Monday, January 25, 2016

The Greening of my Kitchen .....

Honey and I made the same New Year's Resolution that we have made for several years.

We need to walk lighter on this earth.

And every year, we get better but we still have a long ways to go.  Fortunately, a kitchen remodel does give you the opportunity to do better.

So far .... I have cleaned out cabinets and eliminated stuff.  Duplicate items or things I never use.

I am certain I will never be able to afford enough steaks to match up with the 27 steak knives that I owned.  I actually was shocked as I counted them but it is what happens when you combine two households.  Why it took me so long to eliminate some is beyond me!  I did keep the set that matched my work knives, a set that are really nice to use and a set of porcelain steak knives that blend nicely with my good china.  Seriously, that is 8 more steak knives than I will ever need .... but baby steps.  ;)

I have gone through the cookbook collection.  I find myself searching for recipes online instead of my cookbooks.  There are still my favorites that I will keep ..... but I really don't need 400 cookbooks.  So the books that I don't love .... are at a Goodwill near you.

I have tried to make environmentally conscious buying decisions.  Like I am re-using 2 antique fixtures rather than purchasing new ones.

But I did need a new ceiling fan and I found a ceiling fan that has some nice features that make me happy.  Many of the ceiling fans that I looked at, used those small candelabra lights.  I often cut out sewing projects on my kitchen table so I wanted/needed  more light.

I found this Emerson fan that came with a light kit that uses CFL or LED bulbs.  The 160 watts lights will light up my "cutting table" but can be turned down (using two lights instead of four) for dinner.

It came with CFL's but we will change them to LED's when the CFL's burn out.

(Do people really use their kitchen table for dinner???? )

Another thing I did was to eliminate as much plastic as possible.  I have been trying to use only glass containers for leftovers by removing as many Tupperware/Gladware/Rubbermaid containers as possible.  I still have a lot .... but they are larger containers for potlucks, cookie treats etc.

So in my plastic elimination .... I decided not to buy plastic switch and outlet covers and use only brass.  They are more expensive but if I can help eliminate that island of plastic in the Pacific ..... I will feel better.

They are pretty shiny at the moment but they are un-lacquered so they dull like the rest of the fixtures.

And the final "green" piece for today is the recycling center that we purchased.  We have not been recycling as much as we should.  I am good on wine bottles and soda cans ..... but glass jars from olives???  Not so much! One of my excuses as been space to store recyclables.  Hopefully, the recycling center will help me eliminate that excuse!

So on to more decisions .... more choices ....

How green is your kitchen and do you have any tips to help me???

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Lost in Translation .............

Last summer, we received an email from our friends at Travel Iowa. They were hosting a group of Japanese journalists that were exploring the wonders of the Mississippi River and the states that border that amazing river. 

Travel Iowa wanted to show them the real Iowa .... and as Jessica says, Nothing is more Iowa than Miss Effie's.

So early one Sunday morning, 5 Japanese journalists and their Iowa hosts dropped in for a quick visit.

And today ..... I get this article.

Which I can't read .......  ;) 

But one of the first picture is the view out my back door and you may see some people you recognize.


And I am not talking about ghost ball players at Field of Dreams.

Is this heaven??

No, it is Iowa.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Prep Work ......

I think we all have to agree .......... prep work is the worst!

We read the articles ... we learn the steps ..... and yet, we all want to plunge into the "fun" stuff.

I am soooooo ready for fun stuff!!!

For the last month, we have been in "prep" work mode.


Plaster repair ... lots and lots of plaster repair.

Honey repaired the ceiling.  And after a coat of primer and two coats of ceiling paint, it looks great.

Unfortunately, I decided that ceiling fan did not look great any more.  I looked into painting it with some of the new metal paints but we are using un-lacquered brass throughout and I could not find a color that worked.  So a new ceiling fan is on a truck somewhere.

However ... it is the only light in the kitchen because the new fabric covered wire for the antique pan lights is also on a truck somewhere.

But now ... back to the walls.

These are lath and plaster walls.  The wood lath has smalls gaps where plaster was pushed into place.  Those gaps that have been filled with plaster are called "keys" and hold the plaster to the wall.  Over time, they can separate from the lath and the plaster begins to crack.

If you merely fill the cracks, the plaster will continue to crack some more and eventually, your plaster will not be on the wall but the floor.  So we used plaster washers.

Plaster washers pull the loose plaster tight against the wood lath.  You make a small dimple with a screwdriver so the screw "sinks" into the plaster and  pulls the plaster washer in tight.  No longer a convex washer ... it is concave.  A couple of coats of wall compound .... your plaster will be as good as it was 100 years ago!

You will have to find these at a true old fashioned hardware store ... you won't find them at "home centers"!

After the washers are tight and the plaster is secured, we used Krack Kote by Abatron to fill any small hairline cracks.  Abatron makes lots of products that strengthen and fill wood and recreate plaster details for old houses.  Their products are readily available on Amazon.  They are not cheap but they are very good.

Next .... electrical boxes.

Poor Honey!  I have this thing ..... they need to be the same height .. situated the same way throughout.

Yes .... this won't fly!!!  First of all, it needs to be a GFI outlet and there is not a single push button switch under that tape!!!

And then .... there is this!

See this outlet??  It needs to be moved.  Basically, straight across to the left.


Because I said so!  ;)

No ... that will be the home of the baking center and I want the outlet right behind the mixer.  Not to the right but just behind.

Honey kind of grimaced on that one.  ;)

This is the bottom line.  
We are making progress.

I agree .... it doesn't look like it.  But we are slowly inching ahead.  And this is the last time we will do this kitchen in this house.

Honey seems to be balking about a future remodel at the age of 80!!!

Go figure.

The next time I blog about the kitchen, we will be painting the walls.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Decisions... Decisions

Well ... the kitchen cabinets have been ordered for a couple of weeks now.  And even though the clock starting ticking slightly before Christmas ........... I have approximately 3 weeks before they arrive.

And guess what???

I am not ready!!!

You knew that, didn't you???

We have made a lot of progress.  (We .... as in Honey)

We have been repairing plaster, patching holes, scrubbing the ceiling and now the priming of the ceiling is done.  Tonight, we are painting the ceiling.

We work hard ... don't we???

Me .... I do the brain stuff.  I pour over catalogs, websites, Houzz and Pinterest, trying to make decisions.

And this one has me stumped.

Counter tops.  Actually, I am beginning to hate counter tops.  Why is this decision so hard???

Well ...... because what I want and what I want to pay .... collide.  OK ... my checkbook bursts out in laughter when I mention the word soapstone.

I don't want granite.  It is nice ... it is beautiful .... it is durable .... but most patterns are too busy for my eclectic style of decorating.  And it makes my checkbook giggle.

Marble is more conducive to my decorating style ........ but not my lifestyle.  One wine spill (and there will be man!) and it would be stained for life.

Solid surface is nice ... but can look a little "plastic-y", depending on the composition.  And I already have and will have solid surface in the island.

Wood is lovely ..... and I will have wood on the baking center unit.  But with all the moisture in canning ... and how we work our big canning events ... I am afraid of de-lamination.

And then .... there is quartz.  I have quartz in my bathroom.  It is easy to clean .... awesome material ... and after almost 10 years ... it looks great.  But it is a little too contemporary for my 120 year old farmhouse that I am trying to keep somewhat historically correct.

And  then Rachael suggested ............ zinc.  Twice.

I pretty much poo-poo'd it.  Zinc.  No.

Then I started thinking ....... zinc was on old work tables.  Zinc was the countertop of Hoosier cabinets.
It really was the counter top of Midwest farmhouses at the turn of the 20th century.

Zinc is water resistant.  Heat resistant.  You can't chop on it but I have 4-1/2' of butcher block, a solid surface island and I do own cutting boards.

Historically .... it is perfect.  It forms a natural patina over time ... it does react to acids by staining.  But I think that gives the aged look that interests me.  And I don't have to wait for the patina to come ..... if I want to treat it first.

Now you can polish it .... and it will look more like stainless steel ..... like this photo.

And that is soooo not me.  A little to industrial.    And besides ..... seeing my wrinkled face and gray hair in a mirrored polished countertop at 6 am as I reach for my coffee....... ain't happenin'!!!

Now .... it is up to me to do more back-breaking research.  First, I have to talk to the checkbook and then I have to find a source of zinc.  And look at more how-to videos.   Fabricators aren't hanging around the corner so I need to do the research so we can do this.

Yes, we can.  :)