Bathroom Progress

It’s been awhile since I worked on the guest bath aka the hall bath. Last August I took out the cabinet and counter/sink combo and replaced it with a new one from Home Depot.

In April of last year I finished up the master bath, specifically working on the trim and painting the walls blue. Now it’s time to finish up the second bathroom.

Based on my goals for the year, the first thing I had on the list was to skim coat the walls. After taking out the super long countertop which was glued to the wall:

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Across from sink was a giant plaster frog on the wall:

de frog

I also replaced the towel bars so the places where the brackets were removed from the wall were pretty messed up too.

So I picked up dry wall joint compound and grabbed my trowel to cover up those textured walls. Here’s what I purchased:

Joint compound:

Joint Compound

Sanding screens:

sanding screens

Sanding block:

sanding block

Mud pan:

Mud pan

4″ putty knife:

joint knife

In the beginning I just smoothed on the compound little by little to fill in the low spots in the texture, sanding roughly in between coats. The first gallon was “quick drying” so I could do 2 coats in a night. But now that I’m nearing the end I’m using a thicker compound. In this picture you can see the white over the beige paint where it’s filling in. On the bottom right there are 3-5 more coats smoothed out and dry – the top right is still drying.

texture 1

Another shot:

texture 2

I’ve kept the screws in the wall for the mirrors and just worked around them, but here I’m just waiting for the compound to dry so it can be sanded.

The last bit that I need to do is around the bathtub which is both high on the wall and in the corners which means I have to balance on the bathtub while holding the mud pan and scooping the compound with the putty knife. Awkward.

The only thing I’m not skim coating right now is the ceiling because I’d really like to avoid getting joint compound in my hair.

I’ve already removed the baseboards and purchased one packet of trim.

After the walls are smooth I will prime then and then paint the walls blue to match the master bath.

Bathroom 4-30-2015 (14)

Then I’ll buy the bead board to cover the walls and the baseboard and chair rail and install it.

2016 Master House Plan

I’ve been thinking about creating a list like this for awhile and the new year seems like a good opportunity. It’ll include my house and yard plans as well as some future planning as I think about turning the house into a rental.

Let’s start in the kitchen, aka the room that’s most under used. With the dishwasher finally working well and a new fridge there’s not much I need in here.

  • Fix the faucet or replace it with one that has more clearance
  • Get the counter tops re-sealed
  • Add trim around the cabinet base
  • Fix the curtain hangers so they don’t fall off the wire

Dream goal:

  • Replace the stove/oven


The dining room is probably going to experience the most changes, if I get my way (I always do).

  • frame out the door to the garage and paint
  • reconfigure the garage light switch
  • Install new outlet and move existing outlet
  • Install built in dinette and bookshelf
    • build a built in bench 6′ long
    • create a countertop along the back
    • build a bookshelf 8′ tall across 6′
    • add lighting
    • trim and paint the entire contraption
  • Reinstall baseboards
  • Paint base of bench and add cross supports

In the living room I can’t think of much that needs to be done but I would very much like to replace the two green arm chairs with a big leather stuffed chair. It’ll be low on the priority list but I still want to think about the seating situation.

  • Add 2 new feet to the couch (in the middle) stained to match the others
  • Re-finish the dresser (possibly paint)
  • Replace green arm chairs

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The guest bath is looking better after replacing the sink and cabinet but I have more work to do here than in any other room except the dining area. Here’s the dream list:

  • Skim coat the walls
  • Paint the walls blue
  • Install a can light in the shower
  • Trim out the door
  • Sand and re-paint the tall cabinet
  • finish replacing floor tiles
  • remove the baseboards
  • install new baseboards, bead board & chair rail



Dream goal:

  • take down the shower surround and re-tile it with subway tile
  • upgrade the faucet in the bathtub

In the office I’ve been working the last few weeks of December to arrange things better and get a handle on paperwork but it’s a never ending struggle. At the very least I want things to be really organized.

  • finish trimming out the door and paint the frame
  • trim out the window with a new frame and sill
  • replace the window
  • organize all of the papers, boxes and binders

The guest room has actually had a lot of changes recently as well with furniture moving around and some organization but there’s always more to do.

  • finish trimming out the door
  • find a runner/small rug for the guest room
  • recover the desk bench with a new fabric
  • create a pad and cover for the window bench
  • add feet to the window bench to raise it up
  • work on fabric projects to use up material

My master bedroom is looking good but there are a few small changes to make around the bed. While I like the new frame I built last summer, it’s a bit too low to the ground. While good for the dogs to jump up, it’s been harder on my ankles since the fall.

  • finish the trim on the door (hallway side) and paint
  • find a solution for the bed frame to raise it up 12-24″ higher
  • make a headboard

Dream goal:

  • replace the sliding glass door with a single french door to the backyard

Thankfully the master bathroom is one space that needs very little after I finished it earlier in 2015. Right now there’s just the dream goal:

  • re-do the shower
    • take out the shower surround
    • replace the floor pan
    • tile the walls with subway tile
  • recycle the door and install a shower curtain

The backyard has some goals for the new year to make it more useful:

  • take out the corner patio and save the bricks
  • take out the raised garden bed under the guest room window
  • take out the back door patio and walkway to the side yard
  • build a new patio outside the back door with access to the side yard
  • install a water barrel on the gutter downspout
  • take out 2 dead rose bushes
  • make minor fence repairs
  • reseed the lawn

I’ll do a separate list from the back yard for the side yard because it’s growing like crazy!

  • build a trellis around the bougainvillea to support it growing up and over the raised garden beds
  • keep the lantana from taking over
  • make space for the lawn mower and garden tools (protect from the elements

Now, the front yard… with the tree out I still have a lot of work to do:

  • haul away the rest of the wood from the maple tree
  • grind down the 2 tree stumps and take out prominent roots
  • remove the palm tree (attempt to re-root in the front yard)
  • take out 2 orange rose bushes
  • get rid of the bricks around the old tree and level that flower bed
    • replant the lily growing in that box
  • build a fence out to the front of the property
    • add a gate to the end of the fence
  • fix the walkway up to the house
  • take down the patio cover over the front door
  • replace the gutters along the side and front of the house
  • install new downspouts to divert water
    • add water barrels
  • plant a tree in the front yard

Finally, the garage, another space that has had some improvements lately but is not quite done

  • install new can lights throughout the garage
  • paint the floor when the temps are within range
  • finish trimming the window, caulk and paint it
  • reconfigure the wood cabinets
  • move the food pantry
  • get the holiday storage bins up on the walls
  • build a new box for the water heater

Dream goal:

  • add a water softener for the house

Then I have a couple of whole house changes:

  • Add quarter round to all baseboards, re-caulk and paint all trim
  • Install and secure floor transitions for laminate flooring
  • Choose color and paint the exterior of the house

Dream goal:

  • install crown molding in every room
  • replace ALL windows with new, more efficient models and trim them out

Should be easy, right? I’ll keep telling myself that.

Mid-month master update

The other day I mentioned that clearly it should be 2018 already because this year has been so busy and it’s only the 16th! Yeeash.

At home not a whole lot has happened. It’s been raining a lot which is great but also annoying for the dogs who want to go outside and run and play a lot more than they currently do. The potting bench gets water logged a bit as the runoff from the roof collects in various pots and bowls so I’m pretty sure that when I get free time on a dry weekend everything will come off, I’ll scrub that down and then use Thompson’s water seal and maybe stain it as well.

The tree that came out in November is still hanging around, I need to pick up a hand ax and start getting the smaller branches into shorter pieces so I can get rid of them quickly. Considering contracting a handyman/gardener in the next few months to grind down the stump and do some other projects in the front yard.

I continue to declutter, right now all the clothes and stuff I am giving up is hanging out on a chair in the dining area to go to Goodwill. I do have a goal of 100 items this month + 300 papers from the office so if I can get that done I’ll be happy.

Business wise is where I’ve been the most busy; after a full day of shopping for my photoshoot and many hours on prep, dry cleaning drop offs, packing and planning I went to San Francisco this week for the shoot and, despite the rain, had a great time. The dogs have been behaving and tolerant of my trips which continues next week when I go down to the Bay Area for a wedding.

We also launched a new workshop that included a training video, new website, sales page, Facebook group, all new graphics, PDF worksheets, new email sequences and a lot of little details. Thankfully that’s live now and I run the workshop at the end of the month.

Still working on my book which goes to the editor in a week and needs a lot of writing to finish up the story and then I’m sure a lot of rewriting too.

I should be back once I have progress on some of the projects that are pending around the house, waiting for my life to slow down to normal pace.

January Goals

It’s January 2nd and I’m already looking forward to February.

This month is going to be an incredibly busy one for me, mostly because I have several big projects to accomplish which means less downtime and relaxation and more work to finish. The pressure is definitely on with a photoshoot, book to edit, launch to finish and workshop to teach plus my brother is getting married, I have 4 new small groups starting next week and 2 websites to finish.

Tonight I’ve been tackling the office by going through a ton of papers and sorting them into the appropriate place. I can’t wait to sit down with the scanner and get all my 2015 bills scanned so they can be shredded. The box for shredding is nearly full so it’s just about time to power up the shredder and give it a workout.

Also today I dropped off a donation at Goodwill – 46 items out the door. I am working on letting go of all the paper and stickers from scrapbooking (that I don’t do anymore), some of the journals I’ve collected over the years and clothes, always clothes to donate. There’s also more vases in the garage that I don’t need, a lot of baskets and bins and such and office supplies to use up or get rid of quickly.

The biggest goal this month is turning the first draft of my book over to the editor. It’s incredibly nerve wracking because of all the things I’ve written over the years, I have never let others read the finished product. Tomorrow I have half my day blocked off to edit this manuscript and I’m really looking forward to having it published and available for sale – nerves be damned.

Some Things I’m Going to Buy

I really hate holiday round up gift posts on blogs that are, at best, greedy wish lists and, at worst, affiliate links begging for sponsorship. It’s one of the reasons that I don’t use affiliate marketing on this blog and have turned down a lot of ad opportunities over the years.

I used to make lists here about the things I wanted but it serves no purpose in my life. In fact, let’s not even talk about my most recent birthday. Instead this is a note to self on things I want (slash “need”) in the next year. I might buy them next week, or never, but despite my Amazon wishlist, there are always things flung all over the internet I forget about when I’m shopping.

(Oddly enough, since writing this list I have already bought some of the things on my list but too lazy to think about other stuff to add so I left them in.)

Since my current robe is over a decade old I want a new fluffy one, preferably in black or dark gray. I always think of this purchase in mid-summer when they’re not on sale. (Update: found one on sale at bought it! Super comfy…)

No fewer than 30 people have convinced me that the cashmere plum candle at Target is the best scent ever – except I can’t confirm since my store is perpetually out of stock. So I continue to burn my off brand cheapo candles to make room for this one, eventually.

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 6.49.43 PM

(Update: I found it at Target Sacramento and it is magical, burning in my office as an incentive to work)

Now that I’ve removed the tree that was destroying my front yard, I want to rent a stump grinder for the weekend and grind the 2 stumps in the yard. It’s the first step in turning the front yard into usable space but really, I want a couple of these fencing panels from Home Depot and a handyman to install them. I figure that if I can extend the fence line by 24′ (3×8′ panels) and across to the house with a new gate then I’ve added 40% more yard space for the dogs and added privacy to my yard. The challenge, of course, is that they’re very not-cheap and I’d still need all the extras to add the posts and ensure they don’t fall over in a gust of wind.

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Bonus points if I can figure out what equipment I need to rent to break up my crooked sidewalk that will need to be replaced. Sigh, I see a lot of sweaty spring weekends in my future.

Inside the house things are looking good these days but I have a plan to build something totally awesome in the dining room. The only thing I need is a new blade for my table saw (as the original is rusted beyond belief and smokes like crazy) and the lumber. Oh, and time but that’s easy enough to make.

I’ll pick up one of these when I have the mental energy to fight the table saw:

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 6.56.36 PM

Oh, speaking of saws (I have several), after rearranging stuff in my garage and looking at storage options I’ve nearly decided on the items I want to finish one wall with a new workbench and storage towers.

These towers have been hanging out in my cart so long they’re not available online anymore:

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 6.59.30 PM

but I’m planning to get two for garage storage (to replace a couple units that aren’t too sturdy). Have you experienced this with your purchases? When it’s time to stop using what’s good enough for now and find what will work long term and be far less of a headache?

(Update: I bought the tall one and a smaller one for laundry supplies. They’re awesome)

Keeping my tools and supplies organized in the garage is a priority but I also put this workbench on my wishlist so I can keep the saw handy for quick cuts and still be able to access tools on the pegboard:

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 7.02.36 PM

I thought for a long time that I’d simply make one after I finished the potting bench this summer but realistically, I need the metal frame which will keep the whole unit much lighter and easy to move. There are some upgrades coming to the garage once the weather gets nice again but I’m already excited about the storage units and workbench together. I keep this work bench in my cart but haven’t ordered it yet.

I finally caught the Newsroom on Amazon streaming and love, love, love this show. So much that I immediately put the DVD set on my list so I can watch all the bonus bits. I’ve heard horrible things about Season 3 but 1 & 2 are absolutely gold so I might take the risk on a bad storyline since the acting is so, so good.

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Basically I like movies and series that I can listen to while I work around the house or to relax after an exhausting day. I’m sure there’s a season of Criminal Minds that I haven’t picked up yet but most of the other shows I love have gone off air.

Since I already have the most spoiled dogs on the planet, I’m probably going to build the dachshunds a set of stairs for the bed/couch someday since they’re always climbing up to cuddle with me. I’ve looked at a lot of plastic ones and they’re just so ugly, it might be worth the headache of applied geometry and finding non-bowed wood to make a sturdy set of stairs for the dapper dachshunds.

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In the kitchen my white dinner plates from Ikea are getting chipped left and right so I’m on the hunt for a set of simple white plates, and am yet to find ones that are classic but not so expensive I’d cry when they break.

(Update: I found some pretty blue ones to replace the white which are off to Goodwill)

I’m almost convinced that I should buy this chair for the living room after crushing on it for 2 years… it would replace some of the other chairs I own but doesn’t it look like the perfect place to curl up and read by the fire while pushing dogs off your lap and telling them not to bite the fabric?

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It’s not expensive enough that I would freak out over the dogs sitting here but still, I haven’t bought it just yet!

Okay, one more for the wishlist and this is my wildly impractical, Kelly you don’t need that, item. It’s a blue titanium druzy necklace and I love how sparkly it is…

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In reality, there’s not much that I want and very little that I truly need. Probably the only thing that’s a reaching a true “need” is a new vacuum. My parents gave me an ancient Kirby one that weighed 30 lbs and was a beast to move (that I returned to them after hating it for years) and the one I picked up from Craigslist this last year isn’t working very well. So I’ll probably bite the bullet and get it replaced in January when everything cleaning related goes on sale.

Sigh, some times it’s boring being an adult and thinking that “new brakes for the car” should go on a list, or, even better, a replacement set of screw driver bits since my set has gone missing.

November mini-update

As usual the month of November is moving along far too quickly as I’m once again writing for National Novel Writing Month and writing 2k words a day on top of work means that something has to slide. Usually cleaning the house:)

Still, I’ve been mighty impressed with myself this month in a few areas. For one, I continue to go to the gym 3x a week to work with a trainer. A few of the routines were seeming a bit easy so I started doubling up. Monday and Friday I do a full arm and shoulder workout, then meet the trainer for lower body (squats, leg lifts, step ups, etc). One Wednesday it’s the back routing with things like deadlifts, twists and such. We’ve been steadily increasing my weight per set so by December we’re going to rotate to a new set of workouts so I don’t plateau.

(And as I am adamantly against the gym selfie there are no pictures here. It’s sweaty and no pretty, trust me.)

Second, I’ve been keeping the kitchen in clean-ish condition, mostly by putting away all the dishes as soon as possible. With cooking more at home I often have pans, bowls and cooking trays which just take up a lot of room. There might be 5 things in the sink but it looks like it’s overflowing. Keeping the counters cleared off is another big one for me (although I have a ton of ingredients out right now for cooking).

One weekend I was able to do a big batch of ground beef from Costco which I then ground with boiled onions for enchiladas (add a little sauce, cheese, salt & pepper, roll in tortillas with a black olive. yum.) and used the rest of the beef for taco salads.

I’ve also done chicken breasts, mashed potatoes and gravy (cold weather comfort food ftw!) and pretty much have a revolving door of roasted zucchini, peppers, carrots and onions in the oven. I did a little baking for a party I threw last weekend but I’m also planning on making a couple pies for the freezer.

This weekend’s plan is homemade meatballs, a new potato soup recipe and cleaning out the fridge of old stuff.

The dogs have been pretty well behaved as much as I’ve been working or writing, they’re all napping right now so it’s temporarily quiet.

Oh! Right, the thing I meant to write about…

I distracted myself there for a moment. Today as I was lounging in bed having weird, weird dreams I started thinking about the hundreds of things I needed to do around the house. So I decided to count as I went, hoping to get up to 500. Basically it’s a game and every single thing you do can count.

  • take out the trash – 1
  • straighten up the couch – 3
  • sweep up the hallway – 1
  • put away the cups and bowls from all over the house – 8
  • add receipts to my shoeboxed bag – 6

Each action counts as 1 so if I have 6 receipts that means add 6. It’s amazing how quickly the little things add up, I’m at 122 and have only really been working for an hour but that includes loading the dishwasher, making the bed, cleaning up my bathroom and clearing out a few hot spots around the house. I know I’ll be able to easily get to 500 today and then I’d like to do another 100 every day next week to maintain it.

Now, granted, I could toss junk mail and get to 100 instantly or rake leaves and find myself at 10,000 but it’s much more fun to count bigger tasks as 1 or 5. You don’t have to be throwing things away either, putting away a hairbrush or hanging laundry works too.

Next up I’m coming for the garage and trying to get my clothes washer to work properly. It likes to stop mid-cycle because it thinks the door lock is off and then stops. I’ve been trying to get one load finished since Friday! It might be time for “the talk” – you know the one, “if you don’t behave I’m going Black Friday shopping to replace your useless ass!”

Random Cleaning Tips

I’m not too big on cleaning tutorials because, well, I don’t spend a ton of time cleaning! But I’ve had a few recent wins that I both wanted to share and document so I don’t need to return to Pinterest the next time I need a recipe.

First up was the oven which was looking pretty gross, especially the window. And, I didn’t realize until I started cleaning but the surround was also black and looking gross. With the oven completely cold, I used a wet Magic Eraser to scrub at the nastiness and after a couple of minutes it started to clear up. Here you can see the difference from the before:



I still have some more scrubbing to do but it’s so much better!

Ever couple of months I get fed up with looking out mucky windows and decide to clean up the glass on my windows. To start I make a big batch of cleaner:

  • 8 cups of warm water
  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of blue Dawn detergent

It all goes into a bucket mixed up and then, using a scrubbing sponge, I scrub the window to get the hard water stains off.

Now, here’s the best part… I grab a squeegee and microfiber towel and clean a 1″ strip along the top of the window. Using the towel, I dry the squeegee and then run it vertically down the window, drying the squeegee between each pass. According to my extensive Googling, this is called “keeping a dry edge” but it really does work to keep streaks off the window. I don’t have great pictures of this one but trust me, it’s awesome.


Okay, last little cleaning tutorial and it’s one that I do a couple times a year. Since my AC is useless, I keep cool in the summer with desktop fans – 5 of them. They pretty much run constantly, one in the office, dining area and living room and 2 in the bedroom. Of course they get nice and dusty with all that use I clean them every couple of months – or once mid-summer and again before they get put away for winter. They’re very dirty:

IMG_7220I take the fans apart piece by piece and put them directly in the sink and I usually manage to get the dust on myself. Using a sponge and running water I’ll clean off the blades and front and back piece.




One thing I didn’t do until this summer was to clean the body of the fan. Think about it… where does the dust come from? It’s sucked in through the back of the fan and can muck up the motor unless it’s cleaned out. Using a can of compressed air, I clean around the motor and try to get all the dirt out from a few different angles. Here’s a before:


And after:


Thankfully the small straw for the canned air fits in the back of the fan pretty easily.

I wipe down the rest of the fan before drying everything and reassembling it. Or, at the end of the season, putting the fan into its storage box.

Okay, last cleaning tip! If you have icky hard water like we do here then you know how frustrating it can be to keep anything that has regular contact with your water clean. This includes faucets, shower heads and toilets. As a result there’s a nasty looking ring around the toilet bowl that regular scrubbing won’t touch.

Enter my secret weapon: drywall sandpaper.

It looks like this:

and comes in a pack of 10-12 long sheets for about $9, you’ll find it at the home improvement stores near the drywall mud and tape. I cut off a small section, one for each toilet and don some cleaning gloves for this one.

Here’s a look at the typical ring ’round the toilet bowl:

After a couple minutes of light scrubbing I simply flush the toilet and toss the sandpaper. It looks much better:


I’ve heard that the sandpaper can dull the shine of the porcelain but I honestly don’t care at all. Not only do I doubt anyone is examining my toilet for its shininess but I am also not scrubbing hard at all to get off the surface stain.

I’ll do this every month or so when I notice the stains are back so the pack of sandpaper should last me a couple years.

There you go! 4 of my cleaning tips for your casa.