Open Floor Plan Changed My Life

Seriously.

I know this may sound like the title to an Onion article, but it is true. My life has been changed. For the past six weeks, our family has endured the pain and heartache of living through a renovation. Of our kitchen, no less!

Dust. Pounding. Hammering. Kids. Naptime. Sawing. Workmen. No stove. No sink.  No food. Nails and screws and razor blades. Kids.

Over the summer we put in a new bathroom before Ava was born so that we would have one on the main floor, and that was tough.  It took about six weeks as well.  So I didn’t anticipate doing anything else to our house until we had the unwelcome house guests earlier this year.  It all started after poor Alex, the neighborhood cat, was hit by a car.  That’s when the Rats came in.

They made their first appearance inside the oven.  One scurried out when John opened it.  And it appeared later that evening while I was hosting the Honey Badger Book Club meeting featuring The Little Prince.  Their main point of entry was the kitchen – the tiny cracks and nooks that were behind the cabinets. They would march in at night and scamper around the first floor of our house. When we went to Charlotte for a week that’s when they really had the run of the place, got territorial.  We returned to rats so brave that they were coming out in the broad daylight.  I found “evidence” all over the first floor – the couch, the baby blanket stack, the toaster.  They had moved in.  John really stepped up as man of the house at that point.   He sent the family away to Mimi’s studio a few blocks away.  That’s when things got ugly.  He took the day off work and stood guard over our house.  A one man army.  That day he killed three rats.  Over the entire saga, he killed seven. (This is nothing compared to our friend Quintynn, a South African who claims to have killed a thousand baboons, but I think John was pretty proud.) Here is a picture of one he took away in my Tory Burch shoe box:

****THIS PICTURE HAS BEEN REMOVED****

God knows how many there really were.  I’ve heard that if you see one rat, there are usually dozens more.  There were. The rats really started to take over our lives. One night we couldn’t sleep because we kept waking to the slightest sounds of scurrying.  John got out of bed, peaked down the stairs, and saw a rat staring up at him from inside his shoe.  Yeah.  Seriously.  And there were material casualties too. I lost a J. Crew pea coat because it had a Godiva Chocolate bar in the pocket that my Mom stuffed there before I left Charlotte as a naughty gift. And a faux leather purse from Target  (which I have since replaced with a Kate Spade) that had some peppermint patties given to me by my friend Amanda (who happens to be Quintynn’s wife) for Christmas. The worst was when I dug my hand into the diaper bag to fish out an apple, and I found a perfectly round hole gnawed into it.

John eventually won the war with the rodents.  Once we had every single entry point patched up and they were trapped inside our walls, we ended up using poison. I won’t share too much detail here, but the grand finale of this whole debacle was celebrated with lots of candles and incense.

Anyway… I digress. Back to how my new open floor plan kitchen has changed my life (and its not just that it sealed out all rats!). We had been wanting to renovate our outdated kitchen for a long time, and the rats became the impetus. We found Bob, a wonderful contractor  whom Will refers to affectionately as “Bob the Builder”:

photo (6)

We had the entire kitchen gutted and the wall that divided our kitchen and dining room knocked down.  It was so dark before. Now everything is bright and white and new – white glass tile backsplash, River White granite, light grey walls, custom shelving and an ‘X’ shaped wine rack, a GE Industrial oven that has so many functions I don’t even know what to do with it. I am in Heaven. And so is the rest of my family, because I have stepped my game up like crazy. I can’t stop cooking. In the past week since this has been complete I have cooked:

homemade baby food (Stewed prunes and blueberries, Zuchini with Yellow Squash and brown rice in chicken broth, Butternut Squash and Mango)

Pancetta and Zuchini Quiche

Blueberry Pancakes on the built-in griddle

A whole roasted chicken (I am proud to say I learned how to truss!) and as follow up, homemade chicken BROTH. Oh yeah.

Herb Encrusted Pork Loin and Butternut Squash Risotto with Asparagus and fresh bread (Full disclosure, I used a bread maker) all served to a dinner party of eight

And I’ve been carmelizing onions like crazy. I never used to do that and I don’t know why. They are awesome on everything.

Sure, there were some PB&Js and chicken nuggets made on the River White countertops as well, but the days of my “shut up and eat it” meals are over. (I was pretty proud of that term though). Check out the before/after pics:

photo (7) kitchen

This was all made possible by the fact that this is an open floor plan, so I can watch Will and Ava and be a part of everything while I cook.  Oh, and the Rats.

If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

Here’s to the Rats: (The War on Drugs – Eyes to the Wind)

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Open Floor Plan Changed My Life

  1. Cate

    I wanna come to dinner! Can you post a pic with the angle from the living room out the porch? Having trouble visualizing! Looks great!

  2. Caramelized onions FO LYFE! They’re seriously the best. Also, I thought I was the only person who enjoyed The War On Drugs. Saw them years ago by accident at the Black Cat, and thoroughly enjoyed the show.

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