Bathroom Renovation Burnout

It’s been 3 weeks since the contractor started on our bathroom. Since then, we’ve had a lot of back and forth with the electrician and plumber. We still need to maneuver our new cast-iron tub (yes, really, we’re crazy like that) up two flights of stairs from its current home in our garage (ditto for the solid-wood vanity). I need to buy floor tile and accent tile for the tub area, pick a potty, and get faucets and trim kits for the sink and shower/tub. Those last two are going to come from a local plumbing supply, as the quality of the product and connectors is 100% better than the cut-rate, substandard products you get at your big-box hardware store.

I’m just ready for it all to be finished. My impatience is legendary when it comes to letting others do things that I could surely do better and faster myself. It’s not always a great thing, but it does help me get the job done!

Since I posted my budget for the bathroom renovation, I’ve found that I’ve spent more on some items and less on others. For instance, I sprung for high-quality tile for the tub surround ($450 instead of $150), spent double on an exhaust fan ($110 instead of $50) and one-third of what I thought on an electric baseboard heating unit ($25 instead of $75).

I also want to get some glass mosaic tile to accent the simple tile I’ve selected for the tub area, and have to come up with a design. I could 1) run the mosaic tiles in a straight line around the three sides, or 2) use it to make a ‘picture frame’ focal point, and have the tile guy inset some of the plain square tiles in a diamond pattern. I’m still deciding.

Making decisions for decor is something with which I’ve always had difficulty, so I’ve been waiting until the last minute to decide on things. I’m pretty sure that will continue throughout the duration of this project.


Pay Inequality: Women Do All of the Work, So Why Do We Get Paid Less?

Women, we get the short end of the stick. Not that we weren’t already aware of it.

We do all of the cooking, cleaning, and childcare, PLUS hold down a full-time job. And sometimes other part-time gigs, too (you PF bloggers know what I’m talking about).

So why do men get the bigger salaries?

Women are STILL making only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, on average. Forget you single ladies — you’re only earning a pathetic 57 cents for every dollar your male counterparts earn. And mothers earn 7 percent less than childless women.

We carry the babies, fill your stomachs, scour the pots, and make sure your underwear is clean. We make sure your clothes aren’t a wrinkled mess when you walk into the office in the morning, and some of us (not me) pack you a nice lunch every day.

Sure, we’ve come a long way, but we need to close up the wage gap. Jezebel put up an eye-opening chart that shows what a woman could do with the extra $10,000 a man makes per year, and then what she could buy with that money over a lifetime of work. And as we age, the wage gap becomes even larger!

The Economy’s Not Helping

Who out there has gotten a raise in the past few years? How about a bonus? You’re the lucky ones. Many people — both men and women — have had stagnant incomes.

We women work our asses off 24/7, and some of us haven’t even seen a cost of living raise in 4-5 years. I do realize it depends on the industry, but if we’re not given a chance to advance, how can anyone not expect morale and productivity to take a nosedive? Many of my male friends have continued to see raises, promotions and bonuses. Most of my female counterparts have not.All the while, prices are rising: gas and commuting, groceries, clothing. You know, the necessities.

Stereotypes Still Exist

A New York Post headline screams, “Wisconsin GOPer: Women make less because ‘Money is more important for men.'” Those are words from a state senator, folks, and I take offense. Money is important to women like me, too — we need it to keep food on the table, a roof over our heads (in Northern NJ, middle class folks need two incomes to pay for the average mortgage), and send our kids to college. Without money, it’s hard to survive. That’s why women want to make as much as the rest of you guys.

Yes, we birth the babies and get time off for that. Have you seen what we go through with pregnancy and labor/delivery? And nowadays, most of us head right back into the workforce after our maternity leave is up. The days of the stay-at-home mom are a thing of the past.

Ironically, Tuesday, April 17 was “Equal Pay Day.” At the current rate, it will take another 45 years to fully close the wage gap. I hope the sexism ends before our children enter the workforce.

Trying to Eat Healthier (Again)

Now that our little one is eating “real” food, I’ve started changing what I buy at the grocery store. She needs healthy, nourishing meals — foods without fillers (pink slime, anyone?) that are dense in nutrients. I don’t want her to grow up to be a vegetable-hater, like me.

It took until I was 21 to eat a salad without gagging. I still don’t enjoy them, unless it’s a salad full of things that aren’t good for me. Caesar salad is delicious for some reason that I can’t figure out — maybe it’s the anchovies in the dressing? I’m also the same person who doesn’t like tuna fish but will eat raw tuna sushi.

The biggest change has been an increase in the fruit and vegetables in the house right now. I like a combination of fresh and frozen veggies, as the frozen ones last longer and can be portioned out.

Right now, Little Frugalista is OBSESSED with meatballs and bread. It might be our Italian heritage, or it might be her mommy’s predisposition to loving anything that’s carb-filled or full of fat, but a toddler can’t live on meatballs forever… right? So I decided to make a healthier version of my mother-in-law’s delicious red-meat Italian meatballs.

I substituted turkey meat for the ground beef and add minced broccoli florets. I call them…. broccoli balls. I don’t put anything fancy in them, and I’m sure you can substitute other soft-cooked, minced vegetables. I’m going to try increasing the veggie content and reducing the bread crumbs in the near future. But for now, here’s the recipe I came up with on my own.

Broccoli Balls

1 pound lean ground turkey

1/3 cup chopped broccoli florets (I buy them frozen)

1 egg

1/2 cup Italian-flavored bread crumbs

1 Tbsp. dried onion flakes

1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray or olive oil. Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands. Shape into balls. Place on the cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

Other Food Ideas

Some other toddler food recipes I’ve come across include “veggie patties” made using flour, eggs and vegetables. I’ve even gone so far as to smear pureed peas on a slice of bread, adding a piece of cheese and grilling it like a grilled-cheese sandwich. Everything still has to be cut up into little bite-size pieces. We also give Little Frugalista white-meat chicken bits, diced fruit, diced peas and carrots, and bananas, which may be her favorite food, ever. For fruit, I’m looking forward to introducing her to cantaloupes and honeydew melons next!

Any other ideas for getting more vegetables into our diets?

Bathroom Renovation on a Budget Is a Myth

See the walls from the walk-in closet eating up valuable bathroom space?

Frugality is something I try to incorporate into my daily life. It’s not always easy, but if I can cut costs without sacrificing too much, I do it.

After three years and two bedroom renovations, we’re finally ready to tackle the barely-usable upstairs bathroom. I say “barely usable” because 1) it was L-shaped, with a walk-in closet built into it (think of a smaller square set into a larger square — what’s left outside the smaller square was our bathroom space!) and 2) the shower doors made it near impossible to turn on the water because of their proximity to the toilet.

While I was on maternity leave back in May, I decided to tear down the inner walls of the walk-in closet. In a prior renovation to the hallway, we’d sealed the door to this closet and sheetrocked over it. Now, almost a year later, we’re ready for the bathroom remodel — thank you, big tax refund. Nevermind the bathroom walls are knotty pine (and matching vanity!). Good for a basement bathroom or a shore house, bad for a modern bathroom.

I didn’t realize just how much it would cost to redo our bathroom until I sat down and worked out the costs. I don’t want to cheap out on something that adds value to our home, so we’re looking at mid-range fixtures and will be fixing appliances if and when something goes wrong with them, rather than going with low-cost items. And assuming we stay in our home for the rest of our lives, I don’t plan on redoing this bathroom for 30 years — if ever. If it were up to my husband, we would have never renovated this bathroom. Easy for him to say, since “his” bathroom is downstairs. This upstairs bathroom is a family bathroom, since it sits between two bedrooms.

We’re converting the shower into a tub for Baby (Toddler? Is it time for a new nickname?) Frugalista, and it’s possible I may use it for baths more than a handful of times…

Cost Breakdown

There are so many items that make up a bathroom. It takes more than “just” windows, sheetrock, paint and a light fixture. We’re only tiling the floor and the tub area, and painting the other walls. Here’s what we’ve spent so far and other costs we’ll incur:

Major Stuff

  • Vanity: $700 — this is a “splurge” — I wanted solid-wood construction)
  • Vanity top: $235 — white, integrated sink
  • Tub: $400 — 5-foot, cast-iron, white
  • Toilet: $250 — simple, white
  • Exhaust fan: $50
  • Electric baseboard heater: $75 — we have no heat in this bathroom
  • Sink faucet: $150
  • Tub/shower faucets — $150
  • Shower tile: $150
  • Floor tile: $150

Accessories & Lighting

  • Mirror for over the vanity: $150
  • Vanity light fixture: $100
  • Recessed lighting: $30
  • Towel bar: $30
  • Toilet paper holder (recessed): $20
  • Linen cabinet: $150-$250?
  • Paint: $50


  • Contractor: $3100 includes replacement window, labor, materials (except for tile), sheetrocking, spackling & tilework
  • Electrician: $600 (estimated labor + parts)
  • Plumber: $400 (estimated labor + parts)

TOTAL: $7040


Bathroom Renovations Have a High Return on Investment (ROI)

If my calculations are correct and I don’t choose less-expensive fixtures, nearly $7,000 is not out of the ordinary for a bathroom remodel, particularly in the Northeast. The electrician, contractor and plumber are all family friends, and I did a lot of the teardown myself. The good news is that the return on investment (ROI) on a bathroom renovation is thought to be 80-100% — bathroom and kitchen remodels are high on the list of priorities for home buyers and sellers.

Also, I haven’t just gone with the first fixtures I see. Once I decide on a fixture, I’ve been shopping around and purchasing them from the lowest-priced retailer or supply store. I really want this bathroom to look nice and be comfortable, since we plan to use it for years and years to come.

Have you remodeled a bathroom? Were your costs similar to ours?