Friday, September 30, 2011

Last summer lawn mowing and a bad, bad puppy

October 1st is rolling around quickly and after that date I don’t want to mow this enormous lawn anymore for at least 9 months!


While I mowed, I tied Quinn up so she could wander inside and also be outside but out of my way.  Tell me – why did she do THIS?


She is almost 6 months old and she still pees and poops in the house at least once a day!  I am at the end of my rope with this!  We praise her lavishly when she goes outside and used to ignore it when she went inside (per all the “experts”), but when I see (and smell… oh gawd!) her messes in the house (downstairs, to where she sneaks away to do her business) I just lose it and yes, I do put her nose in it and insist she needs to go “OUTSIDE!”  She knows how to ring the bells on the door to go outside and she obviously knows when she needs to go, so why can’t she put the two together?!

Yes, YOU, Quinn! Figure it OUT!


Don’t give me those puppy eyes, young lady!


Seriously, cut that OUT!


Did I mention that she also digs?


And she needs to be rescued from wrapping herself around trees several times a day?  (We don’t have a fenced yard, so need to tether her.)


This is the last puppy we’ll ever get.  I love her dearly, but I’m counting the days until she doesn’t chase anything that moves and till she can hold it for more than an hour.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our new kitchen: almost finished. (My blog: will be finished if I don’t recommit.)

There was the day – no, there were years – when I would blog daily, about everything.  I’d blog about the least important, most mundane things, no matter what anyone thought and simply because blogging made me happy.

Then I got an insane job at Microsoft and my blogging slowed down a little, but I still wrote often and posted tons of pictures… no matter what anyone thought and simply because blogging made me feel good.

Then I became an active Facebook user and I posted there constantly and began to ignore my blog.  The longer I ignored my blog, the harder it was to come back and explain myself and what I’d been up to.  It was kind of like ignoring a best friend and being afraid to just call them and say “My bad – I haven’t been a good friend lately.  Please forgive me.” 

My bad.  I haven’t been a good blogger lately.  Please forgive me.


Our kitchen is almost finished!  After more than two months of camping in our dining room…


…and two months of pretty much shutting down any communal living space…IMG_0307

…and after two months of Tom working full-time at Boeing during the day and then coming home to do things like move electrical and plumbing lines all the hell over the place and tiling a new floor and installing a new window, and a million other things that had to happen before the cabinets were installed, and basically bringing himself to the point of sheer exhaustion…


…we now have a delicious, gorgeous new kitchen!

But before I show you photos of the almost-finished room (almost finished because, although it’s functional, there’s a long list of things that still need to be done), you must sit through “process photos” because – well, because I had to sit through the process-process, and I’m just not gonna let you off so easy.

Where did we last leave off?  Ah yes, the wallboard was in and the floor had yet to be tiled. 


Tiling was a bitch.  I did none of it and I can still say that it was a bitch.  (Side note: all that stuff they say about remodeling being hard on a marriage?  True.  True, true, true.  Not that the word “bitch” touched off that thought or anything…)

Tom did the tiling over the long Labor Day weekend, and still he stayed up till 5 AM one morning and 4:3o AM the next morning.  I was afraid he’d drop from exhaustion!  It was a long and tedious process.

First Tom laid out the tile in the dining room, in the pattern he wanted to use.


He’s wanted to bring tile into the dining room for years because the hardwood floor by the back door was being destroyed by people and animals coming in from the wet backyard.  I thought this was a bit weird until he laid down this tile.  Once I saw what he was thinking, I decided he was brilliant.

Before any of the tiles could go down, though, the hardwood had to be removed along precise lines.  Aleks helped with this part.


Then Peter helped Tom install the tile.  Thank goodness for helpers!


(Speaking of helpers, the boys weren’t the only ones.  Elisabeth came over on her day off and helped me paint.)


These photo were taken at about 3 AM:


Or maybe it was 4 AM.  Or 5 AM.


(I had probably been asleep and thought to myself, ‘Carol, wake up!  There are important photos to be taken!’  Then I took photos and went back to sleep.  I had the easy job.)

Grouting was a dirty job. Mike Rowe and the production team from Dirty Jobs should have been at our house.  Except that I looked like hell and if Mike Rowe were to ever come to our house, I’d want my hair to be clean, I might wear a dab of make-up, and I’d find a cute blouse to wear… which would be completely inappropriate at 4 AM.  And plus, there’s something perfectly sexy about one’s own husband grouting in his bare feet at 4 AM.


Really?  This will look good at some point?


Lo and behold, it DID look good!


Once the floor was in, Tom’s 6-week push to prepare the kitchen for cabinets and granite was over and he could finally relax a little.  (And we started speaking to each other again.) 

Neither of us had any idea when we went into this how much work would be required to bring this kitchen…





Oh wait!  I can’t do the reveal till you sit through a few more photos of the process!

The appliances arrived…


Look at that!  They move those heavy appliances by cradling them between the two guys.  Pretty cool.


…and I was teased by having to store them on the deck for a few weeks.

And then -- the cabinets.  Ah, yes – the cabinets!  The work Tom had done during the previous six weeks – moving water and electrical lines, bolstering walls, running a gas line (OK, we had help with that) – hardly showed, and the kitchen didn’t look all that different from day to day.  Then suddenly, within a few days, this happened:


We contracted with Keystone Kitchens on the cabinets and they did an amazing job.  Talk about personalized service!  I’m almost tempted to have Chris and Susan, the owners, and Jeff and Tom, the installers, over for dinner.  But that might be a little weird. 

Things were beginning to move quickly at this point.  Within hours of the cabinets being fully installed (which took about four days), measurements were being taken for the granite using a very cool high tech machine.  And believe me, these were precise measurements, down to the width of a business card!  So cool. I do love meself some technology!


Two month previous, we had selected the exact pieces of granite we wanted in our kitchen.  The slab is called Stormy Night and it was love at first sight!  I loved all the movement and drama of this piece of granite.  None of this “all looks the same” speckled granite for me!


As part of their personalized service, Vince at Venetian Stoneworks even sent me photos and a video (which I’m not including here because it was basically one noisy shot of muddy rippling water) of our granite being cut as it was happening!  Did I mention that I love technology?


Here’s a video of their process, using a photo of the exact purchased slab.  

I could barely contain my excitement as the granite – perfectly and precisely fitted to our cabinets – was installed a week later.


(See how the granite pattern flows right off the bar and onto the counters? I so love that!)


And an undermount sink!  I always wanted one of those.


Once the granite was in, Tom only needed to hook up the plumbing under the sink, connecting the insta-hot faucet, the regular faucet, the disposal, and the dishwasher.  Good thing he warned me that it would take a few days and that there would be flowery language involved.  Both were true.

There’s still much to be done – all lighting, floor and paint touch-ups, the back splash, and a zillion other little things (15% of which, based on history, will never get done), but we now have a fully functional kitchen!

(Purely out of habit, I filled the dog bowl with water in the bathroom this morning and I went for plastic cutlery with which to eat my breakfast.  It’ll take a while for it all to sink in.  No pun intended…)

And now, finally, the unveiling!  Here are a few “after, but not quite finished” photos.  The first few are panoramic photos that I captured using a very cool iPhone app called Photosynth.


I love, love, love some of the features of the cabinets, like full-extend drawers that must have some hydraulic hardware.  Mad as one might be, these drawers cannot be slammed!  All by themselves, as if to say, “Calm down, dearie!”, they slow down and gently ease themselves closed.  Not that I’ve ever tested them.


And the pull-outs.  Oh, lordy, the pull-outs!  Every single cabinet has pull-outs.  I love them!


There are even pull-outs for my spices.


I have two lazy Susan cabinets, one for my new lusted-after cookware from Costco (yes, Costco’s Kirkland Brand, makes wonderful stainless cookware) and one next to the sink for my small appliances.


In our old kitchen, cookie and cupcake tins would fall onto the floor every single time we opened that cabinet, so this adjustable tray divider above the fridge is especially luxurious!


And then there’s the handy-dandy fold-out drawer for my sponges, allowing me to keep the sink area clear.


The leaded glass (actually fake leaded glass, but who cares, and who can tell?!) was created for us by Art Glass Technologies, another company that was a pleasure to work with and whose work is phenomenal!


I found the hardware at Home Depot (special order) for $3.49 each!  That was quite a bit cheaper than the $29 a piece we’d seen at one of those hoity-toity specialty stores!  I love the hardware and think it really gives the kitchen a classy Craftsman-style flair.


Ah, gas!  What a joy to cook with gas again!  Tom insisted on this (and it was an expensive royal pain to make it happen), and he was absolutely right.


More of the granite, with all its “visual interest.”


And the whole glorious room – which feels three times the size of the previous kitchen, although we didn’t expand the actual size of it at all!



I’ve ignored my new business this summer because the project management of this kitchen has take an extraordinary amount of time and energy.  But now it’s time to re-focus and re-dedicate myself to a few things… BLOGGING (about topics other than the kitchen) for one(don’t leave me now… oh, baby, don’t leave me now!)  and my business, for another. 

And the timing, being Fall, seems to be good for turning over a new leaf. 

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