Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Downstairs Bathroom Remodel

 Well, it's only taken five years, but we can finally say our downstairs bathroom remodel is complete.  ;-)  (Or at least complete enough to take pictures - ha!)  


 The above photo was taken when we did a walk through on the house.  At the time, this was the only bathroom in the house and it certainly was not in the worst condition I've ever seen, thankfully, but we definitely knew we wanted to update it eventually.     

 Over the years, we made gradual updates.  As the above photo shows, we replaced the linoleum walls with beadboard planks, replaced the old sheet-rock ceiling with pine planks, updated the fixtures, installed an inexpensive vanity to give us extra storage, and Justus added some built in cabinets (not pictured).  We lived with it like this for quite a while, but all the while knowing we still had a huge project looming that needed to be completed once we had another bathroom in the house.  The tile floor (which I don't have many pictures of) was extremely un-level and the grout was crumbling and cracking in places.  When I refer to the floor being un-level, I mean that it visibly was about three inches taller than the bedroom floor.  The old cast iron tub also needed to be raised up underneath the house, and when Justus tackled that project, he had to remove the tiles in front of the tub.  If it weren't for that, we probably would have put this project off longer, because we knew it was going to be an absolute huge mess. 

 Justus had to remove five layers of flooring.  It took him hours of hard manual labor and when he finally got down to the floor joists, he discovered that they were in such poor condition from previous water damage that he had to completely re-frame the joists.  I have photos of how horrible this project was, but I actually can't bear to post them here.  :-)  But in the above picture, Justus was actually standing on the dirt floor under the house.  We had hoped that the subfloor could be put in that weekend, but it took a bit longer with all the framing he had to do first.  So we had nothing but a dirt floor for several days... I imagined all sorts of critters entering our house, so I used garbage bags and a whole lot of tape to ensure nothing could get in!  ;-) 

 Finally the subfloor and concrete board was in place and the floor was actually level - hooray!  What a huge sigh of relief!  And also reassurance that our bathroom could stand for many years to come now!  Justus and I really debated on what kind of tile to install.  When we built the upstairs bathroom, we had this same debate - should we install wood-look tile or mosaic tile?  In the end, we decided to install the wood-look tile upstairs and we absolutely love it.  It's easy to clean, doesn't show dirt (or hair), and looks great.  But neither of us could see it looking right downstairs.  When Justus was actually the one to suggest the mosaic tile, I jumped all over the idea - I knew it would be exactly the right fit! 

 Our original plan was to use light gray grout, but... after a not fun job of installing the tile and us seeing every single mistake, Justus declared we would either be using white grout or he would be tearing out the floor again. 


 What a happy decision that turned out to be!  When we started grouting, we immediately loved the look of the white grout against the white tile.  Perhaps the gray grout in a small bathroom may have made the floor look a little too busy.  And happily I cannot even tell you where our tile mistakes are now because it's not the least bit noticeable.  

You're probably wondering if this tile is hard to keep clean and the answer is yes!  The tile floor shows every piece of dirt and hair.  But I would do it again in a heartbeat.  I already clean our downstairs floors very frequently, so I haven't felt like I've had to vacuum any more than I did previously.  Also, I've found that giving the floor a good old fashioned scrub on my hands and knees weekly works wonders, but I've always cleaned bathroom floors like that, so again, not much additional work.  I am, however, very thankful we didn't install this tile upstairs where I don't vacuum as frequently (since the rooms aren't as high traffic). 

 While we were at it, we replaced the vanity and faucet.  With such a white bathroom, I definitely wanted the vanity to have some color.  Justus actually picked out this gray-blue vanity, which I wasn't sure about, and now he loves teasing me about how he knew best.  :-)

 I know this sounds crazy, but I think my favorite thing in the bathroom may be this faucet.  When I was looking for a new faucet, I found this one and I knew it would be perfect!  But I was informed (ah-hem) that it was sadly out of our bathroom budget... after I kept looking and kept coming back to this faucet, I decided then to do a little more digging, and I finally found it online on sale!  I was probably a little too excited!   And then Justus we chose a slightly more affordable vanity.  ;-)  (Which I ended up loving, hence the teasing I mentioned above!)

 It was so nice having had replaced so many other things in the bathroom, because once the floor was in, it really didn't take much to get the room finished.  Justus installed all new trim and I gave the walls a fresh coat of paint when I painted the trim. 

 If you look at the door here, you can get an idea of how much higher the previous floor was.  :-)  Now there's a huge gap, but we plan to replace this door with a sliding barn door down the road when we renovate our bedroom. 

 The built-in storage Justus built a few years ago for this little corner space...

 I really debated whether or not to paint the pine planked ceiling.  I actually like the look of the raw pine, but it didn't match the other wood in the house, so I decided to go with my gut and paint it white.  And I'm so happy I did.  There's nothing like white to brighten and make a room appear bigger than it is. 

This past year we also removed the previous shower surround and installed large subway tiles on the walls.  The shower still needs a little work, but it's close.  You can see I still have my red flowery shower curtain - it's nice when you love something so much that it doesn't need to be changed, no matter how old.  ;-) 

I'm sorry for my lengthy post - I feel like I have talked your ear off.  Thanks for listening!  Hope you have a great week!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Welcome December

 The week before Thanksgiving, I found myself filled with anticipation thinking of the month ahead.  After several months of busy, busy, busy, and going, going, going, I was looking forward to special visits from friends, and special holidays, but also many days spent at home with nowhere to go.  Warm in our cozy home, holiday smells of orange and cloves and cinnamon in the air, cuddling on the couch, cutting out paper snowflakes, baking muffins and pies and simply... resting and savoring sweet moments.  

The girls begged me to dig out our Christmas decorations and we spent one fun afternoon cleaning the house, putting away everything fall, and bringing out the things that reflect a new season.  How fun it was to pull out little memories... pine cones we gathered in the yard a few years ago, pom poms Jillian and I made into garlands and and a wreath a couple Christmases ago, and even the sweet mittens we crafted last December.  

Here's a little peek into our December nesting... 

I hope you're having a warm, wonderful first week of December. Hopefully with less planned this month, I can spend a little more time here.  :-)  As always, I'm filled with gratitude for your sweet comments and for visiting here.  

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Custom Essential Oil Bag Giveaway

When I think of my mom, so many pictures and memories that come to mind involve her sitting at her sewing machine.  From the time I was a little girl, I remember her getting out her sewing machine and setting her project out on the dining room table.  I can still hear the whirring of the sewing machine going as fast as possible.  She made me Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls and clothes.  When I got married, she sewed curtains and pillows for our new first home.  Now that I have little girls, she sews sweet little dresses for them (and their dolls), but best of all, she spends time with them teaching them how to sew.  I'm likely not exaggerating when I say that my seven year old is better with a needle than I (smile).  

This year when my mom saw my essential oils were overflowing on my counter, she surprised me one day with a perfect bag she made to hold all of them.  Of course, she knows me so well, and the bag was made with the most perfectly beautiful fabric.  

Since then, her bags have become quite popular and I'm so excited to give away one of these beautiful bags here!  

The Essential Oil bag is padded and lined, and made with high quality fabric that washes and wears well.  There are little padded pockets that hold the oil bottles, ten attached to the inside of the bag, and then four removable inserts with three pockets each.  Two of the inserts fit in the bottom of the bag and the other two stack on top.  Even with all the pockets full, the bag still zips closed nicely.

These bags work great for traveling, as the padded pockets keep the oils safe, but I also keep my oils organized in this bag all the time.  They are easy for me to find and safely tucked away in the same place. 


Another fun little bag that my mom makes is something she refers to as a Lalaloopsy bag!  She made these sweet little bags for my girls for their little Lalaloopsy dolls (which they play with every day).  These would make a great gift for a child!  (You could fill it with any little toys for boys or girls.)  I absolutely love these bags, as they keep little toys safely tucked away at home and are also great for traveling. 

 For this giveaway, should you win, you can select your choice of either an Essential Oil bag or a Lalaloopsy bag.  The bag will be made custom with your color combination choice! 

(The essential oil bag measures 10" wide, 7" tall, and 4" deep.  The Lalaloopsy bag measures 5" wide, 6" tall,  and 2" deep.)

 If you are interested in placing an order for either bag, you can find all details here


To be entered, simply leave a comment!  Please make sure I have a way to contact you via email should you win! I will select a random winner one week from today, next Tuesday, December 8.  You will receive your bag before Christmas, in the event this would be a gift.  And remember, you can select your color combination and your choice of either the Essential Oil bag or Lalaloopsy bag!  I know you will absolutely LOVE these bags just as much as I do.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Giveaway is now closed.  The randomly selected winner was Lyn Moon.  Thank you for entering!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Around Here

 This is what you call a true "unstyled" photo.  That's because if you visited our house right now, you would see one big mess - screwdrivers, levels, tape measures, hammers, you name the tool, it's likely somewhere in the laundry room.  Ahh, the joys of renovating an old house.  Justus and I have been knee-deep in house projects this past month, especially poor Justus.  

It started with clearing out closets top to bottom, adding some additional storage, painting and even adding new flooring in our old closet under the stairs.  Then the laundry room project came with new trim and new shelves and it's finally finished!  (Well, except for that minor job of painting.)  And then the dreaded project came that could be put off no longer.  The downstairs bathroom floor was completely gutted, and oh, can I be honest?  It was every bit as terrible as it sounds.  It took Justus hours to remove the old floor, as there were five layers, and I felt so bad for him.  Once he got to the dirt (literally), he discovered that the floor joists were in very poor condition and he had to completely re-frame before even attempting to add a sub-floor.

 But we have an end in sight now.  We grouted the new tile floor last night, and a new vanity and faucet are on their way.  So hopefully everything will be installed early next week and then I can paint, paint, paint! 

 Here Justus is cutting the floor out.  I have several other photos I could share, but it's still a little too fresh in my mind to do that.  ;-) 

Honestly, I'm so anxious to start painting the laundry room and bathroom.  This will be two more rooms completely finished, and I told Justus just today that it feels like we are finally on the home stretch.  This was the last huge project we had looming indoors, and now it's just a matter of finishing three bedrooms and hiring somebody to refinish the hardwood floors upstairs.  (I laugh right now because it sounds so easy... this is still a good bit of work, but it sounds fairly painless comparatively speaking!)

I've learned during the past five years that renovating an old house, especially when you do everything yourself, requires a good bit of patience.  And time.  And money.  It's easy sometimes to let house projects overwhelm.  Yet, there's always reminders that this is not what is most important, and I try not to get too impatient and instead enjoy the things that do matter the most.  

The girls are older now and I no longer have much time during the week for projects, house or otherwise.  Yet I wouldn't trade these days for anything.  Just another needful reminder to myself that I want to savor every moment.

Hope you are having a wonderful week!  Maybe, hopefully, I'll be back soon with some "after" photos of some of our projects.  ;-)  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Meal Idea: Chili

 I don't know about you, but once October rolls around, I start craving all things fall in the kitchen... including lots and lots of chili!  I think we all probably have our favorite ways of making chili.  There are so many variations, and so many things you can add or take away.  I've been making this variation for a few years now and it still remains our favorite.  :-)  


 This recipe uses your typical chili spices, although lately I've been substituting ground chipotle for chili powder.  Either way it's delicious!  I think chili is probably one of the easiest meals to put together, and usually something that everybody loves.  Even my husband, who isn't a big fan of soup (so disappointing, I gotta tell you ;-) ), loves chili!  And our girls gobble this up so quickly, although I do go a little lighter on the spice because of them.

 This year I have two nights a week that require complete meal prep, as we arrive home right at dinner time with everyone hungry.  So I've been using my crock pot a ton!  I love making chili, because when I'm struggling to get everything done before we get out the door, I can always throw this chili together quickly in the crock pot.  You can also just simmer this on the stovetop though, if that works better for you, which I do a lot during the weekend.  And leftover chili?  It only gets better!

I typically bake a big skillet of cornbread too and have some type of veggie on the side.

 Chili Recipe

 2 pounds ground beef
3 ounces tomato paste (or half of a 6 ounce can)
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (including juice)
2 cups water
2 teaspoons oregano
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1-2 Tbsp chili powder or 1/2-1 Tbsp ground chipotle powder (I go on the light side because of my little girls - feel free to add more/less depending on your taste)
1 tsp salt

Place the ground beef in a skillet (I like to cook my ground beef in a cast iron skillet), season lightly with some salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook until done.  Drain off excess fat and place the cooked ground beef in a pot or slow cooker crockpot.  Add the tomato paste, diced tomatos, water, oregano, cumin, chili powder or chipotle powder, and 1 tsp salt.  Stir together, cover, lower temperature, and simmer for at least 1 hour on the stovetop or cook on low in the crockpot for several hours.

Optional Add-In: Pinto beans are an obvious great choice!  You can so easily throw in a can of beans with everything else, but drain and rinse them first.

Toppings: Nothing makes this better than freshly grated monterey jack cheese and a big glob of sour cream!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The (New) Front Door

 Since first walking through the entrance of this house, I was in love with the original door hanging, complete with old wavy glass.  As with all old doors, the glass was single pane and on our particular door, nothing hung square.  As the years have passed, and we endured drafty cold air coming through winter after winter, Justus begged me to let us get a new front door.  I stubbornly refused to even entertain the idea, asking him instead to try as best he could to insulate the area around the door.  (I'm sorry to admit to this, but sometimes this meant stuffing dish rags and socks in the door when nothing else would help.) 


 I found this old picture of our original door.  :-)  Unfortunately, to help mitigate the draft and to protect the original glass, a storm door needed to be hung.  The concrete porch floor is not level, and in order for the storm door to open, the storm door had to be hung a couple inches off the ground, thus still letting in an unfortunate draft.

After four years of feeling a constant cold draft every time we stepped foot in our living room, I finally relented about replacing our old door with a more efficient one.  I suppose I should mention at this point that we also decided to invest in a new, more efficient HVAC unit as our heating bill was steadily climbing! 

My poor husband - although I agreed to replace the front door, I absolutely insisted on placing a special order for a door that looked as close to the original as possible.  We paid way too much for this special order door (it seemed like to us, anyway) and waited three months for it to come in (and it was even made in our home state!), but I was so happy with it when it arrived. 


 Justus tore off the trim on a Friday night and got everything ready to go for the next day. 


Now, typically I don't feel like I help a lot with projects like this, but on this particular day, my mom kept our girls and I was on hand to assist Justus.  It's a good thing too, because putting in a door, and getting it perfectly square, required a lot of effort.  It was a freezing day, and I remember wearing a big jacket and gloves the entire time.  It took us EIGHT hours working together to get this door in perfectly square and level!  I cannot tell you how many times we had to take it down and move it around.  And I cannot tell you how many necks were craned as cars drove by... likely thinking, what are these crazy people up to now?  Putting in a door on a freezing cold February day?  (At least the sun was shining!) 


 Replacing the front door, and replacing our HVAC unit, were both considerable expenses, but we haven't regretted either purchase.  It has made our home much more comfortable, and much more efficient.  I'm happy to report that our heating bill went drastically down and we were able to enjoy sitting in our living room the rest of the winter.  :-)

Every time I open and close the door, the sound of the seals tightly closing is music to my ears.

 I also spent way too long searching... and searching... for the perfect door hardware.  I wanted something that complemented the year of our house and the style of the door.  One day I'll replace the light fixtures to match.  (Again!)  ;-)


 Justus felt like I should type, "Currently hanging from our front door, is a basket full of blonde hair."  He's too much!  I happen to love the wheat!  (Laughing out loud...)

One day soon (maybe in the next three years - ha!), we hope to pour new concrete steps and spend some more time working on the exterior.  We've been gone so much the past several weeks, but this next week we're tearing out the downstairs bathroom floor and getting back to indoor house projects.  

 Here's the interior view of the new door.  I left the door its primed yellow color for a long time, waiting for inspiration to strike on the perfect color to paint.  First I painted it the darker gray on the exterior (too dark), then white (too light), before deciding this light gray was just right.  

And that's the story behind the new front door... just another project to cross off the list.  ;-)

Hope you are having wonderful Fall days! 

Exterior Door Paint Color: Benjamin Moore Amherst Gray
Interior Door Paint Color: Benjamin Moore Titanium
Door Hardware: Weslock Molten Bronze Tramore Sideplate Lock with Wexford Knob; Single Cylinder with Keylock Knob/Lever in Oil Rubbed Bronze.  Purchased from here:  http://www.directdoorhardware.com/Weslock_Tramore_Sideplate.htm

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