Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bathroom update

It's crazy how much work this whole basement project is.  And it's crazy how much brain space it takes up.  I'm checking out the quality and installation of baseboards wherever I go, looking for good/bad drywall installation, noticing tile patterns and flooring.  I'd like to turn it off, but I can't.

And everything is harder than it seems.  I know how to install light fixtures, have done them before.  But these ones came with really long screws so they don't fit flush.  And the screws kept falling while I was trying to line them up with the holes.  I usually keep my language pretty clean, but I had to make loud sounds in order to get Yvon down to help.  And although I usually do the fix-its around here, he often has practical advice that keeps my language family-friendly.  In this case, we put tape on the backs of the screws and they stayed put.  Tape.  Who knew?

A friend came over and pulled one of the fixtures off the wall to see what I'd done and now he is willing to come by and help.  But when?  Everyone is so busy that I hesitate to ask for any favours that involve time.  I may take another stab at it.  I have another idea that just might work.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that laying lino was easy.  A bit awkward in the cramped space, but I was done in about an hour and it looks great.

One day last week Laura had to wait 20 minutes to get into the bathroom in the morning and then had to make it an up-do hair day as a result.  If the school would allow it, a hat would have been a great option.  I vowed that we would shower downstairs on the weekend.

That was my big push.  Now that the floor and shower are sealed, I just need to get the shower fixture installed.  I didn't think it would be hard (I've had it talked through), but it seems that one of the brass holes on the inside of the wall isn't threaded properly and I can't get it on.  AAARRGH! Foiled again. By a tiny hole and a screw.

AND I tried the shower anyway and can't get any hot water.  None at all.  The plan now is to get the sink in place and call the plumber to finish the job.  If there is no hot water, it's their fault, and if that screw hole really isn't threaded properly, it's also their fault.  They bought and install the internal parts for me.  It's so frustrating.  Nothing should have been this hard.  I paid people to get the hard stuff done.  Or so I thought.

With the success of the lino, I had to try one more light fixture before going to bed one night.  After all the swearing over the bathroom lights, this one went up with no problem.  I wish I was using these fixtures everywhere.  So easy.  I can't find my picture, but it's just a simple, small fixture.  Nothing fancy.

Next up...laminate flooring and ceiling trim.  It looks like a lot of flooring, but it's just enough to do the 2 bedrooms and the hallway (when we get there).

And learning to use this awesome big power tool borrowed from a friend.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Independant living

Not totally.  They're not that grown up, but they are looking forward to having their own rooms.  Their owns spaces to personalize. 

Beth and Laura have been sharing a room for years.  Before that, Laura and Alice shared, and before that Beth and Laura again.

Until moving out of their shared room in order for demolition to happen, Laura had never had her own space.  Now she shares a cramped space with all of the contents of the cold storage, a bedroom and a bath, a hallway closet and understairs storage.  It's full and a total mess, but she's alone for the first time.  By choice.

I think they miss each other though.  Beth is all the way upstairs while Laura remained in the basement.  

They borrow each other's clothes all the time, so it makes sense that they remain close.  And I do hope that they continue to visit with each other for nightime chats.  The new layout of their end of the basement looks like this:

And the current state?  So exciting!

This will be Laura's room.

Perhaps it's just a rectangle, but it will be HER rectangle.  And she has design plans that I won't reveal here.  Not yet.

Oh, and it's not just a rectangle.  It's a rectangle with a window she will be able to crawl through if she needed to (not to escape us - let's be clear about that!) and one with insulation in the walls for warmth, and in the floor for warmth and water barrier, and in the ceiling for sound.  It's cozy.

And it's also a rectangle with a closet.  Something she's never really had before either.  Not one of her own and not one without pipes running through it.

It's upside down right now, but this is an outlet that kind of excites me.  

Did you notice?  Two USB charging outlets.  Nice.  It is just above where her dropleaf desk will be installed.

Beth's room is not much bigger, but she has two things that I can't wait to see finished. 

The area above that stool will be a 7 foot desk surface.  With shelves spanning the wall above it.  She also has the USB outlets and will have under-shelf lighting for her desk.

Do you know why that is all exciting?  Because one day she will move out of the house and I will move my sewing machines there!  I'm not allowed to dream out loud about that too often because I don't want her to feel like I'm pushing her out of the house quite yet.  I'd really like her to stay home during her university years.

But still.  What a nice sewing room it will be.  I'm just saying.

But I didn't say that again.  I'm keeping my excitement hidden.

And this wall is going to be really quite awesome too.  

In the past we just shoved boxes under the stairs from the opposite side.  We had to stoop and climb between the furnace and hot water heater to get anything out of there.  Now it is a closet and drawers will be built between the studs.  No dresser required.

And the fabric you could stash there....No, I didn't say that out loud either.

And their room are only divided by the shared bathroom, so the sharing of clothes, accessories and late night sisterly chats can still go on.  It's all pretty cool.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Halloween 2014

No snow!  That was the big excitement for me this Halloeen.  Often we have deep snow, deep cold and puffy costumes.

Not this year.

Alice went as Alice-Backwards.  I loved the idea of that.  It looked better during the day when the face on her back was properly tucked in and her backwards shoes hadn't broken off.  And her friend went as a phoenix.   

I don't watch Adventure Time, but Beth went as Fiona.  I loved her hat and the knee-high socks were cute.  She didn't trick-or-treat but wore it all day at school. 

I was told that I was also a Fiona.  Fiona from Shrek, although I wasn't trying to look like an ogre.  Apparently that's what people thought though.

It hurt my feelings.  

 But don't worry. I've got tough ogre skin and grew up in a big family, so I'm over it already.

There were mixed feelings about the hair.  I hated the way it looked but really wanted to not look like myself this year.  At work everyone thought maybe I should die my real hair this colour because it was a good look.  Not gonna happen.  

My favourite this year was Laura though.  I mean, Luna Lovegood.  

All Value Village and homemade or scrounged from her own clothes, she's a great little magician. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The new bathroom

Okay, so it's been a bit of a journey.  And now I know why no one blogs about bathroom renos.  They are not pretty.  It's not like taking pictures of an ugly light fixture and then replacing it with a beautiful chandelier.

This involves mud.  And concrete.  And dark, damp places.

Lovely as it was, we had to tear out this:

 To reveal some of this:

That beautiful copper pipe was sitting smack dab in the middle of the space that was to become the new bathroom.  It's had to design around a centre pipe.  It had to go.

And that standing water?  Not a good sign.

After days of breaking up old, thick concrete, the big plumber with the sore back told us that the copper had rusted away in places and the water had been draining directly into the soil under our floor instead of being whisked away through the pipe.  If we hadn't moved the water main, we wouldn't have known that and our basement would have flooded in time.  Good timing then.

And why did that big plumber have such a sore back?  Because the 2 days job was actually 5 days of jackhammering and carrying lumps of concrete and clay up the stairs (or out the window).  And then mixing heavy concrete and filling it back in. 

Now we have a sump pump (which has not once to our knowledge turned on because the water IS draining away through our new pipe) and a backflow preventer.  Both good things.  Ugly things, non-photogenic things but things that will keep our floors dry.

And the big pipe is now about 6 feet over, allowing us to have a bathroom and 2 bedrooms!  Yay! 

It's still not pretty, but 5 months later, this is where we are.

That's the corner where the toilet will go, and that's the shower that I can't wait to put into use.  There will be a light above the shower, and I sure hope the vanity lights will light up that toilet corner.  I have been assured that it will be fine.

The drywaller ran out of time today to finish the vanity area and the concrete-board areas above the shower.  We're still trying to think of creative ways to hide the water meter (which couldn't be moved) and the cleanout drain without blocking in the toilet.  

How do you search for that on Pinterest?  I'm getting nothing. We'll figure something out though.  It will likely be something custom built by our builder.  He seemed to have some ideas.

And the non-drywalled portion of this wall is going to be a built-in storage unit from IKEA. 

Two of these beside each other fill the space between two studs perfectly. 

Lots and lots of mudding and taping and then it'll be our turn to paint, tile and lay some flooring.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Big Project

I've made reference to our basement renovation a few times.

It's been going on forever, but the more I read about other renovation projects, this isn't actually that bad.  However, we're nowhere near done.

I thought I took a bunch of before pictures, but apparently the basement was so ugly I never took the camera down there.  I do want to document the process a little bit though.

After months of cleaning the garage, and getting rid of things from every room upstairs and down, we finally took some steps towards getting rid of our semi-finished basement.

This is the moldy bathroom that we lived with for years.  The raised floor was mostly rotten away and there were areas I couldn't step for fear of breaking through.  We kept it because the alternative was to live with one bathroom.

We had actually started tearing it apart years ago by ripping down the ceiling panels and a huge unusable jacuzzi tub.  The plan at the time was to create storage where the tub was and fix the bathroom in the same basic layout without the mold.

Then the upstairs bathroom had an emergency and our money had to go towards fixing that one first.  The basement stayed moldy and now half torn apart for about 3 years.

It started to become a storage space.  Mostly for junk and excess building supplies and tools from the upstairs bathroom.

And this was the girls' bedroom.  I loved it when we first painted it.  And it did work for a few years, but they started to want their own rooms.  And the windows weren't to legal code, being too small to crawl through.

This is what it looked like when we last decorated it.

It was a pretty big space and the girls crammed a lot of furniture and stuff in there.  And it looks cozy in that picture, but it never looked that tidy ever again. 

After a bit of demolition, it looked like this.

And a bit more demo...

Under the yellow-painted paneling was another layer of paneling with cute horsies on it.  It looks like this room may have been original to the house.  We took the opportunity to write on the walls.  Just because we could.

And those weird block of colour on the walls?  They had glued blocks to the foundation in order to attach thin strapping to the walling so that the paneling could be nailed to something.  Glue.  Hmm.  And notice the total lack of insulation.  I think we can do better than that.   

More on The Big Project later.  It's an ongoing thing, but it's most definitely progressing to an exciting stage.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Putzing Day

The days of putzing around the house are what I miss most now that I'm gainfully employed.  This is the kind of day I used to love as a stay-at-home mom, especially once all the girls were in school.  Admittedly I didn't have a lot of them because I did contract work and then part-time work, and the days with no volunteer activity, field trips, or sick children weren't all that high.

However, it's how I'll remember those years.

Wandering around the garden, pulling a few weeds, harvesting and storing a few vegetables, coffee with a friend... whatever the day happened to bring.  It was always different.

Saturday was sort of like that.  So much going on, yet not much really planned.

It started with an early drop-off at a fundraising activity for Beth.  While on the south side and having an hour or so to kill before dropping Alice off at her Engineering for Girls class (I know - how cool is that!), I thought it was time to introduce Laura and Alice to the Sugarbowl Cafe, an old Edmonton institution.  They don't look happy, but they really were.

Oh my!  Their cinnamon buns are so great and the smell wafts through the door as you walk in.

Luckily we were there early, as the lineup went out the door by the time we left just before 9:00.

Going to the south side feels like leaving town for me.  I rarely cross the river, so Laura and wandered through some shops we never visit.  The antique mall and Home Reusables.  We've got the basement renovation and decorating on our minds lately.

By the time we got home, the house smelled like crabapple jelly that Yvon decided to try.  Yummy!  And pretty as a picture, although I didn't take one!

I went back to get Alice and came home to a slightly tidied yard and a fire going in the pit.

They burn fast, but we had a small mountain of 2x4 ends to burn off and are now starting on the old framing strips that were torn off the foundation walls.  It's still beautiful fall weather, but we know the snow can come any day now and I don't want that wood pile buried for months on end.  I'd like it burned out of sight.

All afternoon I fed that fire, and had a lovely visit from my blogger friend.  She is the administrator behind the "Chicken Retirement Home in the Country" and had come to pick up some new residents.

Alice is the best chicken whisperer in the house.  She snuck up on them and caught them one-by-one for their final goodbyes.

Goodbye, Velvet!  You were always my favourite.  And your green eggs were the most abundant and consistent of all your sisters.  I already miss the life in the yard.

That night Yvon and I celebrated our 20th Anniversary by attending a play in the old theatre in Fort Edmonton.   I will never tire of Fort Edmonton and it's so beautiful at night when abandoned by the tourists.

All in all, a beautiful and busy day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Morning inspiration

Forgive the photos, but it's very dark when I get up in the mornings.

And it's very dark when I try to put an outfit together.  And my brain is still too foggy at that time to deal well with this:

This is generally what my drawers look like.  These are all knits and wrinkle-proof, so I don't usually care how I shove them in there.  They start off folded, but then when I'm searching for that little black tank top or the thin thing that likes to hide under the rest, it all gets yanked around and messed up.

It's very frustrating and hard to deal with while also dealing with morning brain-fog.

Probably the tidiest area of Beth's room are the bins of clothing under her bed.  She doesn't have or want a dresser and the bins work for her right now.  I suspect she'll love the having her built-in drawers and closet in the near future, but this works for now.  She folds her tops and lines them up vertically.   She can see everything in a glance.

I tried that this morning with one drawer.  Now my drawer looks like this and I found a top to wear in the process.

The other will get done tomorrow morning, or the first morning when I can't find "that special something".  Or I'll always dress out of the organized drawer.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The first impression

I was talking to someone recently about shoes.  She was curious how many shoes she owned.  The answer?  15 pairs.  And she thought that was reasonable for one person.

It probably is.  I mean, summer alone means flipflops, runners, black sandals, red sandals, something in brown, something with a heel, something for hiking, something for in the garden.  And in the winter:  warm boots for activities, closed toe shoes for church and work in black, brown and maybe red, fancy boots, something with a heel for indoor use only, something good for walking without slipping, something waterproof for the slushy days, etc.

The list goes on and our seasons here all overlap.  The weather can change 30 degrees in one day.  You can't really just pack away the off-season pairs.  I guess flipflops in January aren't likely, but they aren't really the space problem.

Okay.  So 5 people x 15 pairs of shoes  =  75 pairs of footwear and no closets at either the front or back doors.

The first impression at either door was generally just had a pile of footwear.  A mess.

This is what I found at a thrift shop.

When I say "no closet", I guess we do have that wardrobe.  Typical of other antique wardrobes though, this one has a shelf up top and three hooks on the inside.  Not terribly useful because I can do similar math for our coats and jackets for the five of us.  Where do those go?  And backpacks and purses?  It's a bit of a problem.  

Anyway, I wasn't sure it would look okay or that people wouldn't just kick their shoes off and leave them everywhere as we're used to doing.

The colour was perfect!  And we're all being very good about putting shoes in drawers (we all have assigned drawers).  And the drawers hide it all. 

I just stacked the two units and that still gives me a place to throw (or place gently) my laptop bag.

And the hooks on the wall - I love that.  

I bought that years ago and didn't have an immediate use for it.  Now it hangs just a few purses and jackets.   I don't want anything long or overly bulky there, but this works.

One day I'll take a picture of the inside of that wardrobe and show you the inefficiencies there, but we're working on it.   I think shelves through the whole thing would work.

And the back door?  Still a mess, but that's an area that will be fixed as we get a new backdoor, rip out the drywall, refinish the stairs to the basement and get rid of the toddler hooks that our teens don't need anymore.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A sweet new ride

It came at a cost though.  A cost that I wouldn't personally want to pay, but we didn't have any choice in the matter.  We really haven't seen the price tag yet, because Alice may be hiding her true feelings, but if it was me, the price would have to be "fear".  Even if Alice presumably paid the biggest price, Yvon and I are still left with the fear.  Fear of our girls getting seriously hurt.  Fear of losing one of them.  It was scary.

One day last month Alice was riding her bike home from school and was hit by a car.

My first thought when I saw this bike on the lawn was anger.  Why would someone purposely bash up a bike while locked up at the school?  Senseless vandalism.

It was quickly corrected by my older daughters, saying that Alice and Yvon had gone to the Emergency because Alice had been hit by a car.  She seemed okay, walked part of the way home, but she was just getting checked out to make sure.

I'm glad that my naive mind doesn't jump to the nasty by default, but fear didn't really strike until my neighbour came across to ask for a status on Alice's health.  I knew less than he did because he had been there when Yvon rushed home and he had seen Alice before they left.  I didn't have the benefit of sight at all. Yet he is the one who thought of the internal bleeding issues that can come later, the shock and adrenaline that allows people to walk normally on broken bones....all followed quickly with "Not that that is what happened to Alice!" as he must have seen the fear creep into my face.

I was originally just thinking what a waste of time this all was.  That we needed to be at piano lessons by 7:00, that I had choir to attend and a friend to pick up first.  That now Alice didn't have a ride-able bike.  That we would have to get it fixed, and fast or she may develop a fear of riding over the long winter thinking about her accident.

They were away for hours at Emerg and by the time we drove to see what was going on, the nurse told me they had left, although they hadn't been released.  Why would they leave without being released?  That part turned out to be untrue.  Alice had been Xrayed and allowed to leave with just scrapes and bruises to contend with.

We then went to the Police where Yvon was transcribing Alice's official police report.  It was a relief to see her, to hear her talking calmly about what happened and answer the policewoman's questions.  It was not a happy site to see her tears as the police made her feel partially responsible for the accident.  There were things she could have done perhaps, but ultimately the driver of the car was behind her, should have seen her and been able to stop in time.

However, all seems to be well.

The picture above doesn't really show all the damage.  The entire frame was bent beyond repair and we'll be giving it to the Bicycle Commuter's Group for parts once we take the kickstand off.

Courtesy of the drivers' insurance company, we picked up a new bike and helmet.  While the rest of us live with free hand-me-down bikes, Alice has a sweet new bike that should last for years because she is now into a full size frame and tire.  Some of us are more than a little jealous but we'll get over it.

She has stated that she doesn't want to ride alone right now, but she also says she is not scared of her shiny new bike.  Snow is predicted in the near future, but on the weekend it was warm and we went for ride.  She seemed fine, even excited, to be riding her new bike.

As we say in church, God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.  Things could have gone very differently and we're very grateful.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

String Art

Part of clearing our basement for renovation was to prune our belongings, and then once pruned, we also had to find places for what we had left.  The stuff we couldn't bear to part with.  After boxes and boxes of books were brought to Goodwill we were still left with a lot.

Since painting our bedroom, I'd been thinking of using that big blank wall for display purposes.  We don't have much in the way of nice knick knacks or art, but books are beautiful and we've got a lot of those. 

A better handyman would have have the holes patched where our plugs didn't work.  A better handyman would have patched the holes in the ceiling where the old track lighting used to be.  Or a good blogger would photoshop them out to put on a spotless show for their readers.

I'm neither of those.  The plan is to patch the holes when we've got the tools and filler handy while working in the basement. 

Anyway, the original idea was to provide a place for those books, but also hopefully have some blank spaces.  And I wanted to try my hand at string art. 

Not your 1970's camp art, but kind of.  There are some interesting images of string art on Pinterest.  I've done the 1970's string art, sort of like this:
Vintage 1970s Mod Owl String Art Wall Hanging...not exactly a DIY now, but maybe I could learn how to do this!
 Now I had in mind to do something more like this:

But "dream"?  That's right up there with "Live, Laugh, Love" for me.  I'm pretty tired of it. 

While looking for those images just now, I finally read how others have done this project.  Cork.  Hmm.  We did it the hard way with nails and wood.

Anyway, a few banged fingers later, here are our versions of new millenium string art. Do you recognize it?  Bonus points if you do!

I love the detail Laura put into the background of her project.  

Alice had a totally different idea.  I love how complicated the most simple shape can be. 

It deserves more space on our shelf, but that's all we have room for right now.  After we have our basement back, maybe we can spread our belongings out a bit again.

I wanted to do two projects.  Seeing as how it's our master bedroom, I thought I would do a Y and an E.  Although it was a small project, apparently it was too ambitious for me.  I managed to get the Y done.

I've never managed to successfully paint a distressed background.  This is a section of shelving board from our ripped out cold storage.  Truly age distressed.  

As an aside, see that cute yellow duck?  I keep him because it's the first present given to me by my girls that they picked out themselves.   Years ago I had casually mentioned that I liked it while in the cashier's line at the grocery store.  Weeks later I opened it for my birthday.  I love that little guy. 

And this is my second project.

 I'd have it done if all the hammering could be done in front of the tv.  The Y looks lonely on the shelf (in spite of the ducky companion), so I still plan to do it. Again, a better blogger would do her Big Reveal when the project is finished, but I couldn't wait for that.  Neither a good blogger, nor a good handyman.  That's me.