Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More is Less . . .

In trying to figure out how to eat what I like (ice cream) but not eat too much - I have discovered that adding toppings to my treat makes me fuller and less likely to have another couple of scoops! I like to add berries for sweet/sour and fiber and salted peanuts for protein and salt. Makes for a very tasty ending to the day - and I feel more satisfied after eating! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Medicine (and more) Closet Revamp

We all have one of those closets which are visited by small gnomes during the night and "rearranged". Mine is the hallway closet where almost everything goes. It needs to be worked on every 6 months - I have definitely lapsed and who knows how long it's been!  Here are before and afters of the afternoon I dedicated to working on it. I found, as with most household clearing and cleaning projects, the more you remove from the premises the better your final outcome!

The bottom two shelves had actually started to fall down - and we could barely yank sheets out! I ended up donating sheets, towels and bath mats that I was not going to use anymore. Top sheets which I have recently stopped using - but was not sure I really wanted to get rid of - I moved downstairs to another closet dedicated to all sheets and towels.

What was I going to do with all these travel/plastic bags?? I consolidated and used lots of old tupperware containers to better organize the closet. I tried to put things that the kids should have easy access to like bandaids and towels within reach and other items like lice combs and epi-pens higher up! Somehow I did not end up with the picture of the trash bag I threw out! WooHoo. Simplicity!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Complete Kitchen Before/After!

Here's a complete collection of comparative pictures.  All the "pre-renovation" shots feature our green cabinetry.  Fun!
The first grouping is for the range wall and the wall that contains the refrigerator.  The fridge actually stuck out into the kitchen so much that it blocked access to the drawer and cabinet at one side.  Not a good feature! 
Also, we had the recessed cabinets above the fridge that are completely useless because they are quite difficult to access.  The countertop you see in the near left holds a yellow coffee cup.  That wall (and its corresponding counter and cabinet) will be removed.

Now, here's the same wall.  We were able to gain a bit more space because we eliminated the corner cabinet along the left side.

The next series of shots shows the kitchen from the other side, which is the entrance to our basement.  You can see through to the wall on the right that eventually is removed, and on to the dining area beyond.  The left side of this wall is the rear wall, which looks out to the backyard.  This wall is totally transformed by a wall of windows.  We moved the exterior door.  The sink placement is roughly the same.

Now, we are in the dining room.  The left wall is mostly eliminated during the renovation.  The sliding glass doors are also eliminated.  The window wall takes the place of the sliders and the other window to its left.

Below, you can see the wall completely exposed, with the old sliding glass doors.  The wall on the near left (with cords hanging out) is the old chalkboard wall.  It was mostly removed, but what remained we painted with chalkboard paint to the ceiling.  Then, in the next picture, you see the completed product with the window wall.  We love it!


We had the wood floors extended from the old dining room area in to the new kitchen.  It makes everything flow really nicely.

Love this new view!  You can see where the new exterior door takes the place of the old window, and the entrance to the basement stays the same.  By clustering the doors together in the corner of the room, we've been able to alter traffic patterns and make the whole space work much better for our family.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Frothy Coffee Drink

My sister and I created a fun afternoon coffee drink today! We have been experimenting with my parent's new Vitamix - and this one is a keeper! We made fresh coffee - let it cool, then mixed two cups of it it in the Vitamix with 1/3 cup condensed milk and 2 cups ice. Give it a whirl and you get a great cool drink.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Taking Time to Enjoy The Summer

This seems like an obvious thing to do - who doesn't enjoy the summer? But with lots of family time, kids under your feet ALL DAY LONG, heat, scheduling craziness, vacations to prepare for and recover from - it is some times hard to stop and enjoy. We hope you are finding the time to slow down and breathe.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Ktchen Renovation :: Week 5!

We've just been back from our time away, and our contractors used those weeks wisely.  We are now happily using the kitchen and enjoying every minute of it!  The following photos show the progress made during the final week of renovation.  We started the renovation on July 7, and did lots of reconfiguring, but we didn't add any extra square footage to the kitchen/dining area.  I'll be blogging next week with a full "before/after" comparison.  I love that stuff, and it's so fun to do with my own kitchen!

The first picture shows the new refrigerator with floor-to-ceiling pantry along the left side.  You can also see the entrance to the steps that lead to the basement.  (That remains in the same position as pre-renovation.)

Now you are looking at the opposite side of the kitchen from the basement entrance.  This showcases the main change the space  The window wall you see on the left faces out to our back deck and treed lot.  It takes the place of an old sliding glass door.  By removing the door, we were able to extend our lower cabinetry to the corner of the room.  The window on the right was simply updated to match with the new back windows.

This is the range and upper cabinets, before the hood was added.  This is the day the countertops went in.  We love these!  They are quartz countertops, made by Cambria USA.  Our design is called Torquay.

Now you can see how the countertops work under the window wall.  We also went with white subway tile, in an elongated shape.  These are 2x8 inches.  They have an irregular edge, which is accentuated by a very light grey grout.  Remember all my concerns about choosing the right grout?  I'm very happy with this choice. 

Below you can see the range wall, with hood and backsplash installed.  We ran the same color from the living room through the kitchen.  It's Concord Ivory by Benjamin Moore, part of their Historical Colors palette.  In this picture, you can also see a slice of our chalkboard wall.  We used to have it on this wall that separated the kitchen from the dining room, and we all used it.  So we decided to keep it and we love the punch of black!

Below is a nice vantage point across the gorgeous expanse of countertop.  You can also see the fun pendants we specified for the project.  They are the globe pendants from West Elm.  We've gotten so many compliments on them.  This shot also shows the new exterior door.  This allows for access to our deck, and it makes sense to group the doors together.  Plenty of clearance for in-and-out traffic.

I like the chimney stack style hood.  We specifically didn't want the microwave hood, as we'd heard that they aren't that efficient.  I briefly toyed with the idea of a microwave drawer to be embedded in the lower cabinetry, but that made me a little leery with the kids.  Custom cutouts in the upper cabinets is the perfect solution.  What to put in the cubby on the right?  Cookbooks?  Fun nesting mixing bowls?

Thanks for reading!   I'll have a full "before/after" comparison next week.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Kitchen Renovation :: Final Sneak Peek!

Back from vacation to a brand-new kitchen!  What's better than that?  Stop in Friday for more pictures.