Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Kitchen with a Skirt

 Tuesday I bought 3 yards of Waverly fabric and made a skirt for my sink. I wanted a warm floral print that would blend well with the woodwork and have yellow tones that would match the paint color. (Oh - yes, note the yellow paint above.)
 Adam finished the two counters on either side of the stove. I'm very proud of his work. He was dissatisfied because he's not a carpenter nor a craftsman with wood. But he did his best, and I think the quarter-round looks quite good! Again, stained (Early American 230 is the color), with 3 coats of polyurethane.
 In spite of putting a tight elastic in a casing on the top of the skirt, the middle still sags a little. (It's attached on the sides with loops on hooks on the sides of the sink.) My solution was to put a small thumb tack through the fabric, into the sink front, to lift it up. It worked well.
 Here's a close-up of the fabric:
Regarding the issue of the overhead bump-outs, we did bash through the bottom of it to see what was inside ...
 And ... there are finished walls in there! Yay! So the bump-outs will be removed.
Adam also worked on the trim around the doors and walls.

 I still have painting to do, as you see.
Adam stained and sealed his bread table too. It looks so nice:
 I was thinking ... after the kitchen is finished the back door will definitely be the ugliest thing in the room.

Adam was thinking the same thing. So he sanded away a bit of the icky paint and found underneath some lovely tight-grained pine. He will sand the door down to wood, stain and seal it. We're staining and sealing so many things, I hope we don't forget and stain and seal each other, haha!

The next step is going to Lowe's and buying 1x12 pine boards for the shelves. Adam will make brackets himself. Much staining and sealing will occur. I will paint the walls ... and paint, and paint. I do think once we bite the bullet and start that last hurdle, it will go quickly. Here's hoping!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Half-Way There

I have unusual taste in kitchens. Not everybody wants to rip out all the cabinets, and not put any new ones in. I'm aware that my kitchen (my developing kitchen ... we're not there yet!) will not be to anyone else's taste. That's okay. So -- be forewarned, here's our progress lately:
 Adam put a sheet rock/wood box around the A/C intake. It will make a nice little counter.
And he finished the sink wall, and I painted it with Kilz. Later, we'll paint the kitchen a pale buttery yellow.
 The work of which we're most proud is Adam's plumbing under the sink -- look at this!! It's tidy, perfect.
This is what was under our sink before:
While Adam was wrestling with plumbing on Saturday morning, I went to a local used furniture/antique mall. Such helpful, nice people! They had lots of furniture. I needed two pieces: 1) a bread work table for Adam, and 2) a step-back cabinet for me. They'll go on either side of the sink.
 I love the table - it was $75. It's sturdy. Adam will raise it a good bit and put castors and locks on it. He wants to wheel it into the middle of the kitchen and work dough on it. He may add a shelf underneath too.
 I couldn't fit a massive step-back sideboard affair in this space. But I found this, for $150. Here is the bottom:
 And this is the top of it, which we can't fit in there yet ... until we remove the upper kitchen cabinets too.
 Adam worked very hard constructing a box surround for the sink out of plywood. I stained and sealed it. This is the kitchen thus far:
 I know some of you are sitting in front of your screens scratching your heads, thinking gently, "Really? She ripped out her kitchen ... for that?" And the answer is ... yes, I did. Because I want an old-fashioned rustic cabin kitchen, the kind they had before WW2, before houses in the U.S. became standardized, and all the cabinets and counters and appliances matched. This week I'll buy some lovely fabric and sew a pretty skirt to go around the sink bottom, which is the look I'm going for. Adam wants to make his own concrete sink, perhaps, so this may be a temporary sink -- a few years. 
The other side of the kitchen has one cabinet, plus the corner counter. All small appliances will later be on shelves. All dishes will go on shelves on the sink side of the room, and all foodstuffs will be shelved on the stove side.
 We have done the hardest half, I think. But removing the upper cabinets, painting the walls, and putting up LOTS of open shelving, is no small task. Our ceilings are 10 feet tall, but in the kitchen, there's a "bump-out" of 27" over the cabinets on either side. 
 Those bump-outs are crucial to the entire redo. I want more storage space. I have dishes and items stored all over the house in closets and under beds, that I'd prefer to have in the kitchen. I hardly ever use them, but I want to keep them. Those top shelves will be perfect, and I'll keep a good fold-out stool in the kitchen to reach them.
I do believe you can store so much more on open shelves. The constraints of a cabinet are so frustrating. Why are the cereal boxes on top of the frig? Because they don't fit in a cabinet. Have you ever struggled with tall, long, or wide items that just don't work in a cabinet? On an open shelf, it can take up as much space as it needs. Adam will put up shelves to suit our kitchenware.

Today was 70 degrees. I wore flip flops and a farm skirt for the first time this year. It was lovely!
Daffodils and camellias are almost bursting forth! O Happy Almost-Spring!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Continuing the Kitchen

Well! If you've never redone your kitchen, you just don't know what chaos is, haha!
 But the good news is ... the floor is done. And it feels great and looks exactly as I wanted. It's somewhat dark, but I didn't want a light-stained wood that would show every speck of something.
 Most of the seams will be covered with either furniture or area rugs.
This morning Adam ripped out the sheet rock around the sink plumbing. It was nasty, if you recall.
 And he repaired it all with new, and mudded it in beautifully, I think! I'm quite proud of him. He's not a carpenter or contractor at all ... just a regular handy husband. But he's acquired many skills over the years.
 I painted all the baseboards with Kilz, out in the garage.
Then I stained this piece of oak plywood, which will become two pieces of countertop on either side of the oven.
 Here's one, partway finished:
This is the only kitchen cabinet we're keeping.
It was new when we moved in.
 The other will go on top of this space -- Adam is framing it in and will box it with sheet rock. It will enclose the A/C intake. We don't use the central A/C unit anymore, but it still needs to be left there in case some other owner in the future wants it.
That spot will be for our cookbooks, and a charging station for cell phones, etc. I want a small stool right there in front of it, so I can sit and chat with Adam as he cooks all that 'lishus food!

I must say, we are worn out ... well, Adam is truly worn out from all the labor, and I'm worn out from having everything turned upside down in the house. 

Next up: painting the walls with Kilz, purchasing the furniture we want, and (I think) starting on the wall shelving.

BTW, I finished Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith. It was okay, but I don't think I'll read anymore from the Dalhousie series, set in Scotland. I much preferred the series set in Botswana. I read the first one, The Ladies #1 Detective Agency. Yesterday I found a TV series made of it (!!!! - so excited!!!) on youtube:

Monday, February 5, 2018


It's February, and if we don't get some things done now, they won't get done until Who Knows When. We have well and truly launched into the kitchen gutting. Today Adam got all the way down to the floor.
 Those cabinets had to go. Underneath them was, I believe, the Great Mouse Hang-out in this part of the county.
 This is the kind of cabinet bottom we were living with. No more!
 And the plumbing! This was certainly Mouse Grand Entrance! Adam will move the sink plumbing so it comes up through the floor, and replace the dry wall panel there.
 Our new floor will be sanded plywood. Not fancy ... I know ... but I don't want a fancy kitchen ... At All. I want something that looks like wood. 

Adam put down four pieces. It feels so solid and good. I will stain it and put down 3 coats of polyurethane.

In other news, we have an apartment building on our property! Bird apartments, that is.
 We bought a Martin House for Valentine's Day, for us. Martins eat mosquitoes, so we hope for fewer bug bites this summer around the house.
 For our lovely, cozy SuperBowl Party, Adam made a delicious cheese dish with mozzarella, cream cheese, peppers, and round steak. 
 It was bubbly and fabulous, and we ate it on bread.
 Because our T.V. died, and we don't have cable, etc., we decided to watch SuperBowl X (1976): Dallas vs. Pittsburgh. It was fun and hilarious. I love old-school football.

My spinning is really coming along. I'm getting the hang of it and can spin a fairly consistent yarn single. I love combing and dizzing fleece, which is essential if I don't want to pay a fortune for roving online.
 It's good to know that, once I got my skill level up, the wheel itself works well. There has been, however, a good bit of "operator error," as they say.

Trixie is growing up and becoming a good girl. She's pretty snoozy in the evenings.
I'll share more kitchen redo photos as it comes along, especially when the floor is stained. See ya later!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Yarn Adventures

Well! Yarn-making has been taking up my life the last few days. I made these:
I already posted about the green/white yarn that my spinning friend helped me make. (I mean, she really helped me, as in, I could not have done it alone.)

The brown and white yarn I plied yesterday. To ply yarn means to take two strands of yarn that you've already spun, and then spin them together. It's tricky, because twist -- which is what you're doing to your yarn when you spin it -- is essential for yarn-making, but it's also the spinner's bane. Twist makes tangles. Twist makes your yarns become embroiled with one another. Twist is a headache.
This brown/white two-ply yarn is simply white alpaca and brown alpaca, plied together. Does it look like a mess? It is.
I mentioned that the brown alpaca fiber, lovely as it is (and it's truly gorgeous, deep brown) was dirty. To be specific, it had mouse poop in it. The bags of fleece were stored in a barn, so that's not surprising. Undaunted by mouse poop, I cleaned it, and picked out the poop ... one little poop pellet at a time.
The bag of brown fleece. There the mouse pooped, and there he died.
For my first batch of brown fleece, I grabbed a bunch of it from the bag and proceeded to wash it. I'm glad I didn't grab anymore, because the mouse -- dead and desiccated -- was right there! Ugh. Adam removed him. I will use the fleece, cleaning more than before. It's a huge amount of fleece, and worth a lot of money to me. The staple length (how long the strands of fleece are) is short, but it's worth the bother because it's so beautiful.

I still had some white alpaca yarn I'd made first. What to do with it? I plied it together, this time making my own "lazy kate," a device to help you unwind two (or more) balls of yarn simultaneously. Here's mine:
It's a shoebox with two knitting needles through it, held with wine corks on the ends. Put the two balls of yarn on the needles, and let them freely unwind together. This was so helpful! I set the box at my feet as I sat at the spinning wheel, plying the two white yarns together onto my wheel's bobbin -- kind of like spinning it again. I had to turn the wheel in the opposite direction from the direction I used when spinning the 2 yarns originally. That way, the twist of the plying off-sets the twist of the original spinning, and the yarn will drape straight, and will knit or weave without twisting my work around.
Then I dyed the white alpaca yarn in a turmeric bath.
And it came out this pretty color:
 I know very little about natural dying. I soaked the yarn first in warm water with washing soda, salt, and baking soda in it, hoping those would work as a fixative to help the color stay. I gently squeezed it out, and placed it into the dye, letting it soak. 
I squeezed the dye water out, but did not rinse the yarn. I want to use the three together to knit a loose scarf. 

Oh - and so you know I'm still working, I did a little painting this morning while watching youtube videos about natural dying.
I thought this family was very fun, and the son was interesting to watch, doing his kitchen science: