Friday, September 27, 2013

Week 3 of Kitchen Remodel

Or as I like to call it...How many things do you see wrong in these pictures?
Kitchen window--improper header
Kitchen door-NO header
Sink wall--original entrance into the basement/dungeon/cellar
Obviously  these will be corrected even though they have been like this for over fifty years. The old entry opening will be blocked with some studs to support the drywall . The door and window will require temporary supports be built and the header and king studs be tied in to the existing studs. This goes a long way to explaining the broken seal on the window and a warped door. The door frame has a bow in it from the unsupported weight settling over time. On the other side of the studs (exterior) there are some steel studs which is why the house didn't come crashing down after the addition in 1960's. But I feel since the walls are open we might as well do this right.

We had to plastic over the sink wall since it opened to the basement/ dungeon/ cellar. The smell is awful. It is a combination of mildew and  musty stagnant air. We have fans going  but it is killing my allergies. The odoban will go on this weekend. That should go a long way to get rid of the 132 years of funk...yuck!!

It has been slow going. Very little work was done Labor Day week because the hubbs was on call for his job and  I was overwhelmed with assignments for school. To be honest it took us this long to get rid of our debris from the 3 wall that have been demolished. We didn't have the money to rent a dumpster, so we have been setting the garbage out over the last 3 weeks so as to not go over our allowed pounds of trash and incur extra charges. We have all the lath strips we have accumulated so far in a burn pile in the back yard.

After careful inspection we decided not to pull the ceiling down. There is a layer of insulating acoustical tiles glued onto the what we are assuming is plaster. We have checked the integrity and everything is solid.  Of course there is also the possibility those tiles contain asbestos. Not something we want to mess with...ever!

The hubbs and my step-dad did a little exploration to located the ceiling studs and marked them. The glued tiles will be wiped down with TSP and then some bleach, allowed to dry before installing the drywall over the existing ceiling. 3-31/2 in screws will hold everything nice and tight.

Of course this blew my lighting plan to install recessed lights. Instead we will go with a track light system. The trick is for me to find something not ugly, not expensive and not overly modern. The existing junction box will remain in the current location. There will be a minimal of poking around to run a switch. It appears the beam run east-west and so does the existing wire. The switch will be located on the sink wall closest to the entry.

These are the 2 options I am considering for track lighting.
Lowe's Portfolio 6 light Bushed Nickel

 with this
Home Depot Hampton Bay Flex Steel

The good news is  1) my neighbor (who is a professional builder) came over to check our progress, told us everything is actually pretty solid and the original siding (which you can see on the exposed walls) is called hurricane siding. He said this house will probably make it another 100 years. That was actually a wonderful thing to hear...and 2) I found a new window ($118) and a slab solid core wood door ($63)-woot! The slab wood door is the best option. We can plane it if needed to accommodate for any imperfections. I will lose the window in the door but I am ok with that. We can always add it later if I choose, for now it will be drilled out with a peep hole.

Here's my list from my earlier kitchen remodel post with some additions/ modifications
  • Finish tearing out the plaster and lathe on the North wall
  • Cut out the wall boards in the sink area to remove mold. It appears to be contained in a few spots. Decided to do a complete tear out
  • Patch/ repair the remaining 2 walls. Possibly skim coat. Decided to do a complete tear out
  • Build temporary supports for new headers over door and window.
  • Bleach and Odo-Ban the walls and ceiling, allow to dry. 
  • Possibly Kilz the walls. 
  • Cut out a  2 foot by 8 foot floor section (sink area)
  • Sister the joist beams and shim where the floor slopes
  • Determine if sill plate needs repaired  Damage is minimal-yay!
  • Install a floor jack on North-East corner--where the the sill plate is water damaged
  • Move the stove outlet from floor to the wall and update to a new receptacle
  • Install necessary outlet for gas hookup (no connection to line, preparing in advance for stove replacement)--Maybe--checking on requirements
  • Lay a new subfloor
  • Replace, update and attach the outlet to a stud on east wall
  • Add 1-2 new receptacle(s) to the east wall (window wall)
  • Move junction box, update and wire in a wall switch for the ceiling fixture. Retain original location and use track lighting.
  • Replace the window
  • Attach furring strips to the exterior walls (North and East) to bump out the depth
  • Insulate and seal. minimize any possible cracks, leaks or vermin/bug/ draft entry points
  • Drywall, mud, tape, prime and paint

Wednesday, September 25, 2013



We are certainly giving the grill a workout during our kitchen remodel. The grill has become my cook top and oven.   We have a  local place I can take the tank and get it filled for $10 on Tuesday's. We have a couple of extra tanks and this is a cheap way to make sure we have a couple of  back-up tanks.

I found this neat little diagram that explains the thermodynamics of how a grill works which actually helped to determine where to place items on the grill when cooking.
And while our situation is not an emergency, I came across some good tips for emergency grilling (when the power is out or maybe a kitchen remodel IS an emergency)

How about a handy dandy Gas Grill cooking chart?

Besides making the requisite burgers, hot dogs, chicken, steaks, chops and foil veggie packets, I have baked biscuits, griddle french toast, baked cornbread, baked chicken tenders with fries, cooked meatloaf, toasted garlic bread and baked a pizza-- all on the grill. The side burner has been great for making mashed potatoes, frying bacon, gravy (for sausage gravy) and making pots of spaghetti. It is almost like being on a camping trip  but without sleeping on the ground, lol.
Indirect heat, 350°F
Direct heat, low, 200°F
Meatloaf, Indirect heat, top rack, 350°F

The pizza was a little tricky when I tried to bake it on the grill. The first time I baked my pizza (from scratch), I used a disposable foil pan which was more heat reflective, the grill was a tad hot and I had too much direct heat.  It wasn't  horribly burnt but definitely more well done than I like, but the hubbs loved it. Go figure... 

The 2nd  time I cooked a pizza it was a semi-defrosted frozen pizza, I used my pizza stone and set the grill to medium-low heat. That kept the temperature around  300°F. And it worked  ok except it still was not perfect. The bottom of the crust was nicely browned, the cheese was hot but not quite toasted. And I forgot to take a picture anyway. It was still pretty tasty despite the flaws.  3rd time is a charm...right?

Actually the weather has been cooperative so I haven't minded all the grilling. It has also given me an opportunity to use my cast iron cookware which I don't use often with my electric stove. There is just something magic about cast iron skillets and a gas cook top. Although the hubbs did say, "Since you are so good at cooking on the grill, maybe we should get a gas stove." GASP! Did he just make a positive suggestion towards the remodel?! HA! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have a dual fuel stove with gas cook top and electric oven. Alas, my budget can't stretch to accommodate new appliances. However, we are going to install the fittings without making a connection to the gas line for now, so we have it for the upgrade in the hopefully not so near future.

Then the hubbs dropped this little pearl of wisdom, "I bet since you are so good at cooking on the grill, you won't want to cook in the kitchen when it is finished." Shush up your mouth hubbs! I miss my kitchen and it's crappy stove. I will be glad to not grill for a next summer just MIGHT be to soon...

And I broke down and bought a toaster oven
Grilled french fries are just not my thing!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My outdoor space looks like dookie

Another summer season has come to an end  but brought with it a list of things to do...

The hubbs took down the potable pool and now it looks like a spaceship landed in my yard

Drying the pool solar cover reminds of a prom dress gone so very wrong

I need to clean out and put away my portable greenhouse turned  pool storage

I need to mow down and rototil garden up because it is an overgrown and weedy mess

I need to trim the Weigela that is threatening to overtake the porch

I need toclean out and take down the flower boxes with their scraggly and crispy from the heat plant remains

The ONLY thing that looks remotely lush and lovely are my marigolds which exploded in size. No need to worry about insects in this bed next year or the one after that, haha.

How about you-Are you lamenting that summer is over or all the work it brings?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Redneck Farmhouse Sink (How to wash dishes during a kitchen remodel)

We are 1 week (really? only 1 week? It feels sooo much longer!) into our kitchen remodel. My refusal to wash dishes in the bathtub during our kitchen remodel lasted all of 4 days...sigh...

First-it is seriously gross for me to think about dishes and the bathroom in the same space. yuck!  Second-I really have no other place to wash them. I keep the shower curtain closed where my dish washing station is set up. No-one is allowed to use the downstairs bathroom if at any point I have dishes on the drying rack. It doesn't matter if the curtain closed. It completely skeeves me out!! What can I say I have issues, haha

I suppose my other two option would be to move the "dish wash station" outside but then I would  need to haul hot water and quite frankly it is getting a little nippy outside. Or set something up in the creepy dungeon/cellar/ basement but there are spiders, an occasional mouse or two and usually a snake down that would be a big fat NO!  Icky bathroom it is, bleh

Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl blog had a very cool idea on using a cooler as a farmhouse sink, so I can't claim it as my idea. And you know what? It is an AWESOME idea. I have my cooler/ redneck farmhouse sink sitting on a plastic step stool to raise the height, so there isn't as much hunching over the tub and the dish drainer is on a metal table, also elevated to avoid the tub hunch.

To avoid any junk clogging the cooler or worse-my tub- the dishes are scraped and pre-rinsed outside with the hose. Any accumulated dirty dishes get tossed in the cooler and lid closed until I can deal with them which is usually before I go to bed.  I like having use of the shower sprayer and when you are done just open the drain spout on the cooler. It is genius I say!

  The water stays nice and toasty for quite a while since the cooler holds heat  being insulated and all.  Which is good because I am only washing dishes once a day. I usually soak the dishes for about an 30-40 minutes while I take the dogs out, take the garbage out and usually work on some laundry at the same time. I am really trying to limit the amount of dishes we are using (it is primarily pots/ pans since we are using paper/ disposable plastic for the dishes and cutlery) because I don't  like hand washing dishes anyway,  especially hunched over the bath tub...

Ain't nobody got time for that!

I am REALLY regretting not remodelling the bathroom/ laundry room area first. I had planned on installing a utility sink and small laundry folding counter. Which in hindsight would have been perfect for a dish wash station. And a cheaper remodel project. oops. Oh well, live and learn. I will know better if we ever do this type of thing again.  Which is most likely never!

Anyone have any good tips for managing the chores while living through a kitchen remodel?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Grilled Biscuits

We are 5 days into our kitchen remodel and the urge for baked goods is driving me crazy. I thought we could plug the stove in the garage if we needed to use the oven bit the hubbs was mistaken on the receptacle. We have 110, 210- 3 phase and 440 in the garage (for arc welding) but no 220 for a stove...wah wah.

So I decided to search the web because surely somewhere, somehow, and someone has "baked" on a grill. And sure enough, I found exactly what I was looking for HERE.

My grill was heated to 350°F. I added 2 tbs of Crisco to my cast iron skillet and let it sit on the grill (indirect heat) for 15 minutes, to melt the shortening and get nice and hot while I made my biscuits. 

For ease of preparation I used a box biscuit mix and to be honest I have no idea where any of my stuff is right now even if I did want to make these from scratch. I added just a tad more milk to make my batter less stiff but not runny. 

I originally tried to mix my ingredients in the Ziploc bag with a spoon and then thought "DUH! Just squish the bag to mix it!"  Which is what I did and  it was waayyy easier.

I snipped the corner of the bag to "pipe" my biscuits into the hot pan. 

The pan was placed back on the grill (indirect heat), close the lid and let cook for 10-12 minutes without disturbing or opening the grill.

After 10-12 minutes I rotated the pan, closed the lid and let the biscuits continue to cook another 10-12 minutes. The biscuits were beautifully browned, slightly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. In other words-- perfect!

This would be an excellent way to make biscuits if camping. You could premix all the dry ingredients for the biscuits in a Ziploc bag. Add in the rest, "knead" in the bag, pipe in the pan and cook.No muss, no fuss.  The hubbs LOVED these biscuits even though they weren't my scratch biscuits. He asked me would I make them like this even when I have my stove and I said I was considering it!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

12 years later...

image from source

I remember many of the events of 9/11-some memories so vivid I think they are happening in the here and now. Some memories faded, hazy and scratchy like watching an old newsreel.

I was unemployed after being downsized from P&G. I was also recovering from 2 surgeries. I was driving on interstate 275- on my way to Amelia- to help a friend move. They broke news over the radio. People actually stopped on the highway. Some still in the road and others pulled to the side. Emotions clearly visible, faces lined with grief and shock. Some people openly weeping. There was a roaring sound in my head and I could hear my pulse pounding. My chest hurt and I couldn't breathe. My first thought was to my daughter who was at school. She was safe wasn't she? Then to my husband, was he ok? Then my thoughts went to all of my family and friends. My mind was filled with so many tumultuous thoughts. It couldn't be true. My mind would NOT accept this as truth.

I began moving through the traffic weaving in and out. I need to get to a phone (it was the days before I had a cell phone) and I needed to see the news on TV. I was convinced it was all a terrible hoax. I turned off the radio and missed the news of the 2nd impact.

I pulled into my friends  parking lot, went to her apartment and asked if she was watching the news. She turned on the TV and we stood there in shock at the images being played on the screen. I don't recollect much immediately after that. If we actually moved anything or not. My next memory is sitting at my husbands work in the clubhouse watching the news. Where they played the footage over and over. I couldn't go home. I couldn't be alone. I was shocked, numb and scared.

I had tried to get Amanda from school  earlier in the day but they were on lock down. I  finally and slowly made my way home to meet my daughter at home. I had no idea if she knew what was going on. She was in high school and certainly old enough to understand the horror that our county was under attack. I remember traffic was slow. So many people panicked and left work. Frantic to get home, to  see their loved ones and to cocoon in the safety of their homes. To this day those memories play in my mind, grainy and halted like a stopgap movie. There were lines of cars at the gas stations, gas prices had been gouged to $5-$7 a gallon, the grocery stores over run and shelves empty.

I stood at the window, watching for the bus, watching for that familiar figure walking down the street. Any noise and I would jump. When my daughter opened the door, and called  "Mom?" it was the most beautiful sound I ever heard. I remember the strain in her voice, she was just as worried as me as I for her. I remember her dropping her book bag and we just stood hugging each other. Tears rolling down my face and into her hair. Her tears soaking the front of my shirt. I don't recall if the shaking was from her or me. We huddled on the couch, with our dogs and cats, TV off and silence was deafening. It seemed as if the whole world had stopped. When the hubbs pulled in the drive we both gave an audible sigh of relief. After that the days and memories are muddled. I do know we were forever changed that day. Our belief we were safe shattered. I remember...the pain, the loss, the sacrifice.

Some years later (2007) I had an opportunity to be in New York and visited ground zero. In a city that never sleeps the noise seemed to fade away as I approached the WTC platform. There were many people paying their respects, yet it was eerily silent. We knew this was hallowed ground. The wooden signs listed all the names of the people who perished that day.I don't know how long it took me to read the names. It felt like hours and it felt like time had stopped.  My throat tightened and the tears came. Looking around I realized I was not the only one crying. Young, old, woman or man. So many faces all openly weeping. Even as I write this-12 years later-the tears fall freely down my face.

I didn't know anyone personally that perished that day, but I did have an Uncle and Aunt at the pentagon when it was hit. It was 18 hours before we received word they were ok. But everyone I know or have met since knows someone either directly or indirectly that this tragedy impacted. It has been 12 years and our country still grieves. For all the horrible memories, there are good ones too. I remember how family, friends, neighbors and strangers came together in solidarity. Reaching out for comfort and strength. We stood up, gave notice we were strong, we would recover and we would fight back. We were a country united. I remember...the hope, the pride, the determination.

Most of all--I remember

And the walls came tumbling down

My stepdad making quick work of the demolition
 The remodel hit the skids pretty much the first day. We encountered crumbling plaster, wood rot, mold and no insulation- HOORAY! The hubbs is upset because it means more work for him.   I am actually not freaked out because I have waited over a decade--13 YEARS-- for this to happen. The timeline and budget tripled because of this-what I am sure will be the first of many- snafu's.Besides like I told the hubbs, "You can slap lipstick on a pig and it will still be a pig and not a beauty queen." Let's do this the right way and deal with the issues while we have the chance. His response, "I should have tossed in a grenade, it would have been easier."  HA!

Problems 1 and 2
The entire area under and behind the sink is rotted. There is also mold on the wall.
Problem 3
When they pulled the panelling down half the plaster came with it
Problem 4
Water damage around the window far left corner (sill plate) and no insulation.
Do you like the previous owner's quality workmanship? REALLY!! This will be housed in a box and attached to a stud...sheesh

Here's the plan for the next couple of weeks (Sorry some steps may be out of order)
  • Finish tearing out the plaster and lathe on the North wall
  • Cut out the wall boards in the sink area to remove mold. It appears to be contained in a few spots.
  • Bleach and Odo-Ban the walls, allow to dry. 
  • Possibly Kilz the walls. 
  • Cut out a  2 foot by 8 foot floor section (sink area)
  • Sister the joist beams and shim where the floor slopes
  • Determine if sill plate needs repaired
  • Install a floor jack on North-East corner--where the the sill plate is water damaged
  • Move the stove outlet from floor to the wall and update to a new receptacle
  • Lay a new subfloor
  • Add 1-2 new receptacle(s) to the east wall (window wall)
  • Replace, update and attach the outlet to a stud (as shown in above photo)
  • Move, update and wire in a wall switch for the ceiling fixture
  • Replace the window
  • Patch/ repair the remaining 2 walls. Possibly skim coat.
  • Attach furring strips to the exterior walls (North and East) to bump out the depth
  • Insulate and seal. minimize any possible cracks, leaks or vermin/bug/ draft entry points
  • Drywall, mud, tape, prime and paint
It is going to be busy, busy, busy around here!
My stepdad looking a little Dexterish

Monday, September 9, 2013

Meal prep during a kitchen renovation

I tried to be organized and plan for this remodel. After all it has been 13 years in the making. But sadly things didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped. I ran out of  space, patience, and time before demolition day. Procrastination should be my middle name. I came across some good articles on how to prepare and survive a kitchen remodel. (Here and Here) I only wish I had found them sooner. Or had the ambition to to be that organized.

I think by far the funniest moment about the kitchen remodel (so far) is when the hubbs said, "With no kitchen I guess we are going eat out every day for a few weeks."  Once I stopped laughing, I told him, "Nice try slick".  The stove is going to the garage temporarily. We have 220 in the garage, so if  the hubbs gets desperate enough he can cook  a frozen pizza while he is out in his man cave. So between the microwave, crock pot, sandwiches and grill (which also has a side burner) the eating out will be kept to a minimum-or so I hope. Which is good not only for our health but our bank account as well.

I did a lot of bulk cooking ahead of time to alleviate the burden of meal preparation. I cooked and portioned 6 lbs of ground beef, that can defrosted for spaghetti, chili, tacos, sloppy joes or whatever other recipe in which it can be used.

I prepped, precooked and have frozen meatloaves. I will either use the grill or we can plug the stove in the garage to heat them to temperature.

And I also made a ginourmous pan of banana bread-there were 2 but my dog decided to help himself to a half pan- sliced and froze for an easy grab-n-go breakfast.

 We have 7 grocery tote bags of canned goods (soups, raviolis, fruits and veggies). I bought individually wrapped chicken breasts for easy preparation and also less contamination since I don't have a kitchen sink. I have a couple of tubs of  frozen pulled pork which can be microwaved and I have lots of veggies pre-chopped and frozen for the crockpot or foil packets on the grill. I cam across a few good pages for crock pot freezer meals and slow cooker recipes (HERE and HERE). Another  web search to find recipes and tips on how to cook almost everything on a grill (HERE )

While I am not a huge fan of prepacked foods (artificial colors, flavors and high sodium content). I have stocked the freezer with a variety of frozen meals. It won't kill us to use these products over the next few months. After what we encountered this is no longer an easy remodel--but more on that later!

 I'm pretty sure I have the meal thing under control but I guess that is due my naivete and optimism of a young renovation. Let's see where I am in 6 weeks from now, haha

Anyone have any other tips for surviving the remodel with no kitchen?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Day 1 of Kitchen Remodel: Temporary Kitchen Set-Up

What to do with all my stuff from the kitchen?

Not gonna lie my house is a DISASTER. I can't believe how much dust there is already. The entire 1st floor looks like hoarders meets save my renovation. I have boxes, totes and bags of stuff everywhere. I need to keep somethings accessible but out of the dogs paws (and mouths).  I closed access to the first floor bathroom/ laundry room and shoved some of the totes, boxes and bags in there for storage. I have stuff in the dining room. Stuff in the garage. Stuff in the hallway. It is day 1 and I am already freaking out over the stuff....

Alot of stuff ended up in my wacky willywonka dining room (aka puppy prison) with the roller coaster floors...Next, once the kitchen is finished this!  We will use the portable island to hold the coffee maker, electric tea kettle and microwave, The cupboard part will hold our paper plates, disposable cups and plastic ware.  I am not normally a fan of disposable but I be hunched over the bathtub doing a kazillion dishes for a month. I already wash dishes by hand but I gotta draw the line somewhere...

Before the temporary kitchen
After shoving all my crap in the dining room
I know it will be worth the upheaval and aggravation to say goodbye to the ugly, old kitchen and hello to a clean, functional and updated one.

My step-Dad making quick work of the demolition
I told the hubbs I was so excited and can't wait until the kitchen is finished. I can't stop grinning! The hubbs who has been grumbling for weeks about the project said,  "he was excited too and it was going to look real nice when it is done."  Such a sweet talker that man of mine, haha

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

August Wrap Up

What's new? What's going on? Anything exciting? Funny? Mundane?

School Related
I am back in school  after I had a 1 week break from school mid August. I am now in my second to last semester (YAY) AND I made the Dean's List again (more YAY's).

But it wasn't much of a break. No lazing around in a hammock -assuming I had a hammock or trees to attach a hammock. Nope, I have been busy, busy, busy! I have been a canning and preserving fool! Lots of  pickles, relishes, and some sauce making. Lots of chopping, shredding, and freezing. Even some baking going on here at My Cozy Little Farmhouse.

Garden Related
I am trying to  get as much done before the kitchen gets ripped out (which is in 3 days y'all!). And to be honest my garden has slowed considerably. The cukes, melons, zukes, and other squash plants are done. The corn was a bust--either under ripe, over ripe and  much of  it was hit by nasty corn borers. Time for me to rip out the plants. The only thing left that has potential for harvest are my second succession planting of tomatoes which I expect in the next 2 weeks but it looks like it will be only enough for salads and sandwiches. But I am ok with that. since if it were more I would either have to can in the garage  (ick!) or lug my stuff to my daughter house to use her kitchen . I may have more  hot peppers and  sugar pie pumpkins  are coming but I don't think they are going to make it. The squash borers have taken over and I honestly don't have the energy to fight them. I had hoped to harvest the grapes to can juice and jam but sadly with the kitchen remodel that is unlikely.

Kitchen Related
My gigantic roll of linoleum arrived, as did my countertop-woot!

Now I faced with the logistics of WHERE am I gonna put all my kitchen stuff? I have some totes packed already. We will have a temporary kitchen with the bare basics (fridge, coffee maker, and microwave).

My kitchen entire first floor, is a disaster area as I pack up the kitchen. Feeling a tad overwhelmed and we haven't even demolished the room--YET.

Fingers crossed when I write my September wrap up I will be able to say the kitchen is finished.