before & after: our new kitchen sink

sinkbefore

sinkafter

I am so embarrassed by the before photo. Yes, this is the sink that came with our house, a shallow 4 1/2 inches deep, with the cheapest possible fixture that had literally given out. I can’t believe we let it get this bad, but duct tape (sweet duct tape) allowed us to delay getting it fixed until we could take our time and find the right sink and the right faucet. I’d been planning this change for a while, of course, and mentioned I wanted to upgrade to a new faucet in our holiday wish list post, but sometimes life forces these changes upon us. I really wanted to eliminate the wasted space that exists in a double basin, and I desperately needed a nice deep basin to wash my huge cast iron skillets and soup pots. So after looking around at a few local hardware salvage stores and coming up with nothing, we ended up at all places, Home Depot. Lo and behold, they had a lovely 8 1/4 inch deep stainless steel single basin sink for a decent price, and we even found a fixture that was more affordable than my original pick, this one by Glacier Bay. Installation was a breeze, and we actually gained more cabinet space under the sink, in spite of gaining twice the depth. I love the faucet, too, and I’ll even admit I enjoy doing dishes now, which is something I thought would never be possible! — Megan B

From our partners

post off: what’s your best at-home cold cure?

oranges-vitamin-c

Like most people, I don’t particularly enjoy being sick. Something I like even less? The old cold-during-a-heat-wave routine. It’s the worst, and it is the story of my life this week. I rarely get sick, but when I do I try to take care of my cold while keeping over-the-counter drugs to a minimum. For years, I’ve been using my mom’s three-step cold remedy.

At the first signs of a cold:
– Take 1000 milligrams of vitamin c every hour until you begin feeling better.
– Put one-two drops of hydrogen peroxide in each ear and drain every hour until you no longer hear it bubble up.
– Pop a zinc-acetate lozenge (like Cold-Eeze) every two hours until your cold decides to hit the highway. And in my experience, it will, but this is only effective if started at the first hint of a sore throat.

We’ve posted before about yummy ways to fight the common cold, but as I lay here in the thick of it I’d love to hear about some new simple ways to kick the sick. So, help! What’s your best at-home cold cure? — Sarah C.

From our partners

something from nothing: a basement bathroom

basement2

Two years ago, we bought a two-bedroom house with a finished basement. One-and-a-half years ago, we had to un-finish the basement due to termites and mold. This summer, we’re finally, finally taking baby steps toward putting the basement back together. The first step was calling a plumber to consult on adding a utility sink (I would really like to be able to feed and water our super-drooly mastiffs in the basement) followed by a toilet and shower. Check out that beautiful corner where all of this will go! So far, we have absolutely no ideas of how we want it to look, though we’re pretty sure when it’s finished it will be much nicer than our upstairs bathroom. Our plumber won’t even be able to start until August, so it’s not going to be as delightfully speedy as Angela’s attic re-do. But like I said…baby steps. What do you think of this tile? — Mary T.

From our partners

the sharpest knives in the drawer

knfesharp

My knives are by far my most used and loved kitchen tools. They weren’t cheap by any means, but when you are a serious cook, you need serious equipment…serious equipment that I had neglected completely for two years. The blades were nicked, chipped, and impossibly dull. Cutting onions was sheer torture. So I finally gave in and took my knives to be professionally hand sharpened — and to be shamed by the proprietor:

“What kind of honing rod are you using on this?”

“Um…nothing. Sorry about all the nicks.”

When I got them back I was delighted with the results: knives sharper then when I brought them home from the store — we’re talking straight razor sharp — that diced up an onion as if it were nothing at all, and with nary a tear in sight! The knife sharpener advised me to get a ceramic honing rod (which is thankfully much cheaper than metal rods) for knife upkeep in between professional sharpening. I’ll never let them go dull again! This all leads to the question: How sharp do you keep your knives? — Megan B.

Photo by Flickr member Coultl

From our partners

an attic renovation: the wonders of foam insulation

atticdrywall1
atticfoam

Last week I wrote about the renovation project in our new third floor attic space. You wrote in with amazing words of encouragement and some great tips. One of them: Don’t skimp on insulation! Our contractor said the same thing, and encouraged us to use this amazing foam insulation. (How amazing? Watch this YouTube video of it in action and see for yourself.) Spray foam insulation is polyurethane foam that is pumped between walls, ceilings — anywhere you need insulation. A bit more expensive than the traditional pink layers, it helps keep the heat inside during the winter and hot air out during the summer. Ours was finished up last week, and now that the dry wall is up, we can already feel how much nicer it is up there. In the top picture you can see the shape of the room. There is a staircase on the right (that leads down to a bedroom we’ll use as an office). You can also see the two grown-up-sized closets we’re making. People keep asking what we’re going to do with the room. Honestly, nothing at first — we won’t have any money left over for furniture! But someday I hope it will be a groovy hangout for our daughter and her pals. A sleep over spot. What could be better? — Angela M.

From our partners