Eco-friendly: The Reusable Shopping List

I dunno about you, but it seems like every time I go to the store, I buy pretty much the same stuff. Milk, bread, bagels, cereal, veggies, fruits, etc. In addition, I usually write my list on a piece of scrap paper, which I tend to lose, if I remember to bring it at all.

My new idea is to write a semi-permanant shopping list to keep on the fridge. It'll have all our commonly used items, plus space to add additional stuff. There will be a check box by each item so I can just tick it off the list when I run out. And, the list will be laminated, so I can use it over and over. I'll attach a dry erase or grease pencil to it so I can mark things off quickly.

I made a draft today (unlaminated), and I'm going to give it a test run to see how it goes. It's on a standard piece of paper, which will make it difficult for me to misplace, but I might end up scaling it down if it's too bulky. Since Shayne and I seem to be splitting the shopping chores equally lately, marking things off will work better than him calling me at work and asking, "Do we need anything from the store?"

At least I'm trying to be organized...

Thanks, George!

Let me first say that George Bush is not my favorite person. I admire that he is a man of his convictions, and he will stick with them even when they become unpopular. I agree that something needed to be done about Saddam Hussein. But I think he acts without a lot of forthought or clear idea how his policies will affect our contry in the long run (which may just mean he has terrible advisors...). I think that this idea of giving everyone $600 to "stimulate" the economy is ridiculous. The problems are much deeper than people not having enough money to spend. Americans cannot and should not try to spend their way out of a crisis.

That said, I'm not really complainng that he's giving us $1200. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

That very nice $1200 rebate will buy about 1/2 of our cabinet project. We went to speak with the cabinet man last week, and we were very impressed with what we saw. Right in the center of his workshop was a beautiful, Craftsman-style island with inset doors and a wood countertop. Of course, the thing was the size of our entire kitchen, but we both fell in love. And we realized how much we really want frame-and-panel inset doors. The cabinet man was very patient with our indecision, telling us that a whole kitchen of those cabinets would run about $4500. Not bad, really, but WAY out of our price range. But what about just replacing the doors on the existing cabinets? That brought us down to a reasonable $2400.. It's still more than I wanted to spend, but it will give us the look we both adore, plus add more charm and character to our tiny little kitchen. It will look like Crown Point, without the huge price tag!

So, needless to say, we'll be pinching our pennies until we've saved enough for the transformation.


I must be nuts (Part II)

In case you missed it, you can read the first part here.

I have just agreed to buy this:
It's a 1941 Chambers Model B stove. I went to see it this weekend and fell in love. It's fully functional and can be used as-is. I'm going to do some cleaning, repaint the interior metal frame, have the top rechromed, and reporcelain the burners. Total cost, including the stove, should be less than $900.
So, there's more cleaning and painting in my future. And disassembling an appliance I know virtually nothing about.
I must be nuts.


Which layout?

I'm literally driving myself nuts. No matter where I put the fridge, it makes a sort of tunnel. I'm used to the tunnel leading to the back porch (top of picture), so I'm having a hard time telling whether the fridge works best there because there's a little more room, or just because I'm used to it. Opinions??

Layout #1:
Layout #2:


Is this a good price for cabinets??

I've made a few calls to local cabinet makers, and I've had an extensive correspondance with one out of southwest Michigan (if we decide to work with him, I'll provide all relevant info). He's said he can replicate our original cabinets and is willing to work to tie in to the originals as well. Using paint-grade poplar plywood with solid doors he's quoting about $1600 without installation for 5 cabinets. Here is an illustration of the new cabinets. The originals are in gray, the new ones are white.

Also, if anyone has any comments on the layout, I'd be happy to hear them. The fridge will eventually be replaced with a counter-depth model. Unfortunately there's nowhere good to put it that won't make a tunnel of sorts. We're also considering recessing it between the studs, since the wall isn't load-bearing. As it stands, there's ~28" between the corner of the fridge and the chimney bump-out. The bump-out will be decreased by 2" when we remove the framing over the chimney and repair the plaster.

The dishwasher will be a 18" model, since I don't think a 24" will properly fit the opening. We'll see how it goes.

The 15" cabinet next to the sink will extend all the way back and will be fitted with some sort of sliding shelf mechanism to utilize the space.


Musings on an old home

Does anyone else feel like they're swimming against the current most of the time? I feel like my ideas about priorities and lifestyle are correct, they just aren't shared by the majority of the population. So much of our culture is about newer, faster, better, more.... When I mention wood siding, vintage appliances, or recycling, people look at me like I'm nuts!

I've always loved history and been interested in the way life used to be, even as a kid. I used to read the Laura Ingalls books and dream about living in the woods in a log cabin. While the other little girls were playing dolls, I was making bows and arrows and climbing trees. Seriously. As I got older, it chanelled itself into a love of old buildings and antiques. They are pieces of history that have survived; clues about the past. My love of the outdoors has given me a deep respect for the earth and a desire to preserve it. As a result, I like the restoration for the satisfaction it brings to both of my interests. I'm preserving a piece of history, plus reusing materials that might otherwise end up in a landfill. Also, by living more simply, I can lessen my own impact on the planet.

Does living in an old home just change you??

All of the homes I've ever lived in have been more than 40 years old. My mom has a '50s ranch, my apartment was built in 1902, our rental hovel was from the '30s. And now the Prairie Box, built somewhere between 1915 and 1925.

Not many people seem to understand the allure of living in an old home. All they think of is old windows, creaky stairs, and cold wood floors. Wavy, cracked plaster? A bedroom the size of a "modern" bathroom? Layers on layers of wallpaper and paneling? No thanks.

But does a new kitchen the size of the main floor of my old home equal happiness? Will a water-guzzling multi-headed shower make me cleaner? Will a new walk-in closet the size of my current bedroom really help me to be more organized?

The obvious answer is "no". I've been inside multiple houses 3 times the size of mine that were dirty, cluttered, and in disarray. And I've been in many more that look like they came out of a magazine shoot: not homey, just perfect. What I see is waste. These huge (to me) new homes have eat-in kitchens, formal dining rooms, formal living rooms, family rooms, dens, and rec rooms. Do 4 people need that much space? What's the purpose of having rooms you don't use?

My house may be small by today's standards, but every little bit of is is used (or will be when we've finished the renovations). I cook in my kitchen, eat in my dining room, sit in my living room. All of it flows together, and there's no place on the main floor that's isolated from the rest. It has a personality, and even without our "stuff" in it, it would still be beautiful and charming. Four generations of people have lived where we live. It's a home, not a house. It will share its story with those who care to look under the shag carpeting and paneling. I feel honored to be a part of its story and to help bring it back to what it was meant to be. Even when I wake up in the middle of the night feeling like I'll never realize my dreams for the house, it's reassuring to know that my house has seen it all before. This house has given me a vision of how my life should be, of an ideal to strive towards. What new house can do that?


More vintage stove dreaming

Ok. So I'm obsessed. Since yesterday I've been looking over websites and photos of stove restorations, fueled in part by the positive and encouraging comments I got on yesterady's post. And I decided that I was still really intimidated. But aside from that, I still really loved the idea of a vintage stove in my vintage kitchen. It would just add so much character that my plain-jane cabinets just might not provide.

I decided that a working stove, in good cosmetic shape, is what I needed to find. I talked the idea over with Shayne, and he was agreeable. To him, a stove is a stove. If it makes fire to heat up food, he's happy. Guys have life so easy.

After much browsing of craigslist and ebay, I found a stove. A cleaned up, unrestored, fully-working-with-some-parts-replaced stove. A 1941 B with high backsplash, timer, and lights. And it's affordable. Ain't she pretty?

I'm in contact with the seller, and I'll know soon what still needs to be done to bring this stove back to its original glory. I'm sure reporcelain of the burners and rechroming the top are in its future. It also needs an oven safety valve. But all of those are things that can be hired out for a reasonable cost. And I can do it bit-by-bit as we have the time and money (aside from the safety valve. That happens before we install the stove in the house.)

It kind of feels like everything for the kitchen is just falling together...


Contemplating restoring a vintage stove

(Alternate title: I Must Be Nuts)

Ever since I saw a vintage Chambers range on ebay a few weeks ago, I've been wondering exactly how much work and hassle it would be to restore one. The answer appears to be LOTS. I'm intimidated just from looking at pictures of other people's restorations. For one thing, I know nothing about appliances. I walk into the store, find a pretty one, and say, "I'll take it!" Then some nice people deliver it and hook it up. I just hand over the money and look proud, like I did something.

Stove restoration is a completely different beast. Unlike refinishing woodwork and most other old house restoration projects, I could blow myself up if I do it wrong. No big deal... Plus, there are so many pieces and parts and other thingamabobs I've never seen before. I have visions of a stove-in-pieces sitting in our garage for years and years.

But, a fully restored Chambers costs upwards of $5000. I don't plan on spending that much TOTAL on the kitchen, let alone for one appliance.

Realistically, I think the stove is out of my league, especially right now. We have plenty of other projects on our plate. I want one pretty badly, but it's not worth the hassle right now.

But I can dream, right?


ReStoring our house

I honestly believe that Habitat for Humanity's ReStores are the greatest store to ever come to St. Joseph County. As much as I'd love an Ikea or Whole Foods, the two ReStores in our area have saved us a TON of money and are much more useful to our style of life (aka: cheap and low-impact).

Today Shayne and I ventured to the Mishawaka store, which is about twice the size of the South Bend one. I was looking for tongue-and-groove pine flooring, which is very difficult to find around here. I also wanted to check out bathtubs. They had 514 square feet of oak T&G, but no pine. And only cheapo tubs. But we did find an upper corner cabinet that, with a little work, will fit right in with the original kitchen cabinets. The size is right, and the cabinet box isn't particle board with a laminate. Do you know how hard it is to find a plywood cabinet box anymore? The door doesn't match at all, but it's just a slab, so we might be able to route it to match the originals. The custom cabinet guy wants ~$400 for the same thing. We paid $45, and we'll just have to replace the back plywood panel, since the cabinet was originally on a penninsula and has doors on two sides.

We also found about 6.75' of T&G unpainted pine beadboard, which is enough to give the kitchen a new wainscot. Normally beadboard is about $3 per linear foot; we got it for $.50 per 3 foot section.

Other great finds have been pine flooring, a pine prairie-style front door with 9 beveled lites (pics to come soon), a lamp for my mom, and lots of little odds and ends. They always have a huge selection of doors, sinks, toilets, and paint.

I'm so glad we have the ReStore. We get awesome salvaged materials, and our money helps out a great organization. Now if only we had somewhere to stash this stuff until we're ready to use it...