Tuesday, December 30, 2014

50 Quotes That Sum up Our Year

I think we exchanged some other dialog during 2014, but these stand out as the phrases most often uttered and most easy to remember...

  1. My chicken stool just fell in a gopher hole.
  2. I think we should clean (the chicken) Charlotte's butt vent.
  3. I think we should clean Charlotte's butt feathers.
  4. Flood! Flood! Flood! The washing machine is flooding the hallway!
  5. (Later that same night) Help, there’s a lizard in the dining room!
  6. I’m going to the store to buy Epsom salts so I can give Samantha (the chicken) a bath.
  7. When I was taking out the compost, Zoe escaped out the back door and I had to use a broom to get her out from under the truck.
  8. Did you just drop a screw down the toilet hole?
  9. I’m totally taking a picture of you with your arm down the toilet hole.
  10.  Want to watch another episode of The Love Boat? 
  11. Is that a tarantula in the middle of the street? (It was.)
  12. I have to go give the cat his IV.
  13. I have to go give the cat his insulin shot.
  14. I have to go pick up the cat’s prescription at Rite Aid.
  15. Is that Allison Janney? (It was. At a local restaurant.)
  16. Walter White! (At the Godzilla premiere.)
  17. When I meet John Corbett, I’m telling him my chickens are named after Sex and the City.
  18. Why are those cupboards so much shorter than the other ones?
  19. It’s fine—we’ll just hide it behind the shower curtain.
  20. Give me those tiles and I’ll go cut them (Yes, it was a big deal that I learned to use the tile saw).
  21. There’s drywall in my bra.
  22. I think I’m bleeding from a shard of bathtub.
  23. I thought you were dead in the attic and I was going to have to drag your body out.
  24. Do you want me to get the walkie talkies?
  25. Dad just said “doin’ it in the butt” (while playing Cards Against Humanity).
  26. Mom just said “concealing a boner” (while playing Cards Against Humanity).
  27. Did you just use a #10 envelope to get the cat out from under the bed?
  28. Carrie (the chicken) just pecked me in the front teeth. Do you think I have the bird flu now?
  29. Is my pee beige from the juice fast?
  30. Your hands feel like sandpaper.
  31. I just had to sew up a hole in my pants before we could go to dinner.
  32. My ring is stuck—I think you’re going to have to cut it off of my finger.
  33. The brand new dishwasher is broken.
  34. The brand new pendant light is dented.
  35. The brand new range hood is scratched.
  36. Did you really just hand me two eggs and a giant zucchini, pervert?
  37. (Insert chicken name), get out of the (insert vegetable/plant name).
  38. You snored out loud in class during Savasana.
  39. Zoe just went under the house through the hole in the bathroom floor.
  40. Zoe just threw up from the top of your desk chair.
  41. Have you brushed your teeth yet today?
  42. Did you take a shower today?
  43. I can’t remember the last time I shaved…
  44. I just filled the green bin to the top and I only cleaned about ¼ of the yard.
  45. I need a drink.
  46. I need a massage.
  47. I need a nap.
  48. I need an Advil.
  49. Do you think you could mow the lawn? (Response: How about I teach you to use the lawnmower instead?)
  50. I love you even though __________.

I wonder what new sayings 2015 will bring into our home. Hopefully some like "that seaweed wrap felt so good" and "I can't believe how clean the house is." A girl can dream.

Happy New Year! 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Kitchen Hits and Hurdles

When I was in about third grade, my girlfriends and I were obsessed with watching the making of Michael Jackson's Thriller video. There was something about going behind the scenes and learning about all the little details that we just couldn't get enough of. Maybe we just dug Michael. Maybe it made the spooky video less scary. Maybe we all had latent makeup artist dreams. I have no idea, but peeking at the process that led up to the final video was extremely satisfying for our little nine-year-old minds.

Although Mr. W's and my recent kitchen remodel wasn't as scary as the Thriller video (well, maybe as scary as the part with the dancing zombies...), I thought it might be fun to dive into some of the details and share some of the behind the scenes stories with you all.

When you see before-and-after pictures, it's easy to think that everything just fell into place perfectly but we had plenty of blips before getting to our lovely final product.

One of the first was with the hardware we ordered. Mr. W was extremely "particular" about the kind of hardware he wanted, so after spending literally hours researching options, we finally ordered these from Lowe's. And when they arrived, the orientation of them was not what it appeared to be in the picture so we sent them back. Then we ordered these from Home Depot. They had been discontinued, so we had to put in a special order to get the full number of pulls we needed. When they arrived we understood why they'd been discontinued. The quality was awful. So we sent them back... Finally we found these guys in chrome and we felt confident they'd fit well in our space. It's funny because we had talked about tab pulls in the very beginning—clearly we should have trusted our initial instincts.

Another snafu we encountered was with the pendant lights. Again, we did quite a bit of research to find products we liked that weren't a million dollars (like these, which I also loved). We finally settled on ordering three of these from Wayfair. Unfortunately one arrived with a dent in it, so we had to request a new one. The cost to ship back the dented one was high enough that Wayfair told us to just keep it—it wasn't worth the cost to return it. And then they proceeded to send us two replacement lights. Mr. W contacted them and they agreed we could send back one of the undamaged lights. But that left us with four lights....and we quickly decided we only wanted two (not three) in the kitchen. Doh. Thankfully, there's a project in the works at our house right now that involves turning the two extra lights into cool sconces for our smaller bathroom. Stay tuned on the details of that.

When Mr. W went to install the cabinets above the range section of counter, we had another doh moment—which are super interesting to navigate when you're married... I think engaged couples should have to attend weekend retreats where they remodel a room and if they still like each other when the weekend is over, they're cleared for marriage. Remodeling is like the ultimate team-building exercise and can very quickly become fertile ground for fighting if you don't keep the right attitude. So when Mr. W went to hang the cabinets and we realized that making them the same size/height as the range hood created unbalance in the entire room, we quickly had to work together to come up with a solution.

Enter: open shelving.

Yup, these little shelves were totally not planned but I love them and am so glad that our measurements were off so Mr. W could build them. He, of course, was also thrilled that I would have even more surface space for knickknacks...

Ignore the unfinished caulking around the cabinet. We're still working on the final touches in here.

So what did we get right in this room, you may be wondering?

Well, I love the Carrara marble subway tiles and the silestone countertop. I think they strike a nice balance between modern and classic looks.

I had no interest in helping choose a faucet (Mr. W investigated like 100 before finding one that fit his requirements) but I like the one we got a lot. It has a touch sensor which is a blessing and curse. So great to be able to just bump the water on and off when you're doing dishes—but sometimes I accidentally turn the water on my arm when I'm wiping up the sink... Not so much fun.

Another thing we love is the highly functional cabinet additions we ordered for our large, awkward corner cabinets. Before we remodeled, the corner cabinets were like black holes where one might lose a cast iron pot for months or discover a family of tarantulas living inside an infrequently used vase. But now, the lazy susan, slidey outey action makes everything very easily accessible.

Under the two drawer units on either side of the room are a couple more ultra cool space maximizers. These toe-kick drawers are the perfect size for cookie sheets, placemats, and pizza stones. Love that they make such great use of space that would have been wasted otherwise.

Although I really like everything in the new kitchen (boy was Mr. W right about the soft-close hinges) I think the most exciting addition was the pantry closet. When we first started designing the kitchen layout, we didn't have a pantry in the plan. This did not make me happy. After living with awkwardly spread out food for a year, I really, really wanted a pantry. Not sure why it took us so long to realize we could tuck one in the corner where the old hutch had been, but when Mr. W suggested it, I think I jumped up and down and then kissed his whole face off. It was the perfect spot for one and we have it so packed to the gills now, I don't know how we'd survive without it. I luuuurrve it.  

Now that I'm done with this post, I'm not sure it was nearly as thrilling as the making of Thriller. But given how often I dance around the new kitchen to old school Michael Jackson music, the tie-in seems very appropriate.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Big Kitchen Reveal

When I was 21 years old, I moved into a tiny studio guest house that required me to walk through the kitchen to get to the bathroom. Only two burners worked on the stove and one full cupboard was unusable because it was so close to the side of the oven. Pretty sure a racoon lived in there... My next apartment felt like it had a chef's kitchen by comparison. Its olive green, 1970s stove—with four functional burners—and spacious pantry closet felt like a major luxury. Then I moved in with Mr. W and got access to a dishwasher for the first time since I'd left my parents' house. Complete Heaven.

One might think a dishwasher and stainless steel fridge would be enough to keep two foodies content for years, but when Mr. W and I bought our house in Santa Ynez, we immediately began fantasizing about how we'd build the best kitchen ever.

And a little over two years later, we have it.

Well, except for the final cabinet trim and some touch-up paint. Believe me, I had to battle Mr. W a little to write this post when we're not *officially* done with everything. But it looks dang done to me. So here we are.

Anyway, when dreaming up our ideal cooking space, I rooted for things like Carrara marble and lots of storage space while Mr. W insisted on soft-close cabinets and a huge island or peninsula where he could roll out bread and pizza dough.

Thanks to his mad skills with sketchup, we were able to play with layouts and finishes until we achieved what we both felt was pretty much perfection.

And then, of course, we had to do the work to bring it to life. Or rather, Mr. W had to do most of the work and I had to try not to cry as I cleaned drywall dust off my wood floors 857 times. Now that everything is almost finished, I will say it was all totally worth it. Like the lady who is in labor for 36 hours and goes on to have more children, I would do it again now that I know how wonderful it all turns out in the end.

Before I show you the goods, let's take a walk down memory lane shall we...

Before we bought the place, the floor was beige and brown linoleum and the countertops were white with gold sparkles. The cabinets were in okay shape and we talked about salvaging and painting them, but Mr. W was in love with the idea of soft-close. And I was in love with the idea of not having to refinish a bagillion cabinets.

As an interim solution, we painted the floor and the countertops. A lovely shade of grey. (Mr. W says everything in the house is grey and he's not too far off...)

So here's how things looked before we started demo:

 And here's how it looked this weekend (after we cleaned and decluttered and made it photo-ready):

We're pretty in love with how everything turned out. Not only is it lovely to look at, the gas range works like a charm (although I did burn risotto in the pressure cooker one night last week...), the dishwasher is so quiet, and the giant peninsula was so nice to have when my brother and his family came to visit earlier this month.

I'm sure in a few years, we'll start finding little things we'd wished we handled differently. But for now, we're caressing the quartz and snuggling the range hood. Life is good in the northwest quadrant of our home.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gratuitous Eye Candy: A Before-And-After Montage

I don't know if you all like before and after pictures, but they're kind of my porn. (Not that I've ever seen porn, Mom.) I swear I could spend the whole dang day on sites like Better After. So in honor of my lust for home makeovers—and to give you all a little glimpse of some smaller but still worthy upgrades we've made recently—allow me to share this lovely mish mash of B-and-A pics.

Let's begin in the front yard, shall we? When we bought the house (and actually for months upon months after that...) the big swath of yard next to our driveway was a combination of weeds, decades old, dilapidated rose bushes, and totally unruly geraniums. It's no wonder a snake lizard took up residence there and tried to kill me during the clearing out process.

After pulling out all the vegetation, oh I think maybe THREE TIMES, we finally laid out landscape fabric and planted everything we'd picked up at the nursery. Hopefully in the spring those monstrous artichoke plants will give us lots of good stuff to eat.

Yes some of the blue fescue grasses we bought died. But the yard's still better than ever before!

The guest room is the one place in the house that has stayed largely the same since our first "move in." It's a cute space (at least I think so) but definitely needed (and still needs) some sprucing. We started by replacing the light fixture, which I'm sure was installed the week the original owners moved in in 1959...
So menacing. This light totally plays with a Ouija board
and eats moths for dinner.

A trip to IKEA, and the room was transformed.

So much cuter, right? This light wears pink nail polish and
likes karaoke bars.

The next project was turning what had been a sort of blankish wall (there was one picture, then three) into a mini gallery of family pics and collected art. Mr. W thinks it's a bit much, but I totally dig it. One of these weekends, I plan to DIY a little bench to put under it so guests have a nice spot to stick their suitcases when they stay.

Are those baby pictures of the chickens? Why yes they are.

Finally, we had a big before and after situation when Mr. W decided to partially demo the cute little bathroom featured at the very top of this post.

We had been planning on totally remodeling it—moving its door into the hallway and reconfiguring the floorplan—but I thought we might wait awhile. Nope. We're back to temporarily being a one-bathroom residence again. But I think this one will move much faster (*crosses fingers*) and hopefully I'll be posting a new "After" sooner than later.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Freshly Cut Tiles and a Chicken in the Bathtub

You know the old saying, "If you give a girl a cut tile, she'll lay it in the entry closet. But if you teach a girl to use the tile saw, she'll tile the entire closet on her own?" Yeah, I'd never heard it either.

Until this weekend.

When we moved into our house, the closet in our entryway had what probably was the world's most disgusting, putrid carpet in the history of floorweavings. We should have donated it to science, as I'm pretty sure there was some new strain of Anthrax growing in it. Needless to say, Mr. W ripped it out almost immediately and we just left the exposed concrete in there and piled all of our junk on top of it.

Purdy, right? That brown stuff is carpet glue. A treat to clean.

But since we started working on the backsplash in the kitchen this weekend, and the tile saw was hot, we decided to finally put something more permanent down in the closet. We used leftover tiles from the kitchen floor, AKA the hardest, heaviest tiles ever forged. They took forever to cut because they're so solid, but it was kinda fun to do it.

After I sliced through several (and trimmed some of the marble ones for the backsplash—which were SO much softer and easier to cut) I even got really ballsy and tackled a corner cut where the molding intercepts the floor space. I think I may have a new career.

Here's what the closet floor looks like now:

Better, right? Still needs to be cleaned—but a big improvement.

And in case you were wondering, here's a peek at the new Carrara backsplash tile in the kitchen. (Don't tell Mr. W because he asked me not to share any more kitchen pictures until The Big Reveal when everything is finished. Let's pretend I'm just showing you the chicken apple sausages from Trader Joe's that we ate for dinner last night...)

Amidst all the tiling, we also had some major chicken misadventures this weekend. Saturday while I was clearing a new spot for kale and letting the girls free range, little miss Carrie Birdshaw hopped the fence, cut through a hole in my neighbor's hedge and wandered over to say hello to them. All of the sudden, I turned around and she was gone. As I started frantically calling her name (as if she's going to come when called...) I heard my neighbor's voice say, "Uh Melissa, are you missing a chicken?"

I raced over to their yard and there she was, happy as a clam to be cruising around on a lush green lawn. We exchanged some words and she went directly back into her run where she wrote "I will not wander into the neighbor's yard" 40 times on the blackboard.

While she was out gallivanting all over town, her sister Samantha was coming down with some unknown bird affliction. I noticed her acting spacey in the yard, and later she was sleeping inside the coop and seemed to be keeping to a corner of the run.

As per my natural mode of operating as a chicken mother, I panicked and started furiously consulting chicken blogs.

Then I remembered something a friend had shared with me on Facebook about remedying various hen ailments with "the spa cure." So I headed to Rite Aid and bought some Epsom salts to give my girl a bath.

Unfortunately I was so worked up, I didn't think to take a picture of her in the bathtub. It was pretty darn adorable. She was very relaxed as her little feet and belly had a good soak and I stroked her back and neck. It was so late when we took her out that Mr. W insisted we blow her dry so she wouldn't catch a cold when we put her back in the coop to sleep. Shockingly, she just stood quietly while we literally blew hot air up her butt. I thought for sure the sound of the hairdryer would send her into a frenzy, but I guess the calming, warm breeze overruled it.

How could anyone not love that face?

A little olive oil and some vitamins and oatmeal and she seemed okay enough to reunite with her sisters.

The next morning, she was good as new. Phew.

Now if she'd only get cracking on some egg-laying already.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

7-Year Crack Itch

Last night as Mr. W and I stood side-by-side in the bathroom getting ready for bed, he turned to me and said, "You are one sexy woman..."

I'll get back to the rest of the sentence in one second.

Yesterday marked the 7-year anniversary of our first date. I remember that night so vividly, still. It was a Sunday. It was chilly. I carefully chose an outfit that was warm but still seemed kind of chic (black sweater, jeans, and flats). I had my hair highlighted the week before. I tried hard to temper my excitement throughout the night as I realized this guy could be somebody important. I'm sure I made coy facial expressions all through dinner.

We ate fondue. We drank wine. Mr. W put his arm around me to keep me warm when he walked me to my car.

We were on such good behavior, so committed to putting our best selves forward to woo one another.

Flash forward seven years, and this is what my husband said to me last night:

"You are one sexy woman. Polka-dot pajama bottoms under your dress while you're scratching your butt."

Yep. I was scratching by butt in front of him. On the anniversary of our first date.

The old seven year itch.

It's funny how relationships transform over the years.

I cannot express enough gratitude for the fact that Mr. W stays married to me even though I act and dress this way (ask him how many times a week I stay in my workout clothes until bed...) He is a gem and I am so lucky he liked me enough on that first date to ask me on another and another.

Before I climbed into bed, I changed out of the flannel pj bottoms and dress and into something with a bit more black lace on it.

And then, of course, we worked on scratching a different kind of itch.....

Saturday, October 18, 2014

What a Difference 12 Days Make: A Little Kitchen Progress Peek

After months of living in the ruins of our former kitchen, it finally feels like we're making major progress. I don't think I've seen a transformation this dramatic, this fast, since Jennifer Grey's nose job. Although she went from bigger to smaller... And I have no idea if she was healed in 12 days... Anywhoo.... The bottom line is that we're psyched to have a functioning kitchen again.

Every time I thought we were done with demo, something else seemed to pop up that needed whacking with a sledgehammer. The dust that all the construction stirred up was pretty much akin to having a Sahara sandstorm blow through our halls every day. Our vacuum has earned its keep about a thousand times over.

But sometime earlier this month, we turned a very magical corner and the dust settled and we embarked on the actual reconstruction of the room. First, Mr. W sealed up the open walls. Then he began installing the floor (and is finishing this weekend). We hired someone to help us patch and plaster all the cracks and holes. Installed new windows (the old ones were aluminum beauties, likely from 1959) and can lighting overhead. And when all that was done, we got to start bringing in the cabinets. Glory Hallelujah.

I have no idea how Mr. W knew how to install cabinets like a pro, but he got them all perfectly shimmed and leveled and ready for the new countertop (which will arrive on Tuesday). It felt like overnight we went from making dinner in the bathroom to cooking on our beautiful new range and washing dishes in the dishwasher (a monumental luxury after going without one for over a year).

We still have quite a bit of work to do. Like clean up this...

And we still have to tackle lots of finishes...

But I can't tell you how much it fills me with joy to see this sight again:

Within the next few weeks, I think we'll probably be able to wrap up everything. And then there will be lots of laying on the couch to recuperate. 

Here's another look at where we started:

And where we were this week:

Stay tuned for more updates. This progress train ain't slowin' down anytime soon!