Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pain in my extension

So I got someone to look at the crawl space under my extension. And, let me tell you, it wasn't good.

So we took off the siding, the deck, the rotten wood -- yes, ROTTEN -- and now we're looking at the ORIGINAL job which was to INSULATE that crawl space.

It's good times when you find out how many crappy reno jobs were done on your 1840s house.

Every day brings more joy to my heart.

And more pain to my wallet.

Click for more photos of the joy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Starbucks Shmarbucks

Starbucks Shmarbucks
Originally uploaded by miskan
Earth Day @ Starbucks meant free coffee for those who brought their own cups.

Or so I thought.

And then I decided to go with a group of people who don't normally go (I, on the other hand, faithfully go for a London Fog every single day) and I brought my usual cup.

And guess what happened? While everyone else got their coffee, I got denied. Because I didn't have the RIGHT kind of cup. Somehow, REUSING a cup EVERY SINGLE DAY (not just Earth Day) is less environmentally friendly than showing up once a year with ceramic mug.

Really, how many times do you throw out your coffee cups? Not me: I keep em and use em over and over. Probably for about a full week. I have about five cups on my desk right now, rinsed. Waiting for use. I only accumulated so many venti cups because I didn't have a mug with me at the time so I kept the paper ones and reused them. Honestly, I WOULD use a ceramic or porcelain mug but I can't find one big enough.

So I felt personally saddened by my denial at Starbucks today. Fail, Starbucks.

In other news, I went to the AGO for free tonight with my friend, Sarah. It was lovely! I haven't been there since it reopened. Their staircase is really a piece of art. Good thing, too, as it takes up so much room.

And then I rode my bike back home again and found that my furnace STILL isn't turning on. It's been like this since Monday. Or possibly the weekend, I'm not sure. We only noticed it Monday. I keep hoping (in vain) that it will just magically start. Instead, I keep coming home to a colder and colder house. Tonight, it's 14 degrees. Not horrible, but not the usual 20 I have for those hours between 6pm and 10pm when I want to be all relaxed and warm and sleepy.

Instead, I have donned an extra sweater (wearing four layers now). The temperature seems to be pretty stable at 14 -- I'm thinking that my neighbours are heating my house -- the benefits of living in a townhouse.

And on my bed is an extra blanket. And a warm cat, because Gus, my roommate's cat, is staying with us for a couple of days. (He makes me miss my cat, Mao. But not enough to want him back.)

All in all, I'd say I've had a very earth-loving day what with my turned-down furnace, my bike riding and my non-consumption of coffee from Starbucks (I made my own tea at home today - screw them).

Happy Earth Day!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Splashin out!

This morning, my kitchen was naked.

I made my tea before a drywall backsplash. With penciled contractor sketches.

Now, it has a shiny new backsplash.

I'd been planning this for weeks. Ever since I finally got my outlets in the right places. Which apparently takes a long time to get around to. In any case, my handy friends Claude and Rebecca volunteered to help me. They arrived on bikes around 11am. By lunch time, the south wall was hung with subway tiles.

By 7pm we were sitting down to a Cambodian dinner with the whole kitchen clean and subway-tile shiny.

It looks weird. Like when your hair grows out, all scraggely and then you get a good, albeit short, haircut and it takes you a while to get used to it. Suddenly, I have a backsplash. For under $100!? (All I have left to do is grout it.)

And it was really quite fun. I'm feelin pretty powerful.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The big clean up

My parents were over for Easter dinner on Sunday and they took one look at the backyard I'd been working on so hard the day before and I think my mom wanted to get her hands on it immediately.

It's OK, I can admit it: it was a garbage dump. My contractor, although obligated by his contract to clean it up, had left it a wasteland (described in my last post).

So my mom, always wanting to be useful and productive, told me she was coming back on her day off (Tuesday) to continue with my clean-up efforts. I felt bad about that: why should my MOM have to clean up my crappy back yard? But she insisted that she really wanted to do it. And at the last minute my dad found out that he had the day off too and joined her.

By the time I returned home after work yesterday, they had JUST finished picking up the last of the trash, placing my patio stones straight and level. My dad had started regrading the soil and my garden had a stone border on it.

I can't believe the transformation!

I had been so overwhelmed by all the crap back there. I thought it would never look like a place you'd want to hang out. And then this.

Now I can see it all unfolding. I can see that winding gravel or flagstone path back to my gate. I can see my patio set right near my BBQ on the deck. I can imagine that one day, there will be some shade-tolerant low-growing shrubs on the south side and bright, cheery blooms on the north. It will happen. I will one day serve dinner back there and not be embarrassed.

It's a long road ahead, but at least the path has been cleared for this garden-in-the-rough!
Praise to awesome parents!

And check out my bookmarks on planning my garden -- feel free to suggest other good articles.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Turn your photo-wall into a photo-corner

This weekend, I was working on my house and spent a few down-moments to consider my interior decorating (note that right now, I have primer on some walls, splatters of paint stripper on others, the outlines of de-assembled coat racks on still more and some crappy not-quite-white paint on the remaining ones).

I'm considering a palette including sagey green, light blue or a dark purpley/red (or possibly orange so I don't have to reupholster my couch, but maybe it's time anyway), dark brown and white. Inspiration came from a little vignette I have on my bookcase with my gorgeous orchid prominently featured. (Anyone recommending a spot where I should put together my palette?)

Anyway, I started thinking about art and what I'm going to do about it. This is pretty cool: a set of photo frames that wrap around a corner of your walls. Turns an otherwise useless chimney stack or heating duct into an art wall.

I like the dark brown frames. I'm not sure I have cool enough photos to put in there, though. OR do I want to create my own art? Or pay one of my many awesome photographer friends a small amount to create a gallery in my living room?

More here on the frame:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The joys of garbage

How are you spending YOUR Easter weekend?

I finally managed to get started on my landscaping project. Step one: prep.

Luckily, my contractor's scope of work included picking up after the renovations. As you can see from the photo (click for larger and more photos) he did such a bang-up job that it was all fun and games today.

Which, in my case, means picking up sodden drywall, fibreglass insulation that had melted into the soil, about 20 or so nails, bits of carpet underpadding and full on chunks of concrete that were on TOP of my flower beds. Sorry, former flower beds. Now it's pretty much of a wasteland.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Mesh09 Toronto

Mesh09 Toronto
Originally uploaded by acroll
This is what I'm doing.

Yesterday, today, tomorrow.

And I'm going to work. Because that's what I do. And I'm doing a BIG project there. AND I've got a migraine. AND I've got no medication. AND I was at work until 11pm last night. AND up at 7am. AND the streetcar didn't come. AND that made me late for the keynote. AND I had to pay full price for my London Fog this morning as I didn't have my cup OR my card.

AND today sucks, generally.
Please I would like it to end.

But I wrote a blog yesterday that I think is OK: "Bootstrapping or 'How to be a cheap b@st@rd'".

I am not the greatest company today. I'm sorry about that.