Friday, January 28, 2011

My non-green thumb

That's right, I don't have one. My grandma had the greenest thumb ever, and my dad seems to have inherited her touch as well, but all I got is a plain thumb...well I guess 2 thumbs, really. I have managed to keep a couple of ivys alive for the last 3 years or so, but I hear it is pretty hard to kill those.

Anyway, when we bought our house a few years ago, I was so excited when, in late winter-early spring, a bunch of yellow flowers popped up out of nowhere in several of the flower beds in the front. They were so cute, and I didn't do a thing to help them. I could definitely get used to that...I love self-sufficient plants!

Almost a month ago, I bought a big bag of red tulip bulbs from Home Depot, but have not gotten to plant them yet. First of all, a few days after I got them it snowed about 6 inches, and that stuck for over a week. Then, I just got too busy and sort of forgot about the bulbs until today. I was coming in to work late today, and so this morning I got out my supplies and went to work. On the first bed, I raked all the mulch away and started digging some tiny holes, about 4 inches deep (per instructions on bulb bag). I started to put the bulbs in, and would cover them up as I went. This proved to be a problem, because I kept mis-calculating where I had put them, and so I would do one too close or else I would dig into one I had just planted. I obviously needed a new plan. I did much better on the second bed. I did not move the mulch at all, I just carefully dug the holes all at the same time, then went through and placed them all in. There were 60 bulbs in the bag, but I had a few casualties along the way, so I probably only planted 55 or so. I'm not sure if I did it right at all, and I'm definitely not sure they will bloom in a couple of months or not, but I guess it was worth a try.

Here is a picture of the second bed. That bush will grow out and bloom bright yellow in the spring, and I hope to see bright red tulips popping up in front of it, how cool would that be!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Great Bathroom RENO - Final!

Well, it's been about a year-long process, but I am happy to say we are finally done with the bathroom! Well, to put it more specifically, we were done with the bathroom back in November, but I put off posting pictures because I was waiting to find just the right artwork to hang in the bathroom. So we looked for a few weeks without any luck, and then the holidays started up, and I feel like I just haven't had time to post good before/after pics until now. It is hard to believe we came so far, but we are really pleased with how the bathroom turned out! What do you think?

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Great Bathroom RENO #8

Everything but the bathroom sink...literally. That is how close we are to being done with this project! Can you believe it? We got the sink in last week, and are in the finishing stages of decorating and being done with the bathroom. In fact, next time I post, its will be before/after shots and final shots of the bathroom! We had our sink picked out from the very beginning of the project. It was a large white sink with a black cabinet and matching shelf, all from IKEA. We purchased everything on October 8, and then went home and began to build all the pieces. One interesting note is that anything you buy from IKEA, you have to build yourself, that is why it is so cheap. We had purchased our bedroom furniture as well as a shelf for our living room from there before, and had successfully put them all together, but when we got this stuff out of the box it was like we were pros! It was together in no time. I guess we have definitely picked up some additional skills as well as confidence from the RENO project.

Anyway, we got it all together, and then began to look at where the plumbing would line up. This is where it got a little more complicated than we had hoped (I feel like I've said that before...hmmm). The faucet we picked out from IKEA did not have standard supply connections. Rather than jimmy it and risk bad or leaky connections, we opted for a plain faucet from the good ole US of A, purchased at HD. There were only a few options for a single hole sink. So, the faucet isnt exactly what we wanted, but I still think it looks nice, and it works great.

Also, we replaced the beige light switch with a nice white one. A 69 cent fix that really makes a huge difference!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Great Bathroom RENO #7

Stop all the potty talk!
That's's toilet time. Let's just start by saying it took us 4 tries to find the right toilet. We measured our "rough-in," which I guess is the distance from the wall to the center of the hole in the ground, which turned out to be 11 inches. So we head out to Home Depot only to realize that they only come in 10 in or 12 in sizes. Great, we just HAD to be different, didn't we? We look around for a while reading and thinking, and we decide to go with the 10 in because we figure and the HD guy says that smaller is better since you can always move it around to get it to fit, where as if its too big, its not like you have any room to play with. As we are trying to get the "2-person lift" toilet into the back seat of our car, Jonathan said the funniest thing. I was trying to help, because the thing was heavy. I must have been doing more harm than good, because that is when Jonathan calmly suggested, "You do something else." I spent the next few minutes doubled over with laughter, so that was the end of my helping-spree...ha!

Anyway, so we get the sucker home only to find it is like 3 inches out from the wall! I mean, that would work, but honestly it would look pretty funny. We finish up for that day with no toilet. I pick up another one on my way home from work the next day. It is supposedly the same model, but the 12 in size. Some HD employee helps me load it in the car (of course, I can't help but chuckle to myself). I get it home and we take it upstairs, then get it out of the box only to find that obviously someone had used this toilet! I don't mean used used, I just mean they put in the wax ring and tried to install it, then decided to box it all back up and return it to HD like it was brand new. It was so disgusting, that we couldn't even set it down on the tile floor to dry-fit it! We took it back to HD and told them what a mess it was, and just did a quick exchange for the exact same toilet. Well, guess what? We brought that one home, took it out and dry fit the dad-gum thing only to find that it was the exact same size as the original 10 in toilet we tried (and still had sitting in our bedroom!!!) Ugh! We still don't understand how this stupid toilet could have been marked a 12 in when it was obviously a 10 in. So, long story longer....we preceded to take that one back to HD and buy a completely different model that was supposedly 12 in. I swore that if that one did not fit, I was giving up! Lucky for us, we have noticed that the HD employees change shifts or move around or something like every 15 minutes, so the same people who had seen me twice before that day didn't see me again (or maybe they did, and there are still stories about the "weird persistent toilet lady" floating around the break room).

So we get it home, out of the box, and dry-fit it. Looks great! Now its time for the actual installation. It wasn't too bad, but we are still nervous about it. We have flushed it a couple of times (I took a video of this process, lol) and it seems to work! You can check out some pictures of the toilet process below, and stay tuned, because the only major thing left is the sink and we are so close to being done!!!
The "hole" smells AWFUL when not plugged up

Dry-fitting the final toilet

Looks good!

How many times do I have to tell you to put the toilet seat down!

Wax ring

Final tightening

Nervous, "about-to-flush" face

Fully installed!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Great Bathroom RENO #6


All throughout our renovation, we have planned to put up bead board about 4 ft up on the walls and paint it white...aka wainscoting. This is the reason we have not been too careful with the lower half of the walls. Smoothing, covering holes, and even painting have been far too much work for a spot that was soon to be covered up, so we have definitely neglected the lower half of the room. I think it is pretty self-explanatory, so I won't go into too much detail, but I will post up some pictures so you can view the progress. I think it looks really great, and I can't wait to get it all caulked and get the final coat of paint on it!

Of course, our creativity just HAD to come in to play, because nothing could just be easy, right? Some expert measuring work and a clever light-switch frame make this wainscoting truly one-of-a-kind! We also installed the top and base-board trim...that is when it REALLY started to look good!

Friday, August 20, 2010

I Know What I Did This Summer...

So I haven’t updated since May, but after reading this post in its entirety (if you so choose!), I think you will understand why. We have had quite a busy summer! We have not touched the bathroom since May, except for one day we were home and sealed grout. In fact, this is the first day since May that I haven’t felt like I was rushing around trying to get something done, something ready, something packed, etc. So here’s a rundown:

On May 20, my younger brother, Seth, came to stay with us. He was looking around for a job, and trying to figure out what he wanted to do. We planned on him staying throughout the summer, but he ended up getting a job back in TX and so he only stayed for 3 weeks. Those weeks were power packed with job hunting with him, preparation for our trip to LA, and of course lots of fun!

The weekend after he got here, Jonathan’s mom and one of his brother’s families came to stay with us for Memorial Day. Of course, we had a blast bike riding(boys), shopping(girls), and being entertained by our 2 year old niece, Avi.

Jon-Jon reading a story
The next weekend, we went up to our friend’s lake house, aka doggy paradise.

Everyone jump!
And then we were off! LA bound with about 120 High School Choir Students and leaders. Jonathan was responsible for taking photos, making the video, and keeping up with the trip blog. I was in charge of planning/coordinating all of the missions activities, which included daily VBS for 400+ kids/families, and a huge block party at the end of the week with over 750 in attendance…whew!
The Choir in front of JFBC before their homecoming concert
We got back on June 19 and hit the ground running to get ready for our next mission trip: ROME! Again, I was in charge of not only the missions activities, but the logistics for the team as well. It was so amazing to be back working with our friends from the year before. We left just 4 short days after returning from LA, but did we sleep a wink on the plane??? Of course not!!! There were movies!!!
Sightseeing the day we got there...we were good for
nothing else, just trying to stay awake!
After returning from Rome,  I spent the next week and a half preparing for MUSIC CAMP!  Over 400 children ages 3 months-6 years old were about to have some crazy fun at our Rockin’ Rhythm Rodeo…yee-ha!  During this time, and for the next week or so, Jonathan would basically be spending EVERY WAKING HOUR moving sound/lighting/video equipment all over the church to prepare for the renovations and temporary re-location of the contemporary worship service.

The day after music camp ended, I worked furiously to tie up any loose ends and get ready for my vacation! I headed out to TX on a standby ticket, and got kicked off 2 planes before I made it to San Antonio by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin.  My bro Seth picked me up and hauled me to North Austin, where my friend Sarah picked me up! We spent the entire weekend Gilmore-Girling, getting sunburned, bead shopping, and EATING! What a blast. 

Me and Sarah at Sonic
Sarah passed me off to mom in Salado, and I spent the next few days hanging out in Seguin! I got to meet a couple of new cute little babies thanks to my visits with Jenna (Ashlyn) and Amanda (Ben), and of course my mom’s new puppy, Sophie. I got passed off once again to my Aunts and cousin and spent my remaining days out at the San Marcos river for a family reunion with my Dad’s family…gotta love the matching shirts!

Family minus Tim and Danielle plus Kristen's twin
I got back just in time for my birthday, which brought me THE AMAZING RACE: Birthday Edition that Jonathan had contrived! It was AWESOME, and of course I won (note: there was no competition…Jonathan thought it would put a damper on things if I didn’t win my own birthday race so he didn’t ask anyone to join us-haha)! Here is a picture of a (tired) me with my spoils!

receipts, chinese take-out menus, deposit slips, and know... the usual
I had nothing of the sort planned for Jonathan, but we did have a great(eventful) birthday weekend for him too. We went to MS to meet our new nice, Sally Sharp, and visit Grandmother in the hospital. We also got to spend a lot of time with our niece and nephew Avi and Walt.

In this picture, Jonathan is trying to explain to Walt that he should
not eat the rolly-polly that is in the cup...Avi thinks this is quite funny.
Did I mention that in-between our birthday weekends that we started Wednesday Night Activities at church, which meant me registering almost 500 children for choir and putting them all in classes? Nope, didn’t think so…

So if you’ve made it this far…stick a fork in me because I AM DONE! Hope you had a happy summer too J

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Great Bathroom RENO #5

Ok you know you are a slacker-blogger when you actually have to go back and read your last blog to see where you have left off! To look at the pictures I posted last time makes me feel awesome because we have really come a LONG way since then.
So the first thing we had to do after we got the shower base in was to prepare for the walls. We had had a lot of trouble trying to get the ancient shower knobs off, so we kept putting it off. Well, here it was...we HAD to get them off to install the new walls, no way around it! It was quite a process, Jonathan tried as hard as he could to get it off with no avail. I suggested we take a break and just come back to it. At this point it was sort of a pickle-jar situation. You know, you try and try to get the lid off and it won't budge, then someone else picks it up and it appears to be the easiest thing ever? Well, that happened but it was still him trying. It was like he barely touched the knob with the wrench and it basically flew off. Whew...glad that worked :)
So generally, you are supposed to install the back wall first, but we couldn't because we were not interested in re-working the entire piping line for the shower, and with the curve of the walls we chose there was just no other option but to install the side wall first. This called for hours upon hours a bit of time measuring and cutting the holes for the fixtures. Perfect fit!
So then it was time to attach the walls. We pre-drilled holes for the nails, and got the caulk gun ready with the Liquid nails. About half-way through the application of liquid nails, I came to the realization we were absolutely NOT going to have enough. I wiped down the spots I had already covered and announced we would need to return to HD for more. * lesson learned: always get way more than you think you need or than the directions can always return it if you don't use it, but most likely you will have gotten the perfect amount anyway!
So once we got back and I applied the adhesive, there was no time for thinking, we just had to stick those walls right up and then nail them in! It was all over pretty fast. We pressed them in firmly haha, and then rigged a couple of shower curtain rods between them to hold them in place while the adhesive set overnight...the directions suggested constructing a brace of 2x4's. Crazy direction-writers.
Alrighty...shower, check! Now its time to move on to the floor. First, we needed to install the cement board as a backing to the tile. We chose hardie backer board. After some strategic measurements, we figured out how to use only 3 pieces (meaning only 2 seams!) to cover the floor. Cutting the pieces of board was pretty tough, it is cement after all. Apparently the dust that cutting the board makes is toxic silica dust. If we keel over dead any time soon, rest assured that it was due to the inhalation of that stuff! Notice "smoke" in 1st picture, amazing cut in 2nd picture, and final product in 3rd
So the boards are cut, now its time to mix up the mortar...eek. *lesson learned: this is one beater you DO NOT want to lick afterwards-ha. It was tricky to figure out how to spread it evenly, but  guess it was good practice for the tile. You'll see a picture of our "trial palette" using leftovers we found in the crawl space from some tile project long ago, and you'll also see our disposal method :) we weren't familiar enough with the consistency we were looking for so we decided to mix up the entire bag according to the directions and see what we got. I'll mention here that once the stuff was mixed, I could barely pick it up, much less haul it upstairs...go Jonathan!

Now its time to cut the tile! We decided to measure, cut, and lay out all the tile so we made sure to get it all right before setting it in the mortar. This ended up taking an entire day. We borrowed a wet saw, and made a HUGE MESS of our garage after all was said and done. Props to Jonathan for his stellar cutting, and me for my stellar measurements. We only messed up one piece, but were still able to use it so no one will ever know...wait...until now.

And then came the true test...the moment we've all been dreading...the laying of the tile. After 3 days of after-work prep, we had everything labeled, organized, and ready to go. Last night we got started about 6:15 with the first batch of mortar and the first row of tile. I'm not going to lie, that was probably the worst thing we've done so far...we are talking way worse than joint compound, people. We persevered, and within no time we had a real system going. Jonathan mixed up the cement downstairs and brought it to me. I would spread it for the next row, then Jonathan would lay the tile, add the spacers and press it in place. Then, I would clean out the spaces, even everything up, and re-position the spacers while Jonathan mixed the next batch. And so it worked for all 6 rows! We finished up at 9:15 after spending a while scrubbing cement off of the surrounding floor and ourselves...not bad for our first try! I will say that the tile looks much better in person. I don't know what it is, but it really does not photograph well so you will just have to come over to see it when it's done!
One more thing. The FUNNIEST thing ever happened when we realized that we had not shut the window of the bathroom. As I'm sure you know, after you install tile, you are not supposed to walk on it for 24 hours, but it was supposed to rain today so we could not leave it open.  The dilemma. So Jonathan uses his Stretch-Armstrong abilities (I'm not sure either of us knew he possessed these) to step from the doorway and into the shower with only a small boost from me underneath his foot( note: I desperately wanted to get a picture of this occurring but that would have been cruel). He successfully closed the window but then realized it was going to be infinitely harder to get back to the room. I can't even explain what happened next... there are no words. I swear I think he somehow flew back into the room. It was hilarious, no doubt.
The End (for now)