The pandemic has forced me, as well as everyone else, to prepare at least 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, 30 days a month, 365 days a year in our kitchens! Throw in a few snacks and that’s over 1,100 meals! I think when our homes were built, the builders didn’t think anyone would be in their kitchens that long and would work that hard! But here we are: making all of our meals at home! And our kitchens are starting to show their strengths and weaknesses.

It had been pure drudgery for me to cook AND clean up my kitchen each and every night! I do not like to leave dishes in the sink nor do I like to wake up in the morning to a messy kitchen. So, every night before I would go to bed, all the pots have to be done and the dishwasher must be humming. Countertops have to be wiped up. Appliances have to be wiped down. Floors have to be vacuumed and/or spot treated or fully washed. Usually there is grease everywhere! On the walls, accumulated on the vent, the lights, on the counters. Ugh. It’s enough to make me stop eating or, dare I say it, buy processed foods and just pop them daily into the microwave!

When we had our house built, hubby and I could just barely afford anything. We had to take whatever the builder included in the price. There were no extras. I had to make due with a linoleum floor, laminate countertops and NO appliances. My kids bought us our electric stove and dishwasher. My mother-in-law gave us her second hand, side-by-side refrigerator (it was an electricity monster but free). I did have a choice of cabinets and I selected the maple one. I knew maple cabinets were timeless and would go with every color in the rainbow. Any other choice the builder offered would look dated in time.

Here is my kitchen in 2002, with original linoleum flooring and laminate countertop. I already replaced the light above the sink and installed stainless steel knobs on the cabinet doors. The butcher block stand as well as the opposite countertop, also in butcher block, I purchased back in 1974 in the meat packing district in New York City. They are timeless pieces and make great work spaces.

My kitchen is almost twenty years old now and guess what? Hubby and I are still broke so any update we do to the kitchen is still financially restrained. We took our time over the years and eventually replaced the linoleum floor with bamboo flooring. That took a few years to pay off. Then we replaced the laminate countertops with quartz stone. A new countertop meant our old sink no longer fit, so we had to get a new sink and faucet. We stayed with the stainless steel look because I thought one day hubby and I would be able to replace our aging appliances with stainless steel models.

I thought wrong. When it came time to replace our appliances (as they were nearing twenty years!) we simply couldn’t afford the stainless steel prices. The white models were exactly the same as the stainless steel models BUT hundreds and hundreds of dollars less! Oh well. Again, it took some time to pay them off.

The maple cabinets, just as I thought, have held up very well. They are easy to keep clean and show no deterioration. I did upgrade them with stainless steel knobs, which gave them that extra sparkle as well as made them more functional.

Since white was going to be the main kitchen color (against the sunny yellow walls and maple cabinets) I decided to make all the accoutrements white! I painted the clock above the sink white and filled the kitchen with white accents. I did, however, replace the vent above the new stove with a stainless steel model. I was ever hopeful.

My kitchen today August 2020.

Over the years, my kitchen has served me well. As long as no one came over, I was satisfied with my kitchen. Till a new neighbor moved onto our block. This new neighbor was super rich. They bought the farm house down the road (on 10 acres) and poured tons of money into the place. When the house was finished they invited hubby and I over for a ‘welcome’ party. Needless to say, the kitchen was magnificent, loaded up to the gills with stainless steel this and stainless steel that. The kitchen even included a fireplace and a pizza brick-oven.

When I came to realize that our new neighbors would eventually come over to our home for dinner, they would see my re-vamped kitchen and the non-trendy white appliances and think me less than them. I got sick to my stomach. People, I got so upset, I started to cry. Yes, I cried for days and days. I have a hard time admitting to people AND myself that I can’t afford the best things in life. Maybe you have the same problem as me. I don’t know. And yes, in retrospect I acknowledge I’m ridiculous.

Enter the pandemic. I quickly realized how lucky I was, how blessed I was and how grateful I should be that I even have a kitchen to begin with! I was so distraught with my foolish thinking that I bought a wooden plaque that read ‘GRATEFUL‘ and hung it up over my kitchen cabinets where I could see it all the time to remind myself of how fortunate I was. To heck with the white appliances! How could I have been so stupid?

Over the years, my kitchen has fed my family, friends and grandkids wonderful, healthy, amazing meals. It has been a joy and a blessing. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthday parties and special events have all been celebrated in my miracle kitchen. At night now, when the cooking is over and the last meal has been served and the last dish has been placed in the sink, I find it a godsend and a humbling experience to be granted the opportunity to have a kitchen at all. It is an honor to clean her up at night and make her sparkle for the next morning meal. I pre-make my coffee the night before so that when I make my way into my kitchen each morning, I simply have to press a button, sit in my lovely kitchen, look out the window over my amazing 3.5 acres and enjoy a simple cup of coffee. (yes, my coffee pot can be automatically set up to brew, but its’ too complicated for me! pushing a button is easy!)

My dining area which is open to my kitchen (there are no walls. It’s an open concept) MY MIL gave us this hand-me-down kitchen table (with leaf) and 5 chairs (after I paid her $100. Great deal!) I sanded down the table top and leaf and varathaned it. The light above was only $10 at an auction.

Needless to say, as the pandemic lingers, no one will be coming over to my kitchen any time soon! When they do, I will open up my door, welcome them in and serve up some mighty terrific meals. That’s really what it’s all about. Sitting down with friends and family and enjoying a meal together. In retrospect, nobody really cares what your appliances look like nor your kitchen. It’s the food that matters! And the company.

Bon appetite!