the bathroom.....is DONE.

You guys.  When I started this remodel TWO YEARS AGO, if you had told me how long it was going to take me, I would have laughed hysterically in your face.  I thought I'd be finished by the end of Summer 2012.


Oh my.

I also never would have done it if I had known how long it would take me, so I'm glad I didn't know then what I know now.  I've muttered "When this bathroom is finished, I can die a happy woman!" far too many times in the past two years, so now I'm kind of scared.  I mean, I don't want to die NOW, I just want to be happy that I actually finished the bathroom when I die in my bed, after a good meal and a sound night sleep, when I'm 96.

So.... before another two years goes by, let's look at the after pictures of this basement bathroom.  This is by far the hardest DIY project I have ever tackled, and also the most fulfilling.

Here's the great news:  Sometimes I do a little photo shop work when there is a problem I don't feel like fixing before I take pictures.  For example, when we took pictures of the toilet area a few months ago, there was a gaping hole to the left of the toilet that needed to be fixed.  A little editing came in very handy!

However, I wanted to be completely DONE when we took the final pictures so I could check the entire project off of my ever-growing and very lengthy list.  So, I patched that drywall behind the toilet, as well as another hole by the sink, where the outlet had to be moved (again).  For the record, patching drywall is not my favorite.  In fact, it might be my least favorite.

When I started coming up with a plan for the lighting in this space, I was really drawn to fixtures like this from both Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware.

They had that kind of coastal, industrial look I was going for, but at a price of between $300-$500 per fixture, I knew it would never happen.  And I was sad.  For about a minute. Until I realized that I had  a few that looked almost identical in my garage from my hoarding days when I bought about 40 of them when a restaurant was going out of business!  I ended up selling all but a few of them and I absolutely love them.  They provide a little "wow" factor, as well as plenty of light for a basement bathroom.

On to the mirrors, which proved to be a big project.  After sketching a hundred different ideas, I finally came up with what I wanted, and Melanie knew exactly how to execute it.  She made precise measurements of everything I needed and I went and bought and cut all the boards.  I showed up at her house one evening, and we routered out a groove on the backside of all the boards so that the mirrors could just sit inside without having to be glued or fastened to the wall in any way.  This is such a brilliant and custom way to hang mirrors.  She is so smart.  The mirror was the original one that was in bathroom, I just had it cut into three smaller pieces.  I recruited my dad for a day, and he was able to install the mirrors and surrounding woodwork.  The mirrors were SO heavy, it took me, my dad AND my mom to get them in.  Then came the time consuming and very messy task of filling, sanding, caulking, taping and painting.

Also, I haven't ever addressed the door situation.  The original door opened up into the bathroom and if anyone happened to be sitting on the toilet, they would have lost their legs from the knees down when the door flung open.  It was just dumb design and I had to find a way around it.  I had always wanted a barn door somewhere in the house, and this was the perfect place to use one.  I found an antique door from my girls at The Old Brick House, which is a monthly vintage market here in the Phoenix area that is amazing.  (@oldbrickhouse)  If you live here, you should go.  If you don't live here, come visit!

I painted it a soft gray, distressed it a little, and sweetly talked my father-in-law into installing it when he was here over Christmas.  He was able to use the original hardware as the outside handle, and he spent a lot of time filling in odd holes and straightening things up.  He did a beautiful job with the installation.  I bought the track and all the barn door hardware at Tractor Supply Company for around $100.  It was galvanized metal, but I spray painted it a matte black.  After scratching our heads and scouring the hardware section at Lowes for a solution on how to have the door lock from the inside, we finally settled on this simple design that works amazingly well.  I couldn't be happier with it!

I painted the two little signs on the outside of the door using matching frames I found at Goodwill for a dollar apiece.  I had the idea two years ago when I started this whole mess, and the completion of them makes me so happy.

While my electrician was here working on the bathroom, (eons ago)  I already knew I wanted to use a barn door in this hallway, so I had him remove the sconce just outside the bathroom door and install a can light in the ceiling.   (The bathroom door had already been removed, but I propped it back up for the picture, just so you could feel my pain.)

I was left with yet another drywall repair, and so I decided to cover the small hallway with paneling.  I headed right over to my neighborhood Lowes in my work costume (they probably think I'm a legitimate hobo) and got all my paneling cut.

I primed it, then painted it the same color as the adjoining walls, and I really love the added texture and interest it gives this small hallway.  Plus, I didn't have to patch the drywall.  Win, win.

My view from the couch is about a million times better now.

Another small but needed detail was the added leg supports on the vanity.  Technically, the vanity was made to float, and although it was secure, that long butcherblock top and the two sinks are super heavy.  That alone was making me nervous, but the vision I had of teenage girls hopping up onto the counter to do their makeup was causing me anxiety.  So, with the leftover butcherblock material, we wedged some legs under the vanity for added support.  They look modern and sleek and now I can sleep at night. 

I shake my head, even as I'm constructing this post, about all that has transpired in this tiny space.  Bathrooms are a big deal.  So. Much. Work. 

Two beautiful pictures inspired all the change.

I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out.  It is SO FAR  from perfect it's almost comical.  I could point out 100 things that are wrong with it, but ever since I read {The Nester's} book {It Doesn't have to be Perfect to be Beautiful}, I have fully embraced all its flaws. I highly recommend her book.  It's SO good!

I MUST thank my dear friend and neighbor, Melanie, for helping me finish this bathroom.  She is the most helpful and construction savvy girl I know, and she is the only  reason this bathroom is done.  I can't even begin to list the things she helped me with or the number of hours she has spent in this bathroom, but I'm so thankful that she was willing to guide me along and be my tiny cheerleader every step of the way.  She's an incredible friend.

This bathroom is the most perfectly imperfect space ever, and I'm happy to claim it.  This project made me stretch and do things I didn't really want to do, things I didn't know how to do, and things I wasn't good at doing.   But the "befores" and "afters" speak for themselves.  Although imperfect, it is definitely a big improvement.


Oh, what a feeling!

your girl,


better late than never

Well, here I am.  Almost 2 months later.  And I am alive.

And so is Mia.  Maybe we will have a guest post from her before we turn 80.   Although she has been M.I.A (how appropriate is her name?) from the blog for the past year, my love for that girl hasn't waned even one tiny bit!  We don't get to spend nearly as much time together as we'd like, but we touch base often and never have quite enough time to talk.  I'm here to tell you she is doing great, looks the same, (fab) and has been really busy with projects around her home.  She's done some amazing things lately, and if she doesn't blog about them, I will! Here's a peek at a super cool wall treatment we did in her dining room recently.

So much has happened since my last post.......SO MUCH!

First of all, you may be shocked to learn that I decided to stay in the position I was in at work instead of moving up to be a Gate Agent. The main reason was because I was eligible to start dropping and trading shifts on May 18th.  If I had started the training to be a  Gate Agent, I would have been in training full time for five weeks and then on probation (again) for another three months.  Which would have resulted in NO travel with my family this whole summer and I just couldn't comprehend all that work with no play.  At the end of three months, I have to have worked 60% of my total scheduled hours.  I can work really hard for a week or two (picking up extra shifts) and then take a month off at a time.  I've been working a lot the past month, so this summer is going to be full of lots of time off and abundant traveling.  We are all super excited about it!

Just in case you were wondering, I have worked the last eight holidays.  (Valentine's Day, Presidents Day, St. Patrick's Day, Good Friday, Easter, Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day and Memorial Day)   I send pictures like this to my friends and family on Easter Sunday while I'm sitting in the break room eating my dinner and feeling sorry for myself.

I have tried to make each holiday up to my family if I have a day off before or after.  We had a lovely Easter dinner out back on the patio this year on Saturday night.  The weather was perfect and we had such a nice evening together.

 Andrew took this picture of the kids after church on Easter Sunday and I really love it. So much.

We moved Jaci to Utah because she had some friends that needed another roommate for a few months.  She decided that since she had flight benefits and could come back and forth to Arizona, she would love to have the fun experience of living away from home for a short spell.  Me and the little boys flew to Utah to see her this past week and help her organize her tiny space.   It's tricky getting everything a girl needs into such a small space, but we did it and had some fun cheering up her miniscule bedroom.

We walked around the Provo Temple while we were there, and I've never seen such beautiful pink roses in my life!  It seems like they went on for miles!  This picture doesn't do them justice, and I loved being there with my kids.

Jaci won a contest on Instagram for two free tickets to the Karmin concert in Salt Lake City.  Andrew loves Karmin, so Jaci called and told him she wanted him to be her guest to the concert, but he would have to catch the next flight out of Phoenix to make it on time. (the flight was leaving in an hour)  Fortunately, he works about 10 minutes from the airport.  He hopped in his car, got through security, ran through the terminal, and got to the gate just as they were giving the final boarding call. (just like in the movies....)  A quick trip to H&M in Salt Lake where Jaci helped transform him from businessman to a hip concert goer, and they were off!.  They had an absolute blast and I'm so happy that through my job I am able to provide fun experiences that my family wouldn't be able to have otherwise.

Jaci flew in on Mother's Day and the boys and Andrew came to the airport to pick her up and got to see me in action at work.  It was so much fun to see them for a few minutes on the very day I was feeling very thankful to be their mom!

Are you already trying to think of some easy summer meals to make while your kids are home?  I kid you NOT, I am Mother of the Year when I make this very simple dish.  The kids love it so much.  Make (or buy) some basic pizza dough.  I love The Pioneer Woman's {recipe} for pizza dough.  I actually love every single thing she makes and I wish she was my twin.  Trader Joes has some good, pre-made dough if you aren't in the mood to make your own.

Get a little ball of dough, spread it into a circle the size of your palm, fold a pepperoni in half and then in half again, place it in the middle of the dough and add some mozzarella cheese, fold the edges in and seal it up really well into a circle.  I just hold the dough in my palm the whole time and roll it back into a ball shape.  Then I submerge that whole ball into some melted butter seasoned with a little bit of garlic powder and place it in a bundt pan.  I just keep rolling and filling until it's a little more than halfway full.  If there is any extra seasoned butter, I drizzle it over the top.  (I'm confident the Pioneer Woman would be proud)

I throw a towel over it and let it sit for about 30 minutes, then bake it at 350 for around 25-30 minutes or until the top layer is lightly browned.   Let it cool for about 10 minutes, then invert onto a plate and serve with your favorite pizza sauce.  They pull apart into the perfect kid-sized food.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't love them, too.

So, what are you doing for fun this summer?  Since we are already well into the triple digits, we are going to escape this furnace as often as possible.  I'd love to hear some of your favorite summer destinations that are low key and family friendly!  Maybe we will meet you there.....

your girl,



recipes you want

Hello friends!  Seems like blogging takes the furthest backseat in my life these days, and I'm sad about it, because I miss all of you! 

I'm a working girl now, remember?  I work at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, loading and unloading bags on planes.  But I only have 10 more shifts and then I'm going to start the training classes to be a Gate Agent.  Although I can honestly say that I enjoy the hard work, I will be super happy to get out of the sun, the fumes, the dangerous equipment and the inappropriate language. :)  Did you know that they recently gave me a headset?  I was so pleased about it that I sent this picture to Andrew right away!

Copy That.

For Spring Break, we took the boys to Newport Beach for a few days and stayed at our darling friend Jennie's beach house.  She lives 50 steps off the sand in this quaint little home built in the 50's by her grandparents.  We had the most relaxing and restful time while we there. We even got to witness some dolphins playing one morning.

Jennie is a foodie (a true kindred spirit) and she made us the most delicious salad the night we got there.  It is a MUST for the spring season and will carry right on into summer beautifully.  It's a simple salad, bursting with flavor and texture.  I just know you'll enjoy it as much as I do!

Jennie's Salad

baby spinach
crisp pear, cut in bite-sized pieces and sliced very thin
crumbled goat cheese (I get mine from Trader Joe's) or gorgonzola
sugared pecans (or toasted pine nuts)


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 – 1/2  cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon extract (optional)
1/4 cup lemon curd (Trader Joe's or homemade)
2 T honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Jennie told me about a delicious new pizza she'd recently tried called the "fig and pig".  I was intrigued to say the least.  I made it for my family a few days later, along with a delicious margherita pizza, (this {recipe} from from The Pioneer Woman) and documented it with this picture on Instagram. (@jillmariemckee)

Mia and her man stopped by the next day and finished it off and loved it!  So with their seal of approval,  here is the recipe!

Fig and Pig pizza

pizza crust of your choice (make your own or use the whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joes)

roll (or stretch) (or throw it in the air!) your dough out and place it on a greased pan.  Spread Trader Joe's Fig Butter over it, shredded mozzarella cheese, and bite sized pieces of prosciutto.  Put it in a very hot preheated oven (450-500 degrees) and bake until cheese starts to bubble and brown. (10-12 minutes)  Take out of the oven and top with arugula and fresh grated parmesan cheese.  I also sprinkled some toasted pine nuts on top.

It's fancy.  And real good.

I hope you are all enjoying this beautiful Spring!  I can't ever decide if I like Spring or Fall better because I really love them both so much.  I have some honeysuckle vines on my back porch that are blooming and it smells like heaven out there.  Jaci's very talented friend, Tyson French, was in town last weekend to shoot a wedding with her.  {Jaci} did the videography and {Tyson} did the photography.  They are quite the young, talented duo.  On a whim, he snapped some quick pictures of her in our backyard.  I absolutely adore this one.  It might be my favorite picture of her.  Ever.

G came over and gave my chalkboard a happy facelift and I made the circle garland to finish it off. 

I just punched a ton of paper circles and sewed them together.  It was a fast, easy, and basically free project.  Even though it's a simple thing, it makes me so happy every time I see it.  I hope every one of you has something simple in your home that makes you happy, too!

your girl,


quick check-in

Hello friends.

I just thought I'd give you a quick update on a major change in my life.

Yep.  That's me  (giving the peace sign, although it's a little hard to tell) sitting right in the belly of the plane where all the luggage goes.  And I've been putting luggage there for 2 weeks now, full time!  So I hope you'll understand my absence.

Why am I doing this?  Well, after my training is over today, I'm just going to be working part-time.  And the reason I'm working is for the benefits.  My whole family can fly anywhere in the United States for free and internationally for a very low price.  Like it's $120 round-trip to Italy, just to give you an example.  And....if we really want to do it up right, it's $20 to upgrade to first-class within the states (including Canada and Mexico) and $100 internationally.  But wait, there's more.....My parents get to fly on my benefits for approximately 10% of the ticketed price.  It's just a tiny way I can reward them for being the best parents in the whole wide WORLD. 

Let me tell you..... I will never get onto another plane again in my life without being so thankful for the people who are making it all happen!  You have NO idea what goes on in order to get a plane off the ground, on time.  (or the pressure to make it happen!)  It has truly been an eye opening experience and I'm actually really grateful for the opportunity it has given me to learn some new skills and meet some amazing people.

Meet "New Crew" Unless you can say it with some hip-hop flair, don't even try.

This is me and my team.  Of course I'm the only girl.  That's because the work I'm doing is meant to be done by a man.  I'm sure for equal rights purposes they have to hire a female every once in awhile.....but it is really hard!  The guys in this picture have seriously become such good friends of mine.  They always have my back.  I'm actually terrified to go work a plane without one (or all) of them by my side!  We have worked really hard in training but we have had a lot of fun and done so much laughing together.  Our trainer Alan (in the blue vest) is a serious professional at what he does.  He has been amazing and patient with me us.  I never even saw him come close to losing his cool, even when I almost jackknifed a machine right under the nose of the plane.  Oops.  And he loves to laugh with (at?) us. 

I'm only working down on "the ramp" through April, and then I will be starting a five week training course to become a Gate Agent, which is where I really want to be.  I will get to be inside, wearing a cute dress and talking into the microphone when it's time to have the passengers board the aircraft.  Trust me when I tell you it's better than roasting on the tar-mac and trying to stack 50+ pound bags inside a bin that you have to crouch inside of as they are speeding towards you on a conveyer belt at the speed of light.  Oh, and while you stack them (neatly, tags out) you must also count them (keeping the "heavy" bags separate) and write an accurate number with your accompanying signature to give to the pilot so he knows how much the baggage on his plane weighs.  It's just slightly stressful.  And when I say slightly, I mean I almost have a heart attack every time I have to do it. 

And don't even get me started on "pushing the plane out".  Did you know that planes don't have reverse?  So you have to hook these machines up to the plane and push them back from the gate onto the runway. 

Do you KNOW how big a plane is?  Well.... when Alan (gently) forced me to pushback, I put the headset on and told the pilot (in my sweetest, most girliest voice) that I was brand new and to please be patient.  All the pilots were super cool and told me I did a great job.  Obviously, pilots are excellent liars, but I'm pretty sure they enjoyed the fishtailing I subjected them to.  Who doesn't like to have a little fun on the job?

And so, here's to another adventure in my life.  Pray for me!  I seriously need all the help I can get!

your girl,


bathroom update, vanity installed!

I know.  Can this be over ALREADY?

Hey, no one is more excited than I AM when something happens in that bathroom, but I like to take two months off at a time.  Or a year.  Don't judge.

Once upon a time (2 years ago) I decided that this gross, outdated bathroom HAD to go.

Fast forward a year and a half and I had finished the shower, flooring and toilet area.

However, I  still had the vanity area staring me down.  The orange-y oak just wasn't working for me anymore and let me show you why.  This monstrous cabinet almost attacked you the second you walked into the bathroom.  The pictures make it look a lot less terrible than it actually was.

All the shiny, protective finish had worn away inside the sinks, so approximately 3.2 seconds after scrubbing them down, mold would appear.  Not a fan.

Also, I would like to start my own caulking school.  You don't cut the tip off so your hole is an inch in diameter.  If you do that, you end up with something like this.

Really?  Who did that and thought it was good?  Baffling.  And very unacceptable.  Not to mention, impossible to keep clean.  A tiny bit cut off the tip of the caulking tube at an angle, then smoothing out the caulking with a wet fingertip is all it takes to create a beautiful seal.  Who wants to come to my School of Caulk?  I'm about ready to qualify myself as a professional in that area. 

Anyhow, I got super excited one afternoon to get this thing out of my face.

And this is what I was left with.

After I finished the flooring, we cut into the wall to see what mystery awaited us in the plumbing department.  The new design called for the sinks to be in different spots than the originals. 

Even though pipes were exposed, it looked better than the old vanity, so I took a couple months off.  It's a good thing I'm my own boss.  I'm pretty sure anyone else would have to let me go....

BUT...... I had a made a plan a year earlier for a new vanity when I walked into IKEA and saw these beauties clearance priced at $49 each, down from $300 apiece.  I purchased two of them for a crisp $100 bill. A $500 savings is exciting.

I talked my family into assembling them the second I got home!  Everyone was thrilled, trust me.  Jaci was serenading us on her guitar to calm our nerves, just like they did on the Titanic.

The vanities sat, completely assembled for a very long time in the basement storeroom because I was on my year hiatus at this point.  Melanie did some very fancy plumbing maneuvers to get the pipes where they needed to be for the new sinks.  I watched in absolute amazement as she measured, cut pipes and glued them together with precision.  She is seriously a plumbing ninja.  I can't even imagine what a plumber would have charged to do it.  Basically, I'm willing the bathroom to Melanie, even though she probably hates it.  And I can't believe I didn't get a picture of her doing her thing!

Fast forward to a few months later when I must have sobbed uncontrollably to poor Melanie about my plight, and so she showed up at 9:30 one night ready to help.  We got the vanities installed and the oak butcher block from IKEA cut to size and secured to the top.  We also set the sinks on top just to see how the whole thing was going to look.  I think we did a little jig but since it was well after midnight at that point, we didn't have the energy to make up an entire routine.  Darn it.

The vanities provide so much storage.  They have 8 big drawers that all have the soft close feature.  Since the toilet has a soft close feature as well, I never hear any banging coming from the kids' bathroom, and that is music to my ears.

The sinks are from IKEA as well, but they don't carry them anymore.  They were called the ANA sink and faucet and I have no idea why they discontinued them.  I think they are so cool.  When I bought the vanities, I could only justify buying one sink and faucet.  The sink was $160 and the faucet was $79 and  I was just going to make do with one.  BUT, a visit to the "AS-IS" section (my fave) produced a floor model ANA sink and faucet combo for $79!  Sold.  I had dreamed of  two sinks all along so it was meant to be.

Despite my demands for all drops of water to be kept INSIDE the sinks, this is a bathroom after all and I really wanted the butcher block top to be well protected.  I did a lot of research and finally came up with this sealer at a local woodworking shop.

I didn't want the finish to be shiny and I loved the natural look of the wood, so I got a flat finish and applied about 6 coats with ample drying time and a light sanding in between each coat.  I love the way it turned out, and so far it has been super effective in repelling the stray drops of water.  The wood still looks natural and unfinished but it's well protected.

And so, there is another day in the life (I mean 3 months into eternity) of this bathroom story.  The only big things left are the mirrors and light fixtures.  The lights have actually been installed and the mirrors.....getting close.  I also have about 10 small things on my punch list, including a couple of drywall repairs, (goody) but I am honestly seeing the finish line.

I totally think it's going to be done before Christmas.

your girl,

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