April 22, 2011

Break for Ice Cream

With all our DIY projects going on around the house this spring break, the kids aren't having a whole lot of fun activity.  Calvin decided to take Landon to go get ice cream at our local creamery.  Then they ate it outside so they didn't tempt anyone (me) while they ate it.

We all had root beer floats that evening.  Yum.

Today it's back to more work.  We're slowly making this house our own.

April 17, 2011

Master Bath - Before and After

I rounded up some before pictures of the master bath so you can get a good feel for the previous dated look.  It was clean but needed updated.  That wallpaper!

They even had wallpaper in the shower area.

The nice blue toilet is on it's way out.  But it's still solid so it will probably stay until after we replace the green one in the kids' bathroom.  Have to prioritize these things and the green is much worse.

Here you can see the small medicine cabinet.  Tiny!  That's the steamer in the sink.  It took down soooooo much wallpaper throughout our house and was a lifesaver!  Each wallpaper area was different and had it's own set of challenges during and after removal.  I will show the rest as we redo those areas.  But we borrowed the steamer from our wonderful friends/neighbors and when I started using it, I had this, "why didn't anyone tell me?!" moments.  It was so much easier than spraying and scraping.

Now for the after!!!  Try to ignore my picture in the mirror - I told you it's the first time I had seen the lower half of my body in over a year and it's taking some getting used to.  At least I'm dressed in the picture.  Supposedly there's this story of a man who took a picture of his shiny metal teapot and sold it on eBay.  Well, he was naked while taking the pic and you guessed it - his reflection was shiny and clear.  Hello!

The mirror came from Goodwill and was the back of a vanity or dresser.  I painted it a light gray and we turned it on it's side and put some hooks in it.  It fit perfectly.  The lights work great above it too and the little pictures are of French city streets (also from Goodwill) and have the perfect blue in the frame.  A great find for my thrifting adventures.

So there you have it.  This was so much work, and it was just a little room.  But we will get through each area of the house and rework it to how we like it.  Light and breezy and clean and fresh.  That's the motto.  Oh, and inexpensive too.

April 15, 2011

The Master Bathroom

I've been "project"ing.  (Not projecting as in putting my problems onto other people - ha). You know, home improvement stuff.  Calvin was gone for 2 weeks to Asia and I always like to take on a project to surprise him.  Well this one was going to be a bigger surprise that I anticipated, and not in a good way.

I took to demo-ing the master bath, and midway through it looked like this:

I took down the wallpaper but I didn't stop there.  I took out the tiled-in towel rack on the bottom left and then the two spots where there was a tiled-in toothbrush holder and soap holder.  The toothbrush holder was completely useless since they don't even sell toothbrushes to fit the little holes anymore.  While taking off the massive grout behind the tile, I took out a few more tiles that I had hoped.  I either kept accidentally cracking the neighboring tile or it came out on it's own as the top border did.  In the end I was left with 9 open square tiles and 2 borders to put back on.  Luckily our previous owners left us a box of the vintage tile, making this part of the project possible.

I then removed the old light fixture.  Our good friends graciously gave us their two sets from their house which we plan on replacing these with.

I also removed the old medicine cabinet.  It was so small (no wonder I was gaining weight - I couldn't tell since I couldn't see below my neck!).  I have a new mirror I picked up at Goodwill to replace it with.

Then I had a mess.  The first step was to fill in the drywall.  I had it cut to size at Home Depot and then only had to shave it down a little to fit once home.  At Home Depot I wanted to take the whole sheet of drywall home, since I bought it.  So you should have seen the guy helping me (just reminds me I need to put in a good word for him.  Okay, I quickly filled out a form on the HomeDepot.com website).  He was so helpful, trying to fit the giant piece of drywall into the minivan.  It was quite a sight with me emptying and rearranging strollers, the baby, car seats, and pushing seats down and forward.  We had to cut off just a little but it fit!  Gotta love Hondas.  Anyhow... back to the bathroom.

I nailed in a couple 2x4s into the sides of the framing in the hole where the medicine cabinet was in order to adhere the drywall.  Then I screwed the new drywall piece.  I spackled it along with all the flaws in the wall left from removing the wallpaper.  Then I went around with an electric sander to smooth out the bumps.  Then I wiped it down and painted it with primer.  After that it was still too smooth, so I researched and took off to Home Depot in search of texture.  I ended up with a $13 can of orange peel texture (which is what my dad said I needed all along of course) and I sprayed that all over the walls.  It's quite messy so I used a plastic drop cloth underneath.  Once that was dry it was finally time for the top coat of... white paint.  Not exactly thrilling for all that labor, but now the ceiling and walls are a fresh white and we are both happy with the progress.

So today I was able to do the tiling, which was nightmare-ish.  First I replaced a bit of cement board that was damaged, then I had to chisel every little piece of grout remaining so the tile would fit.  I was like a dental hygienist scraping away little bits of plaque.  Tedious and detailed.  Finally the tile fit and I grouted it in.

Ta-Da!  Not exactly done but all the hard labor is behind us.  Now for the mirror and lights to be put up and a good solid cleaning.  We will be so happy to have our bathroom functional again!

April 5, 2011

Almost Crawling

Tosca is sooo close to crawling.  I know I will regret this, but I actually get excited to see infants learn how to crawl.  The sense of achievement and satisfaction on their face says it all.  Plus, she's a persistent one, and somewhat easily frustrated, very much like Landon.  Very much.

I've been taking more pics from my camera phone lately.  They're not the best quality but it's nice to be able to have it close by and capture some moments that otherwise may not have been.

She doesn't only have one arm in that picture - she just waves it so quickly, slapping the floor in a repetitive motion, happy with herself.  Guess the phone couldn't handle her lightning fast movements.

There she is doing her plank.  She practices this yoga move over and over throughout the day.  I think she's mastered it.  You can see the concentration on her face.  She is proud.  And serious.  And ready to move.

April 2, 2011

African Dance Night

We were invited to go to a local Baltimore City school last night for African Dance Night.  I didn't know what to expect and thought we'd be watching a performance.  We actually were required to participate!  It was so much fun.  One of those magical evenings where you feel part of a community of diverse people from many different walks of life.

There were three drummers who kept the beat going for at least 45 minutes.  Then two dancers and their little girl let groups of people dancing across the gym floor. 

Etame got right in there and danced with her friend Sarah.  Finally Landon warmed up and started dancing along with some new-found friends.  Then I got out there with Tosca and she lit up the room, giggling and laughing across the floor and through the night.

After all that dancing, appetites were awaken!  We went to the cafeteria for potluck-style international food.  The kids tried all sorts of dishes - Iranian, Indian, Japanese, and Italian.  The kids tried all sorts of things and enjoyed it.  It was an evening of experiencing a different culture without the long travel time.

A lady and her daughter who wanted to hold Tosca after the performance