Thursday, August 21, 2014


 "Today, explore ways to see your world differently. 
Let your eyes drink in the beauty that surrounds you."
Simple Abundance, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy
by Sarah Ban Breathnach

I'm learning to embrace my new home and to more fully appreciate the beautiful and lush landscape here, so very different from my previous home in a large city.

A peachy site indeed!
Its taken me awhile to adjust to the change, but when I arise in the early morning to discover I have a visitor like this sweet little fawn, I am filled with delight and gratitude. 

Aww, can't reach the peaches, but this grass will do.
She had left the safety of her mama and daddy over by the treeline to venture closer to my backdoor where she found a little patch of sweet green grass that the mower had missed.

Mama, daddy and their wee little one.
Soon though, she was scurrying back to them again. I know that next year I will have my little kitchen garden installed near here and maybe then I won't be so "delighted" to see these lovely creatures. But something tells me I would miss them if they weren't visiting me. I must find a way to keep us both happy.

Wendy the Whistle Pig
This little guy,  and his parents, and siblings, and all of his aunts, uncles, cousins and ALL of their friends, live in burrows among the trees at the back of my property. Maintaining a vegetable garden here will indeed be a challenge.

I just learned from a neighbor that these groundhogs are also called "whistle pigs", and I discovered why. They make a loud whistle sound when they are startled, in order to warn all the other whistle pigs in their community.

Big Daddy Bunny
And, of course, bunnies.....lots of bunnies. Big ones, little ones, even itty bitty ones. I can't get my dog to run after a stick or a ball, but she'll chase bunnies. Doesn't even come close to catching them though. I love seeing their little white tails bounce as they go leaping across the lawn.

Listed recently in my Etsy shop!
And, oh! The inspiration I get from all of these wonderful creatures!

I had a very special 2-legged visitor recently, too.

My 2 favorite men in my life: My son Jared and his daddy, Papa Crane.
Our only son Jared came to stay for a few days before classes start back up again soon. He's in grad school for art in NYC, and we miss him a lot. We had a great time and ate lots of good home-cooked food. Jared is quite an accomplished cook as he worked for many years in fancy restaurants. He's certainly taught us a thing or two!

It is hard when you leave a home where you've been for a long, long time. And when your children live far away. But we cherish the time we do have with them, and all of our visitors!

I also cherish all YOU! The many new friends I've made in the blogging community this past year. You help fill my days and provide me a wonderful outlet while in my new home striving to establish friendships here.

I am so very grateful to each and every one of you!

NEXT POST - more of the "skinny" on my recent kitchen renovation!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Part 1: My Dated Ranch Home Kitchen Gets Some Fresh New Cottage Style!

This, my friends, is a classic story of turning an ugly duckling into a swan. After a few teases in former blog posts, I'm thrilled to announce that my kitchen renovation is finally complete! I am delighted to share with you here some of my budget-minded solutions for giving a dated kitchen fresh new cottage style.

I'll be posting the details of this project over several posts, this post being Part 1, but first I want to share a little back story of how this crazy 18 month renovation came about. So fix yourself a cup of tea, cozy back into your chair and take yourself back to October 2011.


My kitchen in my previous home, a 1937 cape, original to the home - SWEET!

Only 10 ft x 10 ft - A place for everything and everything in its place!
The above 2 photos are of my sweet cottage kitchen in my former home, a 1937 cape in a historic city neighborhood. The kitchen was only 10 x 10, and it was original to the home, and OH how I LOVED it! 

Then one night in October 2011 my husband came home in the middle of his graveyard shift with news that, after 32 years, his plant was closing in December. But happily by mid-November the new owner of the company offered him a transfer, then after nearly a year of house hunting we finally settled on a home in our new location. And when I say "settled" I do mean SETTLED! There were no 1937 capes to be had here, let me tell ya!

PART 1: Ranch Home Renovation - Kitchen


My kitchen - BEFORE

My kitchen - BEFORE
Yoohoooooo! 1984 called and wants its kitchen back....will say no more on THAT subject, and will simply let the photos speak for themselves.

After months of house hunting we ended up purchasing our little rancher under budget but with great potential and in a great location. Thus began the biggest renovation project we have ever endeavored. 

I was homesick as could be for my former home and my consolation was going to be creating my dream kitchen.


My "dream" kitchen - AFTER (scroll back up for the BEFORE!)

Whew! Its like a breath of fresh air, isn't it?!! Now for the "skinny".......

My "dream" kitchen AFTER (scroll back up for the BEFORE)
Our main goal was to open up the floorplan in the main living spaces of our home, and increase the size of the kitchen to allow space for an island. 

Our home is your typical long narrow rancher with a hallway running right down the middle from bedrooms on one end to the family room on the other. There was a wide foyer that led to the hallway, then you had to turn either left or right. 

Floorplan showing walls removed (red) and walls added (green)

So to open up the space we removed (red lines) the hallway wall at the kitchen, which increased our space by 42 inches. Then we closed off (green lines) the doorway leading to a small dining room and placed our fridge there. There was a formal living room just off the foyer, which is now our new much larger dining room. We also removed walls here to open up that space.

Have to go through a little ugly to get to the pretty!
We had a bit of help from a couple of laborers we found on Craigslist, thank goodness! We're in a new town - no family and no friends. They did all our demolition work, including removing the bulkheads.

New life for old cabinets! (Ugh! Please ignore the "black hole" under the sink, I forgot to paint and re-install the grate!)

So once the bulkheads were gone we just painted and remounted our old 36 inch cabinet boxes about 6 inches from the ceiling and had crown molding installed.  The upper cabinets were given new doors and there was now room for a few additional cabinets as well. The old sink and several of the lower cabinets and countertop were moved out to the garage for my new pottery studio.

Raising the cabinets allowed for space below to install shelves supported by iron brackets. Papa Crane and I made the shelves ourselves from white laminated shelving material we purchased from a local home improvement store. 

We finished the edges of the shelves with lattice strips which created a recess underneath for lighting. We also installed the beadboard backsplash - but that's about the extent of our expertise when it comes to carpentry. Well, except we did make the island, too, which we'd done before and really isn't difficult. I'm going to save the details on that for a future post.

I had a bit of a quandary about what do above the range, so last week I decided to just add a door. We had the range hood installed to vent through the roof so there really isn't any space there.

Our countertops are walnut and were made by a local artisan. I really really wanted marble, but by the time I got to this stage it just wasn't in the budget. The walnut was actually very economical - surprisingly much much less expensive than a lot of other options. 

This Blueberry Cake is to die for! I ate 2 pieces when it came out of the oven this morning - contact me for the recipe!
And besides, I didn't want anything glamorous for my kitchen - I wanted a homey space that would feel warm and cozy - a place where my guests would feel welcome to have a little sit down and enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of homemade blueberry cake.  I do believe the wood countertops do a good job toward that end!

New open floor plan with kitchen/family room combo.
So here you can see a view of the other end of the space where the family room is located. Removing the half wall between the two rooms made a huge difference! 

That's all for now, but I'll be posting more photos and details on my renovation soon, including how we made the island and the butler's pantry.

I hope you've enjoyed this little tour of my new kitchen and have learned a thing or two. Please feel free to email me with any questions, or just comment below and I'll be more than happy to respond!