Thursday, October 4, 2007

Just chillin' ... with my new fridge


All the appliances are installed.

I got home from work last night to find my fridge and dishwasher in place.


I have not had occasion to use the dishwasher yet (I may give it a test run tonight just to see how it sounds, etc.).

And I haven't moved things into the new fridge yet.

But the icemaker and water dispenser seem to work just fine.

I want to give everything a good cleaning and get the shelf liners in before I move stuff back into the kitchen.

I started today by cleaning some of the cabinets, including the glass-doored ones. They look so nice.

I figure I will use the weekend to get stuff headed out of the spare room and back into the kitchen.

It took me a good solid day to get things out, I figure it will take at least that long to put it all back together.

Plus some stuff will not be coming back in, and I need to decide what that stuff will be.

When I emptied the kitchen it was simply putting things in boxes. This will mean more sorting and organizing.

Also, here is the shot of the finished floor that I have been meaning to post. It is now George-tested and George-approved. He likes flopping down on it and rolling around.

And, on my way to work today, I stopped by another tile place to look at backsplash options.

I found some beautiful stuff.

I think I may have found what I want.

The only problem is it takes at least a month to get it because it is made-to-order tile.

I want to make that decision and place the order by Monday.

For now, I have some (more) sample tiles to take home and look at in all the different lights.

I know it is just tile and if I get tired of the color I choose, I can replace it. But at $14-20 a square foot for some of these options, I want to pick something I really love.

To put the prices in perspective, the floor tile cost $1.79 a square foot. But it also was not handmade and special ordered.

So that means the kitchen may not be done until mid-November.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Getting my kitchen mojo working again

The floor is done! I have a new appreciation for people who do floors for a living. That is not easy work.
I grouted yesterday afternoon. And I am paying for it now with creaky knees and sore shoulders.
But it looks great.
No pictures of that. It is a gray grout that ties in nicely with the floor. I will take more pictures once the workers come back and finish with the fridge and dishwasher, etc.
And the workers may come in this afternoon, or at the very least, sometime this week to finish.

So to celebrate, I really wanted to make a proper dinner for myself and the manfriend.
That pasta last week was great. But I wanted an entree and some side dishes.
I didn't do anything too crazy, but I did make three things I had not made before just to really give my kitchen mojo a workout. It has been a while.
Turns out I am not too rusty.
Dinner was great.

Here is what I made. Just click on the name of the dish if you want the recipe.

There was no actual cooking with this one, but it gave me a chance to chop and the coolness and creaminess was a nice compliment to the rest of the dinner.
The dressing-to-cucumber ratio was a bit off. I thought it was over-dressed. Next time I would add more cukes or make less dressing. But the flavor was excellent.

Um, YUM! Why have I never thought of this before?
It is like hash browns, but with sweet potato?
This was great with dinner, but would be so yummy as a breakfast or brunch dish, too.
I left out the red bell peppers on this. I was just thinking the flavor might compete too much with the sweet potato. It probably would have been OK with them, but peppers aren't my favorite anyway.
The key to keeping these together is to not cut the tomato pieces too thick and to make sure the chicken gets nice and brown on the first side before you flip them.

But these were awesome and pretty easy to make. They would be excellent dinner party food because they are not difficult to make and they look quite impressive.
I was thinking though that they would be good with a little cheese of some kind in the stuffing. I might try crumbling some goat cheese or neufchatel or boursin in there next time I make them. I think a creamy cheese with a strong flavor rather than a gooey-melty cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, etc.) would be better.
Oh, and the pan juices are great. The recipe says to pour some on top before serving. Oh yeah.
Tonight will be leftovers. But my little brain is already thinking about what I want to cook next.
I think I need to make something more complicated than cheesy bread in the oven.
I think I need to bake.

Monday, October 1, 2007

It wasn't easy, but it was easier than I thought

Well, the kitchen floor is pretty much done.
I have about 4 tiles left to set today. They were in an awkward place behind the door, so we left them until today.

The man friend was a HUGE help in doing this.

There is no way I would have attempted to tile the kitchen on my own.

Not to mention the fact that he had all the tools, including a wet saw.

We started the day with a trip to Home Depot to exchange the mortar I had bought the night before since the guy sold me stuff that didn't sound like the best option for large porcelain tiles like the ones I had.

Go figure.

Anyway, we got back around 10:30 and started looking at where we wanted to start and how tiles would fall if we started from certain points.

We thought about how to stagger the tiles. I was thinking at first about a diagonal run since I knew I didn't want it just in straight rows all the way down. It was like that before and it was just too straight.

I had been thinking about an offset pattern, which I thought would tie in well with the subway tile style I want for the backsplash. Not to mention it would mean a lot fewer cuts to the tile. That would not only save tile, but it would save time.

Since it worked for the timing, the budget and the style... An offset pattern was perfect.

Once we had that established, we started cutting tiles.

I was a bit fearful about using the tile saw at first and I had the man friend do all the first cuts, especially the angled cuts.

But once we got into straight cuts, I decided to try it. Then I realized, "Hey, this is kinda fun."

So I did a lot of the cutting after that while he measured and dry fit pieces.

Then we started setting them in the mortar. That is what I am doing in the second photo. Don't I look fabulous?

We had dry fit tiles starting at the entrance from the living room, going back about four rows.

Then we started setting tiles moving back from there toward the back of the kitchen.

Late in the afternoon, after working back almost to the end (we had three rows unset), we decided to move to the front of the kitchen.

We wanted to finish off the spots for the dishwasher and the fridge so that the workers could come in this week and install those.

I hope.

Then we went back and finished those three back rows, minus the tiles behind the door.

I will finish those today and then grout the whole thing.

Fun for me.

Basically we worked (not including the HD trip) from 10:30 a.m. to about 7:30 or 8 p.m. with a very short lunch break.

After we were done, we scraped the biggest chunks of mortar off our arms and hands and went for a dip in the hot tub at a condo complex where his dad owns a place.

It felt so good to just soak and float and relax.

It was a long, ache-inducing day. But we accomplished our goal of getting the whole floor set. OK, so we left a few tiles out. But I still feel so great about the progress we made.

And my aches are not as bad as I thought they would be.

My guess is that will all set in tomorrow. When I have to go back to work.