...because home doesn't happen overnight.
11.02.14 / Made Me Smile

sunday fun day

Hi all. How was your week / weekend? Did you do any trick-or-treating? Our Halloween was blustery and rainy but it didn’t stop us from partaking in beggar’s night for a few hours. We were shivering and soaked to the core by the time we got home but wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Layne was always one house ahead letting us know what each house was serving. Like we were at a restaurant and he was reading the menu.

“You guys, this house is serving full-sized Snickers!” It was so funny.

Don’t tell anyone but I think Everett was a little scared. It got dark early and he kept asking if he could hold my hand. I didn’t mind ;)

It was Mabrey’s first time trick-or-treating but you would have never known. She caught on quickly. I could see the wheels turning in her head after the first house. So, I walk up to some stranger’s house, ring the doorbell, say trick-or-treat and they give me CANDY? I’m so in. By the end of the night, she had it down to a science. She discovered early on that if she lingered, smiling for an extra 10 seconds after the initial handout, she would score a second handful of loot. Girl is smart.

I’ll never forget my very first beggar’s night as a parent. Layne was about the same age as Mabrey. I gave him the gist (ring doorbell, trick-or-treat, candy, thank you) and we approached the first house. Layne rang the doorbell. A man opened the door. Layne said “trick-or-treat” then walked right in liked he owned the place! The homeowner was like, “Come on in!” We were all dying. I guess I forgot to mention to Layne that we don’t actually go in the houses.

More good stuff…

*A clean closet makes everything better.

*So does a tidy nook.

*A metal roof like no other.

*Tiny houses are a big thing.

*I think I pinned every room in this house.

organic midcentury kitchen

*Love the organic vibe and clever DIY’s in this midcentury remodel.

*A slew of stunning kitchen makeovers. Instant gratification FTW.

*When the weather turns cold, I live vicariously through bloggers in warmer climates. I’m loving Honey and Fizz right now. Especially the fun marquee in the kitchen. Such a cheerful and homey space!

*Busted out my trusty fleece-lined leggings this weekend.

Have a good one! I’m stealing the kids’ chocolate and trying to ignore the time change.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Kikuko Usuyama

A bathtub in a bathroom. It’s a novel idea.

tub in bathroom 1

And we finally executed it in the main bathroom! (Don’t mind the masking tape on the floor. The toilet isn’t set yet.) Steve and I designed the tub’s base. He created two wood saddles from a reclaimed beam to support the tub. I primed and painted the tub’s exterior. I have an entire post coming on those projects. We hired a plumber (it was actually a two man job) to install the fixtures: water supply lines, drain, overflow, faucet, shower head support and curtain rail. We’re really happy with the final product! We do a double take every time we walk by the bathroom and see a tub in there.

tub in bathroom 4

The install wasn’t without a few hangups. We fully expected some to pop up since we were flying by the seat of our pants. There aren’t too many homeowners bringing in old clawfoot tubs and modernizing them with wood cradle bases and new fixtures, so there’s not really that much information out there on the subject. I’d like to share the issues we ran into with the tub install just in case it’s something you’re considering for your own home. So, here goes… (Again, I will address the tub’s base and paint job in a separate post so this mainly concerns the plumbing install.)

1. Things go missing. The day before the plumber came, we brought in all the fixtures for the tub that we’d been storing in the garage. When we took inventory, the shower head (just the head, not the support) was nowhere to be found. We looked everywhere! We ordered the parts over two years ago and somehow, amidst the renovation shuffle, the shower head was misplaced or thrown out. Ugh. We felt stupid and irresponsible, said some four-letter words, then sucked it up and ordered a replacement. Renovating is a humbling experience ;)

2. Chrome-plated clawfoot tub drains are typically special order items. When the plumber came to hook up the tub, all he had on hand was a standard brass drain. I love me some brass but we had already chosen chrome for the rest of the plumbing fixtures. We thought a brass drain and overflow would look out of place (especially since it would be visible) so we had to hunt down a chrome-plated one which added time and cost to the install.

tub in bathroom 5

3. There’s nothing standard about vintage clawfoot tubs. The drain end of the tub has a slight slope on the vertical where the fixtures go. This means the fixtures don’t meet up with the tub at a 90º angle – which isn’t ideal. This posed a problem when installing the water supply lines, drain, overflow and even the faucet and shower head because each fixture relies on the placement of everything else. It was difficult to get the fixtures straight without compromising watertight seals. Obviously, it was important to us not to have leaks but we also didn’t want noticeably crooked fixtures. Our plumber was able to strike a good balance between function and aesthetics but not without some finagling. His exact words were, “Plumbers did a lot of cussing in the 1800’s.” Haha. Anyway, we decided to focus on lining up the drain, overflow, shower head and curtain rail and not worry too much about the water supply lines. (I.e., if the supply lines were perfectly straight, that would offset everything else.)

Another issue arose when we discovered the curtain rail was meant for a standard 5′ tub. Our vintage tub is 4½’. (The room is only 5′ wide.) Steve had to shorten the curtain rail by cutting out sections from each side of the rail. (The rail kit is made up of two symmetrical rods that meet at the shower head and ceiling flanges.) It wasn’t difficult but it was another hiccup that held up the install.

4. Four hands are better than two. It’s crazy how much the placement of one fixture affected the position of subsequent fixtures. There was a lot of “hey, hold this while I do this.” At one point, I was called in because a third pair of hands was needed. This was especially necessary when the ceiling flange was mounted. One person was in the attic holding an anchor block in place so that a second person could drill into it from the bathroom. I was holding a level to make sure everything was plumb. It’s not rocket science but there’s only so much you can do with two hands.

So, yeah, the install wasn’t a standard run-of-the-mill install. But it’s done and we have a working tub! We haven’t used it yet but we did fill it up and drain it to test things out. No leaks!

tub in bathroom 7

tub in bathroom 6

We’re crazy in love with the fixtures. The porcelain handles are so charming. Similar fixtures will go on the sink to help tie the old tub in with the new vanity.

tub in bathroom 8

Once the tub was in, we were itching to set the toilet. We chose a sleek, contemporary model to contrast with the old tub. I am so intimidated by this toilet!

tub in bathroom 9

It has a dual flush button on the tank, an elongated seat with a soft-closing lid and clean lines. Can toilets be sexy? I say yes. Steve worked on installing the toilet the day after the tub was finished. He was two screws away from having it set when one of the brackets at the base broke. Two screws away from not sharing one toilet! So close. At this point, it’s par for the course. We’re waiting on a replacement. Hence, the masking tape on the floor until it’s officially done. The brick on the floor to the left of the toilet is covering a heating / cooling register to keep Cheetah from disappearing down into it. She’s one curious kitty.

tub in bathroom 2

I’ll share details of the tub’s base and paint job next week. And I will include a source list when I post the final reveal. But if you have any pressing questions that just can’t wait, I’ll try to answer them in the comments section.

We’re getting there. What do you think so far?

P.S. – It was such a gloomy day when I snapped these shots. I had to lighten them quite a bit to get the base of the tub to show up. The photo quality isn’t my best but hopefully you get the idea.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

ghost lights 1

Other than displaying carved pumpkins, I haven’t really decorated for Halloween in years. (I’m more of a seasonal decorator than a holiday decorator.) This year the kids were hounding me more than usual and I’ve been on a recent “life’s too short” kick so I finally came around and spooked up this place. It’s nothing over the top but I think I have a chance at Mom of the Year 2014. (You know I’m kidding, right?)

ghost lights 2

I spent $6 (coupon included) on two yards of tulle and black poster board at JoAnn’s to create ghost lights over the kitchen island. I rolled out the two yards of tulle and left it doubled over (for a layered effect) then cut it into three equal sections, one for each pendant. I cut a hole in the top of each section, slipped the tulle over the pendants then secured it with string. I trimmed the tulle to my desired length then “fringed” the ends by cutting ~2″ wide strips on the bottom half of each ghost. I freehanded three ghost faces and cut them out of the black poster board then secured them to the tulle with double-sided tape.

ghost lights 3

They turned out pretty creepy. I think the key is to use a really thin and airy tulle (not the stiff, scratchy stuff) and to scrunch the ends. (Where are all my ’97 high school grads at? We hella good at scrunching.) The moaning ghost faces portray way more emotion and despair than two black eye holes. The cat is real. Yeah, you’re going to need to rescue a kitten to pull off this look in its entirety.

spider web

I attempted to make a spider web out of jute string that I already had on hand. It turned out okay?? There’s a good reason why I’m not a spider. Apparently, webs take patience and a certain amount of skill. I immediately felt horrible about all the real webs I’ve swiped.

First, I hung three lengths of jute in an asterisk formation. I tied the ends to anything I could find: antlers, cords on the side of the cabinet, a doorstopper, etc. I rigged it so that we can still open the cabinet and door. Starting from the outer most part of the web and working my way in, I knotted off sections of jute in a hexagonal pattern. I taped a paper spider to my creation to better designate it as a “spider web.” I don’t know. It reads more like an unfinished, ginormous dreamcatcher to me.

All the spiders are crying, “You call that a web?! You disgust me.” In my defense, I don’t extrude silk from my nether regions.

halloween living room

I couldn’t boo the kitchen and not the living room.

bats

I bought two sets of removable 3D bats and filled the area above the TV with them. (A ladder was involved.) I love these bats! Don’t let the reviews fool you. A few people were disappointed that the bats aren’t larger but I actually prefer this size. The bats are plastic and you bend them to get the 3D effect. They also come with removable stickers. I’m not sure how the adhesive will hold up after one season but I can always break out my trusty putty tabs if necessary. These bats are definitely going to be a mainstay of our Halloween décor.

halloween mantel 1

I grouped pumpkins and squash on the mantel on either side of the TV wall. They were a steal at Trader Joe’s and were left over from a Thanksgiving tablescape shoot. (It goes live mid-November.) That’s where the eucalyptus branch came from, too. I laced the mantel with these copper string lights. They are the best! The delicate LEDs put off a warm white glow and the copper wire can be easily manipulated. Unlike traditional string lights, they’re barely noticeable when not lit. I can see myself using these throughout the holiday season.

halloween mantel 2

I sprinkled in a few paper maché skulls. I bought them for pennies at Michael’s several years ago during one of their post-Halloween sales and they’ve been stashed in the attic ever since. I’m very proud of myself for remembering to bust them out this year. FINALLY.

spiders

Likewise, I scored these window decals during a post-Halloween sale a while back when we were living in our previous house. They were originally two large window-sized poster decals but the size and shape were all wrong for our current home’s windows so I cut the spiders out from the background. I wasn’t sure how well the spiders alone would stick to the window. I used a damp rag to wet the window first to help with adhesion. So far, so good. I may end up laminating the spiders after this season to protect them. (You could easily DIY something similar with a little black craft paper or poster board. I was just trying to use what I had on hand.)

And now for some nighttime pictures because that’s always fun…

ghost lights 4

spiders 2

spiders 3

Ah, the ol’ spider in the lampshade trick. It’s a classic. There’s also a little spider in one of the windows on the front door that I failed to photograph. Have I mentioned Steve is terrified of spiders?

Anyway, I threw all this together one day last week while the boys were at school. It was fun to see their reactions when they came home. They were so surprised! Everett’s favorites are the ghost lights. Layne likes the bats and skulls. I like the fact that I can reuse almost everything.

What are some of the ways you decorate for Halloween? I need to up my game for next year.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

10.23.14 / Easy Harvest Salad

harvest salad 1

A few weeks ago we hit up our favorite pizza place, Dewey’s, and had the most amazing harvest salad with figs, pumpkin seeds, bacon and a cider vinaigrette. (If you ever get the chance to eat at Dewey’s, you must try the Green Lantern. It’s part of their regular menu and they rotate in seasonal items, too.) It was so good that Steve and I couldn’t stop talking about it for days. I decided to try my hand at replicating the salad at home. It’s not an exact match but it’s pretty close. I’ve made it several times now and we can’t get enough. Maybe you would like to try it?

For the salad I used a baby spring mix, dried figs cut in half, roasted pumpkin seeds, uncured apple smoked bacon pieces (You bake it, right? It’s super easy and less messy.) and crumbled goat cheese.

harvest salad 2

For the vinaigrette, I went with this simple recipe since I had all the ingredients on hand. I just mixed everything in the blender.

harvest salad 3

Done and yum. Even our kids gobble this salad up. I think I know where all the seeds from our jack-o-lanterns are going to end up this year!

What are some of your favorite fall recipes?

P.S. – Easy fall beans.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking