Sunday, March 11, 2012

give yourself a break.

Today's an annoying day of aborted projects. I guess it's only fair after the progress we made on the kitchen yesterday, but it sends me into a major sneaky hate spiral, which should be illegal on such a randomly beautiful March Sunday in Michigan.

So, first for the progress, and then for the hatred.

Since I hailed the kickoff of the kitchen remodel a week and a half ago, I had accomplished...nothing. No online ordering, no furtive measuring while J.J. tried to cook, hardly even a new Pin on my bitchin' kitchens board. I knew the next steps that needed to be taken - remove the copper backsplash, remove the upper cabinetry molding, call the electrician, scout out replacement cabinets - but ughhh, it seemed like so much work in comparison to watching 17 consecutive episodes of "Friends" while hoovering jellybeans into my gullet.

Then, yesterday, inspiration arrived in the form of my baby brother and his adorable baby girl. (To clarify, Baby Brother is 27. Not actually a baby with a baby. Though, think of the TLC show we could have...) While my niece indulged in an afternoon nap, I hovered around the kitchen, hoping my brother would get the familiar glint in his eyes - the one that betrays our genetic tendency towards ruining all downtime with masochistic projects. (Something about idle hands alleviating anxiety disorder...or something...)

After approximately 73 seconds of relaxation, success! Baby Brother asked what the next step was in the kitchen project, and I dragged my eyeballs toward the copper backsplash, emitting a moody sigh and flicking my hand around aimlessly. "The backsplash, I guess," I said. "I just don't even know where to start!" If I owned a chaise lounge, that would have been the perfect time to throw myself upon it. Instead, I leaned against the bare blue wall where the desk used to be (and where there are now five holes from when I tried to install a floating shelf...too flimsy; I returned it, but the scars remain).

"Well, let's see what we can do," he replied. OKAY.

Well, we not only tackled the backsplash, but we also took down the (under-functioning-because-the-filters-obviously-hadn't-been-cleaned-since-before-the-Reagan-era) range hood, leaving that little area looking like this:

Yeah, I know. It's definitely in the "going to get worse before it gets better" stage, but at least now the electrician can come and do his/her part. The backsplash actually came down more easily than I had predicted - we just had to wiggle putty knives behind it, and down it came, tile by tile. Dismantling the range hood was just a matter of opening up the (WARNING: Official Term Alert) filter-box-thingies, unwrapping the wires, and unscrewing the hood from the upper cabinet. Hoping to put both the "pristine copper subway tile backsplash" and the "retro 36-inch range hood" on Craigslist!

My brother soon left, taking his squeezily adorable offspring with him, but I was on a roll. I decided now was the time to remove the solitary base cabinet to the left of the range in the pictures above. We got the countertop off quickly, but could NOT figure out how the damn thing was attached to the wall/floor. While J.J. examined the toe kick for clues, I made the grave error of exploring the filler piece.

See that innocent-looking filler section on the right?
OH HAI, bird's-eye view. This is where all the world's spiders originate.

So, yeah, I was kinda grossed out at this point, thinking of the spider orgies that had been raging RIGHT BETWEEN WHERE I STORE MY MUFFIN TINS AND WHERE I BAKE LASAGNA. But the quicker we could figure out how to dislodge the cabinet, the quicker we could haul Spiderville outside.

That's when I made another grave error (tally for this post: two). I thought if we removed the filler piece, maybe we could access part of the toe kick that would clue us in as to how it was attached. So, off came the filler piece.

That's when we found something far, far worse than Spiderville.

That gray-brown mass scattered along the subfloor?

OMG IT'S EFFING SUNFLOWER SEED SHELLS. Hundreds of them, dating back to - when? Forty years ago? Or last Wednesday?! THERE IS NO WAY OF KNOWING. Let me gauge for you the level of my need ever, ever, EVER to have seen these seed carcasses: LESS THAN NEGATIVE ZERO HUNDRED. My imagination is still running wild with thoughts of mice (or worse: squirrels) burrowing in that cozy little filler nook. Gawd.

After I performed a not-at-all-embarrassing scream-hop around the kitchen and rinsed my eyes out with bleach (KIDDING, dumb ass, do not try at home [side note: must sometime share my Internet-at-home bleach remedy that resulted in calling Poison Control]), I fetched the Shop-Vac for J.J., who heroically hoovered the seed carcasses away. (Tally of usage of the word "hoover" as a verb in this post: two.) There didn't appear to be any...droppings...present, and, with Easter candy as my witness, I pray never to find the cache of droppings that must be somewhere in my abode.

Once I was satisfied that (1) there wasn't an animal currently chilling in the filler nook and (2) the evidence of it having been there was gone, we returned to the mystery of How the Hell Is This Thing Attached?! We tried rocking it, searching for screws and nails, and pointing the flashlight accusingly at where it should have been screwed in.

Then J.J. pulled option #P90X and just lifted it off the floor. Nails and all. DUH BAM.

I scream-hopped around the kitchen again (scream-hop tally for this post: two) while J.J. vacuumed more seed carcasses. But - at least that base cabinet was removed! I'm hoping to replace it with a slightly wider (15" instead of 12") cabinet that comes equipped with a trash can.

Following three hours of hard labor and scream-hopping, we were done, so we retired to the couch for a leisurely dinner and restorative conversation. Or...that's what we TRIED to do. But when you're sitting on our couch, the window across the way reflects the kitchen, and the crown molding on the upper cabinets was taunting me. Buoyed by the success of so much demolition (and not getting attacked by sunflower-seed-loving squirrel zombies from 1969), I got the stepladder, the putty knife, a flat-head screwdriver, and a hammer, and asked J.J. to slice the paint between the soffit and the molding. Then I spent two hours prying off molding. The best part? Taking down the groovy-wavy part over the sink.


I shall not miss you...except for your ability to hide the gaping
hole where a light fixture was removed. A year and half ago.

"Ah, Cathy, I see you're cooking beach towels, cherry
tomatoes, and prenatals for dinner...my favorite!"

So, right - progress yesterday...hatred today. Yesterday = awesome kitchen success. Today? Well, today = EXTREME WONK-WONK. I went to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for the first time, and let me tell you, my excitement levels were shameful legendary. Like any secondhand store, I had to sift through the junk to find the treasures. But guess who I saw?

That's right - Stinky Pinky and Pink Sink! I donated them to the ReStore a couple weeks ago, and I spotted them frolicking in a rainbow sea of porcelain fixtures. We tipped our hats at one another, and they pointed the way to the cabinetry.

I went in hoping to find three pieces: a 12" H x 36" W wall cabinet to attach to fridge build-in; a 15" W base cabinet to transform into the garbage cabinet; and a corner wall cabinet to replace the nearly-non-functional pair of upper cabinets we currently have in a corner to the left of the sink. Well, I did find a cabinet for the fridge build-in that matches my current cabinetry (complete with hard-to-find-because-they're-so-outdated beveled-edge doors), but it was 30" W instead of 36". I figured it was worth it for the matching doors (and the price tag - $10). And while I did find a number of base cabinets that had been used for garbage bins, they were all caked with mold, sludge, and droppings, so I didn't take one.

The biggest wonk-wonk of the ReStore experience was the corner cabinet. I found one ($30...not sure if the dimensions for it will be right), purchased it, and - it totally doesn't fit in my car. Boo. I need to pick it up before Wednesday, or it goes back out on the floor. (Note to self: magically alter car's door openings tonight.)

A bit deflated, I returned home and thought, "Hey! I'm feeling sort of inexplicably crummy and vaguely hungry! Now is the BEST time to tackle a project that exceeds my skill level!" And so, I started on hacking my IKEA MALM Craigslisted dresser. The plan is to remove the top and build a shallow drawer for spices, which will also build the dresser up to the height of a regular base cabinet so that it looks seamless with the other cabinets.

This is how far I got on that plan before throwing a fit and quitting:

Yep. It's topless now. And that's it. Because I started looking at measurements and wood types and building plans and then my head exploded and I had to clean that up instead. I was annoyed by things not going TOTALLY ABSOLUTELY PERFECTLY at the ReStore, and - more importantly - I was (am) exhausted. This has been, for reasons far and wide, an epically crazy week. Like, it's in my top three of Craziest Work Weeks Ever. And although I'm proud to say that I handled it well - didn't cry in the bathroom once, didn't lose my cool, just buckled down and did what I had to do - I am a wee bit tired. And it caught up with me today.

So, instead of berating myself for starting projects that I didn't finish this weekend, I'm going to give myself a break and concentrate on everything I DID get done. And the fact that some of the next big steps are in the works. I'm going to call the electrician for real this week (haven't done it yet, since the backsplash and range hood had to go first). The electrician will be:

  • installing a new outlet where the wires are hanging out the wall (used to be for the range hood; will now be where the microwave plugs in)
  • installing a new floor outlet for the range, which has been shifted to the left, and closing out the old floor outlet
  • installing a new outlet for the new range hood location (where the fridge used to be)
  • moving an outlet over for the fridge
  • removing the sketchy wiring underneath one of the cabinets
  • giving us an estimate on recessed lights (still not sure about those)
Probably won't be cheap, but it's all necessary for the new layout. I also need to Craigslist the backsplash, the range hood, the old bathroom light fixture (more on that soon), and the old range (at a new price), and I'm going to shop around for a new range hood. That stuff is all fun and within my skill set. Bonus.

First on the list, though? Dinner. And maybe taking the night off.

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