The Long-Awaited New Kitchen

Summer of 2011. I had just started a new job in Durham and Sarah was away at her last summer at camp. Neither of us had a place to live come August, and though we tried to find something before she left, nothing worked out. It was all up to me and she was quite worried. Fortunately, I found our house on Huron Street. I loved the yard, the size, the hardwood floors and the big oak trees. I’ll never forget when Sarah returned from camp, and saw her new home for the first time. I had assured her she would love it, but I could see the uncertainty as she approached the house for the first time. She loved it, saying “it’s perfect…except for the kitchen, we’ve got to do something about that”.

Well, it took us four and a half years, but we finally did something about it. Sarah’s pregnancy was definitely the jump start we needed to start moving forward on the project we had been contemplating for so long. We knew we wanted a dishwasher, to switch the fridge and stove locations, as well as new floors (the old ones were not something you’d want an infant crawling around on), but that’s what about all we knew a couple months ago.

I called Roger (who has done some house work for some co-workers) and asked him to come take a look and see about making a plan for the kitchen. Before I knew it, we had drawings with a new cabinet set up all done, and Roger said as soon as we emptied out our current cabinets, he’d be ready to get started. We emptied them out that night and put everything in the dining room. I remember thinking “Wow, this is really happening!”.

We snapped a few pictures that night. Here’s what our old Kitchen looked like.

The next day, Roger got started. Before I even got home that evening I received a text from him that read something to the effect of, “I assume you’ve seen the carnage by now. We’ll need to talk about a plan on moving forward.” Needless to say, I was a little alarmed, and wondered if I had made a huge mistake embarking on this project. The below is what I saw when I got home.

While it was exciting to see all of the cabinet’s down, there was quite the mess in the piping behind them. An old cast iron pipe, which carried the old sink water was basically completely rusted through. Fortunately, that was pretty much the extent of the damage, and all it took to fix was some new piping. It added some costs we hadn’t foreseen, but as this would end up being the only real hiccup in the whole process, I never again wondered if we made the right decision. See our new pipes below.

Once the piping was all fixed, it was time to get the cabinets in place. We left the cabinet layout much the same as our previous cabinets, but also added in a pantry and some additional cabinetry along the side wall. At Roger’s recommendation we decided on Sheffield Honey cabinets we got at the Surplus Warehouse. The biggest factor was the price, but we liked the color and the fact that it was solid wood. Definitely a big improvement from the particle board/laminate cabinets we had before! It only took Roger a week, and the cabinets were all in place. See a picture of (most of ) the cabinets in place below!


After the cabinets were in place, it was time to take on the floors. While on a trip to the Surplus Warehouse to decide on cabinets, we looked at some floors, and found some gray plank vinyl that seemed as though it’d be fairly easy to install ourselves. We looked into having the floors done professionally, but the price difference made it an easy choice. It took the majority of a weekend, but we were able to handle the floors ourselves, and I think it was easily the most rewarding part of the process. We first removed all of the toe molding. We then starting laying the vinyl, one row at a time, directly on top of our old floor. For the end of rows and around odd shapes, we had to do a decent amount of cutting the floors, but it was relatively simple with a utility knife score and a hard snap. The most difficult part was locking the floors into place, but between the two of us we got the hang of it. Once it was all in place, we put some new toe molding down (thanks to Roger for letting us borrow his nail gun!) and the floors were good to go! There was no glue or adhesive involved. The floors just “float” in place, secured by their weight and the toe molding. See pictures of the floor coming together and finished below.

With the floors done it was time to get our new appliances in place. We were able to get a decent deal from AJ Madison since we were getting 4 appliances. We went with stainless steel and we are really loving our choices! Having the appliances installed was one of the more stressful parts of the whole experience. I still am not sure how the delivery people managed to maneuver the fridge through the entry way (even after taking removing the fridge doors) but they did it. There were a couple dings on the walls, but we knew we still had to paint, and were just happy to have our appliances in place! I must say, getting used to having a dishwasher again has been a bit of an adjustment, but definitely a welcome one! Likely due to the stress of the delivery, we forgot to snap any photos at this point, but you can see them in the finished shots at the end.

After the appliances were in place, and all hooked up, it was onto the counter tops. We definitely splurged a bit here and went with granite. We went with a slab that had lots of reddish brown, grey and black to match other parts of the kitchen. We also decided to create a little breakfast area with an extended bar behind the sink. Speaking of sinks, we also got a 10″ deep (to Sarah’s delight) under-mounted sink. See some pictures of the installation below by the fine folks at marble unlimited.

At this point, we finally had a functioning kitchen and we were thrilled. Rather than relax and enjoy our 3/4 finished kitchen, we decided to keep going and spent the entire next weekend painting and organizing. Sarah painted, I organized. In case you didn’t know I can be a little particular about how things are organized, particularly when it comes to the kitchen, so I was thrilled to find new homes for all of our food, pots, pans, dishes, cleaning supplies, etc. Sarah chose the color “racing red” (by Sherwin Williams), though, we think of it more like a terracotta. I put on some basic cabinet hardware we got at the Surplus Warehouse, as well as some shelving we got at Ikea. We also got some new bar stools and smaller chairs for our dining room table as well as some new lights. We put in some small touches like like stain less outlet covers, paper towel holder, knife magnet, drying rack, salt & pepper grinders and a sponge holder to boot. By the end of another long weekend we were almost done, only back splash stood in our way! See a couple progress pictures below.

The back splash was the final step. We went with some gray ceramic subway tiles purchased from South Cypress Floors (online). The first step for the tile was to apply SimpleMat, an easier bonding alternative to thinset. In the picture below (though hard to see because its clear), the SimpleMat has been applied to the wall.


Next, we simply removed the plastic covering and applied the subway tiles to the sticky surface, cutting the tile where necessary (thanks again to Roger for letting us borrow his tile cutter!). The tile had built in spacers, so the process was quite strainforward. Once all the tiles were in place, we filled it all in with premixed grout. See the results below!


So, that was it! We had a completely transformed kitchen in about 6 weeks. Aside the obvious improvements of better appliances and cabinet functionality, we have been thrilled how our work opened up the dining room, and has made everything feel more spacious (as well as more visually appealing) than it did before. It’s going to make it all the more difficult someday when we grow out of the house, but we are excited to get a few good years of use out of hard work and efforts! Pictures of the finished product are below!


22-23 Weeks/Holiday Post!


Please excuse my bedhead and lack of a post last week – but the holidays were upon us and that brought lots of hustle, bustle, and cheer! The nugget is doing very well, we had an appointment on the 22nd and we got to hear the heartbeat, get a belly measurement, and set up my sugar glucose test for gestational diabetes next month (fingers crossed on that going well)! I feel movement every day, and it really does happen just about all day – but it is especially hefty at night. Nick loves watching the wiggles and kicks, and I love the feeling of life inside me.

On the 23rd we went to a dear friend’s wedding shower in Charlotte, and I got to see my high school friends for the first time in a while, which is always a blast. My girlfriend Jackie had a baby a few months ago, and I grilled her on all of the birth/newborn/mommy/sleep deprivation questions I could think of. Nick was in on it too, of course, and it was so good to catch up and hear how she and her sweet baby are doing. Here is a picture of me and the ladies at the party, and we are counting down until Mary Cate’s wedding in May!


We spent Christmas Eve and Day with Nick’s family in Raleigh, which is always a treat. We attended Christmas Eve service at their family’s church and then opened presents for hours on Christmas morning, a famous Cain family tradition in which everybody goes one-at-a-time and one that I have come to love enormously. After that, we traveled to Greensboro and met up with Nick’s extended family for a night, and then rounded up our holiday travels for the week with my grandparents Mawma and Pawpa. There is nothing like the holidays spent with family and friends to remind you of how much these relationships mean to you and how much family time can recharge your batteries. Overall, we had an amazing few days, and we are looking forward to our adventures next weekend as we travel to Atlanta for a very special wedding between two childhood friends of mine from Camp Mikell. 🙂


21 Weeks = 52% Complete!

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It is crazy for me to think that I am more than halfway through this pregnancy. It still hits me in a different way every day, and I continue to be thankful and grateful for each day that my bun grows in the oven!

We had a fabulous week, and I am getting really, really excited for this holiday season. Nick’s parents (the newly named Lollie and Pop) had a friend in town from Switzerland, with her new baby, Jack. Nick and I got to have some “parent practice” with him on Saturday, and it was the cutest thing ever. Watching Nick hold a baby (which I have seen several times before, but not since being pregnant) really woke my “mommy senses” up in a way I did not predict. I couldn’t help but melt a little as I thought about the fact that he is going to be such a supportive, loving, and kind daddy. It was also really funny to watch him practice all the different ways you can hold a baby – one of which Jack did not like – and the whole family got a chuckle out of that one.

My week, overall, was a very peaceful and calming seven days, filled with extremely incredible responses to my post from last Monday. I am so much more loved and supported than I could have ever imagined, and an experience like that can really bring things into perspective for a person. Having the opportunity to see how my actions and words have and can positively affect others was so moving, and was the type of reassurance I didn’t even realize I was looking for. Thank you all for that.

Why Eating for Two has Changed My Life


I am halfway through my pregnancy. HALF freaking WAY! I can’t believe that 20 weeks has gone by so quickly. I mean, I can and I can’t. I feel like Nick and I have gotten so many “things” done, and yet, we have so much more to accomplish before nugget arrives. And then… at the same time… I realize that there is literally NOTHING in the world we can do to prepare for the day that he or she actually takes a breath in this world… and what will follow in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. I am coming to grips with the fact that we will just have to “figure it out” like everybody says.

Part of the reason I can say that is because I’ve had to do a lot of that lately. By lately, I mean, in the past few years of my life… I’ve spent a lot of time “figuring it out.” What I’ve been thinking about recently is how this new phase in my life has affected me in so many more ways than I can possibly describe, and this baby hasn’t even arrived yet. Some of you are like, “What in the hell is she talking about?” and some of you might have an idea. I want you to know as you continue to read this post that it has taken me YEARS to build up the courage to discuss this stuff publicly.

Why? Because it’s the hard stuff. Why is it difficult for us to talk about the “hard” stuff? Because we don’t like to put our problems on others. For me, it is like a disease. Like… I would rather DIE sometimes than risk not pleasing the people around me. That’s right, hello, my name is Sarah and I am a Type A, hardcore, people pleaser. So what does that mean? It means that when you ask me how my day is, I will tell you that it’s fabulous. I will tell you all about my weekend and who I was with and how great school is going, and how much I love my soccer team, etc… (the best part about that statement is that it could have applied to me in the past, could apply to me now, and can apply to me in the future… when I was 16 I loved my family and school and soccer and now that I am 27, funnily, I still love all of those things as a mom, wife, teacher, and coach). If I was having a bad day, the only person who would know it, was me. These days, if I am having a bad day, I’m a little better at talking about it. Why? Because I’ve gotten help from family, friends, and professionals for it. That’s right, I see a therapist. I’m not saying that my life is perfect now, and that I never have bad days, but when I do, they are a little more manageable than they used to be. I could not be more thankful for it.

I woke up one morning, about 9 months ago, after a very long series of events (including but not limited to: alcoholism, divorce, infidelity, grad school, new house, new job, etc.) that had built up over the course of (approximately) ten years, and finally admitted to myself that certain parts of my life were out of control. What I had spent a lot of those ten years doing was focusing on all of the bad thing that were “happening to me” or “being done to me” … and what I wasn’t focused on were the things that were going on “with me.” Around the time I was 17/18 years old, I became aware of this new “thing” I was developing. I have, since then, struggled with this “thing” during different times, different highs and lows, at varying levels of awareness and difficulty. This “thing” is what I’ve come to call “Ed”. I didn’t come up with that term – I have to give credit to Jenni Schaefer – because she is a woman who wrote a book called “Life Without Ed”, that I read a few years back. I came across this book after calling a random therapist I found on google in a hysterical state because I was tired of running from/hiding from/denying my eating disorder. There. I said it. Eating disorder.

My heart is already racing because I just typed those words, and now they are out here on the internet for everybody to see. The problem with talking about this stuff, among other things, is that I get really hung up on what people will think of me AFTER they find this stuff out. Will their opinions change? Will they think of me differently? Will they think I’m weak? I’m afraid that people will think I’m not fit to be a teacher, a mother, a coach … all of those things include being a “role model”. Well, here’s a little piece of MY personal experience. The few people who already know about Ed seem to love me more than they did 2 years ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago. Do you know why? Because everybody has their shit. And it is no better or no worse than yours. The fact that we talk about it is what makes it real, and what makes it possible to connect with one another. It took me YEARS to figure this next part out: I thought that what made me a good person and a good friend and a good role model was having what everybody thought was a “perfect life.” But guess what that does? It makes you untouchable. Un-relatable. People can’t reach you on a personal level. They can’t get close to you. Real human connection comes from sharing your truth with others, and having them share their truths with you. THAT is what builds relationships. Another part of that, that took me YEARS to figure out, is that the people in my life who I looked up to the most, respected the most, trusted the most… were the people who were honest with me. People who shared their “scary” truths with me became stronger in my eyes. Not weaker. I loved them MORE than I did when I thought they were perfect.

So what does this have to do with “eating for two”? Well, lots of things. Not only am I physically feeding myself and my baby, I am mentally feeding myself and my baby. I want to be the kind of parent that can admit I have made mistakes. I want to teach my child that I have weaknesses, just like everybody else, and that it is OK to not be OK sometimes. I want to teach my child that love and honesty is what breeds acceptance and comfort, and nothing else. When I found out I was pregnant, some of my thinking was: “this is healthy for the baby” or, “I need to eat this, do this, do that, for the baby”. Over the course of the last 20 weeks, my thinking has shifted. It hit me one day in the form of this thought: “There is no way I can be the best Mommy I can possibly be if I am only ever thinking of what I need to do for my baby.” Sure, that is a HUGE part of it, and any parent knows that. But part of being a healthy person and a healthy parent is taking care of yourself. If the baby is “worth it” (putting all of the hard work it takes into being physically and mentally healthy) then SO AM I. I was worth it all along. It just took growing a life inside me to realize it.

I hope that this post can serve to help any women who are currently struggling with, or have struggled with eating disorders in the past. You don’t ever “cure” yourself. It doesn’t ever fully go away. You have to work on it, maintain it, TALK ABOUT IT. When one more person comes out and shares their story, the stigma loses its power over us that much more. Living your life inside that disease is one of secrecy and despair. I pushed people away for years, and lost some of those relationships permanently along the way. Don’t do the same, don’t be that person, don’t make my mistakes. Make your own… you have to. It’s the only way to come out on the other side alive and well. For those of you reading this who know me well, continue to love me and support me just as you have in the past. I am the same person I’ve always been, I just have a new sense of awareness and appreciation for the world these days, and I wouldn’t change one single moment of the journey that I took to get here 🙂

Blessings to you all on this lovely December day! ❤

Side note: Nick and I got to see Nugget on Friday and he or she is beautiful, thriving, and in constant motion! Nug also heard his/her first story on Sunday as Daddy read Brown Bear, Brown Bear!




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