2018, one hell of a year

Back in January, I thought that being woken up at 3am by fire fighters pounding on your door was the scariest thing to live through.  Turns out, I was wrong.  Having a stranger pound on your door at 9pm, while you’re getting your son ready for bed, to yell at you to get out of the house because the house next door is on fire, is much, much worse.

That’s exactly what happened to us earlier this week and I have to tell you, it’s awful.    Standing outside watching the flames just a few feet from our house, the embers landing on our roof, I was convinced that our house was going to burn down.  Just that afternoon our home insurance renewal came through and was I trying to figure out how we could possibly call the insurance company just 10 months later to tell them this.

People often talk about what they would grab during a fire, or an emergency.  If you had just minutes to decide, what would you take?   Over the years I’ve had this discussion with people and I’ve always thought; paperwork (birth certificates, etc), money, pictures and certain jewelley that means a lot to me.

During the flood when we were evacuated, I wasn’t worried about our house being destroyed because I figured the water could only go so high.  I knew the city workers were on the way to shut off the water so I grabbed my sons and my iPad and our winter gear and headed out the door.  We were still in our pyjamas, but my parents only live down the street and I figured by daylight, once the hydro was shut off, we’d be allowed back in the house to get more items.

The fire was a different story.  Once we realized what was going on, we saw the flames through our back and side windows.  They were just a few feet from our house.  I didn’t think about pictures or money or objects or anything like that at all.  I scooped up my dog while yelling for my husband and son.  I only thought of my purse because it happened to be sitting at my entry way table by the front door.  We threw on shoes and ran out the door, without even grabbing winter jackets.  We literally left with the clothes on our back and that was all.

Somehow, the universe looked out for us.  The wind was blowing in the right direction and the dampness from the day of rain protected our house.   My heart is broken for our neighbors who are now homeless.  Their house pretty much burned down and hardly anything could be salvaged.  Other then a few scorch marks, some bubbled paint and a cracked side glass entry door, our house was spared.

Standing on the front lawn watching the fire department battling the blaze all I could think of was the year we’ve had.   Beginning with the flood, the asbestos nightmare, I stood there thinking to myself, I’m not sure how much more I can take.  But then a neighbor pointed out my son and I didn’t have jackets and rushed to grab one for us both and I thought about it.   We were safe.  Again.  When the time came and I had to decide, all that mattered to me to save, was us.

I love my house.  I love my things.  I love my pictures and books and memories.  But more then anything, I love us.

 

picture frames

I’ve slowly been working on updating our master bedroom.  At the end of the summer, I painted a side table to match our headboard and have been searching for new/old dressers to paint for months.  Along with the dressers, I’ve been keeping an eye on sales for a new square picture frame for my favourite picture that hangs in our bedroom.

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It occurred to me a few days ago that perhaps I didn’t need a new frame after all.  I grabbed my paint box and found the white paint and took apart the picture frame to get to work.  If you were wondering just how cheap I am, well I’m cheap enough that I’d rather paint an existing picture frame then buy an entire new one!

 

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It only took a couple of coats but it covered up quite nicely.  A quick coat of varnish and I didn’t have to search for a new frame any longer!

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Jellybean house mailbox

I love the Jellybean row houses in Newfoundland.  The colours, the shapes, everything about them appeal to me.  A few years ago I noticed someone in my neighborhood had a jellybean row house mailbox and I’ve wanted one ever since.  I’ve kept my eyes out at craft sales, but never found one.  I searched online and found some beautiful crafted mailboxes, but they’re all more then what I’d be willing to spend on a mailbox.

A couple of months ago I started to think about how I could make my own jellybean mailbox.  I love crafting but wasn’t sure if I had the skill or patience to take on this project.   I found a simple black metal mailbox at Home Depot for less then $17.00 and decided to give it a shot. A quick trip to the craft shop and $15.00 on paint later, I was ready to start.

I decided on five colours and played with the paint bottle arrangement until I found the colour scheme I wanted

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I began my painting the front of the mailbox white.  I wanted a nice clean slate and was worried that the paint wouldn’t cover over the black well.

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Next, I used painters tape and taped off areas so that it was broken down into five paint-able sections.  I forgot to take a picture of this step, but I painted three of the sections first, then once fully dried I taped up those sections and painted the remaining two.   It ended up taking a couple of coats of paint each colour in order to get a nice cleat coating of paint.

I was worried about how I would paint the windows and doors as I don’t have a steady hand and am not the greatest at painting or drawing straight lines.  I dug through my craft cupboard and found little square tiles that I could use as a guide.  I lined up seven, two for a door and five for windows, and using a fine tipped sharpie, outlined the tiles.  After I outlined each section/house, I used a fine paintbrush and carefully painted the insides of all the squares.

I struggled with outlining the black windows and doors, but found an oil based sharpie white paint pen at the crafting store.  Of course I had a coupon, so it cost only $4.00.  Using a ruler as a guide, I traced the shape of the doors and windows with the white sharpie paint pen.   I varnished the front with four coats of leftover Americana varnish in matte and was very happy with the results.

After spending only $36.00 in supplies, I finally ended up with the Jellybean Row house mailbox I wanted.

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side table refinishing

Okay, I’m going to admit, after my success in furniture painting with my back porch and my entry way cabinet, I’ve started looking around my house trying to figure out what to work on next.

A few months ago I had decided that it was time to update our bedroom.  I’ve never been one to put a lot of effort or cost into my bedroom as it’s just never seemed necessary.  A bedroom is a place to sleep, not entertain.  However, now that we live in a bungalow, I’ve started thinking more about how our bedroom looks, especially when I don’t remember to shut the door before company comes over.

The change in thinking started when I found our headboard.  Fabric covered and rivet filled, it was lovely and definitely an inspiration for wanting to have the rest of the room match it’s prettiness.   I started looking around and realized that none of our bedroom furniture matched, but with a little DIY, that could all change.  I set my eyes first on my side table as it seemed the most easiest choice for painting.

Boy, was I wrong.

I’ve had this piece for 14 years.  It’s lovely on it’s own, but I wanted my bedroom to be light and airy and this dark wood just no longer cut it.

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I decided to use two colours, white for the bottom and grey for the top.  I gave the entire piece a good sanding because there were years of built of wax all over it.  After sanding, I wiped it all down to make sure it was clean and got to work.  I started with a sponge brush but ended up using a soft bristled small paint brush.  I began with using Americana, Multi-Surface Satin in Cotton Ball on the base, but it quickly became apparent that this paint just wasn’t going to cut it.

Three coats in, I was starting to regret ever beginning this piece at all.

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I decided to leave the base for a while and started to work on the top of the table.  I switched to Americana Satin Enamels in Grey Taupe and went back to my sponge brush for application.  I found I had the same problem with covering as I had on the base.  It just wasn’t covering well and was streaking.

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I’m not sure what went wrong, if I should have sanded the piece even better or maybe chose a different type of paint.  But I decided I just needed to plow through this piece to get it finished and switched up the base paint to chalk paint.  Chalk paint has a great reputation for covering quickly and easily so I crossed my fingers and hoped it would work.  I ended up using Americana Chalky paint in Everlasting and was happy to see that it was doing  a much better job covering it up.  The top I ended up lightly sanding and repainting a few times before I finally felt like it was covered well.  Finally, I topped the piece with several coats of Americana decor Satin Varnish.

In the end, this piece was a pain and took way to long to finish.  But, after putting it back into my bedroom and seeing how lovely it looked, it made it all worthwhile.

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flood clean up

It’s been 10 months since our basement flooded and I’m finally starting to feel like the end of the renovation is in sight.  We still have a lot to do, but going downstairs no longer feels like were entering a dark and scary cave.

When the flood was happening and I stood at the top of our stairs looking down at the rushing water that was filling our house, I just kept thinking of the water and how much damage it was going to do.  What I wasn’t thinking of was this:

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This, my friends, is what happens when a water main breaks under a sidewalk and floods your house and property.  Not only does it bring gallons upon gallons of water into your house, but mud and gravel.  The power of the water literally lifted our driveway up, bent in our garage door and not to mention, filled our basement with mud.  When we went home the day after the flood I wanted to cry when I went downstairs.  Everything was filthy and covered in mud and I just kept walking around in tears thinking this will never, ever get clean.

At the start of the demo, when they realized there was asbestos and couldn’t continue without a proper abatement, our rec room truly did resemble a cave.

 

 

 

After firing our second contractor (just dealing with the demolition of the rec room!) my Husband, Jay, decided to take matters into his own hands and do this rebuild on this own.

Except, he’s never done anything like this before.

We started by cleaning, cleaning and cleaning like never before.  We purchased a power washer and set to work washing away the final layers of mud that the demolition crew didn’t scrape up with their shovels.  We used just a basic grey concrete paint to give the floors a fresh look.   We knew we’d have to paint the floors again after the walls were completed but we just needed for it to feel cleaner and fresher and much less depressing.

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In the summer, Jay researched a product that seems to be a basement renovators dream.  He found these panels that include framing, insulation and drywall in one.  We decided to give it a shot.  The price was comparable to buying all the items separately, and considering Jay had never built a room before, it seemed like a gentle way of easing into this renovation.

Next he installed the panels which were as simple as the reviews stated.  Sure, it took some time to do it, but it was much faster then framing and installing insulation and drywall separately.  We did have to do some framing in the interior parts of the basement, but at a much smaller scale then the outer walls, it didn’t feel too intimidating.

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We’ve started the new electrical work and painting the ceiling.  We decided for now to leave the ceiling exposed because we know eventually we want to split the rec room up into two rooms, we’re just not sure how we’re going to configure this yet.  Instead of using a paint sprayer, Jay has been rolling the paint on and using a paint brush for the small spots.  It’s not perfect, but for a first coat it’s looking pretty good.

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There’s still so much that needs to happen, but it’s finally starting to feel close to being done.  At the very least, I’m just happy it’s clean again.

2019 Disney Parks Moms Panel!

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If you’re a Disney Loving Mom like I am, then you know that the application for the 2019 Disney Parks Moms Panel is happening this week.  I’ve been waiting for this week since I first saw that the application process would begin on September 5th.  Trying not to overthink it, I decided to wait until mid-way through the process and then submit my application.

Today was the day!  I logged in this morning and mentally prepared myself to give no more then 1 hour for the process.  I’ve heard rumors that up to 10,000 people apply each year and didn’t want to invest too much time into it to only be crushed if I didn’t make it through.  The questions were a lot easier then I was expecting and the only struggle I found as keep each answer under 100 words.  100 words!  I can use that up in just an introduction!

When I began planning our first Walt Disney Resort vacation, two years ago, I became obsessed.  There’s so many options and things to consider that my research lasted hours a week (sometimes a day!) until I really felt that I understood the inside and outs of each of the various resorts and parks.  The perks of each resort, the tricks to getting the best table service reservation and the in and outs of having the least amount of wait times per ride, I figured out it all.  Over the past two years I’ve happily planned several friends Disney trips, pulling out calendars and spreadsheets to help them pick the best days for each park, giving them tips for getting into and through the parks and making sure that the vacations were amazing.  I even spent two weeks waking up at 6am each day to try to get a reservation at a very hard to get restaurant for my friends daughter (I did it!).  I’ve often have people suggest I should go into Disney Trip planning as a career, but quickly shoot down that suggestion that I love it so much I’d never want to get paid for it because then it becomes a job!  Being a Disney Panel Mom would just give me an excuse for continuously researching and keeping up to date on Disney news.

The thank you trip that they give to you and your family?  Just a perk!  Now excuse me while I head back to the Disney World site and plan yet another make believe vacation for my family!

 

 

My (not so) new entry way cabinet

When I was 18, my parents were in the market for a new house.  It was the summer after I had just finished high School and with lots of time on my hands, I went with my Mom to look at potential houses.  When we entered the basement of the house we ended up buying, I instantly fell in love with a cabinet that was tucked away in a corner.  I was talking to my Mom about how much I liked it and joked with the realtor that if we do buy the house, maybe could she just throw a blanket over the cabinet so the current owners would leave it behind.  To my luck, the owners nephew had been in the basement at the time cleaning and packing up.

Low and behold, on closing day we got the keys and went to inspect and clean the house to get ready to move in, my Mom called me from the basement to come down and see that the only thing that was left behind, was my cabinet.  This piece, although scratched and stained has been a well loved staple furniture piece in every house I’ve lived in.  It’s been a craft cabinet, a toy cabinet and most recently, it sits in my main entrance and houses hats and mitts and dog leashes and is a great place for dropping a purse or keys when coming home.  But, I finally admitted that after 25 years, this cabinet needed some well deserved TLC.

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The first thing I did was removed all the hardware.  I love the look of the original hardware, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to work with the new look I was going for.  I carefully removed the hinges and latch and placed them in a baggy to keep safe until I fully decided what to do with them.  Next, I gave the entire piece a light sanding.

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The original trim was cracked and broken since I first got the cabinet.  For 24 years I kept meaning to replace the trim and the time had finally come.  I bought a piece of quarter wood and measured (not so carefully it seems!), cut and nailed it into place with finishing nails.  Because the cut was off, I used some wood putty to fill in the spaces and after it dried, sanded it down to make it smooth (more or less).

Then came the fun part!  I used the same paint that I used on the table in my porch transformation, American Satin Enamels in Natural Beige.  At first I thought I could get away using just the left over paint from my porch renovation, but I ended up having to buy another tub for $8.00 (thank you for 50% off coupons!)  It took about three coats to get the piece fully covered without any of the wood or knots showing through.  The top was a bit trickier as I knew I wanted it to be a different, darker colour, but wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted.  I started out with buying American acrylic paint in Cranberry Wine, but it came out too country kitchen for my taste.  I ended up adding some Americana acrylic pain in Black and it came out a dark plum colour which suits my home much better.   In the end I ended up using three small 2fl oz bottles of paint at $2.50 each to cover the entire top (2 in Cranberry Wine and 1 in Black).  I finished it off with two coats of leftover Americana DuraClear Satin Varnish to give it a hard surface and keep it from scratching.

In the end I decided I didn’t want to use the original hardware as the piece looked so fresh and clean I couldn’t bring myself to put back the decades old, rusted hinges.  I ended up searching through a few box home improvement stores before finding the perfect hinges and knobs.  The hinges were a great price at just under $4.00 each pair.  The knobs were a bit more of a splurge of $8.00 each, but I was saving so much money by re-purposing furniture we already owned, I was okay with it. My husband pre-drilled some holes for me (power tools are not my friends) and then I screwed the hardware into place. The end result, although not perfect (I didn’t sand the edges as well as I could have and there were a few cracks in the wood that I should have filled) its a huge improvement over the cabinet that I’ve loved for the past 24 years.

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I love how it looks under my mini gallery wall in our main entrance.  It’s not brand new, but it looks brand new to me and all for under $40.00, which can’t be beat.