How to cook dinner without a sink or a cooktop

So, friends, the kitchen is on its way to completion but it's not there just yet. There's a whole process wherein I need to seal the new butcher block counters to make sure that they're all friendly to water, oil, and the various messes I will certainly make. So though we moved in last Sunday, we've been eating a lot of takeout. You know how that always sounds nice, but then it isn't all it's cracked up to be? Even on our honeymoon, in food paradise British Columbia, there was a point where I was sick of all the beautiful fresh produce and sparkling local seafood. Going out for every meal, every day gets a little cumbersome (not to mention expensive!) and I just felt like, can I just make myself a sandwich already? In that case, Kyle and I found a little place that served super simple pasta and it satisfied some of my cravings for a home cooked meal (likely because that's always my go-to). In this case, I said hey, we've got an oven!

So, making dinner without a kitchen sink or a cooktop. First, pick something you can make in your oven (a roast chicken, because that's my other go-to, the very first thing I ever learned to cook for myself), and/or something that doesn't need to be cooked at all (a lovely salad with strawberries, since they're in season and actually taste like themselves instead of that cardboard cutout of them you get the rest of the year).

Chicken in the oven

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We have a mulberry tree!

I have been working out in the living room during the day with all the windows open, and the lovely freshness of it all is really nice. I hear birds all day hanging out in the tree out back, which was a big deciduous mystery until it starting getting leaves a couple of weeks ago.

Male lesser goldfinch

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Working Like Beavers

I sincerely apologize for the radio silence, Internet. It's been a crazy week and a half.

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When we last spoke, we were building a kitchen out of 138 IKEA boxes. The week after that was Kyle's spring break, so my mom and step-father Don were planning to be in town for their usual spring visit (typical: sunny days and baseball games. Not typical: slave labor). Instead, we put them to work ("like beavers," as my grandmother put it), and it was a whirlwind ten days. I took the week mostly off of work, so we were at the house 8-12 hours a day every day - my parents actually extended their time here to finish some projects. The house was a whirlwind of paint, primer, spackle, sawdust... you name it. There was no real safe place to put the camera, so unfortunately I don't have as many pictures as I'd like. I had this amazing one of my mom COVERED in paint (messy painting runs in the family!), but sadly my phone deleted it.

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Driving the Walrus

Walrus

I mentioned in my last post that getting the flooring was a bit of a saga. We shopped around a lot, and decided on bamboo flooring because of cost, sustainability, and general prettiness. After living with concrete floors for the last few years (and even knowing the lovely concrete in this house) we'd decided we wanted to do wood of some kind, to give our feet a little more cushion. It sounds silly but for reals you guys, walking on concrete all the time in bare feet can lead to some really sore soles at the end of the day. We knew from our research that there were some issues with bamboo (harvesting the grass too young can lead to it not being very hard, so can over-coloring it through a steam process called carbonization, or the way its woven together to create planks), but we ended up choosing a product that we were pretty sure happy with. We borrowed our friend Mike's truck and drove to the store to buy our 1,483 square feet of flooring (the whole house, minus bathrooms and laundry room. Oh, and that carport unit we're completely ignoring for the time being).

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It’s Almost Like We Have a Kitchen

It's a funny thing - sometimes it's hard to find the time to write about something when you're busy actually doing it. This has been a crazy week; we worked at the house on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, plus all day Saturday and Sunday. Usually, we've been working all day Saturday and then part of the day - for stuff like clean up, store runs, and so on - on Sunday, but we try not to work too much during the week so we can get our own work done. I hate to say this, but I think we might be getting old. After our long day at the house on Saturday, we've been waking up every Sunday barely able to move. We had been doing some pretty labor intensive work; taking up flooring, tearing down walls, so it felt pretty justified. This weekend though, all I did was assemble cabinets, and Sunday morning my back and knees hurt from kneeling and my hands were swollen from holding the screwdriver all day.

Kyle and Wayne hanging cabinets

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138 Boxes

Not super accurate kitchen rendering

Have you ever been to IKEA on a Saturday afternoon? It's where the less-desirable parts of my personality emerge, and I start mentally pushing old ladies aside and bopping small children on the head. IKEA in the worst of circumstances can feel a lot like a lazy river, where we're all on the same path and moving at the same slow speed. You'd like to get around people, but there's only so much you can do, and there's always some kid splashing people and yelling. I'm a pretty efficient shopper, and I've been to IKEA so many times that I know where everything is so I usually just want to get from A to B. Anyone (old ladies and small children included) in my way will face my wrath! Fair point, my wrath usually just consists of frustrated mumblings under my breath, but still. It's not a good place to be. Kyle usually has to bait me with delicious frozen yogurt to make me behave myself (good practice for parenting I'm sure).

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This Old House

There are certainly some foibles to renovating a 1953 home. Many we expect, since we renovated our current house when we bought it and it was built in the 70's so it has some of the same issues. However, each house is always different. I thought I might share some of the hurdles we've encountered so far with renovating this house. Plumbing issues we've kind of covered, and they're obvious. Old pipes, drains mostly blocked. Wiring? It's a little messy. We're tackling that too, as much as we can without ripping the roof off (that we, ahem, just put on).

The first thing to keep in mind is that the house has had several additions. It was initially a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home built out of gray 4"x8"x16" masonry block. Then, someone added a family room and bedroom (with a separate outdoor entrance) onto the back of the house in the '60's, which were also built of the same block. In the '90s, the one-car carport was turned into another bedroom/apartment with its own entrance, but by then block construction had become very expensive so this one was framed in. We believe that it was at this time that the brick was added over the original block, to tie the whole facade together where stick frame construction meets the block.

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Lots of Progress

We had some major victories this weekend! First and most visually appealing, we made some major headway in the hall bathroom. Kyle and Wayne finished the plumbing for the shower and sink, wired the light, and wall-mounted the vanity. It's so dang fancy! It's not totally done (we need to finish painting, switch out the outlets for white, patch the hole where the wiring for the light used to be, install the vent fan, hang towel bars... ok enough, I'm depressing myself right when I was so excited). I'll do a full post just on the bathroom when it's totally done and compare before and afters.

New bathroomNew bathroom other side

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Good stuff coming soon

New can lightNew electrical

Well, this week's updates aren't going to win any beauty contest, but they are awesomely functional. This week has been all about electrical and plumbing - inside-the-wall stuff. There's some crazy wiring going on in this house, and we're trying to get it straightened out while adding nice new lighting and getting outlets in the right places. There was also some pretty hinky stuff going on in the panel - now that's cleaned up, thanks to Roberto.

Our weekend work focused on taking up the old wood and vinyl floors. The living room was pretty easy, but Colan spent hours getting only part way up the hallway. There is a LOT more glue there and the boards don't come out in one piece, but in lots of tiny splinters.

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Floor Plans

Thought it might be easier to understand the photos if you could see the floor plans, to make this whole thing clearer. Here's the "before" floor plan:

Original floor plan

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