Wednesday, June 26, 2013

On The Street Where You Live

There's definitely been a lot happening on Chestnut Street over the past few weeks. I've been trying to type out an update for many, many days now, but our new addition, Ru, has been keeping both of us ridiculously busy. After an evening of playing with her fur aunt, Mocha, and then a morning of puppy classes and an afternoon of "helping" me garden, she's finally crashed for a nap in her favourite place: my back.

I can tell that she's grown because last week I couldn't even tell that she was there. This week, it feels like there is a small boulder on my spine. At her last trip to the vet she weighed 8.7 pounds, and now I'm pretty sure she's closer to 10! Between the getting up at 5am, cleaning up after accidents, bandaging fingers that she thought were fair game, and lots of snuggles, we did manage to get some work finished.

Continuing on with our list of resolutions, we finally got around to Resolution One: Fix the Back Hall.
Just for a little refresher, this is how our back hall was looking:

As you can see, lots of old plastic tile, plaster, and peg board, as well as a pantry area that needed some serious updating. Cleaned out, it looked like this:

Not as terrible, but not an area that was really usable, especially for the hall where we were planning on being able to let Ru stay in if we were not home. This particular hallway also had the two lowest ceilings in the house. Yes, two. There was a small archway where the ceilings of two different parts of hallway met, and changed height. You can kind of see them in the photos, one has beadboard and the other is flat and smooth. Well, not really that flat - it was pretty warped, and sort of looked like the rolling hills of Borden Carleton. We weren't 100% certain how we'd be able to get rid of the dips, but thought we'd just let Shane and his guys worry about it.

Turns out, they didn't worry about it at all, they just knocked it down. Along with a hundred year old insulation, which was basically just a bunch of black powder at this point. Luckily we have a door to the kitchen that can use to close off the hallway, so my role in all of this was to close the door and then open it at the end of the day to see what progress had been made. Imagine my surprise when one day I opened the door and our hallway went from what you saw above, to this:

No more plaster! No more plastic tiles! Now it's just....pine! At least until we get around to painting it all in the same style as the laundry room. But for now, we can live with pine. Our pantry also got an update - white wainscotting on the back, and new built in shelves, complete with a 9 bottle wine rack! We still need to build some doors to keep Ru out of her kibble, but she's only just been able to reach into the bottom set of shelves, so we've still got four more levels to work through before the situation becomes dire. I also love the cover that was built for the cast iron rad, and that it doubles as a shelf for keys/bags/etc.  You can also see in the picture at the top right that the ceilings are all now one level! They have also been raised up a bit. We did have the option to go with a cathedral ceiling with exposed beams, which would have been cool, but probably cooler in a bedroom or living room than a back hall. So ceiling it is! Choosing the ceiling though also gave us some extra attic crawlspace for storage, which is great due to our severe lack of closets. Besides the pantry doors, we still need to paint in here as well, but for now, I'm happy with the new pine look!

We also got them to install some shelving in the laundry room so we didn't have that awkward window looking into the bathroom. One door still has to go on, and then we need to do some touch up painting, but it's looking better already:

You can also see that a surround has been started around the washing machine and dryer. Eventually we will have a countertop that will go over the machines and then up to hide the taps and pipes on the wall. We're also hoping to use the tin effect tiles as a backsplash if possible. Having the cabinets makes a huge difference.

We also did some work in the sunporch. Remember the old cardboard ceiling tiles? Lots of water damage, discolouration, some completely missing, plus it didn't help that an extended family of mice was living in them over the winter.

We found out the solution was to just tear them down.

Of course, that looked really bad, but hey, we had all that pine lying around, sooo....

up it went. And now the ceiling looks like this:

It still needs some finishing around the edges, but it made a very lovely difference! The room feels a bit brighter now. Now all that's left in here is to paint, get new curtains and figure out what we're actually going to use it for! I'd love to have it as an office space, but since it has no foundation and no heat, we can't use it during the winter, so it gets sealed up. Someone suggested a summer bowling alley, which might not be a bad idea!

Now that we're getting our big projects crossed off of our renovation list, we're just left with a few small ones, like painting all of the cast iron rads (we're still undecided on a colour), sanding and staining the bannister, extending the tile around the fireplace in order to meet fire code regulations, adding some quarter round in various places, fixing the railing on the balcony, painting the trim on the house, painting the shed, putting up a railing around the back deck, extending the back deck, fixing the garden,  getting some new windows for the various Once you put all of those small projects together, they just kind of seem like one big project all over again. I'm not even going to get started on the various furniture projects we still have to attend to! Oh well. People are right when they say that your house is never finished, even if you build a brand new one.

To finish up, I also had to stick in a few pictures of the garden - for being first time gardeners, things are going extremely well out there!

The garden in early June, lots of peonies starting to appear, and the grass along the new fence is starting to grow! You can also see that there's some strange leaves growing all over the ground in the garden. I'm not sure what they are, so if anyone could tell me, that would be great! They seem to grow from a small tuber-like root. They were taking over, so we decided to chop it all down, which left us with what you see below:

It may be hard to tell from the pictures, but it made a huge difference, and we could actually SEE some of the plants and flowers that we had identified earlier in the spring. Also, since the grass was doing so well along the fence, TJ decided to buy approximately 500 bags of topsoil and do along the back trees as well. There was another odd leafy thing covering the ground back there, along with years and years of pine needles and pine cones, and the odd iris that had escaped the garden, so it took a lot of soil to cover it up.

You can see the odd mix of ground cover and pine needles below, but since I can't see anybody being all that interested in pictures of dirt, I stuck in a photo of our pretty poppies growing under the reading room windows:

I love watching all of the colours of flowers arriving at different times. We started with lots of blues in the early spring, then yellows and reds, then pinks, then purples, now back to reds, and I can see hot pinks, light pinks and whites starting to come out at the end of June. There's a giant rosebush which I thought was going to be wild roses, but it looks like teensy little pale pink blossoms. There's also two different kinds of peonies, along with the poppies, which sadly, did not last too long! I'd been looking forward to them since spotting them last summer before we bought the house.

Not sure what kind of iris this is, but it's very very dark, almost black, and it's about the size of Ru! Also, check out the sea of peonies. I think these ones are going to be white.

Our veggie garden is also doing well, despite having barely any sun. We've got cucumbers, red potatoes, peas, beans, heritage carrots, peppers and tomatoes. I have a feeling I've ruined my tomato plants by putting them way too close together, but oh well. Learning process! We also have a little herb garden on the deck with cilantro, chocolate mint, lemon and curry. The lavender, summer savory and peppermint that I planted definitely died out long ago.

I gotta say though, not bad for two non-green thumbs!

Sunday, June 9, 2013


As we're getting closer to our one year anniversary of owning our first home, projects are starting to come together and our list is getting smaller almost every day. As of this week our major renovations are now complete and all that is left is painting, sanding, more painting, and updating the tile surrounding the wood stove insert in the living room. But all of the renovations that included knocking things out and ripping stuff up is now over. It's definitely feeling like our home now. But one little thing was missing. A very, very little thing.

A puppy! I have wanted my own puppy for years and it seems like it has taken forever to finally be in a position where we had the space and time to be able to properly take care of a cute little fur baby. Finally, after searching for the right puppy over the past year, we finally found ours. She came from a litter of 12 (that's a LOT of puppies) at Eastern Dawn Kennels in Uigg, Prince Edward Island. We went down in mid-May to visit and pick out the one that would be right for us. Then, after three loooooong, unbearable weeks of waiting, we finally went to pick her up and take her home this week.
Introducing Ru!
Named after Eriu, the matron goddess of Ireland. If anyone is interested, I've included her story at the end of this post.
Ru likes visitors, as long as they are not too big and furry, so if anyone wants to come say hello, don't hesitate!

Ru has been home for a few days now and has definitely claimed this as "her" place. She is very snuggly and when she takes naps, 99% of the time they are in your lap. Her first couple of nights have been very good, no howling or crying in her kennel through the night, and I've been the one who wakes her up at 6 in the morning to go outside! Then she is very happy to come in and get into our bed to sleep for another few hours.

She is very small as she was the runt of her litter, and only weighed 6 pounds when we brought her home. Despite this, she loooooooves food, not only hers, but ours as well. I made a bowl of soup yesterday and she went crazy trying to get inside the bowl to drink it for herself. Milkbones are her one true love however. We bought the kind that are for puppies and are about the size of my thumb, and have to break it in half to give to her. When she senses that a milkbone is near, she goes nuts and will not rest until the milkbone is in her belly. Then once it's gone she checks her food bowl just in case there are some in there, and then she checks the coffee table to see if she missed any crumbs. I have a feeling she will have no trouble gaining weight.

Click below to hear the story of Eriu.