Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Kitchen

We've been renovating our kitchen for what seems like years. Really, it's been about 9 months. So as long as it takes to cook a human being, it has taken us to (mostly) complete our kitchen. I've been posting little snap shots intermittently on Instagram, but have failed to update anything around here.

So, now, I'm going to chronicle this journey with a photo dump of epic proportions. It is not for the faint of heart, or anyone uninterested in in the interior of our home. You can't say I did not warm you.

When we moved in our kitchen looked like this. Also, apparently I was unfamiliar with what white balance was on my camera.

Kitchen Renovation


Kitchen Renovation
The first thing we did to our house was paint the kitchen. While an aesthetic improvement, it still just wasn't an ideal for cooking or hanging out with friends. We couldn't see from the dining area into the kitchen for the cabinets hanging from the ceiling. It felt small for being such a big room.

Kitchen Renovation


Kitchen Renovation

One afternoon while Joel away, I felt ready to start knocking some cabinets out, so I just did. I had been tossing this idea around but hadn't completely convinced Joel. I figured if he came home and saw how open the kitchen felt sans cabinets, he would be convinced that I was right and ready to start a major kitchen renovation.

I only busted one cabinet and completely terrified the dog. Not bad if I do say so myself. I am sure this was very dangerous and I shouldn't have done it alone. HOWEVER, I think I convinced Joel, so it's a total win in my book.

I'm going to go ahead and apologize for the quality of the photos in this post. It's bad, people.

Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen Renovation

Our plan was to move the hanging cabinets I didn't break to the wall they were perpendicular to and reconfigure that whole setup. We would cut out the top half of the cabinet J is checking out below to make room for more countertop. The microwave would go live in the laundry nook, out of sight but still conveniently located.

We would knock the hanging ledge out, patch the ceiling, pull the canned light up to the ceiling, get new countertops, a new sink, new backspash and floors. The pictures will make more sense, I am sure.

Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen Renovation

Next came some legit drywall knocking. Once we established that these beams hanging down weren't bearing any kind of load, we went to town. 

Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen Renovation

Then we had this super awesome hole in our ceiling...

Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen Renovation

...that we promptly started patching.

Kitchen Renovation

I'm going to rewind for a hot second to remind you that a canned light resided in this weird little nook above the sink. See the two capped wires above? They're from that.

Kitchen Renovation

So once we knocked everything out, we had to drill a new canned light to the beam in the ceiling. We discovered the original was a fire waiting to happen. So yay for that. And because it was late at night and we had to cut the electricity to install it, here I am in a headlamp putting some wires together while I avoid inhaling insulation.

Kitchen Renovation

I don't have much to say about patching the giant hole in the ceiling because Joel took care of most of it and said it was really, really difficult. Since we would texture the whole ceiling, smoothness was not a concern. PHEW.

Kitchen Renovation

One of the trickiest things to do was reconfiguring the layout of our cabinets. We had to make sure things looked good, but also that the cabinets lined up perfectly along that ledge. Since it was a set length, the cabinets had to take that length up. We were about 4 inches short on cabinet width, so we used wooden spaces to even things out.

Kitchen Renovation

We marked all of our studs with chalk on the backsplash and did a lot of googling to make sure we were hanging these cabinets correctly. They are solid. Joel is that good.

Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen Renovation

We would paint the wood white to match the cabinets eventually. You'll see.

Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen Renovation

Next we ripped out the counter tops, evened out the awkward corner, and paid someone to install white corian countertops and an undercount sink. We are happy this was the only labor we had to pay for.  Maybe happy isn't the word - writing a fat check isn't really that fun.

Kitchen Renovation

But coming home to this new countertop was amazing. It felt like we had doubled our countertop space. The sink is bigger, but takes up less space and it's much more our style.

Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen Renovation

The next phase was backsplash. We found a pretty inexpensive marble subway tile at Home Depot that we fell in love with. We had no experience working with tile before, and were probably in way over our heads. I have no pictures of this process because of that. When you are scared you forget about chronicling these things. Since every single tile had to be laid and spaced individually, it took a while. The last photos I have are pre-grouting. So here you go. 

Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen Renovation

We've since textured and painted the kitchen (the same color - what? we love it.), installed new floors, added new light fixtures, and are in the process of installing the quarter-round to finish out the baseboards. I promise I won't wait an entire year to post another update, and won't write another this long. 

If you're still reading this, awesome. I feel like the length of this post is a reflection of how long this kitchen remodel has taken. Luckily, we will be done in time for Thanksgiving and it is going to be so great to cook in this space this year.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Eureka Springs Vacay

This year, Joel and I managed to snag two full weeks off work for Christmas together. After being snowed in for a couple of days at my parents' house then catching up with all our Oklahoma City family, we booked a last-minute trip to Eureka Springs. We made the 5 hour drive on New Year's Day and even scored an extra night free in the Oak Crest Treehouse Cottages.


Warm tootsies.
View from our deck

Ready for some zzz's in our treehouse.
View from being tucked in bed


The treehouse was fantastic. It sat about a story high and had a kitchenette, fireplace, jacuzzi and a beautiful forest view from the back deck. The first morning as I sipped my coffee, I spotted several deer just hanging out below our cabin. While it was a little too cold to enjoy the outdoors, we still felt happy to be away from the city and were able to really relax.


Eurea Springs 2012

Eurea Springs 2012

Untitled


A major goal of this trip was to recharge. We took the Apple TV and watched way too many movies as well as the entire second season of Portlandia, caught up on reading, and napped to our hearts' content. We also took several long drives and just enjoyed some non-flat scenery. Really, it was perfect.

Fat tire on tap. Not in ok city anymore.
Enjoying some live music, Fat Tire, and burgers

On our second night, we found a cute little Indian restaurant (that served hamburgers and soup) with some live bluegrass music and an open mic night. It was a cultural juxtaposition and a lot of fun. After downing a few beers there, we made the creepy drive up the mountain for the ghost tour at the Crescent Hotel.

I don't know if I even believe in ghosts, but that tour was creepy. We didn't see any apparitions or capture any orbs in our photographs, but we were ready to get out of there. Since our cabin was basically on stilts, it creaked and made noises in the night. After leaving the Crescent and going to bed, we both woke around 2 a.m. and were scared. Because we're ridiculous. It was the wind. Anyway, moving on.

Crescent hotel up the stairs. Think there are any ghosts?
Looking up the haunted stairs

While the hotel had quite a sordid history, the most scandalous owner was Norman Baker, who claimed he could cure cancer. Despite the fact that he wasn't a doctor, he turned the hotel into a hospital and charged patients tons of money for bogus, painful treatments. This resulted in a lot of bad juju up in that hotel. The creepiest part of the tour was no doubt the trip to the basement, AKA Baker's morgue.

Eurea Springs 2012Eurea Springs 2012
A Shining-esque hallway and our theatrical tour guide

Eurea Springs 2012
In Baker's basement checking out the walk-in freezer where he kept the bodies

Eurea Springs 2012
And a proper cutesy picture outside the hotel

On our last full day, we explored downtown Eureka Springs. Because we were there during the winter off season, many attractions, shops, and restaurants were closed. We still enjoyed the cobblestone walkways and kitschy stores though. I told Joel it felt like we were in Diagon Alley, only without all the awesome magic.

Eurea Springs 2012

Eurea Springs 2012
Stocking up on candy for the drive home

Eurea Springs 2012
Civil War action figures in a toy shop...do people actually buy this crap?

Eurea Springs 2012
And the creepiest old dolls I have ever seen

This little trip was kicked off the new year in a great way. It was refreshing to unplug and relax, just Joel and I, especially after the craziness that was December. Throw in that it was only 5 hours away and inexpensive and you've got the perfect last-minute trip. I know we live in a relatively big city, full of green grass and big skies, but there's just something about mountains, vast views and lots of stars in the sky that you just can't beat.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Getting Settled.

Today at work, I poked my head into the cafeteria during lunch. I do this often as an energizing break from work at my computer and also because our students are awesome.*

I noticed a fifth-grader sitting by himself at a table, which is not an unusual midday punishment for a rogue trouble-maker. I asked him why he was sitting alone, expecting an admission of guilt. His answer surprised me.

He said, very matter-of-factly, "I just needed to get settled. I decided to sit here today because I can be quiet and have a clear mind over here. That's all." 

He then proceeded to tell me about his wish list for Santa and how excited he was to to have a sleepover with a friend this weekend. Said friend then joined us to share his opinions about this wish list and the settling had officially ended.

On my way home I had some good music on in the car and inadvertently took a few minutes to clear my mind. This involved belting at the top of my lungs while traveling at a high speed down the highway. But it did the trick.

Then I realized something. Life has been busy lately and this week, Joel and I have been admittedly boring. We've indulged in more ice cream and episodes of Modern Family then I care to admit. I was worrying this was a bad thing but then I realized, this is what we need. This is our version of getting settled. Of recharging.

So tonight? We're taking one more evening of boring, by the fire and glow of the Christmas tree, to get settled. And you know what? I'm okay with that.

So fancy.

*I work at a nonprofit called Positive Tomorrows, a elementary school for homeless students. Our kids live in local homeless shelters and bounce around a lot which makes it difficult for them to learn. We give them a fair shot at an education by stabilizing families and breaking down barriers to learning. Check us out on Facebook.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cookies, Trees and Presents, Oh My.

Last year in all my holiday cookie making, present wrapping and tree decorating haste, I definitely did not post anything related to Christmas. In the spirit of dragging the season out, even though I already have my tree and decorations up for this year, I thought I'd give you a taste of Christmas 2011.

The Tree

We tucked our artificial tree in the corner of the living room. Because I'm kind of OCD, my tree had to match the room. I went with green, Turquoise and silver. I used throw that normally lives on the couch as a tree skirt rather than purchasing one. The pictures can do all the talking.

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

IMG_7019

The Presents

When it came to wrapping presents, I was looking for a cheap alternative to wrapping paper. Enter recycled newspapers from my office and paper grocery bags. Both were free fiddy. I threw in some inexpensive doilies and some touches of color with different ribbons. I grabbed some Christmas stamps from the holiday bin at Michael's and added some Christmas trees and snowflakes for good measure. For such a cheap alternative to traditional to gift wrapping, I'd say they turned out all right.

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011


The Cookies

If you know me, then you know I am not the biggest fan of cooking in general. Unless it involves making cookies that I can elaborately decorate. I get a little out of control - all the dough and icing is made from scratch and each cookie is individually painted. It's my thing. It's what i do. As stated above, in line with my OCD, I even like for my cookies to match my tree and my house so last year I kept in line with my turquoise and green and metallic theme through and through.

Thanks to the ease of surfing cookies on Pinterest, I got brave and tried marbling. It. Was. Awesome. Very easy, very pretty. Joel even joined in the fun and decorated some. Another key part of our cookie tradition, however, is also that we must drink beer while we decorate. 

The colorful cookies are sugar cookies, the brown ones are gingerbread. Here you go.

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011


This Year

This year we've kept up our tradition of putting our tree of the weekend after Thanksgiving while watching Elf and even created the new tradition of bringing home a real tree. I have sneezed much less with a real tree than I did fluffing the dust-filled artificial trees of yore.

Once I get our presents wrapped and cookies decorated, perhaps I'll post Christmas 2012 on time this year. Until then, I give you Santa's Tree Lot.


Christmas tree? Check.