Monday, December 28, 2015

My old life ............

and why I chose to work with a kitchen designer.

Before the idea of Miss Eff was hatched from this farm ... my life was very different.

I wore skirts and dresses and high heels and stockings.  I knew the layout of the Merchandise Mart.... where to get the best coffee .... where to find the perfect pillow .... on my occasional trips to Chicago to keep up-to-date on the latest trends in the interior design business.

You see ....... before I lived in blue jeans and faded t-shirts ..... before I sloshed through mud to gather eggs .... before my hands were dirty from digging in the garden........... I worked in interior design.

I was obsessed with design!

House Beautiful .... House and Garden .... Architectural Digest .... I read them all!

I loved Laura Ashley .... Mario Buatto ... Bunny Williams and my favorite, Mark Hampton.

I started my design career young when I won an Ethan Allen Young Decorator contest.  I then, worked at Ethan Allen, designed custom draperies for JCP, sold floor coverings for a decade, and finally, I designed kitchens for 4 years.

From 1973 to 2000 ..... I almost always had my hand in some form of interior design.

I may not have known all the answers but I had the sources and knowledge to know where to find them.  And trust me .... most of that was before Al Gore invented the internet (wink! wink!) so you really did have to know where to find the answers!!!!

So ..... when we decided to re-do the kitchen (See, Honey!!!!  I included you in the decision making process!)  I started out with tear sheets and my virtual boards from Houzz and Pinterest.

I decided the look I wanted .... the colors I wanted .... the feel and the budget.  I decided what I needed for storage ...... and what I wanted for fun.

I measured  .... and measured.  I did layouts and perspectives ..... they were rough but I drew one and tossed it away ... only to draw another that I liked better.  And another and another.

I know that balance is important to me ..... I know pretty and practical are also important.  But most of all, my kitchen needs to function well.  Whether I am teaching a class in my kitchen or four of us are canning tomatoes, it needs to work well without running into each other or duplicating steps.

So I called Rachel, Carrie and Gale at CR Cabinetry to help me.

I could have downloaded a program ... and walked into a big box store and said, This is what I want.  

But it is tooooooo easy to get this problem.

First of all, I want to apologize to the owner of this kitchen.  I think this was an existing builder oak kitchen that she painted beautifully to create lovely space.  So I do apologize for pointing out the issue.

Do you see it?  Can you pin point the problem? 

The moment I saw it .... it stuck out like a sore thumb.

I'm sure you see that one drawer does not have a bin pull.

But why???? 

Because you would not be able to open the dishwasher if it did.  The handle of the dishwasher would not pass the bin pull.  Of course, there still is the problem that the drawer will not open without the dishwasher door being open.


Simple mistake of not installing a filler to the left of the cabinet.  One three inch filler would have eliminated the problem.

And ..... I might have not thought of that.  This contractor didn't. He should have.  But he was probably also  worried about drywall and flooring and electrical and landscaping 

In a world of full overlay doors ..... as Rachel said ..... fillers are your friend.

And so are kitchen designers.

The internet is great.  You can learn a lot.  But you also learn a lot from specialized training, keeping up to date on trends, seminars and doing the same job over and over again.

And that is why I used a kitchen designer.

Because 4 heads were better than one.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Demolish the halls with sheets of drywall ...........

Fa-la-la-la.  La-la-la-la.

So .... other than some wreaths and lights in the Summer Kitchen, it really looks like the Grinch has been to Miss Eff's  before he went to Whoville.

There is no tree .... there are no twinkling lights.

But do you know what that means?????

The kitchen remodel has begun!!!!!

AND I want nothing else but kitchen stuff to be brought into this house!!!

Progress will be pretty minimal in the next couple of weeks .... and I really do expect the process to take several months.

I really do.  Really.  Months.

I keep repeating this to myself .... so in March .... I won't go stark-raving mad!!!!

But it has begun and so let the documenting begin!!!!

The true first step was the installation of the new kitchen window this past summer.  This was a solid wood custom built window with no vinyl, no aluminum ...... made to match one of the existing early windows.  It replaced a 1970's casement window.

We ordered this window in September of 2014 and received it February 2015.

Welcome to the world of historic restoration.  Nothing is fast.  Nothing is cheap.  Takes twice as long to make and receive and cost three times more.

BUT ...... we can not believe how much cold air was coming in the old window!!!  The kitchen really is warmer.  Well worth the wait.

The next step was the removal of the wallpaper border.

This has pretty much been Honey's idea of hell.

I purchased strippable wallpaper and hired a gal to hang it ...........16 or 17 years ago.

Oh. My. Goodness.

She put some kind of awful paste on it.  It comes off in strips that are 1/2" x 3" ......... if you are lucky.

That being said ....... there is 9 feet or so of paper left.

Now ..... here comes the hard part.

The piddling ass stuff that I really want to skip but I know that we can't.  And it will take uber amounts of time.

Things like .............. using plaster washers to repair a crack.

This is the first rough coat after screwing the plaster washers in place.

We are also using a product called Krack Cote that is made by Abatron and it will seal up small cracks and imperfection.

I have been collecting "house parts" for this project ........ for a while.

OK .... a long while.

One thing that I have been trying to do ......... is replace traditional light switches with reproduction push button switches throughout the house.

Yea .... why spend 99 cents for a simple switch when you can spend $14.79 for one of these???????  Yea ... again, welcome to the world of historic restoration.

One of things I had planned on ............( Honey -- not so much!!!!) ............ was moving the current outlets so they are level (I know!!!  What a concept!!) and have GFI boxes.

What I didn't plan on was making the decision to have lights over the island.  So more switches and outlets and boxes need to be installed.

Which means ... more pushbutton switches, outlets, brass switch plates ... need to be paid for and ordered!

Which means ..... there is no sense of painting the walls and ceilings until that is done.

My personal idea of hell is packing up the kitchen.  Seriously .... how many melon ballers does one person need???

And those 7 sets of dishes that I own ..... I need to re-think that one.

It is a great time to get rid of stuff .... and I am doing just that.

In the meantime ............ the living room has become the staging room for the kitchen furniture that we move and the parts and pieces as they arrive.

The pantry is blocking the front door .............. its going to be here for a while.  Eventually .... it will take its home in the laundry room.

It will be fine .... I can live with it.

I think.

The plan is to get all the piddly stuff  .......... plaster repair, electrical stuff, painting and removing the cabinets so the floor can be installed by January 4th.


And out of the living room.

So I can fill it with the new cabinets ............

Well ...... I could wrap them all up!!!!

Merry Christmas to me!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Well ... Julie and I had a very successful bazaar.

At least .... that is the way it seemed in the Summer Kitchen.  It was cheek-to-cheek dancing around the Summer Kitchen all day. 

At one point .... I had to get out of the building because I was stuck between the pottery and a shopper that wanted to see the pottery and there was no place for me to go!!!

So I fled to the chilly comfort of inviting customers to eat more cookies ........... outside!

I have to say ..... our little efforts on spreading the word on the bazaar on social media worked.  And the incredible opportunity to show my wares on Paula Sand Live!  Paula called one day and said .... I hear you are having a bazaar and would you like to come on the show???


Uhhhhh .... YES!!

And those 5 minutes of air time brought so many people out to little old Donahue.  So many people that poor Honey had to do parking duty all day.  (He is not complaining one little bit!)

But the best comment of the day was from a gentleman that said ..... You gals know how to work social media.

Say whaaaat?????

In a world that tweets, posts, links, hashtags, pins and shares ............. I am a dinosaur.

I am less inept at Facebook than other social media. But I screw up constantly there!!!

I tweet because it is linked to Facebook.  I have tried Flicker, Tumblr and MeWe and more with NO luck what so ever.  I am lost in the ever growing list of must do media.

I try.  I really really try. 

But I am Jennifer Connolly in the Labyrinth.  Totally lost and every step seems blocked to me.

In the dark ages, tweets came out of birds.  Hashtags were pounds.  Dots were periods.  And posts were put in holes.

I need a 13 year old kid to help me navigate through this insane world.

Until then ...... you can find me #LMAO.

Friday, December 4, 2015

It is here! It is here!!!

IF you are among the last two or three people that are left reading this blog .....

It is almost December 5th and Miss Eff's Country Cozy Christmas Bazaar is almost here!

To say that I have gone crazy is an understatement.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I have knitted, embroidered, and sewing my little fingers to the bone.  Every day ... every week .... has been a list of things to do.

None of them included housework.  :(

But ............ I did get a lot done.

The Summer Kitchen looks A. May. Zing.


To prove it ... here are some pics.

Tea towels and hand knit dishcloths

Jams, Julie's pottery and bowl covers

More beautiful pottery


Original oil paintings ... this was painted in Miss Eff's garden

Warm wool fingerless mitts ......... My fav!!!

And aprons ... lots of aprons!!!

So pop out to see Julie and I from 9 to 3 on Saturday.

We take cash and checks but no plastic.  Hey!!!  I have a live tree that we will be planting after the holidays.  I won't even do a fake tree!  So we don't take plastic.  ;)

We will give you a cookie and a hug ............but maybe not in that order!