April 27, 2014

Our DIY Subway Tile Backsplash

22 cents. That's how much it costs per tile to purchase the completely classic and yet completely on trend white subway tile. Since I was able to borrow tools to cut the tile, our white subway tile backsplash cost a total of $70. (It would have cost $300+ to hire a pro to do it.) Plus I will always remember this as a project that Nekos and I pulled off together--and had fun pulling off together.

A month ago I knew nothing about working with tile. But when my mom was going to have her kitchen countertop tiled by our friend Bobby, she asked me to come over to help him. She knows I'm a sucker for all things home improvement, and learning to tile was on my to do list. Her countertop turned out beautifully, and while we completed it, Bobby taught me how to cut tile, how to lay it, and then, the next day, how to grout. 

Here's a picture from when we were working on my mom's countertop. My mom helped, too. It's one of the best times I've had with her in recent memory. Which is one of my very favorite things about DIY projects. Sure, it's nice to pay someone to do things for you, but when you do it yourself you create memories. And with every project, you put more of your heart and soul into your home. Then, suddenly, one day you turn around and your house is YOU. It's a beautiful thing. 

After we finished my mom's countertop, I borrowed Bobby's tools and took them home with me. That weekend I got started working on my backsplash. 

Here's what we needed to do our DIY white subway tile backsplash:

- 1.5 boxes of U.S Tile Snow White subway tile
- Grinder saw with diamond blade (borrowed)
- Tile cutter (borrowed)
- Tile nipper (borrowed)
- Notch trowel (borrowed)
- Bucket of tile adhesive (got leftovers from my mom)
- Bag of grout (got leftovers from my mom)
- Sealer (got leftovers from my mom)
- Drill bit for drilling through tile (we needed this for reinstalling some of the lightplates)

Here are just a couple photos of the beginning of the backsplash process:

I found this project surprisingly easy to tackle but also thought provoking, in that tiling is a lot like working a puzzle. 

And we love the fruits of our labor:

Until we can afford to update our countertop, my work here in the kitchen is done. Moving on to other rooms soon. My office needs painting and new window treatments, and in the fall we're planning on moving the girls into the same room and then turning Tessa's bedroom into our living room. Yep. Stay tuned. 

To see some of the kitchen process, see when I painted my kitchen walls here and when I painted the cabinets here

April 13, 2014

She's Four.

Springtime in Nashville is so beautiful it'll about break your heart. It makes perfect sense that my feisty, tender, gorgeous, much-loved firstborn came to me in the spring. This pint-sized force of nature continues to prove to me that even when it seems unlikely, when the days with her are dark as night, she will burst into bloom and dazzle me once again.

One morning last fall, while Livvy napped upstairs, Tessa and I planted tulip and daffodil bulbs along our front walk. I told her that they'd bloom by her birthday. As I watched the squirrels unearth our bulbs and hurry off with them, as the ground seized up with frost, I wondered if that could really be true. Over the winter, we weathered our most difficult period with Tessa yet. It's something I've tried to write about here, but I haven't been able to and I'm going to stop trying. It's part of the reason this blog has gone all but dormant. Let's just say: we wanted our money back. We wanted to take her back to from where she came, we wanted to stand there and shake our fists and demand our money back. That, it turns out, is not really an option as a parent. For a while there, my little girl felt like such a stranger to me that I was almost spooked. While she struggled through a behavioral issue, Nekos and I held on to one another. We cheers'ed to "Team Barnes" and found some strength someplace. Because we didn't have a clue what to do to help her other than to love her, we put away our attempts at disciplining her for a while and instead dumped a whole bunch of extra tenderness and understanding on her. She responded beautifully. It's true what they say about phases, which is that they pass. Whatever it was Tessa was going through--it vanished as quickly as it came.

We had Tessa's fourth birthday party at our house a couple of weeks ago. There was a breeze on that sunny day and it rustled through all the Disney princess crap we'd strung up above the back porch. Her new Disney princess bicycle with the glittery handlebar streamers was parked in the lawn. Ten little girls came over for maraschino cherry cake and coloring and dress-up. And Cheetos. Tessa loves Cheetos on her birthday. Out front, the tulips and daffodils bloomed, big and bright.