Builder-Grade Bathroom Redo Inspiration – Blue and White Bathroom Redo

Builder-grade homes can sometimes get a lot of flack for being boring. But one great thing about a builder-grade home? It provides the perfect canvas for custom updates.

Take it from Katelyn Herman, who bought her home in 2019. While it was built in 1947, updates lacked charm. “Everything is builders grade and basic, including this guest bathroom,” Katelyn says. “It was fine, but nothing special and didn’t have much personality.”

That was ok for a while, but spending more time at home in the past year made her itch for something with a little more pop. “The longer I was at home during quarantine, the more the blandness of it started to bother me,” Katelyn says.

Katelyn’s boyfriend, Gabe, moved in with her last summer, and this proved to be the perfect first project for the couple to do together. On the walls, they installed beadboard paneling that went about halfway up the wall, then painted the area above a bright blue with a stenciled white pattern that gives the look of wallpaper. “We were surprised, but really shouldn’t have been, at how bowed some of our walls are,” Katelyn says. “The house was built in 1947, so it is to be expected, but I never noticed until trying to align the beadboard panels. Thankfully my partner is a patient man and great at math.”

Katelyn installed the faucet herself, but hit a bit of a snag when she couldn’t fix a small but persistent leak. The couple hired a plumber to make the fix, and Katelyn was able to pocket some knowledge for her next DIY. “Now I know I have to seal the drain inside the sink and under the gasket on the bottom side,” Katelyn says.

Something similar happened when the couple tried to swap out the light fixture. When they pulled the old one off the wall, they saw that there was actually no electrical box beneath it. That meant the easy swap became a little more complicated. “Electrical work is outside of both of our comfort zones, so we opted to have a professional install and center the new fixture,” Katelyn says.

Finally, they added new pulls to the vanity, a new towel ring, and a fresh shower curtain. The total cost for the project — including the labor of the plumber and electrician — was $850.

The new bathroom strikes just the note Katelyn was going for. “I love how it feels simple but pronounced simultaneously,” she says. “It’s the first project Gabe and I have done together since deciding to live with one another, so it’s a little extra special.”

In fact, working together made the project easier in a lot of ways. “I am not math savvy, so the accurate measurements and fractions for the boards wouldn’t have been possible without him; he hates painting and has never stenciled anything before, so the pattern wouldn’t have been possible without me,” Katelyn says. “I think we did a good job of deciding

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Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin Crew Capsule will take tourists into space

Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin's space capsule

Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin’s space capsule

Jeff Bezos’ space tourism project with Blue Origin is competing with a similar programme in development by Space X, the rocket firm founded and run by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Virgin Galactic, backed by Richard Branson.

Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he finances Blue Origin with around $1 billion (£720 million) of Amazon stock each year.

The system consists of a pressurised crew capsule atop a reusable ‘New Shepard’ booster rocket.  

Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world and Blue Origin has successfully used a single New Shepard Rocket six times.

At its peak, the capsule reached 65 miles (104 kilometres), just above the official threshold for space and landed vertically seven minutes after liftoff. 

Crewed missions for astronauts or tourists have yet to be announced.

SpaceX appears to be leading the way in the billionaire space race with numerous launches carrying NASA equipment to the ISS and partnerships to send tourists to space by 2021.  

On February 6 2018, SpaceX sent rocket towards the orbit of Mars, 140 million miles away, with Musk’s own red Tesla roadster attached. 

Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule

Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule

NASA has already selected two astronauts who will be on-board the first manned Dragon mission. 

SpaceX has also started sending batches of 60 satellites into space to help form its Starlink network. 

Musk hopes this will provide an interconnected web of satellites around Earth which will beam down free internet to people all around the world. 

Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic are taking a different approach to conquering space. 

It has repeatedly, and successfully, conducted test flights of the Virgin Galactic’s Unity spaceplane. 

The first took place in December 2018 and the latest took place on February 22nd.

The flight accelerated to over 2,000 miles per hour (Mach 2.7). 

More than 600 affluent customers to date, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 (£200,000) seat on one of Virgin’s space trips, 

The billionaire mogul has previously said he expects Elon Musk to win the race to Mars with his private rocket firm SpaceX. 

Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft

Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft

SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows – one to the side and one overhead.

The space ship is 60ft long with a 90inch diameter cabin allowing maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity.

It climbs to 50,000ft before the rocket engine ignites. SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier craft, White Knight II, once it’s passed the 50-mile mark.

Passengers become ‘astronauts’ when they reach the Karman line, the boundary of Earth’s atmosphere.

The spaceship will then make a sub-orbital journey with approximately six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight lasting approximately 1.5 hours.  

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Blue Ridge Kitchen combines fine dining with comfort

As the server poured silky gazpacho over a chunk of lobster in the bowl before me, I suddenly realized how much I’ve been missing fine dining. After so many months of take-out meals or eating on casual patios, it was so nice to enjoy the upscale service offered at the new Blue Ridge Kitchen at the Barlow in Sebastopol.

After my first spoonful of the refreshing soup, I knew chef Matt D’Ambrosi is putting a lot of thought into his Cal-Creole-Cajun recipes. The chilled gazpacho is marvelous on its own, in a sweet-tart, peach-colored puree of melon and tomato dotted with radish, a round of chopped avocado and shiny drops of basil oil ($9). With the generous chunk of seafood (add $7) and the elegant tableside presentation, it’s luxurious.

All the details line up so well at this classy spot, which took over the former Zazu Farm + Restaurant space that was vacated in 2018. For now, we eat on the patio, a pretty area set with wood tables and European-style bistro chairs, all shaded by sailcloth and flanked by trees, herb gardens and flowers. I’m looking forward to when we can eat inside, too, and admire the centerpiece cocktail bar and the open kitchen.

D’Ambrosi was known for his creative cooking at Healdsburg’s Spoonbar, Harmon Guest House and Pizzando. Here, he comes up with inventive dishes like carrot cake pancakes. The brunch specialty makes a delicious statement; it’s a sweet but not sugary hybrid of carrot and apple soufflé cakes on a pond of cream cheese-poppy seed glaze and topped with golden raisins, candied pecans and smoked maple syrup ($18).

Overall, though, there’s nothing weird on this expansive, all-day menu. You can get something as simple as a perfect smash burger with secret sauce ($9.50) or as indulgent as a nicely charred New York steak served in a metal pan with grilled asparagus, sauce béarnaise, crispy ham fingerling potatoes, cowboy steak sauce and roasted tomato ($39). The constant theme is the kitchen’s skill, making this my new favorite place to dine.

You can eat affordably, filling up on a first-rate rigatoni sugo dressed with braised pork cheek, San Marzano tomatoes, basil, Parmesan and breadcrumbs ($22). Or you can splurge, with a monster-size Tomahawk steak that feeds several people ($95), embellished with a whole lobster for a surf and turf ($58).

Some items are classics, such as the ahi tartare on a round bed of smashed avocado with cucumber, spicy aioli and big, puffy rice chips that melt in the mouth ($18). Yet an Asian pear coulis adds modern brightness to the dish, crispy quinoa adds crunch and a cute bouquet of daikon sprouts peeking out of the tartare’s middle adds peppery bite.

Another classic, the “raw platter” (daily market price), brings two tiers of iced seafood: a whole Maine lobster tail, sumac-spiced jumbo prawns, ceviche, oysters, horseradish cocktail sauce, smoky apple mignonette and a scoop of refreshing Meyer lemon hibiscus granita. Arranged with sea greens, edible flowers and lemon

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BARBARA’S BLUE KITCHEN at Aurora Theatre’s Our Stage Onscreen Digital Series

An Experimental Production of Barbara’s Blue Kitchen Kicks Off The Our Stage Onscreen Digital Series at Aurora Theatre

BWW Review: BARBARA'S BLUE KITCHEN at Aurora Theatre's Our Stage Onscreen Digital Series
Chloe Kay
Photo by Casey Gardner

News flash: We’re in the middle of a pandemic. That means there are no benches and chairs to sit on in your local Barnes & Noble. Baseball patrons are made of cardboard. And the theaters are closed. This last one stings the most, but the best Atlanta theaters are adapting to fill the void left by the absence of live theater. We’ve got drive-in cabarets. We’ve got outdoor opera. And we’ve got a variety of online stream-from-home offerings, including the new Our Stage Onscreen Digital Series at Aurora Theatre, a series that brings performing arts to homebound season supporters and new audiences while providing a safe workspace for Atlanta theatre artists. The inaugural offering, streaming now through October 4 for a hefty $30 rental fee, is Barbara’s Blue Kitchen, a fun – if slightly underbaked – musical with a book, music, and lyrics by Lori Fisher. The small-cast musical works hard to conjure up a slice of homespun Southern life through portraits of workers and customers in a small Southern diner. A brave Chloe Kay, the actor who plays all of the characters in the beautifully rendered diner, works hard to deliver an engaging evening of for-the-screen theater, but this first outing is hindered by technical challenges and, regrettably, by the fact that producing theater specifically for the screen is a tricky tricky business.

The musical tells the story of Barbara Jean, the owner of the small-town diner that serving up more than just their famous Mudslide pie. It’s also serving up all of the gossip in the small town of Watertown, Tennessee. We learn that Barbara Jean’s on-again-off-again hairstylist boyfriend, Lombardo, beloved if only for the fact that he’s been able to cover Barbara Jean’s bald spot, is taking another girl on a Bahaman vacation. We learn that little Tommy Lee’s stomach hurts on the outside from the 23 stitches he got after his dog, Killer, bit him and that it hurts on the inside from eating almost three hamburgers. And we learn that Miss Tessie’s husband died from botulism after eating spinach dip at the Happiness Home retirement community even though he didn’t like vegetables.

There’s a lot to like about the 2002 musical. Some of the quirky songs like “I Want My Kidney Back” and “Women Aren’t Supposed to Go Bald” showcase, as the titles suggest, wonderfully inventive lyrics. That’s the greatest strength of the musical. The homespun flavor of the news that travels through the diner is also fun, though, as often happens with Southern comedic dramas, it’s peppered with words like “critter” and “ain’t” that feel overdone. The book features a radio host, played here by a second actor, who is integrated in an interesting and atmospheric way as he offers up small-town advertisements, jingles, and apologies.

The biggest problem with the musical is that it doesn’t manage an actual

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Aurora streams musical ‘Barbara’s Blue Kitchen’

Musical director Ann-Carol Pence’s band features Skyler Brown on guitar, Maurice Figgins on acoustic bass and Hayden Rowe on violin. Brown also plays second fiddle, as it were, with a couple of bit parts (as the diner’s cook and as a radio DJ). Neither he nor Kay is a member of Actor’s Equity, but both of them are Aurora apprentice-company alums.

Kay is fine delineating her many roles, which also include a mousy new waitress, a lonely old widow and a sensible nurse, as well as Barbara’s volatile sister, her precocious little nephew, and even the amorous Italian hairdresser who is her boyfriend. Fischer specifically intended the script to be performed by one actress (she herself did it off-Broadway), not unlike those “Greater Tuna” comedies in which two actors play all the bumpkin stereotypes of a Texas town.

For Aurora’s purposes, the on-camera format makes the character transitions fairly seamless, while also eliminating the on-stage shtick of a lot of quick entrances and exits and costume changes. But it also prompts more than a few awkward moments, where Anderson alternates between close-ups of two people having a conversation and then cuts to a wider angle of one or the other simply talking into thin air. (One scene contains a nifty visual effect, where we actually seem to glimpse two of Kay’s characters interacting in the same shot.)

Running just 80 minutes, “Barbara’s Blue Kitchen” is harmless enough, if not very intellectually stimulating. Dealing in such hokey Southern idiosyncrasies isn’t for all tastes. For example, one invisible customer orders a pulled pork platter and then wants to “hold the pulled pork.”. Surely, there must be countless one-set, two-actor shows that are much better formulated on the whole.

Even so, there’s no mistaking the pleasure of streaming a performance that’s the closest thing we’ve seen in months to an in-person theater production — with or without the live audience.


“Barbara’s Blue Kitchen”

Available for streaming through Oct. 4. $30 per view. 678-226-6222,

Bottom line: A keen idea that’s slickly produced, if somewhat impaired by its middling material.

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ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen: 3 Easy & Satisfying Meatless Meals

There are many reasons why people are moving toward more plant-based eating. Regardless of whether it’s because of finances, environment, health, or simply something new, here are some ways to eat less meat and add more flavour.

Fresh zucchini, onion, and tomatoes are sautéed together with garlic, cumin, cayenne, and a squeeze of lemon in our tasty Moroccan Zucchini Saute. This aromatic dish is delicious served on a bed of couscous.

Our Vegetarian Roulade replaces meat with an egg soufflé. Filled with mushrooms, onion, bell peppers, and parsley, this delicious main course is sure to impress.

Buttery mushrooms add meaty, umami flavour to our Mushroom Fried Rice. This simple and familiar side dish can be prepared on the barbecue as well as the stovetop.



1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cumin

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) cayenne pepper

4 cups (1 L) sliced zucchini (1/2 inch/1.25 cm)

1 1/4 cups (300 mL) diced Roma tomatoes

2 tbsp (25 mL) fresh lemon juice


Heat oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add cumin, salt and cayenne pepper; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add zucchini and saute until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and saute for 3 to 4 minutes or until tomatoes are softened. Stir in lemon juice and cook for 1 minute. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.




Vegetarian Roulade for ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen; image supplied by ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen

Supplied by ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen /


1 tbsp (15 mL) butter

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped onion

1/2 cup (125 mL) diced green bell pepper

1/2 cup (125 mL) diced red bell pepper

1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh parsley

1/4 tsp (1 mL) oregano, crumbled

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt, divided

1/2 tsp (2 mL) freshly ground pepper, divided

Flour (for dusting baking sheet)

6 eggs, separated

3 tbsp (40 mL) flour

1/2 cup (125 mL) shredded cheddar cheese, divided


To prepare filling, melt butter in a medium frypan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion and bell peppers; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley, oregano, 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper. Remove from heat; cool.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 10×15 inch (25×38 cm) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; grease parchment paper and dust with flour.

To make soufflé, use medium speed of an electric mixer and beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. In a bowl, beat together egg yolks, 3 tbsp (40 mL) flour, remaining 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt and remaining 1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper. Fold a quarter of beaten egg whites into yolk mixture to lighten. Gently fold in remaining beaten egg whites. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan.

Bake until top springs

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Dorinda Medley Shows Blue Stone Manor’s Halloween 2020 Decor

in 2019, Dorinda Medley declared, “Decorating for Halloween is a tradition, a sport and my favorite game,” and it seems this year is no exception. 

On September 15, The Real Housewives of New York City cast member shared a video showing the festive décor at her Berkshires home, Blue Stone Manor. In addition to a black Headless Horseman figure and a glowing candle placed on her kitchen island, Dorinda also has two bowls filled with candy corn and candy pumpkins. “So it begins!” she captioned the clip, which featured the song “Headless Horseman” by Xander Owls as well as a Headless Horseman GIF. 

While decorating last year, Dorinda shared her top decorating tips for the holiday. “I shop my Halloween goods at [Amazon], [Target] and some vintage stores here in the Berkshires,” she wrote at the time. “The secret is to go with the flow and be creative. Blood, smokes and skeletons EVERYWHERE!”

When looking for her festive decorations (who could forget the skull radio she had at Blue Stone Manor last year?), Dorinda also heads to other stores including T.J. Maxx, where she bought a silver pumpkin and several Halloween-themed snow globes in 2018.

As we’ve seen in years past, getting into the Halloween spirit is a family affair. In 2018, Dorinda showed off her parents’ house which was decked out with a Grim Reaper doorbell, a creepy witch in their front yard, and pumpkins and glowing orange lights around the property. 

Now, with her 2020 decorations already in progress, we can’t wait to see how Dorinda once again takes the spookiest of holidays and makes it nice.

Want more The Real Housewives of New York City? New episodes air every Thursday at 9/8c or catch up on this season through the Bravo app. 

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Buyer comes forward to keep Blue Plate Kitchen open in West Hartford

West Hartford’s Blue Plate Kitchen, originally slated to close at the end of August, will survive under new ownership. Miguel Proano and Carlina Fontaine have purchased the restaurant in the town’s Bishops Corner retail area, with plans to continue its “modern comfort fare” tradition with expanded options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Blue Plate Kitchen’s founder Jay DuMond and his wife Lisa Cole initially said in early August that they would close the North Main Street eatery because of the effects of COVID-19 and related restrictions on dining. When Proano heard the restaurant was for sale, he contacted DuMond, who also owns City Steam in Hartford.

The sale “happened very quickly,” he said, and they transitioned to new ownership swiftly.

This is the second time in two years that Proano has taken over as the owner of an established Hartford County restaurant. In January 2019, he and his wife, Nancy, reopened Pastrami on Wry in Manchester, buying the business from its founder Corey Wry and leaving most of its menu, recipes and decor intact. They added a few new menu offerings and touches, which Proano plans to do at Blue Plate.

“We are keeping the menu pretty much the same; there are a lot of favorites on here,” he said. “I’ve had people calling, emailing, Facebooking,” asking for certain items and dishes to stay.

He has plans to add more omelets to the breakfast menu, and more sandwiches and additional options for lunch. At dinner, they’ll be able to expand their creativity, he said, with more comfort foods and some bigger portions.

The bar is currently closed as Blue Plate waits for its liquor permit to come through, so guests can BYOB in the meantime. When the bar is up and running, Proano says he wants to offer more craft cocktails, and he’d like to bring in more Connecticut draft beers. He’s also looking to add to the mimosa menu, with potential new items that have been successful at Pastrami on Wry, like mimosa towers and “To-Go’sas,” with prosecco and four different flavors of juice.

Proano wants people to know that Blue Plate Kitchen is open for business and here to stay.

“We’re definitely here,” he said. “We’re just looking forward to being part of the community … and we’re ready to serve everybody.”

Blue Plate Kitchen is at 345 N. Main St. in West Hartford. 860-906-1873 and

Leeanne Griffin can be reached at [email protected]


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