Monthly Archives: February 2020

My (“new”) Semi-Italian Kitchen!

I’ve had a productive winter, starting in December. I was feeling vaguely dissatisfied with my kitchen, which I last showed here a  year ago. I thought I could do better.  After all, I am in the kitchen a lot and I want it to be cute, usable, and inspiring. I was looking at stuff on Amazon when I saw these Tuscan stick-on tiles. I was immediately smitten (at the time I was able to get two packs of four for $20; they are higher at the moment).  The tiles gave me an idea. Why not an Italian kitchen? Or a semi-Italian kitchen? After all, that’s what I am! Semi-Italian.

My kitchen was busy, there was no getting around it so I decided best to just give in to the busy look. (I see those sleek, modern empty kitchens in magazines and on TV and while they can look great, that’s just isn’t happening here.) I was thinking also of something somewhat retro in theme. I’m a renter so a major overall is out of the question but I still have a lot of leeway.

I took down and dismantled the mug rack I built over the stove and extended the utensil rack I made in its place. I took down the spice rack I built and made a new, more compact one. I painstakingly removed the (free) blue glass tiles I’d put up as a back splash over the sink. That was a bitch. Apparently I put ’em on real good!  For the cabinets I found  wonderful ivy stickers on Amazon as well as the yellow glass knobs. I toyed with getting bright colored ceramic ones, like a bright yellow but decided to go with something a little more subtle.


The vinyl tiles have a clear plastic cover that adds dimension and makes it look more like real tiles. I didn’t extend it over the oven because the manufacturer said not to on the product page and besides, that would have cost more. I ditched the silly two-outlet tap and replaced it with this  six-outlet tap. (By the by, whoever installed the outlets did so upside down which I finally realized but after taking a look inside I decided that level of electrical work was beyond my pay grade.) I used double-sided tape squares to put the tiles up (instead of permanently installing them by removing the backing).



Because I eliminated the mug rack I needed to make more room in the cabinets. I previously made shallow shelves for the back of the lower cabinets so I opted to make more so that there are narrow shelves all along the backs. Very convenient!

I found great little Moondance (by Circleware) salt & pepper shakers at Ross for the back of the stove. I found the sugar dispenser at Dollar Tree years ago. That’s a “vintage” tea kettle I’ve had a long time now (it came from a house that was being cleaned out). I previously put decorative stick-on paper on the back of the stove (where the word “Sunray” is) and took many days peeling it off in tiny, tiny, tiny, bits. The color part came up but left the sticky back in place which I proceeded to remove by fingernail (I didn’t want to scratch the stove surface with a tool and nothing I tried would dissolve the sticky stuff). It was the worst part of the project.


The shelf unit to the left of the stove is one I made from scrap wood a few years ago. I fixed it up a bit now by adding colorful place mats I found at Dollar Tree to the bottom door and the top. It was only after I bought them that I saw “Moroccan” on the receipt. Oh well, I’m not splitting (Italian/Moroccan) hairs here! That small $2 fix really spruced up the shelves. I found the retro kitchen timer at a rummage sale last year. It works great.

The cabinets extend on the left side of stove so you can see below where the ivy starts.  I took the blue-checked fabric off the window where it’d served as a curtain and instead hung it in front of an ugly water heater and various cleaning tools (vacuum, brooms, etc). It might be fun to have a red-checked one eventually… but I already had this blue one from a thrift store.


My canned tomato stash is on shelves below the far left cabinet. I also moved my glass jar collection there (from above the kitchen cabinets). I am proud to say I have wittled it down to what you see here in the bag, so far as jars I’m not currently using. (I tend to hang onto glass jars for fear they will one day be unavailable.)

Initially I tried fire-retardant decorative foil-look film over the stove, thinking it would be reflective and add light to the space. It didn’t. I didn’t like it. It absorbed too much light and looked cheap. Instead I put a small piece on the bottom of this 1800’s (or thereabouts 😁)

Recessed lighting of some sort would be nice but plug-in under the cabinet lights suffice. I had one light and added another; they link together. The photo on the left is how it looks straight on and the one on the right lets you see the actual light fixtures.

I found cute retro-style coffee curtains on Amazon. Looking at Amazon gave me general ideas because I wasn’t too sure initially what inexpensive things I could fairly easily do for an Italian theme. Much of what I saw was to cutesy (fat chefs were featured on a lot of decor) but I wanted more authentic, subtle touches.


I eliminated most of the fire-engine red color I’d previously added to the kitchen- I decided it was too much – but have left this lone cabinet over the washing machine that I painted long ago. I toyed with painting it white but as it’s different from the other cabinets, I think it kind of works as red and adds character. I also wanted to show you my “plastic bag hanger” for freshly washed bags that I hung over the washing machine; it’s actually a small laundry hanger in design. And those are just-fit shelves I made a few years back for laundry detergents. It may not look it but you can still open the  right cabinet door.


I took off a dark wood handle I’d put on the kitchen’s token drawer and put this simple white one on instead. Some time back, in search of more space, I’d opened up the area under the sink and made a slipshod “drawer.” It never worked very well so I ditched it and put in this wire basket instead. See where I added more of the ivy stickers just under the sink too. (To the right of the stickers, with the small white-handled door, I made a simple shelf for microwave pans, in what was previously unused space.)

Turning our attention to the other side of the galley kitchen, I painted this previously bright red, tall cabinet door white and added a few ivy stickers. The inside of the door looked awful where I’d tried to peel off stick-on paper rather unsuccessfully, so I added new wood-look paper and a place to hang bag clips.

In my quest to eliminate the fire-engine red (a change I started before I came up with before the Italian theme) I painted the posts and the defunct pipe this red-orange. I eliminated an ugly shelf I’d put over the doorway – the board was warped & the stuff on it wasn’t attractive – and re-housed the stuff I had up there in other places. I got an inexpensive olive-themed clock from Amazon to hang over the doorway but sent it back because it was mediocre quality. I am still looking for the right thing to put there like maybe a tin sign featuring food.


I put fresh paper from Dollar Tree on these open shelves. I didn’t do anything new to these jar shelves by the window that I made (I don’t think) but just wanted to show them to you again.

Here’s a view from outside the kitchen.You can see the new color on the posts, which closely matches the chair. I got a new chair pad for the chair too. The “stone wall” stick-on paper was an earlier project but it complements the Italian theme so that worked out well.


In keeping with my semi-Italian theme, I added these placemats I found on Amazon to the small table.

I don’t think I’m quite done with my kitchen project but I’m really happy with what I’ve done so far. It’s a cheery place to go into now!

Her, his, they, it. Pick one. (No really, they insist).

I know someone who works in an environment that has adopted the practice of using pronouns. If you’re unfamiliar with this new trend, it means that people self-identify with the pronoun of their choosing and they expect others to use it as well when referring to them. In a meeting or other go-around-the-room-and-intoduce-yourself situation, participants might be asked to say their name and their pronoun(s). Theoretically, I’d say, “My name is Colette, her, hers, she” or something similar.

I am sympathetic to a point with people who don’t identify with the gender they had at birth; I’m not an insensitive clod stuck in the past unwilling to consider issues that have no personal relevance to me. And it has to be taxing not to be referred to by your chosen gender especially if you’ve gone to pains to be seen a particular way. I am irritated, though, by practices like the one I’ve described. If I was in that situation where my “pronouns” were requested (one I’ve thankfully yet to be in) I’d decline to offer any. If pressed I’d tell the person or people to figure it out for themselves or take their best guess. I might offer a smile as I said that, but I’d say it. If other people want to announce their pronouns I think it’s fine and not my business. I just don’t think the practice obligates me to play along.

When I’m unsure of someone’s gender I keep my mouth shut so far as applying pronouns till I pick up some clues, such as when someone else who appears to know the individual uses specific pronouns when mentioning them. Otherwise I can usually sidestep it and if not and I incorrectly use a pronoun, I expect someone will tell me. (There are dicier areas; supposing a child wants to be referred to by another gender, and perhaps their parents are going along with it. I recently saw a child on TV whose parents are allowing him to take drugs to hold off puberty while s/he considers what gender to be. Yes I was very taken aback. I hadn’t even known that was possible.)

The person I know who works in the place that has adopted the pronoun practice found herself in a weird situation. She had to relay information to a co-worker that she’d said to someone else regarding said co-worker. While repeating the essential parts of the conversation she used the pronoun “she” in referencing what she’d had said to the other person. The co-worker corrected her about using “she” and said the pronoun was “they.” You can see what part of the conversation mattered to the co-worker who focused on taking issue on pronouns used out of her – yes I’m calling her a her – earshot. The person telling me about the interaction told the co-worker words to the effect of “I’ll try to remember that” (which I consider a generous response).

I was galled by this story. The co-worker was attempting to control words used by other people in a private conversation. A conversation that was over no less. Further, the pronouns weren’t relevant to that conversation. IF the word “they” had been used it could really bungle up communication. Lets imagine it shall we? Person A: “Jane Smith wants to meet with you.” Person B: “Okay. Did she say when?” Person A: “They said Tuesday.” Person B: “I thought you said Jane wants to meet. Who else will be there?” Person A: “No one. It’s just them.” Person B: “Them? Who else other than Jane?” Person A: “They said only them” And on & on…

This all makes me think a bit of when people give themselves new names or nicknames and try to coax or strong-arm other people into using the new names, no matter how peculiar, ill-fitting, or otherwise cumbersome. (I just avoid using certain of these.😒)

It’s a fine line to walk anymore. Maybe, like me, you want to be considerate and not backward when it comes to change, while at the same time are finding some practices heavy-handed and even absurd. I don’t think all practices, however well-intended, should be indulged especially when they create at least as many problems as they solve. Maybe a day will come when this pronoun business is mainstream. Or maybe it will fall by the wayside.

Baiting men

The local crime blotter has reported several instances of people agreeing to meet via a dating app, only to result in an individual arriving at the predetermined address where he (I assume he) is assaulted and robbed by multiple men who corner the victim after he’s entered the apartment building.

I hadn’t heard of this particular scam before I first read about it a few weeks ago although perhaps it is widespread. You wouldn’t even need an actual woman to pull off this nasty piece of business; a photo of one would do, just to use on the dating site. If all communication is online, no phone calls prior to meeting, anybody could type messages and agree to meet. It seems like catfishing with a vicious twist.

The police spokesman was quoted in this week’s paper warning the public about these crimes, cautioning that no one is ever obligated to meet at an address the other party has set and can instead insist on their own, such as a public, well-lit spot. The police station itself was mentioned as a good meeting location. (After a rash of crimes involving people who supposedly agreed to meet to sell items, the police previously put the word out that the station lobby was open 24 hours a day and was available for meetings of any stripe between strangers. Which is a great public service.)

Here’s the thing. If a man believes he’s meeting a woman, a woman who has probably already mentioned sex in text communications, he’s going to be happy to be go to her home address, right? Sex! Why else would a strange woman provide her home address? That’s what this guy is thinking. He’s not going to risk scaring her off by saying he wants to meet her in a safe, public location first. He wants her address.

I remember reading once, probably in Esquire that a man was biologically programmed to desire sex so much that he’d risk his life for it. I wondered about that over the years; a man who thinks sex is in his near future is a man willing to take a lot of risk, although I’m not so sure how many will risk their actual lives. I also imagine a man probably thinks he can handle anything that goes awry, if he thinks about it at all. I don’t believe men using meeting apps are going to become more cautious when a woman gives out her “address” with its suggestion of imminent sex. The criminals are tapping into men’s deepest desire and know that many men will take their bait. What an ugly crime.

Employees who don’t complain

I was looking at women’s swimsuits on Amazon when I spotted an odd model amidst the many lovely, young, thin ladies pictured. No, she wasn’t transgendered, plus-size, or otherwise differently oriented, she was a dummy. Wait – strike that – she was a movement-challenged inanimate human form.

Things heard on the radio

I was doing a somewhat repetitive project for a few hours the other day so I had the radio on as background. Two child-related ads caught my attention, one directly related to kids (the other less so).

Did you know that you can buy sleep medication for children? I didn’t. I guess I probably knew certain cold or flu products might be indicated for sleep but this was a product intended only for sleep. The voice-over included a child asking for “one more story” at bed-time. There was a time when this would have made a great SNL skit:

“Susie and Johnnie won’t go to sleep at night? Do they keep asking for one more story or another drink of water? Well, worry no more! Just slip them a nighty-night pill in their milk at dinner and you’ll hear no more whining or tolerate rambunctious behavior come bed time!”

Sure, I’ve made fun, but truly, the idea of sleep medication for children IS troubling to me. It could be abused by adults looking to settle their kids down without the pesky tasks inherent in parenting. And, I can’t help but think if a child is having trouble sleeping, something else is probably amiss. Yes, many, many adults have sleep issues and take medications of one sort or another but whether you agree that’s a good idea or not, it’s still different for an adult to make that choice than for a child to be given sleep meds, all the more so if it’s just for normal kid-resistance to going to bed which is what this particular ad implied. I wonder if a child who takes medications to induce sleep is always going to be reliant on them, if not physically, psychologically, even later in life?

I had a friend, a smart person, with sleep issues who claimed insomnia was a “disease.” That didn’t sound right to me at all and I remember at the time looking into it and finding information that said insomnia didn’t exist 100 years ago. That is very telling. Living like people did 100 years ago, with all that entailed, does not sound like fun, but I can’t help but think that it couldn’t hurt to try to replicate at least a few of the habits that made sleeping naturally a routine part of life, starting very young.

The other ad was for the TV show Jeopardy. The voice-over said the show was for “mature audiences.” What? I’m not a regular viewer but I’ve watched the show and that caveat surprised me. Was there a law suit? Complaints? I can’t think what would elicit that warning. Particularly framed against EVERYTHING ELSE kids view. Googling the topic didn’t provide any answers. Racy Jeopardy? At 7:30pm? If it WAS, I might be a more regular viewer.