Sunday, January 13, 2013

Starting to Feel Like Home

This will be a very quick post. I was just up making a cup of tea and it hit me, the house is starting to feel like our home. It hasn't really felt like a home until just a little while ago. I don't know if it's that some important and time consuming jobs are getting done or if it's because we're starting to unpack some of our boxes but it's beginning to feel like a home.
It has taken a very long time, just about 3 months, but I know that we made the right decision to move and make this place our own. It's nice to sit at a kitchen table without papers and tools around it. Having dinner tonight was calming and relaxing. We even got to have friends over for supper last night. I've cooked in my semi-finished kitchen every night last week and I can't wait to start baking again. Progress is being made and we're starting to see the results. See I told you it was going to be a short post. Have a great week if I don't see you before next weekend. 

Kitchen Begins A New Life

The most exciting transformation to date has been the kitchen. Please note that it is not complete but we are slowing working towards it. Tearing out the cabinets was not that difficult but it sure made a huge difference as far as the look of the space. We started with the area where the fridge enclosure would go. This proved to be harder and more challenging than we anticipated. Building the high cabinets was not difficult but lifting and putting them into place was an exercise in strength, perseverance, and problem solving. These high cabinets must weigh about 100 or more pounds. It took some creative thinking and in the end we used my husbands car jack, placed a board on top to help distribute the weight of the cabinet. We could lift them and place legs underneath without straining ourselves.
I can't wait to get rid of these. 

Freshly painted while I was having a much needed massage.

I know it's a mess but we just needed places to store items from the counter top, off the floor and from the wall and base cabinets on the other side. 
We removed the tall cabinet, base cabinet and wall cabinet and replaced them with two high cabinets. The middle one will have a built in microwave and the smaller 15" will have drawers which pull out. Our reason for this was to not have stuff accumulate on this one little counter that was there as you can see in the before picture on the left. I don't want any unnecessary spaces. When we lived in this house 6 years ago, we really felt this space was not being utilized. 
Once this area of cabinets were built we now had places to place some of the simple kitchen items we needed while the other side of the kitchen was being torn out. It took us at least two weekends. The last one we really worked hard because we were under a deadline to complete the install before the carpenters came to install the hardwood flooring (this is a whole other post I will share in the future).

The cabinets are coming down, thank goodness. There were old, smelly and not in very good condition.
I can't wait to get rid of the corner cabinets. I think they are a waist of space and very impractical. 

Here it is painted and one of the new upper cabinets are installed. We were to have a 12" and an 18" cabinet on either side of the hood fan that will go up but we changed our minds. Instead the 12" cabinet will go on the left of this cabinet here. 
It has been so nice to get rid of the yellow wall colour and replace it with something more modern. We chose Benjamin Moore's Ranchwood as our wall colour. 

From here, work continued to remove upper cabinets and paint then came the base cabinets. Well this was quite the task. 

We're trying to figure out how we will cut the back of the sink cabinets out. We eventually figured it out. 

Wall has been painted and ready to have the new base cabinets installed.
Here's the end result for what got accomplished for this section of the kitchen. 

You'll see that Darcy did a fantastic job of cutting out the enclosure for the plumbing.

This is how the kitchen remained for about a month. We installed a temporary counter top that cost us about 36.00. It was a piece of melamine we cut in half and laid each piece on either side so we could at least have a cutting surface. 
This past weekend we installed the rest of the cabinets and the doors. The kitchen is slowly starting to take shape. I am very pleased with the progress we've made so far but more is needed to complete this project. Here's what needs to be done before it is finished. 
  1. Counter top to be installed
  2. Electrical for double oven 
  3. Double ovens to be installed
  4. Rest of wall cabinets installed
  5. Doors and drawers installed
  6. Toe kicks 
  7. Final plinths on each side of cabinets
  8. Crown moulding
  9. Moulding under counters
  10. Hood fan hooked up
  11. Stove top installed
  12. Fridge to be placed
  13. Island to be built
  14. Placement of where island to go (I'll need your help on a decision for this one)
  15. Butcher block on island
  16. Organize cabinets and unpack kitchen boxes
Please come back to visit to see what the latest look of the kitchen is now and to see the progress that has been made. Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Command Center

Paper, Paper, Paper...
How do all of you control paper? This is a huge problem in our house hold. Not just because we've been renovating or we've moved in the last 3 months but it just can't seem to be controlled. Mail comes in the door and sits on either the island or the kitchen table. I realize we we've moved and things still are not unpacked and we are living through renovations but the amount of paper is just so overwhelming. I had to get this under control and considering the kitchen is getting close to being finished, well at least the cabinet doors are going on and stuff is being unpacked, it was time to get this paper thing organized.
I went through and thought about what paper do we have to deal with.
Well, there are:
grocery bags
gift cards/movie passes
dog leashes and jackets
my school lunch kit and computer bag
little bits of screws and home thingies (not sure if this is a real word)

I knew this closet would be my new command center.
I've scoured Pinterest for ideas and some blogs I follow. This one in particular really caught my eye. It's my inspiration. 
I have this same shelf in this length and the smaller version. I will only be able to use the smaller version. But for now this is what I've started with. 

I know it doesn't even come close but it soon will. For right now all mail and paper is going into the baskets and the baseball caps have a place to be stored rather than my kitchen counters or table. The wire shelves will be replaced with solid shelves and the IKEA expedit shelf will be moved in. Come back to see what the final product will look like. Looking forward to seeing you then. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Spice of Life

Today is the last day of my Christmas vacation or what some call Winter Holiday. It's been a busy and productive two weeks. A lot has gotten done but there is still so much more to do. Yesterday, I actually got to unpack some boxes. Yippy!!!! Yes, you read that correctly. We've been in this house for about 2 and half months and we haven't unpacked boxes. We've unpacked clothes, bathroom stuff and what ever was needed for dishes and the odd pot and pans but nothing else because we knew we would either have to move it or remove it and store it some other place in the house. We had enough to move already. So we just lived with the minimum. This is how we've lived more of less for the past 2 and a half months. 

Crazy I know!!!!!

But yesterday I actually went on a treasure hunt to find pot barley. The store didn't have any and I knew I had some packed in a box some place. I wanted to make Hamburger Soup and it's an integral ingredient. I ended up finding it packed in a box some place along with other goodies I forgot I had. 
One of the big jobs I got accomplished yesterday was weeding through my spices and Tupperware stuff. Oh my... do I have a lot of Tupperware. The stuff we've been using since we moved in has worked just fine and so now I'm being really tough and saying "No! It's not needed" This is really hard because you know how much money you've spent on it. Tupperware is not cheap here in Canada. 
I went through my spices and decided what needed to stay and what needed to go. I still have some spices I'm thinking about getting rid of but I might wait a bit until I know for sure that I haven't used them in the next 6 months. I'm all about riding myself of stuff I don't use or don't need or don't want anymore. I have this spice set (with black lids) but I am not loving them. The lids are really hard to open and it's difficult to get the measuring spoons in the containers. I'm thinking perhaps this set from IKEA would be better since we have IKEA cabinets and drawers. 

I think I'm leaning towards the bottom ones. They will provide more space in the drawer and allow me to write on the lids instead of using the labeller like I did on the older containers. I'll be able to also add all of my spices in the one drawer instead of using two drawers like I am now. 

I also got the opportunity to line the drawers with the Variera drawer mat. This is so handy to have. It helps your cans and kitchen items from sliding around and scraping the bottom of your drawers. It's also easy to take out and clean when it gets all soiled. 
It's very easy to use, measure the width of your drawer and make one cut. IKEA has the roll already for the length of the drawer so you only need to make the one cut. It's super easy. Here is the finished product. I know for some of you this seems silly but I believe an organized kitchen is a pleasant place to cook in and with two of us cooking we need to have a home for things. Remember, it's about downsizing and not having what we don't need. 

Things are slowing starting to come together. Slowly being the important word in that sentence. I'm okay with it though or at least I am today. Have a great Sunday and for those of you heading back to school tomorrow. Have a wonderful last day of your holiday. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Kitchen Cloths

Before I begin each day, I usually start with clean up. Yes, I'm working on doing it before I go to bed each night but in the mean time we don't have a dishwasher and I've been on holidays so breakfast dishes accumulate in the morning from Darcy going to work and from us snacking at night ( I know, I know....). I find if I do the clean up before I start projects, then it's done and I don't have to worry about doing it later when I'm tired. 
I want to share with you the kitchen cloths I use and why. I love white, it's just as plain and simple as that. I can't get enough of it, well with a mechanic (boy) and two wiener dogs there is a limit. I think it looks fresh and clean. I would decorate my whole house in white if I could but Darcy says no because then I'd be even more pickier than I am now :-). 
So I find places where I can use it. Not on a living room couch, although I've seen people who do own white couches with kids no less. Yikes!! I don't know if I'm in for that. 
I have come across the best kitchen clothes in awhile. I should have known about them before because I used them everyday when I worked in restaurants. 
I know you're sitting on the edge of your seats waiting to know what brand, how expensive, where can I get them, etc. Well wait not further, they are called Gillett's Bar Mop Cloths. They are the best I've used in a long time and very inexpensive at 6.99 at London Drugs here in town. You can find them on sale for 5.99 if you were looking to save the dollar. They come in a pack of 8. 

After searching for the picture on Google, it appears you can buy them at Canadian Tire as well. There is a towel version which I have but I want to talk about the dish cloths first. 
Why do I like them so much? 
  1. They are white.
  2. I know when they are dirty and soiled.
  3. They are very absorbant.
  4. Good size for wipping down counters, sinks, kitchen table. I don't like a big dish cloth. 
  5. They are cheap and you get 8 of them, that's .87 cents per cloth. You can't beat those savings. 
  6. They match everything. White goes with all colours. You've got to think of decor ;-)
Some of you might think this crazy but I use one everyday. I HATE it when I pick up a dish cloth and my hands start to stink because the cloth is old. This happens because we re-use our dish clothes over and over again. Sometimes not changing them for a week. Gross!!!! You are washing your dirty counters, dishes, etc with this dirty stinky cloth and then you wonder why everything smells. Yes, back to the whole smell thing. I've got a sensitive nose you know. 
Cloths do start to smell after awhile and you have to throw them out. I'm taking all of my old cloths and tossing them out and only keeping these. Well not completely because I still need special cloths to clean my appliances and such but for the most part these will be in my kitchen drawers. 
Now you're wondering how do I keep them clean. Because I only use one a day, it doesn't get really dirty but some of you are thinking spaghetti sauce or darker foods are going to stain them. Yes, they do but I use a paper towel to get most of the crud out of the pan or rinse it with water first. Once I've used the cloth it's downstairs to wait for a load of white towels and dish cloths. I use hot water, Oxy Clean, Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda to clean them. So far so good. On the back of the package it says to use bleach. I haven't used it but I would if I had some. If they end up getting too icky or darkish looking then it's to the garbage or my rag pile for them. I wouldn't throw them in with white cloths, my mother would have a fit. Yes mom, I did listen to your washing cloths instructions.
So there you have it, my favourite dish cloths to date.
What do you use at home for dish cloths? 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Plastic and Paint

We knew that painting walls and trim would be a huge endeavour which would help to transform the space but you must also consider the ceiling when repainting a house, especially one that is outdated. If you don't repaint the ceiling then your paint will appear dull and dingy. 
We wanted to get the ceiling painted before we moved in. It would be much easier to do it then rather than when all of our furniture and possessions were scattered about. 
Before you begin this huge task, do some research first regarding your ceiling. Ours was called a knock down which means that it's been sprayed and then a trowel was dragged across it. I know this isn't everyone's favourite kind of ceiling but here in Canada it's pretty common. It's done to help hide any imperfections in the drywall application. It's not so bad but ours wasn't just white, it was multi-coloured.  We have the pleasure of having a light dusty rose colour underneath the white. There was no question it NEEDED to be painted. 
Here is some advice you must take: DO NOT JUST BUY PAINT AND START PAINTING.  Your ceiling will fall down if you don't research and know if your ceiling was primed ahead of time. Ours was not primed so we couldn't use latex paint. We had to use oil-based which meant it would leave an odor. I didn't mind the odor because it would help to cover up some of the old owners smells. I've got a real issue with past smells in houses, especially kitchens. That's another post for another day. 
We used KILZ primer in an oil-base. We needed to use oil-based paint because it contains any water. Water will destroy the mud and flatten out the knock down look and then it will collapse on your head. You do not want this to happen. Please research your ceiling composition before you begin painting. We just used the white primer color because it was the purest colour. We were not worried about it matching or blending in. Pure white is fine with us. 
We went to Home Depot and looked at renting a sprayer. I wanted to roll it on because I thought it would be easier, I was out voted and I'm glad I was. As it turns out Home Depot does not rent paint sprayers, at least not here. People don't do a good job on cleaning them after they are finished and it causes all kinds of problems. So back to the paint aisle we went to investigate which paint sprayer we should buy. Our criteria was simple, it had to be able to do oil-based and latex paint. It also had to handle a large space. We had 1400 square feet to cover. Instead of buying a cheap one we spend some money and purchased one that would fit into a 5 gallon pail and work continuously without having to refill the holding container. We went with one that looks similar to this. We figured it would come in handy for other jobs, perhaps spray painting the kitchen cabinets. 
After collecting our supplies, oh yes, don't forget rolls of plastic wrap to cover the rest of the walls from the over spray, we went to work covering the walls with plastic. This was time consuming and tedious work. It took a good day to cover all of the walls and railings in the house. We called it our Dexter house at this point. You'll understand why when you see the photos. 

We used inch and a half painters tape first and taped it along the wall as close to the ceiling as we could get it and as straight as we could. Then we attached another strip of tape to the plastic and attached this to the row of tape on the wall. Voila! Our house of plastic. 
The next day, I had to travel to Edmonton so Darcy was given the task of spraying the ceiling. It took him most of the day but the results we worth it in the end. It looks crisp and clean and new again. The paint on the walls looks clean and fresh looking. I'm sorry I don't have a direct picture of the ceiling colour but please take my word for it, it looks amazing. 
Peeling the plastic off wasn't that difficult, it did leave behind little bits of oil paint scrapings but nothing that can't be cleaned up with a vacuum or broom and dust pan. 
Good luck with the painting of your ceiling if you're venturing into this task.