Grouting the Basketweave

After finishing laying the hellish but beautiful basketweave floor...

...it was time to grout.

First up was scraping out all the little bits of thinset that had shoved their way close to the surface of the tile

This involved a few hours of Chris and I down on our hands and knees with utility blades emitting loud sighs and sometimes curse words

And despite our small bathroom, the fact that basketweave tile has SO MANY grout lines, this job took a long time (and none of it was any fun at all). But, by scraping the thinset out we got a more even grout job and more consistent color.

We were hoping to be able to grout the same day as we scraped, but two damn little gray dots decided to pop out, so we needed to re-thinset them back into place. In my frustration I told Chris we should just gorilla glue them back into place and then grout over it 30 minutes later. But Chris (responsibly) made us re-thinset, let it set the proper amount of time, and then go back to grout a few days later. Damn responsibility.

A few days later we were ready to grout, so we mixed it up...

...and got started.

There really isn't any crazy secret to grouting except to shove that crap into all the cracks with the grout float

When we thought we were done we made sure to go over everything to inspect and make sure that we filled in all the little itty bitty lines

We waited a little bit for the grout to get hazy, then we used the sponges in a circular motion to wipe it off the surface of the tile

It took A LOT of wipping. It was wipe, wipe, wipe, clean the bucket out, wipe, wipe, wipe, clean the bucket out...We did that process many, many times. There always seemed to be a BIT of haze left on the tile

But finally, it was done. And the shade of white of the grout was just a tiny bit brighter than the white of the basketweave, and it made it all pop JUST enough

Now we just have to seal the floor and then we can check this off the bathroom list! (which is getting MUCH smaller :) yay!)


The Saga of the Sink

You may or may not remember, but 3 1/2 months ago we bought our bathroom sink (which I was IN LOVE LOVE LOVE with)

When we first bought it back on June 12th, we were told that it normally takes about 3-6 weeks for them to come in. Fine. We've got LOTS of projects that we have to do, and there is NO WAY we'll be done and ready before then.

Within a few days we got a phone call letting us know we should expect it at the end of July. The place we bought it from was super nice about it, and we knew it wasn't their fault, Porcher just decided to start selling a sink they hadn't even started manufacturing yet. DUH!

Another week or two goes by, we get another phone call. Now we should expect it in the middle of August. That's fine, WHATEVER. Still, we're working diligently on many projects so we won't be ready for it before then.

Another two weeks goes by and I haven't heard anything. It's in the mid-20s of August so I thought I'd give the store a call to see what was going on. Apparently it got placed on even FURTHER backorder and the guess was that it would be ready by the end of September. HUH?!

At this point we realize that Porcher is a bunch of idoits. Not only do you start selling a sink that you haven't even started manufacturing yet, but then you have no idea how long it will take and keep delaying the ETA by weeks and weeks and weeks. Thank goodness we're doing the work ourselves (and at this point training heavily for Hana and working a lot of my dad and Wendy's so work on the bathroom was sort of stalling). But the showroom we bought it from had placed another two orders for it and their bathrooms were sitting, waiting for that damn sink to arrive.

Then, I got a call in the late teens of September. Thinking the sink was here I got very excited. No, the showroom was just letting me know that the idiots at Porcher had just shipped a bunch of pedestals but FORGOT to include all the sink basins (though we got ours as a wall mount, the other orders got them as pedestals).

Another week later Chris got a phone call. The sink is here! Wait, scratch that, it's broken. They have to ship another one. DAMNIT!

So yesterday you can imagine my excitement when I FINALLY got to go to the showroom to pick up our nice, pretty, undamaged sink :) :) :) And I realized what further idiots the people at Porcher are, THIS is how they "packed" the sink

Hmmm, "well Meryl, that's just a plain box, I don't get it." Yes, that's right, it's just a plain box. I know when I'M shipping an expensive, porcelain sink, I like to include PACKING MATERIAL. There were no peanuts, styrofoam, extra cardboard, packaged air thing-a-ma-jiggers, NOTHING. Just a cardboard box with the sink thrown in. Now, I'm pretty granola (when I was living in TX people called me a crazy hippie), so I know styrofoam and all that is really bad for the environment, but selling sinks that break in transit and then have to go to a landfill is also bad for the environment.

So, my review of Porcher: BEAUTIFUL sink, PRETTY stupid front office.

But at least now our sink is sitting pretty, waiting patiently to be installed

Now we've just got to tile, but we've laid out all of our plans so it should go pretty smoothly (in terms of where the subway tile will start, what corners get little stub pieces, etc.)

(don't worry that long stack of them on top of each other is incorrect, we'll obviously be staggering the tiles, we were just getting a spacing measurement).

Now just on to tiling 100+ sq. ft. of subway tile, one by one by one...


Basement Shear Wall

While we were waiting for the concrete to cure when we put in my parents pull-up bars, we worked on clearing out some space in their basement and building a shear wall.

CBH and my mom have a small working area by the side door that was in need of some help

CBH wanted the old, crusty, broken down cabinet removed, the table cleaned a bit, a shear wall put in behind the cabinet and some general spiffing up done.

First we cleared the area

Then as you can tell, we pulled the cabinet down.

We ripped down some of the drywall, measured out the area for the plywood, then nailed it all in

I cleaned the table a bit. I really wanted to take it outside, sand it down, and then put some poly on it, but Chris and CBH scoffed at me

So I just cleaned it all up and wipped it down. When I was done we moved it back into place

I REALLY wanted to organize CBH's tools and supplies that were over here, but he wasn't having it. Damnit! He just wanted to put all the stuff back where it was for now

But you better believe next time we're over there doing some more work I'll be putting that organizing plan into full effect :)


Pull-Up Party

My mom and Clarke (CBH) now have some projects for us to do at their house too (along with the work we're doing at my dad and Wendy's). It's great doing work at their houses - we make some extra money, get different experiences, and get the satisfaction of actually finishing projects.

Now, I know what most of you are thinking: when I decide to landscape my backyard, the first thing that's going in is a pull-up bar. Well, my mom and CBH are crazy worker-outers (and it pays off because they can probably both beat me up), so up went the pull-up bars - his and hers of course.

CBH scoped out the area last week and decided where he wanted them to go and dug some pilot holes

Friday night we headed out to their house to sleep over and early yesterday morning we got to work (we've had MUCH hairier drives back from Home Depot than this one)

Our instructions stated that the pull-up bars needed to be 36" into the ground, so we got to digging (and digging, and digging, and digging. It was not a fun 60-90 minutes in the blazing heat)

We ended up using plastic cups to scoop out the dirt towards the end because you can see how deep the holes are by the absence of my arm and there was no way a shovel was getting down that far.

After nearly 90 minutes of digging with our bodies covered in dirt and twings and our faces dripping with sweat we figured, "you know what, 30 inches down is PLENTY deep enough"

So we mixed up some concrete and starting putting the 12' posts in

We even made a nice little step at one of the posts so you could more easily reach the bar

We got quick-setting concrete, so while we waited for it to setup we worked on some other projects and had some lunch. A few hours later we returned ready to install the bars.

First, we measured how high up CBH wanted the bars, made some practice cuts on spare wood to find the right size bit, then got to work drilling the holes in the 4x6's

With the holes drilled, we slid in the bar and cut it down to size (with about 1/4" - 1/2" coming out of each post)

After we figured out the height for the second one, drilled the first hole, and then shoved in the bar to find out where it was level to drill the second hole, we realized we made a LITTLE mistake

Our middle post was in correctly at the bottom, but it tilted out a little at the top and was a tiny bit twisted, which, over almost 8 feet makes a big difference. So, we got out the ratchets and tried to pull it to the right as much as possible

Then, with some pushing, pulling, tweaking, and hammering we were able to drill the second hole and shove that pole into place, and the bars looked GREAT!

And Clarke christened them with the first pull-up

Hope you have fun on your pull-up dates mom and CBH! :)


I Killed Our Herbs

I planted a small herb garden a year or so ago outside our side door

I was not a good herb mother and neglected the plants and they died. I know. Not a good Meryl

So I decided to give it another go.

Yes, it's late in the year, but with the wacky weather we've had here in the Bay Area this year, it's not like planting them in May would have been any better because it really has only been hot for about 2-5 days at a time then it either cold, rainy, or cloudy all day long for similar stretches. So now is as good a time as any.

I bought some new gear (I had to buy plants because the place I went to didn't have any seeds)

I pulled out the old, dead plants, mixed in some new soil and plant food, and pretty soon the herbs were looking good as new! (because they are new)

And you know I had to get out the labels again

Hopefully I tend to these ones better...


Good Night Moon

When I answered the door tonight when a friend came by to pick up some shoes I made for her, the moon was intoxicating


Glass vs. Curtain

Though we're not there yet (we still have to grout the floor and lay the 100+ square feet of tile on the walls and shower surround), we've started contemplating what our shower enclosure will (eventually) be

Do we spend the extra money and do a glass surround?

Swinging door:


Sliding doors:


Or one of those glass stubs (that get water EVERYWHERE):


Or do we do spend a lot less money and go with a shower curtain?


Chris and I both want glass. I find curtains to be unsanitary. I know you can keep them clean, change them out, and do all sorts of things to make sure curtains and clean and taken care of, but something about them just sort of grosses me out. Also, I fear the curtain will really break up the room and make our really small space look even smaller. I want to be able to see through to the tile shower surround so the room feels more open and airy and the only way we could really achieve that would be with a clear curtain and those get really dingy really quick. And, I just think all the creases and folds in the curtain make it took really busy and messy.

Our bathroom previously had glass sliding doors

But somwhere down the line someone had put in a closet in the corner and when they put in the glass they didn't accomodate the curve of the tub and just decided it would be best to toss some caulk and plaster in the corner

And all that crap really stained the tub :(

Chris was already able to clean most of the staining, so we're very thankful we didn't have to spend a big chunk of change to refinish it

(we've still got a bit more cleaning to go)

If we go with a glass surround with sliding doors (which is what we're leaning towards) it seems like the plan will be to have a piece of glass in the back, another piece on the corner at an angle to accomodate the curve, and then the longer side of the tub would obviously have the doors. We were really hoping that some place might be able to do a curved piece of glass to make the tub surround look a bit more seamless, but all the over the phone estimate places have said they can't do that :(

As it stands we still obviously need to get the companies in the actual space to do REAL estimates, but they've guesstimated that a glass tub surround for our bathroom would range from $900-$1100. It's a pretty hefty price tag compared to the $100-$250 we would spend on a curtain rod and curtain.

So the debating begins: is it worth the extra price to go with the surround we really want, but don't actually NEED, knowing it's a bit of a splurge?