Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Odyssey Continues - Slow Progress is better than No Progress!

Hello Friends,

Today, I'm going to share an update on the weight loss.  In my March 20 update, I had just hit -40.  As of today,  I saw -43 for the first time.  The last few weeks I have watched a very very slow decrease on the scale.  I have been setting goals of 1 pound a week at the start of each month, but I'm not making that.  I lost 7 in Jan and 5 in Feb, but March and April are not making a pound a week.  At least I am still going down.  That is better than going up!

As slowly as things are going, there are still a few accomplishments I can report.  Probably the most important one is that I had entered a Biggest Loser contest in my school.  It started Jan 1 and ran until the last day before Spring Break which was March 24.  I was able to turn in a weight loss of 15 pounds in that time which was 6.38% of my total body weight, and that put me in 4th place and in the money for $20!    I think I am going to frame the $20 bill I got.  The whole I idea of ME winning a weight-loss competition is mind-blowing!

Another accomplishment was my shopping expedition over Spring Break.  I was able to buy size 18 capris for summer along with some other sporty summer clothes.  I am also now solidly in size 18 jeans and dress pants... and these are dress pants withOUT elastic waistbands!  I know my male readers won't fully appreciate that, but for women, that is a BIG deal!  To put this in perspective, my wedding dress was a size 18/20 in 1982.  I have not been in size 18 pants for more than 25 years.

As of the April 13 WW meeting, I was "officially" at -40 in my WW record book.  Since my afternoon weigh-ins typically lag behind my naked-morning weigh-ins, it felt good to finally catch up in that regard as well.

At WW, we started a new session of meetings, and we were able to get quite a few new members.  3 people joined from my building alone, and I would like to think they saw me as a walking advertisement and jumped on the band wagon at least partly because of me.

So, that's the report.  Slow progress is better than no progress.  I'm still surprised every day that I've lost more than 40 pounds.  I keep looking at the scale and thinking it must be some sort of mistake.  Can I make -50 by the end of the school year and -60 by the time the next school year starts in mid-August?  Big questions!  Stay tuned for the answers!

Thanks for sharing this with me!  Come back again soon!


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Kitchen Stuff - Decisions Being Made

Hello again!

I met with my kitchen designer yesterday to discuss the cabinets.  I am working with a company called The Jae Company.  My designer Robin has given her permission for me to discuss them in my blog.  The designer had my kitchen design in a computer program which she was able to share with me as we discussed.  I had given her my general "likes" from the samples she showed me, and she got measurements and pictures from my contractor.  I will be working with Paul from Handyman Matters.  I will buy the cabinets and countertop directly from Jae, and then Paul and his people will do the installation.

For the most part, I am asking that the basic footprint remain the same, but we are going to have to tweak some of the cabinet sizes just a little to make things fit the way I want them to.  Since I am keeping the same fridge and stove, it is handy to just measure around them.  Also, the current flooring in the kitchen is laminate, and then the dining room is carpet, so the line where the carpet starts has to be respected.

One thing that I wanted which I am not going to get is upper windows in my cabinets.  Take a look at this photo from the internet:

The feature of the lighted windows at the top of the cabinet doors is very common in this Craftman style design.  So this was something I asked for.  However, it can't happen in my situation because I have a 12" soffit above my cabinets. That means that my cabinet doors are only 30", and the cabinet company doesn't make 30" doors with upper windows like that.  It is affected by the other part of my design - the center verticle piece, seen here:

Notice in this example below that the cabinet doors are taller.  Probably 42". But because we have the 12" soffit, that won't work.

My idea was to have stained glass in the windows - some sort of Frank Lloyd Wright design - with lights inside that can be dimmed.  They would provide a nice ambiance in the kitchen.  Since that can't really happen the way I want it to, we are going to see about putting the stained glass panels in the doors above the stove hood.  I can have a total glass panel in the door, and since the cabinet above the stove is small (about 12") that should work.  There seems to be a lot of Wright glass design available.   Here are some examples that I found by browsing online:

Kitchen Designer Robin says it will not be a problem to work with glass people to have glass inserts made to fit in the doors.  I didn't want my main cabinet doors to be all glass because I really don't want to be able to see the stuff IN the cabinets, but I'm willing to do that with the small doors above the stove.  We'll see...

The next topic was countertop.  As I was wandering around the showroom at Jae, I noticed that they actually have an entire kitchen laid out with my first choice of counter top - Silestone Quasar.  Here is a photo I took that shows a much larger section than the little square I brought home with me:

The cabinet door in this photo shows the fawn color I've chosen, but not the design.  Seeing the larger layout helped confirm this choice of counter for me.  I'm still not thrilled with the choice of Silestone being made in China, but Cambria doesn't really have anything close to this.  

The next thing I have to pick out is my sink.  Robin has recommended quartz composite undermount, so I'm going to look into those options.  There are lots of options available.  I will try to pick a light color that goes with the counter and backsplash - probably something off-white/beige, but I don't want it to look dirty.   Here are some examples:

Once I get the sink selected, I will work on the faucet fixture choices.  

The process of installation is going to be sort of complex because of my choice of a quartz countertop.  The countertop people have to have the cabinets installed before they will measure for the counter.  Then the process of getting that made will drag out to 2-3 weeks.  Paul has agreed to put a temporary plywood counter, and (probably) my current sink in temporarily so we are not totally without that part of the kitchen for that long.  

As of right now, I'm planning for all this to happen in July, so I will need to finalize the cabinet choice in May so those can be ordered.  Also, the sink needs to be here when the quartz people come to measure so they can take the sink with them and under-mount it.  Once that is installed, then Paul's people will do the backsplash, which you can also see in the counter picture above.  That will probably come from Jae as well.  

Still lots to decide, but progress is being made which is exciting for me!  I will keep you posted!

Thanks for reading, and come back again soon!


Friday, April 1, 2016

A New Renovation Project - Share your advice!

Hello Friends!

Today's blog entry is going to introduce you to my Kitchen Remodeling project.  Those of you who have been with me for years might remember the House Remodeling that happened in 2012.  At that time, we did nothing to the kitchen at New House.  Now, it's time!

I started the process with estimates from 2 local remodelers, and I have selected the company I want to work with.  (More about the companies involved later.) Now I am in the process of selecting the finishes and products.

For cabinets I am looking for a warm golden brown wood cabinet in the craftsman style (sometimes also called Arts & Crafts, or Mission or even Prairie).  So far, I have selected a cabinet style from KraftMaid called  Townsend.  Here it is in my kitchen next to my existing flooring:

This is "Honey Spice" color. 

Here are some samples of a shade darker called "Fawn".  

In these photos, the samples look more blond than they do in person.  In the light of my kitchen, they have a much warmer and richer look to them.   I have chosen the Fawn color because it matches the cabinets that are already hanging in my laundry room.  
On the Kraftmaid website, the colors look very different again.  

If you do a Google Image search of any of these style names, you will get a bazillion photos of variations of this style.  

Next comes counter tops and backsplashes.  After much homework online and conversation with a kitchen designer, I've decided on quartz counter tops.   There is much info online about the benefits of quartz vs. granite vs. laminate.  The main selling point for me was that quartz is not porous and doesn't have to be sealed periodically to remain stain resistent.  It is also heavier and harder than the other options, so it is much more resistent to any damage.  I do not want any surfaces that have to be babied or treated a certain way in order to stay nice.  My kitchen doesn't get direct sunlight either, so there won't be any fading from direct sun.  I asked about an "Eco" counter which is made of recycled materials.  The designer I spoke with said they are more expensive, offer fewer color/style options and often come from manufacturers that don't stay in business long.  She did not have a good opinion of that option.  

My quartz manufacturer of choice is Cambria. Design options from Cambria They offer many different color and style options, and they are a US company.  Another option is Silestone, but that us made in China, which I am not thrilled with.  Silestone Color Choices

Let's look at Counter tops, shall we:

Option 1

This is Lincolnshire by Cambria.  It is ok, but both Hubs and I feel it has a tad too much black in it.  

Option 2

This option is Quasar by Silestone.  So far it is everyone's favorite,  My two concerns are that it is too much like the backsplash - maybe we need more contrast - and it is made in China.

Option 3

This is Linwood by Cambria.  It is very similar to Option 1 without the black.  This is what I am leaning towards right now because of the contrast it offers.  I would love to hear your preferences.  Please tell me what you think:  Quasar or Linwood?  

The backsplash you are seeing in all of these photos is the handsdown fave of both Hubs and me. This is American Olean - Laural Heights - Elevated Beige.   It is porcelain tile.  I like the variety in it, and it really goes well with the cabinet color:

As of now, the plan is to replace all the cabinets, countertop/sink and backsplash.  We are not changing the basic footprint, existing flooring which is laminate, or appliances.  

One of the reasons I am doing this is because the lower cabinets have a lot of wasted space in them.  they are too deep to easily get into without kneeling on the floor, and I can't do that.  So I am asking for slide-out shelves in all the lower cabinets.  

Also, we have a dishwasher that is a-n-c-i-e-n-t.  I actually store all my dishtowels, aprons, baggies, etc, in it.  Hubs and I have never used a dishwasher since we've been married.  Ever.  My mother used one for decades, and it ruined her dishes.  Hubs and I don't cook enough big messy meals to make it worthwhile, and we really don't want to have to get new dishes in a few years just because the extreme heat of the dishwasher ruined what we liked.  So - brace yourselves - I'm having the dishwasher replaced with deep drawers.  I am also telling the designer to make sure that space is the right size for a dishwasher so that a new owner in the future can easily have one put in.  

The plan is to have this done in July.  It will take about 3 weeks because once the cabinets are installed, then the quartz people will measure for countertop and that will take a couple of weeks to come in.  My contractor has agreed to put in a temporary countertop and sink while we wait so the kitchen can still be used during the wait time.  

The only things that have not been selected yet are the sink and faucet.  I am looking into getting a quartz-composite sink.  My designer says they are the way to go for durability.  It will be an undermount as well.  I will talk more about this once I've looked at options.

Please let me know your thoughts on the countertops when you get a chance!