You Gonna Eat All That?

A fork in one hand, a pen in the other.

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Location: Virginia, United States

(Biscuit Girl)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Kitchen renovation - part 2 - Water, water everywhere

Day three of the renovation was supposed to be the day all the cabinets would be installed. And it almost happened.

By the afternoon, all the lower cabinets were in and leveled. They looked great!Then the electricians came to put in some wiring for under the counter lights, add an outlet and move a light switch. This should have been an easy task and it started out just that way, until one of the electricians was under the sink trying to pull some electric lines down through the wall when he hit a blockage. Seeing some foam insulation in the area of the upper cabinet space, he assumed the blockage was more insulation. Uh, no. It was the cold water line for the kitchen. A geyser of water erupted from the wall and sprayed all the way across the kitchen soaking not only the contractors and electricians but our new cabinets!!!
OMG!!! OMG!!! OMG!!! I just about freaked out.

While we were trying to get the water turned off, the contractor stuck his finger in the wall and did his best to plug up the hole in the pipe while the other contractor broke open the wall to get to the pipe and put a clamp on it. They successfully got it clamped but not before a ton of water covered the floor.The rest of the crew was busily using two shop vacs and every bath towel we own to soak up the water. They also took out all the cabinets they had just finished leveling and attaching to the wall and dried them off out on our patio. Thank goodness we paid more for all wood cabinets. If they had been made from particleboard like our old ones were, they would have been destroyed.

So now, just over five hours later, the pipe is fixed, all the cabinets survived, the electrical work got done and Jim is out getting us some dinner. We briefly contemplated an all-liquor meal but thought a real meal would be better. And my nerves are just about back to normal.

Tomorrow will hopefully be much less eventful. The cabinets will be reinstalled and the appliances will arrive and be installed as well. We hope.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Out with the old.....

Our kitchen renovation is finally underway. We got the kitchen emptied out completely on Sunday night and the contractors came in yesterday morning to start tearing out the cabinets and floors. All the appliances were removed too.

So why did we jump into this venture? I'll tell you why...our dishwasher betrayed us. For months, it had been stealthily leaking into our subflooring which didn't extend under the dishwasher. So rather than having the water leak out onto the floor where we could see it, all of the water stayed below floor level, seeping further and further into the subfloor until we began to notice soft spots here and there. A quick check under the running dishwasher revealed what we didn't want to see. Water flowing out during the rinse cycle.

After much discussion, we decided that a full renovation was what we would do. We'd been contemplating it anyway but didn't feel the need to jump in right now to do it. But that all changed.

And after nearly three months of shopping, comparing products, picking a contractor and signing on the dotted line, the kitchen begins it's transformation.

This is the old kitchen. The patch of red, ironically called Library Red, is a test patch we did for the back splash. The rest if the kitchen will be painted a very faint peach which you can see a patch of in this picture.
And much to our surprise, the cabinets came out relatively easily. All but two bottom cabinets were donated to Habitat For Humanity. The two bottom cabinets bore the brunt of the water damage and weren't able to be salvaged. The fridge and stove were donated to another charity and the dishwasher and microwave went to appliance heaven.

When everything was removed, the room looks quite big and your voice echos.

Today, the floor was torn out. It was like opening a time capsule. First the old linoleum floor came up to reveal the heavily water damaged subfloor. But wait! What is this? Why it's another linoleum floor. A lovely 1970's vintage brick pattern. This was peeled away to reveal yet another floor which looked like it could have been the original tile. And finally one last plywood subfloor which was mostly in good shape despite it's years. Once the old tile was scraped up and removed the contractor was able to then lay down new plywood and begin putting in the new floor.Tomorrow the cabinets start to get installed. We can't wait.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pho Throwdown

(By Jim)

Barbara and I have been busy with the kitchen. We've got our cabinets and flooring being torn out on Monday and Tuesday, flooring being installed on Tuesday and Wednesday, and appliances being delivered on Thursday. It's all finally happening, and we'll be taking pictures and posting them.

We'll be eating out a lot this week, and be able to post some good pictures of good food. Recently, we've tried a new pho (Vietnamese Beef Soup) place, and wanted to do a pho throwdown (Pho-down?). Anyway, two weeks ago we went to Pho Hot, which gets raves on We got our usual orders there, the spring roll, fresh roll, pho with brisket and meatballs for me, and lemongrass pork with rice noodles for Barbara.

The rolls were good, with the fresh rolls being my favorites. The spring rolls were good, made with crab meat in addition to pork, noodles, and carrots. They were a little greasy but not objectionable.
The pho was good. It had a lot more cinnamon in it than I'm used to, and I think I'd like that toned down. It was pleasant otherwise, and had a large portion of meat in it. The meatballs were finely ground, tasty and slightly chewy.

Barbara's pork was excellent, with nice bits of char on it. It was a large portion, with lots of fried onions. Barbara left noodles remaining, but ate all the rest.

Two weeks later, I have a cold. We stopped by the office of the contractor to check on our sink for the kitchen, and noticed that Pho Viet House (Rt. 1, Alexandria) was across the parking lot. So, we stopped in to get some soup for my nose.

We ordered the spring rolls, summer rolls, pho with meatballs, and lemongrass chicken with rice. The rolls came out first. The fresh rolls had a lot of mint and basil in them, and tasted very good. The fried spring rolls, on the other hand, were greasy to the point of inedible for me. Barbara used a napkin to squeeze the grease out of hers.
The pho had a lighter broth, still beefy, but much less star ansie and cinnamon and very salty. The meatballs were more coarsely ground, had more tough bits, and not quite as tasty as Pho Hot. They did provide sawtooth leaf in addition to the basil, jalapeno, and bean sprouts. It wasn't bad, but I think you can get better at other places.Barbara's chicken was very good. It was tasty dark meat that had been marinated and grilled. It came with rice and a small bowl of pho broth. It was a large portion, and too much for Barbara after the rolls, so she brought the rest home for lunch tomorrow.

We will try to get back to our usual pho place, Pho Kim, in the Rose Hill Shopping Center on Franconia Road, for the next part of the pho-down. At this point, I think their pho is still the best, followed by Pho Hot and with Pho Viet House bringing up the rear.

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