House + Home: the bathroom

This room has mostly been done for a couple month now, but we've been working on so hard on everything else that time got away from me before I finally took pictures. 

This was the first room we tackled after moving in. My first choice would have been the kitchen, but Dave has a thing about needing clean and nice bathrooms. To be fair this room was probably the grossest in the whole house, so it didn't take much to convince me. It ended up being a really good idea to do the bathroom first because it was a smaller project and gave us a place to shower and feel human after nights of working on other parts of the house.

Ok, so this is the best before and after shot I have. I had forgotten how bad it was until I pulled up the before picture. My jaw just about dropped to the floor when I saw it. How quickly we forget how nice the things we have are.

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The first thing with our bathroom is that it's pretty tiny, so we didn't have a ton of options. Changing the layout was 100% out of the question and gutting the room wasn't necessary. 

So that left us with a list of wants/to dos:

  • New flooring
  • Paint
  • Remove medicine cabinet so it doesn't stick out into the room
  • New Vanity
  • New Light
  • New Door
  • Pretty Mirror

We got started pretty quickly after moving in. In fact, my parents came in the day after Christmas and helped tear out the old medicine cabinet and vanity. My mom scrubbed the tub and put together the Ikea puzzle that was the vanity cabinet. It was a nice surge of energy to have at the beginning of a project.

We debated for a while what to do for the flooring. I really wanted ceramic tile, but figuring out how to level the floor and how much higher the floor would be afterward deterred us. In the end we just went to Home Depot, picked out some peel and stick vinyl tile (I can't find them on their website) and stuck them to the existing subfloor. I did insist we leave space for grout between each tile to give it just a bit more of a "real" tile feel. 

Someday it might be nice to do a real tile floor, but this one it holding up great and the price point and installation were perfect for our situation.

Is it strange to want to write a love sonnet to my vanity and sink? Because I totally want to. We eliminated the medicine cabinet because it just ate up headspace and made the room feel smaller. (Personally I don't even see the point of medicine cabinets!) 

Anyway I love our vanity. It has two deep drawers below the sink and they hold all our toiletries and bathroom supplies except for towels. When it's time to tidy up the counter I just dump everything in the drawers and voila! all done. It's the best. I never want to go back to any other kind of bathroom cabinet.

I also adore that cute 3 panel door that Dave and his dad installed. In such a small room the door takes up a lot of the visual space and the door upgrade made a huge difference. Plus now we have a lock! I think our guests appreciate that. ;) 

My other favorite part of the bathroom is the peg rail. We needed a good amount of space for towels and such. I discovered peg rails in the depths of Pinterest and I want on in every room of our house now. They're dreamy — simple, functional, effortlessly cute — everything I love.

I scoured the internet for a round mirror in our price range. After agonizing for so long we found this one at our local Target. Just a classic instance of overthinking when the simple solution is best.

The same happened with the light over the sink. Our budget wasn't huge and everything I liked was insanely $$$$. We found this at Home Depot and I liked the type of light it gave. It's a nice glow for using the mirror and lights up the whole room well. I was initially worried about the mismatched metal finishes, but it doesn't even bother me and maybe a real interior designer would shake their head at me, but I don't care! I'm just happy to have a fresh, clean space for brushing my teeth.

I think from start to finish this room didn't take longer than 2 weeks. We had some good help and it was such a sweet relief to have it done. On to the next one!

Sources: Mirror | Vanity | Faucet | Shower Curtain | Peg Rail | Soap Dispenser | TP Holder

 

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Waking up from Hibernation

I can't believe how long it's been since I posted regularly. There are many contributing factors, but the biggest is that setting up our house and settling into a new home has been more creatively exhausting and emotionally draining than I expected. Since usually this little space is my creative outlet, the house usurped that role for a while.

In the past couple weeks things have started to feel better around here. I'm not sure if it's because spring arrived and we've fallen in love with our yard, or because we finally have furniture in our living room, or just because it's been 4 months and our hearts are finding peace here. 

As things quiet down, I've discovered so many ideas and so much inspiration that I can't wait to get into. Winter is a hard season for me and in the same way that the sun and green returns in the spring, I find myself reenergized with a zest for life that surprises me. It's feels like like a jolt from the best cup of coffee.

Things around here were overwhelming. We've had to give ourselves grace and allow a period of adjustment. There have been dark nights when we stumble past piles of renovation supplies and stifle the panic rising that told us we were never going to feel at home again. We learned how necessary a kitchen table and couch are to our life (living without was the worst). I've doubted and questioned just about every decision we made about the house projects. It's been a challenging time. But there's light at the end of the tunnel and it's getting brighter.

We're through the worst of it now. Our kitchen and bathroom are done with full rehauls. Our living room and bedroom have fresh coats of paint. We're living life here like normal people. Not that everything is done. But the hardest parts are done. Now we can tackle the fun things — like what to hang on the walls — slowly and as time and budget permit. 

I'm excited to dive back in to this space. Thank you for sticking around even while hasi & co. was hibernating. Things are going to get good

Small Joys: Scenes of Home

Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.
— Brene Brown

Spring is creeping into Michigan. Slowly. 2 steps forward, 1 step backward. Yesterday it was in the 50, today in the 20s. But the birds are singing their hearts out every time I go outside and the sun shows up more and longer. Little green mystery shoots are poking their heads out of our flower beds. It's a time of new energy and life. 

Similarly, indoors things are finally taking shape. Last weekend we spent alot of time working on house projects. And while we've been working away at these things for 3 months, it's just now that things are coming together. After we cleaned up and put away our tools, I couldn't stop exclaiming as I walked around the house as little scenes emerged that felt so homey. Nothing is complete or perfect, but things are starting to feel like we live in a home and not a construction zone. And it feels so good.

Gathering up things that brought joy this week and taking a moment to be grateful.

Dump Zone: We have a tiny closet by our back door that couldn't even serve as coat storage. So I added shelves and an electrical outlet. Now we have a place to dump phones, keys, purses, hats, pens, and all the other random things that were on our kitchen counters before.

Succulent buds: I'm really, really hoping those little buds are baby succulent blooms. I'm waiting in anticipation. The lower one is turning more and more yellow from the inside, so maybe?

Peg Rail: We had no towel rack in our bathroom for too long. I never knew how much I loved having a place to hang my towel until I didn't have one. Also, I want a peg rail in every room of our house now.

The entry: We have the tiniest front entry. It's barely a corner, and definitely not a room. But Dave painted it charcoal this weekend and I cleaned up that glorious wood door. Every time I see it, I get a little thrill of joy. I just love that color with the wood tones.

This stinker: She's been finding the funniest and most random hiding spots. I barely opened this drawer and turned around and she was already staking a claim to it. Always giving me a reason to smile.

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Of Waterfalls and Rainbows: Iceland Part 2

This is the 2nd part of my Iceland trip summary. If you've missed the first part of our Iceland trip you might want to read that first. It's taken quite a bit more time and effort to do these than I expected, but I'm going to try and get them done. It's been almost 6 months since our trip after all! 

Days on our trip around the Ring Road began with the alarm going off in the camper van at 7 am. While we were there the sun rose and set about 12 hours apart, so we used up every last minute of daylight, even if that meant getting up earlier than we usually would on vacation.

On our fourth day, we woke up to sunshine for the first time. It was amazingly invigorating and our plan was to head out to Skógafoss first thing in order to avoid the hoards of tourists.

We arrived early, but not early enough. Despite the fact that we ourselves were tourists, we had a hard time with how overrun certain locations were with bus groups.

Luckily Skógafoss wasn't the only thing we had set out to see. Because of the lovely weather, we wanted to get some fresh air and hike. We knew there was a path above the waterfall and climbed the hill/cliff on the right to get to the top. The path was easy to find and once we had walked a mere 100 yards, we had it all to ourselves.

For the rest of the trip, this became our favorite way to avoid crowds. We loved finding the long way around and getting off the beaten path so that we could enjoy the sights without too much company.

As we hiked into the Fimmvörðuháls Pass, the Skógá river flowed by on the left. It felt like every bend hid another, more beautiful waterfall than the last. Our plan was to hike for an hour or two and then head back. However, once we got started there was no way to turn back. We'd say "after the next waterfall we'll turn back." At the next waterfall, we'd see the mist from another and we just had to keep going.

Before we knew it we'd gone 8km and decided we had to go all the way since we'd gotten so close already. Now this wasn't a hiking loop, it was a there and back again hike. So once we hit the 10km turn around point, we still had 10km to hike back to our car. We hadn't been prepared for a 12 mile hike, but it was worth every bit of soreness we paid for it.

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We got back to our car hours later than we meant to and dug straight into our cooler. Dave finally remembered to get the AUX cord out of the suitcase. We cranked our Fire + Ice playlist as we pulled out of the parking lot. We drove down the road high on fresh air and sunshine, belting out "Into the Wild" and scarfing down out well-deserved salmi sandwich lunch.

I felt the ball of anxiety I'd been fighting since we'd left home loosen and I finally felt like myself again. This was the trip I'd imagined and hoped for. Everything was Beautiful. Awesome. Wild. Amazing. And I was going to be ok. 

We stopped in Vik for a bathroom break and some Icelandic ice cream. My new found confidence and light-heartedness led to some really fun and cheery interactions with the Icelander who served the ice cream.

We took a windy walk on the black sand beaches below the Reynisfjara sea stacks. We stayed away from the waves since they're unpredictable and dangerous, but there was no need to get close, the beauty was all around us.

I also performed the most epic save when my ice cream fell off the cone and I caught it before it hit the beach. I'm still proud.

At this point we thought we could zip up the southern coast and quickly hit up a few sights on the way. However, our hike had eaten up a big part of the day and while we did make it to (2 million year old) Fjaðrárgljúfur Masjid Canyon, we realized we had totally forgotten about Skaftafell National Park and knew we couldn't just skip it. We pulled into the park's visitor center as the sun began to set and quickly found the campsite. 

Skaftafell is best known for it's huge glaciers and for it's famous black waterfall, Svartifoss. We took a sunset hike up to the falls and a sunrise one to check out the glaciers. We really wanted to hike more, but with a heavy rain and sore muscles from the previous day it really wasn't possible.

Instead we headed east on the Ring Road. It was drizzling and wet, but as we drove rainbows started popping up everywhere. We pulled up to Fjallsárlón, the first and smaller glacial lagoon, as a huge rainbow appeared overhead. I had never seen such vibrant or close rainbows. We could see both ends and felt like we could run up and touch them. (In fact I may have tried chasing the end of the rainbow.)

I had worn rubber boots which made wading to a floating mini iceberg easier. I can't begin to explain the beauty of the glacier flowing down from the mountains into the lagoon, the rainbows, blue water and green hills. In a land that felt other-wordly every day, this day especially felt surreal. The changes between sunny and stormy created an atmosphere of drama. It felt cinematic. This was one of the best days of our trip.

We continued down the road surrounded by rainbows toward Jökulsárlón. This is the more famous of the ice lagoons. The intermittent sunshine revealed the most beautiful shades of blue in the ice and water. I've never thought much about icebergs (except perhaps negatively in regards to the Titanic), but I was blown away by how stunning they were in real life. The easiest way to describe them might be as giant wild diamonds. 

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Across the road from the lagoon was a black sand beach scattered with ice chunks. A storm was coming in over the ocean and huge black clouds and waves came crashing in. If it hadn't been freezing cold, with a biting wind, I could have stayed on that beach for hours. Walking up to a huge chunk of ice and looking into it's depths didn't get old. It felt impossible to capture the shades of blue with my camera, yet looking at the pictures now, I can't believe the colors were even richer than that. This stop on our trip is one I'd love to do again. 

Sadly we had to leave the lagoons behind, but luckily the drive for the rest of the day were equally stunning. We were followed by the storm as we drove east. This meant that we constantly alternated between rain and sun, with a smattering of rainbows in between.

As we drove down the south coast, we saw many little farms nestled at the bottom of steep hills. Many had small waterfalls in their backyards. I can't even estimate how many different waterfalls we saw. I'd even go so far as to say we were never out of sight of one of some sort or another.

We made it to Höfn for a late lunch and found Hafnarbúðin, a little diner on the harbor. This small fishing town on the southeastern end of Iceland has a large export of fish and langoustine. We had read that it was one of the best places to get seafood. Iceland in general has a love of fast food and seafood, which can be a really great combo. We couldn't believe that langoustine were available alongside hotdogs and hamburgers. I probably could have eaten three times as much as we did. If only eating out hadn't been so expensive there!

We spent the rest of the day driving through the eastern fjords, surrounded by rainbows. It will take a pretty spectacular rainbow to impress me after the ones we saw there. After hours of striking colors and double arches, we almost got desensitized to them.

"Oh look, another double rainbow with full arches!"

"Yeah, but this one doesn't have all the colors like the last one did"

"Maybe we can drive through this one" 

We could have easily spend a couple days in the quiet towns and peaceful shores if we'd had more time. Instead we took a shortcut through the mountains and headed back over the mainland north to Egilsstaðir and the campsite there.

That night we had one of our fanciest dinners: noodles and red sauce. I don't want to call it Spaghetti, because that implies meat sauce and peppers and such. This was truly noodles, sautéed onions and red sauce. The food we made in the camper was so basic, that this seemed complex. Usually we ate ramen, perhaps with an egg cooked in the broth with the noodles to create a sort of egg drop soup. Once we even had sausages, but things had to stay simple at camp. The wind was too cold to stand outside while we cooked and ate, so things had to be fast, hot and cheap (groceries were expensive). If we ever go again, I'd pack a few things like spices and hot sauce to liven up simple ingredients. 

While I'm talking about the camper van, I might as well mention a few other things: 

  • We used Snail Motorhome Rental and got their Snail Micro with 4WD. This was their smallest (cheapest) model. We would definitely recommend Snail. They're a family run business and even though we returned with multiple things broken (spare tire, cooler extension cord) they didn't nickel and dime us.
  • Everything we needed (from cooler to clothesline and cooking supplies) was included. The only problem was they didn't communicate that before we arrived, so we ended up bringing an extra suitcase of camping stuff we really didn't need.
  • We choose to do the camper van instead of a regular rental car so that we didn't have to commit to spending the night at specific places since we had no idea where or what we'd actually end up doing. This worked out really well for us. We were able to follow the weather and take advantage of the sun. 
  • The bed/living platform was elevated behind the two front seats. Our storage was underneath. So the living space was only 2.5ft, maybe 3ft tall. I enjoyed having our own space every night and not having to spend the night in a new hotel, b&b or hostel every night. However, I'm almost a full foot shorter than Dave. When we got home Dave admitted that he wouldn't do the camper van again. I think other companies have better lay outs and set ups in their small vans, and I might look into those if we were ever to do a trip around the entire island again. By the fourth day we had a system down which included a clothesline in the back to dry our towels and swimsuits, teamwork in setting up and stowing away our bed, and putting up the privacy curtains.
  • The biggest annoyance about the camper other than the lack of space was the fact that we were constantly searching for things. Because we shifted from driving to sleeping in the same small space we'd lose track of simple things all the time. 
  • It was a bit chilly at times, but we only woke up with ice on the windows once. 
  • It was worth have 4WD if you're remotely adventurous, which if you're in Iceland, I'd hope you would be.
  • We had been told you could camp anywhere, but found that most places had newly erected "no camping" signs, which we assumed were due to the tourist boom over the past 5 years. Campsites were absurdly easy to find. I was worried and had marked them on our map which was totally unnecessary as campsites are as common there as McDonalds are in the US. 
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I was hoping to only write 3 posts about this trip, but I'm only halfway through, and this post is a monster already. Here's to hoping the next one won't take me 3 months to write. 

If you have any specific questions, I'd love to hear them and do my best to answer them! Let me know in the comments.

Sunshine Getaway: Florida

We got out of town this past weekend. Back around Christmas time we decided this was the year we'd head down to visit Dave's grandparents at their condo in Florida and pulled the trigger on some plane tickets. 

What we didn't know was that by the second week of February we'd be desperate for some sunshine and rest. In Michigan we only saw the sun twice in January and not much more this month. So jumping on that plane on Friday and walking out of the airport in Fort Meyers into 75 degree weather felt like the best sort of dream.

I haven't spent much time in tropical places. I counted it up and this was probably only my 5th time seeing palm trees in real life. I couldn't get over how unfamiliar the plants and animals were. It felt like a totally different planet from home. The only plants I recognized were ones I know as house plants. In Florida, they're hedges and in flowerbeds. The world is a seriously cool place. I love getting reminders of that.

We didn't do much while we were there. Which was perfect. Mostly we took time to rest, soak up as much sunshine as possible and visit with our grandparents. It felt amazing to leave all the stress of work and house renovation at home and sit by a pool.

My favorite part of vacations is taking time to watch the sunset. Someday I dream of living a life that allows me to enjoy the sunset every day. It happens every day and yet we soak it in so rarely. We got to see three perfectly clear sunsets while down there and I resisted the temptation to collect buckets of seashells to take home. They were so pretty, but I never know what to do with them once I've taken them away from the beach.

Dave and I both read The Magnolia Story on this trip. It was such an easy and fun read, with some gems of wisdom and good life perspective. The book was a great conversation starter and helped inspire us. Highly recommend.

I always thought that the “thriving” would come when everything was perfect, and what I learned is that it’s actually down in the mess that things get good
— Joanna Gaines, The Magnolia Story

Getting away for a long weekend does such wonders for our relationship and mental health. It helps us take a step back and ask hard questions about the way we're living, our values and goals.

We came home with sun-kissed cheeks and a firm resolution to do more little trips like this.