Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Wonder Year

It was a year ago that I arrived at my new house here in Nova Scotia. Well, technically it was a year ago yesterday but if we are using May 26th as an anniversary date then today is a calendar year. Time is a real enigma and plays tricks on you. It makes you believe it's moving slowly but when you reflect on the past it seems like everything happened in a fleeting moment.

Remember the rig? Well, I wondered why everyone was so worried about me before I left and while I was on the road. I felt perfectly safe at the time, like it was a totally reasonable prospect to drive 5000km with 4 dogs, 3 cats and all my stuff jammed into an unregistered trailer. Now I think "No way I'd let my daughter do that!" 

My parent's house was a welcome sight when I arrived in Nova Scotia. And for the dogs too since they'd been trapped without a good run for 3 or 4 days.

It was great to see my little house again, I hadn't seen it since I bought it 6 months prior to my arrival.   

My parents helped me move in and let me tell you, it took way less time to unload that trailer than to pack it! The mess took much much longer to address though.

It took almost a year to get everything arranged the way I wanted it but finally I think most rooms are pretty well as I like them. One day the laundry room will have a wall to separate it from the kitchen but that's on the list of future projects, along with painting the ceilings(still), the house skirting, fascia, a patio and a few other small projects. Those will have to wait until I can afford them!

For now though, I couldn't ask for a more contented life. It is everything I wanted and more. I took such a chance on moving out here, knowing almost no one, having no job, travelling with so many animals ... and every single moment has been worth it. Huge thanks to everyone who helped me along the way; my parents Terry & Stephanie, my brother Ben, Tanja, Phil & Joanne, Bill & Donna, Liana, Adine, Erin, Kim, Jeff & Danielle, and everyone else who had some hand in seeing me safely to my new life. The dogs, cats and I can never thank you enough! Now ... come visit dammit!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mulch Ado About Nothing

I know it's been a ridiculous long while since I last posted. I have been procrastinating about painting the ceiling and the final step in not procrastinating is buying this special thing called a Point 'n' Paint I saw on TV. I haven't bought it yet because if I do it will mean I no longer have an excuse to not attempt the absolute least favorite thing I want to do with my time.

Instead I've been preparing the garden for the summer and so far the front is pretty much complete. The weather has been quite warm so far so I'm ahead of the game. The front garden last year was nice but not nice enough for me so I decided to ensure that I never needed to weed again. I got that black cloth for gardens and installed it on a windy day. I won't sport with your intellignace and describe that adventure except to say ... wait for a not windy day.  The little plot you see here is the right hand side of the deck when you are facing it.

And this is it finished with a layer of cedar mulch on it. I'd like to get some more brick to put along the right  side but I ran out. That little white blob in front there is a hound dog who needs some paint.
The other side is larger but was not too difficult to tackle. Here is the point at which I was laying out the brick to see how much I needed and where it would go best - the bricks are actually from along the path that leads from the driveway to the front door. They were almost completely covered in grass so had clearly been there a very long time. I like reusing things that already exist on the property because they have lived here longer than I have and deserve to stay. There were these huge rocks that bordered the front of the garden but I didn't like them because they can't make a clean line of delineation between the graden and the grass.
The biggest rock was a *bitch* to pull up but I finally managed it. I decided that instead of dragging it across the grass and giving myself a hernia, I'd only move it a foot or two and make it a nice backdrop for my little lion cub who came all the way from Alberta. He still needs to be painted but he's made it through two Canadian winters without a coat so I think he can go a few more days.
I never did get a photo of the larger garden area with the black fabric but really, how interesting could that photo possibly be? Here it is with it's new cedar mulch facelift. It looks a little sparse right now because the plants haven't grown in but that big round area in front there turns into a montrous lily thing in the summer. I want to wait and see how much room the plants take up before introducing any new vegetation into the mix.  Where the ground is uneven in front of the brick will be filled in with some sod from the backyard. Wait til you see what I'm doing back there.
The front of my house, isn't it pretty? I'll take another picture again in the summer when I have had a chance to repaint the front step(what is UP with that?) and the plants are in bloom. Everything is budding happily and it looks like all my 2009 new plants survived the winter; even the lavender which, until a week ago, I was convinced was dead. Next stop ... raised vegetable garden ...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Doors

As spring is coming on and the Home Renovation Tax Credit ended with January 2010 I have several projects lined up that I am planning to tackle. I finally have the spare room door replaced, it was not is any great shape as you can see. When I moved in this little hole was on the livingroom side of the door. The day I arrived we had to go out and buy some supplies and get lunch so I shut the dogs in the spare room for a couple hours. They made short work of a small hole on the other side of the door.
So I bought a new door and My Amazing Dad came over to install it. He cut the handle hole, chipped out the hinge spaces and we hung it quite easily. More easily than I'd have thought actually. It really is amazing what a difference something new and fresh can make. I think the total replacement cost for this door was about $60. But ... you can't beat the bargain basement price of this next renovation. I discovered partway through December that when I was sitting in the livingroom I could feel a draft. I thought it was coming from under the spare door, that room isn't heated, so I put a draft stopper along the bottom. Still a draft. Thought it was the front door, another draft stopper. Still a draft. The draft was coming from the entrance to the livingroom. I hung a sheet and voila ... no more draft. Well, a sheet isn't very nice and an annoying PIA so I decided that a French door would do the trick. I figured I could shut the dogs behind it if necessary and to stop the cats annoying the crap out of me I'd take out a pane of glass so they could go back and forth without demanding I open the door.

I went French door shopping knowing they cost about $100. I knew I wanted a simple finger-jointed pine door, unpainted and pretty standard. I was perusing the door aisle of our local DIY and came across their 'no returns' section. Always with an eye tuned to a bargain I started looking through the doors. What's this? A 32" finger-jointed pine French door with a DAMAGED - NO RETURN sticker on the side. Well, what is wrong with it? It had one single broken pane. It was $20. I bought it on the spot. I explained to the HI employee that the broken pane was perfect as I intended to remove one anyway from whatever door I bought. He then expressed his concern about removing the pane, "I wonder the best way to get that pane out?" Uh. Break it?

I discovered upon getting the door home that the pane of glass that was broken is actually the second from the top, not the bottom, so I ended up hanging it upside down. I think, unless you actually knew it was upside down, you'd never know. My Amazing Dad, with his circular saw that is literally older than I am (but with a new blade so it still cuts marvelously), cut off some of the bottom/top of the door because it exactly fit the space it needed to be put into and all doors need room to swing.

Last week My Amazing Dad and I spent the day hanging this door - actually My Amazing Dad hung the door, I watched and held various tools and made lunch. It is quite a process. You never realize how important 'square' is until you try to hang a door. The entry to the livingroom was 36" and the door was 32" so we had to make up the space with 1x4 pieces of wood. Here is a terrible photo of the door partially painted and the wood(kinda) inbetween the original frame and the new frame. The handle hole was an absolute bitch when we tried to put the handle in it but we finally manhandled the thing so it would work properly. It does now thank doG. I also moved the desk from the kitchen, where it was increasingly annoying me, into the livingroom where, conveniently I can now surf online and watch TV ... the stuff of dreams. You can see the internet cable strung up and over the door. And now you can't. I painted the cable the same color as the walls and I think it blends beautifully. This is obviously the livingroom side. When this door is shut it takes about 10 minutes for the room to warm comfortably and stay warm. And this is the kitchen side of the door, the bathroom is off to the right and my bedroom is off to the left. The hardwood still needs refinishing but that will wait until warmer weather and I can open all the windows.

But wait! What about that pane of glass that was to be removed? Why ... I did remove it. I had to shove the cats through a few times each to show them where the hole was located and only Ceilidh jumped into the wrong pane once - she leaped into the middle pane, slid down, shook her head, looked to her left at the correct hole and hopped through. Here is Archer demonstrating which pane is missing. Raimi's head does fit but he doesn't like putting his head through and Leeloo refuses to lower herself to such monkeyshines.
In all, this door cost about $90 total including the hardware, casing and paint - a pretty good solution to a cold winter draft! I also expect in the summer, with the monster fan going, that the room will cool down quite nicely too ... can't wait to test it!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Over Christmas I took a break from renovations so that during the holidays I wasn't dealing with paint and dust and clean up. Now that we are well past the festive season I have no excuse to not work on various outstanding reno projects. This year will see the floors finished, the ceilings painted, screens replaced, the spare door replaced, a french door installed, and I will start replacing the fence with preserved boards.

My first project of the new year was the lino for the laundry floor. With the layers and layers of plywood and vinyl pulled up it was simply a matter of smashing the nails in a bit more, levelling the dips and holes with a patching agent and laying down the flooring. I had a day in mind to do the whole thing in one go, went to pick up my supplies and discovered they were out of flooring adhesive. So I bought what I could but didn't get the lino as I didn't want to be stepping over it for the week it would take to get the adhesive in.

Once the adhesive arrived I went to pick up the lino. I decided that since the space I needed to fill was 8x11 feet and the end rolls sold pre-wrapped were 8x12, what better solution than to just choose one of those? So I get the roll home and it sits for a couple days before I have time to get it laid out. While still in it's wrap I slid it into the laundry area by the back door. Huh. That's odd, did I mis-measure? It's 2 inches too short. Nope, *my* measurements are correct, the lino, however, is too short. So the day I was going to spend doing the lino turns into yet another day of not.

I take it back and have the guy measure the other rolls to see if any are actually 8 feet as it says on the package. Nope. None of them. So there is a sale on, thank gawd, of a lino I like and I say, gimme 8 feet of that(they are 12 feet wide). It gets rolled, jammed into my truck and off we go.

I prepared the area by vacuuming as much dog hair, cat hair, dust, and whatnot as I could. Around the back door I ran into a little problem. Obviously the back door has been leaking at the bottom and soaking into the plywood, this caused it to rot a bit. I used a screwdriver to scrape up as much of the wet wood as I could and lo and behold, now there are holes down into the crawl space through the floor. Fabulous. I vacuumed up the excess wood bits and left it overnight to dry out. Now I need to go back to the hardware store and get some spray foam insulation to fill the holes.
I mixed a little of the plasti-patch and get started. It was a relatively easy process to fill all the little nail holes, screw holes, and level up some less than exact plywood. While it was drying I headed to Home Hardware to pick up the spray foam, stuffed the holes full of that miracle substance and then did another layer of Plasti-patch. There was a section where the difference in height was about a quarter inch so I had to smooth that into a little ramp so the lino wouldn't get ruined in that spot. Once all that was dry I swept again and the real ordeal began. I forgot to ask, and still don't know, whether a person is supposed to cut the lino to fit before or after you glue it down. I cut it before. I am thinking now that was a mistake but ... I digress. I had the lino rolled up at one end of the floor and the lino adhesive out with a trowel ready for action. I smeared a bunch of glue down and fought with the lino to get it into the space I needed it, namely the corner under the window. Alone, this was not easy. I then accidentally dropped the loaded trowel onto the floor where I didn't want adhesive so that while I was fighting with the roll, half unrolled into one corner, it was sliding across and sticking to the adhesive where I'd dropped the trowel.

Then I dropped the trowel handle-first into the adhesive. Take a moment to imagine how that went.

I then stuck the other corner down and realized, too late, that is was not lining up properly, it was curled at the corner a bit which meant the whole roll was about a quarter inch crooked. Since it was taking so long to get the roll down the first corner was mostly dried and there was no moving it. I just sat for a moment and despaired, then carried on with a shrug and WTH.

I spent the next 45 minutes spackling down adhesive, unsticking my hand from the trowel, unrolling the lino, spackling down more adhesive, unsticking my hand from the trowel, and unrolling the lino. At about the three-quarters-done mark I dropped the trowel handle-first into the adhesive a second time. I was almost beyond sanity.

Eventually, I won the battle and managed to get the whole sheet stuck down to the floor. I put cans of paint along a couple edges to get them to lay flat to dry, gave the whole ordeal a sticky finger and went to bed.

The next morning things looked a lot better. Although I intend to refinish the kitchen floor I put down the threshold so that the edges of the lino don't curl up and get ruined.

I also put in the threshold, at last, across the dining door. The next project to finish off the laundry area and back door is to put in the baseboard. That will mean the entire area is relatively complete. I put a piece of plywood under the expen because I don't want it to mark up the flooring - especially after what I when through to install it. I hope one day to build an actual laundry room, which there clearly used to be, but for now this will have to do. The dogs give it their stamp of approval anyway.