Category Archives: House

Bathroom Remodel – Before & After

Since I have no cute squishy baby to show you as of yet, how about some pictures of our newly remodeled bathroom instead? The main bath was the last room in our house that needed to be redone, and when we found out we were expecting, we knew we really wanted to tackle the project before the baby’s arrival. Let me start by showing you some before pics of the monstrosity that was the bathroom.

Super narrow entrance, tiled walls, and don’t get me started on that floor tile. Believe it or not, when we moved in, this floor tile was probably the nicest flooring in the house. Scary, no?

The shower/tub. Disgusting. No amount of cleaning products or scrubbing could remove the nasty grime in there. 

The vanity/medicine cabinet. Not the most awful part of the bathroom, but significantly ugly none the less.

The toilet. Looks innocent enough. The truth is, this thing was horrible. It did not flush properly, often requiring multiple tries. It also had a huge crack on one side which was always a little disconcerting.

And lastly, the view out to the rest of the house. You can see here how narrow the entry was.

Since we were on a tight budget, Steve did all of the work himself with the exception of demolition weekend when he had help from a friend. We asked for Menards gift cards for Christmas, and thanks to some very generous family members, the gift cards covered a lot of the big purchases we had to make. The plan was a complete gutting of the old bathroom. We purchased a new tub, shower fixtures, vanity, toilet, light fixture, mirror cabinet, and tile. So everything. The one structural change that was made was widening the entry by about six inches. The wall you see above on the right is the back wall to the closet in the nursery. Said closet was unusually deep (and unnecessarily so), so we decided to widen the bathroom and cut into the closet a bit. Steve kept wondering if all the extra work was worth it for six inches, but as you will see it did make a big difference.

Obviously the first step in the actual process was demolishing the old bathroom. Steve started on a Saturday morning, and by early afternoon it looked like this.

The tub was gone (smashed to pieces), and the walls were coming off. Behind all of that wall tile in the shower was mold. So gross. Steve’s goal for that first weekend was to get the old tub out, and the new tub in and plumbed so that we could take showers, as this is our only full bath. I admit I was skeptical that this would get done in one weekend, but after many hours of work and at least five trips back to Menards, that part was finished. Steve hung a huge sheet of plastic around the shower so we wouldn’t get the walls wet, and this is how we showered for several weeks.

Dexter anyone? It was annoying, yes, but it worked and it was nice to be able to shower at home instead of having to go to the gym every day. God forbid I exercise any more than necessary. Also, Steve is not a morning person and was extra motivated to get the shower done quickly so he would not have to go to the gym in the morning. From this point forward, Steve worked on the bathroom pretty much every single day after work and on the weekends, in addition to his marathon and ironman training. Poor guy. He would take the plastic down to do whatever step was next in the shower (tiling, grouting, caulking, etc.), then put the plastic back up so we could shower. He wanted to get the shower completely finished before tackling the rest of the bathroom. We do have another half bath, so we had another toilet and sink to use while the rest of the main bath was under construction. After a few more weeks, the shower looked like this:

We chose white tile with a grey marbled look, and navy blue glass accent tiles for the strip towards the top. We also tiled in the corner shelves, two in each corner, and added glass sliding doors because of our mutual distaste for shower curtains. Once the shower was done, it was on to demolishing the rest of the bathroom.

Gutted. You can see the widened entry here with the new green board on the left. The next step was the floor tile and fixing up the walls with several coats of mud where the hideous wall tiles were.

We chose a darker grey tile for the floor, which I love. We decided to paint the walls grey as well with leftover paint from the nursery. No need to buy more paint when we already had some left. After the process of tiling, grouting, sealing, etc, it was time to put in the new toilet and vanity, along with the new mirror cabinet and light fixture. The new toilet gave Steve plenty of problems, as it wouldn’t stop leaking at first. There were a couple of times that it came dangerously close to ending up in the dumpster, but he luckily got it figured out. He also had to cut off the bottom of the vanity by an inch or two, since the new mirror cabinet was bigger than the old one and the faucet was actually too tall for the cabinet to open. It was either cur the vanity or buy a whole new faucet. Alright, lets jump to the before and afters, shall we?

Looking into the bathroom. Look how much wider it is! The one and only thing I did was to paint the woodwork around the window white to match the rest of the woodwork in the house, which you can’t even really see because of the window shade. I also picked out the shade, valance, and rug.

The tub/shower. I can’t even tell you how nice it is to have a clean tub and shower to use. There is so much space on the corner shelves and it is so nice and bright. We also got a shower head that can be used as a hose. Thinking ahead for bath time for the little man.

A toilet that does it’s job in one flush. Hooray!

New vanity and mirror cabinet, so much more modern. Love it!

The new light fixture and mirror. I am actually sorry I don’t have a picture of the old light fixture. It was of the large vanity bulb variety, super tacky.

And one more angle looking out so you can see how much wider the space is. We are so happy with how everything turned out, and I am so impressed with Steve’s skills in home improvement. He worked so so hard on this bathroom for many many hours and it shows in the final product. Now you can see why I put together the crib by myself, because Steve was busy in the bathroom. The nursery was my project, and the bathroom was his. I am so thankful that he is handy with these things, because I can’t imagine what this bathroom would have cost us if we had to hire out. We wouldn’t have been able to do it, that’s for sure. Now it feels so good that the big house projects are all complete (of course there are always some other little projects to do), but the big stuff is done. Phew!


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Das Boot

I know I’ve been absent around here for the past couple weeks. I have been putting off writing about this update, because frankly, it sucks.

I started having some minor pain in my foot the week after Memorial Day, or the week before I went to San Diego. It started on Tuesday with some soreness in the bottom of my foot when I started running. After a couple of miles, it went away, and I thought it was no big deal. I ran a couple more times that week, and same thing. A minor annoyance that almost felt like a bruise on the bottom of my foot. Then cam San Diego. As I mentioned, I ran/walked/jogged probably 20-25 miles over 8 hours, much of it on concrete. By the Tuesday after the race (June 5th), I couldn’t run on it at all. I went to my group run, started gimping, and I knew right away something was wrong. I gave it a mile to see if it would loosen up at all, but I ended up stopping and walking back.

I took a week off. I biked. I got acupuncture. I swam. I got massage therapy. I took another week off. When I was still having pain while walking two weeks later, I made an appointment with a foot specialist, pretty much convinced that I had a stress fracture.

I went in on Wednesday (June 20), and the good news it that the x-ray was clean. I was diagnosed with peroneus brevis tendonitis and a 5th metatarsal bone bruise, right where the tendon connects.



The doc asked me how aggressive I wanted to be in treating it, and I told him I wanted to heal as fast as possible so I can get back to running. He said the best way to heal it fast would be complete immobilization for a week. He gave me the walking boot, and I’ve had the thing on ever since. I can take it off to drive and  shower. He wanted me to keep it on at night, but I just couldn’t sleep with it, so in comes off when I go to bed as well. I have also been icing it once a day at night.

This coming Wednesday I can take the boot off and see how it feels to walk around. If I have no pain, I can slowly start biking, swimming, and even a little running. But if there is any pain at all, I need to stop. I will not be doing the Door County Triathlon on July 22nd, because even if I am healthy enough to race, I am severely undertrained at this point and running the race would likely flare the whole thing back up again and I would be back at square one. It is more important to me to be able to run and race in the fall than to do the tri.

In the meantime, I have still been enjoying the heck out of summer. Steve and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary on June 21st with a great dinner at an Italian restaurant.

We have been boating, strawberry festivaling, hanging out with friends, and getting stuff done around the house. We have been installing new interior doors, painting said doors and trim, and working in the yard just to name a few things. I am trying to stay positive and looking forward to running as soon as I possibly can. The break was nice, but I plan to start posting more frequently as I recover and get back to training.

Have you ever dealt with an injury that sidelined you for any length of time? Was it easy to get back into the swing of things?


Filed under House, Miscellany, The run

Spring-like running

Remember how I couldn’t stop thinking about this? Well, it happened.

Please promise me, if you do one thing today besides sitting on the couch and stuffing your face with chips, dip, beer, guacamole, chili and cookies during the Super Bowl, let it be making this french toast. Please, thank you, and you are welcome.

In other news, the state of WI continues to be spoiled with spring-like weather. This makes me incredibly happy. Running in the February sun in capris and a long sleeve shirt? Yes please!

Saturday morning I was down at the Milwaukee Lakefront coaching a new group of Team in Training athletes. After putting in 4 miles with the team, I headed out for 10 more on my own. Running long on roads is not ideal since I am training for a 50 mile trail race, but I can’t argue with this scenery.


Post run I treated myself to a soy mocha from Alterra Coffee, aka the best coffee in Milwaukee.

Today’s agenda includes hitting the trails for a 7-8 mile run, grocery shopping, and working around the house. My productivity this weekend has been astounding thus far, and has included cleaning, touch-up painting, priming trim, and making training calendars for Steve and myself. I have no plans to watch the Super Bowl, instead I think I will actually cook a dinner besides roasted vegetables.

Are you watching the Super Bowl? Do you care who wins or are you in it for the commercials?

Did you get outside this weekend?


Filed under Food, House, Miscellany, The run

Cake Mix Cookies

This morning I made the easiest cookies ever to bring to a Packer Party today (GO PACK!!)

Take one box of cake mix (I used Devil’s Food)

Mix in two eggs and 1/3 cup oil

Add mix in’s (I threw in a handful each of walnuts, craisins, white chocolate & dark chocolate chips)

Side note: I got this bag of the best chocolate chips on the planet at Costco for $9.99. The banana is there for size comparison.

Three and a half pounds of heaven in a bag right there.

Ok, back to the cookies. Mix everything together (I had to use my hands).

Drop onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a rack.

Go for a twelve mile run while the cookies are cooling, fantasizing the whole time about devouring several upon your return. (Optional)

Try not to eat too many so you have some left to bring to your party (also optional).

I sampled one just to see if it was good. It was. I sampled one more just to be sure. I am sure. Go make them.

Our first Christmas tree in the new house is all decorated. It’s getting mighty festive around here. If only all of the presents were already wrapped and under the tree, I would be all set.

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Filed under Baking, House, The run

Kitchen talk

It snowed last night. I was not pleased.

I made my way to downtown Milwaukee this morning to coach my Team in Training athletes. Though I certainly could have done without the white stuff, it is always kind of fun to run in the first dusting of powder. I ran four very slow miles with the team and then tacked on four solo miles afterwards.

So, let’s talk about our kitchen for a moment, shall we? Let me refresh your memory as to what it looked like when we bought the house.

Dear me, it seems like this was so long ago. As I mentioned before, we were extremely fortunate that my uncle Dennis offered to help us with the major undertaking that was demolishing half of the wall.

Phase one – the wall was opened up and the pipe was discovered. That pipe needed to be re-routed to the other side of the sink.

Phase two – the wall was knocked down. This is looking from the dining room back into the kitchen. We had a gaping hole in the ceiling for quite some time.

Phase three – the frame of the wall was knocked down. This is when it really started to look awesome and feel like an open concept house rather than a series of totally boxed in rooms.

You could finally see from the living room all the way into the dining room. Next, a beam was installed to support the house where the walls were removed.

Can lights were installed and cabinets were disassembled, puttied, primed, and painted (thank you Mom, Sue, Grandma Joan and Beth!).

I slacked on photo-documenting the rest, which included dry-walling, plastering, flooring (side note: I am madly in love with our maple laminate floors. They look awesome and so far have proven themselves to be plenty durable in the face of such a klutz as myself), and painting. Oh, and moving our appliances in. And with that, here is the big reveal of the kitchen as it stands today.

Slightly different, no? Here’s a side-by-side:

A few things still need to be done in here. We need to get a countertop and breakfast bar. The cabinet piece on the right will be painted to match the rest of the cabinets. The baseboard moldings are also not installed yet, and eventually all of the woodwork will be painted white. Here are some before and after’s of the other kitchen angles.

My mom and Joe got us a new stainless steel range hood for Christmas, installation included. I love the wall color we chose, and the white cabinets with the stainless appliances. So clean looking, don’t you think?

And the view from the kitchen into the dining room, complete with our Christmas tree in the background, which is indeed decorated now.

I cannot wait until we get a new countertop and the room is complete. If you’ve made it through this monster post, congratulations! You deserve a cookie, so go eat one. Smile


Filed under House, The run

Settling in


{emerges from piles of moving boxes, paint rollers, flooring, miscellaneous tools, and general chaos}

Good news! I am in fact alive and Steve and I are all moved in to the new house. We are slowly getting settled, and it feels good to be done with the major deconstruction phase and on to the organizing stage. There is still lots of work to be done, but the really messy stuff is over. Thank goodness. I am excited to start showing you what we all did, complete with before, during and after pics.

Through all of the chaos, running has been my constant, as usual. I have been consistently logging 35-45 miles per week. I have also been figuring out new running routes and exploring the neighborhoods. Nothing will ever be able to replace running at the lakefront in downtown Milwaukee every day, but we do live close to a nice rec trail now that will be good for long runs. We are also much closer to my favorite trail running spot, which I am really excited about. I ran there a few weeks ago with my friend Cara and ended up biting it big time in the mud.


I was pretty much caked from head to toe.

But it was still a blast!

And since it is the holiday season, I will leave you with the only thing I have baked so far: Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles with Cinnamon M&M’s.

I followed this recipe exactly for the cookies, then pressed the Cinnamon M&M’s in before baking. They were deliciously chocolaty and spicy!

Question: What is your favorite holiday cookie? Bonus points if you link to the recipe!

There are so many good ones, but I think my favorite of all time have to be the Chocolate Wheeties cookies that my mom makes. Maybe I can get her to share the recipe she uses. Hint hint mom!


Filed under Baking, House, The run

Coming along

I took advantage of the extra hour this morning and got in a nice 10 mile run before resuming work on the house. I am really happy that I was still able to get in 38 miles this week with everything going on.

Speaking of the house, things are coming along. We have had lots of helpers over, which is awesome.

Mason: floor ripper extraordinaire

Dennis: construction manager

Mom: painter and tackler of all projects

Joe: master electrician

Grandma Joan: painter

Not pictured: Sue, head of color design and painter

We are so grateful for everyone’s help, as we could never do even half of this on our own!

The biggest project we decided to take on with the house was to knock out half of the kitchen wall to open it up into the dining room. To refresh your memory, here is what the kitchen looked like when we bought the house.

Here it is with the wall ripped open.

And here it is today.

The support beam on the ceiling went up yesterday and the only thing left is lights, drywall, and eventually new countertops. Please note that we have also removed the unfortunate green plaid linoleum flooring. I absolutely love how open the house is now. This is the old view from the dining room into the kitchen.

And here it is now.

Other things that have been completed thus far:

All carpeting and flooring removed.

Side note: after ripping up all of that carpeting and seeing what was underneath, I will never be putting carpeting in anywhere ever again. Disgusting.

Steve ripping up the lovely brown tile outside of the bathroom:

The three bedrooms and two baths are painted. We are planning to start installing flooring today, which I am really excited about. I will keep updating when I can. Now it’s off to work!

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Filed under House, The run