Saturday, November 28, 2009

It Was the Month Before Christmas ...

I fought the Christmas lights earlier this week and won. It was a close call though. This is my cute little blue house with my cute blue decorations. I'm so proud. The lights around the door are lit but they didn't show up very well. That lattice on the ground in the garden is to stop the neighbour's cat from using it as a toilet. I won't go into detail what will happen to the cat if I catch it but it won't handled with much Christmas spirit. I hope Santa ignores the 'Caution: Ridgebacks' sign. Now my Christmas tree is up, the dog and cat stockings are hung by my electric fireplace and the house is ready for Santa. That's my new 4 foot pre-lit tree, it's on a box and I expect it to hit the floor at least once this holiday. This coming week I'll be taking photos of the dogs in their Christmas torture devices! Can't wait!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

No Wonder They Call It Hard

As suspected underneath layers and layers of old flooring was hardwood. The entire floor of the original house looks to have been hardwood that was installed even before the walls went up. First removal, of course, was the hack job installed laminate. The laminate was easy to remove and present no problem except being grossed out by the amount of dirt underneath it. Remember the layer photo? So there is hardwood, plywood, two layers of lino, a laminate cushion and then laminate. While the laminate was easy to remove the lino ... not so much. Ignorance is bliss as I did not know what was coming. The two layers of lino for the most part peeled up quite easily, it was a sheet of lino with tiles stuck to it, but handling it was a huge pain in the ass since it's awkward and heavy. I stopped at the laundry area because I was reasonably sure that is where the hardwood ended and I just wanted to expose the hardwood. I suspected there was just plywood under the laundry floor. The lino, once up, exposed the plywood. The plywood, I didn't realize, was secured to the hardwood by screws. Hundreds of screws. My Dad came to help and show me how each piece of plywood was secured to the floor by screws set in every 8 inches or so in a grid pattern. Over a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood ... that's a lot of screws. And not only that, each screw was hidden by a levelling compound to prevent the lino on it from showing the screw over time. What color was the compound? Why, the same color as the plywood of course. We had to find, dig out each screw and then remove it. Fortunately the first sheet was small and came up pretty easily. Ta da! Hardwood. Dirty, covered in paint splatter, screw holes and drywall dust but there it is. It had some sort of coating on it and when I washed it I realized it was ...newspaper. I couldn't read any dates but using newspaper as a sound insulator or just insulation hasn't been in practice in quite a few decades. This hardwood hasn't seen light probably since before I was born ... 29 years ago(cough). You could only see the newsprint when it was wet like so ... So, buoyed by the success of the first sheet I set to the second one on my own and managed it fairly well without too much trouble. I discovered that there must have been a leak under the sink at some point because the hardwood behind the stove is in pretty bad shape. I don't think it's unsalvagable but it will need considerable sanding and filling to fix. I don't mind too much since it's under the stove and once it's sanded it should come out okay. It looks worse than it is really. That's Ceilidh - she's my helper. After this sheet I ran into a problem. The other two sheets were under the laminate running into the laundry. I either needed to rip up all the laundry laminate as well or cut along the plywood to remove it. The W/D and the hot water tank are difficult to remove so I opted to leave them where they were for now and just remove the rest of the laminate. My Dad cut along in front of them and I removed the laminate in the laundry area. Problem. Once the laminate and lino were removed I spent some time on my own trying to remove the plywood. Thus ... I killed my drill. Or thought I had. Dad to the rescue. Again. He came over one day and we spent several hours cutting, swearing, sweating, drilling, undrilling and finally just forcing some of that plywood up. Apparently the first two sheets of easily removed plywood were put there to lull me into a false sense of security of 'this will be eeeaaasy'. Ya right. It was a dirty frustrating job and I don't recommend it. Turns out I didn't kill my drill - I just don't know how to use it properly - there it is sitting on the floor.
So here is the kitchen. Finally. My Dad spent ages trying to get the plywood cut from underneath the cabinets. It was brutal. The plywood goes all the way under the cabinets so he had to cut along the kick plate to get it out. Once that was completed we had all hardwood in the kitchen. It doesn't look so hot now but once I sand off the years off neglect it will look pretty sharp. The laundry did end up being plywood so I will carry on the barnboard lino strips from the dining room into the laundry. Right now it's a hodge podge of plywood and laminate pieces to keep out drafts and bugs. There are holes drilled into the plywood right in the middle of the laundry and they lead directly to the crawl space under the house. We suspect there used to be a wall leading across from the left side of the the kitchen to about where that single piece of laminate is screwed down and then to the back wall. This is something I think I want to reinstall at some point to make an enclosed laundry room.

And so ... we are halfway done the floors. I have to sand, fill, sand again, lacquer and also put in the balance of the lino in the laundry. Should be a good long winter project ... anything to avoid painting the ceilings.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bath Bomb

The bathroom, is 99% complete. I have a new shower curtain planned but that won't be for a little while yet. The main thing that's been bugging me is the vanity. It was clearly a cheap option and while cute was not intended for a main bathroom, probably a half bath under some stairs or something. As a reminder here is the bathroom when I first saw it.
And here is the bathroom now. Repainted, new baseboards, over the toilet cabinet, window insulated, casing installed, new mirror and a new vanity. In all I the bathroom reno cost about $300 which I think is pretty good. Big thanks to my Dad and his endless patience with the vanity! I am so proud of the way it looks now ... the previous useless owners wouldn't recognise it. Probably because it displays a modicum of taste.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Get a Handle On It

What's worse than having a door handle that you can't open from the inside? A door handle you can't open from the outside. It's truly distressing when you are outside in your backyard preparing to mow the lawn and you realize that not only are you and four dogs locked in your backyard, but that the front door is also locked and you have no way to get into your house.

It's about this time that you curse the people who made the POS door handle you've been struggling with since you moved in. It's also about the time you remember that you removed the screen from the dining window and that the window itself is not locked. So you climb through the window, struggle with the back door handle and then realize it now won't open from the inside.

So you get a screw driver, thinking you're clever as shit, and take off the interior handle, pop the exterior handle off and now what? Now you have a peice of metal that runs through your door and into a hole in the frame that you can't do sweet eff all with. The dogs are on the outside thinking 'We're thirsty' and you're on the inside thinking 'Very. Bad. Words.' So you decide today is the day you will go and get the matching handle to the front door which has never given you a stitch of trouble in the 3 weeks you've owned it.

So, have a shower(because you're all sweaty from the lawn mowing), get dressed, load dogs in truck, buy handle, take dogs for walk in the rain, get home and stare angrily at the still sealed door. Think more bad words, suppress the rage and pry that sucker out of there doing as little damage to the door and frame as possible. Voila, one open door.

So now the handle is installed and guess what? It works ... beautifully. There is something to be said for a door handle that will let you in your own house.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Dining Out

I am a naughty renovator. Well, blog updating renovator anyway. I have completed so many tasks now I don't know where to begin. How about the dining room which has taken on the most dramatic change in recent weeks.

The dining room was rough, ugly carpet (gak) over lino on plywood. All four (yes ... 4) plugs in the room had been painted over multilple times so you couldn't really plug anything into the holes anymore, and the walls were a vibrant shade of lime green. Gag me. It was used as a bedroom in any case although I'm not sure how anyone could possibly have slept in there with that color. Must have been a teenager.
I removed the door, the carpet, the lino and the light and got to work. Since I wanted to compliment the several pieces of black and white artwork I possess I decided to paint the room a shade of grey with a soft lilac/purple hue so the room wouldn't be so cold. I then installed strips of vinyl flooring called barnboard which picks up the shade of the walls. All that is left, as with the rest of the house, is the ceiling.

So ... come on by if you're in the area and I can burn you some dinner.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Knock at the Door

Even if I've recently mentioned how much I'm beginning to hate renos it bears repeating. I've painted, trimmed, siliconed, spray foamed, taped, sanded, drilled, and painted again to within an inch of my life and I'm so over it. I've been sort of over killing the renos recently because I wanted them done and out of the way.

The back door was in dire need of attention when I moved in so I finally tackled it not really knowing what I was doing. Here it is when I was looking at buying the house, it looks pretty shabby huh? Look like crap actually.
The frame was bent for some reason (probably been kicked at some point and while we're on the subject WHY do people try to kick in doors? If you're not a fireman or a policeman DON'T DO IT - framing up doors sucks a lot and no one likes to do it) so I had to hammer it in so it was straight, insulate the holes and replace the casing. Sounds easy right? In my dreams. The only thing left is to replace that total piece of crap door handle.
That cat there is naughty Ceilidh who got out of the house(my fault - actually Weasley and Mallaig also got out but didn't manage to impale themselves on anything) yesterday and cut both her hind feet trying to get back into the yard after finding her way out. I chased her through the house for about an hour last night to put a bandage on it and to stop her leaving a blood trail which covered not only my easily cleaned floor(and table and counter) but also my bed, the livingroom carpet, all but one of the throw rugs, both cat beds and a blanket. Thankfully I managed to contain the bleeding using copious amounts of paper towel and purple hockey tape plus a baggy over top to stop stray blood from being tracked anywhere. She looks like she'll be fine and is of course asking to go out again. To that I say "Forget it!"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bathing Beauty

I have been hard at work getting a few of those fiddly things completed that sit in the back of your brain and poke away until you say FINE!
Let us begin ...

The bathroom had a medicine cabinet that I hated since it looked like crap and was off centre. This isn't a very good photo but it will do.
And this is what I replaced it with. May not look like a lot of work but after the removal of the medicine cabinet I realized that I didn't have the right tool to get the silicone out of the tube I'd bought to put up the mirror. I had to go two days without a mirror until I bought a silicone gun. That border is hand cut by me with the flower corner detailing - I bought those at the tall ships - they are from Bali. Basically the mirror replacement was a much more complicated process than I had imagined ... standard operating procedure for house renovations.
I didn't realize I hadn't gotten a good photo of the bathroom window which was missing insulation and casing around it. Pretty much it was a rough cut out hole in the drywall as though the window had just been installed. I bought some expanding foam and sealed it and then put up the casing. The corners are hand cut so not perfect and there was a minor issue about things lining up but in all I think it looks pretty darn good for a girl who has never installed casing before. Now the bathroom only needs a new vanity and some baseboard. I'm waiting on the baseboard until vanity is in because it will be installed after the vanity. I can't do the vanity on my own and will just wait until my Dad has time to come and help install it. That is the bathroom so far. I have a few other things to show but it's too much for one post - I have a lot to catch up on!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

There Must be Cucumbers in Heaven

The garden is beginning to bear fruit ... er ... vegetables. Today I popped out to check on my cucumbers and lo and behold there sat three cukes ripe for the picking. There were a couple I'd had my eye on but it seems I missed the picking boat and they are now 'expired'. There are more beginning to grow so hopefully I'll see a bountiful harvest before the season ends. I was a bit late on the planting so I'm hoping they don't all get killed by the cooler temperatures.

So I was all excited to try my very first ever cucumbers. I gave it some thought and settled on crackers with cucumber topping. Thus my creative juices were flowing and this little morsel is what came of it. For the record; cucumbers straight from your own garden are spectacular.
There were more that I ate but since this was the most esthetically pleasing cracker I'd made I decided to let it live long enough to take a photo. See how I speared the olives with the cucumber slices? Clever no? And the feta cheese was a great little addition. I will hold back on the olives next time since they slightly over powered the flavours of the rest of the snack - I think one olive per cuke slice will be just fine. Want a closer look? Magnifique.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Curtain Call

I had a stroke of brilliance. Sometimes a solution is right in front of you and you don't even know it. I had been planning to put up a laundry room and close it off so it would essentially become a dog room. There were a couple problems with this since the only light to the kitchen besides track lighting was the southern windows. The laundry room would effectively cut off all natural light to the kitchen. Also, it would make the kitchen very small. Added to which, Raimi has a problem with being enclosed. I just know a room like that would bear the evidence of his anxiety in no time.

Stroke. Of. Brilliance. I have extra curtains since I got an awesome sale on a few super great quality ones(as in $4 price tag on $90 curtains) and was not sure what to do with the cheap(er) left over Ikea ones. I also hauled three curtains rods from Calgary and had extra brackets. See where I'm going? So I hung the curtains in front of the washer/dryer/garbage/water heater. Voila. I also had some netting curtain material as well so I put that across so you can't really see the washer at all.So there is the expen where the two naughty younger dogs go when I'm out and Halo and Raimi are left loose but blocked off from the livingroom. There's even space to put a small kitchen table. I wonder if I can get one of those small round pub tables so I'm not dealing with the inevitable dog-chin-on-table-while-I-eat.
I also managed to get my hands on a nice little desk for my laptop, pens, envelopes etc and then, in a stroke of luck, I got an awesome deal on an Eastlake chair for $25. I love that chair. I think the desk and chair look great together particularly when decorated with a Mallaig.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hurricane Shmurricane

We survived our very first hurricane yesterday. Hurricane Bill was heading up the coast as a Category 2 but by the time it got to Nova Scotia it was down graded to a Category 1. In the end it passed 75km south of Halifax and never really made landfall. Warnings were issued for Pictou County for heavy rainfall, high winds and a tropical storm. To see the path on the news would have you think it was much worse than we actually experienced.

Sunday morning started out eerily quiet and still. There was almost no movement in the air and the sky was a weird sort of green/grey color with no depth at all. You couldn't tell how high the clouds were and although it wasn't raining the humidity was the worst it's ever been.

By about 11am the winds had picked up and were heavily gusting but not dangerously so. It steadily increased in gusts which seemed to come from all directions. The gusts stayed high, mostly up at the tops of the trees and sometimes the top of a tree would be bent in the wind but its lower branches weren't moving at all. A bit eerie I must say.
The rain started about noon and gradually got heavier and heavier until it was just a steady heavy downpour. It doesn't look too impressive but a rain storm normally lasts about 20 minutes to a half hour and tapers off. This kind of rain kept up for hours.
The wind and rain continued and was probably at it's worst at about 3pm when over the next hour it began to taper off. By the early evening the rain had died almost completely stopped but the wind continued gusting and blustering from various directions with some force.
The clouds started to break up and we had a little sunshine for about a half hour - just to give you a good clear look at the tree litter on your lawn I guess! The sun went down and the wind remained pretty steady out of the northwest blowing away a lot of the humidity.

Today the skies are overcast and it's steadily raining. Hurricane Bill brought a low pressure system so we'll have rain for a few days to come. It's sort of welcome after the blistering heat we've been through these past couple weeks but the dogs don't get out as much! It was our first hurricane and we got off light ... I'm sure there will be more on the way - 'tis the season!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mellow Yellow

I have still been slaving away at the house but now am on to the boring fiddly things that do not offer great blog content or much in the way of really good photos. So far for the past few days I've been painting trim and baseboard heaters, dapping some gaps in miders and casing joints and finally digging in the last of the stepping stones.

I did repaint the hall area with yellow and it looks much better - it's more appropriate with the house color scheme and now it feels very warm and cozy when you move from room to room. More organic ... look at me all designer minded!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bake Me A Cake

I have been bragging for the last week about my kitchen transformation and since I finally finished it (for the most part) I took some photos. It took me 2 and a half days of constant work to get this completed and by now I'm more sick of painting than I ever was but I think the effort was worth it. And imagine if you will that this transformation cost me a mere $60.

Here is a photo reminder of what the kitchen looked like before I moved in. Not terrible, not great, just a kitchen that needs a little attention. Right after I moved in I painted the walls green and it made a huge improvement but I knew I wanted to work on the cabinets because the wood on the sink wall was stripped of lacquer and didn't match the other cabinets. In fact none of the cabinet stain matched each other. Still - it was livable although I wasn't in love with the green.I'd been giving some thought to what I wanted to do - restain the cabinets with a lacquer or just paint them. Because of the headaches of sanding to get all the wood to the same shade so the stain would be consistent I decided to paint them and this was the result. Notice the backsplash. Really notice it. What a pain in the ass. I didn't realize that wanting the tiling at an angle would be such a headache. I asked my Dad how to do it and he told me but what he was thinking was that putting tile on an angle is really hard to get right. Thank gawd it was vinyl tile and I could easily cut it ... plus it was super cheap.
For whatever reason I forgot to include the backsplash of the stove in my tile calculations so I had to go back and buy some more but now everything is pretty much complete. The only things left to do are to refinish the floor which is hardwood under a few layers of old flooring, change out the light which is pretty basic and ugly right now and finish siliconing the seams of the tiles to stop water getting behind them. I think it's pretty cute and I actually like being in there now ... I even baked some muffins yesterday but as it turns out when the recipe says to add baking soda it really means it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fan Club

Fans are so nice when they blow cool air down on you while you sleep. I wouldn't know. There was a fan here yesterday, I even posted a photo. At about 7pm I was sitting in the living room watching TV and heard what I thought was a bulb bursting in the bedroom. The cats shot out of the bedroom and I got up to check. The fan was spinning like crazy held only by its little safety wire. I called my Dad and he said to just take it down. It's a goner. The fan base was really hot and the gimble the fan pedestal sat in was shattered. Huh. It wasn't happy about being moved that's for sure. Fans don't cool you much when they look like this ...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

This Little Light of Mine

My Dad was here today to switch a few light fixtures since I have never put in any kind of electrical fixture. We moved the living room fan to my bedroom, installed a new fan in the living room, installed the dining pendant and replaced both the front and back door lights as well.

This is the living room fan - it is SWEET. It's huge, beautiful and can be run on high speed and doesn't wobble(wobbling makes me nervous). It normally retails for over $100 but I saw it by chance on sale for $40 and bought it although I didn't intend to.
The livingroom fan was moved to my bedroom so that I could have some air flow at night for the dogs and myself covered with dogs. I plan to paint the fan blades white since I really don't like the fake oak look much.
The dining pendant was a steal at Walmart for a whole $20. When I see sale like that for something I'm looking for (without a determined install date)I definitely buy. I have also done a lot of research on the various things I want to upgrade so I have a pretty good idea whether I am paying a good price.

The front door light was not working at all - probably because there was no bulb - but the original light looked sad, had no glass in it and was a poor example of a welcoming porch light. This one fortunately is intended to be mounted hanging because one that needs it to be pointing up would not have worked. The back door light is one that points up. Seems kind of like planned the exterior lights doesn't it? Not so. I accidentally bought an up light and a down light without realizing it and we spent a few minutes puzzling over the difference in the models since the photo on the boxes are almost identical. I bet I'm not the only person who has two of these lights and was confused by the difference in assembly. I also have some new house guests that are making themselves quite at home. Sadly they need to be evicted and by evicted I mean killed. Some hornets or yellowjackets or whatever the hell they are have selected my front porch as the ideal location for a new nest. I can see the appeal, it's sheltered, quiet and probably seems very safe - location location location. Not so much when one Tamzin comes at them with a big can of Hornet Nuke.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ship to Shore- Updated!

Yesterday was the last day to see the Tall Ships in Nova Scotia. We headed up to Pugwash with Bill & Donna who have Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers and a couple of Pulis - they live in Trenton which is about 15 minutes from Pictou. The day started out overcast and threatening rain but turned into a gorgeous blue skied, sun bathing day.

I finally created an online album - Tall Ships Pugwash.

Here's me on the Picton Castle at the stern where the wheel is. Behind me is Pugwash harbour which carries on out into the Northumberland Strait. Like my cute hat? It was $5 at Walmart - I'm not usually a hat wearer but with all the outdoor activities we've been doing I have suffered a bit of heat exposure and the hat helps prevent headaches.

And my parents on the Picton Castle. We'd been on several ships by this point - Roseway, Pride of Baltimore II, Fair Jeanne, Mist of Avalon- but the Picton Castle was the neastest because it was the largest and is a three masted square rigged sailing ship. Very cool. More cool because they have a ship's cat named Chibley - we didn't see her. My Dad recently got a hair cut but you can't really tell since he's a bit windblown - they even trimmed his chops and eyebrow!
Picton Castle is the ship where in 2006 a deckhand was washed overboard just south of Nova Scotia - I read the TSB final report on it and it sounds like it was a case of human error and circumstances. As with anything involving humans there will always be the chance of fatal errors. I believe it really is impossible to completely avoid accidents simply because people are only human no matter what precautions you take. It was a sad result of human error but to my mind ... not entirely unexpected. I mean you're on an honest to goodness sailing ship with sails and masts and rigging and out in the ocean ...not to put too a fine a point on it but it's not beyond the realm of possibility that someone will end up in Davy Jones' Locker. You know?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sail Away

Of all the events this summer I have to say the Tall Ships are far and away the neatest thing going. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to think of another comparable event in Calgary or Alberta. After Halifax some of the ships headed to various ports around Nova Scotia and Pictou happened to be one of those ports. On Saturday the ships that were in Pictou sail up the Northumberland Strait to Pugwash before heading out across the Atlantic. I volunteered yesterday morning at a breakfast put on by the Hector Quays for the crews of the ships in Pictou. It was kind of a waste of my time since they didn't actually need me but you never know until you get there.
I did go onto the Pier to see the ships up close and took some photos which are posted in this online album since there are too many photos to post here.
If you follow my dog blog you'll already know that today I managed to capture some photos of a couple of the ships heading up the Northumberland Strait with the dogs playing on the beaches. Here's that link just in case you missed it.