The heart-center of the family

The kitchen is where it’s at. The heart of my family has always revolved around the kitchen. I’ve never wanted granite countertops or designer appliances. I am thrilled, however, to have a kitchen table. The kitchen table is where meals are eaten, homework is done, playdoh is played, books are propped, and the world’s most meaningful conversations happen. The kitchen in the home we bought is perfect. Well, mostly perfect. It has a great kitchen table — intact from the ’70s. The table and chairs were probably bought around the time I was born. They’re vinyl and metal and laminate and indestructible.

When we bought the house, we added a butcher-block counter and shelves for tea, spices and cookbooks. There’s a load-bearing wall separating the kitchen from the mud room (and the ‘fridge). Through the window above the sink you can watch the seasons expressed in the leaves of the trees.

A few weeks past when my mother-in-law came to visit, her big project was to tackle the kitchen. Her motivation was a passionate hatred for the burgundy lace curtains in the kitchen. The kitchen — like most of the house — was paneled. Not, mind you, the SAME paneling in any two rooms. Stop talking crazy talk. The kitchen had a light-wood paneling of very poor quality. It was impossible to clean off, which is an issue for a lived-in, loved-in, cooked-in kitchen.

For ONCE I remembered to take before pictures. Here ya go:

The view from the dining room
The view from the dining room

From near the coffee maker - note bread rising and top of curly moppet head
From near the coffee maker - note bread rising and top of curly moppet head
The kitchen table area
The kitchen table area
The new view from the dining room
The new view from the dining room
View from the pantry
View from the pantry

The Ikea island - you would not believe how much we use that sandwich press
The Ikea island - you would not believe how much we use that sandwich press

This needs to be framed in and painted, but that's corkboard and metallic paint
This needs to be framed in and painted, but that's corkboard and metallic paint

There’s still plenty to do. We need curtains. The color theme for the first floor is sage and lapis, with the living room mostly sage, the dining room a combo (we bought new fancy-dishes since the ones I got for my wedding just have not held up to normal use), and the kitchen mostly white-and-blue. Laureen also painted the mud room, bathroom, entrance hallway and halfway up the stairs white instead of cream. (She did get through the entire 5 gallons of paint!)

We’re also working on this sort of correspondence center. The wall that’s currently black and cork is intended to be magnetic paint on the bottom (currently black) and then a bulletin board framed in with molding at the top. I think we need a whole additional can of magnetic paint. The bottom has about 7 layers, but it’s not enough to hold up the boys’ magnetic toys, which was the point. Once we’re done painting, the whole think will be painted white. I’ll put things like cards and art work on the bulletin board and the bottom can have magnetic letters, etc.

We also plan on putting an overhead fan/light where the old chandelier thingy is — which will mean we will have overhead fans in every single room in the first and second floors. We’re also going to put in a magazine rack on the small shelf, and maybe really narrow shelves to hold my teas.

But I really like it. It’s clean and cleanable. It’s a light, airy room anyway, and this made it lighter and brighter.

This is the room where the living of my family will take place over the next 17 odd years. May it be filled with heavenly scents, laughter, and memories.

Like the end of summer vacation

I remember that at the end of summer vacation, I’d rush around attempting to do or finish all the things that I had thought about with the stretch of unbroken leisure in front of me in June. That’s sort of where I am now.

So about a week ago I looked at the downstairs bathroom and thought, “I can totally do that.” The bathroom looked dated with a poorly installed wallpaper, a medicine cabinet with plastic handles (one of which had fallen off), a non-descript wooden towel holder and a toilet paper holder that looked for all the world like a 7th grade shop project. (Let’s just say that I did similar things in 7th grade.) I thought the paint color I used for the living room would look great in the bathroom, and that I needed nothing to start but to start.

So I removed the medicine cabinet, washed the walls, slapped on some primer and was off and running.

Coat 1: the primer didn’t do enough to block the wallpaper color splatches
Coat 2: the paint color was fine for the wall tile but ALL WRONG for the floor tile.
Coat 3: I decided to retry, this time using a gray primer to truly eradicate the wall splotches.
Coat 4: I discovered that the nearly-white paint I was using totally didn’t cover the gray primer
Coat 5: Still didn’t really cover the primer, but it will have to do.

Then I Shang-hied my husband into installing the new medicine cabinet, rewiring the light (twice) installing a new light and installing the tp holder and towel bar.

As a reward, the bathroom now looks better. But my husband confessed, as I was in the bowels of the project, that he hadn’t minded it before.

Next time I decide I can just slap up a coat of paint in a day and have a trasformative effect, someone take me aside and talk sense, please?

I NEVER remember to take before pictures, and the bathroom is really tiny so these pictures are a bit questionable, but here you go!

The new medicine cabinet area

The window and hardware
The window and hardware

Wrapping up the unwrapping

I have trouble finding online time when I need to take care of both boys (and not at work). Finding it while my parents were here and wacky hijinks were ensuing? Not so much.

To sum up:
*Christmas was really wonderful. I got an embarrassing proportion of the goodies.
*The after-Christmas clothes shopping was amazing. I got, uh, 4 really nice-looking sweaters (in a nice, washable fabric), 3 jeans that fit the me I am right now, a really nice skirt, a sporty (but cold) shirt, and three pairs of fun tights for much, much less money than you’d expect.
*I have now finally been to Cape Cod — all the way to P-town. I am happy to report that it’s cold. And windy.
*The living room has been repainted. It looks much better, but I’m no longer convinced it was the right color of cream. Also, the ceiling really needs to be redone, I think.
*And what goes better in a newly repainted living room than a SWEET big-screen tv, with a bonus $250 unexpected rebate due to my previous switch to Comcast? (FTW!)
*Thane is the sweetest, most kissable, best-sleeping baby in the world.
*Grey is like a barrel o’ monkeys — tons of fun with an astonishing amount of energy.
*I’m really a good cook. All the meals I made came out well, and I made a lot of tasty meals.
*I really like Avatar. It’s nice to have a tv show I’m enjoying watching with la famiglia.
*I will miss my family greatly. Sniff sniff. Imagine having to do my own dishes? And whole hours will pass without puns!
*On the other hand, it is sort of nice to have some quiet. That was in short supply with the number of adults extant more than doubled.

I’m a happy woman.