We are in the beginning stages of remodeling our kitchen (see update below), and as a result, I’ve been without the use of it all week. My cooking options have pretty much been limited to whatever I can make with a blender or microwave. Let’s just say I’ve been making frequent visits to the local Whole Foods salad bar!
Not wanting to skimp on the nutrition front during the reno project, I made this smoothie that’s loaded with all kinds of good stuff – healthy fat from the avocado, phytonutrients from the spinach, potassium from the banana, and omega-3s from the hemp seed. It might sound like a strange combination of ingredients, but with a little touch of sweetness (agave nectar, honey or steva – whatever your preference), this cool and thick shake really hits the spot.
I made this with 2 cups almond (or soy) milk, 1 ripe banana, 1 medium avocado, 2 tablespoons hemp seed, 1 1/2 cups spinach (well packed), and a touch of agave nectar for sweetness. Put everything in the blender and let ‘er rip!
Now onto what’s happening with our kitchen remodel.
Background On Our Kitchen Project
I debated whether or not to document our kitchen remodel project on my blog. Will my readers be even remotely interested in this? I’ve read the posts of other food bloggers who documented their experience with kitchen projects and found them quite interesting. But that’s just me. If you’re not into this kind of thing, please feel free to ignore these posts – it won’t hurt my feelings! But if you’re thinking about re-doing your own kitchen or are just curious what the process is like, I hope you’ll find these posts helpful, if not somewhat amusing! So here goes.
When we bought our condo, we loved everything about it – except the kitchen. Our building is circa 1920s – beautiful, traditional. But some owner before us decided to rip out the original kitchen and put in a slick, industrial loft-style one. The cabinets are a flat-front shiny, medium grey. And apparently they liked the color of the cabinets so much that they decided to paint the walls and ceiling to match. It was like walking into a battleship. The grey was overwhelming and IMHO quite depressing and claustrophobic.
Our first instinct upon moving in was to rip out the kitchen and restore it to it’s original splendor – or at least our version of it. But when we dug deeper into exactly how much work that would entail, let alone the cost of it, we decided to spruce up the kitchen with paint, new appliances, and live in it for a while until we better knew how we wanted the space to function. The “live with it for a while” turned into more than 15 years…..
Fast forward to today. I’ve been living far too long with a kitchen I really can’t stand and decided enough is enough. And isn’t that tax refund supposed to come in any day now?? We toyed with the idea of doing a full-gut reno which would be quite expensive. If we knew for certain that we’d keep living here for another 20 years, it would probably be worth the expense. But since we kind of doubt we’ll be here that long, we decided a kitchen facelift was more in order – re-face the cabinets, new counter tops, new appliances, new back splash, refurbish the floors, paint. This will cost about 2/3 less than a complete renovation.
And now that we’ve started the process, the wise words of one of the first contractors we worked with eons ago are coming back to haunt me:
It’s never easy, it always costs more than you think, and they all lie. Nick S., contractor
Kitchen Remodel Update #1
I’m no stranger to big construction projects as my husband and I have flipped our fair share of properties and renovated rentals. And it seems like many times when we are about to begin a new project, my husband gets called out of town on business trips, leaving me to do a big chunk of the work. No problem – I’m accustomed to dealing with contractors and know my way around a hardware store, if not doing some of the actual work myself. But with my husband out of town, I have to double check every decision and measurement to make sure I’m not screwing something up.
Which is why I can’t believe I’ve already pulled a number of ROOKIE MISTAKES! Arrgh!
For starters, I completely mis-measured the spot for the new refrigerator. For some reason I was so fixated on making sure there was sufficient height clearance to accommodate the new fridge beneath the upper cabinet, that I completely spaced on measuring the available width. I just assumed that as long as the new fridge wasn’t wider than the 36 inch cabinet above it that everything would be fine. NOT! I didn’t measure the width of the floor space (only 35 inches) or account for the counter top overhang (34 inches). So when they delivered our beautiful new fridge, which is 35 5/8 wide, of course it didn’t fit. I mean look at the size of that thing!
Oh, and did I mention that our condo is on the fourth floor and our building doesn’t have an elevator? So the appliance delivery people had to disassemble the fridge downstairs, haul all the parts up 3 flights of stairs, and reassemble it in the kitchen – just to find out that it doesn’t fit. Which means that when the new, appropriately-sized refrigerator is delivered tomorrow, first they’ll need to disassemble the old one, haul all the parts down three flights of stairs, and reassemble it on the truck. And then repeat the process to get the new fridge in place.
Although the appliance delivery guys were very nice about everything (yes, I tipped them well), I’m sure on the drive home they exchanged more than one joke about the dumb blonde trying to figure out how to remodel a kitchen when her husband’s out of town. And I wouldn’t blame them! I felt like a complete doofus for making such a bone-headed mistake!
In the meantime, I’ve had this huge refrigerator sitting in the middle of my kitchen all week. And I can’t use it because, in order to get a full refund, it needs to be in pristine condition when they pick it up. So all of my food and condiments inside the fridge and freezer have been double-bagged and sealed to make sure nothing spills.
Goofed up the Gas
There is absolutely no reason for me to have made this next mistake because I just went through the exact same problem last summer when I was remodeling my in-laws’ kitchen. At that time, I ordered a new slide-in gas range for them. But the location of the gas line coming out of the wall didn’t line up with the gas hook-up on the back of the new stove. This meant the stove couldn’t slide all the way in against the wall. My solution was to move the gas line coming out of the wall. Seemed like a simple fix until I found out that in order to do that, the gas to the entire condo building would need to be turned off. Given that the building has over 600 units, the HOA management company put the kibosh on that idea.
My only other option was to find a stove with a gas hook-up that matched the gas line placement on the wall. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? NOT! Now I’m willing to bet that I’m not the first person who’s come across this issue. So it seems reasonable to expect that stove manufacturers, understanding this problem, would provide some sort of diagram, photo or spec sheet showing exactly where the gas hook-up is located on the back of each stove it makes, right? Except that they don’t do that! This meant that I had to ask the appliance sales guy to pull out stove after stove away from the wall on the showroom floor so I could see the gas hook-up. About 15 stoves and one herniated disc later, I finally found a stove that would work. Problem solved!
Now, given all the grief I went through last summer, you would think that when it comes time to shop for my own stove, I’d be smart enough to check the location of my gas line BEFORE I bought one. WRONG! I can partially blame this on my husband, as he assured me there wouldn’t be any problem with the gas hook-up location. I should have known better and checked it out myself, but I didn’t. Then to make matters worse, I ended up selecting the exact same slide-in stove I originally picked out for my in-laws last summer. So I knew exactly where the hook-up was located. Again, if I were smart, once I bought that stove, I should have immediately gone home to make sure the gas line would work before asking the delivery guys to haul that stove up 3 flights of stairs, right? But I’m not that smart!
So I had a plumber come out to see if we could move the gas line. The problem, once again, is turning off the gas to the entire building. Our building only has 24 units, so if I pressed my neighbors, I probably could get everyone on board. But once he told me how much it was going to cost, I decided against it. Luckily, unlike my in-laws’ gas line, ours doesn’t protrude from the wall very far, so even though the stove doesn’t slide in all the way, it only sticks out about half an inch more than if we were able to make it flush with the wall. Once the new counters and cabinet doors are one, it will be even less noticeable. I can live with this.