Last Minute Valentines for Kids

My kids finished up their Valentines yesterday (2 days early!!) so I thought it would be great to share in case you are looking for ideas! Both of these were very easy!!

My 10-year old daughter has discovered Pinterest and found these pretty quickly. There's a fine line between cool and not cool in 5th grade, but I know she wanted to have something creative for her friends. Also, our school does not allow food or candy Valentines (which I love actually!). I found the straws in 6-packs at the dollar store.

My son is obsessed with Star Wars so it was only natural that we find a Star Wars option for him. I had remembered that we made lollipop Valentines for my daughter years ago so we tried to recreate that for him but without candy! 

These were totally created on my phone! I took the picture and then added the text using Font Candy then printed them at my local CVS. Then we punched a hole in his "hand" with a standard hole punch. Pushed the glow bracelet through - be careful not to "snap" them so they start glowing too soon! We also put the connector on the back which helped to stop it from going all the way through. Finally, I taped each on the back, which caused the photo to ripple but still the effect is great! Probably one of my favorite Valentines ever! 

Happy Valentine's Day!


Our Florida Beach Condo - Master Bathroom

Last October, the kids and I headed down to Florida for Columbus Day weekend. The plan was to actually stay in our condo (the kids had never spent the night!), visit my parents (they live in the same community) and relax a little. Unfortunately Hurricane Matthew was also visiting Florida the same weekend. I had major doubts that our late Thursday night flight to Sarasota would leave on time but we only left about 10 minutes late. Who knew?

Now, I do think it's important to stay in your rental property at least once per year so you can get an idea of what is good and not so good. Otherwise, it's hard to know if the showered is lame (ours was!) or the pillows need replacing (ditto). We rent a lot of houses for vacations and we are always happy to give owners feedback on what they should consider updating, getting or replacing. I am happy when our tenants do the same!

Of course, besides relaxing, I had high hopes for replacing the master bathroom floor which my mother had

told me was pealing and generally looking pretty gross. It was 20 year old linoleum and it was permanently yellowed so it certainly had seen its day. I had originally thought we would just tear out the old bathroom but reality set in and other priorities came first so we decided to just replace the floor and keep everything else until a bigger reno down the road.

At our local Home Depot, I had checked out the new peal and stick vinyl floors everyone is excited about. The wood-look was nice but I really wanted tile in the bathroom. I was really attracted to the Travertine look because it's beachy and won't show sand or hair. Bonus. I sent the specs to my dad and he picked some up at the Sarasota store along with some grout.

Friday morning brought cooler temps and light winds so the kids were happy to lounge around. My dad and I got to work on the bathroom floor!!

Here's the up close "before" picture. We pulled out the toilet and baseboard. The toilet was in good condition and fairly new so it stayed but the baseboard was total junk so my dad replaced it.

Here's the master handyman figuring out how we're going to handle the tile near the toilet. Right after this I told my dad that I think we should just try to pull out the whole floor. It came out in a couple of big sheets - it wasn't even really glued down. Amazing. Unfortunately I didn't take a picture of the bare floor.

 Nice '80s wallpaper behind the toilet.
The process from there was very fast. We scraped the minor glue residue and then cleaned the floor with some cleaner my dad had on hand. There were some hairline cracks that we probably would have filled if we were using ceramic or porcelain tile but we decided the floor would flex enough to withstand cracking. Then we laid the tiles down for a dry fit up to the point that you see below. Then we pealed and stuck them down. 

We used some books with paint cans on top to hold them down in spots where we thought they might lift a little or just on some of the corners that would see a lot of traffic. 

We went for an afternoon swim and then I grouted it before dinner. We used a bag of grout although I don't have the color (it's at the condo!). It looked really great when it was done. It goes on just like tile but it's even easier to clean it off the vinyl.

My dad subsequently installed the baseboards behind the toilet and on the other two short walls. (no joke - it's probably 6 feet of baseboard total!!). We actually bought enough vinyl tile to cover the area under the vanity too when the time comes. I'd love to rip that vanity and medicine cabinet out next October. Not sure that will happen or not but it would really finish this bathroom for the next 15 years. The tub tile is actually in great condition.

We have a lot of weeks available this summer in case you are interested! It's Unit 706 in White Sands Village, Sarasota, Florida. Send me an email (houseography / at / gmail.ccom) if you are interested.

So, that's the story of the quick bathroom reno!


A New Mudroom

You may remember that one of the things our house never had was a true mudroom. There are several spaces that sort of act like a mudroom, but none of them were really achieving what we needed with two kids in school and multiple sports each. The lacrosse gear alone may kill me.

This space was the closest we had to a mudroom. Our side entry is directly off our driveway and our main family/friends entrance and exit. If you know us, you use the side door. Generally you walk in without knocking or a quick knock and a "HELLO?!". That's the way we are. This area was an obvious spot for a row of hook and a boot tray.

Thanks to my blog I know that this has been working for us for nearly 6 years. But the backpacks, shoes and coats are bigger and more plentiful so now we had to make a new choice.

We decided that our basement was the best choice. The stairs you see on the left in the picture above lead to our basement. It's only a half-flight down (about 8 stairs) so it's not a long trek, but it was enough that gave me pause to think about it. I also wasn't sure I wanted the mess in my basement especially since it's mostly carpeted (there's a small tire area at the bottom of the stairs). So, we went with this space which previously held a rarely used desk.

I started pinning ideas I liked and it was pretty clear that I liked white divided built-ins with a wood seat. I thought about doing a column of bins on the side for easy access but ultimately decided that wider cubbies would be a better option. I'm so glad we did that - swim backpacks are huge!

We went with a bead board back to match the built-ins across the room (only about 8' feet away!).

As you can see we pulled the carpet back so the built-ins would sit on the floor. We know that we will someday rip this carpet out so we are preparing for that day. I'm in love with the new wood-look linoleum! If you are worried about reattaching the carpet, it's not hard. You have to rent a "kicker" at a tool rental shop and knee it back in place. It took Jim about an hour to finish that up including the 2 minute drive to and from the rental place! 

We called in the painter to paint everything out. Jim stained the bench top before installing the top but the painter did a couple of coats of polyurethane for us. 

One hurdle was the intake vent on the lower left hand side. We solved that by removing the cover and cutting out the grooves of the wood. We have several intakes for the HVAC so it's not an issue if this one is getting slightly less air than previously. 

And here's the final! 

It took a little while but I found baskets that fit the upper space perfectly. The plastic bins at the tippy top hold extra hats, scarves and gloves that we don't use often or are for a special purpose like skiing! 

The area on the left has tile so we added a few hooks for especially wet things like snow pants and rain coats. Wet boots can stay in this area. We also added a not-so-beautiful plastic runner. It serves the purpose of keeping the carpet dry and relatively clean. We can pull it up and hose it off if we need to but it has nubs on the back that keep it from moving. More functional than pretty but it's working! 

And here's the distance from the old "mudroom" to the new one in case you were curious. Oh, and we finally painted the basement the same gray (Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter) as the rest of the house. Although I love yellow in basements, the cohesiveness is so much better. 

Overall, this was a great project and worthwhile investment in our house. I think we're ready for winter! (not really)


New Wallpaper {Dining Room}

I'm super excited to share the changes in our dining room. It's really only one major change - the walls! Oh my goodness... I love it.


Snowzilla 2016

I apologize if this is the 40th blizzard post you have read today. Feel free to skip this one.

We survived. At least so far. Washington is not known for its snow tolerance and this was no exception. The shelves were bare in the grocery stores  by Thursday. No D batteries anywhere. Handy Hubby witnessed anarchy at our local hardware when a truck filled with ice melter and shovels showed up. People were running to the truck and waving cash at the driver. Seriously. If you have 24" of snow, ice melter is not your priority. Maybe later this week, but not in the first instance. Shovels, people!!!