September 4, 2013

At around 2:20pm we could see Manhattan. I got really excited. I hope to live here someday. 
     - my hitch-hiking journal from 1995

So what did you think about New York? 
I want to live here. 
     - conversation between Stella and I as we left the city.


It only happens once in your life. That moment you see the city from the distant freeway, those skyscrapers, all of those giant buildings, scrunched together in lower Manhattan and then towering up again in upper Manhattan. And then you arrive INTO the grand metropolis and it's nothing like you could even dream of from a distance. Suddenly you're inundated with pedestrians, couriers hustling on bikes, smells wafting from every nook and corner, lights upon lights and the beautiful cacophony of noises from horns and sirens and coats swishing and music blasting. It's simultaneously marvelous and overwhelming and there isn't anywhere in the world quite like New York City.

I remember my first time. Thing is, I remember almost all of the trips I've taken into the city. I remember the time my friend and I, fresh out of tenth grade, got lost in Brooklyn. I remember hitchhiking into the city on the back of a big pick-up truck, right over the George Washington Bridge. I remember asking Kari to marry me, in the basement of a jazz club near 41st and 7th Avenue. I remember strolls through Central Park and Yankee games in the Bronx and standing on top of the World Trade Center with my Father. This is what New York does to you, no matter how old you are or how many times you've been there. You don't forget. 

In the months leading up to Stella's first time in the city, we spent many days talking and looking at pictures and dreaming of subway rides and baseball and street vendor hot dogs and elevators that stretched into the sky.


By the time we arrived into Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel, she was chanting NEW YORK CITY and I HAVE TO PEE at record level volumes. Our first stop was in an illegal parking zone in SoHo, where she happily relieved herself, right next to a sidewalk full of new yorkers who looked at me slightly horrified. From there we saw a Baseball game, climbed to the top of the Empire State Building and spent the evening strolling Battery Park with our dear friend Mel (who, thankfully, snapped some photos for us!).

September 2, 2013

This post has been a long time coming! We started the demolition on the kitchen on June 4. And just finished on August 22, after nearly three months of working full time. The kitchen needed the most work of any room in the house, and we basically had to demo it all the way to the studs and start all over. The floors needed scraped, sanded and refinished. Old cabinets and countertops were recycled. The walls needed gutted to make way for new drywall. New electrical and plumbing were needed. New fixtures and sink. Half of the trim around the windows needed replaced due to rotten boards. New paint throughout. New baseboard and quarter round. And, of course, we had to install new cabinets and countertops and everything else that goes into a kitchen.

I was able to handcraft the entire kitchen out of reclaimed oak that came out of a hundred year old barn thirty miles from our home. This was by far the most labor intensive part of the kitchen remodel. Twenty 4X4's and several hundred board feet of reclaimed oak were milled and carefully crafted and joined to make this kitchen what it is. The kitchen island features oak from the same barn. The only thing left is a small cabinet that will go above the washer and dryer. Other than that, this kitchen is complete!


[this is what the kitchen looked like when we arrived. full of fake wood and cardboard countertops and LAYERS of linoleum on the floor and walls. and lots of GREEN]

[carefully scraping the floors, inch by inch, and then sanding, and eventually refinishing. the remaining cabinets and sink you see here are what we lived with from february until june]

[ripping the rest of the cabinets out. started to gut the walls down to the studs. this corner is the same corner as the picture above. thanks to scott for helping me gut the kitchen!]

 [about to rip off walls and plumbing]

[another angle before ripping down the walls. this angle is the exact same as picture #1]

[several of the floor boards were rotted out. we ripped them out and then i milled down reclaimed poplar to match the existing poplar flooring]

[this is about halfway through the remodel. some of the cabinets are installed, but we're still testing paint colors and where we will put the appliances. for example, the stove in the corner was replaced by the fridge. this angle is the same as picture #2 and #3]

[finished! similar angle as picture #1 and #5. butcher block top kitchen island is on wheels for mobility. farmhouse sink from ikea. all appliances found on craigslist. everything else handcrafted. :) ] 

[this shows the other side of the kitchen. i built this wall to sort of separate the laundry a little. above the laundry will be a small cabinet made of the same reclaimed oak. i think that will really finish the room off. the metal cabinet was a thrifted find and acts as a pantry. light fixture from lowes. the door is the back door of our house that leads to the yard and garage] 

[wanted to show another angle, similar to pictures #2, #3 and #7.]