Friday, February 29, 2008

Spice Up My Kitchen

I fully admit it. I'm a spice whore. I probably have over 120 bottles of spices. And probably 20 of those are duplicates. I'm convinced that spice bottles are specifically designed to make the consumer lose their spices in a sea of short, tall, skinny, and fat bottles.

I would love to be able to store my spices like this

Or this

Or even a pretty spice rack on my counter like this one

But let's be realistic about it. None of those systems work unless you have just a few spices and they are all in uniform containers.

I don't know about you, but I have a fortune tied up in the spices I already have. I also cook a lot so I like to have a huge variety of spices on hand so that when a recipe calls for that elusive spice, there's a good chance that I have it on hand. My spices come in a variety of square, round, fat, skinny, tall, and short bottles.

A while back I came upon a solution that worked for me. I divided all of my spices into several boxes, divided by type: General Spices, Dessert Spices, Meat Spices, Salts and Peppers, and Baking Spices.

While it made it really handy to grab the right box and quickly locate the right spice, it still wasn't perfect.

So this week, I took a little time and labeled the tops of all of my spices so not only can I grab the right box quickly, but I can also locate the correct spice with just a glance and I won't have to dig through the box.

Heck, I might even get Vern to help me out in the kitchen a little more.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Putting up Barriers

We use barrier training to teach our dogs that certain areas are off limits to them. Some areas are temporarily off limits like the driveway when we are having a garage sale or a certain room if we are having company or doing work in that room.

Some areas are permanently off limits - or should be. We haven't really enforced the permanent areas very well. They aren't allowed on our beds or furniture. Usually.

They weren't allowed near the kitchen counters, but that didn't keep them from laying just beyond that area, hoping to trip me while I prepared a meal.

We've decided that our new kitchen will be completely off limits to them. That was the intention with the old one, but it was too open, and they had to walk through it to go from room to room. And walking through it led to laying in it and laying in it led to begging near the counters.

The new layout, however, gives us some perfect barriers to define the kitchen and they will be able to walk around the island rather than through the kitchen to go from room to room.

So, now the process begins of teaching them where they are allowed and where they are not allowed.

Sure, they look happy enough about it now, but once they figure out that the kitchen is off limits permanently and that their smorgasbord of dropped crumbs and cooking accidents has been closed, they are definitely not going to be happy.
I can hear the whining already.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Home Sweet Home

You know how they say Home is where the heart is?

We have a second home.

A home is defined as:

1. A place where one lives. Well, that much is true. We spend more time at Menards than we do at our residence.

2. An environment offering security and happiness. I know Menards makes Vern happy. It does, however, give me heartburn.

3. A valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin. I'm pretty sure he runs off to Menards as a refuge sometimes.

4. The place, such as a country or town, where one was born or has lived for a long period. Live for a long period. Check.

5. The place where something is discovered, founded, developed, or promoted; a source. We discover all sorts of thing we need there and have developed many ideas. And it's definitely a source.

6. An institution where people are cared for. I'm pretty sure they love us there. We've been keeping them in business for the past few years.

Lately, Vern doesn't even bother to say "we need to go to Menards." He just says "do you want to run to town?"

Someday I'm going to say "No, I do NOT want to run to town. I want to stay here and finish this house. So we can have a real home."

One that doesn't sell socks next to the lumber and dishsoap next to the toilets.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Picture is Worth One Thousand Words

Right on the tail of my birthday is our Anniversary! I can't believe how fast the time has gone. It has been almost 29 years since we met at that little fishing resort in Nevis, Minnesota.

For our honeymoon, we thought it was only appropriate that we go back to Nevis. However, we got married in February, and our mommas didn't raise us dumb. So we headed off to the sunny island of Nevis in the West Indies.

One of the things that we enjoyed the best while we were there was the tour of the island. We visited the most interesting church where Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of our nation and the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, is buried underneath the floorboards at the entrance. He was born on the island of Nevis.

A couple of years ago we were given a framed print of this church and although we loved it, it was missing the information that made it special to us - the name of the church and the location.

That's where a fabulous company that I found on Etsy came in. The company is called Scribble It, and they make the most fantastic vinyl wall art and quotes ever.

The owner, Cammi, worked with me to come up with just the perfect lettering for our frame since I wanted it to relay a lot of information in a fairly small amount of space.

Didn't she do a fantastic job?

And it was so easy to apply I didn't even have to get the expert (Vern) involved!

We also got a really neat sign with our name and the year of our wedding on it just like this one.

Check out their website ( and their Etsy shop ( for some really great stuff. And I know that if you have something special that you want to say, they can help you say it! Make your special requests to their email at and tell her the "Unos" say hi!

I can't wait until this remodel is finished so that I can get a few more things for our walls - I have a lot of ideas running through my head and I'm going to have a hard time not "scribbling" on all of the walls in our house!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me

You could, however, give me some sort of a discount for being 45.

Friday, February 22, 2008

HEY - Someone Stole My Idea

No fair. ( ) stole my idea.

I'm oddly intrigued and repulsed (because I know how dirty my floors can get) with these at the same time.

Oh well, I guess now I'll just have to work harder on my idea for Swiffer slippers for the dogs.

(Note to self - if you are ever a foot model, please make sure your pedicure is fresh.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The First Cabinet


The two cabinet walls are painted and the first cabinet is up.

There aren't even words for how happy I am about this. I don't expect this to be finished over night. I don't even expect it to be finished in a few weeks.

But the first damn cabinet is on the wall.

Elbow Room

As we get more and more materials to complete this project, we are finding that we are running out of room.

The dining room is full.

The area for the new bathroom is full.

We have more stuff stashed in the garage (also known as our temporary kitchen), laundry room, guest room, family room, and sunroom.

And it just keeps coming. We picked up all of the lighting yesterday, and the appliances will be delivered in a week or two.

I'm pretty sure I had something witty to say about all of this, but it must be buried underneath all of this stuff because I can't find it now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

House Tour

Here are a couple of photos to help you get the layout of our project.

Confused? Me too. It's hard to picture it all, even living here in the middle of it.

What in the heck made us bite off this project?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

R.I.P. Sweet Blog

It has been brought to my attention by more than one friend and family member that my blog may be dying a slow death.

Not true. It's just paralyzed. Not terminal.

I'm debating between posting that a lot has been going on and we've been really busy or that nothing has been going on that is worthy of blogging.

Truthfully, it's a little of both. We have been working hard, but a lot of it isn't really on things that can be seen

We've been tearing down more walls.

We've been doing plumbing (with a little help from the dogs)

We've been doing electrical.

We've been insulating the walls.

. . . and hanging drywall.

. . . and mudding drywall.

(I'm a messy drywaller)

Oh, look! We found more drywall to tear out - this time, the ceiling.

Watch out below!

We've been framing walls.

And finally making a little visible progress.

Whew. No wonder I haven't had time to post.

We're hoping that this week will bring a lot more visual progress. We have started to feel a little bit stressed about the amount of work still to go to complete this project, and we are seriously lacking in elbow space because of all of the construction materials we are storing, so we have decided to concentrate on the two main walls of the kitchen and try to get the drywall finished, primed and painted, and get the cabinets installed at least on those walls.

Of course, you know what the saying is. God laughs when you try to make plans.

I can hear the giggling already.