Friday, June 2, 2017

Powder Room DIY Re-remodel and new Mirage Hardwood Flooring

When last we spoke, I shared with you that there was another flood here in
the house just two days after Christmas and that we were in the process of
replacing the damaged hardwood floors. I say another flood because less
than a year after buying this house and completing our first remodel, a burst
pipe in the garage flooded the house and ruined the new flooring. Faced with
having to replace the hardwood floors again, I decided to go a step further and
refresh/update the powder room and all the other rooms affected too! Below is
the powder room the day we made the offer on the house. Remember what I
have said many times before; we did not buy this house because we loved it! In
fact, I hated it the moment I saw it. However, coming from Monterey County in
California, where our home sat on just a 5,000 sq. ft. lot and shared a fence with
five other neighbors, it was the acreage we fell in love with. Everything inside the
house could be changed but the property was the property of our dreams... Minus
the rocky Pacific Coast views and mom and dad, who lived just around the corner!
This is the powder room five seconds after we moved in. The
wallpaper and everything in it just had to go! The last trip we
took as a family in California was to San Francisco where we
explored Alcatraz and went inside some of the prisoner cells...
We often joke that Alcatraz had nothing on this bathroom! After removing
all of the wallpaper, my sweet handy-husband repaired and painted the
walls in my favorite color... White! The toilet, 1971 vanity, complete with
laminate counter and broken faucet flew out the door and into a dumpster!
To maximize the space in this small bathroom, I chose a pedestal
sink and matching toilet. Both from Kohler's Memoirs collection
Before the original owners that built this house added a solarium off the
kitchen, (which we replaced with a more modern version) the window in
this bathroom looked out over the backyard. However, since the solarium
stands on a fully elevated foundation to match the house, the window in
this bathroom provided a full view of anyone using it! Nevertheless, without
the window, the bathroom would be terribly dark and feel even smaller than
it already is. So, since I don't do curtains, we decided the best way to retain
the natural light and provide the necessary privacy, was to fill the window
opening in with clear wavy glass block and frame it in. And, it worked!
After installing new vinyl over the old vinyl floor and a new door, we were
happy with this update and called it done. Buuttttt, I realized pretty quickly,
there is a huge difference between being happy with what a room looks like
after you rip out what you could never have lived with in the first place, and
getting a room that resembles something you might see Chip and Joanna
create on their show, Fixer-Upper! You know, the room of your dreams...
What I have realized over the years, while trying to bend this ugly old house into
something I can love, is that it is much better to stretch yourself and if necessary,
your budget, to get what you really want the first time. Looking back, it actually
makes me sad for the money and the time I wasted asking my husband to paint the
cabinets and tile over the Formica counter tops, instead of just going for the Carrara,
subway tile back splash and cabinet fronts I wanted for the kitchen in the first place!
Honestly... What was I thinking?!
So, just like when we re-remodeled the hallway bathroom a few years ago, I
decided that this time when we replaced the hardwood flooring, I was going to
choose the floor I really wanted. Not something that most closely matched what
we had and were accustomed to. Also, because we had this opportunity to update
the hardwood, I thought it was the perfect time to update the powder room too!
Above is the floor we almost put in. It was a compromise between what we chose
last time, which I knew was a mistake the day it went down and what I truly wanted...
Something a bit more rustic without that glossy nail polish finish the old floor had!
But did you catch that word compromise? It was a compromise because in my
heart I knew I really wanted a darker floor and I wanted it to be a gray floor
too. I compromised on the counter tops in the kitchen, settling for a Carrara
marble look-alike with Corian's Rain Cloud and I have always regretted it...
So... We took every sample of Mirage hardwood our flooring design center
would let us haul home and we compared them all. We compared them to the
kitchen cabinets, to our furniture and to the hardwood in the library and the
living room, which we would not be replacing. In the end, it came down to two...
The safe, more traditional floor on the left and the totally different and darker
option on the right. In the end, I went for the one I wanted most. This one!
But more about the hardwood later... Right now, I want to finish telling you
about the powder room re-redo! See this photo below? It was sent to me by
my darling husband who wanted to ensure I would be completely happy with
the way he was laying the tile while I was at work. As you can see, I was not
at all shy about pointing out where I believed adjustments were needed!
We traded photos like this for a while. However, in the end, having a second
pair of eyeballs on the project helped him along. And, it helped me to see
the progress being made while I was stuck at work wondering about it!
I have said this in other DIY posts involving tile before and I am happy
to offer it as a warning again... Do not get all crazy about your tile work
before you grout. I mean, do straighten things that are crazy-crooked, but
don't get crazy about a little space here or a little tilt over there, since not
all tile is the same. Natural tile has natural variations in size and shape...
So let it be and grout it. Because once you grout your tile and it dries...
It will look crazy-fantastic and even be close to
perfect where it didn't look perfect at all before!
Since we were updating the floor in the powder room with
tile, I decided it was a good time to repaint as well as update the
switch plate and outlet covers, plus all the other hardware too!
In the end, we... We being my husband and the mouse in my pocket, painted
the entire downstairs; to include baseboards, crown molding and all the doors!
I also replaced all the outdated brass knobs on the cabinets and drawers in the
office/laundry room, which was an inexpensive way to update that room too!
You know what a fan I am of everything Pottery Barn so
they were my first choice for new bathroom hardware. I started
with this Mercer magazine and double-roll paper holder
and then added the matching towel bar and robe hook!
Of course, I cannot get out of Pottery Barn without something
monogrammed so I also picked up these linen hand towels!
The final touch on our powder room re-redo was to add some artwork...
But I didn't want just anything hanging on the walls. I wanted something
that meant something to both of us. So, since we enjoy riding our bikes
and because I miss California so much, I sought out this antique-style
map of California bicycle trails and vintage bike-related advertising!
The fact that my name is there on the bottom made me love it even more!
If you love this print as much as I do, you can buy it here. And, since
it comes in standard frame sizes, it was very inexpensive to frame!
The other piece of artwork I chose is this reproduction of
a beautifully patriotic war poster. Again, patriotic needs no
explanation and since gardening is my husband's thing, it fits!
Also available in standard frame sizes, it cost me next to
nothing to have it framed, (using one of their weekly 40% off
coupons) at Hobby Lobby. Although it took nearly a month to
receive from this etsy seller, I still recommend her for this print!
It's just so special!
The last thing I added to finish the refresh of our powder room is
this cute little enamelware sign I placed onto the door. And, do let me
tell you... This black and white hex tile is not only a classic that will
always fit this house, it feels AH-mazing when you walk on it in your
bare feet! And, you want to know how much it cost? We found it at
our local Floor and Décor store on clearance for $2.30 a square
foot! Now, by the time we found it, they only had two pieces left. But
we had a great sales representative who suggested we order it through
the Floor and Décor website. Ordering couldn't have been easier and
with free shipping, the tile we needed cost just $86! Of course, the sack
of grout I bought cost $76 because I got talked into it by a salesman at
this ridiculously expensive tile store. However, in my defense, it is
Power Grout (the color I chose is Platinum) which already contains
a sealer so it never has to be sealed. It also will not stain or crack and
shrink as it dries.  All very good things! Labor to install my new black
and white hex tile floor and hardware only cost me a steak dinner!
We'll chat more about the hardwood floors next post... But for now I
leave you with a few photos to show how changing the hardware
on the cabinets and drawers in the office/laundry room helped
to update the space and better compliment the new hardwood too!
Knobs chosen by the second/last owner of this home when they
added these cabinets and drawers to the laundry/mud room for the
office space needed by the man of the house that worked from home...
As you can see, the protective coating on these brass knobs to keep them
from tarnishing was chipped and worn off in spots from years of handling...
After the new hardwood flooring went in, I knew the antique
bronze finish on these knobs and drawer pulls would be the
perfect contrast and compliment to its rustic look and gray tone!
Not only did we update the hardware, we also replaced the light
fixtures and switch plates and outlet covers in this room too!
Although it took a little extra effort to countersink these drawer
cup pulls to replace those brass knobs, I think it was worth it!
Overall, I'm really happy with the way everything turned out...
Remember at the beginning of this post when I mentioned Chip
and Joanna Gains and their HGTV show, Fixer-Upper? I love them... So
imagine the thrill it was last week when we went to Texas to visit Ranger
and he took us to Waco, to visit Chip and Joanna's Magnolia Market!
And, the Bakery at the Silos!
Believe me, we made the most of our trip to Texas! I have plenty to share about all
our side-trips to visit the Spanish Missions and The Alamo in San Antonio, the
Pacific War and Nimitz museums in Fredericksburg, two more trips to Magnolia
plus the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco... Our tour of Southfork Ranch, dinner
at Medieval Times and ride up to the observation deck of Reunion Tower...
And, of course... There is the most important reason we
traveled back to Texas to visit Ranger in the first place!
To be there to see him raise his right hand to defend and protect the
constitution again and trade his Military uniform for a new uniform...
Believe it or not, we are in the process of selecting flooring and tile to re-redo
the master bathroom next! I've already had several contractors visit to give
estimates for a new custom vanity and built-in storage cabinet behind the door
to replace the old custom vanity and built-in storage cabinet behind the door I
had my husband tear out during our first remodel. There will be absolutely no
compromising as we rebuild this master bathroom, which means I will finally
get that Carrara marble counter top I have always wanted and dreamed of!
Stay tuned...
Because as you can see, we are just about
ready to make another trip to Floor and Décor!
#DIY #blackandwhitehextile #powderroomremodel #smallbathroomremodel #miragefloors  #cabinethardware #vintageposters #fixerupperstyle #flooranddecor

Friday, May 5, 2017

Soldier Impersonators - Romance Scams using Fake Dating and Facebook Profiles

At least three times a week, I receive comments posted to my blog
entries from women claiming to be in a meaningful, romantic relationship
with my son and Army Ranger veteran. Women like Barb, who wrote this...

Fortunately for Barb she knew better than to believe the stories told to her by
the person(s) claiming to be my son. She also checked photos her Catfish used
in their profile/sent to her using Google's reverse image search tool,
which instantly matched them to photos I have posted here at my blog!
As for my blog, I have gone back and deleted nearly every post
featuring Ranger's photos or have watermarked them in an effort to
stop these fake-warrior, scumbag impersonators from using them...
Still, his photos and videos are being lifted from his Instagram page...
And, his Facebook profile has been duplicated hundreds of times,
using different variations of his name mixed in with other names!
Trust me when I tell you... You are NOT Dating this US Army
Ranger and he has not asked you to send him money!
What is happening is older than Shakespeare's tale of Romeo and Juliet... Boy
meets girl, girl falls for boy hoping to live happily ever after. However, with
the Internet, where dating websites such as Match.com, eHarmony, Tinder,
Zoosk and others have normalized the experience of forming instant attractions,
attachments and relationships without actually meeting the other person first,
it goes more like this: Boy meets girl, girl falls for boy, boy asks girl to wire
him a few thousand dollars, then boy disappears without a trace!
These professional scammers, usually based in West Africa, are very cleaver to
steal the identities and photos of our soldiers and claim they are either deployed
or stationed overseas because women are often more sympathetic towards men in
uniform claiming to be far from home, lonely and in need. These victims are also
less likely to question the randomness of their beau's availability to make contact
due to time differences and the very demanding missions as a soldier. Remember...
If you think it's only women falling victim to this crime, think again! Male
soldiers are reporting falling for similar honey-traps set by these crooks;
allowing the enemy to hack their phones to access photos, passwords, and
other information while posing as beautiful women on on-line dating apps!
Facebook is flooded with fake warrior profiles. And worse, Facebook does not
care and will not remove a fake profile, even when notified. I have reported
dozens of these profiles using Ranger's photos along with his name or some
variation of it. However, despite being able to match the stolen photos to the
real profile of someone with a very active and well established page, Facebook
chooses to protect the fake profile, which often has very few posts, comments or
associated friends. Facebook's standard reply is always to recommend that you
block the person if it upsets you that much. It has gotten so bad for our son that
even his real e-mail, home address and phone number are now compromised. But
instead of going after the impersonators, Facebook has now deactivated HIS page!
It is easy to feel sorry for those who fall victim to these fake warrior profile
scams. They often lose tons of money they cannot afford to lose, they suffer
broken hearts, humiliation and lose the ability to trust. But there's something
else at stake; the security and privacy of our soldiers' identities. After all, every
fake profile is using the name and stolen photo of a real person. What happens
to them not only hurts them but affects their families and our proud military as
a whole. No one wants these victims believing that a soldier has manipulated
their feelings and stolen from them when in fact, all he's doing is serving his
country honorably and in many cases, doesn't even know! However, in our
Ranger's case, he is all too aware, because his profile and photos are being
stolen to create so many fake warrior profiles on dating apps and Facebook,
that he's contacted nearly every day and sometimes multiple times a day. And,
sadly, by the time these women reach the point in their "relationships" with the
fake version of our son, something has happened to cause them to investigage...
Either they have paid to travel somewhere to meet a man that never showed up,
discovered their identities have been stolen so that they are receiving payment
demand letters for accounts they never opened, their bank accounts have
been drained or they have wired away thousands of dollars. Like Julie...
If he tells you he is in Special Operations and cannot provide
you with any information, it's a lie/scam. While it's true Special
Operators like our son won't discuss their jobs, they also don't
run around telling random strangers they're Special Ops...
If he tells you he's deployed overseas and mentions a specific
country, it's a lie/scam. While we do have military and contract
personnel deployed/working all over the world, communication
between soldiers and their friends and families is monitored. Any
revelation of location or mission specifics and the line is cut. If he
tells you he's been given special permission to discuss his location
or his job to convince you he is who he says he is, it's a lie/scam!
Every solider has a mailing address. So if he tells you he has no
way to receive your mail, it's a lie/scam. If he tells you he cannot
come see you because he is not authorized to take leave, it's a lie/scam.
The military pays for all travel to and from a war zone so if he tells you he
needs travel money to get home, it's a lie/scam. If he tells you he needs
permission for leave and needs your e-mail address or other contact
information to give to someone that will verify you are waiting for him
or traveling to meet him, it's a lie/scam. If all it took to bring Ranger
home from any of his five deployments to Afghanistan was a note
from me to his team leader or Commander authorizing him to come
home, I would have done it! Even in the case of a death in the
family, it must first be verified by officials at the Red Cross!
If he tells you he has no family stateside or that everyone in his
family, (especially his mother or wife!) is dead or that they were
killed in some horrific accident, leaving his child/ren without care
at home and he only stops crying with worry about how to pay for
their nanny and meals long enough to e-mail you, it's a lie/scam. If
he tells you he needs money to buy a phone to call, it's a lie/scam. If
he tells you he is a high ranking military officer, it's a lie/scam. Real
officers have no time to chit-chat on-line to develop meaningful and
"lasting" relationships with total strangers. And, if he tells you he is a
General, try to remember that less than 1% of the people in the military
ever make it to General. Educate yourself on rank for the branch of service
he claims to be in... There aren't too many 25-year old full bird Colonels!
Ask him for an e-mail address. If it is not a military e-mail address
with his first name, dot, last name and .mil at the end, it's not a real
military address. If he give you a private e-mail address, try sending
e-mails. If his profile mentions a rank, it's a lie/fake. Search the name
he is using. You would be surprised how many fake profiles are using
the same exact photos. If he wants to wire money to your bank account
or asks you for a loan, promising to pay you back, it's a lie/scam! If he
claims that his paycheck is directly deposited into a bank in the States
and that he has no immediate access to his money, it's a lie/scam!
If he has told you something I have not mentioned, remember
this... 99.99% of our men and women in uniform do not have time
for this bull shit! But if you still don't believe me, read this and this
If you or someone you know has fallen for or been taken advantage of by
someone impersonating a soldier, please file a complaint with the FBI here