Archive for May, 2010

Since we’ve been in home renovation-mode for 2 years now, it’s appropriate that the books on display in the living room reflect the home we’re trying to create.

We moved into this house over Memorial Day weekend 2 years ago. The first summer, we spent many hours working in the basement sealing the stone walls, painting the floor and deodorizing the strong cat smell. We spruced up the garage inside and out with new paint throughout, patched the cement floor and added shelving and peg board galore. After all, the garage would become “project central” once we started the real renovation. Next, we installed a picket fence and stained it white. David fixed up the many porches and we stained them white as well. We also started gutting the lower-level of the house and made more trips than I can count to Glen’s landfill. Lath and plaster accounts for a lot of mass!

When we bought our house, we (very naively) thought that we could complete a whole-house renovation in 8-months. Even though its now been 24-months since we’ve moved in, I am amazed at how much we’ve done and how much we’ve learned. This house has certainly seen a major transformation already. Even though our bathroom is still opened up to the studs, we are much closer to the lower-level being complete. We’ll take a break before tackling the upstairs, but it’s still on the list.

It’s nice to look back at the photo evolution of the house transformation and to review blog posts to see just how far we’ve come. Thanks for following.


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Our next door neighbor began an extensive addition/remodel last month. They plan on converting the old garage into living space, relocating the garage to the back of the house (hence the new driveway on the left side), adding a front porch and a building a completely new kitchen on the inside. I saw the building plans and it’s going to look completely different. Wow!

Two doors down, a new family moved in a few months ago, but had the house refurbished over the winter with new floors, kitchen, paint, wiring, etc. They have big plans to add on to the house and also build a front porch to take advantage of the bay views.

We are really changing the neighborhood by giving these old beauties some much-needed TLC. We hope that the renovation bug will continue down the block. I’ll keep you posted.

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Last month, we were greeted with bursts of color. The forsythia bushes were in full bloom in early April. (Yes, you’ll notice that our building permit is still hanging in the front window. We hope it will be coming down by the end of the month. Keep your fingers crossed for us!)

The back yard garden will hopefully fill in with all of the transplanting I did last year. Along the fence, we still need to turn the barrel (that I painted the same color as the house) into a rain barrel.

The trillium plant, that I bought last year at the Grand Traverse Conservation District’s plant sale, looks fantastic among the myrtle. The grape hyacinth plants near the sidewalk are putting on quite the show right now. The lilac bushes and forget-me-nots are showing off. I still have several red tulips reaching for the sky and have noticed the bees searching for pollen in my blooming back yard.

Enjoy the garden tour. Things are slowly coming back to life.

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It’s a daily question… and one that I usually don’t think about until pangs of hunger are sending SOS signals to my brain. Since our new kitchen has made it’s debut, we’ve been eating pretty well. We try to cook with fresh ingredients which means that we head to the grocery store two, sometimes three times a week. With each meal, we usually begin with a salad- a mix of greens, tomatoes, shaved onion, croutons (sometimes nuts), feta cheese, dressing and occasionally top it off with dried cherries. Here’s a mouth-watering sampling of some of our recent concoctions from our new kitchen.

Enchiladas with salsa and a dallop of sour cream

Homemade garlic thin crust pizza with spinach, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms and fresh mozzarella

Bread stickswith garlic and butter

Spinach, tomato, roasted red bell pepper and havarti cheese-grilled, served with chips and salsa

Now if only I could remember to take a picture each time a culinary masterpiece occurs…

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Our kitchen remodel took longer than we wanted, but the super stunning results make us forget the temporary kitchen (hot plate + toaster + microwave) that we used for months. Our cooking palate has grown since the debut of the new kitchen (more on that later).

Honestly, the day that our kitchen became operational it really felt like home. Sure, there were problems… when David hooked up the sink the first time, the drains were clogged. David bought a plumbing snake, went back into the crawl space only to find that the snake couldn’t make it through the first bend. Back to the home improvement store to return first snake and purchase the other model from the shelf. Then, back in the crawl space and voila– success. It was 10 o’clock at night on a Sunday when the kitchen passed the clog-free, open-for-business test. What would any 22-month oven-deprived person do? Bake cookies, of course.

Our kitchen was far from complete on it’s cookie baking debut, but that first batch sure was sweet.

Feast your eyes on our completed kitchen masterpiece. Of course, we must give credit to Scott from Warden’s Point Woodworking for building all of the beautiful wood cabinets. The birch plywood cabinets are outfitted with painted poplar face frames. Scott also helped us build and install the walnut counter tops. We really like the way the dark walnut counters balance the white cabinetry and the natural hickory flooring seems to tie it all together.

Glass shelves and glass doors adorn the upper cabinets on the south wall of the kitchen. We now have twelve drawers of which are equipped with easy-close mechanisms that prevents them from slamming shut. The peninsula, lit by two pendant lights, offers seating for two and increased counter space. Eventually, we plan to install a TV in the cavity above the refrigerator. Catching the 6 o’clock news while cooking dinner will be a snap.

The north wall of the kitchen includes a built-in hutch. We wanted it to look like a piece of furniture. The hutch displays some antique collectibles and provides ample storage in the cupboards below.

Review our kitchen transformation:

Walnut counters 4/2/10

Kitchen in the home stretch 2/23/10

House progress report 1/28/10

We’ll be cooking soon 1/5/10

Kitchen progress 10/12/09 (includes the ONLY kitchen BEFORE picture I’ve ever published… because it was really scary!)

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About a month ago, I unpacked boxes and boxes of kitchen ware to move into our long-awaited remodeled kitchen! I unpacked several boxes that have been in storage for over 4 years. We have goads of real silverware that was from the old Leland cottage (which hadn’t been used there either.) Needless to say, the old silver utensils haven’t been cleaned up in a long time and (naively) I thought I could tackle this project in a mere hour or two. First off, I washed all of the pieces in the sink with pure castile soap… then came the fun part. After some internet research, I decided to use the step-by-step instructions from Real Simple for an all-natural approach to polishing silver. Their how-to instructions also included a handy-dandy video that made it look “oh, so easy.”

Let me remind you what I was up against… beautifully crafted silver pieces, some tarnished and almost black in color.

So, the instructions called for:

  • tarnished silver
  • warm water
  • dish soap
  • aluminum foil
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • boiled water
  • two pots
  • clean cloth

Ok. “This is beginning to sound like a science experiment,” I thought. We’ll just say that I haven’t made an exploding volcano in a while, because when I created my potion, and thought I was following the step-by-step instructions, I had a boiling water, baking soda calamity that exploded all over our brand new walnut kitchen counters, dripped down our brand new cabinets and onto our hickory hardwood floors. Yikes! Good thing I had stashed a ton of rags under the sink in my attempt to wean ourselves of paper towels (more on that later) and was able to contain the boiling water explosion seconds after the disaster struck.

Needless to say that I was less than enthused about the silver project after my wayward attempt. The good news is that the very tarnished silver is at least clean and is stored in a kitchen drawer waiting for another ambitious Saturday morning.

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A dove family was born

We are once-again bird central over here on Elmwood Street. Last year, we had cardinals occupying the nest on our side porch. This spring, a mourning dove moved in to the cardinal’s nest and two baby doves were born. They flew the coop on April 26. Yesterday morning, the mama dove was back in the nest cooing. I hope the chicks are doing OK out there in the wild…

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