Sunday, December 28, 2014

Reno's With Rosie-The Bathroom Project

Well, with just a few days to go before Christmas and the socializing and the company coming over that the holiday's guessed it, we decided to begin the bathroom renovations. Truth be told, this first phase is a pretty small renovation, just the paint, the sink and toilet and the vanity top, but as with all things Rose related it turned out to be, shall we say....complicated!

My lovely wife loves to get a bargain and I'm all for that! But bargains can be tricky as I have learned with other projects over the years. Sometimes there is a good reason that things have been donated to the ReStore where it seems many of our renovation supplies seem to originate from. The ReStore is owned by Habitat for Humanity and according to it's website,  "All proceeds from ReStore go towards Habitat for Humanity Edmonton’s administration costs so that every dollar donated to our charity goes directly towards building homes and serving families."

So when we make a purchase at the ReStore we can be happy that it's going to a good cause but we also have to be aware that their gently used and new items might be missing the odd part or have some weird design that made someone else throw up their hands in defeat and just give the item away rather than deal with it themselves.

Take the gorgeous brand new in the box Ikea sink Rose got for 20 bucks, what could possibly go wrong with that? Well there were a few challenges, including a slightly warped porcelain sink, no easy way to fasten it down, and the pièce de résistance; no overflow drain. This lovely feature means that all of the drain kits that I have including the one that came with the tap don't easily work without a lot of monkeying around, which fortunately happens to be my specialty.
The spiffy new Ikea sink we got for $20 at ReStore.

My jury-rigged drain adapter - don't ask!

The vanity top that Rose had in mind happened to be a beautiful cherry wood table top that she scrounged from a previous job when she worked there about 15 years ago. It was the top of a broken coffee table that they were going to throw away so she rescued it from them and it sat forlornly in our basement for a few years until she decided to give it to a friend.

When we were helping to clean out that friend's garage a few years later, Rose saw it again, this time languishing away in a mouse infested garage. She rescued it for the second time and once more it sat in our basement for several more years until it resurfaced in it's latest guise as a lovely vanity top refinished with a little gray stain mixed in with the sanded down natural cherry colour.
A beautiful chunk of wood, I hope it lasts a long time.
Yes I did have to shorten it and cut a big hole in it and sand off that bulletproof cherry finish to get down to the natural grain, but at least it's now seeing the light of day once more!

When Rose first mentioned her "vision" for the bathroom I wisely choked back any misgivings that I may (or may not) have had and blithely went along, trusting and knowing that she knows what she's doing even when I don't and that between us we usually do okay.

We picked out a really nice waterfall style tap and a fancy new low flow toilet with a slam-proof, slow closing lid and 2-count em-2 buttons on top for shall we say, "different flushing requirements."
The new tap

The completed space - except for the tile back splash, floor, tub and tub surround. Phase 2 coming soon.

We also took down the old mirror and replaced it with a round, leather wrapped one that we had on hand, we cleaned up and repainted the medicine chest and replaced the toilet paper holder and towel bar.

Renovations in our home are also a fun way of traveling back in time. Paint colours that are trapped under things like mirrors and behind toilets all of a sudden reveal the startling question, "what in the heck were we thinking!"

Some of the gross old colours hidden behind the mirror.

Besides the sink and vanity top though, finding images from our trip to Italy with just the right tone of blue/green and getting them printed, framing them using our existing stock of old frames, cutting the glass and hanging them for viewing was definitely the coolest part of the reno.

I love seeing my work in print, hanging prominently on a wall, (even if it's a bathroom wall) and they do look lovely!

This all took place over just a few days in December and is a minor reno. compared to phase 2: replacing the bathtub and re-tiling the floor and tub surround with the same tile from our kitchen renovation, but it's amazing what a difference it makes.

Now it's the only bathroom I want to use and I get a little thrill every time I slam down the toilet lid and it just - ever - so - slowly - gently - closes - itself, like magic!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Ever since one of my lovely daughters (there is some disagreement about exactly which daughter it was) managed to destroy the cartridge on my old turntable about fifteen years ago, I haven't  been able to play records.

It's funny how okay with that I was at the time because before that, listening to records was a very big part of my life. I have a pretty good record collection with about 400 LP's of many different genre's and I used to listen to them often. Of course CD's came around and suddenly there were a lot of records for sale at garage sales very cheap!

A sampling of records from my collection
Over the years I ferociously resisted the efforts of my lovely wife Rose to get rid of my records and I'm glad I did. Because now after all these years I have something to play them on. My birthday was just a couple of weeks ago and when the girls asked what I wanted, I asked for a turntable (what goes around, comes around!) and now I am enjoying it immensely.

Playing these old recordings is actually a lot of fun! Of course some of them seem completely silly to me now and the lyrics can be a bit on the gritty side, but life is full of grit.

My new turntable that also rips songs to mp3 format. Thanks girls!

Some of these old recordings seem to be tied to memories going all the way back to the time when I was living at home with my parents. The very first record that I owned was a gift from my sister Cheryl and I still own it today, it is an album by the Moody Blues called "Seventh Sojourn" released in 1972, and my copy still sounds great today. 

I have memories of the first time I ever heard "Dire Straights" I think at the time I was riding in my sister's boyfriend's car, (now brother-in-law) and how much I enjoyed then and still enjoy the unique guitar playing of Mark Knopfler.

I'm sure I used to drive my brother in Law Murry crazy with my standard question when we were discussing bands. "if you like Pink Floyd, would you like________"?

I think his standard answer was "probably" because when I think about it now, it's a bit of a goofy question! Thanks Murry for being patient with your future brother-in-law.

Of course what we used to do in those days was buy an LP and then record it to a cassette tape to allow us to play it in the car and in the house without bothering to flip the record over after 20 minutes, that was definitely a pain.

The first thing I did after buying "Scarlet" my 1968 Ambassador that I got while I was in grade 12, was to put a good stereo in with a cassette player. Then I would play music in the car that I had "ripped" from my records at home. 

If you haven't roared around in a classic car with Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild" blasting out with lyrics like, "get your motor running, head out on the highway, looking for adventure and whatever comes our way", well then you're probably not from my generation! Trust me, it was the thing to do back in the day.

Today both of my girls are among the growing number of young people who now own turntables and the beginnings of their own vinyl record collections. It's funny how these things come around again and the hunger for nostalgia and the "cool" things of the past pushes the industry to provide a way to listen to and even to rip these old recordings to mp3 format. 

Of course, this can lead to it's own set of problems such as your kids borrowing your old records.
And that reminds me, I need to get my copy of T.Rex-Slider back from April before I forget that she has it!