Saturday, July 2, 2016

DIY Bathroom Remodel

Denver's housing market is insane so when we bought our house last year we knew that we'd be buying a house that needed some updates. When we bought the house the bathroom was a hot mess. A rose colored toilet and bathtub, a weird soffit that house a florescent light, floral wall paper, terrible laminate flooring...mess!

We started renovating the bathroom in October...and we got about 80% done before we hosted Thanksgiving in November. Truman did all the demo and we hired a tile guy to do the shower but we did everything else ourselves and, not going to lie, it got a little stressful at the end. Maybe people who work 60+ hours every week shouldn't DIY there own bathroom. 

Thankfully, the wallpaper came off really easily. The, that was another story. The subfloor was uneven in parts, had holes in others. Once we got it level (there was an unfortunate event with some self leveling concrete though) tiling the floor was actually easier than I thought it would be. 

So we got the bathroom functional by Thanksgiving and then we never looked back. We just went back to being work aholics and had a not-quite-done bathroom fro eight months. This last week we final got out act together and put the finishing touches in place.  Now that we have baseboards and a framed mirror I love it! Here are pictures of the finished room:

I'm not only proud of the way this came out, I'm also proud that we did it on a budget. We got a new vanity, new marble counter top, added a second sink, new flooring, new marbles shower surround with glass tile inlays, all new fixtures (shower fixtures, 2 faucets, and two light fixtures), new toilet, a new storage piece, tools and labor all for under $6,000. Basically we gutted the bathroom and started over. Here are some ways we saved money:

  • Floor & Decor - if you live near one of these they are a great place to buy tile. All the marble and tile was cheaper there than Lowe's, Home Depot, or any stone supplier I could find online. 
  • Lowe's online "how to videos" - What can I say, you tube taught us how to tile. 
  • Craig's list! The going rate for a 60" and marble counter top was $1,400 - $2,200 even at the discount places. I found the vanity and counter top on Craig's list for $700 total. Someone had ordered the wrong size and couldn't return it. Lucky us! Same thing with that mirrored storage piece. someone was moving and I got it for $50. 
  • Framing the mirror ourselves. You can buy kits to frame out a mirror but they cost around $200 for a 60" mirror. We also looked at putting in two new smaller mirror but that also would have been a little over $240 even at the big box stores. We decided to frame the mirror ourselves using trim meant to frame out windows. All in we spent $56 on supplies and it was pretty easy to do. 
  • DIY decorations - I love my little "get naked" saying which I made in photoshop myself. 
  • Knowing your limitations - we could teach ourselves a lot of things ourselves on youtube (Installing tile? we got it! New light fixtures? We're basically pros at this point) we watched three videos and decided that tiling the shower and having it not leak was not one of them. We hired a pro and I'm pretty sure it saved us money by not having to do it twice. :) 
  • Resurfacing the tub - it turned out that the lovely pink tub was actually a really sweet, not to mention deep, cast iron tub. Getting it restored but in white was going to cost a damn fortune and buying a cheap fiberglass tub didn't make a lot of sense. We decided just go get it refinished, the guy did a great job and we've been using it every day for 8 months with no problems. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016


So, the Vegas rule applies to calories consumed in Tennessee right? The "east nasty" biscuit at biscuit love, duck fat fried tots at Merchants, grilled cheese and lava cake from Goozy, and some freakin' delicious hot chicken from Uncle Lou's (ok, this one was back in Memphis on our way back to the airport). Honestly, we didn't plan anything for Nashville other than a place to stay so we pretty much just ate and listened to music. 

Here's Truman making his "east nasty" face. Can you believe they intended for only one person to eat this meal for breakfast? We split and were still crazy full. 

I've pretty much never met a tot I didn't like. 

On the first night we happened to stumble upon Morgan Frazier (from the voice) singing in the back of Tootsie's. We hung out for over an hour and it was awesome. 

There was also this rockin' lady and at Layla's.

The next day we did some work in the morning and then went out looking for food and exploring. We kind of struck out on the exploring. While this printing press was cool we weren't super impressed with the shopping or walking around in East Nashville. Maybe we just didn't go to the right spots but we ended up abandoning the exploration early and heading over the famous Bluebird Cafe for more music. 

This was the line outside the Bluebird Cafe an hour before it opened. Truman hopped in line and I made a dash for some lava cakes at Goozy (I tried to get them to spike the hot chocolate but they wouldn't go for it). The Bluebird was highly recommended on all the tourist sites so we were pretty shocked to discover that it was in a strip mall in the 'burbs. Overall it was a cool experience and some of the talent at the open mic night we went to was quite good...but it wasn't really any better than an open mic night in any other city with a lively music scene. We had fun and their wasn't a cover because it was a Monday night but if you're from a city like LA or NYC you can probably skip this one. 

Oh, and the place only holds 50 people. See those poor souls behind Truman? They didn't get in. We were the last people to make the cut. 

What Nashville does well (you know. other than fried food) is music so we headed back to Broadway for more country music. People told us to go to Robert's, which we did but weren't impressed with on night number one. We decided to give it another shot on night number two and the band was way better. Josh Hedley & the Honkey Tonk Heroes were pretty fantastic. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Visiting Memphis

Truman and I love to visit new cities. We like walking, we like eating and we like spending time together so we usually plan a couple of activities and then just wander around. Work has been pretty stressful so we decided that a little get away was in order sometime this winter and when Frontier had a sale for $80 roundtrip tickets to Memphis we decided that Tennessee sounded like a great destination. After looking at the offerings in Memphis we decided to rent a car and split our trip between Memphis and Nashville.

Memphis was, well, a little sad. The neighborhoods that we were in totally lacked transitions. We were either in a pretty empty feeling neighborhood with homes in desperate need of maintenance and shuttered store fronts or, just a block a way, we were in a historic district that had one of the most dense collection of huge turn of the century homes that I'd ever seen. There wasn't any middle ground.

We visited Graceland, the Stax Museum, and the National Civil Right Museum at the Lorraine Hotel and they were all great...but they were also all pretty sad stories of men, movements or moments who were ended in their prime. Memphis felt like the physical embodiment of that same theme. The tragedies of the civil rights movement changed Memphis (as they did the country) and, it looks to me, that white flight bankrupted the tax base and, from a tourist point of view, I'm not sure that meaningful reinvestment into the city center ever happened.

Overall, I think Memphis is worth visiting once but I'm not sure we felt like there was enough to see to justify a second trip. I will say, if you're a bit of a policy wonk Memphis is fascinating and definitely sparked some good conversation on our three hour drive to Nashville.

Saturday's itinerary was central bbq (good, not great), the Stax Museum (worth the visit!), dinner at Second Line (really good, we waited out the hour long wait at Bari next door where the fancy cheese plate was awesome), and walking around Beale Street. We quickly learned that in the South all meals should be much food!

Sunday: We spent the morning at Graceland which was fun (Elivis had the same refrigerator that we currently have and the same coffee table my grandma used to have). Graceland definitely viewed Elvis with rose colored glasses and Truman and I had an interesting conversation about whether or not it was a history museum or a tribute. As a tribute, I thought it was great. 

After Graceland we at at the delicious Rizzo's for lunch, and then went to the National Civil Rights Museum which is located at the hotel where Dr. King was killed. It was awesome but really dense, my brain was a little fried by the end. 

Next stop: a three hour drive between us and Nashville!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

I actually kept my new year's resolution

Last December I was the heaviest I've ever been. You know how you have your normal size pants and then your "fat pants"? The ones that are a banana republic size up (you know what I'm talking about...them are some generous sizes over at the banana). Well, I was outgrowing my fat pants.

Between just feeling kind of crappy about how I looked and really not wanting to spend more money on a new size of jeans I decided that my goal for 2015 would be to lose 17 pounds. I'd tried to loose a little weight before (and I actually lost a bunch thanks to a generous supply of adderall during law school) but this was the first time I'd ever set an actual number goal. To be honest, I'd made a policy of not weighing myself over the last few years (in an attempt to not obsess about a number) and I was pretty shocked that I weighed as much as I did. So in January we went on a crash diet, in February I joined classpass and started working out 4-6 times a week, we abandoned the crash diet at the end of January  but continued to eat healthier and in smaller portions. Basically, I lost weight the old fashioned way.

It was slow going and it took me all damn year but I actually met my goal (and as a Pilates instructor pointed out, it probably took me just as long to put that weight on in the first time).

I don't have any great "before" pictures...because when you're feeling super heavy you throw those damn pictures away, but here's what I could find:

December 2014

December 2015

Saturday, October 10, 2015

How reading an offensive facebook posts made me a better person

We all do it. You read some asshole high school classmate’s facebook post, get angry about what a racist/classist/political crazy/general nutball this person is, you type several responses that aren’t suitable for public consumption and then decide to just keep scrolling. This is sort of my life. It’s all just one big hate scroll really.

A few weeks ago a facebook friend posted about a negative customer service experience they had at a chipotle-style restaurant. They also posted their response to the situation and my first thought was, “well we all have our classist moments…I’m not sure I’d want to put mine on blast like that.” As I kept thinking about it over the next few days (yes, I think about other people facebook posts for days…I’m sure it’s perfectly healthy). I found myself irritated that this person had no idea that their behavior was not only not brag worthy but also something that illustrates a lack of understanding of their own class privilege.

I suppose I should back up, just so we’re all clear on terms. For the class I teach I define most of the “-isms” (racism, sexism, etc) as “power + predjudice.” So now we all know what I’m talking about.

Anyhow, where were we? Oh, I’ve decided that my facebook friend is kind of a classist jerk. Right. Now fast forward to the following weekend. I find myself in Costco in a bit of a rush needing my flat tire fixed (aren’t we always in a rush when this happens?) and of course the tire shop cashier is…so…slow. By the time I’m at the counter I find myself a little annoyed and probably grouchier than I need to be. And I was totally curt with this guy. I actually felt bad and promptly apologized. It seemed that he’s pretty used to jerks like me because he hadn’t seemed to notice that I was being a jerk. As I sat in the food court eating my pizza I realized…I’m the facebook asshole! Not necessarily the person who broadcasts my classist shit on facebook (although I’ve probably been guilty of this at various points as well) but rather the person who allows myself to treat other people poorly in public because I’ve trained myself to believe that people in the service industry owe me something. Rather than considering that their job might be hard, or busy, or a little shitty sometimes... I expect to never be inconvenienced because I’m smart, educated (those are different, btw) and can afford to pay for certain things at a retail store. This somehow makes me important right? Well, sort of. Just in so far as we are all important, really.

Now I don’t think I’m more important than people who work retail (based on facebook I think the friend might actually think he is more important or smarter than the people they interact with at the grocery store) but there is something going on there right? What if the tire shop worker had been someone I perceived as more powerful than me? Say, a judge or something? Would I behaved the same way? Probably not. For the last few days I’ve been asking myself what that’s about and I’ve been making an effort to behave differently.

So now we arrive at the moral of my story which is… facebook hate scrolling actually improved my life and made me a better person. Post on assholes of the world, maybe we’ll all be a little better for it.  Also, by the way, my tire is totally fucked. I have to buy a new rim. I’m pretty sure it’s classist karma.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Summer Adventures

It's almost labor day! That means that summer is winding to a close and I'm pretty excited to have some closure on summer. It's been a rough one. Just because we had a stressful few months doesn't mean that we didn't get some fun out of summer. Here are some of the highlights from our outside adventures. 

These are some of my favorite pictures of Olivia. We were planning to on a hike so Truman packed a couple sandwiches (in a reusable bag because we are hippies) and set it down. Olivia nabbed it and would not give it up. After a pretty impressive tug of war Truman decided to trade her a piece of hot dog for the sandwich bag. I found this hilarious. This dog is awesome and she just keeps surprising us. Back in January the vet gave her "weeks or months" to live...and in July she was still stealing sandwiches. It's pretty awesome. 

In July we went on a fun day hike up Mt. Flora a peak near berthoud pass that's just under 14,000 feet tall. We hiked about 6 miles and it wasn't painful which was pretty great. I guess some of those exercise classes are paying off. 

Every August some friends of ours plan a tubing trip outside of Lake George, CO. Last year we bought a two person pool raft for Katy but she popped it pretty quickly. This year we tossed her on top of Truman which she was pretty skeptical about. It made for some hilarious pictures though. 

 Happy Truman, skeptical Katy. 

 Brave Katy.

 Selfie attempt. 

 This is Katy's thinking face. 

The crew (minus Truman who was taking the picture and Leonard who was fishing).