Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer Reading

Here's a list of the best books I've read so far this summer (and by "I", we obviously mean Vanessa, since Stephen doesn't like fiction...that's a whole other argument). But you should totally read these novels, because they were great:

"The Beatiful and the Damned" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you liked Gatsby, or any of Fitzgerald's writing, or sad love stories, or great writing, or anything to do with the 20's, you should read this book. Of course it was well written, of course the characters were broken and sad and self-destructive, and of course it was fantastic.

"The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern. Wow. This book. It was mystical and believable and beautiful. It felt grounded, and yet had fantastical elements to it that made it seem magical, like a circus would be to a child. It has a tragic love story and such astonishingly beautiful imagery that I just can't get it out of my head. Literally. I find myself thinking about it frequently. I want it to be real.

"Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn. This author has a real talent for plot twists. Seriously, just when you think you've got this mystery figured out, she completely turns things around. The ending is so painfully perfect though, you just can't even believe it.

"The Millenium Trilogy" by Stieg Larrson. (Also known as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series) I know I'm a little late to this party; these books have been on my reading list for like 3 years and I finally got to them - and OH SO GOOD. I could kick myself for waiting. If you like action, mystery, and clean, concise writing then you must read these books. And naturally, once you read the first one, you won't be able to read the rest.

"Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)" by Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess. Funniest. Book. Ever. That's not even a lie. It's completely inappropriate, heartbreaking at some points, and so impossible to believe that it's real. I read her blog every day, so this book was something I was looking forward to. And yes, I technically read it in April, but it was so totally good (and awkward) I had to include it. Maybe because I re-read it last week...

More to come...


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Master Bathroom

Oh yeah, you know what this post means: we have a second bathroom. To clarify, we've always had a second bathroom, but it was never a functional bathroom. Okay, further clarifications: it was functional when we got the house, but then we tore it apart, and it ceased to be a bathroom for 2.5 years. But no more! We can now use the restroom at the same time. It's a big deal.

So here's the bathroom we inherited. It's pretty inoffensive, to be honest. And it was a lot cleaner than the other bathroom. The toilet was original, if you're interested. (1967)
This is the before shot. Pretty, right?
(More like pretty dang small)
Here's where things get crazy. You see, on the other side of the wall that the sink and towel bar were on was a tiny little "room" that held the water heater (and used to hold the furnace, but it had already been moved to the basement). That "room's" access was a hatch on the back of the house. I kid you not, a hatch. So, Stephen in all of his genius, decided we should use that space to make the master bathroom bigger. So at one point, one could stand in the hallway, look through two bathrooms into the backyard. (Keep in mind, this was two months before our wedding). Here's an example:

Stephen's dad helping with the plumbing! 

Here's the "room" that used to hold the utilities. It was nasty.

The future home of a shower! 
Stephen did his thing, which includes over-building and using lots of two-by-fours. Good news though: the two halves of the house are now connected (because formerly they were not...). [For those of you who didn't know, our house is a pre-fab]

This is the view from the hallway through two bathrooms. 
Once upon a time, we had to build a tiny retaining wall like thing by the shower, which left an odd little nook.

At this point we didn't know this nook would become shelves. 
In the process of rebuilding two bathrooms, Stephen noticed there was a big hole of nothing above the 7 foot ceilings in the hallway and the two bathrooms. He raised the ceilings in all three locations, which has made a huge difference in the perception of space. You can see in this picture where the drywall ends, that was the ceiling for both bathrooms and the hallway.

Just for fun - the view from the master bedroom. 
 Now, for those of you who haven't heard us complain about our house (haha), we hadn't originally intended on rebuilding the entire bathroom space. We thought it'd be more of a surface/aesthetic change, until Stephen and his dad got into the bathrooms and realized all the piping had to be redone. (I don't think a girl gets luckier than having a husband and father-in-law who are so knowledgeable!)

Thank goodness for work lights. 
 As we were working on the house before we got married, we quickly realized there was no way Stephen was going to be able to get everything done, so we decided the hall bath was going to be the easiest to finish, so that became the priority (because a bathroom is pretty important for a living space). The master bath got axed to a later date (in our naive imaginations, we thought it would be the spring or summer of that first year of marriage...ah...childish expectations).

Visualize a sink and a toilet here, oh, and a wall, too. 
 Stephen did decide (since he had the help of awesome friends like Aaron, Jeff, Andy, and Tristan), that it would be smart to go ahead and hang the drywall and do the ceiling, since those materials were widely used in the rest of the house at that time.

Shower to the right, potty to the left. 
So this is what the bathroom looked like when we moved in (yes, it even had the shower pan). And this is what the bathroom looked like until May of this year. (29 months for those of you keeping score at home)

Here's where it starts to resemble a bathroom again. 
 Although these pictures don't really do the space justice - it was totally used as storage for the pedestal fan, the box fan, a cork board, and some books (naturally - I mean, let's face it, it's probably a sign that you have too many when you're using the shower pan to hold stacks of books).

And it stayed like this for two years...

With the realization that we should probably finish the bathroom, my insistence on a second toilet (warning: over-share coming up) in a household of two IBS-prone people, and the completion date of my youngest sister's visit for Thanksgiving this year, the master bath finally made it to the top of the to-do list.

Primer was a big deal. 
 I hope you all realize that I say "we" a lot, but Stephen's the mastermind and the worker behind pretty much everything in this house. I pick out paint colors, help decide on fixture styles, and (basically unimportant, but fun) things like that. I did come up with the floating shelf concept, though. But yes, Stephen's the one who puts everything in. Because he's better than me.

The hole where the toilet used to be. 
  We think that Anya had no idea that this room existed, because she was seriously confused about it. Once I hid there, calling her name, and she ran between our bedroom and the office room about thirty times before figuring out where I was. 

Nonnie says goodbye to floor boards and drywall. 
 We didn't have to buy tile for the bathroom, because we'd already purchased it with the intent to use it in the kitchen (this was back in December '09, at the same time we bought carpet for the house). Then after further study of the house, it was determined that the kitchen couldn't support tile without the grout lines cracking because our house is so bendy. Silly, right? So the tile got re-assigned to the bathroom. Pretty convenient, actually.

Normal people do this, right? 
Unfortunately, the mortar didn't mix properly, and tiling a shower proved to be really irritating. Have I mentioned how lucky we are to have such great friends who can assist at the last moment? (Yes, you, Aaron and Haley).

Our neighbors think we're weirdos.
(They're right)
 But the shower tiling did get complete - and it looks totally awesome with it's thin and beautiful grout lines! 
Aaron and Stephen's beautiful tile work. 
And Stephen was able to finish the floor tile in record time. It looks even better than the first bathroom according to Stephen - but I think they both look awesome.

Look at them thin lines! 

 I'm just going to gloss over the finer details of crown moulding. Moral of the story: don't do it on angled ceilings if you value your sanity.

Crown Moulding - Stephen's favorite! 

And making the ceilings slanted once seemed so easy...
During this stage, there was a lot of ogling and hanging out in the bathroom enjoying the new, bright space.
The dog is totally weirded-out by this "new" room. 
We started to believe this bathroom would actually happen! (And naturally I kept asking when the toilet would be put in)

Betchya didn't notice that the trim tiles
are a different style than the large ones. 
Stephen's not one to rush through things (or thankfully give in to my impatient whims), so he painted and placed the trim, did all the water valves and whatnot.
Getting ready for the important things. 

Caulked, sanded, and touched up the moulding and trim. (I hate that step)

My least favorite step - filling in nail holes
and sanding. I always forget about this part. 
 Finished the wiring for the fan, the two lights, and the outlets.

Putting in the light and fan switches. 
 Our favorite boob lights. They were two for ten bucks, or two for twenty (I can't remember because we got them before we got married). This one matches the one in the other bathroom, which in turn matches the two in the hall. We're nothing if not consistent. Are they pretty? Not really. Are they functional? Heck yes. Can we live with them? Yup.

Welcome to my favorite part - THE PAINT.
Oh, the ceiling fixture is nice, too. 
I know the white-balance is totally screwy in some of these pictures, so just bare with me. I'm still learning how to use the Nikon. Stephen added the shower fixtures, and the toilet! He also built in the brackets for the shelves in the nook.

Look! A real bathroom. 
 I have a serious obsession with this paint color. So much so, in fact, that we're using it in the master bedroom, too. It looks so great with the white trim and fixtures.

We tend to sit on the bed and stare into the bathroom...
 There's only one switch for both lights, so it's a really bright and cheery bathroom. We are a big fan of lots of light (just check out our hallway).

It looks bigger with stuff in it. Weird, right?
(Granted, don't forget there's still a sink involved...)
 And once again, we hit a wall, metaphorically speaking. In Stephen's haste to find the cheapest, but still nice-looking shower door, the height may have been overlooked. In his defense, he did purchase a standard height shower door and our shower heads are placed above that height (since Esteban is tall). This was the weekend before our beach trip, so the whole project was put on hold for awhile.
 It didn't mean that we were any less excited. This situation happens a lot: one of us on the bed, the other hanging out in the bathroom. We are the weirdest people we know.

Stephen = tired. Nonnie = confused. Ness = excited. 

After the vacation (and a mental cooling-off period), Stephen finally got the shower doors in - and I think they look pretty even if they aren't frameless or clear glass!

Privacy in the shower - check!

Then the dreaded sink. I say dreaded because we knew it would cut down significantly in "moving around" space in the bathroom. But unfortunately, sinks are kind of a bathroom basic, and thus a necessity. I jokingly recommended we should do a separate sink in the bedroom like the dorms in UCC, but Stephen didn't go for it. Probably a good call.

You know what TP means, yup, this baby's
But don't let the sink fool you - the water wasn't hooked up. Haha.

Functioning toilet? Check.
Functioning shower? Eh...minus the drain plug (aka sock)
Functioning sink? Nope. 

Stephen smartly got a router to pretty-up the sides of the shelves, primed, and painted those babies. I'm in love. How functional!

Still too sticky for boxes...
 We spent many-a-minutes deciding where to put the toilet paper holder. If only we could have hung it from the sink. But that seemed impractical. So we landed to the left of the toilet, out of the way (and far enough back so one doesn't sit on it whilst using the throne).

The TP roll even came with a template. Win. 

Then come the arduous process of hanging the floating shelves. Note to all DIYers: go ahead and just do yourself a favor and buy new/nicer hardware than the stuff that comes with the shelves. Not even worth it. The shelves are from target, btw. And they are handsome.

My blank canvas.
I literally bumped into Stephen carrying out the shopvac after cleaning up with my arms full of all the necessities of the bathroom in my excitement. I may have a problem.

I'm. In. Love.
The boxes on the shelves also came from target, as did the linens (washcloths, towels, floor mat). The picture frame is from Ikea, and the print in it I got offline. We even have his and hers boxes on the top shelf for our stuff!

The boxes are so great for holding all
the bathroom necessities.

We do actually own a soap dispenser for in here,
but I'm waiting for the soap to arrive from Go figure. 

I love the nook. There's even a perfect little home for the trash can (big surprise, also from Target - on clearance for two bucks!.

 And yes, we have bathroom-themed art. Because it's fun. And funny.

Please and thank you! 
 I honestly can't believe how well this turned out. It's the smallest room in the house (we may or may not be taking bets on how many times I slam my hip into the sink trying to pee in the middle of the night), and I think it's my favorite.

I just need a black photo frame to compliment the mirror.
That's another DIY project coming up. 

Naturally I was excited about how perfectly the rug fit. 
 I can now officially say our master bathroom is complete. So exciting.

 From start to finish:



 My husband is the most talented person I know.

Vanessa, Stephen, and Anya