Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Upgrading the Heart(h)

For years, we’ve talked about upgrading our kitchen. I have a pinterest board bursting with marble countertops and gleaming cooktops. We’ve replaced tired appliances one at a time as they’ve died, but we had yet to take the full leap. Until today.

Let’s look back about ten years ago. I was living with a roommate in a tiny apartment outside Boston, MA. Some friends of ours with a much better apartment were moving, and we wanted their place. Like all good Boston real estate, so did at least three other people. And it was up to a mysterious board with undefined criteria to make the decision. So for a few days, we waited with fingers crossed. And as a just-in-case consolation prize, I bought a fancy shower curtain for the old apartment. One I knew we wouldn’t need in the new apartment. Within hours of bringing that non-returnable shower curtain into the old apartment, we learned we’d gotten the new one.
That pesky burner

Last week, the finicky front burner on our stove became especially finicky and I finally got frustrated enough to look into replacing it. Sure enough, for about $20 on Amazon you can buy a replacement coil that will probably fit and hopefully work. So I ordered one. Within an hour, the email came from Sears: All cooktops, ranges and wall ovens are 50% off!  Plus, bring all the assorted points and coupons you’ve ever accumulated from the other stuff you’ve bought with us! Come one, come all!  Come, Baron family!

It had to be a sign. I went to Sears, and three days later I’m spending the afternoon with contractors watching dust fly and sparkly new appliances replace all the remaining old ones.  Because Sears is no fool - once you’re in the store and there’s a big sale on stuff you’ll eventually buy anyway, you’re not just buying a cooktop.
Before - you can't do a stove and not the oven, right?

Amelia and my mother, hard at work
So this is exciting, but it’s also a little bit scary.  Growing up, my mother was always in the kitchen. She loved to cook, but I think she also just loved the kitchen. It was her domain. My mother hung out in there, irrelevant of mealtimes. She kept everything in the kitchen: notecards, permission slips, medical records, medication, a bag of bicentennial coins, broken toys, presents, wrapping paper, stamps, office supplies, phone books, lost pieces of everything, a needle and thread, magazines, and much more. Oh – and also food. It was chaotic, crowded, and she was in charge. Efficiency, jokes, big decisions, surprises, meals, homework help and banana bread were served in equal portions from that tiny kitchen. It was bustling, familiar, and open 24 hours.

The kitchen is the heartbeat of our house too. It’s not quite as crowded or chaotic as I remember from childhood, but it’s definitely the hub of activity.  It can’t be too fancy, because we live there. We spill glitter and carve pumpkins and paint in there. Amelia learned to crack an egg over the old stove. The old kitchen was comfortable, broken in. But also broken. So why am I suddenly feeling nostalgic about a finicky burner? Things change, and in the grand scheme of things, new appliances are not that big a change. Right?

Just to make sure, I made banana bread as soon as the contractors left. And Amelia and I made Halloween cookies after school. And there are meatballs simmering on the stove. Smells familiar.

Welcome home, new kitchen!

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