Hey, Hey, Hey or What's Happening!

01 Sep 2008Steve Schwarz

Well I’ve been pretty busy this past month and I just haven’t had time to do any blogging, so here are some updates. Two big activities, remodeling my kitchen and touring Chicago with our friends.

Home Improvements

The previous owners of my house had remodeled the kitchen around 1991 and put in good quality cabinets and appliances. When I moved in I had the tile floor replaced with oak (to match the rest of the house) and had the walls and ceiling painted. Other than minor changes I mostly left it alone. But the electric cooktop, smaller than normal electric ovens, and broken dual slide out range hoods were really bothering me on the three or four times a year when I actually cooked something.

I had always cooked with a gas stove and since I like wok cooking I wanted a high enough BTU flame to actually cook with. That and the fact I couldn’t fit a regular size baking sheet in the ovens made me decide to cut apart the cabinet containing the existing cooktop (and electric deep fat fryer(!) and electric grill) and install a standard gas stove with a convection oven. It was one thing to have that as a plan, it was another to find a finish carpenter who could/would do it. Well the carpenter I spoke with a year ago finally got time to do the work for me.

Scott cut apart the cabinet, built a new drawer and slide out tray and got it all reinstalled in two days. He did a very nice job and also did it at a very reasonable price. My new GE gas convection oven slide right into place.

I went to get replacement parts for the two broken Gaggeneau range hoods and found the parts I needed were $200 for each hood. Seemed pretty dumb to invest that much in almost 20 year old hoods. So I decided to rip them out and install a single 30 inch wide Broan slide out hood. That took some modifications of the interior of the existing cabinets but I did a reasonable job.

Part of rebuilding the cabinet required a new countertop. The old ones were a Corian knock off (and the previous owner hid a poorly repaired crack under the microwave he “gave” me). I decided to go with synthetic quartz which is apparently the “cool” new material. “Of course” once you change all the countertops you “have” to go with a new undermount sink. “Of course” you can’t put the old faucet back in, so I got one of those new retractable nozzle faucets. I’ll spare you the histrionics of the material I chose no longer being available and the problems during the day of the installation. Of course I had to do the plumbing, which only took four trips to the hardware store and was finished at 11 PM the night before my friends from England arrived to stay for the weekend.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out and now I don’t have any excuses for not cooking… In any event here are a before and some after pictures.

Before: Electric Cooktop with Deep Fryer and Grill

After: Gas Stove and New Counters

After: New Sink, Faucet and Counter

After: Other Counter Looking Toward Stove

Touristing Chicago

Our dear friends Andy and Carol came from England to stay for a long weekend and Nancy and I got a chance to do some tourist stuff with them in Chicago. We had a pretty leisurely three and half days and got caught up with one another. In no particular order… Went to Chinatown for Dim Sum and took a quick drive through IIT to see the new buildings; Andy and I met and went to undergrad there. Of course took a nice drive along

Lake Shore Drive. Took in the Jeff Koons exhibit at the very nice Museum of Contemporary Art.

Spent a long morning at the Art Institute of Chicago. I hadn’t been there in probably five years and was reminded what a great collection it has. Andy and I were both struck by the works of Impressionist Camille Pissarro. I hadn’t been to Millenium Park before and we had beautiful weather for a stroll through it on the way for a walk along Michigan Avenue. Ended up at the John Hancock building and had a drink on the 96th floor, it was a nice view even if it was a bit “touristy” to do. Gave them a backyard agility demo and demonstration of much ball and frisbee chasing, catching and dog pool splashing.

Since food is fun… Ate at our favorite Chinese restaurant, Silver Seafood, it doesn’t have much atmosphere, but it does have the best Chinese food in the city. Also took Carol and Andy to our new favorite regional Mexican restaurant La Oaxaque�a. Had to go up to Lake Forest for the omakase sushi at Sushi Kushi Toyo, my vote for best sushi in Chicagoland. Had some good Peruvian food at Aye Aye Picante with another IIT alum, John, who I hadn’t seen in (dare I say it) over 20 years.

On their last morning with us we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather to take in the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Once again I had forgotten what a nice place the gardens are. Even late in the summer the displays of plants were really beautiful. Since we went on a weekday morning the gardens were lightly populated and a pleasure to visit. A very relaxing way to spend a morning outdoors.

It was just wonderful spending time with great friends and relaxing after so much tumult leading up to their visit. I promise I’ll have some agility related articles soon.

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