Living Without . . .

A lot of us have been cutting back in the last few months. Everywhere you turn there are tips on saving money - how to stretch a chicken to feed your family for a week, where to find good deals on wine, how to cook with dried beans, etc. It's almost become sort of chic not to spend a lot of money. And certainly loosing a good chunk of my income has meant I've had to learn to live without certain things and how to be smarter with the funds I do have. For Jon and I, this has meant we eat out less and try to stick to more affordable restaurants; I've become very serious about shopping for sales at the grocery and have spread my shopping out between 3 stores to get the best deals on things like beer and wine, produce, frozen and packaged foods; and I've tried to be better about timing both my shopping trips and eating out so that any leftovers don't go to waste. But perhaps our single most significant strategy to save money was our decision to cohabitate and combine our two homes into one. Since Jon owns and I didn't, this meant I moved into his place. Which, I'll note, is currently being renovated. Jon's been working on it pretty much since he moved in 2 1/2 years ago, and I've been helping atleast with the stuff that doesn't involve heavy lifting. He's painstakingly smoothed out the 1970's textured plaster on the walls and ceilings, repainted (multiple times), installed beautiful woven bamboo floors in place of the institutional looking carpet that came with the place, gutted and reconfigured the master suite so that the sink is now inside the bathroom, built out and tiled the fireplace, installed new lighting throughout. It's been both very trying and a lot of fun.

And after a year of browsing showrooms, home design magazines, and emailing photos and products to one another, we finally took the plunge and started demolition on the kitchen in late January. Which at the time seemed like a fine time to do it- we mostly cooked at my place anyway. Since we're doing the renovation ourselves at nights and on weekends, projects that would take professionals a few weeks drag on for months. And so in moving in I'm facing the reality of living without a kitchen, and probably for quite some time. A lot of people do it, I remember my sister teaching me how to make nacho cheese dip when she was renovating the kitchen in her first house - basically you dump some salsa into a microwave safe bowl with 2 kraft singles, microwave briefly and stir. It's surprisingly good.

We do have a make shift prep area with a microwave, coffee maker, and toaster, a closet that protects our pantry items from the overwhelming coating of drywall dust, and a beautiful new fridge that's actually plugged in and working (we have the range too, but umm, no power cord yet). I'd have to say the hard part of living without a kitchen is not the cooking, it's the cleaning. Not that I'm a huge fan of cleaning up in general, but having to wash dishes in a teeny bathroom sink definitely proves challenging. On the other hand, we're sacrificing a few short months of hardship for what I think will end up being a really beautiful and fun to cook in kitchen!

Our final (fingers crossed) materials pallet - Ikea cabinets in Nexus Brown (not to be confused with brown black, yellow brown, or medium brown) and a high gloss Abstrakt White, a backsplash of cottonwood Savoy mosaics from Ann Sacks (we're actually leaning toward the penny rounds, but they were out of the samples), caesarstone counters in nougat, and deep blue grey walls. We'll be using formica with metal trim to line the base of the garden window, and will continue the woven bamboo floors throughout.

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