Monthly Archives: March 2012

Flush with Excitement about our Master Bathroom

dual-flush toilet by KohlerYou’ve seen the shower in photos and soon enough you’ll see it in action. With me inside. Remember when I said of the translucent light shining through the bathroom door, “that is one light that you’d want to go into?” Well here’s a peek behind it.

I mentioned that the lighting in the master bathroom is tricky, so I’m starting with the easiest spot, the commode enclave, resting spot of our Kohler Persuade Dual-Flush Compact Elongated Bowl Toilet with its Brevia seat.

The Persuade is a sleek toilet that fits with our bathroom’s modern vibe. Not only does it look nice, it cleans up well. The smooth surface means fewer nooks and crannies to clean out (moms of boys, you know what I’m talking about).

It’s cool inside and out. Take a peek:

Dual-flush means it’s got a low water flush and a super low water flush (1.6 and 0.8 gallons respectively). Unlike other dual-flush toilets I’ve experienced where you have to flush twice or always use the big flush, the Persuade does a good job with the 0.8 gallon flush, even if you think the situation might require the 1.6 gallon flush, if you know what I mean.

Depress the small button for the smaller flush and so on.

Kohler persuade toilet flus buttons

The Kohler Persuade has earned the EPA’s certification as a “WaterSense” product. The EPA has a cool tool to calculate how much money and water you can save by going green in your bathroom.

Speaking of green, which rhymes with clean, perhaps it’s because of the low amount of water that sits in the bowl, but the Persuade is very easy to get clean and keep clean. This is super handy because apparently I’m the only person in the whole damn house who knows A) what a toilet brush is and B) how to use it.

The one down side of the toilet is that if it gets clogged, it might require a plumber as opposed to an old skool plunger to clear the pipes. I’ll share how I learned that little lesson in a future post.
Disclosure: Kohler provided a product discount. All toilet cleaning services are provided by my husband and me. Per our color coordinator’s recommendation, Benjamin Moore provided Smoked Oyster  Aura Bath and Spa paint for our bathroom; more about that later.

The Five People I Didn’t Meet at the Blissdom Conference

Carol Schiller and Stephanie Schwab

Not house bloggers, but fabulous women, nonetheless. Carol Schiller (L) and Stephanie Schwab (R)

I had a wonderful time at the Blissdom conference seeing old friends, making new ones and getting to know some really great women at a deeper level. As a Community Leader in the business track, I met a lot of women making a living in or around social media, but I missed the chance to connect with many outside that niche.

I brought my tool belt and work boots (which, BTW, took up a ton of space in my small carry-on), but I never wore them. Well, I wore the work boots on my trip home because otherwise I would have had to leave my three new canvas bags, five new t-shirts and a copy of The Lorax back at the hotel along with my bottles of VO-5 shampoo.

Or something like that.

Anyway, had I been bold enough to break out my Renovator Kim outfit (seriously, don’t call it a costume even if I do wear it in almost all my videos), I’m sure there would have been some sort of Law of Attraction thing going on and we would have met. But I can still read their blogs, and so can you.

Here are five home/house/DIY bloggers that I did not meet at Blissdom, but wish I had:

Confessions of a Curb Shopaholic

Pretty Handy Girl

My Repurposed Life

The Country Chic Cottage

House of Hepworths

Who else did I miss at Blissdom? More importantly, do you think any of these ladies would want some of my vintage fabric? Do you? It’s free to a good home.

About that photo: I was fortunate to spend lots of time with both Carol Schiller, the community manager at Cozi, an online family calendar that I love, and Stephanie Schwab who is, among other things, creator of the Digital Family Summit.

Not How the Pioneer Woman Cooks

cast iron pan on a grillYeah, that’s me hunched over a small charcoal-fueled kettle grill cooking up some meat in my Lodge cast iron pan directly above a flame produced by leftover wood from our rehab because I couldn’t get the coals to burn the way (I think) they are supposed to.

This is what happens when my kids ask how I will grill without a “real” grill.

I taught them good lessons about improvising, the versatility of cast iron pans and dangerous ways a person can, but probably shouldn’t, use lighter fluid.

Dinner consisted of Krazy Kebabs (i.e. the veggies and meat were mixed up rather than cooked and presented served on a boring old skewer) (side note: where are my metal skewers?), braised mustard greens, roasted asparagus and greek-style pita. I served our little feast picnic style, on a blanket laid on the driveway.


dinner on a picnic blanket

This is called keeping it real, people. Go ahead and pin this. I dare you.

Just because this early spring that feels like summer is so uncharacteristic of Chicago weather patterns and therefore is a bit disturbing doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it. Indeed, we had a lovely dinner.

I cleaned up most of our dinner, but I left my mess of a cast iron pan outside. DH later brought it in and scrubbed the whole thing, including its very charred bottom in my lovely Silgranit sink. Upon seeing the black mess he left behind, I went ballistic feared that perhaps he’d managed to destroy the indestructible sink. But a squirt of dish soap, a sprinkle of baking soda and some of my special brand of elbow grease got it looking like new again.

This weekend I’d like to buy a grill. Nothing too fancy. We need a propane grill for now, but hopefully, we’ll get a natural gas grill once we decide what we’re doing in the backyard in terms of a patio/porch/deck. We should have that figured out by, oh, 2015 or so. Any recommendations?

You Want a Sneak Peek at My Kitchen?

Of course you want to see my new kitchen! Check it out in my monthly post on Angie’s List: Planning a new kitchen, Chicago style. It’s full of resources, tips, a bit of my anxiety and it’s even got a fancy before/after slideshow.

What are you waiting for? Click, already!


Master Bath: The Spamazing Shower

tile bench in showerBlame it on Kohler. The course of my husband’s life was altered after our stay at the Inn on Woodlake during our Kohler housemoon getaway. He was so taken by what he terms the Inn’s “car wash” shower with jets here, nozzles there and water tiles all over, that when it came time to design the shower in our master bath, he insisted we replicate the set-up.

And so we did. William Collins, the senior designer at The Kohler Store, Chicago, helped us create a shower so fantastic, so spine-tingly wonderful that I refer to my routine showering experience spa-mazing.

After discussing our preferred master bathroom look and feel, William pointed us toward fixtures that would create the desired mood as well as provide a fabulous showering experience. And, voila!

I smile and a wave of relaxation washes over me each time I walk into my bathroom.


Starting in the rear (no, that is not supposed to be some weird shower pun), we have a bench, perfect for elegantly resting one’s leg during shaving. A built-in cubby holds soap, shampoo and the like. The hand shower, like all of the other fixtures is part of  Kohler’s sleek, modern Loure line.

With all the fancy water tiles, I didn’t think we’d need a handshower, but William recommended we include one. From a practical standpoint, a handshower makes it soooo much easier to clean the shower stall, something our maid surely appreciates.

(I am the maid and I do appreciate it.)

A handshower along with a bench will also make it easier to maintain personal hygiene next time my back goes out or my arthritis flares or one of my boys breaks an arm. No, scratch that last item. This shower is too nice for my boys.

The handshower is like the cherry on top (or side) of the delicious sundae that is our shower. The slide bar allows us to aim the spray just where we need it. Considering that Hubs is nearly a foot taller than I am, we need it in different places.

Back to that car wash shower. Here’s what I’m talkin’ about. This is the shower ceiling. We have two Kohler WaterTiles up top. The 22-nozzle tile pivots enabling the water to be directed with the touch of a finger so that the water hits just the right spot(s). The light was a last minute addition, which I’m glad we decided to include.


Kohler watertiles on shower ceiling


And then, the pièce de résistance, our own little water wall of fame.


Admittedly, for the unwashed masses (i.e. not Hubs or me), it might be hard to understand what’s going on, so let me break it down.

Have I mentioned that my husband is a technical writer? And I’m just a mess, so I’m not sure that second picture clears things up.

Let me break it down a bit more. The thing that says, “regulates water temperature” is the thermostatic valve, it sets the water temperature for all the fixtures. Although we can change it as needed, we generally leave it in one place.

The handle on the bottom right operates the two body tiles. The two tiles operate as an all or nothing deal. The intensity of the spray depends upon the position of the handle, pictured here in the “off” state. Like the ceiling tiles, these have 22 nozzles and each tile pivots to direct the spray.

The next handle up on the right operates the shower head. William suggested that our shower would be both luxurious and practical without the shower head. I nervously agreed until our plumber told me at the last possible minute that we’d regret not having one. I caved to the plumber, fearing we’d be disappointed with our big, fancy and not inexpensive shower. (I received a discount from Kohler, but the more shower heads, the more/pricier the plumbing work, hey….)

At any rate, I love the shower and hate the plumber. William was right, at least from my perspective. I typically use the two lower wall tiles for my shower, adding in other fixtures as time and stress level dictate.

The control for the ceiling tiles is at the top right.

The shower is finished off with a custom glass enclosure provided by Tim’s, our GC’s subcontractors. Tim’s also provided the glass shelves in the shower and our large vanity mirror. I haven’t figured out how to snap a decent photo of the glass + mirror + chrome + light, but I will post when I do.

The Loure faucet is really sharp. Photography skills withstanding, I can’t wait to show it off.

I’ll be back soon with more snippets of our new home soon.


Disclosure: Kohler provided a discount, great design advice and excellent customer service to us.

A Prayer for Children

marian wright edelman prayer for childrenI’m posting this because I want to clear out clutter, which the scrap of paper on which this prayer for children is printed has become, yet I want to remember these words, these thoughts from Marian Wright Edelman, who included it in her book of prayers and meditations on (raising) children, Guide My Feet.

I copied this out of her book well over a decade ago, when my boys were quite young. Or perhaps it was back when I only had one boy. I think my intent was to read it each week on Shabbat, when we lit the Friday night candles.

Many of our traditions and habits fell aside during the years we lived with my parents and our Friday night candle lighting was one of them. We are getting back into the habit, though.

Dear God, I thank You for the gift of this child to raise, this life to share, this mind to help mold, this body to nurture and this spirit to enrich.

Let me never betray this child’s trust, dampen this child’s hope, or discourage this child’s dreams.

Help me dear God to help this precious child become all You mean him to be.

Let Your grace and love fall on him like gentle breezes and give him inner strength and peace and patience for the journey ahead.

Upon further reflection, I’ve decided that this wrinkled scrap of paper held together with tape isn’t clutter after all. Its message is timeless, and as the mother of a teen and tween who have learned well how to push my patience to its limit, I should read and reflect on these words at least once a week.

I’m sticking it up on the side of the fridge, just as it was posted in our previous house.