Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Playing "Kitchen"

It's so great to have a working, functional kitchen again. Here's what I whipped up today. Four dozen Banana-Pecan Mini Muffins:

I have enough to share with our sweet neighbors, who let me borrow their stovetop during our construction craziness so we could have a home-cooked meal.

For dinner tonight, sour-cream enchiladas:

These are to cheer up The Boy, who said goodbye to summer and went off to the first day of his senior year of high school today. You can do it, sweetie!

And chilling in the fridge in a fantastic fresh marinade, tomorrow night's Italian-Herb Grilled Chicken:

Welcome back, my kitchen! How I missed you. I'll post these recipes tomorrow.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Kitchen, at Last

We have a working kitchen! It only took 26 days, but it felt much longer, because of the heat wave and our broken A/C (still not fixed, after two weeks; bleagh). As a reminder, here's what we had on August 2 when the workers began:

White tile counters with permanently filthy grout, ca. 1985. Whitewashed oak cabinets, slowly yellowing with age, from the same era. An electric stove:

...a next-to-useless prep sink, and a main sink too shallow to wash a pasta pot in:

Oooh, how I hated that sink! In one day, the entire island was demolished:

...to be resurrected as a series of unattached, partially-painted boxes:

...which came together slowly as the granite replaced the old tile counters:

On Friday night, the last worker left us at 8:00. We were literally saying blessings and lighting candles as he put the finishing touches on things.

He left us with this--a new, but empty-slate-of-a-kitchen:

Everything was covered in a fine layer of construction dust. I cleaned every surface for half a day, then put the contents of the entire kitchen back in place. It was so satisfying! In three weeks we went from this:

to this:
(What are those orange stickers? Little booboos the guys have to come back and fix. Every renovation has them; just part of the process.)

Anyway, we went from this:

To this:

And from this:

to this:

Thank you, Mu Shu, for modeling the new dog-bed alcove. We went from this:

to this:
The overall feel of the kitchen? I sum it up as "1910-meets-2010."

The subway tiles, cabinets, hardware, and stone counters remind me of my Grandma Bliss's kitchen, built in the first decade or so of the 1900s:

Now I have room to put all my recipe books in the kitchen, instead of stuffing most of them in the guest bedroom. It's nice to display the ones that belonged to my mother. I love having her vintage cookbooks nearby:

There are enamelware metal touches all over the kitchen, including these vintage French canisters from Portrait of a Bookstore:

...and these canisters, which hold dog food. The one on the left is from Harry Barker; on the right is another vintage enamelware find from Portrait of a Bookstore:

You may recall that this kitchen (House Beautiful, May 2010) was my inspiration:

This was a very grand and lavish kitchen, but some of its details I used on a smaller, more humble scale.

The subway tiles behind their gorgeous range...

...appeared on the backsplashes above our counters:

Their sky-high wall of white cabinets...

...was the inspiration for our teapot cabinet:

...and their dark countertops above white cabinetry and stainless appliances...

...turned into our "Grey Pearl" granite countertops, white cabinetry, and stainless appliances:

I was so thrilled with how things turned out, I even polished our copper tea kettle:

So, out with the old:

and in with the new:Plus, the guys came back today to take care of all the little "fixies" we marked with orange sticky notes.

So everybody is happy!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Trash Day Treasures

I love walking through my neighborhood on Trash Day. It's astounding what some people will throw out. Have they never heard of taking things to a local charity? or calling the Salvation Army (1-800-SA-TRUCK)? or Goodwill? Or FreeCycle?

Just this past week, somebody put six matching dining-room chairs out on the curb. They were perfectly solid, lovely chairs--just needed a little paint and a fresh covering on the seats. I wish I'd taken a photo, but they looked something like these:

photo by timsamoff

Amazing! Somebody could really have used those chairs, people. Anyhow, walking the dogs yesterday, I came across this sweet little curio shelf in somebody's trash:

It will be perfect in the guest bedroom (which will be renovated someday, when we've recovered from the kitchen re-do).

My painters, deep in the midst of painting all my kitchen cabinets, offered to paint this orphan for me. I'm sure it would look very perky with a fresh coat of white paint on these curves:

But I decided against it. I might to keep the Shabby Chic look. Also on yesterday's walk, I came on this windfall:

Lemons! Big, fresh ones from a neighbor's tree. They were lying in the gutter, so they'll undergo a thorough washing before I juice them.

Yesterday's trash finds got me to thinking about other stuff I've picked up nearby. Around the corner a year or so ago, a neighbor tossed a lot of horrible-smelling carpet to the curbside. Sitting in the mess was a darling garden statue of a little girl and this lovely concrete urn:

I gave the statue to a friend who loves trash-to-treasures as much as I do. Another day, I found this little outdoors cocktail table, missing its glass top:

So for less than $10, I had my local glass cutters fashion a frosted-glass top for it. The frosting brought out a beautiful, sea-glass-blue that I love:

And I love how the metal leaves look ghostly through the glass:

I'm not above peeking into Dumpsters parked in front of a house. Once I found sections of picket fence (which I couldn't use, but boy, were they cute!). The fencing had wooden ball finials attached. I love their weathered look, so I just unscrewed them from the fence sections and said a thank you to the Universe:

Not everything I find on the street is so portable.

One day I was out power-walking and came across the most dilapidated couch, with horrible faux-Chinese Chippendale legs and ornamentation. But it had beautiful lines across the back and arms. And it was well made, with eight-way, hand-tied springs and a hardwood frame.

So I called my upholsterer, who drove out to meet me with his big ol' van, and he took the sofa back to his shop.
I changed out the hideous fake Chippendale to classic Queen Anne legs and recovered the couch in a beautiful, deep blue-purple velvet:

Turning trash to treasures, and keeping things out of our landfills, is like taking lemons and making lemon chiffon pie.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cool Design

For those of you who are fans of Cakewrecks, food photography, cake creativity, or just generally cool design, check out this series of cakes inspired by children's books, courtesy of ohdeehoh.

And while you're at it, check out the rest of this website for some great home decor/children's design ideas, like this cool, colorful kid's room:

Now, I had a pretty cool room growing up, but something about that orange/green/white color combo strikes me as so fresh and fun for kids! I want!

Book Review

I've spent most of July and August plowing through the wildly popular Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. It's been great summer reading--nothing literary or artistic. Just a great story and some memorable characters. Out of order, that's the first book on the right, the second book on the left:

photo by Pesky Library

I borrowed the last book, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest," from Lovely Daughter #2. Unfortunately, it suffers from being over-long. As LD#2 says, "There's a great book in there, somewhere!" She and I think Stieg Larsson might have died before he and his editor had time to hone it down some.

So it's a meaty 743 pages long.

Something you can really sink your teeth into.

My puppy, alas, agrees:

Sorry, Lovely Daughter #2. Buy you a drink to make up for it?


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