I am by no means a fitness expert or guru, in fact for many years I’ve bounced around from workout to workout never really finding a routine I could stick with. That is until I started working out with my good friend JT at JT Personal Fitness. Working out with a friend can change your whole perspective, and give you the added motivation that you need. My problem was I didn’t know how to work out on my own, I mean I thought I did, but after working out with a trainer I realized that really I had been doing things wrong for years. I’ve interacted with other trainers before, and I know we’ve all seen some reality TV show that highlights a personal training session, but the thing about JT is he’s fun and really funny. He actually made me look forward to working out. Don’t get me wrong he’s tough and pushed me to do more than I thought I could, but he made me enjoy it. His gym space is also something that makes working out more enjoyable. Not only is it beautiful and impeccably clean, but it’s welcoming and I think it goes without saying that it’s really nice to work out in a private gym. He also makes you feel like family. In fact his family is like family to me, his daughters were flower girls in my wedding, and his wife is one of my all time favorite people.
Before working out with him if you had asked me if I thought I would ever run a half marathon I probably would have laughed in your face. However, with him guiding my training and running with me I’ve run two and beat my personal record both times. My one problem is we ran two Disney half marathons and now I’m spoiled and really only want to run Disney races. I mean who doesn’t want to pose for pictures with characters while running 13.1 miles? I think regardless of the running I’m not sure I have the attention span for a half marathon that just has you run through a normal town or something. I did however just see that Disney does a shorter virtual race in April so I do think I will register for that. I should be able to hand a 5k or even a 10k on regular roads, especially with a snazzy Disney medal to look forward to. I just need to get JT run it with me.
Starting to work out with JT was one of the best decisions I ever made, not only did he help to get me shape for my wedding and life in general, but he also gave me the confidence to try other workouts like Pure Barre. Now if you follow me on social media at all you know I love Pure Barre!!! I have never been someone that could relax enough to really enjoy a yoga class, although I love the concepts. Pure Barre is basically my version of yoga. I find myself using muscles I didn’t even know existed while also taking 55 minutes to worry only about myself. As someone who is prone to anxiety having a personal workout like Pure Barre has been a godsend. I’m able to go to my little spot in the corner of the studio and not worry about what anyone else is doing. I’m able to quiet my mind as much as my mind can be quieted and think only about the movements the instructor is directing us to do. Pure Barre has basically become my second home and I have met an amazing group of women that have become dear friends. It’s not only an amazing workout, it’s also a pretty solid social life. They periodically have challenges that give me that extra push to get there, actually most people in the studio will tell you that I’m pretty aggressive about winning the challenges. The great thing is everyone can win, so rather than compete against each other we motivate and support one another to reach our goals. Pure Barre also celebrates clients as they reach milestones like 100 classes, 250 classes, 500 classes and so on. They have a barre out in the front that represents each milestone and clients sign it as they achieve them. It may sound silly but as adults we don’t really take the time to celebrate each other accomplishments as much as we probably should. Pure Barre has found the formula for making clients feel special and I love it! I have more pairs of sticky socks than I have regular socks at this point and I basically wear leggings everyday, but I’m certainly not complaining about it.
For me working out is all about having fun, and feeling good about myself. Both JT Personal Fitness and Pure Barre do that for me. But if you aren’t in the Southampton area and can’t get to JT and there is not a Pure Barre near you, I’m sure you can find these same qualities in a workout routine near you. However, if you are in the Southampton area and looking for a new workout or maybe you’ve never been into fitness but want to try to start working out, call JT Personal Fitness and Watermill and get started. Then stop by Pure Barre Southampton right in the village and buy one of their excellent new member packages. I promise you will not regret either decision! Ok enough writing, I have to get back to my goal of 500 classes at Pure Barre.
Super Bowl Snack!
Ok you know I love Mexican food, well maybe you don't know, but I do. However I also love to try new ideas when I'm cooking. I've had this recipe in my head for awhile now but haven't had the occasion to make it before now. So what is it? Greek Nachos!!! All the cheesy crunchy goodness of regular nachos but with a little Mediterranean flare. And of course gluten free.
One of the things that I really miss about not eating gluten is spanikopita. I've tried recipes for gluten free phyllo dough, I've made it using brown rice tortillas but no matter what I try it just doesn't have them same flaky texture that makes spanikopita so good. So I've given up on that and decided I needed to find a new way to enjoy that cheesy spinach filling. And that's when the nachos idea popped into my head. However, what is the use of eating spanikopita without having a Greek salad to go with it? And this is where my nachos really started to take shape.
Warning I did not measure anything in this recipe but I think you'll be able to follow it anyway.
First I combined chopped frozen spinach, garlic, feta, and Parmesan in a frying pan sautéing it with a little olive oil. You can add as much or as little cheese as you'd like. I personally like a lot of cheese! There are definitely more in depth recipes for this filling, but I usually opt for simple. While this is cooking lay corn chips in a single layer (a little overlap is good) on a baking sheet. Once the spinach mixture is nice and gooey spread it over the chips and then top with more Parmesan cheese. Pop this in the oven at 350 and wait for the cheese to melt.
While that is cooking it's time to make the Greek salad topping. Chop up a red onion and a tomato, or if your grocery store sells pre chopped produce like mine does you can just do what I did and buy that. Then cut a cucumber into small pieces. Mix in some chickpeas and feta and your salad is pretty much ready to go. I can take or leave black olives and my husband doesn't really like them at all, so I left them out but you could certainly add them and it would be delicious. Then for the dressing you can absolutely buy a bottled Greek dressing but I always prefer to make my own, I just feel like it's a little fresher. I used my Arlotta Lemon Olive oil and red wine vinegar, super simple but super tasty!!
Your chips should be almost done by now. Pull them out of the oven and let them cook just slight lily before spreading the salad mixture on top. I also bought Cedar’s Tzatziki sauce to add a dollop or two on top!
This is a great food to bring to a party anytime of the year. I'm bringing it to a Super Bowl party but I can also see myself making this for a summer BBQ. And even though there is a lot of cheese in it, it definitely feels a little lighter than regular nachos.
Sorry again for the lack of measuring, but I hope you all have fun with this recipe!!
Good Girls Revolt
After binge watching the Amazon Prime series Good Girls Revolt over my winter break, I find myself drawn to nonfiction as well as historical fiction of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Good Girls Revolt, tells the stories of women in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s who work at a New York based news magazine that doesn’t allow women to write, instead relegating them to research positions only. The show details the fictional lives of these women while using the backdrop of real life events from that time period. Not only do the women do a tremendous amount of work for the articles they research but often they do some if not all of the writing while still getting none of the credit.
While tackling serious topics, I found this show to be funny and vastly entertaining. I was extremely disappointed to learn that Amazon had canceled it, leaving me wanting a lot more from this story and these characters. This paired with Charles Manson suddenly being in the news again this last week because of his recent hospitalization and the new movie Hidden Figures that I absolutely can not wait to see, has left me even more intrigued by this time period. It also left me somewhat amazed that we haven’t made all that much progress in the last 40 or 50 years. We still have women who feel they are not treated as equals in the workplace, we still have crazy nonsensical acts of violence happening, and we still have issues of racial discrimination across the country. For me it is sometimes easy to retreat to the bubble I live in where none of these things have yet to really affect my life, but when I do allow myself to really think about all that is wrong in our world it is not only depressing and scary, but also overwhelming. In my former Disney Castmember ways I often wish there was some bit of magic we could use to wash away the darkness that seems to envelop us all too often. Instead I am left do what I can by spreading love and kindness to whoever I come in contact with. Unless of course that person is doing an illegal u-turn on Main St. in the summer to steal the parking spot I’ve been patiently waiting for, in which case that person will hear the full wrath of my anger.
That being said, I’m going to try and keep this blog part of the bubble, with bits of the dark realities we all face trickling in every now and then. And instead of facing the harshness of our current world I will instead retreat to the stories of our past, particularly those that show women fighting the good fight. Being the librarian that I am, I’ve turned to books. So here is my reading list for the next several weeks.
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
By Margot Lee Shetterly
"Before John Glenn orbited Earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as 'human computers' used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation."--Dust jacket.
The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace
By Lynn Povich
“It was the 1960s--a time of economic boom and social strife. Young women poured into the workplace, but the "Help Wanted" ads were segregated by gender and the "Mad Men" office culture was rife with sexual stereotyping and discrimination.”
The Girls: A Novel
By Emma Cline
“An indelible portrait of girls, the women they become, and that moment in life when everything can go horribly wrong.”
Another Brooklyn: A Novel
By Jacqueline Woodson
“Running into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.”
(All Synopsis and images taken from www.Amazon.com)
I’d also like to note that I’m super thankful for Amazon Prime right now (even though they canceled my show) because I was able to order these books will have them in no time at all. I know as a librarian I really should be a better library patron, but I also really love to build on my own personal library. I’m also excited because I’ve already decided on my next blog post about books based on some of the suggestions that came up when researching these books on Amazon. Female Celebrity Memoirs. So be on the lookout for that post down the road.
Gluten Free Chinese Feast
As I write this I’m eating my leftovers from last night, it was just so good I could wait to have it again today. Being gluten free, Chinese food is something I rarely eat unless we are with in twenty minutes of a PF Changs in which case I always make Sean stop. However our closest PF Changs is almost an hour away so it doesn’t happen all that oftern. I’ve also found a really great restaurant in NYC called Lilli & Loo, but let’s be real how often am I going into NYC for Chinese food? Hardly ever. So last night I decided to challenge myself and make some of my old favorites from when I could eat gluten. The one thing that always made me hesitant to making Chinese food is the amount of ingredients I would need to buy that I don’t normally have in the house. So I went on pinterest and set out to find a couple of recipes that wouldn’t be too overwhelming. I don’t typically follow recipes because I always like to do things a little different, but I love looking at recipes for inspiration. This usually works out pretty well for me, but it is risky when I’m making something for the first time because it doesn’t always work out the way I want it to. So I checked out a couple sesame chicken recipes and was pleased to find that most people used pretty basic ingredients. I always like to decide on my main dish when cooking and then decide on sides. The other thing I wanted was to be able to use a lot of the same ingredients in the dishes I chose while creating unique and different flavors.
Here is the menu I decided on:
Vegetable Egg Rolls
Sesame Chicken with Snap Peas
It Seems like a lot of food and it was, but it was also light and fresh and delicious!
Here is my grocery list, some things I already had and a lot of you probably do to. I broke it up for each dish in case you are planning on only making one of them, it will be a little easier to see what you need.
Rice Paper Spring Roll Wraps
Coleslaw Mix (No Dressing)
GF Soy Sauce, Tamari, or Liquid Aminos
Chicken Tenderloins or Chicken Breasts (The Tenderloins are just easier to cut into small pieces)
GF Soy Sauce, Tamari, or Liquid Aminos
Flat Brown Rice Noodles
Apple Cider Vinegar
I started first with the Egg Rolls. The rice paper wraps are much harder to work with than regular egg roll wrappers, and I don’t deep fry them so they don’t always end up looking pretty but they taste amazing. First take the coleslaw mix and depending on how many you are planning on making pour some into a mixing bowl. I would say you want at least a half cup per egg roll. I was making four so if you do more than that you’ll just want to add more of the next few ingredients. Pour 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce over the coleslaw mix and stir. Then mix in 2 teaspoons of ground ginger, unfortunately I forgot this last night when I went shopping and didn’t have any. My egg rolls were still good so don’t worry if you forget too, but they really are better with it. Now here’s the tricky part, the rice paper wrappers. You’ll notice the rice paper is hard and brittle, you need to soften them in water before you can use them. Fill a large bowl with warm water and dip the rice paper in one at a time until it’s soft but not too soft that it’s losing its shape. This may take a little trial and error if you’ve never used these before. When you think it’s soft enough lay it flat on a piece of parchment or wax paper and place a half cup of filling in the center. I usually fold the sides in first making it more of an oval rather than a circle. Then starting at the top I roll down keeping the filling in the middle. Repeat this for each egg roll. I don’t like to deep fry these because as good as it tastes we all know it’s just not good for us, but I do flash fry them in a skillet with a little sesame oil to get them a little crispy before putting them in the oven. However if you into frying stuff or you’re looking to treat yourself, by all means fry these babies up. If not place them on baking sheet with parchment or wax paper (They get really sticky) and put them in the oven at 350 until golden brown. The rice paper won’t hold its shape as well this way so don’t be disappointed if they look kind of funky, I promise you they will still taste really yummy.
Now onto the chicken. Keep that skillet out that you used for the egg rolls but set it aside for right now. I love when I can reuse pans and dishes too, it just makes cleanup so much easier. In a small mixing bowl make the sauce first, mix together ¼ cup of whatever soy sauce you are using, 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic, and ¼ of honey. If you like your sesame chicken on the sweeter side you can always add more honey. Now put ½ cup of cornstarch in a large ziploc bag and cut up your chicken in little bite sized cubes. Add the chicken to the bag and seal closed. Shake it around so that the corn starch covers each piece of chicken. Crack two eggs in a bowl and mix. This next part you can do two ways, and depending on which one you chose will determine how big of bowl you need for the eggs. You can take each piece of chicken out of the bag and dip in the egg and then but it in the skillet, this is a little neater but will take a lot longer. Or you can dump the entire bag of chicken into the egg mixture and mix it all up. Now you don’t want to have too much egg on the chicken when you cook it or it will turn into an omelet. Take a pasta strainer and pour the chicken into that over the sink letting the excess egg drip away. Now get that skillet back and add a little more sesame oil and a ¼ chopped scallions, let them cook for a few minutes before adding the chicken. Once the chicken is cooked thoroughly and even a little crispy add the sauce and saute a few more minutes making sure the chicken is evenly covered. I like my snap peas a little crunchy so first I poured the chicken into an oven safe dish and then added the snap peas do the skillet with very little sauce left. After a minute or two add the snap peas to the chicken. Now throw it in the oven that is still hot from the egg rolls but not on anymore. You want to keep it warm while you make the peanut noodles. Everything on this menu cooks very quickly so I found it was best to focus on one thing at a time
While you are still working on the chicken you can start boiling water for the noodles, or you can do what I did and start boiling the water when you finish with the chicken so you can take a couple minutes to sit down and check your phone. Once the water is at a full boil throw in your noodles, the ones I bought came in individually wrapped bundles, I used two bundles. I hope you’ve all cooked pasta before and can kind of take it from here with the noodles.
In a separate saucepan chop up some more scallions and cook them with a tablespoon of sesame oil. Now over medium heat add in 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, ¼ of peanut butter, ½ tablespoon of maple syrup, 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. If you feel like the sauce is too thick you can always add more vegetable stock. Continue to stir until it’s smooth, be careful that it doesn’t start to burn on the bottom of the pan. Pour over cooked rice noodles and top with a few more chopped scallions.
Almost done, and this last part takes no time at all. You have the sesame oil out so you might as well use it but if you’re not a huge fan of sesame oil you can use any oil you like. Pour a little in a skillet with some garlic and then add in your broccoli florets. Again I like my veggies kind of crispy so I only cooked the broccoli for a couple minutes, but you can always cook it longer depending on how you like it.
Obviously you don’t have to make all of these things together like I did, but they work so well together and make such a satisfying meal that I really really recommend it. The sesame chicken would also be delicious over a bed of brown or white rice, but admit it you kind of want those peanut noodles, and who needs two starches? I’m not claiming this to be a low calorie meal, but if you are craving good Chinese food it is certainly better for you and less fattening that take out from a quick service restaurant. Sean liked it all so much that he decided we should have a Chinese New Year Party, so look for more on what I do with that later in the month.
Winter Wardrobe Essentials
Those that know me know that I’m really much more of a summer girl, I actually really hate cold weather. Which is why I went to college in Florida, and it’s just about this time every year when I say to myself “Why did I move back up north?”. Truth be told there are a couple things I really do like about snow and cold weather. One, as a teacher a two hour delay or a snow day are just as amazing as they were when we were kids. Two, I love winter fashion. And although it was a harsh jolt into reality after shopping the Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale to wake up to snow this morning I was really excited to put on my flannel and Bean Boots.
Here are my top 5 winter essentials and where to find them.
My style is pretty classic with a few trendy pieces thrown in. Some of my favorite winter pieces are a few years old now, but I do always love styling them in a different way to change it up.
So anyone who has ever moved into a new house will understand that it can be challenging to furnish it with out taking out a second mortgage. It’s not like on TV or in the movies when everyone’s house looks perfectly decorated no matter how long they have lived there. When Sean and I moved into our house we each had a few key pieces that helped fill in the blanks, but we had to get creative and look for good deals to really make our house feel like a home. I spent hours looking online to get ideas and I felt like everything I liked was way out of my price range making it impossible to fully furnish a house. This is what I learned:
Here are my top 4 furniture shopping tips:
Luckily for us we have a pottery barn and restoration hardware outlet not far from where we live. And we spent a lot of time leading up to the closing on our house shopping and arguing in these two stores. I'm sure many of you also know when you move in with anyone, roommate, boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, fiancé... it can be hard to blend your individual styles so that you both feel represented in your new home.
We found a lot that we liked at Restoration Hardware, but often times we would feel like it was still a little pricey considering all we had to buy, or just not exactly what we were looking for. But the more time we spent in the store the more we learned. The first thing we learned is the day of the week in which they receive new shipment. This may seem insignificant but it's actually extremely important for two reasons. The first being a little more obvious, that it's always good to know when they're getting new stuff especially if you are looking for something very specific and you don't want to miss out. The second being that many of these store have limited space to store merchandise so the day before they receive shipment they are more likely to give you an even better deal than the price that's marked. This is how we ended up with our beautiful dining room table for under $400 as well as a leather couch for under $400 as well.
2. Pottery Barn (not the outlet)
I know what you're thinking “Pottery Barn is so expensive, how am I getting a good deal there?” Well here's the trick, As I'm sure you may know PB sets up beautiful “rooms” to display their furniture and decor. What you might not know is that all of that stuff is for sale at a huge discount. They can’t sell the floor models at full price, so if you are willing to take the one off the floor you can often get it for 50% off or sometimes even an additional discount depending on what store wide promotions are going on. The one catch is you might need to be patient, as they are unable to sell anything until they have something to replace it with. The staff at our local store is so nice and they will usually write your name and number down with the pieces you are interested in and then call you when it is available for purchase. We were also responsible for picking it up ourselves, so start thinking about that friend you have with a truck and stay on their good side. Taking advantage of the floor models allowed us to purchase two large leather chairs that would have normal cost $1500 - $2000 each, and a $6,000 sectional couch all for under $5000. It's still a big purchase but our living room is now complete and we have sturdy comfortable furniture that will last us many many years. The only down side to our beautiful sectional is the color. Dont' get me wrong its absolutely beautiful other wise I would not have bought it, but it's basically white and I'm terrified of ruining it so I keep a blanket neatly tucked over the cushions. Luckily we bought the slipcovered version so we can take it off and have it dry cleaned. I'm sure down the road we will buy a new slip cover maybe in grey or something that is a little darker but not too dark. Buying a new slipcover is in expense but its nothing compared to what it would be to buy a whole new couch.
You know I love Ikea, I did my whole kitchen with Ikea, but their furniture isn’t necessarily going to last you as long as some of the more expensive retailers. Does that mean we should avoid Ikea all together? Absolutely not. The price points at Ikea allow you to buy a lot for very little, at least little in the home furnishings world. A lot of people however don’t want it to look like their whole house came from ikea. So the trick here is balance, spend a little more on the pieces that are most important to you or the ones that you think might become the focal point of a room. Then pair those more expensive pieces with some Ikea staples. Also it's important the measure the height of any Ikea furniture as well as how high you want it to sit in your home, a lot of Ikea furniture sits a little (or a lot) lower than what we’re used to, but in the store it will seem normal next to all the other furniture. This is especially important with tables and and any type of seating.
I know I mentioned patience in regards to Pottery Barn, but you need to also have patience in regards to your home. Don’t try and do it all at once, first of all it’s really hard on your bank account, but you also don’t want to make the mistake of settling for something that’s not right for you and then changing the feel or theme you had in mind for a certain room. You’ll end up wanting to redecorate and spending more money down the road. Sean and I were so excited when we bought our house that we couldn’t wait to invite our family and friends over and have it feel lived in, but we quickly realized it was going to be a work in progress for quite sometime. We had giant rubber bins stacked as our night stands for months until we found the night stands that we wanted. I hated the look of those rubbermaid night stands but now that I have the perfect nightstand it was well worth the wait.
There are million other ways to find good deals on home furnishings, for example a lot of people I know have had great success at yard sales and estate sales. I, however, have never had a ton of luck there. So you have to find what is right for you and your home, but I hope some of my tips were helpful and making your life a little bit easier. I think the pottery barn one is especially good.
Before and After Living Room (Of course I had to show it at Christmas).
"PB Basic Slipcovered Sectional." Pottery Barn, William Sonoma Inc., 2017,
www.potterybarn.com. Accessed 5 Jan. 2017.
"Railway Trestle Rectangular Dining Table." Restoration Hardware, RH, 2017,
www.restorationhardware.com. Accessed 5 Jan. 2017.
"Manhattan Leather Arm Chair." Pottery Barn, William Sonoma Inc., 2017,
www.potterybarn.com. Accessed 5 Jan. 2017.
"Kennsington Sectional". Restoration Hardware, RH, 2017,
www.restorationhardware.com. Accessed 5 Jan. 2017.
New Year, New Me, New Adventures...
If you’re reading this it means you’ve looked at my blog, which also means you’ve probably noticed that this is my first post in over a year. It’s not that I’ve stopped writing in fact I’ve been focusing on another project. The last several months most of my writing energy has been directed toward the YA novel I’m writing, and although I am still very committed to that project I’ve realized I need another outlet. Not just for me but for my writing. The more I write the better I’ll get, at least that’s what I tell my students. Now the challenging part; what should I write about? I’ve asked myself that question a lot over the last couple of weeks. I’ve had several posts in mind; holiday recipes, holiday outfits, holiday events… but they all seemed so generic. Not that I think I’m going to reinvent the wheel here, and I’m sure I will write a lot of very generic pieces throughout my life as a writer, but I felt like my blogging comeback should be a little more meaningful. I’m sure no one noticed my absence in the blogging world, but it felt fraudulent to post something like I’ve been doing this all along.
So what is the purpose of this post? I guess just to announce that I’m still here, I’m still writing, and whether anyone ever reads this or not I will continue to write.
Short and sweet. Here’s to a new year full of new adventures that I hope to share with all of you.
Generic holiday outfit info:
Dress: Vineyard Vines
Scarf: J. Crew
Clutch and Jewelry: Kate Spade
I love watching all those home improvement shows, like Property Brothers, Love it or List it… But let me tell you they make this whole remodeling thing seem much easier than it is. I know it’s shocking to think that reality TV isn’t actually realistic. When Sean and I bought our house one of the first things we did was tear down a wall between the kitchen and the living room to make for a more open floor plan. We also ripped down all the outdated cabinets in the kitchen with a plan to start fresh. Once we were able to see the room as a blank canvas our ideas began to grow. The first significant change we made was to close off the existing back door and add french doors on the wall where the sink had been. Now on those shows they make it seem like you just go out and pick up a door and bring it back to the house and voila french doors installed. A few things we needed to think about before choosing our door.
French Door Criteria:
1. It needed to be an Outswing door because we didn’t have room to open the doors into the kitchen.
2. We wanted it to be wide enough that it was a double door but not so wide that we couldn’t fit cabinets on the wall perpendicular to the door.
3. We also needed to finalize our kitchen design to make sure that we could fit everything we needed into the kitchen and still have room for the door.
Sounds easy enough right? Wrong. Finalizing our kitchen design proved to be the most lengthy part of our remodel. Sean had been doing most of the work on the house and being the one who cooks more I decided I would be in charge of designing the kitchen. Luckily we already had all of our appliances. We had taken advantage of a really good 4th of July sale at P.C. Richards earlier in the summer, but our brand new beautiful stainless steel appliances were just taking up space in the living room at this point. My first stop was Lowes. They gave me a lot of really great ideas for where to put things but I also felt like they were adding all sorts of things that I really didn’t need just to increase the price. Including this hideous valence that they thought I needed over the window to connect the cabinets on either side. It covered half the window, so I’m really not sure why they thought I would want that until I asked them to remove it and the price went down by about $500. I don’t like to think of myself as cheap but I was looking for a good deal on this kitchen. Once they gave me the final price for just the cabinets and then told me I would essentially have to buy double the amount of counter top for my small kitchen to meet their minimum I realized I probably wouldn’t be doing this kitchen through Lowes. There was no way Sean and I could spend upward of $6,000 before we even talked about how much it would cost to install it all. Not wanting to show my hand at Lowes, I played the dumb wife card and said I couldn’t make any decisions without my husband. I then proceeded to ask the measurements of every cabinet in the design, they had no idea that I have a pretty good memory and I went out to the car and wrote everything down as soon as we were done.
Having heard great things about Ikea kitchens I went on to their website and imputed some of the ideas from Lowes into the Ikea kitchen design software. I changed some things around and ended up designing a beautiful and functional kitchen for under $2,000 including the countertops. This gave me room to upgrade to some of the things I really wanted like a cabinet with wire a wire basket that pulled out instead of shelves, and drawers in the other base cabinets. The countertops were the big selling point. Ikea also had a minimum for granite that we did not meet. But they sell their butcher block countertops in two sizes 74 in. ranging from $139 and 98 in. ranging from $189. Even though we would have been fine with the 74 in piece I opted for the larger piece incase we decided to do an island at some point.
Now here comes the real hard part. Going to Ikea. Our closest Ikea is about an hour and half away. So one overcast day in August (I wasn’t going to miss a good beach day) I took Sean’s truck and drove up there, the whole excursion took me about 6 hours. Three in the car and three in the store. While I was there I hit a small problem, the white cabinets I had thought I wanted were actually off white and I was told by the very helpful Ikea salesperson that they would look even more cream with natural light instead of the fluorescent lights in the showroom. This was not my vision. Panicked I called Sean about thousand times going back forth over our other cabinet options. He had been saying all summer that he thought we should go with black cabinets instead of white, and naturally I just kept thinking he was crazy! I mean who wants black cabinets? Apparently I did. I walked over to where the cabinets he suggested were displayed and realized that they weren’t the cheap modern look that I was picturing at all, they were beautiful and classic looking. So in a rare moment I realized Sean was right and I bought the black cabinets.
I’m sure most of you have been to ikea at some point, and you know you go down into the warehouse and grab the boxes that hold the tightly packed flat boxes that will eventually turn into full sized pieces of furniture. Luckily you don’t have to do this for all of the cabinets, just the frames. So by the time I found the cabinet frames hidden in the darkest corner of the warehouse, waited on the ridiculously long line to pay for them (I had already paid for everything else upstairs in the kitchen design center), the rest of my items were waiting for me at the customer pick up desk. They took one look at me already struggling with the cart I had, (in my defense the front wheel was all jacked up otherwise I think would have been able to steer it just fine) and called for someone in the back to come help me. And by help they mean do it for me. I’m not some damsel in distress, but there were a lot of boxes, three carts full, and looking at those three carts I had no idea where to even begin when loading it into the truck. It was like a puzzle!
Once loaded into the truck I set out on my drive home. I also noticed that the sky was getting increasingly grayer. Now we had a few overcast days this summer, but it basically only rained two or three times, so I thought I was safe. However, I found myself basically moving at the same speed and in the same direction as this one drizzling rain cloud, I feared that at any moment I’d be stuck in a full blown downpour. Luckily I made it home and Sean and a friend helped get everything out of the truck and inside before anything got to wet.
I was thrilled! We finally had a kitchen. Well sort of...we had what would become a kitchen in boxes all over what would become our living room. It took us a couple of weeks to get sheetrocking done in the kitchen and install the french doors but finally we had our kitchen installed (also for a fraction of what Lowes told me it would cost). Sean and I had thought about doing it ourselves, and I really think we could have done some of it but I’m awfully glad we opted to hire someone. To my surprise the install only took a couple of days, and I was finally able to cook a meal for my husband in our home. Next to up the living room!
Newlyweds and New Construction
My life has changed pretty drastically over the last couple months. And for those that know me, I’m not really great with change. However, these changes have not only been exciting they’ve been comfortable. Comfortable might seem like a strange choice in words, so let me explain. Typically a huge change in my life would leave me feeling anxious or unsettled. This has not been the case at all this summer. On June 27 of this year I was blessed to marry the love of my life Sean, and for a multitude of reasons Sean and I didn’t live together before the wedding. We finally closed on our house late last Spring, but it needed (still needs) quite a bit of work so we weren’t able to move in until after the honeymoon. Since the wedding the first question people ask me is “how’s married life?” or some variation of that. It’s a question I often even ask myself. I was surprised that things didn’t feel different. In fact, I feel as though this is how my life has always been. Living in my cute beach cottage, with my loving husband enjoying the salty air that softly blows through our windows. .
Now, for those that ask me “how’s the house?” the answer is slightly less romantic. Don’t get me wrong, I love this house and even more so I love what we are doing to this house. I will say this though, I’ve never really been one to enjoy camping. Sean however, could live in a tent and be totally fine. With each project we’ve started another seems to appear, this I am told is par for the course when owning a home. However, I do think this has been a true test to our relationship. We’ve basically spent the last two and half months living in the equivalent of a hotel room together. The only two rooms in the house that are not under construction are our bedroom and the bathroom. I do love the quiet oasis of our bedroom with its light blue walls and the view of the water, although it would be nice to have kitchen to prepare a meal or maybe a couch to sit on and read book. All summer this has seemed like something that might never happen, but as we near the close of this season, we are starting to really make this house a home. The kitchen should be done in a matter of days, and we have finally started to pick out some living room furniture. Stay tuned for my next post about my kitchen remodel with Ikea cabinets.