December 4, 2016: Hola everyone! Winter has arrived in Milwaukee and there are snow flurries today. Despite several hard freezes remarkably my "spikes" in two of my patio planters have absolutely refused to die. The rosemary and thyme plants I nursed inside the house through last winter spent the summer in their pot outside next to the side stoop off the driveway, where they get plenty of sunshine all day long. I transplanted them into a cozy sheltered spot right next to the stoop in October and they are still green and growing, too! With the delay in getting the drywall patching done in the relatively minor "reconstruction" work I had done in my kitchen, I am way behind my time in getting the house decorated. But yesterday I got my wreath decked out with extra lights and dressed the front door of the house, and my battery-operated traditional candles were put up on the window sills all around the house Friday evening. It becomes a ritual to go around at dusk and turn the tops to the right to turn the candles "on" and at bedtime to go around and turn the tops to the left to turn the candles "off." Today I put some "glittery" throw pillow covers purchased new last month from H&M on three of my sofa pillows to glam things up a bit in the living room and add some sparkle. Later on, after I sufficiently fuel myself up with wine and snacks and probably to distract myself while I listen to the Packers game on the radio, I will huff and puff and pull my artificial tree up from storage in the basement. I will decorate it simply this year. Every year I say that, and every year I end up throwing just about everything except the kitchen sink on the tree. I am very proud of myself this year, though. I did not buy a single new ornament or Christmas doo-dad for the house (throw pillow covers don't count!!!) Happy Holidays to all, with hope and fervent prayers for 2017. I've a feeling we're all going to need a lot of help from Goddess in the coming year. Jan

Monday, November 14, 2016

Kitchen Reno!!!

Hola everyone!  It has been a little while since I last posted, and I have been uber-busy with the garden, the yard, the Shezebo, the new privacy fence along the north lot line, and now, fall clean-up, which will end about next May.  And now, I am undertaking a reno project, my first - ever!

Ever since I moved into my retirement Maison Newton in July 2014, I've been wanting to open up the "window" that exists between the living room and my dinette area of the kitchen, and close off the existing doorway to the hall that leads to the bedrooms and bathroom. Closing off the existing doorway will give me room in the kitchen proper to slide my fridge over next to the existing cabinets and free-up space across from the peninsula and the dining area, while also giving me a more open traffic flow.

In the current arrangement the fridge is sitting in space that normally would be considered part of the dining area of the kitchen, and even though my fridge is Euro-style sleek, narrow and counter-depth it has always looked out of place to me, sort of stuck in a no-man's land between the kitchen and the dining area.  Here are some photos which show the less-than-optimum arrangement of the space:




Two of the identical floor-plan homes that I looked at before I bought this home had been remodeled so that the wall between dining area and living room was opened up and the former doorway to the kitchen off the hallway closed up.  The result was a modern-looking open space and flow between the kitchen/dinette and living room areas.  Here are a couple of photos of one of the houses where the wall was opened and how that looks:



And so, after much thinking about it and hemming/hawing, I decided to go ahead with a phased kitchen re-do that will, eventually, include a new countertop, new blacksplash, painted cabinets, new flooring, new cabinet hardware, and new light fixtures.  Eventually also a new range, dishwasher and microwave to go from black to stainless steel.

Phase I is opening up the wall between the dining area and living room and closing off the existing doorway.  The current "window" that is cut into the dinette/living room wall will be opened all the way to the floor and widened about 12 to 15 inches, depending upon stud location.  Today is the FIRST DAY!

Three guys are here and taped off the living spaces to contain the construction dust as much as possible, covered the carpeting with plastic and dropcloths; electrical outlets have already been moved and an inconveniently placed cold air return removed; they have also removed the woodwork in the construction area and have already cut the wall down to the floor!  Now they are working on relocating the electrical outlets.

Not sure how long they will be here today; originally the contractor told me they would be here all week, so I don't imagine they will be working 8-hour days for 5 days, not when the work is already progressing so quickly!

I am presently holed up in my den, which I somewhat cleaned up yesterday, knowing I would be working in here all week :)  It is amazing what an impending eviction from my dinette table (where I normally sit, looking out over my backyard through the patio doors) can do to motivate me to attack my messy den. It is now, at least, livable.  Eventually I will get around to finishing the taping I started in January (yes, in January), and repaint these dark and dreary walls!

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