January 30, 2012

Kitchen Updates - Now we're getting somewhere

This garbage can was empty before I threw out all the food that was wasted when our contractor forgot to plug back in the deep freeze.

On the plus cute is this pig on her new grey walls?

The red bench will go soon - and the micro and coffee maker are going to find new homes as well...

Here it is

I started the first coat of waterlox are the counters "prelox"

After coat #1

Oh - and we found a nanny. A fantastic one. I'm thrilled.

January 27, 2012

Kitchen Update - We Have Paint!


I'm breathing.

So the contractor didn't offer to pay for the meat. And he got a little testy when I told him about it.

AND, somehow we decided to have him paint AND tile the backsplash.

Him taking his time = me having less time to do projects = him getting more work. F.

Anyway - wouldn't you have a freak out if this is your house?

If this was your kitchen?

(I keep waiting for my coffee to spill all over my curtains)

This shot makes me happier

This one makes me happiest

They are here now and painting the walls grey, the cabinets, white, and making everything beautiful. Supposedly - it will be finished today!

January 26, 2012

Kitchen Status

Um, frustration can't begin to let you know how I'm feeling.

So, for two days now, someone from the "crew" has shown up, done a miniscule amount of work and left saying they needed more parts.

At this point they have two things left to do: hook up the sink and move our stove back in. So, we're doing dishes in the bathroom, have no dining surfaces, and the dining room is FULL of kitchen stuff. Yeah.

Oh - and maybe waterproof our countertops? Bubbs made a special trip a week ago to go get the sealer since he said they would need it right away. And, nothing. Still just the raw butcher block. Which we've had people put drinks on, food on, and I'm really worried it is going to get funky before we get it sealed up.

I went to the paint store to pick up paint for the cabinets, walls, and trim. In the process of moving a cabinet, we discovered that the beautiful paint job the previous owner had done before selling the place was a cheap 'latex over oil' spray job (you know - THAT mistake). So the paint is peeling like a sunburn in large sheets. I read up on sanding down the oil based paint, painting with an oil based primer, then painting with my latex. Bought $253 worth of materials, came home and started sanding. And realized I SO don't have time for this. With an hour before I was supposed to pick up my boy from daycare and 10 minutes before our new fridge showed up I was not spending my time doing this - so I called some painters.

As we went downstairs to re-heat the waterheater (for some reason when the gas was turned off they didn't re light the pilot lights) - we looked in our deep freezer. We've been keeping easy Trader Joe's lunches in there along with the meat from our meat CSA. Um TOTALLY DEFROSTED. Apparently, the guys used the outlet that our freezer was plugged into for a saw (or something) and never plugged it back in. HUNDREDS of dollars of meat and food was WASTED. Not only replaceable stuff either. Homemade broth and meals that took manhours to make.

And my house is filthy, my child's daycare is moving across town (F&%$), my husband has a new job that requires that he be gone WAY more than usual, I'm failing at life generally, and I feel guilty for feeling this way because several people we know are seriously sick and dealing with way more. How lame and isolated am I that a kitchen remodel is ruining my day?

End rant.

January 24, 2012

Holy Moley New Fridge

Our new fridge is coming tomorrow - waaaa hoooo! Our last fridge took three weeks to arrive so I'm floored this one is coming so soon!

I'm at work today so I have no idea how close to being done they are. We still have painting to do and fixing up of other stuff...but can it be that we're almost done?

January 21, 2012

On Top

When I was teaching my kid to play with blocks the other day, he learned the phrase "on top."

So now everything goes on top.


This was our kitchen in November:

Isn't that tile cute?

Now do you think it is cute?

Finally convincing him to TRY demo.

Ten minutes later: (He was convinced).

Day 1 of hiring out the rebuild:

Dishwasher cabinet rebuilt, windowsill installed, and cement board installed.

(see where I broke into the kitchen cupboard to get my coffee? Sorry guys!)

The rooms seems pretty big without all the appliances in place...

Cut this cabinet to fit our new fridge:

Cut back the existing duct which was way too low. Scraped off the crappy paint job from the previous owners (I think they brought someone in to spray the whole house without any prep right before the sale). The paint peeled RIGHT off.

Drywall where the tile was:

Cut back the insanely long gas pipe

The only surface available for coffee making:

January 19, 2012

Lighting Up Our Life! Or Our Kitchen

We needed an electrician. Our range hood wouldn't be possible without one.

Along with it, we wanted to move a few outlets and a light switch.

After some electrician quotes that were clearly just to take us for a ride...we found someone highly recommended and within the range our contractor suggested ($400-800).

We liked him - kinda an old hippy who cared about the environmental impact and suggested things we hadn't thought of. Plus, he worked on an hourly basis, gave us an estimate of time it would take, and didn't just come up with a magic number in his head for all the work.

So we booked it.

And he came the next day.

Between his visit and when he arrived, we had to go pick out lighting (track lighting for the ceiling, an under cabinet light, and a pendant for over the table).

*note that I didn't originally plan to do lighting at all. Seemed superfluous. I had read over and over again that lighting would make a huge difference, but I think taking out nasty nasty tile would make a bigger one - and we are on a budget.

My plan was to buy our lighting at Ikea - better design than home depot and more options.
Life lesson learned below. Visit stores in person. Use the brick and mortar. Better for the economy and better for my house.
Our electrician sent us to Universal Electric. It was like a whole new universe of options. Affordable options.

He sent us to see Robin. Who rocked our lighting world.

I would have been lost in that store without her. I'm the kind of person who will wander around lost guessing what I need before I let someone finally help me.

I don't want pressure.

She let me find what I wanted and knew her lighting stuff. And could explain it to lay people.

How cool is this one?

Or all these little pendants?

We got our order all ready with normal track lighting and this pendant lamp:

Bubbs went to pay.

So I walked around and found my love

Ain't she pretty?

So I stopped the presses and as he was handing over the plastic - I dragged Bubbs and Robin back over to see if this light would work with our track lighting.

As T would say, "yup!"

And the deal was done.

Yesterday around lunchtime I took this picture:

Today at 5pm I took this one:

I know it looks a little industrial or something in this pic, but in reality, it looks like magic hit our kitchen. This is an amazing transformation. Even with complete demo, our kitchen has never looked better.

The paint looks fresh - the appliances are pretty - and we can see our food!

Noon yesterday:

5pm today:

The chord on that pendant is a little funky and I'm not sure it is supposed to be that way. We ended up with the floor model so I'm going to have to get creative with it.


I don't know that I've been so excited about anything in my life.

Pendant Love

Before I leave for work (it is currently 5:56 am and I'm walking out the door at 6:00):

1) Electrician is coming today. Outlets will be moved, under cabinet lighting will be placed, and track lighting will be installed. Oh! And our range hood electrical will be set.

2) This lovely lady will be centered above our breakfast nook.

3) The fabric that everyone agreed was magically beautiful:

Source: via Mama on Pinterest


But, I contacted the etsy seller and she's put me on the wait list. My banquet will be an amazing splash of color.

4) We've vowed to stop "trusting the professionals" when it comes to design and if I don't like something - I'm going to say it. Early and often. Oh - and - we've hired almost everything out.

I'm still doing the tiling - because I want to. But everything else is getting done by someone else - which means that it will be done by mid-next week. Our counters and sink will be in by the weekend.

So we can stop living like this:

(yeah, the dead flowers on top of the fridge are no one's fault but my own).

See how dark our kitchen is? This is in the middle of the day.

Secretly, I'm mostly excited about our new kitchen lighting because I will finally be able to take good food pics without moving the food to the dining room first :)

6:01 - off to my two hour commute.

January 17, 2012

Why did I Think Our Basic Remodel Would be Easy (and cheap)?

We're remodeling our kitchen.

Well, we're changing up our kitchen hoping for it to LOOK remodeled.

I've done all my research online.

After realizing that one of our projects (the ONLY practical project, the range hood) was going to be less DIY friendly than we thought, I pulled up my trusty sidekick, Yelp, and starting trying to find people to help.

But seriously, WTF!?

HVAC guys don't want to do the job because it is too small and said to call a handyman.

Handymen don't want the job because it is too complicated.

The ones that DO want the job just don't seem to be thinking outside the box like we want them to. Yes, we understand that MOST people rip apart their kitchen for a $50,000 remodel. We aren't doing that. Can you help us? No, we won't be putting in new cabinets. Sorry, not happening. Do you still want THIS job.

Contractors don't want the job either - way too small for them.

So, our kitchen has been completely ripped up for four days now. No counter top, open walls. You know. The good stuff. All because we want a range hood.

Because I cook everything on super high. Roasted Vegis? Best at 450 degrees. Steak? 500 in the oven, then SUPER HIGH on the stove, then back in at 500 degrees. When I make my chicken stock, I cook it for at least 10 hours. Every window in the house is sweating after two hours and the whole house smells like chicken. The smoke alarms in our house go off EVERY time I cook. And the house fills with smoke. So, unlike the new countertops, the new cabinet hardware, and my open shelving - the range hood is the ONLY practical or needed component to this "remodel."

So, I have to give Sears a high five.

They are the only site (compared to Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowes) that recognized that someone might want to mount an "under cabinet" range hood without a cabinet.

We don't have cabinets there. I don't want cabinets there. We also don't have a duct coming down from the ceiling which would make a regular "wall mount" range hood do-able.

When I finally realized that Sears had this as a search option (undercabinet/wall mount), it became clear that Kenmore brand was for us. But, we already had a Nutone/Broan Range Hood sitting in our living room that we had purchased yesterday from Home Depot.

Anyway, long story short: After 3+ days of internet searching for the right range hood, I realized that most under cabinet ranges are compatible with wall mounting kits.

1) Why didn't ANYONE at Home Depot know this?

2) Why couldn't I find this anywhere in my search? I pride myself on my googlebilities and I failed big time at this one. Well, I suppose I didn't fail, but my search terms genius didn't help me on this one. I only found out after reading a review on a Kenmore range hood that complained that Sears forgot to give him the wall mounting kit.

So, Bubbs has one more week before starting work and we put T in school this whole week so we could get this done. We ended up calling the guy who installed our new furnaces (who we liked a lot and was fairly affordable) and he's coming to check it out on Wednesday. I have NO idea how much this is going to cost us. We already have a duct (an old stove duct) - which is apparently lined with ceramic? that we want to use. It needs to be moved up six inches to be usable. We also have knob and tube wiring - so someone's gotta hot wire the range hood to that.

This means our drywall installation is going to be set back to the weekend. Which sucks because I'm working all weekend. So it puts us even further out.

What's left?

Drywall backsplash

rebuild cabinet over dishwasher
rebuild window sill
Cut sink hole
install sink and faucet into butcherblock
install countertop
seal countertop (is there really one spelling of seal for both words?)
seal sink
Tile backsplash

Move outlet from next to stove to behind stove and to the left

stove wall
To the left of all the knives there is a vent cover - see it? It is actually working ducting - but just a little too low.

And, the only outlet on that wall is next to the stove on the right. We want to move it behind the stove to the left so we can plug in the coffee maker, toaster, and microwave on our open shelving.

Move ducting up 6 inches
Wire Range Hood
Install Range Hood
Drywall up the wall

Paint the wall
Install brackets
Cut the butcher Block in two - hotdog style (as opposed to hamburger style)
Hang open shelving
Remove cabinet doors
sand down and repaint areas that are chipped or too thick
install new hinges and hardware

That's all.

Oh, and our sink is here. And it is beautiful. It came with its own fabric bag and monogrammed cleaning towel.

Wow - that is one all over the place mash up of things.

Guess I'm tired.

Now. That's all.

January 15, 2012

Montessori vs. Waldorf vs. Reggio Emilia

T's going back to "school" or his home based daycare.

This is the perfect setting for him in his babyhood, but like all San Francisco mamas I'm starting to research preschools since some require an application a year in advance.

As I know from the nanny disaster, his personality and needs could change and develop a TON between now and when he's two or three (when he enters pre-school).

First, he is going to preschool. Even if I could stay home he would go. Pre-school is very important to life long success - so that's a given.

But, when I started looking at choices I got confused and anxious.


For one, I thought I wanted a Montessori school. There are several in our neighborhood that seem fantastic (based on reading only - I haven't done any visits yet). I've really liked our room setup and it seems to be intuitive, respectful to T's learning, and spot on when it came to a safe room for our baby (from 8 months - 18 months, so far).

I'm concerned about discipline. We are fairly strict followers of the unconditional parenting model (children are naturally kind and well intentioned) and don't really "discipline" but teach and try to help T communicate when he can't (and we're finding it works for us).

I've read quite a bit from parents of Montessori programs that there are time-outs in the program and it is quite "strict." This article actually addresses both those issues, but I still don't quite trust that Montessori is right for my boy.

I've also read a lot of real accounts of Montessori with flash cards and working on academics - which I don't think is appropriate for Pre-school.

I would have loved Montessori. I am very "rule based" loved to "pretend" to clean house and wanted to be a grown up so bad. I'm not sure my husband would have thrived. When I talk to my mom about my brother's experience in Montessori, she said she wouldn't do it over again. She thought he was bored. As an adult he is a technological genius (coming up with amazing inventions and actually creating them), he is an incredible artist, and super duper creative. I'm not sure the the Montessori program helped him foster this and I actually think (and so does my mom) that he might have had some creativity stifled there.

With a musician husband and a child who isn't as interested at mimicking our behavior as his friends (he likes to sweep and clean the sink - that's about it), I'm not sure the program is right for us.

Granted, I'm signed up for the local Montessori tours this spring. Maybe the programs will be right once we get there. But my gut is saying no.


I never ever in a million years thought I'd be right for Waldorf. It seems a little hippy dippy alternate reality for me.

But, I also felt the same way about homebirth, so clearly I have some inner hippy (or maybe these things aren't so hippy after all).

To be totally honest, I stopped exploring Waldorf when I saw how cost prohibitive the elementary and high school were. We pay A LOT for daycare and can continue paying it for T's education. We pay the equivalent of tuition at a lot of the top high schools in San Francisco right now. Waldorf is double this. Unless I can be convinced otherwise, I'm not even looking at it.

Some of the coolest kids we know are Waldorf kids. And they don't seem strange - and have really cool views on technology. I do think we can get a great education for him in a more "traditional" setting and still foster his creativity and let him be successful.

Reggio Emilia.

I am so enamored with Reggio Emilia that when I talk about it I get excited. Sort of high actually.

There are a lot of preschools around town that say they are "based" on Reggio Emilia, but I think they mean that they are play based and creative. From what I've read a true Reggio Emilia program incorporates parents and family into the school (unlike Montessori - from what I've read) and believes in a true community. It is child led and really focuses on the importance of children exploring what they want to learn. There is such an emphasis on mutual respect of parents, teachers, and children as a team that makes me extremely comfortable.

I could go on and on, but essentially, Reggio Emilia seems like Attachment Parenting, Unconditional Parenting, and Nurture Shock, and my gut feelings all in one. Like pure magic. Makes my soul feel good about giving my son over to education.

Anyway, the problem is, the two Reggio Emilia schools I've found are way the hell across town. And serious prep schools. And one is an Italian school. So, would Turner enter school and not understand anything? Would he totally freak out? We'd be required to learn Italian too, and would I fail? I took several years of Spanish in school and can't speak a bit.

There IS a public Reggio Emilia preschool, but I think it might only be for family that could be subsidized. I've called and not gotten an answer yet. Which isn't a great sign for a school.

That's my take.

Again, I'm not positive on any of this, but I'll keep searching.

January 13, 2012

Demo on 50 year old Tile BEGINS!

This is what my kitchen looks like:

We wanted to see how hard it would be to rip out the tile after a 2200 dollar quote from a tile guy.

It was easy.

So we went for it.

Turning Flash Cards into Wall Art

T's child care provider gave him this amazing box of curious george magic for Christmas. It had a puzzle, two posters, and alphabet flash cards. T loved it all, but the mess was INSANE from all the pieces.

I loved the little vignettes and pictures in the posters, but they got trashed quickly, since T like to wear them rolled up in his shirt.

At our most recent trip to Ikea, I found the perfect frames. Without knowing how many I would need or what sizes, I bought a ton.

We hung them like these ones, with double sided velcro tape so he can't pull them down (or they can't fall down in an earthquake). The cards are posted with scotch tape on white paper.

His favorite are "O" "P" and "T". Probably because those are the ones he knows.

We now rock out to the a b c song.

Problem is, this is SO not Montessori style.*

Not calm.

Not limited stimulation.

And you know what?

It is making bed time miserable.

These cute, educational, and entertaining little frames are WAY too stimulating.

I'm giving it a week more and then they sadly come down. Unless he learns to ignore them right before bed.

Not likely.

*speaking of Montessori style, in looking at preschools, I'm not so sure it is for us. Though the decorating style sure does work so far. I'm more of a Reggio Emilia girl myself. Which appears to be hard to come by. Even here.

January 10, 2012

Our Sink has Shipped

Three things:

1) When you say "Our sink has shipped" out of context, It can make your husband's head spin on his shoulders.

No, honey, our ship didn't sink, our SINK shipped!

This one:

Source: via Mama on Pinterest

2) Twice today, T has come up to us, said, "poo poo" and actually followed through on the toilet! I have not had a more proud moment as a mama. Seriously.

3) We've been having a HORRIBLE time getting him to sleep. Hours of fussing and bottles and wanting to play. Tonight, he was rolling around in bed and having one heck of a time settling down. At 9pm (two hours after normal bedtime), he said "bye bye."

I left.

He fell asleep.


January 8, 2012

Obsessed with our Kitchen

We had a plan to re-do our kitchen months ago, but decided to hold off.

I'm not talking a 50,000 dollar redo - just to be clear.

But, it's back on.

Our cheap-o work with what you've got, re-do is happening. And I'm completely obsessed. I wake up in the morning planning and go to bed in front of my pinterest screen looking at hardware.

A contractor came out a week ago to give us a quote, but it hasn't come back yet, so I'm planning on it being WAY too much and we're gonna have to do it anyway.

I've gone back and forth a million times, but I think we're set on a plan.

White, white, and wood. Plus maybe a splash of green and yellow.

stove wall
We'll be removing the tiled wall and re-doing subway tile behind the stove only.

I have no idea how, but somehow getting an exhaust fan working with that duct. Who knew this would be the biggest confusion for me.

Get rid of that kitchen cart.

My favorite thing is adding some open shelving to the left of the stove. One stove height - so we have a work surface. The Soda Stream, coffee maker, Kitchen Aid, and Toaster will go on this one (or maybe the one above). The dishes and cups will go above as well as groovy stylings. I'm considering turning a low one into a space for T's stuff - so he can reach.

banquet picture

Buy these prints and hang them on the wall in awesome frames:

Source: via Mama on Pinterest

Re-cover the banquet for the only "splash" of color in my calm neutral room.

Which of these should I use?

Source: via Mama on Pinterest

Source: via Mama on Pinterest

Source: via Mama on Pinterest

Source: via Mama on Pinterest

The biggest question I have is if we should do butcher block on the kitchen table or not. It is original to the house which means it is really old and funky. A big beautiful butcher block could be fantastic. Or WAY too much. I just can't decide.

Butcher block counter tops and cup style drawer pulls. No idea what to use on the cabinets yet. I'm thinking polished chrome, no?

Source: via Mama on Pinterest

I like a single basin sink (to wash cookie pans and big pots) and a tall faucet (with a detachable nozzle-y thing). I keep going back and forth between cast iron white and stainless steel. I don't want something that will chip and stain, but I love the look of cast iron.


We've had a pretty bad experience with our Frigidaire fridge, but they've agreed to let us return it and get a new one. Problem is - only one fridge fits in the space in the kitchen - literally - ONE. So we'll have to cut down the cupboard to make this one fit and not get stuck with another lemon exactly like our current fridge. But this one (a "Frigidaire gallery" fridge) hopefully won't rust because it is super fancy.

Source: via Mama on Pinterest

Square white tile or Subway?

Stainless Steel or Cast Iron?

Butcher Block on the Table or Linoleum?