I couldn’t sleep in on Tuesday, though I really could have used some extra downtime after two long days of driving following an exhilarating weekend at the Circuit of the Americas for the return of Formula One racing to the United States. I had more excitement awaiting me in my own home.
A week ago, we had a contractor come in and refinish our kitchen counter tops and backsplash. This process requires the kitchen remain undisturbed for at least a week. We actually planned this refinishing to coincide with our vacation and roadtrip to Austin, Texas to attend the USGP.
So, with less than two days to Thanksgiving, and an expected house full of family on their own two-day roadtrips to join us, I nervously watched Terry tackle multiple installations, starting with the sink. Most of the afternoon was spent prepping the sink hole and the sink basin to seal it into place and get it squared up with the rest of the counter. Then Terry installed the drains and we watched silicone set for a few minutes. But not too long. We needed to move on to the second project that had to be finished before the stove could be returned to its normal resting place: Installing a new range hood.
We reviewed the installation instructions but could not locate the parts bag referenced therein. We made one of many trips to Home Depot to inquire about the missing mounting hardware. After looking in several other range hood boxes (also suspiciously already open), the Home Depot employee went to the hardware aisle and gave us the wood screws we needed. Terry found a short 1″x2″ he needed to use as a shim. We returned home and began mounting the shims, only to discover the wood screws were too long (by a quarter of an inch) and had punched through the shelf into the cabinet.
By this time, Terry and I were exhausted and frustrated. Since it was nearly ten o’clock at night, we called it a night.
I woke up Wednesday early and reviewed the Thanksgiving edition of the Food Network Magazine. I wanted to try at least three or four of the recipes featured and needed to make a grocery list to cover all the ingredients I might need. Since Rachelle awoke before I left, she accompanied me to Dillons. I wanted to hit the grocery store early to avoid all the people who would rush in after midday. Most people would probably get off from work at noon, so my best shot at the best selection of produce and other products would occur in the early morning hours. I remembered almost everything I needed.
Once Terry woke up, he immediately got down (literally) to installing the drain plumbing. This necessitated at least two more trips to Home Depot for replacement and new PVC piping. He successfully (and almost two easily) got the garbage disposal side of the drain installed. To give his back a break, he switched to the top side and began installing the new Moen faucet we purchased from Lowes on Tuesday afternoon. I chose this particular model because the reviews stated it had an exceptionally easy installation. The only drawback mentioned involved installing the weight to the pull-down faucet head hose. This weight keeps the faucet head (not shown yet at right) snug against the tall faucet pipe.
We returned to the range hood to finish the install. I went down to the electrical box and threw the breaker for the north side of the kitchen to the off position. While Rachelle and I held the hood into position, Terry secured it to the re-installed shims with the shorter length wood screws. He hooked up the electrical and installed the halogen bulbs. I returned to the basement and flipped the breaker back to the on position. We tested the lights and they worked. We tested the fan, and nothing happened. We could still see into the fan compartment so Terry stuck his head and hands back up in there to determine what the problem was. He discovered the spot welds that were meant to hold the fan housing in place had broken. Needless to say, none of us were happy at this point.
Terry began uninstalling the range hood while I went to find another, better range hood on the internet. We had bought the best model that would fit in our space above the range and below the cabinets from Home Depot, so we were going to return the defective range hood and buy one from someone else. We stopped at Kmart/Sears (right next door to Home Depot), but that particular Sears outlet does not maintain any stock. All items had to be ordered. This necessitated that we drive south to the Legends shopping area and specifically Nebraska Furniture Mart, where we found a much nicer model, with more features and a better interior fan design, for only about $50-70 more. We returned home and had the second range installed in less than fifteen minutes. This time both the lights and the fan worked as expected.
Terry re-installed the range next. The breaker for the 240 circuit had been left in the off position since we uninstalled the range over ten days before. I double-checked it, though, when I flipped breakers on/off for the range hood installation. I made sure Terry used his work gloves to avoid any threat of cuts from the sharp metal brackets and fixtures on the back of the stove.
With the range and range hood installed and functional, all that remained was the right-hand drain for the kitchen sink and the weight for the faucet pull-down. Terry twisted and prodded the right-hand side pipes to curl almost back on themselves to reach the new sink’s drain hole. However, despite various large plumbing pliers, Terry eventually resorted to a hose clamp and electrical tape to get the weight secured to the faucet hose. As I mentioned above, many of the reviews for this particular model of Moen noted the weight install to be flawed (or nigh on impossible).
By four o’clock on Wednesday afternoon, my kitchen was returned to me, ready to begin nearly non-stop cooking duties for the next twenty-four hours. I had to make one final trip to Dillons, though, to pick up the roasted turkey and other fixings I’d ordered earlier in November. I decided weeks ago that I wouldn’t have time to thaw a turkey because of our trip to the Formula One race in Austin. While on the way to the grocery store, I received a call from my uncle, telling me they had safely arrived in Leavenworth and were in the Price Chopper. I directed them to Dillons, where I was headed (they preferred to shop there as well to accumulate fuel reward points). I met Ron in the parking lot and we discussed the itinerary for Thanksgiving day. I picked up my turkey and fixings and escaped the mad dash of people making their last minute shopping spree. So many people in that store, you could hardly breathe.
I returned home and shoe-horned the turkey into the refrigerator. I then proceed to bake my father’s requested birthday cake. The very first thing I baked also happened to be a first attempt for me as a cook. I baked a pineapple upside down cake in a cast iron skillet. I also attempted to make one loaf of bread, my Honey Wheat Toasting Oat Bread, but when I pulled the baked loaf out of my bread machine after midnight, it almost resembled a brick. Not an auspicious beginning to Thanksgiving day baking.
I decided not to return the microwave to the corner between the range and the sink. Having the microwave in that space negates all the counter space available for baking or cooking. I plan to purchase a microwave cart or some other piece of kitchen furniture to keep that appliance off my new counters.
I want to thank Terry for the incredible effort and skill he exerted during this kitchen remodel project. Without his knowledge, dedication and attention to detail, none of these results would have been possible.
Thank you, dear husband. You are amazing.