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Archive for the ‘making do’ Category

It’s almost like we knew. We planned holiday travel for February instead of our usual May, and we blocked rentals on the cottage until late July so we could “enjoy it ourselves.”

And here we are, enjoying it as much as is possible in these unprecedented times. We can go out, work on the property until we are so tired we sleep deeply, and take a walk on the beach when we need to see a bigger piece of the sky. We are so lucky to have this option. Each day it sinks in a little deeper that this is likely to be our principle home this year. So, let the projects begin! Might as well make this time count.

We are rebuilding a shed, revamping the garden, tearing down an old deck, clearing massive amounts of overgrowth and then…well we’ll see. This may be the biggest transformation the place has seen in decades, so better document it here for our records.

A rotting and dangerous deck that predates us must go.
Ditto this shed, to be replaced with a larger and more weatherproof version.
This topsoil isn’t gonna spread itself.
But also making time (like that is hard) for health and wellness.

Hereafter: more pictures for the most part, to record our progress and our errily quiet lives at this most unusual time.

Sidebar, I’m going to learn how to drum via the internet, lose 4 pounds and reconnect with my core muscles.

These projects can’t mask the fact that the news is very distressing and I have to limit my consumption. So many people are in much more difficult circumstances than us, and the means to help are not clear as yet. Except of course, stay home.

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For me, September marks the New Year. I no longer have the fun (maybe only in retrospect) of back-to-school shopping for clothes and sheaves of ruled paper for my sons, but still, I never feel more motivated to make meaningful changes than I do in September. This year I have the opportunity to seize on a deep and recurrent desire to really de-clutter my home. And I am on a roll.

I have discovered that taking pictures of stuff I am getting rid of is an excellent reinforcing tool. I initially just took a few pictures with the vague idea of a blog post, but I now plan to continue with both the de-cluttering and the photos.

I encourage everyone to try this: When you need a little motivation to continue with what is, lets face it, a tough chore, you can look back at your folder of pictures of things leaving your living space. You will be astonished and proud of what you have accomplished: Your resolve to continue the process will be strengthened and you will think carefully before bringing new things into your home as well. Once you have completed the process, you can delete the folder of pictures, and thereby rack up another de-cluttering accomplishment. Hopefully, a few of my photos will inspire you to give this a try. Trust me, photos of your own clutter will be even more inspiring.

Here is proof of how serious I am:  The hiking boots in the first picture arrived on a Christmas Eve 25 years ago and concealed an engagement ring in the toe. My love lives on but the boots must go!

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I deliver the best stuff to Crossroads Hospice Thrift store

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The rest goes to Value Village or Big Brothers. I kept the cat…for now.

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This is excess recycling, going to Encorp depot

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Newly empty hangers from my closet

 

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Second bathroom is taking shape. Never a moment to blog it, but here is a sneak peak at our new master bath.

BEFORE

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AND AFTER…

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Everything you see in this picture was a smashing deal. Tub was a floor model marked down 75% and included taps and all the plumbing parts necessary for install – the latter often priced separately and the former always!

Tile was discounted and Jenn Brown’s recommended tile installer did a fantastic job at a terrific price – though we had to wait weeks to get on his work schedule.

That fabulous barn board floor? Vinyl, my friend. Warm, soft on the feet, water proof and easy-care. I found it at NuFloors at $4.69/sq. foot. Jenn Brown found it elsewhere for $3.29/sq. foot.

The art work was 20% off and then a further 50% off that. The vase also 75% off. Full disclosure: These were my picks so if you don’t like them, its my taste you despise.

Moral of the story: It simply takes a little longer to pull it together when trying to get what you want and a deal.

Everything has been operational since a few days before Christmas, but we continue to work away at mouldings, paint touch ups and other final details. I keep waiting and hoping I will find a spectacular deal on a tall, 300 watt towel warmer, but will soon give up on this dream and just order one. You can’t rush it, but sometimes you need to be finished.

Once I find the right frame for a particular photo, I will post Before and Afters of the third bathroom.

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When I dug out the septic access a few weeks ago in preparation for a visit from the honeywagon, I found that the hole had last been filled with loose debris, including rotting wood and bits of foam insulation.

Digging out the septic tank access

Digging out the septic tank access

We were going to have a riser installed to make the tank easily accessible for future pumps – until we priced it out: Adapter ring: $60; two twelve inch risers: $85 EACH; a $50 lid and the labour at $50/hour PLUS the cost of the pumping and disposal – priced separately. This was going to be a $600 plus operation.

Instead, I dug it out – and Miles from Bonniebrook Services (home of the Poo Pirates marine septic service!) helped out when it turned out I hadn’t dug quite far enough. After the pump truck had gone, Cottager and I put our heads together and figured out this home made fix that cost $30 and took about 90 minutes to fabricate and install. Its just a strong wooden box, built to fit, that exactly fills the space between the tank and the gravel courtyard. Yep, that simple.

Fashioning a sturdy box to fill the gap between septic access and courtyard surface

Fashioning a sturdy box to fill the gap between septic access and courtyard surface

Next time I will just rake away the gravel and lift out the box.

Next time I will just rake away the gravel and lift the lid off the box.

The next hole to tackle was one built into the deck where bamboo had been planted long ago and gone out of control. I trimmed the bamboo down, pried away the rotten wood frame and screen it had been growing through, then cut the bamboo down to the ground and carefully applied a lethal dose of herbicide into the open stalks. Sadly, short of taking up our whole deck, there was no other way.

This bamboo has got to go.

This bamboo has got to go.

Then cottager cut some planks to fit the hole. Not a perfect fix, but once I power wash the deck and re-stain it, it will be invisible but still give us access to the space under the deck. I will put a climbing plant of some sort in a large pot in this location. The running bamboo will likely need some further intervention, but this is a start.

A necessary fix. And now I can paint that peeling wall. One thing always leads to another.

A necessary fix. And now I can paint that peeling wall. One thing always leads to another.

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Trellis-Style Gate Repair

Trellis-Style Gate Repair

A good friend and neighbour of ours enjoys spending a few days with his son at Keats View during school holidays and they always leave things better than they found them. Over Spring Break they noticed that one of the gates was off kilter and sagging badly. As a result the gate didn’t swing smoothly and it had to be hoisted up in order to secure the bolt. The gate hangs on a post attached to the boundary fence and the sagginess was actually in the fence.

So here is the nice solution they came up with. The fence is now straight and stabilized; the gate hangs straight and swings smoothly and a short extender allows the bolt to work properly.

In addition, I have a new trellis-like structure to support some kind of climbing plant – get me to a nursery!

I plan to stain the gate’s frame and the post and top bar of the trellis brown to match the railings. Add that climbing plant and some spring sunshine and it will look terrific. Thanks guys!

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When we first bought the cottage, I was determined to paint every interior wall.
Then I started to like the white-white walls and white-white trim.

Over the winter, we’ve done a mini make-over of the kitchen – with a few finishing touches yet to come. We replaced the dishwasher, stove and baseboard heater.

And it became clear that it was a good time to paint. So would it be white-white or white on white?We opted for white on white. Aside from the simple happiness a really fresh coat of paint can bring – I like it.

Didn’t go looking for Linen White as recommended by the Cottage Decor guru. Simple reason – we had a half a gallon of BM Elmira White. In some lights and angles the difference is very subtle – just enough to make the white trim pop.

At night, under artificial light, (and in this “after” picture) it is a bit more distinct. For a kitchen, I would say its pretty perfect.

Won’t be long until we feel the urge to give the main room and halls a paint job too. Probably next winter or spring. When we do, I will likely go about 50% lighter still, to get a really subtle white on white effect in these areas that will still harmonize with the kitchen and make all that white trim pop.

So here it is before…

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And here it is after – with a new piece of countertop and some backsplash tile still to come….

White on White cottage paint job in the kitchen

White on White cottage paint job in the kitchen

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In France, everyday starts with a trip to the bakery. Even in little Colombiers there are two. My favorite pastry is pain aux raisins. It is never exactly the same at any two bakeries but it is always delicious and usually still warm from the oven. When you enter the bakery it is considered correct to greet everyone with a murmured “Mesdames, Messieurs” unless one of these is missing or is present only in the singular in which case you must adjust this greeting.

In other words, you have to do a quick inventory of the number and gender of the folks in the room, and then speak rationally in another language and all while still half-asleep and wholly overcome by the smells in the bakery, which cause your mouth to flood with saliva.

And now it is suddenly my turn to order. Everyone leans in to hear what this weird tall lady will say…

All my pronunciation practice deserts me in that moment and instead of ordering a big loaf and two raisin pastries (approx phonetic – gro pan ay de pan o ray san) I order a pregnant bread and two breads with reason (approx phonetic – gross pan ay de pan o rays -on). I believe I only imagine a hiss as the words leave my mouth.

These delectable items are presented to me notwithstanding my gaucheness. The bill is two euros seventy or about CDN $3.50. You probably thought France was expensive? Only to my self- esteem.

Here are specimens of pain aux raisin from the two local bakeries. The rectangular one is from the bakery around the corner. Cottager preferred this one. It had raisins and that fake green fruit one puts in Christmas cake. I preferred the one from the baker at the Newport – the swirly one. Flaky warm and sweet. So good. Worth any humiliation, really. To get both in one photo I had to sneak back through town with the goods after my visit to the second baker. I hope you appreciate my efforts.

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