Saturday, July 31, 2010

All In a Day's Work

I feel sorry for people who dread going to work on Monday morning.  I love my job, and for me Monday is the beginning of another week helping people turn their dreams into reality.

Connie and I have been busy lately doing just that—turning dreams into reality.  One of our recent projects was a total re-make of Sandi's and Mark's master bathroom.  Here's a brief looks at the bathroom before we started.


Scan_Pic0002 It was a typical 20-year-old master bathroom—outdated wall color and border, cultured marble tub and shower with a low ceiling in the shower, tile floors.  The cabinets were stained oak with cultured marble countertops and lots of polished brass—towel bars, faucets and shower door frame. 

Fortunately, Sandi and Mark had a pretty clear idea of what they wanted, and provided us with this inspiration picture from a magazine.


photo We started by gutting everything.  We tore out sinks, faucets, tub, shower and tile.  The only thing we salvaged was the toilet, which we took out and stored in the basement to reinstall on the finish up. 

Sandi and Mark had suspected that they had a shower leak.  Sure enough, this is what we found when Ronnie did the shower demolition.  You could step right through the floor decking, and some of the studs were rotten, but at this point, it was a pretty easy fix.

Here's an overview of the finished bathroom.  The stained cabinets were a concession to Mark, who likes the look of the dark rich wood.  We chose alder for these cabinets, that were custom made by Abercrombie Cabinets.  Sandi and Mark each have a vanity and an armoire.  Mark's side has shelves behind the doors and three deep drawers.  Sandi's side looks just the same, but instead of three drawers, she has one drawer and a tilt-out hamper.

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bathroom 018 The white vessel sinks are from Lowe's.  We went with the Delta Victorian collection in Venetian bronze for the sink faucets but decided on the channel style for a more modern touch.  Although the inspiration bathroom used marble on the countertops, Sandi liked the look and durability of granite and selected yellow nut from Architectural Stone Accents.  The mosaic tile on the backsplash  and the 20x20 floor tile came from Jenkins Brick and Tile.  The mirrors are by Delta and coordinate with all of their Venetian bronze faucets.

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Each vanity is open below with a shelf for baskets.  Sandi chose these baskets from Pottery Barn to store towels, wash cloths and toiletries.

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It's becoming more and more popular to pack showers with lots of "goodies."  This shower has several options—a traditional shower head, a handheld shower and two body sprays.  A special diverter lets you operate the body sprays and either of the two shower heads at the same time.  We used the same tile as the floor tile on the shower walls in a 13x13 size and accented the walls with a band of the mosaic.  A frameless shower door makes for a nice clean look.

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williams 016 The focal point of Mark's and Sandi's bathroom is this beautiful white cast iron pedestal tub by Cheviot.  The bronze faucet is also by Cheviot and comes with a handheld shower.  For those who prefer a tub bath to a shower, the handheld makes it easy to wash your hair and is also helpful for cleaning.  All of the plumbing fixtures were provided by Ferguson Enterprises.  Thanks to Amy Bond at the downtown Birmingham showroom for taking our inspiration photo and finding everything we wanted to complete our look.

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Here's another look at the tub and the crystal chandelier from Home Depot that hangs in the middle of the bathroom, completing the look that started with an inspiration.

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And if you're wondering about what's draped over the outside of the bathroom windows, come back in a few weeks, and I'll show you what we've done to the outside of Mark's and Sandi's home.  You won't believe the transformation.

FAVORITETHINGSBUTTON Pic_for_Body_of_Blog3 Since my job is one of my "favorite things," I'm linking up with Laurie this week.  Go visit her and get inspired.

I also think this qualifies for Metamorphosis Monday.  Be sure to visit Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for more transformations.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Beating the Heat

I have discovered the perfect way to beat the 90 and 100 degree temperatures that we've been enduring here in the South.  Get out of town!!  Last week, LBeau and I did just that when we spent eight wonderful days in the Pacific Northwest, where the high never got above 75.  Here's a quick look at our trip with a few of my favorite photos.

After an early Tuesday morning flight to Atlanta, our Delta flight to Seattle was half an hour late departing (does anything run on time at ATL?).  But with the time change, we landed at Sea-Tac shortly after lunch and by 1:30, we were on our way to the Willamette Valley just south of Portland, Oregon.

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Oregon 047 Wednesday dawned crisp and cool, and we spent the morning driving through the beautiful countryside and touring the Domaine Drouhin winery, where we sampled some of the Pinot Noir that the Willamette Valley is noted for.

After a quick lunch, we visited the tasting room at the Carlton Winemakers Studio, where Jeff introduced us to some delicious organic wines.

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Thursday morning found us on the road again as we headed out for a drive up the northern part of the Oregon coast.  The views from Highway 101 were magnificent. 

Beautiful rock formations…

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Interesting lighthouses…

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Dramatic drop offs…

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And lots of these tiny espresso drive-ins.

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Oregon 305 Late that afternoon we arrived in Astoria, Oregon, where we had plenty of daylight hours left (it doesn't get dark until almost 10 p.m.) to visit Fort Clatsop and climb the Astoria Column, all 164 steps.  Unfortunately, LBeau will not let me forget that I made him stop part way up so that I could catch my breath.

Our hotel was right on the Columbia River and gave us a beautiful view of the Astoria Bridge, which spans the river into Washington.

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Friday morning, we crossed the bridge and made our way to Bainbridge Island, Washington, home of our daughter-in-law Katie.  Her parents' home sits right on Puget Sound, where you can spend hours watching the boat traffic.

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Once the fog burns off, you have a clear view of Mount Rainier in the distance.

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west2010 079 And you might even get lucky like Brent and Matt with your catch of the day.  These red crabs from Puget Sound made a delicious addition to our omelet Saturday morning.

west2010 150 Sunday morning, LBeau and I headed out for a tour around the Olympic Peninsula with Brent, Katie and the grands.  Our first stop was Sequim, where the Lavender Festival was in full swing.

The view from Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park was spectacular, and the wildflowers were equally beautiful.

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After a breakfast of French toast and more crab omelet, LBeau and I caught the Bainbridge to Seattle ferry Monday morning and headed south to get up close and personal with Mount Rainier.  Viewed from any angle, it is definitely a sight to behold.

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Unfortunately, all vacations eventually come to an end.  We left Seattle Tuesday morning wearing blue jeans, long sleeve shirts and fleece vests.  It was 57 degrees.  We arrived in Birmingham at 10:30 that night.  It was 87.  I'm sure we looked strange to all of those travelers in shorts, t-shirts and flip flops.

If you plan a trip to Washington and Oregon, I would definitely recommend going in July.  Amazingly, we didn't have a single drop of rain.


Traveling is definitely one of my favorite things, so I’m heading over to Laurie’s blog party.  Y’all are welcome to join us.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

When Did That Happen?

A friend, who shall remain nameless, was visiting the cosmetic counter at Belk's the other day when she made a horrifying discovery.  She was in search of a new brand of makeup, since her favorite brand has been discontinued.

Finding a new brand of makeup is about like trying to buy a new bra when they no longer make the style you've worn for years, so she tried out samples of lots of things.  As each one was applied, she gave her face a close scrutiny in the giant mirror on the counter.  And that's when she saw it—a rather large lump right on her jaw line.

"What's that awful growth?" she wondered.  "Do I have cancer?"

Turning her face to the other side, she was more astonished to see an identical growth on her right jaw.  She felt them gently with her fingertips.  There was no pain, so it didn't appear that she had injured herself.

It was then that she placed an index finger on each cheek, pushing her skin upward.  Miraculously, the growths disappeared.

"They were gravity sags!" she disgustedly announced.  "When did that happen?"

"Yep," I said.  "It happens to most of us."

My advice to her was this—don't ever look down at a mirror!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Smile, You’re on Candid Camera!

220px-Hawkeye_brownie My very first camera was a Kodak Brownie similar to this one.  I used it to take pictures of my friends and family, first in black and white and later in living color.  It had a flash attachment that used disposable bulbs.  You had to buy a whole bunch of bulbs because each one was good for only one picture, and if you didn’t let the bulb cool before trying to remove it, you could get a nasty burn on your fingers.

Mary Daddy BrownieThis is a picture of my daddy and my cousin Mary that I took with my Kodak Brownie.  Appropriately, the pony was named Brownie.

I later graduated to a twin lens reflex that I used during my college days as a journalism major.  The journalism department at the University of Arkansas had a good supply of twin lens reflex cameras that we could check out for our photo assignments, but I was fortunate to have my own camera.  Daddy found me a good used one somewhere, that I continued to use until after the birth of my first child.  Here’s a picture of Hunter that I took with that camera.


Sometime in the '70’s I graduated to a single lens reflex.  My Canon AE-1 was a great camera and served me well for many years. But when the winder broke on a trip to Maine a few years ago, I finally moved into the world of digital.  Here’s one of the last pictures I took with my AE-1.


Since then, I’ve been through several digital point and shoot cameras, mostly Canons; however, ever since Canon introduced the first EOS Rebel digital SLR, I’ve wanted one.  A couple of months ago, I got my wish when I purchased a Rebel T1i.  With all of its bells and whistles, this camera is capable of so much more than “point and shoot,” but first I had to learn about those settings. So on the recommendation of a friend, I signed up for a class at the Birmingham School of Photography.

I still have a lot to learn, and there are other courses I want to take, but Paris Farzad taught me so much more than I could possibly have absorbed by simply studying the manual.  Our last class was a field trip to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, where we practiced all kinds of neat tricks.

At the lily pond, we photographed dragonflies landing on the colorful flowers.

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Using a fast shutter speed, we froze water.

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And using a very slow shutter speed (1/4 second), we made this waterfall look painted.

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Here’s another neat trick Paris taught us using a zoom lens.  The 18-55 mm lens that comes standard with most digital SLR’s is perfect.  Use a slow shutter speed (we used 1/4 second) and the appropriate aperture to give the proper exposure.  As you press the shutter release, zoom in on your subject, and you’ll get some neat star burst effects like I did with this pot of petunias.

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FAVORITETHINGSBUTTON I can’t wait to do some more experimenting with my new toy.  And with three grandchildren and several trips planned, I should have plenty of opportunities.  Meanwhile, I’m linking up with Laurie’s Favorite Things, because right now, photography is one of my favorite hobbies.