I’ve Died and Gone to Pantry Heaven

So the renovations are finishing up here at the New Old House, which means it’s the beginning of Show and Tell!

When we bought this house we had a very quick turn around from the time of purchase to making the decision to renovate to when we planned to demolish.  My husband asked me the simple question did I have any idea what I wanted in a kitchen?

Silly boy.  Has he met me?

So I immediately whipped out years of tear sheets and proudly showed him just what being a Beta member of Pinterest can really do for you and got to work.  And within a week we had drawings for a complete kitchen gut and renovation {stay tuned!}.

But the original kitchen had no pantry, just a broom closet.  It did, however, have a rather large coat closet that shared a wall with what was once a bank of cabinets.  And so we put our thinking caps on and decided we were willing to do a seasonal coat switch to the attic twice a year.  And if we shrunk the coat closet, and expanded the broom closet and lost a cabinet or two, well one thing led to another and here we are……

I’ve officially died and gone to pantry heaven.

Which is really saying a lot, because I am nothing if not demanding when given the opportunity to say exactly what I wanted in a room dedicated to storage and organizing.  It had to store food {duh}, store wine because we had no space for a beverage fridge, store table linens, store all of my excessive cookie & cake decorating accessories, hold extra appliances we don’t use daily and also make room for a little coffee station for guests since only the husband occasionally has a cup on the weekends.  And did I mention I wanted it to look pretty?

I am quite the task master.

There were a few wonky nooks and crannies to work around, which is part and parcel when renovating an old house, and so we didn’t have an empty box with which to work.  In fact, the left-hand side of the pantry had a ‘lip’ of a few inches that were originally going to be left alone.  And I just couldn’t stand it.  So we made the world’s most shallow set of shelves which turn out to be absolutely perfect for a single row of cans and hanging up aprons.

pantryleft

The right-hand side of the pantry has slightly deeper shelves and is perfect for storing all of my cake and cookie decorating items.  Additionally I throw cookie decorating parties and have accumulated some fantastic supplies for those and now have a place where they don’t have to be packed away and opened up each time I want them.  The kitchen has a section for the cookbooks I use most frequently, but there’s also space in the pantry for the less used ones as well as holiday books. {please join me in a moment of silence for the 34 jars of sprinkles that were not permitted to be shipped back from Japan to America due to import regulations}.

rightpantry

Because this is an old house there is no eat-in kitchen space.  And so The Cuties will either eat quick meals like breakfast at the two-seat peninsula we created {patience, please!} or we will all eat meals at the dining room table.  Because of this, I will use my tablecloths much more than I used to, and so I really wanted space to easily store and access them.  I was kind of obsessive about this – just ask my cabinet-maker and general contractor!  After a few failed tries, we finally came up with the perfect {and cheap!} solution – the Grundtal towel holders from Ikea.  Each rod swivels out individually and we were able to install two of them to accommodate many cloths.

tableclothrods

The center shelves have a deeper counter on the lower section and we took advantage of the corner area to make storage for small appliances that aren’t used all the time.  In the middle, we added wire bins to store things like placemats and tin foil, but really to better manage things like chips and individual snack-sized packages that I’ve always found difficult to organize on shelves in a tidy manner.

pantrycollage{There are open shelves on the left where I store extra paper towels, paper napkins and all of my reusable grocery bags.}

Above this section is all adjustable shelving with two outlets so we can run appliances here to save on counter space if necessary.  The Nespresso is set up here since coffee isn’t a big priority in our house, but it’s there and available whenever anyone would like a cup.

coffee

I’m finding that decanting our food into containers has several benefits: the most obvious being nothing goes stale because it’s all tightly sealed; no bugs; I can easily see what needs replenishing; and it makes it seem like we have an abundance of space because most packaged food is half empty in the box when you purchase it new!

pantry shelving

Did you look up and see where we snuck in some wine storage?  We intentionally set the racks in such a way that not only will they hold wine bottles of various sizes but they will also hold soda and water bottles as well.

fullpantry

I’m so happy with how this turned out.  Everything has a place and because it’s easy to see and access, The Cuties can find what they’re looking for and put it back.  And let’s be honest, so can the husband.  Isn’t that what organization is all about?

We set the doors so that the light goes on and off automatically when they open and close, which was a great feature {and means I’m not forever poking my head back in to turn off the light that a late-night snacker left on!}.  I found this at Wayfair.com and am really pleased with the quality and value.

lightBut the prettiest little detail on the pantry is on the outside.  I originally thought about painting the doors a bolder color than I did throughout the kitchen.  And I hemmed and hawed and flipped through swatches.  I’m certainly not afraid of color in any way, but I just couldn’t find the right color, and eventually realized that maybe it wasn’t about the right color but more that this wasn’t the right space for a bold door with what I’d done everywhere else in the kitchen.   And as I was coming to terms with this, I spied the prettiest knobs at Anthropologie, ordered them and voila!  It was exactly what I wanted.

bubbleknobs

I mean, pretty bubble glass, filled with yummy food AND its organized.

Told ya’ I died and went to pantry heaven. ;-)

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World IBD Day

May’s a big month in our house for awareness.

Which translates to me writing about all sorts of serious things in the Felt So Cute house that aren’t pink and green and don’t involve shopping or traveling or much silliness.

So let’s talk about IBD.

Irritable Bowel Diseases.

Could it BE any less glamorous? {said in my best Chandler Bing voice}

When I was a senior in college, way back in the Dark Ages, Cute Sister was a freshman in college.  She was sick.  Like seriously sick.  Enough that she ended up in the hospital at her university.  And they took a ridiculously long time trying to figure out what was wrong with her.  And then finally one day declared she had Crohn’s Disease.

And my parents and I said “HUH?”

Because none of us knew what the heck that was.

And this was way before Google {I told you it was the Dark Ages – I mean she’s lucky they weren’t bleeding her with leeches or anything!}, so we had to learn things the old-fashioned way – the library, doctors, and phone calls from expert to expert!

And slowly she found the right balance of medications, and the right doctors for her and our whole family became active volunteers with The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America and we learned more and more.  And she went back to college, earned her degree and went on to be super awesome.

And a little over a decade later I gave birth to Little Cutie.

And months later I didn’t feel well.

Like really and truly  didn’t feel well.

And I tried to convince myself these were complications from my C-section.  And that I was exhausted from having two babies two and under.  And that I could will myself to feel better soon – just wait and see – I could do, I’d show you all.

And my husband was about ready to host an intervention because it wasn’t normal to have a second nursery set up in all your bathrooms, and finally told me this was perhaps the devil we knew well in our family.  He reminded me that I was in the semi-fortunate position of actually knowing several fantastic Gastroenterologists since I happened to be on the board of the state chapter of the CCFA and perhaps I should make an appointment.  And so I did.  And they scheduled a colonoscopy a couple of days later {really the only way to properly diagnosis IBD} and by the time I’d come out of the twilight anesthesia Crohn’s Disease had become a family disease.

So let’s be real here because this is something people REALLY don’t like to talk about.

Celebrity spokesmen are few and far between and there’s a lot of whispering.

I have Crohn’s Disease.

I go to the bathroom a lot.  And sometimes I can’t go to the bathroom at all.

It stinks.

{Best part about IBD is you can sneak in all sorts of poop-related jokes and no one will accuse you of being childish!}

At one point I took 28 pills per day and still didn’t feel well.  And so I switched to an IV drug.  Which changed my life.  I now get an infusion about every 7 weeks for a few hours of a fantastic drug called Remicade.  I also have arthritis as a side-effect of the Crohn’s Disease and the Remicade helps with that – kind of a two-for-one deal!  The Remicade has essentially put me in medical remission which has let me live a more or less normal life and I will forever be grateful to my doctors for that.

I still sometimes have rough days – usually in the mornings, which is less than ideal since I have to drive my kids to their schools.  But we are long out of the stage of having to unbuckle two kids out of car seats and carry them in to a bathroom with me, which is wonderful!  I have a short list of foods I avoid and every now and then one sneaks into something in a restaurant and I pay for it.

But I’m a lucky one and I know it.

And if you’re ever wondering, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts tend to have clean bathrooms, ample toilet paper and nice smelling soap.

Sometimes I’m pretty easy to please. :-)

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Time, Place and Delivery

I want to tell you two different stories about two different groups of medical professionals asking about Big Cutie’s Walkaide device in two different settings.

And of course, give you my thoughts.

At Big Cutie’s last doctor’s appointment she wore a skirt.  Because she got the Walkaide while we were living in Japan, and it’s covered up most of the year under pants or leggings when she’s colder, people don’t notice it or forget about it.  So this was likely the first time her pediatrician saw it.

Dr Z was greeting both of us and stopped dead in her tracks and here is what she said ~

Big Cutie – wait!  what is that really cool looking thing on your leg I’ve never seen before?

And Big Cutie told her it’s a Walkaide she wears instead of a DAFO.  And in response~

I have to know all about this.  I LOVE when my patients teach me new things!  Would it be OK if I go grab my medical students from the other room so they can learn too and you can teach all of us about this? 

And Big Cutie sat and taught them all about her Walkaide.  Took it on and off so they could see the electrodes inside.  Put it in exercise mode so they could watch it flick her foot back and forth and everyone oohed and aahed and Big Cutie was large and in charge and everyone learned something nice that day about pediatric strokes.

And I was reminded of all the many reasons why I think our pediatrician is just about the coolest bestest most wonderful doctor ever.

Fast forward to yesterday.

Big Cutie and I were at our local nursery looking at plants for the backyard for me to eventually kill.  {I mean why even kid myself.}

When she tripped on the asphalt, ripping a fairly large flap off the front of her big toe.  I tend to be the kind of Mom who grabs a half empty water bottle floating around the back of the car, pours it on the injury and finds a bandaid floating around the bottom of my purse to slap on it and consider us good to go.

Except this time my Mom Radar went off that that wouldn’t do and we drove to Urgent Care thinking she might need stitches.

And not one, not two, but three different medical professionals who met Big Cutie during intake and examination made comments like this~

What’s that thing?

Why do you wear it?  What does it do?

So wait, you had a stroke AND you have CP?  Anything else?

All of this of course before we knew what was up with her injury.

And when Big Cutie gave accurate but brief answers, there were a lot of looks to me.

I understand triage.  I do.  They needed her medical history to properly treat her and that’s fine.  It was Urgent Care and we weren’t developing relationships.  That’s fine. No one actually rude or disrespectful, but it was different.

What wasn’t fine, was the expectation that this was the time and place for Big Cutie or me to stop and educate the staff about Walkaide and/or Pediatric Strokes.

I had a daughter who was hurt and scared about the prospective of her first stitches (not needed, thankfully, but still some icky debriding and bandaging).  And I was a worried and stressed Mom trying to keep my daughter at ease.

So that day our priority was being a patient and a parent.  Not educators and advocates.

Something to think about, especially if you happen to work in the medical field.

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May is Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month

I’ve talked before about Big Cutie and her stroke story, but if you’ve missed it, here you go!

And now she’s all super high-tech and wears a Walkaide device instead of a DAFO brace, which is extra cool.  Seriously.  Like Iron Man cool.

So you can read about that special day here.

We even blinged it up to match her dress for her Bat Mitzvah because 13 year old girls are nothing but glam!

Leah's Bat Mitzvah. October 18, 2014. Tokyo.

But today I want to share some important information with you about Kids Having Strokes and some really basic red flags to look for if you have a little one.  For us it was having a dominant hand at a very early age and only using one side of the body for early reaching and crawling.  So please read this very simple mini-poster!

strokeinformation

And if your baby or a little one you know and love is demonstrating one of these signs, ask your pediatrician!

Because early intervention, physical and occupational therapies and getting her brace have made all the difference in Big Cutie’s world.

It was the hardest question I ever asked.

And I thank G-d every day we did.

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Lilly Pulitzer for Target Postmortem

We all know I love me some Lilly Pulitzer.

So it was with great anticipation that I waited for Sunday, April 19 for the Lilly Pulitzer collaboration with Target.

Lilly

Like seriously great anticipation.  Marked in big letters and highlighted on my calendar.

We had a family game plan – we were going to all go early on Sunday morning together and then out to breakfast.  And then around 11:45 as I was getting ready for bed it occurred to me perhaps it would be easier to buy online instead.  So I double-checked my account was all set up and ready to go and waited.

And no luck.  After more than an hour of refreshing {while searching Pinterest ~ I am nothing if not a multitasker!}, I gave up and went to bed.  And then because I’m old, I had to use the bathroom around 3 am as usual, and tried again.  First time, nothing.  And then the second time ~ victory was mine!

I popped the items I wanted for The Cuties and our home in my basket and tried to checkout.  With no luck.  So I continued trying.  After about a half an hour it was clear the system was completely crashed and I gave up and went to bed.

We’re early risers in the Felt So Cute household, so around 7 am I got up and opened my laptop.  Everything in my cart was sold out, as was basically everything online at Target.

Bummer.

I asked Big Cutie if she wanted to give it a go and we headed to our nearest Target.

We arrived at the store at about 8:06 where the shelves were bare.

Completely.

As we made our way around the store, we were able to pick up an abandoned headband and makeup bag or two here and there, but what we saw is what I really want to talk about.

Greed.

Women with carts piled with ten of the same item.

Women with carts filled with what was clearly an entire rack of clothing in assorted sizes.

Women standing over salespeople as they opened additional stock boxes, grabbing whatever they could and throwing the packing onto the floor.

Big Cutie and I were appalled.

What about taking what you could use yourself and leaving some for the next person?  What about sharing?  What about basic manners and common courtesy to the employees who were surrounded by hoards of shoppers grabbing around them?

I’ve read online all day as people complained and bad-mouthed Lilly Pulitzer and Target, but I have no issue with either of them.

I’m disappointed with the shoppers.

It was awful and shameful.

The good news was that I had some great conversations with my daughter.  We talked about why it’s better to have a few things we love as opposed to dozens of things just because.  We talked about quality versus quantity.  And we talked about how we just didn’t want to be the kind of people who threw elbows and were rude to the strangers next to us over some pink and green beach towels.

I love Lilly because it makes me smile but today I felt sad to be hanging out with the prepsters.

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A New Old House

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus.

Life has been my usual crazy with two kids in two different schools in two different towns (neither the one in which we are currently living, by the way), on two completely different schedules.

I’m spending an unbelievably excessive portion of my day in my car.

And since I last posted we closed on a house and made the decision to renovate the kitchen before we moved in as long as we were already in the apartment and almost all of our belongings were in storage.

The house is a late 1920s Dutch Colonial that is fairly traditional and classic in style.  However, the kitchen must have last been renovated in the early 80s.  Which when I type that it doesn’t sound that old to me, until I realize that was close to 35 years ago.  And off the kitchen, was once an attached garage that was converted to a family room.

They both needed a little love and a lot of work.

Spacious kitchen opens to large family room

Kitchen

Not dysfunctional, by any means, but dark, dated and a laundry list of things that could be improved upon.  Additionally, both the kitchen and family room floors were so uneven there was a differential of close to two inches in places.

So here’s what we decided we wanted to do:

*new cabinets & countertops, including adding a peninsula between the kitchen and family room just big enough for The Cuties to sit at stools and a dropped baking counter next to the refrigerator.

*new lighting – decorative fixtures over the peninsula and sink, add recessed lighting throughout the kitchen and remove the fluorescent lights.

*remove the bump out and header to make a smoother transition between the two rooms

*find space for a pantry as none existed

*new appliances

*replace flooring in both rooms with white oak to match the rest of the house and even everything up (the kitchen floors were red oak)

*remove the popcorn ceiling in the kitchen

*paint walls & trim in both rooms

That being said, I’m quite certain I have set some sort of world record for making decisions and choices for a renovation as everything was picked out in about a week’s time in order to work with our contractors’ schedules.  I had quite the tote bag of samples I carried from place to place (note to self:  in the future, one might not want to make a countertop selection early on if planning to carry a piece of marble around all week!).

Kitchen Remodel

This gives you a sneak peek at where we’re headed.  Brighter and lighter, traditional with a bit of modern, and in general a space that makes us all enjoy cooking and baking together.

It only took a few hours to look like this:

demoday

And then a few days to get to this point:

day3

And then insulation {after this year’s winter that wasn’t such a hard sell!}, a new ceiling and walls!

kitchenprogress

The past week has been amazing to watch as cabinets, counter tops and tile were all delivered and installed.  I am mesmerized by the skill and artistry of master crafts people.  Today I stood and watched tile artisans for hours.

And of course, we fell prey to the most dangerous words in home renovation:

While we’re at it, why don’t we also….

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Buried

At the risk of sounding like Wendy Whiner this has pretty much been my word of 2015 so far.  And so I’ve stayed off the blog.  But we’ve reached the stage in life where we can laugh a bit at things and also see the light at the end of the tunnel.  So I thought I’d start to return to you all and give you an update.

Let’s start with the literal.

We have been buried in snow here in New England.  We’ve had several feet of snow from many storms.  The Cuties have only attended school on Monday once in all of 2015.  And here we are on Sunday afternoon and it’s snowing again!  Now normally, I’m all about snow days; we bake, we craft, we snuggle up by the fire and then I kick them outside to play when everyone gets stir crazy.

Except we are still in the 1,000 square foot apartment.  All four of us.  Without really any of our stuff.  No yard, no craft supplies, just a couple of board games, and minimal space.  I tried to make a game out of scrubbing toilets the other day, but The Cuties are pretty smart cookies, and didn’t really buy into that.

And there’s no garage.  So each time it snows and I have to drive them to school, I head down to the parking lot in the dark before 7:00 AM when it’s 5 degrees to scrape the snow off my car and warm it up.  And then do it all over again the next morning. Can you see how this has gotten rather old fast?

We’ve been buried.

Meanwhile, we’ve been house-hunting.  I believe at one point I saw almost every house on the market in three zip codes.  As you can imagine, most people don’t list their home for sale over the holidays so the inventory when we arrived back in America wasn’t the most desirable.  When I tell you I saw some real doozies, I really mean it.  I think one of my “favorites” was the listing stating a “three-car garage” that turned out to be three individual one car garages on the property – none of which connected to the house.  I kid you not.

I got a bit down about it.  In a I know I’m being ridiculous that I’m teared up in a house for sale because it’s not the one so now I’m laughing at myself kind of way.

You know, buried by it all.

And so we took a breath, realized we’d fine something eventually and moved on to the next house.

Which of course, was it.

And so we are under contract on a lovely house.  It has great potential.  Which means it’s filled with projects.  Which really means you will soon see a LOT of activity on the blog as I show you Before and Afters, both big and small.

I’m looking forward to unpacking our things from Japan and the full trailer of things we left in storage all these years.  There will be lots of sorting, purging, some repurposing and a little shopping.

Sort of like digging yourself out. ;-)

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