Monday, March 28, 2011

Master Bathroom: From Scary to Sublime

These days it seems that everything has a 'Best Before' date - including bathrooms.  I knew we were on borrowed time with our master bathroom when I noticed cracked tiles, chipped grout and an area by the tub where the white floor tiles had turned gray (a sure sign of a water leak). We were fairly certain our old bathroom would not make it to year 26.

Mr. StyleBurb and I decided to be proactive, and renovate our bathroom before the ceiling below crashed through and landed on the kitchen table.

We ripped up tiles, stripped wallpaper, replaced drywall, and did lots of painting.  We were prepared to do all the work ourselves, but we knew our limitations, and hired a handyman for the plumbing and tile work.

Most impressively, Mr. StyleBurb proved to be a whiz-kid at trim work and molding! Wait until you see the gorgeous Shaker-style wainscoting he made for the bathroom walls!

Before we get to the dreaded 'Before' pictures, here is a glimpse of what we now have:

Most of the work on the bathroom was finished just before I started this blog, but luckily we thought to take some pictures before we started to work.

We had already started removing tiles, wallpaper and marking out floor tiles with painter's tape.

You can see our old gross shower, and a spot where we tested our tile removing ability.

We wallpapered this room 13 years ago...just goes to show how styles change!

Okay...I am ready to never speak or think about that old bathroom again!

Selecting the new fixtures, vanity and flooring was a lot of fun, but stressful at times. We chose 12x12 porcelain tiles for the floor and a roomy 5 ft vanity with a granite top and an under-mount sink.  We ordered everything through our local home improvement store, so we were able to negotiate a great discount on everything!

We decided not to replace the whirlpool tub with another whirlpool tub...

Look how much space the old tub occupied!

...and instead chose a beautiful and graceful clawfoot slipper tub.

I love the telephone style faucet!

The pièce de résistance of the bathroom is the wainscoting that Mr. StyleBurb built for the walls.

The molding color is Benjamin Moore 'Cloud White'.  Here is a closer view:

I told you Mr. StyleBurb was handy!  (He also made the door on the medicine cupboard.) This picture shows the molding dimensions my husband used to create the Shaker-style effect:

Our local building supply center cut the sheets of MDF wood into the dimensions we needed.  The 4x8 MDF sheets cost only $22.  There was no charge to cut the wood into the 8", 5" and 4" widths required.  This meant that we could get 24 linear feet of MDF for just $22.  The baseboard and molding cap cost around $2 per foot combined.  The total cost of the wainscoting was only $3 per foot.

Rather than worry about filling and sanding nail holes, the wood was attached to the wall with a product called LePage's Liquid Nails.  This adhesive worked really well, although it was a little more expensive than traditional methods.

Mr. StyleBurb also removed the old window casings, and replaced them with more elaborate ones to suit the rest of the room.

The new vanity is taller than the old one, which interfered with the mirror above. Rather than spend $300 on a new mirror, we found a glass cutter who charged only $5 to shorten the old mirror.

I would still like my husband to frame the day!

I have been slow to accessorize the bathroom. So far I have found a carpet for the floor in front of the vanity from Bed, Bath and Beyond.  The little chair in the corner is from Pier 1.

The new towels are an excellent match to the blue in the carpet.

I'm still looking for a new toothbrush holder and soap dish for the vanity.

I think a small round table tucked between the tub and the vanity would look very cute and could hold some soaps and bath salts.

I also need pictures for the wall above the toilet, but I'm not really sure what I want yet.  Any suggestions?

I actually enjoy cleaning the bathroom now!  Well, sort of...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Simple Spring: Introducing My Foyer

The Internet was down at my house for a few days this week.  This created a lot of Drama...mostly from me.

It's been a hard three days.  The worst part was that I had to reschedule my hair appointment because I had to wait around for a service technician.  The curl in my hair is natural; the color is "enhanced."

The good news is that I found time to add some simple spring accessories to my foyer.  I like to open the front door and see something pretty, so I added a new pillow to this wooden bench.  To me, nothing says springtime fresh like crisp white fabrics and hydrangeas.

When you first step inside my house, there are mirrored closet doors to the right. We always intended to replace them, but they reflect a lot of light and it's the last chance you get to check your outfit on the way out the door.

We have a coat rack in the corner, for a bit of charm and for guests to hang up their coats when the closet is full.  Those are my husband's straw hats, all ready to be worn on sunny days.

On the opposite wall is the cubby organizer my family gave me for my birthday last fall.  It reminds me of something you might find in an old hotel.  For spring, I filled the cubbyholes with a vintage looking bottle, a cute bee pot filled with boxwood sprigs from the backyard, and a black and white photograph.

The picture is of my Grandfather as a little boy, with his sister (holding her doll) and their parents.  They're standing in front of the boat that has just brought them to Canada from England to start their new life.  I like the way the picture looks unframed and unconventionally displayed in the cubby.

My son made the shadow box display of nature items in art class last year and then gave it to me for Mother's Day.  The leaves, flowers and moth have been hot-glued to the glass simple and yet so beautiful.

The foyer is a few steps lower than the rest of the house.  You can see the console table in the background with my apothecary jar full of newsprint Easter eggs.

It's been such a long, cold, dreary winter (isn't that from a Beatle's song?) that I can't wait to bring more spring inside.

Not that I want the Internet to fail again...    Ma'am, step away from the computer...

I am linking up to:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Boredom Busters: How We Survived Spring Break

It was spring break at the StyleBurb house last week.  Mr. StyleBurb had to work, so the rest of the family used the week of vacation to adjust to the time change.

The only thing I like about "spring forward" is that the clock in my van is now accurate.  For six months of the year the van's clock is an hour fast.  I could correct the time myself, but that would require me to find the owner's manual, and some things are just not worth the effort.

Anyway, here's a round-up of some crafts my kids made - just to prove that we did not sleep in and lollygag around the house until noon every day watching Ellen and The View.

Not that there's anything wrong with that ;)

These creatures (miniature foam shapes that expand in water) have been growing in a dish on my counter all week.  It looks like the dinosaur is about to attack the Easter Bunny, who is smiling bravely despite impending doom!

My youngest daughter tried her hand at soap carving.  This was fun until the dog ate the soap shavings that fell on the floor.  I called the vet to make sure Ivory soap wouldn't harm him.  Harry was fine, except he drank a lot of water and then blew bubbles when he opened his mouth.

Here is the soap representation of the Easter bunny.

The kids finally got to paint the paper machéd Easter eggs to replace the ones I used in my apothecary jar.

Even though Easter is still a month away, we also made Easter bunny chocolates using plastic molds and melting chocolate wafers.

We also made some heart-shaped chocolate lollipops...because there's always room for love!

The bunnies were wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbons to give as gifts... if they last that long!

Of course we didn't forget about St. Patrick's Day and we made mini cupcakes to celebrate.  My youngest daughter decorated these ones all by herself!

She used the 1M tip on the Wilton Dessert Decorator Pro piping tool - it's amazing how easy it is to get professional looking results.

It's back to school tomorrow. Meanwhile it looks like a bomb went off in my house.  Cleaning when the house is full of children is an uphill battle, to say the least.  

Comedian Phyllis Dillar had it right when she said: "Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing."

The Seven Dwarfs sang: "Just whistle while you work".  That's one approach to housework I think I'll try.

Thankfully it's still too chilly here to leave the windows open, so no one will hear me!

I'm linking up to for her newbie party.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Eggs-tra, Eggs-tra...Read All About It

I "stole" my kids' craft project. I know that sounds bad, especially since we're just getting to know each other!  Hopefully you'll understand once I explain.

Also, keep in mind this delightful display as you read!

My three kids are enjoying spring break this week and I planned a few crafts to help keep them occupied.  I bought some of those dollar store plastic Easter eggs for them to paper maché and then paint with polka dots, zig-zags and swirls.

Everything started out innocently enough.

I watered down white glue, and tore up strips of newspaper. We dipped the newspaper strips into the gluey water and layered them on the plastic eggs.

See how my daughter used her sweet little hands to squeeze out the excess water from the eggs.

The Easter eggs were left to dry overnight.  When I checked them in the morning I was surprised.  They looked good - really good!

The eggs reminded me of something I might see in Pottery Barn.  They were faded and somewhat vintage looking.  They were perfect...  perfect for my giant apothecary jar (which my husband refers to as my 'hypothetical' jar....he's such a smart alec).

"Those pine cones have been in the apothecary jar since January....too long...not spring-like at that sap leaking onto the glass....", I thought to myself.

That was the moment I decided that the paper maché eggs should be mine.  I tried whitewashing some of the eggs as an 'eggsperament'.

whitewashed eggs
The whitewashed eggs looked good, but not good enough to do the whole batch, so the rest were left as is.  I filled the base of my apothecary jar with shredded wood bark from Michael's and layered the newsprint Easter eggs on top.

It all looked so good, and so 'cheep' (24 eggs for 4 dollars) - which is why I had no choice but to "re-purpose" my kids' craft project!

Don't worry about my kids; I made it up to them.  We paper machéd more Easter eggs the next day and I've got more crafts for them to do.

As long as our St. Patrick's Day cupcakes can't be used for decoration, everything will be fine.

Actually, I just realized that the cake stand on my counter is empty.  It always looks better when it's filled...

I'm linking up to The Shabby Nest and Amanda at Serenity Now.

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Grandma Joe's Sour Cream Coffee Cake

It's been cold and rainy here for the last few days.  It's a good day to stay inside and bake something sweet and warm and I have the perfect treat!

Several years ago my family headed south to Florida to visit Mickey Mouse, a few Disney princesses and my husband's two Grandmothers (who could have been Disney princesses in their youth!)

My husband's Grandmas were former New Yorkers who were spending their golden years in retirement homes in the 'Sunshine State'.

During our visit to Florida we often had dinner with Grandma Joe in her retirement home's lovely dining room.  We were treated like royalty as she led us through the dining room and paused at each table to introduce us to the other residents.

"This is my grandson and his family from Canada", Grandma Joe would explain to her friends.  When you're a teenager, having a car is status; when you're an octogenarian, having family who visit is most important - for lots of reasons.

Each night after dinner, we sat with Grandma Joe in her apartment and talked about her life as a younger woman.  All the while, our kids filled themselves with the Hershey Kisses and soft drinks she had brought in specially for them. 

On the last night of our vacation, Grandma Joe offered to let me search through her recipe boxes and take any recipes I wanted.  She was a serious baker in her day (from what I hear, she was thorough, efficient and accomplished in all areas of homemaking.)  Many recipe cards had already been passed along, but there were still a lot of dessert ones remaining. Perfect, if you ask me!

The recipe cards remained tucked away in my cupboard because I have a horrible habit of eating my own baking and when you're over 40, calories don't burn the way they used to!

Grandma Joe died this past September at the age of 92.  It gives me goosebumps to write about it, but for some reason, since then I have felt like following her recipes for cakes and cookies.

I suppose the recipes are a little old-fashioned, and there's no way any of it is low fat!  But, you've got to enjoy yourself....maybe have just a little piece.

I'm sure Grandma Joe never imagined her handwritten instructions to make sour cream coffee cake would end up on the internet.  She probably jotted the recipe down from memory, which is why I think the order of operations might be a bit off, so I have made adjustments in a couple of places.

As Grandma Joe would say: "Enjoy".

Sour Cream Coffee Cake (Excellent)

 Cake Ingredients:
1/2  cup     butter or margarine
2               eggs
1     cup     white sugar
2     cups    flour
1     tsp     baking powder
1     tsp     baking soda
1     tsp     vanilla
1     cup    sour cream (I used the high fat kind)

Filling Ingredients:
1   tsp or more cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans instead)

Filling: Combine cinnamon, brown sugar and nuts in a bowl and set aside.

Cake: Cream butter or margarine.  Add white sugar and eggs.  Add in vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and add to the creamed mixture.

Pour half of the batter into a greased and floured tube or bundt pan. Sprinkle on half of the filling mixture. Layer rest of the cake batter and top with the remaining sugar and nut mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

I'm linking up to