Open house….Donna’s home hits the Baltimore Sun
April 25, 2011

Lots of people admired this crazy knife holder, called The Ex……

Some of you may have seen the article about my house that was in the Saturday Sun, and it’s also online…here. And a friend asked me yesterday, “So how did this come about? Did they contact you, or vice versa?” I am sure there are people who call and want coverage of their house, but I have never had that much…ummm….confidence in how my house looks. It isn’t designer done…seriously, the only time a designer has darkened the door is when the kitchen was being redone…it’s just a place I’ve lived for a long time. And like most of you, while I like it, I don’t expect others to.

I thought the article was all about this....

Susan Reimer contacted me after seeing my blog about the redo of the kitchen….and wanted to do a home article about it. “Sure Susan, that would be fine..”…and she asked if I had redone other rooms as one room sometimes leads to the others…and I assured her there was nothing like that. The rooms that conect to it are just as they were(for better or worse).  So Susan had broken her foot, and Jill Rosen showed up to do the article, and SHE was under the impression that they were doing other rooms . This I didn’t feel quite prepared for….let’s be honest, I would have removed a couple of stacks of magazines and replaced the pine cones for sea shells..which hadn’t happened yet(still hasn’t fyi). But Jill, like any good journalist talked me into it….the last thing I said to them was, “Be kind.” And they were.

That was how it all came about. Lisa Robinson came by my desk this morning, saying, “I saw you in the newspaper this weekend, looking all grand in your house“…(high voice now)…”Oh, I just cut the legs off the table, and then I turn the table legs into a wonderful composter, while I recycle everything in sight“…..No mercy at all. None.

Hey, I DO  like to cut the legs off tables…it’s the easiest way I know to get the coffee table you want, and is hard to find. I’ve done it twice. But trust me when I say I am not all Martha Stewarty…no way.

Ooh La La!!

Hope all of you had a lovely Easter….I found a new cupcake place that rocks it….called Ooh La La Cupcakes, at the Inner Harbor in the Light Street Pavilion, close to Phillips. Picked up some a few chocolate and a few coconut for Easter….they are fabulous! And I don’t like all cupcakes(I’ve been in semi-mourning since The Cupcake Company left town)..the frosting has to be really good buttercream, and the cake has to be dense and moist. These were yummy…seriously good.

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New Kitchen Reveal….finally!
February 28, 2011

Note the vintage 1965 circa wallpaper underneath....

I know I’ve shown little bits of it in other posts, but never everything at once. SO for those of you who are interested, here’s how the kitchen turned out….in just a little under four weeks, which is pretty speedy really. In fact, the one reason I picked my contractor David Tobash was that he has a track record of finishing the job in the time allotted. I talked to one neighbor whose kitchen(whose job was bigger than ours, admittedly, but still) took 6 MONTHS. That person I didn’t even call for an estimate. Four weeks was long enough.

This wall between the dining room and kitchen came down

You have seen some of the destructo scenes…here’s a recap….

All cabinets came out....

We still had use of the frig during the process, and the microwave was in the family room and stuff was EVERYWHERE.

David Tobash...he was always calm...

Here’s a picture of David,my contractor(-yes I know he’s cute, but I have nothing against attractive contractors), and one of his guys…this was about halfway through…you could see what things were gonna look like. And David never got upset about anything(me-“Oh my God, the appliances won’t be in until the end of the week“….him-“That’s fine, we’ll work it out.“) And it was fine.

This was how one wall used to look....lots of wasted space...

This side wall had a bar and a tall cabinet, which all came down. But as we were losing cabinet storage over the stove…here was my solution.

Open shelving above cabinets below....I love open shelving...

Silver Supreme....love it...

This is the granite we picked, called Silver Supreme….but we never saw the actual slab. As the cabinet designer said, “That was brave“…..not really, just an oversight. So when I walked in and saw the huge espresso brown/black streaks through it, I said something that I won’t repeat here. But once I got over the shock of it being a different than what I was expecting…I fell in love, totally. A surprise but a happy surprise. It’s very dramatic.

A big ole wall....

This was the view from the dining room…and now it’s this….

So open...we love it...

And the bar area I love and use so much….the chairs came from The Foundry(the wood was reclaimed) and the pendants from Wisteria.

I watch tv and do computer work from here in the am...

 Some of my fave things about the kitchen….note the cabinets now go to the ceiling, no wasted space(but you need a little ladder), and under counter lighting.

Love the Samsung French door frig...

Oh Jennaire.....

I was honestly a little nervous about downdraft oven, but it has performed like a champ….it vents through the floor to the outside. 

White subway tile blacksplash....and recycled knobs...

Room with a view....

And where once I stared a wall of cabinets while I cooked, now I look out two windows…..such a huge difference. Oh, and I almost forgot….these drawers are fabulous.

Pull out drawers for pots and pans....

So I got what I wanted….a more open kitchen with all new cabinets and appliances, without breaking the bank. Keeping the kitchen footprint the same makes a big difference in the end cost(I had a small kitchen and I still have a small kitchen)…and I shopped for many of the things(lighting, granite, appliances) myself. As one reader who had redone her kitchen said, “You’ll wonder why you waited so long to do it.” No, I know why….we had kids to get through college….but every day when I walk in, I am amazed by how much I enjoy it !

New Chairs and Fat Mama’s Tamales in the house…
December 17, 2010

Love the chairs....

Let me start with something pretty…I bought two of these chairs (from Overstock) to go at either end of the dining table(that is to be delivered on Monday)…and I really like them! The print in the background is going to go up on the wall there…it’s one from Relais & Chateax that I had signed by the artist, when I was in Quebec for  Great Country Inns years ago. I still love it and it’s prefect for a dining room, with a festive eating and drinking scene. But there is still much to be done.

Where did I get all this crap????

Pots and pans and various and sundry kitchen STUFF that needs to find a home. Some will get a new cabinet space, others will be taken to Goodwill..surely someone needs a potato ricer….anyone? Anyone? It’s shocking all the little gadgets and thingie-dos that accumulate in the cupboards, and you don’t even know they’re there until you clean it all out. Sigh.

So sad without it's door...so exposed...

ANd the dishwasher still needs its door to be atached…evidentally a little re-figuring has to be done..no slam dunk.

Fat Mama's in the house, ya'll!

But let’s end with something delicious,…especially on a Friday when thing should be a little delicious…Fat Mama’s Tamales-here,  came today….wrapped in the Natchez Democrat.  I first had Fat Mama’s years ago when I was actually in Natchez…such a lovely place to visit. We stumbled across Fat Mama’s…and I don’t think I’ve ever had such great tamales, and never forgot them.

Newspaper from Natchez Mississippi....

SO when I found they did mail order on the web…I ordered some for my sister in Gulf Shores(my other sister got Cheryl’s cookies) and some for me. I think how my amex card gets so high at Christmas…one for you, one for me…one for you, one for me…you know. But I wonder if the Natchez football players in the pic above have any idea they were the wrapping for six dozen tamales that ended up in Baltimore, MD…probably not. I salute you, Col-Lin Wolfpack…hope you’ve had a good season. And I hope all of you have a fabulous weekend, or even a decent one. Think of me still trying to get my kitchen straightened out and guests coming Sunday for lunch(overly optimistic? perhaps..). Play nice, don’t throw rocks and come home safe, ’cause we miss you!

Everyone’s a comic…..
December 15, 2010

I'm sure there was a huge laugh when this was written....

I work with a lot of people here at WBAL, some of whom are very funny indeed, and some who fancy themselves so…you know what I’m sayin’. So it didn’t surprise me much when this anonymous note showed up a desk a this week. What the note refers to is the refrigerator, door and dishwasher that are in my yard that make me look like…well…Fred Samford does come to mind, or the Clampett family perhaps.

Anyway, just so you know, they are all off today to the Salvation Army, to live again hopefully….because they all worked quite well, but are no longer needed. And the kitchen is ALMOST finished….a little strip of granite that was somehow left off the template is coming today, the range is in(Oh, JennAir did the controls have to be so complicated?), and the new stainless French door frig, which spent last night in my entry way, and the new dishwasher…. will be hooked up today.

I love these knobs, and they look great on new cabinets.

The the “fun part” of putting everything that has been residing in the living room, back into the kitchen, and no doubt getting rid of some stuff along the way. Oh, and the knobs above are something I’m resusing….I loved them when I bought them(and they weren’t cheap) and still do. A little recycling. Something old, something new.

First Christmas with Spencer...

And I haven’t done any decorating at all..yet. It’s gonna be a hectic weekend getting everything together, just in time for Xmas. Whew! But my sweet daughter is excited about her first Christmas in her own apartment, with Spencer of course. She got the little tree at Target….and says Spencer loves the tree(a little too much).

Dogs in Strollers and Diamond rings…Donna’s trip to ‘bama
December 10, 2010

Mom's wedding band... so sweet..

I told you that we were in Alabama this past weekend, for a big family  Xmas party…and it really meant a lot to us because it was almost the anniversary of my Mom’s death….she died Dec. 7th of last year. And it was practically the same crowd that got together last year after her funeral. All my cousins who I played with every Sunday afternoon at my grandparent’s house…their kids..and for some of them, their kids. Four generations, with some really cute kids running around(and no arguing or crying, it was amazing).And she would have loved it.

 I came home with her platinum wedding band you see in the picture above…I never saw it off my Mom’s hand…she loved that little band set with tiny diamond chips. Really, I don’t think that’s uncharitable, they are truly tiny. But it is so sweet, and it goes perfectly with my husband’s grandmother’s diamond solitaire. Women today get these hunky engagement rings that make mine look also like a diamond chip, but that’s ok. I love their history.

My baby sister brought out a little box of jewelry after the party and said, “I still have these things of Mom’s, so it’s time to pick what you want.” All three of us want the other ones to have what THEY want, so no one want to go first, so we made the eldest, Audrey(sorry girl, but you are the eldest!), go first. In the end she had some diamond stud earrings, and my baby sister had a pretty gold and diamond ring that my Dad had made for my Mom from his service pins at work(back when loyalty with a company was rewarded)..and I have her wedding band. My sisters were happy for me to have it, because I will wear it every day, just like I think of my Mom every day. We all miss her.

A skating moose in 'bama? WHO KNEW?

But on to the fabulous shopping in Birmingham. There’s a place there called The Summit. Seriously, it is a mecca to us every time we go…beautifully decorated(like the topiary skating moose in the pic)…and some of the best stores. 

It's a doggie...in stroller!!

They have a gorgeous Saks there which is where we saw the cutest dog …in a stroller. Only in the south. I asked them if they had trouble getting through a store after we accosted  them for several minutes to oooh and aaaah over their little princess. My daughter totally fell in love.

Can you hear it? Awwwwwwww!

 Isn’t she cute(the girl not the dog)? Hope all of you have a wonderful weekend, enjoy the holiday spirit(even as one cannot use one’s kitchen…soon grasshopper, soon), be extra nice to someone, and don’t throw rocks. Oh, and come home safe, ’cause we miss you.

News from the dustbowl…more kitchen progress….
December 9, 2010

OK, is it a bad thing that I’m getting used to living with everything topsy tervy…and no matter how much I clean, or dust around the place? Is it? have I lost my standards or is it just a testament to human adaptability that I no longer feel too distressed. Just thinking out loud.

This is what they look like...and now they're half price???

Anyway, more is happening at the homestead….the pendant lights came in, and while for a bit I was smitten with some lights at Alluminaire(which I still think is fabulous and their pendants come in all sizes shapes and patterns)…but when I saw these clear glass ones(that is not my kitchen-yet) at Wistera-here…I fell in love. Although I just now looked at them online..they are now HALF OFF today!(I’m on the phone right now with them, and after waiting a little while on hold…I got the discount..hollah and thank you Wisteria!).

Please be a good stove...please?

 The Jenn-Air range is in….I have some mixed emotions about this item… the way it looks appeals to me and I needed a downdraft stove…which really limits your options about what’s available. This is the one that worked for the space…it was more(much more) than I wanted to spend on a range($2500-ouch) and look as I might…NO ONE carried it for any less. No one. And I looked online everywhere. At least I got a $200 rebate. Yeah. 😦

Ok, it never looked this bad...really...

 I’m having some open shelving put in…I love love love the look, plus it provides a bunch of storage compared to what was here before, which you can see in the picture above.

New cabinet below and open shelves above...pre granite.

 Here’s what is there now(not finished, but you get the idea). The granite has yet to be put on top of the cabinet, but I love the look. And so, slowly, the flower unfolds its expensive petals, but as so many of you have reminded me….it will be worth all the blood sweat and dollah bills that have gone into the project. Thanks for the support!!!!!!

Kitchen Hell….
December 2, 2010

When I left for New York last Wednesday night, my kitchen looked like this after taking everything off the counters and emptying the cabinets….(can I tell you how horrifying a couple of drawers were? Hello birthday candles from 1000 b.c.)…

Get all the junk out...check!

And let me tell you, the kitchen looks better in this picture(definitely not high def) than it did in person. We had an easy makeover on the cheap a 10 or 15 years ago…new fronts on cabinets….but still had laminate countertops(one of the last people in the world), and I have always wanted to open the kitchen into the dining room by removing the top half of the wall.

Bye-bye wall, hello dust....

This is what it looked like when we came home..after destruction. And I know that to knock down walls and take down cabinets, a mess will be made…the old breaking eggs thing. I think I just hadn’t realized how much, and how bad. This is what the living room next door(with all the dining room furniture crammed in) looks like.

Dust anyone? Anyone?

So this is how I’m living right now, and to be honest I’ve had to work hard to keep a positive attitude….as someone who values order in their lives. All my order is topsy-tervy…and everyone says, “But it will be so beautiful in the end“…”Think how much you’ll enjoy it!”…and I know that is true. But-I-really-want-this-to-be-over.

And to add insult to injury, this morning our Pella storm door that cannot be more than two years old…. won’t open. Not from the outside, not from the inside…the mechanism inside the lock seems to be broken and nothing moves it..and you can’t get to the hinges to take it off. Not good. And I have a busy day ahead…need to write a story(besides my tale of woe) and get ready for the Washington Monument Lighting tonight in My Vernon. Just me and Elmo, hanging out in Baltie. 🙂