"Winter" in Florida

Back in December (yes, we can all see by now that I am just getting around to catching up on my blogging), I was so grateful to have been the guest of my dearest friends, A&T, at their condo in Florida. 

Just look how that girl been workin' out!!

They took me straight away to "Bathtub Beach" to admire the craggy coast,

...and the gorgeous sunset!

We thrift-shopped...

We ate All The Things...

 Lobster burger!!!

Shrimp cooked to perfection and served over spiralized zucchini made by Chef T.

I got to spend some quality time with this little girl, whom I have known since she was FOUR!!!

Family portrait

I made the acquaintance of the hugest, most beautiful staghorn fern ever.

And heaven forbid I should forget to take the obligatory pool-side and beach-side vacation photos!


So...our tenants of the nine years since we bought the place moved out in January. They left the home in very good condition, however we wanted to make a few improvements.

With $40 worth of soft gray* paint purchased from the Habitat Restore in Modesto, Bill was able to paint every interior wall in the entire house, taking them from old and drab to fresh and clean. Some accent walls were poo-colored so that definitely had to go!

Another $20 or so took care of bringing the doors, trim and upper kitchen cupboards into the 21st century with a crisp ultra-white. 

(Sorry the lighting sucks so bigly on that left shot. I tried to fix it and only made it worse.)
The cabinet next to the interior garage door was chewed up from being banged against for years so that had to be repaired first with a ton of wood putty and sanding. I gave the kitchen cabinets a more modern look by rehabbing the doors from 1980s flat, beveled (boring) to a pretty grey-blue shaker-style by adding rails and stiles (that one's for you, Bill) to each door face.

That after photo shows the actual wall color that we used throughout the house.*

I had to repair some other areas of the house, as well. At one time there had evidently been a leak that caused mold to form at the top of the master bedroom window frame.

After Bill made sure the window wouldn't have any further leaks, I performed Mohs surgery on the molded area, replaced drywall, mudded everything smooth, and then repainted the whole window frame.

Presto-change-o, good as new!

The only room we managed to not paint was the bathroom. There was a funky area around the sink, though, where there was no backsplash. So instead of getting roped into repainting the whole room, I decided to create a new backsplash with a modern look.

Not what I would have chosen for my own home but, hey, it's a rental.

Last but not least, a $4 reject can of high-gloss cobalt blue gave the front door a fresh new look.

While Bill and I worked on the home, we took our sweet time, laughed a lot, sang really loud to a lot of Tom Petty (R.I.P.), and went through a few bags of chips and jars of peanuts. We also met our kitty-corner neighbor, who wrapped on the door one rainy evening to tell us her nephew and his wife might be interested in renting. They came over to look at the place while it was a giant in-process mess and, long story short (don't you love that phrase?), they now live there!

* Due to crappy iPhone photos and inconsistent lighting, you'll have to take my word for it that the walls are now a lovely, soft gray.


Back, back, way back, when my elder son still liked me, he made me a custom bathroom mirror. Well, he didn't actually make the mirror, but he was into glass etching at the time and did his voodoo to a store-bought mirror to customize it for me. I covet this mirror, for obvious reasons.

When we were pulling everything out of the bathroom to prepare it for its makeover, the corner of the mirror broke. Gah!

I was horrified! It was nobody's fault, but there was no way I was going to let this mirror get away with trying to commit suicide!! Since it also had age spots in some places...

...I decided there was no better time to update it with a beautiful frame. Initially I thought I might use the same material as the baseboards, but once I held it up there I decided it was boring. Plus, it was too wide. So off to Lowe's I went, and picked out some groovy molding. Going with the pond/garden theme, I chose this:

I carefully measured and cut the pieces with my miter saw. This was a bit of a challenge to get just right because the mirror didn't sit flush with the wall on the left, and I absolutely HAD to make sure the frame covered the broken bit.

Here's everything dry-fitted together. You can see I already painted the trip white. Then I decided that was boring.

So I took the pieces out back and spray painted everything brushed nickel to match the rest of the hardware installed in that bathroom.

I laid all the pieces upside-down on my kitchen counter. I placed pieces of waxed paper under the joints to protect the counter and shimmed everything level with Popsicle sticks placed diagonally under the corners. Then I gorilla-glued all the joints. I had to holding everything in place with painter's tape and soup cans. It worked great, but like all DIY miters, there were still tiny gaps so I mixed a tiny bit of water into a tiny bit of wood filler and used a tiny paintbrush to finesse the joints. Once everything was dry and perfect, I re-sprayed the joints so now it looks like I knew what I was doing. LOL.

Online tutorials said to clue the frame to the mirror, but this didn't make sense to me. The mirror is fixed to the wall with small metal brackets, preventing the frame from sitting flush with the glass. So I ransacked my sewing kit, cut small pieces of stick-on Velcro, and stuck those on the brackets. Then I used red lipstick to draw a line down the center of each of those, and then held the assembled frame up to all that and pressed lightly. This left a red lipstick mark on the back side of the frame, showing me exactly where to stick the other side of the Velcro strips. Got those stuck on and, voila!

I planned to put a picture hanger thingy on the top-center of the frame and hang it like a picture in front of the mirror, but it doesn't seem this will be necessary. It's been a few hours and the Velcro is holding strong. Woot!

Post Script: Here's a shot from the Lowe's website of the shades I used on my pendant lights. They are actually much more white than this. They look like white fish scales.

Medicine Cabinet redux

As soon as I started to install the lighting, I realized I had screwed up by leaving the medicine cabinet in place. One cannot open it without whacking into the pendants! So I decided I'll do what I wanted to do (but didn't) in the front bathroom.

Don't get excited about the gray lines around the perimeter.
That's just the light cords I'm holding out of the way.

"Vintage" medicine cabinet removed and donated to Habitat.

Drywall installed to create smooth surfaces.

Mudding begun.

Mudding, sanding, repeat.

Completed and painted.

I planned to install a motion sensitive LED light strip across the top, but when I received what I ordered online it wasn't motion sensitive at all. Then I lost interest.

Extracurricular Activities

I veered off topic from the bathroom a bit over this past week. One day I spent about 7 hours helping a friend whose house was slated for demolition the following day. He wanted to save a few items for the granny house he intends to build, and he had a bunch of glass blocks I wanted for myself. It was back-breaking work, but we salvaged the blocks, two bathroom vanities, all the good interior doors, several cabinets (kitchen and laundry room), and some of the window treatments. We worked so late that he had to pull cars around and shine headlights through the windows. There was a lot more I wish we could have salvaged, since we both hate seeing good things end up in the landfill, but we had a very small window of time so we did the best we could.

I came away with 24 beautiful, fully intact glass blocks that I'm thinking of using when I renovate my shower. The plan would be to put them in the wall facing the backyard, bringing in a lot of light!

Day-before-yesterday I helped another friend. She and her husband own a rental house they've been renovating for the past few weeks. Well, now the renters are moving in and they can't use the kitchen sink, the stove, nor the front bathroom shower! While her husband worked on the sink, I tore out the shower doors and their bent frame, removed all the old, yucky caulk, cleaned everything with alcohol, then installed the new fame, doors and caulk.

Once again I failed to take a "before" shot, but afterward everything was beautiful. Very clean and fresh. I had never installed one of these before, so this was great practice for when I'm ready to do my own!

Bathroom Floor - MULLIGAN!

I didn't like the way it was looking so I started over. It's frustrating, and this will screw up my project schedule, but this is one of the benefits of paper flooring.
No stain in the goo.
After three coats of glue-stain-goo.

Here's what it looks like before sanding:

And here's what it looks like with a quick once-over with a sanding block:

The sanding brings out all the white veins.

So anyway, as I write this I am doing a happy dance (internally; I'm way to tired to do it externally) because I've just put down the first of 10 coats of Polycrylic. Translation: The End Is In Sight, People!!!

Bathroom Floor

With the walls and ceiling completed, it's time to get the flooring done.

Carpet tack strip holes patched, floor cleaned.

One layer of paper applied with glue + stain.

Floor received a light sanding to bring out the veins. Inevitable boo-boos patched.

Second coat of glue/stain.

Third coat of glue/stain.

Blood Orange

Yesterday, thanks to my ever-helpful roommate-step-daughter, Lydia, who is much stronger than I am, my dwarf Moro blood orange tree found its new home in the garden.

Couldn't have done it without you, Lyd!