Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Christmas in August

I've had three deliveries from couriers today.  It felt like Christmas, with all these packages arriving... except that I had to pay for them all.

One of the packages was my new light fixture, one was the hardware for my secret door (which I really, really hope works) and the other one is an art piece I took something of a chance on.  Even better, each of the packages contained generous lengths of bubble wrap.

I won't go into details, but things have been... hectic at work.  I can use a little bubble wrap therapy.

The light fixture I got was a happy find.  I was looking at quite a few in this style, and they cost $160-200.  This one, which I actually like better than the ones I'd seen earlier, cost $95.

It's actually made of chrome... not sure why it seems so yellow in this picture.

I won't show you the hardware for the door.  I posted a link to it a few posts ago.

The art was a gamble, and to tell you the truth, I think it may have been a miss.  I had a photo printed out on a very large sheet of metal, with the intention of using it to make a cover for the electrical panel.  Although I like the effect (it reflects a tonne of light), I don't love the photo the way I thought I would.  It's cute, but I don't know that I want to look at it every day for years and years.

You really can't tell how much light it reflects from this picture, which is a shame, because that's what I like best.

Oh, and Lewis needs his bangs trimmed... the appointment for his first grooming session has been made.

Regardless of what I think about the photo, I feel like I need to give a shout out to Posterjack.  When I ordered the print, their website said it took an average of 12 days to do them (maybe longer) and then they'd courier it to you so you get it in 3-4 days.  You could pay to have the piece couriered faster, but there's nothing to do to speed up the process of having it made.

I ordered this on Sunday.  On Tuesday (yesterday), I got a message from FedEx, saying that they'd picked up a package for delivery to me.  The FedEx tracking info showed my package as being much, much smaller than the one I ordered, so I emailed Posterjack to ask if they could intercept it before it was shipped across Canada.  Within minutes, they had checked it out, confirmed the right package had been shipped to me, and reassured me that I'd just gotten lucky with a quick turn around.  Then, the package arrived today, before lunch.  This company really knows how to do customer service.  I've actually ordered from them a few times, and I've always been very happy with the work they did.  And no, Posterjack has not sponsored this post in any way.

Construction is on hold for a bit.  Even though there are no bedrooms yet, the city got concerned about egress (means of escape, in the event of a fire) so they are withholding the building permit.  We had to prove that the windows were big enough to escape out of, which they all are, but now it's going to take a week or ten days for them to process the paperwork.  Yahoo.  I'm trying not to get frustrated over the delays.  In the long run, it won't matter.  Whether the basement is built in a month or six months, a few years from now, it'll all be the same.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


I've pretty much made up my mind about everything for the basement room being built.  I've finalized colours, fixtures, flooring and layout.  What I can't decide about is what to do under the stairs.

I've tried very hard to plan this room (and eventually the entire basement) with storage in mind.  You can't ever have too much storage space.

I've always known that the space under the stairs would be used as a place to store things, but I don't want them to look like angled, under the stair cupboards.  The stairs are closed off on both sides (ie with walls, not railings) so the wall on the other side of the stairs goes from floor to ceiling in the basement.  Any access to the space under the stairs needs to be from the room I'm building, because future plans will have that area blocked off in all other directions.

Options that I've considered for under the stairs are a built in dog nook like this:

I don't know if the dogs would like it, though, since they won't have a whole lot of visibility.  And, as much as I like the gate/door, it seems like it'd get in the way.  (My dogs aren't generally crated, once they grow up and earn free roam of the house.)  Without the gate, this would just be a hole in the wall... without the lights.

More importantly, I want storage cupboards.  Lots of cupboards... except those would be pretty darned deep cupboards (48") and things might get lost in the back.  

I love these, but I'll already have  a 20' wall of bookshelves.  I don't really want to give up any more floor space to bookshelves I don't need.

So, I talked to the contractor about something like these, only with fronts that look like cupboard doors and are straight across at the top.  

Something about them doesn't seem right, though.  I'm worried that they'll make my OCD go off the charts if they don't fit perfectly and spaces are visible between them.  Somehow, I'm not entirely convinced that they will look like built-in cupboards.

I've mulled it over.  The contractor has mulled it over.  We haven't come up with a solid conclusion, and we're getting close to crunch time.  

Today, two things occurred to me.  One, that while I may take a time to make up my mind, I generally know when I've found what I want.  I don't feel like I have found it yet.  More importantly, it also occurred to me that I don't have to do anything right now.  I can have him frame that area with the idea that I'll be adding cupboards below down the road, but cover it with drywall for now.  Not all of the basement will be finished right away, so the stairs will be accessible from the other side for a while.

It's kind of a relief, actually, to have one less thing to worry about.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Class Act

There's a rental about five houses down from mine that got new tenants a while back and it's been party central ever since.  They have their music blaring non-stop, and their place has beer bottles and cigarette butts strewn all over the place.  It's lovely, it really is.

What's even better is that when their next door neighbour tried to complain (I'm not sure if they went to the landlord or the police) their house was peppered with raw eggs the very next night - at least 2 dozen.  Needless to say, people are a little hesitant to speak up to them now.

Last night, they had a party at the rental, and it was loud enough to keep me awake five houses away.  I think I may have fallen asleep shortly before 2, only to wake up to the sounds of a sick puppy (who had just gotten a rabies shot) at 3:30.  I had to get up, clean up his crate and take him outside.  The rental house was quiet by then, but the cool air outside woke me up.  I was awake for probably another 45 minutes.

My alarm went off at 5.  I managed to haul myself out of bed at 5:30.  I got dressed, stretched out and then threw in the towel by walking across the street to tell Jen (my jogging partner) I was going back to bed.  I got another hour of sleep before I had to get up to work.

I'm a diet coke drinker.  I know it's bad for me but... yeah.  I usually only drink a can a day, and since it's my sole source of caffeine, I drink it early.  As in, I usually crack one open before 9.  Today, when I was functioning on almost no sleep, I felt desperate for my diet coke.  Imagine how thrilled I was to realize I was all out.

I tried to cope without it, I really did; but I finally gave up after I lost the ability to speak English about 11:00.   The brain just wasn't firing, so I got into my car with the intension of hitting a nearby drive through.  Of course, the drive through was backed up down the road, so I parked and went inside.  Baggy sweatpants, bright orange M&Ms t-shirt, paint splattered crocks over socks and bed head.  I was all sorts of class.  Probably even more so after I had my first sip, fell to my knees and practically broke down in tears of relief.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


No big news or pictures to show any significant difference today, but they worked all day.  Electrical was wired in for the basement.

Mostly, I'm excited about the light fixtures going in.  They took away the junction box/fixture that used to hang at the base of the stairs, and ran the wires to replace it with a couple of pot lights.  Pot lights aren't necessarily very exciting, but these ones are replacing a boob light.    There used to be one of those fixtures in almost every room; but with this change, I am only one away from this house being boob free.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


The contractor touched base with me yesterday to say that he'd been delayed in finishing up his last job, and was ready to start my basement today.  Once he started, things seemed to go fast.  Framing is up, electrical goes in tomorrow.

Looking at it now, I can see that there's a long ways to go, but I'm still excited about the progress.  The wall to the left of this picture was extended about 6 feet, and then the wall at the end was framed in.  There will be a "piano" window there, like the three on the main floor of the house.  The door opening will hopefully be the secret door we have planned.  Other than the window and door, the rest of that wall will be floor to ceiling bookshelves.

This part is hard to tell, but it's at the base of the stairs.  The stairs basically go down the middle of the basement - we'll be opening up the wall to the right of the stairs quite a bit, and then closing things off on the left to keep the unfinished parts separate from the room we're building.  To the right is a 5' linen closet that is going in.  On the left is a temporary door and wall that will be removed when the basement is finished.

Framing and electrical inspection is in a week or two, when they can be arranged.  Heating will also be updated, to move the registers to the base of the walls instead of the ceilings.    Drywall takes about a week, I'm told and then it's up to me to paint before the tiles go in.

On a different but related note, Winter was curious about the activity in the basement.  The guys hadn't been there 5 minutes when walked past him and did a double take... and then another.   It never occurred to me that they'd be using chalk lines.  It never occurred to them that the cat would check it out so closely.  His feet were died completely red.  His legs, back and tail had a smattering of chalk that I was mostly able to brush away.  The red feet, however, will stay that way for the foreseeable future.  There's no washing that stuff out.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Radio Silence isn't so bad in some ways...

I still haven't heard from the contractor.  Odd, because radio silence was the one thing he promised he wouldn't do to me if I hired him.  Huh.

Oh well, at least there's no deadline for this project, so I guess it doesn't matter when it gets done.  It's hot and humid this week... the kind of hot and humid that makes it hard to sleep... and I keep telling myself that this time next year I'll be able to work and hang out (possibly sleep on a couch) in a nice cool basement.

Also, I'm trying to pick my battles.  If I don't nag about being here all the time, hopefully he'll be more receptive when I go all OCD on him over other things.

I am back to the drawing board with lighting.   I wanted a chandelier in one corner.  I was leaning towards a whimsical, mobile-like fixture that had frosted glass bubbles hanging from it, but couldn't find pendants for above my desk to go with it.  I had a few other chandelier options in mind, but could never seem to find pendants that went with any of them.

Then I found these pendants, and the angels did sing.  They don't go with any of the chandelier options I had in mind, but I've decided that these are the pendants I have to have, so now I need to start over with all the other lights.

One of these will hang on either side of my monitors, over the built-in desk.
(psst, those are loose crystals at the bottom of the glass)

And then, after all that, I realized last week how low the ceilings are.  With all the natural light that shines in there, I never caught on to how low the ceilings are; but for some reason, the boob guy who built this house made the ceilings only 7'9" in the basement.   So chandeliers won't work unless I want to frequently bonk my head.   Like I said before, back to the drawing board.

Tonight, the dogs are taking an unscheduled nap.  In another room.  I can't sit for 5 minutes without jumping up and dealing with one pet or another lately. Tallulah won't stop barking at Lewis.  It's a friendly "we're playing and having so much fun!" bark, but it's been going on for days and she won't stop.  And, she's bloody loud about it too.  If I split them up, I have dogs on either side of whatever door is keeping them apart, scratching and whining to let them play.  If that wasn't enough, Winter is mad at the world, hissing and spitting aggressively at the dogs every chance he gets and needing to be separated.  I know there are all kinds of training tricks to deal with these things, but the truth is I'm tired.  I just want it to stop, without any effort on my part.  

On top of that, the dogs keep wanting to go outside.  They are like bobbsey twins, so wherever one goes, the other follows... but they haven't synchronized their potty schedules, so they're in and out like yoyos.  I'd be OK with them hanging out outside, but there is a pair of gigantic crows that moved in nearby and who keep looking at Lewis like he's lunch.  He's doing so well at his house training, I feel like I have to let him outside when he asks to go out; but the crows mean I have to go with him until he gets a little bigger.  

It look me three hours to watch a 1 hour tv show last night.  So, tonight the dogs are in their crates, Winter is somewhere else - away from the dogs - and I'm giving serious thought to getting a spray collar to see if that will convince Tallulah to play quietly.  

And a scarecrow.  Apparently, I need a scarecrow.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


The basement construction was supposed to start last week, and then it was supposed to start today.  I keep reminding myself that there's no reason it needs to be finished right away, but I am feeling antsy already.

So far, I've purchased a few things in preparation.  LED recessed (pot) lights,  which set me back a pretty penny up front but will hopefully pay themselves off by saving electricity.  I still need a couple of flush-mount light fixtures and a couple of pendants for over the desk area... am struggling with the decision of going whimsical (feminine) or something a little more classic (of course, the classic options I've selected are more expensive).

I'm also trying to decide if I need/want a fireplace.  I can't get a gas or wood fireplace because I've maxed out on allowable natural gas usage in this house, and I don't have room for a real chimney.  I did find a very nice electric fireplace, but I can't quite decide if it's necessary.

The most exciting find/purchase for me (which I suspect makes me an uber geek) has been the hardware for a legitimate secret door.  This will be hidden amongst a wall of bookshelves... I can hardly wait to see it in place.

Am still stewing over colours.  I'd made up my mind a long time ago, but now I'm questioning my earlier decisions.  If I'm smart, I'll stick with the plans.

Monday, August 5, 2013

What's up

In renovation news, although the primary reason why I decided to finish the basement room was to make space for the Boy when he moved in, I've decided to do it anyway without him.   I'm looking forward to having a dedicated place that's larger than a shoebox to work in each day.  The contractor was supposed to start today, but today's a holiday so I wasn't surprised when he was a no-show.  I'm guessing he'll be here tomorrow, or we'll have to have a talk.

These are the before pictures... it's basically an unfinished basement, but I thought it'd be fun to keep a photographic record of the progress.

From the stairwell, the left hand wall and door will be opened up in the foyer.  The floor will be changed out on the basement level of the foyer (the stairs won't change) to match the brown porcelain tiles that will go down throughout the basement... haven't decided what pattern it'll be laid in yet.

This is pretty much half of the basement.  We'll be finishing 2/3 of what you see here.  

A wall will go in at the far end of the little bump out on the right.  That wall will go all the way to the other side of the room on the left, closing it off, and will be floor to ceiling bookshelves.  There will be a window built into that wall, to avoid blocking off all the light that comes from the window at the end.  ... And we're mulling over possibilities for a hidden door amongst the bookshelves for untraditional access to the room behind it (which will be finished at a later date).

The bump out on the right will be my new office area, with a built-in desk and shelves.

This view is from me standing where the wall of bookshelves will be, looking forward.  The bump out/office area is to the left now, stairs to the right.  I am planning a sectional couch in that front area, with the tv on the front wall.  I know what couch I want (a down sectional) but I don't have plans to buy it right away.... maybe in the new year.

In other news, the wee beastie is growing like a weed.  He's trouble and he's bad; but he's all sorts of cute so I suppose I'll keep him.  I like the shaggy look, so I comb him every day, brush his teeth/clean his face most days (to prevent the goopy eyed look he's got in that first picture), and give him a bath every week.  He's *almost* house trained, and he's *almost* leash trained.  He can sit on command, and knows to come to me when I call (but isn't quite 100% reliable yet.)  I've been teaching him to lie down on command, but I've also been teaching him to shake his paw and to imitate a zombie.   He's quick, but not nearly as quick to pick up new commands as Tallulah was.  I think maybe he's getting confused by learning the three new commands at once, so - as cute as the zombie is - we will be focusing on his lying down on command until he masters that and then moving on to the funner tricks.