Sustainable Cooks
First Time Visiting? Start Here!

Scattered Sundays

I’m not going to bury the lead here and make you wait. The countertops fit. I repeat: the countertops fit! But just barely. The company we hired made it work but it was so close to not working. We’re talking like a gnat’s fart away from not fitting.

We used Crenshaw Countertops and I’m so glad we went with this recommendation I received in a local group. And just to be clear, we paid the full amount (plus a tip), so this is not a sponsored review. All (grateful) opinions are my own.

They worked 12 straight hours on Sunday, with five of those hours in the pitch black in our driveway. It gets dark by 5 pm this time of year, but thankfully it wasn’t raining. They cut and finished much of the countertop by headlamp. I was in awe of the talent. 

The countertops we got for free from a friends remodel have been sitting in our garage for over a year. We thought there were two pieces of the counter (one really long with the sinkhole already cut out and a 4×4 island chunk).

As we were showing the countertop guys the pieces, we actually found another piece we do not remember having. That gave us a bit more breathing room for the cuts they had to make.

a kitchen under construction

We assumed they would cut the island into two pieces to extend the counters that will run along the back wall. We were wrong. That’s why they’re the experts and not us!

They took the 4×4 island and created the end piece of our countertops which fits over a corner cabinet. They cut and finished this piece in the dark in 43-degree weather. Oh, and they also rounded the edge of the entire counter because they thought it would both look better and make it more chip-resistant over time.

a kitchen countertop being installed

This slab used to be an island

The “old” end of the counter was then separated and used in two different places that were then connected to the “new” end. And because we didn’t have power to our kitchen until Wednesday, all those pieces were then fitted together and sealed via headlamp in our kitchen. 

They looked great from what I could see in the dark, and I was so thrilled with them in the daylight. The seams are almost invisible and the counters really brought the entire room together. It was the first time I looked at the space and thought “holy crap, this is a kitchen”!

a kitchen under construction

So, that was Sunday. And then Tuesday, Troy, my father-in-law, and “I” started the backsplash tile. We got started hours after we intended due to being total newbies with this kind of thing.

My father-in-law showed up and asked what our plans were for the tile around the windows. Honestly, I thought we would just tile to the edge and call it a day. Turns out that is not really a finished look. So, after some google image searches, we decided a nice white wooden trim around the outsides was definitely aligned with my aesthetic. 

We were off to the hardware store and quickly found exactly what we wanted. And then we stood in line for what seemed like hours, while a very chatty man without a mask was trying to befriend the cashier. Oh, and his total was $183 and he asked if she minded if he would pay in $5 bills. Charming.

We returned home, slapped the trim up, and got to tiling. Where we quickly found out how hard it is to tile around outlets. Boy howdy, those are rough! After breaking eight tiles trying to cut around one outlet, Troy went back to the hardware store to get an angled grinder and life became a bit easier.

We only got four rows up that first day. It felt disheartening, but my father-in-law promised that day two would be easier. And, it was! But it was still a long day of tiling and let’s say…skills growth.

The first day Troy and my father-in-law had been using a wet saw that we rented from a local equipment rental place. On day two, I realized it was dumb waiting for them to cut my tiles and I had my father-in-law walk me through how to use it. Even by the end of the day, this was the face I made each and every time I cut a tile.

a woman grimacing

We split up the wall into three sections and each tackled our own section. The photos will show that the tiles don’t go to the edges on the left or right of the wall. That is because we have cabinets (currently hanging out in our dining room) that cover those spaces and any gaps will be covered with a piece of trim. 

2 men tiling a kitchen wall

And as if the tile wasn’t exciting enough, we also got lights this week! After 103 days of no lights and no power to the kitchen or dining room, lights and outlets got installed. It feels like such a treat that you can flip the switch and LIGHTS TURN ON. No extension cords required.

My sister, knowing that I HATE things on our countertop, convinced me months ago to get a microwave and oven combo (I got it from Costco). What we didn’t realize is that they weigh about 4 billion pounds. Give or take. Thanks to my brother-in-law, a stack of wooden crates, and a lot of tenacity, we (they!) also get the oven and microwave installed. 

a kitchen under construction

Due to supply issues (it is so hard to get electrical components right now), we couldn’t get the island cooktop and outlets hooked up, so that will be happening on Tuesday. You may remember that the cooktop has been named Bonnie, in honor of the saleswoman who found it in the clearance section and ran after me as I was leaving the store to tell me.

After three nights of terrible sleep, and a day of tiling, I was brain dead and posted a photo of the oven on Instagram and asked our community to name it. I got a slew of messages that the only reasonable name was Clyde. Doy. I’m mortified that I missed that no-brainer. But, you all came through in a big way, so I thank you. And so do Bonnie and Clyde.

I got to take off almost 90% of the blue plastic on Monday and it felt AMAZING! It feels like things are really coming together now that the cabinets look uniform. We’ll hopefully put on the drawer pulls this coming week. Things are getting real!

a kitchen island with white cabinets

I spent a lot of Monday sharing photos of our tiling progress on Instagram and with friends. Like a lot of photos. Monday would have been my mom’s 71st birthday and it is always a day full of lots of bittersweet nervous energy. 

We usually meet up with my aunt and uncle and sister and have dinner at my mom’s favorite crappy Mexican restaurant. It is a way for us to remember and celebrate her, and to be together on a tough day.

This year, that obviously couldn’t happen. So, instead, I was spamming everyone with tile photos. It’s probably not a recognized coping technique, but it’s what was available to me.

a kitchen under construction

I mentioned the lack of sleep this week. One of those nights was due to the fact that a storm rolled in at 11:30 pm and proceeded to shake our house and try to destroy our will to live until 3 am the next day. At one point, I turned to Troy and said “this storm feels personal”. It was vicious.

So, naturally, the next morning we had an incredible sunrise and blue skies all day. Like a weather version of the walk of shame. But the trees and branches that had been knocked down and the people without power were stark reminders about what had happened that night.

That storm was the final three that had been hammering the area for five days. Rivers were at flood stage, there was standing water everywhere, and we were all officially over it. The constant rain has meant the chicken yard hasn’t adequately dried out, and the girls were pissed that they couldn’t take dust baths.

Without those dust baths, we now have an issue with mites, which is stupidly annoying. If you don’t own chickens, you may not know that mites are super common with flocks. The easiest way to avoid them is to provide the ladies with lots of sand or dust to roll around in. That is a natural way to smother those punkass mites.

We’re going to the diatomaceous earth route to deal with this outbreak. And of course, we’re praying for continued sun and drier days ahead. Nothin’ but blue skies from now on.

2 boys holding hands

No, Bennett is not flipping anyone off. He’s trying to make a llama shadow puppet.

The tiling team (Troy, my FIL, and myself) are tackling the floor starting on Wednesday. I picked out giant 12×24 tiles because my father-in-law and Troy have never let me live down the fact that I picked the thinnest wood floor planks ever when we redid the floors six years ago.

We’re giving ourselves five days to finish the floor because we know that something will go wrong and we want a nice big ol’ buffer so we can do it the right way. The plumber comes back on the 25th to hook up the sink, dishwasher, and fridge. I’m not sure how long that will take, but as of the evening of the 25th, the kitchen will be ready to launch!

We’ll still have months of finish work ahead of us because that is how life works. It is the tiny details that take just as much time as knocking down walls and rebuilding a room from scratch.

I’m guessing that starting in February, Sunday posts will be like 40 words long because WTF will I even have to talk about? As we enter one year of quarantine and the end of a four-month remodel, my life will go back to “took a walk, made food, got up at 4:30 am to work, kids fought all day”. Repeat. Snore.

stuffed animals blocking stairs

Gee, thanks, Bennett. This makes my life so much easier.

Housekeeping

I almost never buy new clothes anymore, but when I need undergarments, sleepwear, and some crisp basic tops, I turn to Pact Organic.

Pact makes sustainable fashion for all – the consumer and the people making the clothes. I love their sleep tanks and stretch-fit long and short-sleeved t-shirts (tip: size up one size) for great capsule wardrobe staples.

You can get 20% off your first order with Pact here. They also offer 3.5% cashback from Rakuten so make sure you are signed up for that program.

What I’m Listening To This Week

An old favorite, Make Me Smart, is back in my earbuds this week. It’s a great (and short) daily podcast that covers the news, tech, and market news. It is also one of the few podcasts I enjoy that is safe for my kids to also listen to!

What I’m Reading This Week

I started and finished The Guest List in just two days this week. Thank goodness for the public library and free digital downloads!

I pride myself on seeing twists and turns in plots coming way ahead of time (drives my husband nuts when we’re watching movies), but this book got me good and I absolutely love when I am surprised.

After finishing that, I picked up Dear Child from our library. I honestly am not sure how I feel about it. It’s been referred to as “Gone Girl meets Room”. The way it jumps around has me still feeling it out, but it is a real page-turner.

Reader Spotlight of the Week

Staci left this lovely five-star review on our Easy Butternut Squash Chili {Pin this recipe}:

I made the recipe in the slow cooker according to your suggestions, there was no need to add any additional liquid, the chili was excellent! My entire family enjoyed it, thank you.

2 bowls of instant pot chili with toppings and chips on a white board

On Sustainable Cooks This Week

Air Fryer Potato Skins – These crispy Air Fryer Potato Skins are packed with tons of flavor. Baked, not fried, they are perfect for dinners, appetizers, and snacks! No air fryer? You’ll also find oven-baking methods in the post. {Pin this recipe}

crispy potato skins topped with green onions and bacon

Crispy Cauliflower Fritters – Healthy and delicious, these Crispy Cauliflower Fritters are a Whole30 compliant, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, and low carb delight. This easy side dish is packed with flavor and is a tasty way to get more vegetables into your meals. {Pin this recipe}

a bowl of arugula with three cauliflower patties and pickled vegetables

How to Freeze Pineapple – Learn all the tips and tricks for how to freeze pineapple to build a freezer stash of this incredible fruit. Freezing pineapple is a great way to preserve without needing to know any special kitchen skills. {Pin this tutorial}

a freezer bag of pineapple on a white board

The Five Most Popular Posts This Week

Air fryer recipes were still on fire this week! Everyone seems to still be playing with their holiday gifts. No air fryer? Remember, ALL my Instant Pot and air fryer recipes also include conventional cooking instructions.

  1. Air Fryer Potatoes – skip using the oven and make these crispy taters in the air fryer.  {Pin this recipe}.
  2. Air Fryer Pizza Rolls – like a healthier homemade version of my teenage self’s favorite snack.  {Pin this recipe}
  3. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – vegan/vegetarian as written, but you can make your version to your tastes.  {Pin this recipe}
  4. Air Fryer Pretzel Bites – recently, a new acquaintance asked me about my favorite air fryer recipe, and I told her these pretzel bites. So fast and easy to make and they’re SO GOOD.  {Pin this recipe}
  5. Air Fryer Pickles – love these!  {Pin this recipe}

Meal Plan

Monday:: Korean BBQ chicken + Instant Pot Jasmine Rice I have in the freezer and salad from the garden.

Tuesday:: Instant Pot Matzo Ball Soup. I have a Stasher bag full of prepped soup veggies in the freezer, so I just need to make the balls (snicker snicker) to make this tasty soup happen.

Wednesday:: Take out to support a local small business and my sanity (we’re tiling that day).

Thursday:: A new recipe I am testing for February.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night.

Saturday:: Take out to support a local small business

Sunday:: TBD, probably a recipe I am testing out for March. It honestly depends on if I have any energy left by the end of the week. Unlikely.

 

What are you having this week?

 

This post contains affiliate links and we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you if you click through and make a purchase.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

12 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. Have you heard of using ashes for letting the chickens dust themselves in?  I don’t own chickens personally, so fact check the info, but since you have a fireplace, it may work.

    • I haven’t, but I would be leery of it. If the wood stove doesn’t burn hot enough, I wonder if some of the ashes would be dangerous depending on what was burned. The problem with our coop isn’t lack of things to dust bathe in, it’s that everything was just too wet for so long. We had some windy rain storms coming in one right after the other for weeks.

  2. Yay! Your kitchen is coming along so nicely!!!!! I’m glad you did it yourself (minus the hiring out the counters-which is an excellent choice) and are learning new skills. I love an accomplished woman and a wife who works with her husband to build their best life. Tiling is one of my favs and doing your own cuts is essential. The kitchen looks great in the pics and your house looks so light and open. Congrats!

    • We also hired out the plumbing, because I am not remotely interested in us flooding our house. HA!

      I cannot imagine liking tiling, but I am glad someone does. 🙂 You must add so much value to home improvement projects.

  3. Your kitchen looks amazing!! Keeping up with the remodel is the only thing tempting me to fire up IG, but thankfully you cover it on Sundays.

    We should get our Butcher box this week and we signed back up for a CSA, so meals will be created accordingly. We’ve been talking about switching things up and making lunch our biggest meal with supper a grazing affair (none of us are ever really hungry at the same time for supper). So that means I will be doing some batch cooking again. I’m actually looking forward to it.

    • Sounds like a week of adventurous but delicious eating!

      Lunch as the biggest meal is very French. I believe they do their big meal for lunch, and dinner is mainly vegetable-based. Seems like a great idea to me.

  4. I picked opaque gray glass tiles when we started our kitchen reno a few years ago. They require a special diamond blade to cut and our kitchen had something like 8 outlets (and that was with losing 2 when we took down a half wall to extend the countertop). I don’t think my husband has forgiven me for that choice yet 😂

    • Haha, I hope it is gorgeous and he eventually gets over it! But, I can totally understand how absolutely frustrating those cuts must have been.

      We went from TWO outlets (TWO!) to nine, but thankfully two of them are on the island and did not need tile.

  5. Holy smokes, the kitchen is looking so good.  And I’m legit beyond impressed that you guys did so much of it yourself.

  6. Scattered Sundays is my favorite post of the week.  Heck, it’s my favorite email of the week.  I get my coffee ready, settle in and have a good read.  I’m often reading parts aloud to my hubby.  I feel like part of the family.  I have greatly enjoyed your kitchen remodel updates and photos.  Hubby and I bought an old fixer 9 years ago and did all of the work ourselves, except for the granite countertops.  A remodel can make or break a marriage they say.  Eight months of work before the house was actually livable and we are still in love.  We would do it again in a heartbeat.  I’m very excited for you as I know how very long you have hated that kitchen.  I hope you show before and after photos when your project is complete.

    • Awww, I love hearing that I am part of your Sunday routine.

      Eight months of work is ridiculously impressive! I hope you were living off-site for the duration of that?

      And YES to before and after photos! But I anticipate the “finish” work will take 1-2 months.