Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Chalet Kitchen: Tips and Tricks

My brother who I love dearly is about to remodel his kitchen. (yes the same brother, I also love to hate because he hogged all the good genes and I got the mutant leftover genes). 

I am thrilled for him and wish him the best of luck. When I think back to our kitchen renovation, I think Dickens said it best, " It was the best of times and the worst of times."  Granted when I did my kitchen we were living in two rooms of our house and had zero privacy.  But man, I loved the my crew, The Juan's!  They were the perfect complement to my husband.  Mr. Man went to work and brought home the bacon. At night, Mr. Man and I would pick out appliances at Home Depot.  During the day the Juan's helped me with all my little house projects.  Installing moulding here, hanging a picture or even assembling furniture.  Everyday we had lunch together and when I drove through our gates they would greet me and help unload the groceries  I love them and miss them.  Anyway, enough of my whining about how much I miss my crew, who all happened to be named Juan.  (For my new readers, really, that's not a joke nor embellishment. All of them were named Juan.)
If I had to do my kitchen over again....  there are some things I would do differently.   The first being that I would make sure to have a mirror handy so that I don't get mistaken for being homeless again.
Also, I would make sure to run water pipes to any place I could think of. I had thought that at some point, I might want a sink on an island, but I thought to save cost I would do a solid surface.  I didn't run water over to the island, but man I wish I did, because after using my kitchen for a few months, I realized the island is the perfect place for an ice maker. If you have a plumber already on site, it isn't doesn't cost much more to run an extra pipe or two.  Also, same with outlets, I have outlets everywhere in my kitchen, including in a cabinet or two, so I can charge things, out of sight. 
Drawers everywhere!  Big Drawers, narrow drawers, I am so glad my friend encouraged me to put my dishes in drawers.  My kids can reach all the dishes to serve themselves, set the table, and even better, they can empty the dishwasher!
I saved a lot of cash by using this Ikea sink and having my cabinetmaker turn it into an undermount sink. I wanted a farmhouse style sink, and Mr. Man wanted a double basin. I was a little worried that I when I bought the sink from Ikea, it was going to be just a lump of clay and some stick figures showing me how to mold and fire the sink. Turns out I didn't have to fire up the kiln and it came all assembled.  
I found all my cabinet hardware at Cabinet Hardware Designs on eBay of all places.   We ended up buying all our hardware for the house from them because the stuff was great quality and super affordable.

If I had to do it again, I would still splurge on my lighting, my pendants came from Pottery Barn and I love them. I also bought some lighting from the Habitat for Humanity Restore that were perfect, because I wanted a chandelier I could customize.  My current house project is replacing all the lighting in the old part of the house, and currently I am in love with ATG Stores.  I just bought this Chandelier for my dining room, they are reasonably priced and have a huge selection. I love that they have some really cool reproduction pieces that help me blend the old with the new.  I still want my house to maintain it's original vibe. 
Best of Luck to my brother on his remodel, since he has such amazing luck, it wouldn't surprise me if his kitchen were finished in one afternoon.  He will probably go out for groceries and come back to a whole new kitchen and come in under budget.  Did you know my brother has never even had a cavity?
 As for me, I swear I spend more time in the dentist chair than I do at my job.  It's annoying, but I love him anyway.
*This is not a sponsored post, although that would be genius.   Man, I wish I would have been able to get sponsors for my kitchen, in fact, I'm still game.  I'm dying to bring back the crew.*

Friday, September 13, 2013

The set of the Queen Latifah Show

A long time ago, just after Al Gore invented the Internet, I had to come up with a username. (Back in those days we actually called it a "handle") My fingers stumbled across the keyboard and I accidentally typed QWendyKay and hit enter, next thing you know that became my permanent user name.   I've embraced the Q, and find that just like the W, it's underutilized in today's society.
Even the Cameras have a Q
So, when I wandered around the Queen Latifah set, I was thrilled to see Q's everywhere. It was a feast for my eyes, and totally made me think that I need to add a "Golden Wall of Q's" or maybe W's, in my house.  The whole set is a house, there is a kitchen, and multiple sitting areas.   I was too chicken to get a picture of the kitchen, but the next time I go back to the show, I'm totally peeking the fridge. 
See that big marble wall, yep there is a Q in that!  I love that Lenny Kravitz designed the set.  Is there anything that he can't do? I had read that he opened a design firm and it's obvious, that he is crazy talented.
 Don't forget to watch the show on Monday, September 16th on CBS and look for me in the audience. 
 I think I may have found my secret talent, I'm really good at being in the audience.   Although, watching Queen Latifah work her magic doing a talk show, I wouldn't mind having my own show one day.  She made it look like so much fun!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

If they could see me now... The new Queen Latifah Talk Show

I was so incredibly unpopular in Junior High that even the band nerds shunned me.    My family didn't do sports, instead we played musical instruments.  The only problem was that my dumb older brothers hogged all the musical genes and left me with the mutant tone deaf ones.   I honked, squawked, and screeched for 30 minutes a day, practicing on various instruments on the hunt for "the one" that would be a match.  I was terrible. I didn't have a sense of rhythm, and I don't have an ear for music.  I wanted to quit, but my parents insisted I had to do Jr. High Band.   
That's really me... in Jr. High in all my Band Uniform glory.
We had Varsity and Beginner Bands, and while most had to audition, I was automatically put into the Varsity Band based on my brothers' talent.  I was horrible, I couldn't march "in time", and the band nerds hated me for "bringing the band down".   It was rough, and when you throw in all my dad's mortifying antics, I was convinced my only way to happiness involved a future in a remote mountain convent or Witness Protection.

We weren't allowed to listen to rock music in our house, no rap, no rock, no metal bands, but my brother was good to me and would slip me tapes marked "Bach" that were mixes of banned music.  There was one thing all the kids in Band loved, and that was Queen Latifah and Beastie Boys.  While we were lining up on the field to march and practice, all the kids would be beat boxing and rapping.  Meanwhile, I would stand off to the side, praying that band practice would be over with soon and that my dad wouldn't pick me up in a car with cases of toilet paper strapped to the roof.
Flash Forward:  A few weeks ago I was invited to attend the taping of the premiere episode of "The Queen Latifah Show" with a few bloggers.  I have loved  watching Queen Latifah navigate her career with integrity and the ability to stay real.  Here is what you need to know, Queen Latifah is really as nice as you think she is, and she does not disappoint.  She is the real thing, witty, down to earth, and likable. 

I loved everything about the show, the format, the guests, and especially the set.  The set was designed by Lenny Kravitz and is a total feast for the eyes. I'll show you more of the set in another post, it is unbelievable.    I had to pinch myself while I was wandering around on the set.  I am incredibly lucky, and feel my good fortune has come from learning to say "Yes" to the opportunities that came my way during "The Yes Project."
While I was watching the show, I couldn't help but think back to all the people in band who teased me in Junior High.   If only they could see me now...  Eat your heart out Band Nerds!  Watch the show on September 16th on CBS with special guest John Travolta and I'll bet you can spot me in the audience!

I want to know if you ever had one of those, "If they could see me now moments... " Tell me about it in the comments!

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

I never thought...

Dear Kids,
I never thought I'd be one of those moms.  The ones who cry when they drop their kids off to school.  I never thought I would get choked up walking them into their classrooms or look at their teachers with envy.
Our Ultimate Super Mega Summer Part 3 came to a close and the school year started.   One of our best summers ever, we lounged, we laughed, and we went on adventures.
Mr. Boy, you could not wait for your fifth grade year for the chance to "rule the school".   You prepped the whole week before school contemplating your outfit and getting your binder ready.  You are a social guy and want to be with your friends.  You were stoked to find your class was filled with friends.  The night before your first day, I slept in your room, by request, a slumber party of sorts, you woke up at 4am, excited to go to school.   Instead of sleeping you talked and would not stop talking.  You talked about all the exciting things that would happen this year.  You are in 5th grade and excited to be the kings of the school. This is going to be an amazing year for you. 
Sweet AK, as I leaned in to kiss you goodbye, I had a momentary flashback to when you were a tiny baby and I swear we spent most of that first year in doctor's offices.  You have overcome so much and it's nothing short of miraculous that you are in second grade.  You were excited but nervous to go to school.  You will have the same teacher and class as last year for part of the day, this is reassuring to you, as you crave routine.  You are going to have a great year at school and this will be the year that you master reading.  Your whole world is about to open up. I hope you hear my voice in your head as you go about your school day telling you, "AK, you can do this."
The tears kept welling up as I walked through the school halls with you.  I held it together until I got out of the classroom.  My sunglasses hid the eyes brimming with tears.  Once on the playground I cried openly, for many reasons.  Mainly because I miss you already and I love summer.   I love the freedom from the unyielding calendar of activities and the ticking clock.  I miss being carefree and not having to be so rigid on our schedule.  I miss the spontaneity that the summer allows.  
The beginning of school marks another year older, another new adventure and calls attention to the glaring fact, you guys are growing up. My time with you is limited and I keep hearing, "Only eight more years left with Mr. Boy exclusively under our roof."    I never thought I would be one of those moms that dreaded the first day of school, that craved having their kids at home.  When I had children, I completely underestimated how much they would change me and the kind of mom I would become.  To my darling children, be good, be nice, and know that I love you.