Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Project Plan, Week 5

We made great progress last week. The floor was leveled, the walls are on, and now the lights and electrical outlets are all working again.

The pendants we purchased finally arrived. If you have any lighting needs, the people at The Lighting Showcase in Shrewsbury, MA were very knowledgeable and helpful and can help with everything.

The cabinets are scheduled to be installed this week on Thursday. The flooring is to be delivered today.

I still need to figure out tile, but I don't want to rush this decision, and I'm sick of looking, so that will come later.

The plan has slipped about a week, but in the scheme of things, I'm not unhappy about this, most of it was due to extra work to reinforce the structure, deal with termite damage, and realizing too late that we should replace the windows. All the things I had recognized as risks to begin with, and I'm chalking it up to a learning experience.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Today was another big step for us. The "Zip Wall" has been tremendous at fighting back the dust on a daily basis. However, the blue board is up! the walls are plastered and we are 87.2% dust free! So I've taken down the zip wall. I am willing to accept the risk of being premature, because opening up the "temp kitchen" space feels good. Jessie was in LA so there was no logic around to stop me. The wall is down and the West has won!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cooking without a kitchen

When we redid the kitchen in our old condo a few years ago, we were still living that wonderful dream called Childless Marriage, and it didn't matter that we couldn't cook at home, we'd just grab a burger and a beer at the Irish bar around the corner or a slice of pizza for dinner.
Now that we live in the suburbs and have a preschooler, dinner requires a little more thought and planning.
Here are my 2 favorite meals for cooking quickly without a stove or a sink:

Grilled Pizzas:
1 large Boboli
1 packet boboli pizza sauce (usually right next to the crusts in the bread aisle)
Shredded mozzarella Cheese

Have your daughter assemble the pizza ignoring the fact that she eats all the cheese off the pizza, adding any other toppings she'll tolerate.

Put on a 350 degree grill. Let it bake for 10 mins until the cheese is melted.
Also- for an adult version: I like to do one without sauce, but with veggies, garlic, olive oil and goat cheese.

I have done this in the past with pizza dough, which is nice if you want to impress guests with a “flatbread” type of pizza, but for a weeknight, its all about the boboli.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps
(from the Martha Stewart Every Day Food magazine)

Chicken breasts
Boston Lettuce
Red onion, thinly sliced
Shredded carrots
thinly sliced Sweet peppers (any color, I like the red ones)
Plum Sauce
Rice (Uncle Bens makes a decent 90-second microwave in the package version. Love it.)

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and cook covered in the microwave for about 5 mins until done. Take it out and cut it into small slices.

Wash lettuce leaves, leaving them whole
Cut up the peppers and onion into thin slices
Put all the ingredients out on little bowls
Use the lettuce leaf like a tortilla and add some plum sauce, chicken, and veggies. Roll up and eat. Have rice as a side dish.

All meals should be followed with ice cream novelties that can be eaten without creating dirty dishes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Icynene, I think I love you

Big day last Friday: INSULATION!

You may have looked at earlier photos and thought "Wow, they are good at cleaning up that old insulation. I see nary a shred of it anywhere." You would have missed the point that there was No. Insulation. Anywhere. That explains why the kitchen was always so cold.

So, we had the nice people from March & Martin come on Friday and spray the walls with Icynene insulation. It feels warmer already. The photo above shows the state of the kitchen after the foam was sprayed on and before they finished scraping it down to be even with the walls.

I am hoping for a cold winter this year!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Project Plan, Week 4

We are seeing a little bit of slip in the plan, 4 days so far. I think the issues with the fun-house ceiling and flooring caused us some churn while we figured out what to do with it. The major items are still on track (cabinets, flooring) so I'm not too worried. We do have a little bit of lag time that we can use if we need to speed up the project.

I still need to pick out tile and a wall color, but we have the sink, faucet, knobs/pulls/latches, and lighting ordered and the appliances have been delivered.

Personally, as long as we are done before mid-July, I won't worry.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Signs your kitchen remodel is taking up too much free time

...when you are driving in the car, and your 3.5 year old preschooler says "Hey! Lets go to the lumber store and buy some stuff we don't have."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Kitchen Cabinet Layout

We received the "almost" final drawings from our cabinet maker. I'm very excited with how these came out, and I can't wait to get them installed.

We will have an L-shaped layout with an island, and the cabinets will go all the way to the ceiling. The doors are framed inset doors in a shaker style.

The base cabinet near the fridge will have a trash and recycle bin in it, and the island cabinets will have roll-out shelves.

We want bright white cabinets, so they will be painted "Decorators White" from Benjamin Moore.

Up next: Tile!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Project Plan, Week 3

According to Microsoft Project (which never lies), we are now 49% complete with our kitchen. The electrical and plumbing inspections passed, and Jeff is working on fire-stopping and getting someone to level the floor.

When the heel of my shoe poked a new hole in the floor this morning while I was trying to escape to work, we determined that the old boards do indeed need to come out before we level the floor.

This week is a big one for us: firestopping inspection, new level subfloor, and insulation. Keep your fingers it goes according to plan because my shoes can not take this type of abuse for much longer.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Never look a gift horse...

This photo shows a nice big chunk of the horse hair in the plaster that we removed from the kitchen. Its fascinating to me that horse hair was the ingredient of choice for strengthening plaster back when this house was created. After growing up on a horse farm, I try not to think too much about the methods used to extract these strong fibers from the animal. I like to think it involved a group of pony-tailed 4-H'ers, several shedding blades and a happy horse.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


When the dust finally settled after the kitchen demolition, we realized that were living in fun house. Not a funny Ha-Ha type of house, but funny like in the Twilight Zone, where the angles are all wrong, and the ceiling and floor slope toward each other to the extend it makes you dizzy to look into the corners of the room for too long. The ceiling slanted down to about 2 inches lower on one side than the other and the floor is made of rolling hills of barn-board planks.

Jeff took a whack at figuring out how to level the ceiling, it involved a lot of geometry and a self-leveling laser. After doing 8th grade math for an hour, then drinking heavily, he handed off the job to someone else.

Thankfully, our framer was able to make a nice level ceiling by sistering in new 2x8 beams and adding new strapping. Now we can tackle projects more suited to our skills, like figuring out where the recessed lights should go and how to get 2 cases of beer stacked on 1 shelf in the fridge.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Project Plan, Week 2

At the end of week 2, we're still on target. (Click on the picture to see a larger view)

The ceiling was leveled and the electrical rough was finished. We also figured out where we wanted the recessed lights to go. If I were to ever do this again, it would probably make sense to talk to a lighting consultant or do more research on the topic, but we just winged it. We placed 12 recessed lights around the walking areas and the general work areas of the kitchen. We will also have above-cabinet and under cabinet lighting, plus 2 pendants over the island and a fixture over the sink, so I feel confident the room will be well lit. Considering the "old kitchen" was lit only by 4 florescent bulbs, anything will be better!

We're still waiting on the final layout/kitchen plans from the cabinet maker. This is making me nervous, but he assures us he's going to make the date. I would just like to have the design in my hand as soon as possible, along with a sample door so I can pick out tile and paint.


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