Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Guest Bathroom: Before and After

Painting walls can be a daunting project. Starting with smaller projects, or in my case, breaking up large projects with small projects, can make the whole process seem a bit easier. After painting our entire main floor, working on the guest bathroom broke up on the monotony of the gray/blue I've been using everywhere else. A guest bathroom is also easy to completely re-decorate on a budget.

I forgot to take "before" pictures while I still had the old shower curtain and decor up. I was so excited to start painting! Let's just say I had the same decor for, oh, the last 10 years or so and the bathroom was overdue for an update. I haven't been in the same house for the last 10 years, but the decor has followed me!

I wanted to try a darker color in the guest bathroom. It's a small room so a little drama isn't overwhelming. With the help of my husband, we chose a darker, warmer gray for the bathroom to provide a little contrast against the light cool almost blue gray in the rest of the house. We also have rather busy granite so we had to pick a paint color that would work with that as well. I still wanted to keep it neutral so I could add color with the towels and accessories. Those are a lot easier to change out when I get bored with the current ones.

The bathroom was the same yellow beige color as the rest of the house. After painting the taupe trim white, it looks very yellow! The walls got a good freehand edging using a 1 1/2 inch angled paintbrush.

Yup, that blue spot was another contender for the wall color, but the darker gray won. It really does pay to paint a few spots and look at it for a while before deciding on a color. In my case, I think the blue was on the walls for a couple months before we made a decision. Oh well, at least people knew we were going to paint!

Everything was going smoothly until I tried to edge around the shower surround. Someone did a not-so-lovely job of caulking and made it impossible for me to paint next to the surround. The paint would simply spread over the caulk rather than sticking to the wall. It's never a good idea to caulk over caulk, even if it is paint-able and would solve my problem, so I decided to sand the exaggerated caulk off the walls. Leaving the caulk that sealed the seam between the wall and shower surround, I used an angled sanding block to remove the excess, allowing me to get a good clean paint line on the wall. I won't lie, it was a lot of work, but well worth it.

The other snag I hit was the small area of the bathroom and the tall ceilings. I had to use a ladder to edge around the ceiling. This proved to be interesting considering I didn't have much space to place an a-frame ladder. I had to result to some interesting placement. Hence, the ladder between the vanity and toilet, and in the bathtub with the baby's bath toys on the opposite side. :)

After edging, I rolled paint on the walls: 2 coats worth. So much better than the previous color! I thought it would be a lot darker, but after getting it on the walls, it didn't look dark at all. Maybe dark paint colors aren't so scary after all. Oh, the color we used was Sherwin Williams Fawn Brindle.

I didn't wait very long to do the ceiling. It was just too exciting to complete the entire bathroom. So the ceiling got edged and rollered (don't judge my made up words) in the same white as the trim and the door. I used a different formula and sheen though. The trim and door were done with a paint that is just for that use - it dries harder than regular paint. I used a sating finish on the walls, but the ceiling got semi-gloss. Just a little bit of sheen to help reflect the light. I used a semi-gloss on the trim and doors for wipeability (yup, that's a word now too).

To tie the bathroom to the rest of the house, I used my go-to accent color in the towels, shower curtain, and bath mat. I plan to add another layer to the decor and get something on the walls, but I'm a perfectionist, so until I know exactly what I want, the bathroom will stay semi-naked. :)

I hope this inspires you to tackle your guest bathroom! Please share your before and after pictures!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Avocado: From Pit to Tree

I love avocados. So when I found a pin on Pinterest with basic instructions for growing an avocado tree, I thought that would be a fun little project that would keep the kids entertained too. I guess it's a pretty common school science project. The article did say the tree may or may not ever produce fruit. In Utah's climate, it would need to be an indoor tree, but I'm okay with that.

  1. Prepping the Pit: Since we were eating an avocado anyway, it seemed like a good time to start the tree. I cleaned and dried the pit (those are slippery little buggers when wet!) and inserted four toothpicks at a slight angle at about the middle. The pointy side of the pit should be facing up. This would allow the pit to sit at the top of a cup of water. The water should cover about an inch of the pit. I thought the toothpicks would be harder to insert, but it was actually quite easy!
  2. Encouraging Growth: We placed the pit in it's cup in a sunny window and maintained the water level, changing the water every week or so. The instructions said it should sprout roots and a stem in 2-6 weeks. We got roots after about 4, but no stem. The top of the pit opened, and we could see a stem trying to poke out, but even after two months, it never emerged. 
  3. Transplanting: With the roots too long for the glass, we decided to go ahead and plant the pit without the stem. If you do get a stem, you're supposed to trim it in half when it reaches 6 inches in height. Then when it leafs again, you would plant the pit in loose, sandy soil with the top half of the pit sticking out of the soil. Planting our pit in January, I couldn't find a lot of soil options, so I just used an organic all purpose starter.
  4. Growing: We planted the pit in soil January 18th. By February 8th, the stem started to poke out of the pit. Success! I was so worried that since we didn't see a stem while the pit was still in the water, that we were going to have to start over again. 
  5. Maintaining Growth: A week later, we went on vacation for 4 days. I gave our little tree some watering before we left and hoped for the best. When we got back, the stem had shot up about 4 inches! At this point, we'll just keep pinching back the top leaves to encourage more growth and a fuller plant. If we weren't in Utah, we could transplant it outside after a little acclimation, but our winters won't allow for that. It can take 4-5 years to produce fruit, even if it does, so we'll just have to post occasional updates! :)

             Here's a quick cell phone pic of the tree today (the day after I took the one above) in it's sunny spot behind the couch:

It reaches toward the window, so I keep turning the pot. :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Balancing the Upcoming Year

Happy New Year! Since my last post was in October, I'm very excited to be back! A lot has happened since last summer that has taken my focus away from projects and blogging. I'd like to share some of the things that have been going on; not because it's altogether exciting, or maybe even interesting for some of my readers, but these might be things that some moms and families need to relate to. I won't go into great detail, but every subject will include a brief overview. I may touch on some of these subjects in greater detail later. If you read something you can relate to and would like to read more about, please feel free to comment!


At the front of my mind right now is our custody battle. Last summer we lost my husband's two little girls because his ex-wife decided to move to the other side of the country and take them with her. It was the most heart-breaking experience either of us have had to go through. I'm happy they are healthy and well, but we never get to kiss, hug, or hold two of our children. We talk to them regularly, but it's just not the same. Not only are we suffering, but they only get to see their dad, step-mom, and siblings a few times a year.

Kids need their dad! I experienced circumstances with my own ex-husband where the kids were better off without their dad. This, however, is not one of those cases. I'm going to say something that some people may not like: if you have an ex-husband who truly loves and cares for his children, wants to spend as much time as possible with them, and pays regular child support, NURTURE THAT RELATIONSHIP! Yes, that was absolutely targeted at moms who have to "share" their children with their father. YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH! Children need both of their parents and mom and even step-dad can never replace that. Sure, it's one thing to move away from extended family. It's never okay to take children away from either of their parents. We have always made every effort to stay as close to them as possible. We'd love to live somewhere else. But under our circumstances, that was just not an option for us. It's too bad their mom doesn't see things the same way. It absolutely was not a necessary move.

Not only are they missing out on their dad, but they have two step-siblings and a half-sibling that they never get to see and who miss them greatly. Their baby sister gets so upset that they are not home. The other two had developed an amazing relationship with them that they no longer experience.

It amazes me that parents make decisions and do not weigh all of the consequences they have on their children. Your children are part of your family! What you do directly affects them. So, as you can imagine, trying to bring his kids back or at least get more visitation time has taken almost all of our attention, time, and resources.


I joke that since I'm only 31 and have been going through a "mid-life crisis", that I'm only going to live to the ripe old age of 62. Honestly, though, I was having a hard time figuring out life! I was in a job that I no longer enjoyed with no idea what I wanted to do for employment. I knew I wanted to stay at home with my kids, but that wasn't an option...yet. My husband has been building his guitar teaching business for a while with the intent of eventually allowing me to be a stay-at-home-mom and replacing his own full time job, but by fall of last year, we weren't there yet. 

Mind you, we've tried to lower our living expenses so that we don't need a two-job income. We chose to be a blended family and with that comes paying out quite a bit of child support on one side and not receiving any on the other side. With a large family to take care of, we have to have two incomes or one really big one. Eventually we'd like it to be the latter. Wouldn't everyone? :)

I tried starting a home-based business. I'd done quite a few previously and was actually quite successfull, but due to life, the market, and changing demands, I was no longer involved with any of them and they would no longer work for me. It was important for me to find something I was passionate about in order to get involved with sales again. I did! I signed up with Nerium International, with a good chunk of our custody battle funds, to try to get to the point that I didn't have to leave home to earn money. I'm still involved, and absolutely LOVE the product and the anti-aging results, but my natural market (friends, family, networks) was not prepared to experience anti-aging, spend money on themselves, or help me out. I wasn't willing to spend enough time to expand past that market, so I've had to take that initial investment as a loss. (Notice I said I wasn't willing - I could have made time, but I would have had to sacrifice what little time I had with my kids and husband.)

With changes at work that made it impossible (emotionally) for me to stay, I did the unthinkable and quit without having a new job lined up. I have to say: my husband was extremely supportive during this time. I can only imagine the stress and anxiety I must have caused him. I was lucky enough to line up another job before my time at the first one ended. However, since I was just desperate for a job, I still wasn't doing what I wanted. Well, I didn't know what I wanted. I switched industries completely and started over in property and casualty insurance. 

It's always been important for us to keep our kids out of daycare and try to make sure they were with a parent when not in school. I've always worked when my husband was at home and been at home while he was at work. His work schedule changed and I had to quit my new insurance position after only a few months! Again, luck or my God intervened, or maybe my hard work, but the agent I was working for offered to let me work from home. What?! That's what I've been trying to do all along and a series of unfortunate events led me to that opportunity! At the same time, my husband finally got his business to the point that we didn't have to have my hourly income to survive, allowing me to build a new business from home. What a blessing!

I've included much more than I intended on this subject!

Balancing Life

Work and family are just two of the things many of us try to balance on a daily basis. I haven't figured it out yet and there are a lot of resources like coaching that can help with that process. I feel like I've come a long way since last year, though, and my plan for this next year is to continue to work on it and find my "happy place".

I plan to post more as I do and hopefully that will help just one other mom figure some things out! :) Work, kids, husband, blogging, housekeeping, organization and homemaking are just a few things that might pop up, since that's my life right now...check back if that's you too!

If you have suggestions, insights, or would like me to share more, please comment!