Ikea Kitchen Design

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Where to begin with our Ikea kitchen? Well where I began was simply Googling “Ikea kitchen blog”. I find that people who blog are a lot more realistic so a blog about an Ikea kitchen will truly let us know how to get it done. Where that led me was Little House Blog. They gave me tons of helpful hints!

I decided to start with a piece of graph paper and a pencil. Ikea does have software (which I did use at the end) but I found it clunky and difficult to play with. I started by drawing out our kitchen on a piece of graph paper. I did draw it to scale so I could get the feel of it.
From there I looked at the size of cabinets and stacks of drawers that Ikea offers and cut them to scale out of more graph paper, then began placing them on to my kitchen floor plan. Because I could physically move the pieces around I was able to see what I liked and what I didn’t. I had already selected our appliances so I cut those out as well and played around.
After I got the general layout, I drew an elevation drawing of each row of cabinets and the island. I was able to get the exact measurements of everything to make sure it was all going to line up and fit. Things to remember
-       Cover panels are ½”
-       Appliance gables are 5/8”
-       You need to leave a certain amount of space between your appliances and the cabinets (you can look online for the specs for each appliance)
The trickiest part was the range wall. I had two constraints, the placement of the window and the placement of the range. We didn’t want to move the range because that meant moving venting which is costly and let’s be serious moving a window is definitely not practical in our budget.

One of the hints I got from Little House Blog was to view the cabinets like puzzle pieces. Don’t be limited by what the “typical” use of the cabinet is. This is how we arrive at our appliance garage. I like things to be put away nicely (I make my husband put away the toaster in a cupboard every morning). I’ve heard that appliance garages are passé however; tidiness will never be passé so I say appliance garages are the best! We used an 18” high (the typical measurement from the top of your countertop to the bottom of your upper cabinets) fan cabinet for our appliance garage. It might be tricky to install but we’ll address that when we get to it.
After we designed the fridge wall, we decided to make our own ‘over the fridge shelves’ for our cookbooks.
Built in microwave, this was something that was very important to me. Before, the microwave sat on a ledge near the fridge. I felt that takes up a lot of space that could be used for cabinet storage. My solution was to build it into the island.

Once I was happy with my sketches I knew it was time to brave the Ikea software.

-       Be patient
-       Take your time
-       Watch the tutorial videos
After I got the design somewhat complete on the software I took it into the store. When I say somewhat complete I mean all the elements were there but nothing was 100% lined up. I didn’t care so much because I had my sketches which gave me the precise measurements and spacing.
The Ikea guy sat with me and went through everything and saved me a TON of materials that I had unnecessarily added. We set up our delivery date, he pointed out that everything I needed was in stock at the depot except one cabinet box which they happened to have at the store so I could pick that up that day (which I did).
Things to remember to make your kitchen look custom
-       Filler pieces
-       Appliance gables
-       Crown molding (not from Ikea)
-       Valences
-       Non-Ikea hardware
I’ve had a great experience with Ikea so far! Now we wait for everything to be delivered…

Schwartzies Hash Browns

Sunday, 26 January 2014

All of my favorite childhood recipes come from a Best of Bridge book. I must warn everyone Best of Bridge was before “healthy” was cool.There are lots of ways to make the recipes lighter, my most common substitution is plain Greek yogurt for sour cream. Schwartzies Hash Browns. These are a) one of my husband’s favorites b) an excellent camping dish and c) extremely easy. I must repeat they are an extremely easy dish, hence a great camping recipe.
Side note: To make these truly camping friendly I use disposable aluminum foil pans (I know I’m going to environmental hell) and cook them on an outdoor grill or stove.
Schwartzies Hash Browns

Serves 8-10


  • 2 lb frozen hash browns
  • 2 cups sour cream (I use Greek yogurt)
  • 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup onion, grated (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. pepper (to taste)
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated (to taste)


  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Thaw frozen hash browns (I can’t say that I’ve ever done this step)
  • Mix all but the parmesan with the potatoes
  • Transfer this mix to a presprayed baking dish
  • Sprinkle the parmesan over the top
  • Bake at 350°F for 60-90 minutes

Vij’s (Chicken) Salmon Curry

Monday, 20 January 2014

Starting February 3rd (our possession date) this blog will mostly revolve around our renovation. I’d like to take some time now and fill it with delicious recipes. I am a firm believer in passing along good recipes, I love to share recipes and I love to be the recipient of good recipes. This one is a modified version of a classic.
I am always trying to get more fish in my diet; I am also always trying to find ways to disguise fish because it isn’t my husband’s favorite thing. What better way to disguise something other than curry! Flavourful, mild, bright curry!! I have modified this recipe to reduce the amount of oil (which I felt completely unnecessary) and substituted the sour cream for Greek yogurt.

Serves 6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • One 3-inch stick of cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (2 large)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 5 salmon fillets (skin off), cut into chunks
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt, stirred
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped


In a large pan, heat oil on medium heat for one minute. Add onions and cinnamon and sauté for five to eight minutes until onions are golden.

Add ginger, tomatoes, salt, black pepper, tumeric, cumin, corinader, garam masala, and cayenne. Cook this masala for five minutes or until the oil separates from the masala.

Add salmon to the masala. Stir well. Cook salmon for 5 minutes, until the salmon looks cooked on the outside

Add Greek yogurt and water and stir well.

Increase the heat to medium-high. When curry starts to boil, reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring two or three times, until chicken is completely cooked.

Remove and discard he cinnamon stick. Cool curry for at least half an hour.

Just before serving, heat curry on medium heat until it starts to boil lightly.

Stir in cilantro.

Serve with brown rice

Spicy Chipotle Shrimp with Zucchini & Chorizo

Sunday, 19 January 2014

I was visiting a friend in Banff, AB and his parents had us over for dinner. His mom made this delicious recipe and my husband said to me "I actually like this shrimp dish" (he isn't a big seafood person). So I inquired about the recipe and I've been making it ever since. Its quite simple to make and full of flavour, it makes great leftovers for lunch!

Serves 4
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/4 small chipotle, seeded and minced, plus 1 Tbs. adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles en adobo)
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 lb. shrimp (21 to 25 per lb.), peeled, deveined, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt; more as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 lb. chorizo, cut into 1/4-inch dice (scant 1 cup)
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice; more as needed

In a measuring cup, whisk together the chicken broth, chipotle, adobo sauce, tomato paste, and brown sugar.

Sprinkle the shrimp with a scant 1/4 tsp. salt and a few generous grinds of black pepper. Put a 12-inch skillet (not nonstick) over medium-high heat for 1-1/2 minutes. Add 2 Tbs. of the oil and once it’s shimmering hot, add the shrimp in a single layer. Cook undisturbed until the shrimp browns nicely, about 2 minutes. Flip and brown the second side, about 1-1/2 minutes. Transfer to a large plate. The shrimp should still be a little undercooked.

Add the remaining 2 Tbs. oil and the chorizo to the pan and cook, tossing, until it starts to brown, about 1 minute. Add the zucchini, onion, and pepper, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt, and cook, tossing often, until the zucchini browns in places and is just tender, about 4 minutes.

Add the broth mixture to the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low. Stir in the shrimp, about half of the cilantro, and the lime juice. Cook, stirring often, until the zucchini is tender and the shrimp are opaque throughout (cut one in half to check), 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lime juice. Serve over rice immediately, sprinkled with the remaining cilantro.


Saturday, 18 January 2014

I've never been one to successfully wear nail polish, it always seems to smudge within seconds or chip. I also don't have time to visit a nail salon every few weeks to have my nails done with Shellac (I also feel that Shellac isn't the best thing for your nails anyways). 

A number of years ago (ok a year and a half ago) my husband (fiancé at the time) and I went to Las Vegas with my sister, her fiancé and my parents. We stayed at the lovely Palazzo for three days and one of those days attended the Canyon Ranch Spa

I am not a big "spa" person i.e. I am not fond of people (strangers) touching me. So I opted for a manicure, it meant I didn't have to be touched too much by others but I still had access to the facilitates. At this particular salon you got to keep your nail polish, so I picked my color and got my great manicure. I didn't pay too much attention to who made it but it was CND (not Shellac, though I didn't know about Shellac at the time). The nail polish was amazing! It dried in record time and it lasted days and days. I was so pumped about my nail polish but when we got back from Vegas the Shellac epidemic hit…So I forgot about my awesome nail polish, hopped on that bandwagon and did the Shellac thing for a few months. That is until I got tired of going to the salon and just quit worrying about my nails altogether. 

Fast forward to a few months before our wedding, I rediscovered the magical nail polish that I had gotten in Vegas and began the search of finding something comparable so I could have it in many colors other than the fushia pink. I started my search on the internet that is when I came across Vinylux. Vinylux is AMAZING! I swear they should hire me because I have been raving about this product to anyone who will listen for months and months. What is Vinylux?

- Week Long Wear (Really!)

- No base, Self-Adhering Color Coat
- Two Steps for Faster Service Time
- Durability Increased with Natural Light

i.e. Shellac without the UV light

It is made by CND, the manufacturers of Shellac. It really does all the things that it lists, I can set the timer on my iPhone for 8 minutes and after 8 minutes I have completely dry nails and as time goes on they get harder and harder. There are so many colors to choose from. My favourite at the moment is 130 Masquerade.

Being from Canada there is always a lingering question when I find an awesome product on the internet…will they ship to Canada? 

And there is a place that will... Nail Polish Canada. I ordered from them and my nail polish arrived in 2 days. 

So if you are tired of Shellac or are interested in a nail polish that you can wash dishes with and not worry about it chipping try Vinylux!


Game Plan for the Renovation

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

My dreams of this renovation began long ago. Way before we bought a house, having in mind what we wanted for a renovation made shopping for a home a lot easier. It meant we were not concerned at all about finishing’s because we knew we would be changing them. We were not the norm when we bought our house. Most people do a lot of shopping around before they make a selection but when we walked into our house we knew that it was the one. Our “must-have” list was quite short:

1.     Good location (quiet street)
2.     3+ bedrooms
3.     Decent floor plan
I wasn’t lying…it was really short. Our house was the fifth house we looked at and we saw it on the first day. We basically looked for one weekend before putting in an offer. I wouldn’t say we got a great deal but we got a medium deal and because we plan on living in this house for 10+ years it didn’t matter to us. I doubt we’ll look back in 10 years and thing damn we should have gotten a better deal. One of the greatest things about this house was the possession date! It was many months away from when we bought so we would have tons of time to sort out the renovation.
The more I think and talk about the house the more I love it! Our house is open concept; we have one room that is kitchen, dining and living room. Renovation game plan, we knew we wanted a new kitchen (I use the word ‘we’ loosely). Flooring was also on the list and then baseboard and door/window casing, paint was an obvious must.
I started to make a list as I do…
-          Kitchen
o    Cabinets
o    Appliances
o    Countertop
o    Backsplash
-          Flooring
o    Carpet for upstairs
o    Hardwood for the main level
o    Subfloor
-          Baseboards and Door/Window Casing
-          Paint
My husband is a carpenter by trade and currently works for a luxury renovation company in Calgary. The list started to expand the more I talked to him.
During the early to mid-90’s someone came up with the worst idea in home design…decorative ledges. They are the Bain of my existence. Why on earth would you want a ledge roughly 8 feet high to store crap. You can’t reach it on a daily basis to clean so it is forever dusty. I hate to say it but we are subject to this lovely design feature in our new house. My husband and I went back and forth a lot about this ledge and also the beautiful dry wall border around the fire place. My initial reaction to the fireplace was RIP IT OUT. But my husband spent some time and convinced me to keep it. We compromised, I said that if we keep the fireplace the decorative ledge goes and we re-do the mantel around the fireplace…so the renovation grew a little bit bigger.
The list started as above and transitioned into:
-          Garbage Bin
-          Demolition
-          Scaffolding
-          Reroute water line to refrigerator
o    Material
o    Labour
-          Reroute electrical (move 3 light fixtures, increase power to island)
o    Material
o    Labour
-          Frame wall above fireplace
-          Dry patching (decorative ledging / ceiling repair for light fixtures)
o    Board
o    Screws
o    Mud
o    Tape
-          Install fireplace mantel
-          Cabinet installation
o    Boxes
o    Doors
o    Hardware
-          Granite measure
o    Quartz
-          Window casing – 50% height of the baseboard
o    Material
-          Door casing – 50% height of the baseboard
o    Material
-          Baseboard  – 7% rule, 7% of the wall height for a traditional house (8ft walls 7in trim)
o    Material
-          Floor installation 
o    Material (hardwood, subfloor, carpet)
-          Paint (prime, 1st coat walls, finish casing and baseboard)
o    Material
o    Labour
-          Granite and sink installation
o    Sink
o    Labour
-          Back splash
o    Tile
o    Grout
o    Tools
-          Plumbing lockout (hook up sink)
o    Material
o    Labour
-          Appliance installation
o    Refrigerator
o    Range
o    Microwave
o    Hood fan
o    Garborator
o    Dishwasher
-          Paint touch ups
o    Material
o    Labour
-          Electrical lockout
o    Materials
I apologize for the long list but I think it helps to show what really goes into a renovation. I know my husband sees this all the time. People are generally not prepared for a renovation. There is a lot of work associated with it and I like to see the logistics behind everything. And here is where it all begins.
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