Random (but not really)

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Bathroom Remodel: Diving Into the Closet (Part the Fourth)

This closet was similar to (but slightly smaller than) the closet in the guest bedroom. (There is actually no closet in our bedroom.) Someone had nailed up shelves to make better use of the space, but they also left the door up.

I’ve mentioned how small our bathroom is. I may not have mentioned that there was not initially a fan / vent in the bathroom.


So we took off the door, put in an exhaust fan, but it was still… ugly.

I knew that I wanted a better use of space than we initially had in the closet, and I really wanted something that was not tremendously ugly. But I wasn’t quite sure I had the skills to do this. So after tearing everything apart, I took a brief break and built a bookshelf.

Once I completed that project I had more tools AND a far better comfort with the project.

I didn’t have to replace any drywall in the closet, but I did have a fair amount of patching to do, and slapped on a LOT of primer. I also didn’t remove the interior door trim, so… don’t try to go into the closet and look at the doorway, okay?

First thing I did was determine how much big I needed the top shelf to be, to pull bins easily in and out. Then, I put in the stop shelf. It’s got supports on the side, because initially much of the weight was going to rest upon that top shelf.

Bathroom Closet

Why did I need the extra support? Because I wanted a tall space along the side, for brooms and such.

I decided that I wasn’t sure enough of my skills to trust most of the weight of the lower shelves onto the top shelf, so I ran a stud up the back of the closet, into which I’d the right shelf support.

Bathroom Closet

Ignore the random boards I shoved into the closet, because I had nowhere else to put them. I now had somewhere on both sides to attach the shelves.

I used the pocket jig to put screw holes in the bottom of the shelves at where the studs were (or were supposed to be anyway). The right side was easier, since I was screwing into wood.

Bathroom Closet

Here’s the next shelf! And yes it is, in fact, deeper than the top shelf. I determined that I could put the top shelf up higher if I had more clearance. But the lower shelves could be deeper, since they didn’t have the be maneuvered out.

I measured the crap out of everything, and found some heavy felt bins in dark blue that would work perfectly–I actually spaced the shelves to fit the bins I ordered.

Bathroom Closet

I left the bottom shelf off because I was not going to try to pull the linoleum up with only 12 or so inches of clearance.

I was initially going to leave the shelves natural colored, since I used pine boards, but for a different project I found white stain (Marshmallow!) and a (mostly) clear polyurethane, and decided that would lighten the space up even more, and I ended up being quite pleased with how it turned out.

Bathroom Closet

And that’s how it looks! I was extra delighted with the closet because aside from cutting the boards, I did all the work myself, and it was EXTREMELY SATISFYING.

I actually still have an empty bin, which is AWESOME since as I noted, space is at a premium in this house.

Written by Michelle at 5:48 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Holidays  

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Bathroom Remodel: Rebuild These Walls and a Shelf (Part the Third)

Once the tub was mostly finished, we moved onto the walls around the toilet (the opposite walls were in decent shape and didn’t need demolished).

As I mentioned before, the space between the walls is ridiculously deep, so it seemed ridiculous not to build shelves into that space. The worry was that is the only section of open wall large enough to hold towel racks, so I needed another spot to hang towels. Once I figured that out, we had to figure out how to build the shelf.

Although it probably wasn’t load bearing, there was a stud running up the middle section of where the shelf would go. Thinking back to how we built the bookshelves into the walls in the computer room (Apparently I have no blog posts about any of that work–unsurprisingly, really, since then Grandmom moved in as soon as we finished.) I figured we could just cut out the middle of the stud and brace the edges. This led to so interesting discussions as we tried to figure out how to do this, including the following exchange:

“And just how is that board going to be held in place?”
“Um…. magic?”

We didn’t use magic.

We also put in more outlets, because two outlets did just not cut it, even in a bathroom we rarely used.

Michael built a three-sided box that we slid into the space.

There ended up being an issue, because the box was built with about a quarter inch of extra space on each side, for ease of getting the box into the wall. Then Michael nailed the box to the studs–without remembering that we needed shims to account for that quarter inch. So things were not quite square, but that box is going NOWHERE.

We then put up the rest of the drywall, and taped and mudded.

Painting happened in stages, because we were only going to pull the toilet completely out once. So the upper half of the walls were painted, and we put trim around the shelf.

Initially Michael used L-brackets to put up the shelves. I hated this, so once I got the pocket jig, I ripped out the L-brackets, repainted, and put in new shelves.

Now, we ended up having another issue here that probably won’t be a problem for anyone else ever, unless they also have a teeny bathroom. Because the cement board stood slightly proud of the “regular” wall, we had to order special corner-type tiles, and ended up with a space beside the medicine cabinet that couldn’t have tile–or anything else. If you stand at an angle you can see the unfinished edge behind the medicine cabinet. So…don’t do that if you come over to my house.

The trim was the very last thing to go up, since the floor was the next-to-last thing we did in the bathroom.

Written by Michelle at 4:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Monday, November 4, 2019

Bathroom Remodel: The Tub (Part the Second)

The plumbing bits were mostly Michael, since he’s 1) pretty good at plumbing and 2) has better upper-body strength than I do.

We replaced the fixtures and most everything inside the walls, as well as the tub drain.

The walls extremely problematic. The tub had been put in after the drywall and the cement board we got for the wall was much thinner. That meant we had to put boards up over the studs, to make sure the edge of the cement board was just over the lip of the tub.

Bathrom wall

We got foam board to insulate the wall as well (what we took out looked like shredded cardboard. UGH.

Putting up the cement board involved a lot of measuring and remeasuring, and would have been a LOT easier if there wasn’t a window in the middle of the wall.

Michael replaced all the pipe with PVC, because he finds it easier to work with, and who am I to argue with that.

Because the space between the walls was so deep, I ordered some shelves to inset inside the wall. You can also see here where we added studs not just where the shelves were, but also where the fixtures were going to go.

Once the cement board was up, I taped and then put thinset on all the joints.

I have an extra kitchen scale, so since I was only mixing small batches of thinset (and later grout) I covered the scale in saran wrap and was able to measure by weight, which I always find easier.

After the thinset dried, I applied the waterproofing.

I put two coats of the waterproofing up, because 1) I had the time and 2) I had far more waterproofing than I was going to use.

To keep the bathroom mostly usable during the project, we replaced the sink and fixtures and light relatively early on.

Because the bathroom is so small, and the space for the sink is so small, we had almost no choice in sink and cabinet. I wanted something with a cabinet because a small house means limited storage space, so the remodel was going to give me the most storage space I could get.

Then came the tiling.

The problem here is that no one feels that it’s safe for me to use cutting tools, so while Michael was working on something else, I put whole tiles up on the wall, because one website suggested putting up whole tiles and then filling in the pieces.

This did not work well for me, because getting the tiles the right size to fit in the spaces was annoying and was a problem more than once. I am all but incapable of visualizing things, so I frequently measured tile “backwards” from what I needed, which was frustrating, but also something I was expecting, and so had Michael double check before he cut.

All of which made the process more time-consuming, but wasted less tile.

Also, I did a lousy job bracing the initial row of tile, so they slipped some and were uneven. Don’t screw that up when you do tiling.

We ended up buying a small and inexpensive tile saw, because it ended up being cheaper than renting one. Michael says I probably could have used it safely, but didn’t, since I hate the emergency room.

The good think is that once you grout, the screw ups and errors in the tile become unnoticeable.

Since I had extra cobalt blue tile, I decided to create a pattern with the tile in the shelving niches. It was actually really fun, and if I’d felt more confident in the beginning, I might have done a pattern with the blue tile instead of just stripes. But I’m still pleased with how the tile turned out, despite only making stripes and the number of times I screwed up.

And about that tile…

I went to Davis Kitchen and Tile to see what they had, and in the hope someone might be able to answer a couple of questions for me.

The owner ended up spending probably an hour with me, patiently answering all my questions and helping me figure out what I needed. Considering I went with the cheaper tile, and told him up front that I was doing the work myself, he was amazingly patient and wonderful and kind.

If you need tile (or have a remodeling project), you should definitely go to Davis Kitchen and Tile, because they were marvelous.

Important for the tub & shower
Tile saw
Small metal ruler
Nitrile gloves
Leather gloves
Tile file
Circular tile bits for the drill
Wrist braces (these fit under both my leather and nitrile gloves)

Michael already had most of the plumbing tools, so I’m not 100% what would be recommend there if you’re not already doing plumbing.

Written by Michelle at 4:00 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Bathroom Remodel: This House (Part the First)

This project started on the 17th of May, 2019, and finished on the 3rd of November, 2019.

Yes, it was slow, but 1) we didn’t always know what we were doing 2) we had to learn a lot of new skills as we went (see previous) 3) we did it in our free time 4) we were extremely flexible in what we were going to do, and finally 5) we had another bathroom in the house.

We knew it was going to be difficult in parts, because this is a 1930s house, and things are often just weird. And we discovered plenty more weirdness as we went, which is what this first post is going to be about.

When we first moved in, the toilet leaked and the shower leaked, so we replaced the tub assembly, replaced the sink fixture, and attempted to replace the toilet–except that the bathroom is so small the door wouldn’t close with the new toilet in place, so that fixture sat in the basement until we put in the second bathroom when Grandmom moved in.

That project (adding a second bathroom) is why I felt that we would be able to do this project. We built two rooms (bathroom and computer room) from nothing, and did all the work ourselves, except for tapping the sewer line (because we had two months to get everything done (including emptying the spare room) before Grandmom moved in, and we did NOT have time to for major screw-ups)).

Was this hard? At times, of course it was. We didn’t know what we were doing. We often didn’t have the proper tools. And some things are just hard work. But I learned so much doing this, I feel like when the zombie apocalypse comes I’ll actually have value to contribute.

So here is how things looked when we (mostly) started.

Ugly Bathroom

Ugly Bathroom

We’d replaced fixtures (as I said) and Michael put in shut-off valves (because this house basically had the whole house shut-off and no others), but otherwise, this is how it’d looked since we moved in in 2001.

The we started tearing things apart, and found all kinds of excitement.

This was the first–but far from the last–time I wondered what the hell we were getting ourselves into.

It was nasty.

Ugly Bathroom

We also discovered they built walls across walls and put the tub in after they put in the walls, and just…. ugh. All kinds of ick.

We discovered multiple sockets / switches that had just been plastered over.

I found (I kid you not) razor blades in the wall.

We discovered creative ways were used to make things fit.

I discovered wood floor under the linoleum in the closet.

And some pretty disgusting plywood under the rest of the linoleum.

If that picture doesn’t make it clear, the bathroom is tiny. The floor space is 4′ x 5′ , not including the tub and the closet, so it was often problematic for both of us to be in the bathroom at the same time–especially when the toilet and sink were installed.

So what ended up being important for the demolition?

Tetanus shot
Utility knife (one for each person, really)
Shop vac
Many old shower curtains to be used as drop cloths
Leather work gloves
Dust masks
Rubber mallet
Drywall saw / knife
Audiobooks / podcasts

Did I mention to make sure your tetanus shot booster is up-to-date? And definitely the dust masks. Even wearing them both of us ended up with a respiratory thing when we were tearing out the shower walls–most likely due to the combination of mold, mildew, and dust particles.

And patience. Lots and lots and lots of patience.

Written by Michelle at 5:48 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Unexpected or Amusing: I’m There for It

We saw some interesting things on our drive yesterday.

One was so unexpected that I might have squealed, slammed on the brakes, and all but done a U-Turn in the road.

Sereniy Semi

Michael’s Favorite Sign

MIchaels Favorite Sign

This just delighted me. It’s like someone let me name a road.

Old Oldtown Road

We opted to starve to death, but stopping was briefly was considered.

Eat Here or Starve to Death

Written by Michelle at 8:14 am      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Non-Sequiturs,Photos  

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Books of… Wait, October Can’t Be Over!

Surprise. It’s November.

Lots of re-reads this month, but plenty of new books as well, and some very good books that were not re-reads.

I loved Layla Reyne’s Agents Irish and Whiskey series, starting with Single Malt, despite the fact that it had tropes that I really dislike, including a romance between law enforcement partners, a secret off-the-books investigation, and one person committed to the romance and the other… not. Why did it work for me? First and foremost because of Aidan. It had been less than a year since his husband was killed, so he was still processing his grief and afraid to care for someone who might get killed in the line of duty. But also because Jamie was a delight. He was a thorough geek AND an amazing athlete and a good person. And the mysteries were good and there were repercussions for not following the rules. Excellent!

I finished the last (?) Snow & Winter book, The Mystery of the Bones by C.S. Poe which was an interesting mystery and the romance was good as well.

I’m re-reading Patricia Briggs‘s Alpha & Omega series, which has some of my favorite secondary characters in the Mercy-verse (Asil).

So what did I read? Quite a variety. (Note that the LGBT books are also boinking books.)


At Your Service (2018) Sandra Antonelli (Rating: 8/10)

Mystery, Historical

Lord John and the Private Matter (2003) Diana Gabaldon (Lord John) (Rating: 8/10)

Mystery, LGBT

The Mystery of the Bones (2019) C.S. Poe (Rating: 8.5/10) (Snow & Winter)
Agents Irish and Whiskey
Single Malt (2017) Layla Reyne (Rating: 8.5/10)
Cask Strength (2017) Layla Reyne (Rating: 8.5/10)
Barrel Proof (2017) Layla Reyne (Rating: 9/10)
Holmes & Moriarity
Somebody Killed His Editor (2009) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7/10)
All She Wrote (2010) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7.5/10)

Romance, Historical

The Work of Art (2019) Mimi Matthews (Rating: 7.5/10)
A Convenient Fiction (2019) Mimi Matthews (Rating: 6/10) (Parish Orphans of Devon)

Romance, LGBT

Riven (2018) Roan Parrish (Rating: 7.5/10)
A Duke in Disguise (2019) Cat Sebastian (Rating: 5/10)

Fantasy, Historical

Gunpowder Alchemy (2014) Jeannie Lin (Rating: 6/10) (The Gunpowder Chronicles)

Fantasy, LGBT

Mainly by Moonlight (2019) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 6/10) (Bedknobs and Broomsticks)

Fantasy, Supernatural

Alpha & Omega
Alpha and Omega (2008) Patricia Briggs (Rating: 8/10)
Cry Wolf (2008) Patricia Briggs (Rating: 8/10)
Hunting Ground (2009) Patricia Briggs (Rating: 8.5/10)
Fair Game (2012) Patricia Briggs (Rating: 8.5/10)

And now THE STATS!

All ebooks this month. I’ve been listening to podcasts instead of audio books. And just under half the books were re-reads, because I finished a series I really liked and then was stumped for what to read next.

eBook: 18
Multiple Formats: 4
Re-read: 7

Mostly mystery and romance, and half of those were boinking books. But almost half were fantasies, so not that far off from normal.

Fantasy: 6
Mystery: 12
Romance: 16
Boinking: 7

No books written by guys this month. Male authors are at only 38% this year, so I don’t think they’re going to catch up.

Female: 14
Initials: 1
Male Pseudonym: 3

And the character breakdown. More than half the books had make protagonists (because M/M romances) and although almost all the books had one white main character, there were plenty of minorities as the other primary character and secondary characters.

Male: 9
Female: 8
Ensemble: 1
White: 17
Minority: 7
Minority 2ndary: 5
Straight: 8
LGBTQ 2ndary: 1

And that’s what I read in October. Did you read anything excellent recently?

Written by Michelle at 2:28 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Monday, October 21, 2019

Traveling WV: Babcock State Park

The other places we stopped (right in the middle of our day) was Babcock State Park.

There was a decent amount of color there, although nowhere near peak.





So! Adorable!




Written by Michelle at 8:30 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  
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