It was Labor Day Weekend, so we Labored

by fourteenergirl on September 3, 2014

in Home, Just Stuff

We had a three day weekend last weekend and instead of doing fun stuff, we labored on the bathroom reno. Hey, it’s Labor Day weekend after all. We put in the pebble floor to much cursing on the part of Mr. Man who has decreed there will be no more pebble shower floors ever again. The puzzle pieces were too much and it was all so tricky to piece together. We covered that all up with towels to protect it while we continued working our way up the walls.

We started with this frame out of the shower stall.

shower stall frame

We set up for cutting tiles on the back deck.

cutting tiles

First measurements involved the right number of ‘full size’ tiles. which in our case are one-half lengths of the long tile we chose.

measuring tile

Once the marks are made, the tile slides into this thing that scores the tile.

score the tile

A bunch of swipes of the blade across the tile to grind through the outer veneer and you have a slice that you can then use to snap the tile along that line.

snap scored tile

Not too much pressure or else it shatters. This is tricky stuff folks!

clean break

You want a clean break along the score line, like this. It worked well for the longer tiles – the ones with some weight on either end of the pressure point. Shorter tiles, not so much.

lots of tiles

This is the inspector-cat on his third afternoon mandatory union break.

inspector cat

Since he’s the only inspection we have to pass, we’re not too worried. More coming soon.


An ‘Old’ Toilet Made New Again

by fourteenergirl on August 29, 2014

in Home, Just Stuff

I don’t know about you but I despise low flow toilets. They never flush completely. It always takes several flushes when one should do. I understand and honor the need to save water but the damn thing has to work after all.

Around here, you can’t buy a regular flow toilet. I threatened to drive to another state to buy one and bring it back, but we decided instead to take a whack at refinishing it. Luckily, my mom had some useful advice. I bought these scouring sticks online.

Pumie Scouring Stick

The darned thing worked like a dream!

Sometimes, as they say, the old ways are the best ways. Good old-fashioned elbow grease and a pumice stick has this toilet looking brand new again.

old toilet made new

See? I care about saving water. I saved all the water from the scrubbing and used it on my bushes.

This coming weekend is a long holiday weekend so we’ll be putting this back yard to a new messy test as we tile the bathroom.

backyard mess

Wish us luck!


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Rest Day on Avalon

by fourteenergirl on August 28, 2014

in Traveling

Our rest day after the long bike ride started out here – yep, that’s a candy store folks.

candy store avalon

They also happen to be just a few doors down from our hotel and they had coffee, chai tea, and pastries. After the ride the day before, we were looking for calories and anyone who knows Steve knows his love for sugar.

After that, a half-hour walk to the botanic gardens and at the back of the gardens is a big memorial for Mr. Wrigley who saved the island from ruin multiple times and donated most of it to the Conservancy that now operates it.

wrigley memorial

It was pretty as memorials go.

wrigley memorial

Later, people watching and walking along the shore looking at the boats.

avalon shore

More golf carts …

golf carts avalon

More ocean views

avalon catalina

Then, the Avalon Theater which is in the historic Casino (not-for-gambling-but-for-gathering). This theater was old style gorgeous and had no speakers. It was built such that sound carries so well speakers are not necessary. Amazing sound in this place.

avalon theater

They even had someone playing an organ!


Don’t Think of the Miles Honey, Look Views!

by fourteenergirl on August 27, 2014

in Traveling

So, don’t get me wrong. I know better than to believe my guy when he says this walk or that hike or this bike ride will be no big deal. He waves his hands around and shows me how the hill will go like this – not super high, just gentle rolling hills. He pulls out maps and shows me the distance is so short. It will be like a walk in the park on Sunday.

I learned YEARS ago not to believe him.

His intentions are perfectly good. I don’t fault him on it, and to be sure I have willingly committed myself to these torturous adventures in endurance for over 20 years not. I’m 100% culpable but I have to say this one was a surprise to both of us.

The bike ride from Avalon over to Two Harbors was supposed to be 7 miles with some ‘good hills’. Turns out it was over 18 miles one way and the elevation gain was thousands of feet. This was like doing a fourteener at sea level folks. With a bike. In the heat.

Good thing I love him.

A photo from the top.

view from the top of Catalina

The view in the morning was incredible. The structure you can just see the edge of was built by the Boy Scouts. The sign on the structure read: Leave no trace. But if you do, make it awesome! I have to say this resting place was very awesome.

Next on the path.

watch for foxes

We saw no foxes, but looked hard for them everywhere. They’re smarter than we are though. Probably hunkered down in a nice cool den with plenty of clean fresh water and snacks. Maybe a ceiling fan to ruffle the air while they nap. Brilliant!

We did, however see this guy.

catalina buffalo

Can’t see him? A closer zoom:


Want more? Here you go:


Yep, that’s a big hairy buffalo. On an island. According to the stories, a small herd of buffalo were brought to the island for the movie Zane Grey’s The Vanishing American. Except they never used the buffalo in the film. They did, however, abandon them here and the herd grew quite large. The word in Catalina is that they’re distributing birth control to the buffalo now to keep them from having too many babies.

A little further along we get to the Airport in the Sky where a big map and a friendly gentleman convinced us (as if we had much doubt at this point) that going all the way to Two Harbors could be a mistake. So it, was:

  1. Turn around
  2. Take a different loop that was a little less awful

We chose option 2 and carried on. A little further we pull over to see this beautiful view …

little harbor catalina

35+ miles later we pulled into Avalon, hot, super dirty, smelly and tired but hey we did it. More sights tomorrow from around town – our rest day.

… and for Steve to take pictures of an eagle flying over head checking us out.

steve on catalina

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Birthday Weekend – Avalon on Catalina Island

by fourteenergirl on August 25, 2014

in Traveling

Woohoo! We left the bathroom work and toilet scrubbing behind for a weekend on Catalina Island. If you’ve never been, you gotta go. It’s amazing. We headed out on the Catalina Express from San Pedro.

Backstory: my guy planned this getaway and had to reschedule because of work duties. I specifically did not ask where we were going not because I like surprises (I actually hate them) but because I like good surprises. This one was a great one too. I did almost ZERO research when he told me where we were going and he only told me so I’d know what to pack.

On the way out of the port was a lovely lighthouse and a photo for all you lighthouse-lovers (you know who you are).

san pedro lighthouse

I’m thinking this photo will be perfect for the new bathroom, but there are SO many to choose from. A short boat ride and we arrive at Avalon, Catalina Island.

avalon harbor catalina island

Yep, the water is that blue and no I did not modify this picture except to size it down. It’s an amazing place and just an hour outside of LA.

Some of the fun features of Catalina:

  • Most of it is privately owned by a Conservancy awarded by Wrigley (the gum guy)
  • Almost NO cars – all golf carts, scooters, and bikes

Not sure why, but some of the golf cart folks need student driver status.

student-driver golf cart

There is a lovely casino and it has nothing to do with gambling. Apparently the word ‘casino’ is Italian for gathering place and this one has one of the first theaters with NO SPEAKERS. The sound is so amazing in there you can hear everything said across the theater and no speakers are necessary.

catalina casino

We watched the boats come in and settle before dusk. “I want that mooring ball, honey! Take me there.”

mooring ball catalina

That was day one – drive, ride on a boat, run all around town, watch and get to bed early. Wait until you hear what day two brought.

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Does it Look Like a Bathroom Yet?

by fourteenergirl on August 20, 2014

in Home, Just Stuff

So, the past two weekends have been ALL WORK, NO PLAY and I can tell you this: we are getting to be very dull people.

We put in the waterproof liner.

waterproof shower liner

We put in the slope thingie (yes, that’s the technical term, quit laughing at me).

slope thing

We mixed concrete (ow, my arms were hurting!) and poured it into the shower base.

concrete shower base

We lined the walls with waterproof plastic sheets.

waterproof plastic

We added the concrete backer board all round.

concrete backer board

And this is where I had to get some writing work done, so my guy has used the mud to fill in the seams and create a sure-proof shower base. What’s next?

We still have to install a pocket door (door is ordered).

We still have to tile everything.

We have to build the vanity.

I have to restore the toilet (it is not a low-flow and I won’t give it up).

We have to buy and install the bead board and paint and put up light fixtures and install the toilet … we have a way to go and visitors coming at the end of September, so just 4 weekends to finish all of it.


So, what are we going to do this weekend?

We’re taking a late birthday trip to Catalina Island. Four days of sun, biking, drinking, hiking, and fun. We NEED it.

What’s really great about DIY projects? We talk about silly things, like stuff we read on the Internet or stuff that’s going on at work. Stuff we don’t have time to talk about. We’re moving about, measuring stuff, and I’m learning to use a lot of tools I never touched before and he’s learning I know more than he thought I did about tools (at least I hope he is) and it’s fun.

So, this weekend is a break, and I’ll blog all about it. Then it’s back to work.

Don’t worry. I’m charging the camera now.



All We Have is Today

by fourteenergirl on August 19, 2014

in Just Stuff

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about how hard it is to find or make the time for creativity, for rest, for fun. Our careers have a tendency to take over our lives. Add a house that needs remodeling, a pet or two, a kid or two, and you’ve got a whole whack of responsibilities threatening to eat up every single moment.

In the last year, I’ve been in this terrifying, amazing space. My primary client killed my workload, and my income last July and since then, it’s been a crazy scramble to find enough work. At the same time, I realized that I wanted to do something different and the universe conspired to give me an opportunity of time and space to create something I have had in the back of my mind for ages. That company is now well on it’s way to being a reality and I am so, so grateful and amazed. Not only do I get to work with some really loving, beautiful inside, smart people but reaching out into the local community and online has brought me in touch with some friends I would have never met or made if that one event hadn’t happened.

Yeah, I’m pretty broke but I have support and I’m making enough to fund the company on cash – which is important to me. I’ve considered driving a school bus, learning to make coffee, and applied for any number of jobs that are well below my education level but certainly not below my work level. I’ve applied for technical writing jobs I could do in my sleep only to be offered a salary less than what I earned just starting out almost 20 years ago. It’s horrifying. It hasn’t been easy. It certainly has been humbling. It has also opened things up for me in so many ways.

I used my knowledge to design, organize, and record a class for I proposed a second class, too, which I’m working on now. These classes take a tremendous amount of up-front work for relatively little money, but the long-term result is passive income.

I am now in the process of organizing and building a woman’s entrepreneurial group like no other. I have been to almost every networking event, every support group, every business group in my local area and not one of them has given me the support I needed. All of them are operating on their own agenda, without regard for what smart, experienced, entrepreneurial-minded women NEED. It’s a shame.

The SCORE folks are friendly but they are (excuse my bluntness) so out-dated that they couldn’t offer any help. Plus, they cannot refer my skills to new business owners starting up, so they aren’t a good fit.

The Women’s Economic Venture folks are amazing – very helpful for women who need ground-up training in creating a business plan, a marketing plan, and getting financing. I know several of their graduates, and I respect them, but if a woman already knows what they have to offer, they aren’t much help.

I can go on and on, but the long and short of it is this: all we have is today. If what we need isn’t easily or readily found, then it’s time to seek out others who also need it and make it happen ourselves.

Looking forward to sharing more in the coming months.


Shipping rules for booze lovers

by fourteenergirl on August 11, 2014

in Just Stuff

Steve couldn’t get his favorite whiskey in California. It’s called Stranahan’s and it’s made in Colorado. They won’t ship it, so we had to go around the rules.

Step 1: have a family member (preferably one who loves you) with a bar.

Step 2: send them all your empty wine shipping boxes and a check.

Step 3: open it when it arrives (joyful grinning is allowed)

shipping booze

Note the clever labeling. Empty all paper and boxes to create a fascinating kitty paper tent.

kitty paper tent

They played in this for days. Booze stored safely.


Seriously, if you like whiskey and you’re in Colorado – ask for it. It’s amazing stuff.



Doesn’t look like much, but this was a lot of work

by fourteenergirl on August 10, 2014

in Just Stuff

So, the bathroom is coming along but wow, it doesn’t look like much at all. Yesterday Steve finished updating the plumbing. This took 4 trips to Home Depot to get all the right fittings. Several of those trips I completed, so don’t think I’m just the observer in this adventure. I don’t know how to do a lot of it, but where I can I do.

diy bathroom

That red stuff is some sealant and the fan is on it to dry it out. That’s all I know.

I did, however, get to use this thing to build the shower wall base of two by fours.

radial saw

First time I’ve ever used it. It’s loud and kinda terrifying. Even Max was impressed.


We ordered the vanity and have the tile, so today the liner goes in I think. Keep you posted.


Views from an after-work walk

by fourteenergirl on August 9, 2014

in Just Stuff

It’s been super busy … working like dogs we are. So, I took a minute last week to take a walk with my friends’ dogs. We started out at the city college. School is out and so parking is free (nice).


We walked along the college grounds, and I have to say this is a lovely campus. We could see the docks from above.

Harbor docks

And the sea-side street that leads to downtown.

seaside Santa Barbara

There is also a little garden overlooking the harbor. Now this is a cactus!



More coming on the bathroom reno too … it’s coming along.