Friday, March 6, 2009

Unedited Version

making dinner in my ghetto kitchen

I've been feeling a bit guilty. I feel like I've only shared the edited version of myself. I'm getting a bit bored not telling the whole truth. So I promise from here on out I'll be a little more honest on our house renovation and my new life being unemployed. It's just a little hard to put yourself out there. I have such a fear of being judge in a bad way. I guess I am realizing the messy stuff is actually really amusing and entertaining. Hopefully I will look back on all of this and laugh. So here it goes...


Above is a shot of me in our ghetto kitchen making dinner. Check out the water heater in the kitchen (back left). Classy right? I hardly have any storage so all my kitchen tools are stuck in buckets and piled below our so called counter. Totally embarrassing. Yes, I am wearing a hat and scarf in the house. It's not because I wanted to look stylish for my photo. The kitchen has no insulation. It's damn cold. The olive oil has turned green because it so cold. Sometimes I even wear my down jacket. Don't feel too bad for me. I make do. I still seem to create some pretty amazing meals with this bare bones kitchen. We even made thanksgiving dinner for five. It would be really amazing to have nice cabinets and drawers to put silverware in. But honestly I don't need it. I make what I have work.


I have gotten a couple of e-mails asking me how I pay for my renovations and what am I going to do now that I unemployed. Basically in terms of renovations we save and then do a project. We don't have a magical money tree or trust funds. We are just two early thirty somethings trying to make it with normal people kind of jobs and normal people kind of bank accounts. We do a ton of research and try to find products that give us the most bang for our buck.


In terms of me being unemployed. What will I do? I basically spent the past three weeks crying and feeling really depressed. I feel like I am starting my life all over again. It's as if I just graduated from college and I have no idea what to do. My new plan is to really focus on my paintings and photography. The likelihood of me getting another freelance work from home job is slim to none. My funds are pretty low so I really need to think about getting a part-time job. Maybe I could wait tables? I feel completely overwhelmed and scared as shit. The economy going to the crapper is incredibly scary. But I do believe all us need to scale back and rethink our spending habits. Next week, I will share with you some my tips and goals for living on a budget. Basically it involves living like a college student.


p.s. to be extra truthful about our kitchen. cooking on my blue star gas stove greatly enhances my cooking performance. The stove was a special treat I got myself when i was still employed. Best investment ever!

46 comments:

  1. love it. now i think you are even cooler:) npr has had some reports lately about people making their living from various gigs. it's what i am doing and a lot of people i know are too. it's a fabulous way to live but it does require cutting back + living simply but i'd take that any day over living in a cubicle.

    thanks for sharing your bit of reality with us. it made me laugh (with you not at you:)

    hang in there!

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  2. In all, this is entirely more inspiring than reading a zillion blogs about $2,000 chairs and $200/sqft tiles that I can't even dream about. Your house is going to be awesome - there are tons of folks out there paying a premium to get the character your house has. You aren't alone in the on-the-budget-that-does-not-budge. I'm there - we're just embarking on the building process and I'm in real estate! It's huge and scary and I do the math every single day to make sure it still works... P.S. I miss Domino already.

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  3. Hi Katy,

    I like your blog exactly because you are renovating your house on a budget! I'm in a similar situation-- I started renovating my house while in grad school and had almost no money for it-- and now I'm also recently laid off. I'm trying to look on the bright side of it-- now I have way more time to actually work on my house projects. And, my water heater used to be in my kitchen like that-- it was the first thing I moved when I started redoing my kitchen.

    Good luck!

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  4. I love this post and thanks for your honesty. I think your house will look amazing when all complete and it's better to do it right and take your time. I can only imagine your thoughts on being unemployed. Is it wrong that some days I wish I got laid off to start over? Maybe...but you are in a great position now to literally re-define your career and goals. That's awesome - even if it sounds scary. The economy is crap, but business is still out there. Part time might help you, just read a article about how a part time job saved a woman who was working from home. She had a better schedule and got to socialize. I think that's a great move, even if it is being a waitress or working retail...get out there and be inspired. OR work at a place you love to get a discount!

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  5. I like your blog a lot, but this is by far my favorite post. I keep a house renovation blog, too, and by far the best part is looking back to our "before" photos to remind ourselves how much progress we've actually made. Progress feels so slow sometimes (your indoor woolens and ghetto kitchen are very very familiar), but like you said, it can be fun to make do with what you've got, too.

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  6. I loved your post post today. I agree with this being more inspiring and touching that so many blogs featuring designer furniture and expensive drastic renovations that only few can afford. Good luck, don't fear being judge, just be yourself.

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  7. Thank you for being so honest and so you. I finish graduate school in May (in fiction writing, of all things) and then I, too, will be starting from scratch. I'm thinking a retail job and/or waitressing will have to suffice until the economy stabilizes ... so, yeah. Right there with you.

    Thank you for your ceaseless inspiration. I so look forward to each and every post.

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  8. My parents bought a 250 year old house in 1978 and we lived in chaos for most of my childhood. My mother was a pre-school teacher and my dad was putting himself through grad school. But they completely restored it all by themselves. It took a long time but now it's gorgeous. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else and hopefully someday I'll be able to restore an old home of my own. You guys will work it out and it will be fabulous!!!

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  9. PS: They're in Sutton, MA (not too far from you) and I bet if you ever wanted before and after pics I could get them to dig those out for me!

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  10. Thanks for sharing with us. It's nice to get to know you better! I check your blog several times a day--where do you find all the amazing things you find? I love old houses, especially old farmhouses. I grew up in one and I live in one now. We just did a big overhaul that we are now having trouble paying for. Yeeks.

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  11. Do you ever look at Door Sixteen? She's renovating an old Victorian...

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  12. Oh ugh, I wrote a long and thoughtful reply and it got eaten by the interwebs.
    1) The water-heater-and-all view will only endear you to your readers (as if the previous 10 comments didn't show that!)
    2) I got laid off from a much-loathed consulting gig in October and returned to freelancing...It's not as bad as I expected in terms of getting work, if only because all the magazines are laying people off, but they still need at least a little content written!
    3) I'd love to get together sometime, in Boston/Cambridge or up in Marblehead. My husband and I love the north shore and plan to move up there eventually.
    4) Chin up! You're doing great. Did you see your photo on Bohemian Hellhole today?

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  13. Caroline in LondonMarch 6, 2009 at 12:18 PM

    I like you blog and I like this post :)
    Thank you for being honest! Your house will be amazing... fortune favours the brave!
    Good luck with the job hunt

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  14. I'm quite new to your blog and have yet to read archives. I must say, this is a very refreshing post. Thank-you for the unedited you. She is even more intriguing than the edited you(:

    Looking forward to your budget living posts....
    Cheers!

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  15. Thanks for your honesty. Really enjoy your blog. Hang in there!

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  16. Katy - I love this photo more than words can say. If Sean and I ever get a house, we will be living the same life : )

    I know what you mean about job stuff. Right now, I am working at a bar, designing a set for a high school musical (CRAZY) and just trying to make ends meet as I keep groping my forward to what (i hope) is a more lucrative future ... it's overwhelming. I know all about the crying and the uncertainty. Hang in there - know we are all rooting for you (and the eventual launch of Captain Mugford (because seriously, people would buy what you find) or whatever else you come up with!)

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  17. Your blog is amazing, the progress on your house is amazing! And thank you for being honest - it is scary to expose yourself,but so much more interesting than pretending that everything is perfect all the time. I am often intimidated by other bloggers just because I believe their lives are as perfect as they make them out to be. None of us are perfect. How refreshing!

    Good luck on finding work! Something perfect will come along, I'm sure. Be brave, and keep your chin up.

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  18. Katy, I love this post. I'm your biggest blog stalker ever, and it almost seems impossible that I could love your blog even MORE than I already do, but there you go. This economy is totally worrying, but you are incredibly talented and resourceful and I have no doubt that you will figure something out that suits you. If it helps at all, you are in good company - everyone is panicking and confused. The economy is in the crapper, but it's forcing us all to be more creative about the next few steps - maybe that's a good thing? I guess I'll be cursing myself for saying that when I start waiting tables and eating ramen again. GAH.

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  19. Hi Katy,
    I came across your blog a couple month's back when I was looking for pictures of colonials in MHD. You are living me dream. My husband and I live in a brand new condo in Downtown Beverly. (We're from the Bev, Salem, MHD Swampscott general area :) ) but I'm dreaming of the day we can buy and old home around here and fix it up the way you are. (We looked at 11 Washington St. around the corner from you like a month ago). New is nice, don't get me wrong, but I want a big old warm house with history some day. Anyway- I also work for the YMCA and noticed you mentioned being a member in another post. The Y is waving membership dues for 3-months for people who have been recently laid off. Take advantage of it and put the money into the house!

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  20. Wow, I left for a little bit and went out for a walk and came back to all these nice comments. Just reading your comments gives me hope and inspiration. Thanks everyone!

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  21. Such a great post. I am newish to your blog, I subscribed to your feed. I too lost my job, as an interior designer, and began writing a design blog. Sometimes the best way to get creative is in this form, for now anyway! Hope your renovations move smoothly and keep up the good work, you give great tips!

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  22. This post is the one that took me from blog lurker/stalker to feeling the need to post a comment. I have been reading this blog for awhile and it's the snippets of your renovation and its messy life up heaving qualities that get me by. I am in New Orleans and slowly renovating a shotgun house from 1830. We cant get anyone to actually show up to hook the gas to the house for the past 5 months and so have no way to heat food, have hot water or heat the house. Our makeshift kitchen consists of a microwave and a hotplate. The house has some serious "ventilation" in fact its quite easy for the dog to watch the cats underneath the house right through the floorboards. Luckily we don't really have a winter here but a house that is 39-40 degrees inside is still not much fun and i have made many diners wearing a scarf. The ceilings are 17' tall so the space heaters just waste money. But, i am very glad to have found this house and glad to have a job, even if its not the same job i had for a long time either. Thanks for the post its refreshing to remember that this is just the way it goes. Thanks!
    -Branden

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  23. You are AMAZING and very talented...I just went through the same thing and the struggle and rewards are priceless! Be who you are and the answer will arrive at your feet as it did for me. I am routing for you,,,and working on some ideas for you..

    T

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  24. What a great post. Your picture is priceless in the best way.

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  25. Bravo Katy, well done you for being so honest and brave. Your post was very touching. At the end of the day I'd say most of us are just ordinary people trying to make it the best we can; even though someone elses life can sound glamorous and interesting, I think most of the time its hard work, but you have to smell the roses where you can.

    I wish you warmer weather, although you hat is very cute :)

    Best of luck, blog world is rooting for you.

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  26. Ditto ditto ditto!
    Reminds me of when my husband and I lived in a house with zero HVAC for two years. We moved our bedroom to the living room (fireplace) and wore hats around the house too! It was subtropical and did get quite chilly due to the winter winds and dampness. We had a dehumidifier on each floor. Would I do it again? Definitely! lisa

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  27. You're a rock star Katy Elliott!

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  28. katie,
    thank you for your honesty and your inspiring work. i am an unemployed textile merchandiser and i miss my job and income too! i love reading your blog it helps keep my spririts up while i am looking for work.

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  29. Same as Brendon, this post has changed me from a stalker to a talker! Keep it up- i love it even more!

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  30. You are on the right track Katy. The essence of your creativity truly shines when you have to cut back and strip down to the bare bones. I have found hours of inspiration on your blog and will be anxiously awaiting all your cleverness...truth be told....I think your blog is way more interesting than Domino ever was!

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  31. Your blog is great. I know you'll find something in the future. Speaking of uninsulated rooms, my brother is an environmental engineer who works on houses and he recommends Prodex as the best insulation hands down (both for its R rating, easy use, environmental friendliness etc.). He swears by the stuff. In fact, he completely insulated the inside of a studio/garage he has by himself with a pair of scissors and a staple gun. He does say his studio is an interesting shiny silver, but in terms of insulation (also as a sound barrier) it's fabulous. They sell on-line (Insulation for Less) and it's the easiest thing in the world to install. He also recommends wrapping it around water heaters (it keeps the water temperature warmer without having to use all the energy to continually re-heat it--think of it as a nice thermal blanket). You don't need goggles, gloves, or any other more complicated items to install. As someone who lives just north of New York City, not far from your favorite tea shop, insulation is key around here. Otherwise, we'll all be going bankrupt from the heating and cooling bills alone. P.S. He also says, with drafty old houses (like min--I live in a nineteenth-century Victorian), don't forget to insulate the basement. It's like a big open window, it lets all the nice hot or cool air out.

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  32. i totally empathize. lost jobs and our townhouse. relocated about 3 hours west of you to the adirondacks, sofar from our comfort zones. we are starting over from scratch which has been scary...especially going from everything to nothing. the up side is that i finally get to choose the way i live, rather than do something i don't want to just to make ends meet. i finally have the time to indulge my creativity , and slowly things are getting better. i'd rather know the "real" you...challenging times such as these feel so isolating and i think it's nice to not feel so alone.

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  33. I can relate. My kitchen has white wall tiles with pink flowers and 70s brown, orange and green floor tiles. Our crooked cabinets were homemade by a previous owner who DIY'ed a lot of things in our house. Our bathroom has beige floral tiles with purple floor tiles that are embossed to look like rain. We sleep in toques because our bedroom is just too cold to be in otherwise (in the summer it's almost intolerably hot).

    Thing is, it's a process. Most of us can't afford to buy a house and turn it into something out of Apartment Therapy in one year. It takes energy, creativity and money, which take time to cultivate. You're on the right track. Don't sweat your kitchen yet. I was fretting over how ugly our house was the first summer after we moved in, until my neighbour told me that it took him and his partner over 7 years to save up enough to do the projects he wants to do. They bought something with potential (as did you) and that's not going away.

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  34. Hi Katy, thanks for your honesty, it's great and refreshing! I think most of us are, like you, normal people in normal jobs, so we can empathise with your life issues.
    Keep going forward and keep believing in yourself... we'll keep reading!

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  35. A note of encouragement...

    I got married one year ago today and the day after we returned home I lost my job. Being a jewelry maker myself I set out to make it as an artist. However with the economy in the toilet I had to find a real job. My advice to you is find something steady if only for the purpose of feeling a bit more secure in an unsecure world.

    I eventually found work in a dental office. What I thought would be a nightmare senario has turned out to be really great. Fabulous money and a busy environment! Good luck to you and thanks for sharing a piece of yourself. I always like to check in with your blog to see how the renovation is going!

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  36. great post, really! sometimes i feel so disconnected and discouraged by bloggers who only post pretty things. so this is good, and it looks like an incredible adventure. thanks for being normal.

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  37. I tip my hat off to you for being so honest! I think it's safe to say so many of us are dealing with flux right now. I've gone through periods of fear too, since losing my job at a magazine in the fall when the economy went to crap. But I'm a firm believer that when you put your passion into something, good things will follow. Love your blog!

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  38. Hang in there Katy! I was laid off at the end of last month. I'm in my late 30s and have never been without a job since graduating from college, so this is a new world for me. This crappy economy is allowing so many of us to experience the frightening world of unemployment first hand. I wish you all the best and hope you find a good job soon!

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  39. hang in there! my hubby and i are renovating a fixer upper too, and we don't have running water or heat yet let alone a kitchen. all we have is a bed, a space heater and my in-laws a few miles away who let us shower at their house. but in a way, i think what you and many more of us are doing is the real American dream. you buy what you can afford, you stretch your money as far as it will go and you work like crazy to make your home and your life there as nice as you can. it might take years and get a little exhausting, but in the end your house will mean so much more to you than someone who just plunked down an armload of cash to have someone else do the work and to fill it with overpriced designer crap. your blog is really inspirational to me amidst my own projects, and i appreciate your 'realness' in this post. i hope you find a new job soon. good luck! (bonus: spring is just around the corner, so no more freezing in your kitchen!)

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  40. I've been meaning to respond to this, too! So many cheers to you for totally opening yourself up to the world. From these comments, we all seem to be in agreement that you are pretty fantastic. Keep your head up and keep it real. It's a scary world right now, but it's all going to work out right soon enough.

    Wishing you well from the west coast!

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  41. I just came across your blog this morning... and I'm so glad I had the chance to read through some of your posts.... I'll be tracking this for sure. I've been working on my 1855 'side hall' house for almost 5 years now and I'm not even half way through... but what an education it's been. It is also my first home, and as a single woman with fewer skills than dreams, it's still been a daunting task. I could never imagine a place without my handprints on it somewhere, and I'm finally getting a sense of that now. Kudos to taking on what will eventually be your beautiful home.....

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  42. Hi Katy,

    First time in your blog and I looove it. This post has inspire me like no other. I also need to be more honest about myself and mistakes. Sometimes we waist so much time waiting for things to be perfect to show and we miss the best part of all which is to show others how great we can fix the mistakes. I am sure you'll do great with this Kitchen.

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  43. i love this and totally feel inspired by your honesty. you are wonderful! love, joanna xoxo

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  44. Amazing blog & great comments! I found you on localtweeps, I'm a 'neighbor' in Salem and clicked through to your blog. It was great to read your honesty about your struggles - and I also thank everyone who commented! Its just so nice to know there are others out there who are going though the similar things. I feel lucky that I still have some work (I'm a photographer) - but I also feel the pinch as clients can afford less and the jobs seem to be fewer and further in between. I wish you the best of luck with your home! Keep blogging about the cool artwork too! :)

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  45. Hey Katy,

    I found your blog a few months ago, it is truly inspiring. The first time a flicked through it I thought WOW! Its such an amazing property and you are doing amazingly well with it. You are very brave to be doing what you are doing!

    I am a textile designer but work full time in an office job that is ok but not what I want to be doing forever. I havent built up the courage to give it all up and jut go for it yet. Keep it up! The style, layout and research you have shown is very classic and that you are doing what you are on such a budget is amazing.

    I bought my first home with my partner almost a year ago and we are going through a very similar process. We were cooking our meal in the spare bedroom on a camping stove for over 6months! Luckily we now have a proper kitchen that was def. worth the wait.

    Best of luck with it all, I will keep looking you up to see how you are doing.

    Good Luck
    Han x

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  46. Wow, this was all so inspiring. Especially to know there is a thirty something couple living just like me!! I'm trying to save $$ to buy a house to renovate and thinking that I'm not stable enough, but what does that mean these days anyway??!! I enjoyed the 'tell it like it is' blog, made me think, "wow, this is the new norm," I'm glad I'm not alone, and I will refer back to this when I finally do get my paws on a house!! Thank you

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