Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Monday, October 6, 2008

Every Kitchen has its own Dance

Last year I was talking to a group of friends about my small kitchen. "I don't know how we'll all cook in there," I said. My friend, poet Sylvia Alcon, answered, "Every kitchen has its own dance!" She is right, every kitchen DOES have its own dance, you just wiggle around, thread through, juggle, side-step, duck, push, slide, and dance in harmony. What results is not only a great meal, but also great laughs, tastes, talk, and, most important of all, memories of those good moments.

Our kitchen in Maine was a complete non-functional disaster site when we moved in. The counters and back splash were covered with cracked, marbled-blue linoleum. Our cupboards were old plywood stained a dark orange brown. One tiny window allowed only a sliver of light into the room. Circles of fluorescent tubing were our lovely chandeliers. An ugly rusted water heater took up an entire corner of the tiny space, and a non-functioning stove arced a bolt of electricity across the room as we switched it on the first time.

It took my patient husband Jeff weeks to pry bar a thick coating of black linoleum glue off the floors and walls. Instead of replacing the old cupboards, we removed the doors, patched screw holes, and painted the walls and shelves delicious colors, an inexpensive and very do-able solution to stoking up the spark of life in a tired space.

We took our time to outfit the kitchen and chose only things we really loved. First, we visited antique shops, auctions, and flea markets in search of lighting, a stove, and equipment. Our local blacksmith, The Scottish Lion, fabricated hardware, hooks, and pulls in the shape of alewives, one of my favorite fish.  At an antique shop in Damariscotta, we found the perfect stove, a 1920's Hotpoint with a great shape and legs as shapely as my Grandmother Clarke's. I named the stove Augustine in her honor (in California, I have Abigail, short and stocky, just like my Grandmother Lovejoy).

Whimsical vintage kitchen towels were turned into curtains, old hanging lights with glass shades replaced the lovely fluorescents, and hefty slabs of soapstone became our new counters, backsplash, and sink, which Jeff installed. Instead of tile or linoleum, we opted for painted floors, which we can re-paint whenever necessary.

Our kitchen is the result of sweat equity, patience, and love. We did it with minimal costs liberally sprinkled with playful ideas and color, lots of bright, joyful color, which I love in every part of my life.  

Yesterday, I received an e-newsletter from one of my favorite places in Maine, Rabelais Bookstore  in Portland. Lining their walls, stacked on the floor, strewn across tables, and on restaurant trolleys, you will find the BEST selection of books for a kitchen lover. Cookbooks, world cuisine books, wine, gastronomic history, organic gardening and more...but back to their most recent newsletter.

I loved this quote, which is apropos of our times.  "Between the pending elections and the chaos on Wall Street, daily life is tumultuous...Cooking at home for our friends and family is the quiet eye of the storm. The crafting of a savory meal from whatever raw ingredients you have access to is remarkably satisfying and a pure pleasure that costs little and gives back so much." Thanks Samantha, beautifully said. Sign up for the Rabelais newsletter to learn about the best new and antique books available.

Spend time in your own kitchen, gather 'round your table, chew on food and good conversation and enjoy the simple pleasures of life!

All joys to you, 



Barb Davis said...

Your kitchen is lovely. I think the current economy is going to force society to get back to the kitchen table where good food is prepared and served by loving hands.
I can always count on you for inspiration!
Hope to see you at my Serenity Gate.

rmlrhonda said...

Sharon, your kitchen is beautiful! Did you have to replace the "innards" of your antique stove or was it completely functional? It add such a nice note to your kitchen!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

This is in response not only to Rhonda, but to others who have written e-mails to me.

Augustine was in perfect condition. Jeff cleaned all the connections and tested all the lines.

This year we had trouble with the oven, but haven't had the time to re work it yet. So, we purchased a small oven, which does a great job. Next summer Augustine will get a work over.


Anonymous said...

I love the pictures of your wonderful kitchen in Maine. Love hearing about cooking and being happy with a simple life. I just finished collecting my last o' the season Abe Lincoln tomatos and italian eggplant and made eggplant parmesan for tonight.A simple salad , some bread and wine. Light the woodstove, lock the gate,put on some music,and leave the world behind.

Marcie said...

Your kitchen is wonderful. How I would love to share some tea there with you. :)

It was so nice to catch up on your last few posts today. I am having an extremely busy autumn and have been posting only rarely, but come by and see autumn in the Great Lakes region if you have a few extra minutes.

Enjoy the beauty of season!


Tammy Heller said...

I love your Maine kitchen...the vintage so inviting along with the lovely splash of color. Thanks for sharing these pictures...decorating is yet just another one of your many talents!

Anonymous said...

Hello Sharon ~
We met many years ago when you had Heart's Ease.
My sister and I would come to your Christmas workshops. We still have such fond memories of those weekends at your lovely home. . . was it "Seek Peace"?

Anyway, your Maine kitchen is wonderful! What color did you use on your cabinets?

~ Christina

Nan said...

I just found your wonderful blog, and will be back to visit. I have a couple questions. Did you strip or sand off the varnish on the cupboards first or just paint over it? What kind of paint - gloss? semi-gloss? flat?

And that black sink! I love it but have wondered if it might show cracks and mars more than a white one??

What color is that blue?

Sharon Lovejoy said...

This is a response to Nan's questions. I gave the wood cabinets a light sanding (I think I used a sanding sponge), then I filled the screw holes from the removed cabinet doors. I primed and used two coats of Benjamin Moore semi-gloss latex. Send me an e-mail ( and I can look up and send you the color code and specifics. The sink is from Vermont Soapstone. If we nick it, we use 80 grid sandpaper and smooth it out. We use an inexpensive olive oil to seal the surface and eliminate water spots. I don't believe it comes in white, but if it did, it would show water spots and drips. The black is very forgiving. We can put hot iron skillets right from the fire onto the surface.


Nan said...

Thank you so, so much for the information. We will put it to good use! We've been talking about painting our old cupboards for ages, and wondered if they would look good. Yours are wonderful. Thanks again.

Susan Moorhead said...

Your kitchen is wonderful! Such a lovely change from all the cookie-cutter kitchens out there. My first time on your blog - the view from the windows on your header just knocks me out. WOW :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! I'm so thrilled to find you on the web. Your book (Roots, Shoots) is one of our all time favorites. We've just happened to discover it one day on the shelf of our library. We (my children and I) were mesmerized! A pizza garden?? too cool!
Anyway, we've checked it out multiple times and have recently decided that we need our very own copy.

So glad to know you are blogging. Thank you for authoring such a wonderful book. I believe that one of the greatest gifts I can give my little ones is a rich experience and a deep connection with the beautiful creation that surrounds us each and every day. I'm so thankful when resources like your book come along!

Take care,

jill said...

I love that stove! I haven't made it through Roots Shoots yet but I've flipped through it and your enthusiasm is contagious. I can't wait for spring.