Monday, October 24, 2011

Baby Steps

With the permit phase of the upstairs reno almost coming to an end, there are just a few little projects that need to be finished up. A few of them were checked off the list last week.

Install cedar beam


Mount fixtures and connect electricity


Trim out linen closet & begin priming everything.


Things still left to do:
- install linen closet doors
- install 2nd faucet (when it finally arrives)
- prime walls
- paint all trim
- track down crystal dummy knobs
- connect bathroom fan
- wallpaper
- make & install shelving

Little by little, we'll check off the list. I'm praying my patience holds out.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I go through phases of feeling domestic. This week was one of them. After a visit to our local farmer's market I got an itch to make apple butter. Since Ben was off on a fishing adventure with his dad, I turned our kitchen into my lab.

A couple of years ago while in Guatemala, I developed a serious craving for apple butter. Sadly, it could not be found anywhere. After a bit of research,
I set out to make my own. So this time of course I turned back to Darby's amazingly easy crockpot recipe. Once again, it did the job!

half bushel of mixed apples

add spicy goodness

mix thoroughly

slow cook for 8 hours

And since was feeling especially domestic, I decided to try my hand at canning. After a quick run to Walmart I returned home with this.

I had initially set out to find a larger canning pot & metal rack, but since I don't think I'll be canning all that much, I decided on a less costly option. It actually works great & stores away easily.

The only sad part is that after all that slow cooking, the recipe only yields 4 pints!

So I repeated the whole process again! No big deal.

There was one small catastrophe.

Apparently it's not a good idea to sit your crockpot on top of the seam where your laminate countertops connect. Oops.

And as if 8 pints of apple butter wasn't enough. I also whipped up some pumpkin butter.

Watch out Martha!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On the road again

Amidst all the yard work we've been trying to squeeze in before the cold settles in, we were able to squeeze in a short vacation to the land of where trees turn pretty colors - Pennsylvania. Although our original intention was to partake in Clarion's big Autumn Leaf Festival, we ended up spending most of our time away from the crowd, enjoying some amazing Indian summer weather instead.

Fall in PA

My M&D

Enjoying the warm weather

Beer on the bank of a river

Cutest animal ever (wearing some granny knitted baby legs)

2nd cutest animal ever. Alpaca.

Here in Charlotte the leaves have been falling, but the whole changing color thing isn't quite as spectacular as it is up north. With 3 pecan trees & 1 walnut tree in our postage stamp yard, we're not loving the work that comes along with the change of the season!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

backyard mud wrestling

Now that the rain has finally ceased I'm ok with talking about it, but a week ago I was beside myself stressed out. Here's why.

This is what happens when you till up your whole yard in preparation of installing a sprinkler system and sod....and then it rains for a week straight.

Let me explain a my stress with this simple equation.

4 legged friend (who recently was groomed so pretty)

a doggie door
mud pit backyard
Type A never ending need for a clean home

You can only imagine how happy I was that week.

So when the rain finally ceased & it became somewhat possible for us to install our sprinkler system & already cut sod (that was waiting in the bed of Ben's truck), we donned our finest & got to work.

Good thing he brought those muck boots back from Guatemala!

Do you even know how hard it is to till & rake & level mud?

Let me tell you.

Nothing about it was fun.


It was especially not fun for the Princess of our porch who was dying to romp around in the mud.

Finally when the day was done the yard looked like this.

(The mud in the corner is where we plan to build some raised garden boxes).

We didn't have enough sod to finish completely, but that was ok since we have plans for this side of the yard in the spring. For now we'll make due with a temporary walkway and some grass seed.

Monday, October 10, 2011

My doppelgänger

Don't they say that all of us have a look-alike out there somewhere? Well someone that I work with recently found mine - the French President Nicolas Sarkozy's wife, Carla Bruni.

Typically when people say that you look like some celebrity we don't usually see least I don't. It's probably because I get a lot of Lindsay Lohan (gag) & Claire Danes (My So Called Life era). Once I even was told that I look liked Kelly Preston, John Travolta's wife. That one I didn't see at all. They are all good looking women, but just because we share the same hair color doesn't mean we look alike. I must admit though, having never seen this Carla woman before in my life, I was actually taken back a bit when I first saw this photo. I think I actually do look like her - at least in this photo. After a quick Google search for some other images, I'm chalking it up to this particular photo, but I'll take it - she's a model, singer, actress, songwriter. It could be way worse, right?

Who is your doppelgänger?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Evolution of a Bathroom

Since this project has been going on FOREVER, here's a little reminder of where our little 'build master bathroom project' began.

When we purchased the house the attic had been "semi-finished". By "semi" it meant a bad drywall job, falling down popcorn ceilings & some nasty carpeting. So we had to take a few steps backward to just plain "unfinished," so that we could start from scratch.

Here's what the master bath space looked like right when we moved in.

The most organized it has been this whole year!

After months of planning & interviewing contractors, demo finally began on April 6th - Ben's birthday.

The framing took awhile. It was the shower that held things up. The carpenter wanted it to be 4 feet. I wanted it to be 5 feet. In the end, I won. That decision & the little niche seat that I pushed to add pretty much took this bathroom from standard to custom.

Still though, it wasn't a real bathroom. We needed plumbing.

That will do it.

Then came insulation. We got the spray foam kind - Icenyene. This 90 year old house is going to have an air tight 2nd floor for sure.

Then came drywall & backer board & floor tile. There were set backs with the tile too but we worked it out fairly easily.

During the tile wait period, the new windows went in, the vanity was ordered & the linen closet was framed out too.

The linen closet will has a 36" opening to accommodate 2 18" shutters that will act as doors. The inside is big but odd because of the slanted wall & sloping ceiling.

We ended up going with a charcoal gray (almost black) 18" porcelain tile on the majority of the floor. Originally we had planned to offset it with 4" square tiles of the same color, but when they came in the color was off, so we opted to omit them. I'm actually glad we did. I think a more simple look will be better once we add the wallpaper. In the shower we did a unglazed 1x1 hexagon for a bit of texture. I also have a "thing" for the hexagon. Plus since the wallpaper is all hex, I felt compelled to get it in there somewhere. Everything was grouted in black.

The white dot must have been on my camera lens.

This is the completed tile job on the shower before the glass door installation. The walls are a simple white 3x6" subway in gloss white. The niche is accented with a herringbone pattern in the same tile. The seat in the niche was made from a remnant of black soapstone & the corner shelves are a white quartz (I think).

I'll take some close up pics as soon as the carpenter finishes some grout touch-ups this week.

Finally last week the glass door that was backordered was installed & the plumbing fixtures too. We splurged for a european sliding style door rather than the traditional hinged open style. It really was the only thing that made sense for the space.

For the fixtures we stuck to Delta since our plumber really wouldn't consider much else. The carpenter who works with him a lot swears he is a great guy, but I can't work with someone who can't/doesn't communicate. I don't think he'll be coming back in the future. It turned out fine though - with Delta I mean. I found a traditional chrome style that works well in the space and then branched out to another brand for the hand shower slide bar. I really really wanted something that had the old school cross handles and found it with Alson's (I think). It ties in nicely with the cross handle faucet we got for the double vanity from Pottery of which is still backordered from May! Don't even get me started. If it weren't for my discount we would have abandoned ship on those PB faucets months ago.

The list of projects left to complete is getting smaller by the day, but still includes finishing up the electrical, trim paint, ceiling & closet paint, wallpaper primer, wallpaper, installing shelving....& that last blasted sink faucet! When it's all done, I can't wait to put on the finishing touches.

So there you have it friends. It's far from finished, but at least now it resembles a bathroom. I almost can't believe that it was just an empty dormer before this all began. It's been 6 months of construction men letting themselves in and out of our home. We'll probably get a few weeks of peace before the next set of guys starts doing the same thing when we move onto the bedroom/den/laundry space. What will we ever do when we don't have these daily visitors? Ha!