The Finished Bathroom

Today I visited someone who recently moved into a house built about the same time as mine.  They bought it and fixed it up in about a 9 month period.  Maybe shorter, I don't know.  It still needs some work on the exterior, but they are about 95% done on the inside.  And apparently the husband did almost all the work himself.

So what I want to know is, HOW??  I know we have pretty much slowed to a stop in the last few years, but it took me 7 months just to finish my bathroom and I was working HARD.  So how did he do it?  I have to assume ours was in worse shape overall, and it is a little bit bigger, but none of that accounts for us being THIS much slower.  I think he is a warlock.  I've just come up with this theory, but I'm sticking with it.  No regular old muggle could throw together a renovation like they managed to in such a short amount of time. So that makes me feel better.  Like I always say, if you ever meet someone who can do something you can't, just assume they practice magic!

Since I've mentioned it, you should know that we did actually FINISH our upstairs bathroom.  See, if I know anything, I know that the best way to build suspense is to make people wait.  It has been months since I told you anything about my upstairs bathroom, so you must be DYING by now.  Exactly my plan.  Now that you are all at the point of death, this is the perfect moment to show you my totally, completely 99% done bathroom.  (I just thought of two things I need to finish).

BATHROOM!

Finished Bathroom 01

That is a picture of the finished shower before we put the shower doors on.  Now that the doors are on it is hard to get a picture to show you what the inside of the shower is like.  But I tried.

shower tile1

Anyway, that is the best you are going to get.    There are two shower heads, one on each side, and a bench, and it really is pretty great.  After I tiled the bathroom floor I was exhausted and I thought I'd be fine if I never tiled again.  So we hired a friend to tile the shower.  He got the ceiling done, but then he couldn't finish until Richard built the bench, and he couldn't build the bench until the cows came home, I guess.  It took so long before we were ready to have the rest of the shower tiled that I started getting excited again and I stole the project back from him and finished tiling the rest of the shower myself.  I feel a little bad about that.  But I'm extremely pleased with myself at the same time.  So confusing.

The tiles look better in person, I think.  They are called "Cebu" by Arizona.  Same brand and line as the ones on the floor, just in a different color.

And here is the shower door!

finished bathroom 02

If you noticed that the main light fixture in the following pictures is different than it used to be, you get $10.00!  The cabinet doors JUST brushed the bottom of the previous light fixture.  It was sort of working, but then, following one rambunctious bath some of the wood (a.k.a. particle board) on our Ikea cabinet started warping, so we raised the cabinet up and put it on top of a PVC frame. No more water damage for us! But that extra half inch was more room than we had to spare, so we replaced the light fixture.  You still with me?

finished bathroom 03

I had been concerned that the bathtub would make the room feel cramped, but of course it doesn't, since it only comes up to knee height.

finished bathroom 04

As it turns out, I love my stenciled walls.  I thought about writing a whole post teaching you how to stencil, but I decided it is really unnecessary.   You're all clever, resourceful people. The very best thing I figured out was THIS

adhesive

Krylon Easy-Tack Repositionable Adhesive.

I started out using repositionable adhesive made by Martha Stewart because I think the stencil company recommended it, but hers is half the size and costs twice as much and really doesn't stick that great.  I was very nervous trying an unrecommended can of spray adhesive, cuz who knew what havoc it might wreak, but it changed everything.  Finally the stencil was sticking to the wall.  Finally I had enough adhesion to get into the corners.  And it still came back off the wall again with no trouble at all. It was wonderful.  (And apparently it contains harmful vapors, so that probably explains the hallucinations.) So if you find a brand that is cheaper, try it out.  Just be sure it is REPOSITIONABLE, or all heck will break loose and you will want to kill me.

My other stenciling tips are these:

1. Practice. After you do it for a little while you'll get the hang of it.
2. Don't be afraid to paint over it and start over.  It if isn't working out, just try something different.
3. It is ok if it isn't perfect.  It isn't going to look like wallpaper and that is how it should be.  There were a few places I went back over and touched up by hand, but most of the slight imperfections are part of the deal, and part of what makes it beautiful.  And if a section of your wall is going to be covered by art or a cabinet, start there, so your first few mistakes will be covered up.

And of course check for level and stuff.  These instructions do not guarantee your success if you choose to ignore common sense.  Actually these instructions don't guarantee anything.

finished bathroom 05a

I really like the vanity countertop.  We knew we were going to have to find a way to save money somewhere, and after searching and searching through countertop remnants, we ended up doing laminate.

finished bathroom 08

I bought the laminate  in a big sheet from Lowes for just over $80.00.  Then Richard built the wood countertop and we cut it out and glued it on.  For about $100 total, I'm very pleased.  But then I've never minded laminate.  I'm a simple girl, really.  What I DON'T like is the square sink from Ikea.  I would go upstairs to take a picture of it for you, but I'm pretty sure I'd have to clean it out first, and it just doesn't seem worth it.  Let me see if I can find a picture online. Ah, here it is.
LILLĂ…NGEN Sink, 1 bowl IKEA Can be used as a shelf for a soap dish and toothbrush mug, thanks to the shape of the edge.
With the drain on one side like that, the stuff in the opposite side never washes out very well.  I wouldn't do it again, given the chance.

Ok!  So here are a couple little additions I am really loving:

finished bathroom 06a

The Bottom half of the cabinet is used for laundry.  Colors go on the left, Whites go on the right.  I chose this cabinet specifically because I wanted something deep enough to keep laundry baskets in.  And when my 3 year old is getting ready for a bath, and I watch him open the cabinet and throw his dirty clothes in the basket, it warms my little heart.

Lastly this:

Finished Bathroom 07

We put an outlet in the wall behind the vanity and then attached a power strip inside this drawer with double sided tape.  Nothing we haven't all seen before, but it really is wonderfully handy.

And that my friends, is it.  The whole darn bathroom.  Now when I am tired of crumbling plaster and exposed 2x4's, I can go hide out in the bathroom and pretend like the whole house is finished and my life is perfect.  That is perfectly normal behavior, right?

Valentines and Treasure Hunts

I find the best way to stay on top of a holiday is to plan a whole year in advance.  I will take all the inspiration I got on Valentine's day, and as soon as Valentine's Day is over I'll use it to plan for next year.  That gives me the rest of the year to forget all about it.  It really works like a charm.

I don't like Valentine's day.  I didn't like it when I was single because I was single, but even now that I am happily married I still don't like it.  All the pink and the hearts.  All of the obligatory expressions of affection.  The hours of waiting to be seated in a restaurant, the stuffed animals, the cheesiness, the unrealistic expectations, the doilies, the store bought valentines, etc. etc.

One of those things alone would be fine.  Pink = great!  Pink in addition to giant stuffed Mooses with hearts for antlers is just too much.  I think it is a holiday on par with St. Patrick's Day in regards to pointlessness, but the world tries to act like it is as important as Christmas.  For that reason I'm going to go out on a limb here and declare it the dumbest holiday IN THE WORLD!  This is what blogging is for, you know.  To make ridiculous, found-less statements, based on opinion and emotion.

At least, that is how I used to feel.  These days, though, I don't mind it so much.  I really like making valentines with Harrison.  This year we made some for Colin too.  And I love our new Valentine's traditions: Candlelit Dinner at Home with the boys followed by a Treasure Hunt!.  I was actually looking forward to Valentine's Day this year.  And because I want to eliminate gratuitous clicking, I'm going to recap what we've done in the past, in the hopes that it might inspire those who hate Valentines day just as much as me.

Valentines To Make:

DYNAMITE VALENTINE


Here is a tutorial for the tutorial lover in you:
  1. Buy smarties.
  2. Cut red construction paper the width of a package of smarties.  
  3. Wrap construction paper around smarties and secure with tape or glue or chewed up gum. 
  4. Put 3 wrapped smarties together and wrap some black electrical tape around the whole thing.  
  5. Cut black electrical wire into several pieces about 3-4 inches long. 
  6. Make a note to stick on top.  These were made using the Sound FX Font.  
  7. Stick the wire between the smarties, and tape your note onto the top.  

If you don't feel like making your own tags and you WANT your Valentines to say "Kaboom" (who doesn't?)  you can always use these:




ROBOT VALENTINES:



These are even more self explanatory than the last ones. (and so fun to play with!)  I can't remember what candy I used for the body, but candy in little boxes like that is not hard to find.  I just hot glued all the pieces together.  Blamo.  You could probably find a way to make the robot without legs, and save yourself a little more money.  But here is the robot face I made, if you like that kind of thing.

Candy Robot Face green mouth copy
Just copy and paste that a bunch of times into a word document and there you go.  You could even add some cute words, like: 


yeah, I couldn't come up with anything great, but I'm sure you will.


Then last year we made these:


I didn't come up with them.  I didn't even take that picture.  Click on the picture and it will take you to the page where you can download everything you need to make them.

Again this year, instead of using our depleting brain cells to come up with something original for Valentines, we turned to the power of the internet.  We picked a couple we liked and let the kids choose between them.  Here are the ones we made for Harrison:

airplane valentine

They are airplanes.  Can you tell?  You can see a tutorial on Spoonful.  Theirs are cuter than ours, but since these were for school, we had to keep our mints inside their wrappers and it ruins the effect a little.  But Harrison liked them.  That's all that matters.

harrison valentine

I printed the note on top onto full sheets of label paper and then stuck the labels onto the side of the gum wrapper that opens, so it held everything together nicely.  And if you want to do the same, here are the labels I made, complete with space at the bottom of each label for them to sign their name.
airplane valentine
There are very faint lines around each label to show where it should be cut.  If you can't see them and need help, send me an email and I'll do what I can.  You are important to us.


Here are the ones we made for Colin:

superhero valentines

Super Heroes.  Big Surprise.  These can be found on Zakka Life, with printables and all.  Valentines DONE.


TREASURE HUNT

Sometimes a girl doesn't have the energy or wherewithal to come up with her own clues for a treasure hunt.  And last time I looked I found very few treasure hunt ideas online, so I'm gonna share with you what we did.  We've done this for three whole years now, so I've got a crap-loads of experience under my belt.

Here is what we did the first year:


Which idea I got from Serving Pink Lemonade.  Click the link for more clue ideas.  Here are the other clues I used:

I think you are getting cuter.
Look behind Daddy's computer

This heart is a pretty red.
Look under a tall, black bed

You're I.Q. is getting higher.
Check the place that holds the fire.

Valentine's is very groovy.  
Look inside where we keep movies.

You're so smart it isn't fair.
Go look under Mommy's chair


Last year I did a Picture Treasure Hunt. I took pictures of things as close up as I could and then printed out all the little pictures and used the pictures themselves as the clues.  Like so:

picturetreasurehunt

I thought they were too easy, so to make the fun last, I did about 40 of them.  But they weren't that easy after all.  Richard was ready to kill me.  10 would have been perfect.  For boys my age, 10 is the magical number.  Now I know.

This year I used QR Codes.

qr code

 I found a QR Code maker (QRStuff.com) entered my clues into the generator and out popped my codes, all ready to go.  Here are my clues, with answers underneath in italics.  These clues are tricky, and I didn't want you to have to think more than was necessary.

Twas Valentine’s evening and dinner was through.
3 boys were running, looking for a clue.
The 1st clue is hidden under a black bed.

The next one can sometimes be found on Dad’s head.\
(Richard's Hat)

The very next clue wants to have F.H. E.
He thinks it’s his turn to teach you and me.
(Family Home Evening Chart)

Clue number 4 likes to stay cool,
(The Fridge)

Clue number 5 dropped his kids at the pool.
(Toilet)

This clue likes warmth, he always wants more. 
He spends all his time down on the floor.
(Heater Vent)

This clue wants to eat, he’s hungry for dinner,
(Dinner Table)

The next clue keeps checking to see if he’s thinner.
(scale)

And this is the last clue, the very last one. 
So go sit on the couch and relax!  You’re done!


And poking out from under a couch cushion was the prize: a movie and some chocolates.  I taped the little printed out QR Codes all over the house, and when the kids found them, they would stick them on their forehead so their Dad could scan them.  New Tradition Born.  


scanning code

Harrison kept saying it was the best night ever, though probably his favorite part was the Candlelit dinner.  And it turns out that spending Valentines day with my kids is really what made me finally like the holiday.  They are fun.  They think the stuff we do on Valentines day is fun.  How can that not rub off on me a little?

No news is good news, so Here is the news

I read in the Ensign a couple of months ago something that I can't quote, but the gist of which was this: You get a lot farther with your own problems if your spend time taking care of someone else's.

It stuck with me, because my frame of mind is usually, "I have my own life to deal with, I don't have time to help anyone else." Which is a pretty sad outlook, really.  It is hard to STOP feeling that way though.  But when someone needed some help packing up boxes today, and someone else offered to watch my kids for an hour, I knew this was my chance.  So I went and helped.  Really no big deal stuff.  wrapping glass in newspaper and putting it in boxes.  It was an enjoyable morning, getting to know a couple of ladies a little better.

Then I picked up my kids and came home to get Harrison ready for school.  And guess what?  I got an email from the architect with the plans attached including the final changes we have been waiting for.

Are the 2 things related?  Absolutely they are.  Does that mean that every time I go out and lend a hand to my neighbor I will come home to find my problems fixed?  Of course not!  But it turns out that sitting at home and cursing people and stress eating and chewing on pens wasn't doing me any good.

And since I've spent the day trying to figure out how to help this women get the rest of her stuff moved quickly, I've had less energy to spend stressing out about my house and the things I have no control over. Go Figure.

Now, as far as the house plans go, we still have to wait for the architect to finish them up.  Do all the elevations and stuff that we are paying him crap-loads of money for.  I don't know how long this will take.  Probably a month, if history has taught me anything.  Will I be able to let it go and just go out and serve everyone with nary a thought for myself.  Ha, unlikely.  But maybe I'll be just a little more willing to help next time someone asks, and that ain't bad.

The Non-Update

Now it is January 29th.  It has been two weeks since my last post.  And our contractor did meet with the architect and he made all the changes we needed him to make and then we decided to make ONE more change.  I know we should have just left well enough alone, but we didn't. So now it has been 2 weeks with me calling people every day to see if the change is possible and if they will draw it up for me and leaving messages and sending emails.  I think the stress of never getting anywhere is getting to me.  I hope I can hold it together a little longer and I REALLY hope my sanity returns when the house is done.

There is an unexpected twist though: All our loan paperwork is going to expire.  Did you know that could happen?  I didn't.  But this is all taking so long that that is exactly what is going to happen.  We'll have to give the bank updated everything and in another month they'll have to do a whole nuther appraisal.

Even though nothing ever seems to happen, I know that each day that passes brings us one day closer to what "might" "possibly" be a new kitchen.  And I think my kitchen knows it.  And it does not intend to go quietly.  Besides our malfunctioning kitchen faucet (as seen here) things have started breaking on almost a weekly basis.  Cabinet doors are hanging off their hinges, drawers are coming off their tracks, their fronts are falling off and bottoms falling out.  The butter knives have started sliding right out of their drawer every time my back is turned.  The handle on the microwave has busted halfway off, the tiles on my floor are cracking, breaking, coming loose and sliding out of place and my high-tech garbage can, which has a step-open lid with a lock on it, has taken to jumping right off the can whenever I step on the peddle. And SOMETHING is up with my fridge.  The freezer door barely stays closed anymore and pops open every single time you close the fridge.  I've come down in the morning sometimes to find the freezer door standing wide open.  And in a turn of events I can only assume is related, it is now having additional problems.  There is a solid sheet of ice on the bottom that is getting thicker and thicker by the day.  I cleaned it out once, just to find it was back in force the next day.  And every time we open the freezer now, a big puddle of water ends up in front of it.  I'm not sure how to call a repair man and tell him my freezer has continence problems.

Doesn't this stupid kitchen know that if it wasn't giving me such a hard time I wouldn't be as anxious to get rid of it?  It's like a kid before bed time.  If only they would be quiet for a few minutes, I might just forget they are even awake, but they just do not know how to shut up.



HOWEVER, as anxious as I am to tear this Kitchen to the ground, I am also afraid.  Afraid of Finishing.

1.  My children are the Great Destroyers.  They are the reason we can't have anything nice.  What if the second I get my new cabinets put in they color all over them with permanent marker?

2. I blame everything on this house.  Every sadness, every disappointment  every bad day.  And while, yes, this house frustrates me to no end, when it is done, I'm still going to have bad days.  What will I blame it on then?

3.  What if I am bored?  This house has been our every Saturday, every spare dollar, every summer vacation for 10 years.  I'm not sure I'll know what to do with myself without it to work on.


So that's what is going on with me.  Okay.  Enough whining.  Time to go make dinner.  Peace Out!

It's a Brand New Day

Out of the blue, and for no apparent reason that I can see, I suddenly feel like blogging again.  I don't know why.  And I don't know if it will last.  It is totally possible that I will write every day for week, get bored, and quit writing again for another year.  We'll see.

But blogging is different now, don't you think?  Google Reader is dead and with it went the links to all my blogs and I just haven't found the energy to find them again. I don't read blogs anymore.  Except my mom's.  Cuz she's special.  (And the reader I use to do it it is this one: NextReadr.  It is great.  You should check it out of you don't yet have a reader you like.)  Does anyone read blogs anymore?  I'm gonna say no.  No one is reading.  Which is perfect for me.  Having an audience makes me nervous.  

Blogging is different and I am different and it felt like time for a fresh start, so now the blog is different too. Earth Shattering, I know, but you'll get used to it.


So, why am I here?  Well I'll tell you.  And I haven't written in 9 months so there are a lot of words stored up in my fingers dying to get out.  This might be a long one.  You better hold on to your boots. 

Every time I want to write about my house or post pictures about it and complain about the state of my poor kitchen, I am overwhelmed with a sense of crushing guilt.  Some people have real problems.  I mean, I have real problems too, don't get me wrong, but my kitchen isn't actually one of them.  It is just stupid.  And a stupid kitchen never hurt nobody.

So please internet, just keep in mind while you are reading this that I am grateful to have a kitchen.  I'm grateful to have a house.  I"m grateful for my blessings and know that they are many.  I'm also glad that soon I will have a DIFFERENT kitchen, and hope that it is OK that I am using my money to pay for a new kitchen and not to feed people in 3rd world countries.

Or does the fact that I feel guilty mean that it is NOT ok?

Whatever.  It is too late for guilt.  Events have been set into motion that cannot be undone.

Ha.  I wish that were true.  I feel like every single step of the way I am Conan The Barbarian pushing against that giant wheel with all my might and nothing will ever happen if I don't keep pushing.

Let me lay down the series of events for you:

We were married May of 2002, and moved into a tiny little apartment.  We loved it.  Though it was a bit crowdy:


A block or so away from our apartment was a cute little house for sale.  We fell in love with it.  We took several tours of it and started making plans for how we were going to fix it up.  Cuz it needed lots of work.  New Roof, new water main, new everything.  They were asking $80,000 for it.  We offered $60,000.  They declined.  And we decided the amount of work necessary wasn't worth paying more than that for the house.  So we gave it up. But by then we had the bug.  We wanted to buy a house.  And we wanted one that we could fix up.  What the heck would we do with a house that didn't need any work done on it?  Just move into it and live in it like a couple of idiots?  No Way!

So then we found this one.  Richard wanted brick and we wanted a yard and this house had both:




And it certainly needed some work.


As you might think it WAS a little terrifying inside, but our eyes were so full of stars and paint chips that all we could see was potential and we bought it anyway.  Because we are completely delusional.

We moved in and spent our first night in the house on Christmas Eve 2003.  There were no ghostly visitations or anything.  Turns out it is just a regular old crappy house, not the haunted kind.

So then we started fixing it up.  Worked on it every night when we got home from work.  Worked on it all day every Saturday.  Went to Friend's, Family's and Neighbor's houses to shower and use the bathroom.

Eventually we got the bathroom and kitchen working and then we slowed down a little.  Started working on it only on Saturdays.   And then we had kids and things slowed WAY down.  And here we are 10 years later and the house is not done.  We NEVER thought it would take this long.  If we had any idea it would take this long I don't think we ever would have bought it.  But we're here now.  2 kids and 70 pounds later.

About this time last year I started to despair.  We were making pretty solid plans to tear off and rebuild our kitchen.  And I started to think it was impossible.  The amount of work that needed to be done and the amount of time we had available to do it were at complete odds with each other.  How were were ever going to do this alone?  Especially when I really started working to finish the upstairs bathroom and it took SEVEN MONTHS, a whole brand new kitchen just seemed like a crazy dream.  I tried to keep it to myself though, cuz what choice did we have?

But on June 17, 2013 while we were eating breakfast, Richard said in the middle of the night he had an epiphany.  We were never going to be able to finish this house by ourselves.  And he really wanted the house to be done by our 10 year anniversary.  So we decided to hire someone else to finish it.  Hallelujah!

In July 2013 we found a contractor.  Our Neice's Father-in-Law.  We were happy, but first we had to have the plans drawn up so he could give us a quote to see if it was an amount the bank was willing to give us.  It took about 5 weeks, but the architect finally gave us the finished plans and we discussed them with the contractor and it was going to cost WAY MORE THAN WE COULD AFFORD.   We then spent the next several months reworking the plans, and waiting to hear from the architect and the contractor and then reworking them again then waiting again until we finally have a a remodeling plan we can afford.  But it means we don't get a garage and Richard will have to do all the electricity and plumbing, and we have to finish all of the existing house ourselves.  Yea.

The next few months passed with more waiting and more calling and more emailing copies of plans and more waiting and here we are, January 16th.  Our 10 year anniversary of moving into the house has come and gone. But we are just waiting for the architect to finish the final copy of the plans, and I think our Contractor is meeting with the architect right now to finish them up so maybe we will be able to move onto the next step sometime soon.  I never would have guessed this part, the BEFORE part, would take 7 months.  If you decide to build a house or an addition, it is something to keep in mind.  Try to estimate how long you think it will take, and then times that by 57.

You'd think all this waiting would make me a patient person but no luck on that so far.  Which I think means there is no hope for me.

This is probably enough for one day.  I've got more words, but maybe I will save them for tomorrow so as not to overwhelm your tender minds.  But I'll be back.  And least one more time.  Tune it tomorrow to find out of the contractor called us.  Who knows?  Stranger things have happened!

And of the song from Dr. Horrible's is not still running through your head, it probably should be.  Here You Go.