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Q&A | Cabinet/countertop decisions + grammar for adults

The meet a reader series is on a bit of a hiatus at the moment because I have now published all of the submitted interviews I’ve received.

So, if you’d like to be featured, let me know and I’ll send you the questions.

Anyway, in lieu of an interview this week, we’ll do a Q&A.


As mentioned in the profile about me so kindly featured on your site, I am wrangling a kitchen renovation.

I don’t know how people design whole homes – I am overwhelmed by one room! We’ve got a design (not much change to layout as it’s a small space) but I don’t know how to decide where to splurge and where to save.

Both wooden cabinets and stone countertops would be a good investment in the house and serve us and future owners well (I figure we’ll be here for another 10-15 years). However, MDF and stone composite are clearly more affordable and seem to be quite functional.

The simple answer is to stick with what we can afford from what we’ve saved. However, we could get creative and come up with more if need be – I’m just not sure if we should.

Thanks so much,

I hear you on the home decision overwhelm. I hate making home design decisions, especially big ones like flooring or cabinets.

A view of Kristen's main kitchen wall.

Here’s my advice:

Splurge on the wood cabinets

I have seen an awful lot of MDF cabinets that have not stood the test of time. Often, the vinyl coating on the outside begins to peel off, especially in areas where there’s a lot of heat, like near the stove.

Once the coating comes off, the cabinets are hard to rescue; you can’t just sand them down and paint them!

oak kitchen cabinets painted white

I would hate to be stuck in that situation down the road when you sell, so I would spring for the wooden cabinets.

oak kitchen cabinets painted in Benjamin Moore Advance paint

Lucky for me, my ugly pickled oak cabinets were solid wood, so I was able to sand them down and repaint them. The out-of-pocket cost was very minimal; it was mostly a time investment. But I was so, so glad they were real wood!

White kitchen cabinets.

(this photo is obviously from before we got our new countertops)

Save on the countertops

Based on what I know, composite countertops have a respectable lifetime expectancy (this Spruce article mentions up to 30 years), so this seems like a better place to save.

Another option if you want to go with the granite: if you don’t need huge pieces of granite, look for a shop in your area that sells remnants (leftover pieces from larger jobs).

Kitchen with white cabinets and granite countertops.

Since none of our counters are very large, we were able to go the remnant route and that brought the price down for us.

white kitchen cabinets

I hope that helps a little!

It seems as though I have followed your blog forever. I appreciate all that you do. It always is a bright spot in my day.

I am a 65-year-old woman and feel like my grammar and my writing skills aren’t up to par. I have a lot of difficulty with commas and lay, lie and laid. I know there is other stuff. Since you home school, I thought you might have a suggestion. I need a very basic grammar book. Do you have any that you can recommend?

Thanks ever so much,

Hi Kathy!

I think it’s awesome that you are wanting to keep on learning. Good for you!

I’ll share a few ideas, but I’m hoping my readers will be able to help out with this question because I’m not sure I have great answers.

Try Grammarly

Grammarly is a free program that checks your writing in real-time, and I thought of it for you because it corrects my comma usage all the time. Ha. If you use that as you write, I bet you will learn a lot from the mistakes it catches.


I honestly picked up most of my spelling and grammar knowledge from all the reading I have done in my lifetime. I was a voracious reader as a kid, and I was able to be a good writer in school mainly because I knew if something sounded or looked right or not.

Even if I didn’t know the official rule, I still usually knew if I was writing something correctly or not.

So, if you are already a reader, keep it up. And if you don’t read much in the way of books, try to work that into your routine more often.

Try Easy Grammar books

All of my kids have worked through the Easy Grammar line of books; they offer daily practice with things like punctuation, subject-verb agreement, prepositions, lay-lie-laid, and such. They’re not very expensive, so they’d be a low-risk way to try some grammar practice.

These books are not explicitly Christian, but usually has the lowest prices on these in their homeschool department. 

You can see sample pages of each book at the link above and that should help you figure out what grade level would be helpful for you.

Once you know which book you want, you could also search on eBay to see if any are for sale.


I’m guessing there are a lot of other online resources that could help you, and perhaps there are even some grammar books geared toward adults.

So, readers! Could you share any grammar books/ideas/resources you have for Kathy?

And Shelagh would be grateful for your countertop and cabinet advice too.

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Friday 10th of September 2021

I feel that when it comes to spelling, you either have it, or you don’t. Don’t ask me why, but I was born a speller. I can see a word I’m unfamiliar with, and know if it’s misspelled. Now, is this a born- in talent, like musical ability or athletics? I must add, however, that my talent does not extend to mathematics. No. Not in any way.

I also would like to throw my opinion in on the countertops. We got quartz almost three years ago, and they still look brand- new. They see lots and lots of action in my kitchen, believe me! If quartz fits my budget, it should fit anyone’s. Most everything we do is DIY, but that was beyond our abilities! ( I have a list of such projects, not limited to electrical work, other than simple installation; plumbing, except minor toilet repair and the like; flooring, and a few others.) We have bitten off more than we can chew quite a few times, ha ha.

Judy L.

Thursday 9th of September 2021

I would do the wood cabinets too. Don't go cheap on those-you don't have to do the most expensive just middle of the road. That is what we did when we updated our kitchen last year. We also did granite but if your countertop isn't too big, you can do remnant sizes which will save you some money. In regards to hardware you can buy in larger quantities online, like Home Depot has boxes of 10 which is WAY cheaper than buying them separate or in a box of 6 at the store. Just figure out what is important to you and if you can, splurge on that and go cheaper on other things.


Thursday 9th of September 2021

For adults, I would say the best grammar book by far is “Eats, Shoots and Leaves.” It adds humor and is easy/ fun to read.


Thursday 9th of September 2021

I remodeled my small kitchen in 2017. We also splurged on wood cabinetry, and I would do it again. I would also go with soft-close hinges, pull-out shelves, and other small customizations that just make a kitchen nicer to work in.

I’m very pleased with our quartz composite countertops, too. We made that selection after reading very convincing reviews in Consumer Reports. The counters have lived up to the claims of stain resistance, and so far they haven’t chipped or shown any sign of wear, even though they’re probably the busiest surfaces in our house.

You didn’t ask about this, but I also really recommend a big sink (we got a farmhouse style one) and a touchless kitchen faucet—not a splurge I was planning to make initially but I’m glad for it every time I need to wash my hands after handling raw chicken.


Wednesday 8th of September 2021

I think the biggest thing is to balance form and function in your renovation. You can spend a lot of time and money on "pretty" and end up with a kitchen that is difficult to work in. I would suggest making a list of what is important to you, functionally, and problem-solve the renovation from there. For instance, are you someone who will carefully put down a cloth potholder on the countertop before putting a hot pan on it? Or do you want to plop your cookie sheets straight out of the oven onto the counters without thought for protecting them? That will affect the choices you make for countertops. Do you struggle to wash large pots in the sink? Then look into installing sinks with greater depth and also a faucet which is either detachable and can be used as a sprayer or has a high arc. Are you in your 20s and kneeling on the floor to dig stuff out doesn't faze you? Or are you in your 60s and trying to stay as independent as you can for as long as you can? This might be the deciding factor for pull-out drawers. The aesthetics are the icing on the cake--if you don't get the functionality right, you will be kicking yourself for not thinking your reno through more carefully.

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