Monday, September 20, 2010

Yes, I am still talking about my kitchen

So we are back in the city, and boy do I have a lot to tell you. Ok, so nothing super exciting, I shouldn't get your hopes up, but we've been keeping pretty busy. Which is good. Busy is good, because that means we are not couped up in our rather tiny apartment all the time. Speaking of our "rather tiny apartment", I thought you might like to see how we do it. Live in a 500 square foot apartment with 3 kids, that is. It's funny, because here in NY, our apartment is not out of the ordinary, so the way we live is nothing special, but it's fun to show it to those who don't live in the city. I thought it might be fun to start where I started 2 years ago... with the kitchenette! I was browsing through Smitten Kitchen the other night, and came across a post she did about her tiny NYC kitchen, and how she cooked in it. I just had to laugh, because her kitchen is about 3 (maybe 4?) times bigger than mine. I mean, the fridge is in the kitchen, and she has room for a portable island. I dream. So anyway, here is how we make our tiny kitchen work for us:

Old kitchen, in case you forgot...
New one
It's actually a little more spacious in there, but there is less cupboard space, and so far, it is less functional. But that might just be because I was so used to the other one, and haven't quite figured out how to maneuver around in this one. But the sink is way bigger, which is nice. As far as how we make it work for us... you will notice, our drying rack is mounted on the wall under that little cupboard. Genius, if I do say so myself. Probably my best space saver tip. I did that in our last kitchen as well. You can see in this picture, over the little cupboard are some stairs. Yeah, those would belong to the 3 bedroom apt that is right next door to us. They walk up and down those stairs all day long... mocking us. They only have 2 kids. The 'extra' bedroom is a sitting room. A SITTING ROOM!! Imagine that. Makes me a little sick actually. Don't worry that the room upstairs is as big as the entire bottom floor of their apartment. They basically have 2 of our apartments. Oh, and their fridge is IN their kitchen! Ok, sorry, enough about that. Back to our kitchen... which I actually think is pretty cute. Also notice that little red basket on top of the small cupboards. That is filled with things like a can opener, cheese grater, candy thermometer, peeler, sifter, etc. Things that normally go in a drawer, but we only have one, so up they go.
Having the pots and pans hanging on the wall is quite excellent. And I simply love having my spices right there on the wall. Also notice the placement of the garbage can in the first picture. There is not enough room to open the oven with it there, so I have to move it every time I use it. It's pretty awesome. You will also notice in the picture above (you may have to enlarge it to see), my favorite recent purchase is a little glass soap dispenser. $5.99 at the neighborhood housewares store. It makes me happy every time I see it. It's important to have little touches like that, I think.
I finally had to break down and buy this little cupboard because I seriously have no food storage space. I think it looks pretty nice. I do hate having all that crap on top of our little fridge, but we don't really have any other options. I have been able to come to terms with the fridge being in the family room by trying to separate the 'kitchen' stuff (fridge, shelf and table) from the rest of the room. It's all against the wall when you first walk into the room, then once the carpet starts, it's the family room.
Ok, so basically when you cook in a kitchen this size, everything becomes counter space. The stove, the drying rack, the top of the bosch, that little lip between the sink and the edge of the counter. It's all useful. Every little inch. It's all a huge balancing act. You also have to clean as you go. So things take a little bit longer, but it's really the only way to do it, if you want to have any space to put things. The only appliance I have out is my bosch. I use it enough to make it worth taking up the space. Plus, there is really no where else to put it. Besides the bosch, we have a toaster and hand mixer (both kept under the sink), rice cooker and popcorn popper (both of which do get used almost everyday) and a crockpot (crockpot and popcorn popper on the fridge behind the microwave). That's it as far as appliances. The main difference is that we don't have all the casserole dishes, corning ware, pyrex dishes & bowls, big pots, griddles, fancy gadgets and appliances, and no serving platters or bowls. We have a small selection of those kinds of things. The bare minimum. I miss a lot of the frilly stuff, to be honest, but I get along just fine without most of it. It does make it harder to entertain, because I have to serve stuff on ugly plates and in plastic mixing bowls. Blah. I don't even have a cake stand, and I haven't been able to use the Christmas dishes that I got a few years ago. Sad, I know. If we were to move here long term, I would of course get all those things out of storage and bring them out. Who knows where I would put them. Under my bed probably.

The other thing about the really small space, is that things are placed rather precariously in the cupboards. I can't move or grab things too quickly, or else it creates a domino affect, and I get mad. So I have learned to move carefully. It's a little annoying, but you get used to it. Believe it or not, it doesn't bug me so much anymore. I have really been loving living in the city, so you take the few bad things that come with the many wonderful things, and you deal.

So there you go, episode 1 of how the Olsons live in a 500 square foot space. Stay tuned for more! :) Any questions or requests?

And per my sister Hailey's request, my adorable children...

Asher on his first day of preschool

Sayer at the New York City Aquarium in Brooklyn

Barty at the beach on Coney Island

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Let me set the scene for you...

The hour was 6:30(ish). I had just put Asher in bed. Sayer was still just in his pull-up, sitting on the floor reading a book. I was a few minutes into feeding Bart. All of the sudden, our building fire alarm goes off. I'm thinking: "oh geez, nice timing. It can't be a real fire, I'm sure some kid just pulled the alarm on accident. I don't even smell any smoke. Maybe I can just stay here." Then my neighbor Emilee calls to see if I know what's going on. I call the front desk and they immediately tell me to evacuate. Alright then. I call Emilee and tell her it's the real deal. Assuming that the fire is in some remote corner of the building, far from our apartment, I take my sweet time... getting Sayer's jammies on, getting Asher out of bed, telling him to put his shoes on. Putting Bart in the ergo. Finding Sayer's shoes. Then the security guard was banging on my door, frantically trying to get me out. I had glanced at the laptop and thought "no, it will be fine. plus I can't carry it". When it came down to it, the only things that I felt it was necessary for me to grab, were all the boys' blankies, and Bart's binky. Oh, and my wallet. Awesome, right?

Nate was in class (of course), so the security guard helped me. He seemed at little frantic himself, so I asked him where the fire was, and he said it was one floor down from us. Ok, so not as far as I thought. By the time we got to the 6th floor, I heard another security guard say the fire was out, but we had to keep going. When we got outside with all our neighbors, and were able to look at the building, we saw that the firetruck ladder was perched up at our old apartment, the one that is directly below our current apartment. Awesome. We didn't see much, as we were some of the last people out, but apparently there was quite a bit of smoke coming out of the french doors to the balcony. Thankfully, the fire department got here within minutes and the whole thing didn't seem to last too long. Although we were still outside for about an hour. Good thing it wasn't still pouring rain like it had been about 45 minutes earlier. My neighbors were apparently a little more concerned about the real fire in our building, because my one friend brought her girls outside in nothing but their towels, having just grabbed them from the bathtub. Emilee brought her boys out half dressed and in no shoes. Once I found out where it was, I felt really stupid for moving so slowly, and VERY thankful that it wasn't a bad fire. It's really scary to think about what could have happened. But anyway, hopefully there wasn't too much damage done to their apartment. I am still not sure what happened, except that when we were in the elevator on the way back up, their next door neighbors said it started in the oven.

The good news is, (besides the fact that we are all totally fine) I think the extra hour of running around totally wore the boys out even more, so they all fell right asleep.