If you have an old house people give you cool stuff. “Stuff” that no one wants to see in the landfill but the owner can’t figure out what to do with it.

Well we haven’t figured out what to do with it yet but it was just too cool to pass up. And hey what’s one more project on the list? In less than a year I will be retired from full time nursing so will “need” something to fill the days (haha!).

Mucho gracias to our son who once again came to the rescue with brut strength, the right tools and a willingness to always help out. Even if it seems somewhat reluctant at times!

Of course, this time, there was payment. The owner parted, reluctantly, with the safe and Spencer was thrilled. He was reluctant because he felt it was unique and he would like to have restored it but the time, energy, tools and storage space made it all rather difficult.

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The Little Details

It has been a decade of big winter projects so it is quite nice to sit back and relax this year. We are really enjoying the fireplace and we have even started working on a jigsaw puzzle.

We’ve also been busy attending to some little details around the house. Things, that with big projects on go, get left aside. But now the glass door knobs are cleaned and installed, and hook hangers are up on our bedroom door. My second hand store frames now have our Vancouver years prints framed in them. That bathroom wall needed something and these turned out stellar.

We’ve also done boring things like clean up the big storage room. Unpacked a stuff from a couple of boxes that got packed when we moved! 9 years ago! I reorganized baby toys and adult games. Ron finished up the wardrobe that came to us via Erin, which had originally lived here in Herbie’s house, before her mom bought it at the auction sale.

Ron also set to work on a slightly bigger project when he built new shelves for the cold storage room. The Herbie shelf that came with the house was in decrepit shape so it was time. I lucked into some selvage finished pine shelving pieces so no finishing work was necessary. It’s lovely to have so much more shelving!

Then Gramps (aka Ron) created an ingenious idea for a “baby/dog” gate. We have a plethora of old doors so it was just a matter of finding the right hardware to make it work. I did not one stitch of work on this project which seems weird as I usually refinish the old wood. I’m still slugging away on that big cupboard unit although not over the holidays. It was too cold to haul it outside and I won’t use the belt sander in the garage.

As stated above it’s been a bit on the cold side here so outside pictures have been limited by that but I did get a few the other day. So many that it’s hard to chose!

It’s been quite lovely having a chance to catch our breath. It may be a while before I blog here again as I am not sure what other house projects we will do this winter.


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Ta Da (4 years later) 

In June we left an inside project at the stage that you can see in the post called Post “post”. That’s a lot of “posts” but really it’s more about the spindles and the handrail as there was loads of tweaking that needed to occur. With no rain days to speak of this summer we rarely returned to work on the handrail etc to the basement. I did end up doing the staining and the varnishing of it on a few mornings off.  As you can see it required a fairly significant work space. It then moved into the basement where it has been collecting dust on the floor until the snow hit.

IMG_4326Ron set out, in the last two days, to complete it and this afternoon he put the final screws into place while I leaned on it with all my considerable weight. The spindles and the cap into the post were a challenge to get together. There was some swearing when one of the spindles cracked and split. All that work and it needs repairing. Insert unhappy sign here ūüėĚ. But as Ron said people replace spindles regularly without tearing the whole thing apart so at some point in time we will have to replace it but not today. Today I just want to marvel that going down those step stairs feels a lot more comfortable.

Small wins over a long period of time as we bought it in June of 2014! Strangely enough I found this tag from it tonight while looking for something else! 

Now to just figure out what to do with 25+ other spindles! If you’ve got any ideas be sure to leave us a comment. 

Oh right. I always close the house blog post with an artistic photo. In honour of our dearly loved Breeze I’ve chosen to use this photo taken the day before she died. I captured her spirit here in the brilliant late afternoon fall light when she and the grass glowed. ‚̧



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Mega Excited 

My title is a pun on the name of the paving tiles that now are an intrinsic part of our patio. The biggest area is done in the paving stone pattern called Megalibra. But the guys call it W and a Chicken. Yes seriously but more on that later because whatever the pattern name you also have to call it awesome.

All right now that the awesome sneak preview has been displayed I can get down to the details. Although maybe everyone just wants to see more of the nearly complete project but alas I am recording it all here. The last two posts Starry Starry Night  and Hold The Press are a little light on details.

We’ve been on Peter’s radar for a few years for our patio. It’s not that he wasn’t available but that we weren’t ready so this year with the retaining walls completed it was TIME! We had done a significant amount of the prep work the last time we had the bobcat when we were preparing the site for the hot tub pad and back filling the retaining walls. We had removed the stockpile of huge rocks, cleared out the growth and debris and done base level work. We both recognize that most people would just include this in the scope of work for the contractor but as we established a long time ago we aren’t most people. The plus side to this is that when Peter rolled in he anticpated that it would take four days and it was slightly less than that. Two workers were here on Saturday to lay the base down and level it out. We spent three hours Sunday am working on the ground levels around the base area which definitely made Monday and Tuesday smoother. It was a cold miserable day not that Ron noticed the wind in the bobcat but I did on the shovel end. The area outside of the patio is actually now ready for top soil and seed in the spring.

When the full crew rolled in on Monday

they set to work putting down the sand for the concrete paving tiles. It’s obvious these guys work together as they were like a finely oiled machine without a lot of standing around doing nothing.

There is some time spent bull shitting while working and they are pretty darn funny to listen to. The guys are no strangers to the fact that I’m a pretty fair hand in the kitchen but they may have been a bit surprised by how much time I spent outside hauling, laying paying stones, helping Ron dig out the pond area and general clean up.

Apparently it isn’t normal for the homeowner to give them a hand but I think they found us a help rather than a hindrance.

I also cooked for them and had soup in the oven both days before they even rolled in the drive way. There was also coffee and cookie breaks because doesn’t everyone work better fueled with good food and warm drinks?

And it’s not like they could take a quick break and go to Tim’s or out for lunch. It was great having a crew around the dining room table and telling them the story of the first home owner, Mrs. Richardson. They say that she used to feed the work crews dinner (farm time lunch meal) and then if anyone laid down in the fields behind the wagon to have a sleep she would see them from the attic and fire them when they came in for the next meal.

I wasn’t in the firing mood but rather on the other end of the spectrum. I was so happy with everything that they did. I’m pretty sure they didn’t share my enthusiasm for laying paving stones and perhaps I wouldn’t have been as energized if they had made me lift the W. I specialized in the chicken

although I thought it looked more like an armadillo. Which apparently is too long to say while you are holding onto something that weighs like 45 pounds and you are trying to figure out where it goes in the pattern. Which looks rather random in some views but seems less random in other views.

Speaking of random, Peter does a mean random. Like a true random. The outdoor kitchen area and the fireplace/pizza oven area tiles were Lafitt. They come in square and rectangular shapes and Peter just pounded this out.

The whole entire patio area was to be encased in 6 x 9″ edge stones called Roman Euro Rustic. When the truck unloaded all the pallets (18 of them) and T rolled them into the walkout area with the bobcat I noticed one off¬†to the side and was curious. I didn’t remember picking out a 6 x 6 tile so I checked the plan, chatted with Ron and then called Peter over. Apparently the 6 x 9 tiles weren’t available so it was¬†substitute. I told him I didn’t think I would pull a Sarah Baeumler and delay the project till the other size was available. We liked the other size as it didn’t seem so small compared to the big huge tiles.

The end of day one saw all the big megalibra tiles put into place and the outdoor kitchen area completed. The fireplace/pizza oven was prepped and the 6 x 6’s put in place and then the whole thing was “put to bed” with tarps for the night.

Which was nice because it meant the dog could finally go outside as he wasn’t allowed around the freshly leveled sand and the workers being the friendly sort he is.

Day two was the finishing work so less chat and haul with more saw running. They had two saws cutting away the wonky edges so that the stones butted up against the rock wall or the edge tile.

IMG_20171031_114538Noisy and dusty so I wasn’t super sad to miss that because I was at work. I left the snacks and the soup so I don’t know if they missed me at all!

The pond area at the end of day one had the metrix blocks in with the heavy liner but we needed the pump and the fittings before we could proceed.

So Ron completed that work Tuesday am and then the base, sand and paving stone were laid there.



There was also the discussion and the subsequent work around the hot tub area. Ron wanted big rocks on two sides of the hot tub right against the concrete pad, I wanted them on top of the paving stones so no weeds would grow. Either way the paving stones had to be cut so the guys didn’t care we just had to make a decision. Yeah whatever, sometimes I win little ones but not this time. They had to get the rocks there which meant driving on the new patio so thick boards were put down, rocks loaded up, set down to mark, picked up, paving stones cut out, rocks laid down and repeat. All in the cold with the wind blowing down your back.


When they rolled out at the end of day two it was just the pond area that was missing the paving stones that was tarped. Seems they needed 19 pallets and only had 18 so only if luck was on our side would it get complete before winter truly descended.

Ron in the meantime had taken the bobcat down and picked up a few more rocks for the pond and hot tub area.

I really wasn’t all that hopeful. Peter wasn’t sure he could get more Megalibra pavers on short notice. So I was totally over the moon when I came home today and saw the pavers in place, the remaining rocks in place and just the little pond area needed the small rock fill. We have to figure out a “camouflage” rock for the pump and plug-in but that’s a spring job as is the sand in the joints.

It’s patio party time!! Alas it’s also snow time but what the heck we put the chairs out like we were going to have a fire! The mat is in front of the hot tub and the BBQ is back in place.¬† It feels so weird to step out the walk out-door onto a level surface! I’m already planning the lounge area and the quiet reflective area to complete the transformation but alas it’s not a TV show so that will have to wait till spring!

It’s also totally amazing that it is so close in reality to what the original drawing depicted. Plus it was done so quickly and professionally by Precision Paving. Shout out to our friend Peter and his skilled work crew for working so diligently to complete it.

Strangely enough I’m looking forward to next spring when we can start the final stone builds; outdoor kitchen cabinet,¬† fireplace/pizza oven, connecting retaining wall (about 10 feet) and the verandah base. Then it is time to build the verandah and balcony; just in time for the house to celebrate it’s 100 years!!


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Starry Starry Night 

Starry starry night

Soak your muscles nice and easy      

Look out on a winter’s night 

With eyes that know the lightness in my soul

Shadows from the trees and watch the northern lights   

Catch the breeze and feel the winter chills. 

Starry starry night 

Photo Credit to the very talented Dan Sigouin

This seems more like the start of my personal blog equipoiselife where I focus on writing enticing openings to draw the reader in. This house blog is much more matter of fact. But for some reason Don McLean’s Starry starry night stuck in my head during our first hot tub and I modified the words for this opening. 

Yes finally the hot tub I’ve longed for has been researched (that’s a long story), bought, paid for (ouch — can you say overtime shifts here I come), delivered, filled,  balanced and ready for enjoyment. 

The prep work for the patio included the hot tub area. Then Ron quickly formed up, got the rebar in place and ordered concrete all in a couple of days. It worked out well because it was nice out and we didn’t pay the normal off season fee for it this year. It was a straight in pour which was nice as it was just Ron and a friend doing it during a Friday afternoon. 

The hot tub shopping experience didn’t start out well. Who would have guessed that they are all closed on a Thursday night. Not us. To make time tighter we were either away or busy weekends almost all of September. Then to make it more complex we trialed a new decision making process that Ron has been researching for work. It required, of course, a spreadsheet. The end result was a hot tub that is going to last a really long time and be enjoyed for many hours. 

Up next this year, she says with fingers crossed for good weather, the patio. The end is so near!!


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Hold The Press

Hold the press, seriously. Prepare yourselves for what I’m about to write!

The two big retaining walls are DONE!! He did the last pour today.  Continue reading

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One Away 

It’s all over in one pour but now the finish lines seems elusively far away. That because the stone mason, who likes to start and complete one project, has galavanted off to start the next big project. I’m like “we’re one pour away, can we finish it today?”. He’s like “no there is more pressing stuff to do.” Me in my head; what the frik is more pressing than finishing this bloody wall?

Apparently he felt there was good cause. There is concrete to get poured again this fall and so that’s a priority. The reason it’s a priority is that we have picked out and Peter has ordered our paving stones for the patio. Which means that after five years of pencilling us in for the fall he’s actually going to create us a patio!! 

Which means we need to figure out what size of hot tub so we can pour that piece of concrete. And yes Ron knows you don’t need to put concrete under a hot tub but feels it’s a good idea. 

So with three pours away we stopped working on the wall two Sundays ago and did prep work with the bobcat. Lots of backfill,  rock picking, scut work for me. 

Then he did two pours during the week and has the front of the wall finished. It’s just one little side section over the top area of the waterfall that needs completion. Just one pour — can’t we get back to it? Doesn’t he want to cross this off the list I think out loud here on the blog. 

Then I go away for the weekend and come home to the bobcat working away.  This time he was laying down the base for the concrete areas. Somehow I missed most of the skut work that day. Lucky me because that would have meant running the tamper which is bloody hard work. Never mind what the tall guy says about it doing the work. 

But now that the foundation work is done for the pads he’s been busy forming up. The areas are so small but they still need rebar and the correct elevations etc. 

Then there is the electrical prep work to do. The ends of the walls have lights ready plus the fire pit and pizza oven need lights so there is more questions to ask and answer there. 

The conduit was laid and the line ran out and to through the wall with minimial issues for me. But that’s because I was at work while he was doing most of this. 

The weather has been holding and so he hussled along in the evenings getting the forms up and all that prep work done. His goal was to get the concrete poured asap. That turned out to be today at 2:30. While I was at work so hey that was easy for me again. A friend came out to help a bit with the spots that needed to be brought in by wheel barrel.  No hoarding needed because the day time high was 25 and the low tonight is supposed to be 8 so again that’s a super positive element. 

There was a little bit more design discussion this week in regards to the size of the landing and how the stairs will tie in along the wall. I just pretty much nod and accept his suggestions. Very occasionally he does the same for me. The outdoor kitchen now has a small little ending wall as that was my suggestion to help incorporate the landing post. Which is clear as mud to all of you but makes sense to us. You’ll see next year. 

In the meantime we also did some shopping and bought a hot tub! I’ve wanted one, again, since the day we left the city house. We did a complex convuluted decision making process but “whatevs” because hey we bought a hot tub! It’s in stock so as soon as we are ready it will be ready. That will require a little more electrical work so I guess the stone mason had better change hats. 

But wait – not too quickly as there is just ONE MORE POUR before the walls are finished! Then perhaps I can resign as a stone mason.


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