A little kitsch in the kitch.

The major kitchen task of painting (most of) the walls is now finito. It's so much more refreshing to look at an entirely painted wall rather than random swatches and samples stuck everywhere...

So, from square one:

I had a messy, messy kitchen. But of course, in line with the way I usually do things, I didn't do the practical thing first, which was clean. Instead, I just moved things around as I went along, including dishes, plants, electrical cords and then of course all the big furniture and wall hangings.

All of the switch covers I took out to my handy ventilated screen porch and threw them on the floor to put a fresh coat of spray paint on them and make them all the same white, and clean them up a little.

Always good to keep all the screws together in one place. In my case, I was basically freshening up white switch plates anyway, so I didn't have to worry about the color of the screws, which normally come with the heads painted the color of the plate. Just something to keep in mind in case the need to spray paint switch plates in any other color comes alone... ;)

It really wasn't too bad, except that it looked like the kitchen had been through an earthquake or two.

I went through and pulled off all the outlet and switch covers, and also removed the metal cover of the ventilation fan that sits on the wall above the stove. (Ew. It needed to be cleaned anyway.)

I put the first coat on in one evening, then waited for it to dry before doing the second coat the following evening. After the first night it looked something like this (from the hallway):

Messy. !!

But then I put the second coat on last night, and cleaned up quite a bit -- I moved that bulky cabinet thing into the living room so the hallway has opened up quite a bit.

My kitchen actually echoes now. Might have to work on putting in a textile or two!

This kitchen has been a work in progress since I moved in. The apartment was built in the 1960s sometime, and all of the cabinet work and everything was built then, and had been mostly unchanged... until KATE CAME ALONG, that is.

Just for before/after sake, here are a few photos of what the place looked like before I moved in, in much its original state. Good ol' 1960s-style wood stain and all (and check out how there are a million cabinet doors!!)...

(with sister!)

This wall is not original to the apartment. It used to be open to allow for a bit more kitchen counter space that L'ed around, and then to a large living room in the front that looked down onto the main street. The wall was put in to provide a meeting area and storage space in the front for the coffee shop.

Down the hall.

Sooo... for your viewing pleasure....

THE MIDDLE STAGES (before I even painted the cabinets):

... and AFTER (today! hooray!):

The plan is to turn the door next to the fridge into a giant chalkboard.

The hallway is in some serious need of wall decoration, but I'm so happy with the way the color brightened it up.

I really gotta do something about the way everything is displayed on top of the cabinets, or what is displayed there, but someday I'll figure it out. And the "backsplash" (although there isn't really one) needs some decoration desperately!

Some kitsch for my kitch!

The view from the living room. I was under strict orders not to, under any circumstances, repaint the green cabinet (which is fine, because I would never want to!) -- it is full of weird old kitschy stuff, cookbooks, and baking ingredients. And note the one mismatched kitchen chair! The three red ones were found on the curb in Madison, WI.

And that's the whole of the painting saga in the kitchen. It's the second time I put a coat of paint in here... and probably the last.


The best part will be figuring out what the do with all this clear, bright wall space now. ;)


Like waiting for paint to dry...

Soooo, success! I finished putting the second coat of "aqua breeze" on the kitchen walls and it looks so great! But, because the room itself is still kind of a mess, here's a picture of my cat from his nest/cockpit/opera box:

And a quick teaser:

And it's pretty much a wrap! Except that I worked at 6am this morning and then came home and proceeded to redo my kitchen. Exhaustion was inevitable! Plenty more on the way!

And Phantomcat of the Opera would like to remind you/me...

"We are past the point of no retuuuurn!!"


Thrifted shelves made mine.

My bathroom never gets any decorating attention. It's a pretty nice bathroom, though, and there's a lot of space that I've never utilized well. It's actually kind of astounding that I haven't put any shelves in there since I've lived in this apartment!

But I have this wall:

The necessary "before" picture. There's a photo of London hanging under the bank of lights, and then just hang something for the sake of hanging something, I put up a test sheet for some stencils I sprayed last year sometime. But there's no point to them there. They had to come down.

The other day, I ran across one of those sets of floating boxes that you can find at pretty much every big box store, except that these ones were only $5 for all three and someone had taken the time to put little foam padding on the back so that they don't scrape the wall. Sold!

Thing is, why do these shelves always come in black? It's like black is the obligatory "cool" color. Maybe because it's so neutral, it's the go-to for these shelves. But I didn't want that out-of-the-box look, so I dug around in my box of spray paint and found a lovely interior-exterior Krylon paint in a light olive/celery color. I decided that was EXACTLY what these shelves needed!

I gripe and gripe about my screen porch floor not being finished. It's plywood currently, which I cover up with rugs of various designs. Thing is, a screen porch is perfectly ventilated and with an unfinished floor, I didn't have to worry about putting a tarp down. Heeeee! ;)

Each side took about 10 minutes to dry, so it was a paint-wait-paint-wait sort of thing, but it was well worth it.


Shelves to paint
Spray paint in color of choice
Tape measure
A level, if you're not confident in your eyeballing prowess
Spackle and scraper (if you mess up, like me!)

So, patience is the biggest thing here: waiting for the paint to dry thoroughly on each side is critical, because if you turn it and it's not dry, depending on the paint it might run or drip, or more annoying, dirt will stick to it or it might become textured in an unappealing way. Make sure to cover the paint evenly and if it looks like it's starting to drip, don't keep adding. Stop, wait for it to dry, then go over with another coat. This will keep it looking smooth. These shelves only needed one coat; it didn't take much on something so small.

Then, for hanging, I laid them out on the floor to see if I could come up with an arrangement I liked. And as you'll see, I came up with one where the medium-sized box was turned to a diamond rather than a straight-on square:

Cute, but not very practical. Sooo. I took that down and tried again. But then I ended up with this mess, because I can be a little careless sometimes:

This is where the spackle comes in. Luckily, the paint on this wall is white, so spackle doesn't show up well anyway. But I do have leftover paint from these walls, so I'll go back and touch it up if it really needs it. I got that awesome spackle that comes pink when it's wet and then it turns white as it dries. Amazing stuff!

The final product looks like this:

I realize the menagerie of items is pretty eclectic. It occurred to me as I was putting things on the shelves that I just don't own very many decorative trinkety things. Maybe some day I will manage to amass enough of some kind of collection that I can display like items here. Until then, my eclectic mix will do!

Also, for the heck of it, I found a new shower curtain the other day that I like loads better than the one I had before (which was bought on the cheap just so I could have one, period). But I can't say I ever totally warmed to it, even though it's not super ugly. Just not right:

The color scheme in this bathroom is starting to take shape, accidentally and thankfully, though it is a challenge to have to work around the yellow tile. The tile has little clouds of orange in it, so when combined with the wrong hues, makes it look dingy. It's not. It just needs some good matchy-matchy. I think this works, so it's a good start:

Next on the bathroom list: a curtain to replace the one pair of blinds in the entire apartment, and the one pair of blinds my cat has created a climbing-hole through. They look terrible. Time to fix!

And today begins kitchen painting, officially! Hurrah!

Another lovely, lovely summer day. So happy to see the sun again.


Best French toast EVER.

Mom gave me some farm fresh eggs today, and they are blue! So lovely!

So I found myself with half a dozen little eggs and some seven-grain honey bread that I can't stop eating. I decided to put the two together and make quite possibly the easiest breakfast food ever: French toast. For dinner. :)

It was the best. Two thick slices of bread, one little egg, and a frying pan with a bit of butter. And the key is that the bread is sliced real thick. An inch or so. Hefty. How come I never thought to make French toast before? --then I realized, I just haven't had this caliber of bread sitting around. Honestly, I don't eat a lot of bread. But when it's good, I can't stop.

Topped it with some maple syrup from my uncle. Best dinner I had all week. Ha!

Farmer's market bounty.

Since I live on my own and have to cook for one person (challenging, I find, because there's a lot of potential waste if one isn't careful), going to a farmer's market is a challenge in self-control. Because I WANT EVERYTHING. And considering it's still early in the season and there isn't a gigantic selection of produce yet, there's still enough to be tempting (too tempting) for one person alone.

So I tend to stick to the fruits, things that can be eaten quickly (preferably by the handful) so that they don't spoil... and fruit doesn't necessarily have to have a meal planned for it. Sure, I really wanted garlic scapes, but I couldn't think of anything off the top of my head that in the next week I would REALLY NEED garlic scapes for. ;) That's the beauty of the market, though; if I figure something out, they will likely be there next Saturday.

Although the state's second largest farmer's market is only a fifteen minute drive from home, I opted to head to the one here in town, which has a steadily growing selection of things to choose from. There are a few crafts and plant vendors also, but my mom orders pasture-raised beef (delicious!) from a farmer there, there are a few Hmong family booths with a wide variety of whatever is in season (along with a Hmong spring roll/egg roll stand that I can't avoid no matter how hard I try). I think maybe my most exciting discovery was an Amish bakery from which I bought the. most. AMAZING seven-grain honey bread. I seriously just ate about half of it. Plain. So great. I know where I'm getting my bread from now on -- made in little loaves just perfect for a singlette like me!

After the market, I went to the home improvement store and bought paint for the kitchen (!!!), and also found at a local thrift shop some shelves that I am revamping (photos to come, of course). While I intended to start painting the kitchen, it seems as though my bathroom suddenly became the center of redecorating attention. So we'll see where that leads me...


Mm. Roasty. // ONE DAY.

Perfect for a snack or along with a meal... asparagus. Fresh and local, I decided to roast it.

Oven preheated to 400 degrees F. I spread just a little over a pound of asparagus out on a cookie tray, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and roasted in the oven for about 17. minutes. Took the asparagus out, sprinkled with shaved parmesan cheese roasted for about thirty more seconds to melt the cheese properly, then scarfed it all up nom nom!!

Super yummy.

After a busy, tiring day at work, it was great to come home, throw in the asparagus and have a yum-yummy snack. Then I met up with mom and my aunt for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and homemade rhubarb-syrup margaritas. YUM. :)


I just curled up a read a few chapters of the book One Day, which is going to HAVE TO BE my Bibliophile Friday book... I had never heard of it until I saw that Focus Features (a favorite of mine; I pay attention to everything they do) is releasing a film in August starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. I can't wait! But I started to read the book and I'm absolutely hooked.

The plot centers around two characters, Emma Morely and Dexter Mayhew, who meet the day they graduate from college and become friends for several years afterward. The book catches up with them on the same day every year for the next twenty years as they navigate life and their relationship (definition?) with one another. It's absolutely wonderful. Of course it's a romance, but author David Nicholls is totally on his game. It's hilarious, witty, ironic, sad, and beautiful. And the characters are so real -- their story could belong to ourselves or anyone we know; it's one of the few books where I've read the characters and thought, "I totally know how this feels. I get this."

Definitely a little more moving than your typical beach read, but more hilarious and lighthearted than a lot of Literature with a capital L. Highly recommended. :)


We've got tomatoes!

The past few days have been been a tomato plant's dream: a little bit of rainy, a little bit of sunny, and humid. In the middle of the day, I think my deck, where my container garden is, gets pretty hot, so the tomatoes are just going crazy. Which is good! And when I checked recently, I found the two first little tomatoes beginning to fruit. Hooraayyyyy!!

Hello, little tomatoes. Welcome to the world.

They are both on the Dr. Wyche's heirloom, so I'm still waiting for the other two to catch up, but hoping for plentiful fruits!

I threw some old lavender-colored alyssum carpet seeds in a planter, too, half-convinced that they wouldn't flower, but I guess the seeds weren't too old. They're looking pretty, too.

Now.. I've got some beautiful locally-grown asparagus that's waiting to be either a) roasted or b) grilled. I'm leaning toward a roasting recipe from my favorite food television personality ever, Ina Garten, but we'll see... Mostly, it'll come down to the fact that I'm a total grilling novice and don't even have any charcoal as we speak. Easiest method will most likely win out.

P.S. Jane Eyre was amazing. I've seen just about every other version, most of which disappointed me. A couple were okay. But this one shot wayyy up to the top of the list. Way up. Both the leads were incredible. It was so great, in fact, that I'm headed to the theatre once more tonight to see it with my sister, who is sure to love it as well. I have to admit, I don't think I've ever gone to see a movie twice in two nights, but it helps when admission is cheap (mom and I paid $3.50
together for admission last night!! You just can't beat that).


Summer solstice.

How am I going to celebrate the summer solstice? Well, it's raining and a little thundery out, so I'm going to go enjoy the Mia Wasikowska/Michael Fassbender version of Jane Eyre, which mysteriously skipped our local first-run theatres and went straight to the budget theatre. And quite possibly the best part about discovering this today is that Tuesdays at this particular theatre are $2 Tuesdays! Can't beat that. I've been waiting and waiting to see it -- Jane Eyre definitely falls within my top ten novels (although that list is getting harder and harder to keep straight).

Plus, I think Michael Fassbender is hot:

And Mia Wasikowska pretty much defines understated gorgeousnessnessness:


I've been working hard. I went through a bunch of old local news station footage from the late 60's at the museum the other day. How many times can I say awesome before it gets annoying? Okay, only once will suffice: awesome. For three hours I watched mostly silent news footage, some of it so out of context I couldn't really figure it out -- everything from decorative mailboxes that were apparently vexing locals to drainage problems along new roadways to a civil rights demonstration at UW-Oshkosh. I've been viewing this opportunity to watch all these old news reels with a real sense of appreciation; when would I have ever sat down and seen this stuff otherwise?

Yesterday I managed to whip up another batch of cornbread, which I've been selfishly enjoying immensely. I also accomplished wrapping new cork handlebar tape on my Trek by myself for the first time ever.

And while it has been wet and a little dismal outside, the plants are loving it. All of my flowers just freaked the heck out.

Happy summer!


Things to do in Door County, Wisconsin.

1. Drive up the length of the west side of the "thumb of Wisconsin" -- through Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, Ephraim, and Sister Bay -- all the way up through Ellison Bay and Gills Rock (which is the furthest you can get before you need to start jumping ferries to islands). It's more fun to do this on a weekend, but it's also more crowded. Personally, though, I like to see touristy places full of tourists. I love RVs and trailers and bicycles and kayaks on every other car, and I like when I have to wait for lazy pedestrians to cross the street while licking gigantic ice cream cones. Seriously. It's what summer is all about.

I jumped out of the car to snap a photo of the sunset from Ephraim:

Last night we drove up as far as Ellison Bay and stayed in a small motel there. We got there just as it got dark, and we had to be up early for a bike ride in the morning, so we didn't really do much sightseeing in Ellison Bay itself -- however I do know that there is a cool bookstore there called William Caxton Ltd. I found a sweet Damien Hirst book there when I discovered it last summer.

2. Stop at a drive-in. We went for burgers and onion rings (some drive-thru's you're better just sticking with the ice cream, though, but you never know until you've tried it). There are so many little ice cream shops and confectioneries in Door County, it's almost ridiculous. But this gal is not complaining.

3. Stop at Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant in Sister Bay. It's one of those places that I've been going ever since I was a kid. It's been around forever; the Swedish pride is alive in Sister Bay! It can be viewed as a little gimmicky, but there are no two ways about the fact that their Swedish pancakes are to die for. Served with lingonberries and even Swedish meatballs, it's a seriously awesome place to have breakfast -- or lunch, or dinner. ;) We did breakfast this time, and man, it was just what we needed before going on a...

4. Bike ride! Door County is an
awesome place to cycle. The reason we went there was for an annual bike ride called Ride for Nature, which benefits the Ridges Nature Sanctuary. My mom and one of my sisters loaded up our bikes onto the back of the car and by 9am this morning we were on the road.




Even though I still feel like I've got a wad of cheesecloth stuffed up my nose or something. This random virus I caught about a week ago just will not let up. But I was determined to go for a bike ride, and I don't regret it.

I love organized rides. I've only done a couple now, but there's another one coming up in mid-July closer to home, and I'm looking forward to that, too. It's really fantastic when bikers of all skill levels get out on the roads and just have a good time -- and for a cause. There's almost always great food afterward (the kind that's full of carbs and sugar, except that when you've just biked howevermanymiles, that's EXACTLY what you need).

We did the 25-mile route. There was a 15-mile family route, and then a 50 and a century route. We're all pretty leisurely bikers, as in we're not racers (ha!) so it was a great way to get a good workout in and not get overwhelmed. I give my sister kudos for riding a steel-framed mountain bike that whole distance; I know she was feeling it at the end!

There were so many tandem bikers! That's my little Trek in the foreground. It's served me well so far. :)

Plenty of fortifying snacks, and the best part: free beer and food!

We were all pretty psyched about New Belgium sponsoring because we got sweet little bike decals and stickers, and free Fat Tire beer afterward. !!!

We took a small side trip to Nor Door Cyclery
where they rent bikes and also sell Treks. We've inadvertently turned into a Trek family, it seems. I found some new handlebar tape that I'm excited to use.

5. Stop at local markets. Door County is famous for its cherries, the tart kind that are perfect for pies. There are numerous orchard stands along the highways, and many of them sell seasonal produce. I was on a mission to get fresh asparagus, which I did! Hooray -- at Wood Orchard Market. And we checked out the little green cherries starting to grow on the trees, so it won't be long at all until we'll have some fresh cherry pie.

I'm having a hard time not salivating at the thought.

I live close enough to Door County that we usually go up there for a day. There is some good camping to be had in a couple of the state parks, and there are plenty of cabins for rent and hotels. Sometimes we're glad to just be able to go up and come right back home. But this weekend might have been one of those instances where we would have enjoyed another night to relax, unwind, and find another cool place for dinner..

But there's always next time...


The kitchen colorama.

The apartment I'm in now is the first place I've had the opportunity to really dig in and decorate how I want. That's the benefit of my landlord being my sister! ;) But really, it's been and continues to be a huge challenge. My tastes are always changing, and I've also learned over the last couple years that there is often a huge difference between what I think looks awesome in a spread in some glossy architecture magazine, and what I actually feel comfortable living with. Sometimes they are polar opposites, and I've ended up aiming for, say, some stark, minimal contemporary space and then finding that I want to transform it into something cushy and cluttered and comfortable. It's hard. But it's also fun. So...

Where to begin? My kitchen is the weirdest kitchen there is. And right now, I'm not even going to skirt the truth, which is very simply that it is an utter disaster. It's a mess. It kind of looks just a little bit like a bomb went off in the middle of it. Sometimes I'm in awe at the amount of dishes one person can a) own, and b) pile up. It's scary. It's beautiful when they're all clean and put away. But let's be honest, how often is that?

My kitchen functions as the central room and also the main thoroughfare. It connects with a wide-open door to the living room, another door to the bedroom, and the short hall that leads to the bathroom and out to the back screen porch. It's a pretty big kitchen for an apartment, so there are no complaints there. My small apartment-size fridge fits in a custom-made nook so it doesn't stick out into the room and take up space. There's enough room for a good size dining table in the middle. There is so much cabinet space that I'm sometimes overwhelmed, but it serves as all-purpose storage since it's a little hard to come by in general. But I still think it's a weird kitchen.

This is what it looked like when I had obviously cleaned a TON, and before I painted the cabinets red:

I painted the kitchen cabinets a stark, crazed red last winter. At first, I liked it. Anything was better than the 60s-era yellowish thing they had going on; their original style. Now that I look at pictures, though, they weren't so bad. I was just sick of them more than anything. They're nice cabinets, really, but man, there were a lot of them. When I first moved in, I took off all the tiny cabinet doors up on the top-top and turned all that space into open display space where my sudden collection of jadeite now sits, among other things.

I painted a giant rendition of Joost Schmidt's Bauhaus poster on one wall to go with the red-is-rad theme:

Red, black, and white were apparently my go-to's, but let me be the first to admit that an entire kitchen in red and black is not exactly inviting. Not if done incorrectly, and I did it incorrectly. Mostly because red is an exciting, energetic, kind of nervous color, and I did almost nothing to calm it the heck down. And partly because I had a gigantic seafoam-green metal cabinet scrounged from an old hospital on the Bauhaus wall. And also because there is very little natural light that enters this room -- one north-facing window, and it just started feeling a little bit... angular. And hodge-podge, and not in a good, harmonious way.

I like comfortable. I have a lot of hard-edged furniture. My floors are terrazzo; they are hard and grey-beige and not very cute. I needed to soften things up. So the first step was to head to the home store and get some paint samples. And hooray! It was easy! My kitchen walls are about to be transformed to a hue called "Aqua Breeze," which is the bottom-most swatch on this wall. I've used up almost the entire sample can already.

Can't wait to show the finished walls! And then, of course, it's on to the decorating...