Pin the nose on the old baby portrait

In my mom’s purge of her house, she bequeathed me two 11 x 14 Olan Mills studio portraits of (you guessed it) my younger self.  One of the portraits was of me as a baby; the other was of eighth grade cheerleader me.  Obviously, I was NOT about to hang those anywhere in my house (nor post them here!), but I thought the frames and canvases might be useful separately rather than together.  I removed the backing paper and then pried the canvases from the frames with my bare hands (not kidding), which left me with one potentially interesting brassy frame and one other frame that I decided to send to Goodwill.  I used a pair of pliers to remove the lingering staples.

The brassy frame had two picture hangers in the back, to which I tied a ribbon in order to make a more interesting wall hanging.  The brassy frame was just the piece I needed to help an odd assortment of art and picture frames from Chris’ family come together in the form of a gallery wall.You can’t really get a good angle for a quality picture, so I’ll provide a description.  It looks better in real life, trust me.


Chris’s mom did the cross-stitching matted in green, and the narrow photo is of the yard from his childhood home.   The two pressed flower pieces were gifts from his paternal grandmother; a friend of hers made them.  The plaque (I think it came from Target) says “All because two people fell in love” and was a gift from his youngest brother/mother for our first Christmas as a married couple.  The three mahogany frames were also from his grandmother.  Previously, these pieces seemed out of place in our new beach home, but these aren’t exactly pieces we could part with.  Now, they live happily together in our guest hallway–an empty pass-through space that was begging for some visual interest to make people linger a bit longer.

As for the baby portrait canvases, I decided to make pin boards from them.  Yes, how old-fashioned of me to like a real pin board, right?  I love Pinterest, but when it comes to work productivity, I am one of those people who need to see and touch things in order to remember them.  Electronic reminders just don’t do it for me, much as I love Evernote and other apps.

I planned to remove the scary former-self pics, but that wasn’t happening.  I used some home decor fabric remnants I had leftover from other projects to cover the canvases (Tip: Use home decor fabric, preferably in darker colors, to prevent your former self from staring at you being visible through the fabric.  The orange fabric you see below was sufficient for hiding the soft pastel colors of the baby portrait, but I used a darker blue to hide the cheerleading uniformed me.) I measured my canvases and then cut the fabric, allowing enough extra material to wrap around the canvas and secure at the back (I added roughly 4 inches to the dimensions, making my fabric pieces about 15 x 18, to allow for about two inches extra on each side of the canvas).


I positioned the canvas on the fabric where I wanted it, making sure the pattern was in the desired location, and laid it facedown on the fabric on a flat surface.  You may want to do the positioning before cutting if you have a super large scale print to ensure that what you want to see is what you actually get.


I put too much Tacky Glue on the frame and folded the first side of fabric over the edge of the frame, smoothing it and securing with a big binder clip.  I wiped off excess glue along the way.


I repeated this step three additional times for the other sides, leaving the corners for last.


For the corners, I treated them like upholstering the seats of dining chairs, drawing the fabric taut and securing with glue.


I also used the binder clip to help hold the corners in place while the glue dried to ensure the material stayed taut.


After drying, it looked like this:


Now I have two pin boards that hold inspiration quotes, contact info, my schedule, etc.


You can imagine my mother’s shock when she found out what I did with these old portraits–pleasure at my creative and inexpensive (free) repurposing of useless things and horror at the thought that I am stabbing myself as a wee child.  I suppose it’s a bit creepy, but I do sort of chuckle to myself every time I think “pin the nose on the baby” when I add something to my boards.  So if you find some of those gargantuan portraits of you from your childhood in the attic/basement, you don’t have to burn them.  Your former self can be repurposed to help your current/future self remember things, which is really quite thoughtful of you.  them.  I mean, erm,  I think I’ll end here before this post gets any weirder.


Toto, I don’t think we’re in the bathroom anymore

Almost immediately after we moved into the ‘Zoo, we realized that the toilets (original to the house and Toto brand, hence the title of this post) weren’t in the best shape (peeling, chipping, and permanent stains from household cleaners that took the finish off the seats at some point [we hope]), and while the round, short, squatty-pottyness was ideal for my petite size, Chris was finding the toilet rather awkward for his tall, lanky frame.

Enter two Kohler Cimarrons, chosen for their form, function, reasonable price, and the included quiet close lid/seat.  IMG_3019

They were on sale, plus we got an additional 10%, thanks to coupons from the USPS new address/move coupon package.  The master bath water closet is rather snug (I frequently hit my head on the doorknob of the water closet door when sitting on the toilet), so we elected to go with a round bowl for the master and an elongated bowl for the roomier guest bath.


While Chris was at work, my dad came over to assist me in the install of the first toilet in our master bath.   I handed him parts and tools while asking numerous questions, faintly reminiscent of my childhood.  The tricky part was that the rough-in for the toilet was only 11 1/2″, but no one makes a toilet that size.  We couldn’t find a toilet in our area with a rough-in less than 12 inches, and everything smaller that we saw online was more expensive (what?!).  The original Toto looked like a 12″ rough-in toilet that they had crammed in to fit the 11 1/2″ rough-in (it was quite snug against the wall), and since there was no evidence of leaks or funky odors emanating from the water closet, we took that to mean we could try a 12″, as well.  This complication was one of the reasons my dad was on hand in charge of the operation, given his experience with plumbing.  As luck would have it, the Cimarron fit with plenty of room to spare, in part thanks to its lid that is flush with the back of the tank.  Score one for Kohler.IMG_3020

My dad actually came back later in the evening to help Chris install the second toilet while I painted the master bath.  There are some good tutorials on DIY toilet installation out there already, but here’s some tips we learned along the way.

1.  Ready, set, go.  Don’t purchase a toilet until you are ready to install it, just because you have a coupon burning a hole in your pocket.  Otherwise, you’ll have a bulky box constantly in your way until you get around to installing it, and if you wait too long, you may pass the date for returning it in case something is already broken or missing when you finally open the box.  We let one of our toilets sit in the garage for over a month before installing it, and while this worked out for us, I don’t recommend this added stress.

2.  Rough-in for the win.  Measure the rough-in of your house BEFORE you buy a toilet.  I didn’t realize Chris hadn’t done this before we purchased the toilet for the master bath, so we were very fortunate that our 12″ toilet fit our 11 1/2″ rough-in just fine.  The guest bath did have a standard 12″ rough-in, so no worries there.

3.  Check your list twice.  Read what your toilet purchase includes while you are at the store, so you know what else you may need to buy so that you don’t get home with a toilet you can’t install.  Also, don’t assume that other bloggers’ experiences will be your own.  After reading the Young House Love toilet install posts about having to purchase a wax seal kit separately, I (unnecessarily) panicked after getting home with our first toilet because I didn’t know that Chris had confirmed that the materials did include a wax seal and new bolts.

Also check the details on the separate items you do need to purchase.  Our toilet box materials list said we would need to purchase (separately) a 7/8″ water line for the toilet, but at Lowe’s, we could only find 3/8″ water lines.  After asking for assistance from a Lowe’s employee (don’t be afraid to do this!), he told us that the 7/8″ measurement is for the toilet-end of the line and that the 3/8″ measurement is for the end of the line that connects to the water supply, so Lowe’s had them labeled as 3/8″ lines in big font, but in teeny tiny font below, you could see they also said 7/8″.

4.  Read and follow the directions.  While working with my dad, I noticed that he had this peculiar (male?) tendency to not read/follow the directions.  Ladies, this is why it may be advisable to self-educate by reading the directions for yourself, reading tutorials online, and overseeing the operations/volunteering to help (see #7) to ensure your porcelain throne is safely, securely, and properly installed.

5.  Make a clean start.  Clean your old toilet before starting the removal of it.  That way, you are reaching into a toilet bowl that is as sanitary as it can be, because, even though the water is “clean” that enters the toilet, any residue lingering in the bowl from various bodily functions renders said water unclean.

6.  Sop and stop.  I have a weird thing about dirty sponges.  Sponges can harbor lots of bacteria and general funk.  While most tutorials I saw on toilet removal suggest sopping out the inevitable water remaining in the toilet bowl and tank with a sponge, we used microfiber cloths instead.  They absorb a lot of water, can be wrung out easily into a mop bucket, can should be thrown in your washer on the sanitary cycle afterwards, and can then be used for another dirty job at a later date.  If using a sponge, I’d be throwing it away after a single use, so using the microfiber cloths doesn’t seem to be as wasteful.

 Most people recommend shoving a rag in the sewer pipe to stop the sewer smells from emanating up from the floor after removing the old toilet and before installing the new one, especially if you aren’t installing a new one right away.  Since we were immediately installing a new toilet, we used a small section of wax paper to cover the sewer pipe temporarily instead of soiling a rag that I would want to burn immediately after its use as a sewer-plug. Bleh. {Doesn’t this look like one of those creepy deep ocean creatures BTW?}


7.  Phone a friend.  Having a second person around to help you line up the toilet bowl on the bolts and wax seal is for the best so that you don’t mess  up the seal or miss the bolts and scratch your toilet.  This is difficult in a tight water closet, so finding a pint-sized person to do this job is a good idea.  Some people recommend using drinking straws to help you get the proper bolt-alignment, but we didn’t find this to be remotely necessary.  Maybe if you are doing the job alone this would be helpful, but it would have been overkill for us.

8.   Finger tight is just right.  Resist the temptation to over tighten the bolts.  No need to break the porcelain throne now that you’ve got it set down on the seal so nicely.


9.  Keep a level head  handy.  You don’t want your toilet sealed and sitting sturdily, only to have a wobbly tank.IMG_3034

10.  Almost, but not quite. Caulk around most, but not all, of the toilet.  Leaving a little space at the back uncaulked will enable you to catch leaks as soon as they begin.  I would think this would be particularly good advice for upstairs bathrooms!

A final thought: Make sure that the toilet seat you’ve chosen for your toilet (or the one that comes with the toilet you like), is comfortable enough…before you buy, preferably.  This may mean sitting on toilets in stores and feeling silly, but better to feel silly than to feel uncomfortable every time nature calls.  We love our toilets, but the seats are REALLY uncomfortable (there was no tester toilet available, womp womp).  They slope in dramatically and are made of this horribly hard plastic that is also lightweight and fragile-seeming, which we assume is so they can be the slow/quiet close kind.  I am desperately afraid of cracking our toilet lid, so no sitting or stepping on top of the toilet lid for any reason.  We may investigate other options for toilet seats down the road; for now, we are just glad to have new, pristine toilets that are working well, even if we are a bit bummed about the seats (pun intended).

We may also investigate a single/dual flush feature for additional water savings and a bidet sprayer attachment down the road–these are becoming increasingly popular we hear.  For now, we’re just glad that Toto isn’t in Kansas the bathroom anymore.IMG_3021

Mista Lista: Home To Do/Ta Da List April, May, and June

Mista Lista’s back with a belated post about the KaZoo Get it done already To Do/Ta Da list of home repairs and improvements.  So much for that monthly report!  Perhaps we can do a quarterly update instead (like this one turned out to be-whoops!) now that we are both living in the ‘Zoo together and our schedule is slowing down a bit.  As always, some things are partially crossed out because they are halfway done/in progress. Some things have been added to the list, as other needs/ideas have surfaced in the last couple of months.  Stay tuned for updated pictures, now that we have furniture for realz!



  • Moving gate latch to the inside of the backyard (Surprise! We discovered we did in fact have a gate latch already, but it was put on the outside to allow free access to our backyard to any interested parties…what-tha-what?)  We now realize how the neighbors were able to show other interested buyers the backyard while we were looking at the inside with our realtor!) (2)
  • Cut down imposing magnolia in side yard (2)
  • Trim trees, shrubs, and grasses (2)
  • Remove sago palms in the way of mowing (2)
  • Replace rotted fence board (2)
  • Test/correct sprinkler aim (2)
  • Clear easement behind fence to keep weeds out of our yard (2)
  • Remove overgrown (ugly) hedges (2)
  • Remove scalloped landscape edging (3)
  • Add new plants, mulch, and edging (3)
  • Replace odd flower beds in front yard along walk with brick pavers so that we aren’t stepping out of our car into the flower weed bed (2)
  • Cut down magnolias in backyard (3)
  • Shadowbox wood fence (3)
  • Line fence with crape myrtles for low maintenance privacy and shade (3)
  • Upgrade fence (4)
  • Add sunporch? (4)
  • Add pool? (4)

Paved Areas, Garage, and Attic


  • Fix garage door keyless entry that cannot be reset/changed for some reason (1)
  • Install paddleboard storage to get paddleboard out of the living room (2)
  • Install carpet squares for walking path around garage hazards (2)
  • Build garage racks for storage (2)
  • Uninstall wire shelving and cut to fit Master Bedroom Closet (2)
  • Pressure wash driveway, front sidewalk, and back patio (2)
  • Patch cracked concrete (2)
  • Fix attic stairs (2)
  • Find new home for plywood hurricane window covers to maximize floor space (3)
  • Organize garage shelves and floor areas so we can find things we need to knock out things on the to do list (2)
  • Install second paddle board rack for Amy’s new board (2)
  • Take out rest of yellowed sunbursts in garage door (note the one that is already missing on the far end) (2)
  • Install pegboard, hooks, etc.  for functional vertical storage (3)
  • Add floor to attic for functional storage (3)
  • Paint (3)

House Exterior


  • Change locks (1)
  • Make key copies (1)
  • Install missing roof flashing (2)
  • Replace a couple of missing shingles (2)
  • Replace weather stripping on back door (2)
  • Remove corrosion from back door (2)
  • Buy hurricane shutters to replace plywood (3)
  • New wind standard roof (1)* Note that this used to be a 3.  Post to follow (cue the womp, womp chorus)
  • Fix sad looking house numbers (2)
  • Replace front door (4)
  • Replace garage door with wind standard garage door (4)

House Interior


  • Install new smoke detector batteries (1)
  • Change air filter (1)
  • Install Nest thermostat (2)
  • Install carbon monoxide detector (2)
  • Install reverse osmosis system (2)
  • Replace windows with energy efficient windows (3)
  • Color correct light fixtures and door knobs (4)
  • Replace cracked/Color correct faceplates/sockets/switches (4)

Foyer, Hallways, and Linen Closet


  • Tear out carpet and vinyl tile (1)
  • Scrape ceiling (3)
  • Paint walls and trim (3)
  • Upgrade flooring to hardwoods/real tile (3)
  • Redesign guest linen closet to function as coat closet (we have two linen closets but no coat closet!) (3)
  • Wainscoting, beadboard, board/batten in foyer (some sort of special wall treatment) (4)

Front Bedroom (Guest Bedroom/Home Office)



  • Buy wooden dowel to “lock” broken window (1)
  • Tear out carpet (1)
  • Scrape popcorn ceiling (1)
  • Prime and paint ceiling (1)
  • Prime and paint walls/trim (1)
  • Install MBR ceiling fan so there is a light source and air circulation (this room gets stuffy!) (1)
  • Replace carpet with hardwood (3)
  • Upgrade shelving in closet (4)

Guest/Hall Bathroom


  • Paint walls/trim (3)
  • Replace toilet (3)
  • Replace shower head (3)
  • Replace sink hardware (3)
  • Replace vinyl tile floors with real tile (3)
  • Replace lighting (4)
  • Frame out mirror (4)

Side Bedroom/Nursery


  • Tear out carpet (1)
  • Install ceiling fan from Living Room (2)
  • Replace ceiling (2)
  • Paint walls/trim (3)
  • Upgrade to hardwood floors (3)
  • Upgrade shelving in closet (4)

Living Room


  • Tear out carpet (1)
  • Paint walls/trim (3)
  • Replace carpet with hardwood (3)
  • Take out existing ceiling fan (for bedroom 3) and replace with awesome fan (3)
  • Fix gas fireplace (4)
  • Apply new ceiling (Beadboard? Planked?) (4)

Dining Area


  • Paint walls/trim (3)
  • Replace light fixture (3)
  • Replace floors (tile? hardwood?) (3)
  • Install built-ins for china storage/buffet serving area (4)
  • Apply new ceiling (Beadboard? Planked?) (4)



  • Install our refrigerator (2)
  • Upgrade to gas range so normal family cooking can occur (2)
  • Upgrade range hood to functional one vented outside (instead of recirculating) (2)
  • Add electrical outlet for gas range behind it (currently having to plug it into a counter height wall outlet to the left of the range, maxing out the length of the electrical cord-ugh!) (2)
  • Upgrade dishwasher (3)
  • Paint walls/trim (3)
  • Replace light fixtures (3)
  • Reconfigure island (3)
  • Move refrigerator to where panty is and put new awesome pantry where fridge currently is for more functional layout (right now we can barely open our fridge door against the wall) (3)
  • Replace floors (tile? hardwood?) (3)
  • Install wood cabinets (4)
  • Install new countertops (4)
  • Install new sink and smart faucet (4)
  • Install tile backsplash (4)
  • Upgrade pantry to be cabinet pull-outs instead of wire shelves (4)
  • Apply new ceiling (Beadboard? Planked?) (4)

Laundry Closet


  • Install our washer and dryer (2)
  • Paint walls/trim (3)
  • Replace vinyl floors with real tile (3)
  • Upgrade shelving (3)

Master Bedroom & Master Closet


  • Tear out carpet (1)
  • Scrape ceiling (3)
  • Paint walls/trim (3)
  • Replace ceiling fan with awesome fan (2)
  • Change closet configuration to allow for two levels of hanging (using extra shelving from garage) (3)
  • Replace carpet with hardwood (3)
  • Upgrade shelving in closet to non-wire rack closet system (4)
  • Build out coffered ceiling in MBR (4)

Master Bathroom 



  • Paint walls/trim (3)
  • Replace toilet (3)
  • Replace shower head (3)
  • Install more towel rods and robe hooks (3)
  • Replace vinyl tile floors with real tile (3)
  • Tear out awkward linen closet stealing space from vanity (3)
  • Tear out awkward doorway to toilet/tub/shower area (3)
  • Replace 1 old-person shallow tub/shower combo with 2 person garden tub (3)
  • Tile bath surround (3)
  • Steal space from torn-out linen closet to replace micro-sized “double” vanity with actual double vanity (3)
  • Replace mirror (3)
  • Replace lighting (3)
  • Replace sink hardware (3)

There’s plenty of work left to be done.  Henceforth, at the end of every month, Mista Lista will do an update of the To Do/Ta Da List post of what the KaZoos have accomplished (and what’s left to tackle).  We hope this will be good motivation for the KaZoos to turn the to do list into a “ta- da” list as soon as possible.  Plus, we suspicion that as we settle into our house more, we will have more ideas for nifty upgrades like cool shelves in the guest bath to help with storage and maximize the dead floor space around the toilet, so the to do side of the list will probably also grow.


KaZoo Kraziness

Hi, folks.  In case you haven’t noticed, we KaZoos have been rather quiet over the past couple of months.  There’s been a lot happening around the ‘Zoo that has kept us away from blogland (collecting dissertation data out of state, family and friends visiting on vacation, cross country there-and-back-again trippage), but we have been doing a lot of projects that will soon be featured on the blog.  We definitely owe you a couple of posts about what we’ve accomplished in the last two months, among other things.  Stay tuned!