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Archive for January, 2010

We’ve been busy lately with many house projects, so here is part II of the house progress report. Since the last report talked about moving a refrigerator down to the basement, I wanted to assure you that we still have food in the house. In fact, we are using the fridge in our new kitchen!

Even though we are not yet cooking downstairs and now have to carry our food up and down the stairs to prepare it (and then back downstairs to eat it at the dining room table) we are very excited to be using part of the new kitchen! Besides, it’s good excercise going up and down those stairs!

Speaking of the kitchen… there is tons of exciting progress to share! Drawers, doors, hardware and a microwave have been installed and it is all so very amazing!

The kitchen is not the only area where progress is happening… a while back, I wrote a post about re-using the old doors, trim and window sills.

We loved the old french doors that used to separate the front parlor from the living room. We kept the doors and re-hung them to serve as the entry into the study/guest bedroom. Now that the old frenchies have been repainted, you would never know that they used to have cracked paint and were in any other location in the house.

Of course, not everything can be all roses. Our downstairs bathroom looks like this! We gutted everything on the entire first floor EXCEPT for the bathroom (because it’s the only shower in the house).

David began dismantling the bathroom, so we can move the toilet, change out the vanity, remove the shelving around the shower, re-tile the shower and floors and add a second entry into the bathroom from the mudroom (we plan to tie the two spaces together by laying down the same floor tile throughout the mudroom and bathroom). We’re going to keep the cast iron tub. That baby’s a beast! The tub needs to be re-glazed when it’s all said and done, but a little re-glazing maintenance now and again is a small price to pay to keep that slab of iron outta the landfill (not to mention our aching backs!)

We plan to break down the bathroom a little at a time. We picked up a bathroom fan over the weekend and we’ll be amassing the array of supplies in the near future (think tile, backer board, medicine cabinet, sink, fixtures, recessed lights, towel bars, etc). Because once we pull the sink, toilet and demo the tiles around the tub- we’re out a shower space. We’ll be sure to have all our ducks in a row because no one likes going without a shower for too long or mooching showers off of friends for too long either. (Just a warning to all my friends nearby- we might come by to crash your shower sometime soon!)

Anyway… seems to be par for the course around here. We’re never without a project or two. Stay tuned…

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We’ve been getting by using the upstairs kitchen (that consists of a kitchen sink, a refrigerator and about 5 feet of counter space to house our toaster oven, hot plate and coffee pot) this whole time while our downstairs kitchen remodel is taking place. A few weekends ago, David and I removed the full-size refrigerator from upstairs and brought it down not just one, but two flights of stairs.

Yeah, that’s right. You heard that correctly. We decided after some debate to keep our old fridge afterall and moved it into the basement. Amazingly, we managed to get the fridge down both sets of stairs without denting the walls, stubbing a toe or crushing any fingers! Bonus points! And now, the refrigerator is resting, unplugged in the basement (with the doors slightly ajar so no mold will grow.)

Whew! With the fridge safely down the stairs, we decided to finally tackle the stair and banister project. Given that the front hall used to look pretty dated with the pink paint and fake wood paneling, we opted for a crisp, clean look. We wanted the new entry way to be open and airy.

The stairway had already received quite the makeover compared to when we first moved in, but it was still in need of some TLC. In this picture, you can clearly see the spindles and baseboard that were painted a shade of pink.

When we gutted the downstairs, we had the foresight to frame in two windows that will eventually add lots of light to the stairwell. They will be placed about three feet above the trim moulding on the second story. (So, when we are feeling particularly ambitious, we’ll climb up a ladder and cut two big holes in the side of the house and install those windows, and of course, we’ll share it with you when we get there!) David also added the same baseboard moulding that runs throughout the lower level along the staircase to dress things up a bit.

And here are the final results! We still need to pick out a color for the stair treads and paint the treads and banister railing, but it looks very refreshed already!

Eventually, we will probably add a carpet runner up the center of the staircase. But for now, paint is going to have to do the trick.

Let me tell you, it takes some serious patience to prime and paint each spindle! I think we ended up with four coats of paint on the spindles because we weren’t satisfied. It’s tough to paint rounded pieces, but in the end, I think it looks great!

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It’s been great having my brother as a friend and neighbor in Traverse City especially since we are both so close in age. He lives in a fantastic apartment downtown that has a fully functioning kitchen!

For us, after making due with a makeshift kitchen for over a year and storming friend’s kitchens to use an oven now and then, it’s great to have a sibling to kitchen-crash on.

My brother has mastered the art of the homemade pizza. We have a standing Pizza Friday date at his place. He makes the dough and sauce from scratch and we’ve experimented with toppings.

Some of our favorites are:

  • Spinach, bell pepper, onion and garlic
  • Ham (fresh from Maxbauer’s Meat Market) and pineapple
  • Italian sausage and onion
  • Mushrooms, pepperoni, onions and garlic

The dough is rolled with a rolling-pin for a superb thin crust. Sometimes, he adds some minced garlic to the dough for a mild garlic crust flavor.

Next the sauce is spread over the dough, then cheese and toppings. We usually pair the 2-pizza meal with a salad and bookend it with a bowl of ice cream for dessert. Can’t beat that!

I’ve enjoyed coming over to his place during the lunch hour for homemade sandwiches once and a while. As someone who enjoys cooking myself, it’s gratifying to watch him embrace trying new things in the kitchen. We plan on taking a cooking class together at the local college. French Bistro cooking 101… here we come!

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Last month, I wrote about our walk to Cedar Lake on the Leelanau Trail. In that post, I promised that David and I would be back in the winter months to enjoy the trail and the DeYoung Natural Area while covered with snow. The 15-mile Leelanau Trail is groomed for skiing and lucky for us, the trailhead is located just 4 minutes from our house. We arrived in no-time, clicked into our skis and were off. We enjoyed the sunny skies and friendly smiles from the fifteen other skiers we passed.

We also decided to take the winding Conservancy trail through the Cedar forest to the fishing platform to take a peek at the ice on the lake. We noticed a few ice-fishing shanties on the lake especially near the public access boat launch area. It was a beautiful outing to enjoy the fresh air, stretch our legs and work up a sweat. We’ll be back for sure.
Trail grooming updates can be found on the TART Trails website.

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I attended my first board meeting for the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance last Thursday. There was quite the storm blowing across the southern part of the state and I had to drive through the thick of it.

I had my camera out because I wanted to attempt to take a windshield picture of the ice on the trees and happened to have my camera ready when I passed the “Bear Crossing” warning sign just outside of Cadillac, Michigan. I always feel like, “Wow, I actually live Up North” whenever I drive by that sign.

I have yet to see a bear Up North myself, although a bear was spotted in my neighborhood in downtown Traverse City over the summer.

There are other Up North landmarks that give me that warm and fuzzy pinch-me-cause-I’m-dreaming feeling like: the Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theater in Honor, the Cherry Hut in Beulah, The Village Cheese Shanty in Leland, Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor, Pleva’s Meats in Cedar, Friske Orchards in Ellsworth, and many many more.

It’s funny how many times I’ve had to remind myself that I really do live up here. I’ve never lived anywhere else where the surroundings, small businesses, and landmarks excite me again and again. It’s a truly special region and I’m proud and honored to be a small part of it.

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It’s been a while since my last post about kitchen progress, and things are really starting to shape up. Our cabinet friend, Scott, from Warden’s Point Woodworking has been hard at work on our custom kitchen cabinets.

The nook above the refrigerator is for a small flat screen TV. I’m sure I’ll be tuning in countless episodes on the Food Network and HGTV.

We decided to have Scott build an open shelf corner cabinet to go on the end of the upper cabinet over the peninsula. It will be a great spot for a plant or some kitschy knickknacks.

It’s unbelievable that we’ve been without a kitchen for so long. Thankfully, our house used to be a quasi-duplex and we do have a kitchen sink and refrigerator upstairs. However, we’ve only had a hot plate, toaster and microwave for cooking. It is pretty limiting for what you can whip up in the kitchen. I used to be quite the baker, but I’ve been without a stove since June 2008! I can’t wait to have a fully functioning kitchen! Maybe I’ll bake my famous cookies someday soon…

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