Monday, July 13, 2009

Who Needs a Kitchen?

I am beginning to embrace this whole no kitchen-thing, probably because it will be relatively short-lived (I hope). Last night's dinner was quite tasty and colorful, if I do say so myself.
Grilled chicken breasts paired with honeydew salsa, and a side of corn on the cob. On a paper plate, of course. Everything--prep, cooking, table setting, cleaning up--takes longer than usual, and we are producing an appalling amount of trash what with all paper plates/cups/utensils. I'm sorry, Earth--but soapstone countertops and inset cabinets were worth it; I'm sure you will agree. I will do penance (I am a former school spelling bee champion and I actually had to look up the spelling of this word, which definitely says something about me) by composting more regularly come August.

The cabinets arrive tomorrow--I hope tonight won't be as bad as Christmas Eve, where each year I find myself wide awake pre-dawn, silently screaming for the rest of my family to WAKE UP ALREADY, DON'T YOU KNOW THERE ARE SPECIAL THINGS DOWNSTAIRS?? Somehow my children pick Christmas morning to sleep in; it's maddening (to me). Sam has already informed me that he will sleep just fine tonight. Bah humbug. I'm going to revel in my excitement for now, and I hope the cabinet delivery man sets his alarm, because he doesn't want to go up against a mother of three without a kitchen who is determined to keep this project running on schedule.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Remodeling Opinion Needed, Round Two

Before I present my latest kitchen decision dilemma, I have to confess that I am not listening to many people's bathroom tile advice requested in Round One. I just love the marble hex tile (the pictures didn't do it justice, I promise). A number of people have warned me about the upkeep of marble, but a) there won't lots of water as there would be if it was a full bath, b) people won't be doing their hair/makeup in there, so it won't be subjected to products spilling/residue buildup, and c) isn't the Taj Mahal (and many other public landmarks) made of marble? They all get way more traffic in a day than this powder room will see in a year.

I am a lucky woman for many reasons, but one is that I have not cleaned a bathroom since I have been sharing a house with my husband. I swear; nothing more than a quick wipedown of the sink. Sam is the designated down on hands and knees toilet scrubber, floor mopper, etc. But--since he is not in love with the idea of having a bathroom on the main floor, this one is mine. I will let you know if my love affair with marble is still going strong next year some time.

Time for Round Two--I truly want opinions about what backsplash would be best for our countertops. I am very excited that we are putting in soapstone, a material that has widely been used in chemistry lab counters because of imperviousness to acids/chemicals. It looks great in older homes especially, and I love the softer feel and natural look.

If you are not familiar with soapstone, one cool thing about it is that it darkens, or patinas, over time. Many people speed up this process and make it more uniform by oiling it, which brings out the veining and darkens the softer grey tone to a blacker tone. I thought we would go with a quieter, simple slab, but this one just begged to go home with us and be part of our family:
In the above picture you can see the top middle portion and lower left portion that was oiled when I was there. It doesn't look particularly striking, but when oiled all over it looks like this:
Here's a closeup of one of the veins.

There are greens, blacks, and whites, and since this is a fairly busy counter, I want to keep it simple with the backsplash without being too plain. We also don't want to have something dark, since the cabinets are mid-range wood, the floors are lighter wood, and the counters and sink are dark. A common backsplash choice for the type of kitchen I am looking at is subway tile, but I think white may be too stark here. We are thinking that maybe a light green subway tile would be good, giving a period feel while being more updated as well.

I have seen pictures of other kitchens that have soapstone counters with marble subway backsplash, and they look nice. This would basically be white but not as stark as ceramic tile.

Any thoughts? Other ideas? I'm all ears.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Plantation 2009, and Come Home Sam!

Disclaimer--I am writing this on Day 4 of Single Momhood with No Kitchen while Sam is backpacking with his brother and friends in northern California for an early 40th birthday present. Yes, my mom is here so I'm technically not alone, and one thing is certain--there's no way my sanity would be preserved if she was not here helping. But, still...I miss Sam, and the boys do, too. Life runs more smoothly when the team is intact. I wrote about my dislike for waking with Kenyon before the 7 o'clock hour in an earlier post, and it is taking its toll. I am now in the throes of perfecting my dislike for living without a kitchen, but I hope this will be a faint, distant dislike very soon. More on that later; I am only mustering up the energy to write about our California trip tonight, although the other camera will undoubtedly have pictures that I will want to share once Sam brings it home. So probably more on this later, too.

We spent a glorious week at Plantation Tree Farm, Sam's dad's property, in northern California. Plantation is my favorite place to be; what could be bad about beautiful swaying redwoods, abundant plants and wildlife, and fantastic people, all nestled amongst the ocean and vineyards? Now that the boys are older (funny how I say that with a 16 month old), we all camped out at High Trees Camp so the adults could more easily enjoy adult beverages together in the evenings.

I put Kenyon to sleep in a pack and play in one of the cabins, and he was so tired each night that he would simply clutch his stuffed bear, turn over and let out a sigh of relief that I was finally going to let him rest. I got to enjoy plenty of time by the campfire with friends, and I plucked him and took him to my tent when I was ready for bed. He did great in the tent as well--never waking up in the night, although I woke up a number of times to make sure he was warm enough, didn't slide off his little pallet I made for him, etc. Then, each morning, at some ungodly hour I groggily opened one eye to see a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed adorable little toddler grinning and saying 'yeah? yeah? yeah?' before hurling his round body onto mine. And then standing to do it again. And again. I is a baby supposed to sleep while the almighty sun is telling him to wake up? Well, here's an idea for all you outdoor products manufacturers reading this blog--make a tent with blackout shades! Sam was in the other tent with the boys, where sleep was more readily available.

Every trip to Plantation is a boyfest; somehow between the Denver Tunheims, the California Tunheims and all of Sam's friends, that crafty Y chromosome managed to sneak its way in during *almost* every conception. On this trip, eight children (aged 6, 5, 5, 4, 18 months, 16 months, 14 months, and 12 months) were feeding chickens and koi; camping in tents; catching snakes, newts, and banana slugs; making s'mores; identifying scat; making water bottle boys, and my just-turned one-year old niece, Celeste.

Jackson holding a snake, with Alex and Sammy feeding the koi with Grandpa Ed

Poor Celeste. Or lucky Celeste. We are all wondering if she will deal with the cloud of testosterone surrounding her by being the ultimate tomboy, or the ultimate princess. Time will tell.

More later...sleep is a precious commodity.