Friday, May 8, 2015

Kitchen Renovation: Day 1

Ahhhhh… home improvement projects. The very definition of a love/hate relationship, don't you think? I love the progress but I hate the mess. I love the new look but I hate making decisions without seeing the final product first. And no matter how much you plan and prepare, you inevitably end up doing something you hadn't planned to do. Amiright? Here is what we've accomplished so far…

Day 1

In three different stages, throughout the course of the day, we removed a window ledge, 
Yep. That's 26 year old cardboard right there shoring up the back side of our former window ledge. Fancy.
And a Pepsi bottle (circa 1989)… it was very clean, surprisingly. Like someone politely rinsed it out before hiding it in our wall.
all three countertops, the sink, disconnected all the plumbing, 

took down two hanging cabinets 

See the random hole? I swear… every time we take something down we find a hole where there shouldn't be one. I think the builders were hammer happy.

and removed a good portion of the painted wallpaper on the walls. 
Don't ever paint your wallpaper, people. Just say no.

Even if it's this ugly! Don't paint it… just tear it off.

The family that peels wallpaper together, stays together!
So, what was the unplanned activity? The wallpaper removal. 
See, what happened was I had planned to take the cabinets down at a later date. I had talked with my husband about putting up some fabulous open shelving in place of the two single cabinets on either side of the sink and he was game for it. He told me just before starting to demo the kitchen that he'd be willing to do it now if I wanted. So we did. And I loved it instantly!
I mean… look at the difference it made.
The first view from of my kitchen walking through the doorway of the breakfast room.
Huge change, right?
But removing those cabinets made us realize that we needed to address the wall since the tile we have planned isn't going to cover it. And that's when we decided to start ripping down the wallpaper. The painted wallpaper. Maybe the paint didn't make it harder to tear off, but it sure seemed like it. And adding a layer of two of latex (and primer if I remember correctly) really only created sharper edges to slice under your fingernails. 

Up next… new countertops, sink and faucet and my poor husband will be skimming the upper portion of the walls all weekend so that the tile guy can come do his thing next week. 

Happy Mother's Day weekend!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Almost new kitchen coming up!

I'm sorry. I have not been in a blogging mood. I don't know why, it just is what it is. But I want to blog more to record these days for my children to look back on. Not sure how I'm going to reconcile those two issues. For now, I'll just jump right in where we are.

Right here…

…in the kitchen.

I am terrible about taking before pictures because usually when demolition is involved, I just start ripping things out. But I love seeing other people's projects! So I'm going to try to blog this project the way I like other people to blog their renovation projects. (Cough,cough,Dwija…ahem!)

We are replacing our 26 year old white laminate (durable as heck, but so easily stained) countertops with something new. Tomorrow, these get removed and donated to someone who is going to try to get a little more life out of them (see what I mean by durable). We have chosen a neutral color Silestone product to replace them. Here are a few more before pictures with some extra info for anyone who's interested.
We are even replacing our window ledge with the same Silestone material. This window ledge. The bumpy, nasty, old, warped, painted MDF window ledge. Our tile guy recommended that because I am not fancy enough to think of something like that for myself. I might have to make him a cake for that suggestion. Best idea EVER!

This outlet just hanging out in the middle of the wall for no good reason will get moved lower and further back in the corner. Please ignore the missing laminate backsplash. 

Missing backsplash on the other side because we have to match!

White subway tile backsplash coming up!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dragon Scone at Catholic Cuisine

I'm over at Catholic Cuisine today posting about the Dragon Scone we made last year for St. George's Day (April 23rd). I'm planning to make another one tomorrow provided we don't get swept away in the storm outbreak that is threatening us today. What are your plans for the Feast of St. George?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Natural Dyed Eggs 2015

If you've never tried natural dyed eggs and don't know where to start, red cabbage, yellow onion skins and turmeric are a good place to start. I almost always boil my eggs in the dye bath and then leave them in their dye baths overnight. But I have also taken white hardboiled eggs and dropped them into cold dye baths. It doesn't seem to make much of a difference, as long as you soak them for a long time, preferably overnight.

~Red Cabbage~
Shred the outer half of a head of red cabbage and boil in just enough water to cover to eggs and cabbage. Boil eggs in cabbage and then drain and pour dye into mason jars. Add eggs. Refrigerate overnight once the dye has cooled.
{From left to right: dye bath with vinegar, nothing, & baking soda}
 To vary the color and intensity, add 1 Tbl. of vinegar or 1 tsp. baking soda to the cup of dye and allow eggs to sit overnight. As we discovered the last time we tried the red cabbage experiment, too much baking soda will not produce the desired teal color. (I forgot this year and used 1 Tbl. instead of a teaspoon and that was too much for the small jar of dye.)

 ~Yellow Onions Skins & Turmeric~
 I used about 1 gallon bag worth of onion skins for a medium sized pot (4 qt.) that held 9 eggs. Shred yellow onion skins in food processor to help collapse them down and place in pot (optional). Cover eggs and skins with water. Boil for 12 minutes. Drain and pour dye into mason jars. Add eggs.

For turmeric dye, boil eggs in a small pot (1qt.) with 3 Tablespoons of turmeric. I have to admit with the turmeric, leaving them in the dye bath overnight didn't really seem to affect the color or intensity.
{Both of these were only boiled in their dyes, not dyed overnight.}
The two on the left were boiled in an onion skin dye and then dyed overnight too. The one on the right was a white egg boiled in plain water that sat in cold onion skin dye overnight (but was not boiled in it).

More onion skin dyed egg that sat overnight in their dye. This is the first time I've gotten eggs this red. Oiling them with olive oil helped bring out the bright red color.

Easter is a season… it's not too late to try natural dyed eggs!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter 2015

The first year I made one of these little countdown Lenten lambs for BigBoy, I thought I had made a praying lamb, you know… with eyes closed in quiet contemplation and meditation. BigBoy dubbed it a "sleeping lamb". So, that's how our little lamb became a sleeping lamb for all of Lent...

 who then wakes up for Easter!

After morning mass at the monastery!

Our crimson red natural dyed eggs this year. I'm going to post more about them later.

Easter basket hunting time...

Miss Cupcake really wanted an Easter cake with flowers on it. I only had a bag of M&M's in the house so Sunshine made this for her...

She was delighted!

Happy Easter from our family to yours!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Natural Dyed Egg Roundup

Naturally dyed Easter eggs from 2010
For those of you looking, you can find a round-up off all of my posts on dyeing Easter eggs with natural dyes (veggies, tea, coffee, etc...) by clicking here. Happy Holy Saturday!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

{phfr} Glassblowing, cake, cuckoos and clotheslines


~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~ with the lovely ladies at Like Mother, Like Daughter

Wow, I haven't participated in a {p,h,f,r} day in so long. Here's hoping this gets me back into the swing of things.

We took a field trip to a local glassblowing studio that is owned by one the families in our homeschool group. We've been there before, back in 2007 but BigBoy didn't remember much of it so when the chance came up again to go for a demonstration, we took it. The owner and his team were working on a sculptured glass project which is different than a blown glass project. One of the guys took time out to give us a demonstration. He made a glass ornament, a glass flower and a fluted glass bowl.

 Glass ornaments
 Demonstrating how a glass ornament is blown.
 Glass blowing studio field trip with a demonstration coming up. The hottest place to hang out on a cold, rainy day!
 Making a glass flower
Just one piece of amazing artwork hanging in their studio. There were so many things I wanted to come home with!

 My kids were very happy that I tried out this new recipe for an Extreme Chocolate Cake in a Cathedral cake pan to honor St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. I seriously thought it was going to flop when I put it in the oven. The batter was soupier than soup! But it tasted amazing and made it out of the pan with only a few cracks that were easily repaired. I topped it with a simple chocolate glaze. It was awesome. Might have to make another one for Easter. (I did follow one reviewer's advice and replaced the boiling water with hot decaf coffee. I think it makes the cocoa taste richer. Also, the Cathedral pan that I have is too small for all this batter. Only use 3/4 of it and place the rest in another pan so it doesn't overflow and mess up the bottom of your oven and make you have to scrub and scrape it all off. Ask me how I know.)
My happy is this… my cuckoo clock. My grandparents had a beautiful one in their house. I wish I knew who had it now. I think my uncle, maybe. I loved that clock. I loved the tick tick tick of it. I loved hearing the cuckoo in the middle of the night when it was too hot to sleep. Knowing how special their clock was to me, my husband surprised me with the on my 30th birthday. It's is a real German cuckoo clocked shipped from the Black Forest. It's smaller than the one in my grandparents' farm house, but it's got the cutest little deer on it and trees and logs. I really love it. It has stopped working a few years back and we tried everything we knew or could find online to fix it. Nothing worked anytime it started up, it would stop again. So I left it on the wall figuring that we'd have to find a clockmaker to fix it. Well, something inspired Sean to take it down, open it up, clean it throughly (like he would an old computer) and it's working again! He doesn't know what he did to fix it, but it's fixed and Miss Cupcake has been just as enthralled with it's sweet cuckoos, just like I was when I was little. 


A ribbon tied to door knobs, a basket full of unmatched socks and a handful of clothes pins... that's entertainment! 

Seriously… if you have a toddler, try this. She spent about an hour hanging socks and then taking them down again. So much fun! So much quiet!

 Look at my cutie pie babies the first time they visited the glass blowing studio! So tiny. So cute! Seems like so long ago and yet only yesterday. So big now. So fast. Hang on to those tiny ones as long as you can.