Posts Tagged ‘renovations’

Diaperbutt finally started sleeping through the night about two weeks ago – & by the night I do NOT mean the fictitious 5 hour sleep that baby books talk about – who considers 5 hours a full night’s sleep?!

So last night was the night to switch him to his own room. He is very pleased with his room & is thrilled every time we have gone in there recently¬† to work(I’ll post pics soon of the updates I did to his room).

It went spectacularly (although getting settled did take some time) & we all had a fabulous night’s sleep!

He looks so little in his big boy bed.

It was a big day for our little growing boy as he also got his first proper pair of shoes yesterday! He’s not so much a baby anymore, is he?


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Some nights after a good workout I seize up some in the middle of the night making that 1:00am bathroom run painful & slow. On one such night a few weeks ago I placed my hand on the toilet tank to give myself a little extra support as I coaxed my hamstrings to allow me to sit.

The extra weight on the tank was the last straw for the bolts holding the tank to the bowl & the tank tipped right over – I caught it just in time.

So first thing in the morning I called Mom to ask her if she could bring me to the hardware store to get a toilet (no way a whole toilet is going to fit nicely in my little car). She instead stopped at the hardware store & picked up all the things we needed to refurbish the old one. She walked me through it & I did all the work while Diaperbutt “helped”.

The offending bolt that 'caused all the problems. You can see that the head had rusted completely off so that when I leaned on the tank it simply popped right through the hole. The matching bolt on the other side was almost at the same point of disintegration.

The first step was to shut off the water & empty the remaining water from the toilet.By turning off the water supply & then flushing the toilet you are left with just a small amount of water in the bowl which we simply scooped out with a cup.

The inside of the tank is stained thanks to the rusty bolts - somehow the water flowing into the bowl never looked discoloured.

Then I removed the tank from the bowl (simply done as the bolts were already gone) & placed it out of the way.

Next was the hardest part of the job, but doesn’t necessarily need to be. I had to unbolt the bowl from the floor but the bolts were hopelessly seized & had to be cut off. Not an easy task with the tight space of our bathroom & the angles. In fact we needed to make a hardware store run to get a better little saw for the job.

To cut the bolt I had to hang over the toilet seat holding the bolt with pliers in one hand (to keep it from wobbling) & saw with the other. The rusty bolt was surprisingly resistant to my efforts.

Once the bowl was unbolted from the floor the bowl should have simply lifted up but someone along the line had caulked all around the bowl (something you really shouldn’t do) & so I first had to remove the caulking.

The toilet finally removed!!! (No worries - the ick on the bottom of the toilet is a combination of rust & the old wax seal)

What the floor looked like after I removed the bowl. You can see where the bolt that failed had been dripping rust onto the floor behind the toilet. It's a little hard to tell in this picture but the old wax seal was actually sliding into the flange - not where it should be - usually the seal will come up with the toilet, not be left on the floor. This was a job that needed to be done. I do wonder why they don't make the wax seal bright purple or blue - it really would make the job less icky (& more reassuring) if it was not poopy looking.

The next part of the job was to clean everything up. With the toilet completely apart it is really easy to get it really nice & clean. I also had to remove all the remaining bits of caulking around the bottom of the toilet & on the floor & scrape away all the old wax from the floor. I used a baking soda & borax mixture to give the floor tiles a really good scrub while I was at it & am really happy with how clean they came up.

All clean & ready for the reinstall. The yellow in the flange is a rag - you need to do this while you are working 'cause the gases from the pipes can be dangerous (& stinky!).

Before the toilet could be reinstalled I needed to prepare the wax seal.

Place in the seal onto the bottom of the toilet. See what I mean about the colour? Wouldn't purple be better?!

To make sure the seal stays where it's supposed to be I had to mush the seal down onto the porcelain all the way around. The wax is super sticky so it is best to use a glove or a little piece of spare plastic to do this so it's not permanently stuck under your fingernails.

With the seal in place it was time to¬† put the toilet back in place which should have been a pretty straight forward process but those darn bolts gave me issues again. The way they fit into the flange is to slide in from the side & then you give them a halfway turn to “lock” them in place. But they kept unlocking as I was tightening them down & sliding out of place. To make matters worse after we got it all bolted down we realized I had forgotten to remove the yellow rag & had to remove the toilet again & start over. It took several tries before I got it properly tighten down (ok – I should say we here ’cause my Mom & Grumpy Bear both had a go at it as well).

The bowl finally tightened down. The toilet does settle after a couple days & will need to be tightened a little more at that time. It is SUPER IMPORTANT not to overtighten as it is very easy to crack the porcelain - I learned that the hard way a few years ago.

Next I prepared the tank to be reinstalled by replacing all the innards.

Out with the old parts.

And in with the new. We replaced the old ball float with this newer design. The black end goes through the hole at the bottom of the tank & then the white ring is twisted onto the black end to hold it all together. The instructions are on the package.

Diaperbutt checks my work.You can see where the innards are attached to the bottom of the tank.

We also replaced the gasket that goes on the bottom of the tank.

Once the tank was all prepped I lifted it into place & reattached it to the bowl. It took a little bit of coordination to get the bolts lined up but not too much as I managed to do it all alone!

Lining up the tank with the bowl. You can see the shiny news bolts & new gasket & their corresponding holes on the bowl.

Once the tank was on I simply needed to hook up the water & let the toilet refill.

To make sure we didn't have any leaks we layed some papertowel around the toilet, flushed a couple times & let it sit for a little while. We had no problems though & after 4.5 hours we were all relieved the toilet was back up & running!

It cost us less than $30 in parts to refurbish the toilet & it really is as good as new. I did have to go back in & replace the flapper valve (blue/green in the 2nd picture) a couple weeks later as it was leaking some (again the instructions are on the packaging – very simple). I had already replaced the seat when we moved back in last summer.

I must admit that this project has had me thinking a lot more about our disposable culture. How many things have we thrown out in the past that we could have very easily & cheaply refurbished & had working great? I think there may be a few more of these projects in my future…

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Before we moved back into this house last spring I painted most of the house with the help of some friends & family. But we ran out of time & steam when we reached the upstairs hallway trim.

I had painted up there 2.5 years ago before we left (one of the few areas that I had painted) so it wasn’t so obvious that we hadn’t made it up there last spring. But after 4 moves (us out, renters in, renters out, us in) the trim was looking pretty banged up.

But on Saturday Diaperbutt took an unexpected early & very long nap. When he fell asleep in the morning I thought I might get the trim around his bedroom window done. When I finished that & he was still asleep I move on & on & on until before I knew it all the trim was painted. After each doorway I became more & more incredulous that he was still asleep.

The dogs also enjoyed the sunny day. As a special bonus Sadie kept her "helping" to a minimum & I only had to repaint one little spot where she jumped up on the freshly painted window sill.

It sure was nice to get a quiet, sunny couple of hours of productive time. And now our upstairs looks permanently brighter!

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Our garage looks ok at first glance. Old but basically ok. But when you look closer you realize it’s in pretty rough shape. The old bifold carriage doors barely function & generally take two people to open or close them. The lighting is incredibly poor. The floor in the second half was by far the worst part of the garage.

It seems someone had built a one-car garage & did a pretty good job of it. Then somewhere along the line someone decided to make a two-car garage & just built it around the existing garage. The floor in the first half is in pretty much perfect condition – someone #1 did it right. The second half was not done right – someone #2 cut some corners.

This is what happens when you don't properly prepare & pour a cement floor. It heaves & cracks with the changing of seasons.

There was just no way around it – the floor was keeping the space from functioning how we wanted it to – as a wood shop. It was so broken up & uneven that we couldn’t put anything on it without it being all tippy.

The biggest barrier to fixing it was that the garage is full of tools & stuff. And it’s winter. So we figured it had to be done in ONE day.

Empty the garage. Install the new floor. Reload the garage.

Empty & ready for a new floor!

My sister-in-law’s fiance, my sister-in-law & my mother-in-law came out to help. My mother-in-law watched Diaperbutt while the rest of us emptied the garage, then my sister-in-law & I headed inside to spend the day & make sure the men working in the cold were well supplied with coffee & hot food. At the end of the day we all worked together to reload the garage while Diaperbutt once again was watched by my mother-in-law.

The contents of the garage piled "neatly" on the driveway - somehow it seemed like a lot more once it was outside than it did inside.

It was a very loooong day. As with most projects around here this one took longer than expected & the day got colder & colder as it progressed. We also found we were short one sheet of plywood & had to make a couple trips to the hardware store (I think it would be a miracle if we ever took on a project & actually were successful in having everything for the job before we started – we keep trying, but we always seem to fail).

The first sill plate is installed. We used joist hangers to attach the sill plates to the wall studs & then the joists were attached to the sill plate.

Because of the time & the missing plywood we didn’t finish it completely that day & Grumpy Bear & I had to finish up together a week later while my Mom watched Diaperbutt. It took us another couple hours to put the last few pieces of floor in.

Half of the joists in place.

All the joists in place & ready for plywood.

The first sheet of plywood goes in!

So now we have a new wood shop floor – already for Grumpy Bear to finally organize his workspace! Which should make all our future projects much easier to complete!

The finished floor! With of course piles of stuff ready to be organized by Grumpy Bear - it is his workspace afterall.

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This isn’t actually the first of my 52 projects to be complete but my mother-in-law has the photos for the first project on her camera. I like this goal. It has me really motivated to work on stuff around the house & I have been doing bits & pieces most days – unfortunately a lot of my projects have more to them then bits & pieces!

This morning my hallway looked like this:

When we bought this house the people before us (or perhaps before them) had put fake wood grain stick-’em tiles in all the rooms upstairs. Each room had a different wood grain pattern & in some of the rooms the tiles were in terrible condition – lifting & peeling & stained.We wanted to lift up the tiles & subfloor & have the original wide plank wood floors sanded & refinished but money & time did not permit that to happen before we moved back in, but I knew I couldn’t live with those hideous stick-’em tiles.

So I painted the floors except those rooms with real tile & this square in the hallway. This was where the washing machine was sitting & it wouldn’t fit through the doorways into one of the tiled rooms so I was forced to paint around it & we’ve been staring at that square ever since.

Yesterday I pulled the paint out with the intention of painting it after Diaperbutt went to bed but thanks to his unplanned nap during our hike yesterday he ended up being up much later than usual. So this morning I got brave & decided to go ahead & clean & paint it with him around.

It went very well, only took a few minutes & he found it so fascinating he just stood by & watched. Much easier than I anticipated.

Then I blocked off the wet area & moved on to other tasks.

The quick little guy pushed through my blockade, slipped on the wet paint, scared himself good, put a giant butt print in the fresh paint & tried real hard to ruin one of my favourite diaper covers.

While I cuddled away the tears & worked quickly to wash the diaper cover & ruined top Charlotte decided to put her mark on the project.

So with Diaperbutt in the tub (it kind of looks like I bathed him in mud!) I put another coat on the floor (don’t worry – our house is small & could see him in the tub the whole time & was never more than 4 steps away).

And now it is drying.

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Yep, I’m going to do resolutions. I know some people dislike them & think it’s overdone but I like the fresh start, the chance to reflect. To be quite honest, it is rare for me to have a resolution that is actually a new goal. But this year I have 3 new ones (& sadly, one BIG FAT one that will hopefully leave the list forever this year).

So here they are:

1. Get in better shape & lose weight (yes, I’m still working on making my motivation to make it through the tough workouts concrete)

2. Write in my blog at least twice a week. I tend to write a LOT of entries in my head (while walking the dogs or falling asleep or…) that don’t seem to make it to the keyboard.

3. Complete 52 projects. I saw a reference to this in a blog (which, I do not remember) & thought what a good idea. So this year I will attempt to complete one project a week. Projects can include: sewing, needlework, crochetting/knitting, scrapbooking, crafts, home renovations, or anything else I deem to be a project!

4. Get outside a LOT more this year. More walks with the dogs, more camping trips, more hikes, more lying in the grass looking at the stars. More time reconnecting with mother nature & helping Diaperbutt form a solid relationship with her.

Four little goals to help bring me closer to the life I want to be living.

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(Is it possible to say that line without singing it?!)

I really like my home. Some days I have to remind myself of that when I get overwhelmed with all the things that still need to be done around here. But the work involved in owning an old house is balanced by a warmth & sense of being part of an intimate history. I like knowing so many other families have loved & argued, been born & died, enjoyed meals & good times together under this roof – it’s comforting to me.

This is our livingroom ceiling (excuse the ugly fan - we didn't choose it). It amazes me how long someone must have spent putting together this ceiling.

But most of my favourite things are the items in my house that make it feel like home – things that keep us warm regardless of what roof is over our heads.

Grumpy Bear snuggled down deep under a quilt his mother made us. This quilt is so heavy & warm - nothing more heavenly than hearing a winter storm outside while lying snug & warm inside.

Things that are just plain fun.

Diaperbutt's toy collection - his favourite game currently is to empty the blocks out & spread them around the room as much as possible.

And things that give me a sense of satisfaction because I made them with my own two hands to take care of my family.

The basket of diapers full & ready for use. The yellow flannel I was not so thrilled about when I made them is starting to fade to really nice shade now.

Or things that Grumpy Bear & I & our wonderful friends & family worked together to make our home more nourishing & welcoming.

The shelves over the sink are one of my favourite aspects of our kitchen. We still need to find shelf brackets that we really like but for now these will do the job (& the electrical you see hanging down is shut off - waiting for future under cabinet lighting).

And although we joke often about their “badness” level our house would not be the same without our furry four-legged companions. There is little that feels more “right” to me than to sit quietly in the livingroom hearing the deep breathing of sleeping animals scattered about the room – it’s pretty hard to not feel all is right in the world when they are so content.

Sweet pup.

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