Category Archives: home stuff

A Guide to Converting a Tub to a Shower

Standard

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 10.25.11 AM

My husband and I both renovated houses before we knew one another.  In fact, when we lived in Houston, we were both doing it at the same time, within 3 blocks of one another, without any knowledge of the other person.  We didn’t meet until years later, when he taught a Shakespeare class that I enrolled in at the University of St. Thomas, where I did a lot of my undergrad work.  Anyway….we are both into do-it-yourself home projects, so I wanted to share some information about that with you.

It can be a fun project to convert an old bathtub or tub/shower combination into a nice walk-in shower. A conversion of this nature can come in handy for people with mobility problems, or for anyone who would simply like the convenience of a shower rather than a tub.

Each tub-to-shower conversion offers many different choices, such as the type of shower door that will be used, if any, and whether to use a fiberglass unit or to waterproof and tile the walls.

Generally speaking, the following steps are entailed, but may differ from job to job:

  • Removal of the original tub
  • Removal of faucets and other plumbing, adjustments to supply lines and wastewater drains
  • Shower base installation
  • Wall repair
  • Re-installation of plumbing fixtures
  • Waterproofing of wall installation
  • Shower door installation

    I  have put together a handy guide to converting a tub to a shower to help owners make all the right decisions.

Relocation

The job of completely tearing out a tub in favor of building a new shower is not necessarily an easy task, but it is one that can pay off later on by increasing the value of the property.

Ideally, a professional contractor should be called in initially, to help assess the space, to devise potential solutions and to determine the best place for the shower’s location. It is also advisable to get a formal bid this time for price comparison purposes if one is considering a do-it-yourself project.

The main issue with relocating a shower lies in the underlying drains and pipes. Even doing something as simple as relocating a toilet by only a few inches can entail a major plumbing overhaul. There are also very specific physical limitations dictated by local building codes.

If the conversion is to take place in a ground floor bathroom with a raised foundation, new pipes can be run under the floor joists. The joists are easily accessed through the bathroom’s crawl space or basement.

If the conversion is to take place in a ground-floor bathroom that is built on a concrete slab, things can be moved around. However, the concrete will have to be broken up in order to install the new drains. Doing this, of course, will incur additional costs.

Second-story bathrooms are a whole different ballgame. New pipes can be run under the floor joists. However, this entails ripping up sections of the first floor ceiling, which will then have to be rebuilt, again, incurring additional costs.

In the majority of cases, the place where the tub stands originally will provide plenty of room for a shower. However, a solid surface curb will have to be built to prevent the water from splashing out onto the bathroom floor.

Another thing to consider is the choice of a shower door. If a door is to be used, there should be room for it to swing open without hitting something like a sink or the toilet. There are many types of shower doors, but having one is not necessary.

There are also partial  panels made of glass that can keep the water contained. They have the disadvantage of letting in cold air, however, so should only be installed in a bathroom that has a good heat source.

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 10.27.09 AM

A real disadvantage to tearing out a bathtub to replace it with a shower is the house’s potential resale value. Many prospective homeowners prefer a tub for bathing their small children, especially if the room being remodeled is a space shared by the whole family.

A retrofit of the existing plumbing is the less invasive remedy for creating a shower. The wall will need to be opened up (typically from the adjacent room) and plumbing will have to be brought up to code. A water-resistant, concrete dry wall, Hardibacker or Wediboard will need to be bought, along with tiles for the walls.

Regardless of the chosen solution, the conversion of a tub to a shower also affords the perfect opportunity to upgrade venting, lighting and other built-in amenities that improve the area, such as shelving, a bench or built in niches for shampoo and other shower items.

The conversion of a tub into a shower involves many variables and a lot of planning, regardless of the size of the bathroom, but especially if the room is a small one.

The preliminary stages of a tub-to-shower conversion do not begin by ripping out tiles and buying paint. This type of project should start by writing all the proposed changes on paper. This is one of the most crucial steps, as this information will be referred to time and again throughout the process.

The area to be converted should be measured, the final design decided upon and research conducted before anything else happens. Then, a to-scale blueprint should be drawn.

Costs

When planning a renovation, the costs of a tub-to-shower conversion can be tricky. Generally speaking, the fewer changes made, the lower the cost will be.

A plumber may charge up to $3,000 to remove the original tub and associated plumbing to install new wall surfaces and a new receptor. The cost will be considerably higher if the homeowner decides to upgrade the shower enclosure material to a ceramic tile or solid surface.

DIYers with carpentry and plumbing experience can dismantle and tear out the original tub and fixtures and purchase a receptor and wall surround kit for around one third of a plumber’s cost. The installation, in this case, is free, saving a considerable amount of money.

The size of the bathroom can be a major determining factor in figuring costs. Fixtures come in a wide variety of prices, as do tiles, dry wall and other things needed in the conversion. Roughly speaking, a shower installation can cost as little as $250 and as much as $10,000 or more.

One-piece, curbless shower enclosures cost between $2000 and $4000. Shower kits with fiberglass sides and hinged doors average from $250 to $2000.

Hiring a plumber tends to be the more expensive option. However, doing so can be the more economic plan, time-wise. An experienced plumber is also much less likely to make costly mistakes. However, the costs of raw materials and the sweat equity involved in producing a do-it-yourself job will cost, in most cases, considerably less money.

The decision on which way to go should depend on the homeowner’s level of remodeling expertise, and the amount of time he or she wishes to take working on the project. The homeowner should also check local building license requirements. However, his is an area where a professional plumber is most knowledgable.

Tips Before Remodeling

What to measure

In most cities, building codes dictate that the shower floor should measure at least 30″ x 30″. The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends, at minimum, a 36″ x 36″ shower stall. Using these standards will probably require a tub alcove modification. For example short wall partitions may be added to result in a shower space that is 36″ deep.

Other important measurements:

  • A ceiling height of at least 80″.
  • The distance between the center of the toilet to the wall should be at least 18,” and the distance from the toilet’s side to the shower wall should be a minimum of 15″.
  • Calculating the distance from the front of the toilet to the shower or any wall should be a minimum of 21,” and ideally, at least 30″.
  • Calculate the swing of the shower door, making sure that it is clear from all obstructions. Pay particular attention to the vanity cabinet and toilet. If there is a problem, sliding glass doors or the simple addition of a shower curtain and no door can solve the problem.

Types of Showers

Showers are available as full showers or as shower-tub combinations. If the resale value of the house is a consideration, the latter choice is the better one for a house that only has one bathroom. This compensates for the possibility of a family with children eventually buying the house. This demographic tends to lean toward having at least one tub in the house. So long as there is another bathroom that has a tub, the choice of a shower alone should be fine.

A regular shower is the better choice for a small bathroom. They are more room efficient and can look quite impressive with only a few simple upgrades. A tub/shower combination is easier to replace with a shower, since the shower uses less space. The other option costs more because of the extra plumbing requirements.

Curbs or No Curbs

The shower floor makes a definitive statement about the style and cost of a tub to shower conversion. Showers with curbs tend to be simpler and less expensive to install than curbless installations. The common curbed shower has a 6″ step at its entrance. People who are seeking a more sophisticated, streamlined bathroom seldom take into consideration how that curb will stand out when the job has been completed.

People in wheelchairs can have great difficulties getting in and out of a curbed shower. A curbless or “zero threshold” shower was once thought of as a convenience for people who had mobility issues. Today, they are considered stylish additions to any home.

A zero threshold shower is a fairly easy project for a new home. However, it can be less simple when remodeling an older home, as structural issues often come into play. In some cases, the floor structure will need to be reworked to achieve the needed recess for proper drainage. This type of shower can improve shower accessibility considerably.

Do I Stick it in the Fridge?

Standard

Some foods need to be refrigerated.  Others don’t.  This is a list of  foods that do not need to be chilled.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.35.25 AM
1. Bananas – Storing bananas in the refrigerator can actually disrupt their ripening process.  Once refrigerated, a banana may never be able to resume the ripening process even if returned to room temperature.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.36.16 AM

2. Yams and Sweet Potatoes – When exposed to cold temperatures, starches found in potatoes will turn to sugar, disrupting their flavor and texture. If you prefer tasteless potatoes that cause weight gain, however, please refrigerate.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.37.02 AM

3. Tomatoes – Have you ever tasted a really amazing tomato right out of the fridge?  Nope, Me neither.  Tomatoes LOSE their flavor and become mushy when refrigerated.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.37.48 AM

4. Apples -Apples  lose their texture and flavor when refrigerated.  If you want a cold apple, just stick it in the fridge about 20 minutes before you plan to eat it.  Otherwise, store them at room temperature.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.38.34 AM

5. Onions – If you love soggy onions while also causing the rest of your food to taste and smell like onions, then you’ll definitely want to refrigerate your onions immediately.  Otherwise, try storing them in a paper bag (within a cool, dark cabinet) for maximum shelf-life.  And by the way, did you know that storing onions with potatoes will cause the potatoes to ripen too quickly and to spoil sooner?  The onions give off a gas that causes this, so be sure to separate them for storage, m’k?

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.39.25 AM

6.  Avocados – Much like the banana, refrigeration shuts down an avocado’s ripening enzymes.  If you want guacamole next month, this may be OK, but if you’re like me, you probably want guacamole today.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 6.41.25 AM

7. Coffee – Contrary to popular belief, coffee is best stored at room temperature to allow the natural oils within the coffee beans to activate its pungent aromatic scent. Refrigeration can actually cause coffee to absorb odors from other foods in your fridge.

Speaking of coffee…I haven’t had mine yet this morning, so off I go.  Have a happy day everyone!

Happy Birthday to Me

Standard

We celebrated my birthday two days ago with a beautiful array of activities and interactions with friends and family.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 7.04.09 AM

The day began with a beautiful 3 a.m. text  message greeting that made my heart sing, accompanied by a funny, musical phone message so garbled that I could barely hear it, because of the bad connection, but it still made me smile.   Things just kept getting better and better throughout the day. Phone calls….gifts….beautiful gestures made by various people.  I truly felt loved.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 9.08.01 AM

John had arranged a beautiful brunch cruise along the Willamette River aboard a yacht.  The weather was cold and overcast, but the sun broke out from time to time, making the trip absolutely perfect.  The yacht was three stories tall, and we periodically strolled from deck to deck, enjoying live jazz and beautiful scenery.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 10.57.03 AM

Here is a little video of the cruise:

Ingrid , shown below with her glass of sparkling apply juice, was the star of the show when she sang happy birthday to me.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 10.59.28 AM

I cried from the sweetness of this gesture, which was something that she cooked up herself.  As you can see, the crowd was also touched by this.    I love how she bends that note at the beginning of the song.  So cute!

Untitled

 

John enjoyed the gorgeous scenery as much as I did.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 8.00.08 AM

The food was exquisite, and we had delicious, fresh mimosas to go with.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 8.03.06 AM

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 11.02.21 AM

The whole trip lasted around 2.5 hours.  It was peaceful, beautiful, and much appreciated by this birthday girl….and by a little piggy (shown below).

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 9.15.18 AM

Afterward, we attended an awesome art show, which I found wholly inspiring.  Then, we went to my daughter’s house for a traditional dinner.  She baked the most delicious coconut cake for me, which Ingrid decorated with pretty gold candles.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 8.43.38 AM

I felt truly blessed this year….truly loved and deeply happy, knowing that those who took the time out of their lives to acknowledge my birth really love me.  Sometimes, I feel like the luckiest woman alive.   This was one of those perfect birthdays that I will never forget.  Many thanks to my family and to my friends who made it all possible.

Life is a Balance

Standard
Life is a Balance

Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.

Things have changed.

I used to walk into a room and wonder if the people there would like me.  Now, when I walk into a room, I wonder if I will like them.     The need for external validation is not important to me, at this point in life, and I don’t have to actually like someone for them to have value in my life, nor to have value in theirs.  If there is a job to be done, I simply do it.   I have optimized, categorized and am moving full speed ahead.  I am letting go of the negative and embracing those positive relationships that are good.

The relationships that remain are solid.

 I have learned to let go of the people and things that do not serve my best interests…the ones that hurt and deceive me ….and this has really helped me to stay focused and to do  good work.  This has freed up a tremendous amount of emotional and physical energy.   It can be difficult when one lets go of family members or of  people who were once close friends…..but as things turn out, letting go of those with whom your values, ethics, morals and beliefs do not align, can help propel you forward and free you to do what you are best suited to do in life.

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 10.45.10 AM

The people that *really* matter to me are functionally in my life, although I am forced to use that  term  (“functionally”)  loosely when referring to one significant person.  That is an unfortunate situation that I cannot talk about here.

The solution was simple.  I let go of the drama and embraced all of the many good things that I hold so close to my heart and things have never been better.  I now sing about my happiness to other audiences and I go to bed every night with a smile on my face, knowing that I am loved.                                   

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 11.15.13 AM

My husband has returned to Portland, full time, from the Bay Area and we have immersed ourselves into a plethora of creativity.  His health is much better than it was, even a year ago.  He attributes this to our being together so much of the time now.  I am watchful over is health, feed him good, home-cooked food and make sure he gets lots of exercise.  He seems so happy, and I’m glad he is home. He is writing plays and working with a partner on creating original musical scores for his plays.  I have the biggest art commission of my life,  am working on my novel every day.  I have successfully completed the composition of two country and western songs that will soon be ready to shop.  I  and am putting a new business together and am also spending lots of time with Ingrid in these last days before she is immersed into French school.  I am thoroughly enjoying the wonderful city where we live.  John and I are reorganizing our home and getting rid of possessions that we no longer need.  Everything is about moving ahead and being happy.

Everything that we are doing,  together and individually, can be either directly or indirectly attributed to making the best choices about letting go of the dead weight of the crazies.  I cannot believe I ever hesitated.

Life is so uncomplicated now.  Why didn’t I make these decisions years ago?

It’s Official! 

Standard

There is no greater feeling in life than accomplishing a goal that one has worked hard to achieve….well, maybe seeing my daughter receive HER masters degree was a greater feeling, but this is a significant personal milestone and I’m feeling pretty good about it today.  Congratulations, me. 😀  

Day #28 – Looking In

Standard

  

Day #21-Wet

Standard

  

The Power of Empathy

Standard

This is my friend, Nan, a powerful woman that I am very proud to call a friend.  Please read about her new television show by clicking HERE.

1nan

Salicornia Maritima – Something New for Dinner

Standard
Salicornia Maritima – Something New for Dinner

I had seen salicornia maritima, AKA “sea beans” growing alongside the Pacific for years, but never bothered to investigate it.  Then, last Tuesday, when the organic produce delivery came, I reached inside and pulled out a small paper bag filled with it.  Sea beans.  They smell fishy….not all that great….but when I tasted one, it wasn’t bad at all.  Had sort of a lemony taste…very salty…and I figured that if I still ate fish, I probably would have served them up with salmon.  They are dark green, and I thought that since they were in my produce delivery, they had to be good for me…so I looked ’em up online.  It seems they are high in iron and super nutritious.

I learned that they are usually steamed or boiled.  I sauteed them with some tiny shiitake mushrooms in lemon juice and olive oil. Added some freshly cracked pepper and pink Himalayan sea salt and that was it. If I had it to do over, I would not have salted them…but I only added a dash,so it was ok.  Delicious!

 1dinner

I served them up with some vegetarian chick’n a l’orange and a nice helping of creamy polenta with chopped spinach and diced carrots.  Paired the meal with a nice glass of Malbec and really enjoyed it.  So.  There it is.  Something new for dinner.

Day #28-Pink

Standard

  

Day 23 – Good Times

Standard

  

Ok….This is CUTE!

Standard

Apart from the fact that this is a tiny little girl singing a song from a controversial video (that she has never seen, by the way), the cutest thing about Ingrid’s version of “Wrecking Ball” is the fact that she made up her own lyrics.   They are lyrics that make no sense at all.  One of my musician friends, Steve Grandinetti, said that if I took Ingrid to one of his shows, he would just let her take over.  He posted her video on his Facebook for his fans to see.  She will be thrilled when she finds out. 🙂

Day #20 – Equal

Standard

  

Day #17 – Home

Standard

  

Day #16- Clean

Standard

  

Day #9 – Peaceful

Standard

  

Day 6 – 10 o’clock

Standard

I was asleep at 10:00.  This picture represents my worst nightmare.

Day #27- In My Bedroom

Standard

  

A “Ten Things” Check In

Standard
A “Ten Things” Check In

I am spending very little time online these days.  Time is fleeting as I count down the days until my final 10 weeks of school work and I am staying quite busy….working, playing, learning….  There are not words sufficient enough to describe how much I needed and am enjoying my current break.  My capstone (thesis) course begins on Sunday, but I probably won’t check in and look at it until Monday.

During my break, I have accomplished a lot and have felt joyful and happier than usual, simply because I have so much to feel grateful for …and because I am so close to completing this monumental goal in my life.  Things seem to be falling right into place in virtually every area of my life.  However, I remain ever-mindful that I could lose it all in an instant. That is the nature of life……so I am enjoying what I have in the moment, and am feeling extraordinarily thankful.

Here are some of the things that make me feel so lucky:

1stacy and john

#1.  John – My husband is such a good person.  He is a genuine blessing in my life.  His play writing endeavors are getting a lot of positive attention and reviews.  It makes my heart jump with joy to see him thriving in this way.  He is happy, so I am happy.  That’s how a good marriage works.  His job is also going very well.  He was just promoted and given a nice raise and a extended contract…AND, he will now be an exclusively online professor, meaning that he can work from anywhere in the world.  He will be moving back home to Portland  at the end of May, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  We have many adventures planned together.  While we have settled into our separate routines in separate cities over the last five-ish years, with him coming home during holidays and over the summer,  we have always wanted to be permanently reunited.  This will be a dream come true for us both.  This will also give me the opportunity to take care of him better…diet, exercise…tender loving care.

IMG_0204

#2.  Art – I am on a roll with my art, becoming more inspired each day, learning new skills, trying new techniques.  Just this morning, I finished a mixed media portrait of my best friend called, “Lightworker”.   My head is constantly filled with art.  Right now, I am taking one of Deryn Mentock’s fabulous jewelry making classes, but I am also designing a new mosaic fireplace surround for our house, working on a painting, doing a series of guitar-related art, working on a new tee shirt graphic and am generally living the art life.  I love it.  I set aside a number of hours every evening to focus upon and create new art.

stacy sings

#3. Music – Music, of course, is its own form of art, but I feel it deserves its own category.  I am practicing my guitar each day and still taking lessons. Not getting very good, but am learning a lot.  The main problem lies in the fact that despite being a keyboardist for the vast majority of my life, I do not have strong hands.  I understand how to play guitar perfectly.  My fingers, however, struggle.   I am, again, taking the Berklee College of Music songwriting course, and I will probably enroll in it again and again.  Even though the lessons are the same each session, I learn something new each time.

guitar2

I am working on writing these country songs that are really coming together!  I am also still attending jams on Sunday afternoons/evenings and am becoming deeply immersed into the Portland music scene.  I am having fun, meeting a ton of great people and have found yet one more thing to be grateful about.

empath

#4.  Friendship – With each passing day, I am more thankful for my best friend and the energy, love and kindness that he bestows upon me.  Two peas in a pod, we are, and demonstratively indestructible.  He is a gift straight from heaven.

hearthands

This is real love….real friendship, and I am grateful for it every minute of my life.  It has its negative side, as all things do, but since I have learned to ignore that, I am better able to reap the benefits of the positive. I used to take the negative aspects into my heart and allow them to hurt me or worse, allow them to make me angry.  Today?  I can’t believe I ever allowed them to bother me.  The positive is SO good, that it completely cancels out the negative.  I simply ignore the fluff and embrace the substance.  The love is substantial.

knowing

  In addition to my bestie, I have other friends that enrich my life every day that I live it.  My friends are exceptional people, individuals from whom I continue to laugh with and learn from.  I am so fortunate to have these awesome, intelligent, remarkable people in my life.  What a gift!

living room

#5.  Organization – I am becoming remarkably organized, purging things from my life, becoming more minimalist, materially, and less dependent on STUFF, as I become more dependent on living a rich, full and active life.  I am sorting, adding shelves, tossing things out, donating things and really taking a new perspective on every THING that I own.  Stuff is simply not that important to me any more.  I find it easier and easier to let go.

san diego

#6.  Adventure – I am trying new things a lot…going places I’ve never been, re-examining things that are familiar to me and seeing them through more appreciative eyes.  I am studying things more….nutrition, geography, philosophy….and taking on new perspectives about virtually everything.  I love trying new things and learning lessons about them.

red tulips

#7.  Simplicity – This one fits in closely with my binge toward organization.  I am learning to simplify…physically, emotionally and in every way.  If something is not working in my life, I have learned to simply move on with no regrets.  This happened with a couple of members of my family that simply could not be happy with anything I did in my life.  Therefore, I simply let them go and moved on happily, with no regrets and no negativity.    It’s funny.  I have let go of family members, but have not had to let go of any friends….but I will, if I need to.  I just haven’t needed to.  My friendships remain positive, probably because of the old adage that you can choose your friends, but not your family.

maya stacy sarah ingrid

#8.  Family – This is another category that should go higher on this list, in terms of priority…but I’m not writing these things in order of importance.  I am writing them as I think of them.  My family has taken some dramatic shifts over the last few years.  I have grown very close to my mother and father.

arrow2

I have grown closer to my cousins and have an Auntie that I feel very close to and thankful for.  I have a new daughter-in-law with whom I am very close, and a new grandchild who delights me with each encounter.  I love and appreciate my family here in Portland, and thrive on my encounters with little Ingrid.  I have grown closer to my granddaughter, Maya, and embrace the idea that she will soon live here in the Pacific NW again.  I admire her sense of adventure and love it that she is not afraid to make drastic changes and try new things.  She is an adventurer of whom I am quite proud!  I am one lucky woman and I know it!  Exceptional bunch of people, my family…..at least some of them.  😉

list

#9.  Finances – I am learning more and more about business, about how to manifest money….about how to work the system to my advantage so that I might help others. I’ve learned to make lists and to prioritize.   It gives me such pleasure to share what I have and to make other people’s lives easier.  Using my financial prowess to do good in the world is my ultimate goal.  So far, so good.

glasses

#10 – LIFE – Life, in general, is good, but I never take it for granted.  Rather than fear the future, I am grateful for what I have in the moment.  I know there will be losses eventually, but I prefer not to focus on that and, instead, really live the life that I have, while I can, and to do as much as I possibly can with a big smile on my face.  Life IS good!

Day #18-Fluffy

Standard