Monday, March 26, 2012

Adventures in Remodeling...

While the rest of Pinterest and Blogland is in Spring and Easter craft heaven, we're a little over a week into the kitchen remodel, and we're surviving. Better than surviving, things have actually been going pretty smoothly, all things considered. I'm very grateful to Pinterest for all the crockpot freezer meals I found recipes for and prepped ahead of time; I'm grateful to Reynolds Wrap for making liners for crockpots so I don't have to wash it; and I'm very thankful I have a hubby who was willing to dive into this with me and make it all happen :) These pictures are from March 17, right before we started ripping it apart. I've purposefully never posted pictures of my kitchen, because it was always such a cluttery mess. Here, the counters are empty and the clutter gone - relocated to the basement and our bedroom for the next 6 weeks. I'm determined that half of it will leave the house, not to return to the kitchen. In hindsight, I really can't believe how much STUFF I had crammed into that small space.
It doesn't look bad, on the surface, does it? Basic white kitchen, Corian counters, cast iron sink. What could be missing? A pantry. Those cabinets to the left of the table were a pantry on the plans. Back in 2002, when our house was built, everyone was putting desks into kitchens, so that's what we got. It actually functioned as a desk for a while, then William came along and pulled the front off the drawer - the only way to fix it was to screw the front into the face of the desk - no more drawer! The back of it became Evie's secret hidey-hole. Under the clock on the right we put a jelly cupboard that functioned as a snack pantry & lunch box holder, and the rest of the food was stuffed into cabinets, including 3 - yes THREE - corner cabinets. I hate corners.
These are basic builder grade cabinets, with white thermofoil. Which means they are particle board held together in the corners with triangles of plastic; the doors are melamine - heavy as all get out - and heat fused with a plastic coating. After 10 years that plastic coating cracks and starts peeling; the piano hinges on your corner doors lose the screws that are holding them together, and the magic eraser you use to clean them just leaves them looking streaky, because there's a very fine texture to the plastic. And yes, these are all first-world problems, I know - call me spoiled - the bottom line is, the materials were kind of crappy, the u-shaped layout meant one-way-in/one-way-out, and really only one person could work in there at one time. Clearly it must go :)
If you look at the picture below, to the right of the sink is the corner where everyone who'd come over would like to stand and keep me company :) Which of course is right in front of the dish cabinet, and the dishwasher - so if I'm trying to cook/serve or cleanup, you really need to be on the other side of the counter - but there's nowhere to sit, unfortunately.
The desk area, which we no longer used as a desk, became a waste of space with the unused desk knee hole underneath - I've been wanting to rip that out for a long time and replace it with a sideboard. I figure the space gained below will help offset not replacing the wall cabinets above with a hutch - I just want an open wall above....

Brothers having fun walking around all the empty counters
10 years of opening the sink base door with damp hands weren't kind to this cabinet door - no more child locks!
This was the left desk base cabinet - it was broken when installed, they just faced it with a blank panel. The whole thing fell apart when Matt picked it up to move it into the garage.  

Over the years, we've had mice in the kitchen - thankfully not since we've had a pest company bait around the outside of the house, but they used to get in under the kitchen cabinets - now we know why - nothing like a good sized hole at the bottom of a wall - they'd get in under the fireplace in the basement, run along the joists, and come into the kitchen. That hole has now been permanently filled, thank you very much.
So Matt got all the cabinets out, and removed the drywall over the weekend of the 17-18th. While he scraped liquid nails off the studs, I marked out the new layout for the electrician and plumber, who came first thing Monday morning :) YAY!!!!

As of right now, the rough-ins are finished and inspected; Matt has replaced the insulation and hung new drywall; we've found someone at the 11th hour to finish the drywall for us starting tomorrow so we can concentrate on getting the house ready to have the floors sanded next week; my new refrigerator arrives TOMORROW (happy dance, happy dance!) and things are just generally moving swiftly along. So far so good! Now if only my kids would get with the program and stop bickering with each other/torturing Sarah/do what we ask within the first dozen times we ask, life would be perfect. But who wants that???

Friday, March 9, 2012

Random kid stuff, and my painted living room

So I'm not going to call it global warming, because I don't believe in it - but I will say the weather's been a bit crazy here - red bud trees are blooming, my maple tree is budding, and all of my spring bulbs are coming up. So much for a ground hog being able to predict anything, huh? March is marching right along, here are the latest things of note:

 - William is being a big weenie lately. He putzes around and doesn't do anything you ask him to, and once you're annoyed at repeating yourself & you raise your voice, he bursts into tears - 'why are you yelling at me???' I swear that boy has no common sense. He spent four hours sitting, looking at his spelling homework, rather than right the silly story he was supposed to write with his words. I get it, not a fun job, but just DO IT already and move on with your life!

 - Evie asked me whether I liked coffee better than wine, and I was really stumped. If I had to choose one or the other? That's really tough - but I'm leaning towards wine :)

 - Jason and Sarah are taking swimming lessons together - parents aren't allowed in the pool area, so that have to walk in by themselves, and the first day it was so cute, they were both a little apprehensive, but they wrapped arms around each other and walked in together - SO wish I'd gotten a picture of that!!! And a side note - swim lessons are at 6pm, so lots of parents shower the kids and put pjs on while waiting for the rest to finish up - since when did footed pajamas become acceptable outdoor footwear? The thought of kids getting into bed after walking around the rec center REALLY grosses me out....

- Yesterday I ordered our kitchen cabinets - hoorayyyy!!!!!! Once I get my act together, I'll do a proper post with pictures of what we have and where we're headed. Fingers crossed, it's going to be a big improvement.

 - I finished painting the living room - it used to be red, now it's Fantasy Blue, #716 from Benjamin Moore. So hard to get accurate colors in a picture, but it's a real soft blue with just a slight, slight hint of a greenish tint. LOVE!
I've struggled with where to put the piano in this room, it's been in each of the three corners over the years. Finally, I googled 'staging a piano' and saw lots of great ideas, and something that made a lot of sense - the piano should open out INTO THE ROOM, for the best sound. I, like apparently lots of other people, thought I wanted to see the keys. So I'm trying it this way, I think I like it! Need to recover the rockers, get curtains & really 'finish' this room - it's been the oddball for a long time.
Next up is to take down the wallpaper in the dining room. I want to paint this room a milk-chocolatey brown - not too dark, but not too latte'-colored either.
After peeling away a little sample in the corner, I'm afraid I have a lot of spritzing and scraping in my future.....
-And last, but certainly not least - 18 years ago today I walked into a bar with a friend and sat down next to a nice boy. We had a lot to talk about, and he asked for my phone number - which he actually USED :) I hope he's not regretting that decision, regardless of how crazy things are today. I know I'd do it over. Love you Matt!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Artist gets a showing, and I pay my kids in fake money.

Evie's taken a few acrylic painting classes in the last year, and two weeks ago her teacher asked us to bring in her latest for a local art show. On Saturday, she and I went to the opening reception - can I just tell you how proud I am of my talented girl?
Now, I know - I'm biased. I'm her mom, that's a given. But my girl - who doodles on every scrap of paper she can get her hand on - really has some talent.

Art is the one thing Evie's stuck with in the six years she's been trying different activities. Ballet, gymnastics, piano, soccer, tae kwon do - the only things that have stuck are her love of reading, art, and swimming. And dinosaurs. Evie's always loved dinosaurs.
Right now she's planning on being a museum Paleontologist, with art as a hobby on the side. I think I'm going to push for just art :)

While watching Diary of  Wimpy Kid - Roderick Rules with the kids a couple months ago, I got a genius idea that I stole from the movie - Mom Bucks! I rarely, if ever, have cash on hand, so that makes it difficult to pay allowances. I'd usually let weeks go by until they pestered me to pay them, at which point I'd owe Evie and William $20 or $30 each. And then there's always the risk of losing real cash - William is notorious for misplacing things. So I ordered some fake money from Amazon
and started doling it out. It looks just like real money, only 2/3 the size. I write their initials on the bills when I give them out, so everyone knows whose it it, if it gets left laying around. If they see something they want to buy while we're out, I'll pay for it and they give me Mom Bucks when we get back home. So far it's working really well! Evie's saving for an iPad, so I told her when she gets to $100, she can trade in her money and I'll transfer $100 from our back account to her savings account. That way we don't end up shelling out a chunk for her iPad all at once :) The little kids get the concept, and are excited when pay day rolls around every Friday. And since I have a box of play money in the kitchen, pay day happens more regularly now. I thought about doing something fancy to mark everyone's bills differently, but keeping track of who's stamp was whose was kind of a pain - so I just use a sharpie - not very crafty, but there you are, it works. Helpful hints from Harried Mom for those of you like me :)

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