Tuesday, August 13, 2019

our new outdoor pets

Since Charlie died, Mae has been talking a lot about getting a new pet. I think this obsession can be explained as follows: 10% Mae trying to cope with the loss of a pet, 20% her fascination with pets in general, and 70% trying to understand the concept of allergies. It all stems from the first conversation we had when I told her that Charlie had died and was not coming home. When I said we wouldn't get a new bird right away, she asked if we could get a doggy. I responded, "No, dogs make me itchy." She asked if we could get a cat and I told her the same thing.

A few days later, she springs this bit of trickery on me:

Mae: Mom, do cats not make you itchy?
Me: Cats do make me itchy.
Mae: Mom, do dogs not make you itchy?
Me: Dogs do make me itchy.
Mae: Mom, do fish not make you itchy?
Me: No, fish do not make me itchy.
Mae: ... Can we get a fish?

We have had this same conversation DOZENS of times in the last couple months. Replace "cat/dog/fish" with every other animal you can think of. Goats? Turtles? Pigs? Giraffes?? Thank goodness I have allergies or we'd be shopping for a whole zoo's worth of animals. (For the record, if it has fur I assume I'm allergic to it.)

Resisting adding a new pet to the family has been slightly easier with this addition to our house.

I've had this hummingbird feeder (thanks, Mom & Dad!) for a while but couldn't figure out where to hang it up. I finally noticed an old bracket hanging outside the big window in our kitchen. I was able to reach the bracket from the extension ladder and hang a length of chain from it. With a cup hook attached to the end of a long dowel rod, I can hook and unhook the feeder from the chain to refill it. We have almost constant hummingbird visitors, and they go through a cup of sugar water in about 3 days! They are very territorial and I love watching them fence each other mid-air. En garde!

They are entertaining, low maintenance, and I don't have to clean up their poop. The perfect pet. Plus they don't make me itchy!

Here's the other addition to our house that's making me happy. New shutters! I ordered these black vinyl shutters from Home Depot, and Dad helped me install them when he visited a few weeks ago. It took us all morning, but it went pretty smoothly with two people and his hammer drill. Well worth it... they make me so happy. Thanks, Dad!

Here's the before photo. New shutters, storm door, door paint, handle set, light fixture. Just ignore those overgrown bushes... they're next on the list!

Friday, August 2, 2019

white is the new pink

After 14 weeks, our bathroom renovation is finally finished! I love how it turned out, and I'm thrilled to have our main bathroom back in order. While the pink tile was original and pretty, it was in rough shape with multiple large cracks and 80+ years of accumulated damage and grime from regular use. Other bathroom fixtures were not original and dated. Plus, the room layout needed some tweaks to improve the functionality of this small space. This is our only bathroom on the main floor and is located adjacent to our bedroom, so it is both our powder room for guests and our master bathroom.

As a reminder, here's the "before" photo. (It looks like it's in much better shape in this photo than in real life):

Our contractor started the first week of April by gutting the whole room, which meant chiseling 5" thick slabs of concrete and metal mesh out of the floor and walls. (Tile setters in the 1930s weren't messing around. They built bathrooms like bomb shelters. This is why we didn't even consider doing the demolition ourselves. I think one of the contractors cried the first day.) By the end of the first week, we could see the inside of our exterior brick walls, the underside of the upstairs bath tub, and straight through the floor into the garage. We had a bit of a delay with the plumbing, but most of that was finished up in April.

In early May, the new layout was more apparent as the framing, subfloor, and drywall were installed. We eliminated the small linen closet on the left and moved the vanity to that nook instead. This opened space on the right wall to add a door to the bedroom, so the bathroom is accessible from both the hallway and our bedroom. I had originally wanted to split the bathroom into a separate powder room and shower area, but space (and budget) constraints nixed that plan. Adding just the door was a good compromise. We also rotated the toilet so our knees don't hit the shower any more. Win!

The tiling work continued through the end of May. I picked out matte marble-look porcelain hex tiles for the floor (Home Depot) and white square tiles for the wall (Floor & Decor). The 4x4 wall tiles, chair rail, and baseboard are a nod to the original tile layout, but the wall tile is set in a "running bond" or brick pattern instead of the original "stacked" pattern. (I never knew I'd have such strong opinions on tile patterns.)

The detail work was finished up in June. Since this is our main floor bathroom, I wanted to have hidden storage for everything like toothbrushes, makeup, etc. I bought the mirror (actually a roomy medicine cabinet) from Signature Hardware along with the light fixture and towel ring. The vanity I originally purchased was on indefinite backorder, so I ordered a different one from Home Depot. We had an outlet installed in the back of the cabinet, so we even have a hidden charging space for an electric toothbrush!

We'd originally planned on a swinging glass door but instead opted for the sliding doors to save space. I love the frameless glass, and I find much enjoyment in squeegeeing them dry after a shower. *Squeeeeeeak* Mae is enjoying the new shower, since there's more space and a little shelf to keep a couple toys. The hand shower is super helpful for rinsing her hair and rinsing the shower walls clean.

Though everything went pretty smoothly with the construction, I was still absurdly stressed through the whole project. I frequently woke up in a panic over minor details (what if the floor tile looks bad with the wall tile??) and unlikely scenarios (what if the floor collapses and the bathroom falls into the basement??). My stress level is finally returning back to normal, where I wake up panicked about other non-bathroom-related disasters (what if the crab grass takes over the whole yard??). I don't think I'm ready for another major renovation any time soon. Though I'm dreaming about painting our kitchen cabinets... Thoughts??