Monday, December 26, 2011

Un-Boxing Day

Happy Boxing Day--the biggest shopping day for Canadians and from what I heard on a radio story this morning, the Americans are catching on. Gift cards to be spent, bad gifts to be returned and all that. They really need to catch on to the name, though. Not that it's a good name (several theories, but none of them catchy for why "Boxing Day"), but at least it's a name with some history.

But I wasn't shopping today, I was having my own un-boxing day--moving into the kitchen. I am weary and it is not done, but I have made good progress.

I got all the handles installed on Saturday. Troy finished putting the Formica on the counters yesterday so I can use them and as far as I'm concerned, we are in the kitchen to stay.

Isaac and I also cleared out the perpetually junky corner and moved the table in:
Looking at the picture, I notice again that the walls are looking pretty bad and are bringing down the fanciness of my table, but they will have to wait. Again, the final plans include a booth here, but in the meantime the table will suffice and this will get it out of the way in the dining room. I have to say as I sit at the table typing this, it sure is nice to be in the room with steady heat!! Troy will be happy that the odds of our eating dinner at a table like civilized people instead of sitting on the floor in front of the wood stove have increased dramatically!

Otherwise I worked on moving stuff from where it has been stored in the appliance room, the dining room closet, and Isaac's room. Some of it has been stashed in cupboards, some of it has been thrown out (why did I keep that?), and some of it donated because it doesn't fit or I haven't used it or missed it in years.

I spent the whole time vacillating between joyful glee at having space for everything and anxious worry that I would run out of space. Then I found two cupboards I hadn't filled at all!

So I stopped worrying about space and then most of my mental energy was been spent on trying to organize. It's been exhausting. I have most of the easy stuff moved in and will work on the harder to categorize or organize stuff as I go. I see more chipboard boxes in my future!...

Let me also say, I have never cleaned so much in my life. Everything was dusty or worse from being stored on open shelves and had to be cleaned before it could find a home. Not that I minded since I could do it all in my new fabulous sink (!), but it's nice knowing that once they're in cupboards that problem shouldn't be a problem any more.

At the risk of picture overload and boredom on your part, here are some pictures of my newly filled and organized cupboards:

Finally get to put out the orange enamelware I've found over the last couple years!

Drinks (coffee/tea/cocoa) and lunch supplies

Baking supplies

So far, all the small appliances fit in the base corner cabinet. I even found a square elephant tray in an odd box that fits perfectly under the toaster to catch all the crumbs. It's really cute and I'm glad I found a use for it.


Dishes in a drawer seems to be working well. It's a little full right now because of the Christmas dishes that are out. I lined the drawer with toolbox liner so that it would be a little padded and the dishes wouldn't slide around.

The divided tray cabinet is filling up.

And finally, my spice rack with all my spices alphabetized once again. (A-L on the left, M-Z on the right.) Yes, I am sleeping better already.

Besides the luxury of having a big fabulous kitchen (I figure this is triple the counter space I've ever had before!), it is also great to have a fresh start. From now on, I'll have to make myself do spring cleaning to get anything like the same experience! (Who's making odds on that one?)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of you. We don't have big plans except to visit with Isaac, have a nice dinner and do some work on the kitchen. Why not? It's our Christmas gift to each other (and ourselves) this year. Don't worry though--we're having dinner with friends tomorrow and will see my family later this week to celebrate Christmas "properly."

I was saying to Troy recently that I couldn't wait until we could plug the small appliances into the wall and would no longer have to deal with the mess of the power cord we are currently using. "And," I excitedly said, "it's already done." And it is. Troy has supplied power to all the outlets in the kitchen. They are ready to use. Can be used any time. We aren't yet using them because the counters aren't ready and there's other stuff still to be done. But at that moment I was flooded with delight that it was accomplished even as I was still cooking in the dining room.

It occurred to both of us that this was an analogy of the new kingdom. It has been accomplished. It is done. But we're not there yet. We are prevented from fully living in it.

But at that moment of excitement when I knew I had power in the kitchen and was living that experience even though I still was forced to use the power cord in the dining room, I really had a glimpse of how we can live in the knowledge of and in some way experience the new heaven and new earth even though we aren't there yet.

Then Troy tried to take things too far and claim that this analogy makes him God since he was the one that hooked up the power...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Finishing Touches

I don't want to mislead you so don't think that we are actually finished the kitchen.

But we have gotten some things far enough that we have put on some finishing touches. First off are some outlet covers, which always make a wall look finished. I have been able to put up three of them since I got the painting done last night.

I thought finishing the painting meant that we could move the fridge in (Troy hooked up power this past week in case I hadn't written that yet) but Troy wants to finish the edge of the counter there first. Makes sense. I know he is itching to do the last of the Formica so I'm sure it will be getting done soon.

One thing that may hold it up is that I would really like Troy to drill all the holes for my pulls and handles. I have prepped the kitchen with marks on all the drawers and doors:
Yes, this is something I could probably do and would do if there were no Troy. But I am scared of marring these brand new cupboards. I trust Troy to do a better job.

Another thing I did to prep was unwrap all the handles we will need:
I still love them and can't wait to see them on the cabinets! And once they're on, I'll be getting serious about moving stuff into the kitchen from the dining room, upstairs storage and the appliance room. How great will that be.

Troy put the grate over the range fan:
I'll be tiling around it so that it will be flush with the tiles, not mounted above them. You can see the mechanics through the grill--if it really bothers us, Troy said he could paint it black inside. Meanwhile we'll try it like this. I think it's not very noticeable from further back:
and we still have the valance to install which will block some of the view as well.

What's up next? Let's look at the punch list from November:

  • one more coat of mud on drywall that will be painted
  • seal joint between walls and ceiling
  • close upper insulation holes
  • prime drywall
  • finish electric hookups
  • buy plywood for shims and counters
  • shims below cabinets
  • install base cabinets
  • install oven including converting it to propane and connecting the propane
  • install dishwasher
  • install plywood for countertop
  • tile back splash
  • apply laminate to countertop [1/3 done]
  • install sink
  • inventory insulation and purchase more as necessary
  • install ceiling joists and insulation on west half
  • build partial wall for cabinet above fridge
  • install upper cabinets
  • install oil stove

Wow, looking at that list, we should be just about done! But in addition to the couple of things left from that list, we also have:

  • trim counters
  • install ceiling lights
  • install under cabinet lights
  • install range light (& buy range light)
  • covers on outlets/switches
  • install handles
  • install fillers in cabinet gaps
  • install valance and corbels
  • curtains
  • make dividers for large cutlery drawer

That should get us pretty close to the point where we will be taking a break from the kitchen. Or Troy will be. I have a feeling I'm going to be unpacking kitchen stuff, cleaning and organizing for a long while. (Not that I'm complaining.)

Time to go...might be taking some time to put up some Christmas decorations today (finally).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Quick Update

Hello again. Just a quick update since yesterday...

Ready for the big reveal?

Yes! All the cupboards are in/up/installed/DONE! Woo hoo. There is still trimming, etc, etc, but this is a big milestone in itself! And don't they look good!? I like the upper cabinets much more than the base cabinets. I don't know if it's just that the drawers are too plain or that the stain is actually darker on the top ones. (Troy doesn't think so.) If it's just that the uppers look darker because of the bad lighting we have right now, I may not let Troy improve it! Ok, maybe not.

You can see in the pictures that I mocked up the under cabinet lights by taping up the strings. We need to check how many bulbs we need and where. Seems like it should work once they're mounted better. But they will be handy even as they are as I am constantly reaching to turn on a light over the sink.

I did do the sanding yesterday and have declared it "the end." Troy said it was as good as professional but he didn't really mean that in a complementary way. I got the new mud primed today and I hope to paint on some color very soon. Then the fridge can move it. Oh my goodness, that would put all my big kitchen appliances in one room.

Something that didn't happen today was a new phone line. I won't get into it, but our phones have been out since Wednesday. Now that the line to the house is active again, Troy needs to run a new line into the house. Because he needed another thing to do... But anyway, you can try our cels if you need to talk to us.

Meanwhile I'll be figuring out how to sleep while staring adoringly at my cabinets. :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cabinet-palooza Continues

We've had another busy and productive week.

The dishwasher is fully functioning. The sink works. (In case you missed my many posts on Facebook!) It has been such a blessing. I feel free to do stuff now because I know I have an easy way to clean things up. Such a relief.

What I was surprised at is how much nicer it has made the bathroom again. The counter is clear, I can hang just one hand towel again and there are no dirty or clean dishes spread on the floor. It can just be a bathroom again. Nice.

Troy got the power running to everything but the plug for the fridge. I haven't moved in the small appliances yet as the counters aren't ready. It will be nice to be able to melt the butter at the same time as popping the popcorn. Or to use the microwave while the coffee pot is on.

Troy's been trying the under-cabinet lighting:
He "unvented" (as Elizabeth Zimmermann would say) the idea of using LED Christmas lights for under-cabinet lighting. I would prefer rope light to this messy style of string lights and when I went to look for them in Menards, there were actually more options in the lighting department than the holiday department--more people are using them under the cabinets! Unfortunately the rope lights were way too white and "cool" and we preferred the light from the ones above. They should be mounted so you can't see them so I guess it doesn't actually matter that they are "messy." (I'm assuming they'll be sloppier to mount as well, but who knows.)

Now that some of the cabinets are in, I am thinking of how to put stuff in the drawers and cabinets. One thing I did this week was make an organizer for the cutlery drawer:
If interested, you can read all the details on my other blog. I haven't gone crazy with moving stuff into the kitchen since we are still making big messes and would like all the handles on first. I expect it to take a while as everything needs to be thoroughly washed before coming into my new kitchen. (That's the rule!)

Yesterday I did final sanding and primed the wall on the south end...
and the north end...
and the ceiling. I used up every last drop of primer I had. Which is good because it was an old nasty can. Once again, getting a solid coat of white everywhere really helped to make the room more finished. The north end by the fridge location is ready for paint (which I bought earlier this week). The south end needed another touch of mud, which I applied this morning. After a trip to town for supplies, I hope it will be dry enough to sand and prime tonight.

When Troy got home from work yesterday he was suitably impressed with the painting I had gotten done. He was also inspired to keep it going and wanted to hang the upper cabinets. I told him I wasn't up to it and he countered, "What if all you have to do is put a support under the cabinet while I lift it into place?" I didn't answer because I knew that wouldn't be all that it was.

We hadn't hung any yet so I knew there would be some planning that had to be done, thinking through where stuff has to go, reading the "map" of where the studs and cross supports were. But Troy was not to be stopped. He asked for a cabinet. I showed him where it was. He lifted it into place. I held it up. He screwed it into place.

By 9:30 we had four of the cabinets up:
Yes, it looks great. Yes, Troy wanted to continue. But the next one was the corner cabinet which is not only still in the shop, but much heavier. More than I could handle. I drew the line and said I was done. Troy conceded, and not 5 minutes later commented on how tired he was. Good time to draw the line.

The other thing we had last night? The first dinner made in our new oven:
Pork roast with onions and potatoes and blueberry pie with crumble top. We were too tired and busy hanging cabinets to eat it. But the oven worked great. The continuous top is wonderful and it's nice to not see a huge open flame in the bottom of the oven like you did with our last one! (You can see a picture here where I was treating some wool.)

Exciting stuff going on here and I expect it to continue...

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Flip Side

Yesterday I was a little down on the whole shopping experience, but I neglected to tell you the best part.

When we first mocked up the kitchen and brought in all the base cabinets for a dry fit, I held up our handles to see how they looked. First the style that we agreed to use (and had already bought a full supply of), and then the one that I preferred (and still had the one sample I couldn't let go of). I still liked the one I liked. With just a little wheedling (honestly, I stayed on the right side of whining and it really didn't take much), Troy gave in with a gracious, "Oh honey, get what you want." Why thank you, Mr. Honey, I think I will.

So I've been waiting these many weeks for my handles to go on sale. They finally did last week and I bought enough for the whole room. Yesterday, I returned the ones I didn't like. Happiness.

I will add that the tile I wanted was on sale as well, so I picked that up in the same trip. (This was all on Wednesday last week.) So now I have enough white tile to do the back splash. I'm still looking for a good green tile. Apparently they are out of fashion and now are hard to find.

So far I have managed to get the sinks, faucets, handles, and tile all for discounted prices. Now I know people do this every day. But usually when I get a sale, it's for something I wasn't really looking for but could use at such a good price. In these instances, they are things I know I am going to have to get, but I manage to get them on sale. Happiness.

Today I found the lights we are going to use for general overhead light. Now I will wait for them to go on sale and get them too. We need five or six. I'm willing to wait. (And it won't be that long.) Unless Troy goes superturbo and needs them sooner. For that, I wouldn't complain about paying full price...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Servitude Sunday: Trip to Hell and Back

One of the first screws to hold in
my cabinets (Monday Dec 5).
I can't believe it's only been a week since I've given you an update on the general kitchen progress. So much has happened!

For one thing, after we had the three cabinets in place last Sunday, I told Troy that we were moving a cabinet in each day just to keep them moving in. The first two I did myself...the 12" tray divider cabinet and the 6" roll out spice rack. They're on the far left in this pic:
The spice rack took quite a bit of Troy's time on Tuesday and Wednesday but he got it done. It's designed to hang off the adjoining cabinets, but we put it on an "end" (next to the stove). Troy had to modify an end piece we bought for the situation. It worked but did need some customizing. It looks great.

After that was done, Troy started working on the cabinets on the other side of the stove. One part of that was the dishwasher. Wednesday evening I walked in through our back door and saw this:
That's where the dishwasher used to be! was moving day.

It took a few days of getting things arranged and the rest of the cabinets installed on this section.

But once that was in, it was time to make a counter top! Troy cut plywood to shape and then we put the Formica on. Here it is last night before Troy cut the sink hole in the Formica:
It was so beautiful! That's where we went to bed Saturday night. All the base cabinets in, dishwasher installed (electrical hooked up but no plumbing yet) and one counter installed.

This morning Troy cut the edges of the Formica even with the counter edge with a router and cut out the sink hole. He had a few other tasks to do (not related to the kitchen) and commented on the way to church that if the whole day went like the morning, then he should have the whole house done today. ;)

We got home earlier than usual (1:30) and Troy got right to it. Today it was plumbing the sink and dishwasher. He sent me to Menards for some supplies. We wrote a list, but some of it was more like a goal than an object. ("Something to go from a 3/4" pex to a male garden house--you won't be able to do it in one piece." or "3/4" pex to 1/2" female end with at least 20" of hose between--you'll need an adapter in there somewhere too.") But off I gamely went.

I did a little looking on my own, but when the helpful employee asked if I was finding everything, I went ahead and asked for his help. I thought I'd start with the easiest thing on the list--something I knew existed but just wasn't sure where to get--a 3/4" to 1/2" pex adapter. I said the part's name and I described what it did, and although he took me to the right aisle, he confidently told me that it didn't exist. You couldn't do that. I would need to put another piece of pex in between. I knew this was wrong and excused him as soon as I could. (I mean if you need pex in between the 3/4 and 1/2 pex, how do you attach that piece of pex? With the very part I was looking for.) Anyway, once on the right aisle, I found that part.

The rest were much harder as I had to consider which 2 or 3 steps I needed to take to go from Starting Point to Destination. It didn't help that the signs weren't consistent and many parts were misfiled. And once when I finally found the part I needed and verified it fit into the other part I had, I went to get the second one I needed and I couldn't find the bin again!! Oh I'm sure you've been there so I'll stop; suffice it to say, an hour and a half later I was able to leave that little version of hell.

I came home with my haul:
It doesn't look like much for being at the store for an hour and a half!! And it turns out I got the wrong hose. (That discovery wasn't soul-crushing as I was pretty much counting on something being wrong.) But I know they make the one we need and it was in stock.

Btw, I allowed the employee to redeem himself when I couldn't find the plumber's putty and he not only knew what I wanted existed, he could take me right to the shelf where it was.

Anyway, that was pretty much the end of my servitude this Sunday. Troy was very sympathetic when I got back and agreed that shopping in the plumbing supply place can indeed be hell. Then he made me some popcorn which helped a lot.

By the end of the night, the plumbing looked like this:
Of course the supply lines are not connected because we don't have the right hoses.

And above the counter? We have this:
The sink is completely installed--no cheating with a dry fit and taking a picture! I think it is so beautiful. I maybe a little obsessed with the
sink. Maybe a lot. I love it. I will love it even more when water comes out of the tap and then drains away. Can you imagine doing dishes in a sink like that? It will be heaven. (With the dishwasher out most of the week, I am not overjoyed by doing dishes in the tiny bathroom sink.)

I really should have taken some pictures earlier in the week when the stove was in place (sort of a "dry fit") and everything was cleaned up. It was lovely. Now it's a big ole mess again and it's hard get a good picture of the whole room.

But here's a try:

But things should just be getting better from here...

Troy has the second piece of counter cut (of three). They should go a lot faster since there's no sink to deal with.

I also dragged in all the upper cabinets, so they are filling a good chunk of the kitchen.
The upside...I am parking in the shop again. Hurray for heated parking!!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

New Appliance

Yes, this is what our woodstove setup now looks like.

Troy was tired of running the woodstove and having to adjust the damper. Since we burn glycerin (which burns very quick and hot), we really needed to make sure the fire didn't overheat or get out of control. Troy had already installed a heat sensor with an alarm that would go off if it got too hot. (That's the lower bar extended from the wall to the pipe.)

But the alarm only works if you can hear it. I.e. if you're in the house paying attention. And then even it if works, it means you have to drop whatever you are doing and run to the living room to close the damper and shut the alarm off.

So with the thought that there "has to be a better way," Troy started to research. What you see in the above picture is the result. [ETA: Troy did extensive research but did not find a single example of this type of system. He had to design it himself.]

We've had it installed for about two weeks now. And I have to say, for a new installation there was very little adjustment needed. It worked pretty much right from the get-go. And despite being what I might charitably call "visually obnoxious," it really does work and make life much easier around here.

We can load up a normal amount of wood/glycerin and when the temperature sensor knows that it's too hot, the big orange box will close the damper. When it cools off some, it opens it again. Those are the only options it has: open or shut. The temperature sensor is smart enough to measure rate of change as well, so if the temperature is changing quickly, it will shut the damper sooner. It has worked great.

Although it looks awful (Troy says it'll be much better when he neatens up the cords--what?), I do not at all mind it in my "pre-improved" living room. I am somewhat concerned about how to integrate this into a living room wherein I am actually responsible for its fashion sense. Bright orange box in my kitchen--that might actually fit in. In my living room? Not so much.

Well, until that is actually an issue, I'll just enjoy the extra freedom and safety that the appliance provides. In the meantime, if you have any ideas, please let me know.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


Just wanted to show off some Mexican tiles I ordered for the kitchen:

I bought 75 tiles (actually got 77) on eBay. They're 4" and there are three to file tiles of each design.

I plan to use the darker and bolder colours as they will play against a white field. I'm not sure exactly what I'll be doing with them yet, but I have some ideas. I'm a quilter and am thinking like a quilter. So to me these are bits of fabric to be cut up and pieced together. We'll see...

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Kitchen Cabinets (Close Enough)

Boy, did we make some exciting progress today!

As soon as we got home (around 3:30), I got right to it. First up was some sweeping and cleaning up. Put away all the tools (and crap) that found themselves on top of the corner cabinet we were hoping to install today. Troy loaded all the extra lumber to be returned into the truck. The room was clear and ready for a serious make over.

I rounded up the paint supplies (from the basement, foyer and shop because why would all your paint supplies be in one spot?) and set to it. The goal was one coat of primer on everything that would end up behind a cabinet. (The rest of the walls need more mudding and sanding.)

What a lot of white. That's some good primer because one coat covered permanent markers, mud marks and everything else. (Except a little bit of very persistent mulberry bird poop. Good thing that will be behind some tile.)

Okay, check out all the blinding white in the following pics:

Once the paint was applied, Troy was ready to put the base down for the cabinets. This will make sure that the bottom of the cabinets will be even with the flooring we eventually will be putting in. Starting the cabinet work right after painting was no problem as the paint dried very, very quickly. The room is dry and very warm (we turned off the oil heater early in our day) and of course new paints have fewer volatiles, which makes them dry very quickly.

Once the base was screwed down, we could move in some cabinets:
Don't they look so pretty!? They room is also amazingly roomy without the 36x36 corner cabinet sitting in the middle of it! (It's like every time we empty stuff out of the room I rediscover how big it is.)

When we first put them in place, they were not level. :( How does that happen on a floor you made sure was level?? In any case, that's when we took a break for dinner and then I decided I was done for the day. (But don't worry, I had put in the equivalent of  two Servitude Sundays already.) Troy went back to work on it and got a couple of shims in place to level the cabinets. He reported that they are not actually screwed in, but that is all they lack to be installed. I said he was off the hook for the evening then...

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