Bathroom Remodel – Vanity Total Cost

I thought it might be useful though to outline the costs for the entire vanity area and where the materials came from. The only professional installation was the vanity countertop. Josh and my father-in-law installed everything else themselves. I have posted costs before but so many things changed between that post and the final product that it is probably best to have the “after” also!

Let’s start at the top of the vanity area!

  1. Two Trendscope pendant lights – from Home Depot – $76.50 each – $153 total
  2. Two Classic wall mirrors in Satin Nickel – from Restoration Hardware – $185 each – $370 total
  3. White Hutton Medicine cabinet – from Restoration Hardware – $169
  4. White wall cabinet – from Lowes – $75
  5. Moon Jewel mosaic tile – from – $19.95/square foot – total cost for vanity area: $220
  6. Titan quartz prefabricated countertop in Sierra Ice – from Stoneville USA – $345.60
  7. Fabrication and installation of countertop – $300
  8. Two Kraus 15″ square ceramic sinks, two Kraus Ramus faucets in satin nickel, and two pop up drains in satin nickel – from Home Depot – $520
  9. Cabinet hardware – from Dixieline – $28
  10. Refinishing of vanity – $30
  11. Plumbing (I am really estimating here since I am not sure how much Josh spent on the plumbing.) – $50
  12. Drywall repair, Electrical – $125
  13. Vanity decor – from San Diego Rustic Imports and Michaels – $75

Total estimated cost for the entire vanity area:  $2450

I am going to assume that labor probably would have almost doubled this amount so we saved a lot of money by Josh and father-in-law doing most of the work themselves.  It took them a lot of Saturdays to do it though!

My current estimate for the total bathroom remodel is $5000, though I will not be surprised if this goes up because you never know what you will find behind a wall or underneath the floor!


Adventure into Macarons

I had never heard of macarons before I watched the Great British Bake-off. I only knew once I saw them that I HAD to try making them. I am not a big fan of macaroons (mostly because I can’t take the texture of shredded coconut) but these seemed different! Crunchy shell with a chewy interior? Almond flour? Pretty colors and fun fillings?

Of course, I went on to search for a recipe. Right now, I have two of Dorie Greenspan’s cookbooks and one of them, Baking Chez Moi, I still have around from the library. And I found her recipe for macarons!

This site has the exact recipe I used: Parisian Macarons.

First thing, I would not recommend trying to make these when you have 5 children running around the house. Every few minutes I had to stop what I was doing to help a child. In those few minutes, I would often forget where I was in the recipe! I found my way back quickly but it still would have been disastrous to skip a step!

I was able to concentrate better once I had the two youngest children down for their afternoon naps though.

flourThis was my first step. Sifting the flour. I did this while feeding the kids their lunch. They thought I was cutting something. No, I was just sifting confectioner’s sugar and almond flour through a mesh colander. It just sounded exciting I guess!

sugarsyrupI waited until after the littlest kids were napping to make the meringue. I’m glad because this sugar syrup had to get up to 245 degrees F!


I forgot to take a picture of the meringue when it was done getting whipped into shape. I think I am in love with Italian meringue though. It was like eating really, really awesome marshmallow creme without all the artificial flavorings! I looked at my jar of marshmallow creme and it actually has many of the same ingredients as Italian meringue. You mean to tell me I’ve been eating the inferior version of Italian meringue this whole time?


All piped out into their cozy little circles, ready to sit for 30 minutes to form their crust. My circles weren’t very neat, but maybe I will do better next time.


Macarons rising in the oven. My son Matthias was completely fascinated by these. He kept coming into the kitchen to watch me while he was supposed to be working on an English worktext. I let him hang out with me for a little bit and watch the oven.


I don’t think they are quite as poofy as they should be. And they might have been in the oven too long. At least they have the “foot” and the smooth top!

macaronI used strawberry jam and lemon cream for the filling in some of them. I ended up making some with just strawberry jam too. The boys and I shared one strawberry  macaron. They all really liked it (even my picky eater, Matthias) and of course, each one wanted his own macaron. I was a little surprised that they liked it. My sample lived up to expectation though!  Crunchy shell and a chewy cookie interior along with the tart jam? I wanted one just for me too! Well,  I told my boys they had to wait until tomorrow. Not very nice am I? I think they were still holding out hope for one because they kept coming into the kitchen to see what I was doing with the macarons.


I also had some frozen chocolate peanut butter balls made from chocolate ganache. So I pulled out a few and melted them in the microwave to get a spreadable frosting for a filling. I didn’t get to try one of these macarons. Tomorrow, I definitely will!

The recipe said to wait 24 hours before eating the macarons and let them sit in the fridge. Um… why? I don’t really know why, but I figured I’d better follow the recipe. Hopefully, it will be worth the wait!




The First of My Seeds Has Arrived

One of the plants I am planning on growing this year is the Nasturtium.  I want to grow it because the flowers and leaves are edible.  It is also a rapid grower in poor soils with pretty flowers.  While researching nasturtiums, I discovered that people use the seeds as “poor man’s capers” by pickling them.  This lead me to do some further research into real capers and where they grow.  I found that they grow in Mediterranean climates where there is dry heat with little rainfall.  There are few places on earth with that Mediterranean climate.  Obviously much of the Mediterranean falls into that category, luckily for me most of San Diego County has the same climate.

The Caper plant seems to be a great addition to my yard.  It should grow where I live and we enjoy eating capers.  The next step was to find a place to get seeds, and learn how to grow them.  I found a great website called Seeds from Italy that had the caper seeds among many other things.  I placed and order for the caper seeds, and a minute later Lynn asked if they had Marzano tomatoes.  There is a type of canned tomatoes she likes that uses them.  I checked the website and they did have the seeds so I placed and order for them.  That was two separate orders with two shipping fees.  The nice people at Seeds from Italy sent me an email within minutes confirming my orders and since I was shipping to the same place they combined the orders under one shipping fee and gave me a refund for the other.  That type of customer service and kindness is rare and I will definitely buy from them again.

Today my seed packs came in the mail.


Capers are supposed to be difficult to get to sprout.  Here are the instructions from Seeds from Italy.

How to grow capers

Mature caper bushes can grow three feet high and spread four or five feet. They require dry heat and intense sunlight to flourish. They will be killed by temperatures below 20 degrees F. In the north, bring the plants inside during the winter or just grow them in pots in a greenhouse. Seeds are dormant and notoriously difficult to germinate. You can just try starting the seeds, but the following technique will give the best success (40-50%).

Soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours. Put seeds in a wet towel, seal in a plastic bag and leave in the refrigerator for 6-8 weeks. Remove, soak again in warm water for 24 hours. Plant seeds 3/8 inch deep (lcm) in a mixture of potting soil/perlite/sand (50/25/25%). Use 4-6″ pots and put 4-5 seeds per pot. Seeds should germinate in 3-4 weeks. Grow until 3-5″ tall.  Save the best plant; cut the rest with a scissors(don ‘t just pull them out). When transplanting, disturb the root as little as possible. For northem gardeners, when transplanting, protect plant from elements until it has taken (cover with plastic bag for the first 3-4 days, then cut top of the bag to admit some of the elements and leave a week, then remove entire bag) or use row covers. While not the easiest plant to grow, it is worth the effort to harvest and make your own capers. 

I have my seeds in warm water as I write this, and will write more about the caper in a few months.

If you are looking for seeds, Seeds from Italy is a place I would check out.  They are a family owned company distributing seeds from a family owned company in Italy.  The Italian family has been selling seeds for 229 years.  That is the kind of history and story that I enjoy reading about and supporting.