Mulligan…

Holy crap this post is way late! I think I started it just after New Years, then one thing & another got in the way and now the months is almost over…I guess it’s better late than never…

To a certain extent, I view New Year as one great big do over. Clearly all wrongs can’t be righted, but the beginning of a new year allows us to take a moment, look at the past year and try to fix what done got broke and to accept whats broken beyond fixing and move on.

2012 was a year of change for us, some were awesome, like adopting Nouka,

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others were both awesome and scarry like the electrical surprise we found hiding behind our walls that ended with the basement being renoed much sooner than we had planned and for the first time since we bought the house, we don’t have a tennant & the whole place is ours!

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After all that action & excitement last year, I was hoping this year would be more sedate and does not require any major home repairs. Yeah, that lasted until the washer broke on January 5th & the repair cost was more than a new washer… 2013 better get it in gear or it can suck it!

Broken washers aside, I have some simple plans for 2013:

1: Austerity measures with the household budget. Debt makes me ill and with the bathroom & basement needing work 3 years before we had planned on fixing them and now the washer dying, we have more debt than I am comfortable with, so we are tightening our belts & getting on with things. I will also be revamping our meal planning system to help with this.

2: Making nice with Edna II! Last year was all about learning new textile techniques, I learned how to make moccasins, knit beaded lace, wrapped my head around double knitting & most importantly learned how to weave on a floor loom. This year, I want to spend some quality time with the weaving! I have a stash that needs to be beaten into submission and what better way to do it than with weaving! So far I have chosen projects where I will learn twill, overshot, clasped weft weaving, Huck Lace, a simple set of linen bath towels…my ideas are really only limited by my stash…best of all, a few handmade loving friends are spawning, so I can further reduce the stash by weaving baby blankets!

3: Finishing up my WIPs, this is going to be a hard one as I have a strong raven-like tendancy towards being distracted by shiny things, but there are projects in the stash that have been aging for some time & they need to be finished.

4: Rhinebeck or Oslo in the Fall, this one depends on a lot of factors, mainly how well the austerity measures work out and no unexpected surprises with a large repair cost, but I’ve got 10 months to pull it together so am hopefull.

I’ve got other plans for the year, but these 4 are the big ones that I’m going to focus on…

Time stops for no one

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve had a series of posts lined up, just needing photos or links addedthen some time passes and another post topic comes up…then more time passes…we can see where this is going. In short, I’m so freaking behind in posts that I could either forget those posts entirely, make a mega post with far too much info or just give a breif synopsis, which is what I’m going with.

First up, the basement. It is done and I couldn’t be happier about it! We will be eating red beans & rice for the forseeable future to pay for it, but our house will no longer burn down from the ancient knob & tube wiring or the shitty job some moron who clearly didn’t know the basics of electrical safety did. Al, the Electrician did an awesome job in making everything safe. Contractor Neil & his crew did a fabulous job with all the non electrical & I look forward to having him back in a few years time to do the kitchen reno. Chris & I have our bedroom set up downstairs so now the kids can each have their own rooms. By the weeks end, we should be done with the cleaning & painting the kids rooms. We had hoped to have them all set up by the end of October, but we hit a bit of burn-out so had a bit of a break.

(Please ignore the chaos, we are slowely getting the bits and bobs organized)

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My Girl Cave is everything I wanted it to be and more.

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In keeping with the creativity thing…I’m once again participating in NaKniSweMo. This time I think I stand a good chance of finishing too! I’m knitting Comfort Cardigan from some well aged Auracania Nature Wool Chunky from the stash.

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I also learned how to make moccasin’s earlier this month, but that will become it’s own post. My plan is to try to get back into the habit of weekly blogging, so things don’t pile up again & so my Mum can keep better tabs on me & my antics.

The end is in sight….

I realized the other day that our little house has been under going reno work since the end of April, that’s 5 months people! Five months of dust, debris & hammering, but it ‘s almost done and been totally worth it!

On Thursday we received a delivery of drywall, Roxul, doors and other sundry items. Friday, things got going.

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That stack of drywall in what will be our bedroom is 1/2 of what it was on Thursday.

Now that the walls are becoming solid fixtures, I am able to get a way better vision of the space, my spatial awarenss often leaves a lot to be desired which is why we had a last minute addition to the space. Originally, when the framing was done, there was no division between the laundry and the Girl Cave, after a chat with Neil the contractor, it was decided to add one as it served a few very usefull purposes.

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1st : at some point some Einstein decided to carve out a joist to allow for the drain for the tub in the loo on the main floor. I don’t have a photo of the damaged joist as I found it very upsetting. People, joists are important to the structural integrity of your house, which means, DON’T SCREW with them! Unless of course you want your house to fall down around you. The wall between the laundry and Girl Cave runs right under this weakened joist, shoring it up and preventing my tub from one day falling through the floor which would totally harsh my mellow!

2nd: the next thing to get renoed will be the kitchen, it is right above the laundry. There is no point in closing up the ceiling in the laundry only to have to open it all up in a few years to run a gas line for my dream stove (sexy eh?) and fix the plumbing. The wall gives Neil a clean & neat spot to end the drywall.

3rd: creates a room for the stuff you don’t want on display when one has guests and will just look much tidier than having the ceiling just end at a random spot.

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Where Nouka is sniffing around is where the loom is going to go. It’s super bright and has enough plugs that I can add additional task lighting.

It’s looking like everything will be done by weeks end, unless the reno gods want to have a laugh at our expense and we can start the painting!

We are not going to be finishing the floor (which was a major savings) but will seal & paint it then lay down area rugs where needed. Since basements have a habit of flooding at least once, it’s much easier to clean up a cement floor & replace an area rug than it is to rip up & replace laminate, sub floor and wall to wall carpeting, plus I find wall to wall carpeting unsanitary. If there had been more money in the budget, I would have considered heated tile, which may happen down the road after all the other stuff has been dealt with.

Do you hear that?

Neither do I…and it’s wonderfull. As of Monday, I’ve got the house to myself for a few hours each day. Correction, other than Al the Electrician and Neil the Contractor banging around in my basement, I’ve got the house to myself. I don’t mind the banging from the basement as that means we are getting that much closer to finished. The reno ground to a bit of a halt while we were waiting for an Electrical Inspector to come by and either give us a gree or red light. I was having quite the internal freak out that the inspector was going to find some teeny tiny thing in a deep dark corner and announce it all had to come out & the house be condemned. Unless the inspector was on crack, this was not going to happen, but I was freaking none the less. Yesterday, the inspector dropped by and gave Al the green light and my electrical panel a sticker.

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Let me show you the neat and tidy panel in it’s glory:

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I should have taken a before photo, the panel was not that organized prior to Al’s coming by. Neil figures everything will be done in another week and then we can begin the painting, shuffling of bedrooms and getting things back to normal until we reno the kitchen…but that won’t be for a few years, we need some recovery time.

Nine lights make the world of difference

Project Basement Reno is coming along nicely, there have been a few delays due to a vacation (the electrician), a move to a different city and general Life kicking my contractor in the pants, but in the past two days things went into overdrive!

Al the Electrician came in three weeks ago to tidy up all the dangling electrical so Neil & Troy could safely work & not die, then he went on vacation for two weeks which was a good thing as Neil the Contractor was moving to Hamilton at the end of July. With no burning panic to get the framing done, Neil was able to focus on his move and get himself & his family setttled in their new place and I was able to get the water tank relocated from the middle of the room and make a valliant attempt to remove the glue from the peel & stick tiles that someone had put down in the past.

Water Tank’s old home:

Water Tank’s new home: Much more practical n’est pas?


Before the goo remover was applied:

All that blackish staining is a mastic that was probably used on a previous tile that was not fully removed, on top of that was the glue used to adhere the crap peel & stick the previous owners put down. Removing old glue is a disgusting job!

I don’t have a decent After Goo Removal shot, but it looks way better! There is still some of the mastic left so I will be doing a second application once my laundry is done. I used an orange oil based product as I didn’t want to use the heavy solvents which stink to the high heavens so any remaining mastic after the 2nd application can be covered with the cement floor sealer we will use before painting the floor.

It was this past Monday, things really got going! Al arrived in the morning, we talked about what the common areas are going to be used for (Chris & I will each have a place for our respective hobbies and the kids will have play space) and what electrical needs we will require. As both Chris and I need good lighting for our hobbies, Chris more so than I,  as his involves some pretty detailed work, (each of those figures are under 2 inches, so yeah, the Man needs some damn good lighting!) Al made some suggestions, I deferred to his electrical experience and he got stuck in. There are now nine lights spread throughout the basement, they each have a compact flourscent Daylight bulb in them and MAN! does that ever make a huge difference! Crafters take note: You want these lights to help save on the eye strain! What was a dark cave of a basement, even after the walls & dark paneling were removed, is now super bright and not freaky to the kids at all!  Neil & Troy arrived a bit later and tackled the whacky “plumbing” behind my washer & dryer & finished the last bits of framing.

As of last night, there is another day’s worth of electrical to be done on the main floor of the house to switch over the last few lights, plugs & switches from k&t. Al has promised me that after he is done, I’ll be able to make toast & coffee AT THE SAME TIME without tripping a switch! Oh the luxury! Once the electrical is done, there will be an inspection to make sure all is kosher then Neil & Troy can insulate, vapor barrier & dry wall! If all goes to plan, everything will be ready for us to start painting when Chris goes on vacation in a week and a half.

So what does the basement look like now?

This is taken from the bottom of the stairs, looking straight ahead.

Rotating to your left:

The furnace & water tank are cozy in their little utility room

Continuing in the counter clockwise rotation:

Standing against the North wall of the basement, looking to the South. Utility room to the right of the image & wall on the left is seperating the kids play space from the laundry area. Second photo is a close up of Chris’ & my bedroom, it has it’s own small bathroom just to the left inside. We’ve decided on a pocket sliding door for our room. You can also see the door to the outside on the right of that picture too. My little 800sqft house has 4 doors that lead to the outside…


Lastly, the laundry space (please ignore my laundry, the washer & dryer weren’t hooked up for a few days), you can sort of see the floor and how much of the glue was able to be removed. Directly behind where I am standing for this photo is where Chris will have his computer desk & paint space set up. He has started referring to it as his “Cave of Shame”…this basement is far too well lite to be considered a cave! Just to the left of the grey wood paneling is the stairs back up to the main floor.

Since the guys won’t be in again till next week, I’m using this time to get the floor ready for painting by applying another coat of glue remover, scrubbing some pet stained spots then doing a final scrub down of the whole shebang with TSP. If I can haul some major arse on this, we might even get a layer of sealer on!

With opportunity comes some surprises

When we bought our little house eight years ago, we figured we would live here for 5 years then sell & move closer to the downtown. As time passed and the real estate market in this city got nuttier, we realized that plan was not going to work for us and we found we were totally okay with it.

Now that we have been here almost a decade we are finding more home repair jobs that are beyond our ability to fix on our own so we have had to make a list, check it twice of home repairs that will need to be dealt with over the next 10 years.

In April we had a surprise bathroom reno, one morning tiles decided they didn’t want to be attached to the wall any more leading us to discover a pipe in the walls had leaked, soaking the plasterboard. With the assistance of my BIL, the bathroom was taken down to the studs, which is when we found the knob & tube wiring… Initially we figured that this was all there was to be found and as our home is 65 years old, finding some was to be expected. We figured it was a simple bit of minor electrical until we went to isolate the breaker the bathroom ran on, which was when we discovered that the back half of the house ran on 1 breaker and the front was on a 2nd breaker. The only items on their own breaker were the stove, the furnace & the a/c unit…this totally explains why I couldn’t run the toaster and coffee maker, which are on opposite sides of the kitchen at the same time with out tripping the breaker!

With this discovery our initial reno plan had to go on hold until the electrical issues were resolved and we couldn’t resolve them until we had full access to the basement which wouldn’t happen until my sister no longer needed to use the apartment down there…we took comfort in the knowledge that the bathroom looked great and the new tub’s 14″ soaking depth!

Shortly after all of this, my sister got a job closer to her house and left the job she had in the city and her little apartment in our basement. For the first time since we moved in we had the WHOLE HOUSE to ourselves and could deal with the electrical! I was a little light headed with possibility!

The contractor was called in, he insepected the space, budget was discussed, plans were made, a dumpster was ordered and I spent about a week taking my basement down to the cinders.

Before the hammer dropped…

The nicest of the 6 layers of wood paneling. If there hadn’t been wiring issues and the whole basement had been finished with this paneling, we would never have touched it, but as they say “if wishes were horses…”

Some of the other styles of paneling:

While I was tearing down the wall with the sliding door that seperated the bedroom from the living space in the apartment, I found a hinged door had been sealed up in there…Other peoples reno’s often boggle one’s brain.

Deep in the throes of the demo.

One week and two very full dumpsters later, the basement was down to the blocks, electrical was hanging down everywhere and I looked like I had been beaten with a 2×4, which really wasn’t too far off the truth!

Last night the electrician came in to tidy up the wires that were hanging down so the contractor & his crew could safely work with out risk of electrocution. This “little” pile of wires is just the stuff that was hanging down and a small fraction of the k&t.

The basement looks considerably tidier and safer, without all the wires hanging down!

What are we going to do with all this new space? Well, the electrical work will take up the lion’s share of the budget, but since any future reno work will rely on our having proper wiring, we are taking the time & spending the money to have it done right the first time. Luckily, since my house is a bungalow, the majority of the wiring is in my basement ceiling! This makes life way easier for Al, the electrician as everything is exposed and there will be minimal poking of holes in my main floor walls. Neil, the contractor will be building Chris & I a bedroom along the back wall, a utility room to house/hide the furnace & water tank and put up some framing around the other walls so we can drywall down the road when we have some more money. The rest of the space will become a play room for the kids, the old kitchen space will now house my loom & craft supplies, Chris will get a proper painting space for his hobby but most important of all, we won’t be crammed up in the first floor of the house!

 

A nice little distraction

My little house is in a slight state of chaos as we are in the throes of a bathroom reno two years ahead of my schedule. Some tiles decided to fall off the wall and we discovered that the drywall behind it was anything but dry. Last Monday my brother in law and I started the demolition and discovered an unexpected surprise which will be increasing the reno costs and extending the time my house will be in chaos.

Thankfully, I have fibery pursuits to help take the edge off.

I’ve had a slightly productive few weeks of knitting and am more than a little behind with the documenting it. In March, I finished what is quite possibly my favouritest sweater. EVER!

Warriston by Kate Davies, knit using 2 & a bit skeins of Cascade Eco. I love it, it’s warm & comfy, everyone should knit one.

My little cousin turned 1 this month so I knit her a little cardi and an Aviatrix hat.

There are a few other things to share, but I’ll save them for my next post so that this one doesn’t become a massive, rambling behemoth.

Fingers crossed by weeks end I’ll have my new bathroom containing a tub with a 14″ soaking depth and be getting ready to fix the not so little unexpected surprise we uncovered. It’s a good thing I have a nice little yarn stash as I don’t see there being a yarn category in the budget for some time…

 

 

One busy week, down one to go

So much to blog about but I don’t want a rambeling long blog post so I’m going to give it to you in point form.

-Chris is on vacation this week and next week. It’s been nice an relaxing as we only made one or two plans and the rest of the time have been playing it by ear.

– The Green Earth Show was fun and I came away with so many ideas for the house. Bamboo flooring, tankless water system, in floor radiant hydro heating, pulling the forced air and installing radiators and one or two wind turbines for the roof (there is a great domestic design now available).

– Met with the bank people to discuss the renewal of the mortgage and how we can accomplish the environmentally friendly renos to the house I mentioned above.

-The TTC Strike messed up my plans to go to Amy and Jillian’s book launch at Lettuceknit, but Chris ordered in Indian for my birthday dinner and got me a Dairy Queen ice cream birthday cake.

– For those who haven’t seen it my hair is short and bleached blond. I LOVES IT!

-We finally took Abi to the ROM to see the Dinos. She loved it and keeps asking to go back.

– I made a triumphant return to knitnight and bought some yarn to celebrate.

– The above mentioned yarns (Noro Sock and Malabrigio Lace) are being knit into Danish shawls which have become my new obsession partially because they are simple yet lovely knits that do not require too much attention.

– Knitting on my two sweaters has stalled out.

– I have become a mad spinning fiend when I’m not a mad danish shawl knitting feind.

– Tonight me and the kids are going to the Farm for the weekend, Chris is going to stay here and play a lot of GTA and REALLY LOUD ROCKBAND (Amy if you hear the RAWK, it’s my Man and I apologize for any possible sleep loss you may experience). I expect a near spotless home upon my return!

– I have finally replaced the juicer I got as a wedding gift (and eventually killed) and have become a juicing queen (that’s going to get me some odd internet hits!)!

-This coming week I have a sewing date with Joyce and plans to take the Kids to the Zoo.

So yeah that’s what’s been going on. I figure I’ll return to my normal blogging schedule after next week.

Happy Earth Day!!!

And to celebrate I have ordered us a bunch of Worms! Chris is going to be so thrilled!

I have wanted a vermicomposter for years but our old apartment faced north and we were at the rear so we NEVER got any sunlight till sundown when a sliver of a ray slipped through the buildings across the street so having a container garden to use the castings was out but now I have two nice square foot veggie beds in my back yard that are the prefect dumping place for that blackets of golds! Can we tell I’m more than a little chuffed?

I’m also doing a whack load of research for our future renovations that will help to make the house more self sustaining and to help to reduce irritants to Abi’s asthma. So we are looking into installing a solar water heating system that will replace our water heater and forced air furnace by allowing us to install water radiators in the two bedrooms and one in the living room as well as install a hydronic radiant floor heating system in the basement. I would also love to install a roof top wind turbine like they have available in Europe which paired with regular solar panels I could conceivably go completely off grid! My main inspirations hav been Donnachadh McCarthy and the changes he has made to his 1840’s Victorian terrace home in London (if he can retrofit that house my 1946 bungalow shouldn’t be all that difficult) and the series “It’s not Easy Being Green” (I can only think of one other who can work a moustash like Dick!).

Other house plans include Bamboo flooring, low emission paints, window and door replacements. Our main obstacle is going to be financial, we don’t have in Canada (or North America for that matter) as many incentives and grants available as they have in the UK and Europe but little by little we will over time accomplish the goals as the money allows.

Nothing excites a girl more than…

A clean and organized basement!

Yes indeed people! My part of the basement is clean and organized!!!

Saturday my Sister and her partner in crime Peter came to town to run me up to Ikea where in typical Ikea style we almost bought more than could fit in the Range Rover. It was tight but we got it all in with only one minor causality, the dresser I found in the Scratch and Dent section got an extra scratch and dent. It was easily fixed with a Sharpie and some new screws.

The rest of Saturday and the better part of Sunday were spent assembling shelves and clearing out crap. Now we need to get a dumpster to clear out the crap in the garage.

So here is the handy work:

Please ignore my laundry…

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Those 5 bins hold my yarn stash.

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Kiwi, toys and my fleece stash (there is still an Alpaca fleece in my closet and the three fleeces being processed at the mill)

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My neglected make shift dye studio.

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We plan to sort through those boxes at some point to further stream line the clutter.
After we had finished with the basement we moved on to swapping bedrooms with the kids. Abi and Liam are now in the big bedroom along with almost all their toys and Chris and I have the small room. Last night was the first night with Liam in the crib in another room…it was weird but he slept from 9pm to 4am, fingers crossed he takes after my family and is a good sleeper. Abi doesn’t seem to mind sharing a room with her brother and likes that she can go into her room and play with her toys. The final room to get cleared out and rearranged is the dining/living room.

And here is a little something for Rachel H:

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Liam engaged in a serious case of fisty cuffs with Lambert the Brown Lamb (I do believe he is a Corriedale).