Before Remodeling Your Bathroom

Before Remodeling Your Bathroom

The Dimple in the Bottom of Wine Bottles? 

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Are they trying to shortchange you some milliliters of vino? Most likely no. But the real reason isn’t entirely clear.

Wine bottles are elegant. Their sloped necks come to a gentle peak. They’re supported by a stout but the understated trunk of a bottle. The color, typically rich sap green, absorbs color and emits a warm glow in the light of a kitchen or bar. The bottles themselves are sometimes as much a work of art as the wine that’s inside them.

But there’s one bit of the typical wine bottle that remains elusive: the bottom. The “dimple” or bulge at the bottom of many wine bottles is known as the “punt,” and it’s not entirely clear why it exists.

Wine bottles have had punts as long as the earth has had wine bottles, it seems, and until we have the capability to time travel, we’re left to wonder how the tradition of wine punts started and, perhaps more importantly, why we still do it today.

Do punts help winemakers cheat you of wine?

No, most punts are so small you’re not losing a single teaspoon. Some, yes, are more pronounced, but if this were really used as a cost-saving measure, you could bet most bottles would have exaggerated punts to make a good season’s wine supply stretch a bit more.

Are punts a sign of quality?

If you do a quick Google search on the theories behind wine bottle punts, you’ll quickly stumble across speculation that suggests higher quality wines have bigger punts because the bottle is more stout and sturdy. (More glass is needed for the longer punt, the theory goes, and wealthy winemakers can afford the more expensive bottles.) That’s just simply not true. A punt will tell you as much about the quality and taste of wine as the label will. That is to say, very little.

Do punts help wines cool faster?

This holds some merit. Punts increase surface area, so bottles in fridges or buckets of water might cool faster. But this theory is busted when you realize punts have been present on wine bottles long before anyone had heard of coolant for a refrigerator or even ice for that matter. So while it may help get your whites crisp and cool today, that’s not why punts exist.

Do punts collect sediment?

They actually do, but that’s not likely the reason they’re there. Sediment forms at the bottom of bottles as wine sits and ages. If you decant the wine, the sediment may remain in the valleys between the punt and bottle wall. That can help with flavor.

However, there’s no guarantee the sediment stays in place. It’s a happy byproduct of the punt’s existence, but it doesn’t seem that’s why punts were used in the first place.

So why do wine bottles have punts?

Truthfully, beats us. The best theory seems to be that wine bottle makers of yore needed a way to make sure their bottles stood flat on a table. The bottoms of hand-blown bottles may round out slightly as they cool. They may even have a sharp point because of the tools the glassblower uses. To keep this from happening (and bottles of wine from teeter-tottering off the table), glassblowers could have pushed up ever so slightly to create what we know today as the punt.

Now that most wine bottles are made by machine and are far sturdier than bottles made decades and centuries ago, the punt isn’t perhaps necessary. Instead, it seems to be a vestige of bygone days.

 

The Dimple in the Bottom of Wine Bottles? 

Things Your Dishwasher Could Do

Here, several household items you can wash in your dishwasher that you may not have considered before.

Sanitize Kid and Pet Toys

The two creatures may walk differently and eat different things, but their toys can be hotbeds for germs and dirt. Plastic toys can be washed easily in a normal dishwasher cycle. For small toys (think: building blocks), consider putting the toys in a mesh bag first. And don’t try to wash pet toys that have rope, hide, or fabric. They likely won’t sustain the wash well.

Steam Vegetables and Fish

I’m not saying this is an optimal way to cook dinner, but if you find yourself without an oven (or just feel up to a fun challenge), you can actually make dinner in your dishwasher. Tightly wrap quick-cooking vegetables like asparagus, squash, and carrots in aluminum foil with a bit of butter, salt, and pepper. Wash in a hot cycle without soap. The heat and steam will tenderize the food.

You can do the same for packets of fish like salmon or halibut, en papillote-style. Thinner cuts will cook more evenly than thick pieces like cod or grouper. The hot temperature and water help to steam the fish inside the packets.

Rinse Your Garden Haul

After a trip to your garden or local farmers market, you may come back with a bounty of fruit and vegetables that need to be washed before cooking or storing. You can stand over the sink and wash each piece by hand, or you can load up the trays of your dishwasher for a quick cold-water cycle.

Place delicate things like tomatoes or berries on the top shelf or away from spinning arms. Hardy foods like root vegetables and potatoes can sustain the pressure of the bottom shelf.

You don’t need to use any soap, though feel free to use food-safe produce washes. Even a touch of vinegar in the detergent cap is OK for the rinse.

Keep Food Warm

When you need to keep cooked food warm but find yourself short on oven space (or without those warming drawers I’ve heard so much about), consider putting food in your dishwasher to keep it warm. Your dishwasher is essentially a large hot box if you think about its construction. It’s meant to keep the heat of hot water and drying mechanisms contained inside the machine so you can use that thermal capacity to your benefit.

If you need extra heat, you can run a drying cycle (no water) to heat up the food and dishwasher. Just be sure a rinse cycle won’t run before the drying cycle begins. No one likes a water-logged casserole.

Make Household Items Like New

Sticky vent fans, dusty flowers, dingy light fixture bulbs—all of these items can be easily washed in your dishwasher. The thick layer of dust that often settles on these out-of-sight-out-of-mind items needs to be rinsed away, but hand washing can be time-consuming. Use your dishwasher’s cleaning powers for good.

Be careful to not put thin glass items, heirlooms, or antiques in the dishwasher. Those should still be washed by hand.

Anything else should make it through a typical dishwasher cycle with no problem. If you have a lot of glass, consider using the gentle cycle so the shaking and rattling don’t cause any of the fixtures to bump into one another and crack.

Sanitize Kitchen Sponges

The thing you use to clean your kitchen needs to be cleaned, too. Instead of microwaving your sponge (which you can do for 60 seconds on high), just place the sponge in your next load that will end in a sanitizing cycle. The hot water and temps will kill lingering bacteria and make the sponge safe to use again.

If the sponge is small or the openings in your dishwasher trays are large, consider putting it in the silverware basket for safe keeping.

Make Dirty Shoes Shine

Rubber shoes like flip-flops, rain boots, and water shoes can be easily washed in your dishwasher. Canvas-topped sneakers with rubber soles can be safely washed in there, too. For added odor-busting measure, sprinkle the inside with a bit of baking soda the night before you plan to wash. Turn the shoe upside down over the garbage before you wash to remove any remaining residue.

To prevent water pooling, place these shoes horizontal to the dishwasher’s spraying arms. Be sure to remove any liners or orthopedic inserts. Don’t run the drying cycle. Put the shoes in a warm place to dry. It may take several days, but they’ll be like new again—or at least almost.

Things Your Dishwasher Could Do

When I am not cooking, I might be painting. It is all art.

 

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I am taking a painting class at the Winslow Art Center on Bainbridge Island on Tuesday and enjoy the camaraderie of other artists and learning to paint small. We paint from small photographs on to 8 x 10 inch or 9 x 12-inch canvases.  This was my painting from the first day of class.

The teacher David Marty asked us to do a homework assignment, and I just finished mine.

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This another 8 x 10-inch painting.  I find it interesting as I usually do paint in a much larger format, but am finding this satisfying for some reason.

Normally I paint abstracts in larger formats.  The one below is 36″ x 24″ and as you can see, it is very different from my smaller ones. Painting one.jpg

This one is 30 x 48 inches with black, gray, and gold leaf interspersed in other colors. I was looking at in the studio and think it is the perfect Halloween painting.  Look at the “evil” eye of the predator on the right side of the painting.  This guy is watching you, and it was totally an accident.

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Just thought I would share something other than food art and interior design. I am doing a 3 x 5-foot commission right now and love the big scale of it.

When I am not cooking, I might be painting. It is all art.

Worst Generation of Cooks in the Kitchen

I found this article interesting, as all three of my sons and my daughter-in-law love to cook and have made some wonderful meals.  My sons would make me breakfast in bed for my birthday and for Valentines Day, starting when they were eight or nine.  They are all excellent cooks and they definitely know what and where to put a butter knife.  We sat down and ate with candles and cloth napkins whenever we could at home.  I thought it was important that they have good manners and know the basics in the kitchen. I always wanted them to be comfortable with any and all dining situations!  And, you what!  It worked.

According to Tasting Table, Millennials Are the worst generation of cooks in the kitchen

Only 60 percent can confidently identify a butter knife
Millennials Don't Know How to Cook

They might be able to apply Snapchat filters better than you can, but if there’s one thing millennials can’t do, is find their way around the kitchen.

According to a study from Porch, between millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers, millennials rate themselves as the worst kitchen cooks of all, with only 5 percent of twenty- to thirtysomethings considering themselves “very good” at home cooking. They rate themselves last in being able to tackle (very) basic dishes like fried eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and lasagna. (Though, they do feel more confident than baby boomers at baking store-bought plop-and-drop cookie dough.)

And while many baby boomers aren’t so great at identifying a salad spinner, Thrillist notes it’s not so bad once you consider about 40 percent of millennials can’t even recognize a butter knife.

The one thing they are good at? According to the study, millennials are the top generation investing in meal delivery services and utilizing internet videos for cooking advice. Hey, at least they’re trying.

 

Worst Generation of Cooks in the Kitchen

THE WARM SIDE OF MINIMALISM

Here is a wonderful article from Kohler about designing a simple, but wonderful bathroom.

Veil Master Bathroom Suite from Kohler

Minimalist design centers around de-cluttering space and providing more room for both the mind and the body to breathe. Too often this design style is mistaken for being stark, bare or monochromatic—but that is a far cry from the inviting feeling of warm minimalism. Follow these simple guidelines to carefully curate your space and ensure your bathroom can feel both pared down and cozy at the same time.

Well-Rounded Silhouettes:
Minimalism has evolved from harsh corners to the gestural, organic rounded edges seen in the pieces of the Veil Collection. By incorporating ergonomics and asymmetric spherical shapes into the minimalist world, this collection forms a powerfully comfortable design.

Overhead view of the Veil freestanding bath from Kohler

Beyond White:
White fixtures are a staple of minimalist suites like the Veil Collection, but they instantly become more inviting by adding décor and paint colors in a neutral color palette. When a room utilizes these subtle accents of taupes and shades of white, it creates a subdued energy that’s perfect for rejuvenation.

Tantalizing Textures:
While the overall aesthetic of minimalism shies away from the extravagant, bringing in textured fixtures creates interest without becoming overwhelming. When seen from far away, pieces like the Artist Edition Shagreen Sink don’t steal attention but upon closer inspection, its fine details add eye-catching depth and shimmer.

Oyster Pearl Artist Edition Shagreen Sink from Kohler

Nature as Nurture:
Intentionally choose a few perfect pieces of décor like plants or other natural materials to add to your design in order to help your bathroom feel less bare. Wood accents can be painted over as a way to blend the outdoors into your color scheme and bring energy to a space. The contrast of treated wood or splashes of greenery soothe the environment and bring the outdoors in.

Layers of History:
Items with a lived-in vibe can actually enhance a clean, minimalist design. For instance, distressed and oxidized metal finishes like the Composed Faucets in Titanium Finish present as sleek and contemporary but still have warmth. These designs infuse a sense of charm and intrigue in a modern space.

Composed Faucet in Titanium Finish from Kohler

Stay Versatile:
One way to keep out the clutter in a bathroom and still provide function is to expertly choose pieces that are multi-purpose. For example, the Verdera Lighted Mirror has built-in lights which eliminate the need for additional light sources. Hidden storage inside of a vanity or mirror also keeps your grooming items close but out of sight. In this way, minimalism emphasizes quality over quantity—a sentiment that translates to more mindful living in general.

The Verdera Lighted Mirror with built-in Amazon Alexa

Invisible Technology:
Tech innovations should elevate your bathroom experience without ever feeling intrusive. The Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror uses voice control to center your routine around mindfulness and immersing yourself in a relaxing escape from the modern world.

By following these warm minimalism trends you’re sure to create a space that feels as good as it looks.

THE WARM SIDE OF MINIMALISM

Granite or ???

Is Granite Going Out of Style? This is an article from Home Advisor with some interesting information.  You have lots of options.  Here is a place to learn a little bit about some of them.

Could granite’s 30-year reign be coming to an end?  Granite remains a solid choice, as it is both durable and attractive and it’s become increasingly affordable. But there’s just no denying granite’s seeming decline. As homeowners opt for more modern kitchen designs, they’re also opting for more understated countertop alternatives.

Here’s a quick look at some of the countertop’s hottest contenders:

Engineered Quartz:

Perhaps granite’s top competitor, engineered quartz offers the beauty of stone without the maintenance. It’s tougher than granite, and it’s highly resistant to scratching, cracking, staining and heat. Unlike granite, which offers the unique qualities of natural stone, engineered quartz is largely uniform; because it’s engineered, there’s no choice of one-of-a-kind slab. There are, however, a number of colors and designs available from stark modern whites to options closely resembling marble. And, because engineered quartz is non-porous, it never has to be sealed like natural stone.

Wood:

Homeowners seek and appreciate natural wood countertops particularly easy butcher blocks and those custom-created by quality craftsmen. While wood countertops can add warmth, balance, and beauty to any modern home, they require a fair amount of maintenance. Because wood is susceptible to damage from heat and moisture, it must be sealed about once a month. The best part about wood, though, is that it can be refinished in the event that damage does occur.

Soapstone:

Soapstone is an attractive, natural quarried stone that ranges from light gray to green-black in color. While the material is soft and pliable, it’s nonporous so doesn’t require regular sealing like granite. Soapstone is resistant to stains and acidic materials. The downside to soapstone is that it is susceptible to scratches and deep indentations. Light gray soapstone will weather and darken over time, occasionally developing a patina finish. The material comes in smaller slabs so seams will be visible in soapstone countertops longer than seven feet.

Concrete:

Concrete countertops came onto the scene in the 1980s and they’ve evolved since. These days, precast concrete countertops are available in a number of different colors. Generally, they’re flat and smooth, and they can run from 1.5 inches to 10 feet long. While concrete countertops have historically cracked and chipped easily, recent innovations have made them less prone to damage. Concrete is naturally strong and heat-resistant, and slabs can be sealed to prevent staining.

Stainless Steel:

There’s a reason restaurants use stainless steel countertops in their kitchens. It’s heat-, rust- and stain-resistant; it’s easy to clean, and it won’t absorb or harbor even the toughest bacteria. The downside to stainless steel countertops is that they scratch easily and they show it. For this reason, it’s best to use a cutting board anytime you’re prepping food on a stainless steel countertop. It’s a good idea to choose a brushed stainless finish that will help conceal any marks. At first blush, you may think that stainless feels ultramodern or cold, but a balance of stainless steel and wood can create a warm, timeless and uber-functional kitchen.

Not Sure Which Countertop to Choose?

When you’re remodeling your kitchen, the most important question to ask yourself is this: Are you remodeling for yourself or a potential buyer? If you’re remodeling for yourself, go with what you like best. And if you love granite, by all means, go with granite! But if you’re remodeling with an eye toward selling, go with a more neutral option. You’ll get the upscale look you’re going for without alienating granite-tired buyers.

 

Granite or ???

Kitchen Remodeling by Kohler

Here is a great article about kitchen remodeling by Kohler.  Enjoy!

FOUR KITCHEN REMODELING MYTHS

Prolific Kitchen Sink with Accessories

The kitchen is an everyday anchor; it’s where we gather with family and friends to truly feel at home. It’s a space that has so many demands; it must be practical, functional and welcoming all at the same time. So it’s not surprising that kitchens are a top priority when it comes to home remodels. It’s easy to fall prey to common misconceptions when planning a new kitchen or renovation, so we’re setting the record straight to get your started on the right foot.

Myth 1: You Don’t Need a Specific Goal for Your Kitchen Remodel

Highrise Kitchen Pot Filler

All projects should have a goal in mind, and a kitchen remodel is no exception to this rule. Your goal should go beyond just having an updated space. Consider whether or not resale value is important to you and think about how you actually use your kitchen. Is this your forever kitchen? If that’s the case, focus on making it your own and having the kitchen design fit your tastes exactly, no matter how unique they may be. Do you cook large meals frequently? If not, maybe you don’t need that top-of-the-line range you’ve been eyeing that’s too large for your space anyways. On the other hand, if you’re a home chef, perhaps it’s time to consider adding a prep station and pot filler to make cooking that much easier and streamlined.

Myth 2: You Don’t Need a Designer

Garden Galley Kitchen

While not every project requires a designer, most can certainly benefit from one. Kitchen design comes with many idiosyncrasies. For example, whether or not you’re right-handed or left-handed; the answer could greatly impact how a designer would approach your kitchen layout. Additionally, having a designer onboard will also make it easier to track your budget and the bigger picture to ensure your dream kitchen can become a reality.

Myth 3: Kitchen Storage is Less Important than Kitchen Style

Bungalow Bliss Kitchen

Ideally, there should always be a balance between functionality and style; both are equally important to consider when planning a remodel. Whether we like it or not, life is messy and that’s why adequate storage space is essential. A good way to understand just how much storage space is needed is to take stock of what you actually use in your kitchen, from food items to dish-ware and everything in between to eliminate kitchen clutter.

Myth 4: A Bigger Kitchen is Better

Copper Cottage Kitchen

It’s a common misconception that the larger a kitchen is, the better it will be when it comes to functionality. While you definitely want and need space to move and work, a room’s functionality isn’t dictated by its size, but instead by its layout and efficiencies. Smart kitchen planning is key, like thinking through the work-flow, selecting sinks with multiple accessories and being mindful of the kitchen work triangle.

Here’s to a seamless remodel or renovation in one of our favorite rooms in the house!

Kitchen Remodeling by Kohler

White Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

One of my dear friends is turning 70 tomorrow and a lot of people are giving her a party on a Tuesday.  Since I work I had to come up with an “appetizer” to share that could sit in my car and be made with what I had in the pantry.  So Brownies are not exactly an appetizer, but I don’t think anyone will complain.  These should be yummy.  Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 7.49.46 PM

People think that box mixes produce the perfect combination of chewy and moist brownies. Results should be at least as good as a mix without all the processing and questionable ingredients without dirtying many dishes. For one-bowl brownies with the proper level of chewiness both butter and oil is used. Using both cocoa and unsweetened chocolate add to the intense chocolaty richness and create a platform of flavor for any add-ins. By being strategic with the addition of ingredients, saved dishes and combined the batter all in one large bowl. Baked on the lowest rack in the oven, the brownies cooked nicely on the bottom and edges without overcooking and drying out. Folding white chocolate chips into the batter and swirling in raspberry jam gave the brownies colorful character and a fruitiness to offset their deep chocolate flavor.

INGREDIENTS

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 ½ cups (17 1/2 ounces) sugar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) white chocolate chips

I used a combination of milk and semi-sweet as that is what I had on hand. 

cup raspberry jam
White Chocolate Raspberry Brownies