Friday, July 31, 2009


There's no grout yet, and the floors of the foyer, dining room, and laundry room are yet to be done to match, but here's the new kitchen floor:

We think the porcelain does a great impression of wood.

Had a great time not being near a computer all day the last two days. We'll see if I repeat the feat tomorrow. Lovely niece and I have been making progress on wedding-related decisions. Yeah, I'm not gonna lie to you. It's great girly fun we're having here.

Rapid subject shift: Backyard farm report. The three of us split Unintentional Cantaloupe #1 this evening, and it was quite good. UC#2 fell off the vine this morning, looking near-perfect, so it's in the fridge now. (The seeds must've come from last year's compost, because we didn't plant any. And dang if they aren't working out better than they did last year, when we tried to grow them on purpose and the birds kept eating them.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Splish, (Back)splash

There's no grout yet, but every tile for the backsplash is in place.

Even the ones that will be hidden from view by the microwave and range hood:

Pretty nifty, huh?

Floor tiling begins tomorrow... we're really getting there!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Doors and hardware

We have our cabinet doors back!

And the hardware installed, for the most part:

The hinges have their own story. They were the third set purchased, because the first two sets wouldn't work, for different reasons. Contractor David had to drive all the way to Ft. Worth to find them. Which he did this afternoon.

And, also today, the vinyl disappeared from our floor! Tile work starts tomorrow.

Newly Engaged Niece arrived today, so I'm taking the rest of the week off work; I will divide my time between avoiding becoming an annoyance to the people working on my kitchen, and girl-centric stuff like going to bridal shops and Ikea and Container Store. (Among other things, I have to find a more stylish dog food bin to go in that pretty new kitchen.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


The granite countertops were installed today!

We decided to extend the peninsula an extra few inches out into the breakfast area, in case we ever want to put a couple of bar stools there.

We even got matching granite windowsills. (They really tie the room together... just like The Dude's rug.)

As you can see, the backsplash comes next.

Prep work for the tile will probably begin tomorrow. And our kitchen sink will soon be usable.

Our contractor hadn't had anyone use this granite color before (it's a variety of New Caledonia, if I remember correctly). We're pleased with it. The main countertop was installed in three pieces, but you really have to look hard to find the seams. The epoxy, which a co-worker had warned me about, turned out not to smell near as bad as the oil-based paint (so, no more backyard camping necessary).

It's starting to look like a kitchen again. Only not the one we had before. Which is refreshing.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Oh, yeah. The floor's here.

I forgot to take a picture of the tile when it was delivered last week. Installation is supposed to begin on Thursday. Here it is:

No, it's not wood.


It's porcelain tile.

Neat, huh?

We think so.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Stinky drawers

(I just had to use that phrase as a headline. If you're from the south, that conjures up images other than pull-out storage bins that smell of oil-based paint.)

Bright and shiny drawers made their entrance yesterday; the cabinet doors return on Monday.

This painting phase has been malodorous. Oil-based works best for this particular setting, but dang, the fumes... Yesterday it was so overwhelming that we set up the tent in the backyard and spent the night out there. Today we were able to throw the windows open and do some serious airing-out. It's not gone, but it's definitely past the odor peak.

They also painted the paneling. The walls up top will be the same color ("Toasted Wheat"), but it has to be textured first. Possibly next week.

Granite is scheduled for Tuesday. Backsplash tiling will follow.

Newly Engaged Niece arrives Wednesday night. Thankfully, she's pretty good at adapting to less-than-perfect situations!

Just so you know:

If you have a kitchen, I'm fairly certain it contains more stuff than you realize.

Here's just some of what we've had in our living room for the past week:

Annnd, another angle:

Yes, that's two refrigerators in our living room. We're using the old one until the new one moves to its proper location.

And if you know the layout of the house, you've probably figured out that the tan love seat is blocking access to the foyer and dining room (staging areas for the kitchen work, soon to be ripped up for the tile phase). The dogs have been treating this blockade more as a loose guideline, though, since they can both jump over it.

We've had some progress in the kitchen itself this week. Documentation will follow momentarily in its own separate post.

Monday, July 20, 2009

This kitchen is divisible only by itself and one.

Because, you see, it has been primed. (Math geek joke. I'm not one, but I live with one.)

The dogs are totally clued in to the fact that something unusual is going on. People were here all day and dogs weren't allowed inside. That's just wrong. And there's plastic sheeting blocking their usual kitchen entry point.

See the wavy ornamental trim bits above the refrigerator hole and the dog buffet counter? Those are going away. Our contractor has made replacement pieces for those areas so the lines will be nice and clean like I want 'em.

Tomorrow night it won't look much different. They will finish priming, and do some caulking and sealing. Doors and drawers have been taken off-site for similar treatment. The actual painting will happen Wednesday.

Granite guys came to make templates for the new countertops and windowsills today, too -- a day earlier than expected. That's encouraging. Still no promises about when granite will be installed, though. (I'd be very pleased with Friday... I'm just sayin'.)

Regardless, it's good to see the work happening!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Kitchen progress

There's an echo in the kitchen, but that's about it.

Before you can put in new stuff, you have to take out the old. (Harvest gold appliances will be so in two years from now. We just know it.)

This pendant light is one of the few fixtures that will be the same when we're on the other side of this project:

Goodbye, dark wood. Can't say I'll miss you. The prep work for spraying white oil-based semi-gloss begins tomorrow.

And, just to drive home the point that we have to replace the flooring, our old fridge ripped the vinyl as it left the room (the "tile" markings are about a foot square, for reference):

So far, the dogs are handling change reasonably well. Except for Tuesday seizing an opportunity to eat three-quarters of a pack of Trident this morning, we've had no incidents. They understand that their food station has moved to the wet bar, so they hang out in the den as usual, with the added benefit that it's now closer to the kibble.

(Just so you know, on the floor plan, the contractor actually labeled the built-in unit by the kitchen/living room door "dog buffet." We also keep our china there, but that's secondary, of course.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Movin' out... of our kitchen.

Nine and a half years after we moved into our house, we decided we're finally ready to overhaul the kitchen. Here are the "before" pictures. I warn you, "before" includes a lot of the "Why keep the kitchen straightened up? We're going to have to clean the whole thing out soon anyway" attitude.

It also contains a bit of "I don't care that they said they can do texture on top of the wallpaper! I can't take the ivy for one more second!" (Yes, it meant more work for me, but it was cathartic.)

The plan is to clean out the whole. stinking. kitchen. this weekend so the work can begin Monday. First on the list: the cabinets will be sprayed white. And not by us. We can paint walls, we can install a light fixture, but we don't trust ourselves with a whole room. And we definitely couldn't get it finished as fast as the pros will. Tuesday they are making templates for the granite. Whatever comes next, we'll take as soon as possible.

Here are our choices for the countertop and backsplash (click the photo and the tiles will appear very close to actual size):

The larger tiles are a bit more of a true gray than they appear in this photo; they match the granite very, very well. The smaller ones will be used as accents at regular intervals along the backsplash, as shown in this mockup, courtesy of The Alpha:

(No, the window area won't really be yellow. It'll be "toasted wheat," which is the same tan we used below the chair rail in the dining room.)

The floor tile is in, but not here yet. It looks like wood planks, and will extend beyond the kitchen to the dining room, front entryway, and laundry room. Appliances will be stainless steel and black.

Earlier in the week we got to go to the granite warehouse and choose our specific material. They lifted it up with a big crane so we could get a good look at the whole piece, then they chipped off a sample so we could take it with us to choose tile. Pretty cool. (Not literally; it was actually very hot in there. This is Dallas in July, after all.)

The big question: Will it be finished in time for Wonderful Niece's visit in two weeks? The contractor is making no promises, but we will at least have the cabinets and countertop handled by then, so there will be something new for her to see.

Jean-Claude update

Well, in a chat with Jean-Claude, I learned that he hasn't quite thrown his marriage away after all. So that's nice. I also got a sweet "thank you for being there" card from him when he mailed back the CD he'd borrowed. Still keeping him in prayer, still trying not to read too much into the cryptic Tracelook updates.

But there's hope. For that, I'm glad.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A cautionary tale? For me, yes. For him, "it feels right."

This is a variation of what I put on my work blog today. I don't usually get this personal over there, but for some reason I went ahead and did it (after running it by two co-workers).

I have this friend; let’s call him Jean-Claude. Jean-Claude and I have known each other since the early '90s, but haven’t had much contact in recent years. But, thanks to this thing I'll call Tracelook, combined with an existential crisis he was having, we saw each other face-to-face on Friday.

Years ago, Jean-Claude had a problem that led to the end of his first marriage. It was one of those problems from which you must spend the rest of your life recovering, lest you fall back into the pit. And there was another factor or two compounding that problem, but lately he seemed to have it all under control. He has a new wife; he has a new job that gives him opportunities to make a difference in kids’ lives.

And I think he may have just thrown all of that away.

On Friday, Jean-Claude and I spent 45 minutes talking through his recent activities and emotional conflicts. It was easily the most transparent conversation we’d ever had, and I felt a little like Jiminy Cricket at one point, reminding him that he has a moral compass and the power to use it. But he seemed to take it well, even thanking me for my “wisdom” later via Tracelook. I told him my pastor’s sermon topic for this week, one that was geared toward his own life's struggles, and the uncanny timing of it seemed to make an impression. He said he’d plan on coming to worship with me before he crossed the county line on Sunday.

We share the same faith, and I realized later it might’ve been a good idea to offer to pray with Jean-Claude before he left my house. A missed opportunity. Instead, I prayed for him later, and asked my small group to join me.

On Saturday, I started getting text messages from Jean-Claude. At first, he assured me that his moral compass was holding tight. A few hours later I watched everything disintegrate, 100 characters at a time.

During Sunday morning’s worship service, which Jean-Claude did not attend, I lifted him up in prayer by name. As I was doing that, he was driving to another part of the state to finish wrecking his marriage before heading back home to his wife. A couple of text messages last night confirmed that.

At least now I understand a little more clearly how one of those so-called perfect couples, the college sweethearts, could reach the point Jean-Claude and his ex-wife did several years ago. I feel like a darkly comic old sage, dispensing wisdom based on my 13 years of wedded bliss only to see it tossed out the window of an un-air-conditioned sedan, somewhere on Interstate 35, in the middle of a Southern summer.

Today Jean-Claude’s Tracelook status is that he’s “waking up to a whole new world,” but I can’t help but wonder if it’s one he will be happy with in the long run.

What am I supposed to learn from this experience? Some obvious options: I can’t control other people. Just because I’m aware of danger doesn’t mean I can put a stop to it. Everyone has to make his or her own choices.

These lessons are nothing new for me. I’m not surprised to be facing up to them again. But I am surprised that a certain cliché keeps popping into my head: “I’m not angry with you, Jean-Claude. I’m just disappointed.”

This just in: Life is hard. Some folks make it harder than it has to be.

Friday, July 3, 2009

RevGals' Friday Five: It's all about the look

Over at RevGalBlogPals, Sally is cleaning out her closet. She asks us these questions:

1. Are you a hoarder, or are you good at sorting and clearing? I find hoarding much more natural, but I am capable of sorting and cleaning. I'm more focused on sorting and cleaning all the papers that arrive in our lives and on our counters and tabletops than on my closet, though.

2. What is the oddest garment you possess and why? Probably my snakeskin-print miniskirt with the broken zipper. I am officially too old to pull of that look anymore, and hello, the zipper is busted. But I can't part with it.

3. Do you have a favourite look/colour? I like simple, clean lines. I like red, but don't wear it very often these days. Probably because I also like to blend in.

4. Thrift/Charity shops, love them or hate them? Eh. I hardly ever go looking for clothes anywhere, and I have to be in a very particular kind of mood to want to sort through every little thing on a rack. But if I'm there with the right person, a thrift shop can be entertaining.

5. Money is no object, what one item would you buy? Probably something more socially-conscious than my usual fare, which likely has some unethical labor practices behind the low prices.