Monday, August 19, 2013

La Casa De Sinclair | The Kitchen

I am so sorry that it has taken me so long to get my first home tour post up.  We have been doing some serious work on the house and I didn't want to take any pictures until I was happy with the finished product. All week I scrubbed my kitchen down from top to bottom; I sewed (or actually re-sewed) my kitchen curtains, and while there are still some things to be cleaned in the kitchen (won't there always be???) I finally feel ready to present it to you.

This is one of my favorite rooms in our house, but it wasn't always that way. The biggest problem for me when we first moved in was the vermin - specifically mice and an infestation of roaches. As I mentioned in my last post, the former tenants did have pigs and chickens living in the next room.  The day that I realized I had a serious roach problem was when I was cleaning out a spice rack that is on the wall and decided to empty it out and spray it for bugs.  I had NO idea what was going to happen next...20 HUGE roaches crawled out from behind that thing.  Not all at once of course, but they slowly came staggering out and up the wall. I stood there with a broom in my hand, knocking then down off the wall and then crushing them beneath my shoes.  Oh...I really hated the kitchen!!  Well, the game changer was when Ben decided to have the bottom kitchen cabinets ripped out and completely re-built.  He hired someone to lay a concrete slab so that the cabinets were built up off the floor. This drastically helped with the mice problem. Somehow they were getting in under those old rotted out cabinets. He also ripped out the tile back splash. The roaches had made a home in the back splash up in the grooves of the grout. Once we tore out the cabinets and the tile, I have never had a roach problem since (I do see an occasional mouse, but read here for my solution to that problem).  We do live in a tropical country and so I do have to stay on top of it. I keep roach baits out and I will see them every once in a while. They often come in with the groceries or on the eggs. But thank the Lord (and my amazing husband) I rarely see roaches anymore.   So, without further kitchen :)
click on any picture to see it enlarged
This is the view of my kitchen as you are entering the door coming from the courtyard.  The only minor thing I dislike about the room is the tile on the floor.  It is old (30 years or so) and dirty from years of being trampled over with, depending on the season, muddy or dusty shoes.

You can see our temporary dog, Georgia. We are dog sitting for friends and fellow missionaries, Don and Karen Winch, while they are on furlough. We keep Georgia's cage here in the kitchen. She's cozy in that corner of the kitchen, especially when I'm running my oven. Her Douala-thinned blood isn't used to this cold Northwest climate! I also pointed out our "Wall of Fame."  We love to put prayer cards, Christmas cards, wedding invitations, you name it...on our fridge.  If you are up there, you are most definitely famous! If you aren't up there - you better send us your picture quick!

If you turn your head to the left, you will see this little nook:

We keep our water filters here. Veggies go in the hanging baskets and my eggs in that beautiful green bowl.   The two-door plastic cabinet is where I keep small appliances.

One addition we made when we rebuilt our cabinets was the addition of drawers. There were no drawers in the kitchen and we designed it so that we had a set on this side of the cabinets. I love them - they are big and deep. I don't know what I'd do for storage without them!  The top cabinets are the ones that were in the house when we moved in. We did, however, paint the kitchen ourselves.  Thankfully my husband is a painter because it is a lot of work keeping up with all of our walls! I did the simple ivy stenciling shortly after we moved in almost 9 years ago.  It has held up quite well.

Now I'm standing in the little nook, taking a picture over the counter top you see in the previous shot.  This just gives you a little better view of my stove and my pot rack - another treasure I had made here. I have always wanted a pot rack! Right next to the stove is a little black shelf that Ben made to cover the ugly orange gas bottle that my stove and oven need to run.  It is also very handy to have next to the stove when I am cooking. I keep my matches there and a spoon rest. It is the perfect set up.

You can probably tell from the picture but our fridge is super small.  I have learned that I don't really need a huge fridge.  The only thing that was a challenge at first was the size of my freezer. We eventually bought a chest freezer and that gives me the perfect amount of cold storage space.  We mostly use the small freezer space in our fridge for ice and we keep all of our frozen food items in our chest freezer.

Here you can see my sink and counter space.  When we were rebuilding the bottom cabinets we found these huge 2 ft. ceramic tiles that were perfect for our counter top. We hired a plumber/tile worker to install them and they are absolutely perfect. Originally the counter was covered with these tiny tiles and I didn't even have a place to roll out a pie crust.

Our sink was a single and Ben changed it to a double for me. Our faucet was a single and Ben got a mixer for me and also installed a brand new water heater. The first time we tried to turn our water heater on, we realized that it didn't have any water in it. We opened up the valve to fill it, and the water started pouring out of the heater like a sprinkler! Evidently, it had sat unused for so long it had tiny, rusted holes all throughout the heater.  Once the new water heater was in, and the new faucet, I could do dishes without heating water on the stove! What a time saver!

The black table that you see in this next photo was already in the kitchen when we moved in. It used to be the same color as the spice rack above it. Both were built and installed by former missionary, Dale Crawford. From what I understand he was quite the woodworker and we can see touches of his handiwork throughout the house. That rack was the infamous "roach rack" as mentioned above. :)  Ben added some hooks underneath and it displays our beautiful, locally made, pottery.  Don't be fooled though - we aren't coffee drinkers. You will find my coffee pot stored in the top, back corner of my cabinets. When guests come, I dust it off in hopes that it will still work. The coffee mugs just look pretty hanging there and we do occasionally make a cup of hot tea.

These next  two views of the kitchen are from the opposite side of the room looking back towards the entrance. You can see the water filters again, and the smaller window that is on this side of the kitchen.  Much of the work that we have recently been doing to our home has involved these windows that face the courtyard. For the 9 years that we have been here, the windows were covered with an ugly metal grate.  This grate made it impossible to clean the glass because the holes were too small to reach through. The dust, grime, cobwebs, and ick that had built up was absolutely gross.  There was nothing I could do about it though. The windows were nailed shut from the outside and that grate kept me from properly cleaning them. Ben recently decided to have new metal bars made and installed from the inside that would keep our house safe, but would look so much neater than what was previously there. This past week we ripped out the metal grates from all of the courtyard facing windows, painted the trim, scrubbed the glass and installed the new metal bars.  Without a before and after picture you can't really understand the difference, but trust me when I say it is amazing. I mentioned that I re-made my curtains this week. Before, I had one long curtain (from the same material) that covered the entire window - mostly to hide the filth behind it. Now I can showcase the window and it allows so much more light to come into the room!
Ok, the final view is looking at the door that enters the kitchen from the courtyard outside. You can see my chest freezer that I mentioned. It used to be in my laundry room, but that space next to the black table was absolutely perfect for it. It also gives us an extra little bit of "counter" space, so-to-speak.  More often than not, it ends up cluttered with a little bit of everything. We all enter the house, and drop our things like Bibles, purses and even toys, rather than putting them where they belong. Whenever I actually need to get into the freezer, it ends up being a bit time consuming, lol! And as you can also see, I've marked the photo with an arrow pointing towards the rest of the house.  From this point on, I hope to go in order and share each room with you as I take you on a tour through our home. So, next up:  The office.  (I need to do a bit of cleaning first) :)

I hope you enjoyed the first installment of our home tour.  I never in a million years dreamed I would have a house this nice here in Africa!  In college I had visions of mud huts, with grass thatched roofs.  God has truly blessed us with a gorgeous home, and I know I say it all the time, but it is big enough for lots of visitors. If you have ever had a desire to see a missionary work in an English speaking third would country on the continent of Africa...we are your people! We'd love to have you!
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