Sunday, June 1, 2014

How to get free HDTV and improve your view in just a few hours

What do you do when your new home has a massive satellite dish dangerously perched high above your garage, looming over your backyard? A satellite dish so large that it is the first thing you see each morning when you open your bedroom curtains. Well, you could try to ignore it and pretend that this visual blight does not belong to you. Or you could use it to communicate with other planets. Or better yet, you could convert it to a digital antenna and stop paying outrageous cable TV fees!

I was very annoyed with Rogers Cable when we moved because my old analogue cable package is no longer available and I could not move it to my new house. Instead, I had to upgrade to digital cable plus they charge extra for a second TV. Don't like! I told them so, but unfortunately was unable to get a better deal. Well that was the tipping point. The big dish and Rogers had to go.

Now, I'm quite a handy gal and I like to get stuff done myself, but I'm also afraid of heights. The idea of wrestling this mammoth dish to the ground gave me visions of ambulance rides after dropping it on my partner's head or law suits when I crush the neighbour's cat. Instead, I called Doctor Antenna!

OK. I called a few people but I chose Doctor Antenna because he could install a sleek new HDTV antenna on the roof (tucked away out of sight!!!), safely remove the old satellite dish, dispose of all the waste, and he's fully insured. I have experimented with indoor antennas and I got pretty good reception, but I didn't like having it in my window sill and I really hated tripping over all the cables running to the TV. It was time for a real pro!

The Doctor (a.k.a. Chris) and his assistant had that old satellite dish down in no time, but it wasn't easy. They had to cut it in pie-shaped pieces and lower them down individually. He used a reciprocating saw and a variety of grinders, twisting and bending into all kinds of strange angles -- all while attached to a safety harness. He worked quickly, efficiently and safely -- plus he's a great guy with lots of interesting stories to share. And as a bonus, he used his powerful grinder to remove a few of the vertical fence posts from the old chain link fence. Beauty!! BBQ season is going to be so much better without that ugly dish watching over us.

I really enjoyed watching the Doctor at work while both my feet were safely planted on the ground, but I had to get back to my primary project for the day (painting the front bedroom before our new furniture arrives tomorrow morning!). So the Doctor is going to return to install the HDTV. Stay tuned for that post!

Thanks to Doctor Antenna, no ambulance rides were required and no cats were killed in the beautification of my view! If you're interested in upgrading to free over-the-air HDTV or removing your own visual blight, give him a call at 416-835-1764, and please say hi from me.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How to make a vertical garden from a wooden pallet

I feel in love with this vertical planter at the Toronto Home Show. I wanted to buy one on the May long weekend, but they were out of stock, and I'm impatient. That, and it will cost over $300 to buy one (but it does have a kickass irrigation system).

So I decided to make my own with a wooden pallet. Finding the pallet was the first challenge but then I just walked down the laneway behind the shops on Bloor Street and I found several at a corner  market that sells produce. I asked permission before taking it and then carried it home.

The pallet was a bit danaged so I reinforced it with a few screws. Then I took off every other plank on the front and then lined it up with one of the remainig planks and screwed it into the back, forming a bottomless shelf. Then I took some of that black weed membrane you see in the garden centre (it is perforated to allow water and air to pass) and cut it to line the shelves. Then I stapled it in place with a staple gun. I put soil in the pockets and started to plant. But alas, I discovered that my pockets were very droopy because I made the pockets a bit too roomy, so they sagged below the "shelf" when full of wet soil. To remedy, I used the two additional planks and cut them into squares the same depth of each shelf and then fastened them on at the bottom (two per shelf) to give each pocket some support.

Only time will tell how durable the weed membrane will be, but my herbs are growing nicely. I had intended to add an irrigation system to it as well, but wasn't sure what type of hosing to use, so I left it off this year. I'm sure that I will regret this in those dog days of summer.

An excellent side benefit is that when you water starting at the top, all excess water filters down to the lower shelves. Economical and efficient.

Total cost of my solution: about $10 for the weed membrane and a few bucks for staples. I also bought a staple gun, but it is not really fair to place the cost of that here cuz I'm going to use it for lots of other stuff.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

MorEnergy Scam Strikes again in Thunder Bay!

Warning! MorEnergy Hot Water Tank Scam It was almost a year about when a MorEnergy rep tried to trick me into replacing my hot water heater because the "government was phasing mine out for safety reasons". It took me a few minutes to figure out that this was NOT a government program and I got him out of the house. I looked online and saw many complaints and saw that people all over Ontario are confused by this sales tactic, thinking that it is a mandatory government replacement which will be more energy efficient and will save money. But the online complaints about MorEnergy show that customers are NOT happy with their new hot water heaters and that they end up paying more money for them.

People in Thunder Bay: be alert. MorEnergy is working your city, and they are very aggressive. Tonight we got a call from family in Thunder Bay who were tricked into installing the new heater on Friday! The sales person came to the door and had it installed the same day.

WARNING: Do not sign a contract with MorEnergy. And if you have already signed, Ontario has a 10 day cooling off period that allows you to cancel your contract for no reason at all. But do it right away and make sure that you don't let them install it. Once the hot water tank is installed, you'll have to pay fees to remove it, replace your old heater, etc. But it is likely better than getting into a 10 year contract with such an unscrupulous company that preys on people in their own home. Read the Ontario government Consumer Alert – Hot Water Heater Rentals. Hopefully this will help you to make a good decision and not get stuck with a bad deal.

I worry that this will not be my last blog about MorEnergy and their questionable business practices.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In hot water over morEnergy scam

A man wearing a hardhat, yellow reflector vest and carrying an official clip board knocked on the door this weekend. He told me that he needed to check my rental hot water tank because of a new safety regulation passed by the Federal Government. He handed me his business card from morEnergy, declaring himself a "Hotwater Tank Specialist". In the bottom corner there was a small Canadian flag, similar to the Canadian government logo, making him appear more official.

I was skeptical but he led me to believe that this was some sort of government program to verify that we all have a safe hot water tank that meets the new safety regulations. But once I let him in the house, I realized that there is no way such a program would be launched without a public awareness campaign and at least one written announcement by mail. I realized that I had a salesman in my house, but he was already walking down the basement stairs. I was not surprised when he confirmed that it needed replacement because the government was phasing out all pre-2010 hotwater tanks. My hot water tank is only 5 years old. Obsolete already?

At that point, the sales double talk got worse.He asked if I was the type of person who cared about the environment & wanted to save energy. Suddenly I'm the bad guy for not saving the environment? I asked him for some written materials about the program, saying that I'd like to think about it and call him later.But he didn't have any brochures. He said that we could talk again when I was in the mood to listen. That was warning sign #2.

I did a quick Internet search revealing that this scam is not new. An Ottawa woman signed a contract thinking that she was getting a free replacement tank that was necessary due to safety, but then she noticed the small print revealing an increased price of 30%.

According to an online article, water heater fraud is common. If somebody comes to your door, do not sign anything! You will most certainly be left with extra fees and higher rates. The only good news is that you have 10 days to cancel the contract without penalty. But be warned: they will not make it easy for you to cancel. They will try to talk you out of it, but stick to you plan and INSIST that they cancel your contract. I know because Direct Energy tricked me into signing with them for gas delivery. They told me on my stressful moving day that I would not have gas delivered to my home unless I signed, despite the fact that I had arranged the gas hook-up with Enbridge in advance. There are several companies that use these underhanded tactics to trick homeowners into switching services that unfortunately are not usually better.

I called morEnergy to complain and it was no surprise that one of the main menu options was the legal department. How often do you hear that with other companies you call. Makes you think! So please be careful and do not fall for the morEnergy scam.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Harvest Time

It is hard to believe that such a small lot can produce so many tomatoes. The Early Girl's didn't turn out so well this season, but the Sweet Millions lived up to their name. However, fall temps bring frost. While it was warm this weekend, we're not sure how long that will last. So, I got to canning the green tomatoes -- pickled actually.

Not sure how they will turn out. I love dill pickles but hate sweet pickles. I found this recipe online: Green Cherry Tomato Pickles-Easy to make pickles. I'll know in three weeks.

At the first sign of frost, I will need to make another batch cuz there are still lots of green tomatoes out there. Let me know if you have a better recipe.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How to Install a Front Door Lock

If your money pit comes with ugly door hardware (like mine), you can update it yourself and go from tacky to terrific in no time. Just follow my easy steps:
  1. Buy a new handset at any hardware store.
  2. Let the box sit in your kitchen for 21 months. Don't forget to fret about it every few months.
  3. Remove the old hardware from the door, reveling an unflattering pattern (like racer back tan lines with a formal strapless gown).
  4. If the replacement peep hole door viewer is 9/16" and the hole in your door is 1/2", do not try to widen the hole. Return to the hardware store & buy another one.
  5. Sand the bumps that outlined the old ugly hardware. Wash door. Prime. Wait 1 hour. Paint. Wait 2 hours. Paint again. Wait 4 hours. But, if it is getting dark and you want to lock your door, proceed to next step sooner but be warned that paint can buckle & peel if you are not very very careful.
  6. Open the box and attempt to follow the illustrated directions with scant written instructions. Resist frustration due to extra unnecessary parts in the box.
  7. If the deadbolt does not turn, check to see if the existing hole in limiting movement. If so, use a chissel & hammer to widen the opening.
  8. If the machine screw to fasten the bottom of handle seems too long, don't try to cut it. Use a fine hack saw & make sure that you have a file. Or, save yourself some time and just go to the hardware store and buy the correct length. Take the handle with you to ensure you get the correct thread and length.
  9. When you finally get the damn handle installed, take a photo & be thankful that you're done... until you realize that you still have the back door to do.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Heating up on a cold weekend

Our oven has been broken for a few months, but with the summer BBQ season, we've easily avoided facing the repair. I wanted to make some kael chips and it seemed too cold to go outside and use the BBQ. My other half suggested buying a new stove, but really that seemed excessive, so I looked for repair info.

As it turns out, replacing the element in an electric oven is very easy - once you find the correct part. I phoned a few local hardware stores to see if they carrier the correct element, and they all said yes (except Downtown Lumber, which is a Home Hardware store, but the woman on the phone said that they specialize in building supplies.) Rather than drive up to the stockyards to the big box stores, I went to the neighborhood places. After visiting four stores with the burned out element in hand, I concluded that they no longer make the one I needed so was going to modify the one I found. There seem to be two types of connectors: slide-on or screw-on. Mine was the older slide-on type so I was just going to cut off the connectors, strip a bit of wire and connect it with the screws. Inspecting the product packaging more closely at home, I discovered that they are classified by numbers in a yellow circle and that ideally I needed #2. Rather than cut off the slide-on connectors, I called yet another hardware store asking for the #2, and they had the elusive part in stock. Near complete victory.

This easy Saturday project dragged on a few hours too long but replacing it took all of 5 minutes and now the oven is clean too. After restoring power, I tested out the oven and the element glows red. Now I can try the baked kael chips!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How to install a dryer lint trap

My neighbours have been very unhappy with the amount of lint coming from our dryer vent, so I wanted to install a secondary lint filter. Initially I couldn't find any in Canada and the shipping costs from the US were more than the product itself. But then I found the LT-180 manufactured by Reversomatic, in Woodbridge, Ontario, just north of Toronto. Fortunately, I know somebody who works near there and they picked one up for me.

Installation is quite simple if your dryer vent is accessible. Removed one piece of the dryer vent, cut 6.5" off and then put the LT-180 in-line as a secondary filter. Before closing up the duct, take a moment to clean out all excess dryer lint as it is a fire hazard. Tape up all the joints with aluminum duct tape, but not the sticky all-purpose duct tape (because it cracks when it gets  hot, breaking the seal). The LT-180 is designed to fit behind drywall, but our basement is open concept/loft style, so there is no pesky drywall to worry about.

Hopefully this will cut back on the amount of lint that ends up in the neighbour's back yard, bringing peace
to the neighbourhood again, at least until we start doing our waterproofing job.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why so much lint?

Pandora's box of lint...
It seems that the road of home ownership can never be smooth. Life in the money pit hit a speed bump about a year ago when our next door neighbour asked me: "why so much lint"? It seems that our dryer vent has been expelling excessive amounts of lint, which must be a real burden since we dry about two loads of laundry every week. Our little money pit is built right on the property line, so the walkway beside our house is owned exclusively by the neighbours, and they don't allow us to use it. Our dryer vents into this narrow three foot walkway, very close to the ground.

I live in a neighbourhood where cleanliness is very important. Hosing down your sidewalk and concrete front yard with fresh potable water is a daily ritual. It helps to "freshen it up", as my neighbour explained to me. In the summer, the issue of the lint returned, and I noticed that they'd leaned a large 12" x 12" tile up against the house, so that the dryer air would hit the tile first, possibly trapping more of this vexing dryer lint.

Last week we couldn't figure out why the clothes weren't drying, so during the super bowl game, I went outside to discover a brick blocking the dryer vent. Needless to say, this is a real fire hazard! Today I went outside before starting the dryer and the brick was back, firmly in place, keeping the vent closed. Lint. Who knew it was so much trouble? I had ignored the first complaint as it was just days after the devastating earthquake in Haiti and I though that relatively this was not a problem. However, if my house burns down because they've blocked my dryer vent  it could become a more serious issue - especially the fire spreads to their house, just three feet away.

I spent some time on the internet and found these secondary lint filters. I want to install one but couldn't find any for sale in the DIY hardware stores. I will have to order one online from the US or call around to some HVAC contractors. What a hassle. But, that's what you've gotta do to keep the peace (and reduce the risk of fire) in Little Italy.

Let me know if you have any leads on where to buy a metal dryer lint trap.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mammogram in competition at Breast Fest Film Festival

Long before I was an amateur renovator, I was a filmmaker. One of my short films, Mammogram, has been selected for the competition of ReThink Breast Cancer's Breast Fest Film Festival. Starring Megan Dunlop and Mary Margaret O'Hara, the film tells the story of a young woman dealing with the memories of losing her mother to the disease while going for her annual screening appointment.

There are eight great films that you can watch for free and then vote on your favorite three. Online voting ends on Friday, October 15. The third annual Breast Fest Film Festival will be taking place November 19-21, 2010 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada.

October is national breast cancer awareness month. Don't think that it can't happen to you. Early detection is the key to saving lives.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Red hot air conditioning troubles

Homeowners often find themselves in desperate situations, at the mercy of contractors and sales people who don't return your calls for help or who baffle you with fact & fiction, leading you to spend outrageous amounts of money in the name of comfort. 

Toronto is experiencing an early summer heatwave with temperatures around 40C with the humidex. While we rarely use our air conditioner, this is the time that we would. We called it into action for some cool relief but instead were assauted by hot air. It was 34C inside, without humidex. Foolishly I called the company who serviced and fixed our furnace last winter (which had broken a few weeks after the warranty expired): Air Quality One Hour. I'm not sure where the name comes from, because they gave us a 4 hour window for their visit and then spent only a small fraction of an hour at the house, telling us that the compressor was shot and would cost $1,300 to fix, but that since the unit is 14 years old, we may want to replace it instead. Then they presented us with a bill for $130, due on the spot. I completed an online request for a sales appointment with the same company as they said that they'd deduct the $130 from the purchase. But I also called a few other companies for comparison.

A nice salesman came to the house at 7 p.m. the same night, and took over our dining room table for 3 hours, where he drew a model of our house, measured all the windows and doors, calculated the square footage, and told us that both our AC and furnace were the wrong size for our house. Interesting. He pointed out many problems with our current system and quoted us $5,000 for a new AC unit. However, they were having a promotion for half price AC if we also replaced our furnace, and since the two work together, it is more efficient to get them at the same time. After more chat and calculations, full reading of all the terms & conditions, along with the warranty information, he unveiled the final price to be $10,540 but with rebates and deducting the money we had "invested" in repairs in the past year, we would only have to pay $8,950. Wow. What a deal. Also, this deal was contingent on us saying YES to do it the next day. They were offering us this special rate because we'd be able to fill an opening in the installation schedule for the next day. As desperate as I was for some cool air in the house, something felt wrong. I called a few friends and found that they paid around $6,000 for both AC and furnace for a larger house and that was BEFORE the rebate. So.... we emailed the guy to say thanks but no thanks. Time for some more quotes. After all, our current furnace is only 7 years old, less than half the normal life of a furnace. Should we really throw the baby out with the bath water? 

The next day I found two other techs who could come to do quotes, however one asked about some sort of booster thing on the phone and I had no idea what he was talking about. But when I returned from work, he was already there and tried installing this device to see if it would work. We flicked some switches and hoped for the best and then... magic. The AC fired up and cool air was blowing around the house again. This mystery repair man asked if the other tech had charged for their visit and I said yes. He shook his head in disgust and asked how much. He looked at our sad old AC and said: "This unit is in good condition. It should run a few more years at least." I like this guy! He charged us $80 and guaranteed the work for a year. So, just when I was losing faith in all technicians, along comes Dan from Revolution Air. He saved us $9,000!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Don't go to Blinds to Go

Trying to do our part to stimulate the economy, we ordered new blinds from Blinds To Go on January 30 and just received them today! Our order was plagued by errors and people demanding more money from us. While their website says: Blinds delivered in 48 hours, they were not able to deliver our order in under 48 days!

Our initial visit started well. I was impressed with the precision and detail taken with care by the design consultant. We went home and remeasured both windows, and called our consultant to let her know that the measurements were correct and to proceed with the order as specified on the paper that I signed. About a week later, we had a call that the blinds were ready. When we went to pick them up, we were told we owed an additional $44. We realized that somebody had changed our order for the 2nd blind from 21 3/4" to 31 3/4".

WHY would somebody change the order from the paper copy that I signed and paid for? Did somebody in the factory think that they were doing us a favour? Shouldn't have called to ask first?

A new order was placed with the dimensions specified on my original signed order form. And we waited. We called a few times and were told they were on back order. And we waited without complaint. Finally we got the call on Thursday April 8 that they were ready. Over three months after ordering and paying for the blinds -- they were ready.

We went to the store today to pick them up and guess what: they still wanted the $44 from us. It took us 30 minutes to sort this out AGAIN that it was the company who changed the order form AFTER we had signed off on the dimensions. We barely got out of the store with the blinds. Now we have to hang them. OMG. After all this, they had better fit.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ad Free, since 2010

When I set up the old money pit blog a few years back, I followed the prompt to put Google Ads on my page: what could it hurt. I found it amusing to see how the ads would change based on what I was writing about. Eaves troughs, paint, plumbing... made me feel like a real handy person. But the more time I spend on the internet, the more I feel assaulted by advertising. I think that we could all do with a break. So starting today, this blog is ad free. So enjoy!

By using this icon on my website I am stating...

1. That I am opposed to the use of corporate advertising on blogs.

2. That I feel the use of corporate advertising on blogs devalues the medium.

3. That I do not accept money in return for advertising space on my blog.



Thursday, January 14, 2010

Renovator Down

I did not fall from a ladder. I was not injured in the line of duty. I was trying to enjoy winter with some outddor skating at Nathan Phillips Square when an inexperienced skater hit me from behind, knocking my feet were out from under me, and I fell back, landing on my left arm. Snap! This photo is before they knocked me out to pull it back into alignment.

We were only one week into the new year and my chances for any last minute tax credit renovations were canceled, not to mention my chances of enjoying winter.

There is a chance that the bone will shift and I will need surgery. Weekly x-rays will confirm that it is healing properly.

FYI: For you American readers skeptical of Universal Health Care, this unfortunate accident may be slowing down my renos, but I won't have to sell my house to pay for it. I received top medical care and was out of hospital in only 4 hours at a cost of nothing. One week later I was billed $45 for the ambulance ride w/ 2 paramedics who treated me to an IV and some much needed morphine (well worth the $$, although 45 is a flat rate for all). I had 6 x-rays on the night of the accident & many more on my follow-up visits, at no extra charge -- all included with my Canadian citizenship/residency. When I got my 2nd cast, I paid $30 to upgrade to fibreglass from plaster. So if I pay a little more in taxes, I know that it is well worth it! Don't be fooled by health insurance lobbyists -- universal health care is a better alternative!

Friday, November 6, 2009

How to fix a leaking dual fllush toilet

I felt betrayed when our new Rona dual flush water efficient toilet started to leak after only 10 months. Every time we flushed it, water poured out from behind the toilet lid, but it didn't leak any other time. These new efficient toilets don't have a flapper, which is so easy to replace. Did the whole guts of the toilet need replacing? Where was the receipt? ARGH! With no time, we turned off the water supply and quit using the toilet, pretending that the problem did not exist.

When I finally found a few minutes to Google the problem, it was looking like I'd blown a gasket - literally! With no big plans on a Friday night, we drained the tank and took it off the bowl. Within an instant, we could see the problem. Check out that gasket and you too can see why the toilet was leaking between the tank and bowl.

We ran over to our local Home Hardware, but they didn't have the correct gasket, so a long drive in rush hour traffic to Rona and $3.49 later, we had a new gasket, and now we have a functioning toilet on the 2nd floor again. Hooray. Life is beautiful. Again.

How we did it:
  1. Close the water shut-off to the toilet. Remove the supply hose to the tank. Be ready to catch any water that spills out of the hose.
  2. Flush the toilet and then bail water from the tank using a small cup. Soak up the remaining water with a sponge.
  3. Remove the two bolts that hold the tank to the bowl, lift it off and set it aside.
  4. Inspect the gasket. If it looks like the one above, take it to the hardware store and find a replacement.
  5. Place the new gasket over the hole at the bottom of the tank, rather than putting it over the hole on the bowl. (I think that's where we ran into trouble about 10 months ago.) Carefully set the tank on the bowl, without disturbing the gasket.
  6. Tighten the two bolts and attach the water hose. Turn on the water supply and look for leaks. If you're a religious person, you may want to pray at this point, but I've never found it to be as effective as using the power of observation and a good screw driver.
  7. Enjoy your newly repaired toilet. You deserve it!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Team Lorraine

If you can't see the slideshow above, you can see the photos on Flickr.

My friend Lorraine was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a rare and incurrable form of cancer, just days after giving birth to her third child. Quick access to experimental treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) combined with Lorraine's positive attitude has proven to all of us that incurrable does not mean terminal. Lorraine is in 'near complete remission'. This is great news, but we need to acclerate the search for a cure, not just for Lorraine and her three girls, but for all the other people living with the incurrable Multiple Myeloma.

From CBC radio's Fresh Air: They say it takes a village to raise a child. What happens when a village helps someone recover from a serious illness? Three months ago, Peterborough's Lorraine McCallum was unable to walk because of a rare cancer. Today she takes part in the Toronto Marathon. Lorraine and two of the people who rallied to her support---Corinne Smirle of Toronto and Ann Farlow of Peterborough---talked with Mary. You can learn more about what they and others are doing to find a cure for Multiple Myeloma at their website.

Listen to the interview. (mp3 - approx 10 min.)

In the news:

It is not too late to support Team Lorraine. Every dollar raised directly helps Lorraine and other myeloma patients through cutting edge research; and, every donation is tax deductible. Donations will be graciously accepted until December 31, 2009.

P.S. Here is a pic of me getting the team together in the dark and one of our Team Lorraine banner on the walk.

Monday, August 31, 2009

How to kill wasps

Summer is so short, I want to enjoy the back yard as much as I can before the snow starts flying again. But, our al fresco dining is often interrupted by pesky wasps. I'm not sure if the garbage strike stimulated the wasp population of Toronto, but it has been a dangerous summer for a person who swells from wasp stings.

A few weeks ago, we were having friends over for a BBQ and the yard was full of wasps. I had heard that you can create a wasp trap with a water bottle filled with a bit of sugar water or pop. I made two such traps, but used some old honey for the sweetener. We caught a few that night, but it didn't stop one of my guests from being stung. (Sorry Frank!)

The traps have been sitting in the back yard, but not idly. The bottle on the left trapped considerably more wasps than the other one. Is it a higher concentration of honey? A different bottle shape? Or does misery like company? I don't know, but I made a third trap today and I encourage you to make one and help reduce the wasp population of Toronto.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Now it is "really" done

This weekend, I witnessed that a comment on a blog can inspire action, and that posting a photo on a blog can inspire even more action.

I was so pleased with my new light fixture yesterday that I posted a photo of the complete bathroom. With the photo on my computer I could see how stark and institutional the walls looked. Not impressed. This inspired me to open the package of wall tattoos that I've had resting on the back of the toilet for about 4 months.

After several hours with scissors and tape, I managed to arrange them on the wall in a pleasing pattern. I got the OK from my domestic companion, and then I peeled off the backing and rubbed the decals onto the wall with the assistance of my HBC rewards card (the most use I've ever got out of the thing). I'm quite pleased with the results and just hope that they stay on the wall. I hope that the humidity won't peel them off. Time will tell.

This post is full of hope and inspiration. Sounds like an Obama speech to me.

If you're interested in wall tattoos, check out the art supply store @ 130 Spadina Ave. They have a good selection.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The bathroom is done!

Technically the bathroom has been done since February, after we installed the toilet and sink. But, I could not declare the project fully complete because we were unable to find a suitable light fixture to go over the vanity mirror. That hole with wires sticking out screamed "incomplete". It also made a bad photo.

Last night I received a comment from another renovating blogger who asked how the bathroom had turned out, and I really didn't have a good answer. That gave me the momentum to get this thing done.

After a quick glance at the big box stores, we returned to Living Lighting on King Street, determined to buy a particular light that we were considering six months ago, but then came home with this little number instead. I was so excited, I installed it immediately, and I cannot believe how much light it gives off. I was previously standing in shadows by the mirror, but now I can see all my grey hair and some new wrinkles. Yet despite that, I love the new light! Why did we wait so long for this? Nobody should have to live like that. Nobody.

Pip at 416FixerUpper, thank you for motivating me to get this thing complete!

Now that I'm looking at this photo, I see that it is time to get some art up in there. I bought some wall tattoos a long time ago. Maybe tomorrow they will be ON the wall.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Preventative Maintenance?

This money pit came with a relatively new mid efficiency furnace that was under warranty, as long as we paid $100 per year for a maintenance check. Mature homeowner friends told me that it was the thing to do, so I did it too. But did it pay off? I don't think so.

Last August, on the anniversary of our purchase date, I dutifully had the furnace serviced despite the fact that the fee had crept up to $129. A friendly fellow wearing paper shoe covers vacuumed the dirt out, shone a light around, did some tests with a volt meter and was on his way. The start up made some strange noise, like rumbling bearings, but the technician said that it didn't need to be replaced yet. I felt secure in my warranty, so trusted this opinion.

Three months later, on a cold winter day, the house was strangely quiet and uncomfortably cold. Humm. The furnace was not working. Crap. I called the technician who came the next day, but bearing the bad news that the blower motor was broken and that the warranty had expired a few weeks prior. $625 later, we had heat in the house again and the harsh lesson that despite the annual service, we were not protected. Nor did the annual preventative maintenance prevent the motor from breaking after 5.1 years.

Are warranties a scam or am I just a skeptic? If I had not paid the furnace company for their maintenance visits the previous 4 years, I would have had an additional $430 towards that repair bill.

I called them this August to say that I would no longer be paying their "protection" money, which really only offered me 20% off repairs now that my warranty had expired. But then she explained that for $230, I could have the gold service plan that will cover 100% of repairs this year plus the annual maintenance check. Buying into the public fear, I caved in and bought it. What if this furance turned out to be as unreliable as Dan's Mazda 3? Thoughts of huddling around the electric heater during a Swine Flu epidemic this winter are too sad.

Suddenly I was transformed from skeptic to suspersitious and gullible fool?

What do you think? Are warranties worth the money or are they just a scam? Can I vacuum my own furnace next August and bank the $230 towards my next motor? I do have a shop vac!