Thursday, June 29, 2017

Still Under Renovation...

The electrical work is coming to a close, the doorway has been expanded, the old flooring has been removed. Plumbing is on the horizon but should go much more quickly. When we get to the stage for putting in new wall board, I'll be positively giddy.

There are paint colors under consideration, though I am leaning toward a nice bright white to lighten things up. The tile for the floor has been found and will not break the budget at $2.00 per square foot as both the kitchen and entry are tiny. The kitchen is 8x8 feet. The entry and hall are quite short, but should look nice when all is said and done. The counters will be a granite tile with the smallest grout line possible rather than a slab of stone since I'm on a budget and the cabinets are a step up from what I had.

The wires in my old kitchen light were brittle and broken once it was removed, so I'll be sourcing another. My contractor purchased a small overhead light for his garage but put it in here temporarily so that I would have light in the kitchen.

While the inches gained from the door expansion have me over the moon, aside from the physical alterations there has been a change in routine that has opened my eyes. The contractor appears at nine and most days works through to four or five. This means that I must be up by seven to take care of the cat, dress, feed both of us and tidy the bits that I can prior to his arrival. Both the cat and I have had earlier nights with no blogs, phone calls, visitors or other distractions and outings only for food and household necessities. We've been going to bed early and enjoying the quiet once the contractor departs. I have shifted my yoga and meditation to evening and have noticed a change in sleep pattern. I still often wake at 4 AM but find it easier to return to some semblance of slumber.

The downside here is the diet of frozen and microwave-only food upon which I must rely for another two weeks or so. Yesterday, after my stomach registered its discontent, I found myself in the neighborhood Target staring at photos on the boxes of frozen foods and trying to determine which had the most vegetables, the greenest broccoli or the best variety. I then bought a large salad from a nearby restaurant and ate it for breakfast this morning.

If any of you have any tips on getting through renovations successfully, feel free to comment. At this point, I'm game for almost anything.

Happy weekend!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Ya Gotta Be Kidding Me...

This is day five of my small kitchen renovation. More of the walls are gone, and one side of my front room has no electricity since the conduit and wiring were mistakenly removed and are due to be re-done on Monday. Aside from that, there is some plumbing to be dealt with before new drywall can be put in place, so still a bit to go.

While I am grateful that the contractor is methodical and realize that it is difficult trying to undo what another has done beneath walls at earlier points in time, if you sense my disappointment at not being further along, you've pegged it.

Aside from disliking microwave meals, I have little privacy during the day because the place is so small. The cat, who dislikes being confined, is coping with the situation admirably. Of course, it helps that he is friendly, curious and sociable. When let out, he is talked to, scratched and petted. What's not to like? An added plus is that once he's had his tour, he's content to stay in my lap. If only I were as easily mollified.

My new appliances await in a warehouse. The cabinets? Probably another week or so. Flooring and paint? Still to be decided upon...

First world, all of it. I hope I never have to do this again.

Happy weekend and a great summer to all.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

My Electricals: What's Hot and What's Not...


Today is the second day of my small kitchen renovation. All of the appliances are gone as are the cabinets except the sink which will be gone in the morning. The walls are being opened and so far, we've found an illegal junction box and figured out the grounding situation for all of the outlets. More electrical and plumbing to follow.

While Jacob doesn't care for his confinement to the bedroom, he is coping admirably and does not seem unduly stressed by the temporary mess as long as I am within reach. At work's end, I let him out to look around and after a cursory stroll, he goes back to his sherpa mat or spends time on my lap.

I offered my young neighbors the cabinets which though eighteen now are still usable. However, since uppers aren't needed and have not been used in years, those were in the best shape and they seem happy to have them. I'm glad the cabinetry is getting a second life rather than ending up at the dump.

As of yet, I've made no decisions regarding flooring or paint and find these things  ridiculously overwhelming. I did save the knobs from the old cabinets and will keep the same light fixture.

Things are not as chaotic as I thought they might be because my contractor actually cleans up after himself and tomorrow will have the help and company of his son. For now, the cat and I plan an early night.
Best wishes for a safe week. 



Sunday, June 18, 2017

Packing and Clearing...

My small kitchen now looks naked! The only things out are in the dish drainer. The remainder are packed in four boxes in the front room and two smaller boxes have been taken to the local Goodwill. I still have to set up the microwave on the dining table and organize the items to be left out. The contractor will move the refrigerator into the front room when he comes in the morning.

These photos were taken in 2013 just after a re-paint from yellow to green. The dark green wall was the painter's idea and one which I will gladly see go at some point. The greens are darker on screen than in life but the darker of the two is just too much.

I'm never excited about renovations as they take too long and can be tough to live through. If things get too hectic, himself will be boarded and I will find a hotel. The appliances are in the warehouse and the cabinets, sink and faucet and other attachments have been ordered. Paint, flooring, electrical and plumbing await, as does demolition.

The neighbors, who at first seemed enthusiastic about my offer of free upper cabinets, seem to have gone mum on the subject. They did take measurements yesterday. Come 9 AM tomorrow, I hope they have a plan, otherwise to Habitat these will go, along with my good wishes that they find a happy home.

Happy Father's Day to all who have Dads.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Natural Wonder...

Amid the bustle of midweek errands, there was this: A wide arc of double rainbow in brilliant color. Everyone stopped to look and a lot of us snapped photos. Nature is potent and often stunning reminder that there is still much beauty in the world.

Until Next time...

Sunday, June 11, 2017


It has rained here for the better part of a week. Apart from Wednesday and Saturday errands, I've only been out during the short periods in which the rain has stopped, mostly to empty the household garbage or get a breath or two of fresh air.

I have plans to renovate my kitchen and install new flooring as the floors laid down four years ago following water damage caused from the unit above mine are not holding up. I have bubbling, chips and cracks from a super thin laminate that should never be used because it is poorly made.

 The contractor insists that tiling my small entry and hallway will help stem water-related damage from water brought in on my wheels and though I agree, viewing the sea of available options is an exercise in overstimulation and frustration. Because my contractor is a big fan of our local home center, that was my first stop on Saturday and one which left me empty-handed and without help. My next adventure will be a tile store with a design service.

When I moved in here eighteen years ago, my cabinets and appliances were in shambles. The particle board had expanded and swelled, the counters were stained and the refrigerator groaned. I opted to put in the hookup for a stackable laundry unit, taking out the pantry. New white melamine cabinets were installed and a new refrigerator was ordered. My countertops were fabricated in laminate or formica and have stood the test of time. No stains and few if any dings. Only one cabinet is really showing its age, and the stackable I purchased then is now history.

The problem today is not one of simple cosmetics. There are spatial and other concerns. In order to wash dishes, I must sit sideways and pray I don't get water on my floor. The new sink will be a single bowl, less deep and I'll have space for my knees because the lower cabinet will be a thing of the past. My almost never used now upper cabinets will be either donated or given to neighbors and I have no plans to purchase more. The largest cabinet containing pot drawers will give way to a smaller version with two banks of drawers and the doorway to which it is adjacent will be expanded a few inches so that entering and turning in the kitchen will be easier to do.

How does one live with three kitchen cabinets, one of which contains a pull out garbage can? Minimally, of course. This means in practical terms getting rid of what is not essential and paring down all of the paraphernalia that often resides in cabinets and drawers. Fortunately, a large lazy Susan houses my small electrics and other items and I will have an extra drawer in the bottom of the twenty-inch stove. The pots and pans of my childhood all fit in one deep drawer. That is life in a condo-sized kitchen.

Some old photos. Have a good week.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

First World Problems...

I've had an interesting week immersing myself in all things appliance online. After a wonderful wedding Saturday evening and a nice visit with a good friend and her father at his retirement home on Sunday, my washing machine died.

I suppose after eighteen years, that is to be anticipated. However, as I was soon to learn, navigating the world of home appliances, especially in today's market in which things are farmed out to low wage workers so that corporations can reap big profits, can be daunting. Fortunately, research is my middle name. While awaiting a repair person who could not come until Thursday, I scoured consumer websites and customer reviews, spoke to sales people, asked questions of manufacturers and then had a chat with a lovely appliance repair person.

My original washer and dryer, produced under the name Maytag, are stacked, and unlike the units one buys today which sit on a pedestal, are not meant to be used unstacked. They are what is called a laundry center and fewer of these are being produced. Maytag now belongs to Whirlpool and is made in Korea. Additionally, my particular unit is no longer made at all, so replacing it wasn't as straight forward as I had hoped.

The American marketplace is rife with rubbish if the problems noted by customers are to be believed, and the smaller size I was hoping to buy would not handle items like blankets, quilts or bedspreads and since it is impractical for me to hot foot it to the nearest laundromat, full size was my only option unless I wanted to do hours of washing.

With this in mind, I looked at some slightly better reviewed European models only to discover that most of those made for apartment dwellers are unvented and come with their own set of problems not to mention bloated price tags.

My repair person who has been doing appliance repair for ten years for a reputable company in this area looked at my machine and said he could fix it but could not guarantee that further problems would not occur due to age. He suggested I venture forth and get a new one, along with an extended warranty, further adding information with which I had become familiar. The lifespan of a washer and dryer is not what it was decades ago. Indeed, the average machine now lasts six to eight years, ten if one is fortunate.

Research led me to Speed Queen, a U.S. company well known for its commercial laundry machines. They produce a stacked unit with the best warranty I could find and reviews from happy customers. With the help of a friend and my builder in tow, I purchased one this morning. This will go into a newly renovated kitchen, which though quite small, presents challenges to me as a wheelchair user which I hope to alleviate once and for all.

Hardly a frugal day but I hope a successful one.