08 October 2015

Bathroom Remodel: Shower Progress!

Once the bathroom remodel is done, anyone who wants to see me will have to visit me in the shower! That's where I'll be living! :)

It's obviously not done yet, but I absolutely love it so far! All the tile is installed except for the tiny trim pieces around the bottom.

Here you can see how the floor looks with the subway tile on the shower walls. That little gap will be filled in with narrow tiles.

We have chosen grout in a darker taupe color which will allow you to see the geometry of both the floor and the shower tiles. I've learned that if grout matches the tiles exactly, the tile shapes visually recede. We want the shapes to be visible, so we chose a contrasting grout. The color will be similar to the cement which you see in these photos.
 Thanks for following along with our progress on this project! Hope to have another update in a couple of days.

06 October 2015

Treadmill Running: Slow and Steady

I started treadmill running a couple of years ago using a Couch to 5K app on my phone. As a beginning runner, I found the app very useful and motivating. Although I'm not really sure how I did it, I plowed through the eight weeks and somehow made it to the "5K" level. Unfortunately, life happened and I could not maintain that level of running for very long. I think I pushed myself too quickly to achieve the 5K goal without truly improving my level of fitness.
Since then, I've started back at the beginning of the C25K program a few times, trying to work my way back to that level. But I've continued to struggle for one reason or another: I hurt my eye, I hurt my foot, my side aches, I'm too tired...excuse of the week, I guess.

I finally decided that before moving on to a new level, I needed to spend enough time at the current level to truly master it. If that meant repeating a day multiple times, that's what I've been doing. I might repeat Week 6, Day 3 for several days until it becomes easy and I don't think about the time elapsed or the time remaining on that particular run. When I get to the end of a run and am still feeling great, then I know it's time to move on to the next level.

So I've plodded through the C25K program at what must surely be the slowest pace ever (good thing this is not a race...ha!) but this time when I reach the 5K level, I want to be able to maintain it. I want to be able to go to the gym, hop on the treadmill and run 3 miles comfortably (well, maybe "comfortably" is not the right word). At this very slow rate, I should be there in a couple of years! Actually, I hope to be there for good in a couple of weeks. Slow and steady wins this "race"!

05 October 2015


 Over the past few days we've been working on a big newsletter for the store where I teach. Although it is tedious work, I really do enjoy the process of putting it together! 

It was a little more challenging than usual this time, because the product I planned to use for our Christmas card class (one of a few classes I'm teaching which are included in this newsletter) was late arriving. This meant that I was trying to create 18 cards and write instructions, etc. at the same time as doing the newsletter. This has happened before, but it is generally NOT a good thing to have those two big tasks going on simultaneously!

 Every time I finished a round of edits, I would feverishly work on making a few more cards, then pick up my mess and start back on the next phase of the newsletter. In one morning clean-up frenzy, I lost one of my precious red editing pens in a cup of coffee! :)

 The good news is that I finished all of the cards and the newsletter...and lived to write this blog post! :)
 Yay for multi-tasking!

04 October 2015

Bathroom Re-Model: Early Mornings

I'm not a morning person -- not in the least. When I worked in the corporate world, I forced myself to arrive at the office sometimes as early as 6:30 in the morning, but now that I do most of my work from home, I'm never presentable at that hour of the day!

But having workers in our house starting very early each day has caused me to change my morning routine. The early mornings have forced me to go to bed at a decent hour (much earlier than my usual midnight or 1am). That in itself is a good thing. My sleep habits are generally very poor and I almost never wake up feeling rested, so I'm thinking that this change is probably a good one.

Another observation: I probably waste a lot of time in the evenings when I actually could be working, so now that my daylight productive time is longer, I seem to be getting more done.

I'll never be a morning person but for the time being, I'm pretending to be one. We'll see if this new routine sticks after the bathroom remodel is done!

03 October 2015

Bathroom Remodel: Shower Tile

The bathroom remodel is moving forward, and the guys are now installing subway tile in the shower. Be still, my heart! I love how it looks so far! 

The tile is cream in color and coordinates nicely with the light caramel-colored hexagon floor tile and the creamy counter top on the new vanity. We are planning to choose a darker grout so that the lines between the tiles will still be visible (similar to the cement lines you can see in this photo). If we chose a cream-colored grout to match the tile, the "geometry" of the tile would disappear, giving the walls a more "solid" appearance, which is not the look we're seeking!

I'm intrigued by the process the guys are using to install the tile. The little plastic things sticking out are spacers which keep the tile evenly positioned. It is a lot of work to be sure the tile is properly spaced!

 At the end of each day, the Quality Assurance Inspectors look everything over to be sure it meets their exacting standards. Once again, they gave it a 4-paws UP!

02 October 2015

Feline Friday: It Must Be Love...or the Catnip!

 Sometime during the dog days of summer, I picked up a catnip plant for less than $1. I stuck it in a pot on the patio so I could occasionally snip bits off for Lily and Tinsel but I also hoped it would attract a few feline visitors to our yard. The girls generally like seeing critters outside the window, but cat visitors always generate extreme excitement! Of course, I would never allow them to actually interact with a feline guest. They only peer out the window!

It took just a few weeks for the catnip plant to work its magic! This beautiful tuxedo kitty who lives across the street ventured over one day. I directed him to the catnip and he's been back several times since! He is a wonderfully friendly kitty and would come right inside with me if I'd let him. I do worry about him being outside but he seems to be quite cautious and speedy when crossing the street.

Lily looks out the window at him with very little interest. Our mild-mannered Tinsel, on the other hand, turns into Some Kind of Wild Thing as she feverishly defends the home turf through the sliding doors!

Imagine her growling, hissing, and fighting this big guy through the glass! Meanwhile, Mr. Tuxie is getting mellower and mellower...

After a certain amount of catnip, he's oblivious to Tinsel's most unwelcoming behavior!
I bet he's thinking: "DUDE, chill out!"

01 October 2015

Bathroom Remodel: Floor Tile!

The bathroom remodeling project is coming along well! I am pleased with the progress so far and am anxious to see how the whole space comes together. I'm just hoping we (I) don't make any design mistakes along the way! 

The hexagon floor tile is completely installed (other than grout) and the next step will be to tile the shower. Here's how that process unfolded over the past few days.

 The old yucky shower was removed and the space was expanded by about one foot. That doesn't sound like a lot but I think it will make a big difference in how the shower looks, feels, and functions! Although I don't have a photo of it, the floor of the shower has been covered with the hexagon tiles, like the rest of the bathroom floor. 

I've made many design mistakes in my lifetime but as soon as I saw this floor going in, I knew it was right. I know it's not for everyone -- and some of you are probably wondering what we were thinking when we chose this tile -- but I love it and I think it's going to be perfect in the new space. Trust me! :)

The floor has not been grouted but we will chose a darker grout similar to the cement color, so the finished floor will look very much like this (I hope).

And you can feel confident about the quality of the work being done because at the end of each day, everything is thoroughly inspected by our four-legged quality assurance technicians. :)

One of the most amazing things I've witnessed is how the guys managed to fit an entire table saw, garbage can, and miscellaneous other paraphernalia inside the tiny toilet room.

 That in itself was an engineering feat!

You can see here how small that space is!

Try to ignore the green wallpaper, as I know it is a huge distraction! Picture it covered with creamy wood wainscoting.

 Here's a photo of the tile floor completely installed, although much of it is covered by plywood. I know it will look even better once the grout is in place, but I already love it!

25 September 2015

Feline Friday

On Day One of the bathroom remodeling project, the contractors put down sticky plastic sheeting in the hallway and on the stairs to protect the carpet.  After the contractors left for the day, the kitties came out of the room where I'd been keeping them and encountered this strange new floor covering.

Oh, my! Neither of them would step on it!

They tried to keep their little feet on the wood trim as they walked up and down the steps.

It was hilarious!

I even caught each of them separately trying to make their way up the OUTSIDE edge of the stairs!

After a few days, they've adapted (sort of) to the plastic. Tinsel doesn't mind it too much but Lily would still prefer to be carried up and down the stairs. I'm not falling for that ploy! :)

21 September 2015

Target Dollar Spot Trays

I know I've posted about trays in the past (here and here are two of many posts), but I seriously cannot get enough of them! I have several trays in my craft room and use them all the time for corralling project supplies. Trays make it easy to whisk everything off to a different room to work or to keep materials separated if you're working on multiple projects at the same time!

A few days ago, I happened to find wooden black trays at the Target Dollar Spot for just $3 each! I cut some paper to fit inside them, then cut a separate piece of acetate to cover the paper. Nothing is glued down, so it's easy to switch the paper and use the trays for holidays or other occasions!

 I have a file of paper I've amassed over the years to match my craft room. Luckily, I had two sheets which worked great in these new trays. I've already put them to work!

19 September 2015

Bathroom Remodel: Choosing Materials

The fun part of any remodeling project is figuring out what you want to do with the space. We relied on the designer at a cabinetry shop to sketch out the space and design a new vanity. She has been a great resource for all kinds of design questions. 

We started with the vanity design as the main piece in the room. This vanity is not completely traditional or completely modern but has some elements of each. The name for that style (I've learned) is "transitional". The cabinet finish is walnut but the doors are more modern in style (clean lines, no fluting around the edges). The counter is cream-colored (traditional) and is extra deep along the front (modern), a look that I absolutely love.

We considered lots of different flooring options and ultimately decided on this 1" hexagon tile in a light caramel color. In person it is absolutely beautiful, and it reminds me of the tile we used to have in the bathroom of our 1923 home. We chose a creamy subway tile for the shower which coordinates nicely with the hexagon tile.

I picked it all up at the tile shop. It is HEAVY! I considered that my workout for the morning!

Next, we turned our attention to fixtures. After a lot of looking, we ended up choosing faucets and shower controls by Delta in "Venetian Bronze". The color is traditional but the style is more modern. Transitional, I should say!

After choosing the plumbing fixtures, we began looking for lighting. Turns out each manufacturer has its own version of "bronze" and, as a result, it was very hard to find light fixtures to match the faucets.  Color differences between "bronze" faucets and light fixtures can be substantial.

In addition to color, there were also other lighting considerations, of course. I fell in love with this hanging pendant light and thought it would be great in the space where the tub once was. I was even willing to spray paint the metal to match the faucets. But alas, the fixture components were too long for the space, even when adjusted. We can't be hitting our heads on the hanging light! So back to the store it went. Rats!

 When looking for lighting, you also have to consider brightness, which is (obviously) affected by the bulb and by the shade. I really wanted clear wall sconces with Edison bulbs, but they don't put out much light. And brighter light bulbs are just not that attractive when visible through a sconce.

Delta offers some limited lighting options which match their plumbing fixtures, and we finally settled on one of them. It's not what I initially envisioned but at least the metal will match! The shades will probably be too white for our counter and will have to be replaced. The next task will be to find matching pendant lights.

Next, we began to think about what to do with the walls. Spouse tried a couple of options for painting the wallpaper, including applying Kilz before painting multiple coats. Unfortunately, you can still see the seams (and a hint of pattern) through the paint.

We both really liked the bead board in the bathroom of our old house, so I began combing Pinterest for similar looks. After considering a few options, we decided on five foot high wainscoting painted in a cream color to match our wood trim (similar to the photo below). It will cover up a good portion of the wallpaper, leaving three feet at the top exposed.

I proposed covering the area above the wainscoting with wallpaper. Spouse is a very good wallpaper hanger, and he agreed that it was the best solution. My first idea was some sort of grass cloth (for visual texture) but Spouse isn't too keen on the look and it's very expensive. 

So I headed to Sherwin Williams to check out their wallpaper books. I was on the hunt for something with a low contrast pattern or design.

When I arrived, my inner librarian had a very hard time with the complete disorder of the wallpaper books! I had to spend a bit of time re-grouping them according to their labels. It was hard to find anything and remember what I'd looked at with this mess...YIKES! :)

Modern wallpaper designs are amazing! I saw so many great designs which would make a perfect accent wall -- just not in this bathroom! The hexagon floor will provide plenty of pattern -- we don't need to add any more on the walls!

Ultimately I brought home a few books with chocolate brown, low-contrast designs. The wallpaper will be the last part of the process so there is no rush. I'd like to see the cabinet in the space before making a decision.

Thanks for following along with me on this project. I'm excited to see the new space come together!