Friday, August 31, 2012

Today I might find the porridge!

Yesterday the joiner and his mate finished what they were supposed to do.  I am hesitant to say the kitchen is finished because there is still one little job:  Alan has to saw the chimney part of the cooker hood to fit under the ceiling.  Our kitchen has two levels of ceiling and, unfortunately, the lowest part is right over the range. 

The finished look!  White roses compliment the corner so well. They were sent by a good friend of mine to cheer me up about my Mom.  When they arrived, I was a bit upset because I thought they would be wasted in a house so full of confusion, but once the kitchen was done, they found a perfect home! 

If you look closely, the little corner of white at the upper left is actually where the ceiling begins to be higher.  Both levels are white, it just looks like the lower ceiling is grey in this picture.  All that is left is for Alan to get brave enough to take a hack saw to the chimney and cut it more than half its' height and then place it on the top of the cooker hood!
I am still eating toast for breakfast, but with any luck, this will be the last morning for that!  Maybe today will see the inauguration of my range ovens too!  

“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.”

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shaping up nicely

On Wednesdays my 3 year old grandson, Corbyn, goes to a Montessori school.  I had the privilege to pick him up today.  I am actually signed off work due to stress as a result of my Mom's illness so I am at home a bit more than usual.  When he got in the car, I asked what he would like to do.  He said he would like to go to my house and bake.  Whoops! 

I told him we could go to my house and would see why we could not bake.  Once he inspected the kitchen, he understood.  And the sun was shining outside so I was off the hook!
It did not appear that Corbyn was impressed with the size of the range cooker though.  I guess when you are 3 if you have seen one stove, you have seen them all!

This was Alan burning the midnight oil last night getting tiles up before the exhaust fan gets installed.  Luckily, once the worktop was put in place, the tiles looked great to us and we are going to keep them.  Whew!

Not quite finished with the tiling over the cooker, but it is only the very top that needs tiled and poor Alan got tired!

In talking to our joiner this morning, he explained that some Magnet cabinets are not as big as I would have expected. They are selling off their old stock and making their cabinets even wider, and he says he never knows exactly what size will be delivered. However, with the deal we got on this kitchen, I believe we would have always been slated for the old stock. And it is ok, the cabinets are beautiful and we will just store our dishes a different way. 

Little by Little
Any large scale accomplishment is
achieved only when tackled little by
little.  Be patient and tackle only one
thing at a time.  Then watch the big
picture unfold. 
taken from a booklet called
Take Care of Yourself
by Penelope Sach

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Can't find the microwave, can't find the toaster!

Good Morning and welcome to our construction zone! 

Today already at 7am, there has already been the challenge of breakfast.  I have to admit I am addicted to porridge, or oatmeal in the US.  I have regularly eaten porridge almost every day for years. I can't even remember when this started, but it is a perfect way for me to start the day.  Yesterday I had toast and it was ok.   Today, no toaster, no access to boil eggs, no microwave to cook my porridge......Alan bought a baguette but that just didn't appeal.  So I resorted to a traditional Scottish breakfast staple - the morning roll.  The funny thing to me is that this roll looks like a really nice hamburger bun.  But it is a breakfast food here and is really yummy! 

Walking to the corner shop, in the early morning sunshine, I can see how this is a very nice tradition.  However, I am only off work due to the stress of Mom being in the hospital - I don't usually have time to wander down to the corner shop.  And with Mom appearing to improve and her visiting hours being restricted, as is normal in UK hospitals, I now have the time both to wander to the shop and to deal with the fall out of organizing a new kitchen. 

And I have already identified new "fall out".   Who knew the upper cupboards would be too small for a normal size dinner plate?  Alan is convinced our dishes are just bigger than average, but I am not so sure.  We are totally committed to this new kitchen now, so we will just have to readjust our thinking and use a bottom cupboard to store dinner plates, but it was a set back I did not expect.  And so many people have Magnet kitchens and love them....maybe our dishes are over size?  This has never been a subject of conversation when I have asked folks who did their kitchens.

 We had intended to keep these tiles because we liked them. However, they don't look very nice in these pictures.  I guess we will have to wait and see how they look when the room is finished.
 The other problem with the tiles is one wall is not really straight, and this is the first professionally done installation, so there is a risk that the tiles are going to look wrong once this is done.  The one thing I am not looking forward to, if it comes to it, is having to chose new tiles.  There are too many choices and Alan and I really struggle to find ones we agree on!
 Just barely visible is the plate I used to test how big the shelf is, you can just see it on the lower shelf to the left of the old stove.  I tried to take a picture of how it overhangs, but it is so small it can't really focus on it. But I believe it is a big enough overhang to interfere with the door closing.

Alan is also concerned that with these cupboards being perfectly straight, the floor is also going to be obviously "wrong".  But only time will tell at this point.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Construction Begins

Here are the pictures of the kitchen before the joiner arrived. 

The day did not go as well as planned though, first the sink got broken and we had not intended to get a new sink.  Then our Boxer decided to make a break for freedom and got really far before Alan and the joiner could catch her! 

The fridge will stay and the range cooker will be moved away from the door, can't wait to try it out!  At the wall to the right of the door is supposed to be a bookcase for cookbooks, sheer decadence.  I have not been able to put my cook books in a good place since moving here, so I am really excited.  The design left a space just large enough under the bookcase for the raised dog dish, but there has been just one more glitch today - the radiator we have to move has two pipes that are not able to move.  So now we are going to put a tiny radiator under the bookcase.  It might not look as good as no radiator, but it will look better than useless pipes sticking out of a floor!  And an added bonus is that the kitchen will be warmer since there will now be an extra radiator, even if it is quite small! 

A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.
- Ogden Nash

Friday, August 24, 2012

Saying thanks

Here is the picture I should have had yesterday when I was talking about how much stuff will be put in the kitchen. It actually doesn't take up as much room as I expected once they finished bringing it all in.  My poor dog is very puzzled about the new look of our living room!  The next room is beginning to be full of all the contents of the kitchen as it gets ready to welcome its new look!

With my Mom in the hospital, I have been able to observe just how hard the medical staff works and it is so impressive.  The local tradition is to bring boxes of chocolates or thank you cards, but I feel they deserve so much more.  So I grabbed the very last chance to bake cupcakes in the soon to be retired oven.  Just basic Betty Crocker milk chocolate cake mix and ready made chocolate icing.  I had to squeeze myself between and around all the action in the kitchen as Alan frantically filled in holes and removed cupboards.  I must have been desparate to get these baked and felt really good about bringing them in to the well deserving staff taking care of my Mom.  The chocolate/chocolate was really boring looking, but Alan managed to locate sprinkles and that helped a bit.  Too bad we could not locate the mini cupcake tins, that would have made so much more.  There are a tremendous number of people working on this ward.

Growing up in the US in the 50's, I don't think many women actually baked from scratch. All the women I was aware of only used cake mixes.  So when I moved to Scotland, I was amazed that this was not the done thing.  Eventually I learned to make a sponge cake from scratch, but for years, my Mom had to bring me Brownie mix.  I never even considered looking for a brownie recipe!  Not until one day while visiting my Dad and Stepmother in St Louis did I realize it was even possible to make brownies from scratch.  A dear friend of my stepmother gave me her recipe, and the highest praise possible here - it looks, smells and tastes just like a mix!!  Someday when I am able to bake in my new oven, I will look that recipe out and share it!  In fact, that would be a good thing to make the staff at Station 10 for next time. 
Only I hope Mom continues to improve and there won't be a "next time". 

You can say this for ready-mixes - the next generation isn't going to have any trouble making pies exactly like mother used to make. ~Earl Wilson

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Delivery Day

Who would guess that one kitchen could contain so much stuff!  Alan and I decided to change the kitchen and make it exactly what we want and today was the day our new kitchen was delivered, not the day it will be installed here it all sits, in the middle of the living room.  Looking imposing and like there is entirely too much to be going into one room. 

The range cooker was delivered last week and sits proudly in the middle of the kitchen itself, blocking the door between the kitchen and the dining room. 

This stage in our house would not be so noteworthy if not for the other things that are happening, such as my mother in the hospital and being so very ill.  She broke her hip on July 21 and had surgery for that a few days later.  Fantastic recovery and transfer to rehab, then back to the hospital due to an infection......kidney failure......the doctors giving up hope and then Mom rallying and getting stronger by the day.  I have been so proud of her strength and positivity through this, but it has also been a roller coaster emotionally for me. 

Yesterday, like the calvary rushing in to save the day, my niece, Roxanne, flew in from the US.  What a wonderful feeling to have family who drop everything to come help us.  Not only her, but her husband who is doing a fine job of being a house husband and taking care of their kids while she is away.  I know Mom is enjoying the extra care and love she is getting with Roxanne being here, and it has already been such a great relief for me. 

And the lucky thing, with family, we do not have to waste time on airs and graces, so climbing around the warehouse full of boxes and searching for bowls and glasses is just the way it is.  No problem at all! 

How lucky am I to have such a wonderful family?  I just hope the luck holds out for my mother and she is able to fight everything that is getting her down and come home to enjoy the new kitchen! 

In time of test, family is best. ~Burmese Proverb