Posts tagged ‘kitchen’

January 20, 2012

four and twenty blackbirds

this little vignette keeps me company while i do the dishes:

the little scene as a whole, is comprised of three components that were collected over time.

it all started with the pie bird, who, having been through at least four moves, is a little worse for wear.

rather than get him repaired, i’ve decided to just leave him be.  each chip tells a story and adds to his overall character.

i don’t recall which came next, the little book, or the birds baked in a pie; nor do i recall where either of them came from.

there are not quite twenty-four black birds in this little pie, but when the pie is opened….

it’s the little things that make the nitty gritty stuff (like washing the dishes) worthwhile.

October 27, 2011

my pantry

one of the few things that did not get done after we reassembled our newly remodeled  kitchen was the pantry.

i’m not sure why.

i just never got around to it.

until  a few weeks ago.

the first step in my plan was to make a grand list of everything i felt a well stocked pantry (in our home) would need; purchase it, and then organize the shelves with all the goods.  because we try to eat fresh as much as possible i only access my pantry once a week or so with the exception of oatmeal which we eat nearly every morning.  in deciding what should belong on the shelves, i brainstormed all of my go-to recipes that could come together in a hurry (such as pumpkin dump cake), recipes i use for unexpected company (pasta tossed with pesto and  pine nuts), recipes i could use if i missed a trip to the store or was suddenly in the mood for comfort food (such as a tuna casserole).   i also added to the list a somewhat wide variety of dried beans that i try to use weekly on our soup night. the result was a grocery list several pages long which took considerable time to purchase and put away.

next step was to figure out storage for some of the dry goods such as beans and pasta.   now, i understand that this could have been very simple but i am a storage snob.  i like everything in my home to be pretty as well as functional; so for me, this part of the project took a bit of time.

my first consideration was modular tupperware.  i thought long and hard about this for a while, and i really liked the idea.   i noticed however,  while looking through the catalog that the lid color had changed since i last purchased tupperware.  if i wanted to be able to add to my container collection over time (which i did), or need to replace a container, i wanted to be able to do it with the same product.  i wanted everything to be uniform.  in the end, the tupperware option was voted down.

so, one afternoon while i was browsing through our new cucina italiana magazine i saw an ad for these:

and we decided that was the perfect solution.  i purchased along with them a fancy label maker capable of lots of fonts (i love fonts of all sorts) and went shopping for my pantry goods.

the result looks something like this:


grains and legumes....

canned goods...

i couldn’t be more pleased.

that done and out of the way the next step was organizing the spices.

yes, i did see that way cool idea all over pinterest of putting the spices in tiny jars and painting the lids with chalk paint.  i have to confess i was a tad bit envious of the genius of the person who thought that up.  however,  i like my labels to be read on the front and i had already purchased these from bed, bath, and beyond:

i also wanted to use my new label maker.

i didn’t need to collect any more spices like i did pantry goods.  i did need to narrow down what i had, getting rid of anything that had expired or gone stale.

i also needed to wash all the little lids and jars by hand, having learned they were not compatible with the dishwasher.

then i had to let them dry overnight and then some to ensure that the contents would not get damp.

quite a process……

the clothespins are for drying the jars. a little trick i learned from martha stewart

the fun part was loading all the contents into the cute little jars, and of course labeling them in a fancy font.

they fit perfectly on my narrow little pantry shelves and as with the canned goods,  i’ve been very happy with the result.

discussion underway about a new camera...

so far the stocked pantry has worked wonderful and helped to offset our monthly grocery budget.  we just have to remember that once something is used it is put on the list so we always have what we need. much easier said than done, believe it or not.

October 10, 2011

my new smart phone

this is my new smart phone!  we got it on saturday.   i have a wonderful app for my phone.  it helps me organize my day, tells me where i need to be and when, and helps me keep track of what needs to be done around the house.

“day runner” app:

and this is what we call the “grocery list” app.  with one single motion of the hand, i can add whatever i need to my list:

with this feature i can access facebook from my phone:

here is facebook:

here is the phone:


the only thing my wonderful smartphone lacks is voice mail.  however, i’m thinking that feature may ultimately go the way of our microwave, when we switched it out for this high-tech model here:

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September 20, 2011

ten random things…

about my old house

1. it’s “awkward” location tells a story.  once upon a time, there was a nice neighborhood; then along came 1-244.  confession: i love the location.  i love to listen to the traffic at night.  i love to stand at the kitchen window, washing the dishes, watch the highway traffic headed west and wonder where everyone is going.  traffic is cozy.  and this from a major introvert.  it also makes for easy airport runs when my husband travels frequently.

2. it has pokey rooms that make for very interesting living areas.

3. the garage is not attached and can comfortably house only one car.  however, it hosts a treasure trove of old things: vintage screen door, old storm windows, and the like.

4. the dormer windows are real.  each window creates its own special nook on the second floor.  i’ve spent the entire three years we’ve lived here trying to decide what to do with those nooks, but once i decide, it will be spectacular.

5. it has a few special challenges, like the drain from the washer backing up every so often.  however, we find these challenges to be very endearing.

6. we live within blocks of a university.  this gives a small college town feel to our neighborhood.  in the fall, we can hear the football games from our back porch.  we don’t really follow football, but the sound of the game means to us, that fall is here.

7. the kitchen floor has a special creaky spot in front of the fridge and a drawer that opens randomly on its own accord.  i refer to the opening of the drawer as the kitchen ghost, and often berate it for choosing to fix itself a snack when i am in the middle of dinner preparation.

8. we have a magnolia tree in the front yard.  i hate picking the leaves out of my flower beds, but i appreciate the fact that whoever planted it years ago, respected the colonial theme of the house and tried to carry it on in the landscaping.

9. our home has no hallways.  the front and back hall are actually square “rooms” connecting living areas, bathrooms, and bedrooms.  in my opinion this is a brilliantly efficient use of small space.  someday i am going to paint these special “rooms” a deep cherry red.

10. the guest bath hosts the original cast iron tub, especially long, and especially deep.  one can fill this up with luxurious warm water and foamy bubbles and soak for hours before the water starts to turn cold.

August 15, 2011

the *conclusion* of the two rooms project

actually the two rooms project was originally titled “the project of the two rooms” but to say “the conclusion of the project of the two rooms” was too much of a mouthful…

anyhow.  i got it done for the most part.  there are still a few areas that need to be tweaked here and there and we really can’t fully finish these out for several months yet but for now, the two rooms are at least functional and no longer an embarrassing disorganized mess.

so here is the before shot of the room off of the garden:

and here it is “after”…

i will agree that there is not a significant difference but i can assure you that it is decluttered and therefore that much easier to keep clean.  the box on the chaise goes to goodwill.  i’m still working on that…

i had a brilliant thought the other day and decided that if we remain a family of two i will make this a morning room like the one in du maurier’s rebecca.  it was the room where mrs. de winter spent every morning planning dinner and opening the mail.  it was, aside from rebecca’s, the loveliest room in the whole house.  i’ve always wanted a morning room and this would be perfect.

on to the closet…

my (yoga mat and my) dandy collapsible sewing table.  i will show you that and how it works in another post at another time.

above i have sewing and craft supplies stored:

and opposite, seasonal decorations, my duck family (which i currently have no place for but absolutely love and therefore cannot yet part with), and my fabric.

i haven’t shown you a below shot because my wedding gown is still hanging there.  i need to find a place to have it restored.

here is a shot of the office?/nursery? before:

and here it is now:

pretty empty and empty it will stay for a bit until we see the lay of the land.  i’m thinking now though that if it isn’t an nursery? i my bring in my grow lights, and my settee.  as you can see this is a very fluid project and i change my mind a lot.

so there you have it.

my next up and coming project is to fully stock and organize my pantry.

for now though, i leave you with a little addition to my kitchen:

…a brass towel rack. the towel says “bon appetite ya’ll.  nope i didn’t misspell appetit.  it says appetite.

and yes those are dirty dishes in my sink.

happy  monday!

June 23, 2011

three things i want but don’t really need…

1. to organize my clutter:

i. can’t. stand. clutter.  clutter drives me crazy and i am forever looking for ways to either minimize it, or at least keep it organized and looking neat and tidy.  some places inevitably attract clutter like the little tea cart in my kitchen.  it draws pieces of mail, the latest issue of bon appetit, grocery lists and i don’t know what all, like some sort of powerful  magnet.   i feel that if i have this dandy citrus crate (with italian script on the side) the clutter will at the very least be attractive.

i love this thing.

it is in the colors of my kitchen, and the italian lettering matches my italian husband.

i need it.

it is also incredibly expensive.  at least for something that is just going to hold the junk mail until i get around to throwing it out; that is why i am still trying to decide if it is worth it or not.

2. for holding eggs:

yes i do buy my eggs in styrofoam cartons.  but i just thought it would be such a happy thing to open up the fridge and see them sitting upright in these pretty crates (which are also available in robin’s egg blue).  it reminds me of a refrigerator ad for a fridge with a glass door.  everything was in order and beautifully picturesque.  the carrots were even in a basket with the green tops on, the milk was stored in a glass bottle.   who does that, i  know, but still i want these crates all the same.

3. and this:


this i bought. i need another tea cup like i need a hole in the head but i saw this at anthropologie and snatched it up before i could change my mind.  the floral print running around the side reminds me of a vintage hankie.

it even has another red flower where the handle meets the cup:

here is how it looks with the yellow teapot:

and here is how it looks with pg tips and a slice of lemon:

this has been my pick-me-up this week.

June 4, 2011

it’s the little things…

that sometimes make life so much easier.

like new burner grates for my stove…

and a new set of  basin racks for my sink.


i love my stove but shortly after we purchased it, the enamel began to chip off the burner grates.  they were also a light gray color that was all too soon spotted with grease.  regardless of how hard i tried, i could not get them clean.

i love my sink but shortly after we purchased it and had it installed, i noticed that the “no stain” cast iron basin  had developed metal marks from washing pots and pans.  this required a special cleaner applied with a special method.  this special cleaner applied with the special method had to be used almost every evening.  it was getting to be too much.  since i have a fancy schmancy basin shape i needed specialized basin racks which kohler was very happy to provide (through ebay that is).

so the burner grates and the basin racks were a special gift from my husband this week just to make my kitchen sparkle a little extra.

now i don’t want to cook or wash dishes so as not to wear off the newness.



May 16, 2011

THE long awaited kitchen tour…for reals this time. before and after photos included

walls painted tea room yellow? check.

woodwork and trim painted saffron ivory? check.

pantry shelves completed? check.

ceiling painted? light fixtures mounted? sink and counter installed? check. check. check.

in the early evening of december 31, with enough completed to make for a functional kitchen, we wheeled in the stove and refrigerator, and replaced the table and chairs.  we cooked a mean beef stroganoff and toasted to 2011 in our brand new kitchen.  it had taken all of four months.  looking at that length of time in print, it doesn’t seem that long.  but four months for a foodie to be eating cold cereal while living in a pile of rubble is an eternity.

it took just another two weeks to add some final touches: the painting of the pantry,  cabinet catches, a pull out cutting board, and then of course the moving back in.   there are still a few things yet that need to be taken care of: the vintage red phone is purchased but needs to be hung.  i also have some artwork to go up but i am waiting until the newness of my painted walls wears off and i am brave enough to pound holes in them.

am i glad we did it?  ::big sigh:: yes. as soon as i hung my yellow floral curtains, and took it all in with the ivory and yellow color scheme i was thrilled.  the kitchen has become one of our favorite rooms in the house.  i look forward to coming in here every morning to start the day.

would i do it again?  wayalllll…….i..dunno.  lets just say that our master bath is in need of a major redo.  before the kitchen i was all gung ho on getting it done asap.  now, i’m starting to think it really isn’t so bad the way it  is.

i leave you with the before and after photos (please remember i am not a photographer); as well as a few other details.

"before" shot of the breakfast nook

breakfast nook, after

"before" shot of refrigerator and adjacent cabinet

...and after. note the rolling kitchen island was replaced with a built in base cabinet

additional wall cabinets added above

stove area before

...and after

sink and countertop area before

...and after

laundry room

the pantry with additional shelving added (difficult to see, but narrow shelves were added on the wall opposite the door when it is closed)

i still do not have a terrible amount of cupboard and counterspace. what i do have needs to be used efficiently. my mom got me these great canisters. flour and sugar are stored on the counter leaving more room in the cupboard. i still have enough prep space.

the cabinets reach all the way to the celing. so while there aren't many, they do provide a lot of storage. this is my baking station.

pull out cutting board also provides additional work surface. this is another prep station.

my built in corner cabinets store serving pieces

kitchen guy wanted me to get rid of the curlicues but i stood my ground.

just showing off the under cabinet lighting and my darling lamp above the sink

and here is our vintage door; sanded down and repainted. the knob is original and was cleaned up, buffed, and polished

thanks for stopping by!  🙂

May 8, 2011

THE long awaited kitchen tour…well almost

part the seventh

during kitchen guy’s “sick leave” marco and i pow-wowed.  we decided that the difficult stuff   we really didn’t have the skills to handle were completed and  out of the way.  the counter was being ordered through home depot and would be installed, along with the sink a few days after christmas.  with the pantry close to being finished, all that remained was the painting, and a few simple, final details.  we could handle that.  if we both worked furiously together, we could conceivably paint, move the appliances back in, and cook a rip-roaring new year’s eve dinner.

after four months on a job that could have been done in two, we decided to give kitchen guy his walking papers.  when he returned the following monday,   we informed him that come the end of the week,  we’d be taking it from here on out thankyouverymuch.  i was surprised at how little he resisted.   in spite of his skill and talent he seemed to have lost interest in the project and was all too happy to walk away from it.  marco let him down so gently, i wasn’t even sure he realized he’d been fired.  i was  convinced of this fact when,  several weeks later he appeared at our front door with a new client wanting to come in and show off his work as a real-live portfolio.  hmmmm….

kitchen guy no longer there to hold us back,  marco began to paint the ceiling.  we soon learned why it had been sprayed with a popcorn finish: the surface was a bit uneven.  we wrestled with it for hours, primping, and touching it up here and there before we finally decided to leave it alone.  it was after all, an older home with its charm  and imperfections.  :shrug:  we wanted someone to walk in and say “wow you found this place with the kitchen still intact!” not “so when did you redo the kitchen?” if i had any misgivings about my bumpy ceiling they completely evaporated when we installed the light fixtures. these lovelies are my pride and joy.  ordered from rejuvenation at the start of our lengthy project, we were thrilled to finally be able to hang them up.

next was the painting.  for the next several days we feverishly painted the walls, cabinets, and pantry.  coat after coat of primer inside and out.  then coat after coat of saffron ivory inside and out.  we enlisted the help of my brothers.  we listened to endless hours of jazz to break up the monotony. we paused briefly to have christmas with my family.  then we painted some more, stopping only to inhale very bad take out chicken, tubs of store-bought potato salad and little debbies oatmeal pies.  while one worked on the walls, the other would work on the cabinets and trim.  i honestly thought it would never end.

then the counter arrived.  we had spent hours deliberating over this  surface. linoleum? tile? granite? corian? laminate?    had i wanted to be truly authentic, i’d have gone with linoleum, but that just didn’t jive.  it was too weird, and it made me feel ick to have the same surface on the counter that i would have on the floor.   another authentic choice we really liked was tile.  but i wanted a completely smooth surface for rolling out pie crust and cookie dough.  granite was too modern looking and the color schemes didn’t seem to work.  in the end we decided on silestone as it offered durability in a range of colors.  but which color?  we struggled to agree.    yellow? pale yellow?  red?  dark or light? solid or variegated?  if ever you want to test the negotiating skills in your marriage: remodel your kitchen.  we finally agreed on white, as it fit our monochromatic color scheme.  well….. we thought it was white, but while it was being unloaded from the truck it looked like a putty gray.   i panicked. i spent the morning posting minute by minute updates on facebook enlisting the emotional support of my friends and fighting the urge to pour myself a pomegranate martini.

then, if that wasn’t enough the installation guy decided that my sink wasn’t going to fit.  for some reason, years ago, when the kitchen was modernized with a garbage disposal the switch was put on the apron front of the sink.  he couldn’t drop in the sink for the box.   he was being very disagreeable about it and was just going to walk away, leaving me with a hole in the counter and a  special order sink i couldn’t really take back.  marco intervened and graciously asked him to stay long enough while he removed the switch box giving just enough room to drop in the sink.  he agreed and eventually we replaced the switch under the cabinet.  a bit of an odd location for a switch, but it works.

this special order sink was another item we had deliberated over.  many of the vintage ads we referred to for inspiration showed a free standing farmhouse sink with a drainboard.

i absolutely loved these but there was no room in my tiny kitchen for a monstrous piece of porcelain that big.  even if there was, we weren’t sure how we’d get it through the front door.  we thought perhaps an apron front porcelain sink would be a good alternative after cutting down the cabinet doors to accommodate for the depth.  however, by the time we made our decision the cabinet doors were finished and paid for (the one time kitchen guy’s lackadaisical approach might have worked to our advantage) .  in the end i went with a kohler 9″ white cast iron basin.  i had no idea what a difference 1″ would make in the depth.  i love that i can fill it up with dirty dishes that remain concealed at the bottom.  no one coming into the kitchen has any idea that i had no time to load the dishwasher.  a brass faucet with white porcelain keys completed the look.  i knew we had gotten it right when my grandma saw it and said it looked just like the faucet from her childhood home; and in the end, when all was said and done, the countertop color worked just fine.

up next….the FINAL installment of our saga (anyone still reading??) with the before and after pics.

May 2, 2011

THE long awaited kitchen tour…well almost

part the sixth

when The Trial of the Door came to a close, marco and i began to wonder how much longer we could last with kitchen guy at the helm, navigating a project that was clearly not going to be completed by christmas, or even new years.  we began to talk of letting him go and finding someone else to complete the work.  kitchen guy must have been a fly on the wall the night we had that conversation because he very quickly redeemed himself.  coming to work bright and early one morning, he set  to making the base and wall cabinets needed for the fridge and stove area.  for someone who claimed to never have made a cabinets before, he did an amazing job.  within just a few short hours he assembled cabinetry from brand new materials that fit in seamlessly with the cabinets that were fifty years old.

in addition to the new cabinets being installed, the old ones were refurbished.  new doors were cut  to replace the old warped ones, and hung with new hinges and hardware.   the sides of the drawers were routed out  and retrofitted with  some super-cool tracking gizmo (the proper name escapes me) so that i no longer had wood rubbing against wood creating sawdust in my mixing bowls.

new base cabinet to the left of the stove...

new base cabinet to the left of the fridge, build to match the existing wall cabinet

new wall cabinets above the fridge, built to match the existing wall cabinte to the left (not seen)

drawer opened to reaveal the "track" that was added

since all of the door hardware in the house is brass, we decided that the fixtures and cabinet hardware should be brass as well.  here again, we deviated a bit from the time period (which dictated chrome) but we were taking our cues from the house itself so i was comfortable with that.

i finally felt we were beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

next up was the pantry.  this area had  been a thorn in my flesh since we had moved in.  regardless of how hard i scrubbed and cleaned it always felt filthy, and the paint looked like it had been there since the dawn of time.  the shelves were beginning to bow and the door opened at an awkward angle.  it was also very small.   kitchen guy’s mission:  to replace the shelves, and extend them, making a more efficient use of space; flip the door so that it could be opened to access the contents without cutting me off from the workspace; and finally: to give everything a fresh coat of paint.

for some reason, known only to himself, kitchen guy refused to attack the pantry with the same zeal and fervor that he did the cabinets.  one morning he worked for two hours, then  announced that he was taking a sick leave.  a few hours later i noticed a self-uploaded video come through my facebook news-feed of a plaintive kitchen guy thoughtfully strumming a guitar.  that was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.  it was already apparent we weren’t going to make the christmas deadline.   if we continued this way, and at this rate, i’d be eating fish sticks on the couch until march.