Remodeling the Kitchen

Cabinets Are Here!

This post marks Day 2 of the cabinet installation.  By the end of today, the cabinet install will be finished!  Oh, no, I’m not excited or anything like that.

On Friday, the cabinet shop guys set all the cabinets in place.  Today, they are working on getting the soft close door apparatus installed, all the shelves in and the doors adjusted and leveled, the holes drilled for the pulls and knobs, and the trim nailed in on top and bottom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I opted to forego crown molding on top of the cabinets for two reasons.  One, I chose a really plain style of cabinet door, and I thought crown molding would be too fussy.  Two, it would have added significantly to the cost of the job, and that added expense wasn’t covered in my budget.  So I’m getting just a small strip on top to hide the unlevel ceiling (absolutely nothing in this room is square or truly level) and the usual toe kick on the bottom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When the guys were here Friday, we still had a small patch of floor in the corner which we hadn’t finished.  We just ran out of time, but we made sure we had finished the places where the cabinets had to go, and we’d finished the inset spot by the door.  After we had a bite to eat Friday night, we decided to finish that patch in the corner.

That small spot in the corner turned out to be the most difficult and time-consuming to lay because of the way we had to butt it up against the vertical inset, and the angle that Dennis had to use with the nail gun once we got too close to the wall to use the staple gun.  We had several mishaps with the nail gun that cost us a lot of time (and ripping out of ruined boards) before we got within one run of the wall at 11:15 that night.  We decided to hold off on the last run and and fill strip until the next day, when there was daylight to cut by.  That proved to be a good decision, because the last run required more delicate cutting, and the ¾ inch to ¼ inch along the wall that was a result of the room not being square needed to be cut precisely to fit properly.  And my hero came through and did a really good job on it.  I am in love with the floor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I can’t wait to uncover the floor and get a good look at the cabinets juxtaposed with that beautiful new oak.  Right now the floor has to stay covered because it is snowing outside, and the guys have to go in and out from their big chop saw which is set up outside under the overhang.  I was going to uncover the floor tonight, but the granite fabricators are coming tomorrow to measure for the countertops, so it’s best to keep a cover on them until no more wet work boots are going in and out of the house.

 

 

 

Standard
Remodeling the Kitchen

Down with the Wall

One of the changes we are making to the kitchen concerns the wall between the kitchen and dining area/living room.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There is no dining room proper in this house. The living room is a large room, what might have been called a great room in the 80s or 90s or whenever it was that term was popular. I’ve always had a dining table in the area next to the kitchen, even though when it was just the four of us at home (Dennis, our two children, Joel and Amy, and me), we ate in the kitchen. I grew up with an eat-in kitchen, and I prefer it to a dining room, but there are times when there are too many of us now to eat around the small kitchen table. So we do need a dining space large enough to accommodate the whole family, which can number up to 13, 14, or even 15 when all the in-laws are here. I’ve had my mother-in-law’s table in that space for many years. It’s going to be moved to the kitchen, and I’m planning a new table for that space. More about that later.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When we remodeled the kitchen twenty years ago, we widened the opening in the wall between kitchen and living room. There had once been a door there, before we bought the house. I think that wall was an exterior wall, and that was an outside door. Probably the one large room that is our living room was the whole house at one point. Some time later, what is now our kitchen space was added on, and the door was removed. The original door jamb with the marks and holes of the hinges was still in place when we bought the house. When we remodeled the kitchen, we more than doubled the width of the opening and cased it. Now, it’s being opened even more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I didn’t want to take the wall between the kitchen and dining room down completely. I would lose too much cabinet space on the kitchen side. I wanted to create a peninsula with a redwood burl bar slab extending out into the dining space. Well, you don’t always get what you want. There’s just no way to make that work with the burl slabs we have without ruining a beauty to make it fit. I won’t do that. So, I’ve come up with another solution. More about that later when I’ve got all the details nailed down.

The solution involves creating a pony wall between the kitchen and living room. The original wall is being taken down to about half its height to open those rooms up to each other. This has not been an easy project for my long-suffering husband, because of the way the wall was constructed.

When the living room was framed in, ¾-inch wormy cedar boards were laid horizontally across the framing. I don’t know what sort of siding went on the outside, but maybe an asphalt shingle like what is on the older house on the property out back. There’s nothing there but wood, now. On the inside, this beautiful (to me) knotty cedar tongue-in-groove paneling was laid. All of this had to be cut and removed from the section of the wall Dennis was working on so that he could take out the upper section, install a header all the way across the opening, and reroute electrical wires for outlets and light switches.

That’s where we ran into some serious trouble. The cedar paneling is old. We think this part of the house might date from the 50s. That means this wood is some 60 years old, and it is dry. Our climate is very arid, and this wood has been inside the house, subjected to heat from wood stoves every winter for 60 years. When Dennis tried to remove it from the wall, parts of the boards began to break and splinter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One day, I came home from town to find Dennis working on the wall. On the kitchen floor lay a pile of paneling boards, some of them broken. When I saw them, my heart sank. Where in the world would we find any replacement boards? Nobody wants this stuff in their houses any more. Most people would come into my house and wonder why we didn’t take all that wood down and replace it with sheet rock. And the designers on those DIY and makeover shows I like? They paint the stuff. It kills me every time I see paint applied to beautiful wood, but as I said, nobody wants this stuff. Except me. I want it. And I did not want to take down every board in the living room because we couldn’t match the damaged ones Dennis had removed.

I didn’t sleep for a week. Literally. I’d lie in bed and see that pile of paneling on the backs of my eyelids. I just kept thinking, “What are we going to do?”

Last Saturday, we attended our grandkids’ basketball games in town as usual. We had a couple of hours between games, so we decided to run some errands. That morning, I’d told Dennis I wanted to go to the lumber yard and see if we could match the trim we’d taken down around the cased opening. If we could match it, we could reuse some of what we’d taken down, and that would save us some money, time, and effort. He said, “I think I’ll take a piece of this paneling along and see if they have anything close to it.” I thought it was futile, but what the heck, right?

When we got to Payless Lumber, we asked about the piece of paneling first thing. “Oh, yeah,” the guy working the yard says. “I can get that. We just have to measure the width, tongue, and reveal.” We went into his office to look at his supplier’s catalog. I was holding the small piece of paneling in my hands, turning it around and looking at the finish, when I noticed a stamp on one end. Collins.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The light dawned. “This was milled by Collins Pine,” I said. Collins Pine is a mill in Chester, about an hour west of us. “Oh,” said the young man, when I showed him the stamp. “If it’s a Collins Pine product, you can just take it over there and see if they have any or can make some for you. If not, I can order some for you.” Simple as that.

I was floored. I’d never imagined that the wood was milled locally, although of course it makes sense. When this house was built, people used local products. Stuff wasn’t trucked all over the country and shipped out of it and brought back again. Probably all of the wood in this house was cut and milled in Lassen or Plumas counties, at lumber mills that are no longer operating. I’m guessing that the Susanville mills didn’t do fancy stuff like this tongue-in-groove paneling, so whoever built the house either got it from Collins Pine in Chester, or the lumber yards in Susanville stocked it.

Dennis and I drove over to Chester on Tuesday to see if we could get some replacement paneling boards from the Builder’s Supply/Collins Pine lumberyard.  Unfortunately, the answer was no, they don’t stock those paneling boards.  And it would be very expensive to have just a few boards milled by Collins Pine.  If we were building a whole house, they’d waive the fee to set up for that particular kind of board, but for just a few replacement boards, nope.  I’m pretty bummed.  It would have been really cool to be able to get cedar paneling boards from the same mill that produced the old ones.

So it’s back to Payless Lumber in a couple of days.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can order what we need and make it work.

But then it will be my task to try to match color and finish on the new boards to the existing boards. At the time these boards were finished, the finish of choice would have been varnish or shellac. I don’t believe they were stained, and I can tell from the slight drips and runs on some of the boards that the finish was applied after the boards were put up on the walls.

Finishes have changed a lot in 60 years. Because of new rules about toxicity and safety, I won’t be able to get the same product that was used on these boards when they were finished. Even if I could, it still wouldn’t match. Varnish darkens in time, and cedar yellows. These boards are not the same color they were when they were put up on the walls and finished. So my task will be to try to match the color of the existing boards by using stain on the new boards.

I’ll also have to try to duplicate the sheen of the existing paneling, and that might be harder than matching color. Stains can be mixed and matched until you get something pretty close, and I’ve done that before, but the sheen of polyurethane is different than the sheen of varnish. All I can do is try to figure out what will come closest. And this is all moot unless we can find the replacement boards we need.

 

 

 

 

 

Standard
Remodeling the Kitchen

The Recipe Project

I have a rich inheritance in recipes. When I married in 1981, my mother gave me a current edition of the Betty Crocker’s Cookbook and a plastic recipe card file box, with many recipes already inside that she loved or that I had copied for her when I lived at home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Although I had been cooking for the family since I was about ten years old, Mama wanted to make sure I didn’t have the issues she had when she married. As the youngest of ten children, she was more in the way in the kitchen than help. The older girls in the family (there were four of them) were all the assistance my grandmother needed. Mama was shooed out whenever she wanted to help. She must have depended on the other girls’ cooking in the dorm of the women’s college she attended when she first moved away from home. After college, she lived at home for a while with her mother who was, I have heard, a fabulous cook, and didn’t have twelve to cook for any more. And then Mama took a job as a home missionary’s secretary in the mountains of Southeastern Oklahoma and lived with the family. The missionary’s wife did all the cooking in those years. So when Mama married, she couldn’t cook a lick, as she would say.

I remember my mother telling me often that when she married my father and they arrived after their cross-country trip at the little house in a tiny, backwoods mill town in northern California where they would live for the next two years, he asked what was for supper, and she had to confess she didn’t have a clue. It was quite unusual in those days for a woman to know nothing about cooking. Daddy taught Mama to fry chicken and make “sawmill” gravy (white gravy made from the pan drippings). That was the extent of his culinary expertise, beyond frying bacon and eggs. He also expected biscuits—his mother, my Grandma Ola, made the best “light” biscuits you ever put in your mouth—and poor Mama had no idea how to make biscuits. She never did learn to make them from scratch, but she discovered Bisquick. Evidently, they lived on fried chicken and gravy and Bisquick biscuits until they made a trip out to a bigger town, and she bought a Betty Crocker’s cookbook. That was in 1955.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was Mama’s cooking bible, and the pages were falling out of it when my sister gave it to me after Mama passed away. Fortunately, it is in a binder, and the pages were repairable. I still use that edition of the cookbook for a lot of things. I like some of the recipes in it, like the muffin recipe, better than in the edition Mama gave me. My sister also gave me Mama’s recipe card file box. And I have my own collections of recipes and cookbooks, some I’ve gathered in antique and secondhand shops. I also inherited my mother-in-law’s cookbook collection, her recipe card file box, and her extensive clippings collection.

Now, in the necessary purge of the kitchen prior to a remodel, I’ve had to let go of some things. I will not donate any of my mother’s or mother-in-law’s things without a thorough going-over, but I did pare down my own cookbook collection. Well, actually, I got rid of very few of my own cookbooks. I mostly got rid of cookbooks that Dennis had bought and brought home and never used. Why a man who only cooks when he absolutely has to thinks he needs eight barbecue cookbooks is a mystery to me. He has never made a single recipe out of any of those books, so he will never miss them.  I still have a large box of cookbooks to replace in the kitchen when the work is done.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I didn’t do much cooking or writing last winter.  I’m trying to do more of both this year. One of the writing projects I had planned to work on last winter, and couldn’t because my shoulder didn’t heal well after surgery and my finger joints were badly inflamed, is a compilation of my mom’s favorite recipes.  Many of these dishes I remember from church potlucks in my childhood. Mama relied on Betty Crocker’s, Good Housekeeping, and Grit, and the women of the church for her recipes. I’ve been promising my siblings and their children a copy of that compilation for some years now. I still want to work on that project this winter, if the kitchen remodel allows me the time. And after this week’s look at my mother-in-law’s recipes and cookbooks, I may have to do the same thing for her collection.

Both Mama and Virginia were incorrigible clippers and savers. When I received Mama’s recipe card file, it was jammed so tightly with clippings from magazines and newspapers that I couldn’t even get a recipe card out of it. I removed all the clippings, placing them in a large envelope, to go through for the memoir-cookbook project. Virginia had both a card file and a small binder stuffed with clippings and handwritten recipes on sheets of paper. I’m going to have fun going through those old recipes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Virginia also saved a cookbook I’m looking forward to delving into, Adventures in the Kitchen. This was a compilation of recipes from the Waverly Lutheran Church in Truman, Minnesota, and was given to Virginia in 1956 by her brother-in-law and his wife. This recipe collection was first published in 1953 and again in 1954. It also is in a binder, and inside are fun recipes like Delicious Orange Pie, with an orange juice egg custard filling, and Peanut Brittle Pie, with a panna-cotta type filling that includes crushed peanut brittle. I love pie, and I’m always attracted to these old recipes using fairly simple ingredients and older techniques.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A few years ago, I began the process of gathering my paper recipes, some of them in my own childish hand of 50+ years ago, into a large binder. I have been putting them into clear plastic sleeves, so I can pop the recipe I want to use out of the binder, put it beside the stove or mixing bowl, and wipe the splatters off when I’m done. Some of my paper recipes are already pretty spotty from years of use. I am hoping to get that binder completed and organized while the remodel project is going on, so that the cardboard stationary box I’ve been storing my paper recipes in for 30 years can finally be retired. The binder is already pretty fat, and I’m not finished with it yet.  You can see it on top of the box of cookbooks above.  I couldn’t fit it into the box with the others, and it holds the gluten-free recipes I’ve collected and developed, so it will stay handy as the remodel goes forward.

The small bookshelf I stored my cookbooks on is going to my son’s house. In the remodeled kitchen, I’m hoping to have a couple of built-in shelves for my cookbooks. It will be nice to have a good place to display old cookbooks like Adventures in the Kitchen and the Farm Journal’s Complete Pie Cookbook, which I found in a library sale last year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’ll be comforting to glance at that shelf and see my mother’s and mother-in-law’s cookbooks there. I’ll enjoy making more of the recipes they loved and used.  I’m hoping that as I share some of those recipes, you’ll be inspired to try them in your own kitchens.

 

Standard