Monthly Archives: January 2019

Short Thought 227 (Care-taking)

His fantasy was to get me pregnant. This was not my fantasy. I saw a future where he’d continue his workaholic career while I’d raise the children.

He once said that if he thought his (future, yet to exist) child deserved it, he’d give the kid a smack. When I objected he said “Okay, I won’t.” I was not reassured.

His own childhood sounded rough and unfeeling and he’d developed a cool reserve and an autonomy ill-suited to care-taking, be it for a partner and certainly potential children. It’s one thing for an adult to choose to take on such a man, but another to willfully add children to the mix.

More improvements to my small, organized kitchen

It’s been two years since I posted about how I organize my small kitchen. In the past week or so I’ve been working on the kitchen to make it even better and I’d love to show you! While I definitely have a good bit of leeway, I am a renter (and don’t live alone) so  I’m not in a position to start ripping out cabinets and installing new fixtures. Still, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and want it to be as attractive and useful as possible.

Here’s the view from outside the kitchen. I made the tall shallow cabinet seen on the left of the kitchen entryway. It serves as a pantry. It’s shallow, about 9″ so it doesn’t take up much space and yet holds a lot.

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This summer I added the “stone wall” paper, leftover from another project, to the half-wall. I loved how it made it look more substantial.  This week I thought to add another piece to the wall holding the clock. Someone threw out that fabulous orangey-red chair and I added an orange cushion given to me by another person (she gave me two). It is super comfy and a very solid piece of furniture.

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Here’s a different view from outside the kitchen.

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Many years back I found the wood for the cabinet to the left of the stove, where else but, tossed out by the side of the road. It’s a peculiar manufactured wood that I hadn’t encountered before. The outside looks like the real thing, attractive finished lumber, but the inner core is hollow. Initially I made a long, low two-shelf that was in the living area. When I found something better I was able to eliminate my need for it there and sawed it down and made a higher, narrower unit. I was using it in its current space next to the stove but I had incorporated both an unmatched top board and shutter-type doors. Basically it was Frankenstein furniture, cobbled together with various pieces. It was also a tad too wide for the space. I got tired of looking at it and yesterday I completely took it apart and remade it into the 24″ wide cabinet you see here.

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The bottom piece looks like a decorative flat front, one I covered with the same wall paper seen in above photos. However, it’s actually a door I added to hide 6 full size paint cans stored behind it on the floor. (I discovered the hard way that paint should be stored at room temperature.)

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Here’s a long view. I guess you’d call this a galley kitchen? Not sure how narrow a space has to be to earn that title but as you see, it’s a relatively small space. Those are my pasta boxes over the window – I take my pasta seriously! (And there’s more stored elsewhere.) To the left of the window are open shelves I made for holding laundry products as the washing machine is right there.

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There is little counter space so the washer has to do its part as it did one day last week when I made pancakes in “peg leg” skillet”. (Note the front right leg is actually a long screw as is one other leg.)

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Previously I had introduced the color red into the kitchen and while I liked it, I ultimately decided I’d gone too far with it and should tone it down. A little red goes a long way – I see that now! I made the cup and spice racks a long time ago and painted them fire-engine red some years ago. Last week I put a coat of primer over them as well as the dowel for hanging kitchen tools. I am much happier with this white; it’s just more polished especially with the blue back splash I made from glass tiles I got from Freecycle. I had too many colors going on even for a cheerful, busy kitchen. While it’s still busy it’s cleaner-looking. (A side note: the stove is 20″ wide to give you an idea of size.)

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I also put primer on the narrow strips at the top and bottom of all the white cabinets, which had previously been brown. The underside of the cabinets, which are made of some sort of manufactured wood, were also that brown shade. It’s not attractive and I realized, especially after I saw how even eliminating the red cup and spice racks made the space look brighter, that it was likely absorbing light. I put on a coat of primer and will likely either add another or a coat of regular white.

The cabinets initially had no door pulls and I added my own, red wood knobs. I took those off and finally used door pulls I found almost two years ago. They’re so pretty but I just hadn’t figured out the best way to use them before now. I only had the four so I’ve put white knobs on the other cabinets.

I made a place for a dish cloth by screwing in hooks and adding a plastic chopstick to the bottom of the spice rack. I made a similar towel rack on the cabinet door below the sink with hooks and a dowel. I did have a regular towel rack there but it had started to rust so I recycled it. This new version doesn’t stick out quite as far and I like that, especially given how much time I spend at that sink (um, A LOT).

In the fall I tackled the clutter that resides, as it does for many people, under the kitchen sink. I was tired of bending over and rooting around in the dark space trying to find a particular item. Using scrap wood I made narrow, shallow open shelves on the opposite wall (under the wall lamp) to hold the products used most often. This allowed me to tidy up what remains under the sink. I figure eventually I will remake the unit with nicer wood and maybe even add a door but for now, this has been very handy.

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The very tall red-door cabinet next the small open shelves was one of the first things I ever added to the kitchen (what else but…ROADSIDE FIND!). It didn’t have a door so I added one (it too could stand to be replaced but it’s not pressing). The cabinet almost reaches the ceiling and holds a lot of stuff (such as more pasta!)

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Beyond it, next to the window are high, open shelves I made for food stored in glass containers. The top row houses my glass Mr. Peanut Planters jars. Hoo boy, am I glad I hung onto them! Glass jars are a thing of the past for peanuts and they’re such a great size for storage.

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Speaking of glass jars… I have previously admitted to being a bit of a glass jar hoarder. (I get nervous that food will eventually not be sold in glass at all.) It’s difficult for me to toss glass jars; they seem like they’ll be useful but I had more jars than I had room to keep them. I have made a new commitment to only save what I can fit into this plastic bin (which is stored on top of the main cabinets).

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Below the glass jar shelves I made very rudimentary shelves to hold the microwave, a small toaster oven, the trash can and a container for recyclable cans, jars, plastic, etc. This isn’t very pretty but it’s serviceable and not in a highly visible area. Also- I’ve made a new commitment not to leave any  junk on the wood counter (as I previously committed to with the dining table), so any miscellaneous stuff I have hanging around because I intend to use it soon – recipes, jars that need refilling, etc – will go here.

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I also removed the clutter from the top of the cabinets and found other places to store those items (string lights, plastic to go over windows in winter, holiday decorations). In their place I added a few decorative pieces. This is a panoramic shot which is why part of it looks scrunched together.

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The lion has found a spot by the pots & pans to hold rubber bands.

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I had a shelf holding two large cooking pots in the space over the kitchen “pass-through” and I have to admit I whacked my head on it by leaning too far into the space more than once. That wasn’t why I decided it should go but I found another spot for the pots (on the top of the cabinet above the washing machine) and eliminated the shelf. I really like how open it now looks. On the opposite side of the wood counter I have low shelves for dishes and simple curtains to cover the area and keep dust out.

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Making all these little improvements has made my life better and I walk into the kitchen and look around with pleasure, ready to start cooking.

EDIT: After I posted this I got one more good idea. As there are no – no – closets, it can be tricky to find storage spaces. One end of the kitchen houses a large, squat water heater that isn’t very attractive. That’s where I store brooms, mops, buckets, and a vacuum cleaner. My idea was to put a curtain in front of it to hide the area, but still leave it easily accessible. Much better!

NOTE: Please forgive a delay in responding to comments. I love to hear them but am having internet issues and won’t see them right away.

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Things Men Have Said To Me (#30)

It was a new relationship and we were discussing intimacy.

HIM: “You can touch whenever it’s appropriate.”

[He thinks a moment]

HIM: “And even if it’s not as long as you don’t get caught.”

My Kinda, Sorta New Year’s Resolutions 2019

As I did last year I’ve decided on a few, albeit not exactly typical, goals for the year. I actually started on them in the last week or so of December; I didn’t see any reason to wait. The thing about goals is you want to make them specific, so it’s not “lose weight” for example, but “walk thirty minutes three times a week” if that’s an area you want to improve. I find it’s very helpful to write things down and in 2018 it gave me real satisfaction to keep adding entries to the simple lists I kept on loose leaf paper.

First is to read 20 books, same as last year. (I read 30 in 2018 after all was said and done.)
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I want to try yoga so my first goal is to do the Sun Salutation fifty times. There’s a couple variations of it; the link is to a 10-pose version but the one I’ve been doing has 12 positions. Doing the poses takes about a minute and I repeat them five times; it doesn’t take long at all. It’s a matter – for me – of slowing myself down and making a point of doing it.
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In addition, I will also commit to doing 30 minutes of yoga 25 times. I found a one-inch thick (this matters) yoga mat on Amazon for $10 so I’m all set. If I do more yoga, that’s fine, but the idea is to get started and see how it affects me. One thing I’ve already noticed is my obvious exhaling while doing yoga (and other stretching type exercise). I think it’s a kind of de-stressing exhaling. Have I been – has my response to recent life been – “holding my breath”? I think maybe so.
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If I can get a hold of it I want to try the New York Times Crossword. I am in a regular crossword habit but that is one I haven’t tried yet.

I plan(ned) to get rid of fifteen things.
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HOWEVER I started on this at the end of December and, having had the time and energy for this project, I’ve actually already gotten rid of – give away, recycle, throw away – over 50 things! I don’t know what I was thinking when in an earlier post I shared my concern that I thought, given how many things I’ve already shed in years past, that 15 might be a tricky goal. Man, was I wrong. Most of the stuff is little things but it doesn’t matter. There is such a relief in shedding excess. I am giving my belongings a very hard look. When you stay in one place a long time as I have, vigilance is key, even when the place isn’t big.

Examples of stuff I got rid of:
– 4 belts I don’t wear
– 3 extra large glass peanut jars with no lids
– 1 full-size piece of foam
– A rusting finch feeder
– A small bag of jewelry
– A small bag of boards
– An extra aluminum water bottle
– 2 wire baskets
– A broken night guard case
and on like that.

I started and will finish a CD set on conversational Italian – and then I’ll decide if I want to try any others.

I’m going to watch the Marx Brothers movies (again). My life could use more levity. I already watched A Night in Casablanca which I checked out from the library. I think I can find several others through the library system also.

This isn’t exactly a goal but I’m going to keep track of the DVDS (and series) I watch. I LOVE movies and I watch a lot that I’m able to check out from the public library but I couldn’t tell you how many I watch in a year for instance – I just don’t know. And how is my DVD watching compared to my book reading? Should there be a ratio? One book for every four hours of DVDs or something like that? Until I nail down how much I typically watch I won’t know if I should set a goal around this issue. I adore movies. Did I mention that?!

My food/cooking goals aren’t elaborate for 2019. I would like to try Thai cooking. I made a Thai salad (coleslaw, green onions, lime, cilantro, amino acids, roasted peanuts) this past year that I loved – lime, cilantro & peanuts, especially combined, sing to me. I’d love to find other simple dishes that use these flavors. I think I’d also like to try making Pupusas – I just saw them on a PBS show featuring various restaurants and I think I’d really like them. In a future blog I’ll share the Thai coleslaw recipe and if I can tweak a pupusa recipe to make it healthy (perhaps less oil, for instance), I’ll share that.

It is easy, if you let yourself, to drift. Okay, I’ve noticed it in me. In 2018 I felt ready to make changes. I recovered my reading habit and made new recipes. This year I will add yoga to my life, continue shedding excess belongings, keep reading, and make sure I’m challenging myself, intellectually and physically. And I am damn sure going to have some levity.

NOTE: I apologize in advance for a delay in responding to any comments to this post. I DO want to hear what you have to say.