening, and that it is MY kitchen.  I'm tearing up again now just thinking about it.  If you've ever had a dream come true, then you know where I'm coming from!

As I said, the cabinets are all in place.  Our installer will be back Wednesday for some finishing touches (hardware, crown moulding, etc), and it's possible that the counter tops could even be ready for installation then!  Have I mentioned that I'm excited?

This afternoon, I went to Jo-Anns and found the perfect fabric for kitchen cafe' curtains.  And, since I had the day off, I came right up to my sewing room and made them!  It's a fun (and rare) occurrence to start and finish a project all in a day!

The only bad thing about today was my fruitless search for the camera cord.  The battery is well charged and ready, but despite looking behind and under every piece of furniture we have, in every drawer, and in lots of random places a camera cord could not possibly be, I still haven't found the pesky thing.   If St. Anthony hasn't returned from vacation soon, I will snag Justin's camera for some better pictures (hopefully his is charged, too!), but for now I'm exhausted from all of the excitement, and so I'll tide you over with another poor quality cell phone picture.

Doesn't it look like a perfect little dollhouse kitchen?  Have I mentioned that I'm thrilled?  :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Kitchen day 41: All coming together

Today, I spent a good portion of the day working in the kitchen, all the while marveling at the simple fact that I was where I was - putting the finishing touches on the kitchen.  Sure, it's been 41 days in the making, and a year or more in the waiting, but it doesn't seem quite possible that we're nearing the end of our largest (and, aside from small projects) final home renovation project.  Naturally, I'm thrilled by the progress, and excited that my focus can shift from rebuilding rooms into decorating and organizing, but that doesn't stop me from feeling a little nostalgic and incredulous of just how far we've come.  (Cue the sappy music and the sappy "Remember when?" post from our one-year home ownership anniversary)

Today, I painted both sides of the exterior kitchen door, and painted the trim around the other doors and windows.  Also, I put down the infamous vinyl tiles (which arrived safely from Florida on Thursday).  Seeing them made me realize that my panic in not being able to find them was almost justified.  They look even better than I imagined (and I imagined they'd be incredible).

You'll have to excuse the quality of my cell-phone picture, as my camera battery needs charged AND I can't find my camera cord.  As I said, it's nice that I can shift into organization mode soon :)

Check back tomorrow ~ there will be lots of exciting progress, as the cabinet installation begins first thing in the morning :)  Don't worry, that is enough incentive to make me search for the pesky camera cord!