bathroom makeover: from leaky to lovely

My second-floor bathroom is done, by the way. Totally forgot to mention that and give you the wrap up a couple weeks ago! Long story short, I love it. Immensely! No more weirdly giant nasty jetted tub (that leaks out of two jets), no more totally Eighties scallop-edged vanity. Oh, yeah, and no more non-functioning tub spout. Or weird pink and gray tiles. Ok, you get the point - it was bad... reeeeally bad!

I made the somewhat-begrudging decision to replace this uber-tub with a step-in shower. This means that my house now has no bathtub, which terrified me on a resale basis, but I realized that I could either do a really lovely, classy step in shower, or a pretty mediocre, boring tub. I also realized I have taken precisely 2 baths in 5 years, which I didn't even enjoy - I always end up taking a shower after. Oh, and that I probably won't want to sell my house for at least 5 more years. Minimum. SO shower it was! But this meant that I could get gorgeous tiles, put in a bench, replace my vanity and floor tiles, and repaint for less than it was going to cost me to get a replacement tub (crazy old tub = crazy custom/non-standard tub needed to replace it = crazy added expense).

Here's an evolution for you - as per us', I forgot to take "before" pictures. Well, to my credit, I HAD before pictures on my old computer that bit the dust 100%. Sorry... just use my intense description and your imaginations. Here we start with the bathroom totally gutted:

Here are some shots mid-renovation - at last, my tile had arrived! The waterproofing was done! My main goal was to avoid creating a super-cliche bathroom. In my line of work, I see a lot of, a lot a lot...and I swear 97% look identical. To avoid this, I decided to create contract while sticking to a simple black and white color palette (classic, easy to change up by adding splashes of color with new towels, and never goes out of style) I got these really large rectangular tiles , oriented vertically, for the bottom 4 feet as as well as the bench. Above that, is a six-inch band of black, white and gray glass skinny tiles:

Already was loving it. And then! Oh, then, my beautiful subway tiles arrived! These were expensive, but I am so glad I didn't end up going with the cheaper option with a lower length-to-height ration. I oriented theses horizontally, to contrast with the huge vertical rectangles on the bottom. As you can see, it was still a mess at this point, but getting there:

Have I built enough suspense for The Big Reveal by now?

So....what do you think?

love k

the craziest race in our glorious city

Look! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... a thirty-five foot long, eight foot tall giant pink poodle? Yup, that is a legitimate possibility this Saturday. "But how?" you ask? Duh! The Kinetic Sculpture Race is a'comin' to town! Hosted by the American Visionary Arts Museum, the Kinetic Sculpture Race celebrates all things wild and ridiculous. For eight hours, human powered amphibious works of art race fifteen miles through the city, into the Harbor, and battling through mud and sand pits. Yup. It's crazy, but it's true.

Inspired by the California Kinetic Grand Championship, our race is now in it's thirteenth year! Last year, 28 teams came to town, including the winning sculpture, "Candy Haus" - a giant gingerbread house complete with enormous lollipops..that were also oars - "Go Ask Alice," and "Platypus," but to name a few. They're all really quite awe-inspiring in their looks, not to mention that they complete an obstacle course and brave the harbor.

Even the awards are silly! The Golden Dinosaur goes to the sculpture
with the most memorable breakdown; The Worst Honorable Mention is awarded to the sculpture whose "half-baked theoretical engineering did not deter its pilot from the challenge of the race"; The Golden flip is for the most interesting water entry; And, my personal favorite, the National Mediocre Champion has the dubious honor of finishing with the time closest to average. Heck, you can even get points for bribing the judges!

Long story short, you obviously have to go. It you're a Patterson
Parker like me, you're in luck! The Park is where the Kinetic Sculptures navigate the obstacle course of mud and sand pits and hills. But no matter where you are, you can catch all the fun throughout the city. Check out this route map and estimated times.

The whole thing arrives in the Park around 1:15, so that's where you'll find me, for sure. In the meantime, cross your fingers and toes for lovely weather! Oh, and I almost forgot! Spectators are strongly encouraged to get in on the crazy action and dress in you finest foolishness.

love k

sink hole!

Last week there was a sink hole in the middle of East Baltimore Street, just East of the Park! Sometime in the late afternoon a huge section of the road - we're talking like 5 feet by 7 feet - just sunk, finally coming to rest some four or five feet below the rest of the road. It was quite a spectacle and people literally took to the streets to examine it, sitting on stoops with quite a carnival atmosphere. Gotta love Baltimore!

Not sure if it is a coincidence or if we're entering in to some apocalyptic disaster, but I feel like there have been sink holes popping up all over the place lately....please get on that, City Hall! While there was nothing exciting down there, the mind reels at how and why dirt beneath the roads is being so rapidly corroded. Maybe it all comes back to Baltimore's issues with rain water run off!
Anyways, the city quickly put up barricades to stop any unfortunate car vs. sink hole situations, and within three days the city had it all fixed up and, hopefully, good as new.

star spangled in the sunshine

A week ago found the miraculous combination of sunshine, no appointments, and N's day off! What are the odds, right? Deciding to seize the day, we headed around the harbor to Fort McHenry for my first visit to the birthplace of our national anthem. What a treat! If you haven't been, I suggest you put it on your summer "to-do" list, pronto.

In case your history is a little rusty, this star-shaped fort played a major role during the War of 1812, during the Battle of Baltimore. A thousand Americans successfully staved off the British invasion of the Fort and Baltimore's harbor while Baltimorean's watched on baited breath from rooftops throughout the city all night. Also watching this battle was Francis Scott Key, who was inspired to write a poem that became the Star Spangled Banner as he saw the American flag rise over the fort after a horrendous night of cannon bombardment. Due to the valiant efforts of the soldiers as well as Baltimore's merchants - who sunk 22 of their own ships to create an artificial reef to block British ships from entering the harbor - Baltimore was saved.

The fort was later used as a military prison during the Civil War, and was then made in to a national park in 1925, and then a "National Monument and Historic Shrine" in 1939 - the only place to hold this double title!

There is a lovely visitors' center, with a great (though somewhat glossed-over) video documentary of the Battle of Baltimore. When the Star Spangled Banner start up, the screen rose into the ceiling revealing a wall of windows, and the American flag was seen gently flapping in the wind atop the fort, even I felt a little teary. A walk through the fort was informative and interesting, with recreated soldiers' quarters, etc to poke through, and sweeping views of the city and harbor from the fort walls. Next time I'm taking a picnic! I also hope to see the Fort McHenry Guard - a volunteer group that helps bring history to life for visitors; I believe they will be there starting May 28th.
Each September, Fort McHenry commemorates the successful defense of the city from the British. I don't have details on the affair, but I imagine it's a sweet scene and worth checking out! Hey, you could even take the water taxi over and make it a real lil' urban adventure.

love k