Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Let's Get Cookin'!!

I was going to wait and update the kitchen when it was all finished. Buuuut...that might take another long while. So, I'm updating you on the main part and I'll show details as we finish them up along the rest of the way.

First - let me take you back to August 2013 which is the last picture I have of what our kitchen looked like prior to this renovation:

It was a really nice sized family room without a t.v. Because of that, most of the family spent time downstairs. I was really one of the only ones to consistently use this space because I like quiet and I like to read. And those couches were soooo comfy. I do kind of miss them - but only when I look at this picture.

Fast forward to July of this past summer on the day we started cleaning everything out:

It was a nice blank slate.

On July 4th we got started on demolition and there was no looking back...

As a reminder - this is what our paper plans looked like:

Have I prolonged this enough?



It's the same space - it just has a different name (and use!) now!

The side bookshelf will hold recipe books - as soon as we find them. Picking out lights practically made Mike and I start twitching. We just couldn't find what we really liked. After the fourth time of each of us standing on the island to hold up a different light for the other person, we finally settled on these. Then we had to pick out light bulbs and it started all over again. So, above you can see the lights one and below the lights are off. The glass is just a little tinted, but at night the lights throw kind-of a fun sparkle on the ceiling.

We had our plumber (thanks, dad!) install an Insti-Hot faucet. This gets a TON of use. Jake makes a cup of tea every morning and I make one at least 3-4 times per week. Last week we all had super sore throats and we were making tea with honey every night.

The granite was also a source of major frustration. In one of our first forays out to the granite places I found a counter material I LOVED. Then we found out that we couldn't get it in the size we needed for the island (which is huge - 66"x81"!) I was very bummed, but we were directed to a granite that was supposed to be similar and we put it on hold. We drove to St. Cloud to see it and I realized it wasn't anything like my original find and I just didn't like it. We spent the entire morning and most of the afternoon looking at granite pieces and put a different three pieces on hold (that's how many we needed for our kitchen). After a couple weeks I told Mike I just really wasn't sure about that granite and just didn't think it was going to be work with our tile. Plus it was more than we wanted to spend. So, Maddie and I spent an entire Saturday driving to at least four different granite companies and when we got to the last one on our list we found this granite and as soon as we turned the corner we both knew THIS was the one. Mike never even saw the granite in person until the week before it was installed and we went to lay it out for cutting. I think by the time the granite needed to be picked he had given up on me. Even better - it was on the lowest level of cost!

It's hard to see, but it actually has little tiny flecks of something shiny that catch the light. It's a lighter color with more gray than black spots. The grain of the granite has a little flow but not crazy which we both prefer.

We couldn't make a pantry work with everything else we needed to fit in certain spots so I was a little nervous that we would just have packed kitchen cupboards. But it turns out that Mike designed a ton of cabinets and included a lot of drawers that we didn't have before. We actually have empty cupboards and drawers at this time!

We switched to a gas stove which takes some getting used to, but I think we are all okay with it. The drawers underneath actually hold all our pots and pans. We received a free set of new pots and pans with this stovetop, but I think they'll be going in the garage sale. We don't like them. The handles get crazy hot and none of us are that impressed with them at this point.

Things are so much quieter now. Our last stove hood was a monster and never worked great. This has four levels and even at the loudest is still quieter than our last one. (And bonus? The lights under it are so bright! That makes me crazy happy). We can't hear our dishwasher. Our previous one wanted you to KNOW it was working - at least trying to work. When my dad turned on our disposal to test it out he and I both stepped back. I thought it was broken...he just said, "Whoa." It's ridiculously quiet and we didn't even buy the most expensive model! I guess kitchen technology has really come a long way in 12 years!

This is the back of our island. The other side (under the overhang where the stools are) has two sets of 24" deep cabinets that we'll be able to store games and supplies that we need occasionally, but not much.

I've been hoarding containers for quite awhile and Maddie and I have been contemplating how we were going to organize the space. The first night Mike said we could finally move things back in we didn't waste any time. By the time we got everything upstairs it was late (and a school night) and Maddie needed to sleep. I couldn't stand it though and just started putting things away. The cleanliness of everything makes me so happy - everything has a place. Mike informed me I might have gone overboard on the container thing. But the next day I looked under the sink and found a plastic drawer containing a few different stray items I'd only put on a tray there. I looked at Mike and he just shrugged - he said it was contagious and upon reflection he kind of liked that everything was put away.

The first night Mike gave the kids beginning instructions on how to use the microwave/stove. There's a lot of buttons and it will involve a learning process, but we could at least make pizza!

This past week was the first time since July that we've really been able to use a kitchen in full. Friday night at dinner Maddie declared she was going to be baking on Saturday. She spent the morning making apple crisp, brownies, and puppy chow.

Jake is our cook and he helped with Saturday night's dinner of Steamboats. Mom and dad came over for dinner - we owe them about 50,000 more meals for all the help they gave us!

As ridiculous as it was - we were all extremely excited to make eggs again. Mike whipped those up for us last week for dinner one night. Delicious!

The verdict on the overall layout is all positive. We can all be standing in the kitchen at the same time, but not running into each other! This phenomenon has been acknowledged several times over the last week while we are all making breakfast or getting snacks or whatever. Thanks to this large island and lots of wall counter space as well, there is a spot for everyone to work at the same time. That was a huge part of this mission and it worked out well!

And even Sadie has found a spot. She loves tight little corners. Jake set up her blanket under the desk and she can often be found under there provided she hasn't moved the blanket to a new location. (Though, unfortunately, she still prefers the top step heading toward the basement.)

There's still a lot of details - curtains, furniture in the other part of the room (dining table, chairs, rugs...). We still have some construction items - Mike will install the rest of the lower trim on the cabinets after counter lighting, trim on the floor, cold air return covers. With all this - the rest of the place still resembles a construction site -

But - I've learned that while we don't know exactly what "our style" is in terms of decorating and picking out details - I do know that when we see it, we generally know that's the item that we would like to get (excluding those stinking light fixtures!). So, in time, everything will fall into place and it will look like what we envisioned half a year ago.

Friday, October 3, 2014

August Project Life Pages

I'm desperately trying to catch up to mid-September. The online note-taking site I used is shutting down. While I've downloaded all my entries, I would just feel better if I had all the entries in my pages before it shuts down...tomorrow. Gulp.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

July Project Life Pages

I'm almost done with summer. Unfortunately, I think we can say the same for our warm fall weather...I actually turned the heat on today. I don't think anyone in this house (other than me - I was freezing!) was excited about that!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Looking Different Around Here

Not just our kitchen is changing!

Last week Maddie got her top braces off! She has been looking forward to this office visit for five weeks! We showed up very early (thanks to dropping Jake off at school early) and took a before shot:

After she was pretty smiley but grabbed a quick selfie for me before heading into school:

She said no one except her two closest friends noticed that her teeth looked any different. She did go to choir the next night and the lady that sits right next to her said, "You got your braces removed!" Maddie was thrilled she noticed - of course, this lady is also a hygienist and works in an orthodontist office...she tends to notice teeth, she said.

Jake didn't want to be left behind in new style. He went to his eye doctor appointment and for the first time in two years, his prescription changed - in fact it doubled! Needless to say, he needed some new glasses so he and Mike went shopping that night. When I finished teaching I asked what his new lenses looked like and he said, "Red". For a millisecond I envisioned my son turning into Elton John - I mean the kid doesn't shy away from color! But then he followed that up with, "Red, on the inside."

Whew. They are very similar to what he had previously (which are frames he loved...). He will be getting fitted for contacts in a couple weeks, which I'm sure he's thrilled about. He really loved wearing his contacts last year and I would imagine the same will go for this year!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

At A Glance

My mom informs me that all seven of my readers are craving more information from our little lives in this part of the state. I want to keep the masses happy...so here's a quick recap of our last month:

1. Brrr....

Maddie was challenged to participate in the ever-popular "Ice Bucket Challenge" in August. She and her friend's family came over one afternoon. Ever so quietly they all entered the house (through a complete shambles - tiling was in full swing) and just as quietly they all left - soaking wet. For a good cause though.

2. First "Last Tile"

That tiling job I mentioned in #1? That was a BIG project. We tiled roughly 850 square feet. We bought a tile saw for this project and returned it the next day because it was cutting crooked. We ended up getting an upgrade on a saw and were SO happy we did. It finished out that job, and then headed to my sisters to help with hers; money well spent! My dad spent DAYS with us helping lay tile. The kids helped. My sister, Tracy, helped. It was a team effort, I assure you!

The above picture is just as the title says "The First - Last Tile". If memory serves correctly we had FOUR "Last Tiles". We would get it cut, then drop it in place only to find the piece cut too short, or slightly crooked. This was a spot that we really wanted to be accurate and we finally got it at 9:30pm. 

3. Beauty Amidst Chaos...

While the inside of our house looks like it's been ransacked multiple times, the backyard was lovely to sit in and soak up the color. This time of year a couple of our perennials bloom and I love them. The Hibiscus is my absolute favorite. Our flowers out front didn't fair so well, as well as the potted annuals in the hanging baskets. I'm sure it would have been beneficial if I'd watered them. That oversight makes me love perennials even more - they are reliable even when I'm not!!

4. The Great Minnesota Get-Together

We spent our annual day at the State Fair in late August. We managed to meet up with my sister-in-law, her girls, her mom and her brother who were there the same time we were. We also ran into my uncle right after I told the kids how I always saw someone at the fair that I knew.

Maddie and I were headed to the bathrooms while Mike and Jake were going to refill water bottles. The boys noticed that you could get your picture taken with some of the anchors - one of whom is the weather guy named, Sven. I had wanted a picture with him last year, but we missed the times. Maddie and I put the restroom on hold and we all got in line (which was really only two families in front of us). It'll probably be our Christmas card....name droppers, that we are.

5. Back to School...

Labor Day came and went and the next day we were back on schedule. Maddie started 10th grade this year and it's her first at the high school. It's also her first year as a "walker". She and another friend bike to school most days though I'm sure that will change once the weather becomes much colder. We live RIGHT on the edge of the walking/busing boundary line at 1.8 miles away. Her friend two streets over catches a bus. Sort of frustrating - but she's getting a lot of great exercise when the weather cooperates!

Jake started 7th grade and he's at his first year of Junior High. He still is riding the bus and was thrilled to find out that he got to sleep in 10 minutes later than last year since his bus comes later. He was probably most excited about being able to wear his new tennis shoes - which is what he's most excited about each year, honestly. 

Both kids seem to be transitioning well in their new schools and we are off to a great start of a new year.

And that, dear readers, catches you up on what's been happening...until next time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

June Project Life

Ahhh...summer. I'm slowly reliving it through these pictures. It's going way too fast for this household!!!