Friday Favs: Kitchen Gear

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Matt likes to cook and I like to bake, but with limited space we haven’t amassed a huge collection of kitchen gadgets (and I’m actually not a fan of super-specific gadgets).  I thought I’d share some of our favorite kitchen pieces though.

 

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Kitchenaid Stand Mixer

Ohhh yeah, the highlight of any wedding registry, right?  If you don’t do any significant baking you probably don’t have to go this fancy, but for me it’s awesome (especially come my annual Christmas Cookie Bonanza).  I haven’t bothered with any of the uber-fancy attachments, but I do really like the flex-edge beater.  I also feel a little lame that I stuck with the classic stainless steel when there are so many color options out there, I just figured there were cheaper ways for me to change up my kitchen color scheme.

 

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Food Processor

The first food processor I got Matt was a little mini-prep one.  It was amazing for dicing onions and chopping up things for guacamole…. but then we discovered the joy of using a food processor to cut in butter so we upgraded to a bigger model.  Matt makes scones every Saturday so he actually uses this one more than me!

 

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Electric Kettle

I’m a big tea drinker, and Matt’s the only coffee drinker in the house so we don’t have need of a full coffee maker.  An electric kettle though?  It makes us both happy, and this one also looks so cute on our counter! Personally I prefer the ones where the kettle is independent of the heating element, but this particular one is a little heavy because it’s ceramic.

 

Pastry Blade
Pastry Blade

It looks so simple, but it’s so useful!  Anytime I’m working with a stickier dough it help to cleanly remove it from my rolling surface and get cut-out cookies off without deformities.  It also will do a great job scraping off cutting boards if you want to compost or just don’t have a garbage disposal.

 

Oxo spatulas
Oxo spatulas

Spatulas are pretty standard cooking gear, but these specific ones are my favorite.  They’re one solid piece so you don’t get ickiness building up in between the blade and the handle.  As I was putting this post together it looks like more places are making solid spatulas… plus some in fun colors!

 

Cookie scoops
Cookie scoops

What’s my secret to perfectly proportioned muffins and cupcakes?  A cookie scoop.  It’s super easy to get the batter from the bowl to the pan and a large (3 Tbsp) is the perfect size for a standard muffin tin.

 

Oxo salt and pepper shakers
Oxo salt and pepper shakers

I have a nicer set on our table, but for the counter I love these because they’re a combination shaker AND pour spout.  Cool, huh?

 

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Parchment paper (in sheets!)

You can find rolls are parchment paper most places, but the flat sheets are kind of amazing.  No ripping, no curling, just easy-peasy.  (Also, if you’re in a bind you can substitute a cut up paper bag for parchment… just never use wax paper as a sub).

 

Ricer Cooker
Ricer Cooker

You know how I said I didn’t really like task-specific gadgets?  This one’s the exception.  Sure, it’s not that hard to make rice on the stove top, but having to get it just right when you’ve got other stuff happening?  It can be a little putzy and this guy takes all the guesswork out it (plus a lot come with a steamer so it’s not totally a single use gadget).  It’s also no more work to clean up after than another pot you would have used to make rice anyway.

 

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Kitchen Reveal!

First house decorating success–the kitchen is DONE!  Mostly at least, I’m still looking for a new ceiling light and we plan to add some custom shelves into a corner, but all the major work is done!

Remember the kitchen before we moved in?

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Yeah… a little blah, a little drab, and then there’s that funky red radiator.

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Also crappy faucet, ugly florescent bulb, and some pretty nasty counter tops. Oh, and like next to no storage and work space.

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Not anymore!  Now we have contrast, brightness, and a photo-bombing cat.

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Also storage, extra work space and a functioned mud room/shoe dumping ground.

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There’s still finishing work to be done–artwork and window treatments along with the lighting and shelves I mentioned before–but the paint and counter revamp have made a HUGE difference. The eagle-eyed among you may also have caught that we flipped the hinge side on the fridge.  This is, in theory, a pretty easy job but was made slightly annoying since our fridge is rather old so things did not unscrew well and the plastic caps that cover the unused holes just sort of crumbled when we tried to pull them out. Having your fridge door swing so it opens into your work area instead of cutting off your work area is extremely useful though.

Kitchen Progress

Last week we attempted a temporary counter top fix because the butcher block patterned laminate is just a little gross. We’ll get new counter tops at some point, but not until we replace the sink and possibly the cabinets as well.  In the meantime I ordered a roll of Instant Granite  (in a marble pattern) for $60.  It’s basically a heavy vinyl sticker you can put over your counters.  It actually seems pretty awesome for a temporary solution and it’s renter friendly since it peels off without damaging the existing counters… we’ll see how it holds up over time.

As a refresher, here’s what we started with:

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We actually flubbed the first installation attempt and had some issues with the sink corners and gaps that needed patching… it wasn’t pretty.  Then I watched a shit ton more videos on people installing this and then tried again. It worked WAY better the second time. Here’s the quick rundown:

Step 1: Clean the counters.  I used a general surface cleaner and then wiped everything down with rubbing alcohol and remove any trace nastiness. (Vodka works too if you say, lose the cap to the rubbing alcohol and then your husband dumps it out so  no one accidentally spills it).

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Step 2: Cut the vinyl roughly to size.  Since we screwed up the first time we didn’t have *quite* enough the second time so I actually had to do a little piecing.  In a perfect world I would have done the back splash as a single piece and then the entire flat surface as a single piece (we ended up using 4 pieces and one very tiny patch stuck in the sink corner). Maker sure you give yourself generous borders since you can always cut it down later, but adding on patches looks weird.

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Step 3: Mist the counter top with water and start adhering the vinyl working in about 10″ sections at a time.  Peel off the backing and have your buddy hold the non-working section of vinyl up while you smooth out bubbles with you hands and a make-do squeegee (like a credit card… we had a hard plastic kitchen scraper that worked great).  Smooth everything out the best you can then expose a little more adhesive and slowly press that onto the counter.

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Step 4: To fit the vinyl around corners (like if you have a over mount sink) a heat gun or hair dryer helps soften the the vinyl to make it a little more pliable.  Corners are tricky though so my absolute best advice is to take some vinyl you know will be extra and experiment a little bit.  Like wall decals, this stuff just peels right off.  It can take a little muscle, but doesn’t seem to leave an residue or gunk behind.

We put on the back splash first (the above pictures are from attempt #1) and trimmed it so there was about a 1/4″ overlap on the horizontal counter surface since it can be a little difficult to line up a giant sticker perfectly.  If you’re feeling bold you can try and do everything in one piece, but be warned, it is a little unwieldy. We also caulked around our sink after putting on the vinyl since any caulk had long since disappeared. Any remaining bubbles in the vinyl you can poke a pin hole in and then re-smooth.

We also made things easier by taking out our faucet. Our existing one was nasty and had the wussiest water flow ever.  We had a plumber look at it before and he thought the problem was in the faucet and not the pipes.  As we removed the old faucet this started to look increasingly probable.

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The hardest part of replacing the faucet was getting the old one out. There are lock nuts that hold the fixture in place, but are not any sort of watertight barrier whatsoever.  Whoever put this faucet in though had puttied these into place.  We finally had to break one to get it off (thankfully they were plastic). Everything else went about as smoothly as you would expect.

Now we have some much better looking counters and a beautiful and fully functioning faucet (We chose Premier’s Charlestown faucet)! Replacing that thing actually completely solved our  water flow problem!

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And now doesn’t our sink just look especially awful?

Kitchen Progress!

And the cabinets are DONE!  There’s still a lot of work to do in the kitchen, but the cabinets are done before our movers come which was my goal.

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You can see my crappy paint job around the frame–the walls are going to be painted so I didn’t bother taping around the frames.  Also, check out our gorgeous counters.  The chipped, fake butcher block laminate just makes the kitchen, dontcha think?

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The paint color is Behr’s Poppy Seed, but I used Benjamin Moore Advance paint cuz that’s what all the cool kids use on cabinets nowadays.  I would have tried Behr’s equivalent alkyd enamel, but they apparently don’t sell it in stores and I’ve already touched on my patience issues.  I’m kind of an Advance fan girl now though.  The hardware is all IKEA, spray painted with copper and clear coat.  I swear the handles are all perfectly even, but the doors are a little wonky so all my anal-retentive measuring was apparently for naught.  The cup pull had to be mounted higher than I would like because of how the drawer front attaches, but I may try and mess with it in the future since it bugs me.

Overall I am incredibly happy with the result!  I’m also incredibly happy we didn’t have more cabinets since painting them can be a little tedious.  Still to come: more paint, new faucet, and a counter top solution.  Oh, and lots and lots of stuff since our movers come tomorrow.

Kitchen Dreamin’

Matt and I have been heading over to the new house daily.  We don’t fully move for another 2 weeks, but we’re hauling stuff, attacking the lawn, and getting the kitchen prepped…. then coming home, passing out and eating ice cream straight out of the container because it’s not like we’re fit to have company over anyway.

The kitchen is the big project I want to get done before moving because I doubt I’ll be motivated to pull everything out the cabinets once we get it put away.  We’re not doing a ton in the kitchen just yet, but I want to get the cabinets and radiator painted (the cabinets because they’re super boring builder grade things, the radiator because it is frackin brick red). Currently the cabinets have been primed!  Woot!  I have no pictures at this stage, partly because of the exhaustion cycle mentioned above, and partly because there is very little interesting about primed cabinetry.  It looks splotchy and white and that’s about it.

Instead let’s just skip ahead to the fun stuff.  This is my end goal for the kitchen:

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Dark inky-gray cabinets, sleek copper hardware, pale gray walls, Corian Rain Cloud counters (possibly carerra marble since I’ve managed to fall in love with what is apparently the most expensive Corian pattern known to man anyway… but I like the low maintenance that comes with solid surface over stone) and a simple white ceramic tile backsplash.

Right now I’m just tackling paint and hardware. Depending on how long a time frame we’re looking at for replacement I may consider an interim DIY project for the counter and backsplash, but for now I’m just going to leave them as is. The faucet may get replaced sooner rather than later depending on what’s the cause of our low water pressure that’s currently happening in the kitchen. At some point I’d also love to replace the sink.  I’m kind of thinking an apron-front sink, but I really like double bowl sinks and they’re harder to find in an apron-front style.

As I was working on my kitchen design concept, Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook posted this beauty and I felt pretty good about where I was heading with our kitchen.