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Jun 1, 2017

Basement Renovation Progress Report - Subfloor

Believe it or not, we're still chipping away at the basement renovation. We always seem to have other things going on each weekend that keep us from putting in a good day's (or 2 days') work. Sometimes Tom mentions taking on a house flip, and I think, "We can't even get ours renovated in a reasonable time - how could we do two?"

So most of the subfloor is in now. There is still an area in the workshop that we're holding off on completing until the window is replaced. It's on order now so, fingers crossed, it'll be in by the end of June.

amdry subfloor basement renovation

The subfloor we decided on was AmDry insulated flooring in 2 ft x 4 ft panels. Along with the plywood and foam insulation, the panels have a "waffled" vapour barrier underside that allows moisture and air to flow beneath. If there's ever a water problem, the water will flow under the floor to the sump in the corner.

amdry subfloor basement renovation

The panels fit together with plastic connectors rather than connecting directly to each other. It's still tongue and groove, but the boards are all "groove" and the connectors are all "tongue" so you never have to think about which way to place the board; it always fits.

amdry subfloor basement renovation

It was a little more expensive than the other subflooring available, but it also has a higher R value (R-5 vs. R-1.7), meaning that our basement will stay toasty warm in winter.

I say "we", but Tom did most of it. I had fun banging some of the panels into place, but I left all of the cutting to him. The floor is laid in a staggered pattern to minimize long joints and flexing, with shims placed along the wall all the way around the room. This small extra space created by the shim allows for expansion and contraction of the panels over time/temperature changes.

amdry subfloor basement renovation

amdry subfloor basement renovation

We're both really happy with how it looks and how easy it was to install. I like that it looks like the panels are grouted. The dogs were a little wary of walking on it, but once we moved some furniture and a dog bed into the area, they decided it wasn't so bad after all.

amdry subfloor basement renovation

amdry subfloor basement renovation

amdry subfloor basement renovation

And there you have it. Not the most exciting update - but some progress has been made.

May 9, 2017

Main Bathroom - Mini-Makeover

We have a rough schedule in our heads of when certain projects will be done. The main bathroom renovation is a long way down the list, definitely after the basement and the kitchen. The bathroom is going to be a "to the studs" gut, and as it's the only bathroom with a shower in it right now, it's going to have to wait until we at least have a shower in the ensuite.

Buuuuut....Tom was getting really frustrated with the vessel sinks. He's not a fan of them to begin with, and to make it worse there were two - in this tiny space. Completely unnecessary. This is where he gets ready in the morning, so he had to look at them every day. He didn't think he could stand them much longer, let alone for a year or two, so he decided to do a mini-makeover - a Phase 1 renovation if you will.

If you remember from the new house tour, this was the original bathroom:

main bathroom before - vessel sinks
main bathroom before - vessel sinks

And this is how it looks now:

main bathroom after - granite countertop - renovation
main bathroom after - granite countertop - renovation

Since this was only an intermediate makeover, we didn't want to spend too much money - after all, it was just going to be done all over again later. Tom found a granite-topped vanity with a single sink (single sink!) for $125 at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The top, sink, and tap were all in excellent shape, and the cabinet was just missing a drawer and the toe-kick trim (the other drawers and door are out of frame).

granite top vanity - Restore

The new vanity was a little bit wide for the space, so we had the top cut down on each side by a contractor friend. The sections that were removed were large enough to become side splashes - our friend even polished the edges for us.

The base cabinet also had to be cut down and so we lost the side drawers. But we might just build new, narrower ones or add some shelves instead. Tom was even able to reuse the doors - they just had to be cut down, repainted, and have new hinges attached. Once the vanity was in I gave the room a fresh coat of paint - in BM Collingwood. It's the same colour I painted the kitchen and living room, and I still had 3/4 of a gallon left over.

main bathroom after - granite countertop - renovation

The final change was to take out the two medicine cabinets/mirrors and replace them with a single larger, wood-framed mirror. We already had a large mirror just languishing in a closet, and Tom built the frame from scrap wood - the same wood I used for the coat rack/shelf in the front entryway actually.

main bathroom before - mirrors

main bathroom after - granite countertop - renovation - custom mirror

I added two framed photos that were previously hanging in the computer room at our old house, a wicker basket to hold Tom's toiletries, and one of our beloved wooden sea turtles.

main bathroom after - granite countertop - renovation - custom mirror
main bathroom after - granite countertop - renovation - custom mirror
main bathroom after - granite countertop - renovation - custom mirror

If you're keeping track, the costs were:
vanity - $125
granite cutting - $0
paint - $0
mirror - $0
frame - $0
decorations - $0

That's it, that's all. $125 makeover. I think it might be a new record. And Tom's happy, so I'm happy - even if he does spend more time in the bathroom than he did before.

main bathroom after - granite countertop - renovation
main bathroom after - granite countertop - renovation
sea turtle honu wood granite





Apr 25, 2017

Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving

I don't have a cute intro for this post - I just had too many framed photos filling cardboard boxes and stacked against the walls in the spare room and I was really tired of looking at the blank walls every day!

One Saturday morning I told Tom that we really needed to build shelves and that it shouldn't take very long. I loved the floating shelves we had in the living room in our last house. But this time I wanted them to be chunkier, and it didn't really matter if they were floating. I grabbed the iPad and Tom went to his computer so that we could both look for ideas. I walked into the room to show him one I'd found that I liked, and hand-to-heart, he had the same image on his screen and was about to show me. Fate, baby.

Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY

We headed into town for supplies - three 2x6x8 foot boards (shelves would be 6 ft long) and pipe fittings for 6 supports (2 per shelf). We were looking for 6 inch pipes (called nipples), but the shortest pipe we could find was 10 inches - that would make the shelves far too deep for our liking. Tom remembered that he had a length of 3/4" plumbing pipe at home that was left over from relocating the washer/dryer that he could cut up, so we only had to buy end caps and flanges.

Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY

Back home, Tom went off to cut the pipe down to ~6 inch lengths and I sanded the boards. Now were you to buy the correct length of pipe it would already come threaded at each end. Our pipe pieces, having just been cut, were not. You need those threads to attach the end cap and flange. Luckily, we also have a pipe threader - a nifty little tool that carves threads into the pipe. It's a bit messy - metal dust will fly - but quick and efficient.

Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY Pipe Threader
Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY Pipe Threader
Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY Pipe Threader

Once Tom had the pipes cut and threaded, he attached the end caps and flanges. We then figured out where we wanted the supports (i.e. where the studs were in the wall), and secured them to the wall. We also set the boards in place to make sure we were happy with the look.

We took it all down and headed back to the basement where Tom set up the supports on some cardboard and spray painted them a matte black while I stained and waxed the shelf boards.

Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY


I had planned on using an espresso-coloured stain that I'd had for awhile (maybe too long), but the colour was really washed-out, so I went with my usual - Minwax stain in Jacobean - which I also had on hand. I swear, I should be their spokesperson, I use it so often.

Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY

The next day we hung the supports back up and put the boards in place. Tom did make a couple of adjustments to the supports (tightening or loosening the end caps) so that the shelves were very secure. And any adult...toy joke you can think of has already been made. Trust me.

Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY
Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY

One other modification we made: since you want the shelves to be level, the boards will sit only on the pipe, not up on the flange. But the flange has a little neck that sticks out and that puts a pretty big gap between the shelf and the wall. To overcome this, Tom marked where each board rested on a support and cut a semicircular notch in the back of each shelf so that the neck of the flange drops into it.

Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY

That way the shelf sits as close to the wall as possible. You could make the notch even bigger so that the shelf is flush against the wall, but we've found in the past that walls (and boards) are rarely perfectly straight and you end up with gaps anyway. Better that they look intentional.

Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY

I considered spray painting the screw heads to match when the supports were being painted, but instead I just used a Q-tip and painted them by hand. I figured they would have to be touched up anyway after installation so there was no point in doing the work twice.


Now to the fun part - decorating. Most of the pictures are the same ones that were on the shelves at the old house, but there are a couple of new ones - including the painting that looks like Sasha that we found at HomeGoods in Ohio. It used to hang over her food bowl at the old house. I was also able to include the turtle carvings that we bought on our last trip to Hawaii. We bought them about 4 hours before our flight left, from a store that was going out of business, so it was a lucky find. They've been tucked away in the bookcase ever since.

Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY
Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY

I love the wood. Some people have mentioned that we should have matched the stain to the dining room table, but I like being able to see the wood grain. And I don't think the supports would make as much of a statement if the wood was darker. The bench we built a few years ago looks very similar, so I think once it's available (it's currently being used as a TV stand) we'll place it nearby so they can complement each other. The picture frames are also so many different shades of wood that it's a perfect mishmash of colour.

Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY
Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY
Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY
Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY
Plumbing Pipe Open Shelving DIY

Apr 12, 2017

Carrot Cake Easter Cupcakes (with Cream Cheese Frosting)

I'm not a baker by any means. But there's something about spring and Easter that just makes me want to get creative. I have a recipe for carrot cake that I love - I think it's the pineapple that really makes it - and nothing is better than cream cheese frosting.

Easter cupcakes carrot cake cream cheese frosting


For the cupcakes:

1 cup pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
3/4 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup crushed pineapple with juice

Pumpkin Pie Spice:
(This will give you more than enough spice)

1/2 tbs cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice


For the frosting:

1/2 cup of cream cheese - softened
1 cup of icing sugar (i.e.confectioners' sugar)
butter
food colouring
piping bag and tips (or plastic sandwich bags if you're like me)

~~~~~

Preheat the oven to 300-325 degrees depending on your oven. Cupcakes cook faster than cake and you don't want to dry them out.

Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, oil, and egg, stirring well. Add the carrots and pineapple, stirring again. You could add coconut or chopped nuts as well at this point. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture a little at a time, blending as you go.

Spoon the batter into greased cupcake tins, filling them about half full. I found that the batter rises quite a bit so don't overfill them. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

While the cupcakes are baking you can prepare the frosting. Cream the sugar and cream cheese together until smooth. If you would like the frosting a little softer add butter a little at a time to get the consistency you like. I added my butter (about 1/4 cup) at the start and didn't like how soft/runny the icing was so I suggest testing as you go. If you want stiffer icing, add more icing sugar.

Divide your icing into small containers and dye each with the food colouring of your choice. For orange you will need just one drop of red but several drops of yellow. That red is strong stuff!

I don't have a piping bag so I just used several small sandwich bags with the corners snipped off instead. Spoon in some icing and squeeze it down to the corner you've snipped. Then use your imagination for the decorations!

Here is my first cupcake. I liked the look of the carrot so much that I made all the small ones the same. Carrot cake has to have carrots on top.

Easter cupcakes carrot cake cream cheese frosting

Easter cupcakes carrot cake cream cheese frosting

Easter cupcakes carrot cake cream cheese frosting

In the spirit of full disclosure, I attempted some other styles that are not quite as pretty. I think the baby chick and the rabbit look like they're wearing sunglasses, don't you? The rabbit ears are made from pieces of paper with some pink icing applied.

Easter cupcakes carrot cake cream cheese frosting

They're not professional looking - I get it. But I had a lot of fun. And they were fun to eat too! The pineapple makes a huge difference to the moistness and flavour. You know, the more I look at them, the cuter I think they are. Well done, me.

Easter cupcakes carrot cake cream cheese frosting

I think I'm going to keep working on this decorating thing. I'll give you an update when my bakery is opening. Image result for happy face emoji

Easter cupcakes carrot cake cream cheese frosting

Easter cupcakes carrot cake cream cheese frosting

Easter cupcakes carrot cake cream cheese frosting

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