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Are we so glad for March, or what? I was able to get some seeds started in February that flexed my gardening muscles a bit, but spring starts in March which means full on gardening!
Although we still have to get through the first few weeks and even in my milder winter neck of the woods I'm looking out at snow on our nearby hills. So maybe a few more weeks of indoor planting and prepping, lol.
February was a good month, though - the biggest thing for us in our still-not-finished farmhouse is that we've started on the upstairs bathroom renovation!
It was so exciting get the permit and be able to start ordering the fixtures and deciding on a plan - which is actually the first good thing on the list below, so let's get to it!
Upstairs Bathroom Renovation Mood Board & Reno
I put together the mood board above to be able to see how all the elements I've decided on will work together.
I'm going for a classic 1900 bathroom look that carries some of the things you'll find in the rest of the house.
So in the bottom left corner you'll see the closest representation I could find to illustrate the beadboard wainscoting we'll install (repeating the original beadboard in our kitchen) and how it will wrap the tub we are adding (ours will be in a corner, though).
I want to do a peg rail at the top, so I added that image. I am painting the original fir flooring that's not in good enough shape to finish (plus we're adding flooring around the toilet) black to coordinate with our downstairs bathroom's black and white flooring. I may or may not add a white stencil.
I couldn't find a dresser to turn into a vanity that was just 30" wide to save my life, so I started looking and can't believe I found the vanity pictured for under $200 at Costco! The quality is a $300-400 vanity (with a carrara quartz countertop/sink), which is maybe why it's no longer available, sadly.
I'm going with brushed stainless plumbing and lighting fixtures for the most part as I find the finish best for maintenance. We need to use an exposed plumbing shower fixture because of the roof line on the other side of the wall and I was thrilled to find the vintage-style tub and shower fixture - so cute, right?
And the mirror is an antique that we had in our last house that has been patiently waiting for it's moment to shine again.
Above you can see what we're starting with - a room big enough for a tub, but which only had a toilet and sink when we bought the farmhouse.
The sink will move to the wall on the left and the tub will go along the wall where the sink is (and when we removed the flooring, there is a tub-shaped outline right where we are putting it!).
The biggest goal for me is to eliminate the "throne" aspect to the toilet - it was tiled and floored differently than anything else which kind of cracked us up.
To do this, the plan is to follow the peak of the roof over the toilet area (which still has to be recessed like that), open the area more and treat it like the rest of the room.
On the door wall there is a built-in cabinet that looks like it's from the 1950s. It's great storage so I hope to be able to add molding and glass doors on the top to make it look more like a 1900 cabinet.
It will be SO good to get this done so that the guests who stay with us will not have to stumble down the stairs in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
New CD Player
Okay, this is very old-school of me but I miss playing my CDs - especially at Christmas because I have certain albums that I look forward to hearing each year.
I don't pay for Spotify, which means I hear annoying ads after every 2-3 songs and we stopped paying for Prime (for the first time in more than 10 years!), so hearing uninterrupted music isn't possible without a player.
After trying another CD player with a built-in speaker (kind of tinny sound and then it broke so I returned it), I found this super sleek and simple rechargeable bluetooth CD player that looks just like the portable players of the past.
BUT it has bluetooth ability and connected to my UE Boom speaker effortlessly on the first try - and it's WONDERFUL.
I keep it in the TV cabinet (pictured on the right so you could see how it sits easily) and I can close the cabinet and it still stays connected to the speaker so it's perfectly out-of-sight.
It's working so well I may just have to buy new CDs to update my old collection, lol.
Oh, it was a good reading month for me! After the last few months of how-hum books, I really enjoyed the six books I read in February.
When Strivings Cease, Ruth Chou Simmons. I pretty much read anything that Ruth puts out as I find her relatable, knowledgable and inspiring. This Christian living book focuses on how our striving (for success, trying to be the best, etc.) that's pretty endemic in our culture ("give 110%!" "if you're not winning, you're not trying," etc.) will never serve us. As she states, "We are saved by grace because we will never get our act together on our own." She writes that if Christians truly believed this, we would be "unstoppable in proclaiming hope to a hopeless world" and "offering others the same grace we received from God."
Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, Bono. This book came out last November and I asked my kids for it for Christmas, I was that excited for it as a long time U2 fan. And, whoa, is this long! I got this as an audiobook, which I do when its a memoir because I enjoy hearing the writer read his/her own story, and this also includes snippets where Bono breaks into song as well as editions of U2's famous songs recorded just for this book (not sure how people can hear this in the print format - maybe there is a downloadable file or something?).
I enjoyed the first half tremendously - the story of how they came together, their faith as teens and adults, and how God orchestrated much of their success was eye-opening. Bono's love and devotion to his childhood sweetheart wife was also inspiring. But hearing the story of the songs and the background as to how they got written and made was the best. It is a joyful recounting full of fun insights. While the second half bogged down a bit for me with Bono's emphasis on his humanitarian work, it was all good. I'm pretty sure I will listen to this again in the future.
In This Grave Hour (Maisie Dobbs 13), Jacqueline Winspear. I got on a bit of a Maisie Dobbs kick this month - I was finishing a knitted shawl and listened to these books instead of watching TV while I knitted. This book's title comes from the opening quote from King George VI's radio address to the British people after the prime minister declared war with Germany. The background of the beginning of the war is very much the heart of the story here, even though there is a murder for Maisie to solve. A new character of a young girl is introduced as one of the children that are sent to the country with the threat of invasion of London. I don't know if it's the fact that I know the characters and setting so well or that Ms. Winspear is writing better, but I am enjoying the books more with each one I read.
To Die But Once (Maisie Dobbs 14), Jacqueline Winspear. The sweet story started with the child sent to stay at Maisie's country house in the last book continues and is a wonderful, healing storyline for our heroine. Reading how the people of London lived with the threat of war comes alive with Maisie's friends, family, and profession. The teenage son of her best friend takes a boat to help retrieve British troops from the shores of Dunkirk causing fear and lasting repercussions. Maisie and her friend join an ambulance driving team to help when/if the bombing starts. She helps a neighbor uncover why their teenaged son was found dead. All of these things happen with the background of blackout curtains, barrage balloons, and daily news of the war. Honestly, I can't imagine.
Booth, Karen Joy Fowler. I had read SO much about this book when it came out and it's been on my library waiting list for months. I love history and so I was pretty sure I would like it. I do have to say it took me probably 100 pages to get into it and understand the format. It's almost written like history with small paragraphs interrupting the story that really are history of what Abraham Lincoln was doing at the time in the story. It's the story of the Booth family - the actor father was the most acclaimed Shakespeare actor of his time and one of his sons eclipsed him on the stage later. It was really fascinating as not only a story of the family, but also what was going on around them at that time with slavery and politics. That said, it's actually pretty sad, as John Wilkes Booth's killing President Lincoln affected every member of his large family. They received death threats and some left the country. The author said she was inspired to explore this after hearing about mass shootings and wondering how the family's of the perpetrators continued on.
Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, Matthew Perry. Well, this was probably my least favorite book this month, though I still enjoyed it. While I can sympathize with the demon of addiction that has had a hold of Matthew Perry his whole life, I tired of his continuing blame of his parents divorcing when he was an infant and then having him fly as an "unaccompanied minor" from Canada to his father in LA as a small boy. OMG - I flew that way to see my father in the 70s, sheesh. At least his father didn't abandon him (though he says he thought so because he was left as an infant...) and was always in contact. What's never said, but is around all the edges of the book is that he was very privileged growing up - his father was the Old Spice guy in the commercials, his mother was an assistant to Canada's prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, and then married Dateline NBC's Keith Morrison. He went to good schools and played tennis on the junior circuit in Canada. He didn't really have the "starving actor" stage that I read about in Viola Davis's or Michael J. Fox's books and now he's worth a boat load from his Friend's days. So when he says at the end of the book that he'd trade places in a minute with a friend of his in a rent-controlled NYC apartment who worries about money but not addiction, I just rolled my eyes. It's easy to say that when you don't know what that is like to not know how you will find money to live. The book was also sad because it sounds like it would be a miracle if he lived a long life, his body is so messed up from his addictions. I wish there had been more behind the scenes with the Friends cast - those were really interesting stories.
That's it for another addition of the Good Things List!
If you'd like to see more of what I'm enjoying, you can check out all the Good Things Lists here. I'd love to know what you think - if you've tried any of these or what you'd recommend. Leave a comment below with your thoughts!
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