Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bath and Beyond

What a hot weekend! Yesterday the temperature rose to 39C -  that's more than 102F for the folks in America.  Today we're going back up to 37 (99F). And the best news - we've been getting nice breezes off the water and even though it's very warm, it's not humid and definitely not unpleasant. Very best news - it is very comfortable sleeping.

The house doesn't have air conditioning, and it's pretty obvious that we would never need it after yesterday's near-record temps.

What the house does have, however, is a nearly-new guest bathroom. This was not on the cards. Or to be accurate, was not on my cards. I am not 100% sure about my beloved's cards.

Perhaps the best way to explain what has happened is to just list the thinking without elaborating:

1. LK points out that the shower cubicle in the guest bathroom definitely needs replacement. Since we have the cast and crew of Australia's Slowest Home Renovation in for the month doing the bathroom off the main bedroom, let's have them do that at the same time.

2. DK suggests that if they're going to do that, we may as well get a larger shower cubicle so XXL people can turn around.

3. LK agrees and adds that it is very economical to do the guest bathroom this way because we won't need to change the vanity or tile the floor or do any work with the plumbing.

4. We have a new vanity. They are tiling the floor. The plumber was in yesterday.

As you might guess, there were a few steps in between, but I doubt that anyone who knows us is surprised by the end result.

I am certainly not surprised.  Because we had exchanged toilets for the master bath, we had ended up with a $19 credit at the plumbing supply store. I knew at that moment that this would burn a hole in LK's psyche until she had to spend it. And I knew there aren't a lot of things at Mornington Plumbtec that cost only $19.

Anyhow, the guys were sweating away yesterday, working all Saturday to move things ahead. The master bath is 95% there now that the shower panel has been installed and the mirror mounted over the vanity. Only a few things like towel rings and toilet paper holders left to install.

The guest bathroom floor is 80% tiled. The shower walls and the backsplashes for the tub and (new) vanity need to be done, and then the glass for the cubicle installed. Then we bring in the painters and the carpet guys. 

It should happen fairly quickly. No, let me be precise. It could happen fairly quickly. But at the pace of this work so far I wouldn't be surprised if our hot late summer days are a distant memory and we're wearing wool and turning the heat up by the time it's done.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Little Room

There's a world
Where I can go
And tell my secrets to
In my room
In my room

The Beachboys, "In My Room"

We have spent the past month fixing up the most important room in the house. My favorite room. The very private room dedicated to getting naked, getting wet and taking care of bodily functions. The bathroom.

We have not used the bathroom off our bedroom since we moved in. It had no shower, only a spa tub, and we are not tub people. (Yes, I know I am a tubby person, but there's a difference.) In fact, when we sold our Sydney house we had lived in it for 9 years and never once even turned the tap on in the bathtub much less sit and soak.

Once we moved here, I made a comment which, in hindsight, may have been a mistake. I said how nice it would be to get rid of the spa tub and put in a walk-in shower,

Replacing a tub with a shower sounds simple but it's the first step on that slippery slope known as renovation.  Can't remove the tub and put in a shower without tiling. Might as well tile the whole room once we start. Since we're doing the floor, this is also the perfect time to put in under-floor heating. And we certainly don't want an old vanity with new tiles. Ditto the mirrors. And just how out of place is that old toilet going to look with all this new stuff? Oh, and since we have tilers and plumbers in, shouldn't we at least replace that grotty old shower in the guest bathroom? And it's only a tad more to get new taps for the vanity and bath there to match the new shower. But don't worry. We will save money because we won't get a new vanity there.

Those, needless to say, are not all my thoughts, but rather a pretty good approximation of the logical conclusions of Project Manager Linda. With her leadership and management, we are now almost through the renovation of the master bathroom. All that needs to be done is installing the screen to the walk-in shower, hanging the mirror, putting up the bits like towel hooks and toilet roll holder, and painting the bit of wall at the top that isn't being tiled.

To be very fair, I have contributed a few ideas, most having to do with comfort and ensuring a large human can easily move around the room. Project Manager Linda has done the rest, and successfully reprised a technique she used during the kitchen renovation.

Working without a budget, she declares to me, to tradesmen, to just about anyone who will listen, that she doesn't want a $20,000 bathroom. That is a statement with which I can very easily (very, very, very easily) agree. Some time during the project, though, the success and reasonableness of the final project gets equated to that statement. If the room is beautiful and if it didn't cost $20,000, it is a success. And when, as in this case, we don't come remotely close to spending $20,000, then it is a roaring success.

As it is.

The trouble right now is that this project isn't quite done and has been dragging on well past when it should. Originally we were set to have the work done in October when we returned from the US, but Joe the Tiler had not reserved the  time for us as we asked. Then it was going to start right after the New Year but Joe had a family medical problem.

And I am not even going to mention chasing down the tiles we had paid for when the company went bankrupt. OK, I've mentioned it, but I don't want to relive it.

It finally started on January 24, but Joe was backed up so badly with his projects that he has been spending only part-time here. Completion had been promised by February 10. We think it may be this week.

Anyhow, once Joe leaves, we're getting the painters in and laying carpet in the bedroom, hanging the drapes and calling 5/7th of the house done. Or 5/8th if you count the extension we are thinking about. But now is not the time to have that discussion.

I uploaded pictures of the shower installation's progress here.  Having documented the stand-up part of the room I will upload the sit-down side of the room tomorrow. Completed pictures by the June  solstice. (A joke. I hope.) And we will be able to go to the US then with the change left over from our not-a-$20K bathroom.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Waist Management

We've been on this diet a month now. It's pretty much the South Beach with a few tweaks here and there. The first two weeks are the toughest - no booze, no starch, no fruit, no sugar, almost no carbs and almost no fats. Of course you lose weight fast, but the creator of the diet knows that you don't get fat because you have great will power so he moves you onto Phase 2.

It seems like a mini-Christmas. You can add in a starch, a fruit, a couple of glasses of wine. It's still small portions, of course. LK and I almost drooled as we toasted a single piece of spelt bread for our afternoon snack. I even surprised myself by discovering that I craved fresh fruit more than old wine. So I had a small apple one day, counted out my allowance of 12 cherries the next and went into dieter heaven with four apricots the day after that.

All of which is odd because I ate almost no fresh fruit before the diet.

The wine allowance is vague - and I am delighted it is. "You can even enjoy one or two glasses of wine with your dinner" is the wording. Now you may not consider that vague, but I believe I am remaining well within the limits of the diet if I use large water tumblers instead of those skimpy little wine glasses. After all, they don't say you can't.

The second phase, of course, slows down the rate of weight loss. After losing a quick 10 pounds in the first two weeks, I've now lost 4 pounds in the next two.  (By the way, I am truly bi-measured and can think in pounds or kilos. But there was never any question that pounds was the measurement of choice for my diet. Can you even compare the psychology of "I've lost more than 2 pounds" to "I've lost 1 kilo"? I don't think so. And if our scales measured in ounces, I would probably move to them.)

The slower weight loss in Phase 2 makes sense and must be healthier, of course, but with my size and target weight, it also means I am likely to be on this phase for another year or more. Which is where my bride enters the picture.

Linda started us down this course of weight loss with the stated desire of keeping me around longer. Had she really thought that through, I am not sure she would have been so committed to the program, but nonetheless it is her efforts that are making this work.

Like a contestant on one of those cooking competition shows, she has set about trying to use the allowable mix of foods to make meals that taste great, are varied and don't rely on large mounds of lettuce and veggies to fill you up.

And for four weeks, we have had dinners that make me forget we are watching our waistlines. Last night we had three lovely lamb cutlets with a salad of broadbeans, mint and quinoa. After hearing so much about it, last year was the first time LK used quinoa, the grain that seems to me like a stepchild of rice and couscous, and she was excited to see it on the list of starchy foods that could be added back to the diet on Phase 2.

Perhaps in her excitement, she overdid it last night with a whopping huge serve of the salad. You know you've locked into the dieter's mentality when you're eating grains and beans and the cook apologizes that tonight is a bit of a carb overload.

Which, it turned out, was OK. I still lost 16 ounces yesterday. More quinoa, LK!