Early in the year, we took an exciting trip to Southeast Asia.   It was especially exciting because 1) we flew premium class the entire way 2) we visited multiple countries 3) we visited Thai beaches for the first time!

We began our trip by flying Cathay Pacific business class from New York (JFK) to Hong Kong.  The 15 hour flight was uneventful and a nice way to experience Cathay Pacific’s world famous in flight service.  The food was really good.

Upon arrival in Hong Kong, we checked into the Grand Hyatt where our room was located on the 31st floor (Grand Club level).  We enjoyed the hotel. The Grand Club offers a nice breakfast spread and a lovely evening reception with cocktails and appetizers.  Even better than the food was the excellent service by the staff there.   They truly went out of their way to make guests feel special.

We spent three days in Hong Kong where the highlights included:

Ladies Market
Victoria’s Peak
Star Ferry
Tim Ho Wan – the cheapest 5 star Michelin restaurant in the world
Ozone Bar – highest bar in the world
and having a suit custom made!
By making using of a stopover, we continued on with Cathay Pacific to Bangkok, Thailand with just enough time to catch a Bangkok Airways flight to Koh Samui.  We spent four days in Koh Samui based out of the Sheraton Samui.   We kayaked Ang Thong National Park and learned how to make Panang curry in a cooking class at the Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts (SITCA).  Samui is a beautiful island!
After our time in Samui, we headed back to Bangkok for three days.  Our home base in Bangkok was the Radisson Blu and it’s in a great location for getting around the city easily.  We really enjoyed a night bike tour of the city by Grasshopper tours.   The tour is about 10 miles total and takes you through an amazing flower market, with a stop to enjoy Thai street food.
We also visited Tiger Temple (we booked a private car tour to get there), the floating markets, and had Thai massages pretty much everyday.  The massages were only $9/hour.  Traditional Thai massages are a bit different from the massages we are used to having in the States, they involve more stretching and no lotion or oil.
After three days in Bangkok, we flew Japan Airlines business class to Tokyo where we just spent the night.   The next day we flew Tokyo to Chicago  in Japan Airlines first class which was quite an experience in itself.  It was our first time trying JAL’s first class cabin and the service was fantastic.  Upon arrival at the airport, we had people rushing to take our bags from us and the JAL first class lounge in Narita is lovely and offers massages too.   JAL’s first class cabin is called the Sky Suite and offers a choice of a soft or firm mattress for sleeping.   Really nice!

After that whirlwhind of long flights and far east timezones, it was back to reality!


I always love seeing the difference paint can make! A fresh coat of paint and quick color change in the bathroom has made such an impact.

master bath sign
Our master bathroom has been a work in progress for several years because I just hadn’t quite wrapped it up.   Many years ago, soon after we first moved in, we made some big changes to the room.

  • We removed the carpeting and installed 20 x 20 travertine tile floors.
  • We removed the fiberglass shower and installed 4×4 tiles floor to ceiling for the shower instead
  • Removed builder’s vanity and mirror and replaced with a DIY dresser-turned-vanity
  • Faux finished the walls and painted

Here’s the before.

bathroom before
master bath shower
bathroom face lift
When we installed the new bidet toilet seat, I got inspired to spruce things up. The room was just too brown and I wanted to change the color but that turned into a bigger project than just repainting.  The faux finished walls were created with drywall mud compound and it was quite a task to remove it.  At first, I sprayed with water and scraped with a knife, but that was a very slow and tedious process.   So, I then used a high grit sandpaper  (40) with my electric sander and sanded all of the walls. I ended up sanding twice, once with 40 grit and then with 120 grit to smooth the surface.  What a mess!!!  There were layers and layers of debris everywhere.  Several wall areas had serious problems so I ended up calling a drywall finisher to re-mud those areas for a smooth finish.

bathroom walls before
After all of that wall preparation, I was finally able to paint!  The new color is the same one I used in the kitchen, Benjamin Moore Gray Wisp (at 50% tint).   It is a gray with blue undertones.

master bath vanity
Doorless shower
Most of the lighting in the room had issues too (broken, pieces missing) so I finally replaced the fixtures. In addition to can lights over the shower and bath tub, there are three other fixtures in the room:  over the toilet,  over the vanity, and there’s a ceiling fan in the center.   I ordered lights from Lowes, CB2, and Overstock and installed them myself. But while shopping, I found some really great lighting options at Shades of Light, School House Electric, and Rejuvination.

In the tub area,  I hung a photo from our trip to Ireland.  This is the North Irish coast.   I had the photo printed in a 40 x 30 size to match a canvas I found long ago at Goodwill.  I used Poster Brain and loved how fast it shipped.  I affixed the poster sized photo to the canvas using Mod Podge.  I first covered the canvas in Mod Podge, layered the photo on top, and then put another layer of Mod Podge on top of the photo. It dries clear with a textured, brush stroke effect so it resembles a painting.

bathroom art
The feel in the room is clean and much more up to date and I’m so happy to have it done!

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