A 21st Century Fridge In a 1950’s Kitchen

October 20, 2016   //  Posted in: DIY, Kitchen   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

Agree with me on this: There are really only just a few moments in life that render as much satisfaction as buying a new refrigerator. One with no one else’s grimy gook (or your own gook) strewn about inside, one that you can organize… from scratch.

Of course, it’s not a special thing when your kitchen fridge goes on the fritz out of the blue at 3am, making a whole lot of food questionable in quality. And it’s not a special time when you have to decidedly live out of a mini-fridge like you did in college, but that’s what we’ve been doing this month.

It was nothing to whine about; I’ve been willing our old, almond fridge to kick the bucket since June 2013 when we moved in (it’s dead!), and we get a shiny new appliance out of the deal.

Part of us hoped that the old refrigerator would hold out until we were ready to remodel the kitchen, but it’s cool, we’ll make it work. And while we knew that a quick $600 would have gotten us a modest replacement identical to the old unit (fridge on bottom, freezer up top, zero bells-and-whistles), given the opportunity, we wanted one with the works, bigger capacity, and mostly, a real ice maker. Somewhere in between the $600 easy replacement and the $6,000 fridge with the giant LED screen, camera, and its own app store that Julia was heart-eyeing at Lowe’s, we found the LG LSXS26386S, which is a very spiffy upgrade, but still modestly priced at about ~$1,700.

Jumping right to it, here it is!

Our new LG fridge, and how we updated the cabinets to make it fit.

(Shiny, right? Door-in-door action!)

The problem we faced in ordering a fridge larger than our old model is that our 1950’s kitchen wasn’t designed to accomodate such monstrosities. As you can see in this older photo, there were three smaller cabinets atop the old fridge, and they all had to be reconfigured. I’m fairly sure this is the only photo that exists of this angle of the kitchen; it was taken before I painted all of the cabinets, and time stamped February 2014. Back then, the fridge never felt ‘camera-ready’ (and still, never does).

Kitchen cabinets, before repainting, before removal.

Our original plan of attack was unnecessarily complicated, now that we reflect back on it. Remove all three doors, cut and re-route the edges and make them half the height. Adjust the height of the corresponding base cabinet, and bam, we’ve got three new little pint-size cabinets. Good for storing what? I don’t know, these were tiny cabinets already. And at the rate we DIY with a newborn in the house, it would have taken us weeks and weeks to make that happen.

Our slightly simplified approach involved removing all three doors completely, and lifting the base of the shelf up 7″ to accomodate the height of the new refrigerator. Zero-point-zero-zero dollars to complete, since we were able to reuse all of the same trim and had a bit of paint left over from the original job, and finished in just a day.

Removing upper cabinets to make space for a new fridge.

A little attention to detail and a new coat of paint, and it looks like this open shelf has been there all along.

We only had to relocate a few items that had been tucked away in those enclosed cabinets, but in turn made space for some larger cookware that isn’t used often, assorted books, and a few of our kid’s handmade ceramic vases.

Open shelving above the refrigerator.

Speaking of kitchen upgrades, I know I’ve been talking for a long time about the big renovation we intend to undertake; it’s getting a lot closer, with real plans and money and commitment to living in a mess for several weeks/months while it all happens. Next spring? Next fall? Looking forward to being able to share some behind the scenes stuff soon.

If you’re just joining, and you’d like a peek at the work I’ve already done in the kitchen, refer to these posts:

Maternity Leave + Minted

September 30, 2016   //  Posted in: For the Kids, Supporting Sponsors   //  By: Emily   //  one response

Hey guys, Minted sponsored this post and we also teamed up to gift one reader a $250 credit towards a future purchase at! I couldn’t make this easier if I tried. The contest has since ended, but keep on reading. I’ve used affiliate links to redirect you to some related products.

Our summer, and our transition into becoming a family of five included lots of playground days, amusement park trips, picnics in the treehouse, and lazy evenings spent on our new patio, but as any of you who have birthed a child can attest, it has mostly been about finding time to buy more milk, and making an earnest effort to shower at least every 3 days. As we emerge from the fog of having a newborn (Sam is 10 weeks old now!), I’ve been able to get down and conquer all kinds of things, like digitally organizing the last 6-months of family photos, and making/freezing all of the recipes I bookmarked to make the most of our seasonal veggies. I also rewatched all 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls in anticipation of the Netflix episodes that release this fall, learned why everyone loves Fixer Upper (it’s shiplap… you may have seen it here first), and now we’re cranking through Friends, which Pete somehow managed to avoid in the mid-’90s to early 2000s when he was too cool to be watching primetime network television.

Between all of that, I ordered our boy these sweet birth announcements via Minted.

Sam's Birth Announcement from

Minted contacted me last winter to see if I would like to help them promote Valentine’s Day ideas, and while it wasn’t the right fit for me at the time, I did counter and ask if they would be interested in printing our baby announcements once we were ready to do so – they said yes, and then suggested that I offer one of you guys the chance to win $250 too. :) It’s been a long time since I voluntarily hosted a giveaway because frankly it has to be a *great* giveaway to pique my interest. $250 on Minted goes a long way, and I hope the lucky winner finds something fun.

The site has 700 birth announcement templates available for customization – among thousands of other customizable holiday/birthday/all-occasion stationary, home accessories, fabrics, and high-quality art prints. It’s all well-curated with designs from independent artists, and perusing the possibilities is a nice escape. Minted is an awesome wormhole on the internet.

We did our own photo shoot of Sam when he was about 7-weeks old, post-baby acne and about the time that his cheeks rounded out to be as large as peaches. I uploaded that photo to Minted and engaged the find it fast feature to take the guesswork out of determining which template worked with our photo, using the filters to make it easy to narrow down the options… Boy vs. Girl, Portrait vs. Landscape, 1-image vs. 4-images, $ vs. $$$, moveable text vs. locked-in-place, color theme selection, etc.

Minted Birth Announcement Ordering.

Our printed cards shown up above include a foil-pressed detail in the word “introducing,” but the real luxury I embraced was having the envelopes printed with recipient addresses (it was a free promotional offer at the time I ordered). It saved me hours of time hand-addressing envelopes when they arrived, and frankly, they’re the best looking envelopes I’ve ever had the opportunity to stick in the mail… even better than our wedding invites. Stoked! Totally doing this for our Christmas cards in a few months too; it’s a life changing perk, perfect for a busy parent.

Custom printed envelopes for our Baby's Birth Announcement from

This post contains affiliate links; I’ll only get a compensation credit if you purchase from Minted. I was not compensated for this post, only given free product.

Our Latest and Greatest: A Perfect, New Patio

July 13, 2016   //  Posted in: Backyard, Decor, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses

Our time- and cost-intensive projects are fewer and farther between than they used to be, but I had one big goal for the first half of this year, that being to install a giant, wonderful flagstone patio. This post is going to appear as though I brainstormed and executed this project lickity split, even though it took several months to plan and weeks to install, but I figured I’d skip the slow runaround, and cut right to the chase: A wonderful, new living area that our family (and future families) will enjoy until the end of time:

Installing a large Pennsylvania bluestone flagstone patio.

Not too long ago, it looked like this:

The yard before installing a large Pennsylvania bluestone flagstone patio.

If you’ve been reading long enough you know already that I’ve installed a flagstone patio or two already in the last 5 years, so I guess this is just a testament to how much I love the install process and the look of the finished product. Flagstone for this house in particular was not a hard decision. Our living room fireplace sits within a whole wall of common Pennsylvia bluestone, as does the front of the house, and there’s a sidewalk of it extending around half of the house too – all original to the 1950’s construct. Adding a different style of stone or paver would have felt completely unnatural, and fortunately we didn’t feel at all hindered by the idea of sticking to the tried and true. Just gimme an I <3 Flagstone bumper sticker.

Last time I ordered stone it was from a local company (Fairport, NY) and the stones were irregular in shape and size, and also not bluestone but a little more rainbow-y in color. They were lovely, I had a great experience with that company, but the installation was a hell of a lot more time consuming if you do it the way we did, basically smashing and sledgehammering the stones into shapes that fit like a perfect puzzle. No giant stone saw. It’s still one of my favorite projects (ever).

This go-round, I shopped for stone at a few different locations and found Genesee Valley Timber and Stone in Scottsville, NY to be the best resource for our job. Throwback to June 2015, when I dragged my then 1-year old and Pete to the stoneyard to look around. Teach ’em young.

Visiting Genesee Valley Timber and Stone.

The product selection and range of sizes was undeniably great, and I really enjoyed learning about the stone from the guy who runs the place (his name’s Chip. Go say Hi to Chip). Must also note that they have a killer selection of raw edge wood, so ask to poke around the back of the garage if you stop in. Piles upon piles upon piles.

I made a list of the most common bluestone sizes that they had in stock at that point – the selection ranged from the smaller 12″x12″ to 18″x24″ to 36″x48″ and a wide variety in between, all priced at $5/square foot which I now understand is a pretty awesome rate compared to a few other local shops in the $6-7/foot range. The list of stone sizes got squirreled away until a cold winter day when I had enough time to map out a to-scale replica of our would-be flagstone patio, figuring out how many stones I needed to fit our desired space. I was optimistic too that we would be able to use a bunch of the flagstones that comprised the sidewalk behind our house (because I estimated that it would save us about $500 in new materials), and measured out various rows of stone from there. I’m not going to go into depth on that creative little replica because our friend Jeff who owns Irondequoit Landscape was quick to tell me that this is totally not how you should plan a stone patio (that’s why he’s the pro and that’s why it’s good to have friends who are pros) but for me it was helpful in the sense that I was able to see how many big stones vs. small stones would offer a nice balance, which I used when placing my order with the stone guy. The visualization really helped me, even if in the end we didn’t end up following the drawn map of stones in any way at all. In short, what you should do is order a complete range of sizes + a solid 10-15% overage and then intermingle those babies during the install.

The stones arrived in May. We were happy people, except that we quickly realized those big slabs were 2-3″ thick and who-even-knows how many hundreds of pounds.

Bluestone Flagstone delivery for our patio.

I’ll mention now that at this point I was like, 7 months pregnant (and right now I’m like 12 months pregnant). Aside from being the stone-planner, order-placer, bill-payer, delivery-coordinator, I’ve been pretty much feet up in a chair (and of course I would have loved to get dirty, but it’s been pretty swell outsourcing the job to my husband and instead shopping for patio furnishings).

So, back to Jeff. There was one bit of our last flagstone patio install that we definitely didn’t feel like DIY-ing again, that being the excavation of the soil where the patio would sit. We got really lucky befriending Jeff when we did over the winter; he was an absolute wealth of knowledge and had this bizarre, happy willingness to help us out.

Pete measured and edged the area that we planned to install within, and in a quick 45-minutes on a Bobcat, Jeff cleared some ~500 square feet of soil to a perfect 6-10″ depth. We watched on.

Clearing soil from the ground for our flagstone patio.

Once the soil was leveled and more compacted, Jeff also offered the crusher run stone base, which Pete transported and raked and leveled and finessed for days to create the thick, solid base that supports the patio and will prevent the stones from shifting about over time.

Transporting crusher for the flagstone patio base.

Jeff and his son returned to help with the tamping of the stone with serious power tools. Power tampers all the way, guys. Rent one and make yourself a happy person.

Tamping crusher run with power tools for a great patio base.

There was a lot of emphasis placed on making sure the stones graded properly from the house, which is one of the biggest, most concerning aspects of the whole installation. If it tilts the wrong way, rain water is going to feed right into the foundation. Unless you look closely at the cinderblock beneath the patio screens (not in the below pic, but in others), you might not notice that the area close to the house is about 6″ higher than it used to be – all so that as the patio extended outward, and the pitch was great enough to encourage rain runoff.

Atop the crusher the guys dumped a lot of sand. It was spread loosely, but not compacted. The stones were incredibly heavy, and they got to laying them right away.

Adding sand on top of the crusher run before laying flagstones.

The priority was getting the stones set nearby the backdoor so that us humans and the dog could still easily access the entryway during the few weeks of stone installation. This photo was on Memorial Day 2016, and the kids and Pete’s parents and I sat on the sidelines with burgers watching the guys at work. Super productive! Small memory for our own future recollection.

Installing flagstones for our new big patio.

It should go without saying that things go a lot faster when you have a few extra hands to help you haul the big stones. It’s even better if you’re getting big-time help from a professional landscaper who has done it so many times that he can instinctively organize the placement of giant stones with his eyes closed. Nonetheless, Pete did a bit of the install by himself after work, even into the nights if Jeff couldn’t join him. He used this time to organize smaller stones, and ensure that the set stones were perfectly embedded and had no tendency to rock or shift underfoot.

Installing flagstones for our new big patio.

The polymeric sand was the last thing to go in, an evening activity for Pete and Julia so that the sand could dry and cure overnight. The only real thing to note here is that there must be NO sand atop the stones when you wet them. By the following morning, the seams were solid and the patio was perfection.

Wetting polymeric sand during our patio installation.

Both you and I would be hard pressed to identify the 16 stones that were used in the home’s original sidewalk – all of these stones ranging from 24″x24″ to 30″x36″ were integrated throughout to not only save money, but to help the new and old blend together in a natural way. Turned out that new and old looked so similar, that the whole patio itself looks like it’s been there a long, long time (for that, I have to thank Chip at Genesee Valley Timber and Stone who reviewed photos of our stone sidewalk right on the spot from photos on this blog, and assured us that the stones he had would be a great match).

Flashback quickly to last spring, early 2015 when I decided we would certainly need to extend our little backyard living area. We dragged one of the two farmhouse-style tables that we built for our wedding (and still use to this day!) into the yard to see how it might feel to have a backyard that offered a great outdoor living space. That great big table deserved a great big patio, and it was decided then that it was time for a flagstone upgrade (see Pete acting as role of the corner of the future patio?).

Planning our big flagstone patio.

We left that table outdoors in the grass all last summer to make sure we really liked it and to test how it held up in the elements. It did great (and if/when we ever need to rebuild, it’s nice to know that from experience it can be constructed for $75). Lowe’s helped us take our new living space a big step further by supplying Eucalyptus stackable patio chairs that surround the table and make a world of a difference. They’re beautiful, a perfect fit for our home, and comfortable too. Patio dinners all of the time!

Eucalyptus stackable outdoor dining chairs from Lowe's for our flagstone patio.

We own a Eucalyptus outdoor coffee table already, and over the years it has weathered really well – it and the farm-house style table actually have very similar finishes now that they’ve both spent time outdoors, so I know that the chairs will transition nicely and probably look a lot like the table and chairs were sold as a set!

Eucalyptus stackable outdoor dining chairs from Lowe's for our flagstone patio.

They also supplied us with two outdoor chaises made of durable high-density polyethylene (a.k.a. chaises that will hold up to all of the sunshine and rain we throw at them, and might just outlive us too).

Chaise chairs from Lowe's made of POLYWOOD.

I know you guys haven’t spent as much time in this yard as we have, but we’re totally one step closer to having a Parenthood backyard. Insert string lights and a lush (deer-resistant) landscape!

The backyard before our new patio was installed.

The backyard after our new patio was installed.

Installing a large Pennsylvania bluestone flagstone patio.

*Huge thanks to Jeff at Irondequoit Landscape who spent many late nights and weekends helping us with our installation, and to Lowe’s for giving us chairs that will do our family well for a long, long time. Neither required me to write about their contributions to our project but certainly deserve a big hug.*