That Snowball Effect

Sometimes it takes just one thing, and before you know it it’s snowballed into a dozen more.

You see the MR has been talking about getting a new generator for awhile. Ours is situated down in the well room which vents into the garage, and with carbon monoxide being what it is, we just don’t like to run it all that much. We make sure the door is open; but let’s be honest, it’s usually bad weather when the power’s out, so the door’s banging around in the wind. It’s not the best design.

The week we got back from Costa Rica last month, the power went out for 12 hours on a stormy Saturday. At dusk when the MR went to turn on the generator, he found the battery was dead. I had dinner ready before 5 pm, so I could see what I was cooking, and we cozied up to the fire he’d built and headed to bed by 8 pm.

Somehow that nebulous idea of getting a new generator became an action plan. But it’s not just a generator. Ours is powered by propane, and we always wonder if we have enough to last through the storms. I think the longest we’ve gone without power here is a snowy four days, but we’ve had some major storms in the past where the power’s been out for a week. That being said, the MR was looking to have a larger propane tank put in, too.

Perhaps it was all the time on the side of the house with contractors looking at the tank and the generator and possible placement options, but suddenly, he was calling the tree service that did work for his dad 50 years ago to take out some trees that were getting too close along that side of the house.

We were getting bids and work was scheduled, and then as me and the MR were headed off to California for a wedding, the MR got a call that jobs had been delayed and they could take out the trees while we were gone. How awesome was that? By the way, it wasn’t the guy Papa Larry had known but his grandson who did the job—we didn’t have some 70 or 80 year-old man climbing trees in our yard.

We arrived home late Sunday to find a trailer full of logs off the driveway and the trees gone.

Sadly, Monday morning we noticed a smell when we went to check out the newly cleared trees. Somehow the propane line had been damaged, and while we had enough propane left for me to fry up some burgers for dinner, I’ve been hanging up the wash for the rest of the week.

Our new propane tank and generator were scheduled for early April, but the contractors were able to move some jobs around and will be installing the propane tank on Friday.

That means the MR spent most of Wednesday digging a trench for the new line. That’s probably a good thing, because with him using the shovel, I postponed my work in the garden. It would have been very exciting if I’d been down there when Cocoa spotted a bear next to the tennis court.

Why isn’t life simple? It’s always this, and then this, oh and that too. I’m thankful we were out of town over the sunny, warm weekend. If we’d been home, I know the MR would have suggested grilling, and that could have been real trouble with a propane leak around the corner. I’m glad I didn’t get up close and personal with a bear. And I’m glad kind people will get me some propane, so I don’t have to run upstairs to use the stove and can dry laundry  with that new-fangled thing called a dryer.

How’s your week been going?


Finishing Up

The MR finished the guest bathroom remodel earlier this week. First it was the shower.

New Shower

Then it was the tile under the window.

Commode & Tile

That left the counter, the sink and the light fixture. The counter, sink, and faucet were a package deal, but someone failed to mention that to the manufacturer. The store received our custom-cut counter without a sink which put everything on hold for a while.

Meanwhile, the MR had bought and installed a new light fixture. After our old, dim lighting system, it was a bit on the bright side, so he also added a dimmer. We don’t want our guests to feel like they’re being interoggated, or do we?


If we do this again, I’ll have to take pictures before he installs them in a very dark room with no windows.

The sink arrived before we left on our trip, but the MR decided to wait until after we got home to install it—just in case. He didn’t want the housesitter left without a working bathroom. Turns out he was right. While the counter fit perfectly, the sink was a bit deeper than the old one, and the stopper was too low to fit with the current plumbing. He ordered a pop-up stopper which came in the mail this week, and now we’re good to go.


He used the same accent tile featured in the shower as the back splash.


Our new bathroom is so subdued compared to where we started.


I’m hoping our guests appreciate it as much as I do. The MR has been checking a few other things off his to-do list this week, but that will have to wait till next time. You’re going to be amazed.

Any bathroom updates at your house? Remodeling horro stories to share?


Bit by Bit

The MR has informed me this is his last tile job ever. With five bathroom remodels, two patios, and one kitchen backsplash under his belt, I guess he can decide it’s time to call it quits.

As you saw earlier this week, the shower looks amazing, and Sweet Miss assured us that it works great, too. But the countertop the MR ordered weeks ago still hasn’t arrived. When he called the store, apparently the counter was shipped without a sink. Well, it’s not much good without the sink, so they’d sent it back, and we wait.

With that on hold, he decided to finish the bit of tiling behind the commode. Unfortunately, some of the tools he’d lent out hadn’t quite made it home. My brother brought them back last weekend, so the MR was all ready to get started. Of course the saw went out mid-project, and he had to get creative.

No worries—he’s a “can-do” kind of guy, and the tiling turned out lovely as always.

Commode & Tile

It does look really quite nice in person (when you’re not dealing with back-lit, tiny spaces, and bad overhead lights).

Tile Closeup

A little sparkle, a little shine in a subdued color—bliss.

So now all that’s left is the countertop, sink, and lighting up-grade. (I’m sure that’ll make my photography oh-so much better.)

Sink & Shower

Yes, the sink really is that ugly.


And now, because I’m feeling a little bit nostalgic, let’s go way back to when we bought this place. Remember the faux-finishing?

Overnight guests are treated with a green and blue medley.

Overnight guests are treated with a green and blue medley.

Imagine being surrounded by those walls. How did the MR ever talk me in to buying this place? We’ll never know.

I hear bathroom updates are in the works for a friend and another just finished a remodel. Any stories to share?

(If you need tips on how to fussy-cut tile, check out another blast from the past when the MR tiled the same area in the main floor powder room in A Little Tile Update. That time the sink was delivered three times before it arrived in one piece. Cross your fingers for better luck this go round.)




Somewhere In the Middle

Things can take a while when you’re doing the work yourself. Remember in early July when the MR Started remodeling the guest bathroom? I showed you a few pictures for inspiration and then a little later Teased with photos of the tile we’d picked out.

Well, I’d love to say it’s all finished, but these things take time. Parts, and tiles, and sinks have to be ordered. The plumber has to come, and then he has to come again. While the sink and counter, and lights, and tile behind the commode are all still on order, in process, or waiting to be completed, the shower is finished.

Sweet Miss was home for the weekend, and she gave the new shower the thumbs up. So it’s as nice to use as it is beautiful to look at.

Sadly, my photos don’t do it justice. Something about the confined space of a bathroom combined with glass, mirrors, and low light make it very hard to photograph.

New Shower 2

I should have taken pictures before the doors went up—the sleek, glass doors, that roll smoothly back and forth and are pretty awesome. It took a lot of patience and multiple cuts, but the MR put in a wonderful shelf to keep soaps, shampoos, and other potions neat and tidy.

And just take a look at the new shower system that incorporates gentle overhead rain, and a hand-held wand.

New Shower

It really is quite lovely, and makes the green carpet in the bedroom next to it look even more crazy. Carpeting all the bedrooms is on the to-do list for this fall.

I’ll share a few more photos when the entire job is complete. Looking at it makes you want to be a guest at our house, doesn’t it?

Any bathroom remodel or tile jobs to share?



It’s Started

Sometimes things just hit you wrong. They set your teeth on edge. They put you in a bad mood. They make you cringe. The MR has that kind of relationship with the guest bathroom.

Thankfully, it’s tucked behind the kitchen safely out of sight. But occasionally, he’d venture through the guest room to the en suite bath, and it’d just drive him crazy. It wasn’t the chrome wrapped sliding doors or the outdated shower fixtures that got to him.

IS Old Chrome Fixtures

It was the lovely, seafoam green tile.

IS Green Tile

Our home was built in the early 90’s, but the influence of the 80’s was alive and going strong. Pale blue, mauvy pink, and yes, seafoam green were sprinkled around. And who can forget the dark green carpet on the floors? This is almost the last of those once popular color schemes to be irradicated.

After his parents left, the MR was just itching to start on his new project. Tearing out the tile, and redoing the bathroom. For the last week, Baby Girl and I have been serenaded with the sounds of pounding. But now the green is gone.

IS Clean Slate

For months, he’s been browsing the eye candy on Houzz and found these two beautiful examples of bathroom tile.

Our goal is to give the bathroom a modern, sleek look while adding some light to one of the few dark rooms in our home. We also have the added bonus of hard water, so we’re battling that constantly. That means dark tiles can look cloudy, and light tiles and grout can turn yellowish without constant attention.

This is the only bath tub in the house, if you don’t count the Japanese soaking tub, so wanted to keep it. And then there’s the issue of bathing small children, huh? The MR thinks of everything. We’d talked about a fixed glass door that went three quarters of the way across, but then what if the next people have small children? They might actually need a bath. Some day, we might even have grandkids. It pays to think ahead.

These are the current tile favorites.

IS Tile Samples

As you can see the gray is quite close to the floor color with a hint more blue, so we’re thinking about going a shade lighter, and we’re still not 100% sure of the dark accent tiles. I can’t wait for it all to come together.

When he was tearing things apart, the MR discovered that the original builders had simply tiled over the sheet rock. Perhaps codes were different 20 years ago. Being a guest bathroom, it hasn’t seen much usage while we’ve lived here—just a few months here and there. We were happy not to find any water damage.

New fixtures have been arriving, doors have been ordered, and it’ll be exciting to share all the progress over the next few weeks.

Any horrible color schemes you’ve had to conquer?



Bathrooms, Floors & Bounty in 2014

The powder room has always had modern, clean lines, and the upstairs bathroom has always been a wonderful, spa retreat, right? Who would ever install emerald green carpet? Mauve tile is a thing of nightmares. We get so used to what we have, that we forget about where we came from.

Last year, the MR completed two bathroom remodels and we redid 80 percent of the floors throughout the house.  Over the year, we had a whole lot of chaos and craziness inside, and success in the garden and orchard.

Let’s take a look back just for fun. One of the first changes the MR made when we moved in was to switch out the blue toilet from the powder room. It was ugly and flushed randomly all day long–a no-brainer upgrade. Next we had the downstairs painted, and after much searching, we ordered a sink. With 11 corners and a built-in sink alcove, this was a huge decision. After three tries, the manufacturers finally sent a sink that arrived in one piece.

Then the MR removed the mirrors, installed the sink, and added a new mirror. It sounds easy enough; but as we all know, if it involves plumbing, it’s never easy. So we started with this.

Blue Bath & Sink

And wound up with this.

new mirror 2

You can check out all the fun here and here.

To continue the theme of bathroom upgrades, the MR removed the washer and dryer, added heated tile floors, redid the shower and added a new double-sink vanity and mirror to the bathroom upstairs.

He started with this dingy room–sadly, I forgot to get a picture before he removed the washer and dryer.

Breaking it all up


And created this beautiful space.

Vanity from the door


A few months and many paint samples later, the MR and his mom painted the bathroom, and I added a little art for a beautiful spa-like retreat.


You can read about the tile floor, the new shower, the vanity, or the finishing touches by clicking on these links.

That was just the beginning of our remodeling. In January, we checked out replacing our mauve border tile. Heated floors are awesome, but contractors don’t want to mess with them. No one would sign on to remove the tile, so we could install something a little less offensive.

Mauve tile

Staring at this everyday kept me motivated to find a solution. One afternoon, I was surfing the Houzz web site to explore flooring options and came across Semco coating. Before you know it, we had approved samples, lived through chaos and wound up with this soothing gray in the kitchen, dining room, bathrooms, and walkways.

Finished Floors Collage

It was amazing how getting rid of the grout lines added so much harmony to the rooms. Check out A Whole New Look for more photos.

Now after living with our floors for a few months, we got a nudge from the designers we were working with to pull the green carpet and add Semco flooring to the whole downstairs plus the stairs and hangout room. This was easier said than done. We had a local contractor fill in the conversation pit by the fireplace and add baseboards in the areas where the radiators were removed a few years ago.

Pit Construction

Molding Collage

Then the carpet had to be removed and the floors raised to the same level as the tile floor, so they’d be even. This was a little tricky. We endured a weekend of learning what it’d be like to live inside an orange.

Orange floor at sunset

We took the opportunity to add a few floor outlets, and even with an infrared camera, the electrician wound up nicking the tubing in the floor. At least it was a warm fall, so we weren’t worried about a day or two without heat. After a few tries, the Semco team gave us these beautiful floors.


We are currently waiting for a custom rug to dampen some of the sound. We did receive a new rug for the dining room, and a few of the new furnishings we ordered have been trickling in. Check out more flooring details herehere, and here.

Along with bathroom remodels and new floors, we enjoyed the first of many harvests this last year. The trees in our orchard are still quite young, but we had a huge bounty of apples this year. And with addition of the weeping plum, I have high hopes for our plum harvest next year.

apples and valley

In 2013, I complained constantly about the lack of growth in our kitchen garden. Well, this year, we must have been doing something right. Broccoli as big as Baby Girl’s head,

Broccoli Collage

beans climbing to the top of the tennis court fence,

Beans on the Fence

and over 50 pounds of tomatoes–it was a banner year. It could have the been the worm castings, the warm weather, the humic acid, or just some kind of magic, but whatever it was success was sweet and tasty.

Roasted Tomato Collage

And now what are my predictions for 2015? Well, I have a lot of furniture and some large area rugs on order. ( Here’s a sample.) With fewer renovations, maybe I’ll have time for some organization. The MR hates the minty green in the guest bathroom, so it’s days are numbered. And we’ve been talking about expanding the garden, adding paths, and making the lower property more accessible. I’m sure at least one or two of those will happen in the coming year.

I didn’t do a recap of December; the blog was basically just the joys of Christmas decorating. But we did travel to Mexico once more and spent the holiday with the MR’s sister in Dallas–say that five times fast.

It’s always good to spend time with family.

Christmas Collage

Wishing you a very happy new year from the Big White House on the Hill.

How was your 2014? What are your goals for the new year?

(I was excited to come home to Christmas cards, packages, and a special gift from my friend Dani of Teddie & Tottie fame in Australia. The garland you made is beautiful and so soft. Thank you so much. I have special plans for it next year during the holiday season.)






Weathering the Storm

A hail storm blew through last week. My dad is from the the midwest, and he says we don’t have “real” hail around here–just sleet. Well, it was plenty noisy pounding on the windows and dancing around on the deck. It looked like hail to me. It was about that time that I noticed hail bouncing on our little wood side table. Perhaps that’s why it seemed so noisy.

Hail on TableApparently the hail was piling up around the exhaust fans in the ceiling and just pouring on through. With a steady forecast of rain for the weekend, I was worried that the MR wouldn’t have a chance to take a look at the problem, but he was able to fix it up with tar and flashing on Saturday morning.

Good thing he did; cause Saturday night it started to pour, the wind blew, the trees fell, and the power went it–for one day, no let’s make that two.

Kenji and his crew were due back early Monday to get rid of the waves in the flooring, but with no power, we told him to hold off. It was a beautiful day, so he probably could have worked here. But as the MR pointed out, we shouldn’t encourage contractors to drive over and under downed power and telephone lines to get to our house. He’s always so smart.

Monday was Baby Girl’s last regular season volleyball match, and when we left at five the power was still out. But when we arrived home that evening, I texted BG this welcome photo.

photo 2 (105)

So nice to have lights, heat, water, all the niceties we’re used to. We are lucky in that we have a generator and were able to keep the food cold and power the well, as needed. Even with our limited usage, the propane tank for the generator went from 80 percent down to 55, and winter hasn’t even started.

So what do you do when you’re trapped at home with limited power? Finish up a few projects of course.

photo 1 (106)

And get ready for the next round of renovation. As you may remember, we’ve been redoing the floors. We started back in the spring and loved how the Semco flooring remade the tile walkways. (Check it out here.) Then in September, we started on phase two redoing the upstairs and the carpeted area in the great room (here). Bringing the subfloor up to the formerly tiled floor level has been a bit of a challenge. We weren’t happy with the difference in texture between the two, so Kenji and his team are back to make things right.


They put down the scratch coat yesterday, and cross your fingers, it’ll all be finished by Thursday. We’ll be able to move our furniture back Saturday, and the echo will go away. Living in flux gets to me, so I’m looking forward to the end of the crazy.

How was your weekend? Storms headed your way?