Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A proud moment

Before you think me insane, please remember that I've not done cooking of any real kind since last October. Yes, that's nearly three months without baking a cookie, sauteing a chicken breast, reducing a sauce, etc. I mean, come on people, that meant NO HOLIDAY BAKING either! Gah!

And no one has suffered more than hubby who has gone without his precious lemon wafers and coveted Winter Blackberry Pie like a true champ, barely shedding a tear over the loss. (Not to say anything about the whimpering, however.)

And so, as we bring this monster of a project to a close, I just could not resist the nearly-doneness (yep, a word, so shuddup) of the kitchen this past Sunday night and broke down, went grocery shopping (Glory be!) and cooked us up a little thing we like to call Sunday Dinna. I hope you're hearing the angels sing right now, because I sure was.

After nearly losing our lives at the grocery store (FYI: Sunday evening is no time to go grocery shopping unless you are packin') I pulled out the lonely pots and pans and made us up my good old fashioned lasagna, a big 'ol salad, some garlic-parm bread with plenty of toasty goodness and a nice bottle of wine.

What an event! I had to photograph it. And so, here we have Sunday Lasagna Dinna a la Exposed Outlets (I said it was nearly done, member?)

Oh, and let's not forget the Fresh Green Salad Featuring One Baby Carrot Fresh From the Garden a la Other Exposed Outlet:

And to finish it off just right, I filthied up/broke in the fabulous apron AfricanKelli gave me for the holidays. You see the smudge of marinara right there on the corner? Just one of many to come, I assure you.
I'll be sure to make a big fancy mess and post photos once the kitchen is actually done so you I can show off fully grouted and sealed tile, properly installed moldings, fully functional water faucets and lights on top of lights on top of lights.

Oh the lights! It is a kitchen any Jew could love. I mean, come on, who needs a Menorah when you've got a kitchen with so many bulbs! It's like the eighth night of fricken Hanukkah in here. Does anyone else feel like a jelly donut?


Monday, January 30, 2006

My old boyfriend is back!

His name is Jim. Or more properly, Gym. Hubby calls him, Gime (like Time with a G) reminiscent of the Simpson's Powersauce episode*. Don't roll your eyes, you've seen it. Yes you haaaaaaaaaave.

I loved Gym long time when I was in high school, particularly my senior year when I broke all rules of high school convention and went single like the independent butterfly that I was. I saw Gym at least 6 days a week, even after cheating on him with the lap pool at my place of work (I was a lifeguard back then-oh the tan lines).

Nothing could lure me from his grasp. I loved everything about Gym. The step classes, the free weights, the cardio equipment. It was love at first sight. Kimo, my "personal trainer" (I use quotes here because he was assigned to me for my introductory evaluation "courtesy" of 24 Hour Fitness**. Who knows if he was even certified.) was a big tall drink of Mai Tai -- a hawaiian body builder with an adorable accent that always called my skinny little arms, "Big Guns" when he saw me on the machines. What can I say, I'm a sucker for obviously misplaced but still sweet comments on my physique. Oh yes, I was in amazing shape back then and I owed it all to Gym. The most loyal boyfriend a girl could want. Available 24 hours a day for pushing, pulling, sweating and screaming. Yeah, we screamed in step class, what of it?

So what happened to Gym, you ask? We had a falling out when I moved away to college and dumped him for my new friends Beer and Parties. I mean, it didn't happen all at once. I strung it out for most of my freshman year, seeing him 3 or 4 times a week and pretending everything was the same. My pants still fit the same, I still wore a thong bikini on Spring Break ***. I did a good job acting like we were still on track, even with the bags under my eyes at my 6am workouts and the weight on the scale (before we had fancy digital scales people) slowly inching its way to the right. I held on! I still loved Gym!

But it was not to be. Beer and Parties proved to be too strong a force to compete with. I lost touch with Gym to the tune of 1 to 2 days per week at best. I buried my size 4s at the bottom of thr drawer so that they'd not see me ignoring them for the, ahem, other clothes. Also to the bottom of the drawer went the thong bikini. No, it would not want me where I was going.

So, why am I writing about this long lost relationship? Because he's back, people! Gym is back! And I'm pretty sure it's for real this time. Yeah, yeah, you hear that all the time, but I swear! I mean, I'll admit, I pussy-footed around with some similar characters, but those were just half-assed attempts to regain what I had with Gym back in the day. No, this is the real thing.

We had our first date this morning. It was 6am, I was groggy, I was disoriented by the bright lights and my misbehaving iPod, but he was there, ready for me to come on in and hop on a treadmill. I ran my warm up mile with a spring in my 6.3 mph step and we happily watched SportsCenter just like in the old days. The chest and tricep machines welcomed me as though I'd never strayed. My fingers went right back to their old spots, finding the weights and grips like we'd never skipped a day. I began to wonder what had been keeping me away from Gym all this time.

After a full round of chest and tricep exercises, some abs and a cool down mile (with a Big Finish****, I might add) I felt a swell in my chest and a smile appear on my face. Gym was back and I was getting a good feeling about our future together.

I'll continue to keep you updated with the progress of our relationship, although I am not making any concrete promises about the outcome. I'm taking it one day at a time and hoping that we can make it work this time. The true test will be getting back into that thong. Oh yeah, it's still at the bottom of my drawer, waiting to emerge in all it's neon yellow glory, no matter what the styles of the moment might dictate.

*Homer goes out walking in the middle of the night after an embarrasing game of Capture the Flag that leaves him heaving. He sees an illuminated sign that reads, "Gym" and he reads it out loud as, "Gime". Later he is recruited by the Powersauce company to climb the Murderhorn.

**Back then it was 24 Hour Natilus. I have the sweatshirt to prove it.

***This thong is a bit of lore for those who know me well. Some people have their 15 minutes of fame on camera, I had mine strolling down a South Florida beach topless in my yellow thong bikini. It might be sad to tout this as my own personal Everest, but hey, have you ever worn a thong and looked good? It's liberating.

****"Big Finish" was created by Hubby one day as we were hiking back from a particularly productive day of climbing. At the end of the trail there is a fork and you can choose either the aggressive uphill grade or the mostly flat stroll back to the main road. Hubby declared "Big Finish" which meant that not only were we going to take the aggressive uphill trail, but we were going to do it fast -- as fast as we could -- to end our day triumphantly. And ever since and forever this tactic is known to us as "Big Finish".

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The end is near, finally

When we last left our hero, he'd just hung the cabinets and the wiring was hanging lewdly from the walls. We were basking in the glow of our brilliant plan and filling our imaginations with dreams of gas ranges and perfectly laid tile.

Then he vanished. No contact or speck of dust for a month. Eeek!

And then we were scrambling, trying to piece together the skills between hubby and I so we could set out game plan for finishing the long overdue project. We were getting REAL sick of eating out, nearly in tears trying to decide, once again, where in HELL we should go for dinner when all we really wanted was a salad and maybe a nice slice of homemade lasagna in front of the tube.

We wouldn't hire another contractor, oh no, we were twice shy! But install appliances? Texture walls? Plumbing? Painting? Electricity? How does one put up crown molding? What does this black wire do? And for that matter, what are all these other wires for? It was all too much.

But sit idly on the couch and contemplate our navels? Despite what my mom-in-law might think, we would not -- in fact COULD NOT -- do this. No, we would have to pull together. So we donned our dusty long-lost DIY capes and did just that.

Queue the triumphant music -- Ta Da! -- And so appeared the dynamic husband and wife remodeling duo!

I won't rehash all the nitty gritty details of the DIY fantastic-ness (you can read the recent posts if you like, it's all in there), but if we do say so ourselves, we did a fine job picking up where Our Hero left off. Of course we had some help from talented cameo appearances (my dad for the texture FAQ and a trusty plumber for the sink), but all in all, we were feeling a bit heroic ourselves until we realized that the only projects left were those we didn't know how to do.

In all our DIY time, we've learned to draw the line at a few things -- originally just tile and plumbing, we now added crown molding to our list. It seemed like a lot of measuring and math and precisely cut angles -- things we don't necessarily excel in. However, just as we were about to stride naively yet determindely into the lumberyard in search of crown molding, I got a miraculous call.

Our Hero lives! Hooray!
He is in one piece! Hooray!
He will start laying tile tomorrow? Yes! Hooray!

There was much Hooray-ing going on both verbally and mentally. This meant we didn't have to find a new tile guy. This meant we didn't have to fuck up a hundred yards of crown molding trying to get the angles right. This meant we didn't have to file for divorce halfway through trying to build the custom cabinet that had only lived in the mind of Our Hero. Oh blessed be.

And after all this, I'm finally able to post this:

Tile backsplash (sans grout--coming soon)

Fancy Schmancy crown molding with up-lighting

Also coming this week: Cookbook cabinet, switch covers and (if I can get my act together) painted drawers and cabinet doors!

All my praying, hoping, finger crossing, voodoo doll stabbing, star wishing, penny tossing and four leaf clover collecting finally paid off and our finished kitchen (gah! I hate this word) is nearly a reality.

I can practically smell the lasagna baking...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Totally different subject

How sick am I of the word, "kitchen"? Let me count the ways...

In lieu of anymore remodel (AH! I hate that word too, now!) talk, I'd like to perhaps discuss something else. Books perhaps? Ok, books it is.

So, I'm about to start down a road which I anticipate will cause a small amount of uprising amongst my family members, namely my mom. It's also likely that at some point I'll get a talking to from most of the women in my family, my mother in law and anyone else who has opinions on the topic. So, what does this have to do with books, you ask? I finally broke down and ordered a book on a topic I've long been pondering.

Women Without Children

I decided to take the approach that so many of my mom friends did when they decided to have kids, and bought a book to educate myself on the topic of children. Only diff is that the list of books I'm looking through could fill a shoebox and the ones they're sifting through could fill a container truck. But, I figured that a decision in either direction couldn't hurt for some varied POV and maybe a little guidance. So, as I get ready to crack the spine on the first "childfree" book, I'm interested to see if there is any insight out there in the blog world on the subject. And insight in either direction is good.

I realize this is a pretty grand departure from my usual blogging topics, but I figured that the blog world might be just as good a place (if not entirely better) to get information as a book, and would likely yield more plentiful results.

So -- if you're feeling like giving me your two cents (and really, isn't that why we're all here) I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. If you don't have kids for whatever reason, have experiences with childfree folks, have an opinion on the topic in general or just want to air your ideas, I'm hear to absorb. If you'd rather not post comments for whatever reason, feel free to email me.

And don't worry, I'll get back to less life-changing topics in no time. I mean, I did add a Bachelor Recaps link to my list afterall---------->

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Almost back in business

After a long productive, sometimes frustrating, but in the end wholly satisfying weekend, we are nearly back in business with a practically fully functional kitchen.

Note the perfectly hung microwave over the perfectly installed and functioning oven next to the fully loaded with ice and water fridge:

Not pictured, but truly amazing are my fully functioning faucets and the hot water dispenser. My husband was busy making his first (of many) cup of coffee from the hot water machine when I was leaving Monday evening, and it was a sight to be seen. I'll likely photograph and post the running sink photos soon to continue my kitchen remodel obsession.

Next - cabinet doors, tile, crown molding and under cabinet lights. Weeeeeeeee!

Friday, January 13, 2006

The moment has arrived

...to welcome new countertops into our home. We have now have the mirage of a semi-functional kitchen. Of course I've staged the faucets so that I can imagine what it will be like to fill a pot with the main faucet, wash my hands using the soap dispenser or make tea from the hot water machine and I hope that one day soon it will be true.

For now though, let us marvel at the miracle that is Silestone:

On the docket for the weekend: Paint the cabinet doors, reinstall the cabinet hardware, hook up the faucets and sink, mount the microwave, connect the oven, move the fridge and pipe the water for it, paint.

So, basically, I'm wearing my work clothes all weekend and I won't be seen out of a ponytail and do-rag until Monday. I sure hope hubby likes orange gingham.

Happy Weekend Projects to you!

Monday, January 09, 2006


If you want it done, do it yourself, and if you aren't sure how, call someone who knows how to do it and see if they'll show you before you fuck the whole thing up.

So much for my simple matra, eh? Either way, the restart of the kitchen remodel is off to a strong start.

We got up Saturday morning with pocket-fulls of naive enthusiasm and launched straight into the sanding, texturing and painting of the walls, cabinets and ceiling. Oh the fun that is had after inhaling a couple cubic feet of drywall dust. By noon we had successfully covered our faces with suspicious white dust, and had the ceiling and cabinets satisfactorily sanded, so we headed off to lunch to regroup and strategize for the afternoon over cajun style pulled pork and root beer.

Returning to our post, we set up for the texturing. Per the previous post, we realized that we needed to make a distiction regarding the texture (Knockdown vs Orange Peel) and went with the Knockdown variety to match the rest of the house. Bored yet? Yeah, I was too. Until I started to read the directions on the can. This had me running for the Internet, in my dust covered shoes. After making numerous tracks to and from the office trying to find a reliable DIY example of texturing methods, I decided to call the one man I knew would know the answers. Dad. I mean, the man did do sheetrocking for years and does own a construction company afterall. I'm fairly certain he could do this in his sleep. Well, major coincidence, he was going to be traveling through our neck of the woods for business THAT afternoon and offered to come by and give us a live demo. Freakishly awesome, no? Rather than do it in his sleep, he did it in his socks. What a pro!

With the texturing done (look how lovely) we were ready to start painting.

As of right now, we have the ceiling and cabinet boxes (doors to come this weekend) painted and ready to roll. This week we'll likely get the walls painted and be ready to receive our countertops on Friday. JOYOUS MOMENT!!!

I have to admit one small thing though, painting these lovely wood cabinets was a little painful. Why oh why did the previous owner have white cabinets? Ah well.

I think my garden heard me wildly yelping with excitement over the countertops and the forthcoming finishing of the kitchen because look what I saw when I made it out to the vegetable beds:

Yes folks, that is a tiny head of broccoli! I can nearly hear it calling out, "Get that kitchen ready! I won't sit out here forever!"

Oh the blessed day when this project is finished. I can hardly wait.

Friday, January 06, 2006

If you want it done, do it yourself

I've long lived by this mantra, thanks to my parents who both repeated it with great frequency while I was growing up. It helped me a lot when I moved away for college to a state/city/town/school where I didn't know a single person. It helped me when I decided to live alone. It helped me when I decided to pack up my car and move back to Norcal for a job. I could go on and on. Now the mantra that has been nagging at me for the past month will get it's satisfaction as I don my work clothes, pull my hair back and prepare to work on the aforementioned Fucking Kitchen.

As you've likely figured, if you've read my blog at all, is that I'm redoing my kitchen. And so far, I haven't done any of the work. No, I treated myself (and my overworked hubby) to the luxury of a contractor who could work the long days while we were at work, getting much more done in eight hour shifts M-F than we could during our shrimpy weekends. However, it's starting to look like our contractor has performed a disappearing act, and our kitchen hasn't budged for three weeks.

In an effort to A. Get some progress made, B. Not hold a grudge and C. Heed the mantra, I am going to dedicate this coming weekend to some good 'ol housework. I'll admit, the entire time this project has been underway, I've felt a little uncomfortable with someone else doing our household projects for us, since we've spent the last five years doing anything and everything that needed to be done around the house ourselves. However, faced with demolition, cabinet hanging, electricity, drywall mud and the like, I decided to hand it over to the professionals. But what do you do when the professionals cease to exist? You dig up your coveralls and figure out what to do first. Yourself. Myself.

So, this weekend, I will be launching into the next step (as far as I can see it) in the kitchen remodel - sanding and texturing. Luckily all the "hard" stuff (again, as I see it) is done -- electricity, gas, drywall, cabinets, scary demo, etc and I figure my college educated mind and able body can manage to handle a sanding block and a can of texture. If not, well, maybe Contractor Supreme will show back up and take back the reigns.

Of course, hubby was immediately thrilled with the idea of working the project ourselves. He is definitely from the school of "IYWID, DIY" and has prolly felt a little weird having someone else manning the power tools in our house. However, where he has already developed a mental image of our kitchen completed by our own capable hands, I on the other hand, am only able to envision the next few steps and will likely exert a lot of energy suppressing the ever present anxiety of screwing something up. Especially something that will be expensive to fix. Perhaps it's time for a new mantra?

"Doing something is better than doing nothing." "Don't look the mitre saw directly in the eye." "Don't be too proud to sit down and cry."

Any ideas?

Either way, I'm stopping off at Home Depot on the way home to stock up on sanding blocks and the Sirius is set to Channel 17, Jam On, for the weekend ahead.

Photo for inspiration

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

To resolve or not to resolve

The evil List Monster in my soul is poised and finally ready to attack the list of New Years resolutions/hopes/dreams/unattainable goals that have so far been stifled by the lazy Donut-hole (see below) Monster so mightily inflated by holiday indulging.

Hanukkah deliciousness :)

I was going to refer to AfricanKelli's format for putting finger to keyboard on the topic of New Years resolutions, but alas, I find this method too freeform for my anal retentive mind. If only I could be so fantastically liberated. Instead, I think I gotta do it longhand in order to fully unshackle my brain. Or, as my old friend Jeff used to say when asked about his unruly hairdo and lack of ballcap, "I'm no longer restricting my hair." And so, friends, I am no longer restricting the List Monster.

  1. Swear less (Old resolution, I always fail to achieve this one)
  2. Lose weight (See #1). This time I want 10 lbs gone by 8/29. Feel free to check in with me to see how I'm doing with this. Forgive me if I give you the finger.
  3. Run more often. I'm pretty sure that 2x/week is not cutting it.
  4. Start back up with weight training before I get scary grandma arms.
  5. Be a better niece and cousin. I've worked on being a better friend, daughter and sister. Now for the rest of the blessed family that I have neglected. For starters, I need to make it to my Aunt and Uncle's place without my parents to escort me and I should really start a monthly dinner tradition with my cousin as soon as our fucking kitchen is done. Oops, already failed at #1.
  6. Save more $. Repeat to self, "Don't buy shoes three pairs at a time."
  7. Grow some plants from seed. I guess buying seedlings from the nursery isn't exactly cheating, but is it as fulfilling when someone else starts your plants for you? No, probably not. I have a head start on this one though -- the Better Boy Tomato seeds are already on the potting bench.
  8. Read something from hubby's book pile. I feel a little dwarfed by his braininess. Where I read 95% fiction he reads 95% non-fiction. I feel like I should be better informed about current events, and despite listening to NPR for a couple hours a day (resolution from 2004), I could be better informed. I doubt that leprosy is a topic pressing on today's society even though it makes for a damn good book. Oops, sorry #1.
  9. Fix the bathroom ceiling. This means learning to create a texture known as "Orange Peel Knockdown". I know no other profession with more random nomenclature than construction.
  10. Start making the bedroom livable. This means getting a new mattress, finding an armoire to accomodate my ever expanding wardrobe, getting seasonal storage worked out, buying a rug to keep my heel marks from ruining the wood floors forever, etc.
  11. Stain the dining room table an acceptable color. The naked wood thing we've had going is just no good.
  12. Remember as many birthdays as possible. I've already moved birthdays from my 05 calendar to my 06 calendar, so that's a start. Must fill in with everyone elses birthdays. Did I forget yours last year? Shoot me an email - Subject: My birthday. Text: Hey ass, my birthday is xx/xx. Don't forget again, k? Love always, (your name here)
  13. Knit myself the sweater from Knitted Gifts. I must have this, in the orange fiber used in the example photo. I covet this sweater.
  14. Deal with the work thing. Keeping this one brief for reasons relating to professional suicide.
  15. Start research for my newest hair-brained idea, a book.
  16. Try out some new recipies from the load of cookbooks I've amassed. Once the fucking kitchen is done. I'm sorry #1, the kitchen can really only be referred to in this manner for the moment.
  17. Take part in Backtack 3 since Backtack 2 was so fun and I got to meet such insanely talented people.
  18. Be neighborly and throw another summer bbq. With any luck our neighbors kids will have grown out of their dunking-our-heads-in-the-drink-bucket phase. This is dependent on having the fucking kitchen done. I am no longer apologizing to #1, it'll just have to deal.
  19. Go hybrid AND carpool more often with hubby. Since we in CA get to drive alone in the carpool lane in our hybrids (coming soon), I almost feel like I'm cheating. So, I was thinking it'd be doubly fancy to actually carpool in my hybrid with another human. That means prolly making some compromises, but it might be worth it if it felt like we were taking TWO cars off the road instead of just one.
  20. Tame the List Monster.
Ok, I think that's all I can semi-commit to for now. Perhaps I'll get serious and put up a Status in the right frame of this blog to keep track. Ya know, kind like how I have for my crafty WIPs? Wouldn't that be wildly anal retentive and boring for everyone except me? We'll see. For now, Happy New Year and Happy Resolving.

I'm making no promises.