Be it resolved: Resolutions to stick to

Rusty 2012
Lose weight, quit smoking, no more drinking, get a new job…

To Hell with those New Year’s resolutions that never get resolved. Sure they sound good on January 1 (especially when you are nursing the New Year’s hangover) but what’s the likelihood of them getting done? Bah!

This year I am going to make my resolutions about the schoolhouse. Perhaps something a little more tangible that will actually stick.

I’ve come up with two top ten lists: One for our beloved schoolhouse and one for our condo here in the city. Both are in great need of renovation and decoration respectively.

Peeling white boat II


  1. Paint front door – obviously black and obviously as soon as the weather allows as it looks a horror.
  2. Put down flooring in vestibule.
  3. Paint vestibule – for details read I see a plain floor and I want to paint it black.
  4. Replace eavestrough – this is the thing in most need of professional help. Hanging down and rusted, they are like bad British teeth on a once fine gentleman who lost his fortune and longs to see a dentist.
  5. Complete herb garden – if it can ever really be complete as I am sure I will add stuff like mad come spring.
  6. Build nicer garden along the front of the house – this is the first place people see so the garden here (and front door) be in peak condition. A house is like a mullet. It’s all business in the front so no one notices the party in the back with the car on blocks and the outhouse.
  7. Clear out the back bedroom – this tiny room used to be mine but now is home to cobwebs, plastic tubs full of old report cards and newspapers as well as our small vinyl collection. Hmmm… maybe we should set up the stereo as well..
  8. Paint bathroom – if the bathroom has to stay where it is for now I am ditching the bachelor board and painting it either white or yellow.
  9. Revive the composter – I think the well-intentioned kitchen refuse and leaves have now formed a solid block Excalibur couldn’t be pried from due to neglect. It is time to revive it and add the loamy goodness to our garden.
  10. Research and install if feasible some new lighting. – I am tired of climbing an extension ladder to change the front light at the front door. That is why there is a flashlight in my purse. I think it is time to call the electrician.

Well I think that is enough for the schoolhouse for now don’t you? I know myself all too well and will likely get sidetracked with other projects. I mean right now I should be doing laundry and dusting but the only thing getting dusted right now are these keys.

But wait, there’s more!

Like I mentioned earlier our condo looks exactly like it did the day we moved. Beige and like two straight dudes moved in. If it wasn’t for Ikea there would be a beer case for a coffee table and a milk crate under the tv for DVDs. It is time to spend some thought (sigh and some money) on this place as well.

Our condo

  1. Come up with a design for the living room – this space seems impossible to me. I’ve struggled with it for months. We need space for tv watching (thinking about a corner sectional) as well as a space for more bookshelves and a couple of nice chairs. All advice welcome.
  2. paint upstairs bathroom – “someone” has been given this task to be completed by the end of their holiday or I am doing it and when I paint I go hog-wild with no tape and lots of beer.
  3. fix dining room chairs – antiques that are in great need of restoration. Well antique is such a strong word.
  4. Paint kitchen – “someone” has been given until spring for that one.
  5. Buy new living room furniture. What and where please refer to number one.
  6. Hide the dreadful air conditioner cord that is in the dining room – this goes in the “what were the former owners thinking?” file. (see photo below)
  7. Fix all the general irritations – ok so that sounds pretty vague but by this I mean fix the stupid Ikea under cabinet lights that go on and off on a whim, find away to clean the paint that is splattered on virtually every surface from ceiling to floor, replace the stupid not glued down wooden toe stubbers (from between the kitchen tile and the laminate floor) and myriad other annoyances.
  8. Make alterations to the dining room so that the overhead light isn’t going to cause any “concussion-like symptoms” to my guests.
  9. Re-organize and decorate the office and make it better accommodate my home office space (which requires space for documents, files and coffee) with our home computer (this requires space for chips, beer and other accoutrements that accompany video games and well, this blog).
  10. Get more frames for art and photos – I think like the shoeless children of the cobbler, the broken down car of the mechanic and the ramshackle home of the contractor, an art framer somehow never has enough frames in the house. Our old apartment had a great wall of family, friends and a dog named Lucy made from old frames Pat had rescued from the garbage. Now we need to dig those out and add to our wall of fame/shame.
  11. Oh and jazz up the ol’ patio. last year’s garden was a good start but we need more life out there.

Well I think that is just about enough to keep me busy in 2012. I’ll be looking for a lot of advice so stay tuned!

No flies on me

Just a quick update on a previous post.

A while back I was complaining about the fly situation (along with the mice) in this post.

My house in Rodentia

So I thought that I would try these fly traps I saw at Lee Valley.

I won’t go into gory detail but on a recent visit to the schoolhouse I tested them out. Last week I went to investigate and discovered that instead of the floor being littered with corpses like a scene out of Gone with the Wind, these tidy traps had done the trick. Come next spring I’ll just take them down and be done with the damned flies! Now the mice on the other hand…

Pinning my weekend away

I’ve been adding more to my Pinterest board this weekend.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Storage, shelving and cubby holes seems to be the theme of late. Want to build cool cubbies in the vestibule with a place to site and put your shoes on, hang your coat and rest your umbrella or purse. A few drawers for mittens might be nice too.

My schoolhouse rocks

No seriously, what colour?

So we’ve outlined the colours we would like to use for the vestibule but now we need to really refine it.

Paint Chip Spectrum

But how do you actually decide between 52 different shades of red? Pat works with paint on a daily basis as a picture framer and he complains about the different whites there are out there. So how do we pick?

So where should we go to select the best types of paint? I’m open to non-historical shades if they really work in the space. Any suggestions?

Schoolhouse seasons

I just found these photos from a last year. Winter always looks prettier in pictures doesn’t it?

SS#4 in the winter.

I’m not sure why the hummingbird feeder is still up. I don’t think we got any customers last winter.

You’ll also notice the excellent angle on which our mailbox lies. Apparently snow plus snow plows equals slanty mailbox. I suppose it balances out the slanty apple tree.

The property is quite square and is lined with a row of cedars and pines along two sides with maple and oak along the back. My grandparents said many were planted by the former students on arbour day but I can’t confirm that. We do get a lot of leaves and pines needles in the fall  however regardless of who planted them.

That's a little nicer to look at than snow.

Of course when there isn’t any snow there is more grass to cut. I’ve never been fond of the trimming that has to be done. In my defense there is a lot of it and it grows faster than my credit card bill at Christmas. Did I tell you about the summer I used a scythe?

And now to dream all winter of when I can dig my fingers in the dirt again. Sigh.

Can I cut it?

Ok I’ve found a good little project for me to work on.

I am going to make myself a nice little cutting board. Who says there can only be one carpenter in the family?

Cutting Board | Jim & Brenda Good

I found this link on the House and Home website.

DIY Kitchen Cutting Board

I think I can swing it. This won’t take too much to do right? Or I could go modern and little more complicated.

How to make a cheese board

I don’t know about that one. I don’t need feet to worry about. Simple is what I am looking for.

Here is a video that might help me out.

How to make a simple wood cutting board

Hmmm. Tough to get the desktop computer down to our condo’s workshop. Yeah our condo has a workshop. An indicator we may not be the youngest people living here.

Perhaps if I get myself a little sander I’ll try that simple one over the holidays. It would be a great addition to our schoolhouse kitchen and the condo as well.

Spring to do list

At this time of year it is hard to be inspired about spring planting when you’ve got a few cold hard months ahead.

Here in Ontario we have been damned lucky that there really isn’t any snow. It’s only been below freezing a few times which is unusual for this time of year. You can see in the photo below the shovel waiting with trepidation as it knows the onslaught that approaches.

For now, however, it looks like the crappiest part of fall. Without snow all you see is unraked leaves and sad brown stalks where plants used to be.

It was a good growing season but what to do with the front gardens next year? hanging baskets? Tall stalks? Heritage perennials? Oh and I guess a little painting too!

At the schoolhouse we’ve got lots of naturalized bulbs that populate the front of the house without any help from anyone. My grandmother collected tulips and daffodils for a long time and over time they have made their way to many a nook and cranny.

There are many lilies and I’ve installed a few different hostas as well. Oh and some phlox (white) along the left side there.

Things are quite overgrown these days and basically unkempt. I need neat and tidy but low maintenance if such a plant exists.

But what else? I had some hanging baskets out this year. Should I opt for the same? I need inspiration people! Please send me your ideas. Detailed landscaping designs are also accepted.

And hey, it still looks better than the summer we had a toilet on the porch. Good times.

It’s Christmas and the mice are getting candy canes

Who knew about peppermint?

I came across an interesting post at a site called Grandma’s Home Remedies. I had no idea about some of these ways to deter mice.

Home Remedies for Getting Rid of Mice

More Candy Canes!

Peppermint oil sounds like a great idea. It will smell nice and keep the critters away. We are headed up this weekend and I’ll be armed with candy canes, peppermint oil and some After Eights. Well maybe those are for me.

Root cellar or place to bury the bodies?

Our schoolhouse has a root cellar which is my saving grace and a thorn in my side all hiding under a heavy wooden door in my kitchen floor.
Inside the root cellar
OK so it isn’t as bad as the one in the photo. I’m pretty sure no terrorists have ever been holed up there (other than that cadre of mice I’ve mentioned before) and Geraldo Rivera isn’t going to find any hidden treasure in there beyond a few old stubbies (old Canadian beer bottles) and our sump and water pumps.

Accessible only by a wooden door in the kitchen floor, it is about four and a half feet tall at the best spot and a few inches in other areas. It covers the entire footprint of the original house though it is cut off by the centre beam and the less than exotic pipes to and from the bathroom.

Access is gained via a rickety wooden ladder that my colleagues in health and safety would grimace over. Once down there you realize we’ve got wooden floor, a few inches or feet of air and then dirt (mud in some parts come spring).

That pocket of air stays warm even in the winter. That’s the saving grace. We never used to turn off the water and with a small amount of heat the house is good to go all winter long.

The thorn bit comes from when you get a really cold few days (last January) and a propane company that doesn’t deliver on time and the pipes… well the pipes start calling. Then they start freezing. Then we have to pee outside all spring until you find plumbers willing to go deep. And so this year when Ontario shows its bitter cold side off we’ll be shutting the water off for a few months.

My grandparents used to keep apples and potatoes and root vegetables holed up in bushel baskets down here. I’ve thought about doing something similar but it is quite frankly, gross and icky down there. I know all the hipster foodie morons (also gross and icky) are hip to this now and building root cellars in their condos beside their Ikea chicken coops but at least I’ve got olde tyme experience on the subject and I’ll be able to get down the ladder as I won’t be hindered by skinny jeans.

Here’s my inspiration:

The food storage secret our grandparents knew

My cellar isn’t all white and pretty like the hip chick in that article. But it could be. At least I hope so. I’ve dreamt of such a place and I’ve seen proof it can be done.

Every time I drive past Flynn’s turn I see these people’s clean and pristine billboard:

Dirt crawl space?

I can only assume this is expensive and involves oompa loompas with small buckets skipping up the ladder as they build a mountain of dirt in my backyard.

In the meantime I’ll continue my research. I found this great information on the National (American) Gardening Association site.

How to store root crops

Some people will buy a Porsche when they win their millions or, like Pat, will build something called a “nacho cheese lazy river”. When I get to enact the millionaire clause I will dig the basement out and make it the biggest, most awesome root cellar with shelves lined with my veggie bins and mason jars of my preserves. There may also be a still but that is another story, another blog and likely criminal charges. Is taken yet? Dammit!