Friday, December 16, 2011

The Great Wallpaper Removal of 2011

Well, my week of vacation is quickly coming to an end, and I’ve finished everything I could wall-paper removal-wise...  Laundry room, kitchen, front bedroom, bathroom and living room wall-paper is all gone now, and all that is left is my bedroom (which is the least heinous of all I have found) and some bits that need to be cleaned up around light fixtures and electrical outlets – things I didn’t want water from the steamer dripping into.

So… the great unveil of what’s underneath?

Kitchen – before & after:
BLACK AND WHITE FLOWERS - everywhere... sigh
Hey - that looks like another window!
I may be doing more construction than I thought!

OK, the pink ISN'T better - but at least it's down to the bottom layer!

Laundry room – before & after:
Blue Flowers... 
No more blue flowers...
 Front bedroom – before & after:
Not one, but two different kinds of flowered paper...
WAY better!!

AND... it's really close to what I'm thinking of painting it anyhow!
Some WAY better, some not so much – but that’s what a good thick primer and light toned paint colour are for, right?

Next up? Some Feng Shui updates…

With love across the waters,

Monday, December 12, 2011

New… in the WTF File

I am on vacation this week and so have a LOT of projects around the house planned - Feng Shui related, home renovation related and just general catch up on life related. Oh, and some Christmas shopping too, since I'm off. I have, though, decided that my house needs a WTF file.  

Such things added will be:
My most recent addition?  The living room wall. What was visible when I bought the house was (peeling) textured cream coloured wallpaper. 

Yesterday it was one of two walls tackled in “The Great Wallpaper Removal of 2011.”

The Steamer and The Scoring Tool

Just LOOK at the spikes on this baby!!!
What did I find under the textured wallpaper?

Silver paint in some places.  Yes, Silver.  In other places? FLOCKED SILVER WALLPAPER!!!!!

Yes, that’s right – textured wallpaper was hiding flocked silver wallpaper on top of patches of silver paint that was painted onto beautiful strip cedar walls.

But really – how do you explain silver paint AND flocked silver wallpaper? In a living room???


Here are some before pictures of yesterday’s project:
The first layer of wallpaper between the bedrooms
The second layer of wallpaper between the bedrooms

Textured wallpaper on the living room wall
 And here are the after shots:
MUCH better!!

Really... I should have left it alone!
Unfortunately, since that particular wall is cedar strip, I don't think I'm going to be able to save it.  The paint appears to have soaked into the cedar to quite a depth.  I think all I'm going to be able to do is paint over it.  That particular wall will be, much as it breaks my heart to say it, OK to paint over (which goes completely against how I feel about wood) becasue the living room is so small. The dark panels of the wood make it a very enclosed and dark space  - what I really want in my home is a light and bright space.

Today, after a dog walk and some errands that need completion,  I’m taking on the wallpaper in the bathroom and the wallpaper in the kitchen.  Wednesday I plan to take on my bedroom and, if I have time, the laundry room and then Thursday I’ll finish it out with my home office.

With love across the waters,

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Complaints and Compliments...

People have a habit of taking their anger and frustrations out on those who work in service positions – and they don’t seem to think twice about it. I work in a financial institution, believe me, I know!

This week a client I worked with brought me a card to say thank you for helping her with something and telling me that I had made a real difference to her – and that, in turn, made a HUGE difference to me – and now it has me thinking.

It’s simple for people to complain – and people complain easily and all the time.

Compliments? They are few and far between - but when they come in, they have a true and significant impact on the recipient – they are appreciated!

So… here’s my ask for you all today – if you are out and about and have a good client service experience, take the time to ask to speak to the manager and THANK them for the service – and name the person whose service made a difference - a simple act, that will take two minutes of your time will, I guarantee, make someone’s whole day brighter!

Think about it - we are never too busy to stop and complain. Why, then, is it that we always seem to be too busy to stop and make a compliment?

... And a really sweet little side benefit is that, having given a genuine compliment that will have a positive impact on someone else’s day, YOU will feel brighter and happier as well.

With love across the waters,

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Weekend - Stuff and No Nonsense!

I decided last week that, since Carrie's Mum is in town and I would not be needed for a Nephew Day (OK, I'm sulking a little bit here) that I would like, very much, to go hang with my Mum & Dad for a night.

The weather yesterday when I left here gave me a momentary twinge of guilt - it was warm and sunny and I KNOW I should have been out in the yard doing search and clean-up for the dog-bombs left hidden in the now melted snow - as well as assorted clean-up, pruning back, cutting down and general tidy of the jungle that is my back yard. I put on my sunglasses, turned up the music and drove instead.

On the way down I stopped at a new discovery (for me) - a marvellous land of assorted stuff that has been salvaged from construction and demolition jobs.  Demexx is in between Parksville and Qualicum - on Highway 4A and is TOTALLY worth the trip.  I may have to make more trips there to see the REST of the stuff they have all OVER the place. I bought some plates for the light switches and plug sockets (to replace the scary metal ones) and I also found this amazing gem - its a replica, but none the less, it is a traditional, Victorian Mechanical Doorbell My Great Grandparents had one on their house in Nanaimo and I LOVED ringing it. 

Plus, if the power goes out, the doorbell will always work!

Speaking of losing power, a couple of weeks ago I told you all about the day of bears and power failures… The bears required that I change some of my habits and now the garbage can is inside.  The power outage made me re-think some of my “home renovation" priorities and so I am now on the hunt for a wood stove.

OK – it was actually coming home, in the dark, to a cold house that forced my hand. In any case, I have been scoping out local stores this past week in order to see what my options are.

I totally struck out at the first place I contacted – their hours of business are Tuesday to Saturday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  My work hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM. I could go over there, three or four times, at lunch, to see what they have and get information, I suppose.

Last night, up at my parents’ house for the night, I was talking with my folks about The Great Wood Stove Challenge of 2011 – and we started talking about wood stoves, what they have, and, well, that led to some Google action.

I love Google Action!

Anyhow, last night I learned that there is a company here on Vancouver Island that manufactures wood stoves (giant check mark from me for buying locally manufactured goods!!) Pacific Energy.

Online, mum and I scoped out a couple of styles (for my space I am looking for a VERY small stove) and then we located a local (Courtenay, BC) vendor.  On my way home this afternoon I stopped in, for information and a price (that didn’t make my eyes well up in agony and my stomach clench in fear) and I left my name and number so I can arrange for someone to come out and look at my place and give me a quote.

In the mean time, here’s a link to the little baby I’m looking at: The Vista. Isn’t it cute?

So... I really need to get more work done on my Feng Shui project.  Luckily, I have a week off starting on December 12th - my plan for that week is to get some stuff done around here in the way of wallpaper removal, get Christmas Shopping (ack) done, and then plug away at some more of the Feng Shui cures I still need to complete around the house.

With love across the waters,

Monday, November 21, 2011


Waking up in my own home every morning is a treat.  Some mornings there are surprises as well - case in point, the bears having chewed on my garbage can.

This morning was no different - here's why:

I LOVE living here!!!

With love across the waters,

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bears? Really??

You may not know this about me, but sometimes I need to learn things the hard way.

Alright, alright!  I admit it, I USUALLY need to learn things the hard way.  This week’s “key learnings” have been no different – and quite interesting.

At about 2:00 am Wednesday morning Jasmine woke me up by barking – there was some scuffling and banging outside, but I figured it was just kids messing around, told Jasmine to shut up, and went back to sleep.

When I took her out for her morning “constitutional” walk, there was nothing out of the ordinary (that I could see at 6am, in the dark) when we came back home. This in mind, we went inside and I got ready for work & exited the house… Wednesday is garbage day, so I went to get my garbage can and IT WAS MISSING! 

Those Damn Kids stole my garbage can!!!  Mumble mumble, curse curse,

A small side note? I *might* also be turning into a Grumpy Old Person.

I turned to get into my car and there it was, wedged between the car and one of the upright posts holding the overhang up… jammed in between actually… I walked around the car and saw the lid was off and the can was completely empty – the garbage bag vanished.

Hm.  Maybe it was not kids after all?

I picked up the can (which is plastic) and then the lid and THE LID HAS HOLES POKED IN IT – I MEAN HOLY CRAP – ARE THOSE TEETH HOLES???  F-ME – ARE THOSE BEAR TEETH HOLES???????

Wednesday was a Good Day – and around 10 in the morning, one of the ladies told me that it is “snowing like a bugger” out in Cumberland (where I live)


I do have to say it though, there was bloody HORRIBLE weather in Courtenay, all day – rain and wind and fricken cold… I sat in my office, hoping the snow would stick around until at least I got home and could let my dog outside to freak out in it and run around…

5:00 PM rolled around, and I headed home… driving along the connector highway I noted that lights were off – and an intersection light was out as well.


Closer to home, yup, more lights were out…


I pulled into Cumberland and ALL of the lights around were out.


I have a land line (thank God) – that (and the cell phone) is the only thing that will work when the power goes out.  I called Hydro and the power was hopeful to be back on around 6… apparently there had been an horrific car accident at about 10 in the morning that took out power to about 10 000 homes and businesses…

The power came on at about 20 minutes to 6:00, and the furnace a minute or two after that.

Key learnings from Wednesday?
  • Garbage can – MUST keep it in the house until garbage day – there really ARE bears out here and they really DO attack garbage cans for stuff. 
  • I need to learn how to put the chains on the tires of my car (you know, just in case)
  • I had to change “top priority” items on my “to do” list – the top item now is to have the chimney repaired & make certain the flue is in good shape and then get a wood stove (and a couple of cords of wood) because when the power goes out I have NO heat source in the house.
  • Candles won’t cut it when the power goes out – I also need some safety lights and maybe a Coleman stove (or something like that) that run on battery and “mini” propane tank power…
  • I have no salt – I NEED to get some salt. ASAP. For my driveway. It’s a sheet of fricken ice out there right now and I used the last of my old Sifto table salt to make the path to my car a little safer to walk on…

With love across the waters,

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Playing Catch-Up Post Head Cold

Ah yes, the dreaded head cold. It starts with a feeling that not everything is right with the world – sort of fuzzy in the brain with a side order of tired.

A week ago this past Friday it started – and I knew something was up when I realized, on the way to work, that I had completely zoned out while driving and ran a red light - lucky for me, my guardian angels were looking after me and there was no-one on the road to be put at risk by my lack of attention.

I left work around noon that same day and only finally made it back into the office yesterday – the following Saturday.  This head cold ran the short gamut from slightly sore throat to full-on laryngitis, clogged sinuses, coughing and sneezing – sometimes even accompanied by a bleeding nose from the aforementioned sneezing and coughing.


I’m feeling better – no longer contagious – but still stuffy and coughing and wearing out WAY too quickly to be considered normal.  I managed about 30 minutes of outside activity today – mostly chopping up already cut-down branches and then dragging them to the ever growing pile of yard waste that is waiting to be hauled away (once I am feeling better enough to participate in said activity)

So taking advantage of the restricted indoors time this week, I caught completely up on paperwork and filing that has been sitting in my top desk drawer since mid September.  I also re-arranged the office and sorted through some more items to try and get the office-come-spare-room into a more liveable space.

Wallpaper was ignored.

OK – wallpaper was sort of ignored.  I thought, finally, on Thursday, that I might have enough energy to maybe rent a steamer and have a go at removal of some of it in order to start seeing what might still be underneath – and also to allow me the chance to see just how much patching, mudding and sanding work might be required before I look to painting the space I live in with colours that might be more palatable to me.

Why Thursday? I went into town to the walk-in clinic to make certain I wasn’t carrying anything terrifically contagious (like the strep throat that has been cavorting around the Comox Valley) but by the time I finished a the walk in clinic (about an hour and a half after I got there – which was RIGHT at opening time – I was too wiped out to think about going to the tool place and renting the steamer.

I have some lovely, light, colours picked out for paint for the house. Two of the colours are ones I had and used in my house in Ontario – pale earth tones and yellow/golds. What I am thinking I will do is pick up some “tester” sized amounts of the paints I am thinking to use so that I can be sure that the colours I have picked will work for me for the spaces.

My highest priority space will still be the bathroom – have I mentioned the grey that is in there? Agh.  Just so you can see what I have to work with, here are some “before” pictures.

I had the light fixture replaced about a week and a half ago – just before I got sick – and the difference that just the lighting makes is pretty amazing. I got a little bored and did peel some of the wallpaper off – so it looks really grotty right now – I *may* just rent the steamer and get that particular space wallpaper-free sooner rather than later… primer and paint coats could be done in the evenings and the results would certainly be lighter and better than what it looks like…

Here are a couple with the new light – I’m not photographing well today – I can’t seem to do it justice, but trust me, three 100 watt bulbs shed WAY more light than one 38 watt bulb did!

Maybe, if I feel up to it tomorrow, I will rent a steamer for the day and tackle taking off that wallpaper…

With love across the waters,

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Three More Kinds of Wallpaper, Shelf Paper AND Pink Paint...

The total wallpaper count is now up to 15.

Yup – another couple of spots where there was wallpaper under wallpaper. I have samples, so far, of 11 of them. I will be keeping samples of ALL of them, once off the walls…

I pulled off all of the checker board stuff in the kitchen – the stuff behind the stove peeled right off (I had just made tea) and so did the stuff that was being used as a “back splash” – but that was stuck onto the actual back splash – also made of the same green speckledy arborite as the counter – and peeled right off. The new finds include a blue grey with tiny white flowers:

This is under the counter up against the walls...
A pale blue and white pattern that reminds me of the patterns and colours in Delfts china:

This is in the kitchen, was under the black and white stuff  over the doorway to the hall

And the greeny-white stripey stuff under the other, most heinous stuff, in the bathroom:

I REALLY need to rent a steamer and get the darn stuff off ALL of the walls in one go… but I’m not up for going out today and I don’t think the tools rental place is open tomorrow.  I could steam wallpaper while sick – the steam would be good for me, right?

The shelf paper – a beauteous green and white plaid pattern – was on one of the shelves in the kitchen cupboards:

And last, but not least, when I was puttering around and moving stuff from the fridge freezer to the chest freezer I saw this:

Which warranted additional investigation:

And finally showed this:

ACK!  I should have left it alone!!!

With love across the waters,

The Voices in My Head

To be clear, I'm not hearing voices telling me to find the tallest building in Cumberland and go shoot people.  That is a good thing since it would be hard to do, as, I believe, the tallest building here is the hotel and it's maybe 3 stories high.  I also don't have a gun. I don't like guns, don't agree with civilians having them unless they are used for "working" purposes like protecting other people or hunting for food that will be consumed and appreciated - but that's another posting altogether.

I suppose I could go up to the roof and shoot paperclips at people using an elastic band (a small but useful skill I have developed) but that would be WAY too much work for me today.

No, the voice I am hearing in my head today is my Mum's voice - telling me that, if I am too sick to go to school (or in this case, work) I'm too sick to go out and do yard work. 

I don't take sickkies often - my parents raised (my brother and) me to work hard and to be honest.  Always. For me, this shows itself in the actual number of sick days taken and what I will allow myself to do on one. Today will be the second sick day taken in the past two years. It falls on a Saturday (which is the Friday of my work week) and so I will have three full days off, in a row, to get better. 

So what will I do for the next three days? Nothing I had planned, for starters!  Today I was going to drop off my recycling and see about getting a kitchen-sized trash can. Tomorrow Mum & Dad were going to bring Grandpa up to Cumberland to see my house and then later Sunday afternoon I had been going to have a guy come over with his truck to take a load of yard waste and such to the dump. Monday I had been going to Nanaimo to spend the day with Carrie and Finn. 

What I will actually do over the weekend will look more like puttering around indoors.  I'll take Jasmine out for some light walks, to be sure, but the bulk of my time will be inside doing inside things.  I still need to organize my home-office-come-spare-room... I would also like, very much, to organize some of the kitchen a little better. That will be about it though.  When I get sick, I run out of energy so quickly its scary - and have a tendency, if strained while sick, to get woozy & things go all hazy until I sit down and let my heart stop racing.

I'm grateful to be able to hear my Mum and Dad's voices in my head - and even more than that, I'm grateful to be able to pick up the phone and hear their voices (and the voices of my Brother and Sister-in-Law) over the wires. It's an awesome and very special thing (I think) that when I feel crummy - even at my fine age of (ahem) 40-something, what makes me feel safe, better and taken care of is hearing the voices of my parents - in my head or on the phone.

With love across the waters,

Monday, October 24, 2011

Winterizing Windows

Since my house has a couple of sashless windows (essentially single panes of glass that slide along each other) And I can't afford (yet) to replace them, this winter I need to winterize them.  What does this mean? Essentially I'm shrink-wrapping plastic on the frames in order to prevent heat loss and stop (or at least slow down) condensation.

Not having done this before, I spoke first with my brother and sister in law, who also live in an old house with a lot of single paned glass windows to find out how it works. My bother has built frames that tuck into the window structures and these help them keep in the heat and keep out the damp.  I'm not at that particular level of sophistication as yet, so I went to my local hardware/building supply store and bought an RCR Climaloc Shrink to Fit Window Insulator Kit.

The kit includes a giant sheet of uber-thin plastic sheeting and a roll of double-sided sticky tape. Additional tools needed include a hair drier and a pair of scissors.  Today being a good day off for me to tackle installing at least a couple of windows' worth of this, I started in the living room.

Hm.  Minor issue at hand - the windows are a titch grimy and so I actually FIRST needed to clean them. OK.  Window cleaned, I opened the box and then read over the instructions.  Pretty simple:
Step 1 - use hair drier to heat up window frame
Step 2 - attach double sided sticky tape around window frame
Step 3 - wait 20 minutes

It was more like 45 since I decided to have a snack and coffee while I waited.

Step 4 - measure window and cut film to size (allow extra room all the way around to be sure I can stick it all around)
Step 5 - warm up tape with hair drier, pull off non-sticky stuff and position plastic all the way around
Step 6 - reposition to pull out wrinkles and then press firmly into place
Step 7 - use hair drier (from outside to inside) on film to "shrink" to fit.
Step 8 - trim off excess with utility knife.

How hard could this be?

Surprisingly, the biggest challenges I had were first getting the windows clean and streak free and then second actually finding my hair drier!

Two windows have been sealed - one of the living room windows (the smaller of the two) and one of the sashless windows.  The other sashless window is in the laundry room and I will actually need an extension cord in order to use my hair drier in there, so that one has to wait until after the Telus guy shows up to install my jacks (he's now an hour and a half late past the appointment window END time) and I can take a run over to Slegg Lumber to pick up an extension cord and a couple of lamps.

Hopefully the Telus guy will show up soon - Jasmine and I have a walk-date for 4PM this afternoon and I would like, very much, to get the window dealt with before then.  I know I could do it after dark - there's a light in there, but Slegg closes at 5:30...

With love across the waters...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Yard Work and Magical Finds

My Mum and Dad came up to visit today and brought my Grandma with them.  Their trip up was partly to see the new house, but also, partly to help me out with some of the yard work that needs two pairs of hands.

Dad and I started out front – we trimmed back a shrub that was growing up across the big window and then Dad climbed up the step ladder and pulled out the rest of the Wisteria that had grown up into the roof line.  I had already cut away all of its connection to its roots, but some of it was too high up for me to get without help.

Once that was done, Dad and I headed into the back yard to tackle some of the overgrowth back there – namely the big dead Sumac tree and its smaller sproutlings on the left side of the yard.

When I took possession of the house, the back yard looked something like this:

Welcome to the jungle, Baby!

Believe it or not, there's a pond under there somewhere!

There's actually a maple tree back there somewhere!

Overgrown Sumac on dead Sumac...

And now, having cut down the dead Sumac as well as its sproutlings, it looks like this:

Holy smokes - I can see the yard!

A Sumac tree still destined to come down...

Huh - there were paving stones under there!
Did you notice? There’s a GORGEOUS Japanese Maple back there – one that was being choked out by the sumac and was completely invisible from the house because of it!

Here’s another shot of this gorgeous little tree:

Now… I think I also mentioned that Mum & Dad gave me a Coral Bark Maple as a house warming present? She is in the back yard right now too – until I can dig her spot in the front.  They are called coral barked trees because new growth has this beautiful coral colour to it – see what I mean?

And neato-fenito? I am finding all SORTS of interesting stuff now that I can actually SEE much more of the back yard… here are a few of the finds to date:

Dragonfly Plaque

tumbled rocks around the pond

wind chimes that were hidden in the Sumac 

PVC pipes - I think used as "fencing"
So... next up will be multiple trips to the dump with cut down trees and branches and stuff... here's just a little of what will eventually end up going:

Everything needs to be cut into smaller pieces

the whole back fence is piled high with stuff!
And just so you know she was there:

The Supervisor!
My neighbour has put me in touch with a friend of his who will, for a very small amount, load the back of his truck and haul items to the dump. Next Sunday we will haul out load #1 from the back. 

With love across the waters,