...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Remodeling Part II

Our Grove of Truffala Trees
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot...."
The kitchen remodel is well underway by now.  Many people have asked if it's driving me crazy not to have a functioning kitchen.  The makeshift setup is just fine for now and has truly helped me slow down.  With an intact kitchen I begin nearly every day with a cooking/prep. to-do list whether it includes whipping up a batch of homemade mayo, shaking together some fresh vinaigrette, soaking beans for the next day's meal, or baking more elaborate goodies.  Although V and I love to work on these projects together, the truth is that they often pull me away from other activities with her.  She'll be three in mere moments so I'm hoping that her curiosity for cooking and baking will continue to grow and we will spend more time in the kitchen together, but I've also realized that it's okay for me consolidate these tasks, simplify, or completely scratch them out for now and just enjoy being with her.  I'll have plenty of time to get back to this household "par" list in the fall once V starts school.  For now, we've been spending our mornings away from the noise and mess of construction to checking out different libraries around the metro area; going to the gym, movies, playground; and checking out kids' classes at our neighborhood community center (one venue where I happen to teach cooking classes.)  Today at Art Club we listened to a reading of The Lorax then crafted some 2-D Truffala Trees using pipe cleaners, cotton balls, bendable straws, glitter glue, and markers.  This art club will be both fun for Vera and an exercise for me to let my child just be and do with art instead of trying to box her into my ideas of what "good" art looks like.

The other fantastic thing about slowing down this week is that I'm three for three on running into a friend/colleague out in public and having an opportunity to clear whatever perceived urgencies were on my day's list and just spend time talking, connecting face-to-face, and even brainstorming.  These connections are so important, especially to a most-of-the-time-stay-at-home-parent who finds it all too easy to stay in her little cocoon at home.  Had it not been for this remodeling mess keeping us away from the house, I might have rushed home from all morning activities instead of taking time to sit and relax over coffee, piles of kids' library books, or a goopy table of art supplies.  The question is, will I go back into this shell once the kitchen is done?  Let's hope not.  Especially with "spring" just a month or so away, I'm hoping to spend mornings out and about.  And--to bring people into our home once our new entertaining space if finished--I'm also tempted to host a Sunday morning pancake breakfast (an idea I culled from one of my spontaneous friend visits this week!), preserving parties, or a night of board games and vino.

Before I flash photos of our gutted kitchen, I have to add another realization that popped up during the redesign process.  A couple of weeks ago I was having a phone conversation with a woman at the company from which we bought our new range hood/vent system.  As we were discussing the ease of cleaning, the representative was saying "...if you're frying something...versus just preparing some mac 'n cheese in a pot on the stove..."  For a few moments I was totally stumped at how one would make macaroni and cheese stovetop.  I asked her what she meant because I always bake mine in the oven.  She said "oh, you must be from the South."  Well, Paris, IL may seem borderline "southern," but mine isn't the classic Gulf-area comfort food.  Basically, I had forgotten that I'd ever prepared mac 'n cheese from a box on the stovetop.  Though I felt slightly ignorant for not understanding what this woman meant, I later realized that I've become far enough removed from certain aspects of the processed food world that I've simply erased them from my memory.  And I guess that's okay.  I can only hope that Vera will never know the creamy noodle dish that comes out of a blue box, but if she does we'll have fun comparing it to the made-from-scratch version.

Here's the status.  Most of these were taken last week.  The progress has exceeded our expectations!
All the cabinets are gone, power is out!
Say goodbye to the last bit of Cream City brick in our house
I love seeing the guts of our house
Lots of great space in this back galley-way--
soon to be open pantry and computer stations
Messages in a fine German scrawl from the woman who built our house--
her instructions for the last remodel,
"Fasten to floor before setting cabinet in place."
Behind the chimney was the plumbing to the upstairs
1/2 bath we installed a few years ago--it will be tucked
into the wall to give us more cabinet space
Chimney is gone completely done to the basement.
More storage space down there now--soon to be
 cemented over
Floor is pulled up
New doorway from kitchen to dining room
Some surprise pipes.  And soon they'll seal up the old doorway
Dropping the ceiling
Maple flooring is in, pipes are tucked,
soffit still needs clipping to mirror diagonal on
opposite side
Will we arch the doorway to match the rest of the
front of the house?
Soon they'll hang dry wall, tape, mud, and paint

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