Category Archives: Kitchen

January – Time for changes, even if little

A new year means a new fridge right?  Not quite.  The one we bought with the house is still chugging along and while I’d love to chuck it into the alley sometimes, I just can’t quite reconcile myself with replacing something that is working.

But I did tweak the big ugly blank side of the fridge last May with some craft paper.  (See the whole post here.) My how time flies when you’re having fun.  And as the time has passed, so has the paper worn.  Turns out paper and water droplets (from the hand drying towel hanging there) don’t really mix so well . . . .


I was still reluctant to actually paint the fridge with chalkboard paint instead so I ordered a roll of contact paper that is also a chalkboard surface from Amazon.  The roll wasn’t nearly as wide as the paper was which I don’t love but until I can get on board with painting the fridge (or buying a Smeg!), this is what we get.  There were a few air bubbles that didn’t come all the way out but it was a pretty simple install process.  It was definitely a two-man job though — JT and I took turns holding the bottom away from the fridge while the other smoothed out the contact paper with a large piece of sample laminate I had on hand.


I think the contact paper chalkboard could be a great option for renters who don’t like the look of a door or cabinets — just stick a chalkboard on it (the new version of put a bird on it!).

Since the chalkboard paper was sticky-backed it freed up a bunch of our heavy-duty magnets to stick some more knives and utensils to the side of the fridge.  I gave them a crime scene-esque chalk outline so we’d know which one was in use or in the dishwasher.  Now that the holidays are behind us, we’ve been cooking at home a lot and from scratch, so having these knives within easy reach is great.  We also got a juicer and started down that path so many, many fruits and vegetables are being murdered in our kitchen.


JT wrote a little note to the dogs down at the bottom reminding them to behave.  I got very different results when I tried to coax them into modeling for the blog: Sophie was terrified and Shenanigan was nonchalant and/or impatiently waiting for the treat I bribed them with.


Little dude had to go to the vet on Saturday because we found a weird bulge on his side.  Turns out it’s a fatty but benign tumor.  Sophie’s been having problems with one of her back legs that the vet said is exacerbated by her weight so it looks like both dogs will be on the eating healthy bandwagon with us in 2013!  Good thing that the kitchen is fine-tuned and ready to go.  I’ve been doing a little work to the pantry as well and that will be an up and coming post.  Have a great week everyone!  Cheers – CT

Stove Saga

In some ways, the kitchen has been “done” since we tiled the floors and then finished painting the walls, cabinets and trim back in May.  However a new stove is being delivered and installed today, making this the 4th stove in our little kitchen in one year.  Crazy right?

We started out with the gem:


It came with the house.  It was disgusting and never clean and when a mouse found his way into our house, he decided the stove would be a good place to live.  So naturally when we planned to re-tile/spiff up the kitchen, this stove was history.

Cue Stove #2:


Based on what was going on with Stove #1 and the age of the house, we assumed there wasn’t any electrical in the wall behind for power to the stove (Stove #1 was gas).  So we found a decent replacement on Craigslist that was all gas.  Having only had electric ranges growing up, I didn’t realize an all gas stove would essentially be hot on the top all the time (the pilot lights just flame away beneath the metal all the time).  Not so cool.  (Literally and figuratively.)  And when we demoed out Stove #1 and did our floor re-tile we found that there was a power outlet back there that we never even dreamed existed.

So.  Stove #3.  Also from Craigslist. (Stove #2 made it’s exit via Craigslist as well, on to better and brighter things in a rental apartment.)


Newer-ish, gas but with some electric features like a clock and such.  Guess what.  Those are the features that can and will die before the stove ever does. 

And that’s what happened.  About a month ago, we started getting a “F10” error on the display and then the stove would shut off.  Really fun when you’re trying to make a “big ass” birthday brunch for your whole family.  It turns out either the wiring harness or a sensor was shot or the stove really was overheating.  We turned off the electric to it and have just been using the range top for the last month with the help of a large lighter to fire it up.  Not the end of the world but it’s amazing how many recipes you find that require an oven WHEN YOURS DOESN’T WORK!! 

So Stove #4 is being delivered today, husband is at home waiting for it as I type. Lesson learned: Sometimes the “list” isn’t always the place to shop for things that might be better with a warranty. 

I am making these brownies to inaugurate Stove #4 tonight:  THE BEST SALTED CARAMEL BROWNIES YOU’LL EVER HAVE found via A Cup of Jo (recently stumbled upon and loving).  Wouldn’t everything be better with sea salt?

However if you should be oven-less for a month and be desperately searching for good range top recipes, try this one: Winter Vegetable Hash.  I’m snacking on the leftovers for lunch right now and it is so yummy.  (Also made better with sea salt . . . I sense a trend.) Yukon Gold potatoes are my new best friend.  Until I meet my brownies tonight.

Have a great weekend and bake lots of yummy things! Like a lot of things in this life, you never miss your stove ’til its gone.  Cheers – CT

Whatever you need, Etsy will be there.

Along with the incense that I buy from Etsy, I also head over there when I need a specific vintage item I don’t have the time to search the antique malls high and low for. 

Case in point: clock.  In order for the kitchen to be “finished” (I say in quotation marks because nothing is ever really finished in our home) I had a specific item I needed — a clock to cover up a small wall outlet and also tell time.

It’s a little hard to see, but in the image above I pointed out where the outlet is.  Off to Etsy I went, and with a quick search of “wall clock” I came across this little gem from Zane Leigh’s shop.

(Image above courtesty Zane Leigh).

I knew what dimensions I needed (or a max I could fit) and it was also vintage enough to actually need the outlet it would be hiding.  As an added bonus, it is lighted!  So I just gave away one of my secrets — when I want vintage but have a more specific need in mind, a lot of times (read always) I’ll take to the interwebs to hunt it down a lot faster than I could find it trolling the local thrift stores.  It’s a win-win to me  – I get my vintage fix and someone else gets paid to carefully seek and curate great vintage items.

For fun, I dug out a picture of the clock hung up before I painted the walls. (Yes I have had the clock for that long.)

And then here’s the real after.

You can see Miss Sophie our sofa monster dog in all the house shots, ironically enough.  That’s pretty much “her” spot, although she is content to share with the husband as long as she can have her chin or foot or some part of her on top of him. 

We’ve been living with our “finished” kitchen for a few months now, so I forget what a difference the paint color is, but looking at these images I’m so glad we went for it.  A $30 (or less) can of paint can have a huge impact and can be (semi) easily changed again a week later if the mood strikes.  So that’s Secret #2.   

Moral of the story: Find a good “junk” supplier and invest a few pennies in a can of paint and big changes can be yours!  Cheers – CT

P.S.  There is also a hilarious website called “Regretsy” with an apt subtitle: “Where DIY meets WTF”.  If you need a little laugh, check it out here.


Hi again everyone!  Thanks so much to all who voted in the Apartment Therapy/The Kitchn “Small Cool” Kitchen contest.  We’re up to 31 votes and that means a lot to me.

It was pretty cool to open up the webpage and see our kitchen there. 

When I told Shenanigan he was famous on the internet, not so much.

He’s one hard chameleon-like dog to impress.

Also, due to the new “Papa Bear” chair as I’m calling it, the living room is totally rearranged.  I’ve photographed it twice now but none have come out to my liking, so I’ll leave you with this teaser: total chaos as we tried to reconfigure.

Better images to come!  Some items went to Craigslist, others have reshuffled and we’re liking the flow of our new living room.

Small Cool!!!

Hey y’all!  I may have had an ulterior motive to fixing up Shenanigan’s cowbell and the kitchen door . . . I was readying the kitchen and photographing it for Apartment Therapy’s Small Cool Kitchen contest

And we’re in!  You can vote for us — CT’s Perfect Cheerful Blue Kitchen — here.  I think it’s semi a lot of work — you must have an Apartment Therapy/The Kitchn account and be logged in.  But maybe if you already have one and want to vote, that would be cool.  Or if you want to make one and then vote, that would be totally cool too.  

I’m so excited to have one space in the house feel so complete.  It will still be ever evolving and changing but I feel like the big tasks we set out for ourselves — new countertop, new lighting and tiling the floor — have made a huge improvement in our little home. 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Cow bell fever

Shenanigan has the fever.  And the only cure is some more cow bell.  The little monkey is always scratching/kicking at the back door to be let out.  I decided to make him a bell to help reduce the wear and tear on our door . . . .

(See how scratched up the paint is on the door?  I finally got around to painting that, mostly as part of this project.  Yay!  We still need to put a sweep on the bottom of the door though . . . .boo.)

Out came the $13 ball ‘o twine that I used to crochet my ZZ plant’s snuggie pot.  There’s still a ton of twine left so I cut about 16 pieces to use for my braided rope.  I simply put a twist tie in the middle, had the husband hold on and twisted each end counter-clockwise.  Then they wanted to wrap around each other, creating a twist/rope/braid thing.

Next the cowbells.  I just wove them into the bottom of the twine rope/braid/twist and tied it off. 

Now for the training . . .  Shenanigan says you want me to ring what?

To be fair, I did try to photograph Sophie as well but every time the camera comes out she runs for her life. . .

Actually, the bell is starting to catch on.  We’ve been encouraging Shenanigan to ring it every time he goes outside and he’s willing to do whatever stupid thing we make him do if we’ll just open that door!  So hopefully the new paint job will remain intact.  I’m going to withhold judgement on that one . . .

And, coming soon . . . . a new chair for the Living Analog living room.  I am officially a chair (and ottoman) hoarder.  But it rocks and the ottoman tilts up OR lays flat.  And it was $13 for the set . . . . so home it came.  We may have had to rearrange the whole living room and put some furniture on Craigslist but I can’t resist a vintage chair and JT can’t resist a rocker.  I have a feeling this will be my old man’s old man chair.

Tweaking, redux.

My meddling in the kitchen was not done with yesterday’s post, it instead continued over to the fridge.  Oh lovely fridge, we inherited you with this house and you work.  You cool our food and freeze our ice so I have no reason to kick you to the curb just yet.  But you’re kind of boring, no offense.

None taken, I’m sure.  So to spice up Miss Fridge, I took a sheet of butcher paper and trimmed it a few inches smaller than the big bare side of the fridge.   I thought about getting all crazy and doing something with chalkboard paint but this seemed like a less permanent solution . .  .and I could always move on to the chalkboard if I ever got bored with the butcher paper.

So *ta da* – fridge tweaked:

(Pardon the extra-large case of beer, it was JT’s birthday and we celebrated with chicken, waffles and the Mick Jagger finale of Saturday Night Live.  The Bud Light blue does seem to match the kitchen though . . .)

I sprung for some heavy-duty magnets on Amazon and mixed in some others I had purchased at Ikea.

Some baker’s twine holds a pen in place and with the butcher paper you can just scribble your heart’s desire on there – phone messages, obscenities, you name it.  Right now we just have a few useful phone numbers.  Double stick tape holds up a few classic fortune cookie fortunes for posterity.   I also outlined the knives so they always have a place to go back to.  . . .

The other knives just have one magnet but I got nervous and used two on the big guy.  We’ve had them up for two weeks and it’s been a great solution since we demoed out the larger Ikea knife rack in favor of some artwork over the microwave.  

That reminds me,  I’m not sure if I ever really showed you guys the artwork over the microwave . . . I just printed out some song lyrics that seemed kitchen appropriate and added them to my Ikea frame (which was white upon purchase but became black thanks to my spray paint addiction.)

Can you spot Tiny Elvis in our kitchen?  I think we may have Elvis in every room in our house . . . . so, kitchen finally tweaked?  Not yet.  I’ve still got to get to the back door which Shenanigan firmly kicks every morning to demand to be let out FASTER and then I also want to tackle some storage in the base cabinets and pantry . . . but that’s for later.  More tweaking to come, just not in the kitchen.  Cheers – CT

Kitchen Tweaking

Hi everyone!  (Yes, all five of you, my loyal readers!)  I’ve been a busy little bee and have a bunch of little projects to share . . . so we’ll get right to it. 

The kitchen.  It used to look like this at one point.

And then it looked like this:

Much better, but still not done.  There was some pesky things bothering me — the open space above the storage rail for one.  For two, how the base cabinets were still just a little too light grey.  And for three, the red toaster that I kept hiding away whenever I took pictures because it was a hanger-on from a red kitchen in our first apartment.

So base cabinet painting began, toaster-ordering happened (I’m an avid Amazoner) and I searched around for something to hang above our storage rail.  Because of the Mother’s Day Brunch-a-palooza, I was in more of a hurry to find artwork then I usually would be. So I decided to just create some rather than waiting for that just perfect thing to jump out and hit me on the head  . . . . 

I dipped into my trusty mat board stash downstairs and cut two pieces to the same size.  I pulled out the wall paint color and mixed up a few others and voila, artwork.  It’s extra amateur, but it will help fill the space as a placeholder.

I also dipped into my trusty “T” collection and found two waiting for a good home.  One was a cheap silver painted color and the other was a brassy thing that had arrived from Urban Outfitters all scratched.  To the backyard spray booth they went and both came back a nice white.   I did my trusty templating to find a good placement . . .

And kitchen tweaking!

There’s more projects to come . . . there was also a flea market at Kenrick Plaza/Antique Mall last weekend.

Great weather, full parking lot and . . . I didn’t really bring anything home. 

I almost brought home this little dog, Paige, from Open Door Animal Sanctuary for my mom.  She’s a five-year-old schnauzer-maltese rescue and was very calm and sweet.   I resisted a pair of vintage wood slat bar stool things that I kind of am regretting not purchasing now.  Oh well.  Onward and upward.  More projects soon!

Alley magic & oops, I destroyed our kitchen . . .

Out on a walk with Sophie, Shenanigan and the husband, and what else should we happen upon but some more South City alley gems.

We came back with the car and loaded her up.  I think we may have stumbled upon a neighbor who is slowly purging items out of their basement of something because I’m 99.9% positive these two chairs match the other pair we brought home  back in October . . .

So, these are now being hoarded in my basement, although I am hatching a plan that will bring everything out to the light of day come September . . . stay tuned.

In other news,  remember my last, semi-triumphant post about “completing” the kitchen?

Yeah, I tore it up again.  I mean not the tile but the base cabinets are all in disarray as they get painted and hardware gets installed .  . . so back to the “project awaiting completion” status for the kitchen.

Have a good rest of your weekend everyone!  Go forth and tear up some projects in the hope of getting over the hump of “mostly-done-but-there’s-still-a-few-more-things-I-need-to-work-on” to “DONE!”

The Kitchen *Ta Da*

I know I have been big talk and broken promises on getting a kitchen post up, so I’ll tease no longer.  This. Is. It.  After trolling through the 183 before, during, during and after pictures, I’ve done my best to distill it down to the basics.

For starters — here’s the only picture I could dig up of what we started with back around move-in day. 

Baby blue laminate countertops, 80s oak trimmed and white laminate cabinets (the upper doors were already taken off in prepared-ness for a re-do), this weird shelving unit a former owner had constructed with an oddly placed light bulb (and it turns out the shelving thing was covering up a big spidery hole in the ceiling.  The before picture doesn’t really show the beauty of the 60s-70s era peel and stick tile flooring.  It had so many indentations making up the pattern that I could never fully make it look clean. . . (but to be honest, after one attempt, I never really tried that hard again . . . )

To show you how far we’ve come, here’s a few “during” pictures while we tried to figure out how to cope with this little kitchen (overall open space is about 9′ x 10′).

Things got a little hectic as we tried to find a way to store everything — both JT and I enjoy cooking (maybe JT a little more . . . ) and we cook from scratch a lot. 

Things also got a little boring with a white on white palette — after surveying some of my designer friends and the husband, I decided to go bold and change out the walls to blue.

Then, a few weeks ago . . . floor prep began and in came NEW TILE!  JT and his dad did most of the hardest work but I got to get in there and roll up my sleeves and help with grouting and sealing.  I also used the tile saw, which I was very very proud of because as a general rule I don’t mess with power tools (left-handed person’s death sentence). 

(See how nasty that floor was!  That’s as clean as it could be!)

And, drumroll please, here are the afters you all have been waiting for . . .  to better see the tile (and to get pictures of such a teeny-tiny space) I did some bird’s-eye views for you:

Here’s a floor plan to orient yourself, if you’re not dizzy from the bird’s-eye fly through:

And a few more, looking through the kitchen from the doorways:

This is my favorite view and favorite part of the kitchen (after the floor) right now:

Oh Ikea, how I love you!  This is an Ikea Grundtal rail system (same as the pot rail on the other wall) and it holds so much clutter up off our little run of counter.  If your mother ever told you “A place for everything, and everything in its place”, she was right!  It’s so much easier to keep the kitchen clean now that everything has a place to go to.

So, that’s the kitchen.  I still have a two page list printed out and hanging on the side of the fridge of little things that need to be completed (including but not limited to actually doing something artsy-esque to the side of the fridge . . . ).  Some I’m trying to tackle in the next few weeks, like painting the base cabinets to match the uppers, installing pulls on the cabinets and painting and reinstalling all the trim and floor transitions.  Some things are just waiting until the perfect thing comes along, like an art piece or something I’m hunting for to hang over the stove.  All in all, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished and happy to have a kitchen that feels like home. 

 Thanks for reading, everyone!  This little blog has really motivated me to work on the kitchen and other projects and I appreciate it so much!  So feel free to comment away — what do you love?  What do you hate?  What would you have done differently for your own house?  Where can I find that perfect art piece for over the stove?  

Cheers!  CT