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One Room Challenge Week 2: Planning a French Bistro Inspired Bathroom

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Ch-ch-ch- changes. It’s week 2 of the One Room Challenge and I’m still designing on the fly, making decor changes as we go. In week 1, I shared an initial design plan for our bathroom renovation. I wanted a look that was timeless and classic… but the design just wasn’t feeling quite right.

It turns out all I needed was the right inspiration.

French bistro style, wood panelling, subway tile wall

I’ve talked about Cluny here on the blog before. It’s one of my favourite bistros in the city, and is overflowing with decor inspiration. I took the above photo in their bathroom three years ago and I’ve had it filed away in my brain for reference ever since. I love how the simple subway tile is elevated when paired with wood trim and panelling. Taking that idea, of mixing materials, led me to this new and improved design plan for our bathroom renovation:

French bistro style, French bathroom, black white marble, one room challenge bathroom renovation

French bistro style, French bathroom, black white marble, one room challenge bathroom renovation

As you can see, I’ve taken that French bistro inspiration and run with it! 😉

There’s a moment that happens in design or architecture that you call ‘unlocking the plan’. It’s difficult to explain but you know it when you reach it… when you push the design far enough, try out options, until you reach “perfection” and all the elements fall in place and feel right. I’ve only reached that moment only occasionally but when I do, the plan turns out infinitely better.

To remind you, here’s the room we’re working with:

 one room challenge bathroom renovation

To test my concept, I did a rendering. I printed out the photo above in black and white on my printer, and then using tracing paper, I created a rough sketch on top of what the new bathroom would look like. Here’s a little video of the sketch in action:

Sorry for the small size, but hopefully you get the idea. You can also see it on my Instagram highlights. Doing a rendering is a great way to see how your idea will look in real life. 
Taking inspiration from Cluny, we’re going to be putting moulding and trim on almost all of the walls. On the vanity wall, the moulding will be restricted to a border around the perimeter, with a field of subway tile inside. The juxtaposition of high (moulding) and low (subway tile) in design always inspires me. The effect will be reminiscent of Paris subways and French cafes. Paris is one of our most favourite cities in the world so to have that feeling at home is exciting.

What are the elements of French bistro style?

Typically, it involves:
– subway tile
– black and white
– globe lights
– rattan bistro chairs
– brass hardware
– antiqued mirror
– marble
– open shelving
– chalkboards or vintage art
– linen
– warm woods

You can see how I’ve incorporated many of these in my bathroom design. French bistro style is popular for kitchens – why not use it to inspire a bathroom as well? The marble floor tile and vanity from The Home Depot Canada and the champagne gold Trinsic features from Delta Faucet Canada are the design heavyweights in this scheme but I can truly say I love every element shown in the plan.

All of that sounds well and good, but how much progress have we really made around here? This is what the vanity wall is looking like…

And here’s the tub area:

We’ve taken out most of the wall tile and have had the electrician in to install new boxes for the lights and to disconnect the jacuzzi tub. Once we finish removing the shower wall tiles, we’ll take out the tub and then the floor tiles. And then we can start building everything back up! New cement board and new drywall will go in first followed by the new tub and so.much.tiling!!


Want to see how everyone else is doing? Head to the ORC blog to see progress on 300 other renovation projects!

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Things to think about when developing shotgun metagenome classifiers

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So I was talking to someone about how we think about benchmarking and
developing sourmash, and then it
got long and kind of interesting, so I decided to write it up as a
blog post.

(I asked Luiz Irber for comments, and he had the best reaction ever:
“many feels, no time to write them, mostly agree, publish”)

When benchmarking, often people end up comparing their tool to tools developed to tackle different problems. To no big surprise, the first tool ends up winning out.

Here are questions that we asked ourselves, or decisions we made implicitly, when developing sourmash. Many of these have direct or indirect implications for benchmarking.

Are we developing a library, a command line application, or a Web site? It’s hard to do more than one at a time well. We’ve decided to focus on command line with sourmash, as a light wrapping around a Python library (which was a light wrapping around a C++ library, and will soon be a light wrapping around a Rust library). I think after 3 years we’ve reached a level of maturity where we could also support a Web site (but we don’t really have the focus in the lab to do a good job of it, and would prefer to support someone else if they want to do it).

How sensitive to coverage do we want to be? Phillip Brooks showed that sourmash is really specific and very sensitive, until you have fewer than (approximately) 10,000 reads from your genome of interest. Once your data set has fewer than 10,000 reads from a genome in it, we can’t really detect that genome. (This is of course a tradeoff in terms of speed, underlying approach, database size, etc., and we’re happy with that tradeoff.)

Do we envision our tool being used in isolation, or as one part of an exploratory pipeline? We are firmly in the camp of using sourmash to do hypothesis generation, following which more compute intensive approaches are probably appropriate. For example, sourmash can tell you which known species are in your metagenome, but we haven’t focused too much on assessing how much of those species’ genomes are there – after all, that’s (fairly) easy to do once you narrow down the list of possible genomes. And again, there are tradeoffs with many of the other design considerations below. But if we wanted to have a single software package that did everything we would design it differently (and it would be a lot harder, since you’d probably want to use multiple methods).

Do we envision our tool being used by programmers? We really like having scriptable tools in our lab. That means the tool has decent command line behavior, has a high level Python API, and consumes and emits standard formats. This may not be what everyone wants to focus on though!

Do we care about speed? Premature optimization can make your codebase ugly and complex. We’ve chosen (for now) to instead go with a fairly simple code base, which we then test the bejeezus out of. It supports optimization (Luiz Irber has done some amazing things with a profiler 🙂 but we are against trading simple code for speed, because this is a research platform.

What are our desired memory, disk, and time performance metrics? Do we care about one over the other? In general, we have chosen to prioritize low memory over performance, and performance over low disk space. But this isn’t clear cut, and depends a lot on what methods we find interesting and implementable.

What’s our desired database resolution? Do we want ALL the genomes? Or just some genomes? We made the decision with sourmash to go for ALL the genomes. This causes problems when you think about the next few questions…

What’s our desired taxonomic resolution? We implicitly settled on strain-level resolution as our goal for sourmash gather, largely because of the algorithm we chose. (It works quite well for that!) But, unsurprisingly, sourmash gather performs quite poorly when looking at organisms from novel genera and families. It’s actually quite hard to do both well.

Who updates the database? And is it easy and straightforward to build new databases, or not? We worked hard on a friendly and flexible database building toolchain, because we expect new genomes to come out on a (very) regular basis (and we wanted to include them in our databases, based on our desired resolution).

Do we want to support private databases, or not? We really like the idea of people using our tool in the privacy of their own lab to search their own collections of genomes. This means that we need to forego certain requirements (e.g. an NCBI taxid).

Do we want a big centralized database, or not? One of our big concerns about models for database distribution & update that require one massive database, that can only realistically be updated by one group, is that they tend to go stale over time (as the group loses interest, etc.) Maintenance is not the strong suit of academic researchers :). So Luiz Irber has been working on IPFS and Dat-based models for database decentralization. This will (soon) permit incremental database updates without massive database download, among other things.

What’s our publication model? Do we want others to use our software for cool things? Or are we trying to publish our own innovative methods that we try and get into high impact-factor journals? Are we building a platform for others to build their own tools? Are we playing around with different methods and ideas and so on? We’re not particularly interested in high-impact factor journals for sourmash, and we have a surprising number of people just using it do their own thing, so we’ve opted for providing citation handles via JOSS and F1000Research.

How do we decide what functionality belongs in sourmash? Did we have explicit use cases that we decided up front? Or do we discover them as we go? I’m much more comfortable doing iterations, finding users, and waiting for inspiration to strike, than I am in planning out sourmash years in advance. But then again, I’m an academic researcher and this fits our needs; we’re not trying to serve a particular community.

What’s our contribution model? Are you interested in supporting collaboration and community development? Or are you interested in limiting external contributions to potential use cases? We are OK interested in both, but it adds a certain level of chaos and coordination challenges to the situation.


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Bathroom Tiling Tips {Bathroom Renovation Week 3}

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It’s week 3 of the Jeffrey Court Renovation challenge, and we’re chugging right along! Today we’re looking at the progress we’ve made so far and I’m sharing some bathroom tiling tips.

Well, I’m officially exhausted.

Doing a major bathroom renovation in six weeks is no joke, and this week I am feeling it.

But, oh boy, do we ever have some progress!

If you’re new here, let me catch you up. We’re participating in the Jeffrey Court Renovation challenge, which is a competition-style challenge where 15 different bloggers are all renovating rooms in their home in just 6 weeks. One person will win $5,000 at the end, and we’re seriously hoping it’s us – you can VOTE FOR US beginning today by clicking right here! We’re renovating our kids’ bathroom, and I’m so, so excited to get it done.

This week was all about the tile. As a reminder, we’re using Jeffrey Court’s 6X18 Carrera Ink Jet Tile for the shower and the 7X7 Castelletto for the floor. You can see this week’s renovation log below, or you can click here to watch the video on YouTube!

woman tiling shower with text overlay - "bathroom tiling tips"

This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

I’ve already done a full tutorial on how to tile, so I’m going to skip that here. Instead, I’m going to share a few tips and tricks specific to tiling in the bathroom, and just show you some pretty pictures of how things are looking so far.

After demo was complete and everything was cleaned (including replacing some insulation and plastic moisture barrier), we re-installed backer board. We’ve learned through renovating a couple of bathrooms that a lot of homes just have drywall behind the shower tile. This isn’t ideal! This one actually had two layers of drywall under the tile, which you can tell if you look back at the before photos and note how far the tile sticks out from the wall. It was strange, and the look always bothered me! We installed cement backer-board, which is meant for areas that are exposed to a lot of water, and it should be much longer-lasting.

bathroom mid-renovation with cement backer board and drywall

You can see here that we also had a bit of regular drywall to replace in the room. We put up the drywall but haven’t done any taping or patching yet. The walls will need a bit of work before I paint, including taping the drywall, removing some wallpaper that we discovered under the trim, and adding some texture on the new drywall to match the old walls. I’m a bit nervous about making it all look good, but that’s a problem for future Amanda.

Current Amanda is just glad the tiling is done!

Once all of the concrete backer board was taped and sealed, it was (finally!) time to tile! Here are a few quick tips and thoughts about tiling in a bathroom that will hopefully help you out:

Tips for tiling in a bathroom

  • As a reminder, we’re using this tile in the shower and this tile on the flooring.
  • It’s much less messy to apply the mortar to the tile and not the wall. It took me a long time to learn this, and it’s especially effective with large-scale tile like the ones we used in the shower. When you’re applying mortar on the wall, it can often drip down and create a mess on the tiles below it and in the bathtub (or floor). Instead, just apply some mortar to the tile then put it on the wall.
  • If you need to cut a hole for the bathtub or shower faucet, you can just attach one of these simple hole saw bits to your regular drill. It’s incredible easy (I was honestly surprised), and the bit costs less than $20!
bathtub surround being tiled
  • Be sure to lay out a row of tile in both the shower and on the floor to dry fit it before you install anything. It would be terrible to just start installing and then realize that the last tile in one of your rows will only need to be 1″ thick! Just lay them on the floor to get a general idea of what the sizing will be, and as long as one side isn’t absurdly short, you’ll be fine.
  • If you need to stop for longer than an hour or so, take the time to clean up your work area. Use a bucket of water and a wet washcloth to scrub any of the drippy mortar from the bathtub and the tiles you’ve already installed. It’s a huge pain to scrape it off once it’s fully dried, but it’s easy before it sets. I had to do this a few different times, since I was mostly working after the kids were in bed or during nap times.
  • Bathroom with patterned tile
    • Use a level as you work to be sure each row you lay is level, and you can also use it along the ends to be sure the row going up the wall is level too. We’ll be installing some trim pieces to finish out the bathtub surround, so it was important that the main tile was laid in a perfectly straight line.
    • If you have a small bathroom, consider a large-scale tile! As soon as I started tiling, I notice how much bigger the bathroom felt with the large tiles in the shower. It feels so luxurious, and I love how it looks.

    I cannot emphasize enough how excited I am about how this bathroom is coming together. This tile is beyond gorgeous, and I’m pretty thrilled with our choices.

    On the agenda this week is grouting (which will make aaaaall the difference!), installing the tub and shower faucets, and hopefully getting the toilet installed so we can have more than one functioning bathroom again!

    Close up of patterned floor tile

    Be sure to go check out the progress from the other designers, and this is the first week you can VOTE for your favorite (which is us, right?). I can’t tell you how much I’d appreciate if you’d click over and vote for us!

    The post Bathroom Tiling Tips Bathroom Renovation Week 3 appeared first on Love & Renovations.

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How to Gather Fabric using Bakers Twine

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Inevitably, if employ a basting stitch to gather a complete skirt or a large piece of fabric, curse words ensue. At my house.   That is my beloved new way to gather fabric on big projects and lets just say it has come in handy since I am sewing 7 women dresses for a wedding day. Test it, you may thank me later;-RRB-

Here is How:
Cut a part of baker’s twine (or any string) long enough fit round the fabric you want to gather and then a number. You want about 4 inches of hangover where you start and where you complete. 
Place you sewing machine to some zig zag stitch and make the width and length or your stitch long enough to sew the baker’s twine with outside really attaching it into the cloth.   I put mine to a 6 width and a 3 length. 
Hold a series set up and zig zag on it (photo 1) leaving tail about 4 inches of string in which you begin. Do not hurry and get it.  
It should appear something like picture 2 when you are finished and as shown in photograph 3 leave another tail where the end. 
Then simply pull on the string while pushing the fabric in the opposite direction. It is nearly impossible to break the series so that you may be as aggressive as you’d like. Just pull out the string When you’ve sewn your piece that is gathered to the remainder of your job and save it. 

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Dollar General details store openings, improvements

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Money General will open 975 new places and redesign 1,000 existing shops this season, together with self-checkouts and improvements to segments including beauty and health, the company said. The 15,300-store merchant will also enlarge its new food and home products offerings, also it’therefore developing a digital plan designed because of its core base of lower-income customers. Read the CNN story here

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Pouring a Large Slab by Yourself with Sakrete Crack Resistant Concrete

Have you ever wanted to pour a large concrete slab on your property but felt like the only way was to hire a contractor or bring in extra help? For most DIYers the idea of pouring concrete is firmly in the realm of “hire a pro”, especially if we’re talking about something more than a few square feet.

I’m going to show you that’s not always true.

I used Sakrete Crack Resistant Concrete to create the garden area slab shown here over a weekend. Here are a few design highlights:

  • The slab is 9’ x  9’ for a total of 81sf
  • The grid pattern forms look great and make this an easy one person project
  • Sakrete’s Crack Resistant Mix requires no extra reinforcement
  • This is a very low-cost, high-durability, beautiful hardscape project

This project allowed me to easily convert an unused and kind-of ugly portion of my backyard into my new favorite outdoor spot.

Large Slabs Usually Mean Extra People, Equipment, and Expense

The thing with larger slabs is that they usually require the entire amount of required concrete at one time. If you don’t pour the whole thing at once, you get cold joints. Cold joints happen when concrete poured into a slab is allowed to partially or completely dry before more concrete is added. Cold joints usually don’t look good at all.

In order to get all the needed concrete ready to pour at once, people often call for a concrete delivery from a ready-mix company. Unfortunately, a slab this size only requires about one cubic yard of concrete. Ready mix concrete trucks (the big concrete trucks that deliver concrete and spin) usually have a three yard minimum order. So that won’t work for a slab this size.

In this situation people often go for “U-Cart” type concrete where you go to a provider who rents you a trailer with a yard of mixed and ready-to-pour concrete in it. The problem with that is that you need to be able to get the trailer pretty close to the work area, or you’re going to need to wheelbarrow the concrete a long distance. Wheelbarrowing wet concrete isn’t fun. I promise.

The other issue with pouring one yard of concrete at one time is the manpower. In order to place and finish that amount of concrete before it starts to set-up, it usually means extra people are required.

I wanted to do my project by myself, without any heavy equipment or trailers to return, and I didn’t want to be rushed.

The Grid Form System

The solution to my problem was the grid shaped forms you see in the photos.

This simple “tic-tac-toe” pattern form made of pressure treated 2×4’s provided me with a number of solutions.

  • An improved look – I love the grid pattern and the way the slab looks like large tiles.
  • Easy Placing and Finishing – Doing a good job on a 3’x3’ section of concrete is much easier than doing a good job on a 9’x9’ section of concrete, especially for a novice.
  • Timing flexibility – I could do one square a day if I wanted to. There is no need to pour the whole slab at once. I did my project over a period of two days.

Creating the grid was easy and only took a couple of hours, eight 10’ long pressure treated 2×4’s, and a handful of coated deck screws.

My area was already sufficiently level, but you would easily be able to level your form with some fill dirt as needed.

A Few Embedded Screws Will Help Long Term

There is a chance that EVENTUALLY (many years from now) the screws holding the forms together could rust through, so in order to keep the perimeter forms from ever falling away, I placed a few screws inside the forms to connect them to the concrete. These aren’t meant as reinforcement, it’s just a little insurance to keep the wood from falling away from the edge.

Sakrete Crack Resistant Concrete

I chose the Sakrete Crack Resistant Concrete Mix after having been so pleased with it on a driveway repair I did last year. This is the perfect concrete for a slab like mine because I wanted to be able to just pour the concrete in without the need for steel wire reinforcement. For a garden type slab like this I just needed a great, easy to mix concrete that would be less likely to develop cracks. This product fit the bill perfectly. It was easy to finish and will stay looking great for many years to come.

I needed about 5 bags per square… 9×5 = 45

45 Eighty pound bags… no problem. I went and picked it up so loading and unloading the truck (two trips) was a chore! Save yourself the trouble and just have your retailer deliver it!

Mixing is Easy

I did all my mixing in a wheelbarrow right in the slab area. This way, after the concrete was mixed I could just dump the wheelbarrow.

  1. Dump a bag or two into the wheelbarrow, the less concrete you mix at once the easier it is to mix-up, but the more times you have to repeat the process. You can decide what’s comfortable for you.
  2. Add water per the mix ratio shown on the bag. Extra water can be easier to mix, but it weakens the concrete. In my case I wasn’t too worried about the concrete being at the full specified 4000 psi, so I added a little bit of extra water.
  3. Mix it up well, then pour it in the square.

Each 3’x3’ square takes about 5 bags.

Finishing the Concrete

One thing about being a general contractor is that the skills you develop are often exactly that… general. I’m generally able to finish concrete. I understand all the steps and the general principles. But I do not think I’d do well finishing a 9’x9’ slab by myself.

But 3’x3’… that I can handle! The beauty of this project is that the squares can be finished one at a time using simple tools. Here’s all I needed:

  • steel tooth garden rake (not shown in photo)
  • a 16” trowel
  • a concrete edger
  • A straight board for leveling off the concrete
  • A flat shovel
  • Water

Follow these simple steps to finish the concrete:

  1. Use the rake to spread and roughly level the concrete.
  2. Use the board to level off the concrete and get a trowel ready surface.
  3. Use the trowel to smooth off the top of the surface as it begins to dry.
  4. Use the edger tool to create a nice edge along the perimeter of each square.

This video shows these steps:

Leftover Concrete in a Rubber Baking Mold Makes for Awesome Concrete Candles!That’s about all there is too it!

Here are a few more pictures showing the finished product.

Leftover Concrete in a Rubber Baking Mold Makes Awesome Concrete Candles!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sakrete. The opinions and text are all mine.

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How to Sweep a Floor, Remodeler’s Edition

I experienced the custom of college once I lived with a half dozen additional reprobates in a shambolic wood-frame home on the border of campus in the reduced Iowa prairie. Our home was a standard undergraduate hovel, together with yellowed linoleum tiles which curled up at the seams and a Sears stove that had not been cleaned since the 1950s. Some sort of rodent dwelt behind it.

One of my roommates, a true free thinker, was that the first to carry up sweeping. Gradually, it caught up with the others of us and me particularly. Sweeping perceptibly improved your home in almost imperceptible ways. Though our rooms had been still cluttered with novels and bongs and beer bottlesand no one could possibly be bothered to choose the full garbage bags out to the curb (we stacked them from the kitchen), the flooring surely felt cleaner. The linoleum was filthy, but there clearly is no grit between the cracks. An individual could wander around barefoot, without worrying about beer bottle caps sticking to one’s feet.

In time, I came to understand the way the rigorous act of crossing would be itself as rewarding as the result of experiencing sailed. Sweeping, like washing the dishes after a huge social gathering, strikes a satisfying blow against entropy. It’s mechanical and meditative. One may certainly get lost inside itif you do it right. Let us get going.

Inch. Arm your self.

A pair of 54-inch brooms from Haydenville Broomworks; according to the makers, “Using the design pioneered by the Shakers, the broom heads are stitched flat to provide a wider sweep and the broomcorn is secured to the handle using wire.” I have the Traditional Broom (shown above L) with a long Sassafras handle that’s smooth to the touch; $65. The no-frills Shaker Broom (shown above R) has a flat head and a sanded pine handle; $40 from Haydenville Broomworks.

Above: a couple of 54-inch brooms out of Haydenville Broomworks; as stated by the manufacturers,”Together with the design pioneered by the Shakers, the eyebrow heads are stitched horizontal to supply a larger sweep and the broomcorn is secured to the deal with wire.” I possess the Traditional Broom (shown above L) with an extended Sassafras handle that’s smooth to the touch; $65. The no frills Shaker Broom (shown preceding ep ) has a flat head and a walnut handle; even $40 in Haydenville Broomworks.

You’re going to require an adequate broom, a dustpan, and a hand broom. From”adequate,” after all that a Shaker broom, formulated by the same individuals who snore a sternly sex-less way of life and embarrassing ladder back chairs. (Formerly brooms had”round” heads bound at a form of cylinder. Think of the racket that a witch rides) An round rectangle is an OK contour for sweeping out narrow spaces, like fireplaces and also the spot supporting the oven at which the bark lived, however it’s inefficient for sweeping a wide, indoor floor.

My Shaker broom, with a pleasing-to-touch, crooked sassafras natural and handle claws, originated from Haydenville Broomworks and put me back $65. I believe it an investment decision. Or you may go to a hardware store and get a inexpensive, $10 broom that will begin to lose its bristles a week, that I wouldn’t recommend unless you desire to devote the remainder of one’s life hating your broom.

Get your self a hand broom to sweep your debris stack in your dust bin.

The dust-pan yet is another, much darker story. 99 out of 100 are defectively designed: the single have a dustpan truly needs is just a razorthin lip. With a milder lipgloss, you’re going to be left using a thin, accusatory stripe of dirt to the floor. I really don’t care if you get a dust pan that’s made from metal, beechplasticbut do your self a favor and make certain that the lip gloss is no more than an eighth of a inch thick. Otherwise you’ll have to learn the Drawbridging Technique to sweep up the very last bit of dust. (We’ll deal with this in Step 8, below.)

The Chiltern Dustpan from Turner & Harper is £35. For more of our picks, go to 10 Easy Pieces: Design-Worthy Dustpans.

Above: The Chiltern Dust Pan out of Turner & Harper is 35.  For much more of our picks, go to 10 Easy Pieces: Design-Worthy Dustpans.

2. Decide on a central dust-collection spot.

It ought to be from the doldrums of the house, in a low point (we sweep from high to low) and preferably at a corner–but absolutely protected from airflow. Within our house, that is actually near the utility closet at which the broom and wrongly designed dustpan are all stored. The airflow thing is key: With no breeze blowing in through doors, it’s much easier to corral dust bunnies and ammonia along with other lighterthanair stuff tends to carry flight during sweepage.