Blog-o! Notes from

Thu, 16 Aug 2007
Deck Party!

And now the details:
When: September 8th, 3:00 until 8:00 (or later)...
Where: redacted
What: Beer, pizza, some kind of munchie thing, and some sort of fancy blended drink (originally scheduled to be Margaritas, although I don't know if I'm up for tequila (shudder), so maybe Piña Coladas, or some sort of Daiquiri).

RSVP, so that I know how much beer/munchies to buy. Or just show up and take your chances.

Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention in the email, since Amy and I have two kids, feel free to bring whatever little ones you have along, and they can all look at each other distrustfully, or run around screaming, or whatever it is children do when they get together in large groups.

See you there,

[Posted at 10:06 by Blake Winton] link
Sun, 29 Jul 2007

Okay, I think the deck is officially done, and so it’s party time! If you’re actually going to have a chance of making it here (sorry, Dave), please leave a comment or email me with the dates that work well for you, and I’ll see what works out the best for the most people.

The tricky part, I expect, will be restraining myself from writing a program to figure out the optimal solution.

[Posted at 18:56 by Blake Winton] link
Thu, 26 Jul 2007

Get it?  Agate?  Get it? A Gate! No longer just a pretty stone, we now have a gate to keep out whatever’s been pooing in our yard. (Assuming it isn’t one of the girls. Or a raccoon. Or someone’s cat. Or something that could squeeze through the gap in the bottom. But still, it’s got to be less likely to continue, right?)
The Shed. Our garbage shed! It’s a bit larger than I thought it would be which I think is partially due to the sloped roof, which is mandatory in places that get as much snow as we sometimes do, and partially because… Well, I don’t know why else it might be so big. Maybe just because that was the scale of the space it had to take up.
Screen! And an old-new screen door. This should get some air moving through the house without my having to worry too much about finding a hornet in my bed (again!) And when the screen on the front gets installed, it should be even sweeter.

[Posted at 20:07 by Blake Winton] link
Wed, 25 Jul 2007

It was late, I was tired. No pictures today. Try again tomorrow.

[Posted at 21:45 by Blake Winton] link
Tue, 24 Jul 2007

Stairs! It’s getting close... The planters are done, and the garbage bin (which seems larger than I thought it would be) is framed in.
Stonehenge.  Kinda. A closer-up view of one of the planters, along with the base to the umbrella for the patio table, and the gas hookup for the barbeque.
Stairs! And the inside of the garbage bin, with obligatory cat.
Okay, so the comments were a little weak today, I’m recovering from a severe arm wound, cut me some slack.

[Posted at 22:23 by Blake Winton] link
Mon, 23 Jul 2007

Stairs! The facing went on! Apparently we got fewer long planks than we needed, so Cory couldn’t finish the deck itself, so instead he put on the facing, and started building the frames for the planters. Hey, I just noticed the big long stair at the front. Neat!
Stonehenge.  Kinda. And another shot of the side stairs, with facing.

[Posted at 20:42 by Blake Winton] link
Fri, 20 Jul 2007

Stairs! Finally, a set of stairs! I can’t tell you how excited I am about those, although I am a little curious as to why that first step is twice as long as the second… Maybe the ground moved up. Yeah, that's what I'll go with.
Stonehenge.  Kinda. This line of stones brought to you by Cordelia. It’s nice to see that she can create order as well as chaos.
A window to nowhere. And finally, a bonus picture for Andrew. Yes, that was a window you saw under our deck. I’m not sure how we’ll get light into the basement now. Perhaps with electricity. (I’m also not sure what is going to happen to the edge of the deck, so we just might still get some light from the edges.

[Posted at 19:24 by Blake Winton] link
Thu, 19 Jul 2007

Il Pleut.It’s raining, with thunderstorms even, and so nothing’s going to happen to the deck today. Perhaps tomorrow.
(Oh, and the weather department doesn't keep historical pages active, so by the time you click on the little cloud, it might say something completely different.)

[Posted at 10:20 by Blake Winton] link
Wed, 18 Jul 2007

Halfway done.Wow, is that ever going quickly. At least, far quicker than I would have been able to do it. The last quarter of the last board in the big group on the right isn't screwed down yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

Still to do, the stairs, the planters, and the garbage bin. We might not be getting a barbeque until the end of the summer, because a friend of the family is downsizing, and might give us her’s, but either way, I plan on having a party when the deck is done, with beer and margaritas and some sort of munchie thing. And of course you’re all invited! I’ll start planning it after the deck is actually done, and post details when they’re finalized.

[Posted at 21:41 by Blake Winton] link
Tue, 17 Jul 2007

The view out the back. Okay, I promise that I’m not going to keep on posting more and more pictures every day, if only because I don’t think I could take 14 good pictures on the 14th day… But today there were really three things I wanted to point out. The first is the view from the back door out into the garden. That’s pretty much how it’ll look every time I walk out there. Well, with a top on it, and planters and a garbage box and a barbeque, and stuff, but that’s the layout.
It’s big, from this angle. The next shot is how it will look coming in to the house (if you’re really small, like Cordelia). Amy noticed that our house looks a little ramshackle, with the door all boarded up and stuff. (Cory (see the previous entry) was nice enough to screw a few boards in so that the girls didn’t fall out.)
The Master Plan. And finally, the shot from Delphine’s room, where you can see the full-width stairs down the back (on the top of the picture); the cut-out for the stairs on the side; and, uh, well I guess that’s all you can see, but on top of the cut-out will be one of the planters, wiht a matching planter on the other side; underneath the cut-out will be the garbage-box-thing; on the lower left will be the barbeque, and the upper half will have a table and chairs for lounging.

There’s also a nice amount of space on the right for my bicycle, so I guess I should figure out a way to make that area a little smoother and nicer to bike or walk on.

[Posted at 20:47 by Blake Winton] link
Mon, 16 Jul 2007

Y.M.C.A.!Some wood.
A bonus picture today! The nice gentleman on the left is Cory, our foreman/general contractor/construction guy. (He insisted on a re-do with the shades on. I can get behind that.) The picture on the right is where we are as of now. You can see sort of how far it goes out (except that the board at the bottom of the picture is about 5´ away from the door), and underneath the cat litter is a black sheet of plastic, to kill whatever vegetation thinks it wants to grow under there.

[Posted at 21:45 by Blake Winton] link
Sun, 15 Jul 2007

Not much.I thought it might be fun to post daily pictures of what’s happening on our deck, so that later when we wonder just what’s under there, we will be able to go back and see.

We already have a picture of the first day’s “progress”, and so here’s today’s. Not a whole lot to look at, but those holes were dug by hand by an intern. With his bare hands, I tell you!

[Posted at 21:38 by Blake Winton] link
Thu, 12 Jul 2007

Here's a picture:Oops.
Painful evidence that a Central Fairbanks Lumber truck does not, in fact, and to the great chagrin of our contractor, fit down our back lane.

Oh, and: that's not our fence. That's our neighbour's fence. And they have a dog which they can now not let out until we fix their fence. Off to buy some wine and flowers...

[Posted at 10:21 by Amy Brown] link
Wed, 09 May 2007

I have so much to blog about and not coincidentally no time to blog, but I am going to try and squeeze in a couple of things before Cordelia wakes up and we have to go pick up Delphine and take her to her hair appointment. Which really should be happening RIGHT NOW.

Anyway, the reno is done and yes I will post pictures. Well, almost done; we are missing a light fixture — we are reusing an original fixture and it is at the shop being refitted with modern, I don't know, bits and pieces — and we need faceplates on the outlets in the kitchen now that the tile is done. And a deck, we need a deck, although we might not be able to afford one. Otherwise it's done, though!

I'm really happy with how the kitchen looks; I think we really captured the feel of the fifties while still having a nice modern kitchen. I am especially pleased with how content the sink looks nestled on the retro Formica countertop.

Now all we need to do is unpack the kitchen! In order to make Delphine's birthday cake today I had to buy baking powder, flour, food colouring, sprinkles, and cake pans! All because I haven't managed to unpack anything yet.

[Posted at 17:53 by Amy Brown] link
Mon, 16 Apr 2007

I finally posted some pictures in the gallery, here. Enjoy!

Oh, and Jillian, Jillian Arnott, if you are out there, please email me. I don't have your email address and I miss you!

[Posted at 14:49 by Amy Brown] link
Sun, 18 Mar 2007

We're one week into the reno, and the dust is flying. The electrical is almost done; we are replacing all the old knob-and-tube wiring with the modern stuff, putting in mostly new light fixtures and light switches in sensible places, instead of three feet into the bedroom, or behind the far door to the dining room, or just nowhere at all in Delphine's room. (She had one of those bank-pen-chain pull switches that she didn't have a hope of reaching for another ten years.)

On the main floor, where most of the big changes are happening, the demolition is nearly complete. They have taken down all the walls except that between the kitchen and the dining room, and that which defines the front hall (and keeps the drafts out). They've taken out the old cabinet in the kitchen, the sink and its cabinet, and the old gnarly linoleum tiles and subfloor. They've cut and framed a hole between the kitchen and the dining room, which is going to be finished with some trim salvaged from the original arch between the dining room and the living room. The only demolition which remains to be done is taking up the hardwood in the front hall (we are going to put in vintage-style black and white mosaic tile instead).

Next week the inspector is coming in for the electrical, and then they will patch the walls and start painting upstairs. They are going to move the plumbing for the sink, and put in the vent for the range hood, and lay the new subfloor in the kitchen. It's been fun watching them tear the place apart, but I am really going to enjoy watching them put it back together.

We haven't been able, to the shock of no-one, to salvage and reuse as much as I originally thought we would. I said we would keep the cabinet in the kitchen but quickly changed my mind when I realized how much I like runners on my drawers, and base cabinets that don't go all the way to the floor, and not having huge frames in the way of my stuff, and maybe upper cabinets that are deep enough to store a dinner plate. I got rid of the metal trim on the counter because Jillian's right, it's a total pain to keep clean. I got rid of the stove because there's just no way to make an ancient electric stove into a modern gas stove. I got rid of the cabinet for the sink because again, I wanted to get rid of the frames and have more versatile cabinetry (we are putting a bunch of drawers under the sink cabinet).

I haven't even kept many light fixtures; I kept the pretty fixtures in the girls' rooms, but almost all of the others are gone, with the exception of a gorgeous Nouveau fixture from the front hall which is too dim to be useful but which we will reuse somewhere where we don't need all that much light.

Ironically, we are ripping out a genuine vintage kitchen and replacing it with a vintage-inspired kitchen. Our cabinets are going to be Applad White which is flat-panel painted white, very much like the original cabinet. The floor is going to be Marmoleum in Caribbean, and the countertops will be Formica's Skylark Boomerang. Oh, and the paint is Benjamin Moore's Standish White, which almost exactly matches the floor. I am going to look for a vintage-style wallpaper to do a focal point, and maybe a cute fabric for a little curtain. Three more weeks to go!

[Posted at 22:31 by Amy Brown] link
Thu, 08 Mar 2007

Well, it's four in the morning and I've been wide awake for at least three-quarters of an hour. I finally decided to stop lying in bed thinking the same five thoughts over and over, and creep down the world's creakiest stairs and make myself useful. I don't think I will be sleeping again tonight, and I know I'll regret it later this afternoon, but what can you do? This must be what it's like to be Baba, or my brother Dave.

We are less than a week from the start of "demolition", a rather grand name for clearing out the kitchen and taking down a couple of walls. I suppose removing the little porch from the back is pretty demolishy. It all begins on Monday, and in the intervening four days we need to clear as much stuff as we can out of the main floor, and set up a makeshift kitchen in the basement. In the next month we are going to become very familiar with what meals can and cannot be prepared with a microwave, a toaster oven, a kettle and a crock pot. I predict we will eat a lot of President's Choice frozen meals. And did you know they have microwave pizza? Yeah...

The girls and I will also become very familiar with places to hang out that are not home; Baba and Zaida's, the library, the ROM, the park (if spring ever comes), Tanya's place, the other library... It's going to be a bit of a pain in the ass, but I think the satisfaction of seeing the work progress day after day will make up for it, unlike the changeless agony of, say, trying to keep a condo clean and tidy while you're selling it.

[Posted at 05:17 by Amy Brown] link
Fri, 23 Feb 2007

We signed a contract for the reno last week, and now the work is beginning. The work, for now, is mostly just talking about what goes where and where to get stuff and what colours, and Blake and I have to buy lots of stuff; new light fixtures, appliances, a kitchen faucet, tiles for the backsplash and the front hall floor. It would be swell if we had a car right now.

We got a couple of quotes, one which was horrifyingly high and one which was alarmingly low. Fortunately the people who quoted low come highly recommended and they basically lowballed us, I think, because they like Blake's dad and because they know that we have years and years of work to do on this house and they want in on the ground floor, so to speak.

So this reno looks like this:

  • Kitchen:
    • new Marmoleum floor
    • new cabinets, probably from Ikea
    • big pass-through window to the dining room
    • new (gas!) stove
    • dishwasher (hallelujah!)
    • new fridge
    • funky Formica countertops
  • new electrical throughout, because we still have knob and tube almost everywhere
  • new light fixtures some places
  • knock out most of the walls on the main floor to make it more open, although I would stop short of calling it "open concept" because we'll still have a well-defined front hall and the kitchen will still be cut off by a wall, albeit a wall with a big pass-through window
  • replace the hardwood in the front hall with black and white mosaic tile in some cool retro pattern (we'll use the hardwood from the front hall to patch the holes from taking out the walls.)
  • New deck!

All in all it's a fairly small reno; we are not adding any rooms or messing with any outside walls. It is scheduled to take about a month, with the actual work beginning mid-March.

I am really excited; once the reno is done we will still have a crappy old house, but it will be a crappy old house with a really nice, functional kitchen and light switches in logical places, and I can deal with that!

[Posted at 19:57 by Amy Brown] link