Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kitchen Update

I normally stick pretty close to gardening on my blog.  Actually, if you think about it, the kitchen is an extension of the garden.  It's where we bring the food we grow, prepare it, cook it, and if there's room, eat it.  We may even have some plants growing in it.  I just know I am excited for my kitchen to become more functional.  These pictures were emailed to me today, but the ones he first showed us I don't have yet.  Here's a link to the post with my before photos if you didn't see it.

This is the view of the U area.  It's hard to see what all is there, but I am losing the cupboards above the sink.  The planner/contractor is working well with us, and making changes as requested.  He is going to put a shelf across the window.  On the left of the sink there is a nice corner cupboard at an angle.

The second photo shows the 6 foot cupboard that is going to be a few inches from the south wall where the hoosier is currently.  I asked to see what the upper cupboard would look like, and asked if he would be willing to put different kind of shelving, such as track ones.  I found some examples of open shelving to email him last night, and haven't heard back about that.  He did say he'd be willing to do the track shelving, and it would save some money.  That's not my main reason, though.  I think I like the look of open shelving better for the area.  He was originally going to have the table be by the window, and the shelf closer to the door to the kitchen from the rest of the house.  We thought there would be more room for the table on the other end, because it could be closer to the inside door than the counter could be.   I am excited about using this area for popping corn, and using other appliances, such as the popcorn popper, toaster, and slow cookers.  I can store them in the cupboard underneath.

The next is a view from above.  The back door is on the upper right.  The new side by side refrigerator will be in the same place the current one is.  There will be a cupboard above it, with another next to it where the current dishwasher is.  The new built in dishwasher will be in about the same spot.  The new gas stove will be moved closer to the sink, so there can be a counter on each side of it.  A built in microwave/fan will be above the stove.  The cupboards will go to the top, and not have separate doors for the above ones like we have now.  The gateleg table will remain under where the photo shows a plate rack.  There will be room for a chair on the other side or against where the cupboard will be.

I will be glad when I can have room to do things in the kitchen when the dishwasher is running, and won't blow fuses.

They are also going to take the carpet off the stairs to the basement and remove the paneling.  I don't remember if they are putting something up or what.

Several others have shown photos of their kitchens.  I hope more will be inspired to do so.  I should send you to see FlowerLady's.  When I showed Larry her photos, he asked me if I was sure I wanted to have cupboards along the south wall.  He pointed to my current shelves and said that was me, and that FlowerLady's kitchen was me.  I told him someone pointed out that I will make the kitchen homey.  I am glad he is supporting me in having open shelving instead of another cupboard on the south (to the left in the above photo) wall.

I am now up past my bedtime, and can't remember who else has posted theirs.  If you have a post about your kitchen, feel free to leave a link to it in a comment here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Melting Snow, Signs of Spring, Camera Critters

We've been having highs in the upper 30s and 40s, and the couple of feet of snow we had has been melting.  Some of it is ending up in our basement.  When I looked out for critters today, I got sidetracked taking photos of some surprises I found.

I am pleased to see new growth on my hellebores.  I need to look in the book I won from Jan, at Thanks for Today to see if I should be removing the leaves yet.

The heucheras look like they've survived winter so far.

Larry took the corn out of the squirrel feeder in the front yard, scraped the corn off, and scattered it around.  The lambs ears and lamium look like they are ready to grow.

As I was about to step off the porch to take more melting snow photos, my eyes landed on a squirrel about 8 feet away, eating corn off a cob it brought over from the neighbor's, and I thought, oh, goodie, now I can post for Camera Critters, hosted by Misty Dawn.  I was amazed at how many photos it let me take of it. By now, there is probably a nice list of critter photos to check out by clicking the link in my sidebar.

Troy's granddaughter, these are for you!  Grandpa left me a nice comment saying how much you like my squirrel photos.

After the squirrel left, I ventured off the porch to see what was else was going on.  (When our daughter-in-law came to get Grandson, she brought the rest of the acorns she had swept up this fall.  This time, Larry plans to put them out in the front yard.)

The liatris and fireworks goldenrod are still looking good in the snow.

The yarrows are greening up already.  I have been gardening for so long, yet from year to year, don't always remember when some things start growing, and if they start too soon, what happens to them.

I forgot the name of this repeat blooming iris that didn't get to finish blooming when freezing weather hit.

I'm curious to see how these Debonair mums do.

I wonder if I should cut the dead part off of the snapdragons.  I have had them live over the winter before, but don't remember them staying green during the winter.

I'm assuming the fire hydrant got used today, but since the snow is there, I don't think the hose drug on the plants.  I forgot to go out to look.  I did look as I drove by to go look at appliances, and it looked fine.  When we came home from taking our grandson to see my parents today, there were several fire trucks and other vehicles up and down the street.  A neighbor told us there had been a fire across the street in the blue house, third from the corner.  They were winding up the hoses when we pulled up, and when I thought to get out the camera, they were finished.

As I was taking photos of the fire trucks, I saw some sparrows on my next door neighbor's porch railing and bush.

Theses pots in the back no longer have their huge snow hats.

The pinewood thyme (from the above pot on the left) is greening up, too!

The flat leaf parsley will bloom this year, since it's a biennial.  I will snip the leaves until it does.  In the past, I put parsley plants on the compost pile when they started blooming, but I've read that the caterpillars and butterflies like parsley blooms, so I let them grow.  I should have lots of parsley blooms in my garden across the street.

I'll need to cut back the sweet autumn clematis before new growth comes up, but for now, I'll enjoy the seedheads as I walk in and out of the back door.

The days are continuing to get longer, and when February gets here, I will start being more at ease, knowing spring is on its way.  I have not been visiting blogs or posting as often, as I went from helping our daughter move, to planning a kitchen remodel.  I am thankful for all the encouragement and ideas people left in their comments on my last post.

We have someone coming Monday to show us his plan and the materials he has available.  In the meantime, we went ahead and looked at appliances, and have what we want in mind.  Actually, we each want a different refrigerator.  I have chosen a particular side by side because it doesn't stick out into the room as far, has the energy star, and I like the layout.  The one Larry wants has French doors, which would be nice, but the freezer is on the bottom, which I don't know if I could get used to, and the ice maker is in the refrigerator.  I don't want to see an ice maker when I open the refrigerator.  Plus, it sticks out into the room several inches more than the one I want, and the one we currently have, which I feel sticks out as far as I'd want one to.

Well, I hope all of you are doing well, and even if I'm not getting you visited, you all are in my thoughts and prayers.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Kitchen

I've shown photos of my kitchen before when showing things I collect, harvest, or cook. Today, I am showing it because I have reached the point where I really want a change. A few years ago, we had some estimates to do some work, but were less sure of what we wanted than now. Also, we weren't wanting to spend the amount we are now in a position to, as the house is paid off, and interest rates for a home equity loan are low. I was trying to save money to pay cash, but it kept getting spent for other things.

Our daughter moving to a place where the dishwasher is built in, and there are plenty of electrical outlets around the ample counter space, and good lighting, has pushed me to the point where I am more than ready for a change. When our dishwasher is running, I can't warm my coffee, tea or bed buddy in the microwave, or a fuse will blow. I can't pop corn in my air popper, either. Actually, no food prep or anything else can be done when the dishwasher is hooked up to the sink, running. The dishwasher is now leaking water all over the floor almost every time it's run. The refrigerator has been "clunking" for some time, which is a sign it's on its way to breaking down.

I should mention that I'm grateful for the blessings God has given me, and have been following the coverage of the horrible earthquake in Haiti and its aftermath. I did donate some money today at church, and will again, as some fundraisers are planned. Also, I lead a team that serves meals at a local outreach center 4 times a year. (Other teams from my church do this other months, so our church serves once a month.) I mention this, because I am watching Larry King Live this evening, and it is wonderful all the money they are raising, but we also need to help the hungry in our own communities as we are able, to.

We had someone come out today from our local Three Day Kitchen and Bath. I thought they also did other work besides that, but he thought this would be best for us. Larry really dreads the thought of any part of the house being torn up. They have you leave your home for 3 to 4 days, then work all hours of the day to get the job done. He said unlike most contractors, who take on several jobs at a time, and work wherever the people are yelling the loudest, they only take on one job a week. They are booked up until March, so there must be people who like what they do. I tried to find some reviews of their work not promoted by them, but couldn't.

I am doing this post to see if anyone reading this has experience with Three Day Kitchen and Bath. It looks to me that the cupboards will be pretty standard, but they seem to be OK. I told him I am a gardener and a slob. I want materials that are easy to clean and maintain. He asked us some questions, showed us some kitchens they've done, and the price range for different choices of materials. He said they can work with the budget we have. Next week, he will bring a van with materials and get more specific with what we can do. He will also bring a plan from the things we told him.

We know people who have worked with designers, and the work took several months, with some setbacks and problems. They have been happy with the outcome, but it was difficult while it was going on. We are not handy, so are not wanting to try to help to save costs.

Let's take a walk around the small kitchen. We'll probably keep our stove, since it's only a few years old. I don't like the cooktop, but love the convection oven. We mentioned getting a gas cooktop with an electric oven, but don't know how expensive that is.

The guys didn't hear me when I asked about whether we should get different windows. We'll have to check into that.

I've mentioned before that I'm not a decorator or landscaper, but I love to fill spaces with things I like. Sometimes, it reaches the point of clutter.

We don't normally have a bag of dog food in the kitchen, but I guess Larry didn't make it to the basement with it after he bought it today.

I am sad that we will probably have to get the hoosier out of the kitchen. I'm not sure if we can find another spot for it. Maybe it will fit in our daughter's kitchen. There are scratches on it from Heidi trying to get it open to see what she could eat. I won the Vitamix on the radio by answering some questions on nutrition. They were interviewing a guy sponsored by the company, walking or biking across the country, and I was the right caller.

I will be glad to get the silver shelf out. It's too deep. I do love hanging things on it, though. I bet I won't be able to have so many of my "old" things on display. I'll be glad to get the microwave above the stove.

I bet Ashley will be glad to replace her card table with this gateleg one, that is if I don't find another spot for it.

We are not going to end up with a high end kitchen, which is fine with me. I just want a sturdy and functional one where I can cook and do the things I like to do there when I want to do them. My in-laws raised 5 kids in this house, and we used to bring our kids over to eat meals, and we all ate in the kitchen. I don't know how we did it, but it was tight. They did have a plan drawn up to remodel the kitchen, but we didn't find it when we were cleaning up to get moved in. We turned a bedroom into a dining room, but we would like to be able for the two of us to eat in the kitchen.

If you have any suggestions as to materials, contractors, or just want to tell about experiences you have had with remodeling, let me know. I asked about recycled glass countertops, but he said those are the most expensive right now. Well, Larry King is over, and I'm still typing! I better end this before it gets any longer!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Our Happy Critter Family

Last week, after reading that I wasn't happy with how my photos taken through the window turned out, Tom, the Fishing Guy, suggested increasing the contrast, and darkening the photo. I had fun messing around adjusting this week's critter photos. The first dove photo is the original. The doves have a shrill scream as they fly off when we disturb them. I wonder if it's a warning call for other birds.

This is how it looked with the modifications Tom suggested. Thanks Tom! I'm sure I have more to learn, but I'm tickled with the difference.

I have pretty much the same visitors to show. Here is one of the dark-eyed juncos.

I caught the sparrows interacting. LOL

And, now for the squirrel show! Our daughter-in-law brought over some acorns she had raked from her yard in the fall. Larry put them on the rain barrel, and oh, my, I counted 6 squirrels out there the day I took these! I am disappointed the video I took won't load onto the blog. I keep getting an error message. I'll try again another time. These squirrels are different individuals. In many ways, I'd rather not have them around, but they are here, so I'll take their photos!

Yes, I Have Foliage!

When I've read some of the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day posts, I've noticed something about a Foliage Followup. I paid more attention this time, and found that Pam, of Digging hosts it. I decided to show most of the plants I'm keeping over the winter, because Darla asked me if I was the one who had a hundred plants inside last year. I'm not sure how many, but there are smooth, rough, thin, thick, green, variegated, and other colors, and lots of different shapes of foliage. All but the African violets and a couple other houseplants live outside when the weather is warm enough.

These plants are on Heidi's kennel that she doesn't use much anymore. It's our computer room that we don't compute in much, either. When we get the time, we plan to turn it into a playroom for our grandson. I'd like to get the dog hair out of the kennel, and let Grandson use it for a little playhouse. Larry wants to take it down, but then I'd have to figure out where to put the plants. The spiky looking leaves are an agapanthus that I'm growing for the first time. I hope it blooms this summer.

The window faces east.

The big bushy plant belongs to our daughter, who doesn't want it anymore because her cat would shred it. I have to cut it back from time to time. I think I've overwatered the oxalis.

The plants on the left are babies of some kind of mother of thousands or millions. The cactus is from a garage sale a number of years ago. I had to adjust some settings for this photo because the plants were too dark to see well.

Next, I'll call this a mother of thousands of millions plant. When I Googled to figure out which it is, I found they are called either thousands or millions, and also found some call it friendship plant. I had to laugh at that. It makes me think of the friendship batter I don't take anymore, because I never get anything made with it. The baby plants are formed along the edge of the leaves. They drop and grow wherever they land. I forgot to do an update of this plant, which had been heavily munched on by rabbits this summer. After being moved out of their reach, it filled out nicely.

Here is what is in the dirt below the mother plant. These will need to be thinned.

This rabbit's foot fern is Larry's. I think this is its 3rd winter. He takes it to the basement and waters it in the shower.

You can see how it got its name.

There is a trailing, and I think, a prostrate rosemary in this pot. They are getting leggy, so I've been cutting them to cook with in hopes they will fill out.

Our daughter gave this to Larry for Father's Day. The short round cactus had a bloom on it that we thought was a dried strawflower, but when we took it off, realized it really was a dried bloom from the plant.

Here is a close up of the red oxalis. I thought it looked like a butterfly when I took the photo.


I have a few angel wing begonias in the kitchen. I did a couple posts last year about things I collect. One of these days, I'll post about my colanders. Do you see the photo of my sister and me? I am on the right.

Someone told me last year what this plant is that I got from an estate sale. I'm thinking it is a type of Wandering Jew. I put it outside this summer for the first time, in the shade, and it took to it well.

My in-laws raised 5 kids in this house, and we used to bring our kids over for supper. We all ate in the kitchen, and I don't know how we did it. We turned a bedroom into a dining room, and put in an east facing garden window. The angel wing begonia on the chair needs to be cut back, because it dried out at some point, and the lower leaves shriveled. I'm hoping it will grow new leaves and fill out.

Lower shelf:



I need to dust my bay tree.

The scented geraniums get leggy in the winter, but after a good "haircut" and some outdoor sun, they thicken up.

I don't remember if this taller variety of angel wing begonia has bloomed before. It didn't last summer. It keeps getting tall, and I cut it back, hoping it will bush out more, and bloom.