Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hooked on Hooks

Over the years we have collected a lot of old hardware and hooks. We usually buy them when we see them at auctions or estate sales if they are affordable.  When you are restoring an older home back to it's original style, you are always on the look out for things that might have been in your home originally. When we buy them, we often don't even know what we will use them for at the time and just keep them until inspiration hits. Here are some that we have used.

Acorn Hooks:
Found these in a box lot of old hardware. Because we live in a town know for it's oak trees, these were perfect for us.

Mark made me this to hang aprons on in the kitchen.

Tack Hook or Harness Hook:
This huge hook was also part of a box-lot of stuff scored at an estate auction. It would have originally been used in a barn to hold a harness or other stable equipment.
We weren't sure how we were going to use it when we bought it, so it sat in the basement for awhile. I'm actually surprised we held on to it because it looks sort of dangerous.

Recently we saw a picture on the internet of someone using a similar hook to hold dishtowels. BINGO! We promptly hung it in our kitchen. It is mounted under the shelves close to the sink.

More old hooks:

Mark used these hooks for another coat rack. Our front door opens right into our living room. There isn't a foyer or even a coat closet. Before we made this, we didn't have any place to put coats, jackets, purses or bookbags except on the floor.

Metal Hook Rack:
This is another interesting thing picked up at some sale. We spray painted it white. It is all one piece and made of metal. It hangs in my bathroom and hold towels.

Keep your eye out for interesting hooks and hardward at your next flea market or estate sale. They can be expensive to buy online or on ebay. They really add character to your old home.


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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easy Home-Cooked Dinner

It has been so nice to be able to cook in a functioning kitchen this week. For one of our first meals we made “Durkee’s Chicken”. It is pretty simple. It is just chicken breasts coated with crushed Durkee’s onions and fried. This is a good meal to have on a weeknight when you are tired and want something easy to prepare.
Start with chicken breasts. Coat them in an egg wash and then dip them in a plate of crushed Durkee’s.

Here is Hannah getting into the act.

Frying the chicken in a cast iron skillet.

The cooked chicken coated in fried fried onions.

The final product.

I served these with mashed potatoes & gravy and fresh green beans. If you don’t have any Durkee’s on hand, use up the last bit of a bag of potato chips. That is yummy too.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sweat Equity – Doing it Yourself Saves Money!

What our kitchen project actually cost:
I thought I would share with everyone what it actually cost us to redo our kitchen. I am pretty proud of how much we actually spent (or didn’t spend) to finish this project. The BIG money saver was the labor. With the exception of 1 job, we did everything in this kitchen ourselves. That saved us BIG TIME. If we would have had to pay for labor we would not have been able to afford doing this project at this time. We also recycled some materials for additional savings. Using recycled or used supplies can be a big money saver, not to mention being better for the environment.
The breakdown:

Bricking in the Window
(paid a bricklayer to do this work)
Ceiling Wood
Electric Supplies
Drywall Supplies
Floor – Rental of Machine, Sanding Paper, Stain, Polyurethane
Window Trim Wood
Paint & Stain for Wall, Woodwork, Shelves
Shelves - Wood
Shelves – Brackets (from Ikea)
Window Blind
Cabinets (Martha Stewart at Home Depot)
Countertop (Corian)
Free – Remnants from another project that were unused
Countertop (Supplies for Installation – includes: glue, Carbide blades for saw, a new rotary sander, sanding paper, new router bit)
Plumbing Supplies  (many of the pipes we used were recycled from another job)
Free – Taken from a house that was torn down
Free – Christmas present 3 years ago from family
Garbage Disposal
$253 – Floor Model - Discontinued
Cabinet Knobs
Cabinet Pulls
Counter Hinges (for eating area)
Light Fixture Glass
$1 (used from Construction Junction)
Light Fixture Base
Baseboard Wood
Insulation (where window was bricked in)
Tools purchased specifically for this job
Misc. paint brushes, nails, screws, hardware, etc.


Here are some other ways that we saved money. Whenever we knew we were going to be buying a lot of supplies from Home Depot or Lowes we would do two things before buying:
1. We went to the post office and asked for a moving kit. These contain coupons to save 10% from Lowes. Home Depot also honors these coupons. If you are buying a lot, 10% can be a nice savings.
2. We would buy gift cards from our local grocery store (Giant Eagle) for the store where we were going to purchase supplies. At certain times of the year Giant Eagle gives 20 towards gasoline for every $50 spent on gift cards. When we ordered our kitchen cabinets at Home Depot we paid for them in gift cards. The kitchen cabinet purchase gave us 2 free tanks of gas. We were going to spend that money anyway, so saving a little bit in other areas of our budget was an added perk.
If you have any questions about anything, please leave me a comment. We are happy to share any information that will help another family in their remodeling work.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Kitchen

Welcome to our new kitchen! After 6 months of hard work, washing dishes in the basement and cooking on a hot-plate, it is finished.

Last week I was off for Spring Break and we worked day and night painting, cleaning, unpacking boxes, moving things and finishing up all of the final details.

Here are the pictures. I am no professional photographer, so some of these pics are a little dark. Also, I apologize in advance, but this will be a long post :)

This is what the kitchen looked like when we came to see the house prior to buying it.
Metal cabinets with a wood-grain overlay, wall paper, heavy draperies and brown shag carpet!

All fresh, clean, new and white!

The left-side before.

The left-side after.

Vintage locker baskets sit on top of the cabinets.

My collection of vintage Pyrex. I will really be using these - a la Rachel Ray.

Going Green - Vintage dish towels will replace paper towels.

The right-side before.
There was a window on this wall. We bricked it in.

The Right-side after.
With the window gone we have more storage and counterspace.

Wood shelves built by Mark.
After years of collecting cake plates and vintage glassware, I can now display these beloved treasures on the shelves to use and enjoy.

I don't want to have very much sitting on the counters.
These vintage canisters are the exception.
After cooking in such a tiny space for so long, I am really enjoying having room to work.

Undermount deep-bowl Stainless Steel sink. Didn't Mark do a great job with the Corian?
Our old kitchen didn't have a garbage disposal. Now we do!

A new, smaller refrigerator. The older refrigerator has been put in the basement to store soda and other groceries that don't fit in this European-sized fridge. We decided to go with this small refrigerator for now because it doesn't take up much space in the room.

A school house light.
The milk glass globe was purched for $1 at Construction Junction.
The cast-iron mount was purchased on ebay.
The ceiling was covered in v-board wood and painted white for a cottage look.

After much thought, we chose these drawer pulls and knobs. We found them on the internet.

We had previously purchased an original (from the 1800's) version of this drawer pull a few years back from an estate auction. When the kitchen cabinets came we looked at several different styles of pulls but didn't love any of them. Remembering that we had some old hardware in the basement, we looked at what we had. Liking the look of this pull, we wished that we could find something similar to it. Lo and behold, after searching around online Mark found someone on ebay selling exact reproductions of that original pull.

A "spice rack" sits next to the stove. Miniature drawer pulls, that match the larger ones, are on these drawers. I am using this to store kitchen gadgets. 

These knobs match the pulls. They have a raised floral design. They were purchased from a different company.

Some people questioned our decision to use open shelving instead of door-front cabinets. This pantry makes the open-shelf concept livable. It holds a lot of dry goods, paper products and groceries. Oh, by the way these cabinets are Martha Stewart brand - sold at Home Depot.

A countertop to sit and eat at. It folds down when not in use because it is located between two doorways.

The shelf above. I asked Mark if he thought it looked like Cracker Barrel in here...he said "no". Thank goodness.  (No offense to CB - I do love your Hashbrown Casserole -)

Trying to be organized...I've always wanted a chalk board in my kitchen.

Fun Stuff....
I've had boxes of things sitting in my basement for 5 years. That is how long we have lived in this house. Knowing that we would be tearing out the kitchen eventually, I never unpacked much of my kitchen wares after we moved in. On Saturday, Mark brought up all of the boxes. Let me tell you...It was like Christmas in here!
Everything was washed and then inspected to see if it would make "the cut".
I picked what I wanted to keep and the rest is to go. Some has already been given away, some will be donated and some will be for sale at an upcoming flea market.

Here are some of the things I decided to keep...

Jadite tumblers scored at a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store and a set of vintage Anchor Hocking mugs.

A vintage paper towel & wax paper holder. This was bought on ebay. It is mounted on the wall and holds a real roll of paper towels.

Mark converted this old shortening tin into a garbage can by adding wheels to the bottom and a handle to the lid. This baby cost me $3 at a flea market last year.

An old wooden recipe box holds some of my late Grandma Kate's recipes.

A recipe for one of her famous Italian desserts, Polenta Dulce (Sweet Corn Mush) written in her own handwriting.
I plan to make some of this soon, now that I have a place to cook again.

Thank you for visiting and allowing me to brag a little about this space. It has been a long time coming, but well worth it. Thank you to Mark (my honey) who did ALL of the work.

Check back tomorrow when I lay out how much this project actually cost. I am going to tally it all up and share it with the world. That is one thing I love about blogs, you can learn so much from real people and real life situations. So I want to pass on what we have learned throughout this process to you.

Until then,

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Umbrella Cheer

I have some strange and quirky collections. One of them has to be my collection of vintage umbrellas. About a year or two ago I began picking these up at estate sales. They are usually pretty affordable. As it has been raining steadily here for the last 2 days, I felt that a post about umbrellas was in order.

This is one of those clear plastic umbrellas were you can look up and see all the raindrops gathered on the outside. What makes this one great is the cheery yellow flowers inside.

This next one is a very shabby umbrella that I got for free at an estate sale. I think they were happy that I took it away for them. From the outside it reminds me a bit of Mary Poppin's umbrella.

The real surprise happens when it is opened up.


A soft canopy of floral fabulousness. Very romantic indeed!
I guess you can't judge an umbrella by its cover.

I love this next one. It forms a wonderful shape when opened up.

This one is smaller than the rest. It was probably one of the earlier compact umbrellas for ladies on the go.

Bold stripes brighten the day.

Even if the umbrella itself isn't all that spectacular, sometimes it's the handle that makes it worth the purchase.

So be on the lookout for your own vintage umbrella.
You will wonder who the lady was who owned it before you.
If nothing else, it will make you smile on the most dreariest of days.


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