See What Happens When You Read the Comments?


I was so very sure I’d found the right stools at the price point I was willing to pay. But it seems that right after I hit “submit” at World Market, Pottery Barn came out with a new style … that looks a heck of a lot like the $750 vintage ones I liked. Dammit.

I bought two.

A trip to Indy for a sawbench party was fortuitous; there’s a World Market there. So, I loaded my first purchase in my car (along with my bevel gauge and jack plane, because without those, is it really a party?) and headed west. I had to eat the shipping costs, but the store took them back, no questions asked (though there was a punitively long wait in holiday shopping lines).

I’m done. These are the stools I’m keeping. So thank you “toolnut” for bringing the “McCoy Adjustable Barstool” to my attention…now stop with the links, please, so I don’t change my mind again!

Next up – design and build a rack that will a) cover the unsightly phone jack b) have space for hooks from which to hang the stepladder. Plus there’s still the trim to finish, a final set of stub-tenon doors to make and hang for the cabinet over the fridge, one last table/cabinet/countersupportsomething to build to the left of the stove and some more painting.

Place your bets now on whether it’s all done in time to take beauty pictures at the end of February; my Realtor wants to list on March 1. (If you’re betting “yes,” make sure you can afford to lose.)

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Parsimony for the Win


I could start a shopping advice hotline for counter-height stools. I’m quite sure I’ve looked at every version commercially available in the United States, and quite a few from individual makers. I also considered making the stools myself (but because I wanted metal, that would have required learning welding). Seriously – if you’re looking for a particular style, color, material, price point…I can help.

Following weeks of dithering and narrowing my selections solely on aesthetics to the four below, I went with none of them.


After stacking up some boxes to the right height (24″), I realized I needed a footrest for my Hobbit legs. Only two of the above have a foot rest, so that narrowed it to those on either end.

After reading lots of buyer comments, I decided three-legged stools and my bourbon habit are a bad mix. Down to the one on the far right. It’s $745 (limited quantity and vintage). And I needed two of them.

Back to surfing.

Instead, I got the two at the top from World Market for a grand total of less than $300, including shipping*. Four legs – check. Adjustable seat – check. Foot rest – check. Metal base – check (I think; anyway, it’s powder-coated something).

No, they don’t look as good as the $745 version (or the shiny tippy ones), but they look good enough – and my butt fits on ‘em just fine.

Though it’s a good thing I know how not to follow directions.


I find it particularly amusing that the directions have the capital P correct but misspelled Phillips. (And of course, that what is really needed here is a slotted driver.)

* Note: I do feel somewhat uncomfortable with the price; they’re no doubt cheap because they’re made in a country with an emerging economy where child labor may not be illegal. So now Heifer International is getting a guilt-ridden/guilt-written check from me.

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First Thanksgiving


In 1997, my friends and I were finishing up the last of our master’s courses and beginning to study for our comp exams. Several of us had no time to spare for Thanksgiving travels. So I decided to squeeze seven people into my one-bedroom apartment (with a two-burner stove and tiny oven, and no dining room) for a proper turkey dinner.

I thought I’d done myself proud. My grandma’s recipe for twice-baked mashed potatoes?” Perfect. Old-fashioned bread stuffing? Delish. “Real” cranberry sauce? Yummy. Fancy salad? Yup…but no one ate it (we were saving room for the “good” stuff). Turkey? Uh oh.

Everything else, I’d made before for various family gatherings. I’d never cooked a turkey. When I started to slice it, I noticed some browned-edge paper-like thing sticking out of the neck end. Oh…so that’s where they hid the gizzards. The bird was edible, but it had a slight aftertaste of toasted waxed paper.

I’ve since cooked a Thanksgiving dinner every year for friends (and now for my friends’ families). And when my kitchen got larger, so did the menu. These days, I have it all down to a perfectly calibrated two days of prep and cooking, with ample time for wine and cleaning breaks.

But this year has been by far the most challenging since 1997 – it’s the first time I’ve really cooked a large meal in the new kitchen. I had trouble remembering where I’d stashed everything. The roasting pan was in the back of the last cabinet in which I looked (of course). My trifle dish and serving platters were in the storage room on my third floor. I gave up on the instant thermometer, and bought a new one on Monday. So naturally, I found the old one this morning.

Plus, I had to put the dining room back to rights…because that’s where all my old kitchen furniture has been stored since I began ripping out the tile and barfboard cabinets last January. With my old kitchen table and two baker’s racks cluttering up the joint, plus the kitchen wares I’ve meant to but not yet gotten rid of, things don’t look as pretty as I’d like.

But hey – the dining table is back in the middle of the room, and there’s plenty of space for the expected eight guests (and me). And I’ve just put the turkey in the oven, sans gizzard packet.

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In Which Megan Narrowly Avoids Death by Cabinetry

hall-cabinetRaney Nelson was at my house a month or so ago, and mentioned that, while the kitchen looked nice, I could use more storage. I’m loathe to admit it, but he was right. I had no good place to hide a box of kitty litter, extra paper towels, tertiary pots and pans, and the like.

So today, I built what I swear on a stack of Shakespeares is the last kitchen cabinet – though it’s not technically in the kitchen; it’s in the tiny hall that leads to it from the living room. (Perfect – the litter box is in the half-bath off that hallway…I had to stand in it to take the picture.)

Hauling home from the shop a 35″-wide, 85″-tall cabinet in a Subaru is stupid. I had the driver’s seat pulled all the way forward and sat legs akimbo with my knees jammed into the dashboard, the top of the cabinet basically resting on my shoulder blades. I had to use bungee cords to keep the hatch closed. (And have I mentioned I drive a manual shift?) Had I been hit from behind, I’d have been decapitated by a cabinet. It would have be an undignified death indeed. (I do have bruises on both shoulders from a too-sudden stop, but there’s been no bloodletting.)

So now I have plenty of storage (the center shelf is fixed, the rest are adjustable). But there’s still a face frame and double doors to make – and won’t that be fun! Notice the uneven gap down the left side? The cabinet is straight, level and square. The wall (actually, it’s ductwork there to the left) is not, nor is the door frame to which I’ll need to scribe a wide face frame. There’s a 5/8″ differential between the widest and narrowest points…not that they’re points in a straight line, mind you – it’s more of a gentle wave pattern. But if I can get the face frame scribed and installed correctly, that will (obviously) make fitting the doors a far simpler process.

overfridgeOh – and there are two doors still to make for the cabinet I made last weekend…which I vowed, as I installed it, was the last kitchen cabinet.

I guess technically it was.

So no more cabinets – if for no other reason than I’m finally out of the eight sheets of 3/4″ plywood I had delivered lo these many months ago. And no matter how idiotic the driving risks I’m willing to take, a 4’x8′ sheet simply will not fit in my car. But that’s a problem; I need one last sheet of 1/4″ for the doors. Maybe it will bend enough…

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Regression and Memory


I realized this evening that I already have the perfect island-height stool to tide me over until I find the right ones to buy – and it takes me back four decades.

(I don’t want to make the kitchen stools – I want a brushed metal base to tie in with the appliances, and don’t have the time to learn metalwork and welding.)

This venerable Cosco Counter Step Stool has been in my family now for three generations (though the second generation – me – isn’t turning it over the third just yet). My Aunt Denise tells me she and her older brother, Chuck, used to fight over who got to sit in it; that must have been in the mid- to late-1950s.

And I clearly recall sitting at the end of the table in my grandmother’s kitchen 40-odd years ago in this yellow stool and begging to use the “eye spoon” – a silver-plate spoon on which the plating had rubbed off the back in the shape of…wait for it…an eye. I don’t know why I thought that spoon was so special…except that my younger brother, Ian, wanted it, too. (We also fought over the stool, which made my grandmother threaten to “get the stick.”)

After my grandparents died, most of their belongings were passed down to their three daughters and son (naturally), though I did get a fair number of my grandfather’s tools and carvings, and a bookcase I use as a china cabinet. And I got the vintage Cosco stool.

So tonight, I pulled it out of its usual nook, tossed some rubber and felt furniture sliders under the legs (the plastic protective cuffs have long since rotted away) and gave it a try. Perfect. The yellow even matches the wall – serendipity.

Now I want to know who has the eye spoon.







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Stool Samples


With my island almost done (the oil/varnish blend – because I was too impatient to wait for spraying weather – is drying on all the pieces right now), I’m now on the hunt for  stools.

A few weeks ago, someone posted a picture of what might have been the perfect stools on Instagram or Twitter (I’d at least like to take a closer look), and I thought I’d taken a screen shot…but no. (They were maker made and available in walnut and, I think, maple. Was it you? If so, please send me that link!)

And since I can’t dig up that picture of possible perfection, I’ve been hunting on the Internet. As it turns out, everything I even remotely like is something I can’t make. I wonder if there’s something Freudian in that.

In order of preference above are the ones I’d consider buying, but unfortunately, only the one on the far right is available in the U.S. … and it’s my least favorite of the three. Figures.

So I think I’m going to start haunting the local antique malls in search of two perfect stools – and they needn’t match, as long as they look cool together.

In the meantime, I’ll buy a cheap and ugly wooden stool from Target. That ought to visually offend me enough to start shopping right away.

Dy faster, dammit.

Dy faster, dammit.

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The Yowling


The felines, they are still hissing, spitting and yowling at one another.

It’s been five months. I’ve tried everything I, the Internet and my vet can think of. Except for one thing.

Barring blood, it’s time let them fight it out.

Viola is ready. Come play with me…for ever, and ever, and ever.


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