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Good bones: The kitchen

Living in my new home has been everything I dreamed of and more. One of my favorite spaces in the house is the KITCHEN. After living in a much smaller space for years and being cramped in our small kitchen, this was my time to plan for a large, functional kitchen. You see, I love to COOK. And EATING is the one activity we all love to do in my family and we do it often. In the next post, I’ll share photos of the delectable food creations I’ve made in the new kitchen. For this post, I’ll share the kitchen metamorphosis and the good bones (pun intended) which make for a great, functional space.

Before and after: Kitchen a week prior to closing and a couple of weeks post move in. One of the first things we did was change the light fixtures. I prefer clear glass and was intentional about introducing more rounded shapes to balance out the many sharp and square shapes in the home.

In my post Home stretch of our new construction build, I mentioned our closing was delayed, which was a huge disappointment. Imagine the excitement and anticipation of building your dream home for months and then you have to keep waiting. During our first walk through with the construction manager, a leak had spread from under the dishwasher location, to the dining area wall, and even to my daughter’s room….all on the same wall.

I tried my best not to get too worried after they pulled apart the cabinet, my beautiful backsplash, and the wall. The reassurance from the construction manager and our real estate agent that it’ll only take a few days to repair once they determined the source of the leak was helpful. It turns out a nail caused the damage, but they had it all repaired in about a week.

I think it’s important to go through the new construction home building process understanding nothing is perfect. You want them to do an excellent job, but things go wrong at times. You want the materials to be free of imperfections, but that’s not always possible. You want your move to be smooth and seamless, but things happen.

For example, we noticed days after our new refrigerator was delivered there was a dent on the upper lefthand side of the door which you’ll probably notice in the above picture. We contacted Lowe’s (where we made the purchase) and they returned some of our money (over $200), which we preferred rather than replacing it. My husband, Bryan, suggested if I didn’t like the dent to put some magnets or a dry erase board at the location, but I like the clean look. I may add something later.

Coffee/tea/recipe nook next to dishwasher (where the damage occurred).

I’ve slightly reorganized this nook, added more books, and switched out the plant for a different one. The photo reflects what I did in the first week post move in. I’m so glad I was able to put this shelf to use in the new house and I love how the color is similar to the cabinet. We invested in larger purchases such as new furniture and other items for our home and also used what we already had. I love that! Everything doesn’t have to be new.

The details: What a difference personalization and cabinet hardware makes! We purchased the hardware from Lowe’s and Bryan installed them about 3 weeks after we moved in. The photo of me with the sunglasses is on the day we closed on the house.
Our son admiring his dad’s handy work.
Photo of the hardware after Bryan installed them. That AIR Fryer next to the sink is going to be shipped to my brother in Chicago. It was only out because it’s my daughter’s fave and she just had to make something. It’s since been removed from the kitchen counter.

Cooking in my new kitchen has truly upped my cooking game.

First of all, I have a stove with an AIR FRYER setting. Genious! Everyone in the house loves that feature. Now, I can keep my Ninja Foodie in the cabinet until I need it for the crockpot or pressure cooking setting and give the other air fryer away to my brother. The fridge is pretty neat too. I love that the handles aren’t visible.

I love my SPICES and every good cook has their favorites. I now have an actual spice drawer and it’s huge! Top photo is my work at one week post move in. Bottom is recent. I’ve had to make room for a few more bins to keep my measuring utensils. I am at CAPACITY with my cabinet space. One day I’ll have all the same jars for all spices.
Spice cabinet at the old place
Spice holder at the old place, which we purchased from Ikea. We have no use for it in the new house. I still use the jars and Bryan has since bought me a label maker. I haven’t looked back. It’s a GAME CHANGER!
Dear friends of ours sent us a house warming gift which was right up my alley- UNIQUE SPICES!
I’m in SPICE HEAVEN.
The pantry: I love organization including organizing products. This new pantry was smaller than the old one, and much smaller than I was hoping for. I was determined to make it work. With the products I purchased from Ikea, The Container Store, and At Home, AND MY LABEL MAKER, I made it WORK.
As of today, the pantry is a lot more packed because I like a well stocked pantry. There isn’t much room for anything else but that won’t stop me from trying. I can’t help myself.
Simple things make life more pleasant…instead of a bottle of Dawn or Palmolive on my kitchen sink, I purchased this neat contraption from The Container Store. I find that my dish soap lasts a lot longer too. I love my backsplash!
My label maker is a GAME CHANGER.
Kitchen view from the back door and prior to installing the cabinet hardware. Hydrangeas (see table) are becoming one of my favorite flowers. I keep fresh flowers on the table all the time now.
View of living space from kitchen. We have two bar stools with backs on each end of the island and two backless bar stools in the middle. We bought them in pairs at separate times. The store actually discontinued the bar stools with backs. Although it wasn’t planned, I love that the middle stools don’t obstruct our view of the beautiful window and view.

This was so much fun sharing why I love my new kitchen. I hope you got inspired in sine way. Stay tuned for more posts of my favorite rooms in the new house, and of course, the delicious food I’ve cooked.

Lights above the cabinets.☺
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Reflections on Life Without My Best Friend on Mother’s Day

Growing up, especially as a teenager, I never thought of mummy as my best friend, let alone friend. She made it clear we weren’t friends by her stern approach to parenting. Plus, I’ve heard her boast many times about not viewing her children as friends. Mummy was tough. She lived a hard life as an immigrant from Haiti. She worked hard to provide for her four children…much of that time as a single parent. She learned how to speak English, worked jobs she could with her limited education, helped support her own siblings/family, and laid out a foundation for us of strong moral and spiritual values.

It wasn’t until much later in life, well after I had children, I realized she was my best friend, and of course, much more than a best friend. When I think of a best friend, I think of someone whose been there for you through thick and thin, who knows your family, who has witnessed your history, who you spend lots of time getting to know, who tells you the truth when you’re right and wrong, and who demonstrates their love and support over and over again. My mom was all of that and more. She always had the best intentions for me even if I couldn’t see it at the time.

My relationship with mummy was rough even through adulthood (though not as intense). She was strict and fearful. I was stubborn and wanted to make my own way. That’s the American spirit many other cultures fear for their children – the spirit of Independence. After all, I was born in the United States…the only one of my siblings who was. What more could have been expected? She served as my constant reminder through her example that caring for others is necessary in life. It was not just about me and my independence.

The values I embody: faith in God, hope, care for others, family, support, keeping my word, doing my best, working hard, being a nurturer, being the bigger person, forgiveness…I learned from her.

It’s been almost four years since she’s passed and the hardest thing for me is not being able to have a reciprocal conversation with her. We spoke almost daily, especially the last 4 or 5 years of her life. I speak to her in my mind on occasion though. It’s hard not being able to experience her reaction to all the good that’s happened in my life, including my husband and children’s lives. I want her to know, “See we’re OK. You didn’t need to worry so much because we’re GOOD.”

On this Mother’s Day, if you’re grieving the loss of your mother or mother figure, you’re not alone. Extend yourself some grace, cherish the memories, love on your own children and family, and prioritize rest and relaxation when you can.

Happy Mother’s Day from my heart to yours.

Roses from my crew. The vase behind has hydrangeas which are becoming one of my fave flowers.
Out Friday night for a pre-Mother’s day treat of dinner with my husband and daughter.
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Why it’s important to SPEAK UP

When I was in elementary school, I had many encounters with bullies. I was bullied because I was smart, I was quiet, I looked a certain way, and other reasons I will never understand. I remember the dreaded fear I felt on the school bus (one location of the bullying), praying to disappear in thin air. I think most people, more than who would probably admit, have been bullied at least once in their lives. I’ll save the research for another time though. Those experiences have made me a more compassionate, kind, and considerate person. I’ve invested time over the years in working through insecurities stemming from those experiences and I’m in a much better place…or am I?

I’m here to tell you friends there are real live bullies in the workplace. Some of you know this already and cope the best way you can. I’ve encountered bullies at several agencies I’ve worked for. One bully at a work place is too many yet I’ve seen several over the years. I do believe it speaks to a toxic or an emerging toxic work culture if these people are not stopped and allowed to perpetrate their bad behavior.

You might have heard the best way to deal with a bully is to stand up to them head on. Although this can be very difficult emotionally and mentally, I agree to a point. It also takes courage.. We all knew in school if you told the teacher or other adult in the school you may suffer worse consequences, plus that never stopped the bully anyway. I finally dug up the encourage a time or two to stand up to a few bullies in my preteens. I’ve had to do it in my adulthood too.

The stakes are high in the workplace in that there are risks detrimental to staff morale, staff retention, and whatever the agency’s bottom line is. I think any agency should take bullying seriously because the behaviors are toxic. But what if they don’t know it’s happening in their organization? Then, it’s your job to SPEAK UP and tell them.

Last week was rough and tested my emotional boundaries at work. On top of it, I had a strange interaction with a colleague that made me realize she is a bully. After several email exchanges, she sent a very inappropriate email and there was no mistaking the meaning. I decided not to respond because I will not feed into toxicity. Not only that, I forwarded the email to my direct boss who forwarded it to her boss.

Thankfully, I had a therapy session that afternoon and was able to talk it through with my therapist who validated me. That experience was triggering and I needed to separate myself from the emotion which was difficult at the time. She encouraged me to have peace knowing someone else will handle it.

The next day I was able to speak to my boss and my boss’s boss about it. I felt so much better afterward, especially learning this person has displayed a pattern. My boss’s boss plans to address with this person directly. I emphasized the behavior was manipulative and toxic and because of my choice of words, that got their attention. My boss’s boss stated she had never heard me talk like this so she was definitely taking what I said seriously. She took it a step further and apologized to me which I wasn’t expecting. I’ve reported toxic behaviors to leadership at several agencies and maybe one other person apologized. I was very appreciative, relieved, and felt supported.

This person is not going away anytime soon so I’ll be dealing with her again. What she won’t get from me is a response to her email. She will learn I have boundaries and I will not tolerate the toxicity. I truly care about the people I work with, those I supervise, and most importantly myself too much to not SPEAK UP when I know this isn’t right. I hope if in a similar situation this post encourages you to be brave, stand up for yourself, speak up, and seek support.

There will be a Part II on what happens if nothing changes after you SPEAK UP. In the mean time, I hope you have a productive, exciting, love-filled week with pops of fun and joy.