Entries from April 13th, 2011

30 pounds of Crap in a 5lb sack!



As long as I’ve been with my dear sweet bride Maria, I’ve been going “down the shore” (Jersey speak for the beach) with her family every year to Ocean City, NJ.  And as long as I can remember, and no matter what vehicle I’ve ever owned. It has always been packed to the roof with food, and umbrellas, and coolers, and CRAP!  And while it makes our week long family vacation MUCH more comfortable having everything we own, it’s always difficult to get everything in the car to fit, both coming and going.  Luckily for my own sanity, I AM the master car packer!  I’ve been road tripping it with my family my entire life, so when it comes to packing 30lbs of crap in a 5lbs sack, I’m your guy!  I’ve never had a problem until this last year…

I am the proud owner of a Toyota Tacoma, It’s a pickup truck.  This is the truck we take on vacation, and two years ago I tried ordering a Tonneau cover for the bed of the truck to keep our stuff dry and out of sight.  I didn’t get it in time, but I installed it when we got home, and realized almost instantly it was well worth the money.  It keeps my stuff dry, and INSIDE the truck blasting down the Garden State Parkway.  Shown below, Extang’s BlackMax Tonneau cover.   If you’re a truck guy and want a cheap bed cover, this is the one for you.  It was $220, it has snaps which is a pain to close up when its cold, so I seal it up in the fall on a nice warm day and hopefully don’t have to open it till spring.  The only other problem has been my own fault; I left the back part of it open on route 80 with part of a handtruck popping out in the middle of the winter, and it torn apart at the seams a little.  Again, my fault, and voids warranty.  Now its not as weather proof as it once was, but still does its job for the most part.


Since our son Nikolas joined us last year, we had to forget about bringing the 6 bikes and everyone beach gear and everything in order to make room for pack & plays, and 2 strollers, and diaper bags, and bouncy seats and various other baby paraphernalia.  Everything barely fit, except my wife’s suitcase and our big rollie cooler.  I fixed that whole problem by borrowing my brother’s wire rack cargo carrier.  They run a couple hundred dollars, but they are fantastic.  They connect right into the tow hitch on your truck/SUV and can carry 200-400lbs depending on the model, and your vehicle specs.  I’ve seen people carry anything from a deer to a cooler, or luggage on the back of these things.  My brother uses it to carry one of his son’s 50cc dirt bikes out to our parent’s house in PA.

This all got me thinking last year when I was jamming our belongings under the bed cover on the truck, wishing and praying that everything my wife wants me to pack sitting in a tall pile on the driveway, will somehow fit.  “I NEED A BIGGER TRUCK NEXT YEAR BABE!”  We pulled into Ocean City, and it started pouring, CATS AND DOGS!  Everything under the tonneau cover stayed nice and dry, and everything on the hitch cargo carrier was soaked, but luckily it was only the coolers and CRAP, HER SUITCASE!

Since then I’ve been looking into my options, and short of buying an new truck, this is what’s available to extend your cargo carrying capacity, to keep everything dry and safe, instead of wet, and bouncing down the highway…

I don’t remember the name of the one my brother has, but it looks exactly like this one.


If you want one that will last, you’re gonna want to spend some money.  I’ve seen these flimsy things at Wal-Mart and Kmart, for like $60, and the thought of putting any kinda of load on it attached to a vehicle moving at highway speeds, scares the crap outta me!  Spend a couple hundred, and you’ll have one that will outlast your vehicle, and the one after that!  They make bags for these too to keep things dry.  The biggest problem is once you have it loaded, it’s impossible to get your back door or tailgate open!  You have to take everything back off, that’s where this next guy comes in.

This is a Stowaway2.

It’s like my brother’s carrier, but its weather proof, has 16 cubic feet of storage, and swings away from the back of the truck for easy access to the bed even when loaded with 200lbs of gear.  It’s a bit pricey at $600.  But its basically bulletproof and awesome.  They have a bunch of different models, this is one of their top of the line deals, but they start at a couple hundred.  The nice part about this is it gives you a ton of storage, and you don’t have to climb up on top of the vehicle to load it.  And this one swings away giving you access to the tailgate.

This is Cross-country model “Roof bag”  can be used without roof racks, its 100% waterproof, windproof, rain, and snow proof, tornado proof, zombie proof.  It’s like $100, and its 15ft of cargo space, can fit our suitcases, or all the smaller bags up on the roof, can be used with my truck or your car…  This is probably the best way to go, give us enough room to not squeeze everything in bed.  

this one is the Cross-country model.


A hard cargo carrier would be great because again, waterproof, impact resistant, weatherproof, and aerodynamic, but you need a roof rack, which my truck doesn’t have, and carrier alone would be $350-400.  Then I need to install a roof rack for another $100-150.  Doesn’t make sense unless I had an SUV right now.  But they are the ultimate in road tripping cargo space…

So for this year, I think I’ll want to go with the Soft roof carrier.  I need the room, with the bigger family, and I think I may be able to ditch one of the 2 strollers we bring when my wife isn’t looking, and cut down a little on my fishing stuff to make everything fit better…

We’ve been “Knocked Off”!



We’ve had our Ballard Design Inspired-Berry Blossom Print tutorial featured over on Knock Off Decor today! Go check it out. Knock Off Decor features all sorts of inspiring ideas based upon your favorite interior design companies like Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs and restoration hardware to name a few. It’s a great place to get inspired. Some of our favorites are:

Pottery Barn Kids — Bird Art Knockoff

Ballard Designs — Ticket Plaque Knockoff

Horchow Home — Mirrored Writing desk tutorial

…and lots more. Go check them out!


Budget bathroom redo: Coming up to the finish line



After inheriting a bathroom we didn’t quite love (You can see some of the before shots here and the during shots here). We wanted an update without immediately going through the time or expense of a whole bathroom gut job. So we made an agreement that we wouldn’t redo any of the major pieces in the bathroom (just yet) and we’d work with what we had. It’s a small area at approximately 8 ‘x 9’ but we didn’t want that to stop us from going bold. Since we were working with the existing tile we took our que from the gray-blue undertones that run through both the diamond border and the veining in the wall tiles. So, after removing our graffiti-esque wallpaper we got to work painting the bathroom a bold Newburyport Blue from Benjamin Moore.  We thought that such a small area could use some drama.  The color brought the room and tile to life from the very first moment the roller hit the wall.

When you walk-in you immediately notice the wall color which gives the bathroom a cozy nest feeling. Then your eye travels around the room to the bright colors in the artwork we DIY’d to match. The use of white and silver as accent colors bring some sparkle and light.

We didn’t change any of the major structural elements, instead we chose to work with what we had, like updating the plain construction grade mirror with some casement molding from Home Depot and painting it out in a white high-gloss paint to really make it pop of the dark blue. The once plain-Jane the mirror really has custom feel now for just a few dollars in molding.

Even our shower curtain got some much needed accessorizing and sparkle with the rhinestone encrusted shower we rings picked up at Target for around $14.00. Each element no matter how small brought some much needed detail and personality to the once bland bathroom.

Even the littlest Sadowski is enjoying our newly transformed bathroom space.

If you’d like to see how this all started check out these posts; Our InspirationTearing Down the wallpaper and Making progress,

Source list:

Paint; Newburyport Blue, Benjamin Moore

White insect plaques; $25 Entomology Plaques — Ballard Designs

Bath Hardware; Home Depot

Bath Towels; $7 a ppiece Cynthia Rowley at Home Goods

Shower Curtain; $14 Home Goods

Bath rug; approx $20 Ralph Lauren–Home Goods

DIY’d Artwork; Berry Blossom Inspired Print Tutorial

Art Frames; Michael’s craft stores

Shower Rings; Shabby Chic Shower Curtain rings — Target

If we missed an item and you’d like to know where we got it from please leave a comment ad we’ll respond back.

Spring has sprung in NJ



I’ve waited.

All winter, I’ve waited.

Through snow, and ice, and shoveling and wind-chill, and -7F nights, and winter jackets and hats and gloves.

Through storms, and frozen gutters.

Through endless dark days, SUN SETTING AT 4PM, and through frostbite, and frozen toes…

Spring, for me, has officially come to NJ.  For my boat goes in the water this week.

For the last 6 months, my boat, has been cooped up in at the Marina, just waiting…  We decided we were ready to buy our first real boat.  My Rowboat just wasn’t cutting it anymore.  So one day last October, we started negotiations to buy a 2010 Bayliner 160.  While we knew we’d have to put it in storage a week later, we wanted to be ready for the spring.  I didn’t get it in the water until the last week of October by the time we finalized the deal.  And so while getting a small taste of the boating world, before we knew it, the frost was here.  Had to drop it back off at the Marina.

But not this year.  This year we have it all summer.  And I have been waiting, did I mention that already?

Every time I went outside, a little piece of me that remembered warm sunshine, and early morning fishing trips died a little.  You forget what warmth feels like.  You forget that there even is a summer, and your days are dark and dreary.  You forget that sometimes wind in your face doesn’t make you cold and numb.  Sometimes it’s warm, and you get the spray off the water, riding a jet ski doing 70mph…  Lately, I’ve forgotten there was anything BUT winter…

This morning I woke up and got ready for my morning coffee.  I rolled out of bed and put on my fleece pants, and a sweater, and then my thick fleece hoodie, and my hat, coffee in hand and walked out onto the deck for my morning constitutional where I realized, holy crap, I’m not shivering.  It was 60F!  HOORAY…   “I’m calling the Marina today!”

And so, the time has finally come.  I called the marina, we had our friendly chit chat for a few minutes, and the gent asked when I’ll be ready for my boat.  I told him, “I’ll be ready when you are!”  He told me if it stops raining, at some point in the next few days he’ll get it out of storage and in the water, hopefully before the weekend.  Outstanding!

Here’s a few pics from last year’s break in rides…

Budget bathroom redo: Making progress



We’ve been making progress in our Budget Bathroom redo, hitting some snafu’s along the way including a couple of colds a fever and an ear infection, but alls good now and we’re set to go.  So far we’ve stripped the wallpaper, changed out the ugly old $9 lighting fixture that was only good if you’re putting on makeup for a Broadway play, moved the mirror and painted a bold blue color to work with the existing colors we’ve got going on in the tile.

But, let’s back up for a minute after removing the wallpaper, we decided we needed to move the mirror down a few inches . It was awkwardly placed at the old height. Call us strange but one of our criteria for mirror placement in a bathroom is to be able to see yourself while you’re trying to get dressed in the morning without standing on your tip toes.

We started by first removing the mirror, luckily this part was was super duper easy since there were only a few mirror clips holding it to the wall and no glue. A couple of turns  of the screwdriver and BAM the mirror came down in one nice lovely piece. No 7 years bad luck for this bathroom. No siree.

After that a few tiles needed to be removed to accommodate the mirror sliding down. We tried as carefully as possible to pry off a few of the tiles above the back-splash to allow room. We used the old tried and true method of sliding some putty knives between the tiles and the wall. Working them back and forth loosening each tile as we went.

It was quite a messy process removing the wall tiles. Unfortunately no matter how hard you try when removing tiles sometimes you get some damage to the drywall behind the tile. What happens is the tiles adhere to the paper backing on the drywall. When you try to pry them off the wall it sometime pulls the paper backing with it and some drywall bits. No too pretty is it?


Fortunately it’s nothing that a little patching and some future molding we’re planning on adding to the mirror won’t cure. We patched the wall with a putty knife and some drywall compound, speeding up the drying process by placing a fan on the counter top and aiming it at the wall. We’re a bit impatient some days.  Once it was dry we sanded it smooth, we knew it didn’t have to be perfect because it will be covered up again soon enough. I love patch jobs and molding. It can cure so many boo boos.

Next it was time to put our perfectly reusable mirror back on the wall.We decided to reuse it after a couple hours wasted looking at tons of medicine cabinets that neither one of us could agree on. They were either too small, too big, not pretty enough or too expensive for our bathroom project. So back on the wall our mirror went with a couple of dollops (that’s right i said dollops) of mirror mastic which is some sticky stuff. Allowing space for the molding below that we’ll use to dress it up.

Then it was on to the paint job. Yup, we’re going bold! We needed something that would go with the current tile which has gray blue undertones in the tile border. We couldn’t replace the tile now for now so we decided to embrace it.  Once the first stroke of wall color went on the wall we knew we decided right. It started to pull the whole room together.

Finally we added some casement trim to the mirror, bought at Home Depot, it’s the same stuff that would go around doors and windows. We mitered the corner at a 45 degree angle and put it up like a picture frame around the mirror.

And here’s how the mirror turned out once the molding is up…pretty impressive for a few dollars in molding and a few nails to hold it in place the mirror went from boring to interesting in no time.That’s a sneak peak of the shower curtain we found at Home Goods for around $14.00 can’t beat that.

We’ll post more as the bathroom takes shape and we add all the finishing touches for pretty pictures. For now, we’re pretty pleased with the way it’s coming along.

So for a few dollars in molding and a few nails to hold it in place the mirror went from boring to interesting in no time.
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