Thursday, December 4, 2014

Our Ikea Kitchen

I feel really terrible that I never posted pics of our Ikea kitchen when it was finally done, so here are a couple shots. If  you're friends with me on FB or Instagram you saw our new kitchen months ago but to my Blogger readers I kinda left you in the dark. Sorry!

Anyways we LOVE our kitchen. It looks so much cleaner than our old, dated Formica kitchen and has so much more  charm. We couldn't be happier with it! 

My favorite part is our huge farmhouse sink. It especially came in handy last Thursday when I had to wash our 15lb turkey in it! Other than the sink, I really love the soft glow of the in-cabinet and under cabinet lights. It makes the kitchen look so warm and inviting and is great task lighting too. But the best part is that the lights are LED and should last 20 years! Amazing!

The cabinets themselves are awesome! They're sturdy and the doors wipe clean really easily. Adam put soft close dampeners on all the doors and drawers too so no little fingers getting hurt here! :)

Overall, I absolutely love our new kitchen and will miss it dearly when we move in about a month. I'm bummed that I didn't get to enjoy it for even a year but I have no doubt in my mind that this kitchen made our house sell so fast in just 4 days! Can't complain about that!

Our new house's kitchen doesn't require nearly as much updating but perhaps a little tweaking to suit our tastes a little better. Can you believe I'm actually excited about doing another kitchen reno? 

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Saying Goodbye to My Father

On February 18, 2014 my father passed away unexpectedly in Japan from heart failure. Esme was only about 2 1/2 weeks old when it happened and because she needed so much of my attention I sort of didn't allow myself to grieve properly. I told myself I couldn't and that I had to keep moving for the sake of her well being. But suppressing my grief only made it worse.

In the days after I received the news, my milk supply lessened drastically, which only prompted Esme to feed non-stop to get my supply back up. Her voracious appetite gave the signal to my body that milk was still in high demand and now, luckily, I'm doing fine in that department. Since my milk was affected so much by my emotions I'm afraid to grieve. So I try to keep myself busy during the day so my mind doesn't dwell on his death. It's not so difficult when you have to take care of 2 little girls. But during late night feedings and, more recently, evenings alone, I'll suddenly find myself with a knot in my throat, wiping my wet eyes. I have to face it and come to terms with his passing. Writing has always been cathartic for me so I hope writing about him and how I feel right now helps me heal.

First, let me say that I am not going to romanticize his life and my relationship that I had with him in my childhood. I'm going to try and speak about him honestly and how I truly remember him. My father was never a "Dad" to me or my siblings. For as long as I can remember he was someone I feared and someone I didn't trust. I saw him shower my mom with expensive gifts — a canary diamond ring, emerald earrings and even a burgundy Bentley. But his hot temper and physical abuse overshadowed his gifts and good intentions and made our household a very unstable one. My distaste for extravagance no doubt stems from this. He was a very charismatic man around other people and told grand stories of playing piano on Japanese television, and which celebrities he'd met. He definitely had presence in a room. But all that didn't matter to me. I didn't care about any of it. What I really wanted from him was love, affection, and normalcy. I wanted him to be like my friends' dads but I knew he never would or could be. It just wasn't how he was.

After he and my mom got divorced he moved back to Japan without saying goodbye to any of us. He just left. He was too proud... or maybe he was ashamed? I'll never know. But after moving back to Japan, without fail, he would call me on my birthday every year and sing Happy Birthday to me. As mad as I was at him I always managed to tell him I loved him before we hung up. He always said he loved me too.

During the past few years our relationship got better and better and I'm so grateful for all those conversations I had with him over the phone. I would send him pictures of Olivia and he would thank me for them and tell me she was beautiful. He wanted to meet her so much and I kept telling him we would visit when we had enough money saved up to travel over there. But of course, something always came up and we never could make our way to visit him. During our last phone call, he asked how I was doing in my pregnancy and thanked me for the ultra sound pictures I sent him. He was happy that he was going to have another grand daughter.

When Esme was born, I don't know why but I kept putting off calling him to let her know that she was born. I had so much on my mind and talking to him didn't seem so urgent. I regret that so much now. I wish I had called him right after she was born. I also wish I did travel over to see him with Olivia, even if that meant having some credit card debt. Now she'll never get to meet him. I'll never forgive myself for that.

It's strange that when I was younger, there were times when I absolutely hated him. I hated that he hit my mom, that he was never there for us and that he was so self absorbed. But as I grew older, as much as I tried I couldn't stop caring for him. I still yearned to see him and to give him a hug.

I turned 30 a month ago. I really wish I could have heard him sing to me one last time.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Esme's Birth Story

It's been about 6 weeks since I delivered Esme so I thought I should finally get around to writing about it before I forget. So here goes. Long post, readers, sorry in advance.

On Wednesday, January 29 I was feeling exhausted from all the kitchen renovating that we had been doing since Thanksgiving and just wanted to rest. I had my 37 week appointment in the morning and right before I had to leave, my mom called me in a little bit of a panic and asked if I was okay. She had heard on the news that there were terrible snow storms in the north and wanted to make sure we were fine. I told her everything was ok, that I was feeling ok in my pregnancy, and that I had to get to my appointment. She told me to be careful on the roads and we said goodbye. At my appointment my midwife, Nannette, said I looked like I was right on track and suggested that I start taking a nap after lunch so I could get the rest I needed before the delivery. I asked her how I could do that when I have Olivia to look after, and she said to let her watch a show and just nap on the couch while she watches it. So that afternoon I did just that. And looking back now, I'm soooo glad I did.

That night I also asked Adam if he could take the night off from cutting the counters and assembling cabinets and we could just watch something and go to bed. I couldn't remember the last time we had done that since the renovation began and I knew we both needed the relaxation. I remember telling him that we should "rest now while we still can." He agreed and so we watched an episode of Arrow (which is surprisingly good btw) and then hit the sack. Right before I laid down I kept saying that I just wanted to sleep and not have to deal with being uncomfortable anymore. I complained about a dull pain in my back but just shook it off and tried to sleep.

At around 11:20pm I started feeling some cramping and wished they were just Braxton Hicks but I had felt false contractions before and these were more intense and coming faster and faster. I knew something was up even though it was 2 weeks before my due date. So, at 11:30pm I began timing them. They were already 2 and a half minutes apart and I started feeling a trickle from my water bag. I shook Adam's arm to wake him up and told him I thought it was time. In his sleepy haze he chuckled and tried to cuddle me. I wiggled away, turned on the light and said again in a more serious tone that I thought it was time to go to the hospital. That woke him up. I ran to the bathroom to take care of the trickle from my water bag and he ran into Olivia's room trying to figure out what to pack for her. We did not expect to have to take Olivia to the hospital but with it being almost midnight and with no family around we had no choice. In between painful contractions, I was getting myself ready and helping Adam pack for Olivia's potential hospital stay. I just kept saying "2 weeks early! Why are you 2 weeks early?!" and clutching onto whatever I could when another wave of contractions came.

Around 11:50pm we finally piled all of our bags and ourselves into the car and drove to the hospital. We got to the hospital at midnight and I was taken into a room to see if I needed to be admitted or not. My nurse, Barbara, timed my contractions which were now 2 minutes apart and checked to see how dilated I was. I was only 4 cm but the contractions were so intense! While I was on the bed and she was monitoring me my water bag broke with a gush. After it happened, she stopped what she was doing on the computer and told me with a smile, "You're staying with us!"

At around 12:30am they checked to see how dilated I was again. Only an hour after my contractions had started, and I was already 7 cm. About 8 hours of labor in less than an hour! By 1am I was wheeled into my birthing room where they set up a cot for Olivia and turned on the TV to distract her, but as it turns out not everybody loves Raymond. Ba-doom-chhh. So as I was writhing in pain, the nurses took her out into the hallway and looked after her while Adam stayed with me.

After they set me up in my birthing room my midwife, Nannette, who was on-call at the hospital that night came to me. I was so happy to see her! My contractions were getting stronger and lasting longer and she coached me right through them. But I just couldn't stand the pain any longer and finally asked for an epidural. I probably asked for it 10 times, but each time Nannette and Barbara said they needed to wait just a little longer for my platelet count to come back to see if it was safe to give to me. Then I suddenly felt immense pressure in my pelvis. It was Esme's head moving down further and further in my body. I felt my pelvic area expand and I just started saying "She's coming! She's coming!" over and over again.  I asked for that epidural again one last time and this time Barbara looked at me and said "Beverly, you're not getting an epidural. There's no time." I could've burst into tears but like she said there was no time. Nannette turned me onto my left side and when the next contraction came she told me to "Puuuushhh!!!" I pushed hard with all the strength I could muster and when the contraction was over I breathed hard, like Nannette had taught me, to get myself over the wave of unbelievable pain. I pushed for 10 excruciating minutes when finally, at 1:37am, Esme was born.

I was so relieved to hear her cries, and I was overjoyed that my labor was all over. It was crazy to think that just 2 hours earlier we were in bed, enjoying our last night without a newborn! Nanette said, "This is what we call a 'drive-by birth,' because it all happened so fast!" They laid her on my chest. She was so warm with a head full of the softest brown hair. I was so happy!

In the weeks leading up to her birth, I had been worried that I wouldn't love her as much as I love Olivia. After all, I've had 3 years to fall in love with her. But as soon as I held Esme, it was like my heart burst. How can you help but love this beautiful girl?

The nurses brought Olivia back in. Turns out she had a great time at the nurses' station! She had told them it was her birthday, so they had been singing Happy Birthday to her for the past half hour. Oh, Olivia! She had them all fooled.

Olivia met her new little sister for the first time. At first she looked at her with curious eyes, but it didn't take long for her to warm up to Esme. She was so excited to be a big sister now, and wanted to give her kisses and hugs. She was so sweet!

Eventually, we all settled down, and Olivia laid down on her make-shift cot. Nanette said I should try to breastfeed Esme. And at 2:50, not even 2 hours after her birth, Esme latched on. It was like she said "Okay, I'm hungry, I'm ready to go!"

And as I laid there, with my new family, I kept thinking how strange it all was. My mom calling in a panic, Nanette telling me to rest that afternoon, me telling Adam that we needed to enjoy a night to ourselves. It all just made me realize that there's a reason for everything. It was out of our hands. But in this one day, everything worked out. Not as we had planned, but perfectly.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Faucet Love and Backsplash and Hardware Sneak Peak

Is it possible to be in love with a faucet? Why yes, yes it is. We got the Delta Trinsic faucet in this gorgeous "Champagne Bronze" finish and we absolutely love it. It's a pull down faucet that has a spray setting and a very high arch which is ideal for washing big pots and pans. It's simple, modern, European design also contrasts well with the raised panel cabinets and traditional farmhouse sink we chose and brings out the golden tones in our butcher block even more. It's just perfect!

Before we bought it I was a little hesitant about the brass finish because chrome, stainless steel, and nickel seem to dominate the market for kitchen fixtures and accessories. But then I saw these pictures of white kitchens with touches of brass and was so inspired by the unexpected glamour the brass hardware brought to the spaces.

Pretty, right? So over the Christmas break I bit the bullet and went ahead and bought it from Amazon at a really great price (plus free shipping!) When I opened the box my jaw dropped. It really is a beautiful piece of hardware and solidly built. The magnetized pull-down spout is so convenient and goes back in place really well. And the finish is way better than I expected. It looks like brass that has taken on a beautiful patina.

Do you want to see a sneak peak of what I chose for our backsplash and pulls?  Sure you do! ;)

Since we saved a lot of money by not getting expensive countertops we were able to spend more on our backsplash. I've always loved the look of Carrara marble but it can be so expensive. Then I found this beautiful Carrara-like marble subway tile at Lowe's at $10.48/sq ft and I knew it would look perfect with our butcher block because of the subtle gold veining running through it. Putting it up will most likely be the last thing we do in our kitchen reno but I'm sure it will be worth the wait.

The pulls I chose are very simple 4 in brass ones made by Richelieu. I found them on after seeing them used in a stunning kitchen makeover below by Canadian magazine House and Home (a design magazine I'm currently obsessed with right now.)

What do you think of the brass hardware trend? Obviously, I'm smitten with it and have no regrets but I'm interested in hearing your thoughts. Fab or Fad?

Ikea Kitchen Makeover Update

Time for another update about our Ikea kitchen makeover. Do you see anything different from the last update's pics? How about those shiny new appliances? Or that hood? Or maybe my dream sink and gorgeous faucet? That's right dear readers, we've got a functioning kitchen again. Yahoo!

Over the MLK holiday weekend, Adam worked his buns off cutting our butcher block counter tops and routing them for the  Domsjo sink. He also built this ingenious little cabinet to the right of the sink that you can see in the picture below. We had roughly 6 inches of extra space to work with for our base cabinets and I didn't want it to go to waste by just covering it with a filler panel. So we both did some online research and were mostly inspired by spaces that used them for cutting board storage or wine bottle storage. So Adam combined both ideas by making two shelves for the top of the cabinet and leaving the bottom open for large cutting boards and baking pans. I just love it! And I can't believe he made it all by himself with no wood-working experience at all. Amazing, right?

On Sunday, our plumber/ HVAC neighbor came and installed the sink, faucet, and garbage disposal. (It's so nice not having to wash our dishes in our bathroom sink anymore.) He also installed the gas valve we needed so we were in ship shape for our appliance installation that finally happened on Tuesday.

On Monday, Adam installed our Faber hood which I still can't believe we have. I thought we were stuck with having to choose between a small under-cabinet hood or a micro/hood combo but after talking to some of his work colleagues Adam realized we could use the type of hood we really wanted by building a soffit above our cabinets again. 

So after doing a lot of research to find a powerful but quiet hood we decided on the Faber "Classica." It has 600 CFM and is still quieter than the Ikea microwave/hood we had which was only around 200 CFM. You should feel its suction power — it's incredible! We still have to cut the chimney caps to hide the ductwork but I'm so happy with it already!

Then on Tuesday morning, the appliance guys came and installed our dishwasher and gas range. We were both ecstatic that night. After almost 5 years of using an old 1960's Roper range and 3 years before that using a tiny, who-knows-how-old range in our apartment in Providence we just couldn't believe we had a brand spankin' new one. It was such a great feeling.

And I think that about does it for this kitchen makeover update. To say a lot happened since last Friday is an understatement. It may not look that pretty or near done yet but once we put in our soffits, under cabinet lighting, backsplash and doors that'll all change very quickly. Hope you stay tuned!


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