Saturday, December 30, 2006

My Kitchen

Ilva at Lucullian Delights has asked us fellow bloggers to show the world our kitchens. Even though I'm not "technically" a food blog (I talk about lots of stuff) I do post some of my better recipes, so I figure I can join in the fun too! She's going to do a round up of all the entries some time next month, so be sure and watch her site. Hell, check her site out anyway. That woman takes the most awsome photographs!

Several people have already posted their pictures and I'm so jealous of Tanna's kitchen. Her's was totally destroyed by a broken water pipe and they've rebuilt it to be the perfect dream kitchen. We can't all have catastrophies that enable us to design dream kitchens (thankfully) but I'm hoping for a good tornado.

I really wanted to wait until I had a sunny day to take my pictures but I'm running out of time. You'll see that I'm in preparation for my New Year's Day Annual Big Party. That's my roaster waiting for me to fill it with George's Maid Rites. And, yes, it's sitting on my dryer. Which is in the kitchen.

Here's my messy counter - east view.

And here's my messy counter - north view.

And here's my window herb garden which is my favorite spot in the kitchen. I absolutely love those two windows! I have my bird feeders hanging right outside the window and I can stand there, drink my coffee and watch the birds (and neighbors). It's amazing what you can see through my kitchen window.

Oh, and that's my dishwasher. As you can see, it's definitely a "one-butt" kitchen. But, like all kitchens, its the room where everyone congregates. We don't have a table in it (too small) but people like to stand around, sit on the counters, dryer, wherever and talk. Makes it a little hard to actually cook when they do that, but we somehow manage.

Yes, I do wish I had a beautiful big kitchen, but barring that tornado, I guess I'm stuck with what I've got. I remember when DH and I were first together we lived in a veritable shack (and I'm not exaggerating here). There wasn't an even floor or wall in the place. The bathroom was the size of a closet and the dining room ceiling fell down and just about killed the kids! But it had the biggest, most wonderful kitchen in it. Lots of counter space and cupboards, with room for a big kitchen table. Our house now is 100 times better than that POS, but I do miss having a big kitchen.

There you have it folks - the place where all the magic happens. Well, maybe not so much "magic" as plain old alchemy. What was it I read the other day? Oh - you could go to K-Mart and buy the cheapest set of golf clubs, hand them to Tiger Woods, and he'd still golf better than you or I. The lesson being, it's not the size that counts, it's how you use it. (I hear you giggling Bettina.)

I'm really looking forward to that roundup, Ilva. So many kitchens, so little time!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holidays

Wishing you and yours the very best this Christmas. And may 2007 be trouble-free for all of us!

Bathroom Walls

As anyone who has ever done any work on an old house knows, nothing is ever easy or simple. When Tom (the plumber) came to take out the tub's faucets and drain to prepare it for Mr. Tubbs, the drain crumbled in his hand, it was that rusted out. It's probably a miracle that it hadn't leaked into the dining room below. I'm sure it was just a matter of time. The "new" sink also refused to drain and Tom figured those pipes were in the same condition. Sooo... yep, that's right. Tom had to open up the floor to install new pipes. See ->

(That's Dusty, our Heinz 57 royal PIMA.)

Well, hell. I hated that old floor anyway. Nothing for it but to go get a remnant from our local floor guy. Shouldn't be too expensive. It's a pretty small bathroom. Right? Wrong. Four hundred buckaroos ladies and gents. That's installed, of course. Oh, and to install the new floor - they're going to have to take OUT the tub and stool. Great.

Sooooo.... since I'm going to have a nice new floor to go with my nice new tub and sink, I figured I might as well paint the walls. Right? See how ugly they are? I blame my daughter for the color choice. But that formica crap - that's all the previous owner's doing. I've got that... crap... in both bathrooms and the kitchen. Ugh!

But, if you prime it with an oil-based primer it'll paint up nicer than nice. So, with high hopes, I started ripping off loose wallpaper. (Every frigging room in this house has at least 4 layers of wallpaper!) Now, I've painted over wallpaper before. In fact, in every frigging room in this house. And, for the most part, it turns out really nice. Just make sure any loose pieces are either re-glued or ripped off. That especially looks nice when you're going for that "European Old World" look.

All my walls are plaster. And, like I've said, the house is old (over 100 years old). So when you start to rip off wallpaper, you see that it was hiding a whole bunch of "problems". Like mold. The room was literally covered in black mold! Ack! I tried painting Kilz over it, but it just kept seeping through. I knew I was over my head, so I called in the expert - Angie Helleseth. Angie has a remodeling business called The Perfect Touch. She and the women who work with her are absolute magicians. I knew if anyone would know what to do, it'd be Angie. Of course she told me the "proper" thing to do would be to take out the plaster and lathe and put up dry wall. And I hope the NEXT person who owns this house does exactly that. But this "little" remodeling project is quicky turning into a money pit, and I just can't afford to keep sinking money into this room!

Her next suggestion was to completely wash down the room in a strong Clorox solution and fill every crack and hole with caulking. Then cover it all with... you guessed it - wallpaper. Shit. I give up. I can't wallpaper, but I can wash and caulk and paint. So I've hired Angie to come in after the floor is laid and put up this paintable wall covering that looks like stucco. Then I'll paint. Then Tom will come back and replace the tub and stool.

I keep reminding DH that it was hot water that was running down the drain all those years. And, boy - are we going to save money on that puppy! He knows that once we started we can't stop until it's done, but the doleful looks are starting to piss me off. It's not MY fault we have an old house.

Maybe I should have taken Steve's advice years ago when I was first making noises about remodeling. He suggested we bulldoze it over and build a new home. ...Nah. I kinda like the old place.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bathroom Remodel

Living in an old house has its rewards and its challenges. Our home was built in the late 1800's as a single-family dwelling. While it's no mansion by any means, it was generally well-built to the standards of the day. The eight foot ceilings had me sold from the beginning. However, old electrical works and old plumbing accompany the Italiante woodwork and we've had to gradually replace most of the worst offenders. Which brings me to my latest "project" - the upstairs bathroom.

The faucet in the bathtub has leaked for the last SEVENTEEN YEARS! And for who knows how long before that. At first it was just an annoying drip. But gradually it's gotten to the point where the rust and calcium build-up completely prevented us from turning off the faucet. What was even worse was that it was the HOT WATER FAUCET. Damn. I know that I could have just replaced the faucets, but as you can see, the tub desperately needed a facelift. Years of running and dripping water had carved a channel down the front and in the bottom of the tub right down to the cast iron base. I also knew that this was not a job for a "doityourself-er" like me.

Enter Mr. Tubbs:

Don Gustafson from Fort Dodge, Iowa, has been resurfacing tubs, sinks, showers and the like for over 20 years. He uses a spray-on coating that gives the appliance a new surface. It's not an easy job, by any means. First he has to clean the surface with a special chemical cleaner. Next he fills in the grooves and cracks with a putty-like substance.

Then, while that is drying, he covers literally every surface with paper, plastic and tape in preparation of spraying his solution on to the tub and sink. And when he gets done, you're left with this:

It is absolutely outstanding - Like a brand-new tub! I could not believe the difference. Nor that I put up with the drip and the crappy-looking tub for as long as I did. If you live pretty much anywhere in the State of Iowa and could use Don's services I recommend him highly. His phone number is (515) 576-8522. Tell him Sally said "thanks".