Back in the Saddle, Almost

Been away from home improvements for a while, focusing on my quilled greeting cards and part-taking in various craft sales.  A new year, a new eye for what I want to keep on with here.  Before I start up with that, as my wheels are still turning a bit, I want to mention the gloriousness of the BC Renovation Rebate.  My sister-in-law brought it to my attention a while back, but I put it out of my mind for a bit then happen to open up the Thrifty's magazine only to see an ad for a company that will do the rebate for you - kind of like paying someone to do your taxes - it's just something you sometimes need to do!

Anyhoo, took ALL our receipts for the renovation over to them and now we wait to see what happens next.  All that was required was our receipts, our building permit and a current utility bill.  The renovation to had to have happened within  the last 2 years as well.  Phew, made it.  From what we know so far we get 4% of the renovation costs back and the paperwork people take 20% our net for payment and only when we/if we get a rebate.

So excited by this and it needed to be shared in case you too are doing a renovation. I believe more than 50% of your home needed to have done a major renovation on it to qualify - all these facts are seen through your building permit. 

Here's hoping!

Here's a link...it's VERY hard to find information on this, yet another reason, other than a headache, to just get a pro to help you do it.


Hope you can use it too and I really hope it works out for us!



I know, I know, it's been a shameful amount of time past since my last post, but I've been a busy gal!  Maybe more than ever.  This is the year to watch less TV and do more stuff.  So far already I've started up 3 new hobbies and that TV has taken a back seat.  The renovation loose end tie ups are slightly suffering as well, but we're in and we're happy, it'll happen.  Still to do and should be done very soon, the remaining exterior Hardie joint caulking, us to finish the exterior painting, get the garage looking tickety boo once again so we can use it for something and not just sit there, landscaping, few down spouts are out of whack.  Think that's about it.  A list shall be made tomorrow for the contractor coming on Mon or Tues.  We also had the insurance adjuster come by to check it all out to make sure we have the correct coverage for our new digs.  Hope to get some new home perks - not sure if we're new or not.  More than half is so...

So my new fun things to do for myself and with the family are these:  Geo-Caching, quilling and learning to sew.  Geo-caching is such a great way to get out and enjoy where you live and go to places you may never have thought to go, or places you've been but not in certain nooks and crannies.  We've hid a couple of our own caches too, which have been fun to put together and set.  Two, mind you, had to be moved as they were too close to other ones.  Oh well.

 First cache found. We didn't want anything from it, the hunt was fun enough.

See, we would never have seen this and several other boats abandoned in this fairly high end neighbourhood if we didn't Geo-Cache.   Cool/creepy.

Quilling is something I discovered via Pinterest, land of inspiration.  I kept seeing all these amazing monogram swirly letters and they looked so interesting to me.  Upon further research I learnt what was involved and knew that it'd be something that would suit me.  I LOVE piles of paper and fabric so it just made sense.  It came to me when I started that as a child I would always be rolling little pieces of paper between my fingers and it flooded back once I started.  My friend from Designs in Bloom and I will be participating in some summer craft fairs this year.  She with her blooms and me with my quilled cards.  I busily create about 2/day to get a plentiful stock ready in case they sell well, I can hope.  Think I'll be going with the business name 'Essy M Craft and Design' I think, I don't know yet, I think.

 I love my craft room. So glad we planned for it as I use it every single day, many times a day.

He's my favourite so far.  You need to hear how 'hello' sounds in my head.  Give it some gust-o when you say it.  This looks pretty basic, but man, it was quite hard and time consuming, but fun, not worth it if it isn't fun.

Ha, I just went to upload a photo of my craft room and it looks like a paper and glue bomb went off it there so it shall remain in my album, not on my post.  Wow, taking photos of your spaces sure can make you see what you've got going on.  For me, a mess.

Learning to sew is my other project on the go and a major challenge for me.  I naively went to the fabric store the other day to buy what they consider a simple skirt pattern.  Got it home and ick, I had no idea how to read any of it.  Been about 23 years since I last read a pattern in Home Ec. so you can imagine how much info retained, none.  Couple nights ago I attempted to make 'kimono slippers'.  It sort of went OK.  I just need to slow down and take my time and it will come.  Friday I'll head to a friends so she can teach me how to read a pattern and get a jump on my skirt.  I adore skirts so I want to utilise my heaps of fabric and turn them into skirts, glorious skirts.

First try at kimono slipper making.  The right foot was made first, eep, left was next with much less frustration.  Trick is to use no pins whereas the instructions say to use many pins.   Not a fan of too many pins, ouch.

Oh and of course there's also my plant hobby.  I'm not extremely immersed in the plant world but I do find it rewarding when something you've started from seed actually turns into a real live plant.  Today I seeded up 69 tomatoes, 9 basil, 16 strawberry and 16 physalis (Chinese Lanterns) plants.  When I prioritise I'll also get out to the garden and fix it all up again.  It's such a mess from all the construction.  We plan to remove a section of plant beds at the front to make room for more grass so I'll pot some of that up as well and have a little plant sale again.  Did it a few years ago with some success. We've a very quiet street so not many passer bys (I had written 'walkers' just then, thought of 'Walking Dead' and got scared and removed it, oops, got scared again).

So yeah, that's why I've not posted lately. Far too much too think about and far too much to learn and have fun with.  I will, however, get a shot of the living room up soon.  Other than not having our new sectional yet it's pretty much done in there. It is what it is for the time being.  There are so many kids about and kids come with stuff so stuff there shall be in my house.  Full stop.


Craft Room!

This has been a loooooong, long, long time coming, but I've finally created a space for a craft room.  Mostly for me to dilly dally away at whatever I fancy and for others to come in and use it too.  The latter is ONLY if they promise not to mess it all up!!!  I have a serious goal on learning how to sew skirts and to get back into Sumi Painting or rather learn again how to do it.

It's not totally finished yet, but I feel pretty pleased on the difference in there from this morning until this evening.  The first run of photos are before - be gone!  Please note the holes in the roller blind that were caused by our cat when she first me the dog we temporarily had.  Climbed right up to the top then flew across the room out the door!

 This used to be the boys' room!  Two kids in a bunk bed, twas a little squishy for them.  Then it became the storage room during house reno time, then it became the last place to dump things while the other rooms were being set up.  This is also the only totally original part left in the house.  We wonder if was at some point some sort of bathroom, hard to say.  

 Felt a little bad taking motorcycle man off the wall.  He lived at the lower bunk level.
Hmm, wonder if I can find a photo of their old bedroom.  Would've have been silly not to have taken one.

 Love that original detail for the door header.

 This is it now.  Not loving that corner, but hubby needs to put his dresser some place.  That wee closet is now not usable as it opens to the 2 x 4's to the stairs.  I can still use it for craft punch storage hung from the door inside...still to happen.

These are the 'Janette' drapes from Ikea which I had originally chosen for the dining room.  They were feeling a little too jazzy for that room, but serve well for a creative space.  Superman may or may not stay, he's kind of fun.  

I may paint the walls a navy blue at some point or white, but everything seems to be white in our house right now so some wall colour might be a nice change.

 Used the boys' old Bakugan board for putting up things that are of the moment for me.

 Love a peacock lantern.  Doesn't really go with the room that great, but it's pretty fun so I'll go with it.

A nice contained area for all the rolls of things that are needed for whatever.

Yay, bought a Roomba today!  With all this new floor space sweeping has become a major and constant undertaking. It's had it's first run tonight and I look forward to many more days of it working for me.  It has been named 'Buckety Boo' and 'Guns' by the kiddos.


What I've Wanted

Is this. This is my most favourite (and most finished) part of the whole project so far.  This is in the non-TV end of our giant living room.  It's a place were we can set up a game of chess, read book (or magazine in my case) and have a cup of nice chai tea.  It's a place though, that I cringe if one of the kiddies start to play near because I'd REALLY like to keep these chairs looking crisp, white and new as long as possible.  I've already caught them being stood on and head stands happening.  Yes, I've many kids here during the day, but I have to put my foot down and keep this place for us grown ups.

I just adore these chairs.  I went to Home Outfitters to source out a completely different chair I spotted in their flyer.  Being a frugal gal I always look long and hard before I commit to something, UNLESS, it's on a huge deal such as these.  En-route to the chairs I went for was one of these set up in the clearance aisle.  Had to hunt down an employee to find out the price as the 30% off sign intrigued me.  She gave it a scan and it came up $146.99.  SOLD!  They started out at $299.99, down to $209.00 then the $146.99 then I signed up for a Bay card to receive another 15% off!  Now at first I declined said card as I know store credit cards have ridiculous interest rates that I have no interest in having, but sometimes the thought of saving even more can win.  OK, I did it, but paid it off within the week so not to get trapped.  $125 per chair is steal for something I was in love with.

Snapped a photo to send to hubby to make sure he didn't hate it.  His response "don't like the pattern, but look comfortable".  That's a yes in my opinion.

I'm not a complete meany, I saved the two giant boxes for them to make their two bedroom fort, complete with Christmas decorations.

Let's talk this fireplace too.  As I mentioned before, we opted not to go with another wood burning stove as it would ballpark at around $6000, no thanks.  After checking in with my previous employer who sold these (Large Wave by Blomus), as well as over the internet, I found that this model had been discontinued by Blomus, dashing all hope that I would own it.  I was just about to go with another make then remembered that used sites sometimes hold the key.  That's exactly what happened.  By pure luck, a local fireplace showroom was selling their never used floor model for a fraction of it's normal price.  As I recall, these retailed for $2400, I nabbed it for $500 without any haggling.  On top of that deal, the seller threw in 6, 4 litre jugs of the ethanol fuel that it runs on.  SCORE!

Anyhoo, on with dinner.  Soon to follow, dining room and dining room progress.



Well, it's finally happened, I hit the renovation wall.  Sick, that's what I am.  I haven't been sit around sick since last Dec.24 and I know what to blame...myself.  You can really get caught up in the process of finishing  your home especially with a deadline that was created.  Also, taking care of one's self doesn't feel like priority when you've got wee ones, day care ones and rooms to be loved.  We've about 18 coming for Christmas dinner, which we are hugely looking forward to, so wanted everything to be tickety boo.  I think we'll mostly make it (other than the exterior) and if we don't, well that's OK.  Not like we'll be judged and it's really only a self-inflicted deadline so the only ones we'll disappoint is ourselves, well mostly me, but whatever.

I sure hope to complete the downstairs bathroom this weekend.  I'm going to study up on what I can about DIY board and baton and give it a go.  I've never used a chop saw, or any other kind of saw for that matter, so I'm going to face my fear of losing a body part and just go for it, safely.  Watching these guys cut shingles while balancing on scaffolding makes me think it can't be that hard to try it on solid ground with a supportive husband showing me the ropes.  It's one of the rooms I was most excited about seeing complete, but so far it's been the most neglected which is a downer.

Well, off I go to my sofa perch for a little while longer.  I can only give this cold one more day so it best co-operate with my plans or else.


The End of the Beginning...

Well it's bitter sweet that tomorrow is likely the last we'll see of our fantastic contractor and his crew.  Sure something may come up in future that was missed and he, of course, said he'd be back whenever we need him, even for the small things we might usually do ourselves.  Tomorrow is finish up our list of odds and end day.

Every week day morning at 7:30 since about May 10th? we've seen their faces, almost always smiling. It's funny how you get to know these people without really knowing them at all, but you pick up on their character and what they might be like in their private lives.  Crews changed a bit since start date, people came and went, his family helping out as well, but everyone was equally as friendly and skilled in their arena's.  The sub-contractors such as electricians, concrete layers, plumbers - you get to know their faces.  Sure, some needed  more guidance than others, but Tony (contractor) always dealt with any issues promptly.  Sometimes dialling on his cell phone to solve it as I finished my sentence.

We did fairly well on budget.  Really only going over with windows because we chose different styles than projected.  The kicker was the rot.  You can't plan a number for rot.  We knew going in that we needed a buffer on top of our estimate.  That buffer never fully needed to be used, but with almost $7000 in repair to the rotten posts and crumbling foundation, our trip to Disney will be on hold for a wee bit.  Catch our breaths!  It's OK, "they" say to allow 10% for the unforeseen and we were well under that so we won't complain.

The only payment we felt was unnecessary, or at least, outrageously expensive, was the hazmat test.  $1000 for a test to tell us we have lead in the original house paint.  Our house is 100 years old, there'll be lead.  Yes, it's safety first in case of asbestos or what have you, but as it was pointed out to us, if that's the case they would just shut down the job site and deal with it.  Instead, to obtain permits, we needed this ridiculous test that maybe took up 4hrs in labour to accomplish.  Just my opinion, you may have a different one.

Anyway, tomorrow it's come to completion, oh, and then the inspection for occupancy then we can relax and enjoy the work we've done ourselves and done by others.  We're happy, very happy.

So from here on out it'll be posts on decorating, diy, gardening and whatever else is floating around in my mind that applies to this project.  Can't wait.  Just finished freshening up the dining room paint so I'll shut this down and go put the furniture in it's forever home (yeah right, I re-arrange every 6 months!).  Not before I Pledge the piano though, it's very thirsty and sad.

Been a good experience and I'm glad we asked our neighbour way back in December '11 how much theirs cost.  Being a nosey neighbour has reaped the rewards!



A Bag of Joy

 What's in the package you ask?

Dining room drapes (left), living room cushions (top right), living room chess playing chairs (bottom) and perhaps kitchen curtains (chevron).  All need to be sewn, of course, da-link.
Thanks Tonic Living :)

Now I'm very inspired to get going on the dining room, so tomorrow I shall begin!


Halo Room

Well other than a few door knobs, this room is done.  Sure, it'd be great to have this all staged perfectly for blog purposes, but let's face it, this room is for a 4 and 8 year old.  This is as magazine ready as it's going to get.  Sure, matching duvets and California shutters would be nice, but we're not going to dish out a heap of money for something that might not get the care it deserves.  They're not animals, but picking up after themselves is still a lesson being learnt.  Being the long, dark nights, blinds are not quite necessary just yet so I'm keeping my eye out for a really good solution for window coverings.  I do have some drapes left over from the old house that aren't being used but they won't go that well.  Blinds of some sort or romans would be the best idea so I'll work on it.

Some creative differences had to be resolved between my 8 yr old and myself about how the Master Chief decals could be jazzed up a bit for an over all gray room (done with General Paint's 'Canada Goose' walls with 'Arctic Circle' trim).  I thought a yellow strip zipping around the room would look smashing, but he had other ideas of a bullet of some sort instead.  After taping off what I thought he wanted I was soon corrected and that I just didn't hear him right.  Tape be gone and redone as per his instructions.  He's very happy with it and it's his space so I'll keep my raised eyebrows and crooked grin quiet.

Here it is...

 This is someone's cruel joke to make the rest of us put it together.  The teenager who sold it to me at 'Seeing is Believing' told me to come back if I needed help as she can do it in 5 minutes!

 15 minutes in...find I need a beer to make this happen.  
Granville Island Winter Ale = mmmmm

 Nope, that's not right, I went to bed only to face it again in the morning.  Voila, done in 5 minutes!

Not before we had a Mr. Bean in the turkey moment.
Please turn a blind eye to our messy garage living situ, it wasn't pretty near the end there.

 Master Chief needed some zippy ground lines.  Didn't want them to be opaque and fight with the image so it's just a wisp of colour.

 Laser, bullet, whatever you want to call them - yellow lines being taped off.  

 Hey, hey, now that I like.  I found Master Chief via a find on Ebay.  Came from the UK where a friend happened to be visiting so she picked them up for me saving on the shipping.  Since I ordered two they gave me these custom 5' images for 19 pounds each.  Not too shabby.  Wee regular ones wouldn't have looked right. 

 J's is in 'current red'

 O's is in 'orange'

 This green light seriously messes with my eyesight.  If you look at it for any period of time then walk out into another room everything is then red.  We have other lamps in the room so they don't go squirelly reading their books.  Ack, it's hurting my eyes even now!
Pretty awesome though.  That's my idea for a 'laser line'.

 This is O's idea for the 'bullet line' after take 1.



As of right now AHR has had 5000 visitors!  When things have settled down around here I hope to revamp the site a bit to reflect the type of blog format I really like.  I am getting a little more comfortable with computers (those who know me may laugh at that) so I'll give it a try.

Thanks for reading, Halo post is coming soon.


Taking Inventory

It feels great to start thinking about art placement.  I hauled out a good number of what we have and placed them around the house where I think they might end up.  Upon doing this I realised many of the walls were pretty scuffed up since they were first painted. Out comes Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or an touch up session in the near future.   Managed to hang 3 so it's a start.

Time to hit Home Sense and broaden my style of picture frame since I seem to have umpteen Ikea styled ones.  Meh,  I'll get to it.

The Contractor trailer is now out of the drive and the number sign has been hung (crooked so that must be fixed) so we're at the finish line.  Still the remaining shingles to be hung and the drywall repair at the electrical panel.  Few bits here and there as well.  I'm anxious for the drywall part to be done then I can paint in the dining room and get 'er done.  Boy, I'm saying that A LOT lately.  There is, of course, 75% of the exterior still to paint, but it's too chilly and iffy rain wise right now to really get a jump on it.  Maybe we'll start at the front and work our way to the back so the neighbours can look at something purdy.

Dinner time then caulk some trim work...then fill nail holes...then sand said fill...then clean up the fill dust...then paint...then take a step back and enjoy some sweat equity (saw that written in a real estate write up once and I almost contacted the agent thinking he had meant to write 'sweet'.  Now I get it after years of home ownership and what comes with it and what you'll do to not hire someone to do it for you).

Checking it all out.  Missing some important ones there, but they're safer in their storage spot.


Finishings Started

Gee, not sure how long I can type for as my arm is tired from holding it up for so long tightening screws.  I plan on drop kicking half my shoe shelf for my closet into next week.  I haven't grown my 3rd arm yet to smack it into place while I hold it so tomorrow I'll get the guys to trim it down a half inch to make it fit.  Being 4" too short and afraid of going up taller ladders doesn't help.  Got the other half of the 'L' in so there's that small triumph.  I REALLY wanted to get those shoes up there today darnit.

I have a sinus ache so I think I'm getting a little crankier than I should be, but that's me.  Some upsides for the day are... banister and railings are in, trim work is getting finished off, siding is almost complete, tub is now in the yard and not the kitchen (and listed on a used site), kids are happy with their new Halo 4 game, I got a scrap shelving piece for one shoe shelf side (say that 10x's fast) for free, and I had a very peaceful moment at the beach with my Salted Caramel Mocha made with Soy from Starbucks all by myself.

Some down sides are that there are new guys in the crew who didn't know the paint scheme plan so installed some pre-painted trim in the wrong place, defeating the purpose of pre-painting them.  I'll have to just let it go as we have to get up there anyway and do touch up so it'll get done then.  Too chilly and wet (sunny today though) to worry about it now. Woke to no hot water as after the electrical run through on Monday the breaker never got turned on again for the tank so it cooled slowly until today when it was icy.  Hot water breaker wasn't marked so it wasn't obvious what the problem was.  The electricians showed up promptly to deal with it and installed a new kitchen heater.  I think that's all for my grumbling.

Here are some new photos!

This is what it was like Saturday...

 ...and by Sunday - not finished by any means.  I've some lovely curtain fabric on order and it will be painted a gray/green called 'Juan de Fuca'

 By end of today.

 ooh, looky, more to clean and paint.

 No risk of people falling off the second floor - oh what a worry it was.

 All for Master Chief will be revealed shortly.

 AHH!  Funny thing at the lumber yard today...I was loading my shelves into the trunk where we had stored (don't know why there) our hallowe'en realistic skeleton.  A man walking from his car to the store looked very concerned, perplexed and a little curious if I had a cadaver in my trunk.  I assured him it was just a hallowe'en decoration and he was glad thinking it was my husband.  It really is a real looking item.  

 Gaping hole gone.  Foundation fixed ($3400 later).

Just things put wherever for now, but that ethanol burning fireplace by Blomus and Ikea drapes really do look sharp.

 Sectional and TV shopping this weekend I hope.  The litter box will not be staying in the living room!

Why you hire people to do this.  Someone will have a few words patching that spot!

3/4" trim decided on to finish off the edges.  Nice, chunky pieces would not have worked.  This will be fine when the bull nose is added.  Caulking, staining and painting await.

Until a few days when I'm sure it'll all look different again!