kate tiki drinkI’m not entirely sure what happened to the last month. It sped by at warp speed and I suddenly realized I hadn’t posted anything on here in what seems like eons. In the last month, I’ve had my focus set on so many different projects and experiences that it is no wonder I haven’t written anything this blog in a while.

When I last posted, I had just returned from a weekend away at a friend’s wedding. Since then, these are just a few of the things I’ve been up to:

  • My adorable husband Jim was away on a business trip and the evening he returned home, my best friend and her husband flew in for a long weekend visit at the Retro Ranch — loads of fun!
  • The following week I set off for my annual trip to visit my parents in Tennessee and was gone for 5 days
  • I attended a party at my neighbor’s house that lasted until after midnight
  • Met a good friend for dinner and catching up on life
  • Went to a memorial service for another longtime friend of mine, an artist and mentor who passed away at age 87
  • Put up our screen porch tiki lounge for the summer
  • Pulled countless weeds in our yard and gardens
  • Planted my raised bed vegetable garden for the year
  • Mulched everywhere
  • Put down lots of grass seed
  • Cleaned up and spray painted my new, old patio set
  • Went to The Hukilau
  • And much more!

You might imagine that I’m exhausted from all of this, but in fact, the opposite is true. Sure, there were points during this long string of activities that wiped me out big time — but our yard is really starting to come together, our veggies are growing and The Hukilau was so much fun (and a much needed vacation to the beach) that I’m feeling pretty good right now.

In the next two weeks, I have tons more to do to prepare for our 4th annual Christmas in July celebration and hosting my family for their week or so long stay — not to mention a few other projects I am trying to get done before then. I’ll try my best to give you all updates on the many projects I’ve been working on and neat new stuff I’ve found in the last month, but for today, let’s just check out a few pictures from my trip to The Hukilau in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Pam was nice enough to let me come with her and help with our Symposium: Create You’re Own Suburban Savage Paradise! Even though she did most of the talking. I got to meet a lot of awesome people, sample many fruity, rum-filled cocktails and spend lots of time ogling both the decor at the Mai Kai Restaurant and the beautiful beach in Fort Lauderdale. There will be plenty of stories over on Retro Renovation detailing everything, but I thought I’d share a few photos from Jim and my personal experience that wouldn’t be shown otherwise.

beach grassbeachft lauderdale beachkate in oceantiki mermaid katebeach rocks

kate oceanI hadn’t been to the ocean in about ten years, so I was like “a kid in a candy store” according to Jim. All I wanted to do every night and in all our spare time was go for walks on the beach. Being on the beach floods me with memories of my childhood trips to the beach with my Nana and Bob, who used to live about a mile from the Gulf in Mississippi. Every childhood visit to see them involved a whole lot of time spent building sand castles, splashing in the waves and walking on the beach. It felt good to be back.

jim beach jim the beach bum Jim mai kai sign kate and jim matching tikijim mai KaiKate Mai Kaijim mai kai jim mai kai gardens jim gardens Mai Kai jim tiki katetiki jim tiki friend kates tiki friend kate with drinkThe Mai Kai was amazing. I’ve never been to any place quite like it before. Jim and I sampled numerous drinks while we were there (over several days of course) including: The Mutiny, Jet Pilot, Zombie, Wahine Delight, Mai Kai Swizzle, Shark Bite, Shrunken Skull, 151 Swizzle, Special Planters Punch, Deep Sea Diver, Zula, Chocolate Snowflake and a sip from the Mystery Bowl — a large cocktail that arrives in a bowl, accompanied by a special dance that serves 4-6 people.

kate jim hukilauYou can check out the first post about Pam and my experiences at The Hukilau on RetroRenovation – and tomorrow am, check back on RetroRenovation for another post about the Mai Kai and it’s fabulous decor.

I promise I’ll be back here again soon! Aloha!


little-houseThis past weekend, Jim and I made the trip down to DeKalb, Illinois to attend the wedding of our close friends — which is why we are all dressed up in this picture. To my delight, just outside where the wedding reception was taking place, was the most adorable miniature house. Of course we had to get our photo taken in front of it!

KateJimWeddingThe house was used as a playhouse for the children of the wealthy family who originally owned the historic Ellwood House, which has now been turned into a museum.

katekathieweddingThat’s my mother-in-law and I trying to look cute in front of the cutest little house we’ve ever seen! After Jim took this photo, he retreated to the car to change out of the uncomfortable dress shoes that came with his rental tux (he was in the wedding) and my mother-in-law and I snuck around back.

katelittlehouseThere was a very nice man sanding and painting the exterior of the house and he told us we were welcome to go inside. I was thrilled to say the least.

kathielittlehouseThe house had a few small rooms, all of which were painted white. Though the doorways were a bit low for adults, the main areas of each room were tall enough for us to comfortably stand up. I know this playhouse is more of a Victorian style than midcentury, but what I wouldn’t give to have one of these in my back yard — I’m not too old to have a playhouse right? If given the opportunity, I would gladly spend a day hanging out in this adorable little building, wouldn’t you?



rocks-beforeHigh temperatures in the 50s and 60s over the past weekend plus a sale on river rock at Menards put me in the mood to get the outdoor project I started last summer finished. The space on the other side of the basement doors was nothing but mud, especially since the gutter downspout and sump pump drain line run through this area, sometimes dripping into the dirt below. Once the mud pile has formed, Leo likes to walk in this dirty area obsessively, because every time the sump pump kicks in and shakes the drain hose, he thinks there is an animal running around in there.

theressomethinginthereLeo, there is not an animal in there, it is the sump pump kicking water out!

ibetitsthechipmunkOh brother.

Leo has this ongoing feud with a chipmunk that sometimes likes to take siestas in our wood pile. Don’t ask.

Anyway, before I could put down the rocks to cover up this mud pit, I had to remove several wheelbarrows full of dirt. The last owners of the house had put so much extra dirt in this garden bed, that it was piling up against the metal basement door, causing it to rust. Not good. When you do that much digging, you never know what you might find. Suddenly, I shrieked. Is that a dead fish?

dead-fishOk, so maybe it wasn’t a dead fish, it just looked like one. The fish was actually a plastic toy, but it sure scared the heck out of me when I hit it with the shovel. Once the fish was removed and the dirt leveled out, I put down some landscape fabric to keep the weeds at bay and then laid down the rock.

landscaping-rocks-pebblesLuckily the ten bags I picked up were just enough to cover the area. I also busted out the rain barrel I bought two summers ago that I hadn’t yet used. The year I purchased the rain barrel, it never rained, so I didn’t hook it up. Last year I was too into the bathroom project to even think about rain barrels, so I forgot about it. I made myself a promise that I would use it this year. Now I just need to modify the gutter so it diverts rain into the barrel. Let’s see how many years that takes me…

landscaping-rocksI think the finished area looks great, but I’m most excited about there not being a huge mud pit for the dog to walk into and then subsequently track into the house.

rocks-and-pavers all-rocks-inWhile I was admiring my work, the sump pump kicked on and Leo jumped into action, trying to “chase” the chipmunk — but — no muddy paws this time. Yay!

illholdthis notachipmunkThat’s one scary looking fish toy, don’t you think? Definitely not a chipmunk.

The day was still young and I decided to tackle another eyesore in the back yard, this mass of buckthorn:

buckthornIt doesn’t look like much now, because the buckthorn have no leaves, but trust me, this clump of invasive shrubs becomes a real mess once things start to grow. This area has also been known to harbor a few rabbit nests, which Leo ultimately discovers and destroys. Let’s just say I’m removing their temptation and saving myself some serious bunny body clean up work in the future.

buckthorn-goneAfter another hour or so of work, the area was free of buckthorn. Unfortunately, I had also created another mud hole for Leo to run through. Le sigh.




retro-ceramic-lampDuring my last trip to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, this ceramic lamp caught my eye. For a mere $5 it was all mine. The ceramic lamp base itself is in perfect shape, though I will need to rewire it and locate a shade.

retro-glazed-lampThe all-over square indents give this lamp a nice texture — as does the speckled glaze that was used. Kinda reminds me of a waffle cone. Yum.

mid-century-lamp mid-century-tiki-lampWhen I saw the lamp, I thought it would be perfect for when we finish our basement to create a tiki lounge — a project that is still years away. It is never too early to start the hunt for vintage goodies though, right? While I’m in no hurry to find one, I’m a little stuck on what shape the lampshade should be. The lamp would look great with a colorful shade, burlap shade or even an off white plain shade, but the shape? I’m just not sure. I tried looking for a similar lamp on Ebay, but had no luck. I’d love to hear your shade suggestions!


regrouting-a-showerFinally! After 18+ hours of work, the hall bathroom tiled shower walls are re-grouted and re-caulked! Now that my hands and my sanity have had time to recover from that project, lets take a look at some great before, during and after shots.

moldy-groutAs you may recall, my minty green hall bathroom has a history of moisture issues. When the second owners of our house replaced the original vent fan, they installed it incorrectly which basically made the fan make a lot of noise but not really suck any moisture out of the space. After about 15 years of this, the bathroom had suffered some icky side effects, the worst of which was the deteriorating grout and caulk in the shower.

missing-moldy-groutSince we’ve already replaced the fan with a quieter model that actually works correctly, the next step was to fix all of the missing and perma-moldy grout in order to avoid further water related issues from moisture getting behind the wall tiles.

shower-before-regroutIf I was going to do this tedious job, I only wanted to do it once, so I decided to remove all the grout from the entire shower surround area and re-grout using the same anti-microbial, waterproof SpectraLOCK Epoxy grout that I installed in my pink bathroom remodel to make sure I wouldn’t have to worry about the condition of the grout in the shower for a very very very long time.

missing-shower-groutBefore I removed any grout, I made sure to give the shower walls a good scrubbing to clean off any gunk or scuz on them. This way I could be sure that nothing icky would be hanging around for when it was time to re-grout the tiles. The next step was to remove the grout. The SpectraLOCK website suggests removing half of the depth of the old grout before re-grouting for maximum adhesion. I started working with a hand grout saw like this one from Menards, which worked fine but after a while the blade started to dull and my hand started to ache. Surely there had to be a better tool for removing a lot of grout at once. Enter this grout removal attachment for my Dremel tool. Using a high speed mechanical tool on my thin grout lines made me nervous. Some grout lines were too thin for the Dremel bit, but it did blast the old grout out of the normal to wider sized grout lines much more quickly and easily than using the hand saw. It also makes a lot bigger mess (make sure to wear proper safety equipment during the grout removal process!) For the super thin grout lines I used a utility knife with a sharp blade to scratch out the grout. Removing all of the grout from every square inch of a shower surround is not a job that you’ll want to do all in one sitting. I broke it up over three weekends and worked for about 5 or 6 hours at a time until the job was done. Midway through the grout removal task I was wondering why I chose to torture myself with mind numbing, torturous, hand killing boredom like this, but then I reminded myself that I also hated the look of moldy and missing grout and so I soldiered on.

missing-groutIn addition to removing all of the grout, I also scraped off all of the old caulk and some yellowy stain splashes that ran the entire length of the trim around the door. Apparently someone was careless with the stain when they replaced the likely rotten original trim for the new trim that we have now. Yellowy stains are not a good look for a white tile bathroom. These three skinny pieces of tile at the bottom corner of the tub must have suffered some water damage because they were all unglued from the wall and held in place with a massive amount of caulk. I pried each tile out one at a time and then scraped all of the caulk off each one before breaking out some leftover mortar from my pink bathroom project to re-adhere them to the wall. In my haste to clean up this part of the tile, I didn’t take a before picture, though you all would have gagged at the sight of it, so in hindsight it is probably a good thing that I didn’t.

prepping-for-epoxy-groutWith all of the grout, stain and globby caulk removed and dusty mess cleaned up, I gave the tile a good wipe down with a wet rag and then got to work taping off the tub to prepare for the epoxy grout. Since epoxy grout will bond with whatever it touches, it is very important not to allow any to dry on the tub or anywhere else except in the grout lines or it may not ever come off.

epoxy-groutThe epoxy grouting took about half a day of work for prep, grouting and clean-up. I only used two kits for my entire shower surround since most grout lines only needed to be filled half way.

regrouted-showerWere the results of all that hard work worth it in the end? I sure think so!

regrouted-shower-tubThe shower looks as good as it probably did when the house was built in 1962. Now the shower feels clean, for the first time since we owned the house. No longer will I be ashamed at the state of our hall bathroom shower or have to explain to our guests that yes, I really did clean it before they arrived.

new-caulk-in-showerTo finish off the job, I re-caulked all of the seams between the tub and tile and in the corners of the walls.

grout-repairedI was careful not to use too much caulk on this skinny strip of tile between the trim and tub. It is amazing how much cleaner this part of the tile looks now! The whole project cost me less than $100 — though it took quite a bit of time to get the job done. In the end, I’m happy I did it this way, but for anyone that only has a small amount of missing or moldy grout and doesn’t want to take on a project of this magnitude, using a hand grout saw or utility knife to scrape out the problem areas, re-grout them and then seal the grout is a very doable solution.

retro-tile-floorOf course the excitement of my clean, newly re-grouted shower didn’t last too long before I realized how bad it made the floor look.

loose-floor-tileSeveral of the floor tiles are missing grout as well or are broken or loose. While I’m not ready to start Phase 2 of the hall bathroom remodel yet, I do need to start thinking about what I’ll use to replace the floor tile in here. Until then, I think I’ll tackle a few outdoor projects, and enjoy some of the warmer months outside this year instead of stuck inside in a bathroom.