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!

Monday, August 3, 2009


T is for time consuming! But, it really does finish the room off, or in this case, the hallway. Although, three doorways, one door and 40 linear feet of baseboards takes a hell of a long time to prime and paint.

But when it is done, it is so worth it. This is photo of me pulling off the tape in the hallway revealing a crisp line between the newly painted trim against the shiny hardwood floors - priceless. (Well not really. It cost me a whole day. But I listened to some good CBC radio shows at the same time so not all was lost.)