Author Archives: Rebekah Smith

Only 3% of Men and 12% of their Dogs Could Name these Common Household Objects


Dpbsmith at the English language Wikipedia


Cittadini Pillow Sham with Straight Flange and Royale Embroidery

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Toiletpaperwhitebg.jpg

Okay. I have to get back to work. This isn’t my thing. Gender stereotypes. Guys are morons. But it’s what came to mind when I saw this silly thing on Facebook.

MP3 Experiment

I’m preparing for a talk I’ll be doing at WordCamp – Minneapolis. I’ll be talking about podcasting with WordPress. It’s the old story. When you try to explain something, more questions pop up. In this case I want to take a look at the RSS feed of a post where there is an audio file attached. I’m assuming that it will not have the ENCLOSURE tags required that make a podcast a podcast. But I’m not sure. So let’s see what happens.


Apparently I was wrong. Without doing anything special, the media ENCLOSURE tag is included. I found this in the feed:

<enclosure url=”http://twopeopleandacat.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/EnclosureTest.mp3″ length=”1236639″ type=”audio/mpeg” />

Interesting…

So I read more about podcasting with WordPress at the source. Here’s part of what it says:

Podcasting is seamlessly supported as of WordPress 1.5. Add a link to an audio file in a post and WordPress will automatically add the necessary enclosure tag to your RSS2 feed to make it useable as a podcast.

The example RSS feed given did not work for me: http://example.com/wordpress/?feed=rss2. I’m not sure if I am misunderstanding something or if this is outdated information.

In any case, this did work: http://twopeopleandacat.com/feed/.

The above feed includes the most recent posts of all of them. By making a blog category that only includes posts with podcast media (in my case MP3 files), I can make a separate feed for that. In this example, I used “OurPodcast” as the category. The rest of the URL is generated automatically by WordPress.

http://twopeopleandacat.com/category/OurPodcast/feed/

What I found especially exciting, again from the WordPress Codex is that I can use the iTunes protocol instead of http://. This will open the feed in iTunes. On my laptop, it was a bit clumsy. But it worked for both the whole site feed and the podcast only feed. In the first case, the non-podcast posts were ignored. I’m not sure what this does if iTunes is not installed.

itpc://twopeopleandacat.com/feed/
itpc://twopeopleandacat.com/category/OurPodcast/feed/

How will this behave on my iPad that has the iTunes podcast app installed? “Safari cannot open the page because the address is invalid.” Darn!

Did I just accidentally start a podcast?

I think I might have just accidentally started a podcast. I have an episode, a dedicated podcast RSS feed that people can use to subscribe using any RSS reader. Apparently the show is called “Our Podcast – Two People & A Cat”. Had I known what I was doing, I might have given this a little more thought, but I’m willing to let fate take charge and roll with it.

What more is there to do? Do I even need the PowerPress plug-in? I thought the whole point of it was to create a dedicated podcast RSS feed and do stuff like insert those pesky enclosure tags into the feed. WordPress already does this. I mean, when you can accidentally start a podcast like you were falling into a manhole, how much easier can it get?

This is just a guess

In order to submit your RSS URL to podcast directories so that people can find your show, the feed must contain certain information. Here’s part of the feed that PowerPress generated for my show QuOTeD – The Question of the Day Podcast.

To view the whole thing, you can just go to my podcast and click on the RSS link. Or you can download this PDF file to see an abbreviated but more easy to follow version.

So is the idea that even though it’s technically super easy to start a podcast using WordPress alone, plugins such as PowerPress facilitate getting your show into the various podcast directories? Now that I think about it, PowerPress does guide you through the process quite nicely. For example, “This is your feed URL. Submit it to these various podcast directories. To be added to iTunes/Apple Podcasts you will need to have published your first episode, artwork in the following format…” blah, blah blah

In addition the plug-in offers short codes so that you can easily add a player for a single episode, a playlist and podcast subscription options, including a subscription page that can be customized. I also just discovered that you can make an embed link available so that people can embed an episode of your podcast that includes a player on a blog or website. For example here’s an embed link that I got from my podcast site.

How did that painting end up in our living room? A story improvised by dinner guests.

The embed code did not appear to work in a Facebook post. However, I recalled seeing a POST TO SOCIAL link on my Blubrry dashboard, so I gave that a try for the first time by posting something to my podcast Facebook page. The feature creates a video using the podcast artwork and the first two minutes of the episode. I’ll be curious to find out if it will use episode level artwork if it’s available. Up until now, I haven’t tried episode level art, but this might give me a reason do it.

In trouble with the law?

Brian and I were in downtown Minneapolis taking a walk and along the way I was photographing buildings. In one case, a security guard told me to stop. He assured me that if I continued to take pictures of privately owned buildings, other security guards would approach me as he did. He said that I was on private property, standing in the green space outside of the building, and as such I needed to get permission to take pictures of the building. I asked him if Google asked for permission to take photos of the building for its maps. With a straight face, he told me that they had. Last year a similar thing happened. Two security guards told me that the skyways were private property and that photography was prohibited. I can’t take a picture of Brian with the background of the city behind him from a skyway? No, according to these guys. Even after joining us in singing “Happy Birthday” to my sister over the phone, they wouldn’t allow it.

As I understand this article, this is off base, but I’ll need to learn more. I’m particularly interested in this:

You can take photos any place that’s open to the public, whether or not it’s private property. A mall, for example, is open to the public. So are most office buildings (at least the lobbies). You don’t need permission; if you have permission to enter, you have permission to shoot.

And this…

Note that the limits have nothing to do with where you are when you take the shots; it’s all about the subject’s expectation of privacy. You can be on private property (a mall or office-building lobby), or even be trespassing and still legally take pictures. Whether you can be someplace and whether you can take pictures are two completely separate issues.

Wouldn’t skyways fall under this definition of “private space that’s open to the public?” Wouldn’t the green space outside of a building that is open to the public fall under this definition? Legal or not, I’m baffled by the objection to photographing buildings, especially from the outside. I could guess at a motivation. My mind goes to the fear of getting sued. There must be more to it.

Moreover, if I did nothing wrong, don’t the actions of the security guard amount to harassment? Shouldn’t there be a penalty for making up laws to get people to do what you want them to do? Had I known that I was not breaking any laws, what would have been my options in any case? Argue with the guy? Refuse to stop taking pictures on principle?

Had I been taking pictures with a smart phone, I doubt I would have raised concerns. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that I took numerous pictures of advertisements at the Mall of America*. The Mall of America, for crying out loud. No one said a word about it. But take out a real camera on a quiet Sunday afternoon and suddenly the security guards are enforcing phantom laws. Apparently, we can take pictures anywhere we like as long as our camera is attached to a selfie stick.

In the age of surveillance where not even our email is presumed to be private and where there is a security camera on every street corner, who’s getting whipped up over an amateur photographer taking an interest in the architecture of her city? I think it comes down to who has the power.

On the upside, that day I did meet a photographer along the way (this was before the security guard incident, so there wasn’t a chance to get his take). He asked me if I got this building, that building, this bridge or that one. He was full of encouragement and didn’t think to warn me that I might be breaking the law. I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn he teaches photography or that I had been talking to a famous photographer. I regret that I didn’t directly ask. I would have liked to talk to him again.

Here are some pictures I took. I’d like to get better at this. Right now I’m just trying to figure out where the buttons on my camera are.

DSC_0155.Brian
[Leaving the house. Brian being a good sport.]

DSC_0163.Road
[This new housing development caught my attention in Northeast Minneapolis.]

DSC_0166.WireFence
[Mixing the old with the new.]

DSC_0169.weights
[They incorporated a lot of rusty relics on the grounds, but I’m not sure what any of it is.]

DSC_0173.Roses
[Flowers on a wire fence. In this case, I’m focused on the building with the number “513” behind them.”]

DSC_0173.Roses_002
[This time I’m focused on the fence.]

DSC_0173.Roses_004
[Flowers, wire fence with grain storage in the background.]

DSC_0176.Roses_004
[More of the same but different.]

DSC_0179,BlackAndWhite
[I have no idea what this structure is. The black and white and the straight against the curved caught my attention. I also like the tufts of yellow in a line in the background.]

DSC_0180.ViewFromBottom
[A view from the bottom of a tower. Greens in rusty planter. Sky.]

DSC_0181.ViewFromBottom_002
[A view from the bottom where there are sticky things on the ground. I think they are berries of some kind.]

DSC_0182.WhereDidBrianGo
[Where is Brian? #1]

DSC_0183.WhereDidBrianGo_002
[Where is Brian? #2]

DSC_0184.WhereDidBrianGo_003
[Where is Brian? #3]

DSC_0185.BricksAndSky
[Bricks and sky. #1]

DSC_0186.BricksAndSky_002
[Bricks and sky. #2]

DSC_0194.Brian
[Brian has posed for a million pictures in this spot.]

DSC_0209.Brian
[A million and one.]

DSC_0210.Brian
[Two.]

DSC_0217.Brian
[Friends.]

DSC_0226.Building
[Building on building.]

DSC_0228.art_deco
[I am in this picture too.]
The building is a gem we discovered one winter walking the skyways. We tried out the funky furniture in the lobby and freely wandered throughout the spaces that were open to the public. No one tried to shoo us away until I showed up with a camera. I wasn’t even inside the building.

DSC_0229.art_deco
[Last year’s discovery. Yummy lobby.]

DSC_0230.art_deco
[This is art deco, right?]

DSC_0231.art_deco
[Is that marble?]

DSC_0232.Brian_art_deco
[The scene of the crime.]

DSC_0233.LaSalle
[LaSalle #1]

DSC_0234.Lasalle
[LaSalle #2]

DSC_0235.LaSalle
[LaSalle #3]

DSC_0236.Brian
[On the steps of a sad kind of place.]

* After producing the first episode of QuOTeD, the Question of the Day Podcast where I asked “What does it mean to be grounded”, I started to notice how certain advertisements aimed to counter groundedness. So I took a picture of a bunch of them at the Mall of America.

Photographing a Lamp

Today Brian and I stopped in at Classic Retro @ Pete’s in Saint Paul. I was looking for some possible candidates for wall lighting in the kitchen and found a mid-century table tulip lamp instead. Lamps are a weakness. I used the lamp as a subject as I experimented with my camera. The room where I’m shooting is green. The lamp has red fiberglass shades. The tulip leaves are red on the outside and whitish on the inside. The only light comes from the lamp, which has two 75 watt LED bulbs.

dsc_0474-lamp

[F/4, 1/60 sec, ISO 100]

This was the first picture. I’m not sure why the settings were what they were. A few more bad photos followed. Then I watched this video to get a baseline.

dsc_0486-lamp

[F/22, 1/2 sec, ISO 400]

dsc_0498-lamp

[F/22, 2.5 sec, ISO 100]

We’re starting to see that the wall is green. That’s something.

dsc_0499-lamp

[F/16, 2.5 sec, ISO 100]

dsc_0531-lamp

[F/16, 1 sec, ISO 100]

dsc_0532-lamp

[F/16, 1 sec, ISO 100]

dsc_0533-lamp

[F/16, .77 sec, ISO 100]

dsc_0534-lamp

[F/16, .62 sec, ISO 100]

dsc_0535-lamp

[F/16, 1/2 sec, ISO 100]

dsc_0538-lamp

[F/16, .62 sec, ISO 100]

dsc_0545-lamp

[F/16, 1/3 sec, ISO 100]

dsc_0546-lamp

[F/16, 1/4 sec, ISO 100]

So I thought these were generally getting better. Then I realized I had paid no attention to the white balance setting. When I took video classes at MTN, I remember the instructor stressing setting the white balance. I always think of him whenever I see a video where the subject might have an unflattering bluish skin tone. So, I checked my Nikon D3300 for Dummies and made some adjustments. Given that there were no pre-sets for LEDs, I made a guess to get an idea of the effect. I’ll have to look more closely at the instructions to learn how to set the white balance with direct measurement (i.e., using white card stock). As far as I can see, adjusting the white balance brought the green wall closer to its natural color.

dsc_0549-lamp

[F/16, 1/3 sec, ISO 100]

dsc_0550-lamp

[F/16, 1/3 sec, ISO 100]

dsc_0556-lamp

[F/22, 1.6 sec, ISO 100]

dsc_0559-lamp

[F/22, 1.6 sec, ISO 100]

dsc_0570-lamp

[F/22, 1/2 sec, ISO 200]

In the end, I think some of the pictures are pretty cool. But I’m not sure any of them really capture how cool the lamp is. I’ll have to keep practicing. Plus, once I start taking pictures in RAW (right now I’m mainly sticking to JPEG), I should have some post production options that might help bring these to life. For now, I’m just trying to get my head around the basics!

Harvesting Butternut Squash in the Middle of the Night

We have a lot of squash to share.

We have a lot of squash to share.

Last Wednesday night I was in my voice class at the Guthrie Theater when the teacher mentioned that she had been working hard in her garden that day to get ahead of the hard frost expected that night. I couldn’t think about anything else after that. During a break I sent a frantic text to Brian, “Frost! Plants!”

Dreading a late night scramble to salvage what we could, I perked up when I remembered a stocking stuffer Santa had given me last year or the year before – a headlamp. Intended to help me with the ongoing painting projects around the house, the lamp would free up a hand otherwise needed for a flashlight. It would make it a lot easier to pick tomatoes and to find the butternut squash that had taken over the yard this summer.

Note to self: Headlamp definitely makes it on the list of essential household tools.

I’ve already used one of them for a very nice squash soup. Let me know if you would like to have some squash. We’re happy to share.

Actually… I’m sort of famous for growing gourds

I got my picture in the paper at Wurtsmith Air Force Base for growing these gourds.

I got my picture in the paper at Wurtsmith Air Force Base for growing these gourds.

Truthfully, I’m not sure why out of six kids I was the one who got credit for the gourds. I don’t remember planting them. This is something my parents must have noted. I was quoted as saying something about watering them every day. I do remember objecting to the outfit I am wearing in the picture. It was actually a very cute orange jump suit.

Someone from the paper noticed the gourds covered the front of the house and thought it would make a nice picture.

Someone from the paper noticed the gourds covered the front of the house and thought it would make a nice picture.

Break My Heart Wallpaper

How can wallpaper break your heart? Find the one that you love. Then find out that it isn’t made for kitchens unless you’re a character on Sex In the City who never cooks or you’re the super duper careful type (not me) or you won’t mind adding routine repair jobs to your chores or – and this isn’t really fair – you’re staging a home for sale.

Updating Oak Kitchen Cabinets

The goal is to update the kitchen working with the existing reddish oak cabinets and replacing the tiled countertops. As long as we are doing that, we’ll raise the countertops by 3/4″ to accommodate a standard sized dishwasher. We’ll also add better lighting under the cabinets.

dsc_0291

[I love this wallpaper that goes with the gray laminate we chose for the countertop. However it turns out it isn’t suitable for use in the kitchen.]

dsc_0288
[Here you see the Charcoal Boomerang laminate with the red and the yellow that will be in the dining room. At the top you also see a sample of Sea Salt, a Sherwin Williams color that is supposed to go well with oak cabinets according to this blogger. It also happens to coordinate with Balmy, the color in our living room.]

dsc_0296
[Here it is up close. When choosing a wallpaper to go with a pattern that has a small print and some “movement”, a designer I briefly talked to at Abbot Paint suggested going with a medium pattern and straighter lines. I’m not sure this paper falls within those rules, but I still think it works.]

dsc_0303
[The paper would have been used on the back wall that surrounds the door. But since I can’t use it, Sea Salt it will be. You see a swatch of it above the door.]

dsc_0241
[The Sea Salt will sit behind the red and yellow in the dining room.]

dsc_0252_400
[Then there is this nook to do. A shelf will be made to match the countertops. A sconce will be added if I can find the right one. But the wall is tricky because it leads to the basement, which is turquoise. The Sea Salt will work okay, but it could be better.]

dsc_0308
[For this coffee nook in the back of the kitchen, I thought about using the yellow from the dining room. When I was trying different shades of it, I got the idea to try stripes. Here you see it with the Charcoal Boomerang laminate and the Sea Salt.]

dsc_0349
[Here’s the Charcoal Boomerang laminate with reddish oak cabinets. We tried the darker colors that I’ve seen with similar cabinets, but they just didn’t seem right. I keep coming back to this one.]

dsc_0337

[Here’s the laminate with tile we are considering. Taking a tip from the person who was giving me advice about the wallpaper, I’m favoring straight lines. I love this size and to my eye it looks good. But I wonder if it is too small for the pattern on the laminate.]

dsc_0329

[Here’s everything together. I see I included Sedate Gray from Sherwin Williams. That will go in the bathroom off of the kitchen.]

This is still a work in progress, but we are getting closer to finalizing some decisions.

The Veggie Burger I Wish I Could Order at my Favorite Restaurants

Some restaurants deserve credit for offering vegetarian options, especially if there’s an attempt to elevate veggie burgers beyond the commercial stuff. But I’d  prefer a Boca Burger to an over-salted “patty” that oozes out of the bun with every bite. If I wonder “Why isn’t this a burrito?”, then your black bean concoction doesn’t cut it on a bun. The ideal veggie burger is firm. Texture is critical. Having sampled a number of them in the Twin Cities,  I’m not sure that any of them have nailed it, but there are some pretty good ones. I’ve listed some below.

Here’s the veggie burger I wish I could find in restaurants. It’s based on “Wonderful Walnut-Mushroom Loaf”, a recipe in Jazzy Vegetarian by Laura Theodore. The loaf was really good and the leftovers that were sliced and pan fried were even better.

The Ideal Veggie Burger
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegetarian
 
This is a rare homemade veggie burger that is firm, has a good texture and is packed full of flavor without overdoing the salt or garlic. It reminds me of stuffing. But for those who don't like sage and poultry seasoning (I'm thinking of my vegetarian sister), it has none of that.
Ingredients
  • 4 slices of bread, whole grain, rye... whatever or 2½ cups of bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin light olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 5-6 ounces of chopped mushrooms, cremini works well
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon tamari
  • 2¼ cups walnuts
  • ½ cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or vegan cheese
  • Zest from ½ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
Equipment
  1. Toaster
  2. A large skillet
  3. The Rosle Multi Cutter or a food processor and a cutting board and a chef's knife
  4. Cheese grater
  5. Zester
  6. A big mixing bowl
  7. Rubber spatula
  8. Cookie sheet or pizza pan
Prep some stuff
  1. Toast 4 slices of bread, whole grain, rye... whatever and set aside.
  2. Warm 2 tablespoons of oil in large skillet.
  3. Chop 5-6 ounces of mushrooms. The Rosle Multi Cutter (RMC) is great for this job (see below). Set aside.
  4. Chop 1 onion. If using the RMC, roughly chop onion into wedges. Set aside a small wedge of onion and chop the rest. Don't overload the unit. Otherwise chop the whole thing on a cutting board as you normally would.
In the skillet add...
  1. Chopped onion. Saute for a few minutes until tender. Then add...
  2. Two cloves minced garlic. If using the RMC to mince, add cloves to the wedge of onion you saved. I find that the chopper needs something to grab onto to work, hence the onion.
  3. Mushrooms. Continue to saute for 10 minutes then...
  4. One heaping teaspoon of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of tamari. Cook until the pan juices have evaporated.
In the meantime, put this stuff in a big mixing bowl...
  1. Pulverize toast to make 2½ cups of bread crumbs. Either use a food processor or the RMC. Just tear the toast into pieces that fit.
  2. Chop 2¼ cups of walnuts in a processor or the RMC until coarsely ground.
  3. Same with ½ cup sunflower seeds. Process until coarsely ground and add to mixing bowl with the other stuff.
  4. Add 1 cup of shredded cheese, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, lemon zest, and ¼ teaspoon of salt to the bowl.
  5. Toss everything together.
Mix it all together!
  1. Add the mushroom-onion mixture to the bowl and blend everything together with your hands or a rubber spatula. The mixture will form a ball that holds together.
Bake your veggie burgers
  1. Form medium sized patties and bake them on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Turn them over and bake for an additional 10 minutes or longer to brown them.
Serve
  1. These were really good on soft whole wheat bagels from the Seward Co-op with a slice of a tomato from the garden. They were also good served over a bed of rice with chopped fresh tomatoes on top. To reheat, pan fry them in a little bit of oil.

 

Veggie Burgers in the Twin Cities

It has been a while since I’ve sampled some of these. Here’s what I remember.

  • Northbound Smokehouse Brewpub – Loved the beer. The wild rice veggie burger was a little heavy on the garlic the day I was there.
  • The Local – I must have had the Veggie Lucy. It was good enough to make the “I would order that again” list. I believe it’s the same sandwich you’ll find at The Liffey, which you can enjoy on the balcony that overlooks West Seventh Street in downtown St. Paul.
  • Speaking of the lucy, the Fried Vegetable “Juicy Lucy” at The Happy Gnome can hit the spot, although it’s on the heavy side. I have good memories of being at the Gnome on a snowy Sunday when they had some live music.
  • The Tiny Diner serves a spinach and walnut burger which sounds good in theory but the mushy texture lost me. That said, I love the Tiny Diner and have had other great meals there. Their outdoor dining under the solar panels is especially appealing.
  • Peppers and Fries has a black bean based veggie burger. It was okay, but the next time I visit I’ll stick with the burrito.
  • Pub 112 in Stillwater has the Gaelic Gairdin, which was perfect the first time I ordered it.
  • The Chef Shack – I think the beets made this one interesting and I might steal the idea for another iteration of the above recipe. I just wish it could be have been paired with an equally appealing texture.
  • The Pint Public House gets reasonable marks for its veggie burger but docked for the so-so bun that accompanied it.
  • The American Burger Bar that was on LaSalle Avenue where I tried their veggie burger closed. But there are other locations. The burger had one of the better textures of the ones I’ve tried but was on the bland side. So order yours with plenty of yummy toppings.

Rosle Multi-Cutter

Under the heading of gadgets that work as advertised, I present the Rosle Multi-Cutter. Brian’s sister gave us one as a Christmas gift. I love it and highly recommend it.

Free Crown Royal Bags

Over the years we’ve accumulated quite a few Crown Royal bags and a friend has even more to add to our pile! They are free to anyone who can use them. While they can be handy for things like storing scrabble tiles and while my mom and I made a quilt with some and my sister crocheted a rug/seat pad with others, we have more than I can ever use. For more ideas about what you can do with these bags, just do a quick Internet search. There’s a ton of ideas out there!

Quilt with Crown Royal bags.

Quilt with Crown Royal bags.

Seat pad crocheted with Crown Royal bags and other scrap fabric.

Seat pad crocheted with Crown Royal bags and other scrap fabric.

Seat pad crocheted with Crown Royal bags and other scrap fabric.

Seat pad crocheted with Crown Royal bags and other scrap fabric.

Crown Royal bags used for quilts.

Crown Royal bags used for quilts.

My sister used scraps from our quilting project to crochet this seat pad.

My sister used scraps from our quilting project to crochet this seat pad.

Crown Royal quilt in progress.

Crown Royal quilt in progress.

My mom sewing the back/front/batting together.

My mom sewing the back/front/batting together.

Me pinning the top of the quilt to the batting.

Me pinning the top of the quilt to the batting.

Brian enjoying some Christmas gifts.

Brian enjoying some Christmas gifts.

Getting More Space Out of Your Kitchen With What You Already Have

Lid Storage

I thought, “When I’m 90 it’s not going to be so easy to fish out these pans and lids from a cramped lower cabinet.” Then I realized that it’s driving me nuts now! So I removed some minor irritations by using certain spaces and some objects in unconventional ways.

Kitchen Storage

Pan lids are stored by maximizing underused space at the top of the stairway to the basement.

Pan lids are within easy reach, hanging just around the corner from the kitchen at the top of the stairway to the basement. Some lids hang on picture hanger screws. Others are resting on a two-dollar thrift store find, a rack we were using for mail.

Kitchen Storage

The ledge along the staircase keeps the lids out of the way.

The ledge along the staircase gives enough clearance so that the lids don’t obstruct the path or make it likely that they’ll get bumped.

Storage for pans, spices, paper towels, potatoes, onions, garlic…

yyyyy

A shoe rack used to hold pans.

Commonly used pans are where I can easily grab them.

Pans on shoe rack.

Pans on shoe rack.

In addition to saucepans, the shoe rack can hold often-used spices, a bowl for garlic (we’re out of garlic, it’s the blue and white bowl) and paper towels. More pans hang on the wall and sit on top of the radiator below. Baskets hang from a plant hanger and hold potatoes and onions.

Where do you put a kitchen utensil holder, knives and cutting boards when there is no counter space?

Getting around limited counter space.

Getting around limited counter space.

Storing the kitchen utensil holder in the cabinet freed up precious counter space. With open wall space also scarce, it’s a good solution for us. I also liked using what we already had. Brian’s Red Sox bucket was nice and roomy and lightweight. So instead of getting stored and forgotten as many souvenirs do, we get to enjoy it every time we reach for a wooden spoon!

Related to this, I have a friend who stores her cups and glasses in a drawer. When her kids were little she wanted them to be able to reach them so they could help unload the dishwasher. The point is, you can do what you want. Make it work for you. For me, I see the kitchen as a workshop.

Getting more room out of the pantry for canned goods

Canned goods storage.

Canned goods storage.

Putting canned goods on a sloping rack made the bottom shelf of the pantry more functional. I can see everything at a glance. I got the idea from another blogger (I’m sorry, I don’t recall which one) and it works great!

What’s next for my kitchen?

Painting – I’ve been painting the house and the kitchen will be included in this. Now that I’m mostly done with the basement and the living room, the dining room is next. Once that’s done, the color consultant will come back to help me with the kitchen.

New Counter Tops – Right now we have tile on the counter tops. I dream of grout-free counters.

Floors – The wood floors throughout the first floor of the house need to be refinished. I’m not sure when we’ll get to this, but that’s the plan.

Island – I can get more space with an island that can be rolled from in front of the dishwasher, where it would normally live. The extra prep space would be dreamy. I saw a good example of what I want at the Black Sheep, a pizza place in downtown St. Paul.

So much for the “fun” part

The next step will be to paint the insides of these built-in bookshelves with a color that will show the contents better.

Before – Built-in shelves from living room/entrance to dining room

I’ve been listening to Love it or List It as I’ve been working on these shelves. On the show two people, usually a couple, disagree about whether to sell their home or remodel it. In the end they choose between their house that has been updated by a designer and a dream home found by a realtor. My messy shelves remind me of that show. Here’s a tip. Before starting fresh in a new house or even hiring a designer, try dusting off a few things. Put some stuff away!

After

After – Built-in shelves

The dining room is next. On the bottom of the dental molding will be red, like the fireplace. On the top will be “Inviting Ivory”, a buttery yellow, which will carry over into the stairway.

Before

Before – Chicken on shelf

After

After

Before

Before – Tiny train on shelf

After

After


I think that my dad made this little train, but I do not know for sure. I keep meaning to ask him about it. I found it buried in a package. I love it.

So painting and putting the cabinet back together was supposed to be a treat. Instead I was met with frustration that made me want to spit. I knew enough to note certain things when taking the shelves out. But, I didn’t know, for example, to note that four of the 32 clear plastic shelf brackets were different from the rest.

If only I were as sharp as the superhero who changed my tire. Triple A sent her one morning when I woke up to a flat. She was no bigger than me, not big. She had red hair and I think that was key. I think that had something to do with her superhero powers, but I’m not sure. I loved her! I watched her change the tire. Focused. Every bolt had a place. Every step was deliberate. She paid attention. When something didn’t work as expected, she calmly figured it out.

Sometimes I can be like her. Other times I’m defeated by an extra layer of paint.

My house just turned 100 this year. Things aren’t straight. Get a grip. Deal. Deal with it like a superhero. Oh, and enjoy. Love it. I vote “Love it!”