This Used To Be My Kitchen


Posted by Rebecca, October 6th, 2011

Whenever Mike and I drive to our hometown, we bust out some version of Madonna’s “This Used To Be My Playground”. Sometimes it’s “this used to be my Riiiiita’s” (my first job scooping Italian Ice) or “This used to be my Targeeet”. Have no clue what I’m talking about? Well there’s an official Madonna YouTube channel!

YouTube Preview Image

Why am I rambling about Madonna songs? Well this weekend we took a trip to my parents’ house (who live about an hour away now). They are remodeling their kitchen and I wanted to take before pictures. Remember how I always say that I want old house to remodel because of the awesome before/after pictures? Well, of course I jumped on the opportunity to cover this on the blog! Plus this isn’t just any remodel, this is the remodel of my childhood kitchen. The one that has remained untouched since we moved in when I was 2 years old. Yes, it has been the same, minus several appliance upgrades and new flooring, for 25 straight years.

Yes old dark grainy cabinets, florescent lighting, faux brick backsplash, faux wood laminate countertops, a lack of storage space and cabinets that no longer stay closed. The 70s had a lot of style. When we moved in there was actually brown and orange peel and stick laminate flooring, which my parents upgraded to Pergo maybe 10 years ago? We also used to have a robin’s egg blue stove, brown dishwasher and a brown refrigerator. Those were the days.

Let me tell you a little about my parents first. My dad was green before green was ever cool. However, he isn’t eco chic like many people today and chooses function over form. He once famously rewired a halogen lamp to fit a more energy efficient light bulb…which then protuded out of the light and was the became the ugliest lamp ever…but we dare not throw it out. They’re just very practical people, which is something to admire in a time of waste and consumerism. Though I inherited the urge to complain to Mike about wasting and things sitting in landfills, my mom often reads my blog and wonders how the apple fell so far from the tree. Hi mom! 🙂

My mom had been telling me that they were looking at cabinets and having a contractor come to let them know if they could remove the soffits, which I thought was a great idea. I recommended that they get rid of the hood and get a microwave with a vent built in, to save counterspace. We also talked about some pull out drawers for pots and pans, since their storage space now is nearly impossible to navigate. My dad works with a lot of contractors so I knew they had professional opinions weighing in, but I was completely floored when my mom sent me the plans for their new kitchen.

Yes, they moved the fridge. Why didn’t I think of that? My mom had mentioned to the contractor that when she cooks (which she does often), she casts a shadow on the stovetop. So the guy moved it, making it look more open overall.

The dishwasher is also moved since it was always in the way of the stove and the corner cabinet. Another genius move.

The new stove area, complete with overhead microwave. That door on the left is my old room 🙂 On the right is the laundry room, which they are also getting some cabinetry for. My camera battery died after literally 5 pictures, so I didn’t get a chance to get everything.

As if all of the appliance moves and tile backsplash weren’t enough for me, I was also sent the electrical plan.

It’s hard to see, but it’s full of recessed lighting and under cabinet lights!

Last night my mom asked me to look at the cabinet website and help her pick one out, so I told her to go with a white linen (not a complete bright white) in a simple bevel.

Look familar? Yes it’s similar to ours, but my mom always admires our white cabinets and in a small kitchen with little natural light, I think white is the way to go. They still have to choose hardware and a tile for the back splash, but they still have some time for those extras. My mom mentioned doing a Silestone counter top, which I think is a great choice.

They’re hoping to have it done by Thanksgiving and I can’t wait to see (and share) the finished product. As I said earlier, my mom loves to cook and she really deserves an awesome kitchen. 25 years and 3 kids is long enough to wait, I think 🙂

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Posted by Michael, October 5th, 2011

It’s true, I’m in love with Crate&Barrel.  I’m pretty sure this is the one store we go to where I’m more excited than Rebecca is — ok, with the exception of the Apple store, but that’s an entirrrreeelly different thing.  When we registered for our wedding, Rebecca told me to calm down adding things from Crate&Barrel.  Right.

Every now and then I find myself on their site adding things to a fake wedding registry so we get 15% off and browsing for a solid hour or two.  Sure enough, I had one of those visits this week.

I’ve never been a fan of these, to be honest.  I always thought they were a bit too classic, but I think I’m turning the corner.  We have an area in our formal living room (oh hey, we have one of those with barely any furniture in it besides our old couch) where something like this would fit in quite snug.   The color, Toulouse Harbor, is perfect, too.  A bit on the blue side, the chaise would have a nice contrast against our grayish walls.

I can just see now, Macky and Diggy sleeping all over that thing.

But for a thousand beans?  For something Macky is going to enjoy more than we will?  We’ll have to pass on actually buying this thing.

Remember that powder room we started?  Yeah, it’s still not finished.  But this wall hook caught my eye with it’s clean-lines.  Now, it might be a tad too modern for what we’re going for, but I figured it was note worthy for the ol’ blog.

And this guy.  Well, this guy just made me laugh.  Straight out of Pixar or what?  And is that a suction cup on the bottom?  Genius! (mini Steve Jobs tribute)

Family take note:  this is what I’d like for Christmas and or birthday.  I knew this blog would come in handy one day!  I’ve been eye-ing a quality food processor for quite some time now, but can never pull the trigger on buying one.  Imagine all the fancy salsas I can make.  Maybe I’ll get into making my own hummus!

Rebecca is looking forward to putting our our fall decorations this weekend. We have a doormat, but this one is way cooler. I love the diagonal stripes.

These vine gourds are the taller, skinnier cousin of the vine pumpkins we purchased last year (and just so happen to be included in the stock picture!) I love the C&B is offering a different shape this year to add some more visual interest to them when displayed as a group.

These are salt and pepper shakers that look like inkwells… very cool! Have you heard that Steve Jobs loved calligraphy and said that it influenced Apple’s simple style? Now you have 🙂 Can you also tell that I a) love Apple and b) can’t wait for Thanksgiving?

So is there anything from Crate&Barrel that you guys are digging?  Fancy gadgets?  Cookbooks? Anyone else loving the quotes from Steve Jobs floating around? Our current favorite:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do”

“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.”

Food for thought… better than Thanksgiving.

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Get Me Some Glasses!


Posted by Rebecca, October 3rd, 2011

I told you on Thursday that our beloved family room TV had died right then and there, as I typed my post. By Friday, it was still dead, but I stared at it anyway.

(warning: this post has a lot of awful iPhone photos in it)

I had a long week last week and I really did not want to spend Friday night TV shopping. I thought maybe I could just lay down and relax by the dead TV, but I lasted about 20 minutes before we headed out.

First stop- Best Buy.

Here we got a nice introduction to the TVs of 2011. They are a) thin b) sleek and c) way cheaper than they were in 2005.  I should have started this post by saying that we are not normal blogger people. We are sometimes irrational and decide to buy a TV on a whim. Hey, we’re human and we like electronics. One person’s Missoni is another person’s Samsung 🙂 We also like TV and accept the fact that it is the focal point of our family room. That being said, it had to be pretty. The few times I’ve seen TVs in the past few years I’ve loved these Samsung ones with the glass frame.

Other than that, we were not impressed with anything at Best Buy, so we headed to stop #2.

Second stop- hhgregg. (ps- just learned that the name of this store is one word and all lowercase, weird)

Woohoo! You had me at hello! hhgregg also had the most beautiful TV I have ever seen, it was basically frameless and the image extended all the way to the ends of the TV. Here it is on top, compared to a TV with more of a frame.

But it was expensive, so we traveled to the open box section which had a bunch of great deals. We could get a 46″ pretty glass framed TV for $900. We’ve bought numerous open box items before, so this didn’t bother us in the least. However, we decided to look around a little more.

Third stop- P.C. Richards.

I believe this is a regional store, but I wasn’t impressed. hhgregg had better deals and I have no pictures to share because I was busy sitting in a massage chair the whole time.

It was now about 8:15 and we debated whether we should go back to hhgregg or try a nearby Sears. We knew we were cutting our time close, but we still felt like we needed to shop around so we went to Sears.

Fourth stop- Sears.

We entered Sears and it was 5 million degrees in the store. Mike and I have had multiple bad experiences at this particular location (awful customer service when trying to buy garage door openers and appliances), so we were ready to just browse quickly and leave. It appeared like they didn’t have much, until we spotted that glorious frameless TV that we fell in love with in the distance. We were simply admiring it, since it didn’t have a price on it, when a salesperson came up to us and told us it was on sale. He also told us he could give us an additional 5%. He then told us he could give us 2 pairs of 3-D glasses, valued at $50 each. As appealing as this was, we knew we had little use for 3-D glasses, so Mike asked if we could have more off the price instead. The guy was all like sure! I’ll give you another 5% off!

So needless to say, we bought a beautiful, frameless, glass surrounded, Samsung TV that was $600 more at the affordably priced hhgregg. We got it for a little more than the cost of a less pretty, open box 46 incher. Sweet deal 🙂

The stats… it’s a 46″ LED. And we’re in love.

We haven’t yet attached it to our mount and haven’t properly plugged everything in yet. We had plans for the rest of the weekend, hence the Friday night shopping/setting up urgency 🙂

It is absolutely insane how thin this thing is. Our old plasma took both of us to move. This thing? Mike can grab it with like, one hand.

The strange thing is that it’s a larger TV (our previous one was 42″), but it looks smaller because of the lack of speakers and other extra bulk along the front. When we put it on the entertainment center we were like, ooh, we could have gone bigger! (I told you we are sometimes irrational) But then we realized that an increase in size equals an increase in price (we’re not THAT irrational).

It is insane how HD this TV is. Our other TV was too but I guess the technology has improved so much in 6 years that it doesn’t even compare. I think I can see people’s pores on this thing. It was a little creepy at first, but we’re getting used to it. Even this computer looks like it’s non-HD now…

Oh and that picture is proof that I always write these posts minutes before they’re actually posted. Yes that’s Amanda Knox, no post scheduling here! Though it would be nice to plan ahead like that, it would mean that I couldn’t spend my spare time watching my new pretty TV 🙂

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Fancy-ing the Fireplace


Posted by Rebecca, September 29th, 2011

I’m back! Can I tell you it’s been a hectic and crazy week? To top it off, I worked until 8 tonight and our family room tv just died. I had such big plans of relaxing tomorrow night and catching up on all of the How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family and Jersey Shore that I missed this week. RIP Plasma, you were our first major purchase back in 2005 and you will be sorely missed. Especially by me. Especially this weekend. Because really, who wants to drop all of that cash on a new tv unexpectedly?? Not me.

Anywho, while we’re on the topic of the family room, I came across the coolest idea ever on Pinterest a few weeks ago. Remember our fireplace?

We originally wanted a chunkier, more dramatic fireplace surround that the builder offered, but it was too wide for our floor plan. Since then we’ve been trying to come up with ways to make it a little less generic builder looking. We added the tile to it (the same tile from our kitchen back splash) and we plan to paint the slate, metal and gold hardware one of these days.

Going back a few months ago, I spotted another image on Pinterest that got the hamster in my head running on his wheel. Why don’t we add some molding above the fireplace!

(via Design*Sponge found on Pinterest)

I liked it, but the arch just isn’t us. I liked the idea of it much more (plus the curtains and the rug). Plus the layout is identical to ours. So I searched a bit and found one much more my style, enter contender numero dos.

(via Bethany Christensen Design found on Pinterest)

I love the squareness of it and that chunkiness we’ve been aiming for. But, the style of this mantel is completely different than ours. We have that funny dental molding and our opening is framed out with a thinner molding. I wasn’t sure if this would translate well for us, so I pinned it and went about my life.

Then recently this showed up in my Pinterest feed…

(via 6th Street Design School found on Pinterest)

Not only does the fireplace itself (at least the mantel part) look like ours, but the whole getup looks like ours. When I first showed Mike from a distance, he thought I had worked some photo shop magic. The best part of this one (besides that I can totally get how ours would look like), is that it is probably the easiest to do out of the 3. Those straight pieces of wood? No ridiculously raised part that would eat my mantel? The fact that my mirror would work with it? Love it.

Admittedly, the only thing I’m missing is a nice chunk of crown molding at the top to mirror the mantel. But I guess that’s a tweak we could add on our own. You know, whenever we get around to finishing the other molding projects we’ve started around here 🙂

Now I’m off to stare at a dead tv… 🙁

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What You Know Bout That


Posted by Michael, September 28th, 2011

These last few days, Rebecca has been talking about doing a frequently asked questions post.  She planned to do this tonight.  I just went to the family room and she’s sound asleep; completely exhausted from homework and class.  So here goes… just my version… and not necessarily about our house, our projects, etc.

Stamped concrete?  Wood plank stamp?  How much and where do I get the stamp?

All said and done, I believe it ran us just about $10-$11 per square foot to do the concrete patio with the wood stamp.  We had toyed with the idea of doing a wood deck, but in the end, we decided to go concrete patio.  We had found pictures online of a patio that we swore was a wood deck.  And sure enough, it was just stamped concrete with a dark stain.  It absolutely blew our minds.  And so, we knew we’d make the best decision going with the wood plank stamp.

We used a local concrete contractor who was absolutely fantastic.  As for where you can buy the stamp?  I’m not 100% sure, but it looks like you can order it from these guys.

How is Darwin?

Darwin, Diggy, D, Pickles… whatever his name is today, is doing absolutely fantastic.  His cancer is in remission and he’s back to normal.  Actually, he’s better than normal.  Diggy is doing things we either forgot about or are completely new.  He has an abundance of energy, he’s wrestling with Macky and chasing after Mowie.  It’s absolutely amazing how well he is doing and we are so incredibly grateful.

Lately, D has been loving the new couch and cuddling into me as we watch Jersey Shore television.  The little guy actually has his Halloween costume all picked out and ready to go!

What do you and Rebecca do for a living?

I work for a large financial firm where I kinda-sorta administer the content of an internal search engine of sorts.  I would go into what I do for them, but honestly, you’d just sit there confused and be all like, ok so what do you do again?

As for Rebecca, she works for a [not sure if I’m allowed to tell you] company where she does a boatload of statistical analysis.   She comes home at night and tells me all about her day — from what she did in Excel and SAS to how she did such and such analysis.  And I’m all like, ok so what do you do again?

Don’t you also have a music website?

I do!  My partner (What up!) and I run/manage/develop the music community, SongMeanings, where we encourage discussion around lyrics.   It’s been a bit of a side-job for what feels like forever, but has been demanding more and more of my attention each and every day.  We recently licensed over 1 million lyrics from the various record labels, and we pull in about 30-40 million page views per month.

This one time at band camp I filled out one of those ‘Make a donation, write your name on this card’ things and I wrote ‘SONGMEANINGS.NET’ on it.  The employees were all, OMG YOU RUN SONGMEANINGS!  And I was all like, yeah I do — CAN I GET THIS ICE CREAM FOR FREE?

(Rebecca’s comment: We didn’t get the ice cream for free, but Mike felt like Beiber for the night because a bunch of teenage girls knew who he was….)

Did you guys ever paint that newly constructed wall in your master bedroom?

Nope.  We just LOVE looking at drywall as we drift off to sleep each night.  End sarcasm.

3 cats?  Are you crazy cat people?

Yup!  And proud!  Here’s a little ditty about Jack Macky and Diane Sunny.  We found Macky one random day in a driveway, he was less than a half pound, nearly dead and covered in all sorts of bugs.  We immediately brought him to the vet where she said “EW!” and told us he probably won’t make it.  5 years later and Macky is 20 pounds (what Vet, what!).  Sunny came home with us about two weeks later; he was one of Macky’s litter-mates.  He was bright orange, incredibly fluffy and the name Sunny was all too perfect.

One day at Rebecca’s parents house, a cat randomly started crying non-stop at their door.  She was thin, declawed (not cool previous owners, not cool) and was losing her fur from a flea allergy.  We nursed her back to health and then took her in after no one came looking for her.  Oh, we named her Mowie because all she was doing was meow-ing the entire time.

Our life was perfect with these 3 cats for several months.  Then Sunny very randomly contracted feline panleukopenia.  We immediately brought him to an emergency hospital and we fought the virus for two weeks.  After several surgeries, blood transfusions and Sunny telling us he had enough, we made the decision to send him to kitty heaven.   Our little family was devastated.

Several months went by while we mourned Sunny.  Macky would cry non-stop every night looking for his brother.  Mowie wanted (and still wants) nothing to do with him.  Needless to say, Macky was keeping us up every night.

One day, I stumbled upon a cute little orange guy on Petfinder and I fell in love — but we weren’t ready or we thought we weren’t ready.   Then we discovered he had CH, a neurological condition that affected some of his motor skills (he has a very mild, barely noticeable case though).  After doing some research, we found out that CH is caused by the mother having panleukopenia — better known as the virus that Sunny passed away from.  We took this as a bit of a sign and adopted Darwin (see photo as Coke box above)

Here is a picture of Sunny in all his fluffy orangeness.  Before getting sick, Sunny was 19lbs.  He was the original big guy in our family and we credit him with keeping an eye out for Darwin through his cancer.

You don’t eat meat?  I don’t understand how anyone can not eat meat! LOUD NOISES!

We’ve been pretty much meat-free for several years now.  However, whenever I’m with Brian (SongMeanings’ partner) I end up eating meat like the time we were in Philadelphia and had cheesesteaks and also the time in San Francisco when I ate, well, something that was meat.  He’s that friend you have from high school where whenever you’re with them, you turn into your high school self.  (Oh come on, you know that How I Met Your Mother episode.)  But in my case, I eat meat.  But Rebecca hasn’t strayed.

I don’t consider myself a vegetarian.  I just do my best to not eat meat.  And you know what?  I actually enjoy it.  Sure I miss the comfort foods we grew up with, but otherwise, it has made me try new meals and dishes. I actually wrote a series of posts for a while with vegetarian recipes, you can read them here.

Well folks, that is it for me for tonight.  I know Rebecca has several other questions she wants to answer so stay tuned… whenever she wakes up!

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