Thursday, September 4, 2014


Let us just take a moment to appreciate what I started with for a kitchen.  Pre-wallpaper removal.

Ah, glorious wallpaper
Yes, it really was EVERYWHERE

Yes.  Two different kinds of wall paper - both black and white. The image is pretty small, so here's a refresher for the wall paper: The one running along the back splash is a black and white checker-board pattern.  The one on the main wall is a black and white floral pattern.  Yes, even in the kitchen there were two different kinds of wall paper.

Once the wall paper was off I had this to work with.  I decided I could live with this up until recently.

A multitude of colour

Under the wallpaper there were a few different colours (Pepto-Bismal pink, black, greyge, and a sort of dirty cream colour. The walls are not in great shape.  the kitchen should really just be gutted and re-built from the studs out - but I don't have 30 grand to spend on a kitchen renovation, so I'll make do with what I can manage myself.

You may recall I am trying to find ways to make my home more storage friendly.  Including wanting to build shelving between the studs on the wall in the second picture above.  Though once an exterior wall, it is now an interior wall, and although it *is* a retaining wall, pulling off drywall would not cause any structural issues.

So... the other  day I decided to have a go at building shelving between studs.  I ran my stud-finder along the wall and when I thought I had a spot I could target  to cut a safe hole through I poked my drywall saw in and...

Wait... what?

Yep - drywall nailed right to ship lap.  On to plan "B"
 So, this concept firmly put to bed, I slept on it and determined that my next best plan to get some more simple storage in my kitchen would be to basically build a frame ONTO that wall, put some hinged cupboard-like doors into some of it and make the rest open shelving for simples.

Fine.  If I'm going to make it a feature wall, I may as well do this right.  Some sort of colour for behind the shelving.  The shelving itself with be a very simply Varathaned cedar and then the doors for the cupboards will be white and have a slight wainscoting-type of look to them.

Colour.  This is where I step WAY outside of my personal comfort zone.  I am an earth-tones loving woman, and maybe my house is boring, but my house feels warm and clean with nice light colours.  Go big or go home, right? OK - I went for it... first things first? Patch, sand and primer-coat what i am initially working on.

So much cleaner looking!

So different already!
Right.  The next step was hard.  It was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done in my own home. I had made the choice, I had bought the paint... I even poured it into the painting tray...

Holy crap - that is just... so...

I went for it.  I put on the first coat last night... thinking that two coats might be about right. 

Still wet

Dried overnight.  Needs another coat or maybe 2?
Turns out if needed 3 coats of paint to really make it a solid wall.

I spoke with my Mum on Face Time this morning - showed her the current state and talked over ideas... I opted to go with her suggestion for under the cupboards... and I have now painted the feature wall and put a single coat of the second colour I am using in my kitchen on the walls and bulkhead over the cupboards.  The wall behind the fridge and stove will require a day all their own - maybe next weekend - because of the efforts they will require.  But for now, without the benefit of the feature wall's shelving unit I will be putting in, here is the current state of my kitchen:

Starting to put the kitchen back to rights

And yes, the yellow counter HAS to go!
The overall effect is kind of cool actually.  The colours I used are called "Apple a Day" and "Pita Bread" - apropos names for colours in a kitchen, don't you think? The cupboards will be re-painted at some point as well - October or maybe November, but at this stage, my next project needs to be getting the shelving unit all framed in and, while the weather co-operates, getting the external door into my mud-room closed in so that I can get started on my new pantry!

With love across the waters,

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I Think I Have a Problem

I have self-diagnosed.  I have A.D.P.D. Yes, it is a disease, and sadly, there is no actual treatment. 

I have Attention Deficit Project Disorder.

This week I thought that finishing my bathroom up would be my project.  Building shelves, filling and then staining the trim.  Generally, just getting that particular project completed.

No.  I can’t even say it isn’t my fault.  I started out my week off with the best of intentions – I have the wood in place, and in fact, it will be cut for me by Friday.  I just allowed myself to get side-tracked by another project.  My kitchen storage / pantry / wall of canning.

What was going to be a simple shelf insert in between the studs of an existing wall became something else.  I cannot go into the wall because what is behind it is ship lap. I would have to remove the ship-lap and I just don’t want to go there.  The next plan became build a pantry into the existing mud room.  That will require filling in a door-way (which is do-able in a weekend, I think) and then stripping the room, insulating it and building in shelves and having (eventually) a window installed.

And there is still the Problem of The Wall.

What happened?  Well, I have decided to at least get that wall dealt with during my week off. And since I will have to primer and paint the wall anyhow, I figured I may as well patch, primer and paint the other three complicated walls in the kitchen. I’ll have to leave the simple wall until another weekend (it won’t stop me from the rest of this particular part of my project line because it happens to be the wall with the fridge, stove and other assorted stuff up against it – and my kitchen is just not able to be all dealt with in one go while I am in the house and doing it all by myself. OK, truthfully, *I* am just not able to deal with it all in one go.

So that wall will maybe be patched, primer coated, and actually painted next weekend.

Anyhow, back to the current tasks at hand.

I went to Slegg Lumber this morning to pick up Poly (for patching) primer (a gallon for the whole kitchen – hopefully that will be enough for my initial requirements) Varathane for the cedar (more on that later) and paint for the feature wall.

I am trying something that is going to be WAY outside of my comfort zone. Red.  Not just red, but Candy Apple Red.  Deep, luscious, juicy red.  The accents will be Clear coated cedar and then a creamy linen-white colour for the rest of the kitchen.  If I like the feature wall (meaning, if I don’t completely freak out over my choice and end up painting the whole damn kitchen builder’s white) when I get to painting the cupboards and doors, I’m thinking that just to have some fun with it, I may paint the odd cupboard door INSIDE with red too – “surprise.”

I’m still very worried about this – but honestly, it really *is* just paint – and paint can be painted over, right?

Anyhow, when I got home, I got the kitchen cleaned-up and squared away. I have noted a couple of problems. I HATE the counter top and back splash, but can’t deal with that this time around.  I did pull off one section of back splash.  The rest of it has to come off in conjunction with the sink actually being removed as they put in this horrid metal corner bead thing that actually runs UNDER the sink at the back.  I’ll have to file that one in my “what were they thinking file for later.

I have gone through and patched the wall and am now just waiting for the patching to completely dry – the tub of Poly says 4 hours if there is a big patch – and there are a couple of big patches. Once the poly is dry, I’ll go over the whole thing for a quick sand and then once wiped off, I’ll throw on the primer coat.  That will be the sum-total of tonight’s portion of the work.  Tomorrow comes the red.

Did I mention just how far out of my comfort zone this really will be…?

With love across the waters…

Sunday, August 31, 2014

…And Now I Have a First World Problem…..

I am filled with gratitude.  My cupboards are filled to overflowing with sauces and fruits – most of which have been grown by me, all of which was canned by me. I now, though, have a first world problem – I am running out of space to store my canning. 
Kitchen cupboard full to the brim

Peaches are in a storage cupboard
Some dear friends of the family had a kitchen that was remodelled (I'm not certain if it was done by them or by their home’s previous owners) to build shelving in between the studs of their walls… and I have the perfect wall in mind… The wall has no electrical or plumbing connected, but appears to have some wiring running through it (I am thinking it was wired like that in order to provide light and an electrical socket to my “mud porch” with is really more of a catch-all junk area – that will also need renovation… just not now.

The idea is to pull off the drywall, build “insert” shelving units and install them right into the space between the studs - here is a blog link to where someone has done exactly what I am thinking about doing... complete with pictures!!

I have this coming week off work – vacation time.  My plans for this week include potentially getting a jump on making and canning apple sauce (this is no rush – the apples could still use ripening time,) making and canning more roasted tomato sauce, building some shelving in my bathroom, and generally working on some of the finishing projects for the bathroom. 

What I may do, time and energy permitting, is pull some drywall off and see what I have to work with.

Oh – and I am already “getting ideas” about other spaces where this kind of shelving would be great – including behind bedroom doors and in the living room by the front door…

With love across the waters…

…And Pear Butter…..

When I finished canning my “first choice” pears I had a basket full of smaller ones left over – not perfectly shaped, not really eating quality, and too small for me to be bothered with peeling, coring, slicing and canning, I looked for other options about what I could do with them.
last batch of pears canned - left-over pears to the right
My newly former boss, I found out, has horses – and would LOVE to have small ones for feeding the horses as treats – I will most definitely bear that in mind for next year’s harvest, but for this year, I wanted to see if there was something I could to with them that wouldn't be overly labour-intensive, but would provide some yummy winter-consumption results.

One of the websites I use when canning, Simply Canning, had a recipe for something called Crock Pot Pear Butter and I thought I might give that a try. I didn't like the ingredient list they had, so I went looking for other pear butter recipes and found one that I did like the look of on the Gimme Some Oven website.  I like all of the spices added and decided to try this one.

On night three of canning my peaches, when the peaches were in the canner and cooking, I chopped up my pears and popped them into the crock pot with some lemon juice and honey – the lemon juice to keep the colour lighter (turns out that was a bust) and the honey as part of the recipe.
Pears cooking down in the crock pot
Pears cooked overnight in the crock pot, I woke up to a spicy fruity smell – yum!  Since Jasmine was going to Doggie Daycare that day, I had a little extra time that morning and processed the pear butter (meaning I took it out of the crock pot and ran it through the food mill to extract the fruit flesh and discard the skins and seeds.  I put the milled pears into a pot and let it sit in the fridge that day.  When I got home, I got my canning supplies started again – water bath canner etc etc etc… and started cooking down the pears to a really thick consistency – and added the spices.

Cooking down the Pear Butter

So what is the verdict? Well, I think it tastes like really fancy applesauce – just made with pears instead… so I will probably not make that again.  I guess next year some horses will get a treat!

With love across the waters…

…And Peaches…..

This past Monday I arrived to work to see an email telling me that the peaches were in… later that same day, they arrived at my office – and OH. MY. GOD. They smelled AMAZING.  I had forgotten just how glorious peaches smell – and I think it probably a Really Good Thing that I don’t live near a peach orchard – I would be arrested for trespass and theft!

Anyhow, home Monday night and I scrambled to start canning peaches… it took me a little bit to get into the swing of things, but once into the swing, I got one canning’s worth completed.
The box was FULL of peaches
Can't you smell them?

In a Lemon Juice Bath

 Like the pears, I opted for honey syrup instead of sugar – but unlike the pears, I didn’t add any vanilla to the syrup.

Honey Syrup

Moving the skinned and sliced peaches from the
lemon juice bath to the syrup

Kitchen... canning in progress

Lost one out of the first batch canned

First batch success

Reward for the first day... YUM!

Once the kitchen was cleaned up from Monday’s canning adventures, I decided to get the jump on the canning I would need to do on Tuesday night and I got the kitchen ready for the next night.
Tidy kitchen - organized and ready to go on Tuesday morning

even the pots and jars are ready to get moving as
soon as I get home from work!

Batch 2 complete... the ninth jar
makes up for the lost one the night before
By Wednesday I was a pro… While the peaches were in the water bath I picked the next bunch of nearly ripe tomatoes for making more tomato sauce, and once the peaches were done and the kitchen cleaned up again... I got the last of the pears cut up and into the crock pot to make pear butter…

Third batch cooling.  Peaches done.

Semi-ripe tomatoes picked to finish ripening on the counter

Pear butter in progress

With love across the waters…