A Birthday Weekend in Photos

Morgan's 30th | PepperDesignBlog.com

I mentioned on Tuesday that this last weekend was an incredibly memorable one. I thought I’d share a few photos with you! A lot of these are recycled from Instagram, so if you follow me over there you might recognize the highlights.

Morgan's 30th | PepperDesignBlog.com

Morgan's 30th | PepperDesignBlog.com

Morgan's 30th | PepperDesignBlog.com

On Friday night, Kevin surprised me with appetizers, dinner and dancing with our closest friends – and with family that flew/drove in from all over California! I love this amazing group of people so much, they made this day so special.

We started with appetizers at Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar where I took my birthday oyster shot! (ps didn’t go as planned, as evidenced here) but thankfully the cocktails and design are both out of this world, too. Next, Kevin arranged for a private lounge at Kettner Exchange in the Little Italy area of San Diego for our group of 30 or so. Great food and drinks just kept coming (I wish I could remember the name of that drink… but it was that good).

Morgan's 30th | PepperDesignBlog.com

Morgan's 30th | PepperDesignBlog.com

Look at my little brother, trying to be all Justin Beiber cool. I wish I had a picture of all of my friends from this evening.

Afterwards, we celebrated a birthday right with a little dancing! My family and a few friends also joined for a ‘staycation’ at Hotel Vyvant. Such a sweet surprise to walk Everywhere we headed those two days.

Morgan's 30th | PepperDesignBlog.com

The next morning we had brunch and visited Little Italy’s amazing farmer’s market. The girl’s joined us, too! If I could sum up a few of my favorite things that bring me joy in three words (other than family, faith…) it would be: coffee, goat cheese, and farmer’s markets. As I type that I realize how silly that sounds, but right now, in this stage of my life, it’s the little moments, sites, sounds, tastes that matter most. I wouldn’t have chosen to spend my Saturday any other way.

Morgan's 30th | PepperDesignBlog.com

Morgan's 30th | PepperDesignBlog.com

Morgan's 30th | PepperDesignBlog.com

Morgan's 30th | PepperDesignBlog.com

Kevin wouldn’t let me in on a single detail so he basically asked me to show up in something fancy and pack an overnight bag. That made me nervous! But I should have known better because he’s an excellent party planner.

And the reason this is the best weekend out of the entire year? The weekend may come to a close after two days of amazing-ness… but then there’s Memorial Day.

Morgan's 30th | PepperDesignBlog.com

Morgan's 30th | PepperDesignBlog.com

Our neighborhood has adopted this holiday as their own with an annual parade, relay races in the morning and LOTS of bbqing and beers all afternoon.

This is a day worth memorializing on all levels. I’m proud to have service members within my family and remember and honor those who have gone before us. This is an important holiday to celebrate with our girls.

Morgan's 30th | PepperDesignBlog.com

Everyone comes out and if you’re not walking in the parade you’re lining the streets watching all of the fun cars, floats and people go by.

Morgan's 30th | PepperDesignBlog.com

Morgan's 30th | PepperDesignBlog.com

I have learned so many wonderful lessons over the past three decades (I summed up a handful here). It’s been a crazy journey, this is my last birthday post! (promise) Thanks for hanging in there and for coming along for the ride. xo

Honey & Rosemary Balsamic Reduction Dressing

Honey & Rosemary Balsamic Reduction Dressing | PepperDesignBlog.com

We’ve been enjoying some yummy salads around here and one key ingredient is a balsamic reduction dressing. Reducing the vinegar helps with the bite, and makes for a really nice sauce straight on fresh peaches or grilled chicken, too.

Here’s how I make it:

I use a small 1.5 quart sauce pan and heat about 1/2″ balsamic vinegar (this is usually plenty for a meal + leftover dressing for the next day) over medium-low heat.

Gently simmer until the balsamic vinegar reduces by roughly 50% and holds tight to the back of a spoon. My 1/2″ is now 1/4″ inch (spoon test is also helpful here). When the vinegar begins to show bubbles across the top, it’s ready to pull from heat.

Honey & Rosemary Balsamic Reduction Dressing | PepperDesignBlog.com

Two hints: don’t use a fancy balsamic vinegar, a generic brand is just great! Mix in herbs for a delicious twist. I especially love rosemary chopped very finely.

Honey & Rosemary Balsamic Reduction Dressing | PepperDesignBlog.com

While still warm, I love to stir in two tablespoons of honey to offset the vinegar taste just a bit more.

For a creamier dressing, try adding 1/4 cup (or so) of mayo after the reduction has cooled down.

I sometimes mix this reduction with olive oil for salads or serve as-is with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato slices. Sooooo delicious.

Master Bed & Bathroom Remodel: Week 14

Next to Christmas, Memorial Day weekend might be my favorite holiday. Most years my birthday falls on that Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday making it a full weekend of family activities. This weekend I turned 30 and Kevin surprised me with an amazing night out with all of our closest friends. I even had family that flew in to join in on the surprise! It was so great and so well thought out, and we had so much fun! (kudos, Kevin! seriously huge, heart-warming kudos to my better half.)

Yesterday we attended our neighborhood parade and spent most of the time cheering on local business floats and catching up with neighbors over adult beverages. It actually started to rain just as we were walking down to the route, but we didn’t let the wet weather rain on our parade ;), the sprinkle stopped just in time for festivities to begin.

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Despite an amazing weekend, it almost pains me to type week 14 for our bathroom remodel in the title of this post since I had promised myself that this construction project would take ten weeks max (and maybe 12 if we were running behind or waiting on lead times for any products). But here we are in week 14 and we have at least three to go. All of the delays have been caused by our own indecisiveness – location/spacial planning decisions, tile decisions, fixture decisions, electrical decisions, plumbing decisions – you name it and we have flipped back and forth on the pros/cons about each and every item that came up for consideration. We also had a three week delay back when Kevin transitioned from full-time paternity to full-time back-to-work, that didn’t help.

It’s all okay though, so goes life and it’s so much better to wade our way through the decisions with confidence verses extreme compromising to stick to a calendar.

And today, today this bathroom is looking pretty good!

Week 1:

Master Bath/Bedroom Demo Day 1 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Week 2:

Master Bath/Bedroom Week 2 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Week 7 (after the temporary break):

Master Bath/Bedroom Week 7 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Week 8:

Master Bath/Bedroom Week 8 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Week 14:

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Weeks 13-14 brought with it additions I’m head over heels about. The subfloor now has radiant heating and tile, the plumbing for the shower and vanity faucets has been finished (BIG job!), Hardibacker and Wonderboard now cover all open walls (with exception of the last bit of vanity plumbing), the window (west) wall has been tiled and the vanity (south) wall was started.

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

It’s thrilling to see tile choices become a reality. Watching the cement floor tiles go in was probably the highlight of my remodel month. The pattern was bold for our often play-it-safe choices, but the end result was right on target.

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Same goes with the glass green wall. Even as it was being installed, Kevin wondered if we should have gone all white here. Once it was finished though, that vision that I’ve had working through my head came to fruition and it was better than I had imagined.

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

An area of concern (and one that brought MUCH agonizing over tile choices, causing even more delays) was how the glass tile would marry up with the ceramic white subway tile in the corner of the bathroom where the two would meet. The ceramic tile that I had fallen in love with was only 2.5 inches tall, a really odd size in the tile world. Finding a green glass subway that complimented that nicely took A LOT of digging, but when we settled on 4×9″ larger tiles and laid them out in completely different patterns (the glass in a brick – or 50/50 pattern – and the white subway in a 20-80 pattern), the two materials began to work seamlessly together and the corner of the bathroom was no longer a major concern..

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

We initially planned on tiling the floor of the shower space (this corner here) in a solid grey 2×2″ tile, but once we saw how amazing the patterned floor looked, we decided that carrying the tile through into the shower pan would be first choice. We worked with our contractor (our close friend) to make sure that the grade (2% at a minimum to allow for proper drainage) could be achieved for that zero floor look.

This is pre polishing, pre sealing, pre grouting…

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

When it came to finishing up the vanity plumbing, I took my question on vanity heights to Instagram and came back with some great answers. Kevin and I compromised on the standard 34″ vanity height (which doesn’t include the three inch vessel sink lift) since he’s so tall and I’m so short :). A short vanity countertop for me, taller sinks that hit at 37″ for him. Our contractor left this template up in the bathroom so that we could actually visualize where the mirror and faucets would hit at the heights we had decided on. This step was incredibly helpful to confirm that we were making the right choice!

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

Master Bathroom, Week 14 | PepperDesignBlog.com

 On to sealing and grouting the tile, next is plumbing the bathtub, installing the toilet and finishing the closet design. Kevin and our neighbor are building the vanity this next week as well, we’ve decided on walnut and it should be beautiful.

PS the renovation journey of this space found here.

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