Friday, September 24, 2010

some summer highlights

I am feeling a little nostalgia already for summer 2010 and it's only been fall for about 2 days.  Of course, it doesn't help that we have been sweating it out around here this week, with hot and humid days and not much cooler nights.  I feel somewhat responsible for the return of the heat since I did take all the window unit air conditioners out last week in a fit of wild abandon where I was sure the summer was over. 

This summer, we didn't stray too far from home, thanks to our never ending kitchen remodel.  We joked that our "vacation" should be sitting on my son's bed and looking out at our new kitchen roof because that's where our vacation budget went.  But, we did make the most of the time we had.  Let's run the highlights:

one kid turned 13:

Another kid turned 6:

We took some great day trips and we went to all 3 outside movies at our local park.  We have decided that we don't really care which movie we see, as long as it's outside:

We finally got the firepit I've always wanted.  Of course, because we live "in town" we aren't technically allowed to have any kind of open burning.  Also, we only have what I lovingly call a "postage stamp" for a backyard, so there's no chance of adding a landscape feature type firepit.  Instead, I picked up this lovely tabletop grill at Target, on clearance for $4

And, it worked great.  We had an awesome night of roasting marshmallows and making smores.  3 of my family members actually used nestle crunch for their smores, which I think is sacrilege but if they can live with themselves, I guess it's fine.

Monday, September 20, 2010

getting busy in the kitchen!

I seriously feel like September has knocked me out!  Between school starting, and then a four day weekend, then a 3 day weekend and oh, just for fun, one more 3 day weekend-I am on the verge of exhaustion.  But, the days are still warm, the nights are cool and there's a lot going on in my kitchen-both of the cooking variety and the renovation.

First, the renovating:

The countertop was relatively easy to sand, stain and seal-thanks to much internet searching and reading the blogs of others who have successfully put in butcherblock. 

We decided on a stain (minwax provincial) which looked like this when we tested it:
I did one area with the wood conditioner and one without-just to see the difference.  Honestly, there wasn't much difference in the color, but when I removed the tape, I noticed that the stain had bled underneath on the part without the conditioner.  The section I conditioned seemed to take the stain better.  That was just my mini-science experiment to see what the conditioner does to the wood.

Then, I impatiently (because really what other way is there?) got to the business of staining and sealing the piece of countertop.  It didn't take long at all except for the incredibly long drying times between coats.  It was some of the longest 8 hour spans of my life and I have been in labor twice-just saying. 

This is the final result.  I am in serious love with the finish on the counter and I *think* we have come up with the colors for the cabinets, though I know I will have paint remorse for a while after they are done. 

Yesterday, we made the trek to IKEA (okay it's only like 40 minutes, but still) and got THE SINK.  Yes, the double bowl, domsjo sink from IKEA!!!  Of course, it is still in the box in my living room, but at least it's here.  We also got the rest of the countertops and they are keeping the sink company in the living room. 

Soooo.... while we make our plan of attack for painting the cabinets and installing the counters and the sink, I thought "why not give my new counters a try?"  I mean, for the last week, I have babied the countertop, but if I am committing to having butcherblock in my entire kitchen, they better be ready to take a beating. 

Enter-pumpkin scones-the famed starbucks recipe from  After tracking down some elusive canned pumpkin and convincing myself that it's okay to mess up my new counter, I got down to baking. 

It actually caused me a little harm to make my new counter this messy, but I forged ahead, thinking that if it can't stand up to a little flour and sticky scone dough, I better not have this in the rest of my kitchen.  Thankfully, just a little dish soap on a towel and it was good as new. 

Now, I am on to filling the freezer with as much bulk cooking as I can stand.  Today, 6lb of ground beef's worth of chili:

Now, the weather can get cooler-because I am ready! 

Friday, September 03, 2010

Some thrift store treasures

I have a little crush on thrift stores; I will readily admit it.  There is one store close to home that I will just swing into and out of-just to see what's new or old as the case may be.  That store has been the source for several pieces of furniture that currently live in my home, including the sideboard that I rehabbed in the spring:

Our china cabinet which was one of the very first pieces of furniture we bought after we moved in.  Here it is all decked out for Christmas last year.  

There's also the dresser in my bedroom, but it's too icky to take a picture of.  It's in desperate need of a facelift. 

These days I am in the market for a certain piece of furniture that I want to serve a particular purpose in my home.  My inspiration is this brand new Ikea piece that we saw on our recent trip there to get the countertop. 

Yes, I know that is very modern and looks nothing like something I would pick for any room in my house, but bear with me-it's the seed of an idea for a little boy who has a love of these little plastic items:

Okay, sorry, I had to put one more shot of the lego minifigs on the blog-though I am wishing the pic was on my new countertop!  So, my search for a new play/storage piece for legos led me to yet another thrift store last week.  I scoured the large space quickly for the right raw materials, but with no luck.  As I was leaving, I spied this beauty near the register and snatched it up for just $3

Pretty sweet and the resulting screams of joy from all three of my kids were well worth the two dollars and all the change I could scrounge.  I asked the owner if there were any legos and he said there weren't right then, but he would let me know if some came in.  (Lucky for me a friend owns the shop nearby).  Imagine my surprise when she called me later that day to tell me there were three boxes just waiting for us.  I headed back down and grabbed these for only $12:

Not too shabby!  After much scrubbing and soaping, and then a little bleach for good measure I nearly doubled my son's lego collection and haven't found that piece of furniture just yet!  Oh, well-looks like more thrift stores in my future. 

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

one small step for my kitchen

Our kitchen gives new meaning to the old saying "if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen."  It must have been added on at some point in the life of this old home and gets hot, hot, hot-even hotter than the rest of my unairconditioned, aging, brick home.  We don't spend too much time in here in the summer-a quick run in to get a drink, meals thrown together and ingredients grabbed from fridge and transferred outside to the grill.  The days of baking and cooking have to wait for cooler temps when you've got a kitchen like mine. 

Of course, that also means that all our kitchen renovations have been on hold for the summer.  (well, that's due to a combination of heat and budget-but even the cheap stuff has to wait when it's 100 degrees!).  We recently added a new dishwasher to the kitchen, which has made my life much more enjoyable-just ask my kids.  They haven't hear me say things like "don't you dare use another glass!!!"  or "can't you eat that spaghetti on a paper towel instead of a plate?"  We got a white dishwasher-I have a thing for the good old white appliances and this one puts us solidly on the side of white, with only the stove (and hood) being "bisque." 

We have been living without a countertop in one section of our kitchen since...well, since I decided to rip out one section of the hideous pink laminate "just to see" how that would go.  It came out really, really easily, but replacing it has been much, much harder.  After going around and around about what kind of countertops we wanted, I kept coming back to this photo:

From the blog, This and That   I love (love, love, love) the warm look of the butcher block and the soft shine of the wood and the white cabinets and the faucet--okay I love everything about this kitchen.  I love it even though I know my life is not ready for white cabinets.  I need something a little more forgiving in the slacker-cleaning department, but the wood was really growing on me. 

I was desperate to have a countertop at the very least to replace the one I tore out with such gusto back when there was still snow on the ground, so we headed to our local IKEA in search of the same countertop.  So, what once looked like this:

Now, looks a little something like this:

  Now, we just have to paint the cabinets, paint the walls, get and intall the rest of the countertops and change out the sink.  We still have a long way to go, but progress is progress!