Sunday, November 28, 2010

More Cabinet Painting

I have to apologize for the posting delay. The cabinet doors were drying in the computer room, and I couldn't risk moving them to pull the desk chair out until I knew for sure they were dry. They are now. I also need to apologize that as a result of the aforementioned hurdle to my updating, this will be a long post.

So without further ado, I present the near-conclusion to our cabinet-painting weekend...

Day 2 began with a trip to visit our nephews, a much-needed boost of energy to inspire our painting afternoon and evening ahead. When we returned home, I set to putting a second coat on the cabinet doors:

Meanwhile, Dave was in the kitchen, tarping the room:


...and then putting a first coat on the upper cabinets:

The second coat takes significantly more attention than the first, so while I was still jamming out to The Beatles and painting in the bedroom, Dave also managed to sand and apply the first coat to the lower cabinets:

(we both did the drawer faces... see close-ups below:)

This is how Lanie supported the process:
(she's lucky she's so cute and has no opposable thumbs!)
Day 3 (today), had us back in the kitchen early, applying the second coat to the upper and lower cabinets. We were done before the Bears kicked off. Take a look:

(the selection of this for the cabinet close-up is for my mother)
So we're almost done! All that's left is to put the doors back on, and paint their inner faces (I don't want to flip them over onto their freshly-painted fronts to do this). I now *actually* need to pick out the new knobs for the drawers, too. But already this is looking like a completely new, fresh, modern, updated, current room. We're both really happy with the color, and are looking forward to painting the walls (soon!) to complete the picture.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Husband is Mr. Wizard

(credit to my dad on that titling for Dave)

So... this year was a Schwab Thanksgiving and we stayed in Chicago. I was contributing a sweet potato casserole (I needed to bake something in our new oven!) and a cranberry sauce, even though I couldn't find the much-hailed recipe I made a few years ago. Thursday morning I was running an 8K Turkey Trot, so I decided to make my sauce Wednesday night, allowing myself enough time to run, get ready, bake the casserole, and relax before dinner on Thursday. This is where my story takes a turn...

I started by putting water, orange juice and sugar in a saucepan to boil on our beautiful new stove top. Unused, as I was, to the efficiency of a new appliance, I turned away to begin prepping my other ingredients... a task that takes no time at all. Suddenly, there was a searing sound to my right, and I looked over to find my mixture not only boiling, but boiling over, and basically caramelizing onto the stove top. NOOOOOO! Obviously the appropriate response was to scream and sit on the floor crying hysterically. Without knowing it, I did exactly what I was supposed to do to attempt to clean it. This being a ceramic glass stove top, you should not use regular cleaners, or abrasive sponges. I didn't realize that, but I acted correctly anyway. I let it cool, and then put the cleaning solution it came with on the charred surface, and used both a dry paper towel, and the sponge it came with, to try to wipe it away, applying pressure to lift the burned parts. No luck. It. Was. Ruined. (So I repeated my initial reaction and cried on the floor, but also called Dave, out at a bar with friends, and cried hysterically to him about how I'd destroyed our brand new stove top on it's third use, and I'd never again cook for Thanksgiving).

Dave came home and took a look. He assured me that we'd figure it out. No one was hurt, it was under warranty, and if we couldn't fix it ourselves, we'd call the company and it would be resolved. I still felt like crap. I woke up Thursday morning and had an anxiety attack going into the kitchen. I left for my race, and little did I know... while I was running, Dave was researching and coming up with a plan. By the time I got home, he had several potential solutions for solving the problem. We left for Thanksgiving dinner (I did bake my casserole, and even finished my cranberry sauce), and when we got home, Dave got to work with Plan #1. SUCCESS!

I can now report that should you char your ceramic glass stove top with anything disgusting like burnt, boiling sugar and orange juice, all you need to do to fix it is follow these simple steps:

1. do not sob hysterically on the kitchen floor - there is a solution!
2. let the surface cool completely
3. generously pour olive oil over the entire affected area
4. and finally, using a razor blade, carefully, and very slowly, scrape the burned bits off. This will take a while, but it's like magic, so do it!

I swear, it looks like it just came out of the box. You'd never know that anything bad had ever happened, nor would you know that Dave could have his own science home-remedy show on Nickelodeon. But now you know! He's Mr. Wizard!

Cabinet Painting

Alright, people! We are painting cabinets over here! We decided that this would be our long-weekend project, so yesterday we got started right away! I'm pleased to report that we're successfully one coat in on all the doors, and preparing to get the second coat on today, as well as hitting up the cabinets themselves in the kitchen with a first coat. So far, this project is neither as tedious or annoying as I expected, though I can't speak for Dave, and, like I said, we've only done the doors so far.

We started by taking down all the doors off the cabinets, and laying them flat on a tarp in the second bedroom:

Then we had to sand them down. Joe at Thybony Paint instructed me (thanks, Joe!) that we didn't need to sand them down completely -- just scuff them to break up the varnish to allow the wood to absorb the paint. This was a task:

Once they were sanded we could get to work. So we turned on KCRW (thanks, Internet!) and got to it. Dave rolled, and I followed with a brush to do the details and finish edges. We are using an oil-based paint, and I was assured by both Joe and the Internet that we didn't need to prime. Our color is Simply White, and it will have a eggshell, semi-gloss finish.

Here's the first coat:

More later...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Little Things

I guess sometimes it really is the little things that make a difference. After months of ordering in, eating out, and scavenging through months-ago-packed boxes for spices, we've put a few things out on the counter each day for the past few days. And I must say, it's making me happier by the day.

(it looks like someone actually *uses* this kitchen!)
A shiny new dish drying rack, a couple of cutting boards, a sponge holder... they may be little things, but they're making a big difference (okay, maybe just to me... but still!).

20th Project - November

Took me an extra day to get this up... but it was because ED and I went to see Harry Potter last evening, so I didn't get home until later, and I chose to veg on the couch instead of get on the computer.

So for our third month's installment, here's what our beach looked like the morning of the 20th:

(i love the textures in the sky and water... reflective almost... it's best first thing in the morning) near last-light:

(fuzzy = magical... trust me.)

...and at the very end of the day:

("last light" comes much earlier now... must try to remember that...)
I need some input as to how to approach next month's 20th Project. We're actually going to be in Israel on December 20. Do I photograph before I leave? Do I wait until we return? Do I skip a month because it won't be the 20th? Help!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Food... at Home (Finally!)

It's Sunday evening, and I have to report that for the first time in long enough that I can't really remember, we didn't have to have this discussion around 5:00:

Dave: "I'm taking Lanie out. What's for dinner?"

Me: "Ugh. I don't know. What do you want?"

Dave: "I don't know. Can you just figure it out?"

Me: "Um... okay... but what do you want?"

(repeat a few more times... then conclude with ordering something because no one wants to get in the car to pick anything up.)

No... tonight was finally different. But it started this morning.

This morning, we had my parents, brother, and Dave's parents here for brunch. No cooking or baking took place in the kitchen, but we hosted a meal! Take a look:
(table covered in goods!)
(family enjoying aforementioned goods)
(Dave making more coffee in what is obviously a functioning kitchen!)
(useful and beautiful window/pass-through taken for a test-run)
(Lanie: adorable, sneaky little beggar dog.)
(Lucy: adorable, quiet, little well-behaved dog.)

(lots of parents!)
(a sink full of dishes to be washed has never looked so great!)
So that was brunch.

On to dinner...

I'll admit that the first time you use your brand new stove or oven, it should probably be for something fun and exciting... not boiling eggs. But after so many weeks (nay, months) of forced out-eating, and a few consecutive weeks/weekends with guests (which means more and delicious out-eating), we needed a light meal to settle things back down. So, to quote a favorite, we had a salad, only bigger, and with a lot of stuff in it. Including hard-boiled eggs so that I could use the stove top! (I'll also admit that I'm no longer ashamed that something like this got me all giddy and excited):
(super steam-action)
So now it's broken in... this week will give the oven an opportunity to show off, as well, in honor of Thanksgiving and my joy of being able to cook again. Tomorrow I'll post the last of the weekend posts (20th Project), and get on with finishing up this kitchen! Hooray.

To our families: We love you. Thank you for helping us break in our new kitchen! We can't wait to host you all again many more times and as often as possible. You're the best.

A Family Visit and a Working Sink

This is just the first of a few posts for this weekend, which was a special one for a few reasons. 1) my parents and brother arrived Friday; 2) Saturday Dave (with help from his father in-law) successfully (eventually) hooked the plumbing back up and got the sink working (!), and he finished the second coat of sealant on the counters so we could start using them; and 3) this morning Dave's parents joined us for brunch - an even more exciting event with the new kitchen! Whee! Plus, yesterday was the 20th, so I'll have my 20th Project photos to post, as well.

So, this one will be about the sink, I guess. Although I should first point out just how SUPER excited Lanie was to see her adoring Heller family:

(everyone's enjoying this good back-of-the-neck scratch!)

Having installed this faucet once before, as well as the one in our bathroom two months ago, Dave was ready to go getting us all set to use the new sink yesterday. Unfortunately, there were some leakage hiccups, but ultimately, his plumbing skills got everything in order and we're golden:

It's quite an undertaking:

(it's a dirty job...)
(but easier when completed as a two-man job)
(Dave has definitely grown accustomed to climbing into this little cubbie-hole)
(but didn't anticipate the size of the sink making things even tighter under there)

(and we're in business!)
Our beautiful new sink is now successfully working, and also successfully NOT leaking! Dave's the best.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Early this afternoon I was sitting in my office and my phone buzzed indicating a text message. I looked down and it was a "multimedia" message... I opened my phone, and it was a "multimedia" message from Dave... I downloaded the message, and found myself weeping. Tears of joy, people! WE HAVE COUNTER TOPS! AND A SINK! (so, the sink's not hooked up to any plumbing yet, but who cares?! It looks like a kitchen again!) Check it out:

(I'm pretty sure tears were warranted)
(look at that gorgeous, shiny, stunner of a new sink! who knew a sink could bring such joy?)
(more pretty!)
(I was fully expecting the counters to clash intolerably with the back splash, but it's not SO bad, right?)

(looking into the Beauty through the new beautiful window. THAT'S a view!)
Clearly, months without a normal kitchen have left me slightly off-balance, but still, come on! That's pretty great, right?! And the timing could not be better... my parents and brother arrive tomorrow for a fun-filled pre-Thanksgiving visit. Can't wait!

What's the sound you hear? Relief? It just might be. Hooray!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Progress Report... Slow and Steady

I need to stop making grand statements of "I will do this big thing" until I know that I can do it when I say I am going to do it. This weekend's goals involved the following for Dave: fix a leaky faucet in the second bathroom; fix the shower pull on the faucet in the second bathroom; put in supports for the upcoming counter installation in the kitchen; spackle some of the odd cuts and cracks in the kitchen walls; and fill the holes from the 800 nails that our unit's previous owner put into the walls of the kitchen (note: this will be a repeating theme as we move from room to room with our renovation/painting plans... she had A LOT of nails in the walls!). This weekend's goals for me involved: a shopping trip to IKEA with my S-I-L to purchase curtains, a mirror, and other odds and ends; another trip to Thybony Paint for kitchen-wall-painting supplies; and priming and painting the kitchen.

On Dave's end, nearly every goal was accomplished. He successfully fixed the pipes and shower situation in the second bathroom, and filled all the nail holes in the kitchen walls. He built and then installed the support pieces for the counter tops (which will hopefully be installed soon; measurements took place last Thursday). And he began addressing the weird cuts/cracks in the drywall, which were created by the electrician we needed in our first week here to put in the new electrical panel (a different size than its predecessor). That is where the kinks in my plan begin.

I did have a successful trip to IKEA Saturday, and soon I'll be able to post photos of our new curtains in all three rooms! I also got some great shelves for the front hall and frames for prints my S-I-L gave me, which I intend to put up in the second bathroom when it's done.

Today, I went back to Thybony, and saw my new best friend, Joe, who was very curious about how our cabinets were coming along (not yet, but they will be, I promised!). I was impressed that he remembered me and our project, especially when he asked if I was there to take care of the wall paint. I was. I purchased a gallon of Benjamin Moore "Ticonderoga Taupe" (the color sample for which I am having trouble getting a good photo, and which I think my father will be very excited about... merely for its name). I also got a roller, a brush, and primer and a good pep talk from Joe.

I taped off most of the room, and was ready to begin priming, but it seems we won't be able to actually do the whole thing until the aforementioned spackling situation is resolved. It's going to take a few layers of spackle to fully cover the cracks and smooth them out so I can paint over them. Alas. So, we are half-primed, and ready to finish the priming and move onto painting just as soon as Dave gets a few more layers of spackle on the wall. This might take a few days, as it takes a long time to dry. Sigh. So, while I proudly announced that I was painting this weekend, I didn't know what lay ahead. I am ready to paint, and will continue my update on that project just as soon as I can. We want to do it right.