Can you dance for joy in 36″ x 43″?

Of course you can!

I’m thrilled to share pictures of our tiny “water closet” creation — formed from space that formerly held a recessed niche for the “icebox” (outside of the kitchen, just inside the back door) and a coat closet in the front hall. We did everything you see ourselves (translation: Mike did everything you see himself) — only the plumbing rough-in was done professionally.

Here’s what it looked like originally:

The hall coat closet.

The other side of the closet, which formerly housed the refrigerator. (The fridge moved into the kitchen where it belonged during that remodel.)

Here we broke through the closet. What you see is our back door and tiny entryway.

If you’ve ever done it, you know what a joy stripping plaster is (NOT).

Always interesting to see what’s behind the walls. (The wiring is new.)

The plumber did a great job in a tight space. (As a reminder, you’re looking through the front of the powder room to our back door.)

Funny, but the little niche in the wall is one of the first things Mike built. (Julius the cat was helping, as usual.)

The room feels bigger than it is because the ceiling is fairly high — under the stairway and landing. Luckily, Mike is good with electrical work — this wire is for the ceiling noisemaker fan.

Look! Walls and a floor — big progress. (Again, this is is taken from the back hallway, looking toward the front.)

More progress! The back wall goes in — no more see-through from front to back.

God, and a lot of time, is in the details.

Hey, there’s that niche!

And so much trim!

Tiling the floor took a lot of effort, too.

In fact, you can see we all worked so hard on this project. (This picture was in the same folder with the floor tiling pix.)

But as with all lengthy, torturous DIY endeavors, the finished product was worth it we think — all 36″x43″ of it.

And now, the big reveal. What’s behind Door #1?

Bliss! (Doesn’t Julius look proud?)

A closer view.

A few details: The toilet rests on a small platform to raise it to “comfort height” – which wasn’t available in the 10” rough-in toilet we bought to save space (vs. typical 12” rough-in).

We used a Porcher “Elfe” sink and, hey, there’s that niche! (As usual, plumbing presented many challenges…needed a special grid drain, not the pop-up drain that came with the faucet, plus huge trouble fitting the trap in the space underneath. We ended up using an unusual contraption called a “bottle trap.” Thank God for the Internet — we are able to solve most issues by researching them online to find advice and fixes and workarounds.)

The tile is pretty — 4″ limestone tiles with a shiny mosaic stone border.

Wood walls, tall wainscot, and trim give a Craftsman feel.

It’s a tiny room, but huge for us. Mike deserves all the kudos for building it so beautifully. (I will take but a few “atta girls” for enduring the process for nearly 2 years.)

So, a party to celebrate might be in order.

Except, well, the sunroom isn’t finished.

We’d look like such slackers.

Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end.
It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing;
it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it.
~ Margaret Thatcher


Oh, for those days of yore

Just curious: What’s your favorite past time? I’m partial to “the good old days” myself. You know, when ads and such were proofread before going to print.

Have no fear of perfection — you’ll never reach it.
~ Salvador Dali

Fun! But why are those guys running around down there?


Mike and I had the chance to attend a Pirates game on Saturday, courtesy of one of Mike’s clients. We were invited to join 200+ other customers and employees the company bused in from Somerset to enjoy the game from the comfort of the upper-level World Series boxes — a set of five private suites, one for each World Series the Pirates won. I’ve been to PNC Park a handful of times since it opened, but this was the first time in a box. (I had the chance to go to a Bucs game at Three Rivers in a box once, too.)

It was great — especially on a blustery evening that felt more like October than May, with temps about 50° and wind gusts of 40+ miles per hour.

(Ironically, contrast this to our previous memorable freebie game  — courtesy of our mortgage broker when we bought our house. We took Mike’s parents and had great seats behind the visitors’ dugout. An afternoon game — 93° at least. I had terrible poison ivy so had to wear long sleeves and pants. The game went 13 excruciating innings before the Bucs lost. Mike’s dad got terrible sunburn, as did everyone else who had exposed skin. So maybe those long sleeves weren’t so bad?)

This time, we enjoyed copious food & drinks indoors, great seating outdoors on the third base side (even though I had 4 layers of clothing on), and even a fireworks show afterward, as I mentioned. Unlike many of our fellow party-goers, we sat outside for a good portion of the game. The Pens playoff game was on the TVs inside, so, humorously, many were riveted in that direction, oblivious to the baseball game outside the windows behind them. Amazingly, both teams won (which really means: Amazingly, the Pirates won).

PNC Park has lots of snazzy gizmos — big scoreboard, changing displays around the perimeter of the field, opportunities to send text messages or pictures to appear on the scoreboard or displays — and a beautiful view across the river to downtown. Great food that only costs an arm and leg. (Mike got up to “buy a beer” for a friend we were sitting with. Had he really had to buy that can of Yuengling instead of getting it from the mini-fridge, it probably would have been $7 or something. As our friend put it, how do people afford to get drunk at a game?) Like everyone says, it’s a great place to watch a game. But still…something was missing.

Was it the organ music?

Yes, that was sorely missed. That Vince Lascheid music used to keep you in the game no matter what the score. That music could have you all cheering or screaming or booing or stomping your feet. And smiling at those funny little snippets of songs he’d play to announce each player as he came to bat. Sure, they have music now. Mostly rock or rap, some of which I knew and some I didn’t. Sure the Let’s Go Bucs music played sometimes and people would clap and cheer along, but not that often. It was just as likely that someone out in the right field stands (it seemed) would bang on what sounded like a steel drum (or a kitchen pot) to start Let’s Go Bucs going. It certainly wasn’t like the old days in Three Rivers, when everyone would stomp their feet and you could literally feel the place rock.

I found this old story from the Pittsburgh Business Times that describes the Vince Lascheid phenomenon well. Mr. Lascheid died last year. They play tapes of his music during the games — I think “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”  was done that way. But it’s not nearly enough.

Then there’s the fact that I recognized the names of exactly two Pirates players — Andrew McCutchen and Lastings Milledge. And I only know them because we watched a game at the bar a few weeks ago and I got them confused (I think I asked Mike, “Why is the same guy up at bat again? And why did he change from long pants to short?”). A far cry from the days when you knew the whole starting line-up, plus many of the alternates. (Thanks, Nuttings.)

Mostly, what’s missing at Pirates games is the game. It’s all about what else is there — food, drink, scenery, giveaways, events (like upcoming concerts by Collective Soul and Steve Miller that would be fun to see). Oh, and by the way, there’s a baseball game going on.

Still, we had fun. Free fun. (OK, $5 to park downtown fun.) We’d do it again anytime. And we might even pay to go depending on what else was going on, like one of those concerts or another fireworks night. But really, does anyone go to a Steelers game or a Pens game for the food and peripheral stuff? It might be part of the fun — tailgating or getting a bobblehead — but it’s not the main event. I wonder if that’s true of baseball games in other cities, or is it just a ‘Burgh thing, after years of losing seasons?

Anyway, I’m thinking the way to get people to sit through anything is to have a fireworks show after. So here goes, for all of you that made it through this post…fuzzy fireworks, thanks to my camera enjoying the game from the back seat of the car and Mike’s phone pinch hitting. (And did I mention the wind…?)


Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed
three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.
~ Ted Williams

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