Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tub, Set, Match

As we approach Month 3 of our bathroom remodel, the biggest jobs are nearing completion: the thermostat is moved, the pocket door kit is installed, some of the drywall is up. . .and the tub is in! Since we still have one last step to finish up before I write about the Nest and the "door" part of the "pocket door kit" left to install, I thought I'd spend a few minutes extolling on the intensity that was our tub install.

You may recall our first surprise was finding out we had a cast iron tub on our hands. After demolishing it and recycling the pieces for a cool 24 bucks, we were left with a big open space. And somehow, out of the 194 photos of this remodel I've taken so far, I didn't get a close up shot of the open space left by the taken out tub!
The weight of the tub meant it had nothing really holding it in place beyond the sealed in drywall edges. With our acrylic drop-in tub taking over the lease, this wasn't going to work. The instructions included info on how to set it in a mortar bed, so we knew that was our end goal.
But first, the excitement of getting our drain pieces to fit. We purchased the Kohler Slotted Overflow and Bath Drain from eBay, saving about $15 from the same version available on Amazon.com. Moving from metal piping to PVC meant researching the connectors that were going to adapt the best way. In the end, we spent just a few dollars on a ring and grooved connector that created a tight grip on the metal pipe and allowed the pvc pipe to securely connect.
The bigger issue was the height of the existing drain. After quite a few "measure twice, cut once" tasks, we sliced down the metal pipe with a saw, cut a larger opening into the floorboard and sliced up the PVC pipes included with our kit to get the drain and waste overflow in just the right spot.
After using Oatey purple primer and PVC cement to seal in the drain pieces, we used foam filler to fill in the extra space we created with our larger hole.
In tandem with setting the drain in the exact right place, Bob was hard at work building a wooden frame for our drop-in tub. Three sides came together just fine, but when we realized that the 2x4s were a little too wide to fit in the tight space at the front end of the tub, Bob used some extra metal stud pieces to build out the fourth wall. These also helped make sure the drain kit wasn't blocked at all.
After securing the frame to the floor and using some strategically placed 2x4s, the tub felt fully supported and was completely level.
However, everything we read said that the frame itself should not be what is supporting the tub. That meant our next step was laying our mortar bed. Structo-lite was recommended by our local hardware store for this task, and 1 1/2 bags was enough to do the trick.

How to ensure the mortar didn't spread all over or risk going down the drain? Bob built 2 "ears" alongside the drain using metal sheets picked up at Home Depot. By screwing these and three other wooden walls into place, the bed was created.
Bob mixed up the Structo-lite in our buckets with a drill attachment mixer and poured it over a sheet of polyurethane. 
After smoothing it out and making sure it was a tall enough mixture, the sheet of polyurethane was brought over the top and tucked into the edges of the barrier, creating a Structo-lite burrito. This meant that the tub would mold to the shape of the Structo-lite, but would not be completely stuck in the mud should we ever need to remove it.
The tub was secured into place, the levels were checked (all good!) and then we let it sit overnight with a box of tile and bags of thinset stacked inside to give it some hefty weight.
The Structo-lite hardened completely, and within the day there were no creaking noises at all when you stepped in the tub. 
With the tub in place and the drain draining just like we need it to, our next step involves covering the walls and side of the tub with cement backerboard before we tackle the tile!
I've been taking photos every step of the way of our bathroom remodel, here's a quick snapshot of where we were to where we are now. Progress may be slow, but it is steady.




Saturday, September 13, 2014

Great Printer's Ghost!

It doesn't seem possible that we are headed into mid-September. I had all of these great summer plans. . . 

While I'll continue to blame the fickle Chicago weather for denying us a real summer, my own procrastination certainly can't be ignored. Otherwise I would have had posts to share such as "I Finally Updated my Photo Albums after 2 Years," "and "Picnic Ideas for Movies in the Park." Alas, nothing completed along those lines, so why not just head straight into Fall?

After three weekends of travel, I was looking forward to a Saturday at home. Bob and his buddy tackled the first of the drywall installation for our bathroom remodel. I helped by making lunch and running to Ace (we average 3 visits a day when working on a bathroom project). At some point, I got a look at our mantel and realized it was time to decorate for Halloween!
My ever-growing holiday collection is kept in the basement garage spot, and it didn't go without notice that I've managed to increase my fall-themed tote collection by 1 from last year. I'm going to see if I can make this a "no-spend" halloween, but somehow doubting it. 

I think part of why I end up buying at least one new piece each year to add to the collection is because it is requires a tad less effort to create an original display when you've got new things to show off. Earlier this week, this pin caught my eye on Pinterest and I realized I had an answer for how to make old things seem new.
photo source
I bought a printer's drawer about 2 years ago with hopes of creating an advent calendar with decorated wooden blocks. That project is still on my list. Literally, it is one of my 36.5 in 365 goals this year! But in the meantime it has just been gathering dust in the closet. I pulled it out along with all of the fall decor and started playing around to see what we had to work with.
Pretty quickly I could tell it was going to be a great addition to the mantel. While it does stand upright on it's own fairly well, I stacked books behind the drawer and put a heavy hurricane in front of it to keep it in place. I also made sure it didn't touch the painting behind it as it tends to leave marks.
A few little figurines, candles and stamps I had on hand fit in just right in various squares. 
I employed my Every Holiday Blocks in a slightly different way, taking up one whole corner of the drawer.
The discolored wood of most of the squares already made for a great background, but to jazz up a few I took a scissors to some Martha Stewart Halloween paper. 
A random white feather was in the drawer when I grabbed it from the closet - it fell off of a feather Christmas tree that is also stored there. I figured I'd run with it: I grabbed a sharpie to it to turn it into a raven's feather and found a spot in the display for it.
Surrounding the drawer display are some Pinterest Projects of the Past: Pumpkin Diorama, Yarn Ball Owls and Halloween Mantel Scarf
In the "not new, but new to me" category, I was pretty jazzed earlier this year when my mother gave me the bendable black tree that had always been displayed in our house. I wrapped the bottom in a scrap of fabric and added small pumpkin candles and a craft skull I picked up for $1 at Michaels last year.
Two hours after I started, the mantel was looking pretty complete.
A few leftover pieces were added to the bookshelves, designated on a shelf that now contains every creepily titled tome we own, from Frankenstein to Devil in the White City to American Psycho.
I lined the dining room table with a fall themed runner we received from my mother in law last year and added a few candles. A silver lantern (leftover from our wedding centerpieces and set aside for holiday projects like this) was stuffed full of pumpkin figurines of all shapes and sizes.
We're headed up north to my parents' house in a couple weeks, which means some REAL pumpkins from their garden might be making their way to our tablescape and displays. Wahoo for Baby Boos!

Linked on I Heart Nap Time and Tatertots and Jello.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy

I promised more recipe posts, and more recipe posts I shall deliver. 

This light and fresh salad comes from Cooking Light. It was originally included as part of a series of recipes focused on increasing your water intake outside of drinking 8 glasses a day. This is perfect for a girl like me who has to force herself to drink one glass a day (read more about how I tricked myself into drinking more by creating spa water here)

Cucumber, Pear and Watermelon with Ricotta Salata
8 servings
2 cups cubed seedless cucumber
2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
1 pear, peeled and diced
2 cups halved red grapes
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbs honey
1 1/2 tsp grated lime rind
2 Tbs lime juice
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
3 oz crumbled ricotta salata cheese for top

The fruit was mixed together and set aside, and then it was as easy as lightly tossing it with the sour cream through red pepper mixture. The little bit of pepper gave the recipe a surprising kick.
This also gave me the excuse to try a new cheese. The recipe said feta could be used as a substitute, but I found the ricotta to be a fresher taste than a typical feta.
All in all, a tasty treat for a summer weekend lunch!

PS. This post title comes from a Wiggles song that my niece used to listen to (or maybe we just kept playing it over and over and she couldn't have cared less? I can't recall).  I enjoy the intensity of the phrase "Fruit Salad!" at the end of the chorus.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tools of the Trade

Having never worked on a home remodel before, Bob and I were severely lacking in tools to get the job done. We manage to fit quite a bit in the plastic tote and toolbox that sits on the bottom of our closet floor, but mainly things for the odd job around the house: hammers, cordless drill, pliers set, no less than 4 tape measures. . .

We knew that this bathroom remodel was going to gain us some tools, but even I am surprised at how many we've managed to pick up over the last 2 months. While I'll still count them towards our overall expenses for the bathroom (I'm estimating $400 of our budget will be tools that can be re-used), the nice thing is that we can anticipate using all of these again over the years for future renovations and DIY projects.

So what sorts of things have we found a need for that we didn't already have on hand? Here's a breakdown, and I know we'll have a few more items added to this list before the end of this project!
Lantern/Flashlight ($20) - We had a great lantern that could be used as a flashlight or stood up on end to act as a light source. Originally bought for camping trips, we found it handy as we gazed into the crevices of the wall we were ripping out and the bathtub drain to find obstructions. And then we tripped and it went flying. Our broken lantern was replaced with an even better one that has a handle for hanging.

Sledgehammer ($35) - I wanted to avoid this purchase, as it seemed like our demo was going smoothly with just a hammer and mighty swing, but then we discovered we were dealing with a cast iron tub. Time to bust out the big guns.
Chalkline Kit ($6) - We used itas a plumb bob to ensure our pocket door kit install was perfectly spaced, but I am sure we'll find another task or two for this one.

A Longer Level ($15) - We sprung for a five footer once we realized our mini-level wasn't cutting it.

Chisels ($15) - We probably only needed one, but we picked up two so that we could both tackle the wall tile at the same time. The flat edges made lifting up floor tile like this a snap.
Cutting Tools ($35) - we've been slicing and dicing through wood, drywall and metal, so had to pick up the right saw for each job. We look forward to the day of having power tools - and the space for them - in our lives.

Tarp ($15) - My usual dropcloth of an old sheet got the heave-ho for the time being, replaced with something heavier duty to protect our floors. We also used it to block the cats from entering the bathroom once we removed the door and outer wall, before we were able to clean up all of the sharp debris from the tub removal.
Tin Snips ($10) - Our studs are metal, which meant a few of them had to get cut down for us to properly install the pocket door kit and create a new header.

Protection ($25) - Respirators for when we're tearing into the drywall, disposable gloves for when we're touching gross stuff (like the waxy ring holding the toilet in place), safety goggles for when tile shards are flying and work gloves to protect my hands (Bob already had a pair). I am all about the precautions so that our budget doesn't take an "emergency room visit" type hit.
2 Buckets ($5) - Not pictured, but already very useful for hauling debris downstairs and soon-to-come grout mixin'.

Frog Tape ($10) - Thinking further ahead with this one, but we'll be doing a lot of re-painting soon enough. I have heard good things about Frog Tape vs. the usual blue that I buy, so we'll give it a whirl.

Tub Drain Wrench ($15) - Designed to reach into the small space of the tub drain to remove it, we used this tool for exactly 5 seconds, but it did the trick. 
Tile Tools ($90) - grout float, tile cutter, tile nippers, mallet and trowel. We'll still need a wet saw rental at some point to take care of our 24" long floor tiles that need a beveled edge, but the 12" one we picked up for $45 should be all we need for the wall tile and shorter side of the floor tile.

Drywall Installation Tools ($20) - Since we haven't gotten to this part of the remodel yet, I have a feeling we'll still add a few more pieces to this list, but so far we've picked up a mud pan and 12 inch taping knife. 

In the meantime, we've given our hallway a bit of a break from looking like a war zone. With weddings taking up our next couple weekends, and lots of other "life stuff" going on, we're going to revisit our remodel come September!
Ahh, so much cleaner. Plus,  you get a sneak peek of our pocket door kit and tub frame! 

Wait, no! Don't go in there! Don't go in the second bedroom!!
And that's why we keep the door shut.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Salmon Jammin'

All this bathroom remodelin' has really taken a toll on our time in the kitchen. At least, that's my explanation for why we haven't been to the grocery store for a month and have been living one meal at a time for the last few weeks. Exhibit A: a dinner consisting of Kraft Mac & Cheese for Bob and Spaghetti-O's for me. Oh dear.
I finally broke out some old Cooking Lights (my 12-issue 2007 subscription still gives me new recipes each time I flip through them!) and created a grocery list fit for adults - no Spaghetti-O's allowed. First up, we made Grilled Salmon Tacos with Chipotle Sauce.

I didn't pick up any actual Chipotle Chiles, instead settled for a teaspoon or so of Chipotle seasoning. This was combined with 1/2 cup mayo, 2 Tbs minced cilantro and 2 Tbs buttermilk to create the sauce.
We also decided to mix up the call for green cabbage and stick with radicchio that was sliced up and added to 3 Tbs lime juice and 1/3 cup green onions.
The salmon called for a BBQ spice rub that was easy to make with things we had on hand already: Hungarian paprika, salt, pepper, thyme, cumin, cinnamon, chili powder and brown sugar. We didn't feel like lighting up the grill (or spending the evening sitting in our alley, which is our unfortunate necessity when it comes to grilling), so we settled for a cedar plank on our stovetop grill pan.
After 20 minutes or so, the fish was perfectly done and we flaked it into pieces for the tacos.
A layer of sauce, the radicchio mixture, salmon, diced tomatoes and a little extra sauce on a flour tortilla. Yum.
Expect a few more upcoming recipe posts thanks to our long overdue grocery trip!


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Skipping Ahead

While we take a quick break from our bathroom re-do to wait for the plumber's visit, I thought I'd jump ahead with this post and pretend we are further along than we actually are.

What's that? Wondering why we have a plumber coming when we prided ourselves on doing the whole job ourselves? Well, as obvious as it seems now, but not something that occurred to us before, our new taller tub will have some impact on what's currently set up. The current setting for the tub spout jams into the top of the new tub, which means it and the handle will have to be moved up about 6 inches. And we aren't touching that one with a 10 foot copper pipe. Welding is not yet in our wheelhouse.
Anyways, back to the future: our bathroom cabinet plans. We spent a great deal of time looking for the perfect bathroom cabinet. If we would have found something two years ago we would have snatched it up and been getting use out of it, but until now nothing struck our fancy. I briefly considered us building what we wanted from scratch, but woodworkers we 'aint. 

The dead corner space of the bathroom is perfect for a tall, thin cabinet to hold towels, cleaning supplies and guest bathroom amenities. Until now, we relied on the storage within the sink vanity and a small end table shoved into place. Our move to a pedestal sink was going to lose us half of that storage, so we figured going vertical was the solution.

P.S. Recognize my DIY Tub Decor, made in this blog's infancy? Sad news: about a month ago our Chicago poster fell off the wall, shattering the tray. RIP, Tub Decor, RIP.
My "New Home Inspiration" Pinterest board began to fill up with tall, white cabinets like this one from West Elm:
Or this one from IKEA:
I also loved the idea of a vintage armoire filled to the brim with linens, like this:
And then my sister gave me a Crate and Barrel gift card for my birthday. . .one online search plus one store visit later and our decision was made.
The Banya White Bath Tower runs a tad skinnier than we were originally looking, but I think we'll be happier without something jutting up right next to the toilet or hitting too close to the sink edge. With two closed shelves on the bottom, our extra TP and cleaning supplies can be kept out of sight. Four open shelves add ample room for storage and display. Here it is in brown:
I was still on an eBay high from our fixture purchases at a major discount, so before we hit purchase we took a look at coupon offerings. We ended up paying $19 for a 15% off coupon, which would save us $60 off of the purchase price. I will take any savings I can get with this DIY experiment, especially since the tower unit ran a little higher than the $250 I initially budgeted for this piece of the puzzle.

The cabinet is in hand and ready for assembly. I almost opened up the box today, ready to tackle something I knew would have a clear finish today, unlike our ever-growing tub timeline. 

Although it is going to be awhile before the shelf styling step, that hasn't stopped us from picking out the items that will be on display. With gray floors, chrome fixtures and white everything else, we are relying on our accessories to lend some color to this joint.

First up, our not-so-new-anymore guest towels in cheery sunflower yellow. These were on our wedding registry and for some reason I've been waiting to use them until our bathroom got re-done. Perhaps I thought it was going to happen sooner than 2 years ago when I made that call? 
Speaking of yellow, I've been waiting for this yellow wire basket to go on sale at C&B. Perfect size to hold easy to grab cleaning supplies, and with a slatted door you will be able to see some hints of color popping out from the bottom shelf.
I travel quite a bit for work and grab the hotel soaps and the nicer shampoo/conditioner sets. I probably have more than we'll ever need built up, but we'll continue our trend of setting out a matching mini set of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion for when guests visit. I'd like to use the collection of soaps to create something like this to display:
That thinking got me searching for apothecary jars online. Crate and Barrel had a great set of three glass jars, but I ended up going with this acrylic set on Amazon.com. I figure we might eventually have a little one using this bathroom, so limiting the amount of breakable items on display seemed like a good move. So, hotel soaps in the big one, Q-Tips in the small one and TBD in the middle one.
I'm picturing one of the shelves having pretty perfume and handsome cologne bottles on display, something like this:
Finally, all of my Amazon searches have pigeon-holed me as bathroom-obsessive as of late, so I wasn't surprised when tissue box covers popped up on my "You Might Also Like." This wasn't in the original plans, but it did seem like another way to add some color to the cabinet and, dare I say, a bit of whimsy. I really liked this Umbra Casa Tissue Cover, but reviews that shared its lightweight-ness scared me off.
Then I found the Paper Pot! You can use it for either toilet paper or facial tissue, and there were plenty of positive reviews. I sprung for the yellow one and waited for its arrival - cited for almost a month later from China.
I'm an Amazon Prime member, so waiting more than 2 days for anything I order now seems like a terrible inconvenience. Oh, how spoiled we've become. Luckily, the Paper Pot arrived in just under 2 weeks. And it arrived looking like this:
What you can't see is that the shipping sticker calls it "Bomb Shaped." I'm actually surprised it got to me in one piece, looking like it did and having the word BOMB stamped across the top. We loaded in a set of Kleenex and tested it out. Can't wait to find a place for it on the shelf!
We're torn as to what to put on the very top shelf. I loved one of the display photos that shows house plants on top, but with no natural light in the bathroom, I'm not sure how they'd fare. TBD, I suppose, and probably for the best. After all, it's going to be quite some time before we're ready to create the display - plenty of time to weigh our options!
What are you shelf stylin' as of late?