Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Sure has been a year, hasn't it?

From the AeroGarden antics to the stove that tried to kill me to my stereotactic breast biopsy to the continuing kitchen renovations, it's been a series of interesting adventures.

Probably the biggest change is yet to come. Starting in a few weeks, I'll be pursuing a masters of library and information science at Rutgers, not far down the road. It's a bit of a career change, but it appears that there is a generation of librarians who are in the process of retiring. So, when I graduate in 2 years, there should be some interesting new jobs out there.

It's pretty exciting, and I'm very much looking forward to it -- especially the hard work, studying, and tests! :)

So, wish me luck as I ring in the new year as a new student (once again)!

Hope you all have a marvelous new year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Best Latkes Ever

From Love Letter to a Carob Cake Baker

Seldom do I ever follow a recipe to the letter, but for these I did. And, I wasn't let down in the least by Mr. Wolfgang Puck's recipe. These latkes are light, yet crispy, fluffy, yet substantial, and potato-y in the best possible way.

From Love Letter to a Carob Cake Baker

I'm never making another potato latke recipe again. These were truly the best latkes I've ever tasted (if I do say so myself). Even my brother Jorden said they were AWESOME.

With that, I wish all my Jewish brethren and sistren a very happy Channukah! Hope your latkes are all you could ever imagine.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Most of the Way There, But with Issues

From Before and After Photos of the Kitchen

We're about 80% of the way toward a finished kitchen, but it will be a while until the floor is removed and a new one installed. We decided to take a little economic break before we launch into the flooring bit because John's building me a custom spice cabinet to go into the little tray cabinet between the oven and the refrigerator. To fabricate the cabinet, he's had to buy a few new power tools amongst other items, and we didn't budget for those.

We'll also be buying a new refrigerator and storing the old one in the garage, but that will probably happen in early 2009. Additionally, I will repaint the walls, and, as you can see under the large cabinet on the left, we've found our color -- a nice gold from Benjamin Moore. I'll be doing the painting myself, so that should save a little cash. Although the paint itself is expensive. Oh well.

After Joe had installed all the doors and handles, John spent an entire day straightening out Joe's faulty work. It was highly disappointing. We also found several spots where Joe had damaged the cabinets in the way he screwed them into the walls and to each other.

From Before and After Photos of the Kitchen

Having a sink and running water in the kitchen is a blessing, but it didn't come without a major drawback.

From Before and After Photos of the Kitchen

From Before and After Photos of the Kitchen

Turns out that when the inspector came, we discovered that Joe had written my name and address (erroneously spelled, mind you -- a tipoff to the inspector) as the person who did the work. The first thing the inspector asked was "Who did the work?" I told him Joe did. Bam! We failed because Joe doesn't have a plumbing license and wanted me to be the fall guy. I was so angry that I left a message telling Joe that he had to call the inspector, and he's called many times, but I'm still not talking to him. John's delaying a call as well because he's using power tools and wants to keep his cool.

The inspector told us (thankfully John was home at the time to help calm me down) that what Joe did constituted fraud and he could fine him $2000. I'm not sure exactly what will happen, but what the inspector said was that Joe had to get a licensed plumber to do the work and then get it re-inspected. This also becomes public record, so when people look at the house to buy it, they'll find this in the township files. Suffice to say, I'm pretty peeved.

From Before and After Photos of the Kitchen

Otherwise, yesterday, I lined the drawers and the shelves with cork contact paper. It cushions well, but the plates won't slide in easily.

From Before and After Photos of the Kitchen

We seem to be able to fit more than we had previously in some areas, but I lost some space overall.

From Before and After Photos of the Kitchen

I fit as much as I could into the new cabinets, but I think I'll need to store some of the extra stuff in the garage.

From Before and After Photos of the Kitchen

There were some serious issues with the base cabinets not being level (Joe's fault), and the counter guys not fixing it better (or refusing to install) when they put in the counter. That caused a lot of problems with the cabinet doors, but John did the very best he could (better than Joe's work), and we agreed that we would do anything else like this ourselves.

Word to the wise, really investigate your contractor before agreeing and paying. Ugh.