Yes, I’m aware that not every post title has to alliterate. I can’t help myself.

Do you guys have those really small, annoying, probably-easy-to-fix-but-I-forget-the-damn-part-every-time-I-go-to-Home-Depot problems in your house? ME TOO!!!

Probably-easy-to-fix-but-I-forget-the-damn-part-every-time-I-go-to-Home-Depot problem #1:

Obnoxious. And all because the faucet is missing an aerator, a <$5 part.

But after buying the wrong size a couple of times, we had a winner! Observe the beauty of a straight stream of water:

The installation involved unscrewing the old one and screwing on the new one. Why do I wait 1.5 years to do these things??

The next one is embarrassingly even easier.

Probably-easy-to-fix-but-I-forget-the-damn-part-every-time-I-go-to-Home-Depot problem #2:

$2.68 and 1:23 and a greasy hand later:


To me, these small victories are worth posting because… well, I don’t know why. But I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless, and I hope you’ll tell me:

What are some of the small annoying easy to fix but also easy to forget projects around your house? I can’t be alone…

You know how the newer toilets have that cool “double flush” feature, where there’s a flush for #1 and a flush for #2? Pretty cool, huh?

Well I thought it was even cooler when my friends over at Young House Love told us that any toilet could be converted to a fancy “double flush” one, for just a $20 part and a few minutes of work!

I’m actually not “green” enough to do this just for the helluvit, but that part of my toilet was already broken anyway, resulting in a not unpleasant singing sound and the toilet water running unnecessarily, and even “sneezing”. (Don’t worry- all water actually stayed inside the toilet.) Sometimes the singing and sneezing scared the guests, so I figured it was time to fix it and I might as well use the converter.

Anyway, the folks at YHL wrote a really good post alllll about it, so I’m just going to direct you over there (linked above) if you’re interested. The only real point of my post is to say that first I tried to find it at Home Depot and all they had was this $40-ish other version of it. So I ordered it online (this one) for $25 (guess they raised their prices).

Then I discovered that if you have one of those ball float thingies (actual term) like this:

not my toilet

… you have to buy the “Hydro Clean” too. Whatever.

So I went back to Home Depot and I discovered that since I’d been there before (okay, so it may have been a while), they decided to start stocking the Hydro Right- for $18! Guys, I get mad when I not only pay $7 more than I should have for something, but I had to WAIT for it to show up. Then I had to buy the Hydro Clean, which was about another $11. Roar.

But now my toilet handle looks like this (sorry, I did not take a before pic- we all know what the other kind looks like):

And the inside looks like this:

Pretty high-tech, huh? And now I can choose a #1 flush or a #2 flush. Gross. Sorry. Total cost: ~$36. Too much but what do ya do. At least the toilet is silent now.

The moral of the story for you guys is- BUY THIS THING AT HOME DEPOT, NOT AMAZON if you can. Also, they say it takes 10 minutes- yeah, maybe if it’s your job to install these things all day and you don’t have to read the instructions. And the no tools part- you’ll probably want something to help you unscrew stuff. Also you have to kind of fuss with the water levels and stuff. Overall, I would call this a success and would recommend it to anyone who needs to fix their toilet anyway, or maybe a family like the Duggars whose toilet is getting used constantly.

A house tour update has been a looooong time coming. There hasn’t been any significant progress in either of the bedrooms, but I looked at my Tour page the other day and was cringing at the pictures of the living room, kitchen, and bathroom. Though they are an improvement since the pictures from Day 1, those rooms are looking much better now. And let’s be honest- my house is never all camera-ready all at the same time, so I’ll just do it in increments. I have approximately one million billion finishing touches to complete, but I’m just going to look right into the face of fear and post the updated pics anyway in all their imperfect glory. You can find my updates below, but to find a couple more “along the way” photos, feel free to click “Tour” at the top of the page.

View from front door

Day 1

11 months later

Living room

Day 1

11 months later


Day 1

11 months later


Day 1

11 months later

Other side Day 1

11 months later

What a long, strange trip it’s been. I feel a little guilty for not being even further along (as I type the basement still reeks of crackheads and dogs, and the back yard makes me want to cry). And amazingly I’m not just fishing for compliments, although those never hurt anyone either. 🙂

I’ve learned a lot about myself through this process: I’ve learned that sometimes I have to depend on others, because they know more than I do (hard to believe, I know). But I’ve also learned that I am capable of more than I thought I was. Crazy Jonny’s “get shit done” attitude has been surprisingly enlightening, and Stan’s methodical thoroughness has driven me insane at times but also kept me grounded (and probably safe). I didn’t mean for this to turn into an emotional Miss America thank-you-speech style post, but damn it, it makes me want to cry thinking about all the help and encouragement I’ve gotten along the way. I’ve been pissed off enough to storm off and go trouncing through the neighborhood at 1am mid-kitchen-remodel, and I’ve shed more than a few tears on this ol’ dump of a house, but in the end I would reluctantly say that yes, it’s worth it. And thank you all so much for following me along while I blog about it. Every time I get a comment you’d think the Easter bunny visited, for crying out loud. So keep ’em coming, and let’s see what the next 11 months brings!

Apparently I’m not meant to look rosy today.

K this is NOT the after post- sorry guys. I really wanted it to be. But you know when you think “Just a couple more things and I’ll be totally finished!” and it really means “Oh my gosh how could I possibly take a picture when the _________ looks like that! No way- I’ll just spend 5 minutes (read: another hour or so) fixing it.” And by that time, you’ve made a mess of the place all over again, and you’ve lost your nice daylight, and it’s time to go have all-you-can-eat pizza… You know how that goes, right?

Well anyway, I actually did make progress on the bathroom this weekend, and I’ve got the pics to prove it. It all started with the sudden realization that I did not have to live forever with white drywall mud smeared on my ebony walls, and there was no reason that I couldn’t march down to Home Cheapo right this second for an afternoon lunch break and buy some paint.

The first time I picked the paint color, I did it online. I know. Who does that?!?! I chose Obsidian Glass by ICI, and when I saw the paint in person I freaked a little. It wasn’t gray. It was black. Like a black marker that was just starting to run out of ink.

But actually, I kinda liked it. Even though the bathroom is so small that you could use all 3 major fixtures (sink, toilet, tub) at once if you really wanted to, I thought the Obsidian Glass balanced all the white nicely and added some drama.

Then, disaster struck.

Jonny kept coming over to my house saying “These walls look like crap! <name of his employee who painted it> didn’t even patch these cracks. What a bone head.” And true, the old plaster walls have their share of cracks and other imperfections. So one day, he came over and couldn’t stand it anymore and got out the ol’ mud and putty knife and went to town. I wish I had a picture of what they looked like after that. Just picture what a black asphalt parking lot might look like after a wedding cake fight- that’s the general idea.

Oh but that’s not the disaster. After weeks of leaving the mud on the walls (weeks!) I finally decided that I was going to sand down the mud and paint it once and for all. I went down to the basement to get the extra Obsidian Glass, and it was nowhere to be found. Drat. Are you kidding me? I called Jonny.

“They discontinued that product.”

Well that’s just dreamy. Oh well, I guess this is the perfect time to pick another color, like maybe an actual gray like I tried to do the first time. After loving Kasey’s kitchen transformation including her Dolphin Fin walls, and after reading Sara’s extensive gray choosing posts (here, here, and here), I decided that Dolphin Fin was for me. (And yes, it’s Behr, and Jonny reluctantly approved my use of it.)

The guy at HD said they had been selling a ton of that color lately. Oh, the power of blogging! So anyway, this is what the bathroom looks like now:

Quite different, no? I couldn’t decide which one I liked better, but then I decided that I’m not going to allow myself to like Obsidian Glass better, because I am a bit tired of painting the bathroom at the moment, and spending $23 each time. But really, I do like the Dolphin Fin. It’s much more serene, and with some bright/cool (yes, both) turquoise accessories, I think it will feel very relaxing in there. (Except not like this morning when I had to take a cold shower because yesterday the pilot light accidentally went out when we were messing with the gas, which is a different story.)

Thoughts on the new color?

No, not that kind of green.

I know that probably about 96% of my readers follow Young House Love and saw their toilet post yesterday, but I just had to share it for the other 4%.

Did you know that you can buy a little $20 kit to convert your toilet into a dual flusher? Neither did I! I thought I’d have to just wait until I needed a new toilet to get one of the water-saving dual flushing ones. And have no fear if you don’t fancy yourself a handyman or handywoman- the installation is tool-free, and according to John, only takes about 20 minutes. The one they bought is here.

And for anyone out there using cloth diapers, their post also includes another little bonus that will probably make your life a lot easier. They are a very thorough bunch and explain things very well, so if you’re even remotely interesting in greening your john, head on over and check them out.

I think it’s pretty cool that someone figured out how to convert existing toilets, rather than encouraging everyone to toss theirs in a landfill to buy a new one. Yay toilets!

Have I mentioned how much I love punny blog post titles? A couple weekends ago I got super friendly with a nail gun, ALL BY MYSELF. Jonny dropped it off on my back porch with the air compressor when I wasn’t home, and he asked me to bring it back up to him a week later so I knew I couldn’t procrastinate this one. And what do you know- just like my old blinds-hanging experience, it turned out to be really easy! You want to use a nail gun for a project like this, as opposed to regular nails or screws, because the gun sinks the tiny nails deep into the wood, just leaving a small hole to patch instead of a big nail head sticking out.

Here’s the nail gun, looking intimidating.

Until you lift it out of the case and realize that there’s only one possible thing to do- plug it into the air compressor and point and shoot (and wear safety gear of course). Oh, and plug in the air compressor and scare the living daylights out of poor Misty with all the racket it makes.

I used my trusty $7 saw and miter box from HD to cut the appropriate lengths of quarter-round

then I put them in place and let-er-go. The nail gun makes such a satisfying “PPSSHH-ahhh” noise… I had to stop myself from putting in a bazillion nails because I remembered that I don’t particularly like patching and sanding holes.

Then for my least favorite part- caulk. Seriously, I hate caulking. I would rather paint, scrape paint, eat stale bagels, tile, and grout than caulk. It’s so messy and you wipe it off with your finger and then you think you’ve gotten it all off your finger but you haven’t, so it ends up right back on your quarter-round or your floor or your hair… ugh. So anyway, I got all the pieces nicely caulked, which was a pain fitting the caulking gun behind the toilet and sink and caused me to use a couple expletives. So now all it needs is matching white paint and voila, a seamless transition from wall to floor. Wahoo! Oh and a note: make sure you use painter’s acrylic caulk on a project that’s going to be, well, painted. Use pure silicon for places like the shower that see lots and lots of water.

Here it is before:

and after I nailed the quater-round in place:

and looking much more finished after paint and caulk:

I was too lazy to wait for the paint to dry before snapping this picture, but trust me the paint is the same color as the baseboard when it dries.

After the wood floors are refinished, I’m going to have to put quarter-round on every single baseboard in the place so I’m glad I knocked the tiny bathroom out and got some good practice.

And I know I’ve said this before, but the bathroom is this close to being totally finished, or at least as finished as it’s going to get! The only thing I have left to do is decorate, which is a little scary for me.

I’m reaching for bathroom “after”-ness- getting…closer… aaaahhhh! Not quite folks, which is why I’m going to show you the two not-that-exciting improvements I’ve made, in an attempt to feel like I’ve accomplished something. The bathroom has been 90% done for a while now, I’m just holding out on the big reveal because I have not yet decorated it. This is the fun part but why do I have to be so bad at it?? I will say this: I picked an accent color

and we hung up the vanity fixture

which the medicine cabinet barely clears, but hey- it clears (even if there was some bending and fudging). And now, when I go in there, I can see every last eyebrow that I need to pluck and if I had a mustache, I would be able to see all those hairs too. If I had a mustache. Oh, you do? Sad.

When I got home from work last night, all I really wanted to do was watch the Colbert Report on Hulu. And eat leftover carbonara, and maybe daydream a little. But nay, I did not give in! Thanks to Stan helping me finally lay the rest of the bathroom tiles (click here to see where it needed patching and touch up), I had just enough motivation to finish the grouting today. It was a bit of a pain reaching around the sink and the toilet (I do love some good up-close-and-personal quality time with a toilet) and hard to fit the rubber grout float in those tight spaces, but I may have cheated a little bit and just shoved some grout in those spots with my fingers. Trust me, no one will ever look back there, unless maybe they lose an earring. And anyway, it looks fine. Here’s the finished product! (Well, it will be finished after I clean it up a bit and caulk at the base of the tub.)




If you’re wondering why there are cans of tomatoes in the picture, we used them to weigh down some of the tiles just to be sure they stuck. Then we ate them.

I was kind of at a loss for what to do with that big hole that was left behind when the toilet had to be moved. I don’t own a saw (my brother usually brings one for big projects) so I couldn’t really cut a piece of wood to go in there, so I just filled it with thinset mortar (uhh I hope it works):

That’s my hand chipping away at the half tiles that remained. Which brings me to the blood part of the post:

I guess I got really into it and scraped/split up my knuckles a bit. Sorry, I know it’s gross. There was more.

I’ll be able to post finished bathroom pics soon- I can just feel it!

I chose a paint color in the worst way- I looked online at the ICI web site. I wasn’t even at home when I picked it. But Jonny was sending Rodrigo over the next day, so I had to pick one right then! I chose Obsidian Glass, which is a nice color, but I was really going for this effect, which is a nice neutral gray that is calming and makes the accessories pop:

Instead, my online color choice ended up being closer to black. I knew I should have followed my instinct to pick a color a couple shades lighter! Paint always looks darker, brighter, more intense on the walls than on the swatch.


But then again, it’s kind of growing on me. There’s so much white, with the tile, sink, and beadboard, that I think the dark color might add a good balance. There’s also a lot of natural light that comes in through the glass block, so even though it’s a tiny bathroom, I’m not sure if the dark paint makes it feel even smaller, or if it just adds nice contrast. I’m also thinking of accent colors, which would really contrast well to the gray-black. Maybe a lime green, or a really fun bright blue. I thought of orange, but that might be too Halloween-y.


What do you guys think? Is it worth it to re-paint? Or should I stick with it and accessorize/decorate to bring out the richness? (Or something.) I could also do some kind of subtle faux to lighten it up a bit.

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