Welcome to my home

Kitchen After

I’ve shown you around a bit over the years. We bought our house in 2012 (April 21, actually: HBD house!) and this past fall we completed our last over haul of a space inside. First we finished our basement and added a functional bathroom down there. Next we lived in the basement while the main floor was brought to the studs and rebuilt (save for the kitchen), lastly … we finished the kitchen and added a mudroom (which was originally a 3 season porch).

This is what I saw the first time I walked into our house when it was listed:
first showing

I loved it. There was counter space and for the age of the home – there was a lot of space. Sure there was carpet in what was supposed to be the dining room, and paneling every where. We had cedar shingles in. our. kitchen. And a hole in the roof that was once a skylight. And carpet on the walls, and no shower upstairs and, later we discovered that our master bedroom was the previous owners laundry room at one point … it had it’s quirks.

This is that same view from above.
Kitchen After
Kitchen After

It still has it’s quirks. We have plywood floors and an exposed beam in the middle of our house.

Kitchen After

Anyway – here’s some of the before and after shots of our main floor. Specifically our kitchen/living/dining area.

BEFORE: Entrance off the 3 season porch, built-in hutch, breakfast nook, this is what was supposed to be a dining room (we think) under the light fixture.

progress shots of house May 2012

AFTER: Entrance off the (now) mudroom, behind those hanging doors (painted with chalk paint) is our pantry and hidden toaster oven, our island with storage. We removed a large wall in the middle of this big room where our tiny little fridge was built in, otherwise it was closet space … makes the whole space feel more open.

Kitchen After

BEFORE: Looking in FROM the entrance off the 3 season porch into the living room. A fireplace, skylight, lots of paneling and carpet and a wall dividing spaces.

progress shots of house May 2012

AFTER: Looking in FROM the entrance off the (now) mudroom into the living room. We replaced the fireplace with french doors leading out to a new deck off the house. Wall is gone, more open concept space. No more hole in the ceiling!

Kitchen After

BEFORE: Looking into the kitchen you can see the breakfast nook, our fridge built into the wall and a hallway with lots of openings – looking towards our front door and the front room.

progress shots of house May 2012

AFTER: Looking into the kitchen, wall is gone and fridge is now next to the stove (we swapped the stove and dishwasher when we remodeled), no more little corridors as a hallway. We reconfigured the bathroom in size and a bit in location to make room for a closet in our master bedroom. We also exposed the chimney and made a doorway off of the “front room” (now office) to our bedroom. By doing this we eliminated wasted square footage that was just a labyrinth of walls and doors and passage ways.

Kitchen After

BEFORE: Looking into what WAS a second bedroom on the main floor in the original blueprints of the house (previous owners did an addition on the home and eliminated this bedroom as a part of that … it’s now part of our bathroom and part of our dining area) you see built-ins! So many, you guys. More doors and little hallways, and that wall we removed. Also, all the carpet.

progress shots of house May 2012

AFTER: Our dining area with a wine cabinet built-in with some shelves, no more wall! And less little doorways and hallways.

Kitchen After

Small pivot, same room:
Kitchen After

Different angle:
Kitchen After

And looking opposite into the space: You can see the french doors here.
Kitchen After

BEFORE: Looking into the wall that we removed.

Main floor living room

AFTER: Looking into the rest of the house once the wall was removed.

Kitchen After

BEFORE: Here’s a fun shot of after we painted the original cabinets and took the cedar shingles off the bulkhead. Baby-steps towards our finale. Looking from all those little doorway/hallways into the kitchen/would-be dining space and breakfast nook. Built-ins and all the carpet.


AFTER: Looking into the kitchen, hidden pantry behind chalkboard barn doors, and the island.

Kitchen After

This side of the island is exposed for cookbook and glassware/platter storage. I store props for photography here now but they double as usable items in my kitchen. This entire island is a constant work in progress as a storage solution.
Kitchen After

I think we covered all the major views of the kitchen, here’s a few detail shots and different angles of the space. We love it, I mean it’s a house and a kitchen but we live life around the table in community with each other and others so this space is our most used. It feels good to come home, just like it felt good to have one four years ago. I’m constantly thankful for the way this turned out. For the patience it took, for the planning and waiting.

Kitchen After
Kitchen After
Kitchen After
Kitchen After
Kitchen After
Kitchen After
Kitchen After
Kitchen After
Kitchen After

Collection of random thoughts

Today there was carpet installed in our upstairs … well, ON the stairs and in the hallway on the kids’ floor. These were the stairs when we bought the house Spring of 2012:

this is my house

progress shots of house May 2012

We tore that shit up and painted the walls. Then I did a fun little DIY on an accent wall:


Upstairs pattern wall: Triangles

Today the carpet was installed. And no, no photos yet! Look at me, being photographically lazy. Bloggerwha?!??!??!

Elsewhere in the house – we’ve been busy. Our adorable little kitchen when we bought the house Spring 2012:

progress shots of house May 2012

Notice all that brown? The shingles on the INSIDE of the home? The wood shutters at the window? The scallop-y type trim above the window? The color brown? All the trim on the cabinets? So about that …

So I have a crowbar ... you understand.

He paints, I demo the ugly off the cabinets. Win/Win!

Little by little.

Hahahahaha hahahahaha!!!!!! #dishwasher (new to us) ((yay!!))

We do this now. #homeimporvement #Diy #renovations #kitchen

Again, no more photos. We decided to paint the bottom cabinets a grey/navy. The upper cabinets are stark white for now (it’s what we painted the walls after removing the wall paper) and at this point, we’re just going with the blank canvas until we can decide on a color. It might be bright white forever. I’m ok with that. Currently we’re working on new hinges, the last coat of paint on the upper cabinets, and nailing down our choice for new counter tops (har har) … the Ikea butcher block is winning.

I have all kinds of ideas for closing up the wall in the kitchen to the basement/side door and reopening it from the dining room. (We’ll discuss layout of this house in another post, soon.)

I possibly just had the best idea ever re: kitchen reno and basement access. Possibly.

(Left side is looking at the potential wall to bust open FROM the kitchen: Right side is looking at the potential wall to bust open FROM the dining room)

Turns out there’s hardwood floors underneath the gross laminate floors in the kitchen. You are correct: I am dying to let them breathe.

After countertops we’ll do backsplash. In 4 months. Maybe next year entirely. I maybe, probably, totally can’t stand the disheveled kitchen. Cleaning up plaster dust to make dinner is all kinds of getting old.

As for the basement:

Basement bathroom

The bathroom is done! We have electrical (new fan and refurbished lights) and water. However, done is a relative term. We still need to paint (and patch/sand the walls first). I’ve held off on this entirely because A) I don’t love to paint as much as you might think I do. Evidence would show that I LOVE to paint with how much we do it over here. That is wrong. B) I’m stuck on color C) Paint the ceiling a “color” or go white? That is the question and D) We finally have a shower we can turn around in, the water runs, we get clean … I’d call that a bathroom.

We went crazy and changed around the furniture, got rid of a bunch of clunky-doesn’t-fit-here stuff and now we understand what we need/where we need it. So now we plan, wait, save and take the plunge when we find the diamonds in the rough. A hitch on the van is in our future. Maybe a table saw, too.

Photos galore are on their way of the progress. Hoping the sun shines brighter, the tulips lick the spring air sooner and we all get stupid-happy underneath a blooming tree near the water …

PS: Today I also had a bit of a situation in my journey with diabetes: after a weekend of high blood sugar readings and a possible trip to the hospital for answers, I was able to get in to see my doctor this afternoon. A long, very tough road for me has been controlling my blood sugars as a type 1 without insulin dependence. I fought long and hard to remain independent. My body could no longer do it: today I started my journey with insulin dependence. I thought it would feel like giving up, after being so diligent for so long – and instead, it feels like victory. I lasted this long (almost exactly 5 years) without it. I’d call that one-hellova-win. Best part? It ain’t over.

{Life List} Carpentry: Floating shelves

***Update at end of post for complete Cut List***

I don’t even know how to start this post. With some background?

We’re building this house and at the meeting where I went to pick out carpets, paint and counters and cabinets I told them with lots and lots of conviction that I wanted nothing to do with Upper Cabinets and No Microwave.

There were some blank stares coming back at me. And then they asked – how do you cook without a microwave?

I just had to giggle.

This is what I was after:


Photo Credit

Inspiration from the obvious as well as around the webershpere, magazines and what-have-you.

I had decided on these plans for the shelves but needed a different cut list because I was going to need six shelves total at 2 varying lengths. 42 inches long and 32 inches long.

So, other than my cut list being different – we followed the plans to a T. (And so can you)

In order to end up with two 42in long shelves and four 32in long shelves – all 11 3/4 deep (we did this instead of 12in deep to save a lot of waste in lumber) you’ll need:


2 – 4X8 sheets of 1/4″ Plywood (good grade or sanded on one side, also called cabinet grade, but just sanded on one side is fine too.)
11 – 1X2 pine boards in 8 foot length.


2 boxes (100 ea) 1 1/2″ sheet rock screws (or opt to use a nail gun and need less screws when building the sleeves)
1 counter sink bit
1 box (only need about 36) 3″ deck scews
Wood filler
Paint and supplies if you don’t already have it on hand.

Some stores will make cuts for you – if they do, ask them to cut one piece of your plywood into 4’X42″ and the other into 4’X32″ – this way it’ll most likely fit into your car for transportation and it doesn’t mess up the rest of the cuts for later.

{Life List} Learn Carpentry (and now using it)

I, uh, had them cut my plywood in the wrong direction. They cut them into 8’X42″ and 8’X32″ … but it still worked out for us.

This here is a Mider or Chop saw. She is beautiful.

{Life List} Learn Carpentry (and now using it)

My dad helped me make a shim so I could make continous cuts out of the 1X2 pine boards without having to remeasure every single one. And we needed a lot of cuts.

{Life List} Learn Carpentry (and now using it)

{Life List} Learn Carpentry (and now using it)

Hi Dad! Thanks for helping!

{Life List} Learn Carpentry (and now using it)

We went to work on assembling the frames and the front of the sleeves.

{Life List} Learn Carpentry (and now using it)

{Life List} Learn Carpentry (and now using it)

Then worked on our cuts of the plywood to build the body of the sleeve.

{Life List} Learn Carpentry (and now using it)

{Life List} Learn Carpentry (and now using it)

{Life List} Learn Carpentry (and now using it)

{Life List} Learn Carpentry (and now using it)

My dad has awesome tools.

A peek at the inside of the sleeve, where the frame will fit.

{Life List} Learn Carpentry (and now using it)

And a trial run!

{Life List} Learn Carpentry (and now using it)


From there we used wood filler to fill in gaps and seems, let dry, sanded and filled some more depending on how smooth in turned out.

{Life List} Learn Carpentry (and now using it)

{Life List} Learn Carpentry (and now using it)

Then … we painted them.

{Life List} Learn Carpentry (and now using it)

I went with white, “decorators white” as the paint can said. It’s a water based shinny whatever paint and it took 3 coats and only one quart of paint.

We had the builders quote us their price to build these shelves. I even emailed them the plans I was going to use – which clearly outlines the cost of what it would take to build these on your own. Their quote came back at $825.


It cost me …

Lowes – $66.08 (Lumber, screw bit, screws – and since I didn’t need them all I could return 2 boxes which saved more money.)
Paint – $35.56 (Quart of paint, one brush and 2 small foam rollers and one pan)
And a days worth of my time = priceless of course.

Total: $101.64

I don’t have a final “after” shot yet – they’re not hung in the house yet but they’re built! And I did it! With some amazing help and guidance from my dad. Thanks, Dad!!

Here is the cut list for a shelf 11 3/4″ deep by 32″ wide:

1″ X 2″ pine boards

1- 30 1/2″
2- 11 3/4″
2- 29″
2- 11″
2- 9 1/2″

1/4″ plywood ( one side cabinet grade)

2- 11 3/4 X 32″

Here is the cut list for a shelf 11 3/4″ deep by 42″ wide

1″ X 2″ pine boards

1- 40 1/2″
2- 11 3/4″
2- 39″
2- 11″
3- 9 1/2″

1/4″ plywood ( one side cabinet grade)

2- 11 3/4″ X 42″

When making the plywood cuts, make sure the grain of the plywood runs the long length, as in from left to right or visa versa on the length (32″ or 42″) of the shelf

We made 4 shelves of the 32″ and 2 shelves of the 42″ and purchased:

11- 1″ X 2″X 8′ long pine boards. Make sure they are NOT curved but straight. You may have to pick through the pile to find straight ones depending on where you purchase

2- 4′ X 8′ sheets of 1/4″ plywood one side having cabinet grade. Sometimes the store (Lowes or Home Depot) will cut the plywood to fit in your van or car. Have them make a cut to have 1 piece of plywood 42″ X 4′ and the other piece of plywood 32″ X 4′ or even 2 pieces of 32″ X 4′ depending on how many shelves you have. Then you can fit these cut pieces as well as the uncut pieces in your car or van and do the rest of the cutting at your shop or home

Menu Planning

I try, oh how I try, to make a menu plan before I go grocery shopping. It doesn’t always happen. This week I made it happen and here’s what it looks like. A two week spread, as that’s how often I get groceries. (But I’ll start from today)
Thursday: Honey Mustard Chix (p. 284 in Kitchen Bible cook book) Otherwise hop on over here and find one that fits your pantry.
Friday: Grill steaks
Saturday: Breakfast – Captain Crunch French Toast
Lunch – Sub sandwiches or left overs
Dinner – OUT! Margaritas!! Our fav mexican restaurant.
Sunday: Breakfast – Cereal or something quick
Lunch – Homemade pizza
Dinner – left overs
Monday: Indian Garlic Chicken (p 298 in Kitchen Bible cook book) or again – head over to recipezaar for some ideas
Tuesday: Blank – I leave a few days blank in order to plan to clean out the fridge or live by the seat of my pants. Also – I was out of ideas.
Wednesday: Kebabs on the grill
Thursday: Blank again
Friday: We’re out of town for the weekend!!
I some times write out the whole gosh darn menu with side dishes and all but not this week. I have enough stuff in my pantry to make sides work and I picked up my staple veggies at the store so I always have a few tricks up my sleeve.

I think I can, I think I can


This photo has absolutely nothing to with this post but I thought I would just remind you all how adorable this kid is. As in, I’m lactating just looking at this one. Geesh. Heartbreaker, no?
I just cleaned out and organized my pantry and all cupboards containing food. I had no idea I had 2 boxes of graham crumbs or a 7 pound bag of powdered sugar. Also – I have more than 10 small containers in the freezer with something tomato-ish in them. Sauce? Soup? I don’t know.
Oh and a lasagna! Ready to be put in the oven! Not sure if I trust that one any more.
Apparently that’s where all my tupperware went.
So … now I get to try and use everything in my pantry and freezer with buying as little groceries as possible.
It’s so nice to be able to see the back of my freezer (inside) and to finally know what’s in the extra one in our garage.
I need some help – I have 2 roasts and one whole chicken (chicken ginger stir fry coming) as well as a slew of fish, sausage and um … tofu.
Canned mushrooms, cous cous, brown rice, lentils, yadda yadda. I’ve got the grains covered. Even some whole wheat pasta.
Let’s get creative – I need your favorite recipes and I’ll see what I can do with all the ingredients in my house. Baking, too!
I plan on spending less than $40 this week on groceries. If that.
Ah, snap.