Cooking up a kitchen "refresh"...preface

Over the past couple of years, we had determined that a kitchen remodel/redo/refresh was in order. The house we live it is truly "vintage." Built by my great-grandparents in 1913, it has seen its fair share of history, children, holidays, sorrows and most recently, better days.

We moved in about 16 years ago, knowing we had some work to do. The house had been sitting empty for a few years and definitely needed a little TLC.

The foundation/basement walls showered the floor with debris as you walked by, over the years water had gotten into the basement a number of times and it still held that damp musty smell. The floor as much dirt as it was concrete and I remember as a child being afraid to even venture there. We jacked (read: hired someone to) the house up and put a new basement below, reconfiguring the mechanical room into one corner rather than spread out throughout the basement.

The attic was full of "treasures," insulation not being one of them. So we added insulation and several boxes of mouse poison, both were effective.

We replaced the windows throughout the house, only after a couple of years of going the "tape the plastic and shrink with a hair dryer" route, which was getting old, and was ruining the beautiful woodwork.

We had replaced carpeting, painted every color under the sun, literally, and moved the main bathroom/shower from directly off the kitchen to a more private upstairs location.

And yet the big elephant in the room, the kitchen. It was time to eat the elephant. How do you do that? One bite at a time. 

Click for larger imageThe before: While the home was built in 1913, the kitchen had been remodelled sometime in the 1950's. My father actually helped to build the cabinets. They were of sturdy construction, but had plain Birch plywood doors. The corners of the doors had plenty of "character" marks but were still holding together well, they just weren't particularly attractive.

The hardwood floor had long been carpeted, and when we moved in, we put down a very light colored Berber with plenty of flecks to hide whatever gets tracked in when you live on a farm and the kitchen is the first room you enter into. In the years following I often regretted that choice, given we had two small children consuming hundreds of gallons of Kool-aid.

Click for larger imageThe walls were currently a very bright "ketchup" and "mustard" colors as my daughter Megan had proclaimed. I had selected that theme when the trend was not to be "afraid of color," and I found a couple of chef prints that I liked and pulled the colors from there. I liken it to the 1980s hairstyles and shoulder pads. Just "too much."

A hutch had landed in the kitchen after we swapped some things around in the dining room, and basically just became a home for a lovely collection of clutter and misc. things we didn't quite know where to put them.

You will notice the refrigerator is recessed into the wall. Well, the layout of the kitchen is such that there are 5, yes 5, doorways from the kitchen to other various parts of the house. One of those was the door to the basement, which we moved when we put the new basement under, so this left a big void, and conveniently, the refrigerator fit back into that space perfectly. More conveniently it took the refrigerator out of my kitchen space freeing up more room for the table. The stairs to the upstairs of the home go from right to left behind that wall, leaving another small space, just enough space for a dishwasher, which I otherwise did not have room for. Not ideal, but it gave us some space.

But, it was time for a change...Join me over the coming days/weeks as I share the journey of the process and the end product, and all of the creative challenges along the way.


Seeing the light!

Everyone once in a while, you come across a product that sets your mind reeling, and most recently for me that was Lumi Inkodye. A photosensitive dye that allows you to expose film, objects, or you own drawings directly onto surfaces with dye and a little sunlight. While I haven't tested this out yet, if it performs anything like the tutorials they show, we are in for some major creative expression!


Bullying....a cry for help? Are we listening?

Shots rang out once again today in an American high school, as a student chose to turn to violence against his fellow classmates, killing at least one and injuring several others. Yet, many times they only choose to harm themselves. While we don't yet have the details on this latest tragedy, it is becoming a scenario that plays out several times a year across our country, each time my heart sinks for all families, students, teachers and administrators involved.

What is it that is pushing students to these lengths? Initial reports indicate that once again, bullying was likely a root cause. This isn't the first time we have seen this play out as such, but what is being done about bullying? Many schools struggle with generating a comprehensive policy, and those with the policies in place don't always do a great job of enforcing them. In today's world, with these types of headlines becoming all too common, the stance that "kids will be kids" is one we just can no longer afford to take.

My question punishing the "Bully" the answer? A quote that I believe I heard on Oprah, although I am not certain of its origin, is that only "hurt people, hurt people." If that is true, and I believe it to be so, bullying really appears to be a cry for help, from a being who is feeling less than whole. Much has been said about the lives of those who act out in violence against their bullies, but what do we really hear about the bullies themselves and the world which they live in.

Are mom and dad just not there enough, show them enough affection, are they just insecure in themselves, feeling lost or not fitting in, or perhaps are being overshadowed by a sibling? Are they just not getting the love and attention they need to feel whole? Why do they feel the need to act out? Is it the only mechanism they know to feel less broken? The shattered light bulb needing to break the one still shining and whole?

Frankly, some bullying behavior is simply learned. You guessed it, bullies grow up to become....Bullies. But that isn't always the case. So, the question begs, how do we strive to be whole and nurture wholeness in the children of America? Again, it begins at home, with YOU.

As parents and adults, swirling in a vortex of "busy-ness" of life, we rarely take the time to look at our own lives to determine how we are feeling. Do you find joy in your life, your work, your spirit, your outside activities, friends and relationships? We know how it is, when everything seems to be going right in your world, virtually nothing can sway you from that positive feeling, but when you are dissatisfied with any aspect of your life, or just having a bad day, it can take something miniscule to set you off, totally change the trajectory of your day.

You see, it is by example that we most effectively teach. We teach our children about the world, about dreaming and doing, and living and loving, but how do we teach them to deal with stress, conflict resolution and perspective?

I try to teach my children to see bullies as being "broken." To have pity on them for they are trying to fill up the cracks in their brokenness, by hurting others. Knowing that their actions will never truly fill up that emptiness they feel inside. To have perspective on what their lives might be like, where they are not feeling loved or appreciated, and the jealousy they may feel toward the unbroken.

That doesn't mean they should sit back and silently resign to live with bullying, it just sheds some light on the brokenness in the world. Hopefully inspiring future generations to better understand how to strive for wholeness in their lives. Wholeness which cannot be filled by material goods, food, drugs, alcohol, or the abuse of others.