Tuesday, November 29, 2011

We Have Toilet!

Yesterday we bought a nice new toilet with the help of our plumber friend. It's a Kohler and is not eligible for the $75 refund from our water company. But it's pretty and it works! Although no one has tested it out yet because Robert wants to wait a day or so to see if there are leaks before sealing it. The boys are super excited to try it out though.

Robert started to instal our $30 sink, but found he would need different tool to get the bolts into the wall. But the pedestal is secured to the floor, and the plumbing is sort of in place, so we are moving right along.

But, things can't go too smoothly. This faucet is our small bump in the road. Remember the picture I showed of the small missing cap on the hot water handle? I got through to Pfister who was so helpful and tried to identify my faucet and finally said it was not a Price Pfister. 


So I sent the customer service rep the above picture which totally and completely confounded him. He says Price Pfister does not stamp their name on the back of faucets. So maybe we have a knock off?

The matter is being discussed with more seasoned Price Pfister employees and my customer service guy will get back to me.  

So! The plot thickens. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Epic Fail

Every single morning, I give my kids cold cereal. And every once in a while I kind of feel bad about that. So last night I made this breakfast casserole. It cooked all night and the delicious smell actually got me out of bed this morning. I ate and loved it. Yum!

Then I got the kids up and gave it to them.

They hated it. Every single one of them. Each took one bite and then poured themselves a bowl of Berry Colossal Crunch.

This breakfast casserole contains 2 pounds of shredded potatoes and a dozen eggs, among other things. And that's it. They don't like it at all.

"Well," Ethan said, "I guess you'll just have to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next 5 days."

Kids! You can't beat 'em. (No, you really can't. Child protective services will come.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bathroom Diaries

Look at my pretty bathroom! The wainscoting needs one more coat of paint (hopefully, because that's all the paint I have left), and a coat of clear coat varnish and then, I think, it is time to put in the toilet.


We took the Flow Wise, Cadet 3 toilet back to Home Depot. We had toilet remorse after purchasing the it based solely on the recommendation of the Home Depot employee and not on Consumer Reports, Amazon reviews, and several other on-line toilet authorities. And when I say "we," I mean Robert. Which is fine. 

Remember how I told you about the sweet sink deal we found at the ReBuliding Center? Well, here's the spiffy faucet that came right on it. As you can see, it's missing a part--a little cap that covers the screw on the "hot" handle. But the good news is we can buy replacement parts. Also good, is that it's a very minor, cosmetic-type part, (This is me looking on the bright side) and will not affect our use of the sink in any way. Hopefully.

I'm in the process of submitting a query to a replacement parts outfit and hopefully they can help make my faucet whole again. 

I think I'm going to buy towels on Black Friday. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rain: Our Damp Friend (A Primer)

In Portland every year about this time, it starts to rain. And it doesn't stop until May. Oh sure, we might have a day here and there where it doesn't rain. And even one or two where the sun pops through the clouds and and we glimpse the blue sky. But more often than not, when you go outside, it will be raining.

And when there's rain, there will be people complaining about rain. I'm all for complaining about rain. But let's pace ourselves people. We've got a few months of this weather ahead of us. Save the whining for Easter morning, when the egg hunt is moved indoors. Or Spring Break, when you're freezing and drenched on the beach. Or on Memorial Day when you're grilling steak under an umbrella.

We have plenty of time to complain. Now is the time to embrace the rain. After all, rain is our thing. We're the ones who can stick it out at Disneyland during a drizzle when everyone else runs for cover. We don't let rain stop us. We exercise in the rain, shop in the rain and garden in the rain. We own rain.

If you are new to Portland, or new to rain, or are simply ready to file a formal complaint with Mother Nature, here are a few tips to help you have a rain paradigm shift.

Accessorize for it       
Start your new love affair with rain with an awesome umbrella. Do not use a black, boring umbrella. This is the first rain-relationship mistake. How are you supposed to use an ugly umbrella without getting depressed? Go find yourself a unique, exciting, totally-you umbrella. Something like this little lady to the right. Cute, isn't she? I have a Monet umbrella. It cost a little more than the ugly black one, but every time I get to use it is a treat.   

Rain boots are another must-have accessory for the rainy season. Let's face it. Most of us aren't going to be trudging through puddles all day, but a cute pair of rain boots are still acceptable and fun rain accessories.
You can't get away with wearing something like this any old time. No. It needs to be wet, or people will think you're weird. (Which, as it happens, is a-okay in Portland, but that's a whole other post.)

You can head over to Fred Meyer and pick up some groovy boots for a few bucks, or you can look around online and find something truly amazing. Something that is going to make you start wishing it would rain.

That's the kind of boot we're looking for.

Name it
It is said that Eskimos have over 500 words for snow.* Well, Portlanders have a lot of words for rain. There's showers, drizzle, freezing rain, mist, heavy mist, sprinkles, slurry, wintry mix, slush. I could go on ** but you get the idea. Listen to the weather forecast on the nightly news and see if you can understand what kind of rain they're talking about. Or, you could amuse yourself with how the weatherman jazzes up the same forecast from the last 4 weeks to make it sound like something new. It's fun. Try it.

Go out in it
Don't be afraid. It's just water. It dries. And no one's paying attention to your hair cause we're all focused on our own dreadful messes. Pull on those boots and grab that umbrella and go to the zoo. There's never a better time to go than when it rains. It's like you have the whole place to yourself. Or, go downtown, or to the grocery store. Wherever you want. Don't stop living your life because of a little water.

Listen to it
One morning, lay in bed all cozied up in your covers, and listen to the rain. It's amazing. People buy machines that make this noise and we get it for free. For. Free! Enjoy it. Relax.

Watch it
Have you ever watched the rain pouring down? Bouncing off the street? Rushing down the gutters? Sheeting off roofs? Dripping down windows? Making endless circles in a pond? Beading up on a bare branch? Soaking a crazy runner? Rooster-tailing off the tires of a car as it drives down the street? Come on. What are you waiting for?

Justify it
Rain is better than snow because you don't have to shovel it. It doesn't pile up. And if it's raining, you know it's at least 33 degrees, which means it's not freezing, which means it's warm. (I understand 33 is considered shorts weather in places like Alaska and Minnesota.) Rain doesn't hang around and turn brown and grey like snow. It cleans things. It smells good. It turns things green instead of killing them.

I'm sure you could come up with a few more reasons why rain is awesome. If you try.

Don't fight the rain. Welcome the rain. Soon you might even find yourself complaining when the sun actually does appear, bouncing light off the wet pavement directly into your eyes, temporarily blinding you until you rummage through the glove box and find your sunglasses.

Oh, who am I kidding. You're never going to find your sunglasses.

Welcome to Portland. Welcome to rain.

*I just made this up.
** No I couldn't.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Moving Right Along

Tuesday night Robert and I went toilet shopping. The good news is that our water company has a $75 rebate for new toilets that have "flow wise" water saving features. The better news is that I learned toilets have cool names like "Memoirs," and "Town Square." Can you imagine the inspiration that would come from sitting on a toilet called "Memoirs?" Or the confidence that a "Town Square" toilet might spark?

The best news, however, was that our new toilet has dual flush, so you can customize your flush to your--how do I say this delicately--output. (The flush buttons are labeled 1 and 2.)

Wednesday morning we went over to Linoleum City across the river to see about some flooring. We decided against tile because of number of materials, time and effort required. I had my heart set on Marmoleum, which is a natural, sustainable flooring product. But that's not why I like it. (Although I will wear the green badge proudly--as all Portlanders do. And hopefully it will offset the fact that I throw away plastic grocery bags).

Anyway, I wanted Marmoleum for much more than altruistic reasons. I like the way it looks. It doesn't have pits and grooves like many linoleums do. It isn't pretending poorly to look like tile or some other surface, and it's solid color all the way through. There is a yellow sheen to it which makes it seem taupe, but it's going to be grey. The sheen is supposed to go away after a few days.

After sticker shock at the flooring store, we headed over to the ReBuilding Center a non-profit which accepts and sells used building and remodeling materials. We were able to bring our 90's-tastic bathroom stuff, like the movie star dressing room light strip, towel bars, sink and vanity and drop them off. Then we went inside and found a white pedestal sink with a brushed nickel Price Pfister faucet for $30.

The ReBuilding Center, by the way, is a place I could spend a lot more time in. Robert too. What a find.

I've got the moulding painted and the bead board is ready to go. I might do that today, but I know that Robert really, really wants to make the cuts so it gets done right. And he's at work today.

I just really want to get it done.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I painted the walls of our little bathroom, then installed the new light fixture. Then I switched on the power and noticed what a sub-standard job I'd done painting. And it's two coats! How could I not have good coverage? I was careful, I was thorough. I've gone through two quarts of paint when I only planned for one.

Here's a picture of the bathroom with the light off so you can see how 21st century the light fixture looks. 

The next step is the floor. I am currently exploring the cost/time commitment of tile vs. linoleum. Hopefully I can get started on it tomorrow.

Then wainscoting, moulding, sink, toilet, mirror, new towels, black and white photos in coordinating frames and DONE!

In Which I Second Guess the Two LEGO Kits I Have Stashed Under the Bed

Jonah's Christmas List
(Because I will probably lose the actual list at some point in the next six weeks.)

Dear Santa,
I want the following items 

1. a surprize
2. a hex bug kit
3. a tin (of Pokemon cards)
4. remote control Beyblade

In stocking I want
1. a hex bug
2. Pokemon pack
3. anything small

p.s. 2, 3 and 4 will cost >$4
p.s. Go to Target

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Having That Conversation

I've been horrified this week as the news out of Penn State has developed. Horrified, disgusted, and then terrified. Mr. Sandusky is just one who got caught. I'm fully aware there are others like him still preying on, and destroying the innocence of young children. I want, more than anything, to protect my children from men like Sandusky.

So, yesterday while we were driving home from Chuck E. Cheese, I turned off the radio and decided to have a conversation with my three boys. They were strapped in, we were driving on the freeway, there was no place for them to go.

I wasn't sure how to start, so I asked them about their trips to public restrooms.

"Has anyone ever tried to talk to you while you were in a public bathroom?" I usually stand at the door and tell them to yell super loud if anyone makes them uncomfortable and assure them I will run in to help immediately. So I was pretty sure I knew the answer to this question.

"No," they all assured me. So I got more specific.

"No one has ever tried to get you to go into a stall with them, or anything like that?"

"No!" they said again. "Of course not."

I kept going. "You know that it's okay to tell a grown up 'no' if they are asking you to do things that are wrong, or things that make you uncomfortable. No one should ever touch you in places that are covered by a bathing suit. And you can always tell me anything that you feel weird about. I will always help you."

"Okay," they said.

"Sometimes a grown up will make you feel uncomfortable and you might not know why. They don't even have to do or say anything. You just might not like being around them. And that's okay too."

"Yeah, I've felt that way before," Jonah said.

This was it! I'd ferreted out the information that would protect my boys! "Really?" I said. "Who makes you feel uncomfortable?"

"Midgets," Jonah said.

"That one in Taco Bell?" Isaac asked.

"Yeah. That was weird."

So we're in the clear as far as sexual predators go, but maybe need to work a bit on height bias.

Thank goodness.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Yesterday the kids didn't have school so I told them they could tear apart the bathroom if they wanted. Yes, it was a little impulsive, but I figured I wanted to get this bathroom into the 21st century, so I might as well get started. Right? I mean, the century is NOT getting any younger. And, if we took out the moulding and floor, we'd be committed to the project.

And here, I should mention that Robert was not aware the bathroom remodel had moved from the idea stage to the green-light stage. Thank goodness he came home during book group and was able to have an hour to formulate his reaction, which was first perfect, then less perfect, and finally perfect again.

Jonah was happy to pull off the moulding and linoleum, Isaac hauled it all to the trash, and Ethan helped remove the tile backsplash.

I started edging with my new grey paint, even though the walls still had a lot more prep to go through before they were paint-ready. For one, the giant mirror has to come off. But I soon realized that when the mirror comes off, so will some of the wall. Which will require drywall replacement, which will require me to purchase drywall, and some tools and supplies I don't have. Most importantly and most improbable, it will require me to match up wall texture. 

Ugh. This is hard.

The tile backsplash had fused to the wall and may also require drywall repair. But I'm thinking I can just cover that up with a little bead board and moulding.

At any rate, there's no going back now.

Finally, my latest obsession with this bathroom is the fact that when we put in tile, we will also have to adjust that ring around the base of the toilet and I don't know how to do that. Do we leave it where it is and tile around it? Or do we pull it up, tile, then screw it into the tile?

For this reason, I'm considering marmoleum. It would be easy to clean.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I woke up at 4 something this morning thinking about pedestal sinks. And tile and wainscoting and grey paint. And there might have been a sledge hammer in there somewhere too.

I've lived with this perfectly 90's-tastic lighthouse themed bathroom for seven years. I hated it from the get-go (there is a large wallpaper cutout of a window looking out onto a lighthouse on the other wall).

But bathroom change was low on the priority list when I had things to worry about like trips to the emergency room, getting blood stains out of carpet and cleaning up spilled wax, masticated popcorn, and folding every item of clothing in the house for the third time in a week.

But, things have mellowed out a bit. Our family has found this sort of rhythm that comes with age, maturity, and the fact that the kids are in school seven hours a day. It's a really good rhythm.

Oh! And I also saw this:

And I want, want, want it. Really bad.

And I think I could do it. Well, not the sink part. And not the toilet part. But definitely the painting part. I would have no problem purchasing the wainscoting and the moulding and the fixtures. (I already picked out the new light fixture from Home Depot yesterday).

I'm thinking the first step would be to turn off the water, or something, so that when I pull out the toilet and sink water doesn't flood the house. Does anyone know how to do that?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Feast for the Eyes

In a few weeks we will all sit down to a feast for the belly. Right now, however, I'm enjoying a feast for the eyes. As I drive in and out of my neighborhood, I'm overwhelmed with the rich colors and the stunning beauty of each tree. Across the street there is a lovely orange and green specimen. The fallen leaves on the lawn are like an orange snow. Next door, the tree is vibrant red with nearly black branches and trunk peeking through in contrast.

All the street-facing windows offer this kind of view and every time I pass one, it's a tiny bit overwhelming. I'm stunned by the beauty, but saddened by it's impermanence. At the same time, I realize it's fleeting nature is what makes it such a treat. 

So, for now, I will feast on the color of the leaves in our neighborhood, like a Thanksgiving meal for my eyes. I will stuff myself with beauty, I will relish the singularity of each tree and stand in awe of the vast smorgasbord of offerings all around me. I will rest, then come back for seconds and thirds. I will  not pass this buffet without enjoying.

Because soon there will be nothing but left-overs piled on the ground with bare branches above. The remains will turn brown and moldy and will finally be swept to the curb and removed. And it will be a long, cold winter until the trees bring forth their feast once more.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What I'm Thinking

Saturday I participated in the Boutique at the Barn, which was super fun. I had a great time sitting next to Samurai Mom and her awesome display of demi millinery as well as seeing lots of friends who came to shop. The event was the culmination of much stress and a few tears, and a lot of what-did-I-get-myself-into's. 

Also, I sewed 20 new purses for the event. Along with the purses I already had in inventory, that made 31 purses to sell at the show. And, don't forget, each purse has a story that goes with it. It was a lot of sewing and a lot of writing.

Then I had to figure out a way to get 31 purses and stories to look cute, so I made tags and ironed out wrinkles and created some displays. Some displays were inexpensive, like the $1.99 plate holder from Goodwill. Others were more expensive, like the $15 jewelry holder from JoAnn's (but I had a 40% off coupon). The $9 table leg and $1 dowel from Home Depot was the display that held the most purses, but also required some assembly (thanks Robert.)

I loved how people would come up to my purses and read the stories and laugh and laugh. I had two ladies tell me they had a craft show in September and would love to invite me to participate next year--that my purses would be a perfect fit. I had a couple other ladies tell me that people were talking about the "purses with stories" on the other side of the horse arena (did I tell you the craft fair was in a horse arena?) So there was good buzz and great feedback on the bags.

Unfortunately, I only sold five purses on Saturday. 

This was disappointing on several levels but the biggest one was that I now had to cart all the purses back to my house. 

Only slightly less disappointing was the realization that crafting just doesn't pay. The amount of time and effort that goes into making one of these purses, plus that fact that I'm mostly paying retail with coupons for the supplies adds up to a very, very small profit. 

Now, if I felt some compulsion to sew purses and just could not stop doing it, then maybe this might be a good avenue for me to recoup some of my cost. But the purses have become a burden--something I have to do.  

So, what I'm thinking is that I'll put these bad boys up on Etsy, offer free shipping through Dec 15 and try and move some inventory. Then I'm done with the purse business.