Wednesday, October 18, 2017

2017 Fall Decor


I'm back today to share my fall home tour. As usual on these posts, I'll try to keep the talking to a minimum and just let you browse through the pics without having to listen to me jibber jabber. :) 





I counted how many pumpkins I have in my house right now and the total is... 55! Pumpkin addiction at its finest. ;) 








That basket holds a ton of burlap pumpkins, along with some cream colored ones with a little fall ribbon thrown in for good measure. 




Check out Miss Holly trying to get inside the armoire...


I have several of these Fall pillow hangers from Kirklands...










This cute little black and white pumpkin is my only new fall decor purchase this year. Target...$5. :) 








That "Give Thanks" pillow is still a fall favorite. And the pumpkin candle holder on the end table looks so pretty when lit.



Edited to add: I just got this pretty fall "throw" at Walmart for $5. P.S. It's actually a scarf! :) Thanks to my IG friend @audrajenn for this clever idea!












The ol' "window cling on a plate trick" for easy to remove temporary fall decor. With the abundance of cute window clings, this works for any holiday. 


I love that my new dishwasher has a handle so I can display another fall dishtowel. 










And that concludes my fall home tour 2017. Thanks for taking a look! 

~Lisa 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Cookies and a Countertop Question

I made some white chocolate macadamia cookies the other day and they were delicious! You also get a peek at my fall decor here...


I'm really enjoying my new appliances. Any excuse to bake some cookies, right? :) 

Y'all are so good at advice, so I have another question for you. This time it has to do with kitchen countertops. I know I went on and on about laminate counters and I still might go that route, but several people have suggested I look into quartz. Apparently it's not a lot more expensive than laminate. Laminate has gone up in price over the years, especially when you add the ogee edge like we want. 

A friend of mine, Kendra at Joy in Our Home Blog explained to me that they were able to get quartz for only $300 more than laminate. That really got me thinking. :) 

So, do any of you have quartz? Do you like it? How do you clean it? Do you just use soap and water and a paper towel to wipe it down? I've been reading up on it and here's a quote...

"Engineered Quartz is a manmade product created mostly from natural materials. It's made of 90-94% ground quartz and 6-10% resins and pigments that are combined into durable and nonporous slabs. It's naturally resistant to abrasion, scratches, dents and acids, without the need for sealants. It's also non-toxic and nonallergenic and will last a lifetime." 

It sounds like a great choice for kitchen countertops. Please let me know if any of you have it. Thanks!

Fall decor post coming up next! 

~Lisa 

Monday, October 9, 2017

New Stainless Steel Appliances ~ Tons of Pics and Tips

This post is all about appliances, so if you skip this one, I won't mind. :) But if you're in the market for new ones, you might pick up a tip or two. 

My new stainless steel appliances finally arrived, dent free! 





So I finally caved...I gave up my beloved white appliances for stainless steel. Y'all know I've always loved white appliances (still do) There's just something so fresh and clean about them, but lately my entire household has been trying to convince me to switch them out for stainless. The thing is, we've replaced all our appliances within the last 5 or so years (except our stove/oven) So it was kinda hard for me to spend that much money to replace them all again. 

When we replaced all these appliances within the last few years, we chose white over stainless. Unheard of, right? Hee hee! I really liked my white appliances and didn't care what anyone thought. :) 

But here's the thing, our free standing range was 17 years old and the only appliance we hadn't replaced yet. We weren't sure how much longer it would last, so we decided to start looking, just to see what's out there. I've always had a fear that my oven will give out on Thanksgiving morning. Ha! We definitely wanted a continuous grate across the top of the stove and we wanted a slide in range instead of the free standing range like we had. I also wanted 5 burners this time, instead of the usual 4. It immediately became clear that our choices were very limited if we stuck with white. All the ones we liked were only available in stainless or a stainless/black combo. It looked like we'd have to get a stainless range in order to get the features we wanted. I kind of looked at my hubby and we both just knew we'd be replacing everything, not just the stove. 

That's the thing about switching out your appliances for another color...you almost have to replace everything at once. If we waited until every individual piece broke to replace it with stainless, I'd have mismatched appliances for probably 10 or more years. My decor OCD would have a hard time if my appliance colors didn't match for that long. And believe me, I know how ridiculous that sounds. ;) We also realized that we kind of wanted to stick with all the same brands so our particular stainless steel would match. There are so many different finishes on stainless now. Some are very shiny, some are matte, some are smudge resistant and have a sheen all their own, and there's even a new black stainless color. 

I was pondering how much all this would cost and I was still on the fence with the whole thing until I saw this KitchenAid fridge...



Velvet ropes parted, the angels sang and I was a smitten kitten. :) 



Here's a link to this refrigerator: 
KitchenAid French Door Refrigerator

I mean, look at those pretty red medallions on the ends of the handles! It's like jewelry for your appliances! Lol!

Oh man, y'all. Is there such a thing as love at first sight with a refrigerator? I know that sounds so crazy, but we were just walking along, minding our own business, looking at ranges when I saw this pretty thing. I literally backed up and stared at it. I called my hubby over and showed it to him. He agreed that it was a beauty. Then we saw the price. Ugh. It was very expensive. We finished our shopping trip and went back home. 

The next day I told him that was the prettiest fridge I've ever seen. We then started to wonder if KitchenAid made other matching appliances with the pretty red medallions. You know...just for fun. ;) 

Well it turns out, they do! KitchenAid makes an entire line of these beauties (ranges, dishwashers, refrigerators and microwaves) Sigh...this made our appliance decision even harder. My hubby finally said "If you like them that much, I think we should just get them." He pointed out that we rarely splurge with anything, so we should treat ourselves and get exactly what we want. That's all the convincing I needed. :)

But y'all know how frugal I am, right? If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you're familiar with our money saving DIY projects like painting our kitchen cabinets white and my "Walmart Finds" posts (i.e. $5 shirts, $11 cardigans and $7 swing dress), and who can forget the $4 tassel earrings, etc.) And you know I'm a coupon girl...remember all those times I used Kohl's cash along with a coupon and a sale and came home with several items for something crazy like $1.89? And do I even need to mention my recent 75% off Kate Spade Purchase? That was one of my favorites. So this was huge for me to replace something that was still working perfectly. But we were able to give away all our "old" appliances to people who lost theirs by the devastating floods in our area, so that was a good thing. 

We started looking at these KitchenAid appliances and realized they had everything we wanted, with all my specific requirements. What were my requirements, you ask? Well, here's my list:

(Here's where it's going to get boring unless you're interested in "appliance talk.") 

DISHWASHER: It had to be quiet. Our last one was 56 decibels and was pretty silent. So I knew I wanted 56 or less. (our new one is 46) I also wanted hidden controls with the vent on the side, not the top. Let me stop for a minute and explain about the vent. Most dishwashers with hidden controls, have the vent on the top, right under the counter. I always wondered how that would work with it constantly pushing hot steam up under your counter every time you ran the dishwasher with heat dry. I always use the "heat dry" option. I mean, that had to eventually cause the underside of the countertop to warp, didn't it? Well, I now know several people who are having problems with just that. For years, their dishwasher has been venting on the top, right under their counters and now the bottom of the counter is warping. Hence my requirement of a side vent. Now of course this isn't to say that all top vents will cause this problem, but if I could, I wanted to get a side vent. 

Okay, moving on. I also wanted a stemware holder, three spray arms...one on the very top, one under the top rack, and one on the bottom. I wanted the silverware holder on the side of the bottom rack, not on the door. I didn't want the silverware blocking the dishwasher tab compartment from opening fully and dispersing the detergent. I wanted the silverware baskets to have covers with holes in them to separate the individual forks, spoons, etc to keep them from "spooning" together and not getting clean. 

See where the dishwasher tab compartment is on the door? Some models have the silverware basket on the door, right below that. A lot of reviews said the silverware blocks the compartment from opening fully. Just something to think about. 



These are the silverware baskets with the covers I was talking about. Mine have larger openings for bigger items, like those beaters. The tops of the baskets are also totally removable if you have a lot of big items, or don't want to mess with separating your silverware. 




The one we got also has an adjustable top rack that you can raise and lower to accommodate taller items on the bottom rack. I wanted a "status light" to let me know when the cycle will be done and what stage it was in (washing, drying, etc) I also wanted an audible "end cycle" signal so I'd know when the cycle was complete. I like to know when the dishwasher will be done so I can leave the house if I need to. Remember I'm married to a fireman and can't leave the house if any appliance is running. Because that wouldn't be very safe. ;) 

Some friends of mine (not naming names here) started their dishwasher, then immediately left on a week long vacation. A plastic bowl fell from the top rack to the bottom and landed on the heating element. This made the smoke alarm go off. Their neighbors had to listen to it forever before it finally gave up, or the battery ran out, I can't remember which. Their house had a nice "burning plastic scent" upon their return from vacation. Lol! So I guess my hubby isn't that crazy after all about not wanting me to leave with anything still running. 

One more horror story...another friend was having a new house built. While looking at the progress one day, their precious little toddler walked into the bathroom and turned on the bathtub faucet. The water wasn't turned on yet, so nothing came out. The parents didn't think anything of it and they left. But then...a few days later the water company turned it on and you guessed it...the water came rushing out of the faucet and flooded that part of their almost finished new house. Yikes!

Oh, and I was watching an episode of "Flipping Out" recently and was so happy to see that Jeff Lewis and his dad have the same dishwasher as me!!! Guess they're a fan of those little red medallions too. :)  It's like my dishwasher is famous. Ha! 







The one we bought has been transitioned to this one:
KitchenAid Dishwasher  They're basically the same thing. I think they just switched model numbers. 

Can you tell I definitely did my research on appliances? Lol! I literally spent hours online looking at all the different bells and whistles that are available today. These are just my own personal preferences, but it might help someone who's in the market for new ones. I came across a lot of features in my research that I never would have thought of, but am so glad I have now. A lot of these features have been around for a long time, but were new to me. 

OVEN/STOVE: We had a free standing range and wanted to switch to a slide in. The difference is the slide in doesn't have that part in the back that comes up. I wanted a continuous grate across the top so we could slide pots and pans from one burner to another, without any wobbling. I also wanted five burners. 

Now here's the other thing...I was adamant about not getting a convection oven. I've never used one before and was stuck in my ways. :) Then we found the KitchenAid one that was convection, but also a regular gas range. You can use it as a regular gas range (like I've had my whole life) or you can use it in convection mode. But here's the best part...if you use it in convection mode, it has a converter built in. So it converts the cook temp and time for you! If you're baking a cake and the conventional oven directions say to bake at 350 for 30 minutes, you punch that info into the little screen and it converts it for you. No math involved! Yay! 

Oh, I also wanted three oven racks (I've only had two before) and a storage drawer on the bottom instead of the broil pan like we had before. I need all the storage I can get. And of course those red medallions.

Love the continuous grate across the top!












Just look at that big window! My old range had a tiny window and it wasn't clear at all. It had those little dots all over it that obstructed the view inside. Not this one though. Clear as a bell, even when it's running. 




The touch screen is pretty neat too. This one also has a "locked" feature. You can lock the controls so if they're accidentally pushed (like when your cat walks across it...ahem) it won't turn on. This was a must for us. 



So convenient to have 5 burners instead of 4. I'm thinking I need a pretty tea kettle to put on that middle one. :) 



One more thing. I read that if we switched to a slide in range like this one, we'd have to put a filler piece behind the range to fill the gap between the range and the wall. (you couldn't see it before with our free standing range, because it came up in the back) Here's a pic of the gap in our kitchen...




As you can see, the gap isn't really that big. They sell "filler kits" on Amazon and Lowe's, Home Depot, etc. It's just a strip of stainless steel that you install back there. But we're just going to install one more row of subway tile. We have plenty of extra tiles from when we replaced our backsplash with subway tile  and it won't take long at all. In fact, I would be fine if we just left it as is. That tiny gap doesn't bother me at all. 

You can see below that it's not very noticeable...


Here's a link to the slide in range we bought:
KitchenAid Slide In Range



REFRIGERATOR: We wanted to try a french door this time. We wanted the ice and water dispenser on the outside of the doors. (I was shocked at how many didn't have these features at all, as this is something we use many, many times during the day) It also helps to keep the freezer cooler when you don't have to keep opening the freezer door/drawer to retrieve ice. I also wanted it to be grey on the sides, not black. So many stainless steel ones are black on the sides and that would stand out like a sore thumb in our kitchen since our fridge is open on both sides. The side color is something to think about when buying a fridge. 

Other than that, we just wanted gallon storage in the door, adjustable spill proof glass shelves (some have wire shelves and things can topple over and spill if it's not a solid shelf) and some kind of organization for the bottom freezer part. I didn't want just an open box for the freezer, as I'd never be able to find things if they were all jumbled together. I'm rather picky, aren't I? :) Ours has lots of drawers and organization compartments in the freezer. As it turns out, our fridge also has "measured water fill" that dispenses water in ounces, cups or liters. It can also be custom programmed to fill a coffee pot or water bottle. It has a special herb storage compartment that's slanted, to keep the roots in water and the leaves out...this will be helpful because I actually do buy live basil with roots when making my tomato basil soup and homemade bread. It has soft close drawers, three tier freezer drawers with storage dividers and an open door signal. These aren't really anything anyone needs, but it sure is convenient. 



See that almost empty iced tea pitcher below? That shelf folds up to accommodate taller items. Love that! What I don't love is how everyone around here leaves things that are almost empty in the fridge because they don't want to have to wash them. Ugh. Happens in the pantry too. Half a cookie in the container, nothing but crumbs in the cracker box...all because they don't want to have to recycle the box. Lord.

The two doors on the top, as well as the two drawers underneath are all part of the refrigerator. It's nice having the two separate drawers for popular items because then you can just open one drawer to retrieve things, instead of opening the entire fridge. It helps to keep the contents cooler when opening up just one part of the fridge. 



This fridge not only has a water filter, but a produce filter and an air filter. 

If you look really closely, you'll see we have a Chick-fil-A sauce addiction. :) 



The drawer in the above pic has touch controls that you can set, depending on what's inside. I have it set on Deli/Cheese. It also has settings for Meat/Fish, Cold Drinks, Greens/Herbs, and Thaw/Marinate. It chooses the right temp for each selection. 

So much storage! 



The freezer not only has this compartment with pizza storage...



It also has this drawer...



And this one...


Yes, that's an entire drawer just for waffles. Well, that and the wine bottle chiller and Boo Boo Bunny. Boo Boo bunny has been with us for over 20 years and made many a boo boo better. :)  

So much easier to organize than my old side by side. 



We had just been to the Farmer's Market right before this pic below was taken, hence all the cheese. :) Smoked Gouda, Horseradish Pecan Cheddar and White Cheddar. If you ever get a chance to try Brazos Valley Cheese from Waco, Texas do it. So good! 


Horseradish pecan cheddar

And entire shelf for my coffee creamers, finally! 





Here's a link to the refrigerator we bought:
KitchenAid Refrigerator

MICROWAVE: I have to say that I was all ready to order the same microwave we currently had, only in stainless. Then my son suggested we get one that's a little quieter. Hmm...he was right. Our current microwave was a little loud. We had to turn the tv up when it was running. So I researched some more and found this KitchenAid one that met our needs and wants. It's very quiet, has all the usual buttons for popcorn, potatoes, frozen entrees, beverages, melting butter, etc. It has a sensor button that "senses" how long something needs to cook. It's kind of neat to put leftover pizza in there and let the microwave decide how long it needs to cook. You can of course set it to cook for a specific time too. It even has a nifty little tune it plays when it's done cooking things. And of course, it has those pretty red medallions. ;)  I still can't believe how quiet it is. Oh, and the vent automatically turns on when it detects steam coming up from the stove. You can disable this too, I think. 



Those white things on the sides are to hold the rack it came with. You're supposed to remove the rack unless you're using it. 



Still working on replacing that toaster too. Thanks to your recommendations, I think we're going with the Breville. 



The red medallions you're probably tired of hearing about...



Here's a link to the microwave we bought:
KitchenAid Microwave

I hope someone got some useful information here. I did so much research before purchasing our appliances. Even though our "old" appliances were still fairly new, I was surprised at how many new features they've come up with since then. 

And like I said, a lot of features I talked about certainly aren't necessary, but they're nice to have. I wouldn't have thought to seek out a dishwasher with an adjustable top rack, but it's actually very useful. And I didn't even know "measured water fill" existed on a fridge, but I use it all the time now. Oh, and I still can't believe how quiet these new appliances are! They sure have improved on that in the last few years. Maybe all my research on decibel levels for dishwashers can help someone out. :) 


Y'all probably remember me telling you that we had a hard time getting these appliances delivered dent free. They were all delivered with dents in them. We had to refuse them all and they had to reorder them for us, which meant waiting another couple of weeks for delivery. Ugh. 

One of the delivery guys explained that the appliances I ordered are very heavy, large in size and almost commercial-like. He said that because of their weight and size, some warehouse workers aren't expecting them to be that heavy and they get dropped a lot. I don't know about that, but I do know it's not just me getting dented appliances. My cousin on the east coast also ordered a fridge and it was delivered with dents. The store manager where we got our fridge said that he's getting refusals daily from customers that are receiving dented appliances. They don't know what's going on. He said he's meeting up with all the district managers to see if they can find a common denominator...what factory they're coming from, warehouse, etc. I hope they figure it out soon. All in all, it took about a month to get all ours delivered, dent free.

So we had to wait a little longer than expected, but now that they're all here and installed, I couldn't be happier. 

Here's a little before and after of our kitchen...

BEFORE:




AFTER:



BEFORE:



AFTER:


Oh and before I forget, I also researched a lot of cleaning products for stainless steel. I've found the one that works best for me is simply a microfiber cloth and water. Who knew? Here's the microfiber cloths I bought on Amazon:



best way to clean stainless steel


As long as the microfiber is made of 80% Polyester and 20% Polyamide, it seems to work fine. 


how to choose the best microfiber cloth

I did buy some of these wipes for occasional cleaning, but haven't had to use them yet...




Next up, we'll order a new sink (we decided to get a single bowl this time) and then we can finally get started with replacing the counters. We have to get our sink first, so the counter company can measure it before cutting the counter tops to size. Wish us luck!

~Lisa 






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