Archive for April 2009
First of all, I want to thank everybody who talked me down from painting the kitchen floors black (or any other color)! Your feedback was thoughtful and really helped me get some much needed objectivity. I’m looking at them differently now – and learning to love them for what they are. And TartanScot really said the magic words – clean up! I actually do keep livestock in the kitchen (see below) and the last thing I need is having my floors betray my secret.
I feel like I should apologize for the paucity of posts lately. I’ve been in decision making mode on two final details of the ‘how cheap can I update the kitchen?’ series (rather than actually doing stuff). These things are a tile backsplash and new countertops. Today I’ve got tile on my mind. As a refresher – the blacksplash would go here:
Want to look at some tile options with me? Here we go!
Help a fellow out. What do you think? For Julia at the fab HookedOnHouses.net Friday blog party, I’m hooked on a new backsplash.
P.S. I’d be remiss without another note of thanks to Toad who nominated me for a fab blog award. That’s pretty good coming from a blog like his. Read it every day. Look for my nominations soon!
So I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen now that we have the new stove. However I’m lately hamstrung by having my car in the shop for the past five weeks – without it to zip to the store for the occasional item, I’ve had to make comprehensive menu plans and do the week’s shopping in one complete pass. This is not easy for me. However, something arrived in my mailbox Saturday morning that made this week’s menu plan a breeze – a free sample edition of a cooking magazine I had never heard of – Cuisine at Home.
At first I almost threw this magazine away – the graphic design is completely unfortunate. It looks so similar to that awful Almost Homemade magazine by Sandra Lee that I just assumed it was filled with muffin recipes that begin with: “First, buy some muffins…”
But Richard flipped through and started enthusiastically calling out dishes (there are no ads in this magazine by the way – only recipes) which all sounded solid enough… But I didn’t realize how good these recipes were untill I started making them.
Sunday afternoon was quickly draining away from me and I needed an entire week’s menu ASAP. I picked out six dinners all from the magazine and have made two so far. Both were delicious – and more importantly taught me new things about cooking!
Monday night: New York Strips with Béarnaise and a side of creamy, parmesan spinach. This is a meal we’ve made a hundred times, but Cuisine at Home offered it with a new technique – borrowed straight ‘from the world’s best steakhouses’. Sear one side of the steaks (enlivened with crushed peppercorns), flip them and send them in your oven-proof skillet to finish off in the oven. Now your hands are free to focus on a side dish (or in my case a glass of nice wine). The steaks were perfect – and lived up to the ‘just like an expensive steakhouse’ claim. We will do this again and again.
Tuesday night’s meal sounded humbler in comparison – Salisbury steaks in a French Onion Sauce. I have to agree with the magazine’s assessment: this dish has gotten a terrible rap from the frozen food industry over the years (and I might add college cafeterias, as well!) But you must trust me on this – the editors have remade this dinner to be fresh and full of new flavors. A fast French Onion soup creates a wonderful simmering sauce that deepens the flavors of this dish. I followed the editors excellent suggestion to serve these wonderful pan steaks over (get this) cheese toast.
But what a cheese toast! Fresh french baguette, sliced diagonally, slathered in melted butter (with a good pinch of paprika and a minced garlic clove stirred in) and then topped with grated gruyere and a bit of parmesan. I thought I had dinner bread down pat – but this treatment pretty much smoked by best efforts from the past.
So, this little magazine whose cover looked a little too cutsie-pie almost got away from me. [Insert well worn aphorism here.] It’s cusine for sure – and I’m a happy new sucker… I mean subscriber!
Our current hardwood floors are original to the house – you gotta love that. 150+ years old. However, in the kitchen they have been badly stained over the years. I’m considering painting them black – is this crazy? Take a look at this concept in a kitchen I saw in Kitchen and Bath Ideas magazine:
The reason I ask if you might think I was crazy is that Richard actually recoiled in horror when I mentioned that I was thinking of painting them (even though he knows that they cannot be rescued by sanding & refinishing at this point)! The floors look wonderful in the rest of the house, though. We were lucky there.
Okay – a few more painted floor treatments. I favor the black in our temporarily ‘modern’ kitchen but I thought these were just a treat to consider…
Okay – so when we do the actual big renovation, I’m thinking tile. The room gets a lot of biped and quadruped traffic and I do need something durable. I won’t tile the whole thing – it would look out of place with every other room in the house. BUT! Could I somehow blend tile in? Here’s what I’m thinking (of stealing, wholesale, from this house in Traditional Home):
But in the meantime, I’m thinking… paint ’em. I just need to soften the blow somehow for Richard.
In Memoriam: O’Keefe & Merrit enjoyed a rich and long, long, long life. I know that he will find a welcome home in the bottom of the Mississippi River. Salut!
Color inspiration often comes from surprising places. When I picked up my office copy of April 2009 Southern Living, I spotted a wonderful renovation by young homeowner Haskell Harris in the article ‘Do-It-Herself Cottage Style‘. The house is a charmer – but more charming was how she was inspired to pick it’s colors:
“She discovered the perfect palette in a package of gourmet marshmallows.”
“They were the softest, most sophisticated colors I’d ever seen. Pale pink, pale blue, cocoa, cream, and pale gray―I based all the paints on those marshmallows,” Haskell says. “The chalky finishes remind me of studying in Italy and visiting old villas and churches. The paint looks like it’s been there a long time.”
So take a look at these beautiful colors – and Haskell’s great style:
This will come to my dining room (I have a tacit approval from Richard :-) when it goes on sale. haha!
I think the Zinc finish will match my black cast iron mantles & fireplaces pretty darn well and make a grandiose statement at that.
I thought I could risk 30 bucks for something that sloppy dogs and gardeners could tromp all over. It was a good bet – I like it!