West Bali National Park

West Bali National Park (Taman Nasional Bali Barat) is a ferry ride away from Labuan Lalang. We left our rental car there at the mercy of the long-tailed macaques, and boarded the boat.



We stayed at the Nusa Bay resort within the National Park. It was quite spendy for us, but we really wanted to see some of the wildlife there. The first night, there was only one other guest. The second night, we were the only ones there (except the staff). It felt like our own private jungle. The staff were very friendly, they were hoping that we would sign up for “activities.” But we just wanted to snorkel and walk around.

Unfortunately, our hiking range was limited. Still, we got to see the wild deer (javan rusa in Indonesian or menjangan in Balinese), some long-tailed macaques, and the ebony langur.





Budding nature photographer

During this whole trip, V has been diligently clicking away with her own camera (an old Nikon Coolpix we got a a garage sale a few years ago). We thought this would be a great time to show off some of her pics.



See the bird on the deer’s head?




Ebony langur troop.



Just hanging out.

Thank you to V for sharing her pictures. We enjoyed our two nights, then it was time to go.




But what about socialization? (Sarcasm ahead)

It’s clear that these homeschooled kids don’t know how to relate to other children.

Especially children from other cultures. How are they going to make it in this global world?

Where are they going to learn inter-personal skills?

And how are they going to learn mature behavior if they’re not hanging out with kids of their own exact age?

Alright, done with the snarkiness; back to our regular programming…

I told V today, “Some people think that kids can only learn how to make friends in school.” She gave me this look as if I had sprouted two heads and told me that was ridiculous. I don’t want to give the wrong impression that our children are super outgoing social butterflies. The truth is, they are a bit shy. And yes, they are a little quirky (most of us are). But they are open to forming friendships with other children, which leads us to…

So we met this other traveling family

In Pemuteran one morning, Tig and O went for a walk to get a few things. When they came back, Tig reported that he had seen a girl doing homework at a cafe in the homestay across the street from us. “I think they might be long-term travelers,” he said. Later, we decided to walk over and introduce ourselves.

It turns out, this family is from Europe (I won’t disclose where to protect their privacy). They have three children, a teen, and two pre-teens. They’ve been semi-nomads for over a decade–they spend half a year in their home country and half a year traveling.

We invited their two younger kids over to our homestay for a swim in the pool. It was a lot of fun for our kids and they got along well. So we did what ex-cruisers do, we offered to take them to the turtle rehabilitation center down the road. Amazingly enough, their mom agreed! At that point, we felt like we had met kindred spirits.





The kids got a chance to feed the turtles, and learn about the project.



Later we had dinner together. The kiddos got their own table, and the adults got a chance to have a conversation. We learned about their Amazon FBA business and how they make it work as digital nomads. For a moment, we felt like cruisers again.


And the kids got to socialize.



Homeschooling while traveling


I was talking to a Taiwanese-Australian mom at the pool recently. When she heard how long we were in Bali, she asked what we did for school. The topic of homeschooling is far too weighty a topic to discuss casually—and I find it even more challenging to address the issues around being an Asian-American family that homeschools (try Googling it, the interwebs is very thin in that department). I’ll save that for another day.

Every family is different

When we’re traveling, homeschooling looks like ~80% life learning and ~20% structured learning. I know some families do more, and some others do less. After talking to many homeschool families, reading homeschool blogs and books, this is what I know:

  • There is no “right” way to homeschool
  • Every family need to figure out what works best for their children
  • It’s important part that both partners are on the same page (in families where there are two caregivers)

The Epic Education Podcast is a wealth of resources, including interviews with many different families on how they deal with education while traveling, whether by boat, RV or backpacking. Behan Gifford at Sailing Totem recently put together a blogroll of cruisers and their boatschooling perspectives.

The 80/20

V and O are 8 and 6 respectively; that translates to Grades 2 and Kindergarten. At home we have a bit more structured homeschooling, but when we travel, it’s mostly about the school of life. In fact, since we’ve had kids, Tig has had an unstoppable desire to show them the world. He is the driving force behind our travels and a big proponent of life learning.

Map work

Our 80% consists of learning about Bali geography, speaking a little bit of Bahasa Indonesian, tasting new foods, seeing animals and wildlife (monkeys, geckos, chickens, frogs, toads). We brought field guides for Southeast Asian birds and animals. We visit temples, learn about the culture, clothing, and offerings. They swim an awful lot. They watch us bargain. They study the currency and do some basic math adding things up. We look for geocaches. Together, we learn how to make decisions together as a family and try to meet each other’s needs.

Watching woodcarvers.

Okay, so what do we do?

For the 20% structured learning, we use an eclectic, secular Charlotte-Mason inspired approach. Tig is allergic to labels, but that’s the best way I would describe it. Here are some of the things we do:

Reading practice. V did a ton of work on reading before she left, so this trip, we’ve downloaded a bunch of e-books to our Kindle and let her choose when and where to read. V sometimes reads to O at bedtime.


A few math problems to keep their muscles warmed up. We use a math workbook that sv Serenade gave us in the Bahamas. It’s called SchoolZone Addition and Subtraction Grades 1-2.  Prior to leaving for our trip, we (V and I) had worked through Life of Fred elementary books Apples, Butterflies, and Cats. For O we read through Level 1 of the MathStart picture books and half of the Level 2 books–mostly to introduce mathematical concepts. So we’re mostly in maintenance mode for math.

We have a Sodoku app that the kids like, mostly to keep them playing with numbers. They also like to play chess on the iPad, and we have a set of tanagrams.

Story of the World Volume 1 Audio (Ancient History). I chose this resource because V is really interested in history and Jim Weiss does a wonderful job of storytelling. I supplement SOTW with Jim Weiss’ audio stories like Egyptian Treasures and Greek Myths. I often ask the kids to narrate back what they’ve heard, which is a Charlotte Mason Method.


Read-alouds classics. I love children’s literature, and homeschooling has given me the opportunity to re-visit old classics that I loved as a kid, and explore new ones I never got to read. We (I) usually read aloud during breakfast or at bedtime. So far we’ve read through the Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. We’re now finishing up The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We also have many audio stories on the iPad for long car rides and flights.


Copy work to work on writing skills, punctuation, and spelling. I usually pick a sentence from our read-alouds, something that delights her. V has expressed interest in learning cursive writing, so we’ll be working on that, too.


O doesn’t really do much, he’s only six, and we’re firmly against the earlier! faster! more! tiger-mom-approach. I did bring some easy math worksheets from The BrainQuest Grade 1 workbook to keep him busy while V’s working. He listens to the same audio and read-alouds and joins in the narration.


That’s it. If our trip were longer, I’d plan some more things to do. For now, I think the minimum effective dose works great for younger ages. As they grow older, we will probably add more to their structured learning. V so far enjoys her work, she’s interested and engaged. That’s all I could ask for.



Tabanan and Balian Beach

Observing wildlife amongst the lily pads.


After Tanah Lot, we wound our way through more hair-raising roads north. The Tabanan area has many rice fields, the landscape is sculpted with terraces and irrigated through a network of canals. In order to get the our villa we drove through a tiny one-lane road, where tarps of rice were drying in the sun (one was blocking the entrance to a hotel villa–we were told to just drive over it). We looked into two hotels and settled on one.

Bali is an island of artisans. Historically, artists, craftsman and performers were, and still are, highly esteemed. I’m so enamored with the beautifully carved doors to our villa.

The villa grounds.

Open air bathrooms and showers.

And of course, a swimming pool.

Posing for a Lunar New Year picture. Welcome Year of the Rooster!

Balian Beach

I was surprised to see black sand on the shores of Balian. It reminded me of Molokai, Hawaii, but without the towering cliffs.


The local scene had a California beach vibe to it, there were more westerners here.

Our hotel was beautiful, open air, and without air conditioning. Lush gardens made it feel like paradise.


The mosquito netting was pretty and romantic, but we were kept up by the heat and no-see-ums.

Though it was pretty, we decided to move on to Seririt.



Tanah Lot and Alas Kedaton


Tanah Lot is one of the most visited temples in Bali, as the small temple can only be accessed at low tide. Tourists poured through the narrow streets lined with a maze of vendor stalls selling everything from carved wood decorations to sarongs. Since our hotel was within the complex, we had to drive through a herd of people.


Many came to see the sunset over the water at the temple, but that day the sky was overcast.


The best time to visit the temple was at sunrise; Tig got some solitude and picture taking time the next morning.

Our hotel at Tanah Lot.



We also visited Alas Kedaton (a monkey forest) near Tabanan. About a 1,000 monkeys—five separate troops—reside here in the forest. Right next to it is a complex of, you guessed it, vendor shops.

Once we parked a lady in a pink uniform approached us and offered to be our guide. The tour didn’t cost any money, however, she asked us to stop off at her “boss’s” store after the tour and take a look. We declined to buy anything, but gave her a tip as she was very pleasant and informative.



The monkeys are fed some rice but you can also buy peanuts to feed them. We opted not to, since we didn’t want monkeys climbing on our kids (bites can occur). These long-tailed macaques are much tamer than the ones at Uluwatu. Our guide told us that they might have been fed bananas and that makes monkey “aggressive”. We did see many banana peels at Uluwatu, which leads us to believe that it is true. (And we’ve seen plenty of Youtube videos of mischievous monkeys in Ubud’s monkey forest being fed bananas.)



In the end, we enjoyed looking at them, and that was enough.



Getting around Bali, initial thoughts

Kuta horse statues

Balinese people love to ask where you are from–they get so many visitors, it’s an understandable question. And being Asian-Americans, we are often a peculiarity. Many think we’re Japanese or Chinese, until they hear us speak English. Then they are puzzled. Maybe from Singapore?

After our first night at the hotel in Tuban, we wandered into the bustling back dining room for breakfast. Unbeknownst to us, it was a breakfast for a Taiwanese tour group. We checked in at the front table, but the hotel staff was quickly alerted by Tig’s fluent English. He asked to see our key card and re-directed us to the buffet dining area (which, I must admit, had a nicer spread). I guess we weren’t Taiwanese enough, haha.

HGFoodSpread2   HGFoodSpread
Check out this buffet spread.

Getting by

When out and about, we try to speak a few phrases of Bahasa Indonesian. Just knowing the basic greetings and thank you goes a long way, especially in the city. For language aids we downloaded the Google Translate app with offline language packs in Indonesian, Chinese, and Malay. When we have cell data or wifi, we can play the audio, which is helpful for getting the accent right.

I bought phrasebooks in Balinese and Indonesian, but we’ve found that Indonesian is much simpler and works well enough. I got the Tuttle Instant Indonesian, but I feel neutral about it. Luckily, Bahasa Indonesian uses the Roman alphabet, which is much easier than pictogram languages such as Chinese or Korean.

Getting Around

For transportation, we found these blog posts to be very helpful in giving an overview of Bali taxis:



I will only add a few comments, as those posts cover pretty much what you need to know as a visitor. So far, we’ve found Uber to be cheapest. Our Uber experiences have been generally good except for one. I don’t want to go into it but I will only say that stopping at a gas station and texting while driving should have been warning signs. Almost every Uber driver has a side business (they hire out as driver for the day) and they communicate mostly through WhatsApp. There’s even Uber services for scooter rides called Uber Motor. A driver will pick you up in a scooter and get your to your destination. Uber Trip is a car hire with driver services it’s 60,000 rupiah per hour with a five-hour minimum.

After Uber, Bluebird is our next choice. They are a little bit more expensive, but the company is known for honest metering and fair prices. They are also ubiquitous in cities and easy to spot. There are other taxi services such as GrabTaxi and Go-Jek that we haven’t tried yet. Grabcar is a Singaporean company with prices on the lower end of Uber. Go-jek is an Indonesian company, we have not tried their app because it is in Indonesian.

Watch out for “local mafia transport”

One caveat, most parts of Bali outside Kuta and Denpasar do not allow these taxi services, because they compete with higher-priced local transport drivers. We didn’t realize it until we called for an Uber in Pura Uluwatu (temple). The driver gave us anxiety-inducing instructions like this:


It took us a while to realize what was going on. We later saw the signs around Pura Uluwatu and Pura Tanah Lot that looked a lot like this.


Unfortunately, this anti-marketing campaign only alerted us to their competitors. We wouldn’t have known about Go-Jek and GrabTaxi if it weren’t for this sign. While I understand they are trying to protect local interests, I’m not sure how long they can hold out against the tide.

We’ve only scratched the surface in the first week here, so I’m sure we’ll have more to say about getting around in Bali.



Selamat pagi!


Good morning from Bali, Indonesia!

We have been planning this trip since we got back from our cruise. For the last eight months, Tig learning about travel hacking; maybe someday he’ll chime in with a post with some tips.

It started back in April, with Wildie safe and on the hard. We set our sights on Southeast Asia for our next adventure, this time by plane. Bali has been on our list for a while, for various reasons:

:: My college housemate works for USAID and it’s her last year being stationed in Jakarta, Indonesia.

:: The warm tropical island archipelago is a great place spend while we shave off two months of Maine winter

:: Exposure to different religions—Hinduism in Bali and Islam in Jakarta—especially for the kids

: A different culture than the ones we’ve grown up with (I’ve been to Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, but we wanted something a little different).

:: Also, exposure to a different language for the kids; in this case, Bahasa Indonesian.

So far, Bali has delivered. The challenge was to do it on a tight budget.

Getting to Bali


We had a 16 hour non-stop flight from NY to Taipei through China Airlines followed by a three hour layover, then another four-hour flight to Denpasar, Bali. The kids were great sports.

A few things I wanted to share on our long flight with kids:

We sprung for the “family couch” option. More information here. Basically, you buy all three seats in a row, and the foot rests pull up to form  a very small bed. Our flight was at 12:20am so the kids really needed to sleep. We placed them side-by-side with their heads on opposite sides. I must admit, they squabbled a bit before falling asleep, but that was because they were over-tired by then, having stayed up past midnight. Once they fell asleep, everything was gravy. They slept in 3-4 hour chunks, with some movie watching and meals in between. The second time we put them down for a nap, there was squabbling again, but once asleep there was quiet.


Mealtime and cartoons.


Family couch in action.

The family couch upgrade was definitely a splurge. Basically you’re buying another seat, but it was so worth it. The kids are still growing and they really need their rest so that they don’t become total cranky pants (that would make the long flight exponentially harder). Only the kids got the upgrade, though. Tig and I sucked it up and got bad sleep with the rest of the passengers…parenting is sacrifice.

We also bought noise cancelling headsets. Each kid got a pair. Bose makes really good ones, but we went a couple notch lower and got the Naztech/NoiseHush headphones. They work much better than the disposable freebies on the plane. The kids cackled over Tom and Jerry cartoons when they weren’t sleeping and eating.

We checked in one small duffel bag. Without kids we could manage carry-on only, but we really wanted to bring snorkel suits and gear, gifts for hosts, as well as weapons (dive knife) and liquids (permethrin).

We arranged with our hotel for transport from the airport. That eliminated a lot of hassle dealing with transport vendors. But first, we hit the ATM and got local currency.

Tig booked our first few nights at a hotel near DPS Airport. The Hilton Garden Inn was our landing pad for rest and recuperation. All of us were super jet-lagged and one of the kiddos was starting to get cranky after the second flight.

Settling in Kuta/Tuban

The hotel was really nice. Friendly staff, a gorgeous pool and amazing breakfast spread every morning. Luckily, we paid for it with hotel points. We slowly found our rhythm over the next few days. Breakfast was the biggest meal. After homeschooling, we’d go an explore and have lunch out.


In the afternoon, we came back and swam in the pool. Our kids, who still have the Bahamas cruise fresh in their mind, donned wet suits (for buoyancy) and snorkel masks. O found that with those two items, he could swim well enough to keep up with his sister. They were a funny sight in the pool.



We visited Jalan Sulawesi in Denpasar, where shops sell bolts of cloth and clothing.


V got a Balinese skirt, top and sash, and O got this cute button down shirt with embroidery and ikat detailing . Bargaining is a part of life here, so we had to work on our rusty skills. For pricing comparison, the skirt, shirt and sash was 200,0000 rupiah (about $15) and O’s shirt was 100,000 rupiah (about $7.50).


Pura Uluwatu

Pura Uluwatu was the first temple we visited. It rained the whole time. We were told that the monkeys were very aggressive there. Caps, sunglasses, phones need to be secured or a mischievous primate might take off with them.



Pura Uluwatu in their new clothes



Padang Padang beach.

Bali Belly

Unfortunately, Tig came down with “Bali belly” within the first three days. We had been fairly conservative with food and water, opting for bottled water and cooked or steaming hot foods, but there was one weak moment with pre-fried banana fritters. We all ate it, but only Tig got sick so we’re not exactly sure if that was what did him in. It was a rough 24 hours, but he pulled through like a champ.


Scooter warung 


After five nights, the hotel was beginning to feel like the Land of the Lotus Eaters. It was too comfortable, and we wanted to see more of Bali, so we decided to head out for some hair-raising adventures with a rental car.



Welcome 2017!

We hope our friends and family enjoyed their holiday season, whatever your persuasion. We enjoyed having our Solstice tree.
Our wood stove has been working hard to keep us warm.


There are gatherings to attend.

Time alone.

New projects to start.

A kitchen to dream and plan.

A New Year’s polar plunge to spectate (we haven’t gotten up the nerve to do it ourselves quite yet, but bravo to all who did!)

A white crisp sheet of snow awaits us, like the fresh New Year.

Baby faces to savor, they won’t stay young forever.

And we’re off! Welcome 2017.

::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::   ::

Every December/January, I spend some time doing my year-end review. I wrote a little about its evolution here. I’m a little late this year in starting, but I did my  “three-quarter’s-year” review back in September, so some of the heavy lifting has already been done.

This year, there are no workbooks to be filled. Instead, I’m doing a post-game analysis à la Tim Ferriss (his podcast episode explains his review in detail). Here’s my version of it:

:: Accomplishments in 2016

:: 80/20 Analysis

The “20 percent of activities, experiences, or people who produced 80 percent or more of my most positive emotions and outcomes.”

Conversely, the “20 percent of activities, experiences, or people who produced 80 percent or more of my most negative emotions and outcomes.”

:: Taking the 80/20 Analysis, come up with

Activities, experiences or people that I want more of in 2017

Activities, experiences or people that I want less of in 2017

:: Spending wisely to increase our family’s health/well-being/happiness

$100/$500/$1000 levels

:: Experiments to try

:: 10X (vs 10%) thought experiment

Here’s to a fruitful 2017*.

*Although January 1st is an arbitrary start date for the year–it’s not tied to any celestial event, solar or lunar–I go with the flow and start my year with the rest of North America.












Sewing a bit here and there

Since we got back from our trip, I’ve been working on a few projects here and there. I’m not a prolific sewer, but when inspiration strikes, I enjoy the creative process. Here’s a round-up of what I’ve been working on.

1. Buckwheat pillow for Tig

Tig has been a buckwheat pillow fan since I met him, but his pillow could use some refreshing. So I refilled it with some organic buckwheat hulls and sewed a new cover for him. Here’s a close-up of the fabric.


Of course I picked nautical-termed fabric for my boat-captain husband. Unfortunately, you can’t see this cover because of the pillowcases that go over it. But that’s my little secret.


2. A pair of stripey pillows

I got the idea to make some applique striped pillows from Justina Blakeney‘s book The New Bohemians. (and I love her jungalow style, too). They sit on our futon in the living room. Here’s the first pillow I made.


I bound the edges with yellow bias tape.


I used different fabric for the second pillow (except for the green). Here they are together. I’m pretty happy with the results.



3. A pair of silk-screened pillows

Fun fact: I took some textile classes and costume design classes in college. For one of my textiles classes, I learned how to make silkscreen, batik and shibori fabrics.

I kept two of the silkscreened prints in my portfolio and carried it around with me throughout the years. This spring, I decided that they #sparkedjoy and deserved to be seen everyday. So I made them into pillows.


The screenprint was a two part process with a black design and a color block*. The fabric itself is the third design element. For the blue print, I used a contrasting yellow border and turquoise fabric.


For the red and black print, I chose a green contrasting border and pink fabric. The fabrics are from  Fiddlehead Artisan Supply in mid-coast Maine.


The two pillow are by far my favorites, as are these two munchkins.


I knew I had a couple of winners when they started claiming the pillows for themselves.

*Screenprint design copyright 1999 © Serena Li


4. Stockings for me and Tig

The kiddos have a pair of red stockings which I up-cycled from a thrift-store sweater three years ago. They designed and decorated the snowmen, and I sewed them on. This year I decided that Tig and I ought to have stockings, too.


I made these two from knit shirts that the kids outgrew. They were the just the right color and pattern for my project. I added some pom-pom trim and felt shapes to make it more festive (and to the hide food stains that wouldn’t come out in the wash).


I really enjoy the creative process of using what we have. Next year, I might go back and add some more details to the kids’ stockings. So far the kids are having a great time stuffing our stockings with little tissue-wrapped treasures.


5. A pair of slipper socks

A couple years ago, a friend gave V a pair of colorful socks. Holes and thin patches appeared, so I cut out the bottoms and sewed on some leather soles. V wore them for a while and this year, they’ve passed down to O. I have a very hard time keeping anything on my children’s feet indoors. Normally, this isn’t an issue in warm weather, but the floors can get cold in the winter. They don’t like clunky slippers, and socks are too slippery on the wood floors. So these slipper socks are a good compromise.


The soles are so thin, they’re practically barefoot. The leather keeps them from sliding and their feet don’t get as cold.


This year, I made V another pair using Smartwool socks. I sewed on a couple of leather patches to help keep her from sliding. Here she’s agreed to do Savasana (Corpse Pose) so that I can get a shot of the bottom.


So far so good.



6. Bell, a handmade doll

Bell is an older, slightly more sophisticated version of Bluebell who I made years ago and is now falling apart. I’ve been very fortunate that V has not asked for an American Girl doll or an expensive Waldorf doll. She has seen them and wasn’t interested. Instead, V requested that I make her one for her birthday. And so I did.


Bell is super simple. Her skin is an organic cotton knit fabric. I made up a pattern, taking care not to make her head too big–I wanted her to look more like an older girl than a toddler. V specified the size she wanted–I think Bell turned out to be 10 or 11″ tall.


Her hair is brown wool yarn which I hand-sewed onto her head. I kept her embroidered face simple in the Waldorf tradition. She even sports earrings from V’s bead collection.


She wears Bluebell’s apron dress and skirt. I haven’t gotten around to making her new clothes yet. Someday…


I’ve been very luck in that V treasures my handmade dolls. I know that is not always the case with other children, but I’m very grateful that she does.


7. Bathroom vanity skirt

The vanity skirt was the last piece in our bathroom project. In fact, Tig had been bugging me to finish that up so I could post the reveal. Since I’m at home with the kids all the time, sewing is relegated to slips of time when the kids are playing or when Tig can take them out for a while. Here’s how the process looks when the kids are around.


Notice a Lego project creeping in?


They’ve boxed me in.


They don’t even hide the fact that they’re taking over…


But I perservered, and it got done. Tig was happy. The skirt is simply velcroed to the table. It hides the wastebasket and cleaning supplies under the sink.


That’s how all my projects get done. A bit here and there normally, one fell swoop if I’m lucky.





Remuddling: bathroom recap and reveal

Well, this has been two years in the making (minus a six-month break for our sophomore cruise), but it’s finally here. Our long-awaited bathroom.


But first, a trip down memory lane…

As I was gathering these photos, I really saw how much work this has been and how much it took to get here. It made me appreciate our new bathroom even more. As I’ve mentioned before, we decided to build our new bathroom in one of the four parlors. Here is a view into the parlor #3 before deconstruction.


The room is very small, with a tiny closet.



Tig started by tearing down the walls.


Do you see the stud with the live edge below? Keep that in mind. We’ll revisit that later.


He removed the floor down to the joists and sistered them with LVL.

Here’s the sub-floor, all nicely leveled with the new stud wall for insulation.


Tig re-configured the interior wall to be shared with the future kitchen. I’ll explain why in a minute. Just beyond the ladder is a circular piece of cardboard taped to the far wall to show where the mirror and sconces will be placed.


Here it is with insulation, radiant barrier and drywall. You can see that Tig made the bathroom slightly larger by pushing the doorway into our main space. This was a brilliant move, because it created both a linen closet (on the right when you first enter the bathroom) AND a niche for the refrigerator (to the left of the doorway). The niche can hold a regular 30-inch refrigerator, while keeping it flush with the counters. That way we get the look of a counter-depth refrigerator without the hefty price tag. And we can hold more food in it. (Tig is making the ceiling dropdown in pic)


I’d like to take a pause to thank our friend Diana for gifting us this gorgeous doorknob. We’ve put it to good use. It’s the best looking doorknob in the whole house.


So, without further ado…

We installed a new door that was treated with Rubio Monocoat (the same as our floors). The linen closet is on the right just past the door, and the sink is straight ahead.


Here’s a wide angle shot of the whole bathroom.


We had put in a smaller window with a privacy pane on the bottom. All our first floor windows are made in Maine, from a local company, Matthews Brothers.


The sink we got at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $15. Tig bought a few new parts for the faucet and replaced the inner valves and seals. I designed the sink stand and he built it. Remember the live-edged studs I mentioned earlier? They were old growth douglas fir studs with a beautiful tight grain. He saved all the studs and re-used them for the sink vanity base. The old studs were full of old square nails. Tig pulled each one of them out before planing the wood. The table top is from a douglas fir coffee table he was going to build years ago, but never got around to. The vanity and windowsill were treated with Watco Danish Oil and the tops were sealed with spar polyurethane (left over from boat projects).


Tig kept two live edges right under the table top. I sewed the skirt under the sink.

I asked for two cubbies next to the sink. They were painted in the accent color and the shelves were made out of marble tile that Tig got from the ReStore. The scones are IKEA’s VITEMÖLLA wall lamp. the mirror is also from IKEA.

Also note the wall register for our forced hot air furnace that runs on oil. Forced air is not our favorite, but came with house and works well. Originally all the registers were located in the floors, ugh! Floor registers get disgusting with all the dust and dirt that accumulates on floors. So Tig re-ducted all the registers to make them come out through the walls and patched over any floor pieces (he used pieces of  wood salvaged from the floors of this room since we decided to go with tile).


This beautiful windowsill was made out of the reclaimed studs. We’d like to thank our friend Liza for lending her shop space and biscuit-joiner to make the windowsill possible. Tig kept the live edge for the piece under the windowsill and added hooks for towels.


Our floors are faux wood tile from a big box home improvement store. It’s Lowe’s Style Selections porcelain tile that cost about $2/square foot. I asked for a herringbone pattern, because I didn’t like the look of short pieces of wood laid end-to-end. The best part about the floor is that it is heated! (We used the SunTouch radiant floor system.)


Continuing counter-clockwise, this is the view of the shower area. We got the big hook from the clearance bin at Restoration Hardware ten years ago and carried it around with us throughout all our moves (OK, we didn’t bring it on our boat trips, that’s just silly. It was in our old house and Tig found it when cleaning out the basement when selling it last year). It doesn’t really go with anything, but it doesn’t bother me.


Tig had the great idea to drop the ceiling over the tub so that we could run ducting from the exhaust fan to the outside. I decided to paint wall a different color to match the sea-glass tiles.

I love how the color frames the shower area and creates an alcove.


We decided on a curved shower rod and I picked out hotel style shower curtain rings with separate hooks for the liner and curtain. It’s the little details that make me happy. The shower curtain came with us from our Boston place.

We used cheap white subway tiles from Lowes. Tig suggested a vertical wave pattern, which I really liked. I designed the accent tile strip. The green sea-glass tile came from the ReStore–it was half the price of retail–and the rope-edge banding came from Lowes.

Here’s a close-up of the accent strip.


The exhaust fan is a Nutone brand. There was a nighlight feature as part of the exhaust fan. Tig put in a red LED night light bulb for me. That way, we can navigate in the dark without ruining our night vision. Guess what? It really works!


Right next to the shower area is the toilet. You can see the thermostat/timer for the heated floor. I put up a framed print of the Make Way for Ducklings Sculpture at The Boston Commons for nostalgia. Tig made a simple toilet paper holder using the reclaimed studs and a dowel.


One thing you can’t see in this picture is a the mixing valve for the water intake. Tig plumbed a tiny amount of hot water into the mixing valve so that the toilet tank doesn’t sweat in the summer. (In our old bathroom, the cold water would cause condensation to form on the outside of the tank, and then drip down in a puddle onto the floor.) He also installed a water hammer arrestor to prevent loud pipe knocking when the toilet stops filling. I love all the little details he put into this bathroom to make it nice for us.

The toilet was a Toto toilet. We like that particular brand and Tig finds this particular model’s flush very satisfying, haha.

Now we’re back full circle, looking at the door. This is the first time I’ve ever had a built-in linen closet. I had it painted the same sea-glass green color. It creates a visual frame for the doorway.

Tig put in pine shelves treated with Danish Oil. He originally put in plywood shelves but it really didn’t look very good. (That was the only time I asked him to redo something!)


We had a little bit of trouble figuring how the shelves should look. I came up with the idea of extending a  ledge from the top shelf across the doorway. The little detail was just what the space called for. We put our leftover seashell collection on the ledge (most of which ended up being buried in the backyard by the kiddos). [Important note: all specimens on this ledge, with the exception of the spiny lobster head which Tig speared in the Bahamas, were collected already empty or dead and washed up on the beach. Please check local regulations and do not take live specimens. End of public service announcement.] I bought the painting in the Bahamas during our first cruise … I still need to frame it. This vignette makes me happy.


So we’re back at the beginning.


The only thing I would change about the bathroom is the tub. We re-used a cast-iron tub from a friend’s house and it was a pain for Tig to repaint it. Now it’s peeling, ugh! That was penny-wise-pound-foolish. If we were to do it over, we would have spent the money on a new Americast tub or something similar. I might consider getting it professionally re-finished.

All-in-all, we’re pretty happy with our bathroom. It’s not design blog-worthy, but it’s functional, it has a lot of nice touches, and it didn’t cost a lot. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of a bathroom remodel in 2016 was around $9k. We rebuilt a whole new one on the lower-cost end. The amount you can’t see in the finished product, but I can feel when I walk into the room, is the amount Tig spent of himself. No money can buy that.

As an aside, here are some pictures of the existing bathroom that came with our house. This bathroom will be ripped out and turned into a pantry per our grand plan.


Classic 80’s black and gold, with carpet.


Beige acrylic tub.


I think we’ll keep the toilet seat for some pranks.



I’d like to close out with a big shout out and thank you’s to:

:: Danny and Gretchen for coming over and helping Tig with the bathroom walls

:: Liza for lending her shop space and tools and commiserating

:: Mark, Liza, Andrew, Scott for helping to move the tub.

:: Diana for that fabulous doorknob

And most of all, thank you to Tig for making my vision a reality. Together we make Voltron, Defender of the Universe!

Next we have to tackle a new kitchen.









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Taiwan's public transit is so awesome! Bullet trains, commuter rail, subway, even lots of buses. #TaiwanRocks

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Nomnomnoming our way through Taipei so far.