Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Garden Space Saving Ideas

It was a lovely spring day here today.  FINALLY.  My older son and I went for a nice walk on the beach this afternoon. It was SO pretty today.  The water almost looked worthy of a swim.  

I am super excited.  My rosemary is still alive.  I've nurse this plant through three winters.  

I've had these chives since 1992!  They hold the record for the plant I've had the longest!

Our back yard is teeny tiny. Its approximately 18' by 18' Over the last year, I've slowly been thinking about what to do with it.  I often grow some for of veggie in containers.  Last year my youngest son grew carrots.  I think he wants to do that again this year too which has led me to thinking about what I can do to my small little garden.

I am thinking about making some raised beds.  I have really fallen in love with this idea.  I love the industrial feel of these.

metal raised garden planters

raised metal garden planters

Because our yard is really small, I would like something that is smallish and can be moved.  I have grown tomatoes and lettuce in the past and love fresh from the garden produce.

A stacking system would work really well in my yard. Something like this....

or this.... 

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!  

The kids are looking forward to Easter and the magical things that happen around here at Easter!  Like eggs hanging from trees....

Marching bands...

And of course seeing the Easter Bunny.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kitchen Make-Over on a Tight Budget

I admit, had I had the money, I would have done a major gut job reno on our kitchen.  I didn't have $40,000 kicking around to do that so I had to get creative.

I also have major ethical issues with disposing of things that are functional. Contrary to what most people think, the number one thing filling landfills across North America is construction and demolition waste.

Our kitchen redesign was completed on a pretty tight budget.  Our biggest expense was the counters which clocked in a $3100 which is a big chunnk of money but a fantastic price for quartz.

Here is the finaical breakdown.

$3100      Quartz Counters City Home Grainte Depot - Snow White Pearl
$200         As-is 30" Lilejestad pot drawers from Ikea
$250         Paint and Primer  Farrow and Ball Pointing, Inusl-x primer
$112         New Faucet
$40           New kitchen knobs  Clear "Crystal" Home Depot in a reno Pack
$140         Bin Pulls - Gilmore Restoration Hardware in Nickle
$350         New Track lighting combo of Lowe's and Home Depot
$300         Trim for island and kitchen bulkhead.
$700          New Dishwasher -  Miele

Total   $5100 approx.

Redoing the kicthen has been a really big on going project.  Although it was a lot of work, the functionality of our kitchen has improved drastically.

YES you can paint oak and have it look good and YES you can paint Ikea cabinets

YES you can mix and match expensive things with cheap and have them look good!

And YES it is worth doing! If I can do it, anyone can!  Its a lot of elbow grease and time.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Kitchen Island Tips and Tricks

Every kitchen I've had as an adult has had an island.  Kitchen islands are often a wonderful design feature but they are often not properly thought out and stuck in a kitchen as an afterthought.  If your kitchen is big enough, adding an island can give your kitchen an extra counter space boost.

What is necessary for a good kitchen island?

If it was left up to my 9 year old, he would no doubt design something like this.

First off size.  A good island is at least least 4 feet long and 2 1/2 feet wide and has clearance of at least 3 feet all around.  Sinks should have at least 18" on either side.  You should also be able to wipe off an island without having to climb on it.  Yes some islands are too deep.  

My current kitchen island was a fail in that department because the edge of the shink was only about 4".  You can see it a bit in this VERY messy picture. 

I am a firm believer that every kitchen island should have one of these.

Its a simple thing that improves functionality in huge ways.  

Lighting is also critical to a good island.  Overhead is often best.

Islands can be pretty and functional without a sink.  Often times, like my old island, it would be more functional without a sink.

When thinking about a kicthen island you should ponder these questions.

Do you require some sort of seating?
Do you have enough space for an island?  Sexy as a kitchen island is, often they are squeezed into kitchens that lack the proper space.
What is the general function your looking for?  Seating?  Food prep?  Homework?

By replacing the counter and moving a set of drawers we were able to take our builder kitchen from dysfunctional and borning to highly functional workhorse.  It is now the favorite place to sit and do homework thanks to that ever important new electrical outlet that welcomes the kids laptops.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Useful Kitchen with Butter Pecan Gluten Free Waffles

We've had the new counters for a month today.  Every day since we did them, I am shocked by how much the function of our kitchen has improved.

Yesterday the kids sat around the island and we made some yummy gluten free waffles.

Its hard to believe that just a few months ago this wouldn't have been possible.  One of the small things we did during the kitchen reworking involved putting an electrical outlet in the island.  Before, I had to use an extension cord if I wanted to use any small appliances on the island.  

I doubled the recipe on the Gluten Free Bisquick box

2 2/3 Bisquick mix
2 eggs 
2 1/2 cups of milk
I substituted butter for the oil it calls for on the package
4 tbl spoons of melted butter
1/2 cup of chopped pecans.
2 tsp of vanilla

As you can see, he was a very happy!  

The most important ingredient is yummy real the maple syrup.  

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Its warm and wonderfully sunny here today!  YEAH!

I decided that today would be a good day to take down the bedroom curtains and wash them.  Mr. was inside laughing at me as you can see.

As I often do, I got side tracked on the curtain washing.  I had been looking for something, exactly what I now forget, and found one of my mother's dresses.  I LOVED this dress when I was a kid.  I don't ever remember her wearing it, but I drooled over it hanging in her closet.

For the record, my mother, who passed away in 2006, would be UTTERLY mortified if I showed anyone this picture with her "skinny legs showing like that".  Her she is in all her glory, probably late 1940's  or early 1950's vintage - its just a guess the photo is undated.  My cousin asked me recently if I still had THE purple floral dress.  Clearly I was not the only one smitten by it.  I didn't think I did still have it until I found it last week.

I soaked it in some oxy clean over night last night and held my breath.  I still had a dress this morning.  I threw it in the wash with the curtains and held my breath again hoping it would make it through the wash.

It wasn't until it was finished with the wash that I noticed its linen.  Linen wears like iron and she came out of the was looking absolutely lovey.  I highly suspect its the first time its ever been washed.  I'm sure my mother would have had it dry cleaned.

Its just as lovely as it was 60 plus years ago.  I just LOVE the print!

This dress would have fit me when I was 8 or 9.  I was taller than my mother when I was 9.  My daughter, however, is tiny like my mother.  Stay tuned for some pics of her modeling the dress after its dry and ironed.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Waiting for Spring

I still have a lot I need to do on my kitchen before its finished.  I need SPRING to be HERE!

I've spent a good amount of this winter trying to nurse my rosemary plant through a rather vicious winter.  Rosemary is considered an annual where I live.  Its not a winter hearty plant.  I have had this particular one for THREE years!  Last winter was really the un-winter but this year it snowed and it was cold.  I dug this poor little dude out of so much snow this year.

Rosemary vs. winter....and the winner is Rosemary!.  I do think it has made it!  YEAH!

My thyme has made it too but its a much heartier plant and can ususally survive unless it ends up as a frozen block of ice.

I am so looking forward to spring!  The time changes this weekend which means, who hoo, it will be light until 7:30 or so staring on Sunday!

I am REALLY looking forward to some more of these types of days!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Kitchen Lighting

Our kitchen was built with a single light.  Its always been really dark and hard to see what I'm doing.  Not long after we moved in, we put in a track light to help with the poor lighting.  This past summer, my oldest son walked into the kitchen one day, flipped the switch and heard a big boom.  The kitchen smelled of ozone.  Our track light had fried.  We were VERY lucky that this is all that happened and we didn't have a full on electrical fire.

We had to rig up a temp fix so we could actually see.  In the mean time, I debated back and fourth about what I would like.  While I would love to have something hard wired in, track is a practicle choice in my kitchen.

We found some track spots I liked at Lowes.  I liked that they have a bit of a retro vibe to them.  They also had some hanging fixtures.  I wasn't 100% thrilled with them because they were candelabra base bulbs and I was worried they wouldn't be bright enough.

Nothing is every easy.  Lowes had the 4'  pewter colored track with four lights but not the 8' section we needed to make it work in our kitchen.  They had black and white 8' sections but not pewter.  

I dragged hubby to HD because I was PRETTY confident they had the 8' section of track in pewter.  After much grumbling on his part, we scored!  Not only did they have the track, they had some super cute hangning fixtures that they did't have over the summer when I last looked!  Not only are they cute, they take regular base light bulbs.

Two tracks - see they match!

kitchen track lights

Love the retro vibe!

Retro vibe with the shade.

My daughter getting into it.  

Trying to figure out the right length.

Ta da!  We have LIGHT.  

modern white quartz litchen counter

I can't tell you how thrilled I am that I can see well in here.  The kitchen has gone from a dark pit of dispair to light and bright.  I put LED bulbs in the two hanging lights and they are such a nice clean bright light.  There are no shadows on the island which was my goal.