DIY Master Bathroom Renovation - Part III


This is post is part of a multi-part series on how we demolished our master bathroom and re-built it ourselves with quality materials and great design.
  1. DIY Master Bathroom Renovation - The Demolition
  2. DIY Master Bathroom Renovation - The Build Up
  3. DIY Master Bathroom Renovation - The Finishing Touches
  4. DIY Master Bathroom Renovation - The Final Product

Welcome to Part III in our Master Bathroom Renovation series.  In Part I of the series, we showed you some of the ugly demolition.  In Part II, we explained the key materials and boring/technical ideas, concepts and steps that one must undergo to build a quality and lasting bathroom.

Part III is the breakdown of major costs and materials required to undergo a project of this magnitude.  There will be numerous small purchases required - electric screwdrivers, screws, tape, caulking, a tile cutter, etc.. and while they will add up to a few hundred dollars, they are by far not the big ticket items.

Our vendors for the big ticket products included Cooltiles, Amazon and eBay.  Shipping was usually very affordable (or free) and the prices and selection could not be beat locally.

Shower panel
Make / Model: Pulse Showerspas Hana
Source: Amazon
Cost: $687 shipped

This thing is crazy.  It has a rain shower head, wand with numerous massage settings, a tub spout, shaving mirror and four misting jets.  The installation was super simple compared to even plumbing a normal shower / spigot combo.  Plus, it looks luxurious and amazing.

Frameless shower door
Make / Model: Kohler R702200-L-MX Fluence Frameless Bypass Shower Door with Crystal Glass
Source: Amazon
Cost: $351 shipped

Not only does this shower door look great, but like the shower panel, it was super easy to install.  It allows for installation in areas where the walls are not perfectly square and you only need a drill and a small hacksaw to install this.  Going slow, it only took a few hours to install.

Vanity with mirrors

Make / Model: Varies
Source: eBay
Cost: $1,184.00 shipped

Quite a bit of furniture these days is made in China.  There are numerous factories pumping low cost but quality furniture and there are plenty of Internet-only companies reselling the furniture under different names and wildly different prices.  It's very common to find the same piece of furniture at prices at two different stores that vary significantly.  The vanity set we purchased came with a dual sink, vanity, mirrors, and two faucets.  Unfortunately, the sink was damaged during delivery and we were unable to win the lengthy insurance claim battle.  Luckily, IKEA has an affordable dual sink that just happens to fit (with only a little modification) our vanity.

Dual-sink top
Make / Model: Braviken Sink, 2 bowls
Source: IKEA
Cost: $280 purchased in store

Way to go IKEA.  This dual sink fit the vanity almost perfectly.  We had to do a little cutting of the vanity, but nothing difficult.  It looks great and comes with all of the plumbing you need, including the p-trap!

Floor tile
Brand: Emil Ceramica in Grigio Pepe 6" x 13"
Source: Cootiles
Cost: 3 boxes at $123 each, $371 shipped

These tiles are porcelain, affordable and durable.  They are super easy to cut and work with and look fantastic.

Baseboard and Shower accent tile
Brand: Clear View Staggered Black and Grey Mix 10.5" x 9.5"
Source: Cootiles
Cost: 19 sheets at $312 shipped

These tiles served as a baseboard accent and an accent behind the shower panel.

Shower wall tile
Make / Model: Elida Ceramica Rain 12"x 24"
Source: Cootiles
Cost: 1 box at $420 shipped with 10% off coupon

We actually purchased this tile in 12"x24" pieces, not the 12"x12" shown below.  This was challenging to install as the thinset needs to be applied to the back of the tile uniformly as well as your walls needing to be very flat.  Like everything else, if you mess up, try it again.  Just pull it off the wall and adjust and affix it properly.

Total: $2,918.00

We were able to "splurge" in the visible areas (vanity, shower panel, tile) as it was DIY.  We received contractor quotes from $3k to $10k to remodel the bathroom using the cheapest materials available.  Throwing in an extra $500 for all of the smaller materials and tool purchases, we'd like to think we came out ahead.  Stick around for Part IV of our DIY Master Bathroom Renovation and you can decide!

<3 mk and jeff


Tips for Switching Your Clothes for Spring


It’s official, Spring is here and it's time to put the sweaters away!  It was randomly hot here in DC a few weeks ago and it was wonderful.   It made me want to wear my flip flops and shorts immediately but for me it isn't that easy. I have had to go into my spring/summer boxes stored in the basement to get out the warm weather clothes. Yes it is a pain, but it was time to get those guys out and into the rotation. 

If you are like me, you can’t keep all of your clothes in one closet.  Yes, my closet has a size disadvantage, but I also have too many clothes.  Did I really just admit that? I don’t see having too many clothes as being a problem because I've found ways to still be organized each season.


Here are some tips for switching and/or organizing your clothes for the new warmer season.

1. Take all of your clothes out of the closet before putting them back in. This will give you some perspective of what you actually have.

2. Purge. I don’t mean get sick from all of this work, I mean get rid of what you haven’t worn.   If you know that those shorts don’t fit or aren’t your style anymore, get rid of them.  Try the clothes on that you know might be questionable in fit. Please make sure you donate the clothes to either friends, family or the needy.  You can also be inventive if you can sew and find new uses for the clothes.

3. Color code the hanging clothes.  Having all shirts organized by color families makes looking for a shirt super easy.  I usually put the patterned tops, stripe, and florals together in one section. It will be  a rainbow of colors.  It will also allow you to see how many of one color you have and help you either get rid of some of them or not buy any more.  As you can see, I have tons of black and white going on.

4. STOP Buying! Yes, that isn’t that simple, especially for me,  but if you truly assess and try on the clothes you own already, you will have tons new outfit combinations you didn’t think you had.  If you are stuck for ideas, look in magazines, Pinterest, or other blogs.

5. Invest in good hangers to hang up as much as you can. I have't bought them yet, but I know when I spy a good deal on hangers, I'll be taking my own advice.  Having good hangers not only makes the closet look good, but they are nicer to your clothes and wont leave those dents in the shoulders of the tops. 

6. Throw away the shoe boxes. Put your shoes in clear plastic containers.  They cost about 99 cents each and allow for more than one pair of sandals/flip flops to be stored.  These were all purchased at Walmart. The shoes can be seen inside, which is helpful when planning your outfit for the day.

7.  Do not store all of your cold weather clothes.  The weather isn't always super warm so keep a few light sweaters or cardigans out.  I never store my jeans.  Jeans are so versatile that you can wear them all year long.

In my dream home I will have a closet large enough for all seasons, but for now I will be doing the season switch.  

I know there are more people with organizing ideas.  What have you done to organize your closet?

<3 mk


DIY Personalized Acrylic Serving Tray


Acrylic serving trays are everywhere, especially the ones that are personlaized.  I have been slobbering all over these gems for a few months, but wouldn’t buck up the money to actually get one made for me. Getting them personalized can cost a pretty penny (starting at least $50) so,  I made the decision to make my own.

I purchased this clear acrylic tray for $25 on amazon.  I wanted to make it personalized, but realized that I am not precise with my painting, so I purchased an alternative.  Etsy.com has tons of individuals that are selling initial decals.   The decals come in a variety of shapes, sizes, fonts, and styles.  I was able to personalize the size of my decal to fit my clear acrylic tray.  The seller was so flexible and made my decal the size I request for $12. 

The decal came in the mail about a week later with directions about adhering to my surface.  It was fairly easy, but make sure you clean the surface before applying and measure to ensure it is centered. I simply sprayed the surface with rubbing alcohol and wiped it off.  Following the directions is a must because once the decal touches the surface, it is stuck!

Instead of paying about $60 for this personalized acrylic servicing tray, I spend $37 for the same quality and design.

I love the way this turned out and will be using it for my next get together with friends.  If you need some color or change, laminate some patterned card stock and place it on the bottom of the tray adhered with double sided tape.  That idea will coming soon.

<3 mk


Starbuck's Iced Passion Tea at Home


Starbauck’s Iced Passion is delicious, refreshing, and also about $4 a pop from the store.  Yes, when you are out and about it is a great treat , but if you are home, don’t you want to still enjoy it without the cost? 

Tazo, the brank S-bucks uses, sells it teas in the food store.  Did you know that?  I have been buying the Passion and the Sweet Orange teas for a few years now.  You can drink them hot, but my favorite it iced.  I have been icing the passion tea and putting in a Truvia packet for a while, but it still didn’t quite taste the same until… I saw it on Pinterest.  Lemonade!  Such a good idea .   The light lemonade is even better because you don’t want to drink your calories.  I make this in big batches and keep it in the fridge to easy bottle filling. Now, I just need a way to make this stuff into an adult beverage.

Starbucks Iced Passion Tea at Home

1 liter boiling water
2 Tazo Passion Tea bags
1 cup Light lemonade (any brand)

Boil the water and steep the tea bags in the boiling water until they are a rich deep pink color.  Let the tea cool. 

Add the lemonade and mix together.  Serve over ice.  Enjoy.

<3 mk


DIY Master Bathroom Renovation - Part II

Home. Part II.

This is post is part of a multi-part series on how we demolished our master bathroom and re-built it ourselves with quality materials and great design.
  1. DIY Master Bathroom Renovation - The Demolition
  2. DIY Master Bathroom Renovation - The Build Up
  3. DIY Master Bathroom Renovation - The Finishing Touches
  4. DIY Master Bathroom Renovation - The Final Product

When we last left you, we showed you pictures of the demo job in Part I.  Looking at those pictures make it really hard for one to imagine what the final product would look like, but we promise, it looks awesome!

Warning, it gets a little technical here.  This is all of the boring stuff that vitally important to have a great looking and durable bathroom.  Stick around, because the pictures in Part III will be worth it!

Note, do not be afraid of a project of this size.  It's entirely doable for a regular DIYer.  Take your time and if it looks bad, do it over!  We sure did - more than once.

Here’s a high level breakdown of the tasks for our renovation:

Demolition – Remove vanity, sink, mirrors, drywall, toilet, floor tile, subfloor (it was damaged).  This was by far the most difficult part.  We tried to salvage the subfloor, but the tile was fixed to the subfloor with an adhesive which made removal without subfloor damage nearly impossible.  Plus, some of the subfloor had minor water damage.  As Mike Holmes would say, "we're going to Make It Right."

Subfloor replacement – This required building additional reinforcement perpendicular to the joists in place.  The subfloor needed to be entirely removed, up to the perimeter of the bathroom and bathtub, but wasn’t cut evenly on a joist.  Hard to explain without pictures, but there were none taken at the time.  At this point, the room looked like a war zone.  We had to put down two layers of subfloor due to joist deflection.  Without it, the floor would flex just enough to cause problems for the tile in the future.

New double layer subfloor in place

Decoupling membrane – You may have seen a product called Schluter-Ditra by Schluter-Systems on the show Holmes on Homes.  It’s this waffle looking orange thing that is applied to subfloor.  In a nutshell, it helps prevent or eliminate grout line cracks and cracked tiled.  It does this by de-coupling the subfloor from the tile.

 Schluter-Ditra tile underlayment

Greenboard - We replaced all of the damaged drywall with mold resistant green board.  The most difficult part is taping and smoothing out the joints with sandpaper.  For a novice, that took the longest to get perfect.

Hardibacker Cement Board - This product was used for the walls in the shower area.  Most folks just apply tile right on top of this stuff, but it's not truly waterproof.  Using Hardibacker was not necessary in the shower since we were using the Schluter-KERDI described below.   Only the most anal people go this route.

Schluter-KERDI - This product is also by Schluter-Systems.  It's basically a waterproofing membrane that the tile adheres to.  It's applied to the walls using a layer of thinset (the tile mix stuff) and will make your walls 100% waterproof.  We put this on top of the cement board, and wasn't necessary.  You can apply it to drywall or greenboard and have waterproof walls.

If you stuck around through all of that, awesome!  Do not be afraid of this level of renovation.  In the next post we will detail the costs of the materials and show you what tile we picked out and where to buy it.  Stay tuned!

<3 mk and jeff


DIY Creaseless Hair Ties


These creaseless hair ties are all over the place.  I see them online, in magazines, stores,   EVERYWHERE!  I went to pick up a pack at Target the other day and realized that I would be spending about $5 on three hair things that were just elastics knotted at the end.  Yes, my frugal side kicked in and I immediately went to the craft store.

Joanne Fabric had an array of elastics that were prices from $1.99 for basic colors to $2.99 for printed elastics.  Each package contains one yard of elastic.  That would allow one to make numerous ties for yourself and some friends.

The printed and colorful elastics were cute, but I am pretty neutral when it comes to hair accessories.  I chose to buy black, white, and a ruffled brown.  They were really easy to make and only required about 10 minutes to make a whole bunch. 

With the amount of elastic I bought, I was able to make about five hair ties with each color.  At the price of $1.99 - $2.99 that would break down to $0.40- $0.60 per hair tie.  That is saving you ~75% of what they would cost in the store. 

Here are the easy steps.

Collect your materials. Elastics, scissors, something for measuring, lighter.

Cut the elastic to a desired length.  I have a good amount of thin straight hair and I cut my elastics to 7 inches.  This allowed me to tie up my hair looping twice with just the right amount of tightness on the pony tail.  If you have really thick hair and a lot of it, you might want to make the cut longer

Fold the elastic in half length wise.

Tie a knot close to the end and pull it tight leaving some elastic sticking out.

Singe the end of the elastic with a lighter so it does not fry.  Warning, it will catch on fire if you leave it on the elastic.  It also will melt so be careful and don't touch it with your hand.

Done.  This is the ruffle brown one I made.  

If you don’t want to use a lighter, you can always put some clear nail polish or fray check.

If you use white elastic, then do not use the lighter.  The burn marks will show and discolor the elastic at the ends. Use clear nail polish or fray check

After finishing this little project and putting my hair up for pictures, I left the pony tail in my hair for a few hours.  When I took it out, it was like I didn’t even have it up.  #winning

<3 mk


Sriracha Edamame


Edamame is one of my favorite starters when Jeff and I go out for sushi, but you don’t have to settle eating them just when going out.  These healthy bite sized beans are available in most major food stores in the frozen sections or even fresh in the organic section.  They are easy to make plain or with a little spicy kick. Sometimes, you just need a little spice in your life!

I got the idea when we recently went exploring in Asheville, NC. They had spicy marinated edemame at the Thirsty Monk to pair with a locally brewed beer. The hoppyness of the beer paired perfectly with these bitesized treats.

Sriracha Edamame 

1 lb frozen Edamame in pod
¼ cup Sriracha
½ cup Duck sauce

Cook the frozen edamame according the package directions.  It usually boils in salted water (1/2 teaspoon) for about 5 minutes.  Once cooked, strain and let excess water drain. 

In a large bowl put in the cooked edamame in their shells, the Sriracha, and duck sauce.  Mix together with a spoon to make sure all are evenly coated with the sauce.  Put the refrigerator to marinate for a few hours (or even over night).  Eat cooled as a quick bite. 

If you aren't a big spicy person, cut the amount of Sriracha you add in half. You want to be able to eat the edamame without the heat bothering you. Enjoy!

<3 mk


DIY Master Bathroom Renovation – Part 1


This is post is part of a multi-part series on how we demolished our master bathroom and re-built it with quality materials and great design.
  1. DIY Master Bathroom Renovation - The Demolition
  2. DIY Master Bathroom Renovation - The Build Up
  3. DIY Master Bathroom Renovation - The Finishing Touches
  4. DIY Master Bathroom Renovation - The Final Product
Undertaking any home renovation can be a daunting task.  Saving thousands to do a bathroom project yourself rather than hiring out the work is very alluring, but you have to have the ability to learn multiple trades, building codes, and most importantly, have the time to complete the project. 

Jeff and I started renovating the master bathroom in 2011.  Yes, we realize its 2013 right now, but as stated earlier, having sufficient time to dedicate to the project is really helpful.   The bathroom was original to the house and it needed a complete redo thanks to a leak misdiagnosis from several contractors.  Given the age and condition, we decided to "just" entirely renovate it. I am talking bare bones, joists exposed, new subfloor, drywall, tile, plumbing, vanity and sinks, all while leaving the cast iron bathtub in place!  While near total demolition was a mess, it provided a great opportunity.  Since we were doing the work ourselves, that left far more budget for tile and beautiful fixtures and sweet upgrades.

Before we get into the varying steps, here are a few pictures of the demolition process.  It's a shame we didn't document more of the "before".  There were no instagram filters added, it really was that dusty!

The subfloor under the tub was actually in good condition!  No damage to the joists either.  We cleaned up as much debris as possible in case we or the next owners ever needed to cut into the ceiling from below.

The saw works better than the hammer and chisel.  Don't fall through the ceiling!

It is hard to imagine the finished product when it looks like it did, but seeing it finished makes it all worth it. Stay tuned for more how-tos, helpful hints, and pictures to come. 

<3 mk and jeff


Cucumber-Mint Gimlet


The trees are blooming, my toe nails are painted, and I actually shaved my legs!  TMI? The weather is getting warmer, in fact, it’s too warm for being April.  Hot weather means it is time for some refreshing adult beverages to enjoy outside.  This drink will cool you down on a warm (or hot) day with cool cucumber and mint in a instantly refreshing drink, with a gin kick.

I know, its only Wednesday, but you will need to do some preparation in order to get all your ingredients for this one. You will see when you look at the ingredients. 

My inspiration was from World Market. World Market is a store that offers a smorgasbord of different items from all over the world, hence the name.  They have furniture, food, jewelry, kitchen items, wine/beer, etc.  It is a catchall of international items.  They have food items that I can’t seem to find anywhere else, including the cucumber soda required for this drink.   World Market sells a variety of different cocktail glasses for all types of adult beverages.  I bought my martini glasses there recently.  Through some web surfing, I found out that for all the glasses they sell, they have a cocktail recipe.  How awesome is that?  I am sure the fact they have items in their recipes that you can only buy in store is beneficial to them, but whatever, still a great idea.

Cucumber-Mint Gimlet
Adapted from World Market

Cool down on a hot summer day with a fresh and flavorful Cucumber-Mint Gimlet. Made with seasonal summertime flavors of cucumber and lemon, this easy-to-make treat instantly refreshes.

Recipe for One
1/4 Mr. Q Cucumber Soda
juice of the half of a fresh lemon
4 sprigs mint
2 ounces gin
½ tablespoons agave nectar
Slices of cucumbers and lemons for garnish

Directions: Combine the lemon juice and mint in the bottom of a shaker tin with some ice.  Muddle until the mint is broken up slightly.  Add in the gin and shake.  Pour contents into a gimlet glass filled with ice.  Pour cucumber soda to top the glass and stir.  Garnish with cucumber and lemon.
Pitcher Recipe
1 Mr. Q Cucumber Soda
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
8 sprigs mint
2 cups gin
3 tablespoons agave nectar
Sliced cucumbers and lemons for garnish

Directions: Combine 1/3 cup lemon juice, 8 sprigs mint and agave in a pitcher; muddle. Stir in 2 cups gin, Mr. Q Cucumber Soda and some cucumber and lemon slices. Divide among 6 to 8 ice-filled glasses.

<3 mk


TED Talks - Ideas Worth Spreading


TED was introduced to me by my husband and I couldn’t thank him enough.  It is a perfect mix of great ideas and inspiration for a person (especially one with attention deficit disorder). TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design.  TED Talks fall within those three categories and are presented by engaging speakers who are often seen as experts on their topics.  Talks are typically less than 20 minutes, which never gives you enough time to get bored.  Sure, there are topics that are less interesting or pertinent to you than others, but then there are topics that bring you to tears, prompt you to make a difference, or even make you ask yourself hard challenging questions that encourage meaningful life action.

Recently Jeff and I went to a TEDx conference in Hickory, North Carolina.  TEDx is an independently organized (i.e. franchised) TED event and on a smaller scale. We have been TED watchers for numerous years and saw the opportunity on our recent trip down south.  We were seriously jazzed to see one in person after so many years of watching the talks streamed online.  TED talks are one of our top entertainment choices during working out.  Nothing like expanding your mind and muscles at the same time!

My favorite quote from the talk was - “You can’t do the same thing everyday and expect change!”  It really made me think about how I do things in life and not just sit there an expect things that bother me to change if I don’t do anything about it.  Maybe you need some change and watching one of the talks will motivate and inspire you to make some changes.  Take a chance, I bet you’ll find something that interests you.

If reading the news becomes too stressful and TV doesn’t cut it, check out TED Talks.  You can watch them on your computer or get the app on your tablet or phone.  They are perfect to watch when working out or even sitting in the airport waiting to go home (which I am doing right now) or to go on a much-needed trip.  These are truly talks on ideas worth sharing.

Here are a couple of my favorite talks to get you started understanding the addictive and powerful nature of TED.

Ken Robinson: School Kills Creativity

Andreas Schleicher: Use Data to Build Better Schools

<3 mk


Custom Photo Mat


Photos are on display all over my home.  It is so nice to be surrounded by pictures of the ones you love and miss.  After some time, looking at the same frames/settings gets boring and a change is needed.   Without breaking the bank or even having to get a new frame, here is a quick and easy fix. 

I had framed two digital photos of Jeff and I when we first started dating over seven years ago.  They have been on display in our bedroom for sometime now and were looking old.  When I saw this inspiration from Our Fifth House, I needed to redo them.

First, I got better pictures printed from Costco.  If you have a membership, it is super cheap to get large prints and they contact you when they're done.   I did this with the large pictures from our wedding and love the way they turned out.

Collect all your materials.
- Frame (Ribba from IKEA)
- Photo Mat (usually comes with the frame)
- fabric
- scissors
- hot glue gun with glue sticks

Next, I took the same mat that came with the frame, measured and cut the fabric.  Cut the fabric so there is over an inch over the outside of the mat.

Pull the fabric from the center, cut a hole.

Lay the fabric down and place the mat on top, centering the hole that was just cut. Fold the outside edges onto the photo mat, pulling it taught and gluing down with the hot glue gun.  Do this to all four sides of the mat. The corners will need to be folded and trimmed. 

Once all sides are glued, cut from the center in angles to each corner from the center hole you cut a few steps ago.

Trim the overlapping fabric and glue all four inside edges, pulling the fabric taught.

Done.  Place inside of the frame with your favorite picture. 

I choose a black and white fabric because it best went with the color pallet in the room.  The best thing about this project is you can easily choose whatever fabric you want and even change it if your mood, room color, or even if your decor preferences change. 

<3 MK


McDonald’s Pineapple Mango Smoothie


When on a long road trip, there are usually few choices for a healthy to-go snack. McDonald’s pineapple mango smoothie is a 220 calorie (12 oz) quick snack that appears to be healthy, but when looking at the ingredients, it is a slight fail.  Yes, there is real fruit, but with some artificial flavorings and names of ingredients that you can’t identify, maybe it isn’t as healthy as you hoped.  But, it sure is tasty.    

If you aren’t on the road and craving a healthier version of this fast food shake, here you go.  With this recipe you can buy and pronounce all the ingredients that go into this delicious smoothie.

Pineapple Mango Smoothie

½ cup mango puree
½ cup nonfat Vanilla Greek yogurt (or yogurt of choice)
½ cup pineapple juice
1 cup ice                                                                    
agave nectar (to taste)

Measure all ingredients and dump into a blender. Blend until smooth. 

For the mango puree, simply defrost frozen mango and blend until there aren’t any lumps.  A whole bag will make enough mango puree for at least six servings.


<3 mk

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