Downtown Colorado Springs Wrap-up Round-up

We love living in Chicago now. We appreciate all the things that big cities have to offer, including the progressive attitudes of the citizens and the people in charge. But Colorado Springs has its charms, and it was really hard to leave. The downtown area is very pretty with lots of trees and flowers (when the city can find it in the budget to water them) and beautiful historic homes and buildings (for now anyway). There are lots of little shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars, a couple of cute parks, a public library, some art galleries, and two museums. It’s flat so it’s easy to walk or bike around, and the views of the mountains are stunning.  Here are some of the things we loved about living in downtown Colorado Springs (along with some of our gripes, as usual).

You can walk or bike all over the place. It's flat and the drivers are cautious.

You can walk or bike all over the place. It's flat and the drivers are usually pretty cautious.

Smiley's was just a couple blocks from our house, and we went there many weekends for breakfast.

Smiley's was just a couple blocks from our house, and we went there many weekends for breakfast. Click this pic for their website.

Homespun handwritten menu at Smiley's

Homespun handwritten menu at Smiley's

Breakfast at Smiley's is delicious!

Breakfast at Smiley's is delicious! Probably the best bacon in the COS.

Tejon St. Music has been around a long time. Great place for all your guitar needs. Click this pic for their website.

Tejon Street Music has been around a long time. Great place for all your guitar needs. Click this pic for their website.

Pretty residential street in downtown Colorado Springs

Pretty residential street in downtown Colorado Springs

Our old apartment downtown. It's since been sold and the new owners "remodeled" it, basically ruining all its old history. Still, it's got pretty neighbors.

Our old apartment downtown. It's since been sold and the new owners "remodeled" it, basically ruining all its old history. Still, it's got pretty neighbors.

Lunch on the patio at Poor Richards. Best pizza in town! Click this pic for their website.

Lunch on the patio at Poor Richard's. Best pizza in town! Click this pic for their website.

Cocktails and coffee at Poor Richards.

Cocktails and coffee at Poor Richard's.

Paris Crepe- one of our all-time faves. Click this pic for their website.

Paris Crepe -- one of our all-time faves. Click this pic for their website.

The best crepes are at Paris Crepe. Don't they look delish?

The best crepes are at Paris Crepe. Don't they look delish?

Paris Crepe is across the street from Acacia Park and it's nice to spend a summer evening eating crepes on their sidewalk cafe.

Paris Crepe is across the street from Acacia Park and it's nice to spend a summer evening eating crepes on their sidewalk cafe.

The weather is gorgeous and the views are stunning from downtown.

The weather is gorgeous and the views are stunning from downtown.

In the summer there are free concerts in Acacia Park on Saturday evenings.

In the summer there are free concerts in Acacia Park on Saturday evenings.

There's also a farmers market there on Mondays.

There's also a farmers market there on Mondays.

Acacia Park and Monument Valley Park are fun places to sit and have a picnic.

Acacia Park and Monument Valley Park are relaxing places to sit and have a picnic.

You can walk everywhere downtown.

You can walk everywhere downtown.

 

Terra Verde and Sparrowhawk Cookware are little locally owned shops with neat items for sale. Click this pic for Terra Verde's website.

Terra Verde and Sparrowhawk Cookware are great locally owned shops with neat items for sale. Click this pic for Terra Verde's website.

The Rodeo Days parade takes place every July down Tejon St. There's also  St. Patrick's Day parade, and a Christmas parade.

The Rodeo Days parade takes place every July down Tejon St. There's also St. Patrick's Day parade, and a Christmas parade.

Tony's Bar. The bar we love to hate. Click the pic for Tony's website.

Tony's Bar. The bar we love to hate. Click the pic for Tony's website.

Zeezo's is the place for all things magic and costume. Click this pic for their website.

Zeezo's is the place for all things magic and costume. Click this pic for their website.

If you're young and preferably in the military, you'll love weekends at downtown's pseudo honkeytonk, Cowboys. They also have bowling upstairs.

If you're young and preferably in the military, you'll love weekends at downtown's faux honkeytonk, Cowboys. They also have bowling upstairs.

The sidewalk cafes at Il Vicino, The Ritz, and Jack Quinns are nice places to have a meal.

The sidewalk cafes at Il Vicino, The Ritz, The Olive Branch, and Jack Quinns are nice places to have a meal.

Catch a movie at The Peak (but be aware they don't take credit or debit cards). They also have a small bar where you can grab a cocktail, glass of wine, or a beer to take into the theatre.

Catch a movie at The Peak (but be aware that they don't take credit or debit cards). They also have a small bar where you can grab a cocktail, glass of wine, or a beer to take into the theatre.

Then go over to the nightclub compound on Tejon St. and have a drink at the bar with the fire on the roof.

Then go over to the nightclub compound on Tejon St. and have a drink at the bar with the fire on the roof.

La Baguette has delicious french fare. Click this pic for their website.

La Baguette has delicious french fare. Click this pic for their website.

A brewpub whose building was saved from the wrecking ball by Governor Hickenlooper (way before he was governor), Phantom Canyon.

A brewpub whose building was saved from the wrecking ball by Governor Hickenlooper (way before he was governor), Phantom Canyon.

The Pioneers Museum is a neat place to spend an afternoon.

The Pioneers Museum is a neat place to spend an afternoon.

Labor Day weekend is the Balloon Festival, we could see them from our bedroom.

Labor Day weekend is the Balloon Festival, we could see them from our bedroom.

Slightly north of downtown is the well-stocked nursery, The Good Earth Garden Center. Click this pic for their website.

Slightly north of downtown is the well-stocked nursery, The Good Earth Garden Center. Click this pic for their website.

The Good Earth Garden Center is a nice place to walk around or pick something out from their vast selection of plants and garden art.

The Good Earth Garden Center is a nice place to walk around or pick something out from their vast selection of plants and garden art.

Slightly south of downtown is Bristol Brewing. They make their own beer and have a tasting room. Click this pic for their website.

Slightly south of downtown is Bristol Brewing. They make their own beer and have a tasting room. Click this pic for their website.

Beer flight at Bristol Brewing.

Beer flight at Bristol Brewing.

 

We’ve devoted a lot of space on this blog to downtown, and this post is not at all comprehensive (we didn’t even mention Shuga’s!). So please check out our other posts for tons more things to do. And be sure to let us know what your favorite downtown things are and when new shops and restaurants open up! We might not live there anymore, but we still care. And of course we’ll be back at some point. Hell, maybe we’ll even come back and get that coffee truck we’ve been dreaming about rolling.

 

Another DIY adventure: The bathroom renovation

When we first toured the house that would eventually become ours, Adrienne pointed out that the bathroom would need to be “redone.”

I asked what was wrong with it, and she gave me a look. The look scared me, and I said, “I mean, except for all the obvious stuff, of course.”

So after settling in, we got started “redoing” that bathroom.

Step One was getting rid of the plastic shower surround that was installed around the tub. Aside from being yellowed with age and kind of gross, one big section was put in upside-down. We needed tile. Black and white tiles, to be precise. (Adrienne assures me that the black-and-white scheme was not for the purpose of coordinating with the cats.)

After the tile, we installed beadboard wainscoting. For more information on wainscoting — maybe even more information than you ever wanted — the This Old House people have an awesome slideshow. We had a choice between paneling or individual slabs, and we chose the slabs because we thought they looked better, more traditional.

Add a little paint, clean up the hardware, hang a few brass hooks that were nearly impossible to find, and you can consider that a redone bathroom.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

See that soap tray on the main panel there at the top? Yeah, the one that can't hold any soap because it's upside-down? This is one of the things that was wrong with this bathroom.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Since the place was vacant when we got it, it had been winterized by the friendly HUD folks. Not sure who did the painting, but it was a single yellowish-white color on everything. Looked like a spray job.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

After yanking out the disgusting plastic paneling we needed to prep the walls for tile, which meant removing the damaged plaster. Our tile guy, Tim, was a gem to work with, and he let me do the demolition. I love demolition.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Here's what I thought going into the project: I'll rip this plaster down, then the tile guy will come in and tile. Easy. Days later, I'm still busting my hump trying to pull this godforsaken plaster down and I'm thinking it might be best to just wall off the damn bathroom and just start using a bucket and the outdoor hose for washing off. The problem, it turns out, is that this plaster has some kind of steel mesh that can't just be pulled down. It has to be cut with a grinder and pried off. Miserable.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

This stuff right here. Steel. Or something. Whatever. Might as well have been titanium. The plaster on this stuff was virtually impossible to take down. Took days. I cursed a lot and cut myself on it no fewer than eight times. A tip for anyone thinking about taking this kind of project on: Rose-pruning shears work really well on this, but there are people who object to having her fancy rose shears being ruined on steel mesh. FYI.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

It occurred to me pretty soon after starting the demo that Tile Guy Tim knew exactly how awful this was going to be and "worked with me" on the demo because he knew our budget was tight. Well-played, Tile Guy Tim. Well-played.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

After the tile job. Looks pretty good with the circa. 1920s fixtures, I think.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

There was a lot of consternation about whether to put the thin black liner tile there, but after a LOT of discussion, we think we made the right choice.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Tile Guy Tim doesn't have a website. If he did, we'd share it with you and recommend his work. Despite his skillful avoidance of the demolition, he was really great to work with: showed up on time, every time; answered calls; put up with someone's changes of heart about very small things; worked quickly and cleanly. And affordably. He went with us to the tile place to look at some options. A-plus transaction. Would hire again. If you need a tile guy, we still have his number. Why he doesn't have a website is a mystery. Come on, Tim, get on that.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Because the beadboard came in 8-foot pieces, we moved the trim down to 4 feet so we could just cut the slats in half and save a little cash. Of course this also meant that we had to repair some damaged plaster under the old trim. And by the shower, there was a section of Durock cementboard that needed some attention.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

I used my supersuperior ingenuity to repair this damaged corner by using metal cornerbead and then just mudding the hell out of it. Genius!

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

There were some spots, too, that needed some wood putty.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Another profoundly damaged corner? Cornerbead!!

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

The beadboard was fairly easy to install. Adrienne's dad did most of it, and I stood around a lot talking about things he's not interested in.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

While we were doing all this work, we figured we might as well raise the sink a few inches so the taller people in the house don't have to hunch over it uncomfortably when we need to wash our hands. Didn't realize you could just unbolt the bracket from the wall, move it up a few inches, and reattach it. If I had known how easy it was, I would have been raising sinks all my life at every house I've ever lived in.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

I find that the best carpentry is done in pajamas.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

While I was painting and installing beadboard, Adrienne was cleaning and polishing all the hardware. Here's a doorknob and plate before cleaning.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Here's one after cleaning. Still has a good amount of patina, but some of the details are coming out more. Also, thanks to Henley's Keys downtown, we have a skeleton key that works!

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

A "Before" hinge, showcasing one of my biggest peeves: Homeowners, please stop painting over hinges. Really, knock it off.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

See, doesn't that look better? Of course it does.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Keyplates before and after. Not too shiny, but not too grungy. Just right.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Adrienne's method for cleaning the hardware was pretty simple: Boiling water and salt mostly. Then a light polish afterward. She's written about it before: http://www.oinkety.com/?p=4133

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Finding good vintage brass hooks is a lot harder than it sounds. Took us forever to find these damn things.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

This is my favorite hook. It's on the back of the door. It's a sad realization in life when you see it in writing that you have a favorite hook.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

And here's my least favorite hook. We don't like it because it's weird. But since we won't be living here much longer, we put it up as a sort-of jab to the next owners. Take that, next owners: That's right, a weird bathroom hook. How are you liking your dream home now?

After the painting and the putting back together of everything, the bathroom does look much better. We used Benjamin Moore paint (Cottonball for the trim and Icing on the Cake for the blue walls).

After the painting and the putting back together of everything, the bathroom does look much better. We used Benjamin Moore paint (Cottonball for the trim and Icing on the Cake for the blue walls).

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

The finished bathtub/shower area. Thanks, Tile Guy Tim!

Got a cute shower curtain from TJ Maxx and we were done.

Got a cute shower curtain from TJ Maxx and we were done.

So there it is. Our bathroom, finally finished. Only thing missing now is a toilet paper holder. We love this one, but I can’t spend $245 on a toilet paper holder. It’s just not right.

Festival of Lights Parade and other free downtown Colorado Springs events

The Festival Of Lights Parade is a super cheezy small town affair. But it’s fun to sit wrapped in a blanket on a lawn chair in the cold drinking spiked hot chocolate out of a thermos (bring your own supplies). The parade starts at 5:50 on Saturday December 3rd at Tejon and St. Vrain.

The Festival Of Lights Parade, downtown Colorado Springs, December 3rd 5:50PM

The Festival Of Lights Parade, downtown Colorado Springs, December 3rd 5:50PM

Before the parade there’s a kind of neat concert called Tuba Christmas which is a band made up of tuba players! They’ll be in Acacia Park at 4:00.

In the afternoon on Saturday, you can go to The Pioneer’s Museum at 215 S. Tejon St. for Children’s Holiday Magic — There’s music and entertainment, including the Springs Singers, a magician, crafts, activities for kids and more, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

And don’t forget, there’s free parking every Saturday and Sunday downtown at all the meters during the month of December. Shop local!

Our new house

We recently bought a 1910 Craftsman bungalow style house in downtown Colorado Springs. We got a good deal on it but it needs some work. Of course we’ll keep you posted on all that. Meanwhile, here are some pics!
It has a big front porch that we want to fill with comfy furniture, candles, and plants.

It has a big front porch that we want to fill with comfy furniture, candles, and plants.

The livingroom has lots of windows, a fireplace, a built-in bookcase, and a new ceiling fan.

The livingroom has lots of windows, a fireplace, a built-in bookcase, and a new ceiling fan.

Not sure if the fireplace works properly, we'll have it checked out before winter comes.

Not sure if the fireplace works properly, we'll have it checked out before winter comes.

The previous owners started stripping the wood, which is way too much work for us. Still, I like the stripped areas.

The previous owners started stripping the wood, which is way too much work for us. Still, I like the stripped areas.

The house has two bathrooms, this is the downstairs powder room.

The house has two bathrooms, this is the downstairs powder room.

Vintage metal cabinets in the kitchen. Not sure if we're keeping them or not.

Vintage metal cabinets in the kitchen. Not sure if we're keeping them or not.

More metal cabinets in the kitchen.

More metal cabinets in the kitchen.

Mysterious holes in the kitchen.

Mysterious holes in the kitchen.

There's a laundryroom off the kitchen.

There's a laundryroom off the kitchen.

There's a ghost cat that lives in the stairway.

There's a ghost cat that lives in the stairway.

I love windows in stairways.

I love windows in stairways.

The upstairs bathroom.

The upstairs bathroom.

The upstairs bathroom.

The upstairs bathroom.

Neat original bathtub handles.

Neat original bathtub handles.

The house has three bedrooms upstairs.

The house has three bedrooms upstairs.

The whole house has beautiful original hardwood floors.

The whole house has beautiful original hardwood floors.

And every single door, window, and pane of glass is orignal and they all match.

And every single door, window, and pane of glass is orignal and they all match.

The house has a TB porch off one of the bedrooms.

The house has a TB porch off one of the bedrooms.

Original door with hardware.

Original door with hardware.

Interesting art deco style trim.

Interesting art deco style trim.

Cool vintage light fixture.

Cool vintage light fixture.

All the doors, including the front door, have these doorknobs. They also all have matching original hinges.

All the doors, including the front door, have these doorknobs. They also all have matching original hinges.

There are even a few of these push button light switches.

There are even a few of these push button light switches.

We’re  looking forward to fixing it all up!

Cattle Drive downtown Colorado Springs

I’m not really into rodeos but in conjunction with the rodeo here, they do a cattle drive down Tejon St. It was pretty cute and the cows didn’t seem upset. It’s usually the first Friday in July at high noon.
Cattle drive on Tejon St., downtown Colorado Springs

Cattle drive on Tejon St., downtown Colorado Springs

Cattle drive on Tejon St., downtown Colorado Springs

Cattle drive on Tejon St., downtown Colorado Springs

Cattle drive on Tejon St., downtown Colorado Springs

Cattle drive on Tejon St., downtown Colorado Springs

Cattle drive on Tejon St., downtown Colorado Springs

Cattle drive on Tejon St., downtown Colorado Springs

Cattle drive on Tejon St., downtown Colorado Springs

Cattle drive on Tejon St., downtown Colorado Springs