Monday, December 27, 2010

A new ending and a new beginning

Of course, there's the end of the year, fast approaching, and the upcoming new year, full of promise and hope.  The end of the old kitchen as it morphs into the new one.  And the end of my manuscript, which had two endings until last night.  I finally figured out how to morph the two endings into one suitable, and I hope compelling, closure. 

I'm still typing up the hard copy version. (Yes, I wrote the last 30 pages longhand, and that nostalgic and weird exercise jogged my creative pathways in just the right way.)  I've decided that I work best on the novel manuscript revisions at the end of the day, when I'm dog tired and my hands are useless for anything but resting on the keyboard of my laptop.  I suppose my sudden onset of muscular mutiny has two causes: painting/texturizing the kitchen, and playing Wii, the Christmas gift for the whole family.  Every time I lift my arms today, I cringe a little. 

I now have the greatest respect for home remodel skilled laborers.

And now for pics:

We started somewhere around here...this was taken right after I peeled off the classy adhesive stained glass plastic.

Post painting the first coat in Behr's "Patina."  I thought it would be more sage-y, but it's growing on me.
 Notice the ceiling: we ran out of material, so we'll have to finish it later tonight.  The ceiling will have the same texture as the walls.
notice the floors are stripped to the cement....

the newly constructed soffit (and removed old one)

The east wall.  Imagine a grand steel vent hood hanging from that duct.  
I'm still trying to figure out how to install a ducted vent range hood.  More research is needed.

Happy holidays!  Please, please send me some open shelving pics you find on the internet.  Cool storage and organization ideas are welcome.  (I'm think a blend of French countryside meets gourmet cook meets World Market and Pier One.  Without the Pier One price tag.)  Link them here or through my Facebook. Thanks!

Friday, December 24, 2010

New Pics

So tired, I can't even write something interesting.  So here are the new pics:
Knocked down the soffit, finally, and discovered there was no ceiling above it.  Ugh.  So back to Lowes to buy sheetrock for a new ceiling.

 Getting that sucker down was hard work.  Lots of hammering and a sudden deluge of 30-year-old fiberglass insulation on top of my head and down the front of my shirt.  After a quick shower and a trip to Lowe's,  did this:
It's drying overnight.  Will need a second coat.  Have decided to texturize the entire ceiling rather than deal with ceiling panels and stud-finding.  Talking like Tarzan is a sign of exhaustion. 

Tomorrow, I paint the walls before my love comes home from Paris.

I'm wiped out tonight.  Sleep well, and may sugar plums dance in your heads tonight.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Remodel: fin de Week One

That's French for "I made a mess and cleaned it up by the end of week one."  Sort of.
I've been promising photos and updates on my kitchen odyssey, so here we are.

I'm going to spice this post up with a list of "things I've discovered" from this project (and perhaps life in general.)

To the right here, you can see that we took off the cabinets.  See the brown dripping things in the photo?  Discovery #1: The backs of the cabinets were actually painted sheet rock.  I had no idea.  I hope the new ones I ordered don't have this fancy tromp d'oeil. I want real cabinet backs.

I decided to pull the appliances to the center of the kitchen so they can have cozy conversations while staying out of my way.  It's not every day that appliances can have tête à têtes.  I hope they enjoy this special occasion.
 <-- The left cabinets came down yesterday evening.  We had an interesting time with that oven vent, which was non-functioning.  Discovery #2: we had a ventless hood.  It was rather disgusting, full of grease, and probably a fire hazard.  I'm glad the previous owners kept the vent and just stuffed it with insulation because it will make installing the new hood immensely easier.  When we buy the new hood, that is...

Call me weird, but I kept sweeping the floor, even though it will be ripped up imminently.  I even mopped it this morning.  The dust was killing me.

The next two pics are what I accomplished today, exactly one week after the remodel began.  I got rid of the refrigerator cabinet and the oven cabinet (the last one!).  I texturized the walls and began to imagine the color splashed on it: Patina.

 The jury is still out on the soffits.  My remodel calendar says that I was supposed to texturize on Wednesday and take down the soffits today.  But I'll see tomorrow if I have the energy and will power to tackle that chore.  I need cheerleaders.

Discovery #3: Like old people, old letters seek warm climates to spend their years in retirement.  When Trevor and I pulled out the stove cabinet, we found two letters.  One, dated September 3, 1989, was a packet of three offering envelopes for weekly tithing.  They were all empty, and I'm kind of glad they were, or I'd have a real ethical quandary on my hands.  It would be too tempting to keep money at this stage of remodeling--even somebody's wayward tithes.

 Discovery #4: Stamps cost a quarter in 1990.  I'd forgotten that they were ever this low, and I was probably griping about how high stamps were that Christmas.  Do you like the little USPS stamp that kindly asks the postal worker to "please mail early for Christmas"?  Makes me smile.

Discovery #5:  I'm not superwoman.  Or, I'm only superwoman until 6 PM.  After that, I'm tired and start fantasizing about hiring workers to pull up the vinyl flooring.  We'll see how those fantasies play out tomorrow...  I also need to make friends fast with someone who knows how to wire recessed lighting in the soffit against the windowed wall.

That's it for tonight.
I'll sleep well tonight.  I hope you do, too.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

On losing track of days

I've been terrible at keeping up with my writing.  But look at what I've accomplished so far in the kitchen.

I put on my handy apron and red crocs...
 ...and started with the door frame from the kitchen to the laundry room.  I'd hung the door a few months ago, with all the other interior doors with the help of my older son, and this one wasn't level on the floor.  The latch didn't catch.  So on Thursday, I took off the molding, straightened the frame (thanks, Sam, for helping me nail that sucker straight), and then bought some pretty new molding with plinth blocks.  I still have to fill in the small gaps and paint, but I'm waiting until all the baseboards and molding are up.
 Today was day one of the Big Cabinet Removal Project.  My older brother was going to come help, but he forgot that he had to work until 5AM, and he had skin surgery on his shoulder a few days ago, so he couldn't come.  Wimp!  (All right, I forgive him.  They are good excuses...)

So my son Trevor, who just came home from college, was so nice to agree to help me.  Wow, has college changed him.  He's suddenly very talented at this home improvement stuff. Usually I'm doing everything and begging him to hold this or do that, but today he and I worked like old pros together.  It was actually fun.  We turned off the water and electricity, dismantled the plumbing and moved the sink to the floor, comme ca:

By the way, if you've never done this, let me just tell you it stinks to high heaven when that plumbing pvc is removed.  Uck.  We had to open the windows.  Anyone want a stainless steel sink?  (Now that I'm looking at this picture, I'm wondering if I should be allowing the disposal to lean on its side.  I hope I haven't ruined it.  I need that little guy.)

Then we got to work with  the cabinets.  Removed the formica counter tops piece by piece (some were really small pieces, since we had to chop it up in places), which stirred up much dust (yes, that's dust in the sunbeam):

 You see all those wall cabinets and the rest of the base cabinets?  They're all gone!  Tomorrow, we remove the oven cabinet and the stove cabinet, and the last wall cabinets on the wall facing this photo.

I have to say that this is an incredible adventure.  Except for the wee accident during the door re-hang (I hit my skull with the hammer while trying to extract a high nail; frozen edamame helped immensely, and the gross scab I discovered 2 days later is healing nicely), there have been no unpleasant surprises.  I'm discovering the original 1970 formica beneath the paneling, and the original hideous vinyl that puts our existing ugly vinyl to shame.  I'm still a little afraid to knock down the soffit (that wall above the cabinets), but we'll see how that goes on Monday...

I'll post more pics after all the cabinets are down.  I've posted the double oven on Craigslist for $300, but no inquiries yet.  Is that too much to ask for an oven that works fine? 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Song for the Holidays?

I've been getting some very nice emails from readers after the SMU Holiday Book recommendation here.  And I'm looking forward to January 22nd's book signing at Barnes & Noble on 15th Street near 75 and to the reading at UTD on the 27th.  If you're stumped on a gift for someone, consider this little book, no? 

I'll be happy to mail a signed bookmark to your favorite someone as an extra hoo-hah (ho ho ho?).  Just let me know!

In the meantime, here's what I've demo'd in the kitchen: cheap wood paneling, baseboards, and chair rail, gone. 
The door molding also now gone.  I couldn't stand that little uneven space above the door.  I'll level the door and re-affix the molding to the frame.

I have an estimate coming for replacement windows today.  We'll see if it fits my shoestring budget.

Lastly, I suppose I should put something in this blog about my revisions to my novel manuscript #2: I was a bad (and tired) girl yesterday.  I didn't even open the file.  But I will tonight, since this blog is now my public motivation.

Onward creative odyssey!

Monday, December 13, 2010

My New Project

This month, I'm focused on two things: remodeling my sad little kitchen on a shoestring budget, and re-reading/revising my novel manuscript that was completed last month.  It might be a little too soon to be revising the manuscript, so hot on the heels of first-draft completion, but home improvement chores have a way of clearing my head and allowing creativity to germinate. 

So, here's a link to some book reviews on Goodreads:

(Please feel free to add your review on Goodreads, too.)

And here are some pics of my sad little kitchen (decked out for a chef, but falling apart at the seams):
Yes, there are no cabinet doors, and yes, that's roux (and other souls of sauces) splashed on the wall 
The double oven will be on Craigslist soon.  Replacing with stainless steel. Anyone want a cheap oven? And yes, that's a piece of wood propping up the sinking counter top above the dishwasher.

Picture taken yesterday.  You won't believe how much cooking stuff we've packed into the shelves.

Cute little distressed white table/chairs from World Market that I'll also have to sell to make room for an island table. Any takers?

How about that classy light bulb? And the adhesive stained glass?  High class stuff there.

View from the dining room.  I already replaced all the interior doors in the house, which is why there's some artsy white wall joint leftovers to the right of the door. I'm thinking a light sage-y green for the kitchen.  The new floor will be beautiful.
Now that the pics are up, it's time to get back to the kitchen.  Today, I finish packing the pots and pans, and then I pull off all the chair molding and the cheap boarding below it. I hope I don't discover anything too scary. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Emerging from the Coma

Thanksgiving Turkey
(Common Use from Flikr)
Yes, that's what it feels like. A food coma.  I finished the last half of my third novel in November during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and I haven't been able to write anything for a week.  Not even a blog post.  On December 1, I felt like I had ingested a twenty-pound turkey, and I've been at the mercy of a tryptophan overdose ever since.  Until today.

The first draft of a novel always needs recovery time, much like we all do after gorging ourselves on Thanksgiving dinner.  (And besides, I had college papers to grade all week; I still take pride in reading my students' essays carefully.)  I haven't even looked once at that finished novel draft, and certainly didn't want to until just a few minutes ago.  I'm beginning to get curious about what I actually wrote during my occasionally delusional writing mania.  Moments of brilliance?  Pages of utter failure?  Tomorrow I will find out. Tomorrow, I will open that file and read.  But first, I'll have a glass of Malbec in hand.

It took a blog post from a great YA writer on the cusp of real fame, people--Amy Plum--to spur me on to blog writing again.  I've already pre-ordered her book, Die For Me (and you should, too).  She was one of only two personal "writing buddies" for NaNo, and kept me on my toes with the daily word count.  Once you've been writing a while, you get to that place (an illusion, really) where you think I don't need writing buddies!  I've taught fiction-writing classes!  I'm not a grad student anymore!

But, whoa Nelly, I've made a delightful discovery that merely maintaining an online network--small or large--of "writerly relationships" can truly influence one's creative muse.

December for Amy will be a month of immersing herself into her YA field.  December mornings for me will be revision time for the novel, and during the rest of the remodeling.  That's right.  I'm tearing up my kitchen and remodeling it myself.  My companion is the love of my life, but he ain't no home-fixer.  He is my everything-else.  I will post pictures of disasters and successes. I understand the chaos my life (and my family's lives) will be under during these next two months, but I can't help but feel the excitement of having cabinet doors that stay on the hinges and counter tops that are actually still attached to the walls!  I feel like superwoman in an orange apron.  Wish me luck!

Oh, and the jury is still out on Spellweger.  (See the previous posts, if you need the whole story again.)  We may know something in January.