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October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I am making my first meal in my new kitchen and since it is Halloween my family can guess that I'm making clam chowder! Dani and the boys are coming for dinner since no one will trick or treat in their neighborhood -- the houses are too far apart and their house is down a very long, tree-lined driveway. But, everyone in Bellingham brings their kids to this side of town anyway. Our houses are close together, people are wealthy enough to buy decent candy, my neighbor, Tom, hands out hot spiced wine to the adults, and it is just one big party all evening. Dani is going to tranquilize their dog so that he doesn't bark every time the door bell rings.

It was fun to cook today. I can see what is well placed in my cupboards and what need to be moved in the future. Nothing like experience to give some perspective. I am a "tea and toast" for breakfast kind of a person and I have one special cupboard for all those items. A special cutting board came with my sink and it is wonderful. My stove works well and the hood vents well -- I think I'm in business!

I guess I'd better go finish the soup and get the show on the road. Interesting that Daylight Savings doesn't end until this weekend so this Halloween it gets dark later than usual. Hope you have a spooky evening!

Posted by Marilyn at 4:59 PM | Comments (2)

October 30, 2008


I finally got 2/3 of the kitchen items in cupboards and decided to clean it up a bit so I could post some pictures. I was much more efficient today, although I'm still pondering places to put things. I suppose this is a process that will go on for some time. However, the rest of the boxes are too heavy for Dani or me to bring upstairs so we're waiting for Charles to get home from California tomorrow. Here are some fairly finished photos. The radiator cover and a few other items have yet to be put in as well as the backsplash tile behind the stove and sink. And, I'm contemplating baskets on the top shelf. But, this is mostly it! The end of a long journey for sure.

I'm still trying to get used to the openness from the living room. I would show you pictures of the other direction but I have piles of stuff all over the dining room and my contractor's scaffolding and boxes. At least I can now cook although I haven't yet found all my spices and stuff that I stored away. I know I got rid of many of them, but I didn't think I got rid of ALL of them. Anyone have a good idea for storage of placemats? Of course, I could get rid of those, too. Hope you like the pictures.

The counter is way too neat for me! But, I now have electrical plugs on this side of the kitchen!

My cute little Crate and Barrel island that has been patiently waiting to be used.

Haven't yet cooked on my new stove -- except to dry some cast iron that had become rusty.

I have room for lots of cookbooks -- and room for even more!

My favorites - my creative wine rack and my blackboard pantry door!

I have really excellent lighting, but I love my school lights best!

Posted by Marilyn at 4:21 PM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2008

What a Task!

OK, here is how my day goes. I get up in the morning and avoid working in the kitchen until my conscience is screaming, "Enough, already! get to work you lazy broad." So, I bring up yet a few more boxes and put the easy stuff away -- that is, I put stuff where I know it is going to go. Then I get to the things that need a new home and that I've put aside for decision making, and I just stand and gaze at the mess. I escape the scene go to the bathroom and check my computer. After doing a crossword, I get my body up and go back into the kitchen and have a drink of cold, refrigerated water.

I make two more trips downstairs for some boxes and begin to open them. Somethings seem dirty and need to go into the dishwasher. In fact, Dani and I found about 5" of water in the bowl to my big mixer. We have no idea how it could be so wet when nothing else had any signs of dampness. It is a big mystery. Anyway, I begin sorting through piles of utensils that I really no longer need and don't actually have room for. But, one was a knife Don loved and others were wedding gifts. I can't bear to throw them away even when I don't use them anymore. I berate myself for not sorting more when I packed things in preparation for the remodel. I decide to put items that I really don't use in a special box in the basement which I will have access to in case I find I can't live without them. I continue the task at hand and put away a dozen wine glasses where they used to be before escaping to the car to run errands.

Every time I get bogged down with too many decisions, I find something else to do. So, I work for an hour and play for another hour. This way, I'll be finished with my kitchen by next year sometime. But, actually I can definitely see progress. I'm running out of kitchen boxes and still have some empty drawers. The other funny (odd) thing is that every so often I run across something that I haven't a clue to its identity. I don't know what it came off of or what it does. I'm afraid to throw it away in case I have a jog of memory or find another object that seems to belong to it. How can I have something in my very own kitchen that is a mystery?

No, I'm not really losing my mind. Well, maybe! But, mostly I have too, too many possessions -- too many knives, too many wooden spoons, too many measuring spoons, too many wine glasses, too many mugs, too many bowls -- you get the drift. Unfortunately, I'm attached to my things. Anyone up for a garage sale?

Posted by Marilyn at 10:43 PM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2008


After working in the kitchen this weekend, I took the day off yesterday and went to observe a counseling intern in Oak Harbor. It was a lovely day, but unproductive on the home front. The new kitchen is daunting because I'm not sure where I want to put stuff. The old cabinets are no problem so I welcome opening boxes with items that will return to familiar places. But, making decisions about other things slows down the process. I've always hated indecision. I can go full speed ahead towards a task when I know what I am doing, but indecision always puts me in limbo. It is so debilitating that I find myself escaping to do other things when I am not sure what to do. So, I put some items in cupboards, others sit on the counter, and I run off to look at email or do a crossword for a few moments of decision relief.

In the midst of the task, I am also in between the little makeshift kitchen and the new one. I put a piece of toast in the toaster oven upstairs only to find that I've transferred all the utensils downstairs. I'm tempted to use my finger to spread the peanut butter out of sheer annoyance. I have put aside today to continue this task and I'm hoping to make some serious progress. I have lots of place to store things, but I don't want to put them in one place only to have to rearrange them later.

I have chuckled often over what I have lost forever with my new remodel. For instance, the other day I wanted to get something out of the way and realized how many times I stuck unwanted items in the space at the top of the stairs -- which is now part of the pantry. I don't have that little hidden spot anymore. So, if something is going to the basement, it either sits in full sight or I actually have to take it to the basement immediately. I have to find a new junk drawer also -- somehow none of my new drawers lend themselves to that task. There have been several little instances that I've come up against an "AHA! Now what am I going to do with this?" None have been huge items, just a realization that my habits have to change in certain areas.

I've been contemplating a feelings list for the blog which I'm going to work on sometime. I guess these items will have to go under amusing losses. In the meantime, I'm going to go spread my peanut butter with my thumb, get up and have some tea and toast -- I hope I haven't put all the tea downstairs.

Posted by Marilyn at 8:41 AM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2008

Putting It Together

Life has been up and down since my last posting. As I got into the kitchen this past week, I found so many little items that were not right. I got fixated on those and the threw me into a tizzy. But, then Tom came by and found solutions to all the problems to I felt better about them. They are little blips that feel like tiny steps backward, but they are really things that still need to be adjusted. 1) I touched up the yellow paint with the wrong sheen, 2) My drink refrig that I spent $$$$$$$ on doesn't actually have two different temperature zones as I thought it had, 3) the stove will not go back far enough, 4) the old garbage disposal might be leaking, 5) Tom never finished the insides of the tray cabinet 6) I thought I ruined the floor by applying some sealer that streaked and I found out by calling Marmoleum was completely unnecessary, I was ready to give up until I found some perspective.

I don't know why I get thrown by things that seem a step back instead of a step forward. I find myself irritated easily. I suppose it is because I just want this to be finished and I want someone to take care of anything that comes up NOW! I don't want to wait. I don't want to worry. I don't want to pay any more money. I want my life back. OK, now I've said all that, I can tell you the good stuff.

I got the floor all clean and beautiful -- It really is quite beautiful. I got all the shelf paper in even if it was expensive. Actually, I bought it in three different trips to Fred Meyer so I fooled myself into thinking it wasn't so bad after all. I began reading all about my appliances which are really quite wonderful. Dani helped put my cookbooks in the bookshelves and brought a few things up from the basement. I've begun putting things in the kitchen (just a few things so far). My neighbor, Andy, came over and helped Charles move some furniture around which begins to put my living room back in some sort of order. So, actually, I'm ending the week on a more positive outlook.

I'm in awe of all the cabinets and drawers -- but not completely sure where I'll put stuff. All the old cabinets are easy -- because I'll just put things where I'm used to having them. I'm trying to figure out the pots and pans -- and the items that were in the living room cabinet. I'll probably buy a china cabinet for the dining room for all those things. Each day brings new ideas and possibilities. I now have my new refrig in use as well as the dishwasher. No more trips to the bathroom for washing dishes. Yippee! Hopefully, my camping days are over.

I'll post some pictures soon -- I know, I know -- you want to see the kitchen. But, I just cannot take pictures of it with scraps of shelf paper and boxes all over the counters. Maybe I'll clean them this afternoon.

Posted by Marilyn at 7:27 AM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2008

Odds and Ends

My lovely late husband and I had a big difference in style. When we moved into a house, his tendency was to immediately install the stereo and turn it on, then put up the art and other decorative elements while I was scrubbing the floors and walls and generally getting things inhabitable. We argued about that. Was he just avoiding the tough tasks? Or, was I a curmudgeon who insisted on doing the ugly tasks before the enjoyable ones? He wanted to make life enjoyable and I wanted to prepare the scene first.

I've been thinking about this alot since I'm really loathe to begin setting up the kitchen berfore the tasks are done. I have a bit of second coat paintng on the old trim today. With a tear I painted over my grandchildren's heights even though I know I have preserved them on a piece of paper elsewhere. But, there are still a few niggling items that have to be fixed and I hate to uncover the floor or begin putting books and items in cupboards as long as those tasks will make dust or marks on the Marmoleum. On the other hand, I really want to use this kitchen and get things back in place. And I want to hang a few pictures -- do I emulate Donel or follow my previous pathway? I know the kitchen will not stay pristine anyway!

On another note, I was so grateful to the Craswells who came over yesterday to watch Jeni's race progress on the computer and stayed to help paint. The task goes so much quicker with help and they were marvelous. I so much appreciate their time and energy because it halves mine. Jeni finished her 26.2 mile marathon in San Francisco as we were getting started. It blows my mind. Made painting seem pathetic.

And a final note -- I'm trying to decide what to do with this blog when I am finished with the remodeling. There will be other remodeling chores that will come along and I can continue with those but they will be a much smaller scale. Here are some ideas: A writing blog because my son is determined that I will begin writing daily and I could record all my procrastinations here. A weight blog because I HAVE to get back to Weight Watchers. An exercise blog. A crazy thinking blog. A what is happening in the boring life of Marilyn blog. A cooking blog (including restaurants in Bellingham), An expose of all the gossip I hear about all my friends and acquaintances. Oh my, they all sound so pedantic. Maybe I'll just go dark until something more exciting comes along.

I'll take some pictures soon of the completed kitchen.

Posted by Marilyn at 8:58 AM | Comments (3)

October 19, 2008

After the Ball

I feel as though I had a big party and everyone's left a mess for cleanup the next day. The guys finished most projects although there are a few small items on their agenda. That left me with the floor covered, the scaffolding to use for putting some shelf paper in the high cupboards, and the painting of the trim and the breakfast nook. The electrician has a few small items left and we have been trying to solve a few problems like deciding how to make the under counter lights less of a glare from the dining room seating. All these things are small nuisances but I refuse to clear the stuff off the floor until I get the stupid painting done. And that means putting all else aside and just doing it.

My house is in such disarray -- stuff all over my study and the dining room from the remodel. I have to tell myself to take one item at a time. I remember my mother-in-law telling me once that she was getting too old to push through different projects for long periods of time, but she could just do one by one and she noticed that they actually added up and got done. I'm trying to keep that in mind. Once I get the kitchen put back together, I'll attempt to put the rest of the house in order.

As I write this, Jeni is running 26 plus miles in San Francisco and I am in awe. I keep getting visual updates from Jeni or Ron on their i-phones. Dani and Charles are entertaining their third set of California visitors in two weeks and Martin and I have been I-chatting about the race and his newly acquired writing studio. Life is busy in our family and remodeling is just a small part of it.

Posted by Marilyn at 9:05 AM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2008

Lazy Me!

I have a head cold! I got it from Nico. I picked James up from his jazz band practice after my dinner group last night and Dani put Nico down at my house. Charles was out of town so it seemed easy for them to stay over. We watched the final Project Runway and went to bed. They were up early. I was feeling slightly miserable. Nico has gone to his first birthday party. James is intensely jealous because the birthday boy's mom owns the pottery painting business attached to the tea room and that is where the party is.

On the other home front, Tom and Miles have been busy bees finishing my kitchen. Yesterday Miles worked on trim all day -- the trim that goes into the living room is fancy and takes lots of time -- the rest is not so bad. Tom made a shelf for under my sink and the two drawers for the benches in the breakfast room. I haven't been downstairs today, but I think they are putting the final doors up and the finishing touches here and there. There is still the radiator cover, trimming the bench drawers, and putting covers on the light diffusers. The lights under the counter were so bright that we decided to put something over them so that they wouldn't glare in the granite. I'm still waiting for the floor guy to come and finish the one door -- but it looks like I will be able to uncover the floors, put in the shelf paper, and begin moving in this weekend. Jim has a few minor touchups with the stain.

Yesterday I began researching incentives through the gas company. I may be able to recoup $25.00 on my new water heater and even some money for putting in new insulation. That would be grand. These days, I'm looking for anything I can to begin paying down the debt incurred on this huge project. The economy doesn't help. But, I'm so blessed with such a huge house and putting the money in property seems safer at the moment. Well, I've frittered away my morning up in my bedroom. Time to get up and face the rest of the day.

Posted by Marilyn at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2008

The Other End of the Day

I meant to write about the pictures, but it takes so long to post them that I ran out of time. The two last pictures are the pantry -- it includes part of the old bathroom and also the space that used to be the top of the basement stairs. I think it is very clever to have all that space now as a pantry. It does mean that once you open the basement door, you immediately begin going down the stairs. But, that doesn't seem to be too much of a problem. I want to paint a huge super graphic on the door that says stairs!

Tom came by this afternoon and I told him I was crabby that he wasn't around today. He is waiting for some screws that he ordered for installing the old hardware on the old cabinets. Other things are also scheduled for this week -- so maybe this weekend I can actually begin moving things in. Tom and Miles will be back on Wednesday. Millie came over and she and Tom think I shouldn't paint the beadboard yellow -- that I should put all the books in the bookcases first and see how they look. Dani thought the same, so I guess I'll hold off on the painting. I must say that I'm getting used to the bookshelves. I think it is something like buyer's remorse. I'm just ready to stop the painting and begin the fun part of putting things in cupboards and putting up decorations.

But, there will be lots of painting left to do because I can't leave my drabby living room in between my two freshly painted rooms -- I'll have to paint it. Someday I hope I can find the funds to finish the job of installing a first floor bathroom and finishing the outside painting. One step at a time! I can hardly wait to make a big pot of soup. The stove looks so tempting!

Posted by Marilyn at 10:25 PM | Comments (2)

It's About Time...

I've been too blah to write anything for the past few days. Things are just dragging on and I haven't even seen Tom and Miles for a few days even though they have just a little bit to finish. I'm annoyed but have been spending my time painting the inside of cupboards. I've been taken back a bit by the sheer presence of the bookshelves and have been trying to decide what to do with them. I think I've decided to paint the stained beadboard yellow to brighten things up. You can see the beginning of the shelves in one of the pictures -- but it wasn't painted black yet. After painting, it really is very intrusive. But, I have to realize that there are no books on it yet. We still have lots to do -- this will NEVER stop! Here are some recent pictures.








Posted by Marilyn at 3:58 PM | Comments (0)

October 7, 2008

Checking Off

The list is getting smaller. I'm sitting on my bed listening to the pantry shelves being installed by the lovely people who helped with my bedroom closet. The pantry which includes the landing on top of the basement stairs is all yellow with white trim and white wire shelves. I think I'm going to like it -- it is certainly one of a kind with shelves tucked here and there. Yesterday Blythe installed the gas to the oven and DeWaard and Bode came to take away the little drink refrig because it isn't working. I finished painting all the shelving for the bookcases, the rest of the pantry, and I only have a few things left in the kitchen to paint. Oh my gosh -- I think I can move back in by the weekend. I already have diet coke and ice cream in my new refrigerator. This is getting very exciting.

The granite guy is coming back today to cut a small notch so we can push the stove back 1/4". My head swims with people in and out for this, the last hoorah! I'm now going to have to choose some fabric for my kitchen nook and get the cushions made. I am making a list of things that need to be done in a certain order when funds come available. I decided that the funds I have taken out of my investments are probably more secure in my home than in the market at the moment. But, I'm counting on some money still being there next year -- I can only hope the economy gets better in time -- and that the value of my house rises to cover the investment I have just made.

I like it that my kitchen doesn't look like any picture in any magazine. It is definitely unique because it follows what was here and keeps the flavor of the house. I like thinking of the hands that built the cupboards and stained the cabinets, that laid the floors and installed the granite -- people with talents for design and for construction. They have put their mark on this home and every time I cook a meal or look up from a task, I will think of those people -- so talented and so very much a part of my life.

I once read a long article about a woman in her 80s that completely redid her family vacation home on some lake in the midwest. I was so impressed by her -- the creativity and the determination to keep on with living and creating when she could have been resting on her laurels. She was my role model along with my wonderful sister-in-law who still keeps books for a few clients long after she could have retired. Dani asked if I would have done this remodel if I had realized how long it was going to take and what it would have entailed. I said absolutely yes! I'm not through yet!

Posted by Marilyn at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

October 4, 2008

A Marathon

I know, I know Jeni, I haven't posted pictures. But truly, the kitchen is such a mess with scaffolding for painting and lots of junk that I haven't wanted that pictured for posterity. This should be over by Monday or Tuesday. This weekend I'm on a painting marathon. I'm painting all the different sections of the bookcase as well as the trim in the pantry and finishing up (finally) the inside of the old cabinets. I'm exhausted, but rather proud of myself. I do hope it turns out well. I really wanted to have it antiqued, but there just isn't time. Tom and Miles are trying to finish off here and I have no problem with that. Maybe in the future if I ever get around to it -- probably not.

It is blowing like the dickens here and I know the electricity is out in much of Seattle. I'm hoping ours stays on because I still have more painting to do tonight before I turn into bed. Also, I've saved a video to watch after I finish all my work -- and even bought myself some ice cream which is usually off limits. In any case, I'm taking a break at the moment although I have black paint all over my painting clothes and have to watch where I sit.

Look for pictures next week. I wonder what I should do with the blog after my remodel. Martin wants me to keep using it but we'll see. I guess I could write about living in my schizophrenic home -- some new, some old, two colors of paint outside, no bathroom left on first floor, etc. Should make for some pretty funny reading. Back to painting!

Posted by Marilyn at 6:25 PM | Comments (0)

October 3, 2008

Trashy Thoughts

I find myself waking at about 4:30 or 5:00 (too early to get up, after enough sleep to feel rested) and reading or getting on my computer and then going back to sleep until about 8:00. If I write something on my computer, I can only hope that it makes sense later in the morning. In any case, I got to wondering why my Mac laptop has spam, junk, and trash in email-- and how it determines which is which. Well, I know that trash is something like delete -- but how does it know what to put where on the other two? I find that often real spam goes there and anything commercial goes into junk. But, then I have to watch because something important might end up there too. Makes me wonder how I've been determining where to put all my junk and trash in my new kitchen.

You may remember that my friend Marilyn bawled me out for getting a trash compactor. Actually I moved on the compactor in a vulnerable moment when I found it on sale. Our trash collection in Bellingham has extensive recycle and she indicates that she has almost no stuff for her trash can after getting rid of cans, plastic, food and garden wastes in the proper container -- not to mention papers and magazines. Well, I just might not need the compactor -- or maybe each different bag of compacted trash will last several months. I must say that when I was looking for a 15" drink refrig that often the advertisement said that it would fit well into the place where one had removed a trash compactor -- oops! Is the whole world removing their trash compactors just as I am installing mine?

I know that I'm more than ready to compact the trash around here during the remodel. Yesterday we had so much junk after Mike put up the lights which were all packed in boxes. The last hoorah is rather messy, I find. I did hear from Blythe who are coming out to finish their work next Tuesday. So it's going to be down to painting and the rest of the cupboard installation. Well, I've had my toast and tea and my rant so it is time to get going in the world. Onward and upward!!!

Posted by Marilyn at 9:38 AM | Comments (0)

A Very Busy Week

What a busy week -- the appliances arrived and the kitchen has been buzzing like a hive ever since. The plumber came and the electrician -- we are only waiting for Blythe to get on the bandwagon and install the gas to the oven -- sound familiar? I've had to call them twice. I've been up on scaffolding painting and still have more to go. Tom and Miles are working on the bookcase system. My front lawn is covered with saws and dust -- but that got moved into the garage when it began to sprinkle. The first thing I did was to put some wine bottles in my rack -- and it looks like my expensive little beverage refrig is not quite working. It said to give it 48 hours to be up to speed, so maybe we're wrong. The pantry shelves will be installed next week and we're good to go. The rest of the painting and the cushions for the breakfast room seem to be the final glory. Oh, there's a few touch up things in all the rooms that are very minor.

Dani's neighbors from Irvine are here -- Lola and Mark and their two children. They stayed here overnight since Lola is allergic to pets -- that means Kinsey, not the chickens. So, today was a bit more bustling than usual -- and I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend to get this painting done. There are several things that take shape that I need to get used to:

1) The openness of the kitchen to the dining room. I love the light and the view from the kitchen. From the dining room it seems too open to the kitchen. That may be because the kitchen is such a mess right now with all the construction stuff around -- but we'll see.

2) Mike installed some "under the counter" lights that glare into the countertop -- I'm hoping we can mask those better. They look like footlights in a show that can be seen from the dining room.

3) I'm still unhappy about a few blemishes in the granite. I know they are natural, but I still wonder if the fabricators could have handled that better.

4) I'm hoping that the bookshelves in the end of the room don't make the room feel too closed in.

5) I made a few small decisions like the size and placement of the knobs and hinges that I still ponder over -- but I think I made them for the right reasons -- so I guess I have to live with the consequences.

These things bother me more when I am tired or overwhelmed -- it is amazing how much better things look when you step away a bit. In any case, I think I'm more tied into the kitchen than the other rooms which gave me little concern. I wonder why that is?

I'll post some pictures just as soon as I can get a shot through all the scaffolding, etc.

Posted by Marilyn at 6:17 AM | Comments (0)