Our Kitchen is Gross

So we bought our house this fall. We love the location, we love the homey feel of the house, and we love the neighbors. What we don’t love is the look of the house itself. It’s a ranch house that was built in the 60s. The exterior is actually pretty okay. But the interior… yikes. There is wood paneling, rust-colored laminate flooring, and lots and lots of oak.

Apparently wood trim (baseboards, doors, railings, etc.) is a thing here in Wisconsin. Most of the houses we looked at when we were buying, both online and in person, were chock-full of wood. Wood everywhere. It feels so dark and grim to me. I like bright, white, clean, and crisp. Wood can be pretty sometimes, but wow, it’s overwhelming to me.

So my kitchen. Let me tell you about my kitchen.

  • Cabinets: Oak with tiny round white knobs, very flimsy-feeling, and noisy as heck
  • Flooring: Rust-colored laminate made to look like terra-cotta tiles with super dark grayish brown “grout” in between
  • Appliances: Older than me– literally, mismatched
  • Countertops: Gray
  • Wall color: Formula-fed-baby poop
  • Layout: Terrible, closed-in, dark

Here are a few pictures to help you visualize the madness. Comments below each picture.

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This is the pantry/coat closet that greets you as you walk in from the garage. Here you can see a good representation of the floor and wall color.

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I have been doing dishes all morning. The dishwasher is full of clean dishes. The counters are full of clean dishes, too. The dishwasher has a towel stuffed underneath it because somehow the opening for the dishwasher is open to the freezing cold Wisconsin air. I’m totally keeping it real here, everyone. Oh, and that phantom light fixture is hovering there because we have a ghost in the kitchen and/or my phone case reflects light in weird ways.

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Here’s a really nice close look at the cabinets and their hardware. Geeee-rossssss.

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Haha, look at that tiny tiny microwave. And the oldest stove known to man, which is currently taken apart so I can wash the under-burner crumb/spill catcher bowl thingies. (I am certain they have a much more proper name than that.) Also, I swept the floor this morning. And then the kids ate breakfast. Oy, this is the life.

Ok, so here are my thoughts.

First, I would love to rip everything out, tear down some walls, and start over. Gotta save the dollaz for that. So, we will be doing some small stuff and some not-so-small stuff in the interim. I think we’ll go in a couple of phases.

Phase 1 (2017)

  • Paint all the wood stuff white and replace the hardware
  • Replace the shelf and drawer liners with something that’s not fifty years old
  • Paint the baby poop walls a light, warm greyish taupe
  • Replace the crazy faux-brick backsplash with something pretty and shiny to reflect a bit more light
  • Figure out why the dishwasher opening leaks frigid air and fix that problem
  • Replace the ceiling fan that is in the eat-in area of the kitchen

Phase 2 (2018-2020)

  • Cut out that low-hanging header from which the cabinets are suspended– it serves absolutely no purpose except to make the cabinets lower and closer to the countertops, so the work space is super cramped
  • Replace the sink and fixtures so I have more than 12 inches between the faucet and the bottom of the sink (the current setup makes washing large bowls and pots very difficult– it’s like Sink Tetris, y’all)
  • Replace the appliances

Phase 3 (sometime around 2025?)

  • Reconfigure the layout
  • Replace flooring, cabinets, etc.
  • Basically rip it out and start over (WOO!)

I plan to start washing all the wood stuff with TSP this week. Gotta start somewhere. Clean surfaces really help. 🙂

I’ll keep you updated every now and then.

Garden: 2013- Front Yard Transformation

 

We are pleased to announce that we are almost ready to plant some seeds and get underway!

Jonathan spent the majority of last weekend hauling rocks. (Why is it that our gardening ventures ALWAYS involve clearing huge amounts of 1″ granite?) We now have double the garden space we had last year, and the front of the house looks somewhat finished. I’ll address the front in this post and get to the garden deets in another one soon.

We live in a rented house. (We are debt-free and intend to stay that way. We will be living here- in this city- for about 3 more years, but after that we aren’t sure we want to stay here. So we rent. No need to buy a house only to have to turn around and try to sell it again.) The street we live in bends right after our house, and the lot across from ours and right next to ours (the “elbow pit” and the “funny bone” part of the road) are vacant. Since we live in deserty-prairie-wilderness, there are a lot of tumbleweeds, prairie grasses, cacti, and dirt all around. Nothing pretty. And that was our entire front yard, except for the little split-rail fence that surrounds part of the area, along with a spruce tree and two bushes that are pretty darn ugly (and dying). We have a brick patio with a rose bush and a cement walkway with a little planter next to the house. The planter has a miniature rose bush and two baby holly bushes surrounded by brown mulch. Beyond that, the front yard was horrifyingly ugly.

And the pokies! Since, like, nothing normal or lovely grows out there, we were overjoyed to find some pretty yellow flowers sprouting last summer. Let me tell you, the flowers are deceptive as all get-out. We let them proliferate because we thought they were mild and pretty and we were excited to have something other than brown foot-high grass to look at while we pushed Hula Girl on the swing. Big mistake. Have you ever seen those burrs called goat heads? Check these things out. Make sure you scroll down to see what they look like when they get all dry and stick into your shoes. We always remove our shoes when we come inside, but not all our guests do. And that is what sticks our toddler’s heels on a regular basis. Nice, huh?

All that to say, Jonathan moved a lot of rocks. He took the rocks out of the back yard and covered all that deserty-prairie-wilderness area that is designated by the shoddy old split-rail almost-fence. He put underlayment in a few areas, but we’re mostly going to just have to get out there and pull all the weeds every other day or so. That’s fine. I plan to spend my entire life outside this summer. No joke.

So our front yard looks really nice. Jonathan edged the mini granite chunks with large white sandstone-type rocks that are just laying all around in the field next to our house. He also made a giant obstacle out of some old driftwood in the area that the neighborhood boys like to run through (it’s SO annoying when they run down our walkway and under our patio area during Hula Girl’s nap and wake her up because they’re squirting their water guns at each other right under her crib- like, seriously, kids? Didn’t your moms ever teach you to stay out of your neighbors’ yards and front entryways?!!?). We actually kept one large rectangle open and surrounded that area with tulip and daffodil bulbs, which are now pushing up. We plan to grow mint there; we’re also going to throw down some wildflower mix. It will be pretty- wild crazy mint and wildflowers. Yeah!

The front yard care this summer will include:

  • pulling weeds in the rock area
  • watering the mint/wildflower area
  • re-mulching and adding compost to the rose and holly bushes
  • watering the aforementioned bushes
  • trimming and/or replacing the terribly ugly evergreen bushes that are half-dead
  • watering aforementioned bushes
  • cleaning all the trash out from under the spruce tree (we live in the windiest part of the world, and ALL the neighborhood trash cans empty themselves into our yard every trash day)
  • trimming the tree
  • watering the tree
  • tending the garden box that lives out front- preparing the soil, planting, mulching, watering, weeding, etc.

We are going to have SO much fun. 🙂 (And I’m not joking!)

Nice Days and 2012’s Summer Garden!

I skipped posting yesterday because my mom came to visit us for the day. Hula Girl couldn’t have been happier to have her Grammy here. We went to the park in the morning (it was 65 degrees and beautiful outside!) then we came home for lunch, and Hula Girl took her nap. After she woke from her nap, she and Grammy played “golf” with Hula Girl’s toy broom and some small balls we have around the house. Oh yes, that was a screaming-laughter kind of good time. 🙂

Today is another gorgeous day, but it’s so windy! Faithful readers (all three of you, haha!) know that it’s pretty much always windy here. I am getting concerned that it will be super windy this summer. That will mean less fun out in the backyard. I mean, Hula Girl won’t be able to play happily in her sandbox if the wind keeps blowing sand in her eyes. It will also be bad for our lawn and garden- we’ll definitely have to install a drip-system for our garden so the water doesn’t evaporate as soon as it leaves the hose.

Jonathan raked/shoveled away about 400 square feet of rock in our backyard this weekend to clear the patch for our lawn, and he’ll also have to rake/shovel another 400ish square feet of rock so our garden can have a place to grow. Our landlord agreed to pay for sod so that Hula Girl can play in grass this summer. It will be nice for her, because we’ll have a lot available outside. We’ll have the baby pool, sand box, grassy area, basketball hoop, picnic table, slide, lawn mower, wheelbarrow, hula hoops, balls, chalk, and wagon in the backyard. I am even planning on giving her a tiny patch of space in the garden and letting her grow something there (with a lot of help from me). I am excited that she’ll have a grassy area to roll around in, and that we can set out blankets to have a picnic. It will be nice when the backyard is not just a rocky expanse. I totally understand the point of it where we live- I mean, cacti grow here really well, so I’m betting grass will consume a lot of water and fertilizer. But it will be totally worth it when we can go barefoot in the grass and run through the sprinkler!

And yes, we’ve decided to have a garden again this year. We’re going to be scaling back as far as size, but we’re really doing a lot of research about our soil and all the additives we’ll need to use. We’re planning to rent/borrow a rototiller to get that extra compost/fertilizer down deep before we plant, and we’re going to install a drip-system so we can water better. We’re also going to be using mulch to cover the ground and there will be two sections of garden that we’ll cover with a trellis or netting so they’ll be partially shaded. I think last year’s garden would have had much more success for us if we had provided a bit more shade, a bit more compost, and a LOT better watering. It just gets too hot here to rely on the twice-a-day sprinkler-style watering. Things sure sizzle around here; the mulch should really help provide some insulation.I also think the mulch will come in handy when we have our monster thunderstorms. Less erosion=happier garden.

We have not sat down and decided exactly what things we’ll be planting this year, but I’m sure of a couple of items: strawberries, tomatoes, basil, sweet peas, green beans, zucchini and summer squash. Provided that we have space and that Jonathan agrees, I’d also like to do some lettuce, broccoli, kale, green onions, watermelon, cantaloupe, and pumpkins. I’m thinking we could even do the large squash and melon plants out in the front yard. Maybe we’ll put in a few raised beds out there. We have a lot of bare ground in front of our house, and it gets sun all day long. Great place for squashes and melons!

I’m also considering putting some native plants in the front of the house. I looked up a few grasses and flowers that are suitable for this environment (aside from cactus varieties), and there are quite a few options. I have started calling garden centers in the area, but no one has any good leads so far. You’d think that in this harsh environment, where it’s ridiculous to think of growing pretty much anything, native plants would be wanted. But apparently everyone loves those pansies. And petunias. Silly.

Oh, and I’m also going to do a vertical herb garden with a cheap over-the-door shoe holder. We have a nice spot that gets lots of morning sun and afternoon shade, and relatively little wind on the balcony outside our bedroom. I’ll be doing simple herbs there like mint, catnip (for Riley), wheat grass (also for Riley), basil, oregano, etc. The nice thing about it is that cats and other animals can’t get to it, and it will be fun to look at some fresh greenery every morning when I go outside to do my Bible study before I get Hula Girl. Maybe I’ll even throw in a few flowers, just to pretty it up a bit! 🙂

I will be doing a lot more garden research in the next week, and we plan to start some seedlings next weekend. I am beyond excited for that! Any gardening tips and/or plans of your own? Share, share!

 

Monday Blue

I’m talking the color, not the mood.

Today is a great day so far! For me, at least. Hula Girl has had a rough day- I think she’s getting tooth #8 right now. She got tooth #7 last Monday, and when she got her first two teeth, they came about a week apart, so I’m figuring she’ll pop it through pretty soon here. In the meantime, we’re keeping the makers of cold teethers in business.

But back to the greatness! Blue. It’s a lovely color, right? I sure think so. Today has been filled with lots of blue things which have made me very happy.

Blue #1- The pool. Yup, we went swimming again. Hula Girl had on her life vest this time, which was really fun because she could float farther away from me. She got to kickin’ and splashin’ like Shamu. And I didn’t have to get it all in my eyes!

Blue #2- Paint colors. Ahhhhhh, paint colors. Why, you ask? Wellllllll…. I am finally going to start my nightstands and headboard! Remember this post, where I put up pictures of those delightful little nightstands? I also called the headboard ugly. I am happy to announce that I am finally going to get down to business and get those little beauties done up right. My plan is to use white for the main body of the nightstands and the frame of the headboard, and then to use a robin’s egg blue, as seen in this post, for the accents. I will be painting a chevron pattern or stenciling an Ikkat pattern on the tops of the nightstands and in the panels of the headboard, adding robin’s egg blue glass or acrylic knobs and pulls, and putting some robin’s egg blue fabric behind the mesh screens of the nightstand doors. I’m leaning toward Ikat, like this design stenciled by the wonderful Cassie at Primitive and Proper (as featured on the DIY Club blog).

Blue #3- Blue moon. You know how they say that something good only happens “once in a blue moon?” Well, I had my blue moon moment this weekend. I am SO excited. I went in to this secondhand store here in my tiny little town, just to look around. I had never really gone in before, and I am SORRY I didn’t! This place is phenomenal. I am not kidding you. I have never before seen such a treasure trove of amazing antique furniture in beautiful condition, for such excellent prices. In fact, the prices were so good that I ended up buying this adorable dresser for only $75. I am eagerly awaiting its delivery as I type! I will be painting this little baby and I will likely try to sell it online as my first “upcycled” piece. I cannot wait to show you the transformation that will occur. In fact, be aware that in the next few days, I will be posting pictures of the dresser, things that are inspiring, and color schemes, so you can have some input in the final outcome. You, too, can be a winner! 

So, how’s your Monday going?

Jobs, Diet, and Exercise

So, enough of Hula Girl! Let’s talk about Jonathan and me!

Jonathan is doing well. He is working hard, learning a lot, and enjoying (for the most part) his job. However, the job he has isn’t going to give him enough money for us to meet our financial goals within a reasonable amount of time, and it’s not exactly his “dream job.” So, he’s applying and interviewing with other companies.

He had an interview last week, which went really well. However, he was not offered the position. That was sad. But one of the interviewers (it was a panel) has a separate company, and called him to find out if he would come work for her company. Very flattering! The only problem is- she offered him much less than what he’s currently making. That, and, it’s not Jonathan’s dream job (again). He went in to work today with the intention of taking a break to call her and thank her for the opportunity, and to turn down the position as well.

Before he got a chance to call her, she called him and told him that she had spoken with another person higher up in the company, and they’re willing to negotiate his salary. Since he hasn’t spoken with her about details, we’re not sure what that means. I encouraged him to be honest with her and tell her exactly what he needs to make the transfer (to a city with higher living expenses) worth it to our family. I also encouraged him to really emphasize the importance of his family in his life- it’s best she understands that now, regardless of the outcome of their conversation today!

Outside of working and applying, Jonathan has been unable to get to the gym as frequently as he’d like to go. I think he’ll get back into it this week (I hope). He really enjoys it, and it’s nice for him to have an outlet. Plus, his blood tests reveal the need for him to be extra-careful about his diet and exercise routines. A lot of that responsibility falls on me since I’m the grocery-shopper and meal-maker in the house. We’ve been eating a lot of salads and veggies lately, and I hope to encourage our family to eat even more!

Speaking of diet and exercise, now that I’m done nursing, I have to really get back to taking care of my body as if it were just that- MY body. I no longer need extra calories, and it is no longer advisable for me to worry about “overdoing” it when it comes to exercise. There was a time, from November through February, when I couldn’t really eat anything (we thought Hula Girl was allergic to something I was eating), and I lost SO much weight then. But I’ve rebounded a bit, and so I’m just a bit smaller than I was pre-pregnancy. However, I really need to focus on my diet and exercise, because I haven’t at all since February. Here’s my new plan:

I will eat normal portions of fruits, veggies, proteins, and carbohydrates. I will drink only water (nothing new here). I will not eat any sugar (I’ve done this for years at a time before- it’s not as hard as it sounds). And the big big change- I will chew every bite at least 20 times before swallowing. WHAT?! I know. I eat really really fast. SLLLLLOOOOOOOOWWWWW DOOOOOWWWWNNNN. That’s what I intend to do.

Exercising is so hard in general. But now I have a whole new set of obstacles: HEAT, no gym membership, and Hula Girl. I can’t seem to find the motivation to do any kind of cardio when it’s 100 degrees at 8:00 a.m. With Jonathan’s work schedule and gym visits, I find myself at home, unable to leave, for large portions of every day. The only chance I have to really get any running in (which is the only acceptable form of cardio in my book) is if I get up at 6:00 a.m. and run before Jonathan leaves for work. Doable, but not desirable. If I had a gym membership, I could go when Jonathan comes home from work at 6:00 or so- but since I don’t have one, I refuse to go running in the heat. So those are my excuses.

Now onto the plan plan- my mom-in-law and sis-in-law and I just bought pedometers, and this week is our “averages” week. We are wearing our pedometers to find our average number of steps per day, so that we can start walking more and more steps. We’re going to set small goals for ourselves and enjoy encouraging each other to meet those goals. Wish us luck!

I have more to say, but a definite need to go drink some water. More this week!

Garden Photos/Project Update

Here are some lovely hollyhocks- these were actually here before we moved in. They’re perennials, they’re beautiful, and we’re taking LOTS of seeds when we go!

Aawww, how cute! Our carrots have foliage!

Our kale can beat up your kale!

A wildflower from the wildflower mix finally bloomed! It’s lovely, is it not?! It’s about the size of a half-dollar coin.

Another view of our carrot patch. Kind of blurry. Very messy with dead leaves and sticks.

Our snap peas blossomed… and gave us beautiful flowers to behold!

Remember those tasty little rubies? Here they are!

Okay, so I didn’t plant these. But this basket is a beautiful basket, and I tend to it better than I do to the rest of the plants!

Our first harvest! Yummy, they were good!

And here’s a teaser shot for the table- I haven’t gotten it cleaned off enough to take a picture of the entire thing yet. Trust me, I love this thing. It’s worth the wait.

Another teaser shot- there are drawers on the ends of the table. My neighbors, who are awesome, got me these acrylic drawer pulls. Lovely.

There’s the back of a chair- just to give you an idea of what they look like. Distressed, but not too distressed, you know?

Annnndd…. A new project! I found these beauties at the flea market a couple weeks back. I can’t WAIT to get my hands on them! I’m thinking aqua, with a bit of white. Or maybe steely gray. I can’t decide.  (And yes, that’s a king size headboard behind them, which I was unable to convince the lady to keep… so… anyone need a really old headboard?)

 

I’m thinking of doing steely gray fixtures and then making the wire part steely gray as well. Or gold! See, haven’t decided.


To-Do List

  1. Start weaning Hula Girl (like, immediately).
  2. Make a pillow.
  3. Make some napkins.
  4. Make placemats and a table runner.
  5. Actually sit down and write a blog post longer than 11 sentences.
  6. Weed the garden.
  7. Harvest some more veggies from the garden (photo tomorrow).
  8. Go grocery shopping.
  9. Write thank you notes for Hula Girl’s birthday gifts.
  10. Cook dinner.

Some of these might be out of order, but that’s how my brain thought it through.

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