Easy Way to Frame a Bathroom Mirror for under $20

Frame Your Bathroom Mirror

Our downstairs guest bathroom was typical builder grade with a sink in the vanity, a toilet, and a tub/shower combo. There was nothing wrong with it, except that it was boring. I am really bad at taking before pictures, and I really need to fix that! I doubt one exists, but if I find one, I will add it to this post later on. This photo is actually of the upstairs bathroom, which looks exactly the same as the downstairs bathroom. Well, it did.

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I wanted to frame the builder grade bathroom mirror and make it look all fancy and like a real mirror like in all the Pinterest posts, but I didn’t want to saw mouldings, deal with mitering corners, cut notches for the little plastic tabs, paint, spend very much time on the task, or spend very much money!

Ha…you laugh !

But – I did it !

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This can be done in one afternoon – honest

Step 1. Measure. I started by measuring the guest bathroom mirror. Twice to make sure. Always measure twice. You must measure the exact mirror you plan to frame. We have 3 of these in our house, and all 3 are different sizes.

Step 2. Moulding. There are many styles of moulding – choose the one that speaks to you. I took the shortcut of having Home Depot cut primer white strips of moulding to the exact lengths I needed. I really wanted to use a fairly wide moulding all around, but the mirror was too close to the corner of the wall on the left side. I compromised and did the thicker moulding on the top and bottom and a little thinner on the sides.

Tip: They charge the same price for the moulding whether you cut it or they do – let them – the pieces fit in the car much better and you have less mess and less stress! It is better to have cuts a tiny bit longer rather than shorter. You can always sandpaper off a bit if need be.

Step 3. Clips and corners. I purchased flat metal mirror clips to replace the bulky plastic tabs that held the mirror in place. I did not have to cut notches for these, they were flat enough that I was able to glue the moulding right over them.

I bought 4 of these corner block rosette pieces in white primer for guess what? Yeah, the corners! I told you no mitered corners 🙂

 

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Step 4. Adhesives.

I used this clear Loctite exterior adhesive, applying it with an application gun. You can choose something else, just remember it has to be clear when it dries.

 

Note: Brown Gorilla Glue is awesome, but it WILL show in the mirror! Let me assure you that this is not a fairy tale – it is true. By the way, nail polisher remover will remove Gorilla Glue and most other colored glue, if you should have a need. We don’t need to go into detail about how or why I know this.

 

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Step 5. Build it. Use the caulking gun directly on the mirror, one edge and one corner at a time, attaching your strips and blocks as you go. Use tape to hold everything in place until it sets. I already had blue painters tape, so I used that to hold the strips of moulding and blocks in place while the glue was setting, but I think most tapes would work.

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Step 6. Admire your work and try take a photo without getting yourself in it.

Framing a bathroom mirror can change the whole look of your bathroom.

I really liked this approach to the alternative of prying the existing mirror off the wall. You would have to deal with possible breakage, spackling holes, and painting. Not to mention the cost of buying a new mirror and the chore of hanging it. If you are willing to paint, your frame can be any color you choose. Since all the materials used are primer white, it should only take one quick coat.

After framing the mirror, I decided to paint the builder grade oak vanity – white to match the mirror. When I was done, it was like having a whole new bathroom. Yeah, yeah – I know I said I didn’t want to paint – and I didn’t do any painting for the mirror. When I go into our fresh, white, updated on the cheap guest bath, the painting of the vanity was worth it 🙂

I liked this so much, that I originally planned to do the upstairs guest bath, but now I am conflicted. I saw a picture of someone using little mosaic tiles around the mirror as the frame and I really liked that idea too.

Easy Window Seat Tutorial

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Window Seat for under $400

How To Directions ~ Easy to make!

We have a 24″ x 90″ bump out in our kitchen aka wasted space. I am a firm believer that builders do crazy nonsense like that because they don’t have to live in the houses they build, and as a result, many of their designs are not thought out very well. Add cheap to the mix, and well, you get a random 24″ x 90″ bump out under a window.

I like to think that this stuff happens just to see how creative the rest of us can get with these spaces. I have always loved window seats, and this area seemed to cry out for one. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, and I wanted to be able to remove said seat if I got tired of it. I also did not want to saw boards, miter corners, build a frame, sew cushions, or build cabinets~ but I wanted it to look like it was built in. Not asking too much – right?

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The Base

I had Home Depot and Ikea do the heavy lifting for me.  I went to Home Depot and purchased a 4′ x 8′ x 3/4″ white melamine board for about $35. I had them cut the board into the sizes I needed. (they do that for free when you buy the board) 4 boards at 23″ x 45″ for the base and 2 boards at 1.5″ x 45″ for the kick plate. I stacked the 4 large boards on top of each other to make the base. Note: if you skip this step, you will probably have trouble opening your cabinet doors! There is a reason cabinets are built slightly off the ground. The good news is that your base pieces (as well as everything else included in this tutorial if you have it cut at the hardware store as suggested) will fit in most normal sized cars, meaning you don’t need a Hummer, or even a truck or SUV for this project 🙂

Melamine Board

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I used my favorite little battery operated black and decker hex drill/screwdriver to put pilot holes into the base and kick plate boards. I attached the kick plate boards to the boards I was using as a base with screws. Note: a post it note does a great job of catching drill shavings.

The Kick Plate

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Voila! You have a simple base!

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The Cabinets

This is where the project got a little pricier than I would have liked, but I was ok with that, as I really had no desire to build cabinets from scratch or to even learn how to build cabinets. I went to Ikea and purchased Akurum over the fridge wall cabinets. I used 3 cabinets that ran $60 each. These are 24″ deep, 30″ long, and 15″ high with harlig white doors. The dimensions were fairly true to size, and they fit my 24″ x 90″ space like a glove. The directions were simple and straight forward. The finished product is very sturdy.

Note: They have other sizes, other style doors, and other colors too. Changing your choice may change the price. You may be able to find similar cabinets at hardware stores that sell ready made cabinets.

Ikea Cabinets Used

The hardest part of this was convincing the salesclerk that I did not need, or need to pay for, the 3 wall hanging brackets (at $10 each) as I had no intention of mounting the cabinets on the wall. She insisted I buy the brackets because I HAD to use them or the warranty would be no good. I finally had to explain to her what I was doing so she would take the brackets off the bill. She actually called over a manager to get approval to sell me wall cabinets without the brackets. Then, while re-ringing me up, she told me that my project would never work because they would have to sit on the floor and wouldn’t open. She smiled and told me she would be happy to help me when I returned the cabinets when they didn’t work out. By then, I didn’t even feel like explaining, I just wanted my cabinets and to get back to my project. I am only sharing this because I don’t want you to spend the extra money either.

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I decided if I was going to have all this extra storage, I was going to make the best use of it. I felt that Ikea’s price for their shelves was higher than I wanted to pay, so I headed back to Home Depot for more melamine, and had them cut some shelves from a finished edge 24″ x 96″ white board. I got 3 shelves at Home Depot for  a little more than the price of one at Ikea. Have them cut .75″ inch off the back of each shelf, making them 23″ deep for a perfect fit.

Board was less than $30, cuts are free. Result 3 shelves.

Cabinet Shelving

Note: Unless they have modified them, Ikea’s shelves do not even fit if you want the back of the cabinet on; they are almost an inch too deep. Probably because they use and cut up the same 24″ melamine board hardware stores sell. The big difference is that Ikea is not set up to fix this problem and Home Depot is.

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The back of the Window Seat

Originally, I was just going to use pillows, but after looking online at some window seat images, I decided the seat needed a stationary padded back. I used two pieces of particle board from Home Depot’s scrap/discard pile which cost me less than a dollar and they cut the pieces to the exact right size (again, for free.) I picked up a beautiful faux silk ombre curtain panel on clearance at Walmart (only one left) for $5 and used it as the covering material. On that trip I also saw a twin sized memory foam mattress topper for $5 which I picked up for the padding. I cut the foam to match the size of the boards, and used a staple gun to attach the material (cut up window curtain) to the boards. I used peel n stick Velcro attached to the seat back and to the wall  to help everything  stay in place.

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The Seat Cushions

I used outdoor loveseat cushions for the seat, also found on that Walmart trip. I reasoned they would be the best choice for a kitchen window seat because they would be durable and should do a decent job of handling any spills. Not to mention that 2 of these were the exact size I needed. I picked these up on clearance and some outdoor throw cushions to match. I got all the cushion material in one trip so that I could make sure the colors would work well together. I used peel n stick Velcro attached to the cushions and the cabinets to help them stay in place.

Starting to look finished

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I picked up more coordinating throw cushions at a Ross

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Fits perfect with with our French cafe kitchen

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Total cost of assembling the cushions: about $150

Note: I originally had the Paris vinyl stickers on the window seat, but I moved them to the upper kitchen cabinets during a kitchen renovation.

The side effect of this project was something I really had not considered until after the fact. I had 3 new HUGE storage cabinets. They hold things that are used only occasionally like large chafing dishes, electric buffets used for the holidays, holiday dishes, an extra large coffee urn, and a slew of other items.

Note: On seating height ~ It is perfect for most tables.

Base  ~ 1 1/2 ”  + Cabinets ~ 15″ + Cushions ~ 3 inches  = 19 1/2 “

Total Cost: $395

Cabinets $180

Cushions $150

Base $35

Shelves $30

This Black and Decker battery operated hex drill/screwdriver is by far, my favorite tool. I love it so much, I purchased a 2nd one as a back up (I have had it more than 5 years) just in case mine dies.

January 2014 Renovation

Home Renovation January 2014

I had a 3 week winter break the end of 2013, leading into 2014. The stars aligned. I had researched, knew what I wanted, made a plan, and Pedro, our contractor, was free during that time to do the work and assured me it would be completed in time for me to rest a few days before school started back. They had all of the above projects completed in less than a week, even taking a Sunday off. I will be using “we” after this, because after all, I did ask Marc what he wanted occasionally and he did pay for it.

We had things to do prior to the renovation beginning. We ordered special items like the faucet and the sink, making sure they would arrive in plenty of time for inspection and a possible reshipment if there was anything wrong. We made a plan for eating, sleeping, etc. Luckily, for us, this part was fairly easy as we had an upstairs to retreat to and we were having no work done up there (yet). Made reservations to spend some time out of town during the majority of the dust everywhere, noisy, hammering, and sawing event.

This is the process we went through, but it will be different for everybody, depending upon the circumstances.

The week prior to renovations

Step 1: Put up shelves in the garage to stack boxes and items that needed to be out of the way. Packed up everything that needed to be out of the way and put labeled boxes on the shelves in the garage. Put everyday items, like the toaster, unpacked on one designated shelf for easy access. And yes, I did go after that toaster more than once. During this time, I was home to accept special and/or freight deliveries of ordered items. Honey loves getting deliveries, probably because she has seen boxes of toys for her, come from Amazon. The delivery of the sink was no exception. I wonder if she will still like it after her 1st bath in it.

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Step 2 : Moved large items, like china cabinets, couches, etc..that we could live without, to the garage. We had two chairs, an end table to share, and the tv as our furniture for a few days.

Step 3: Get out of the way and let the work happen.

Demolition began early on Saturday, January 4. We hung out at my parents house for the day because our original plan was to start demo on the following Monday. But Pedro and his guys had cleared their schedule early, so they began.  By Saturday evening ~ carpets, counters, sink – all gone! Appliances were all moved away from their normal places, to one side of the kitchen. ps. a good contractor should be able to figure out how to keep your fridge plugged in, ours did! We spent Saturday night in the house, with cold cement floors, doing dishes in the bathroom sink, and all the appliances in a corner. We packed and left for Reno Sunday morning.

This renovation covered these areas of concern which were described in the post “Renovations are Tricky.” There are links to the items that were purchased from Amazon on My Favorite Products Page.

1. The kitty carpet.  (We have never had a kitty)

2. The great kitchen divide. (Ugly gold strip)

Taken care of by installation of commercial wood look vinyl plank flooring, purchased from Home Depot, throughout the whole downstairs. Perfect choice for those with pools, pets, kids, and left-handed husbands.

 

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 Flooring 

 

 

3. The island that ate the kitchen. (Aka long skinny cabinet with counter)

The old island was removed, and the electric from the island was routed to an outlet in the floor that would be hidden by a new island. The new island is on wheels and has a drop down butcher block top. I ordered it from Amazon and put it together myself. The beauty of this island is that if I want to move a large table into the kitchen for a party, the island can be moved elsewhere. It has locking wheels, but it is heavy enough that we have yet to lock them.

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4. The ugliest tile EVER. Seriously. We found extra tiles in the garage. Why?

The ugly tile was all demolished and replaced by a man made quartz that looks like granite. It is less expensive, more durable, and it does not have to be sealed! Yay, for low maintenance! It really is hard to tell the difference. Pedro got this from his counter guy, it was leftover from a previous job, so we got a great deal. Slabs can be purchased from Home Depot and the name of the color is Ethan.

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5. Icky sink area.

The sink area was updated by the installation of a new under mount composite granite sink and new faucet. It was installed with no deck plate as I requested and the dishwasher vent was hidden under the sink. I like that there is less “faucet type stuff” on the countertop to clean. Cleaning the countertop is a breeze, just wipe it all into the sink. We purchased both the sink and faucet from Amazon.

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6. Ugliest front door on the street.

Brand new door and hardware. It is staying white, unless a color speaks to me. Door from Home Depot.

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Pretty New Door

Every renovation has to have some unexpected trial or tribulation. Ours was no different and it was, of all things, the backsplash. Ironically, we had given almost no thought to the backsplash and since I really wanted all tile and grout gone – I had asked them just to make a small backsplash with the countertop quartz material. While in Reno, Pedro called us to tell us that after cutting the counters and discarding some unsuitable pieces that they were not going to have enough quartz to do the backsplash. The demo of previous tile had also torn up the walls higher than they had predicted and there just wasn’t enough material. If we didn’t do a substantial backsplash, they would also have to repaint the whole kitchen and adjoining living room. He suggested some black tile or a strip of plain black granite. I shared that I was not crazy about that idea, because I didn’t think it would look great with the white sink. I was also very unsure about adding another type of surface. Marc was very helpful during this part of the process by turning the whole decision over to me and reassuring me that whatever I chose would look great. No pressure there!

Pedro assured me he could find something I’d like. I put my faith in him, after all he was used to building million dollar homes for people much pickier than I. He went to some places he knows to see what kind of scraps they had and started sending pictures of choices. One of the texts he sent was a sheet of striped white and gray marble, with the words “crazy idea.”  It seems that several sheets of this beautiful marble had been ordered for a big job, but one was not accepted because it had several small flaws. The original cost was $1000, but since it was flawed, a solo sheet, and of little use to most contractors, he got it for $100. Since it was being used as a backsplash, there was plenty of material, even with the flaws. Out of all the things he sent, that particular idea kept speaking to me. I have to be honest though, I lost sleep, while Marc snored away, and I shed a few fearful tears over this after I gave him the go-ahead. All for naught. It came out absolutely beautiful. And there was enough left over that we now have a beautiful slab of marble that covers the stovetop. Perfect for rolling out pie crusts and other baking needs.

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Pictures never do it justice and even make it look a little like baseboard, but let me assure you, when you are standing in front of it – there is no question that this is quality polished marble. It is one of the things you just have to reach out and touch and then run your hand along.

Check back, because we are not done. We still have to decide what color the bottom cabinets will be, add a cabinet with a glass front over the dishwasher area, install a drum chandelier, and I want to try to incorporate an awning for our French bistro styled kitchen. Marc is not sure about the awning.

 

If you are considering a renovation, big or small, I’d love to hear from you and see pictures! Good luck to you. Remember to smile, be flexible, (like our new faucet) and try to have fun with it.

 

 

Home Renovations are Tricky

 

Home renovations are tricky.

It can be hard to find the appropriate time for a renovation to even take place. Not only will it be disruptive to your daily life, it can end up costing much more than you budgeted, if you are not careful in the planning stages. It also can be very difficult to find the balance between the materials you would like and the budget you are working with.

The best advice I can give is:

Plan a time that is most convenient in your life – if you are a teacher, the first week of school is probably a bad idea. Our solution was to put the plan in place, be there when it started, get out of town for a bit, be in touch via cell phone at all times, and return at the end of construction.

For the times right before, during, and after your renovation – Make a plan – where will you put items that need to be out of the way of construction? Do you have a space, or do you need to rent a space? Where will you sleep, eat, go potty, etc.?

Do your research on the materials you want so that you know what you are asking for and what to expect. If you know you have a bad habit of spilling spaghetti sauce – don’t go for the white Carrera marble!

Keep your expectations realistic – laminate flooring will never look like hard wood, laminate countertops will never look like granite, and subway tile look wallpaper will never look like subway tile.

Look at design pictures. Look at HGTV, look at Pinterest, look at renovation websites. Decide what you want before you begin – changing orders can get expensive.

Do what makes you happy within reason – keep in mind, you may want to sell this house one day and potential buyers may not want an expensive speckled robin blue designer apron sink. On the flip side, make yourself happy – if you just must have that 2k blue sink and it is in your budget, go for it – just prepared for what may happen down the road. Don’t expect a future buyer to want it or to pay for it. A future buyer may hate that sink, and it may even become a negotiation point costing you the sale, or money for you to change it. I’d still rather face that dilemma than live in a beige house.

Be somewhat flexible – your contractor may come up with a great solution to an unexpected problem or they may come across a great deal if you are open to a new idea. I will tell you more later about a backsplash meltdown that came out better than I could have ever planned.

Choose your contractor very wisely. Enough said.

How I learned this…

Several years ago, we found a dream house in Wheatland, CA. It was a short sale, so purchasing it was not quite as straightforward as most home purchases, but we loved it, so we waited it out. We had made a list and it had everything on the “must haves” and even a few on the “it would be nice” lists. It was several years old, but it was like new. In Wheatland – check. Back from the highway – check. Newer construction – check. Close enough to hear the train whistle, but not be bothered by the train – check. Two stories – check. Double sinks in the master – check. Soaking tub – check. Two or more full bathrooms – check. Extra bedrooms – check. Garage – check. Covered porch – check. Laundry room – check. Pool – check. Open kitchen to a living space – check. Move in ready – check. Only one bedroom and the kitchen even showed signs that anyone had ever lived in the house. It was move in ready – sorta.

But, we had to make a drastic change before we even moved in. They had put in a pool along the side of the house, which made sense because in its location, it got sun all day. What did not make sense was that it was outside the longest wall of a large 2 story house. A wall that contained only one small, narrow window. You could not see the whole pool from anywhere inside the house, and you had to walk out of the back of the house and around the corner to get to the pool. This also meant that the largest room in the house had the least light. I convinced my husband before we bought the house, that there needed to be a door by the pool, or the house made no sense. Who puts in a 40k pool that you can’t see and have to circle the house to get to? The door was in place before we moved in, I think he was afraid I’d take a hammer to the wall so I could see the pool.

Two thousand dollars later, we had a French slider leading to the pool, had a tree that was cracking the cement by the pool removed, and had the downstairs painted. My daughter convinced me, easily I might add, that the bright, bright sunny yellow in the kitchen had to go and that we should throw some paint on the stark white walls. Thanks to Pedro, a family member that is also a contractor in Lodi, this was all accomplished in one day. We started moving in the following day.

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We lived in the house for five years, before we decided to do more work. I had a list of things that annoyed me on a daily basis, and we made a plan to fix those things. Some things I took care of myself, like painting out the ugly light box and turning it into a pot rack, and building a window seat. Many of my DIY projects have, or will have in the near future, blog posts with directions. The ones listed here, were bigger jobs than I had the time, energy, or knowledge to fix, so we had Pedro do it.

1. The kitty carpet. The downstairs carpet that was obviously freshly shampooed when we bought the house, was not so fresh after a few weeks of people traffic. There was a kitty stained path leading from the laundry room to the kitchen. It always looked great for a few weeks after shampooing, but who wants to shampoo their carpet once a month?

2. The great divide. Between the open living space and the kitchen was a gold carpet strip separating the 2 areas, with carpet on one side and linoleum on the other, making sitting at the table a potential amusement park ride, depending upon which chair you chose.

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3. The island that ate the kitchen. For some reason, builders think that all kitchens need an island. Even if it means they put no thought into it, and just get a long bank of cabinets, throw it in the middle of the kitchen, put some cheap counter material on it, hook up some electric and call it a day. The island was 22″ wide and 52″ long and sat right in the middle of the kitchen, making it impossible to place a decent sized table in what should have been a decent sized eat-in kitchen.

4. The ugliest tile EVER. Every kitchen counter and the ridiculous wannabee island was covered in chipped cream colored 4×4″ tiles with large nasty grout lines that always looked dirty, no matter how often it was scrubbed. The tile wasn’t done well, and everything that sat on them, wobbled like it was in an earthquake. I resorted to covering them with gigantic ikea cutting boards to allow for adequate work spaces.

5. Icky sink area. The sink was a  shallow, porcelain, double sink that was chipped showing black spots in several areas. The faucet was the kind you buy on sale at any big box store for $30 that had a separate sprayer that tangled, making it more trouble than it was worth. There was also the ugly vent for the dishwasher. Cleaning nightmare.

6. Ugliest front door on the street. Cheap front door which the previous owners decided to paint crap brown.

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Details of the renovation and materials we chose

Home Renovations January 2014

New Faucet

New Faucet Video

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Love the new faucet. Very heavy duty restaurant-like quality.

Note: The only complaint I have ever seen was that the small spray head you hold is made of plastic. It has to be that way – a metal spray head would burn your hand when spraying the hot water.

Overnight Ferry from London to Amsterdam

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London to Amsterdam on a Floating Hotel

Our trip to Amsterdam began via plane from SFO to London. Yes, we could have flown straight to Amsterdam, but I found a flight to London for half the price, and that’s just how we roll. We arrived in London fairly early as it was a long overnight flight and they are 8 hours ahead of San Francisco. I should mention here  that we also planned a quick trip to Paris, then Germany to see the kids, then back to Paris. We took the Eurostar back to London to spend a couple days before catching our flight back to SFO and we didn’t have time to backtrack through Amsterdam.

Tip on timing: When scheduling and booking, do not forget that you are usually arriving the next day – we have come across many people traveling from the USA to Europe that forgot to take that into account, and have missed their connection, had a hotel booked for the wrong night, missed a tour time, etc.

We booked a rail and sail package (online) from Liverpool Street Station to Amsterdam through the Stena Ferry Line. Check them out, they are awesome, seriously! Out of all the things we have done in Europe, this portion of this particular trip remains one of my husband’s all-time favorites. With the rail and sail package – we could have gotten off at any Dutch train station, we chose Amsterdam.

Rail N Sail Packages

Tip: Booking the overnight ferry, even booking a comfort class outside cabin, was less expensive than booking two airline tickets and a hotel room, and the trip was much more pleasant and less harried.

We took the train from the airport to Liverpool Street Station. Most of the airports in the London area have a train/tube connection that will spirit you to anywhere in the London vicinity, and it will be cheaper, and take less time than a taxi. Every time, honest. We had traveled rather lightly this trip with only carry-ons. 1. We didn’t want to take a chance of missing our train and/or ferry waiting for a missing bag. 2. We didn’t want to deal with TSA over things like toothpaste and disposable razors.  Since we had traveled so lightly, we needed to get a few personal items. Yes, trains stations in Europe are different than ours, they can be a great place to shop, the big ones are well stocked, and are not overly expensive. You can find €1 snacks and drinks, €3 combo meals, inexpensive toiletries,  scarves, batteries, phone chargers, clothing, umbrellas, reading material…you name it.

After filling a reusable, insulated M&S grocery bag with drinks, sandwiches, and a few other goodies, we got on the train towards Harwich. I should point out here that the ferry has several restaurants and a bar, but we were beat from the flight, and just wanted our floating hotel room with the ability to stretch out in a real bed. If you know you want dinner at one of their restaurants, purchasing one before sailing can save you money.

We arrived at Harwich train station a little after 7:00 pm and the embarkation point for the ferry was right there, we didn’t even leave the building. They started loading the ferry at about 8-8:30 and we were in our room by 9 pm.  We booked a comfort class cabin with a window, and we found the extras to be worth it, but if you just want transportation, a bed and a shower, and to save a few bucks, go for a standard.

The ferry was just awesome and to be honest the cabins offered much more than most American cruise line cabins. There was a FREE stocked mini bar all set up for us. There was a coffeepot, coffee packets, tea bags, sugar, mugs, and wine glasses. The fridge contained a variety of ice-cold spirits, Dutch beer, Italian wine, sparkling water, club soda, juice, and an assortment of tiny bottles of liquor. The counter above the fridge was stocked with fruits, nuts, chips, and a few other snacks. The beds had premium bedding, fluffy pillows, and were uber comfy. The bathroom was immaculate, roomy, and well stocked with towels, shampoo, and other incidentals. There was even a tv with several channels that was to be available all night and free wifi.  After showers, we ate our combo meals we brought from the train station. We put our heads to our pillows and barely felt the ship leave the dock.

We didn’t wake until we felt the ship docking in the morning about 6:30 or so. The docking was so smooth that I doubt we would have even been awakened had it not been for the great night’s rest. We took our time getting up, had some muffins we had purchased at the train station, and some fruit from the mini-bar. There seemed to be no rush to get you out quickly, like on an American cruise ship…loved that! As we made our way down the gangplank, and out of the ferry building …the platform was right there. Yay! We had to change trains at Rotterdam and the trip took a little more than an hour.

Tip: You can even book one of those cabins if you take the ferry crossing during the day. The time of a day trip is much shorter, so it is much cheaper. If you want/need a quiet restful place for you to work or little ones to nap, I’d suggest looking into it.

We didn’t have Honey yet, when we took this trip, but they do allow pets on board for a small fee. They must travel in your car, or stay in an on board kennel if you book a cabin.

There is a post about Amsterdam you may want to check out ~  if you haven’t done so already 😉

Stena Line – Celebrating 50 Years


New From: $41.78 USD In Stock

Don’t Accidentally Buy Pot Brownies in Amsterdam

Spring Break 2012 005

Don’t Accidentally Buy Pot Brownies

Amsterdam, Anne Frank Museum, and Keukenhof

Trip Report

Where we stayed

Our apartment in Amsterdam ~  we used airbnb to book it

Spring Break 2012 020

Hubby, Marc, checking out the wifi

We paid less for an apartment for 3 nights than a hotel would have cost us for 1 night. Hotels in Amsterdam = EXPENSIVE!

This is a link to the apartment we stayed in, loved it, hostess was awesome!

Our Apartment

I personally love staying in apartments when traveling and I have a post coming about that process soon!

We got to Amsterdam via an overnight ferry from London. Check out rail and sail packages from Stena Line. I have a blog post all about it.

Stena Line

 

Day 1: Welcome to Amsterdam

The train station in Amsterdam was minutes, by foot, from our apartment. We were really glad we had light luggage because it was a walk up (no elevator) and we were on the 3rd floor. (Remember, in Europe, the ground floor is 0, so this really means 4th floor in USA speak.) We checked out our new digs, and settled in for an hour or so, checking out the wifi, the kitchen, etc.  Then we went out to explore the neighborhood. We walked up and down several streets and then it started to drizzle. As we headed back toward the apartment, we decided that I would pick up a few simple groceries for the next few days, and some pastries from the coffee shop, while Marc went to the corner pizza shop and ordered and waited on a pizza for our dinner. I did not get the brownies in the window I had had my eye on. It went something like this.

Me: <smiling> Hello, English?

Young man behind counter: Yeah….English is fine.

Me: <pointing> I’d like a couple of those brownies, please.

Young man behind counter: Sure. What dosage?

Me: Dosage? Like size? They look all look the same?

Young man behind counter: <laughing softly> Ma’am, do you want marijuana brownies?

Me: <blank stare>

Young man behind counter: Uhhhh…These have pot in them, some light, some medium, some heavy – dosage – we have different flavors too

Me: Uhhhh, any normal … just chocolate ones?

Young man behind counter: Try the café across the street. In Amsterdam, coffee shops sell coffee, pot, and items with pot in them.

 Welcome to Amsterdam: We sell pot legally.

I probably should have read this before our trip.

Don’t accidentally buy pot brownies in Amsterdam

We had pizza and leftover muffins for dinner. No brownies.

Day 2: Anne Frank Museum

On the emotional side: Prepare yourself for this. I could barely speak by the time we left. Bring tissue.

On the practical side: Be prepared to walk a lot, stand a lot, and climb stairs. Buy your tickets online and print them out before your trip. The downside to this is that you must book a specific day and time.  The upside: You will save time. We saw people wait more than 2-3 hours (in the rain) to get in. We know this because a lady in a bright red raincoat with ducks on it, was just entering as we were leaving and we had been inside well over 2 hours. Pretty sure she was the only tall redhead in a red raincoat with ducks on it in the vicinity.

Anne Frank Ticket Sales

Since we had purchased our tickets online, we walked past the super long “snaking around several buildings and across several side streets” line, past the main entrance. To the left of that entrance, there was a little window with a locked door beside it, for tours and times, and a little sign stating they didn’t sell tickets there. I was ignored until I held up my tickets. We had gone to the area early to eat lunch, shop, and explore the area, but we didn’t find as much to do in the area as we thought we would. We had a 5:30 pm tour time stamped on our tickets and we were ready before 2 pm. Hmmm, what to do? I explained to the nice lady at the counter that we were early and very jet-lagged as we had just arrived in Amsterdam. I went on to explain that were afraid we were going to fall asleep and miss our time if we went back to our apartment and came back. I asked if it was possible to go early. She smiled and said she needed to check the queue. 3 minutes later, we were buzzed through. I can not promise that this will happen, but if you find yourself in a similar situation, it may be worth a shot. Incredible walk through history. Again, bring tissue.

Day 3: Keukenhof ~ The Happy Place

After the emotional rollercoaster of the Anne Frank house, Keukenhof was the happy place. Flowers, windmills, great little cafes, huge Dutch shoes, and a giant human leapfrog pad, what more could one ask for? Again, we bought tickets online before our trip, so no standing in line once we got there. We probably saved 20-30 minutes or so by having our tickets in hand.

Tickets to See the Tulips

Spring Break 2012 010Spring Break 2012 078 Spring Break 2012 053

We spent the time around visiting the Anne Frank Museum and Keukenhof, walking along the canals, visiting windmills, and Dam Square.

DAY 4: Bye, Bye Amsterdam, Hello Paris

We took the TGV train from Amsterdam to Paris. It took about 3 hours.

I probably should have read the book below, before our trip.

Rick Steves’ Amsterdam, Bruges & Brussels


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