Monday, November 29, 2010

Master Bathroom Before and After

I teased you with the cabinet painting post.  I teased because I hadn't cleaned my bathroom yet and couldn't bring myself to show you unclean after photos.  You dodged that bullet. Phew!

Today, I overcame my bathroom cleanliness apathy and managed to catch daylight photos.  Light only emerges from the darkness though.  So let's start there.  In the dark.  Oh goodness.  You probably won't believe that we saw this before we bought the house (Mr. Palindrome snapped these pics during the walk through with the inspector).  We were so young and naive back then.  We thought renovating this would be fun.  

Step 1 was girding ourselves with the armor of HAZMAT.  We put on hunting rubbers and gas masks.  We armed ourselves with Clorox.  Let's just say that this poor bathroom did not remember the last time anyone cleaned it.  As much as I neglect it occasionally, this poor room was all out abandoned.  

While we had entertained the idea of completely renovating this bathroom DIY style (I think we watched too much DIY Network and not enough DIY Disasters), we ended up leaving the gutting and tile work up to a contractor.  We did DIY a lot of projects, but honestly it didn't save us a lot of money as compared to the quotes we were getting to complete the entire project.  While we still have the extra $500 for scraping the ceiling, painting the entire room, installing the toilet, installing the fixtures, putting in the fan, replacing the light fixtures and installing the medicine cabinet, we will never get back the time.  If I had a nickel for every time we said that we wished we had paid somebody to do this, then we would have broken even.  

Alright, enough "woe is us, we should have used the contractor."  On to the after shots!

On the day the renovations were complete, Mr. Palindrome and I flipped for who initiated in the toilet and shower.  We were much too excited to test Mr. Palindrome's blossoming plumbing skills.  Thankfully, there was no leaking or stinking thanks to a perfectly installed seal (after 3 attempts) and high power fan respectively.

I'll start wrapping up this series on our master bath renovation with some process shots while the contractor was here.  We learned a lot about hiring professional help ... Also, I'll finish with a recap of the materials we used and a quick budget overview.

Although it wasn't hard to beat out the Before pics, how do you think our After pics stack up?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bathroom Cabinet Painting

Living in a construction zone is the most difficult part about home renovations to me.  In the middle of projects, you have to straddle paint supplies when you use the toilet.  We could actually put away supplies at the end of each day, but in the toss up of cleaning up just to have to get it out again, or straddling supplies while brushing teeth, we straddle.  That's just the kind of lazy people we are.
Our master bathroom renovation from start to finish took 5 months.  The contractor spent 3 weeks demolishing, laying tile, and skimming.  Then it took 4 months for us find the time and motivation to finish the project.  Then it took an additional 10 days to finish out the space by painting and hanging fixtures.  Looking back, we should have just paid the contractor the extra $500 to have it done.  The lesson learned there is to be realistic about the amount of time you can and want to devote to a project.  You can pay thousands of dollars for an MBA, or you can take it from the Palindrome's mouths, everything has an opportunity cost.  You can thank us later for that little gem.
Since I wasn't thrilled with the dated cabinetry, we decided to paint them after seeing the solution everywhere.   HGTV, This Old House, and Young House Love all touted the instant and cheap transformation.  Mr. Palindrome took it upon himself to evaluate and compare several techniques, finally settling on the This Old House instructions.  We followed the instructions exactly.
Besides shooting the process with the white balance all out of whack, I also vacuumed the cabinets to clear them of dust.  We had two work areas: the bathroom and the garage.  We dealt with the doors in the garage and then painted the rest of the cabinet where it stood in the bathroom.  It was tight and cramped and quite difficult to paint while in the bathroom.
All told, the process took about 10 hours which includes drying time.  We got pretty frustrated with brush strokes and trying to manipulate a small roller in the tight spaces under the counter.  When I say pretty I mean moderately to heavily.  When I say frustrated, I mean we might have used some language from Mr. Palindrome's former sailor life.
The before and afters for the whole bathroom are forthcoming, but in the meantime, here's a picture of my handsome, cabinet painting, sailor mouthed husband.  The primer mustache pushes me over the edge.  

Have you jumped on the cabinet painting bandwagon? 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Finds - Toasty Thermoses (Thermi?)

Something about thermoses make everything seem like it'll be alright.  Bitterly cold and sprained your ankle sledding? Mom has a thermos of hot chocolate.  Sniffling at work with no more sick days? Wifey sent a thermos of soup.  Shivering at the game and the home team losing? Have a spiked cup of coffee from your trusty thermos.

The red is just festive to me now.  I think you'll be seeing a lot of red this winter from me :)

Clockwise from Top L:
Den-10 Studio - Thermos Print - Some Like it Hot
Campfire Chic - Custom Thermos Inspired Finished Embroidery Piece
coucou salut - Red Thermos Tea Towel
Twelfth Night Design - Plaid Vintage Thermos

Thursday, November 18, 2010

From Farm to Table

I imagined that when I got married, I would come home from work, whip up delicious meals, and watch Jeopardy while my sweet heart of a husband did the dishes in time to join me for double Jeopardy.

Awww.  Wasn't I such a cute and naive newlywed?

Life looks different than that for us day to day.  We eat on TV trays 95% of the time.  Often we don't eat until after Jeopardy is over.  Mr. Palindrome HATES doing dishes.  If it were up to him, he'd put a piece of frozen chicken on tin foil, bake it, then eat it right off the tin foil.  My skin crawls when I see bubbles of chicken fat on baked chicken.

Somehow I ended up as bread winner, baker, and cleaner.  Funnily, I think Mr. Palindrome got the raw end of the deal because he has lots of yard work on his chore list.  I'm trying to be a healthy cook and promote fresh vegetables so I enrolled us in a farm share program through Papa Spud's.  Not only do I get to choose what goes in my box (eggs, milk, meat, and grains included!), but they also deliver it to my front door.  *Smug-spoiled-look-on-my-face*

The other week, I ordered:
Spaghetti Squash
Green Beans

I shoot to cook about 3 to 4 times a week so that we're not eating out too much (and by eating out too much, I really mean eating too much - we both eat until we have to roll home).  With those ingredients I made 3 meals and had leftovers to freeze.

Meal 1: PW's Roasted Veg Minestrone
So after I added quarts more liquid, more tomatoes, and some seasoning, this tasted pretty good.  I reviewed the recipe on Tasty Kitchen and even the other people who gave it 5 mitts said that they added flavoring.  By chopping and making the soup initially on the weekend, I could quickly pull a meal together with some garlic bread during the week.  Mr. Palindrome wondered if my readers really cared if we ate at the table or on our TV trays.  I told him that I wanted more people than just me to appreciate my spider mum bouquet.

Meal 2: Penne with Eggplant and Olives

Chopping the eggplant, cooking that and then simmering the sauce took a little more time than I thought, but I ended up just mixing it all together and not baking it (per some of the helpful hints from reviews).  We both really liked it and the eggplant added something substantial for Mr. Palindrome's hearty appetite.  I'm highly aware now of why food looks better plated on white plates.  With these clear ones, it looks like I just slopped  dinner on the table cloth.

Meal 3: Maple Glazed Tofu with Spaghetti Squash

The hardest part about this dish was waiting for the spaghetti squash to roast.  Other than that, it was a one pan dinner and about 15 minutes of engaged effort.  I decided to make the tofu look like faux scallops, so I cut Mr. Palindrome's with a round biscuit cutter and used the flowery side for mine.  While it may not look like Mr. Palindrome was interested in this dish at first, he soon perked up when he got a whiff of the maple glaze.  He licked both our dishes clean before returning to homework.  A smashing success for minimal effort I'd say.

What do you cook on the weeknights?  Are you trying to incorporate more fresh veg?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Finds - Magenta and Teal

 Scanned from my copy of the J. Crew Catalog
Flipping through the J. Crew catalog, I came across these shoes and tore the page out.  Besides the gorgeous (albeitout of my price range) shoes, what really captured my fancy was the teal tulle.  In thinking about this advertisement, I gathered this week's finds.  Somehow, when I wasn't directly looking at the page, I imagine in my head that there was also magenta tulle.  When I had collected my finds and returned to the original inspiration, I realized my imagination ran wild.  However, I decided to keep the magenta in my collection because I can see these items adorning the mantle where this model is is arranging a modern holiday focal point.
Clockwise from Top L:
Treehouse Wood Designs - Wooden LOVE letters
Kings Down Road - Vintage Silverplate Bowl
Bird in Hand Vintage - Antique Turquoise Birdcage

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Conklin Farm - The Insider's Scoop!

I love to experience controlled fear.  Horror movies, love 'em.  Haunted houses, bring 'em on.  So when the opportunity came up to go on a haunted hay ride at our cousin's farm in New Jersey, I dragged Mr. Palindrome there with gusto. 
Sadly, but the time we arrived at Conklin Farm, the last hayride had just pulled away.  Luckily, we saw our cousins and they ducked us backstage for a behind the scenes tour.  I wasn't even on the hay ride and I was spooked!  Then they showed us the hay ride route and told us how much all of the parts on the vintage cars were worth.  I had thought they were all junk, but apparently the bumper alone on the car above is worth an iphone and a half.
In addition to loving anything haunted, I also love me some farm animals.  This kid was quite interactive and apparently had quite the itchy leg.
Gah! I'm such a sucker for the fall.  Mr. Palindrome told me I looked like a kid on Christmas morning.  Well, with haunted hay rides, cute animals, and a pumpkin patch, it felt pretty darn close!
The only unfortunate part was my choice in footwear.  I mean, I love, love, love my new snakeskin flats, but they didn't exactly stand up to the, how shall we say, farm floor.
As I'm reading through this post again, I feel like it could be a write-up for Stuff White People Like.  I looked up the full list expecting hay rides, petting zoos and snakeskin flats to be on the list.  #113 and #132 are the closest to this post.  Oh well, to bring Kanye into the mix (whom I'll like more in a few years), I think I'm pretty fly for a white girl.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Twas the Month Before Christmas...

... and all through the home,
Mrs. Palindrome kept asking,
To the Mister's bemoan

I want to know, who do we have to send cards to?  Who gets Hanukkah cards? Should we do pictures? Who will take our picture?  Can I get a new sweater?  Can I put a Madonna and Child stamp on the Hanukkah cards?

"Umm, what were you saying? I'm watching the game."

Righto.  So I'm redirecting my Christmas card drivel to the internet.

My decision points are simple: pretty and cost effective.  I could make my own with a kit or from scratch, but I think that we'll have a large list since we were just in touch with everyone at the wedding.  That could be pretty time intensive, and I would rather spend the time handwriting notes on the cards.  I could buy nice cards from Target or somewhere, but I always have a hard time finding enough of the same kind and I'm pretty picky about the messages.

Part of the reason I'm leaning towards a photo card is because I want to commemorate our first year being married.*  I could use a wedding photo, but since our wedding was nearly a year ago, I thought it'd be the right time to capture an anniversary picture.  I also really enjoy seeing pictures when others send me their cards.  So I suppose I'll follow the golden rule here. I've done photo cards before from Snapfish, but the quality wasn't great.  After using Shutterfly for our wedding pictures and albums though, I was willing to browse their cards since I was happy with the print quality.

I'm opinionated when it comes to cards.  I like flat cards (less paper), 4x8 size, traditional colors, pretty (not cutesy), just one picture, and a positive message about Christmas.  Thankfully the search options on the left side of Shutterfly's cards/stationery page let me take out my neuroses on search parameters.

My first set of returns turned up a few favorites.

Joy Dots Green Christmas  (though I wish the text was more ornate/less cutesy)

Broadening my search to 5x5 cards (really only an option if they came with elongated envelopes so that I wouldn't have to pay extra postage for the square shape), I also found a few other options I liked:

Then since I was browsing, I checked out the Hanukkah cards.  We only have a handful of Hanukkah cards to send, so while I'll probably get them a la carte, I was really drawn to this one:

It's also nice to know that if my procrastination gets the best of me, there are some lovely New Year's cards (in which case I can just get all the same card for everyone on our list):

Love and Laughter New Year's  (a tad modern for my taste, but so fun)

I think it's high time to snuggle my honey for the last quarter of this football game and contemplate my choices.  Are you sending holiday cards this year?

*Another reason I'm leaning towards a photo card is because I'm being compensated for this post with 50 free cards.  Though I love a deal, I wouldn't blog about this unless I could personally vouch for Shutterfly and their services.  I also plan to blog about the photo taking experience and will definitely be reviewing the final product!