The kitchen en route

Oh my gosh, we are SO close! The electrician is here as I type, furiously demolishing the octopus of wires that carries from the basement through the kitchen and every other nook and cranny of our home. Did I tell you we are a getting an upgrade to the main panel? Apparently a necessity for a modern kitchen in a 1922 house. At first I was bummed, you know, on account of it costs a lot of money, but now I'm kind of psyched. It's a clean slate for our little bungalow, a pure cleansing.

Once the electrician is done roughing in, we wait for inspections (which I anticipate being a breeze, yes I do). Know what comes next? Insulation followed by sheetrock, then FLOORS, then cabinets, then final electric and then, only a year in the making... our finished kitchen. Oh. what. bliss.

As such, I figure now is a great time to fill you in on what exactly are the plans for this most important space. It's all mapped out, purchased and piled high in the dining room. We are going with an Ikea kitchen, as so many in our demographic seem to do. Why is that? Well for me, not only is price appealing, but I appreciate being able to design my kitchen online, in my own time, with no pressure and no one breathing down my neck. I've read so many good reviews of the cabinets themselves, seen them used on Sarah's House and the like, and that gave me confidence in the quality. I love the hardware, storage options and most important, the look. It's a win win.

The goal is to achieve an affordable, stylish, out-of-the-box kitchen then disguise its mass production with use of memorable details. I spent a lot of time prowling design blogs and local real estate listings, looking for inspiration and for what's hot in my area. I'm also relying heavily on my design gut. My mood board:

1. Lighting
A single pendant for over the sink and two flush mounts for the ceiling, all hard-wired fluorescent. Purchased from Schoolhouse Electric and delivered Christmas Eve.

2. Backsplash
This is my dream, part of the new Dwell patterns from Heath Ceramics. We will be saving up for this. I love that Heath is a local resource and want very much to support that.

3. Countertop
We went with a Caesarstone countertop purchased through Ikea as part of their annual sale. The color we chose is called Raven. My dream was soapstone, funny how having a baby changes your priorities. But I think this look is similar. 

4. Wall color
I'm hoping to find the perfect shade of celery, with a hint of yellow. I had this in a kitchen in San Diego and loved it. It felt so fresh and went well with some of my retro accessories.

5. Cabinets
A white kitchen has been on my wish list for years, so Lidingo was a no-brainer. We will have a small bank of glass uppers above the dishwasher and the rest is solid.

6. Hardware
I'm not 100% on these, but it's a good option for now, it's the Lansa.

7. Flooring
Most excited about this! I've wanted wood floors all along and feared they were out of budget's reach. We did a little shopping around and were THIS close to buying up some clearance wood at Lumber Liquidators. Luckily, I mentioned this to one of my clients who talked me out of it. He had a floor guy and suggested I call him first. His name is Mario and he came over and offered up solid white oak at 2 1/4" wide, to be stained and sealed onsite with no-VOC poly, perfect for this pregnant lady. Not only will this blend well with the exisiting wood floors throughout, but it's quality. And surprisingly not that much more. Lesson learned, don't jump the gun!

8. Faucet
We have already purchased the Ringskar faucet and so far so good.

9. Sink
I hoped to find a non-Ikea farmhouse sink but the price of the Domsjo can not be beat. This sink is huge, we've actually been using it for months and I found I love it.

And now the floorplan. After we took down a wall, the final kitchen space is 12x18, minus a bump-in from a closet in the dining room, which the below does not show. Also I screwed up the size of that window above the sink, it is not squat like that:

This is the view from the back of the kitchen. The door and window in the front open up to the back addition and the two doors on the far wall go to the hallway and the dining room. I love the full pantries we are getting in either side of the fridge, both with pull-out drawers. That's a lot of storage, especially with a baby on the way! I plan to put my tulip knock-off in the corner under that window, kitty bowls to the left of the fridge.
I'm quite excited about that bank of glass-front uppers. It's an excuse for new dishes and the perfect outlet for my anal-retentive tendencies. The floor boards will actually go the other direction. The Ikea Planner is good, but not THAT good! See that strip of birch color in the corner? Drives me nuts.

We've been slowly scoring appliances from Sears for a while now. I like Black Friday and we got our Kenmore stove that way, it's stainless of course. The coordinating microwave, which will slide above the stove is from the outlet. I hope to get a fridge from there too, but am holding off until we have a place to put it! I received a used Bosch dishwasher from a carpenter friend who pulled it out of a house in Palo Alto. Apparently, the owners wanted one with hidden buttons so they replaced this practically new gem. Sweet!

And there you have it, our kitchen in a nutshell. I'm hoping this is done by the end of January. If I type it, will it come true? What I'm learning, or trying to learn during this reno process is that this stuff takes time, planning and patience. I'm proud of us for saving our pennies until we can afford a project, instead of jumping into a huge pile of debt. Yes, that means it takes longer, but when it's over, you own it. That's equity baby.

So while I while away the days our electric, drywall and flooring guys need to complete their tasks, these boxes are a welcome sight I don't mind tripping over or eating take-out on... the official countdown begins.


It may not be pretty

In the late winter of 2010, a young and naive couple stripped their basement of everything it had. It was a glorious time of destruction and promise. Alas, focus turned to spring and what could be had out of doors. The basement sat abandoned and alone, until the following winter rains forced the happy couple back inside.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, what is this some sort of fairy tale? Not in the least. This is reality and when those rains came, we were forced back to earth, with a loud and unforgiving thud. We stood up, wiped the dust off our pants and gave the basement, among other places, a solid look. It's now or never, honey.

Starting with those concrete walls. You might remember that when we removed the framed walls of the former, ahem, apartment, we found a good foot or so of dust which had crumbled from the surface of our 90-year old foundation. Multiple contractors had assured us this was purely cosmetic, that the parge coat had simply flaked off over time, as they are inclined to do. If it bothered us, we could resurface the walls ourselves. By the way, we feel confident that the foundation is indeed intact. We get no water down here, even with these heavy rains. Phew!

Of course, the pimply, moon-like surface of our walls did bother us. Especially since this basement is going to be Mike's studio. Maybe you haven't heard, but my husband lives in his studio, day and night. Even in our tiniest apartment, he holed up in that closet of a studio like a little hermit crab. I would like him to like it down there. This basement also houses our new, awesome laundry room (to be revealed at a later date, it is not ready for its closeup). So I would also like to like it down here.

Let's begin. I started my research of how-to with the internet, which of course made it look SO EASY, little did we know.

Supplies and tools
Quickrete's Quikwall Surface Bonding Cement, bags and bags
Water for mixing
Water bottle for keeping walls wet
Mixing tub
Various trowels
Cardboard to protect the floor

Being pregnant, I wasn't allowed downstairs during this dusty process. So really, Mike should probably be writing this. But through all the cussing, I think I managed to decipher the gist of resurfacing the moon, I mean, our basement walls. First off, it's messy! Second, finding the perfect consistency for the mixture takes some trial and error. And third, application takes longer than you think and is really hard on your wrists, which may require a massage once complete.

{The sludge all ready to go.}

The process is pretty much what you might imagine. Spray walls with water as you go, to aid adhesion. Load up trowel with mixture and push into wall, being sure to fill all crevices, then attempt to spread and smooth. Do this 8 million times until complete. Don't start a wall you can't finish that day, work all the way to a corner before you stop. This is also for adhesion. Adhesion is number one! Keep wall moist by spritzing frequently and allow to dry slowly, over quite a few days. We did this by spraying water on it every day and lucking out that we are in a basement that gets no sun. If the wall dries too quickly, it will crack and crumble making all this hard work null and void.

{West wall before. Yes, that is our tankless water heater that we LOVE.}

{West wall during}

 {West wall after. Oh look, it's Roosevelt! That explains the dusty pawprints...}

Now take a good look at this after. See the ledge and how it's wavy? This is nearly unavoidable, kids. Mike is a tedious, detail-oriented worker and he struggled to get even this amount of a straight line. Of course, he is currently being driven to madness due to this imperfection, there MUST be a solution! I happen to think the walls look amazing.

{South wall detail}

{South wall almost complete!}

I do apologize for the dark photos. As you can imagine, it's hard to get a decent shot with that kind of lighting. And um, don't mind about all those wires you see hanging everywhere! We are on it, electrician starts right after the holidays, permits and all. Once all the walls were smooth and allowed to dry over a week or so, Mike gave everything a coat of Drylock, for the heck of it really. That was followed by some nice, white, no-VOC, satin paint. We are far from finished down here, but this is quite the improvement. I think it calls for victory!


Back from hibernation

So I woke up at an ungodly hour this morning. What was it, 5:30? I laid in bed, pathetically tried to recapture some sleep, ultimately gave up. Still dark, I stumbled up and out, WOKE UP the cats to eat their shared can of chickens then poured myself a bowl of cereal. I flipped on my screen and thought, oh crap, I have a blog and haven't touched it in over 3 months!

How does one explain such a hiatus? Well, it's pretty simple, possibly even obvious. There's a baby going on over here, as in, we are pregnant! This is probably, no definitely, the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me (us). Even more so than buying a house, sorry house. I'm a ridiculous planner and having a baby has been on the agenda for quite some time. Sure, I figured we would have a kitchen... oh I don't know, maybe the basement wouldn't be a tangled mess of electricity, but sometimes it just doesn't work out like that. And here we are. Oh and this baby is a girl, she's due on Easter. And for the first three months, she kind of kicked my ass.

But today, even though I woke up crazy early, I slept great (thanks to my Snoogle and thanks to sweet Kate for providing me such Snoogle). And I feel great! And I'm a woman on a mission! We have big plans for big projects, and that includes updating this here blog. We haven't completely abandoned our home these last few months, er, at least Mike hasn't, I've been a real bump-on-a-log. He made good progress which I will document shortly. On the horizon:

Cabinets and counters have been ordered. Electrician is contracted and booked. Meeting with drywallers next week. Lighting and appliances to be purchased and flooring chosen.

basement studio
Again, electrician on board, drywaller on deck. Then paint the floors, give it a good scrub and Mike moves his whole art operation down there.

baby's room!
Need to clear out the "library," start thinking about furniture and decor. This is most exciting!

The list goes on and on... but this is a good start, no? During all these "big picture" renos, we also have one million + two littles. Such as today, I plan to finally paint the living room. No worries, no-VOCs over here!


A little half-assery

Remember that awesome wheelchair elevator that I bragged about? Yeah... turns out, it wasn't all that.

I found a buyer, a wheelchair elevator dealer of sorts, who promised me $1000, sight unseen. He showed up with a helper and a trailer, really, a nice guy. But one look at the lift and his response, "oh, it's older than I thought, and it's been painted" and dang it if I couldn't get it to work. But he said things were slow and wanted to have something for his guys to do so they could make some money. This lift would be a good project. So he generously gave me $200 and proceeded to remove it. Which left me with this:

Nice cone right? That's not dangerous at all, or hideous. So I put it on the When-We-Work-on-the-Front-of-the-House list, which I predicted would be this summer, ha! Weeks turn to months and I had pretty much put this out of my mind. Until it became the neighborhood jungle gym.

My street has lots of kids, under 10, with no where to play. And this open porch wall is awful enticing. Oh, it's good for games of chase when you run up the stairs, leap off the wall and hope you don't get tagged. Or practicing skateboard tricks. Or throwing a ball through, which of course slams into the metal security door (equally atrocious) and I think we're having an earthquake.

This had to stop. Against my core being, I became that adult completely annoyed by the sound of children laughing. Not because I don't think kids are great, but because I know it preceeds the sound of children crying, inevitable because somebody always gets hurt. The cone is useless.

I gave a couple half-hearted efforts at letting everyone know I did not approve. I got their names, I know where you live, I said. And once, I think I even managed to scare them! Oh, this does not make me like myself.

We have a quote from Bob to fix the wall, and I hope to do this in the next month or so. But for now, I needed a temporary solution. Plants! I've been looking for an excuse to buy horsetail, it's so modern, grows quickly, makes a great screen. I spent a couple days thinking I'd build a box. Then I got lazy and went to Ikea. I came across these decent galvanized pots and said, that'll do! I ended up with this:

Let's not even pretend okay? That's pretty lame. Maybe they'll fill in quickly? Or better yet, it's added motivation to get Bob over here and fix this thing. It's not a bust, I love the pots and the horsetail and have other places for these once it's all said and done. The best part, it works. Oh, I had a little crowd around me during installation. "What kinds of plants are those?" "Why are you putting that there?" And the little Eddie Haskell of the group, the ring leader, "can I help you lift it, Miss Tonya?"

Oh, I see right through you mister.


Starting what I can't finish

Sigh... I hate admitting that this summer has been a bust, house-progress-wise anyway. We've been bogged down with work work, you know, the kind you get paid for (supposedly). But the other day, I had a window, an overcast Saturday morning that I simply could. not. spend. at my computer.

I wanted some physical labor. A project that would shock the system. I'm not lying when I say 12 hours a day is spent in a chair, on a couch. I don't go to the gym. This house is my physical fitness! So I picked a project that's been on the to-do list since the beginning.

In theory, it doesn't sound all that hard and it's timing isn't critical so I knew I could start and not finish immediately. I'm talking about that little strip of weeds between my house and my neighbor. The goal: a level surface that grades away from the house and instead of weeds, there is a weed barrier covered in crushed granite, maybe some square pavers just for kicks.


See what I'm talking about? That doesn't look so bad. But those weeds get tall, and the neighboring cats, well, you can imagine. Besides all that, this area isn't flat. It's higher than the base of my house and is mounded the entire length. To help with drainage, it needs to be lowered and ideally graded towards the fence which has a nice concrete lip that could act as a guide for running water.

I busted out the weed whacker and gave it a go. That thing terrifies me, can I just say? A lot more than weeds come out of there and I swear I'm gonna lose an eye. I thought I was doing good in my boots, but glasses really should be worn too. Next time.

And then the hard part. Start digging. This ground is compact. Like, a lot. And it's full of debris; rocks, broken old pipe, bits of glass. I got no where fast.

And I got tired. And whiny.

And really hot. I quit.

Let's just call this Stage One. I may have covered 15% of this project, at best. Oh well. Mike wants in on it anyway. Just you wait, honey, this project is a killer!


Working on an herb garden

While the kitties entertain themselves...

{Orange chomps kitty grass first thing after breakfast}

{Roosevelt, taunted by the squirrel who casually plops nuts on his head, does nothing}

I have been toiling away at the neglected left side of the back yard. There we have a nice rectangular border which once housed some sad little rose bushes. Roses are lovely and all that, but not really my thing. Besides, I really want the back gardens to be hard-working and roses are just so... LEISURELY. So I gave them away. Literally, a post on craigslist was flooded with requests. In the end they were excavated by a landscape architect. How perfect.

What I want is an herb border. I want it for food. I want it because it smells amazing. I want it because this is California and it's what. we. do. It's just cool. And I want it to be a nice mix of herbs and decorative plants. Like papyrus:

I have wanted giant papyrus ever since I saw them during a photo shoot for work. They scream California to me (even though they are from Egypt). I suppose my fascination stems from being a midwestern import. The crazy prehistoric plants they have all around here are new to me. Other obsessions: giants ferns and black bamboo. Once I saw hedges made of geraniums. What?! In my hometown (Rockford, Illinois) geraniums are reserved for your grandmother's porch pot. NOT a hedge!

Anyway, I wanted papyrus and I wanted it to be the centerpiece of my herb border. Papyrus likes to sit in water. I do not have a pond, have no plans for a pond and I worried this might be an issue. The internet assured me I could grow it in pots, just no holes for drainage. Pots are best anyway because this plant is invasive, the same as bamboo. I set out for pots and found three amazing black plastic pots at Ikea, two large for papyrus and one small for mint (also invasive).

Then the deal of all deals, two giant papyrus for $14.99 each at Home Depot. I squealed. I had only seen this plant at boutique nurseries with hefty price tags. I snatched them up and wow, they are quite the showstoppers. People asked me about them as I walked to the register, people asked me about them as I walked to my Jeep. And people watched in humor as I set them in the back seat, sticking out the window. I laughed too.

They fit just right in my pots and I adorned them with two variations of potato vine, a purple and a vibrant green for color.

Then I could start to build the border. The papyrus took top position at two midpoints of the box. Mint was then placed in between but off-center. Some of my herbs are already nice little plants, including Mint, Thai Basil, Basil and Curled Parsley. Others I started from seed and they aren't quite ready for the ground:

Here we have Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Sage and Red Basil. I also started some Catnip for the kids. I chose my herbs somewhat based on usage and some for color. The garden can be a little bit leisurely, all work and no play makes a dull border!

While I was at it, I fancied up my hanging basket. The alyssum is supposed to be good for pest control and it smells fantastic.

Here it is, hard at work growing to disguise my old fence. What you can't see is the Kangaroo Paw to the left and what will be a giant fern all the way to the back. Oh my goodness, I love it. Papyrus is right out of a fantasy, a little bit of The Neverending Story here in my backyard


A garden update: those darned pests

While home improvements take a hiatus, our efforts are focused on maintaining the veggie garden. This is more work than I had imagined, but still rewarding and lovely and a pleasure. We are learning, no doubt about it, and what I thought would be a matter of water, grow, harvest, has turned into all out warfare. No, not with my favorite neighborhood squirrel! It's People vs. Bugs. Exhibit A:

That's my broccoli. What was once an adorable little baby, has grown into a pock-faced beast. First thing every morning I come out and inspect the bed, and when Mike wakes up I offer him my status report. On the arrival of these holes, I didn't even let him have coffee! We stood over the leaves scratching our heads, completely bumming.

The internet was our next step. I type in "who did this to my broccoli?!" and there I learn all about the Cabbage Looper. Growl... we head back to the leaves and start turning them over and well, what do you know, green caterpillars in various stages of development going to town.

Cabbage Loopers are common and really not that hard to control. You can literally pull them off and mush (Mike mushes, I carry them to the Green Bin for recycling). Or you can spray. We are opting for an all-organic garden so no pesticides allowed. Mike found a recipe for Garlic Fire Spray, whipped some up and we spray this nearly every day. Cabbage Loopers? Conquered.

The next invasion came in the form of Aphids, black and green. They began with the artichoke. On first site, my barf reflex kicked in. The base of the plant was covered in ants too, charming. This is an ongoing battle. They get the Garlic Fire Spray and repeated doses with the hose. It's amazing! If you can shoot them off the plant with a hose, apparently they die before they can make it back to the plant.

Back to holes. My beans! Now what?! The beans are the biggest failure. I think I bought bush beans instead of pole, because they never even reached the trellis before fading out. I don't know if it was the plant or the insect attack that lead to such a demise. But my attempts to save them were valiant. I was guessing it was slugs. We all know about the beer trick:

Not sure if they just don't like dark beers, are they the PBR type? But no one has landed here (see the weakened beans in the background?).

Next up was copper tape. Expensive business but I'll stop at nothing to save my beans! Copper tape is all science. A chemical reaction occurs if slugs or snails try to cross. It would be a suicide mission and they determine the beans aren't worth it. Of course, we ran out of tape before we could completely surround the box. A friend suggested we round it out with pennies. I hugged her for her genius!

In the end, after Loopers, Aphids and slugs, I relocated what was left of the beans to a pot. I planted seeds for new POLE beans as well as some pod peas for variety, both have promised to use the trellis. And the rest of the garden is moving right along. We've even had a small harvest!

We are loving the Romaine and are down to three bunches. We've also been harvesting spinach, Mike made a dip. Beets, carrots, onions and lettuce are troopers. We have red peppers on the way!

Why are they green? This was a matter of great concern so I looked it up. Oh, they start green and turn red. Phew!

Squash has finally taken over the ugly pot. It has aphids, I'm working on it. But its got crops!

Not sure what's going on with my Earthbox. Cherry tomatoes are insane, but what's up with the sandwich ones? It's not dead though and there are tomatoes on it. Just weird I guess.

All in all, things are doing well here. We have learned a lot and next year will probably be better. But still, this is fun. And we've actually made food! That you can eat! The yard is such a refreshing place to be. We have butterflies, bees, it's starting to smell good. It's our little oasis in the busy, busy city.


Give Table

The past few weeks have been a killer. Lots of work (not complaining) has left little time for anything else. All work and no play, that's me! Not always, just lately. And when I work sun up to sun down for days in a row, I get annoyed. I act put-upon and sometimes I forget to wash my hair (I work from home so this is totally ALLOWED). Anyway, this past Tuesday was a big day with a big deadline. I stressed and worried and worked and in the end, I conquered.

Post victory, I settled in for a little craigslist browse, something mindless to begin my decompression. I always start in the Free section because you never know...

Title: Give Table
Reaction: Interesting wording. Ah, pic included. click!

The ad was quick to the point, some dimensions followed by two blurry photos of two tables. One, an 80's bore. The other, excuse me, some sort of Saarinen-style tulip table? Say what?

I gasp, nearly jump from my seat. Do I need this? I must, it's FREE. Hmm, size is nice. 30" diameter x 28" tall. I bust out the tape measure and check my kitchen table. Looky there, 28" tall. I wrote the author to ask if it was still around. She said yes, please come get it right away!

Now, I just mentioned how much I love my farm table. And I do, I really do! But in working out kitchen layouts I'm having a hard time fitting it in. It's another rectangle in a sea of rectangles, and I was just at the beginning of considering something round for the space. I do have other ideas for my farm table, so... my feelings of guilt are minimal.

We hopped in the Jeep and headed out to Lafayette. During the drive, some time was spent pondering whether the table could actually be authentic. I was totally kidding myself, but man, what a score that would be! We knocked on the door and the cutest French girl let us in. There was our new table, in all its free glory. It's got stains, a chip, some rust. But that silhouette is to die. Don't you agree?

We got it home and I couldn't be happier. It's just the sweetest little thing and is going to be perfect in a kitchen nook. Apartment Therapy has a post where someone had an identical base repainted at an Oakland shop. This is a great option for down the road. For now, I'll just clean it up a bit.

A couple of tiny succulents on top and I've completely forgotten about my deadlines...


Skinny legs and all

Oh the kitchen. Probably the most important room in the house and ours is destroyed! One thing I've learned about us during this process, we like to tear stuff down. It feels good. It feels successful. The catch though, what to do next!

We are first-timers after all. I've never built a kitchen. But I do have a very distinct idea of what I want this kitchen to be: all white cabinets (since eternity I've wanted this) with dark countertops, a black center island with two turned legs and industrial stools. I want dark stained wood floors (against the better judgment of nearly every contractor I've met) and a sliding barn door to the back studio would be keen. I'd like to incorporate my old farm table. I want a backsplash made from Heath tiles and an entire wall covered in chalkboard paint. How about a sun tunnel? Better lighting is a must of course, likely some recessed, plus pendants from Schoolhouse. Stainless appliances are a no-brainer. There there's a new window... I entered a raffle at the Temescal Fair, cross your fingers!

Okay Tonya, time to climb off that cloud. Those are all fantastic dreams, fantastical really considering the current state of our wallets. Termites and all that, expensive. But while we recoup funds for this kitchen makeover, we decided to finish demo so that when the time comes, we're ready. Anything we can do ourselves, we do.

{my beloved farm table, you will have a place here!}

This being the old house it is, our walls are plaster and lathe. Which is charming in its own lumpy way, but some of it had to go. In certain areas it was literally falling from the wall in massive chunks, namely behind the old washer/dryer. So down it went.

The house lacks insulation on all exterior walls. When we repaired the fireplace wall in the living room, we added insulation. Not only does it warm up the place but it also helps cut noise from the street. Value! Anyway, I figured since this kitchen is a gut, might as well take the exterior wall down to studs too. You learn so much about your house doing this. We found both windows were wider and taller. The door to the back studio (which used to lead outside before the addition) was also wider, or maybe it had a window panel down its side.

 {exterior wall, to the right of the fridge is our pantry}

The kitchen had a double-bowl stainless sink that worked fine. We thought we'd be able to demo around it and prop it up with a couple 2x4s. Ha! The ignorance... of course it came crashing to the ground. So we took this opportunity to buy our first cabinet and dream sink. I've been pricing about town and like so many of us, landed on Ikea. We're going with Lidingo for the most part (intend to customize somehow, mix it up a bit) and the Domsjo sink can't be beat. To help support the sink and give us more liveable space (I expect we're going to be in this state quite a while) I built a couple makeshift countertops. It's simple 2x4s, MDF and particle board. Both counters cost about $50 with paint. Mike wasn't a believer and I'm still trying to prove this was worth it. I figure when it's all said and done, my fake counters will make the perfect worktable in the garage.

{DIY build on the fly. Its function: support the sink and provide valuable workspace}

 {view up the steps from the "back studio", that's fancy talk for addition, and "addition" is fancy talk for porch with walls.}

There are two vents for a stove. The one hanging out of the ceiling is current, but the behemoth behind is from the olden days. Still not sure if we plan to remove it, it really isn't in the way. Right next to it is a little built-in cabinet we plan to keep, either as a broom closet or giant spice rack. The drywall on the right is the back of a closet in the dining room. The left wall is repairable, just uneven from poorly done patches. Can you picture the entire span of that wall as a chalkboard? I can...

{opposite view walking in from the dining room}

Ugh, those floors and that ceiling! The ceiling is a nightmare. I need to call in reinforcements. There is drywall on top of plaster in SOME spots, plus that header from the wall we took out, plus that entrance to the attic is getting moved to the hallway. It's going to take a lot of work to level it out, a project for the pros. I want to swap out that door for a sliding barn door, in a vibrant color maybe? Still no verdict on that window. I need the light big time so I don't want to wall it in necessarily.

I wanted to leave you with something pretty. The window above the sink gets crazy light, so it's lined up with plants that currently have no where else to go. Adorable, yes?

So there you have it. Our little kitchen, skinny legs and all. We still don't have a stove, we still use the old basement refrigerator. But we're actually enjoying the log cabin feel of our exposed skeleton. Don't worry kitchen, we have big plans for you...


A garden update

It was my intention that my next post would regard something inside the house. But truthfully, not much progress has been made on any of our indoor projects. I just can't wrap my head around demoing kitchen walls knowing their is such sunshine and fresh air going on. You understand.

The garden is a haven of activity! There is progress every single day, it's amazing. I forgot how rewarding a garden can be. and relaxing. and simple. It's my therapy. Let's see how the seeds are doing...

First up was broccoli, something I've never grown before. The mirror-image leaves are precious!

Then carrots! I have lots of experience with these guys thanks to mom.

The beets are the prettiest. That red line is so rich. Everyone else has popped up as well (these pics are actually a couple weeks old). We're almost ready for thinning. Conceptually, thinning makes me sad. I hate to destroy all those babies! Nature is a cruel beast.

My seedlings are booming! Here's the romaine. I was worried about these at first because they just wanted to lay down. I propped them up every morning. But now, they stand all on their own. Doesn't it look like they are waving? What a happy lettuce!

My yellow squash is about three times the size. I can't wait until it starts pouring over the side of this somewhat-ugly pot. The rest I'll save to show you when the garden is bursting. Every day is more and more green...

I want to keep this garden completely chemical-free. I found Dr. Earth at my local nursery. Phew, this stuff is stinky! We also found some aphids on the artichoke yesterday, ew. I'm thinking they came home with me since I bought that plant at the drugstore, impulse purchase. But Mike gave them a dose of Organocide and today they are gone.

I want to leave you with a couple backyard details. These are all things that make me happy...

Our Ikea patio set in place. See my little lanterns hanging from the pergola? They were a HomeGoods find, perfect for citronella tealights. This is the ideal spot for lazy afternoons with friends. That's a potted Kangaroo Paw in the foreground. I scored two of these at Target a while ago, am completely obsessed.

This little bird feeder has provided hours of entertainment, not only for the kitties, but for the two squirrels that live in my neighbor's tree. Oh yeah, a handful of birds too.

Of course, no American backyard is complete without a grill. We bought the biggest Weber they make. Somewhat overkill for just us two, but it absolutely completes the vision.

Here's sort of a patchwork of the whole space from the view of the sliding door. See that long empty bed on the left, I'm thinking this will be a border of ferns and herbs. The dirt is all prepped and ready to go. On the far right you can see our two citrus trees, a lemon and an orange. They have a funny history I will tell you about later. Can you spot the two feline beasties patrolling the grounds?