Monday, December 21, 2015


We are trying out another one of Troy's crazy wacky silly unconventional ideas. Windows are one of the prime causes of heat loss in your house.

They're also often the number one culprit in making your house uncomfortable. Ever been in a room that was the right temperature, but just felt chilly? Were you sitting by a window? The cold just radiates off the glass.

We have a mix of new efficient windows and old less-efficient windows. (I think we've removed all of the old terrible windows.) But it's true about all of them. They make you feel cold.

But you can't just get rid of all your windows. You might be warm, but who wants to live like that?

Many people hang heavy drapes and we made insulating blinds for the big windows in the living room and dining room. They make a big difference in the heat loss, but they work as a window as well as the wall does.

Troy's new suggestion was that we add a layer of bubble wrap to the window. Yup, bubble wrap. Sounds silly, but you'll find a lot of proponents with a quick Google search. (It's not like it was Troy's original idea.)

The wrap with large bubbles will work best. You stick it on the window by misting the window with water and then applying a sheet of bubble wrap cut to size with the bubble side toward the window.
You still get a lot of light through the window and once you get used to the idea of not seeing exactly what is outside, it's actually pretty. (It reminds me of frost patterns.)

And of course, you don't have to do all of your windows. If there are some you especially want to see out of, don't do those. But if there's a chilly corner where you like to read at night (for instance), do those windows.
I'd say we're not quite done half of the windows, but it seems to be pretty good so far.

I am enjoying being able to have the blinds up and letting more light into the living room. Previously, I would pull them up for light but then would lower them soon after because I didn't enjoy the chill on the back of my neck!
We had a little trouble with the bubble wrap falling down when we first put them up but it seems to be better now. For one thing, I added a little glycerin to the water as some suggested. (We happen to have it in the house. You can get it at a store with soap making supplies. Others suggested a little dish soap would work as well.) I also think misting the window with a wide, fine spray works better than spraying it like a jet.

When you want to remove the bubble wrap, it comes off easily and doesn't leave any residue behind on the window. (Ok, yes, you will likely have to wash the windows--but there's nothing sticky or difficult to remove. And don't you like to wash your windows in the spring anyway?)

My next problem will be where to store this bulky stuff when it's not on the windows!! (And don't forget to label them before you take them down or you'll never figure out where they go!)

All part of the adventure of trying to build a house that you can heat with a cat.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Raise the Roof

The master bedroom
Or at least, the ceiling.

Since I last posted about the drywall, Troy and I have been working on it in fits and spurts. After the insulation was done, we patched the holes and then started the taping and mudding.

Troy has also started to tackle the ceiling. He debated different solutions for a ceiling that was in bad shape and decided to apply foam insulation and drywall to the existing lathe and plaster. The room is tall enough that it can afford to lose and inch or two and it seemed the best option.

Of course before putting up the drywall, he had to locate and install all of the lighting fixtures. I had some of them marked and the switch boxes in for all of them, but he installed the fixtures and ran the final wiring.
Starting in the bathroom and closet area.
PS: He fixed the drywall lift so it no longer
is a risk that it may collapse on him and kill him.
He also had to put a final fix on the chimney. This chimney:
The first winter we were here, Troy put in the woodstove and this chimney to go with it. For a little while after it was installed, we could lay in bed and look through the ceiling and through the roof to admire the stars! Of course Troy fixed the roof very quickly, but there has been a gap in the ceiling around the pipe ever since. That was a lot of hot air escaping to the attic and dust coming down in to the bedroom.

But no more:
What a nice seal! Ok, I don't really care about the seal as long as it keeps the dust (and all that insulation we blew into the attic) in the attic!

Here are few more general shots of the rooms:
Looking southeast through the doorway.
Looking southeast again, this time in the doorway.
Looking northwest (toward the doorway).
Looking southwest.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Firewood Report 2015

Just dropping in to say that we finished splitting the last of the wood for 2015. It was everything Troy cut, and it was about everything we could fit in the greenhouse! Nice that those two amounts lined up so well.

Here's a shot looking in the east entrance.
Troy's tomatoes and figs are on the left and apparently I had to leave him room to work as well. :)

Hmm, I don't know how well this panoramic shot shows it, but I had to try.

Here's a shot from the outside:
You can see over half is full of wood, but the right side is serving double duty where Troy has his plants. We are hoping this is enough for two years. So next summer should be a little easier because we will only have to replace one year's worth. (We got behind--not having Isaac around in the summers!--so this year we had to cut and split more than a year's worth.) I think Troy is secretly hoping this will be three years' worth with our new stove. We'll see.

And now the end of the driveway is cleared of all wood and swept off so we Troy can run the snowblower without concern of picking up wood bits and jamming the blower.
Troy got himself a new string trimmer so he has cleaned up the weeds growing in the cracks too. I saw all the pictures on my Facebook feed this morning showing 6" of snow in Ontario and I am feeling like we are ready. :)

Monday, September 07, 2015


We got the first honey from our bees!
Seven pints full.
It looks lovely and tastes so good!

Troy didn't think he'd be able to harvest any this year because he had a new hive move into the beehive this spring (summer?). Over the long, cold winter both of his existing hives died off. Normally with a new hive just getting established, he would let them have all the honey for the first year to make sure they have enough.

But when he checked on the bees last week, he saw that they have been building like gang-busters and actually expanded into a part of the hive that they're not supposed to use (above the hang bars). So one day, he broke into the hive and cut out those combs.

Later that night when a lot of the bees abandoned the comb removed from the hive, he brushed the last determined ones off, and got the comb into the shop where they couldn't smell it.

Yesterday, he crushed the comb and let the honey drain off in the car. That way the bees still wouldn't smell it and the heat in the car would help the honey drain more easily. And last night we decanted (canted?) seven pints.

It is so good, I licked off the cloth I used to wipe the rim of the bucket we were pouring from!

Friday, August 07, 2015

Family Campout and Very Little Side Trip

Yea, it was pretty tight in the car! Fortunately for Isaac,
he only had to ride along for an hour.
A week or two ago, Troy and I travelled to Ontario, picking up Isaac on the way, to go to my mom's family campout. They have been meeting at this same place since the early/mid 1970s (no one can quite remember).

One aunt said the first time it rained so hard, they gathered under the shelter (roof-no walls) and parked all their vans around it to block the wind. Sort of like circling the wagons. Another said that was a later year, which is probably a good thing, although these are hardy folk and a little rain probably wouldn't stop them. (Well, we know for a fact that it didn't!)
The one-day picnic grew to a weekend camping trip and now it's not unusual to have the first campers there on Tuesday (for the "weekend") and some still there the following Monday. The site is a strip of land along Lake Ontario with a sandy bank for the kids to dig in and a rocky beach at the water's edge. On Saturday when we have the big potluck lunch and some organized games, there were more than 150 people there. Yeah, all related to me somehow. (And I don't mean to imply that I couldn't tell you how!)
"Rhebergen Row" where we and all my sisters and families
 camped. You can't see Troy and my little tent (and
Isaac's even littler tent) which were past the large canopy.
Anyway, we arrived on Thursday after a 13-hour trip, the normal 9-10 hours being lengthened by two trips to a grocery store (on either side of the border), traffic through Toronto and picking up Isaac. But we arrived safe and sound, with time to set up the tents before dark and to many welcoming hugs.

The weather was mostly sunny and not hot. It rained Friday night and a little on Saturday but not enough to wreck any plans. The lake was frigid and although we can normally brave it (I guess I'm talking about the kids) there was almost no one in the water unless they were cleaning up.

There were, however, games! My uncle and his family made some super-size versions of old favourites, like Connect 4
 and getting the ball through the maze.
 There were also some massive bubbles being made
and a type of frisbee horseshoes(?). Your partner could hit the frisbee you threw into the barrel for points, but if you got it into the slot you got a lot of points and the game was over right then.
 And there was volleyball:
My cousins and cousins' kids are very good and it was fun to watch. One of them is playing on the Canadian national team for his age group and was recently playing in Korea. He's aiming for the 2020 Olympics. I so hope he makes it!

Isaac kept himself busy part of one afternoon burning names into driftwood with his magnifying lense. He was taking requests pretty quickly.
 And there were kids everywhere, of course.
 Really cute ones.
 I got to hold a couple of them even.
 When their parents weren't around anyway...
 We took a lot of family pictures.

I heard my brother-in-law dispense this advice to my brother who was complaining: "I learned the trick: just pretend you like it."
Besides, the quicker you cooperate and get it done, the quicker you are done!
My two men are always cooperative though!

We took exactly one sister pic. (I had to interrupt one of them from a nap and drag her out of her tent....Sorry, Kim!)
Some people on Facebook had a hard time identifying us with just the faces showing. How well do you know us? If you're curious, email me your answer and I'll let you know how you did.

We spent a lot of time sitting around drinking "coffee" (or whatever drink was your preference).
We instituted a new program where each time the dishes had to be done, a different adult was teamed with a different kid. I think the system worked pretty well.
And in the evening we sat around the fire.
The mosquitoes were pretty bad, but if you could stick it out, they go away as it gets a little later.

My niece Madeline was selling copies of her book and signing them.
Yes, she wrote a book. You can find it on Amazon here.

And sometimes we act silly
(especially if our sister tells us to!)

We spent time with cousins and friends
Yvonne and I were thick as thieves when we were younger and we met at the family camp.
Of course, we knew each other, but hung out with different people. But one year someone got fireworks, and she came and sat beside me to watch them. We were inseparable after that! We spent many summer weekends at this campground between this family camp, her family camp and my church campout!

It was a delightful weekend and then it was time to go home. On the way, Troy and I made one other fun discovery.
This is Ellis Pioneer Chapel and you can read more about it here. Troy and I stopped at the "ON Route" station between Guelph and Cambridge and decided to walk around the building just to get a little movement in. Around the backside of the building (near the drivethrough) we saw a marked pedestrian way. At first it looked like it was only access to the employee parking lot, but then we saw signs. We followed them to this historic chapel.

We walked around the building and discovered the little cemetery plot they had preserved in the back. It looks like they rescued very old grave markers by mounting them in a stone wall.
Here's a view of the back and part of the lawn.
The building was locked and there really wasn't much to see, but it was a nice little surprise and certainly made for a nicer walk than around the parking lot! The chapel has a summer concert series and you can read more about that on their website.
I don't get to go to family campout very often and Troy even less. It was wonderful to spend some time with family, immediate and extended, and to just "chill" in that way you do when you're camping.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

She's Going to be a Hot One

Next winter, that is. And I'm not forecasting the weather. I don't care how cold of a winter we have, we will be a lot toastier in the house.

We spent the weekend blowing insulation into the house. Troy and I don't have a lot of days off together so when these major holidays come along, we need to take advantage of them.

Saturday morning, Troy sped off to Menards to get the machine and some insulation while I did what I could to prepare, like hanging plastic and draping things I couldn't move out of the room.

 Here he comes!
One the first trip, Troy got the machine and one pallet. We blew that into the attic in pretty short order. Then he went back for more and came back with two pallets. He drew a lot of stares driving back from Menards!

He got as far as he could on the attic and then stopped as he needed to be able to make repairs to the antenna. (He caught the cord at some point and ripped off the end.) Troy put the antenna up in the attic to keep it safe from bad weather, which has worked out quite well.
By the time he left the attic, it was pretty full. Looking north:
 And looking south:
For comparison, notice the "doorway" on the left side in the picture below:
When Troy could do no more in the attic (for the day), he moved onto the second floor. He got about half way around the room filling the bottom holes before we ran out of insulation.
Troy brought back the machine and then brought home another pallet. (We thought we'd need two, and he wouldn't have room for two pallets and the machine the next day.) The next day after church and lunch, he went back for the machine and a fifth pallet and I stacked up the pallet we didn't use the day before so it was all ready to go.
Just before we got started on Sunday. Don't we look like
we're about to have fun!?
As Troy was picking up the fifth pallet in two days, the guy at Menards looked agog and asked "Just how big is your house?" I don't think he gets a lot of people installing it 12" thick.

Meanwhile, Troy had fixed the antenna (yeah!) so we finished the attic and the walls on the second floor. Then Troy wanted to blow insulation into the attic above the back room (laundry room). So we moved the machine to the back and did that too. That meant moving a bunch of stuff that I had put there because I thought it was a "safe" zone. We used up just over 4.5 pallets in all and wrapped up on Sunday by 8:00. We were both ready to be done!

That means the attic space is done. I'm happy to think we won't have to do that again! And of course, it will make a huge difference on the temperature of the house. And half of the upstairs is done. And I'd say about half of the downstairs. We are getting there...

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