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April 2011

{ the kitchen } day 4: more trimwork

Okay... so... day four!  Not as dramatic a transformation as yesterday, but they can't all be.  Today saw the addition of crown molding and additional trim around the bar.

day 4: more trimwork


I have to say I feel like I've been blessed with contractors.  They've been prompt and courteous and work hard. My folks had a few projects done on their house when I was in high school and I remember it dragging on forever.  This feels like hyper-speed!  Which is 100% okay, really.  Having a kitchen displaced while little ones are running about and needing several meals a day isn't the easiest thing to manage.  It's like we are ripping off a bandaid around here, and we are mid-rip... but we are almost there and it's going to be fantastic.  :)


Tomorrow the painter is coming back and we will see the first coat of paint go on the cabinet boxes. As excited as I was about the primer, watching the creamy real stuff go up there will be even better.  It's killing me not to see the doors and drawers at this point... I'm sure they are already painted and awaiting another step of the process... but it will be next week before they make it back over here. 

For now, I'm going to tidy up the kitchen for the last time today, restack my pantry items on the dining room table.  I'm tired.  No naps for mama this week!  And no chance it slowing down any time soon!


{ the kitchen } day 3: new uppers!

Day 3 of the whirlwind kitchen reno! 

day 3: new uppers, trim and priming

This morning, the cabinets arrived and were installed.  I think they are going to work out nicely, indeed. 

day 3: new uppers, trim and primer

The painter wasted no time and primed everything... the existing cabinet boxes, too, so I am starting to see how it's all going to come together.  Removing the dark stain from my kitchen lightened it up ten-fold.  Even though it's only primer, I'm still digging it.

day 3: new uppers, trim and priming

The outside of the bar is getting some special treatment.  My builder is eager to cover up as much of the plywood as possible (I can't imagine why), so tomorrow he is going to add some additional pieces that will give this a raised panel look.  He'll also be installing crown molding and baseboards. 

The countertop lady came by today, so at some point I'll be going to a granite yard to pick out My Slab.  Word on the street is one vendor is liquidating some seriously high end stuff, so maybe I'll end up with something super cool.  Who knows? 

It's all terribly exciting and fast.  Did I mention how fast this is going?  Three days ago we looked like this:

kitchen before: west wall

Yes, I am officially freaking out.  In the very best way.

Thanks for joining me on this thrill ride!  xo

{ the kitchen } day 2: demo!

I've never been to excited about a mess before.

day 2: tile and upper cabinet removal

Our builder showed up this morning to remove the upper cabinets above the range and demo the tile from the backsplash. 

day 2: tile and upper cabinet removal

It was very exciting.  And loud.  And messy.

But now we are ready for new cabinets tomorrow and day three of painting prep and I cannot wait! 

day 2: tile and upper cabinet removal

One of the other things we are doing is beefing up the outside of this bar...

outside of sink bar: getting beefed up

It looks into the living room and is quite a massive element to have just left kind of naked. (Add this to the rather long list of head-scratching choices made by the previous owners.)  We are replacing those brackets with some basic corbels and extra trim as well as adding molding around the bottom to match what will be installed to the left around the dining nook.  I have hopes that this will turn our blase stained plywood to something a little more interesting.  It's even put the dog to sleep.

Also, these are the paint samples from yesterday. My camera battery died before I could download them.  Of course.

door paint samples

It's hard to get the creaminess of the white and not lose the grain detail of the espresso stain in one photo... so you'll just have to trust me on the color part. At any rate, it's way better than the high gloss shellac we had going on before. (One of my friends and I were laughing about how they were so shiny you could have probably checked your lipstick in them.)

I was floored that the painter had just done these the day before and the tackiness that I have come to expect from paint projects wasn't there.  Neither was the smell.  He said the sealant product he uses takes a full 30 days to cure, and when it does it will be a floor grade protectant that I can spray with whatever products I want.  Durability is one of the concerns I have had from the beginning.  I didn't want to go through the hassle and cost of having them painted only to have to baby them!  Because, let's face it, they are not going to get babied in a house with kids running amok. 

It's nice knowing that the majority of the painting is being done off-site and that when it comes time to paint here, we're using low VOC products and can take advantage of warmer weather by opening all of our windows.

Tomorrow we have the new section of cabinets going up above the range, trimwork going up, and the painter coming back to clean the cabinet boxes and prep them for priming.  And I will be freaking out and pinching myself while I start to see progress.  Demo is fun... but progress?  Ack!  I love it.

Thanks for playing along and humoring me, too.   xo

{ the kitchen } It has begun

There is no turning back now.

kitchen before
This morning, this was my kitchen.  

What I love?  Our kitchen has lots of space and countertops.  When we bought the house, one of the things I loved was the spaciousness of the kitchen.  During holidays, when the house is full of people, we can easily fit many family members in here to cook and prepare and visit. We can spread out our cookies to cool and have plenty of storage for lots of things we never knew we needed.

kitchen before: east, from south/kitchen table

The original owners meant to put in an island and then thought there wasn't need for one. While we still have little ones doing laps through here, we don't see the need either.  Maybe something on wheels that I could scoot about and use for buffet or extra seating someday, but not right now.

I love the secretary hutch in the corner.

kitchen before: east

I love that the dining area gets lots of light.

I love my appliances, which we have slowly replaced over the years.

She has good bones.  (Dark, shiny outdated bones.  One painter that came by for an estimate said that in 25 years of painting, he had only seen a similar high gloss finish in a home before and it was in a man-cave-library kind of thing.  Not a kitchen.)

What this kitchen needs is a face-lift.

kitchen before: west wall

What I don't care for?  Shiny-dark-cherry-stained ash cabinetry intended to 'blend' with the dark cherry laminate flooring.  Bright white 4" square shiny backsplash tiles.  Shiny chrome pulls. Laminate countertops.  A oversized countertop ''bar' that we can't use for seating, because you'd be sitting in the middle of the living room.

And, above the range....we've got two straight feet of clearance, Clarence.  Those cabinets feel painfully short.  That flat 3-part section is getting replaced with a staggered combination that will include a middle section that goes flush with the ceiling (which is also getting some new trim). 

All of the cabinets will be painted a creamy white.  (The two little missing doors were removed to use for paint sampling.)  We're getting new knobs and pulls.  New tile backsplash.  New countertop with a narrower bar. 

kitchen before: the secretary
She's getting special treatment.  This secretary stands alone in the corner and will get her own finish in a warm espresso.  The builder is adding a piece to the right of the desk so she will reach to the floor and resemble proper furniture.  No more just hanging about for her!  Oh, and the chair is moving to a new place and getting a new slipcover.

Now I can say I have a walk-in pantry, right?

This is what used to be my dining room.  It is now my walk-in pantry.  :)  Thank goodness for a stash of vintage sheets.

Something we are also having done at the same time... replacing the 3" trim with taller, beefier moulding around the dining nook.  It's a nice small thing that will make a big impact over here, I think.

kitchen - eating nook trim

(I feel like I need to apologize for the wonky lighting in each of these photos.  I took most of these photos early this morning before we had proper sunlight on the west side of the house...)

Four hours later... my painter left with half my kitchen in his truck. This takes some getting used to.

kitchen: drawer and door removal day

So we're off!  Emptied and ready for additional demo and prepping.  It's so exciting and terrifying.  The inconvenience is kind of funny and it's not permanent.  My eldest got up this morning to make breakfast and kind of freaked when she saw all the cabinets and drawers were empty.  She had no idea what to eat or bring to school for lunch, so she just grabbed a tub of leftover Chinese white rice and ran out of the house.  LOL  We'll have to fix that.

I'm going to try and update daily if I can...I have lots of out of town family that is just plain curious and I'm kind of a documenter anyway.  I've dreamed about doing this for years and cannot believe we are going forward with it... it's happening!  So just bear with me for a bit, if you will.  I know it's not crafty or thrifty anything.  Shoot, it's not even DIY.  But it is a huge, doable project.  And since I spend about 50% of my life in the kitchen, it's also making me want to turn cartwheels just thinking about it.  Whee!

What's up tomorrow?  The tile is getting ripped off.  It's going to get messy in here.  :)

{ off topic } the Justin Bieber dream

Blame it on my raging hormones, maybe, but last night I had a dream about Justin Bieber.

No, not that kind of dream.  Ick.  I wasn't even going to share this, but my eldest was laughing so hard and thought I needed to share it with the world.  So here goes nothing.

(begin dream sequence.  Fade in after ripple effect....)

Justin Bieber grows up to be, of all things, an attorney.  And it's present day, not twenty years from now, but he is 20 years older.  And it's a dream, so this can totally happen. 

I know he is an attorney because my husband has to work a mediation with him and he isn't looking forward to it.  He really doesn't care for Bieber at all because of the attitude.  Seems that, in trying to distance himself from the pop stardom of his youth (not unlike Robin Sparkles), le Biebe has turned into a bit of a stressed-out, up-tight, jerkified attorney that no one likes to do business with because he takes himself too seriously.

The whole dream was basically an extended grumble by my husband about how difficult it was to work with this guy.  And how he should totally get over himself because no one cares about the pop star thing except that it was taking the focus off the case and distracting participants. And no one cares about his hair anymore, but it doesn't look like he's balding. 

Which is all a lot funnier if you knew my husband.  The end.

(ripple fade out to black)

Dreams are not that funny when you retell them.  They make you sound like an idiot.

Also, because a post is soooo much better with photos, check out some of the the french macarons we got last weekend for the eldest's birthday from Natasha's Mulberry and Mott... yum yum good.


The sewing bug seemed to leave as quickly as it came around here.  I think now that we are seeing sunshine and warmer temperatures, my basement studio isn't looking quite so tempting.  Perhaps I just need to take the machine upstairs for a bit and have at it.

Happy new week, friends!  xoxo
miss chris

{ road tested } nail shellac

Have you heard of Shellac for your nails? Nail polish that lasts for 2 weeks?  I'm sure you have and I am just now seeing the light.  If so, sorry.  This post is entirely a waste of your time.  xo

Anyway. Shellac. It's available in some salons and it is not the Gel product of ye olde days.  I promise.  I was never an acrylic girl because it really hurt me, nor was I a regular mani girl -- the paint wears off way too fast for it to be cost effective.  I have really nice, strong nails that lend themselves to an at-home mani rather well.  Typically, if I want my nails done for an evening or whatever, I do them myself. It still wears off though. Bummer.

Then I learned about Nail Shellac (by CDN).  The promise of shiny, no chip-or-wear polish for two weeks. Intriguing. The price was the kicker.  $30-40?  Um, well.  I think I'll just take my little bottle of Revlon and stay home, thankyouverymuch.

However...  A few weeks ago, I heard there was a nail tech apprentice in town who would do Shellac for $10.  ($20, if you want the full mani.)  I was totally in for a $10 try. Who wouldn't be?

I forgot to take pictures of day one.  But you know what?  It looked like a Day One Manicure,'s day 3:

nail shellac, day 3

No chips!  Shiny!

Day 6:

day 6

The only thing annoying me is how fast my nails are growing, thanks to the prenatal vitamins.  Also, don't look at my cuticles.  This is about the polish, people. 

And... day 14:


It worked. 

I actually wore it until today, which is like day 19.  But I wanted to take it off and to be able to tell you how it goes down.  Here are the details:

  1.  Every stage has a short curing process under a lamp.  Base coat, two color coats, two top coats. It took 15 minutes, total.
  2. It feels like nail polish.  Like if you put that many coats on, but nothing more. 
  3. They are immediately dry.  That part is weird.  I was walking around with 'delicate hands' for  a while, but it's not necessary.
  4. It stayed shiny to the end.
  5. There are no icky ingredients.  It's hypo-allergenic and contains no formaldehyde, toluene or DBP. 
  6. There aren't as many colors as regular polish to choose from yet.
  7. It's been around for a year, in May 2011.
  8. You remove it with acetone.  I soaked my nails for a few minutes in a small dish, and the polish peels off. Here's the most important part for me:  There was no nail damage.
  9. I would do it again.
  10. (Even if I didn't have access to a cheap version.  I'd do it before the holidays or a vacation or something.  Worth feeling 'done to the nails' without the work.)
  11. You could have this done with a clear polish, even... or a french tip, and then not worry about the regrowth as much.  Just a thought.
  12. I'm not getting compensated for this.  Just thought I'd share my experiment with you.  :)

Ok.  That's it.  Also, I turned 39 yesterday and still cannot believe it.  Ack.


It's going to be another great year.  I can feel it.  xo