Thursday, July 26, 2012

50 Shades

Not Grey, but gray.  (I'm sure everyone by now gets that literally reference).

I'm finally going to share why it took 3 different paint colors to finally move-on in the bathroom renovation.  Last time I left off the room was a breezy, bright 'Gentle Tide':


Although it was a little bright for my taste, I was warming up to it.  It definitely gave the room a spa feeling.  I was fine with it until Mike laid out the tile.  All of a sudden it didn't look too good.  The tile had way more yellow than I remembered and it clashed with the walls.  So, while in freak out mode, I grabbed the leftover paint from our master bedroom (Sherwin Williams Uncertain Gray) and painted everything (this time was made a lot harder with the addition of the vanity and lights).



I actually ran out of paint since I had less than a gallon, but it was a good thing because when I finished, the color was looking a little more purple, (especially near the lights) than I wanted.

Back to the drawing board.

I grabbed a bunch of swatches from Sherwin Williams and brought home to sit in the room with the lights and all the fixtures.  Since we had all the tiles already out of the box, I used one of the loose ones to compare.  It was at this point that I noticed something fishy.  The tiles from the boxes were not the same as the sample we were given.  We bought our tiles from a tile store in the clearance section, and we chose the tile based on a sample sheet that was supposed to be the same as the boxes we bought.  The woman at the store wrapped up the sample sheet to a piece of cardboard that we had been running around using to pick colors like paint. 

(This is where I would show you a picture of the two different tiles, but somehow we were short on tiles, so we had to use the different color sample tiles under the vanity toe-kick.  I have pictures of them somewhat hidden, but you'll have to wait until I post about the tile.)  

While I was pretty pissed when I realized the tiles were different, (I actually hated the real tile at first), I was a little relieved that I wasn't going crazy with my paint indecision.  While we weren't able to use the 'Gentle Tide' color, I'm happy with the new direction we're heading.  Which leads me to the third and final color, Sherwin Williams Pewter Tankard.  The color is a little darker than I had originally planned for this room, but I love it.  It's a nice taupe-y color that works well with the finishes we have, as well as the tile.  The pictures read a little more brown/tan than it is in real life, which is more grayish brown, but it's definitely a big difference from the soft greenish blue that we started with. 



And, because I had to work around the lights, (by unscrewing and letting hang down on the wall), which we didn't feel like removing, we were left with a fun reminder of the rest of the colors where the mirrors will eventually go.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer Crawfish Boil

It's not all work and no play over here.  We took some time a couple weeks ago to throw a party for our friends and family and decided to add a southern twist to the backyard bash by having a crawfish boil.

We first ate crawfish in Texas a couple years ago and I'd say they are a mix between lobster and shrimp taste-wise, with the fun of a crab fest, (which I used to do every summer growing up and visiting my grandparents in Maryland).

Since we're nowhere near Louisiana, we did the next best thing and had live crawfish flown in for everyone to enjoy.  Since we were shelling out (pun intended) a pretty penny for the crawfish we had to keep the cost of decorations and such to a minimum, so I googled "crawfish boil invites" found some I liked and made my own in Photoshop, (I would have liked to have bought the invites, but I waited too long for them to be ready anyways).


We've never cooked crawfish, let alone host a party serving them, so Mike and I were a little hesitant as to what to expect.  Mike was in charge of research and purchasing the little guys and we ended up going with Louisiana Crawfish Co.  We expect about 30-35 people to show up, so we ordered 70 lbs.  Since the party was on Saturday, we had them shipped to us Friday night.  I was home when the UPS guy showed up, and carried these to the front porch:


Of course, I had to open them to see what was inside and boy did they stink, think swamp water and feet.  Each cooler was cold packed and came with all the seasonings and even some Mardi Gras beads!



Since it was in the high 90's that day I shlepped them inside to keep them cool.  I could hear the little claws scrapping against the styrofoam and the whole house smelled because I couldn't help myself and kept opening the lid.

When Mike got home he used the basement utility sink to wash them off (keeping them in the bag) and repacked them with some ice packs.

The next day we worked our arses off and since it was again in the high 90's, sweated them off as well.  Thankfully my coworker brought his giant tent for us to use after I complained about the possibility of the heat ruining the party.  If it wasn't for the tent, we would have had a lot of sweaty and unhappy guests.  As it was, with the tent blocking the sun and some fans blowing cooler air from the garage around, it was actually pretty cool.


As you can see, we set up the tables under tent, then set up a small tent to the left where the cornhole boards were.  On the deck we set up some chairs, but because of the heat, it wasn't used almost at all.  I wanted to keep the decorations to a minimum, and tried to keep it to red, brown, and white, but being so close to July 4th, it was hard to find things without blue, so I gave in and put up a couple frilly things. 


Besides a couple more pinwheels on the deck, we also added was some sting lights.  I've wanted to do this for some time, and finally had an excuse.  Unfortunately, starting a party at 3 pm means that even the diehards are leaving around 8ish, before it gets dark and lights are even needed.  Because we were so excited about it, (and coming down for the party high), Mike and I did hang out under the lights after everyone left.


We used 2 sets of lights from Target at $12 a piece and zip tied them to a gutter bracket on the overhang.


To create the height at the edges of the deck we used the iron bars from a bar clamp thing Mike uses for large projects.  He used large zip ties to attach them to the deck posts, then more zip ties to attach an extension cord to the lights.  I asked Mike to do this and of course he doesn't understand that esthetically bright orange extension cords don't go with anything, but they were up and I was happy.  And, he even said that the next time we do it, he'll use a black cord.  He's learning. 


In keeping with our minimalist decorating budget, we went hillbilly and prepared and served the crawfish in Rubbermaid containers and coolers.  Truth is, that those were the only thing that would fit all the crawfish.  Before everyone showed up, Mike and our friend Dave washed all the mudbugs and threw away any floaters. 


After a pretty extensive cooking schedule, (something like: bring to boil, boil crawfish for 2 minutes, turn off heat, sit for 15 minutes, take out, put in cooler layering with seasoning, steam for 20 minutes), they were done!  And SO good! 


We also boiled corn on the cob, kielbasi, potatoes and onions to go along with the crawfish, and had hotdogs and all the regular stuff found at picnics like pasta salad, chips, and brownies for those that weren't adventurous enough to try the crawfish.

If anyone's looking to have a crawfish boil, I must first warn you that it's a dirty job.  But, if your willing to work a little for your food and not afraid to get your hands dirty, it's so worth it. 



 My dad had a blast, and definitely wasn't afraid to get messy, or have fun with them!


Even my grandma had fun.  It's a family joke that she always ends up wearing what she eats, so she brought a little help to keep her shirt clean.  For the first time, she was about the only one who didn't leave wearing a little of the crawfish juice.   


Everyone talked about the party for weeks and we're already planning on what we'll do for next summer.  Maybe something different like a clambake?  Who knows, now that we're experts at the crawfish cooking, maybe it'll be an annual thing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tile Prepping

I wrote that I painted the bathroom last week and we were ready for tiling.  The truth is I'm about to paint the third color in there, (I'm having a major case of color commitment - more on that later), and we had a lot more to do to prepare for the tile.  The good news is we made a lot of progress on the prepping, and painting only takes a day.

The first thing we did to prep for the tile was to build a window sill and trim.  I left the detailing for Mike, then I painted.  The reason we had to do this before the tile was because of the placement of the window, the right edge of the trim will sit against the tile.  Previously, the little bump-out for the shower just cut the trim off and it looked a little funny.  Mike and I decided to add the complete trim edge and work the tile in around that.  The truth is, the shower curtain will cover this edge and no one will probably ever see it or appreciate it, but Mike and I will know.

To keep everything cohesive, we wanted to match the trim in the bathroom to the rest of the house, including our thick base trim, (which will go in after the floor tile).  So, Mike used the window in the hallway right outside the bathroom as a guide to build out the window trim and sill.  It involved a lot more work and pieces than a traditional window trim, but it was worth it to keep everything looking the same.  Here's the window after Mike worked his magic:


You can see how the right hand edge will be cut in with tile:


Here's a detailed shot of the profile of all the trims:


And, here is the hallway window that Mike used as his guide.  Thought it was the after picture didn't you?  Yeah, he's that good.

 
We had a little snafu when Mike used some silicon caulk to fill the holes and seal the edges on the right that would sit next to the shower.  The problem was the silicon was non-paintable.  Yeah...and we didn't realize it until I started painting.  Imagine a lot of cursing and then tense moments of silence to control the urge to throw my paint tray in Mike's face.  To be fair, silicon caulk resists mold the best, Mike just didn't think they would make stuff that wasn't paintable.  It wasn't a complete disaster though, it just meant a lot of sanding for me, and a lot of apologies for Mike.  I was able to finally cover everything after 2 coats of primer, and 5 coats of white semi-gloss.

The next step in the prep was to put down some DensShield tile backer, which prevents damage to the sub-floor if water gets through the grouted tile.  I was a little late for the party and only was able to get pictures of the last piece going in, (Mike hates stopping in the middle of steps so I can take pictures).  Basically it's like laying drywall on the walls, but you put a layer of thinset on the floor first then put the cut pieces of DensShield on, then screw down.  After this cured for a couple of days, Mike then used some grout to fill in the seams of the DensShield on the floor and in the shower, (I didn't get a photo), to further waterproof it.  It was the same way he muds drywall seams.

Here's the thinset on the subfloor:


Then placing the DensShield on the thinset:


And, a little shimmying to get it in place:


The next step to prep was the door transition strip.  The hallway is hardwood and the bathroom is tile.  When we moved in the hall was covered in carpet and the tile in the bathroom was built up to meet that.  So when we removed the carpet, the tile was almost an inch higher and everyone tripped over it.  Mike used the hardwood as his basis for the thickness for the tile, thinset, DensShield, and subfloor so there would be no more depth difference, and no more tripping!

The hardwood floor also didn't have a straight edge, so the first thing Mike did was cut the boards for a uniform edge.  I was holding the shopvac to keep the dust to a minimum, so I didn't get photos.  He had a little piece catch on the blade and splintered, but once we sand and stain the new piece we shouldn't be able to see it.  For a nice clean look, we picked up a piece of oak 1"x2" and Mike installed it at the threshold.  He started by routering some biscuits into the floor boards.  (We had to buy a special router tip because the biscuit joiner we have didn't fit after we installed the DensSheild, next time we know to do that first!) Then he added biscuits to the piece of oak.

He then glued the edge of the oak piece with some wood glue, inside and around the biscuits:


Then used some caulk on the subfloor where the piece was going:


Then fit the biscuits into the notched holes:


He then added a couple screws into the subfloor to hold the piece secure while it dried.


What we were left with was a piece of oak that, once stained, will be a seamless transition from the hall floor to the tile.


Since Mike did all the nitty gritty stuff, I guess it's only fair to finally get my act together and pick a darn color.  I'll be back soon to show you the third and final, (I promise), color.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pinterest Challenge | Summer Edition

I almost didn't do the Pinterest Challenge this time around.  With this bathroom renovation coming down the home stretch, I didn't think I would be up for it.  But, that's the whole point of the challenge in the first place.  Stop pinning, and start doing!


So, I sucked it up and picked a string art project that I pinned ages ago, (50 weeks ago to be exact - why does Pinterest have to remind me that I'm so behind!):

(From Reason to Read and pinned here on Pinterest)

There are so many different things you can make with nail and string art, but I already had something in mind, (where I was going to put it was a whole different story!).

Since Mike and I have the same first initial, I've always wanted to do something with a play on the fonts - a very girly M next to a masculine M.  I figured this would look good in nail and string, so I started by using Photoshop to come up with a design.  I tried a couple different fonts together but ultimately ended up with modified versions of Antrokas and Sketch Rockwell:    


After finalizing my design, I went to the garage to look for some wood that would work.  Mike keeps a scrap pile of wood, (actually, he has numerous scape piles since he likes to keep all left over pieces, but he has one that fits in a small trash bin that I can easily dig through), and I was able to find a piece of pine that was from the bathroom renovation, (reduce, reuse and recycle baby!), that I cut down to 11" x 8".  Since it was pretty old, (most likely from the old 1970's vanity) it needed a lot of sanding.

Since it was dark and hot outside, I didn't get any pictures, but I did use one of the leftover pieces to see which stains I liked better and you can see how discolored the wood started:


I just used what stain we had in the garage, which was mahogany and ebony.  After the stain comparisons, I chose the ebony, (bottom).  I stained the wood, then added a layer of shellac, (again just what we had already), for an extra layer of protection.  I love how beat up the wood is and how little marks are more noticable with the stain.



Some people on the internet cut their designs out, but I opted to just tape the whole paper on.  The only downside to this was, there were a couple of pieces of paper that stuck to the nails after ripping it off.  Nothing a little tweezer action couldn't handle.


For the nailing, I eyeballed them about 1/2" apart and fudged a little on the thin line parts.


Then you just keep hammering...and hammering.  I got bored and a little tired of the hammering sound so I did it in a couple shifts, but it probably took me about an hour to an hour and a half to finish the nails.  For the hard to reach parts, (like inside the ampersand) I used a pair of flat head pliers to hold the nails in place while I hammered them in.


After tearing the paper back I started wrapping the string by tying a little knot and outlining each letter.  After I made sure I got the outline right, (I had to redo a couple parts on the fancy M because I kept wrapping the wrong nails), I started filling in by crisscrossing and generally going in any direction I felt like.

One tip that I found online was using a mechanical pencil to guide the string through the nail heads.  I just took out all the insides of the pencil and threaded my sting through.  I held the pencil in my right hand like I write and held the sting in my left to keep it tight.  Of course I couldn't do all that and take a picture so I held the pencil in my left to give you an idea:


This is the way it was threaded though after I took the insides and clicker out:

 
This little handy tool helped out a lot, and made the string threading a lot easier.  I threaded everything while we watched a Netflix movie (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol - eh).  After I was done with each letter I would twist it around one nail head and then tied a little knot.

The block M turned out a lot better than the cursive M.  The thin lines didn't translate as well, but I still like it.


I even think I've found a place for it on top of the guest room dresser.


If you want to check out what everyone else did for the challenge, go check out the host's pages!


Kate (Centsational Girl), Sherry (Young House Love), Katie (Bower Power), and Michelle (Ten June)