Small change

It's been a busy few months, but whenever I have a free minute (or 10) I try to complete some little project on my to-do list. Today I decided to tackle a quick frame fix. We were given this framed photo as a gift (in a Yankee swap actually). It's a friend of ours photography.

He's super talented and we love the photo but we didn't love the frame...especially not in the new basement bathroom. I am normally a fan of bronze but not in a gray/chrome/espresso filled space. So I decided to change it instead of replacing it. And I had just the thing to do it, a black sharpie. I know, profound right? But it worked....and it was free. Here's the before and after.

Certainly not my best transformation but it took about 10 minutes and it was free so I rank that pretty high on my list!

I have a lot more to share in the new year (including some projects that I've been holding out on and some news to share), but until then, wishing you all the best during this holiday season! Happy new year!


Bathroom Setbacks...and Progress

It has been a little over a year since we started the renovation in our basement.  Yes, you read that correctly.....A YEAR!!  I actually choked up a little when I wrote that.  

Doing some of the work yourself has its perks (total control, lower cost, learning experience), but it also comes with its problems.  The largest of which is when you deal with an untrustworthy contractor.  Case in point: We planned to tile the bathroom ourselves, shower included, but we hired a contractor to rough out the space with plumbing and electrical so that I could just take over and start my work.  I have only ever tiled floors and backsplashes before, so I was a little new to the shower scene......which is precisely why I asked that the contractor get it all set for me to tile. 

He did (or so I thought), and after a few months of work, mostly during nap times, I was finally at this point in the project:

It felt like the home stretch, all I had left was the soffit and shelf.  I was feeling good, even proud of myself (which for a type A personality is not easy to do)......until an inspector came to check it out.  He noticed that we were missing the proper water-resistant wall board in the shower as well as the proper sealant in each corner/crack.  I cried.  A lot.  I'm glad we found out before I grouted and finished it all up, but it still stung.  I am not a confrontational person...usually.....but let's just say the aforementioned contractor is not allowed anywhere near my house....EVER.  He claims that he didn't know that I was doing the tiling (although he has helped us with projects before and knows that I tile, plus I specifically asked him for some tips on shower tiling).  Bottom line: he is a liar and can't be trusted.  I just wish I had known before I got this far.  

Needless to say, we had to fix the problem.  If we left it as is, we would have had water and mold problems down the road.  Maybe not even so far down the road either.  We didn't work this hard and this long to have it all compromised because of one bad shower.  So, we ripped it all out.  To the studs.  I cried again.  We attempted to take down each tile individually, but they were stuck on there pretty good, and it would have compromised the integrity of the already-sub-standard wall board behind them if we continued.  We were told that we could just seal the cracks and corners and we might not have a problem, but it's just a risk we weren't willing to take.  We wanted it done right.  And although I was proud of my work, and could have re-tiled the whole thing myself, I wasn't mentally prepared to start the project again, nor did I want to wait another few months to find the time to do it.  So we called someone in.  Normally, the hardest part is admitting you have a problem, right?  Well, for me, it's asking for help.  But I did.

It cost about $1500 to finish it up.  This included labor, roughing out the new space with the RIGHT type of water-resistant wall-board, sealing it all with Hydra-Ban (a special green-goopy sealant to keep out moisture as a secondary measure), and buying all new tiles (although we were able to save the mosaics).  I'm not used to paying for labor, but just knowing that it was done right made me feel better writing a check to this contractor (whom we trust now and will be using for a to-be-discussed project in January). 

So, the shower is done, as you can see, and everything is hooked up in the bathroom.  Finally isn't even the word to describe it.  I'm not sure what is.  Just an audible "Aaaaah!"  The refreshing one, not the scream one (although I've done that plenty of times during this process).  Now I just have to work my magic and get the space decorated and feeling like home. 

And because I'm a sucker for before and afters, here's a little peek at the transformation over the last year+.

These first few shots are what it looked like when we first started the project.  Cold, dark and a little creepy!

Then we started putting up some walls and getting plumbing and electrical roughed in:  The big hole in the ground below is to connect the shower, toilet and vanity to the pump.  You can see the pump itself in the second two shots.  

And here is the shower after it was "prepared" for me to tile.  You can see that he used regular Durock Cement Board.  This isn't the absolute worst thing you can use in a bathroom generally, but it's definitely not meant for a shower stall.  I should have done my research first rather than relying on/trusting someone else to take the reins.  He also poured a cement floor with a slight pitch toward the center (which was also not the right grade....which we found out later).  Also, you can see some of the nails in the cement board.  Those are supposed to be filled and the corners and edges sealed and caulked.  You live and learn, I suppose.

And here are some shots after my handy-work.  I used 1/8 spacers between my tiles, which I later learned is unnecessary and probably not the best idea either.  If you are using subway tiles in the shower, they are designed to stack on top of each other and leave a small gap.  The added space given by the 1/8 spacer just adds more room for moisture to potentially get trapped over the long term.  Lesson 490 of this project: Best to stack!

And then the final product...after much time and pain and stress:

Done. And done. 
I'll show you the rest of the bathroom next time, along with a sneak peek at the rest of the basement progress.  YAY!



I hit the pause button for the last two months.  It's not like I was keeping up a furious pace with the posts before August, but I seemed to have just stopped the presses since then, only I'm not exactly sure why.  I have been keeping busy, doing DIY projects here and there, finishing up the basement remodel, and doing lots of fun things with Pace, I guess I just haven't been focused enough to write about it all.  Or if I am, I can't seem to find the time to sit at the computer and get it down on paper....er, screen.  I could list a million excuses why, but ultimately, I have just been busy.  But that is hopefully about to change....well, not necessarily the busy part, but the fact that it gets in the way of my writing.  Since Pace turned 1 (holy crap, I know!) I can leave him at the gym daycare for 2 hours, which means an hour of working out for me (on a good day) and an hour to focus my thoughts on a post (or at least get one started) without distraction.  I have lots of fun, interesting, annoying, lessons-learned things to tell you, so I will be back.  And hopefully you will still be here to listen/read.  And I promise to get back to reading all of your fabulous blogs.  I am in desperate need of some inspiration and its all of your blogs that usually perk me up.  So, I guess I just wanted to say that I'm back and I can't wait to share some projects and stories with you. 

Now it's time to hit "Resume".....


One Year Down...

I have been thinking about what to write for a few days now.  I had an entire year to prepare myself, but I still waited till the last minute.  Typical.  Pace turned one on Friday and I am still reeling from amazement at how fast it went by.....and how wonderful it was/is.  A lot of people I know had a rough go of it for the first year of their child's life, but I have to say that it has been pretty great.  I'm sure I will eat my words with our next kid though (is there such a thing as baby karma?).  Don't get me wrong, there were days that I thought I would pull all of my hair out, days when I questioned whether I was a good enough mom, days when I could barely function because I was so incredibly tired.  But those days were always trumped by this.....

This smile that lights up the room and makes everything better.  He is the best thing that has ever happened to B and I.  I feel so lucky to have been able to stay home this year and spend time with him, watch him grow and learn, and become the crazy, curious, fun, happy toddler that he is. 

We had a small party with our family last weekend and it was wonderful to get everyone together to celebrate this little guy. 

He didn't love the cake, but we tried.  I actually smudged some on his face for effect.  He didn't really like the feeling of it on his hands.  Haha.  Just looking at these pictures of hi, now though, it's hard to believe where we started last August.  The transformation is crazy.  He doesn't even look like the same baby.

From this...

To this...

It has been the best year of my life, Pace.  Thank you for being you.....wonderful, nerve-wracking, curious, crazy, loving, snuggly, adventurous, smart, beautiful you.  I can't wait to see what the next year brings! 


Kitchen Organization

My counter has always been a dumping station for anything and everything that we have in our hands when we walk in the door....keys, mail, bills, notepads, chargers, etc.  It was getting out of hand and slowly driving me crazy, so I found this little guy at a yard sale recently....

It was only $2, so naturally I grabbed it and held on for dear life while glaring at everyone else browsing (even though they were no where near this table....or even interested in this particular item).  You can never be too careful.

I brought him home and checked my shelves for some leftover spray paint.  These two cans were it, so I put them to good use....after a quick sand to rough up the surface for better adhesion.

I'd say it took about 4 coats in all.  I tried to do very light ones, so it might have been more than I usually do, I just didn't want to get any drip marks.  I normally like to use heirloom white, since its a little warmer, but this will do for now.  I have been on the lookout for it at the Home Depot near me, but they have been out of it for months now.  Until then...here she is.  Being all organizational.

It has really helped to organize stuff on my counter.  I won't go as far as to say that it has eliminated all the clutter, but it definitely helps.  And even B has started putting things in there when he gets home from work.  SCORE!!

So for $2 I feel like a more sane housewife....for the time being.  My next project for that space is to hide the phone cord that hangs down from the shelf.  I bought this white plastic tube-like thing to do it, I just need to figure out how I'm going to stick it to the wall.  I'm hoping I can find something that is removable.  Maybe velcro, or that 3M stuff.  I'll report back.

For now, I'll just enjoy my organized kitchen.

Hope you all had a great 4th!  We were away for the week and are just now getting back on a normal schedule.  The heat is CRAZY though.  Our two window-unit AC's have been running around the clock.  Can't wait to see our electric bill.  EEK!

Stay cool.