April 6, 2019:


The income taxes are finished and were taken to the Post Office yesterday to send out via certified mail, which now costs nearly $16 for two 8 1/2 11 envelopes with return receipt. Yikes! But worth it because I have proof positive once I get the little green cards back that the returns were delivered and received. And just in case, there are tracking numbers that I can also tap the U.S. Post Office for to verify that delivery was made. In these times, it's better to be safe than sorry

I have been working in little bits and pieces outdoors whenever a window in our crappy weather has presented itself. Today, however, was the first day where I was able to spend an extended period of time outside. First, I cleaned up areas on the sidewalk and driveway along the edges where pine cones and branches tiny branches blown off during the seemingly wind storms we endured over fall and winter 2018-2019. After resting for a bit, and removing the winter hat, gloves and jacket, I moved to the back yard because I'm sick of feeling sick to my stomach every time I look at it through the patio doors in the dining room and window above the kitchen sink. This winter left it a true disaster zone. I worked steadily raking small areas and filled two trash can size black trash bags full of debris blown down from my arborvitaes and neighboring trees over the winter, in addition to about half a ton of nut shells. The nut shells are my fault because I feed all the neighborhood squirrels. They are so entertaining, and very smart! I also made a small dent in starting clean-up of the flower beds, where the "mild" (ahem) weather and thawed earth has encourages perennials to start popping through, whether I'm ready for them or not!

All in all, a somewhat decent start to making a larger dent in clean-up operations. I worked outdoors about 4 hours off and on. I didn't want to overdo it, and truth be told, I'm pooped! It's humbling to not be able to work as long or as hard as I used to. I can get it done, but I have to take lots of rest breaks so it takes quite a bit longer now. Good thing I'm retired


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Plans for Doing the Kitchen

Hola darlings!

This kitchen of mine is dark and dramatic!  Here's a listing photo, so you get an idea:

I was intrigued by the use of dark and darker greys for the walls of an area with dark oak cabinets.  I liked the space when I saw it in person, and figured my existing dining set would fit -- that was one of my priorities.  Another priority was having ready access to a backyard, and these Sellers had installed a brand new patio door, with stairs made out of composite wood, down to a brand new large concrete patio.  Raised flower beds along two sides and a fence around the perimeter were equally attractive.

The ceiling is a white satin finish -- and it really helps lift and brighten the space.  All the paints Mrs. Seller used were Behr paints, and Mrs. Seller helpfully labeled the left-over cans with the rooms the paint colors were used in.  Thank you! 

As you can see, the walls are grey and the tile is an even darker grey.  The appliances are black. The countertop looks white in this photo, but it is actually cream colored with "speckles" of a light goldish/tan color (or maybe it just looks cream-colored because of all the speckles of light goldish/tan).  It is not ugly, but it is old and in not very good condition -- lots of dinged-out areas, and scratches (some deep) galore.  Not much of the original glow is left.

The cabinets are oak, and as you can see, very grainy.  They are good quality, sturdy cabinets.  I had hoped to hire a painter first thing to paint them out white, but (not so surprising, I guess), other things ate into my budget and there isn't money left this year to hire a painter.  I know better than to attempt this kind of project myself -- I've neither the will nor the stamina of my younger days and frankly, the thought of picking up a roller or paint brush does not appeal the way it did 25 years ago.  I'd rather spend my money hiring a pro who has the right tools for the job, the know-how, and can get it done quickly.  So now I'm saving up again for another round of re-dos and new purchases in 2015.  Geez, that sounds so far away, but here it is, already into August.  What happened to my summer???

There is also a darkish (not oak colored) vinyl plank floor that I like very much, it cleans up very easily with my electric broom and/or a Swifter and has the look of a wood floor but not the cost or upkeep of one.  Like wood, though, if one is not careful the floor can be scratched or gouged.

The patio door in the dinette area lets in TONS of light and radiant solar heat.  The patio doors have built-in mini-blinds, thank goodness, because they are needed to block out the excess sunlight and heat!  But the blinds are not 100% efficient. 

Photo of patio door with blinds closed taken during final walkthrough
of new house on June 29, 2014.
I had pondered over the charcoal grey tiles, wondering why someone would select that color instead of white.  Mr. Seller clued me in during my final walk-through of the property (Mrs. Seller was not there).  He told me that the former tiles, perhaps original to this 1955 ranch style house, had been the worse for wear, ugly colors, and some tiles were decorated with chickens and roosters inset here and there.  OH MY GODDESS!  When Mrs. Seller painted the kitchen, she painted the tiles too.  Up until then, I'd had no idea that the tiles were painted.  I just thought they were mat dark-grey tiles.  Wow!  She did a great job. 

I like the contrast between the white ceiling, the medium-dark walls, the even darker tile color, and the lightness of the countertop.  There is a feeling of richness and coziness in the room that appeals greatly to me.

BUT --

I took the custom-made pelmets down from the windows above the sink to  - ironically - let in more light (you can see thee in the listing photo above).  I tried to get the blinds down to give them a thorough cleaning -- that is a post in and of itself!  I am thinking of removing them (maybe I'll ask Kevin the Handyman to do that), at least seasonally, and putting up some light airy curtains to remove an element of darkness from that corner but still filter the light and provide privacy. 

The dark floor cleans up wonderfully with my electric broom.  The kitchen light fixtures are fine.  Mrs. Seller coordinated the lights above the sink, in the bedroom/bathroom hallway and in the back hall with the fixture that graces the center of the kitchen ceiling. If you look at the top photo, you can see the main light fixture in the kitchen and the light fixture above the sink area.  I was not a fan of them at first but they have grown on me since I moved into the house.  They have a neutral finish and go well with the style of the house and color palatte Mrs. Seller used in the house. 

I don't like the ceiling fan above the dining table:

But I have become a fan of the fan because while I'm sitting at the dining table typing away on my trusty Toshiba lap top, the ceiling fan is going and nicely circulating the air.  So although it might be warmer than I am used to temperature wise in here compared to what I tolerated at the former Maison Newton, I am comfortable because of the breeze created by the fan.  Nice!

Ever since I had an accepted offer on this house, I knew I would be making some changes, so I spent a lot of time researching various products and items I knew I wanted (like my sleek Summit euro-style fridge/freezer).  But once I was actually moved in (that took place on July 7th), I realized there were yet more things to add to my to do/shopping/wish list.  Here is the current Kitchen/Dinette list. 


Short term plans:
Take down pelmets
Replace pelmets with something else (seasonally?  And with what?)
Replace ceiling fan -- don't like style of current four light fan
Look into redoing sad countertop with a faux-stone kit (what color???)
Repaint tile backsplash in white???
Replace enamel cast iron sink that looks gigantic but works small with stainless steel
Possibly paint dinette space a different (lighter, brighter) color? Right now, although open to each other, the kitchen and dinette are divided by a soffit that cuts the space in half, the kitchen peninsula/breakfast bar, and the fridge; so painting the two distinct areas in two different colors is possible.  Question is, do I want to do this?

Longer term plans:
Repaint cabinets white
Replace electric stove with stainless steel and black gas range
Replace countertop with white Carrara marble look synthetic
Replace flooring with black and white checkerboard tile or travertine-look grey/white vinyl tiles
Relocate living room entrance into kitchen, possibly take out wall space to the floor (there is already a pass-through) between living room and dinette, remove soffits (still contemplating whether it is a pro or con to lose half-wall space in living room by totally removing wall between living room and dinette)
Move refrigerator/freezer north of new entrance, add roll-out pantry/storage unit and add double lower cabinet unit to finish off
Replace existing tile backsplash with white subway tile
Remove peninsula cabinets and reconfigure cabinet run on east wall, removing "breakfast bar" countertop overhang
Replace light fixtures


Look for colors that complement the oak cabinets in rug and accessories that still go with things from the former Maison Newton
Buy circular rug large enough to fit under dining table and chairs
Buy some curtain panels for the patio door
Hang some art work and add some accessories
Replace current ceiling fan
Do something with built-in glass cabinet on south dinette wall

It was while bringing in my massive dining table into the dinette that the movers from Two Men and a Truck suggested putting a rug under my dining table to help prevent scratching the vinyl "wood" flooring.  We ended up using the rug that was from my former family room, a rug whose colors went beautifully in the room, but it's 5 x 7.6 rectangular size did not add anything to the space.  So, I set out to find what I figured was the most logical solution -- a round area rug.

I wanted something cheap inexpensive, easy to clean (not the thick New Zealand wool of the rug that was temporarily anchoring the dining area) and something that would complement the existing colors and tones in the kitchen/dining area. 

I also wanted to add curtains, not only to aid in filtering out the excessive sun light that pours in half the day, but also to help frame the window and add an additional layer of privacy and coziness at night, when pulled close over the doors.  At the former Maison Newton, with a large private backyard, I had no blinds up, only semi-sheer panels framed on either side by linen-look draperies.  Here, with a more closed-in area (no wide open family room on the other side of the dinette), thought that would be too much.  I decided on two panels to frame-out the window during the day, wide enough to pull shut in varying degrees over the patio doors. 

I also wanted to get a runner (for summer), and a table cloth (for winter) for the dining table; but that had to wait until I knew what colors/patterns I was getting for the rug and curtains.

Highest on my list was getting a new rug.  This is what I ended up with:

I found this indoor/outdoor rug priced right at Home Decorators.  It is the Fuego pattern, 7" 10" round in an intricate geometric pattern of cream, light grey, dark grey, yellow-gold, and brownish-olive green, woven synthetic fabric that washes down with a hose (!)  I got it on sale (sale through August 18th, offers discounted price plus a free rug pad).  Buying this rug was an ADVENTURE and way out of my very traditional comfort zone.  I wasn't sure that I would like it.

And when it arrived, I was SHOCKED!  But it quickly grew on me.  And, once I had it in place underneath the heavy dining table (that was a massive chore of heaving, tugging and pulling, doing it alone, let me tell you!), all kinds of possibilities for decorating the rest of the space opened themselves to me...

These are Sonoma curtain panels from Kohls.  I bought two panels on sale for 50% off, and they now hang on either end of my patio doors.  They are medium grey and creamy white "fret" style panels that go on the rod through smokey colored metal grommets.  The pattern reminds me of the ancient Persian and Arabic tile patterns of the Middle East. 

The decision to purchase these cutains was a mixture of working with the geometric element already introduced into the space by the pelmets on the kitchen windows (those that have now been removed, LOL!), my newly purchased area rug, and the color scheme (greys/whites/wood tones/black, and stainless steel), while wanting to introduce lighter tones into the room for contrast and balance.

I then shopped online for a table runner and table cloth.  I like to use a runner during the summer, to "bare up" the table, and use a full table cloth during the colder months to add a cozier element.  I found these at Target and bought both (the tablecloth is on clearance).

Threshold Paisley Collection in Gold/Grey:


I went with a floral instead of a geometric.  The scale works with the new rug and curtains and the colors are perfect.  Only drawback is that these are 100% cotton and the runner, at least, was a bear to iron.  It looked great after ironing it on high heat.  But after a few days of gracing my table in Milwaukee humidity, it looks like I barely touched it with an iron!  Can't imagine what it will look like once I have to launder it!  Will I ever be able to get the wrinkles out?  Hand-wash perhaps?  Hopefully the table cloth, being only a single layer of cloth, won't be as temperamental. 

Oh, and the ceiling fan in the kitchen that I don't like.  Kevin the Handyman came over yesterday.  I have a list of items I want him to do around here, including taking down the ceiling fan in what will be the mistress bedroom so that my new canopy bed will fit.  The fan is centered in the room and my new bed will not fit where I want it unless the fan is taken out.

I do like the style of the bedroom fan, there's just no room for it and a tall canopy bed :)  So the bedroom fan:

will take the place of the current ceiling fan in the dinette.  And -- just thought of this now, it's not on my list of Kevin Handyman work -- I may end up putting the four-light ceiling fan in the room that will become my den/library, replacing a smaller white (kid's size) ceiling fan.

Stay tuned.  Lots of changes in the works.  The first roun d of cosmetic changes to the kitchen and dinette are almost finished.  I hung up "art" work today, woo woo!

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