Beginning of the backyard transformation

Well, the big day is here!  Our major landscaping in the backyard and driveway is being worked on as I write this.

To see how far we have come though, I need to post the dreaded “Before pictures”

Here is the side of the driveway which we use as an extension of our patio.   It will have rocks put in along the fence and the weeds will be killed!!

A side view of our patio  as well as the back from the yard as it started in the spring – this is the area Tom and I are taking on.


    The back corner which will be turned into a perennial garden.



And the scary area behind the garage – future home of my Buddha garden.

Over the next few days, I will begin to update with new pictures so you can see all the changes!   We are super excited about this – making a backyard oasis and the extension of our cozy house!



Updates and new projects

It has been a while since I posted on here.   I still LOVE my kitchen and it makes me smile every time I use it. Have decided to start doing some more blogging because I am on a new journey and we have a new big project in the works.

My journey

My journey – getting my body to its healthiest it can be.   It is a long story which I will go into in the days ahead, but over the last 20 + years I have put on a lot of weight.  I am an emotional eater, and on top of that, I have polycystic ovary syndrome which is caused by insulin resistance (thank to both sides of my family) and this lead to becoming a type 2 Diabetic.   On top of that, I have a debilitating chronic autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis which reeks havoc on my joints and lower back (yeah lets exercise – ha).  So losing weight for me is tough.

What started it

I hit rock bottom so to speak when I met with a new endocrinologist in January.   Now – he was NOT fat friendly so to speak – but my A1C  – a test to see where sugar levels have been over the last 3 months – results were way out of control and I knew part of it was due to lack of exercise (I hurt my ankle – more about that another time)  but I also was not paying attention at all to what I was eating or what my sugar levels were.   I had gotten them under somewhat control and kind of just was coasting.  Yeah coasting to gaining weight I had lost back.

Time to act!

With a pending ankle surgery around the corner, I knew I had to get my sugar under control.  And weight loss would be a bonus.  Using some of his suggestions, my husband, Tom, and I cracked down.  For 8 straight weeks, starting in January 25, I did meal replacement shakes with some low carb veggies thrown in.   The doctor wanted me to stay hard core like that for 12, but I honestly just missed food too much.    But – it worked.   I lost 25 lbs and my sugar levels became consistently in the under control range.   I did this through the beginning of the surgery, with the help of my husband who also started to follow the diet.

Progress so far

Now here we are 3 1/2 months later.  I am down almost 40 lbs (Sooo close).    We have upped the food – but still staying low carb and low calorie.  Eating way healthy and my sugar levels are still fabulous!  (although my morning numbers are frustrating but that is another post or 10).  I have kind of hit a plateau  weight wise but I am starting to be able to exercise as my ankle gets better.   I am at my half way point.    And I bought a size 14 jean yesterday – not plus size.   WHAT???? I haven’t been able to do that for a long time, like decades.

So I am going to utilize this space to talk about how I am doing, to keep me accountable, to record this journey, share recipes and maybe help someone else who is ready to take this kind of journey.

New project

Oh and the new project – Operation make our backyard beautiful – complete with a “Buddha Garden” which I have been dreaming about for years.   Will be posting about that too.

Until next time,



Counters and Backsplash, Oh My!

So after the 10 day wait, the counters were installed on March 17.  This is actually pretty quick.  Perk of doing things in the off season!

And are they beautiful!  They sparkle!


Then the next step was the backsplash.    This was my make or break item.  I knew I wanted it to be eye catching, but still neutral enough if we changed things up, it would still work.  And it is blue, in honor of my Mom’s favorite color.   We had to change the original choice of the tiles because we found out that the ceramic style was way over our budget.  (Darn Italian designers.) Then I discovered the glass tile came in these small mosaic ones.   Seeing this vision come to life has been incredible.  And it just pops like i hoped it would!

Will be posting more soon.


So many cabinets!

It has been a bit since I posted but that is because it has taken a bit for the cabinets.   That has been the next step in the process and it took longer than expected.  I didn’t think people wanted to see 10 posts about cabinets, so I was just waiting until they were pretty much finished.  One of our big corner lazy susan cabinets was damaged and had to be rebuilt, which slowed the whole process down.

On top of all that, I have been coordinating the upcoming benefit for my labor of love, Take Back the Night.  This annual benefit is how we raise the money to put on the annual rally and march to raise awareness about sexual violence.   Things have been a bit hectic.   The exciting thing is the counters are being installed on Friday, March 17th!!! And the plan is to finish it all next week!

So without further adieu, here are some pictures of the cabinets.

They are here! And so pretty! It looks like chaos but soon it will really begin to look like a kitchen
Everyone loves the two tone, especially the gray. They look so clean and elegant. And we have a real spot for our dishwasher. What is crazy is this is basically the cupboard space I had before we did this kitchen,.
OOOO space for wine!


Lazy Susan! Makes things easier on us and uses all this corner space.
Our fridge will have its own alcove and I can actually reach the cupboard above it.
My new slide out pantry. This basically makes me cry. Originally this was a broom closet when the house was built. Then it was converted to a pantry (ie they put shelves in there. ) But it was so deep, things would get lost. Now I can actually see and reach what will be in there!!!
We will have 2 (yes 2) spice pull outs. And a similar style cookie sheet pull out in the bottom cabinets!
Bye Bye Ketchup and Mustard. Kind of hard to tell in the pictures, but the kitchen is a soft gray and the living room is a soft blue. So calming.
What am I going to do with all this space. This is All new frontier as far as cabinets go. We had nothing on this side!
This is one of my favorite shots so far. You can see the snazzy pocket lights and how wide the kitchen is now. And the new peninsula. The light in the dining room will be replaced by a new chandelier and we will have a pendant light over the sink in front of the window.



It is beginning to look like a room!

We have walls.   When this happened, you could really see how it is coming together and how it is starting to look like an actual room again.  The biggest thing that Tom and I notice is the former doorways being gone.  It is so strange to have them closed off and I know when we are using the house like normal I am going to walk into the wall once or twice (or 10 times.)

For example – the picture to the left – where there is white, used to be the door to the kitchen off the hall.  They were able to match up the texture pretty good, so we are glad about that.   The drywall guys were so fast.   Sanding took about 2 hours!

We also found out that there is no longer going to be any wall dividing the two rooms except for a small soffit between them.  The pictures don’t really do it justice,  I think once the paint is done, it will show better.

So for now, we can show pictures of walls and a sneak peak at our tile.  Grouting is tomorrow and then Wednesday – CUPBOARDS!!!


The other side where the opening is. Our stove will be here with the microwave above. Yes..no more microwave on the counter!
Tom’s bar is going in this spot.
Shot standing inside our front door. No more crazy vent sticking out of the floor and the new vents ready for the cupboards.



Tile!!! This will be finished and grouted tomorrow. It is soo pretty.
This is right inside our front door where you could turn and go into the living room. Not anymore.

Why are we doing all this?

A lot has been going on, but it has been mainly behind the scenes type of stuff – like complete rewiring of the kitchen, a new circuit board, and the old pipes removed, but that doesn’t make for thrilling photos.   I thought I would take this time to note a little history of how we got here.

This house was actually bought by my husband Tom.  He bought it toward the end of his first marriage.  She only lived here a short time and though they picked it out together, this house has Tom all over it.   Just after we got engaged, he asked me if I wanted to get a house together, and we kind of looked around, but decided against it.  Thank GOD!!  It was the height of the housing bubble and we probably would have lost everything, so I am glad we didn’t.

The house is a story and a half bungalow built in the 40’s, walking distance from downtown Ferndale and across the street from a park.  All of this is in our plus column!   But, being a 70 year old house means lots of things need to be updated.  And we haven’t had it easy since we have been together from a financial point.  Tom was laid off 2 months after we were engaged, I came into our relationship with money issues due to my previous marriage.  Then I got laid off.  And then the worst part, my health started to decline.  Starting in 2006 I had ankle surgery that triggered an autoimmune disease – ankylosing spondylitis.   It took several years for me to be diagnosed and it is a story in itself.  But the short of it is, I have severe chronic arthritis in my major joints – specifically lower back, neck, shoulders, knees and yes…ankles.  It is very similar to rheumatoid arthritis (which must have a better PR team since everyone has heard of that and AS is more prevalent. ) but in the large joints.   With an autoimmune disease, comes fatigue, flu like symptoms, and all that jazz.     It just got to the point where working full time wasn’t an option anymore.   Hence, our budget got tighter.   Working on the house wasn’t something we could do unless it was an emergency.

Now, here is where my Mom comes in.   Tom and I both love to cook and entertain.   Due to us living close to both our parents, it just made sense for us to host the holidays, and then some.   Both our Moms would just love to come over and share in these big meals and watch us carry on the traditions they started (and our Dads certainly didn’t mind either.)  Every time we would host something, my Mom would say – oh I wish you would redo this kitchen.  You have no storage, you are always bumping into things, I hate to see you crawl on the floor to get out pots, why do you go downstairs for everything….and on and on.   I agreed wholeheartedly, but we just didn’t have the means to do it.  I would joke and say, “Are you going to pay for it?”    Then one day she looked me right in the eye and said, “Look — if after we both pass there is money left – you redo this kitchen.  And do it right. Hire a designer, make it work.  Promise me this.  Oh and fix that back room up too!”  I said I would, but the last thing I wanted to think about was losing both my parents, so it became something in the background.    Two months later, my Mom had a heart attack and after 11 days in ICU, she was gone.

So then I became my Dad’s caretaker.  First it was little things but then as he got older, he needed more help.  Drs apts, grocery shopping, someone to talk to, help him in the house.  Eventually we moved him to some senior apts and sold the house my parents lived in for over 50 years.  6 months after that, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma and then last August, after fighting tooth and nail to live, he too was gone.   He  made sure he said to me, if there is money left, fix your house.  It reminds me of the one I grew up in.   Make things easier for yourself now.   Don’t wait.

So here we are.  My parents, even though they aren’t here with me physically, are here helping me.  Making my life better.  I must thank them 100 times a day as we go through this process.  I am also trying to do things to honor them as I do it.  The name of the design firm is Whiski Kitchen.  Yes, spelled with ski.  My Mom’s Polish heritage along with Tom’s family’s made that an easy choice.  We are incorporating blue in the color of the back splash (my Mom’s favorite color), We are decorating our back room with Michigan items from our travels because of the love of  up north that both of them instilled in me.  I discovered the tile we picked was imported from Italy.  I had no idea until they dropped it off.  I smiled and said Thanks Dad.  I hope that means he approves.

The design of this kitchen is also geared to make things easier.   No bottom cupboards – only drawers so less bending, much more storage, french door refrigerator with freezer on the bottom, quartz counters that are easier to clean.   Whiski really worked with us to put these items in place.  And now their sister company – Detroit Build – is doing all the work to make the vision come to life.

So that is how we have gotten here.   I hope my parents are looking down and smiling, and that they know what a gift they have given us.  I will continue to honor them by hosting holidays and other family events.  Every time I DON’T have to crawl on the floor to get a pot, I will look up and say Thank You.



Demo, Demo, Demo

I now understand what it means to live in a construction site.  Our kitchen is a skeleton.

To give you an idea of what we started with, I took a few “before” pics.

Standing in front doorway looking through dining room into kitchen.
The peninsula standing inside kitchen area
Snazzy broken cupboards. At some point, previous owners switched out the doors but left the original cupboards.
The half wall between the living room and the dining room.


The demo started a couple of weeks ago.   The halfwall turned out to be something someone added at some point!

We also discovered the door along the hallway was a pocket door and the wall that made up the peninsula had been a full wall between the kitchen and dining room.  They said they found 6 layers of flooring in the kitchen.   We are now down to the floor boards.

The duct that used to go upstairs a long time ago. All that hardwood that was in the dining room will be donated to Habitat along with our appliances.


Backroom takes priority

Eventually, I will give more history of our decision to remodel, but I wanted to get some pics up today because work has finally started.

I knew Chloe would be the first one in the blog 🙂
The walls are actually a nice green color, but the windows are awful….
See that water….not supposed to be there.

We have a backroom that was added on not long after the house was built in the 40’s.  When my husband
bought the house, lets just say the room complete collapsed, well, at least the ceiling did.   It was a mess, and we were going to knock it down.   We were able to save it, but ran out of money to finish it.   It has needed tile flooring, trim and windows for years!  We also have had an issue getting water in from the door.

With us knocking down walls, the living room will be unavailable during the kitchen remodel as well.  We need the space for living, so that is taking priority.   And… we also thought this would be a good time to get a new front door too.

Today they stared with the tile and the front door.  The windows and trim will be over the next couple days.    It is so NICE to see progress!!  Will have more pictures once everything is done!






Why I, who loves to cook, have a house with a bad kitchen

We have done it – the contract is signed, deposits are paid, we are redoing our kitchen.    I have put up with its non-storage for 12 years, and it is time.

My husband Tom had bought this house before we met.  He knew it needed work, but it is in a great neighborhood, across from a park and for the price, he couldn’t pass it up.   Because he had bought it with his ex-wife, he asked if I wanted to sell it and buy something new.   I thought about it and said No, we know the pains of this house, we could end up with something awful.   I am certainly glad I did, since it was at the height of the housing bubble and we would have been underwater on it in months.

But there are more reasons we kept the house.   First of all, it fulfills a want I have dreamed about as a child.  I always wanted to live within walking distance of a cool, fun downtown.  And I certainly couldn’t ask for more than Ferndale, MI has to offer.  It has a vibrate downtown with restaurants, bars, shops and lots of fun people who hang out here.   It is a very diverse and open community where people do watch out for each other.  Our neighbors on either side are helpful and friendly.  We even exchange Christmas gifts every year.  And we are across from a park…ie Doggie TV.

This house also has great character.  Built in the late 40’s it has plaster walls, hardwood floors, coved ceilings, oddly lots of windows and an upstairs big bedroom that also needs work, but that is another story.   The bathroom needs a gut job too, but hey, one thing at a time.

We always have wanted to redo the kitchen, but I didn’t want to do it partway.   Unfortunately we never had the money to do it all at once, and we have learned that doing things in pieces doesn’t work very well.  So we had to wait.   And now we are in a place to make this happen.

So soon, I will be a cook and foodie that has an awesome kitchen!