13 Elements of a dream green home

I found this infographic on incorporating green elements into the construction of a new home. I would like to try some of these one day into any renovations we do at the schoolhouse.

I was speaking to someone the other day who has installed solar panels at their home and how much they are enjoying it. I have to think we don’t have a giant, steep, green roof for nothing!

This infographic comes from sustainablog.

Thirteen Elements of a Dream Green Home*

Pinkish is the new red

We finally stained the picnic table but it can be said that the colour is not reflective of the name of the stain.
Pinky picnic table

I considered calling this post, “Redwood my ass” but thought better of it when thinking about what search terms would be used that combined “wood” and “ass”.

We have had the table for a year but just got around to staining it. It has darkened somewhat but not to a degree I would call redwood.

Summer woodpile

I have finally started clearing some of the brush and debris from the schoolhouse yard and am gathering some decent campfire wood.

Though my grandfather would have laughed at my casual style of piling it, I didn’t see much point in doing a stronger one when the wood will be used in a few weeks. Hopefully anyway.

Did we resolve our resolutions?


The answer to that is a resounding “meh”.

Last year I made a list of “to do’s” for 2012 for both the schoolhouse and the condo. Did we do them?


  1. Paint front door – uh no. Haven’t done this one yet.
  2. Put down flooring in vestibule. – see above
  3. Paint vestibule – I am beginning to sense a pattern here…
  4. Replace eavestrough – hey this one I can say, “sort of”. We didn’t replace but we did take them down and fix the one that moves water over the hydro meter and into a rain barrel.
  5. Complete herb garden – not really.
  6. Build nicer garden along the front of the house – again this is a “sort of”. I put in a new perennial garden at the front but we’ll see if the boiling summer of 2012 ravaged it completely. It also turned out to be a lot less sunnier than I thought so things may have to move.
  7. Clear out the back bedroom – yes and no. We started cleaning it out but managed to fill it again to make space for our winter tenant.
  8. Paint bathroom – nope.
  9. Revive the composter – let’s hope for the spring?
  10. Research and install if feasible some new lighting – Well sort of once again. Our tenant has fixed the overhead light which is great. He’s also installing a solar flood light (these exist? Who knew?)
  11. While this wasn’t on the original list I’d like to point out most of our time (and money) went to two things: Removing two fallen trees on the property and replacing just about everything you can on a well system.

Our condo

  1. Come up with a design for the living room – done! I finally have a master plan. I just have to figure out how to pay for it.
  2. paint upstairs bathroom – done! I’ll post photos soon.
  3. fix dining room chairs – less done. And by less I mean not at all.
  4. Paint kitchen – totally done! Pat painted and I got bitten by a cat in the process.
  5. Buy new living room furniture. picked out but not bought.
  6. Hide the dreadful air conditioner cord that is in the dining room – not done and it still drives me mad.
  7. Fix all the general irritations – not done and still totally irritating.
  8. Make alterations to the dining room so that the overhead light isn’t going to cause any “concussion-like symptoms” to my guests – nope.
  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). – mostly. This isn’t too bad.
  10. Get more frames for art and photos – some of this is done. We’ve got a couple of new things and a couple of things ordered. But they are all still in a pile…
  11. Oh and jazz up the ol’ patio. last year’s garden was a good start but we need more life out there – started. We’ve new planters and I have almost finished repainting the furniture.
  12. Again while not on the original list, I’d like to point out that we also had repairs to our dishwasher (still doesn’t totally work), washer and dryer so that is where the couch money went.

So that is where we are at. I’m not going to add anything else until we get this lot done. Fingers crossed for 2013!

Crooked postal service

Now I don’t mean to disparage the fine folks at Canada Post. I have no beef with them. Today anyway.

However I’ve been leaning toward a grudge with the local “Mr. Plow” who seems to know just the right amount of snow to push into our yard to get my mailbox leaning.

Back in my babysitting days, when I worked for the local road superintendent, it was easy to barter to get it pushed back up in the spring. But my babysitting days are long gone and this wayward post box has started to add to the general decrepitude of the place. Besides the house that was long known for its orange signs out front during elections shouldn’t have a right-leaning position in the front yard should it?

All is right with the world now that the mailbox has been righted.

Decrepitude no more! This fall and winter we are bartering with a neighbour who has sold up and needs a place to store some things and himself for a bit. He has both the tools and the upper body strength I sorely lack and has righted the mailbox that had gone all wrong lo these many years.

Now all the hooligans in the neighbourhood who cursed our mailbox for its distance from the window they were hanging out of whilst playing mailbox baseball once again have a worthy opponent. My morning glories can once again grow straight and true around the post. And while I am oft accused of having leftist leanings, at least our mailbox has at least moved “liberally” and has chosen the centre for its new view.

Ice storm, flood, zombie attack? An infographic.

We Canadians are generally prepared for the likes of most natural disasters.

We value our homes and like to ensure they are kept safe. If you live out west, you know about avalanches and earthquakes. Easterners know more than enough about surviving floods and ice storms. If you are from Saskatchewan, you have likely figured out how not to die from boredom and so forth.

We’ve contemplated getting the schoolhouse emergency-ready with differing heating systems and generators. Storing foodstuffs and water and all those important things the Federal government advises us of.

However we have no plan for zombie attack. So when I saw this infographic I thought, “well that makes sense.” And also, “I can’t believe I have gone this long without a plunger gun.”

How To Zombie Proof Your House
Browse more infographics.

The value of change

A lot of people don’t like change. I might be one of the those people.


I don’t like new Star Wars movies (despite the Ewan McGregor Factor), I hate most cover songs (OK Catherine Wheel and Cartman from South Park, you’ve done some good ones) and I especially don’t like thinking about making drastic changes to my historic summer home.

It’s a tough idea to get your head around. How can the rooster jug we bought at an antique shop in Northern Ireland in 1979 go on the window sill when we buy new windows? I still look at the blank living room wall to fix my hair because a few years back Pat moved the “awesome” flamingo mirror that adorned the wall for as long as I can remember.

But I guess if we are going to do it right, we should do it, right? Though these days we are merely patching the holes in the boat, so to speak, eventually we will have to move onto larger projects and make sure we are getting our money’s worth. And though we won’t sell the schoolhouse (read introductory paragraph about my thoughts on change) we should make sure the place is worth more than when we started.

I found this infographic that explains some of the more important renovations you can make. It covers all of the basics and seems to make a lot of sense.

I like this. It sort of sets out a plan for the future big jobs.

The bathroom and kitchen are definite jobs at some point. The basement is sort of a no go as we only have a root cellar as you all know. Windows will be tricky for us and would have to be custom but in the end I think they would be worth it.

What would you consider renovating at your home?

It was so easy going green

Our four-year old patio furniture from Ikea has had it.

We have a little set we use on our balcony at the condo. That brown acacia stuff that we have just doesn’t weather very well. With each passing year it gets more and more decrepid looking. For awhile I kidded myself and thought it was just maturing and would turn a lovely darkened colour. It went gray and scaly. So I decided it can’t get any worse and tried my hand at painting it.

And yes for all my safey friends out there, I did wear all the appropriate personal protective equipment, except for a mask. I didn’t even make a mess except a small patch of grass I will cut next week anyway. At least the paint went downwind.

I think it went well. This test chair worked out to be very simple and I hope to get the rest done next weekend. This might inspire me to do more for the schoolhouse. I’d love to get some nice old Kawartha chairs (yes we call them Kawartha chairs ’cause we ain’t in Muskoka!) and do them up nicely. Wait and see!

New Orleans I like your style

This has little to do with Ontario, historical homes or their renovation.

Over the winter it’s nice to dream about what we want to do at the schoolhouse. Looking at catalogs and empty walls is okay but we needed a restorative kick in the pants to get excited again. That kick came in the form of an Easter trip down south. Damn New Orleans has some fine homes.

I'm not saying I'm going to put columns on the schoolhouse but in New Orleans it works.

We recently visited the Big Easy on a recent trip for a friend’s wedding.

Yes visiting here is all about hurricanes (the drink and the weather phenomenon of same name) and having fun, but if you get a chance to take your face from out of a frosty glass and look around, you can see what beauty it holds in terms of preservation of specific styles of architecture. There are shotgun homes, creole cottages, and buildings influenced by their French and Spanish visitors of years past. A good bit of history in a few blocks by foot or streetcar.

The French Quarter is one thing but the Garden District is where historical home buffs find heaven.

According to the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans there are many programs and resources available to homeowners interested in maintaining or repairing buildings in the style of their former glory.

I don't know if a vampire could live here but I could.

We strolled through the garden district (mostly to find Anne Rice’s old house and Trent Reznor’s place) and were pretty awestruck. The buildings just want you to sit on their porches and sip mint julep while waving lacy fans.

Now that is a porch I could sit upon.

All in all this trip was an excellent source of inspiration for us. If you are planning a trip to New Orleans, here is a list of historic homes you might want to visit. Now pass me that mint.