Tuesday, August 29, 2006

We have our kitchen back!

Finally, the kitchen project is complete. For a while, there, it felt like it would never be finished. We were without a kitchen counter, sink or faucet for four long weeks. And what started out as as a somewhat fun adventure began to lose its glamour after a while.

I forgot to take "before" pictures to compare against the "after," but all of you who have seen our kitchen in its former incarnation should appreciate the improvement. The 10-year-old basic formica, annoyingly shallow double sink, and shoddy faucet are gone. Also gone (and I mean "gone" as the garbage men just picked them up this morning) are the cabinets that used to hang over the counter. (You remember those, Frank--the ones you used to bang your head against every time you visited?) We replaced those with the glass front cabinet you see against the wall in the picture. We also replaced the small, shallow cabinets that were around the fridge with fuller and deeper ones. Finally--and this was the best thing--we had the guys build a wall to support a second, bar-level counter.

The new counter is granite: Home Depot's new supposedly care-free granite. It's gorgeous; the pictures don't really do it justice. The only drawback of having such a lovely and classy-looking countertop is that it makes our crummy old builder's grade electric stove look even worse than it really is. Well, hopefully we can take care of that is a couple of years.

We love our new kitchen! The counter is simply beautiful. And we love being able to sit at the counter. It's so exciting to be able to pass things easily between the cooking and the eating areas, that we are getting rather silly about it. "Look, Mom, I am HANDING YOU my dish. Will you HAND ME the milk?" We are so easily amused. :o)

My Mason-Dixon dishcloths are proving quite handy, now that I am actually drying dishes and putting them away, rather than leaving them in the drying rack in one side of the double sink for days on end (cringe). My first two Mason-Dixon inspired placemats (using their log cabin knitting technique with washable dishcloth cotton yarn) are on the bar. My plan is to make six of these, changing the order in which I use the colors.
Here is a photo of the Bamboo yarn cropped cardigan, finally finished up. This turned out wonderfully, which actually was a very nice surprise. Before I sewed it together, I was feeling quite disappointed with it. The pieces just looked messy and plain awful--the pieces were small, and the yarn was so floppy, that I was having trouble looking past the messy ends to see the shape it would eventually take on. But once I finished it and tried it on, I knew I loved it. I've already worn it twice, and I only finished it about a week ago. The picture also shows ... (drum roll) ... my progress on the Endless Denim Cardigan. I promised I would get back to it, and I have. Maybe I'll finish it by Christmas (snort). Maybe pigs will fly. You never know.

Look at all the progress the kids have made on the potholder loop rug! I think we are about 2/3 finished, maybe more. It's going to look very cool when it is done. In the meantime, it sits in a basket between the TV and the fireplace, and any of us can pick it up and do a row or two, or loop together a bunch of loops. You never know when you might feel the need to be silly and crafty at the same time.

In Other News ... Next Tuesday, A starts his new school, The Montessori Academy of New Jersey (link provided, in case anyone wants to see pictures of the school). He is really looking forward to going back to school, although I know it will be an adjustment for him. I was flattered when his new teacher told me that he had told her he had enjoyed being homeschooled. I guess that's a compliment, isn't it? We are going to continue doing Latin at home, on our own, and we will continue to use our history and science resources to get suggestions for supplying his reading habit. Friends of ours already provided this school with a full set of The Story of the World (books and cds), which I think is a good sign. I also know that he will be able to do Algebra there, and physics, chemistry--pretty much anything that interests him. The school is eager to keep their upper elementary kids there, and is hoping to provide a curriculum that will take them through 8th grade. I have my fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, C starts 2nd Grade at her school next Wednesday. She does not have her best friend in her class, and she is very unhappy about that. However, she also does not have the horrible teacher that A had for 2nd grade (and who, let's be honest, probably drove us away from the school), and Rich and I are very happy about that.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Long Time No Post...

so I have lots to discuss, I guess. The best news is that the bar exam is over. Whether I passed or not is a completely different issue. I have a sinking feeling, but I try not to indulge it too much. The scores don't come out until mid-November, so I have a lot of time to sweat it out. (And we are doing major sweating during this ridiculous heat wave, but I'm not ready to segue to that yet). Here are the bar review books and cd's being packed away into the darkest, deepest, dustiest recess of our closet, where only dry cleaner trash and the stuffed monkey dare to tread. I am SO hoping that I will not need to use them again--but they are there, just in case. Don't ask about the monkey--it's too hard to explain.

While I was in lovely Somerset NJ taking the bar, the Home Depot men finally arrived to install the new cabinets and rip out the sink and the counter. We are currently in granite counter limbo: that in-between time, after they take out your old counter and before they replace it with something beautiful. This is not the fun time of kitchen remodelling. I must admit, that washing dishes in my tiny powder room sink is getting quite tiresome already, and we probably have another 2-3 weeks to go. Sigh.

Meanwhile, the knitting frenzy began as soon as the bar was over, in spite of the cramps in my hands from all the writing. Hey--I write with my left hand but knit with my right, it wasn't that bad, really. Here are my first Mason-Dixon "warshrags," hanging where my sink ought to be.
Here is the potholder loop rug, about half done. The foot model is C., my enthusiastic apprentice looper/helper. Knitting on these huge needles is cracking us both up. It's like knitting with fence posts or something. But the rug itself is wonderfully squishy, and both kids are enjoying making the string out of the loops. Doesn't it remind you of an old fashioned braided rag rug? It is intended for the powder room, and should brighten that little cave--I mean, room--up considerably.

And here is the almost-complete cropped cardigan with the feather and fan along the lower edge. I also tried to squeeze a picture of the pattern in here as well. In case you are wondering, I do not plan on wearing this sweater over the top of a goofy striped sailor shirt. And I did not make it too small for me, so that it would stretch across my chest and upper arms. Why do they do that, anyway? Well. Mine may be a little too big, as everything seems to be, even though I did swatch and get gauge. I am still working on getting it assembled, and I have one more sleeve and the band to do as well.
The Bamboo yarn is incredibly soft to the touch, but I don't think I will use it again. The strands separate very easily, so you have to go slowly and carefully. It's also very "drapey"--I know that's not a word, but I don't know how else to describe the way that this yarn acts when knitted up. It behaves very much like silk: it kinda just hangs there, if you know what I mean. In retrospect, I wish I had gone even smaller on the needle size; I think I would like it better if the stitches were even tighter. Of course, that probably would have messed up the feather and fan pattern. Anyway. I am satisfied with the results--so far, at least--but I'm not ecstatic.

The next projects are going to be house-oriented. Inspired by Mason-Dixon, I am going to knit placemats out of the oh-so-affordable dishcloth cotton. I'm thinking log-cabin knitting. It should be a fun, cheap, and easily portable project. I also love the M-D idea of knitted curtains. I'm planning a new curtain for my kitchen window, to go over my new sink! However, I don't like the linen yarn they recommend for this project. I understand why they chose it, but, honestly, it's like knitting with butcher's string. I want to see how my swatch washes up.

I will let you all know when the kitchen and my cardigan are done. I will confess that I am a lot more excited about the kitchen, though!