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Jun 26, 2014

Bathroom Reno - Progress


The contractor has been here for three days and work is well underway on the bathroom renovation. If any of you have gone through this before, you know that the beginning is all prep work and not that pretty to look at.

Before he came in, the last step in getting ready was to build a niche in the back shower wall for shampoo and other necessities. Tom rerouted the vent pipe through the left-hand stud, cut the centre stud, and built a box in the middle. We originally thought we'd just install glass shelves at one end, but the contractor said it would be easy enough to add the niche.

shower without niche

shower with niche

The contractor spent the first day patching in drywall where Tom had moved the water pipes and installed a new fan - and patching up all the holes from hooks and towel bars. I did not expect that! I hate sanding drywall mud, so it'll be nice to move right to painting once the room is done. We haven't picked out a wall colour yet so we didn't ask the contractor to do the painting too. And I like painting, so don't take that away from me!

Here's the progression:

Day One
drywall patching

Day Two
shower backer board

Day Three
kerdi shower membrane

Amazing, right? J

He also had to move the shower drain three inches to accommodate the new drain pan. Three little inches!

moving shower drain

Tomorrow the contractor is mudding the kerdi membrane in the shower. It's slow going as he has to wait between coats of drywall mud. He estimates that he'll be ready to start tiling by next week.

Hopefully next time I'll have prettier pictures to show you.  But after nearly two years of talking about this, it's so, so exciting to see it actually happening.

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Check out these links for the rest of the process -

Bathroom Reno - Demolition

Bathroom Reno - Plumbing and Insulation

Bathroom Reno - Tiling

Bathroom Reno - Reveal!


Jun 19, 2014

Baked Asparagus Fries


I have a fun little recipe for you that I discovered the other day. I say discovered,  not invented, because I'm sure it's been done a dozen different ways before.

baked asparagus fries

I saw a picture on my Instagram feed of zucchini fries the other day and thought, wow, I'm going to make those soon. I already had a zucchini in the refrigerator, but I'd been planning on making zucchini noodles and kind of had my heart set on that. Digging around the back of the fridge, I found a bundle of asparagus that I'd all but forgotten about. How about asparagus fries instead?

I cut off the woody ends of the asparagus, gave the tops a rinse, and patted them dry. I then set up two plastic containers - one with an egg and a splash of milk in it (beaten together well), the other with corn flake crumbs (you could use bread crumbs), plus a bit of salt, pepper, and parmesan seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and have a greased cookie sheet ready.

Dip an asparagus stalk in the egg mixture, then roll it around in the crumbs and place it on the cookie sheet. Do this for each one, making sure not to lay them too close to each other. You want them to stay crispy all around. I also gave them a sprinkling of chili powder just before they went in the oven.

baked asparagus fries

Bake them in the oven for about 20 minutes, until they're softened but not mushy.

You can eat them on their own, but they're even better with a dip. I stirred up a mixture of mayonnaise, soy sauce, and a little bit of sugar. The asparagus fries were so good that we ate them all as an appetizer - they didn't even make it to our plates. The outside stayed really crispy, with just the right amount of coating (that didn't fall off!)

baked asparagus fries

I'm thinking I'll have to keep this recipe handy for when we have guests over. It's so easy, but looks so very fancy (which is what I'm always aiming for).

baked asparagus fries

Have you made these before? Or maybe you've tried other vegetables?


Jun 10, 2014

Bathroom Reno: Plumbing and Insulation

This weekend's bathroom progress is all about Tom. I hurt my back on Saturday morning and was out of commission for the rest of the weekend. After a run to the dump to get rid of the debris from last weekend's demolition, Tom went ahead and started on the plumbing for the bathroom without me. Not that I know anything about plumbing. To refresh your memory, we're going to install a floating vanity, so the existing pipes have to be rerouted from the floor up into the wall. Tom decided he'd like to move the toilet feed pipe up into the wall as well.

The first step was to cut away the drywall all the way across. We figured it was easier to replace one whole sheet than to cut out holes and have to patch them individually. Tom pulled out the insulation around the drain pipe and cut out the plywood around the water feed lines on the floor. After he turned the water off, he cut the feed lines back and capped them off until he's ready to run them up into the wall. Once the lines are capped the water can be turned back on.

rerouted drain pipe

To make room for the drain pipe, he cut a semi-circle into the footer running along the floor with a hole saw. The pipe can now curve up through the footer and then up the wall. He'll reinforce the backside of the footer to compensate for the missing piece and replace the insulation when he's finished.

rerouting drain pipe

He also removed the last of the studs that made up the shower frame so that the new shower walls will be flush with the rest of the room. He removed the bulkhead frame above the shower and installed new insulation and vapour barrier in the ceiling and the outside wall. We want the shower ceiling to be as high as possible to allow for air flow and to make the space feel larger.

bathroom insulation and vapor barrier

On the wall where the shower controls will be, he still needs to replace two studs that are so curved it's ridiculous. Can you see the light shining behind the stud? The drywall on the other side (i.e. the bedroom wall) is not even touching the stud for several feet in the middle. The shower wall always looked like it bowed out, and I guess now we know why!

curved wall stud

We also had a surprise inspection from the site foreman. She looks happy with our progress so far.

Inspector Sasha

Even though I spent most of the weekend on the couch watching Leave It To Bryan and Brother vs. Brother (I'm a DIY and HGTV network junkie), I'm looking forward to the day when we can say, "What has to be done this weekend?" "Nothing!"


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Check out these links for the rest of the process -

Bathroom Reno - Demolition

Bathroom Reno - Shower Installation

Bathroom Reno - Tiling

Bathroom Reno - Reveal!



Jun 5, 2014

April Showers Bring May (or June) Flowers


We seem to be jumping all over the place with our projects lately. First painting the lower half of the bedroom walls, then outside to work on the front steps, then back in to put up the chair rail for the board and batten wainscoting (which I haven't written about yet), then on to the bathroom demolition.

But that's how our life usually is. We get as far as we can in a project, and then sometimes it'll sit unfinished until we have time to search out new stones for the steps, plane and paint the rest of the wainscoting boards, or alter the plumbing so that the bathroom can be re-tiled. And speaking of that, the contractor starts the renovation on June 23rd! The calendar just might have a circle and a glittery star and a heart on that date.


So while waiting for all these other things to go down, I took time after work one night to spruce up the flower beds. If you know me at all, you'll know that, as much as I like looking at flowers, I hate looking after them. So this year I took the easy route and planted hostas and coleus along the wall leading to the front door. Plenty of colour and minimal work. I know hostas aren't exciting to everyone, but I still love their big, dramatic leaves. And the purple/burgundy of the coleus is one of my favourite colours, in nature and otherwise.


I had about 15 feet to fill, so I just laid them out in an alternating pattern, with the last hosta on the other side of the clematis vine. I'm so thankful for that clematis - it was planted by the previous homeowners and provides pretty purple flowers without me having to sweet-talk it. Are you catching on that I'm a lazy gardener? I don't want to be, I just can't get excited about the fussing around that's necessary. Our next-door neighbour is a greenskeeper by day and he has the most beautiful grass and flowerbeds at home. I'm sure he considers me a lost cause.


I think they'll do well though. This is the hosta that we transplanted last year and he's absolutely huge.


Beside that hosta is the lovely "Iris",


And when it's blooming, here is the aforementioned clematis (it hasn't bloomed yet this year),


The final decoration in our flower bed is this stone. Our previous dog, Bailey, passed away a few months before we moved here. We lived out in the country then, and we buried her in the forest on our property, marking the spot with this rock.


When we moved, we wanted to take a piece of her with us so we brought the rock along. It's been in the front garden from the first day and kind of stuck out like a sore thumb. This week I tucked it in beside the clematis to make it blend with the surroundings a bit more. She was a wonderful dog and we miss her so much - it's nice to get a little reminder of her when we catch a glimpse of her stone.

Now with the flowerbed finished, cedar trees in place, and pots of flowers on the porch, our house looks inviting to outsiders. Bumping up the curb appeal even makes it nicer to come home to.






Jun 3, 2014

Master Bath Demo Begins

We got a huge amount completed on the master bath renovation this weekend. The contractor is coming this month to re-tile, and we have some plumbing to do before he starts, so we thought it would be best to get the demolition done as soon as possible.

As a refresher, this is what the bathroom looked like before. While it is the master bath, it's a tiny little thing and difficult to take pictures of.



Within months of moving in (5 years ago), the drywall around the shower door began to crumble and the framing started to rust. It just got worse and worse as more water damage happened. There were huge chunks of drywall falling out and it was impossible to clean the rust and hard water stains from the tiles and door. One of the first things we did when we moved in was install a water softener, but after 10 years of hard water pounding on it, the damage has been done.

We haven't exactly been speedy on getting this project underway. In fact, I think it was 10 months ago when I first mentioned our plans for the room. We then thought about the tile for a few months more before actually buying it. We didn't buy the tile I showed you nearly a year ago, but something very similar. The pattern for the shower floor is going to be much more interesting, and the wall tiles are larger than the original ones.

The search for a contractor was a bigger chore than it should have been. What is with people not following up with an estimate, or not even returning your call in the first place? Does every job have to be in a mansion to make it worthwhile?

Well, we now have a highly-recommended contractor on board and a start date (about two weeks from now). We told him we would do the demo ourselves to save some money. And because that's the most fun part, isn't it? We're also going to have to reroute some plumbing to install the floating vanity, and we need to change out the shower fixtures a bit. You see how the pipes for the sink come out of the floor? We need to move them up onto the wall.


We had no idea what we were going to find once everything was taken back to the studs, so we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

Once the vanity and toilet were removed we got down to tearing out the shower. Prepare for some nasty photos, it's going to get dirty in here.


We removed the door and started taking apart the door frame. I finally got the chance to use my Dremel Multi-Max (yay!) with the grout blade. Tom said it sounded like an angry beaver when it was cutting. There's video, but it's all out of focus so I won't subject you to that. Judging by how easily the tiles around the door came off, I'm surprised the shower didn't fall in on us a long time ago. Everything underneath was completely rotted.



I was in charge of removing the shower tiles while Tom took care of the floor. I'm going to pat myself on the back here with the amount of work I got done. I even pulled down the backer board myself. And I having the aching muscles to prove it. Plus a few cuts on my legs because I started out wearing shorts. I know, I know, I should have had long pants on from the beginning, but it was hot! Eventually I didn't care how hot it was, I was tired of having blood drip down my shins. There'll be no skirt-wearing for me this week.



After Tom removed the tile floor, he took down the wall that divides the shower from the rest of the room. We're going to have sliding glass doors that run the width of the room so it isn't needed. It was wonderful to see how much light we're going to have in there when it's done. No more showering in a dark cave!


The ceiling above the shower was lower than in the rest of the room. We were hoping that it was just empty space up there and that we could raise it up to the same level as the main room. When we tore off the tile and drywall we were met with cross beams and insulation. But when we pulled the plastic back (and the insulation fell down) we saw that it was insulation all the way up. So we are going to be able to raise the beams up, put new insulation in, and have an even ceiling all the way across.



By the end of the day we had the room completely stripped to the studs and the plywood floor. Everything seems to be in good condition, none of the leaking water went below the floor tiles.



This is getting so exciting now! It finally feels real. What also feels real is all of Tom's stuff in "my" bathroom for the next month. Thank goodness we're on different schedules in the morning so we aren't running into each other.

We're meeting with the contractor tomorrow night to go over all the details and then my part is done. Tom's the plumber, I just do the heavy lifting.

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Check out these links for the rest of the process -

Bathroom Reno - Plumbing and Insulation

Bathroom Reno - Shower Installation

Bathroom Reno - Tiling

Bathroom Reno - Reveal!