The (Supposedly) Neverending Tile Saga

If I ever had a doubt, the past few years have truly shown me who my real friends are. Have you ever had those friends so connected with you that they could read your mind? I do.

Throughout this whole renovation process, my friend Lee Ann has been a perfect Partner in Crime. Although I share her affinity for HGTV, she definitely has more knowledge, experience and vocabulary in her arsenal. (Yes, this actually IS my first rodeo.) If I attempted a DIY project of this magnitude, it would look more like a Pinterest Fail.

When I first chose the shower tile for the guest bathroom, we had no idea that it would be:
a. so delicate and
b. so difficult to find.

 

 

Previously, we’d ordered half of the tiles from one store and half from another, each time having the store check the boxes on hand for broken tiles and set aside the good ones. We thought everything was taken care of until 40 tiles simply disappeared. The contractor went to pick them up and no one could locate them. (I’m not sure how one minute 40 tiles have been counted out & set aside and the next, they’re nowhere to be found, but that’s neither here nor there… literally)

This week I decided that if we could find enough of the same tile, I’d like to re-do the remaining shower in the same pattern. At last check, the store in Goldsboro (which is about an hour away) had the most in their inventory, so Lee Ann decided that it would be a good idea to take a road trip and grab it so that my contractors would have it available right away if they needed it.

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Actual photo taken in Lee Ann’s driveway prior to leaving for Goldsboro

When we arrived, the staff member I spoke to hadn’t had a chance to go through the boxes on hand. Lee Ann and I made quick work of it. By the end, we had 39 intact tiles and 29 that were broken, but large enough to be salvaged. We ended up getting the broken tiles for 10 cents apiece! (Did I fail to mention that Lee Ann is a Genius?) And to top it all off, when she found out there were more intact tiles in Rocky Mount and her Dad would be going there the next day, she got him in on our little coup. Now I have 20 more tiles that were carefully delivered by Lee Ann’s awesome Dad!

I know, I know… This is way too much trouble, right? Why didn’t I just choose another?

The tile selection was absolutely pitiful at this particular Home Improvement store, but when I saw THAT style, something just clicked. It stood out from the others. I had to have it.

Had I known the EPIC STRUGGLE that would ensue just to obtain intact pieces, I probably would have given up right on the spot. But with my biggest cheerleader in my corner, anything seemed possible.

And it always will be. ❤

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I say this to myself ALL THE TIME. In fact, I honestly didn’t realize that Maya Angelou said it first since I say so many versions of it to myself every day. And in the past 2 months alone, the things that I’ve wanted to change for so long have begun to change more rapidly than I ever imagined. I haven’t been posting because I’ve been running around getting things accomplished. (More on the rest of that later)

I’ve posted before about how I’d planned to make significant changes to my house, and as time went on, I kept thinking of more changes that would be nice to have. Of course, some of these things will need to wait until I set aside enough money to make them happen, but I got lucky and found a great (and HONEST) contractor who makes every effort to stay under budget. He has a hardworking team of subcontractors who are also decent people and that makes all the difference.

My attention was first called to an imperfection in the guest bathroom floor (which has over time gotten worse) by the worst nosy house guest ever. She was one of those people who overstays a welcome and goes through all of your things instead of asking where something is. She also managed to scar up the cord of my brand new vacuum cleaner pretty badly. I still have no idea how people manage to do that. But I digress… This coupled with a few foundation issues made me decide that it was probably time to call in an expert.

This Monday they came in and tore everything out of the guest bathroom so that the floor situation could be assessed. As it turns out, the problem wasn’t in that area at all. Perhaps I’d just had a string of ignorant house guests and roommates who didn’t know how to properly close a shower curtain. Who knows… but the main issue was that there was a slow leak around the toilet and the floor had been patched 3 times, so there were at least 3 different layers of floor. It looked like a patchwork quilt.

I’d taken that day off and it was interesting to see how everything came together. I picked out my floor tile, fixtures, vanity, but none of the wall tile appealed to me so the contractor told me that could wait until Wednesday.

On Tuesday they put down my floor and began assessing the situation under the house.

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Tuesday night (and with SIGNIFICANT help from Lee Ann & HalleAnn) I found my wall tile, paint color, floor grout color and wall grout color. As it turned out, the tile I wanted was extremely hard to come by. Although some of the Lowe’s stores showed a certain amount in their inventory, they ended up having much less on hand. And although I’d promised Lee Ann a fun night of dinner, watching The Bachelorette, and HGTV-palooza shenanigans at Lowe’s, we ended up staying until close trying to find a store that had this elusive tile style so that my contractor would have it ready and waiting for him in the morning. I was already irked that I’d be sending him to 2 different locations instead of just one, but I had no idea of the wild goose chase that would follow.

SIDE NOTE: The tile mason gave me a small piece of the floor tile so that I could match the wall tiles. Lee Ann’s daughter is 6 and to her, this was something cool to play with. It was an honor to get to carry “the floor tile” because it was so very important to our mission. Her Mom made her carry it with TWO HANDS so that she wouldn’t drop it. You should have seen it. She was absolutely adorable.

Wednesday morning my contractor arrived at Lowe’s to find NOTHING. They couldn’t find my order by my name, his name, my phone number, his phone number… He called me and I gave him the item number, after which the Lowe’s employee quickly regained their senses and found the order, yet not the merchandise. *insert audible groan here* He was able to find a box of 10, which we found out upon further inspection (after they made it to my house) were cracked. We ended up using the pieces for edging. As soon as I hung up with him, I called the next store he was to visit to make sure I spoke to someone with some sense. I did. His name was Bobby. He had 40 tiles waiting at Customer Service for us. When my contractor arrived at my house, I debriefed him & went to work. I came home to this.

My tile mason stayed until 8PM and bought us both dinner. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t happen often.

I also forgot to mention that I have 2 doggie cameras installed. I’d purchased them back when I first got Quincy and he had a habit of chewing up things he wasn’t supposed to chew. Now that he’s all settled in, he doesn’t chew up anything, so I hadn’t been putting the cameras to use… until now. *insert devious grin here* BUT THEY WORKED THE ENTIRE TIME! I hardly ever saw a single soul on camera unless they walked by to grab something from outside, which of course only elevated my confidence in everyone. They really are great, hardworking guys… And they love my dog, which is always a bonus.

I did happen to catch my contractor vacuuming my living room, which I thought was both really nice AND really odd. When I got home, he told me that one of his guys had accidentally shattered the globe on the ceiling fan they were installing for me (as a favor). Then the light bulb in my head went off.

 The replacement will be here on Monday… and I’ve made a friend at Build.com.

The remainder of the tile was put up on Thursday and today everything was scheduled to be grouted. This morning I ordered a very expensive vanity light fixture (because all of the others sucked) and it will go perfectly with everything else I’ve chosen.

Just about every day I’ve gone into my manager’s office to update him on everything going on. His most apt remark yet… “When all of this is finished, you may want to live in that bathroom for a while just to get your money’s worth.”

He may be onto something there.

Let’s Do This!

This is what I say to myself every day when I leave my house. I also say a few sweet parting missives to my dog upon my exit as he stares at me longingly from the front gate. These include, but are not limited to, “Take care of the house.” “Go inside. It’s raining.” “Please don’t bring another toy outside.” “I’ll snuggle with you later.” “You’re a pretty boy!” “I love you!” and “I’ll be home soon, I promise.” But all of this is beside the point.

I also seem to have summoned up a sort of theme music. My phone magically starts playing the Pandora app moments after I walk in. This is a relatively new development and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Since I’m also unsure of exactly what is causing it, I just yell at Siri to make it stop and it does… again magically.

For some reason I began this year with renewed energy. I’m not sure if it was the breakup or some sort of unspoken resolution I sent out into the Universe, but I feel as though with the dawning of 2017, I unloaded the behemoth of all things unwanted and began to see the world through newly-opened eyes. Each day is a gift. I have 2 best friends who are complete opposites. They are two of the most amazing women I have ever met and they continue to inspire and bring out the best in me on a daily basis. They are my co-conspirators, my biggest cheerleaders, and I never question that they always have my back.

Right alongside the things I love and am grateful for are the things I’ve started to see completely differently and want to change. For a long time I’ve been reluctant to do weddings. I just flat out don’t like them. People seem to think that on their wedding day, a makeup artist can simply wave a magic makeup brush and transform them into a completely different person than they were before. That’s always struck me as odd. Mark my words. Nothing will make you question your talent or faith in humanity as much as doing wedding makeup.

Granted, I’ve been lucky to have had some amazing brides, and those experiences alone have been more than enough to outweigh the occasional Bridezilla. However, yesterday I decided to take bridal service rates off my website completely… then exhaled deeply. Three hours later (I kid you not), a bride sent me an email wanting to hire me for a HUGE wedding in about 8 weeks. I sent her a polite response and referred her to a friend who just set out on her own and is building her makeup artist business. Pay it forward whenever possible. Absolutely 100%. This business is completely cutthroat and it’s difficult to know who your friends are. But it all comes back. That’s the one thing you can count on.

I’m actually ahead of the game this week. My taxes are done (these are regrettably a last-minute thing, but I’m working on pushing them earlier and earlier each year. #smallwins). I’ve also secured a loan from the bank that will take care of all of the foundation work (GOOD NEWS! My house will not fall into the abyss on my watch!) and the renovation of both bathrooms. This was all done by Wednesday. I feel as if I deserve an award for adulting super-hard!

Today, a newsletter from a professional organizer was sitting in my Inbox. It contains a plethora of fantastic advice. (Yes, I included the link for you… because I’m good like that.)

AND as if the Universe didn’t have my back enough today, I just got the call notifying me that tomorrow morning I’ll be making David McIntosh camera-ready for Fox.

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Both of these men are named David McIntosh. Which one do you think I’m meeting?
If you guessed the pasty, middle-aged guy… you’d be correct. *sigh*
Always the politicians, never the hot guys.

One day…
I’m waiting Universe…

 

Not Today Satan

Today is the day I find out if my house is slowly sinking into the abyss. I have an appointment with someone who is going to crawl under my house to inspect my foundation and supporting beams. A few years ago someone noticed an indention near the guest tub where the floor had caved in. A few years before that, the tell-tale cracks above a few entrance-ways began to form. Since all of my home repair knowledge came from my father, I believed him when he told me, “It’s just the foundation settling. It happens. I just need to put a jack under the house and jack it up.” To this day, that hasn’t happened. And due to my recent DIY and organization streak, the moment of reckoning is upon me.

I bought my house a year after my graduation from college to avoid “throwing money away on rent.” Because I was young and cared more about socializing, buying cute clothes and learning the newest makeup techniques… that’s where the majority of my time, effort and disposable income were spent. To be honest, I had no business becoming a homeowner. Then again, I’m grateful that I purchased my little pillbox house when I did because it’s about a 15-minute drive to just about anything I need. I’m literally in the middle of everything. Nowadays, people pay a small fortune for a luxury like that.

Some people go through life with a checklist. Car, College, Marriage, Dog, House, Kid(s)… My mother told me that I’d meet my husband in college. That never happened. After I graduated, I looked back, thinking I must have done something wrong. I hadn’t.

My parents had a few very rigid ideas about how I was to go about the business of my life. When I was younger, they never allowed me to have any pets except for the occasional hermit crab, fish or gerbil. I was allergic to cats, but dogs were out of the question. Although I was doing musical theater since age 7, art, writing poetry and music… my parents insisted that I get a degree in “business” so that I would have “marketable skills.” They didn’t want me to be a “starving artist” living under a bridge in a cardboard box, which was how they saw anyone who sought a career in art of any kind.

I’m on my second dog now. The first was a gorgeous Pekingese puppy I picked up at a pet store with an old boyfriend. I told him, “When we tell my parents, you gave me this puppy as a gift, right?” My parents eventually warmed up to the little fur ball. They even shed a few tears when he passed away after 16 years of being their precious GrandDog. Now I have a big fuzzy Australian Shepherd rescue. I think rescue dogs appreciate you more because they’ve been through stuff. Adopting that little fur face was the best thing I’d done in a long time. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to be loved unconditionally. This little guy taught me how to love and be loved all over again.

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And as far as that “starving artist” stuff goes… I’ve been doing my best to make Mom & Dad eat those words. I still have my “responsible steady day job” that pays the bills, but I’ve been enjoying growing my side hustle. I signed up for this monthly box designed for female entrepreneurs and found out today that the curator lives in the Charlotte/Rock Hill area… only a stone’s throw away! I’ve been messaging with her since I’d been stumbling upon motivational content of my own. She just started her box business in December and it’s already one of the most sought-after on Cratejoy.

Nowadays people are finding (and fueling) their passions in so many unconventional ways. It’s possible to make a living doing things that the generations before us would scoff at. You just have to get out there and find out what really sets your heart ablaze. And be you, no matter what anyone else tells you, even Mom & Dad.

And Love Yourself.

Love Yourself

Happiness & the Pursuit Thereof

It’s funny how little I’ve thought about happiness lately, yet I’m perfectly happy. I have great friends and I’m finally starting to make a dent in my super-huge “to do” list (which is giving me a much-needed feeling of satisfaction). As much as I’m loathe to admit, I’m a born list-maker, so I do a tiny internal “happy dance” each time I get to check something off.

In my Facebook memories today I ran across an article I’d shared from a blog which mentioned The Happiness Project. Basically, Gretchen Rubin, then a writer at Slate.com, began chronicling her year-long journey toward happiness. It became a best-selling book, which turned into a phenomenon. Now she’s published a few more on the subject (as well as a few on completely different subjects). Happiness is indeed a much sought-after commodity.

Much like happiness, freedom has been a focus lately. It feels AMAZING to be unapologetically me. I answer to myself and that’s it. I have wise friends and if I want their advice or help, I know I can seek it, but I enjoy the feeling of not being confined by the rules or expectations of another. As if by telepathy, this appeared in my Inbox this morning. It’s an article about freedom in love relationships. I can’t tell you how much this resonated with me.

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Now I actually understand what that means.

In the years that followed the viral success of The Happiness Project, there were a number of people posting the results of their own Happiness Projects to social media. Every one is different. Each person has different things that create their own brand of happiness. No two results are the same. I challenge you all to go out and begin your own Happiness Projects. I know it’s March, so we’re a little late to the party for New Year resolutions, but here is a tiny excerpt from the book to start you in the right direction.

And a list, because I love lists.

Why Not?

I’ve pretty much led with that mantra lately and I think it’s getting me places.

  • Email in my inbox about signing up for Citizens Police Academy? WHY NOT?
  • Purchase awesome new kitchen lights and have electrician install them? WHY NOT?
  • Assist male friend on pilgrimage to find perfect prom dress for cheerleader daughter? WHY NOT? (Duh, I know where my talents lie…)
  • FINALLY get someone to come look at my foundation and get an estimate on exactly how jacked up (pun intended) it is? WHY NOT?
  • Buy the jeans in the size that fits me RIGHT NOW not the size I’m hoping I’ll be 2 months from now? WHY NOT?

Yeah, it’s stuff like that, both big and little things. But it’s the things we tend to get hung up on instead of just taking the leap and moving forward. How many unfinished projects do you have lying around your house? How many times have you put something off and it never got done? How many things do you have like this, hanging over your head, taunting you? And how many excuses do you make when they keep not getting done?

I was in the band and worked full time, then I went to esthetician school and worked full-time. Those were my excuses for what seems like an eternity. I still use them to explain the clutter in my spare rooms or my lack of attention to landscaping. I’m sure there are many things I attribute to all those years of neglecting everything else so that I could be a rock star and get an esthetician license. It’s been 5 years now. I’m out of excuses.

Every once in a while, the Universe will give you a little push. Most recently that push was in the form of my dead dryer. It had been 20+ years since a dryer had been purchased for my house. My old roommate had purchased the first one and sold it to me when she moved out. It outlived the washer by a few years, but the day after I knew it was a goner, I ordered a new one on the Internet complete with delivery, installation, and hauling away the old one.

After 2.5 weeks, 2 new dryers, an electrician visit, a ridiculous amount of Google searches, and the kindness of 2 guy friends who were available on a Sunday, things finally resolved themselves in my laundry room. I have the dryer I want. It works. And I completely re-organized the space with bins so that I can reach everything easily.

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The NEW Laundry Room Organization Plan

Now I’m moving on to other parts of my house. If there’s something you don’t like, WHY NOT FIX IT? If you leave it there continuing to make you miserable, you’re only going to stay miserable.

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I set out this year to improve every aspect of my life. So far, so good.