Tuesday, December 31, 2013

shoestring reno: kitchen – ikea cabinets + kitchen construction plan

This, friends, is what an ikea kitchen delivery looks like. 25% of the boxes not shown. Number of pieces match - will be going through boxes and checking stuff off in the next day or so. #moving #newhome #kitchenreno

Hi folks, Happy New Year! I didn’t think I’d post until later in the week, but I really wanted to get this post out. I started writing it as we were making incremental progress, and this morning, fueled by yesterday’s stresses over having to readjust our kitchen budget upward (with the money we don’t have – yay!), I was propelled into completing the post today! Getting it out and published will feel very cathartic – so here goes.

This is the second installment of my “Kitchen Renovations Diary”, so to speak – it’s a long one, so bear with me. I know that it might get boring to read after awhile, but if you’re thinking of embarking on kitchen renovations in 2014, I highly recommend you read this to the end, or bookmark it for when you have some time. You might even want to print this out and highlight those parts most relevant to you. I tried to make this as comprehensive as possible and hopefully didn’t skip over anything. However, if any info seems to be missing or is unclear, please leave a comment and I’ll be sure to answer it right away.

Continue reading shoestring reno: kitchen – ikea cabinets + kitchen construction plan.

Friday, December 27, 2013

friday link love

Cookbook shelf about 95% unpacked. #moving #newhome

Good morning and happy Friday, friends! We moved! We survived! We’re still unpacking (and looks like we’ll be at it for some time)! Forrest, our neurotic, can’t-leave-the-apartment, i-don’t-go-into-cat-carrier super coddled cat was transported wrapped in a blanket with the help of our friend Tina. Huge, bottomless thanks to her for helping with this part of the move. Forrest’s first day in the new apartment was spent wedged between some Ikea boxes and our fridge (currently in the living room), but he emerged the following day (much to our surprise) to explore for a little bit and then to take up residence in the lining of our couch (raccoon-style). Anyway, we are slowly settling in. Our books are largely unpacked and my cookbook shelf is almost all set up. The sad part is that I can’t cook until we’re done with kitchen renovations. I didn’t even bother unpacking our kitchen boxes, so currently, we’re eating off two plates and two bowls, with plastic spoons and knives (I have no idea where the real silverware is). Mornings are cereal or yogurt with coffee; lunches are turkey or peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches with apples, carrots, and hummus for snacks, and dinners are largely cheap’ish take-out. I miss cooking so much, it’s making me batty. Also, not knowing where all my kitchen items are is oddly disorienting – like I don’t know where true north is anymore.

I did, however, find our coffee grinder and maker, so mornings aren’t too traumatic. Until yesterday morning, I was, largely, offline, which was nice, but now I feel horribly behind on work. So hoping to make up for a lot of time lost these few days.

Yesterday, our Ikea kitchen cabinets arrived. Today, Andrew and I will take stock of what is and isn’t here. But the number of pieces matched (I think!) the manifest slip, so that’s good. I have a longer post in the making about what it is like to get Ikea cabinets delivered and how to go about checking everything. It might not be up for awhile as I may still learn a thing or two about the process, but I’m carefully taking notes and making observations for folks who might want to do this in the future. Hopefully, the lessons I will have learned will be helpful to others.

Not too many links today, given my current unpacking and work preoccupations, but some things I found interesting and wanted to share – hope you do too! I hope to post before the New Year, but in case I get caught up in work and home things, here’s wishing you all a happy and healthy 2014 ahead!

Continue reading friday link love.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

one simple change – a giveaway


I met Winnie Abramson by chance a few years ago at a blogging conference in Atlanta. Somehow it came up in conversation that she didn’t have a room and was going to sleep on a cot in someone else’s room, and since I had two queen sized beds and was using only one, I just up and offered it to her. I didn’t know her very well, but she was friends with my friends, and I wanted a friend of my friends to be comfortable.

This decision was really how Winnie and I became friends. We spent the following morning sitting around in our pajamas, drinking tea, and talking. I think we might have even missed the morning session, which was fine by both of us. I told Winnie about trying to make a transition to food writing full time, I learned about Winnie’s parents’ restaurant, her passion in nutrition and whole foods, her family, and aspirations. The entire time I kept thinking, “This is such a healthy approach to eating and thinking about food – we need more of it.”

Continue reading one simple change – a giveaway.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

shoestring reno: kitchen appliances

Currently in our future empty home. We move next week. Not sure when construction starts. Fridge sits in the living room til kitchen construction (when?) is over as it can't fit into its spot. #kitchenreno

Yesterday, I spent a good portion of the afternoon catching myself looking out the window. Our view right now is nothing spectacular – Atlantic Avenue in all its glory, a Trader Joe’s across the street. But the sunsets, people, the sunsets!! We see such an expansive swath of sky in our Brooklyn home. I realized I’m going to miss this view starting in a few days. By Friday afternoon, there’ll be a different view. Kensington, we’re coming – hope you’re ready.

Our soon-to-be former home is ready to be rid of us. In the last three days, I’ve lost three out of four light-bulbs in the kitchen, and since they’re those expensive $9-a-piece affairs, I decided I’m not spending money on something for just a few days. The third light went out yesterday morning, the day after I finished testing recipes in this kitchen. Even the kitchen wants us out, I thought. It’s time.

With six recipes left to go I figured I could definitely make them in the next few months even with my kitchen being out of commission for a few weeks. In the meantime, I can focus on getting a lot of writing done for the two books. I’m looking forward to hunkering down.

We move this Friday, which is also winter solstice, i.e. the shortest day. I look at it as a good omen – things can only get better from here. Days will be longer; we’ll be settling into a new space; we get to explore and bond with a new neighborhood.

The day that we closed on our new home, we did a final walk-through in the morning. I looked at the kitchen, not yet realizing the scope of work that we would eventually decide to do. I peeked in the kitchen and inside the fridge. And then I realized that with the kind of rigorous recipe testing that I’ll be doing, the size of the fridge wasn’t going to do it for us. We needed something bigger. And so while hoping not to have to buy appliances, we sort of fell into that rabbit hole.

Continue reading shoestring reno: kitchen appliances.

Friday, December 13, 2013

friday link love

Looking out the window. Waiting for appliances to be delivered. #kitchenreno

Happy friday, folks. At this time, by next week, everything in our apartment will be packed up. We
will like be getting ready for our movers to arrive, and I’ll be fretting about how to transport our 15-pound cat safely to the new apartment. Lucky for us, our good friend Tina has agreed to drive me and Forrest, who will be given a sedative (let’s hope he takes it) and wrapped in a blanket for security to our new apartment. Andrew will stay behind to supervise the move and I’ll bring Forrest to his (and our) new home which already has his food station and litter box set up. I’ll bring a few toys as well and hopefully he won’t be too traumatized. [For those unfamiliar with the history of all this, Forrest is extremely scared of leaving the apartment, busts out of carrying cases (as in busts down the door with his mighty strength), and generally suffers from fear of abandonment. Poor cat.]

Meanwhile, this week, we met with our Ikea kitchen planner. We had our fridge and stove delivered. At the moment, the fridge is sitting in the living room while the stove is in the middle of the kitchen. And today, though thankfully we don’t have to be there ourselves, we are having closets installed in the hallway and bedroom. That’s going to be a post soon.

Also, I have a whole post I need to write to you on what it takes to get all the pieces moving in terms of kitchen renovation. While you’re trying to move and finish testing recipes for a cookbook, 30 of which you received the week before. These are all good problems to worry about, but financially it has been incredibly stressful. You get one estimate from the contractor and then you get the actual cost and it’s almost twice as high as the estimate with just one lump sum at the bottom, no itemization or anything, just zeros next to itemized items. Now, I’m no Einstein, but even I know that a bunch of zeroes don’t add up to several thousand dollars. Looking at an invoice like this is enough to make even the calmest of people feel their blood pressure rise.

As I write this, I’m testing a yeasted waffle recipe for a book. The batter is fermenting, rising in the kitchen. I’m hoping everything will go according to plan.* I have a full day of work and recipe testing ahead, a weekend full of packing, a trip to Ikea to pick up (and lug) a kitchen sink, hours of recipe testing ahead, and writing headnotes and such. I sincerely hope your weekend looks a lot more relaxing and lazy.

*WAFFLE UPDATE: Moving onto Round 2 of testing.

Continue reading friday link love.

Friday, December 6, 2013

friday link love


Happy Friday, friends. Today marks the two week mark until our move. We should really start packing, don’t you think? I’m hoping that a good chunk of recipe testing for one of the books will be out of the way (I just need to be sent more recipes). At the risk of running a bit ahead of myself, I will try (but can’t guarantee) to post Friday links on the day of the move. Perhaps I can schedule it in advance and have it automatically publish on a certain day.

It hasn’t been the easiest week here. Besides mourning the death of Judy Rodgers, I got word that my middle school science teacher lost her battle with breast cancer. She had beaten it the first time, and then it came back, more advanced, and the treatment just didn’t work. She passed away two nights ago, still very young. One of her children is still in college.

And yesterday’s news of Nelson Mandela’s passing were, while not entirely surprising, still sad. The world lost a remarkable figure.

There’s much packing (and recipe testing) ahead for this weekend. Also, a tree-trimming party, a now-annual tradition, at our friends’ place replete with mimosas, bloody marys, and a stromboli that puts you in hibernation mode for the rest of the day. I’m thinking of bringing these cookies along. I hope wherever the weekend takes you, it is merry and bright!

Continue reading friday link love.