Kitchen Progress

One of the good things about starting from nothing is you don’t get stuck with something you hate. I hate electric stoves. I grew up with a gas (propane) stove, and that is what I prefer. Every apartment I’ve lived in has had electric, and I never got used to it. This house didn’t have a hookup, so I checked out various sources and chose one. It was a snowy February day when they came, and I had to shovel a path from the driveway around the back of the house to the kitchen. There were feet of snow two years ago. But I would have shoveled a path from one end of the house to the next if I had to.

I was so excited when they hooked up my stove that I turned on all four burners. It works! We have fire! The first thing I made to eat was scrambled eggs and toast. And coffee of course. Because I didn’t have any cabinets, I bought a curio shelf. Over the past two years, I filled it with some of my small teapots, birds nests that I found in the yard, an old bottle that the frost pushed up out of the ground beneath the yew, and other treasures. It hung between the windows over the rolling kitchen island. That gave me some counter space … when it wasn’t buried beneath stacks of books, mail, and other ephemera.

These photos were from two years ago. It’s a bright room, about ten feet by 14 feet. There are three doorways. As you face the stove, the door behind you leads outside. On your left is the living room. Straight ahead, to the left of the stove, is a room I’ve used as a pantry. I had a set of industrial metal shelving that I stacked all my dishes on as well as my pots and pans. IMG_3430

Here, it looks nice and organized, but I hadn’t finished unpacking when I took this photograph. I added more dishes, and over time, things got jumbled together. I am not the most organized person. As you can see, I started with the pots and pans on one shelf, the glassware on another, the bowls and plates on a third. Now, things are balanced here and there atop one another.

It’s not convenient to store the dishes in another room. It’s not convenient when the pots aren’t in the kitchen. But the worst thing is the dishes get dusty when they are stacked on open shelving. I do not like to grab a pan or a bowl or three and have to wash them before I can use them when I put them away clean.

But now, I have cabinets. February 27, I found these “gems” at the Habitat ReStore in Hudson. (The wine rack wasn’t included.) They’re ugly. They’re missing hardware. They smelled a bit funny. The tops of them were covered with that combination of dust and kitchen grease that seems impossible to remove. I wasn’t sure whether they would even fit in my kitchen. They certainly weren’t going to fit in my car that day. We were on our way to dinner and to see Dar Williams at Club Helsinki, and–knowing the usual state of my vehicle–there probably was too much stuff in the back of my vehicle to put even one cabinet in it. I paid and made arrangements to return in a few days, with two cars, to pick them up.

So now you’ve seen the kitchen, and the cabinets.

How would you put them together?

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Kitchen Renovation

Two years ago I bought an old, old house. The main house was built in 1786. The “summer kitchen” was added sometime after. Not much had been done to it. It served as a rental for many years with little renovation or restoration (other than indoor plumbing and an updated electrical system). Because of that, it has many original features including wide board floors, some with the original nails, a lot of trim, and doors.

The kitchen (pictured) had a painted floor. Someone painted it blue around the edges but didn’t bother with the center of the room. Possibly there was a carpet there. The walls and trim were painted shades of blue. There was a huge old sink base with a double drainboard, double sink. Now it’s called “mid-century modern.” My kids called it “retro.” There are other words too… There was a corner cabinet, also painted blue, with the bottom door falling off. And curtains. Nothing else. No stove. No refrigerator. No cabinets. None.

But the price was right and I’d lived without cabinets and counter space before.

 

 

Three quarters of an acre so I could have chickens. Three bedrooms plus an office (when I get that far). A fireplace. A lovely piece of property. I figured in ten years or so when the children were done with college and my student loans were paid off (make that fifteen years) I could put in a kitchen.

My big splurge before I moved in was to have the floors in the kitchen, living room, hallway, and dining room refinished–by someone other than me. The floors all had been painted. Mostly around the edges. But the wood generally was sound. So as snow fell, the guys came and sanded then sealed the floors. I had enough money for downstairs. Upstairs, two of the bedrooms were carpeted as were the stairs and hallway. The bathrooms and my bedroom have painted floors.

But back to the kitchen… I got a retro style fridge and stove in black. I discovered that GE made some reasonably priced appliances in a style I’d loved for ages but couldn’t until then afford. Well, I could have dropped $4,000 for the red stove I coveted, but then I couldn’t have gotten a refrigerator or had the floors refinished. Priorities and practicality won. The GE appliances are very nice. I definitely couldn’t drop $20,000 for a kitchen renovation. I’ve read the average cost of a “minor” renovation job costs nearly that much.

A couple of months ago I wandered into a Habitat for Humanity ReStore and saw they had some cabinets. One set was blue and would have matched my kitchen. That set cost $1,000. Too much for my pocket. And I didn’t want a blue kitchen.There was another set in a medium wood. They were more expensive. Oh well.

I rounded a corner, and there was a stack of eight kitchen cabinets for $150. They had mismatched and missing knobs and were painted a flat beige. A few were only partially painted. They were ugly. Very ugly. But they also were cheap. They seemed sound. And that day, they were extra cheap because they were twenty percent off. I bought them. One hundred and thirty dollars. Two base cabinets. Two double cabinets. Two actually matched!

We dragged them home and stashed them in my basement with the spiders until summer came and I would have time to work on them. Time to figure out the color scheme for the room. Paint. Measure and re-measure and measure again. Draw up plans. Scrap them and draw some more.

Finally, I had an concept I thought would work. I bought paint and brushes, drop cloths and rollers. My deadline: September 1. Some people have expressed doubts. I’ve never hung cabinets before. But I’ve been reading books and watching videos. Just Google “how do I hang kitchen cabinets.” There’s a lot out there.

Here it is, August 21. Time is growing short, but I have been busy. Tune in tomorrow to see my progress…

The Best Laid Plans …

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Okra Blossom

Groundhogs, skunks, foxes … I’ve been battling the critters this summer. The groundhogs ate all my peas despite repeated plantings, wiped out the Swiss chard a few times, and destroyed the broccoli. Still, I am getting some veggies. More unfortunate has been the predation of my chickens. Arwen, my crested cream legbar and only blue egg layer died. I also lost four others and a fifth was mauled possibly by a fox. I don’t know if she’s going to pull through. Henrietta started jumping the fence at dusk to go sleep in the front garden, which she considered “safe” after the attack. I had to go get her and lock her up with the rest at night for about a week. She seems to have gotten the idea again that she’s required to retire to the coop.

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Hey, Peeps!

Hello to the first little bantam. It pipped last night and just finished hatching out today about 3:50 p.m.

It is not very steady on its feet and hasn’t fluffed out yet. Give it a little time and it will look much prettier. There are four other eggs in the incubator, all bantams. Two look to have pips, while two have yet to start their eggciting journey to the outside world.

These are Japanese Ohiki. As adults, hens weigh just 1.7 pounds while males are 2 pounds. Think about that next time you go to the grocery store and buy a 6-pound roaster! They are a true bantam, and are ornamental rather than for production. From what I have read, they don’t lay many eggs, maybe 60 a year. This is my first hatch, from a half-dozen eggs I bought on eBay. One of the six was not fertile, and a second quit about four days in, but four others were still viable as of lockdown on Day 18. (If you are counting, the extra egg in the ‘bator is from a different clutch, the only one of six Old English Gamefowl that was viable.)

I hear peeping from inside the shells as the chicks call back and forth. Last night, I moved the incubator into my bedroom so I could keep away curious cats. I awoke every so often to hear tiny beaks tapping away, working on their escape. It is exciting to watch them hatch. After the first pip, they rest awhile. It is when they really get going that it’s fun. It’s almost like they are unzipping the egg. They rest there for a bit and then with a burst of energy they push the sections of shell away from their bodies to sprawl ungraceful, damp, and spent.

Soon, though, they become those cute balls of fluff that are so engaging. When this hatch is done, I will share photos of the Littles.

 

 

Welcome Home!

I chose my chickens for the colors of eggs they produce. From top, the eggs are from Stella, Pepper, Arwen, Olive, Henrietta, and Muriel. The eggs taste the same (delicious!) no matter the outside color.

Henrietta is the oldest of my girls. She’s from my original Tractor Supply half-dozen purchased at the end of March 2014. She’s survived fox attacks, a dog attack, two winters, and my learning curve. She was one of the adventurous ones, regularly visiting the ground beneath one neighbor’s bird feeder. However, Nutmeg and Pepper decided the other neighbor had more bugs and went digging in their perennials. After being told by those neighbors that they would kill my chickens if they came on their property again, I quickly clipped their wings and rearranged their space so they could no longer get out. Fingers crossed, they’ve stayed put since.

I haven’t purchased eggs since July 9, 2014, the day I got my first egg from Henrietta. But they’re not exactly cheap if you factor in the coop investment, food, time, etc. Still, there is a real difference in the taste of the eggs, and I love watching my birds.

I will update with our adventures, tales of Ganache, the groundhog who lives under my back porch with her babies, progress in my garden, and more.

Welcome, and thank you for visiting my blog. Talk to you soon!