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May 2011

{ the kitchen } this morning.

I've been getting pestered for kitchen photos.  When I look at things, it hasn't changed that much in the last couple weeks, but here goes.  We're at that last 5% of the project that is taking 95% of the time. 

We are waiting for what seems like a hundred tiny little details. Like outlet switches. 


And the remaining tile so we can finish the backsplash.  (And move the stove back 12")


And grout.  And the exhaust vent.  And shelf pegs in the new uppers so I can put my dishes away on the shelves that have been painted for weeks.


I am still loving the results this far. 

new bar

And we are so close.

getting there

In fact, as I'm writing this, the tilework is done above the stove and it looks great. 

The guys have just left for Home Depot to look for outlet covers and get some stuff related to the new exhaust vent.  The cabinet guy is going to fix the doors above the stove that were attached incorrectly (like, without hinges) in the next couple of days.  The granite people have been notified that one of their pieces doesn't look right... the painter is scheduled to come back on Monday for touch-ups. 

It's getting there.  It really is.  And believe me, I cannot WAIT to have it done to share with you. 

Also, if you were wondering, I'm now 23.5 weeks along. And it looks like I'll be doing pink loads of laundry for the rest of my forseeable future. I guess that also means I have a nursery to start. :)


{ happy thoughts }

We spent last night and this morning following severe weather developments in our area, and I'm tired of it already.  It's scary and overwhelming, yes, but I have to think about other things or I'll go nuts.

Like... that my heart is filled joy at the outpouring of assistance and good will that Joplin is receiving in the wake of such a disaster.  And that my kitchen -- which is not done, but is close... so very close -- is mostly usable again. So I can get back in there and cook.  I've missed real food.

Last night we made Martha Stewart's Broiled Sweet and Spicy Salmon with Pineapple (thank you, Grace, for tipping me off last week.  I couldn't take it one more day without trying it).  Anything that starts with 'mix maple syrup and cayenne pepper' will get a try in my book.  It was delicious. My husband, who doesn't necessarily like to eat pineapple, liked the spicy broiled chunks of glazed fruit.   Yum...

caprese salad

The other thing that I make a lot around here is a simple caprese salad.  I'm not sure when I started doing this, but it is one of my favorite ways to eat tomatoes. Today I used some that I'd picked up extra ripe from the farmer's market and ate it over a toasted bagel.  Anything crunchy would work.  Or on it's own with a spoon.  Whatever you prefer.

I like to use all different kinds of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil.  I drizzle it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add ground pepper and a pinch of ground sea salt and then... well, then I gobble it up. 

market peonies

Our small town Wednesday morning farmer's market doesn't have many stands yet, but I was also able to pick up two quarts of fresh ripe strawberries and a fistful of peonies for a song.  I cannot tell you how much these luscious pink feathery flowers have brightened my day.  :) 

We're still under a tornado watch for the rest of the evening... but I'm not going to dwell on that today.  cheers!


{ } joplin

first blooms

It's tornado season here in Missouri.  It's a beautiful and dramatic and scary time of year.  After months of freezing cold temperatures and and ice and snow, the heart of the Midwest welcomes warmer, longer, sunnier days with open arms.  And trepidation.

Most of us who grew up here are used to the routine of the season. We are used to the watches and warnings.  We practiced drills in school and took cover in our basements or interior bathrooms as a precaution during many storms.  We were woken up in the middle of the night to find safety for a half hour under blankets and pillows in a corner of a designated spot in the house.  Sitting with the panting dog, listening to the radio or television for the weather play by play -- estimated times when certain parts of town will be in most danger, waiting for the sirens to end.

We're used to wind damage and hail damage and tree branches tossed about by angry winds.  We've seen places where funnel clouds touched down and mangled an outbuilding or highway sign.  We're used news of major damage at mobile home parks, where even the weight of the largest trailers isn't enough to keep them from getting knocked over and destroyed.

In an area that sees hundreds of tornadoes every year, the news of last night's multi-vortex EF4 tornado in Joplin, MO, is something we are not used to. 

The news is harrowing.  The death toll is at 116 and rising, which makes it the most deadly U.S. tornado since 1953 and the worst ever to hit Missouri.  The Red Cross has declared that 75% of the town is destroyed.  We have friends there who have lost their home, who took cover with their two children in the basement while the monster ripped their home off the foundation right above their heads.

247054_224135117613381_100000506837002_917300_785614_n (photo: Lee McKinney, from  Joplin Mo Recovery FaceBook photos page .)

Nearly everyone I know locally has a connection to Joplin. It's 3 hours from where I am in Kansas City, but it's only down the road from the town my husband and I grew up in.  It's not a small town.  It's small-ish.  It has 50,000 residents.  And you know what I know by now.  It's gone.

Here are some of the things that are rattling about in my mind right now:

1) How lucky they are that this happened on a Sunday evening, in daylight.  They had very little warning -- even the storm chasers thought nothing of this storm until 20 minutes before it hit.  Had it been dark, there would have been even less warning... at least people were awake, mobile, with their families and able to respond.

2) Thanks to technology, the news spread quickly. I was cruising Facebook on my iPhone when a HS classmate posted something about a tornado. I alerted my husband and he jumped on Twitter. We were immediately getting first hand updates on the situation before news stations even had time to report the incident.  We flipped to the Weather Channel to watch live coverage of a storm chaser who happened to be there when it hit.  The immediacy and quantity of news sources was mind blowing.  

3) Social Networking sites like Twitter and Facebook have changed the way people connect, reach out and rally during a disaster. Instead of having to call lots of people, we had friends posting immediately that they were ok.  It was such a relief to those of us waiting in worry.  Within hours, there was a Facebook Page containing helpful links, assistance, photos, and a means for people to post public images of people they are looking for.

4) This country is full of wonderful, caring people who want to help. The way that communities and churches and organizations are stepping is beyond heartwarming. 

5) It feels like this tornado season has seen more than its share of disasters strike highly populated areas.  Birmingham, St Louis, Minneapolis, and now Joplin...I'm sure I'm forgetting somewhere. Until this year, I always (stupidly) felt like those storms lost momentum as they neared larger cities and towns... but now I feel more vulnerable than ever. 

Tomorrow night we are expecting an even more severe round of storms.  You bet we'll be paying attention to every bit of information we can get our mitts on.

Stay safe, my friends. And hug your loved ones extra tight. 


{ the kitchen } days... um. Not sure where we are


Hidden microwave

We're still hanging about around here.  We ran into a bit of a snag the other day and are a few tiles short of finishing a part of the backsplash, so the boys are tackling some of the less exciting finishing work while we wait for those to come in. 

One thing we did yesterday was implement Mission: Peekaboo Micro.  The layout of our kitchen won't accommodate a wall unit and I was pretty hell-bent on my mantle-ish cabinetry over the stove in lieu of hanging a microwave there. My word, was that big black box ever so garish sitting on my new counter.  After a little head-scratching and measuring and accepting the loss of one shelf, we decided to have the guys install an outlet in the pantry so we could slide that puppy in and store it out of sight for good. 

It's making me very happy.  It's the little things, you know. And if pantry storage ends up really being a giant pain in the derriere, we can always take it back out.  For now, I like shutting the doors on that thing.

Photo note: I've been terrible about using my real camera these days.  With our house in total upheaval, it seems like I've lost my shooting and downloading mojo and can't make real photos happen. I have been enjoying some photo apps on my iphone, thank goodness. (As much as I love my Hipstamatic app, the Instagram app is even faster and easier, I think.  And then I can upload directly to flickr as well... who needs a computer?? )  xo

{ enjoying } sunshine again

Thanks so much for all the sweet comments and compliments on the kitchen project.  You all know how to make a girl smile.  It's such a relief when all of the choices you've made start coming together and don't look, well... awful.

We had a cold snap last week that I am hoping is now leaving us for good.  My optimistic late april potted plants seem to have weathered the worst and we were all enjoying the sunshine this afternoon.

I'm adding several herbs this year.  Mint and English Thyme in this one:


And smaller starts of parsley, rosemary and basil in these little planters.  The gal at the nursery was very helpful and urged me to start these indoors as they wouldn't be quite as hardy as the other two, and I'm glad I did.  It will be nice to transplant these soon, though, and watch them take off.  There is nothing like cooking with truly fresh herbs. 

the wittle herb garden

I hope you are glimpsing a bit of sunshine in your bit of of the world today.  xo

{ the kitchen } days 8-11 & 14 (and a vacay)

No worries.  The project is still underway.  For a few days we were painting extra coats and top coats and letting that dry.  And that just doesn't show up well in photographs.

And then I went on quick vacation! 

AZ vacation, 2011.  The Boulders PoolMy sweet husband takes me to Arizona every year for a nice long Mother's Day weekend before he stays on for a week to play golf with his friends. Works out fine by me, because after 4 days, I miss the girls a ton and need to get back in action.  The break sure is nice, though.

One of the things I love best about Scottsdale is the food.  We eat so well there.  My friend Sarah introduced me to Postino on my last trip and I had to go back this time after dreaming about their bruschetta board for a year:

Um, yes. 

I think Arizona is gorgeous in May.  It might get a bad rap for being all brown and tan and pink the rest of the year, but in May everything is wild with color.  We were surrounded by blooms.

And I discovered that an NA beer + lemonade cocktail at the pool tastes almost as good as the real thing.

Let's fast forward to Monday night, when I got home.  Late night photos...

day 11 - doors on!

Cabinet Doors!

day 11 - secretary done

A painted secretary!

day 11 - doors on!

I love that Carl the Painter talked me into going black with the secretary.  He did a rub-back on the edges.  And the pulls!  And knobs!  Ack!  I was freaking out.  I can't believe how far this has come in two weeks.

day 11 - doors on!

And, since there is no rest for the weary...

we hit the ground running yesterday (Tuesday) morning with granite installation...! 

day 14 - granite

Today we have a plumber coming to hook up the kitchen sink, which will be nice.  Here's praying that goes off without a hitch.  The whole rinsing-plates-in-the-powder-room-gig sounds more fun than it really is.   And I'm honestly worried that I any minute I'm going to pour out a sippy cup of old milk down the drainless sink by mistake.  Yikes. 

We're on the home stretch.  It feels good.  And I'm thrilled that, so far, it is coming together just as I saw it in my little noggin.  Whew.  Big sigh of relief.


{ the kitchen } days 5 -7: paint and shelves

By Friday afternoon, the first coat of paint was on our cabinets.  I love it.  Love it. 

day 5: first coat of paint


weekend project: tiling shelves

Something that I've wanted to do since we moved in (besides paint the cabinets) is tile the base cabinets. 

I can't take credit for this idea.  Around 1997, when I lived in California, a friend of mine moved into her new house and decided to put vinyl tile in her base cabinets instead of contact paper.  She just didn't want to wrestle with contact paper.  Who does?  I thought it was brilliant.  Durable.  Easy to clean.  Sold.

I stored this little idea away for future use.  And even when I moved into this house seven years ago, I thought about it, and then said something like, "Heck, I don't really care.  Let's just throw the stuff in there and call it good.  I'm tired."

But last week we emptied the cabinets.  And it all came back.

weekend project: tiling shelves

On Friday I picked up 40 tiles for .88 a piece.  We cleaned the shelves and without too much planning, started peeling and sticking tiles last night.

weekend project: tiling shelves

Within a couple hours I had most of my kitchen done.  I ran out of the tile before I got to the sink cabinet (which needs it BADLY), but I can already tell it's going to work just fine. 

If you decide to do this, consider whether or not you want the faux grout look.  I didn't realize my tiles had beveled edges when I bought it, but I was too lazy to take it back.  Now that it's in, I like it ok.  However, I do hope that when it comes to cleaning out under the sink, I don't have issues with coffee grinds stuck in the grooves.  (Whatever.  It will still be way better than before.)

Also, you'll need a nice sharp utility knife.  I was a little concerned about cutting some notches for the bottom pieces, but I was able to cut and snap the pieces off with little effort.  And I was using an old rusty dollar store box cutter. I imagine a proper utility knife would cut like buttah.

weekend project: tiling shelves

So it was 14 years in the making, but I finally tiled my cabinets.  How's that for procrastination?  :)

(New pics tomorrow.  The painter started on the secretary unit in the corner, so she's got a fresh coat of black now and looks all schmancy.)