It's that time again...

What a year.

It had it's ups, and it's downs.  What with a plethora of funerals, and some serious health issues, it seems it's been mostly downs.  And in all honesty, if you want to know what insanity is like, renovate your house. 

But then, I look at where the house was a year ago, and realize just how much we (well, mostly Dad) have accomplished in the last 12 months.   

The entire upstairs was torn out, reconfigured, insulated and drywalled. 

The two dying trees were removed in the backyard, resulting in a safer yard, a lot of firewood, and more sun for...

My very first vegetable garden.

We started on the downstairs, tearing out and insulating the living room and dining room, and the ceilings everywhere else. 

I got a new roof, figured out I don't like tiling, and started in on moving some windows and the back door.

And of course, most importantly, we added a Katy to the household!

But how did those 2010 Resolutions go?

1. Work more with Kip, especially on agility.

Total fail.  Poor Kip.  He is such a good dog, and is patiently waiting until I have "more time".  I did manage to take a beginners obedience class with Katy, but Kip got the shaft this year in terms of training :(

2.  Find a new job.

Epic fail.  Didn't even manage to get ONE application out.  In 12 months.  Must. Do. Better.

3. Food.

Not bad, but not great.  I did manage to grow a lot of food this year, in spite of the total failure of the oh-so-promising squash crop (that I haven't mentioned yet, because it still grieves me!).  I fell down on the using of that food, however.  I severely mis-judged how much time I'd have this year to deal with the harvest of the garden.  I did manage to use at least 90% of the tomato crop, making my own salsa, canned tomatoes and sauce, so it wasn't a total loss.  I need to plan a lot better for next year, and make time to harvest and preserve the food I grow, instead of taking it directly from the garden to the compost pile.  And I did nothing about finding more sustainable sources of food I cannot produce, short of buying all of one dozen eggs from a cousin who has chickens.

Pretty much a failure all around, and of course, I can come up with reasons for all of the above (no time, a crappy kitchen, no time, no time, no time...) but!

All in all, it wasn't a bad year.  I just accomplished different things than I planned on :)

Now, on to 2011...

Door, window, window, door.

One of the major projects left to do is moving the door and three windows in the kitchen and back addition.
Why are we doing this?  Well...

Basically, it comes down to "if we are putting this much work into the house, we may as well do that as well".

The small (really small) kitchen has both the electric panel and a window that is located too low on the wall for a counter top to go under it.  So, let's swap out that window for the other window in the back wall of the addition, which is longer and shorter.  And while we're at it, let's move the panel... right where that other small window is.  And then let's make that wall an entire wall of storage space, and move the door over next to that, to make the rest of the space more usable, and give enough room for the new laundry area...

Poor Dad :)

This was the small window in the north wall of the addition.  It really was in an odd spot - near the kitchen wall, half way up the wall - just sort of there.  Dad tore it out a while ago, and insulated and drywalled that wall.  That will be the wall that will be storage eventually, and will have the new electric panel.

The old laundry area, with the oddly-located window.  Please ignore the pile of laundry ;)

The window on the back (east) wall of the addition is too close to the wall for the storage area I want, and so, it needed to be moved.  The door, right beside it, also needed to be be moved, to allow me to re-configure the bathroom and furnace area into a bathroom, furnace area and laundry area. 
Window (which will eventually be relocated in the kitchen)
 Door, and poorly-installed hot water heater.  

The hot water heater will be replaced by a smaller, wall-mounted, on-demand system, and that area will become the new laundry "closet", complete with a dog bathtub laundry tub.

Today, being a "warm", sunny, calm day, was the perfect day to do some cutting and pasting, so to speak!  We started by removing the window, then cutting the new space for the door.

The first cut is the deepest...
You measured first, right?
Ohhh, new dog door?

Dad then moved the door over to the new spot, and erected a temporary barrier.
Can I come out and play?
The view from outside, showing the old and new spots for the door.
And from the inside.  A bit more ventilation than I wanted, but it wasn't too cold :)

Dad then put up plywood and tar paper over the open spots, which hopefully will last a few more months until I get the whole house re-sided.

 And... done!

 Dad will be back tomorrow, to insulate and that will be it for renos this year!

Never again

It is done. 
I have now tiled one bathroom floor. 


I have this thing about not paying someone to do something I can do myself.  This attitude has led to some interesting times.  Building my own bedroom furniture springs to mind... however, there are also certain things I will gladly pay others to do for me. 

Tiling has been added to that list :)

I'm now off to soak my aching body parts (wrists and knees and back, oh my!), and enjoy a VERY large G&T. 


I'm seeing spots...

Dad decided to be a Christmas elf, and come over today and help me with the bathroom floor.  I've had the tiles for a while - after a NIGHTMARE trying to find them.  I called almost every tile place in the phone book, and the conversation went the same way at almost every place:

Me:  I'm looking for black and white hexagonal tiles.  Do you carry them?

Store:  Oh, yes, of course.  

Me: They are NOT the octagonal white tiles with the square black tiles, are they?  

Store:  No, they are...  oh, wait....

Basically, EVERY store knew what I wanted, and yet none of them actually carried it.  This is what they have:
NOT hexagonal tiles.  

As an aside, there are an amazing number of people out there who do not know the difference between a hexagon and an octagon.  Schools these days :)

I made it all the way to the Ps before I finally found a store that could actually order the tile in for me.  Since it was a special order, I had to order it by the case, which means I have a lot left over.  Anyone want any?  Anyone know of uses for extra tiles??

But finally, I got it all laid out and cut, and we started laying it today.  I found out while doing the dry fit and cutting that the tiles are not symmetrical, so each tile needed to be laid one way, and one way only, to keep the pattern consistent.  I laid everything out, triple checked, and picked them up in order, making sure they all faced the same way in the stacks... so it would be next to impossible to make an error.  Ahem.  Yep.

 All cut and labelled, waiting to be installed.
 Dad put down the mortar, I laid the tiles.  Gotta love team work!
 First two rows!  Everything lines up perfectly!
Third row!
 Half way there... and no mistakes!
 And done!  Woohoo!
Oh bloody @%**@&!!!  

Neither Dad nor I noticed this, until we looked at these pictures.  Fortunately, I decided to do that right after we were done, and it was a quick fix.  Yes, that is actually a manufacturing flaw, not a mislaid tile!

The one problem area, and the last to be laid.  When we got to the last two rows to be laid, I did the tiles next to the right-hand wall and around the toilet first, then matched up the rest of the rows to them.  As you can see, it's not a perfect match, but as this is behind the toilet, I don't think anyone will notice!

The tile is manufactured by American Olean, and, while not really hard to install, I really wouldn't recommend it to anyone who hasn't done tile before.

Oh, did I mention neither Dad nor I have every tiled before?  No?  Yeah.

I found it hard to match up the tiles perfectly, for a number of reasons.  The biggest?  Even though the manufacturer recommends a grout spacing, when you attempt to use spacers that size, you quickly realize the "internal" grout lines are MUCH smaller than the recommendation.  So, I did all the spacing by eye.  (That also helps to explain the bad area behind the toilet!)

The corner tiles of each sheet are VERY loose, which also makes lining the sheets up hard.  In fact, MANY of the ties were loose, leading to almost every sheet loosing 2-3 tiles, if not more, which then had to be placed by hand.  I did find some boxes seemed to have a thicker layer of glue holding the tiles onto the mesh - and those sheets were, by far, MUCH easier to work with. 

Added to the manufacturing flaws (we did catch one other before laying that sheet), I don't know if I could recommend this tile or not.  Over all, I'm happy with it, since it is exactly the look I wanted, but I am a bit disappointed by the lack of consistent quality in the product. 

However, I still think I'd buy it again, just for the look!!

And tomorrow, the deluge grout!!

Merry Christmas Eve Day!

Well, the 12 Days of Christmas got sidetracked by some great company, the plague they brought with them, and a busy, busy, busy week at work.  No big deal, the rest can wait for next Christmas :)

From me and the dogs, 


On the Fifth Day of Christmas...

... my two dogs showed to me:

Five Differences Made:

My local shelter,
Toronto SPCA (Katy's former home),
Heifer International,
Médecins Sans Frontières (aka Doctors without Borders),
and the Canadian Red Cross.

four Festive Favourites,
three Canadian Classics,
two other odd ones,
and the worst Christmas Carol ever sung.

Please take some time this year to give to a charity or organization that speaks to you.  Even the smallest donations, like snowflakes, make a difference.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas...

... my two dogs showed to me:

Four Festive Favourites:

Carol of the Bells
Little Drummer Boy (HAS to be this version!)
Father Christmas
and Happy Christmas

three Canadian Classics,
two other odd ones,
and the worst Christmas Carol ever sung.

I really do love some Christmas music - almost as much as I despise the rest of it ;)

On the Third Day of Christmas...

... my two dogs showed to me:

 Three Canadian Classics (if you sing is fast enough, it fits)

two other odd ones,
and the worst Christmas Carol ever sung.

You just gotta love a Christmas carol sung by a hockey player.  It's a wonder Gretzky never released an album!  "The Sweater" is so famous here, we have a verse of it on our five dollar bill.  And every sentence this time of year should end with "A beer, in a tree"!!

On the Second Day of Christmas...

... my two dogs showed to me:

Two other odd ones,

and the worst Christmas Carol ever sung.

 I actually like the Pogues, and like that song, but "Christmas-y", it's not.  As for the John Denver song, I've got nothing.  (and as an aside, does Shane MacGowan win the prize for worst. teeth. ever?)

On the First Day of Christmas...

... my two dogs showed to me:

The worst Christmas Carol ever sung.

(Back story here.)

Disclaimer:  yes, yes I do know that the 12 days of Christmas actually start on December 25 and end on Epiphany.  Deal with it :)

Tempus fugit and all that...

Water, water everywhere...

I hate fixing other peoples' mistakes.

Hate it, to the tune of $6200.00

That's the cost to get the roof fixed and re-shingled, as well as a "torch-on" roof for the addition (as opposed to the nailed-down stips of tar paper that currently sheath the flat roof of the addition.)

Why a new roof?  In addition to the fact that the current roof has no vents...

...wait, have I told this story before?  If not, quick re-cap.  When you look at the roof from outside, you see vents.  Two of them.  New.  Perfect. On the fantastic, less-than-10-years-old roof.

But when you look in the attic, you see... nothing.  No vents.  No holes under the vents. 

Yes, the last roofers actually went to the trouble of putting in roof vents, without actually, you know, making them vent.  Grrrrrr.....

In addition, there are two old stove pipes in the roof that go nowhere.  One would think it'd be easier to take them out, rather than shingle around them, but what do I know?  One, in fact, was completely open at the top, and "sealed" at the bottom, (which was inside one of the upstairs walls) only by a piece of metal sheeting.  How long do you think it would take that to start leaking??

Ironically enough, *that* stove pipe is mere inches away from the non-vent.  They could have actually taken out the stove pipe, and placed the vent on the hole, making a real vent.  Instead, I have a useless pipe to nowhere and a pseudo-vent. 

But the current issue is the second stove pipe.  It starts in the dining room (I assume there was a stove of some sort, possibly a cook stove, since the original wood floor is missing in that corner as well), and goes  through what was the original back wall of the house (currently the bathroom wall in the addition), and up through the roof.

 The stove pipe in the bathroom, along with the original(?) clapboard of the exterior wall.  (Please note:  a lot of the bottles you see are dog grooming products.  Really.  The dogs have more grooming products than I do.)

It was always boxed in (with a bunch of shelves added on) - at least until water started dripping from it, and we pulled it apart.  It was, at first, a slow leak, and I thought I'd be able to make it until spring.

Of course, it got worse and worse, until today, Dad rigged up the high-tech water capture system you see above :)

Hi-tech drainage system part two.

Basically, it's an old chunk of ducting, opened up "flat", nailed to the wall, with a used piece of string duct-taped to the pipe, leading into a bucket.  I love innovation, especially when its free!!

Dad's also been working on the plumbing,  with surprisingly few problems (knock on Kip's head wood).  Today, he had to change something (see Dad?  I didn't tell them about that massive mistake you made), and afterwards, wanting to make sure there were no leaks, turned on the water for the new pipes, and had me run upstairs to make sure nothing was leaking.

Nothing was leaking.  Really. 

Which was why I was surprised, ~10 minutes after the water had been turned back off, the see water dripping from the ceiling into the living room.

 The guilty party.  
(HEY!!  Wasn't me!!  - Kip)

Ooops.  Sorry Kip.

The guilty party.

Actually, the plumbing was fine too - the value that controls the shower (I think that's what is it) was open a smidge, and the air trapped in the lines took a while to squeeze out, followed by water.  Lots and lots of water.  Quick fix though, fortunately!!

And since Dad has been working on the plumbing, he decided it was time to put one of these in:

My favourite (for now) thing.

It's an outside tap!!  Woohoo!!  You have no idea how useful these little things are - until you don't have one.  I had a hose snaking out a window all summer long, so I could water the garden with a sprinkler.  Good times.

Other new things:

My reno-chic pink living room, with red accents.

At least it's WARM!

New doorbell.

Again, you don't realize how nice it is to have one - until you don't.  And holywow, you can spend some serious cash on doorbells!

And some old things - old kitchen wallpaper, peeking through here and there:

I assume these were used at two different times!

I should be posting more often, I hope, as things have calmed down a bit here, and there are more interesting things going on soon (like floor tile!  And sinks!  And lights!!).

Until then, stay dry.

This is the life

Still here.

Still alive.

Still renovating.

What's new?  A diagnosis of asthma, complete with a monthly prescription that costs the same as my mortgage payment.  Thankfully, I have a drug plan that will pay 80% of it.  While I could (just) afford it without the drug plan, it would make things VERY tight.  Very very tight.  It makes me realize more and more what people go though who don't have health plans.  What's more important - heat or medicine?  Food or medicine?  And while I've spent almost $250 on medications in the last few weeks (80% of which will eventually come back to me), the trips to the ER, the visits to the walk-in clinic, the X-rays, the visit to my new family doctor, the second set of X-rays - all "free".  (Yes, yes yes, I know they are paid by my tax dollars.  So are the roads I drive down, the fire and police stations I drive by, the utility infrastructure I depend on for water, heat and electricity, etc.)

But that's all a post for another time :)

In renovation news - all the "old" section of the house is now insulated!  Except the kitchen, which was previously "updated", and presumably has updated insulation.  Of course, the kitchen walls still have to come down, since they consist of two layers of drywall.  Of course, it's SO much easier just to slap on another layer, rather than taking the first layer down... grrrrrr.....

And I have no hopes of there being a vapour barrier behind the walls, since there is none in the rest of the house (including in the ceiling of the addition - nothing is holding the batt insulation up.  Which is probably why the batt insulation is falling out of the ceiling, into the space between the studs and the suspended ceiling).  Fun times.

More posts, more pictures.  I promise - once again :)

Hello? Is this thing on??

Two funerals of close family members within two weeks.

A rampaging garden.

90 pounds of plum tomatoes.

$600 worth of surgery for poor Kip (it was minor, and everything is well, thankfully!)

A busy work schedule, and full-on construction at home.

And today?  A diagnoses of "not yet pneumonia".

I really will get back to blogging more regularly, promise.  Once everything calms down a bit :)

Until then....

Two hot dogs on the beach.

Two reluctantly cool dogs in the lake.
Kipper rocking the vet-supplied t-shirt  (whilst smelling Katy-feet).
  Some of the harvest.

Possible fabric selections for my bedroom.

 And cake.  Because there should always be cake!

You know you've been working too hard when...

...the sawhorses start staring at you.

But at least they aren't talking to me.


I promise to post an update on the house soon.  Really.  :)

Sufferin' Squash Attack!

The squash is taking over the world yard.

Mostly, it's spaghetti squash.  Like this:

This is only one.  Without moving, or looking under leaves, I counted 19 more friends for this guy.

20+ spaghetti squash.  Not too much, right?  Right?

And then there's the buttercup squash - cutest thing in the garden:

Except for this:

Baby watermelon!  All together now - awwwwww!

And this:

Baby pattypans!

Okay, I'll stop with the squash.

Right after this:

Yellow zucchini!  (Thank you, spellcheck inventor, because I never spell zuchinni zucchinni zucchini correctly).

I've been eating green zuchinni zucchinni zucchini for a while now, the acorn squash is just flowering, and the cucumbers... well, the less said about them, the better.  I don't think I'll have too many this year.  But I am getting some lemon cucumbers:

Even though the plant looks like this:

The tomatoes are coming right along, along with the peppers, finally:


I've been eating radishes, spinach and some lettuce for a while now, and just harvested 3 heads of this:

And two napa cabbages - stir fry tonight!

The heads are rather small, but I had to share with the cabbageworms {shudder}.  In fact, they got one entire head, and one didn't head out at all, so the napa is batting 50% this year. 

Other things have been going on while I've been busy elsewhere:



I'm surprised I have any peas, after the Great Rabbit Attack of 2010.

Not only did the *&@* thing eat the peas, it SLEPT on them.  Morning after morning,  in spite of the fence, I'd look out the window to see the rabbit snoozing away.

So then I killed it, gave the carcass to the dogs,  and spread it's fur to warn all the other rabbits.  Bwahahahahahhaaa!!

Okay, not really.  But I did spread fur around the garden and it seems to be working!  I have an excess of fur for some reason...

"I'm cute!"

You're fat!

 "I don't like you anymore.  You hurt my feelings"

That's okay.  You're still fat.*

The garden is growing, and doing quite well, especially for my first one ever - at least in my opinion.

"But the garden is not us, so it is unimportant.  Now get us food"

*Katy has actually lost ~3 pounds so far.  So while she has a weigh way to go, she's doing really well!  Good girl!!  And yes, a house update is coming!


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