Survivor: Basement

I’ve never watched the Survivor reality TV series — I’ve always felt that my life had enough reality in it! — but its slogan of “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast” could describe how I feel about moving my living quarters in our basement.  Yes, the time has come to empty the kitchen, dining room, and living room, and move those functions into our ‘lower level’.  Incidentally, our basement already houses a laundry room and office, and is only partially and poorly finished.  With all the extra furnishings, it can now best be described as ‘cozy’.  (Ha! The joke’s on me — I’ve been describing my clients’ small rooms for years as ‘cozy’.)

In the spirit of positive thinking, here are the best things about moving one’s living and cooking quarters into an already cramped basement:

  • We no longer fight over the ‘best’ chair for TV watching. Every seat in the ‘living’ area has a great (and close-up) view of the TV.  Just don’t trip over one another getting to your favourite perch.
  • The commute from home office to kitchen has never been faster.  If I want to, I can just wheel my chair into the ‘kitchen’ and start dinner.
  • My kitchen work triangle has shrunk to the point where I barely need to move my feet in order to reach everything I need to make a meal.   Bonus: tucking in my elbows must be good exercise for some forgotten muscle, right!?

As for Survivor, I’ve never been a lover of camping.  I tried it once in Grade 8, and swore it off right then and there.  The closest I ever got to camping was a bunk in our family’s 25″ trailer.  As it turns out, that may have been the best preparation for living in tight quarters.  Figuring out how to squeeze my 7′ sofa, oversize wing chair, swivel chair, and large ottoman into my office space was child’s play after 20 years of creating floor plans for clients.  The really tough part is going to be working in my temporary ‘kitchen’, which also doubles as my laundry room.

Here's my temporary kitchen.  It even has a window!

Here’s my temporary kitchen. It even has a window!  Who wouldn’t want to cook in here!?

Here are the key components of the plan to survive a summer in a temporary kitchen:

There was no way to plug in my electric stove in the laundry room, nor space to put it, so we are making due with a hotplate.  It's a very good ceramic infrared hotplate, from Salton, but we can only operate one on the laundry room circuit,  which is quite a downshift from 4 burners on my old stove.  Should you care to give up your stove and make like a student, you can get one of these from Cayne's Housewares for $59.99.

This is a very good ceramic infrared hotplate, from Salton.  Should you care to give up your stove and make like a student, you can get one of these from Cayne’s Housewares for $59.99.

There was no way to plug in my electric stove in the laundry room, nor space to put it, so we have downshifted from a stove with 4 burners and a warmer, to a single burner.  A hotplate draws too much power to allow for more than one in my overworked laundry room, so we are limited to this single unit.  One has to be very creative (and organized!) in order to plan meals around a single burner, unless you are still living on a diet of Kraft Dinner.

Two slow cookers -- yes, 2! -- are meant to replace my oven and cooktop.

Two slow cookers — yes, 2! — are meant to replace my oven and cooktop.

I’ve owned the pretty one on the left for years, and was never happy with the results of cooking in it.  But necessity breeds invention, and I’m committed to giving the slow cooker another chance.  Thank goodness they’ve become popular again — there are better features on the new ones, like the one on the right, above.  I expected to have a delayed start feature, but rather than encourage the room temperature breeding of food poisoning  bacteria, the new cookers have a timer that turns down the heat after the elapsed cooking time, and keeps food warm for a few hours.   It’s not perfect, but it will have to do.

These 2 books have been tasked with replacing a box full of my favourite cookbooks.

These 2 books have been tasked with replacing a box full of my favourite cookbooks.

In order to survive my new relationship with slow cookers, I sourced 2 of the best slow-cooker recipe books that I could find.  With Starbucks in hand, Colin and I leafed through dozens of these cook books at Indigo, deciding on tomes from Canadian Living and Best of Bridge.  By far, the Best of Bridge book has the most usable recipes.  I expect to be a slow cooker expert by the end of the summer, so feel free to pick my brain about my best (and worst) meals.  Hopefully, we’ll come out of the experience with a few new favourites to add to our repertoire, although I doubt that we’ll go back to using them every day.

Our first slow-cooker dinner, from Best of Bridge: Turkey Meatball Stroganoff.  We gave it a B+ .

Our first slow-cooker dinner, from Best of Bridge: Turkey Meatball Stroganoff. We gave it a B+ .  Dinner #2 was Sweet Potato Cannelloni, which had A+ flavour, but earned an A- for being a little overcooked at the recommended recipe timing.

We had planned to install new laundry sinks, and rework our kitchen faucet for them, but a previous ‘handyman’ had welded the existing laundry faucet in place, preventing us from changing it, or the sinks, without a major plumber’s bill.  So, we scrubbed up the old sinks, and are making do with new bins that fit in the sink to raise the dishes to a more reachable height.

Our temporary 'dishwasher' isn't that much worse than we had upstairs.  After all, the old dishwasher gave out months ago.  We plan to burn our dish towels after the renovation!

Our temporary ‘dishwasher’ isn’t that much worse than we had upstairs. After all, the old dishwasher gave out months ago. We plan to burn our dish towels after the renovation!

My sanity saver in the temporary kitchen is the work of art, below.  It’s my inspiration for putting up with my temporary kitchen for the summer.  I think the push pins are a nice touch, don’t you?

The 'art' in my temporary kitchen is a Kitchen Court original -- elevation drawings of my new kitchen.

The ‘art’ in my temporary kitchen is a Kitchen Court original — elevation drawings of my new kitchen.

Just in case you’re wondering where the rest of my stuff went, here’s a Before-and-After of my recently reorganized storage room in the garage:

After: Those well-built shelves came in handy.  They now house all the items we removed from the laundry room, utility room, and crawl space.  It is no less full than before, but it is better organized.

BEFORE:  Remember this room from a previous post?  We cleaned it out and reorganized it in preparation for the reno…..

Stuffed to the rafters! Thank goodness we spent our previous long weekend cleaning  out this space.

AFTER:  Stuffed to the rafters!  

Needless to say, I’m open to any and all dinner invitations this summer.  Any takers?  Please?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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