Sunday, November 18, 2012

Kitchen Selections


Making the selections for the kitchen was the next task after finalizing the layout. Now that I know where I want items, I need to decide what they should look like.

The most important selection is the cabinets, as that is the visually dominant item in the room and provides the most color. The Kraftmaid cabinets Cherry wood with a Sunset finish matched our color scheme for the house. I chose a Harper style for ease of maintenance. Originally I wanted the slab style doors, because I like the simple lines, but was able to get this style much more economically.
I next wanted a stylish countertop that was easy to maintain; I'd heard that granite required regular refinishing so that was out. Laminate countertops are susceptible to burns and cutting marks and I've done both. I opted for quartz as an alternative. I like the gemlike aspect of the appearance of quartz too. We selected the Cambria Nottingham finish. I was originally looking at a lighter colored countertop, but in some of the lighter finishes the cambria can look water spotted.


Sink selection took an extraordinarily long time debating between apron front, undermount, stainless, cast iron, colored, and what dimension. After pricing the apron fronts  I realized I could install two undermount sinks for the same price so decided to do that. Stainless looked too jarring against the earth tones selected so far, and white cast iron looked too stark. Colored cast iron was again cost prohibitive but a composite sink fit the bill. We selected the Blanco Anthracite sink made in Silgranit, which is a composite of 80% granite. For the larger sink I opted for the large single bowl so that large platters could be laid flat. I'm tired of working around the divider in traditional double bowl. The double bowl was originally designed for dish washing and as we have a dishwasher I can do away with it. The second, smaller sink will be used for prep and can fit a colander for draining pasta.

I found faucets in a dark oil-rubbed bronze finish to pick up the counter's coppery highlights and tie in with the black sink. I'll be getting two faucets, one with a pull down sprayer for the main sink and a standard faucet for the prep sink, with a side sprayer. I also have an RO beverage system so will get the beverage faucet top for that. I like the simple style of the Linden by Delta Faucet. The traditional style of the beverage faucet compliments it.

Finally I had to decide what goes underfoot. There was a lot of dark in the kitchen so I wanted something lighter to brighten it up. The Quickstep Spalted Maple floor did that nicely while still tying in with the darker tone of the kitchen overall.

Next I added some more enhancements to the cabinets (not shown in my style/finish selection):
Sink front tip out storage
Mullion Glass door front
Tray cabinet

Liberty Vuelo Drawer Pull

Liberty Stamped Copper Wall Plate

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New Kitchen Layout

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth I persuaded the man of the house to remodel the kitchen. Fortunately the wailing and gnashing will henceforth come mostly from the contractor as we decided the job is beyond our amateur home-handyman skills.

Here's the final layout we picked after multiple iterations. A couple of things to note: there is water behind the wall where the new sink and dishwasher are going to be. That definitely influenced the placement. Putting them elsewhere would have involved a significant expense of digging a trench out for the plumbing in our slab floor.

The sliding doors face North, which isn't ideal but will get better light into the room than does the window which is there now. We're getting sliders with built in blinds. I've never liked curtains on doors so the built in option seems the best solution. Also keeping fabric out of the kitchen is a good way to reduce lingering smells.

The other, single entry faces South; beside it is a counter-depth fridge. In the corner is a prep sink, replacing the un-ergonomic two-basin sink that is there now (see the before pics). On the East wall is a range and microwave. On the West wall is my existing pantry closet and a new build out of dishwasher, main sink, and more counter space.

The island in the middle took some time for me to get my mind around. Initially I thought a peninsula would be better but no matter how we tried it, we ended up with significant dead space in the kitchen. An island solves dual problems of 1) more counter space and 2) a small dining area for two people while permitting full use of the space.

Thanks to Alison at Kitchen Master for the lovely design.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The before photos of the kitchen

We're undertaking a new kitchen remodel so this weekend I tidied up and reorganized the kitchen to take the before photos. I was wondering if I would like the kitchen better once I had put in some elbow grease but I still hate it. So I'm glad that we're doing the remodeling.

The North facing view is to the window. This window seat is cold and drafty and is only used by the dog. I recall the prior owner saying it was her cat's special place. I'm hoping the new arrangement will be more human usable (sorry, Dog).

The East facing view faces the Stove. The cabinets here are poorly organized and difficult to get things in and out of. However, in the current kitchen this is the area that is least bad. The sink and dishwasher are crowded and barely usable.

The North facing view, to the refrigerator (two photos).  I strongly advise against this kind of sink arrangement. Loading dishes here hurts my back, as I have to twist and spin around to get dishes in the bottom.

The cabinets are crowded since I inherited dishes and there have been breaks as folks try to cram more in, instead of finding the right spot for something. I need an arrangement that doesn't require such careful handling by the kids and me.
The West facing view is to the pantry. The cabinets you see used to be a free floating island but the room doesn't flow well in that configuration. I can't wait to make this more usable! As you can see from the photo of the entry to the kitchen, this wall is basically unused.

I'm planning to post more pics as I go through the remodel process. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Time's up. Unless it isn't, and you're an Olympic Epee Fencer

I used to fence competitively and taught the sport previously; so my attention was caught by a recent controversy in the Olympic results of the women's epee fencing bout between S. Korea and Germany. My analysis - in this case the judge who was responsible for the clock did not notice the error and halt the match; Shin did notice the timing error and was anticipating that the judge should call a halt. Heidemann saw her anticipation, realized that a halt had not in fact been called, and launched a beat attack. This beat attack is a Fencing 101 kind of move - not something you'd normally see a lot of in Olympic level fencing, and definitely something unexpected by an opponent. Thus she scored. I feel badly for Shin but you have to play the sport and not the clock or the judge.

Also, fencing desperately needs to modernize its timing & scoring equipment. Is there any other sport being timed only to the second?


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Stand up and be counted


Sunday I performed at the Sunday Morning Open Mic at Donny's Skybox Theater in Chicago, in the Second City facillity. It sure brought back memories of having been there a decade ago in the training center - I'm humbled and proud to see how well my fellow classmate, Ranjit Souri, has done since then with his own hard work and cleverness. (For more cleverness by Ranjit, see @DailyJokeByRanj) Ranjit is now hosting these comedy breakfasts as an incubator for stand-up acts to refine, test, and assess their acts before a live audience of friendly fellow comedians and training center students who stopped in to see what the fuss was about. The morning starts off with a random assignment of running order via draw of numbers. Then comedians (all men, excepting YT) took the stance in sequence to give it a go.

The show ran blue, and genuine laughs were available for such an experimental venture - I expected a lot more crashing and burning but it was not bad at all. The only part I would have skipped was the occasional apologies some folks offered for their act being raw or a work in progress - I'd rather they'd have used the time to work on it than to feel guilty. I  ran my bit ("A Tour of the Midwest", named courtesy of Ranjit's co-host Glenn and enjoyed the feedback - laughs where I hadn't planned for any and a segment which I thought would be more fun that fell flat. Lesson learned: Amish jokes don't play well in the windy city. These kind of sessions for theater folk by theater folk are essential to the vitality of a theater community, and I applaud Ranjit for his efforts on this. Bravo! Certainly this isn't as exciting as a main stage Second City gig, but it was a lot of fun and very useful - and that's a good deal to get out of the investment of some time on Sunday morning.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Size isn't everything, but it is something

Upon reflection, I realized I've internalized the fashion industry sizing and need to revise my present assumptions -
  • Size 0 - nothing to see here, move along
  • Size 2 - I was this size for about 2 weeks before my 12th birthday when I didn't have boobs.
  • Size 4 - double cheeseburger time.
  • Size 6 - What about going vegetarian? Aren't vegetarians skinny?
  • Size 8 - Do those body wraps work? Can you get one every day?
  • Size 10 - Double digits? Time for some sit-ups.
  • Size 12 - Garçon, Lettuce and water with a side of lime, please. Do you have diet, fat-free water?
  • Size 14 - Warning! Warning! Approaching no-man's lad
  • Size 16 - just give up. Wear a snuggie all day and stay home.

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