Friday, January 29, 2016

Island Time in the Mountain Time Zone

"Island time" is especially apropos: We installed a kitchen island, but I took my sweet time posting about it... it was done in September during the building of the woodshed and boy, oh boy, has it made a difference in the functionality of our kitchen. Yowza!

(photo taken when we viewed the house)

The former owners had a big round dinette table in the kitchen where I think they ate most of their meals. We never considered putting another dining table in the house and we really wanted (needed?) more storage- and especially more counter space. Originally, I was hoping to find suitable cabinets at one of the used construction materials places that I could refinish, but anything smaller than a full kitchen's worth of cabinets that I found available was real crap. Then, I found this pre-owned butcher block top at the Home ReSource in Missoula! It was the perfect size for an island in our space and a good 3-inches think!  I picked it up and it sat in our shop for months while I kept looking for cabinets. Eric was getting very frustrated when cooking on weekend, so we started shopping for new cabinets.

The 3" thickness on top of standard-height, kitchen base cabinets put this a 1.5 inches over standard height and WE LOVE IT. It wouldn't work for everyone, but it is really comfortable for us slightly-taller-than-average folks.

We ended up ordering unfinished, maple, Kraftmaid cabinets through Lowe's when they were having a sale. The lead time was about six weeks, later extended to a little over seven. I finished them myself, then we hired Handyman Nick to install them - I just didn't feel confident to get them level and even and all that. I did cut and install the base shoe, though! I also sanded down all six sides of the butcher block starting with 80gr, moving through 120gr, and finishing with 220gr. Then I finished all surfaces with food grade mineral oil, letting it soak in between a couple coats.

You can see the very first or very second kitchen project in the background. I am not sure how the look of the fridge might change as we move forward with our redecorating/remodeling of this room.

While we were at it, we had Nick bring power to the island, too. I picked up one of those nifty outlets with USB ports for charging devices at the home center and chose a color that would blend pretty well with the cabinet stain - there's no reason to ruin the look of the cabinets with a white rectangle, right? You can see where it is on one end of the island in the top photo, but here it is all up close and personal.

The other end of the island is home to a new towel bar. You know you're a grown up when you are so eager for your towel bar to arrive that you compulsively check the FedEx tracking site multiple times a day, day after day. It's solid bronze with an "antique pewter" finish to coordinate with the drawer and door hardware. The towel bar came from Signature Hardware and the pulls and knobs from Hardware Hut. I did try to find this things locally, hitting the home centers and hardware stores, even places like World Market, etc., but had no luck finding what I wanted: simple, but not plain; a rustic-ish type finish.

As you can see in the photo take when the former owners' still lived her (2nd from top), the old towel ring mounted by the sink was both cheap-looking and not very functional. Sure it was convenient to the sink, but it also would get caught in both the under sink cabinet and the dishwasher. When it wasn't doing those things, it was shutting the door to the trash can when we wanted it kept open to put things in over the course of cleaning and such.

Speaking of the trash can, this might be Eric's favorite part of the new set up: trash can located right below the cutting station! It's a little bigger than our old can and easier to access because it slides out. The can and hardware are not as deep as the cabinet, which allows room for the electrical outlet and wiring, too. After I removed the shelf paper, scrubbed, I replaced the shelf paper under the sink. Now the cutting boards are off the counter and stored under there. While we generally cut directly on the new butcher block, we do use cutting boards for things that are extra stinky (onions, garlic, etc.), extra stain-y (beets, tomatoes, etc.), and extra bacterial (raw meat).

And now the dirty details:

The drawer pulls pretty much inspired the pewter-like finishes for the hardware. These are low profile so that the drawer hardware over the trash bin wouldn't catch a lot of detritus from falling trimmings and cuttings*.

These knobs are from the same line. They're a cast composite aluminum from Italy, but they weren't expensive and I just love them. We replaced all the door knobs on the existing cabinetry with them, too. And then chose a different drawer pull from the line for the existing drawers which I shared back in September.

Originally, we thought we would put stools on the overhang side, but it doesn't overhang  the standard depth, so we'll see. Besides, we ended up setting up a little bar there.

I was given this sweet bar set for my birthday last year, so it's nice to be able to put it where we can see it and use it easily!

And I picked up this vintage, hammered-aluminum tray for our bar basics. The handles are faux bois and there is a pine bough/cone pattern on the tray itself.

I am now all excited to start redecorating/remodeling the rest of the kitchen and have mostly-finalized our choices for finishes, etc. Hopefully, I won't wait months before posting and will share the projects in-progress, as well as finished.

Our starting points from when we first moved in:

* We would like to compost, but we haven't yet found a bear-proof method that would also work during the winter months. If we ever get chickens, I am sure they will help us out with this.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Death Luge Cometh

As expected, warmer temperatures brought a big ol' ice slick out there on our driveway and the road. It's not quite to the Death Luge Ice Driveway, but it's definitely to the Maim Luge Ice Driveway stage as of Friday afternoon. And it's snowing right now, so who knows what kind of mayhem awaits?

The ice marbles are so small now, so faded. Don't let that dark business on road lead you to believe that there is dirt on the surface, because it's not.

Sad, fallen ice marble. It has been purple, but now the marble is barely red and the snow around it glacier blue.

It's been fun to guess how the woodshed would shed snow.

I think that the big "one" is just as long, but thinner and now melded with more of it's neighbors.

Back down to around 9" now as of Saturday midday. 

The further into winter we get, and I know we're not even a month in yet, the more I appreciate my tire chains. Why did I wait until this winter to get to know them?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Winter Continues

It's been a really beautiful winter so far.

We were holding strong at around 9" on the ground despite continued snow fall, until last week when the snow got a bit crazy at our place. Other than our actual neighbors, no one else who lives in our area got more than an inch, but we got about about 6" over two days. We hit the 1' mark on the first day and then almost 1'3" the next. WOO!

We've had snow on the ground and it's been frozen long enough that we've started to get some decent icicles. I just love icicles!

The NE side of the house gets some big ones.

I couldn't figure out how to show both scale and details so it's hard to tell, but the longest one is probably at least 5' long!

This is a great illustration of why I want to change the orientation of our front deck stairs to get it out from under the roof's drip line.

Here's how the two surprise snow days covered the ice marbles.

Day One around 2:30 p.m.

Day two around 3:00 p.m.

As I started this post earlier today, it was 42F on our thermometer and as I am finishing it this evening, it is raining. The icicles under the deck stairs are gone, last I saw the roof line icicles were shrinking, and when I tromped out into the yard there was dirt showing in parts of the driveway and the deep snow is about half it's volume and slushy. It's supposed to get colder again for a few days... and I am just hoping that the road isn't a long sloped ice rink and our driveway doesn't enter the Death Luge Ice Driveway (DLID) stage. I feel like as we're getting the hang of how frequently we should plow, we're diminishing the frequency and treachery of the DLID. I have a feeling that the ice marbles are now just some colored smudges on the ground under their posts.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Fun With Below Freezing Temperatures

I never got around to making ice marbles in 2015, but with temperatures at or below freezing for the next while, I decided to get off my duff and make them this year.

The only balloons I had around were water balloons which are too small for really satisfying ice marbles as far as I am concerned. They were also a huge pain in the neck to fill, as well as fragile enough that one broke while freezing.

The white snow views are always beautiful to me, but it's also nice to have some pops of color in there, too.

The old, rotty fence on the lower pasture is better for displaying for two reasons. 1) The post have exposed tops whereas the pretty, new fence does not and 2) it's closer to the road than the new fence so easier to see as we drive up or as the occasional neighbor drives through.

BEHIND THE SCENES: So, I says to myself, I says, "I'll just be extra careful when filling the balloons." Oopsie!

Some photos from years past and the tutorial on how it's done. And another photo of dye-stained fingers. Go figure.