Friday, March 27, 2009


Originally uploaded by GeeSpot1
Oh, to have horns with which to scratch myself.

I have a case of the itchies and I've got them bad. And no one can tell me what's wrong. Only what it ISN'T. No, it's NOT an allergic reaction. So I can't take benedryl for it. And it's not poison ivy or bug bites or a chemical.

My skin just crawls with itchy.

Between my fingers are bumps. That itch. And on top of my feet? Little itchy bumps. And right where my sleeve brushes my wrist? Itch itch itch. Under my scarf right now, my skin is burning with discomfort. My thighs, my ankles, my stomach, my back.

All itchy.

And I know you all know, but just in case you didn't: scratching it doesn't make it better. It just makes it MORE itchy. But it feels SO damn good to do it. Just looking at the photos of animals scratching themselves made me yearn for it.

And now I must go think about something else so I don't tear my skin off.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Stairway to insanity

I had my friend Claude over tonight to take a look at my backsplash and get me to the point where I know what to buy. So there's another project I will get going on next weekend when I have a car.

But I'm trying to stick to one do-it-yourself project at a time so that I don't get overwhelmed and can still feel comfortable in my home.

So I'm continuing to work on the insane stair project. Here you see what I'm doing. Chipping away at the paint on the side. Little by little.

Sometimes I get ambitious and start chipping at the spots on the risers. But I scold myself. "No! that is not for chipping!" So that I don't start doing all of them and take forever to fully restore something that is not worth fully restoring.

The treads are already sanded and you can see where they are pock-marked in the soft pine. You can see where the wood is exposed and malformed by years of wear and likely someone else's ill conceived do-it-yourself project. You may also see the many layers of paint. On top: yellow, and then white and then grey and then possibly some more white and tourquois and more white and then pink and a chocolatey reddish brown and finally a quite nice dark brown, which you see exposed.

I think this dark brown was the last well-done paint job as it seems to be the one that chips off least easily. On the side, there's an additional green stain on the wood. It's quite nice and antique looking. If I could, I would restore it to something like that. But that's not going to happen.

The best I can hope for is a smooth coat of durable paint. Really. That's why I'm doing all this.

And then? And then I work on my banister, which is already half stripped and ugly. For goddessakes, I should have left well enough alone. Rememeber my mantra: one project at a time.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My stair project

This weekend, I started my stair project.

I had one at my last house too. It was a LOT of work. It was hell. But it was beautiful when it was done.

The difference with this project? More stairs, more surfaces to be stripped, probably can't even strip them -- must chip paint off in many cases -- and won't look nearly as nice when I'm done. But will look better than they do now.

Now, they are horrible.

My house renovations are really coming along. I have a front hall closet, a bay window seat with hidden seat storage, open kitchen shelves with lighting and glass shelves. A basement door, even. And my stairs are a complete mess.

So I decided to stop hemming and hawing and just get to work.

Down to Home Depot, I bought sand paper and pliers and brought out the chisel and palm sander. Two days later, I've taken out hundreds of carpet stables, done a rough scrape of the steps, sanded the steps, and started scraping the paint off the risers. Started. Two days of work and there's still so much more to do.

I did a test step, stripping it. I decide pretty quickly not to do it that way. Too much work for not enough pay back. The wood is not good anyway. I'm just going to paint them, so why bother stripping? but I have to scrape paint off the risers and the side of the stairs because someone did a horrible goopy paint job somewhere along the way and it look lumpy and pretty much comes off in large slices once you get going.

It's almost as enjoyable as picking the nail polish off your nails.

But it's slow going. This is going to be my project for next couple of months. Ugh.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

To paint or restore? That is the question

Next round in the house reno chapters:
  • Built-in open shelves in the kitchen
  • Front hall closet
  • Built-in setee/bench for the bay window
  • Staircase paint-job
All of that is already underway and the top three should be done in the next week. (The staircase I'm doing myself, hopefully with some help from my awesome BF, and I'm pretty slow.) But, YAY, it's looking more and more like a home!

And I'm looking to the exterior now that Spring has sprung. The roof will get a complete revamp (not so sexy but much-needed) and, while I'm doing it, a look at the back extension insulation. I'm guessing that will need to be addressed.

CollegePro Painters just came by to do a quote on repainting my exterior. Scraping off old peeling stuff (it's ALREADY starting to come off!) and repainting the same colours but with some additional trim-work. This cost is about $850 but I looked at my neighbour's house and some other beauties in the area and thought I would LOVE to have the original brickwork restored. That means sandblasting. So I'm going to look into it, get a quote.

And then of course there's the interior painting which I was thinking of getting a colour specialist for. And then either paint myself (with help from friends) or just pay someone to do it if the cost is reasonable. Sometimes you just need to get stuff done, you know?

Oh and did I mention the landscaping? I think I have some crocuses coming up in my front square of ground (I'd call it a "yard" but it hardly qualifies unless that refers to 1 yd x 1 yd?) where the only other adornments are unexplained tar buckets. Ew. Contractor, take them away!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

And the house goes on and on and on and on...

My living room
It was a good weekend.

It started out with a short day at work and then playing curling with the company. What FUN! And I got to talk to people that I never talk to. There are a lot of awesome people working there. And I got home at a really normal time -- which never happens. I was at a loss. What to do?

So I called Sara. And she came over! And I hadn't seen her in months and months so there was a lot to catch up on. It was wonderful to talk to her. And wonderful to show her my house.

And Saturday brought the final door in my kitchen. Check out the sexy doors in my kitchen. Hot. Loving my kitchen. Mostly. Just need that final outlet in there so that I can start putting in my backsplash (white subway tiles). And FutureShop Delivery guys finally came to assess the damage done to my kitchen floors by the fridge. They agreed that it was bad. Lots of "oh, ah, ouch, yikes" stuff going on there.

And my roomie's friend came over and she was so nice and we went out to Lahore Tikka House - my favourite Indian restaurant. So ghetto and so good! We gorged ourselves of course. And returned to get stuck in the mud behind my house. Who knew that there'd be a lake back there? We pushed and shoved the car onto a small island of firm ground for the night and I fell in the mud of course. I felt so decadent afterwards, though, catching up on some internet reading, putting some items on craigslist and other fun computer geeking all before doing some yoga in an effort to calm my curling-muscle-spasms.

Today my parents arrived and helped me move furniture and took me around to do some errands. Note to self: always go to the Curity Home Depot -- they rock. Plus, I decided to wait a couple of months to buy LED under-counter lighting. I can't wait!

In the meantime, here I sit in my living room (see picture) feeling all funny in my stomach because it's really starting to feel like a house. I have a LIVING ROOM for goddessakes! Looking around my as-yet unfinished abode, it occurs to me that I never thought that it would look this nice. In my eyes, I'm seeing the finished product already instead of the unpainted, rough outline of a great place that is actually here. But that outline is here; its undeniable now. And I'm damn excited about it.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The most dangerous cake recipe in the world

Tonight at the learning centre where I teach literacy, I got handed a very dangerous piece of paper.

On it: the recipe for 5-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

What? Chocolate cake from scratch in five minutes? Who can feel SAFE anymore?!

I had to try this out to see if it was for real. My roommate, Amie, was up for it. Two minutes of prep time and three minutes in the microwave later, a mug of steaming chocolate cake was in my hands.

Spongey, moist, chocolatey goodness. Dear god, now what will I do? Buy ice cream?

I know, you're wondering if you too can do this at home. My recommendation: don't. But if you must, just visit DizzyDee for the recipe and photos. Or watch the video below. Guaranteed to immediately add rolls to your waistline. Consider yourself warned.