2021 Kitchen Remodel

A few things came together to make this decision. One, we decided that despite the rising value of our home, the rising costs of upgrade homes and the limited selection in our acceptable region were going to prevent us from improving our living situation by buying and moving into a new house. Two, we never liked the granite tile counters much, and the grout was starting to come apart, so why repair it? Three, it was summer time, and we figured we could grill a lot if the kitchen was unavailable. Four, we could afford it. Also, KrisDi just really wanted a double oven.

Before

Dissatisfactions with the old kitchen included:

  • Only one oven
  • Limited counter space
  • Limited cabinet space
  • Granite tile (as mentioned); prefer slab

We talked to two different contractors. One of them was pretty straightforward, asked questions, listened to what we wanted, and frequently said, “Yeah, we can do that.” The other was more sales-y, didn’t seem to listen to our reasoning for what we wanted, kept trying to tell us we wanted something else, and he was going to charge us money to make a plan and estimate. So we went with the first guy, Russell.

Lead times were pretty long. Something like 3 months for cabinets and similar for the range/oven we wanted. They delayed ripping stuff out until it was likely that the cabinets (first step) would arrive shortly after. Demolition was surprisingly quick, like 4-5 hours for two guys while KrisDi and I worked from home on 11 Aug.

After demolition and before new cabinets started going in, we let the kids draw and paint on the walls that would be covered up with new cabinetry. It was about 6 days before enough cabinets were put in for our old sink to be put back in a temporary installation, so that we could actually hand-wash real dishes. The old nuker/oven combo also got reinstalled the same day, so we had some heating options, too. We ordered food and ate with disposable stuff until then. We were also out camping for part of the time that the kitchen was completely out of commission.

The bulk of the cabinetry install took only a couple more days (19 Aug). Electrical came in and replaced the light fixtures (unexpectedly, including all the can lights) and the outlets for the island four days later (23 Aug). We just lived on the cabinet tops for a while.

Granite slabs finally showed up on 7 September. Only two guys were sent for this job. We estimate the slab on the island, which is huge, weighs about 800 pounds. Kudos to these strong men. They came with the counter tops, but not the backsplash (which needed to be measured out after the countertops were in place).

Unfortunately, this is where the excitement starts. The island slab is essentially a giant rectangle with a 36″ wide slot cut out for the stove. The slot was cut too wide (by maybe 3/16″ at max), and with the sides not parallel. We decided it wasn’t acceptable. They left the slab on the island (just sitting) while we figured out what to do.

I thought that maybe the depth of the counter would make the gap not so noticeable if the edges were straight, so when they came back with the backsplash on 19 Sep, they brought everything to try grind the sides parallel. They improved the parallelism, but the gap was clearly noticeable. We could see the unfinished tops of the cabinets. We decided it wasn’t acceptable.

At this stage, the kitchen was basically fully functional, except that we didn’t have a stove or a second oven. Lots of things were unfinished (most notably the giant gap in the island). But, the new sink and faucet (now touchless!) and the old dishwasher could all be installed and used.

Second piece arrived 1 Oct. Two different guys came and had to take the old one out and put the new one in. But, the new one had the exact same problem as the first. Maybe not as pronounced, but still exactly the same problem. We decided not to accept it, and had Russell call and bitch at them. They actually told him, “We don’t know what went wrong, we did exactly the same thing!” You mean…exactly the same thing that produced an unacceptable result once already…?

Third piece arrived on Friday, 15 Oct, while KrisDi and I were in New York. Les & D were watching the kids, and received the countertop for us. Russell had very explicitly told them to cut the slot too small and then grind it to size on site, which is exactly what they did.

Paul (the guy that actually did most of the work) came back to install the downdraft, move the gas line, move the ventilation duct (which was challenging due to a support joist in just the wrong spot), and install the oven, starting 25 Oct. But it didn’t fit. Also, we learned later, he didn’t tighten the gas line enough, and we kept smelling gas until we sprayed soapy water on the joints and realized what was going on. Les came and fixed that for us.

Anyway, we got to live with the kitchen fully assembled and functioning, but the oven occupying space in front of the sink for a little while. We could finally boil water again and make mac & cheese, but the layout was pretty weird.

When the counter people came back out to grind the slot slightly wider on 29 Oct, it was very…exciting. They were there until like 9:30 on a Friday night. And they manhandled that 400 pound oven so much I was afraid they were going to break it. They got it in place, though (but it may never come out again). They had to make some modifications to the way Paul had mounted the downdraft to make room for the oven to slide into the slot (he had left some screws/brackets protruding into space that needed to be occupied by the back of the oven.

Paul came back at least one more time to finish more stuff up, and in fact there is one or two more things that need to happen, such as replacing the panel that has a weird green paint streak on it.

After

As a wrap up, we’re mostly very happy with everything. Not everything is perfect. The pop up downdraft does not actually work very well, and the smoke alarm goes off a lot more (and it already went off a lot). There’s a bit of a gap between the oven and the downdraft (apparently that bothers me but not KrisDi). With the new island size and the new configuration of my coffee mess, the little bottleneck on the fridge side of the island seems to generate more traffic jams.

Also, going through everything again to write this post, I realized we still have a problem with the fridge that we discovered during the remodel. It has been building up a big patch of frost/ice on the back. I bought a kit to try to fix it, but haven’t done it yet (because I forgot entirely about it). So, I guess that’ll be a project for another upcoming weekend.

Here’s the album of all the photos.

Other noticeable changes / acquisitions:

  • Blue themed everything. New placemats, new bench, new barstools, butter dish, spoon rests, curtain, floormats in front of sink and stove, towels.
  • Got rid of the toaster and the air fryer and bought a toaster oven / air fryer combo to free up a little counter space.
  • Got a cool knife holder thing that is made of cork and goes in a drawer to free up some more counter space.
  • New drawer organizers and re-organized a bunch of stuff (and got rid of some unnecessary stuff).
  • We now have a cabinet for the trash and recycling cans, so we only have a little compost bin (on a blue mat) that is visible (this also gave us a bit more counter space).
  • All the cabinets and drawers are “soft close,” which is pretty cool, although one of the drawers wasn’t working correctly. In theory, the contractor should have fixed it, but I did, out of impatience. The problem was one of the drawer slide mounts was not mounted firmly because the wood had split.
  • New dishrack that fits in the smaller right-hand-sink, but is two-level.
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December 2021 Part III

As usual, Christmas Eve was at E-Dubs’ house with the rest of my in-laws. Kids were loud chaotic, we ate lots of Polish food and other junk food, may or may not have drank some beer, opened a crap-ton of presents, generally had a merry time. The kids pretended to sleep in the car on the way home.

Christmas day was also normal. We opened all our presents right away in the morning. KrisDi’s parents showed up a little later in the day, we had French onion soup and salad for dinner. It started to snow just a little bit in the evening and the kids made a tiny snowman.

KrisDi (and the kids) did a good job of getting me presents that will be consumed and then gone (beer, whisky, coffee, chocolates…). A beer friend mailed me beer that just happened to arrive on Christmas Eve, so I included that in my presents.

The kids and I gave KrisDi fancy earrings (kids’ birthstones) as her ‘big’ present. Some whiskey, and a fairly random collection of other assorted stuff.

The kids of course got so much loot that it would be impossible to list it all here. Chilkoot remembers getting a Lego typewriter and Lego Hedwig and a scooter. Chilkat remember her Lego Diagon Alley.

Since Ma lives in NM and couldn’t come up for Christmas, we Zoomed a bunch with her, and we planned on her coming out in January for Grandma Christmas. That has now been pushed out to March.

The day after Christmas, we started getting more snow and more cold. Chilkoot and I started working on his Pinewood Derby car, and I built a new desktop PC (I had been starting to seriously shop for a new laptop when I eventually realized I had a laptop, and I should stop using it as a desktop, and just buy a desktop). KrisDi cleaned out the pantry (thank the Lord! I can look in it again).

We went to a Thunderbirds minor league hockey game again, but this time we took the kids and Les & D came with us. We had dinner at the Ram (a local chain brewery) beforehand. After my experience with the blind AAL tasting with HB, I bought myself my “favorite” — Budweiser. T-birds lost, but we had lots of fun. Kids particularly enjoyed the tricycle race, where two audience members had to race on the ice. One was trash talking the other, so I rooted for the less trashy guy. He won.

Chilkoot’s friend’s family came over for dinner the next day, and C (the dad) brought his newfangled “drink smoker” device, which we used on some whisky and on some root beer).

We got a bunch more snow, and we started getting some pretty substantial icicles. I don’t remember which day it was, but the snow was perfect for snowmen, and I couldn’t convince the kids to go outside and play in it.

Our Oregon friends came up to stay for a long New Year’s weekend. KrisDi was making recipes out of the beer + food pairing cookbook she gave me, including this seared yellowtail tuna + wit, and this bleu cheese mac & cheese + barleywine, and Saison Dupont + cheddar and chive biscuits with a tomato jam.

The kids built gingerbread houses from kits.

We basically just hung around the house for New Year’s Eve. We introduced the kids to the card game Mafia that we used to play at Wilmbo’s every NYE. We counted down and drank scotch at midnight, since we forgot to buy champagne. The kids popped stuff. We drank the last of our egg nog, the last of our coquito, and we hot buttered some stuff.

And that was pretty much the end of the year. Not the end of the break, though.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Food, Photo updates, 1 comment

Five Months of Food

I got way behind, and caught up today. None of these actually have that many photos, so I decided to lump it all together into one big post.

Click here or the photo above for July 2021 food
Click here or the photo above for August 2021 Food
Click here or on the photo above for September 2021 food
Click here or on the photo above for the rest of the food in October 2021
Click here or on the photo above for the rest of the food pictures from November 2021
Posted by snaotheus in Food, 0 comments

December 2021 Part II

Click here or on the cookie makers above for more pictures

Two weeks after the second vaccine shot, the whole family was “fully vaccinated” and we celebrated by eating dinner inside at a restaurant, our local Mexican place.

After our last trip to the Zoo, Chilkoot decided he liked deep dish pizza at Windy City Pie. KrisDi made her own deep dish, and Chilkoot says he likes hers better. Not clear whether he’s just being nice, is just convincing himself because he likes the idea, or if he actually does. But, nice to get a little more variety of food into his belly.

KPA, the kids theater group, had costume fittings for Once Upon This Island, and we were once again employed as photographers. Chilkat in costume, and Chilkoot in costume.

My friend Mr. JJ brought his son-in-law, son, and his girlfriend to my house for our roughly annual bourbon barrel beer tasting. We started with an eight year flight of Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout, which was just barely far enough back in time for one of the bottles to be made before Goose Island was bought by AB InBev. One of the bottles was bad, which we were able to confirm by opening a second bottle from the same year. We were able to manage one more flight that night. We did a pretty decent job of slightly reducing the amount of beer in my collection, though.

The next day, our Alaskan Math Teacher (AMT) friend brought his two daughters (AMTC and AMTL) over to play with our kids while he and KrisDi bakes. The kids, theoretically, were supposed to make cookies, too, and they did a little bit.

We also had a blind tasting of American Adjunct Lagers (read: “cheap crappy beer”) — PBR, Rainier, Hamm’s, Bud, Miller High Life. I learned my preference for Hamm’s is artificial. I placed it last. Bud won for me. I like having that style of beer around from time to time, so now I’ll have to branch out a bit from Hamm’s.

Also, AMT brought us some of his annual egg nog, with two changes: Rather than using sherry in the George Washington version, I convinced him to use Aberlour A’Bunadh; he also made a batch of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s egg nog. The day’s result was a substantial amount of alcohol consumed and a HUGE PILE of cookies made.

KrisDi’s eye was bothering her for a week or so. She woke up one day with serious irritation and blurry vision in one eye with no detectable cause. She and the kids all had their eye appointments during this time, and the eye doctor basically thought it was dry eye, and told her to start using a couple eye drops, evening and morning. She’s been doing it for a couple weeks now, and it’s doing a lot better now.

The kids made gingerbread houses.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

December 2021 Part I

Click here or on the vaccinated children above for more photos

The kids got their second shot. Hooray!

Parent/teacher conferences were the same day as the shot. Kids are basically doing fine, except Chilkat gets discouraged and Chilkoot gets distracted. Apparently he likes to pass notes. His teacher described that he’ll get out of his desk and walk over to the window, visibly holding a note in his hand behind his back. She asks what he’s doing, and he says, “Just looking at the fidget contract,” whatever that is. And then not-so-subtly drop the note on a friend’s desk on the walk back to his seat.

St. Nicholas day is a tradition KrisDi brought to the family: Leave a shoe outside your door on December 5th, and St. Nick will put presents in it overnight. So, that happened. I didn’t get anything this year. I forgot to leave my shoe out. The kids left notes for St. Nick, asking him to leave a note in response.

KrisDi’s work does a gift basket giveaway thing every Christmas. Each department makes a basket and then they’re raffled off. They’ve all figured out that everyone just wants the baskets to be filled with liquor. Her department’s (made completely by her) has some scotch, beer, and snacks, mostly.

KrisDi made me help decorate the outside of the house.

We had to go out and get a Christmas present for little cousin J, which we used as an excuse to visit a couple breweries and a beer store while the kids were at school.

KrisDi baked bread to make Italian beef sandwiches, and Chilkat loved them.

We had a “Paper Plate Christmas” with the Popes and the Monoculars. It’s Monocular Ben’s first Christmas back in Washington, so it’s the first time all three families could get together for this purpose. The Pope made Thai food, the kids played raucously, and we made a surprisingly large dent in the bottle of scotch I had given the Pope for his birthday.

The next day, we went down to visit Les & Diane. Chilkoot and I put together the gift he had gotten the night before, a little wooden hydraulic toy using syringes as pistons. It has three axes of motion. It’s pretty cool, and he liked it a lot. Although he was a little stressed when he learned the hard way not to completely remove a plunger. Les & Diane made a Polish meal for dinner, which was very tasty.

No pictures, but I met our Oregon trucker friend for dinner one night. It was very wet, so rather than eating on the side of the road by his truck, we drove to 20 Corners. It was good.

Can you believe it? I actually got to a post in the same month that it was written about!

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment