Thursday, 28 February 2013

What I'm reading

Just last night I started reading this book. I am only a few pages in but it is...interesting?!

Next in the line up is The Angel's Game...I always need to have another book ready to pick up once I have finished the previous one...can't go a day without reading!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

New/old bedroom dressers

I have mentioned in the past that this house is a bit small. I love the size of the house, and I wouldn't want anything bigger for our first home - it would mean far more to clean, heat, paint - you name it! The size really isn't a problem for the most part, but finding furniture to fit in the bedrooms has been challenging.

The smallest of the bedrooms is my studio, so no big deal there - I have never had a separate room to work on my art in, so any room, no matter how small, is a dream come true. The second bedroom is not a bad size, but the location of the door/closet/window make positioning a bed and other furniture a bit awkward. Lastly we have the master bedroom. It is small! When we moved here I brought a huge dresser with me that I had in my apartment and it just barely fit in the room with a bed. Now that there is a new bed and bed frame in the master bedroom, there is no way my big old monster dresser will fit (plus it just looks out of place). I have been on the hunt for a new chest of drawers (or something that could take the place of a dresser?!) that would fit in the room and still be functional.

Sorry for the bad photo - the camera lens got nosed by the cat just before I snapped this!

A few months back I found this little brown dresser at a Value Village. It is really tiny, but it would fit in the room no problem. It needs to be stripped of its many layers of paint, then given a new, fresh coat. I had hoped to work on it a couple of weeks ago, but it needs a heavy duty paint stripper that is too smelly (and dangerous) to use indoors and it has been too damn cold outside to get the job done - it will have to wait for the spring. Luckily, even when that little dresser gets in the bedroom, there will still be room for another dresser, something tall and narrow. I had my eye on this dresser from Ikea. It would fit perfectly and provide more storage. Since there has been a lot of furniture-buying over the past few months, we were putting off another expensive trip to Ikea just for a while... and I'm glad we did because just this past weekend we hit the local Value Village and found another suitable dresser for the bedroom and at $12.99 it was no question we could make it work! It just needs a good cleaning, a light sand, paint and some minor repairs to the drawer bottoms (which are being supported by duct tape - something I didn't notice until after I got it home) then it will be good to go.

So back to the dungeon basement I go to get to work on our latest furniture find. And yes, my to-do list of furniture that needs refinishing is not getting any smaller, we just keep adding to it!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Food, yummy food!

This week I have been cooking up a storm...and eating like a pig! It is only Thursday and I am running out of steam in the kitchen...and I have successfully undone all of the healthy eating I had been doing! It all started this past weekend, a holiday weekend here in Canada (Family Day). For the holiday (Monday) I had my family over for dinner...a turkey dinner. It was my first time roasting a turkey. It was a bit of an adventure, having to defrost the 13 pounder and trying to remove the goodie-bag that was wedged inside. While the turkey roasted I prepared the accompanying veg - well, what I could in such a small kitchen. In my family we always have roasted potatoes with a roast dinner and there just wasn't any room for spuds in the oven, so my mum made her delicious crispy roasted potatoes and brought them over. For dessert my brother and his girlfriend brought homemade chocolate shortbread cookies, vanilla ice cream and choco-sauce. What a dinner! The turkey was a tiny bit overdone, but there was plenty of gravy and I have learned a thing or two for next time.

Next up?! Trying to figure out what to do with all of the leftover turkey! Some turkey went home with my brother (a drumstick/dark meat fan). The rest I had to sort out - but what to do? Tuesday night we had a repeat of  the previous evening's turkey dinner (leftovers always taste better!) but we were still left with a load of turkey. With the ingredients I had on hand, I whipped up some turkey chili and a batch of turkey curry. Both turned out well, but there is only so much turkey I can eat!

Today is my mum's birthday (Happy Birthday!). I am getting ready for another yummy family dinner this evening. My brother is cooking the dinner (I will help if he allows me), while I am in charge of the cake. Baking is not one of my strengths*, but for my mum, who made a cake for almost every birthday in our family, I will give it my very best! I am baking one of her favorites, a Victoria Sponge. She shared her recipe for the cake with me several years back and I have only made it a handful of times. It seems a straight forward enough recipe, but it is temperamental and I have had as many successes as I've had failures. Everything has to be just right or you can end up with a flat cake that is a bit hard and dry. The cake is a bit more dense and slightly dryer than your typical chocolate or vanilla cake and rather than being covered in icing, you simply sandwich two sponge layers together with some strawberry jam and butter cream icing and sprinkle icing sugar over the top. If done right, this cake is magic!

One of the last times my mum made a Victoria Sponge, she rocked the boat by using apricot jam instead of the usual strawberry. It was good. Damn good. So I have decided to do the same for her today. The apricot jam doesn't quite look as nice as the red strawberry jam (there, I said it), but once you give it a taste you forget all about it!

I followed the recipe exactly, and I mean EXACTLY (got the kitchen scales out and everything)! I have yet to taste the cake, after all it wouldn't be right showing up with a half eaten cake to a birthday get-together, but the cake didn't stick in the pans, isn't burnt and looks pretty good, so I am half way there! I'll let you know how it tastes once we dive in later this evening.

Update: the cake was a success! But here's a tip, don't cover a cake in powered sugar, then cover it in candles for the birthday girl to blow out, unless you are cool with cleaning down your entire dining table and washing all place-mats!

Victoria Sponge

For the cake:

225g Butter
1 Cup sugar
4 Eggs
225g Self raising flour*
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing:

75g Unsalted butter
1 1/2 Cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsps milk or warm water

4+ tbsps strawberry jam (enough jam of your choice to spread over the bottom layer of the cake)
Icing sugar to sprinkle over top
*You can use store bought self raising flour or mix together your own by doing the following: 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + 2 1/4 tsps baking powder + 3/4 tsp salt.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease/flour two 8 inch round cake tins. For the cake, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs and vanilla extract. Slowly add some flour as you are beating the mixture. Add the remaining flour to the mixture and fold it in with a spoon. Divide the mixture evenly between the two cake tins - the cake mix is very thick and difficult to spread in the tins but once it starts to bake it fills the tins and evens itself out. Bake for aprox. 25 minutes or until the cake is golden and firm to the touch. After baking, allow cakes to cool in tin before turning out onto cooling rack.

To make the icing, put butter in a bowl and beat until it is soft. Gradually sift and beat in the icing sugar, followed by the vanilla extract. Add water or milk to make the icing fluffy and spreadable.

Once both cakes are cool, spread the jam on one of the cakes (bottom cake) and spread the butter icing on the other cake (top cake), sandwich the two cakes together and sprinkle the top with icing sugar.

*I don't know how, but every time I attempt to bake, without fail I mess something up. In the case of the Victoria Sponge, I have messed up the measurements for self raising flour in the past and ended up with a flat cake, so I stuck to the store bought stuff this time. I thought today, since I took things slowly and followed the recipe EXACTLY, I would be fine...right?! As I was typing out the recipe above, I realized that I had not followed the recipe exactly, as I thought I had. I used a tablespoon of vanilla extract in both the cake and icing, instead of the teaspoon the recipe calls do I manage?

Friday, 15 February 2013

A splash of colour

With all the snow we have had lately, everything was looking very clean and white, nice at first. But day by day the formerly pretty, fluffy white stuff is getting more dirty, muddy and all around yucky. Everything outside is a bit blah, so I have gone in search of colour (indoors of course)!


Tuesday, 12 February 2013

What is it with me and plants?

This past summer, when I left my job in Toronto to head for the new (old) house, the awesome people I worked with got me a going away present! It was a gorgeous terrarium, in a vintage glass bowl. It was a sandy, mossy home to 4 succulents and a pair of raccoon's (more on the raccoon's later!).

It is not easy moving. Ever. It is also not easy moving plants. Along with the terrarium, I had a bajillion little pots with other little succulents and what-not. Most of those little plants were cuttings from the larger plants I kept killing* - I was trying to save some little part of them! My last day of work marked my last day in the city. I had basically been staying in a barren apartment for the last few days of work and only had a few things left to move...well it seemed like it was only a few things! As it turns out, a few things was a the plants (they were waiting until the very end, why I thought that was a good plan, I don't know). It took ages to pack up the car, and packed it was! There were a few things I had to sacrifice that just would not fit, so to the next tenant, you are welcome for the chairs and mirror! In the pouring rain, I wedged myself in the front seat of the car and had a box on my lap (another on the floor between my feet) full of plants! Seriously, if we had been in an accident the paramedics would have found me with a jade plant lodged in my chest! Well believe it or not, all of the plants survived the drive. I was so happy, no busted pots or leaves, everything was just fine! 

Now settled in their new home, my little plant babies could flourish, right?! I am sorry to say it was not that easy. As always, I had to place the plants strategically - out of the reach of the cat. He goes after every plant he sets eyes on - from leafy green plants to prickly cacti, they all seem to cry out to him "bite me" or in the case of a cactus I no longer have "rub your head on stupid cat!". This "placement" of plants meant that some plants were not getting enough light, with the house being as dark as it is. Other plants had to be shut in rooms where the cat could be shut out, these plants may have missed a watering or two (hey, I was busy chiseling dirt from every surface of this house!). I was lucky that the majority of my plants have survived - some are still alive but don't appear to have grown much. Several did die...and the terrarium? I am so sad to say that it did not do so well. The biggest of the succulents was the first to go, I think it did take a knock or two in the car because it only lasted two-ish weeks after arriving at the house. Next were the two rock cacti (or little brains as I called them). I had tried to follow the watering plan for the terrarium, but one seemed to shrivel and die overnight. I did CPR on the other one and it succumbed just a week later. I then took the drastic move of removing the remaining cactus (or whatever it is...I am not good with plants, can you tell?!) - I didn't think it would do any good fighting to keep him alive in a vessel that had seen so much death. I relocated said cactus (?) to another pot, saved what moss, stones and sand I could and I am pleased to say the little dude (pictured above) is doing well! 

And the raccoons?! I love raccoons! Sure, they can make a mess in your garden and they can be a bit mischievous on garbage night, but they are freakin' cute and if I could have one as a pet I would (and I am not ashamed to say it!). Everyone I worked with knew how I felt about raccoons, so inside the terrarium  between some moss and a brain (?!) were these two raccoon figurines. Love! They have been moving around the house for the past few months (with a long stop over in the kitchen, of course!). As you can see in the picture above, they have traveled the world! Sorry...that was cheesy.

The only plant I have managed to keep alive and well-ish is this dude, a zamioculcas (aka zizi plant). They are tough enough to handle me! They rarely need watering, which is good because I have this plant shut away in a room where the cat can't get it and it is easy to miss a watering or two. The plant looks almost perfect, but it has several maimed leaves courtesy of Buster.

*Yes, I am a plant killer. I even kill succulents - the plants most people have when they can't manage to keep any other house plant alive! I still manage to screw them up. Too much water, not enough?! I am doing something wrong. And if I am this bad with house plants, what is going to happen when I get my hands on the garden this spring? I suppose I have a few months to smarten up and do a bit of research!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Bits of the weekend

There was still a bit of snow that needed to be cleared. 

After all the shoveling on Friday, I had to pose next to my handy work!

Okay, so this picture is a weird one. There is a rabbit (we named Robert) who lives around our yard. We figured out his home is under the neighbors deck on the other side of our fence, but he comes out into our yard night after night (some evenings we spot him, but he is pretty elusive). Anyway, we are pretty careful not to pile snow over the entrance to his burrow, but with Friday's snowfall the area filled in. We did lend a helping hand by digging the area out, but Robert was bound to have some heavy digging of his own to do. Saturday morning I found he had spent the night digging, he even chewed on the fence boards in an attempt to get out (I cannot imagine the panic he must have felt). Luckily he is now free, there were tracks all over the driveway as evidence!

We crashed my mum's house Saturday afternoon (and stayed for dinner - yeah!!!). My mum's dog Millie loves Jeremiah like crazy...but it kind of looks like she is trying to smother him. Every so often she shows her love by "pancaking" herself to your chest and face and breathing can be a challenge!

I will never get tired of eating this! Boursin cheese on toasted french bread. It was a challenge to leave room for dinner.

To repay my mum for Saturday night's dinner, I made dinner Sunday. An invention of sorts, influenced by one of my favorites, Sheppard's Pie! It was a success, but didn't photograph well.

Buster claimed the seat at the head of the table (as usual).

Friday, 8 February 2013

Snow, snow and more snow! Part two

The snow won't stop!!! More shoveling has been done and there is probably still more to go. At least I know I get to come back in to a cozy house. Okay, so the house? Not as cozy as I would like it to be, it is after all over 100 years old, not well insulated and the heating system is in need of an upgrade. But there is no shortage of blankets, socks and slippers around here!

On cold, snowy days like this, Buster splits his time between sleeping on one of the many cozy, blanket-covered chairs/couch and sitting in front of the heating vents! This cat is not stupid, he caught on fast that there are these "holes" in the wall that blow warm air! He is staring at me in this photo because the heat just clicked I had something to do with it!

Being the cheeky cat that he is, Buster also likes to sit at the windows and watch people (mainly me) shoveling the snow. I think he gets some joy from watching others suffer...he is a cat after all!

On my most recent trip out shoveling I saw an adorable black squirrel doing what can only be described as the breaststroke through the snow on our front lawn! There is even too much snow for the squirrels! The poor guy made it up one tree before jumping to the next. I grabbed a photo of him, then ran into the house to see what we had on hand to feed him (as you do). Unfortunately by the time I got back outside with a bun (warmed in the microwave, of course) he had disappeared. Oh well, there is bun by the front porch if he (or anyone else) needs it!

A riveting post about cheese

I love cheese! Cheese, cheese, CHEESE!!! It is one of my biggest dietary downfalls (along with fresh baked bread covered in butter, chocolate and anything potato)! Whatever you are is always a million times better when it's covered in cheese! As long as I have some sort of cheese in the house I can and will make a meal!

So this past week I grabbed some feta when I was grocery shopping. I like buying feta in brine because I find it stays fresher longer and you often get more for your money. The store I was in did not sell the make I usually go for, so I tried something different. That can't be bad, right? It's good to try something different and new, sometimes that is how you discover THE best stuff! Well a couple of days later I cracked open the feta - the first thing I noticed was that the liquid was less brine-ee and more milky. Is that bad? I didn't let it bother me, I carried on. I attempted to crumble off a few bits to give it a taste and it was like no other feta I had tried before...not in a good way...or a bad way. It was NOT a crumbly feta, it was soft and mushy, not what I expected. I gave it a taste, not bad, but whoa boy, was it salty, like seriously SALTY! Definitely not the type of feta to crumble into a salad!

Not one to waste food (especially precious cheese!) I figured I would have to find some way of using it. So Wednesday night, while whipping up a quick pasta dinner, I tossed some of the feta into my veggie spag-sauce right at the end. It kind of disappeared, just melted in...and do you know what? It tasted friggin fantastic! It did up the salt levels for sure, but as I was expecting that from my earlier taste test, and scaled the salt levels in the sauce down.

My next feta experiment was last nights dinner. I combined the feta with my dear friend the potato! I made mashed potatoes as usual (but keeping the salt down) and in another pot caramelized some red onion and threw in some frozen spinach - I always try to keep some sort o frozen veg on hand, and spinach is one of my faves! After the onions and spinach were cooked down, I mixed them in with the mashed potatoes along with about a 1/4 cup of the feta cheese. Everything was mixed together and served with spicy Italian sausage and roasted tomatoes and it was another success! But it was not the prettiest, I did not grab a photo...but there was leftover mash for today's lunch!

Fried up mash with an egg - hell yes! Yeah, this also doesn't look the prettiest, and I cannot fry and egg without busting the yolk to save my life - but this mess tasted good!

Snow, snow and more snow! Part one

I knew it was coming. The weather reports (plus every weather-watcher I have on Facebook) have been warning me. But I didn't really care...I mean, I don't mind the snow, especially if I don't have to go out in it...when I had to commute in this kind of snow?! Oh hell no! *Time for a rant* If your commute is a drive, they (they being work people and news people, of course) tell you "don't go out if its too dangerous, stay at home - work from home if you can" and it is the best excuse for people who drive "can't make it in, I can't get down the driveway, can't drive down the road...traffic is at a stand-still" and on it goes. But when you take transit?! In Toronto, it takes a hell of a lot for the transit system to be shutdown. In fact I have never seen is close due to weather. There are delays - oh HELL there are delays, but if you are transit dependent you are still expected to get in to work at all costs. You are expected to get up extra early to allow for all the additional time it will take and very often you will have to walk blocks in the crap weather to get to your nearest subway stations (forget the buses - seriously, they are unreliable at the best of times!). So glad that is over...sorry for the rant, felt like a good time to vent about my years of transit riding during storms*.

 The streets and sidewalks are mostly empty, except for fellow snow-shovel-ers and snow-blower-ers...and I think I have spotted the mail man!

 The now keeps piling up on the garage roof.

 View through the back door (window)...

...because I couldn't get the door open!

Today I only have to go out to shovel the sidewalk, walkway and driveway. This is the most snow I have seen for a number of years, and since I have lived in apartments for the past 9-10ish years, I haven't had to do any shoveling. So I started shoveling away, and after getting the front porch, pathway and sidewalk done, I was left with the real hard bit - the driveway! There really isn't any room on either side of the drive to pile up the snow - on one side is the house, and with a leaky foundation I do not need to pile on something that will eventually melt and flood us! On the other side is a narrow strip of ground-cover (not that it has been seen for months!) and the neighbors fence...well ground-cover and fence it is! Thankfully the across-the-road neighbor came over with his snow blower to give me a hand - the machine must be twice my age, but it did the trick!

I am now back inside, dripping with melting snow and trying to find a suitable place to hang my snow covered coat/mitts/scarf. I am also trying to warm up knowing that since the snow has not stopped, not even slowed down, that I will certainly be back out there before the day is done.

Fun fact: Jeremiah has never really seen this much snow. He talks a big game about knowing how bad it can get and that he will be fine - everything will always be fine. But really, how does he know?! He has never been snowed into his home, missed days of work or school for snow! And he never takes my winter/snow advice...after all, I have only been living in Canada my whole life! But there is this one thing gets me every time...he leaves his boots outside the front door, why? Don't ask me, there is room in the house. They get damp and cold and personally, I would be afraid of something living in them. I always warn him against doing it, but again, he will not take my advice. So this morning, the first thing I notice when I go outside to clear the snow? Boots full of snow - good luck drying those out! Do you think he will take my advice from now on?

*PS transit smells bad at the best of times, but seriously?! Try taking the TTC in weather like this! Trains and buses are PACKED to the roof with morning smelly, snowy-wet people in winter coats - gag!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Someone, please take my credit card away!

Or better yet, just stop driving me to thrift stores! I don't have my drivers license so I actually rely on the kindness of others to get me to and from my local (and not so local) thrift shops. I need to stop buying things. I said it. I don't want to say it, I don't want it to be true, but there is a voice in my head saying "stop it, stop buying all the things, you idiot!". So someone either needs to take my wallet, debit and credit cards away, or someone (and you know who you are) needs to stop driving me to Value Village!!!

On my latest trip out I was able to pick up a few pieces that go with a set of Corelle and Pyrex I am collecting...I just can't pass that stuff by, if it belongs in a set I am really just putting things right by reuniting these items! I didn't grab a photo of them...sorry.

Along with the Corelle, I picked up these blue beauties! The man was the first to unwrap and wash these dishes as soon as we got home. He then went about arranging them on the coffee table (which has yet to be refinished). Confession: the coffee table was wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper to make it less ugly and more festive for the holidays, but since then it has not been unwrapped! So to get a better picture, they are on the white shag carpet*. I think they would be best on my dresser...full of jewelry...that means shopping for jewelry...I shouldn't be shopping for jewelry!

I also grabbed these three bowls. I don't really like buying in threes, I always figure there should have been a fourth and it is lost or broken...or cold and lonely out there...somewhere. But these bowls were so pretty. The colour (which doesn't show up all that well in the photo) matches my china cabinet perfectly, I like that they are a pale blue base rather than just cream or white.

*Ah, the white shag carpet! The carpet the cat feared and avoided at all costs for the first couple of months it was in our home. The cat has started to tip-toe (paw) across the carpet, rather than jumping from one piece of furniture to another to get across the room! He is becoming more comfortable around the rugs, I even occasionally catch him loafing on the carpet under the coffee table. But this past week he became so comfortable and at ease with the carpet that he decided to christen the rug with a hair ball and a pile of cat barf. Yesssssssssa!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Books, books and more books!

I have been trying to read more - a lot more. I stopped for a long while when I was attending University and for quite a time after that. I just got lazy I suppose. Then when I was living in Toronto and had an hour+ subway commute to and from work each day, I got back to reading, it was a good way to escape the noise and crazy that is the subway at rush hour. Since the days of the dreaded commute I have got back in the habit of reading, some may even say it has become an addiction! As soon as I finish one book I MUST have another lined up and ready to go. I've been reading a lot more since I have been in this house, and it may help that I have a never ending supply of books from my mum and best friend who are now just a 5 minute drive away! There is a library a few blocks from home that I must (but have not yet) visited, but since there seems to be  never ending flow of books coming my way, I haven't bothered! The way I see it, if I haven't read a book, it is new to me - be it a new release paid for at full price from Chapters or an old Agatha Christie dug out of my mum's basement, I will read it if I haven't laid eyes on it before!

I just finished reading The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I won't give anything away, but if you are a book lover, this book is for you. It is a book about books and a story within a story - in the best possible way! A Christmas gift from my mum.

I have just JUST started reading Doppler by Erlend Loe. It's not a terribly long book, after just one evening I am well into it. It's interesting, different, and I suppose a bit weird. But if a story about an odd man living in the woods with a moose sounds up your alley, give it a go! This was a Christmas gift from my friend to my mum.

Next in line is A Trick of the Light. It is by Louise Penny, the same author as Bury Your Dead, which I received as a gift from my mum last year and I loved it, so I can only hope that this will be just as good if not better! Another Christmas gift from my mum.

*As you can see, in my family/circle of friends, we give books as Christmas gifts...a lot! We then pass them around...and around and around!

Tiniest church everrrrrrr!

Okay, maybe not THE tiniest church ever, I haven't actually looked up the world's smallest church. But I have received confirmation that we have got the church we were after, its booked for our wedding! It is one tiny (and beautiful) church - the setting is ridiculous! So now I have the task of getting myself into this, the tiniest (almost) of churches! 

Like a bajillion brides before me, I am aiming to trim up and drop some mega pounds before my wedding. I could stand to lose weight regardless, but there is no better incentive to get one's butt moving than an impending wedding! To be honest, thinking about the state of your own health should get you moving in the right direction, it shouldn't take a wedding, but in my case I can set goals and timelines based around the upcoming wedding and the dreaded hunt for THE dress.

But wait a minute...someone has already thrown a wrench in the works! Some wonderfully evil people decided to open the world's best Indian Buffet a few blocks from my home - I cannot confirm if it is indeed the world's best Indian Buffet, but it is pretty damn good and by far the best place in town! This place is within walking distance of my home - that is pure danger!!! If it weren't as cold as it has been for the past few weeks, I would find myself wandering by everyday for lunch (and dinner)! The food is fantastic, the staff are warm and friendly, the price is right and the decor? Bah! The place is spotless (which is really what counts) and besides, I am not there to eat the decor! I am there to eat and eat and eat until that little switch goes off in my head (and stomach) that says "Stop! Seriously, stop! Put down that 10th samosa or you are going to be in a two day long food coma!". By the way, it is worth the food coma! But seriously, I need to limit myself. I have been doing well with eating better, so to satisfy my curry tooth I have whipped up my version of a batch of this. It is so quick and easy and makes a hell of a lot, so there is plenty to share or if you are like me, hide in a corner with the bowl and a spoon! Since I was out of lentils I used chick peas. In the past I have followed the recipe exactly and have also tried a 50/50 mix of lentils and chick peas. Whether you stick to the recipe or switch it up with whatever beans/lentils you have on hand, it is yummy, cheaper than going out for an Indian buffet, and I am sure it is healthier than downing a million friend onion bhajis! 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Crazy cat post!

I don't want to post too often about the cat, I don't want to give off too much of a crazy-cat-lady vibe. But I need to share something with you...I also need to know if there is something wrong with my cat...he's been acting so weird lately! Does anyone else have a cat with this issue?

Back in November I reclaimed a fleece house coat I had given to my mum - she actually gave it to me for Christmas a few years back but the apartment I was living in was so hot I had no need for it and since she spends 90% of her life* in fleece house coats I figured I would give it back to her! It was in November when I realized just how cold this old house was and I stole that house coat back. I would wear it sometimes but mostly used it as a blanket on myself in bed. Right around this time, Buster the cat, who comes to bed with me every night, started to come to bed and lets just say, he was acting odd. He normally kneads the duvet, purrs and settles down, but he started kneading, purring and he had some serious back twitching spasms happening. I feared the worst - something was wrong with his lower region (spine, bowels, kidneys - whatever?!) he must go to the vets!!! Until a friend asked me to describe what he was doing (oh yeah, I acted it out!). Seems he is just fine and his "twitching" was...oh god I can't say was humping! The cat was humping the house coat! He has some serious love for this thing! Never mind the blankets I knitted for him or the fleece throws that are designated "cat throws". He wants-loves-needs my mauve (with sheep) fleece house coat!

Funny at first, it soon got a bit ridiculous. He could not pass the housecoat by without visiting it. I have washed it and washed it and I don't know what it is, but he is fixated on it! No other fleece house coat will do! I have had to take it away - he has become that obsessed! Well just this morning, before throwing it in the wash, I put it on top of the box containing my new ceiling fan (yet to be installed). And what do you know?! Buster climbs on top of the box and house coat, does his thing and goes to sleep. What do I do? How do I stop this?! Am I going to have to give this house coat back to my mum and get a new one?! I just wanted to be warm in this cold house!!!

*Well not 90% of her life, but I have not known someone to wear one so frequently and to own so many! Maybe it is her smell on the house coat Buster can't get enough of? I think I am going to swap out this house coat for another one of hers and see if he goes as crazy...if so we know Buster's true feelings for my mum!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Oh, and things don't get better with the mattress fiasco

Warning: This is a rage-induced RANT!

So just after my last post about the master bedroom and the tragic mattress delivery, I get a call back from the delivery people. The boss-man I spoke to wanted them to come back to get a photo of the damage "I claim they did". I told them I would be happy to take a photo and send it to them or whoever wants it, but NO, they must take it themselves. Of course I didn't want them to come back in, but they were outside the house not 2 minutes later! They come in, I ask them to take their shoes off and the eye-rolls and groans?! Yup, that's how they feel about the shoe thing. They follow me upstairs and I show them the damage and "asshole number one" we will call him proceeds to rant about how IF they were the ones who did it (which they know they were NOT) that it was my fault for not having a door stop, but they know there is no way they did it and it was likely I did it myself and wanted to pin it on someone! I explained that I had JUST finished painting the room (in fact I am still doing touch ups today!) but they were pretty nasty and adamant that it was not them and it was me. I said I stood to gain nothing by blaming them (I have to fix the hole regardless), but they had no more to say to me. "Asshole number two" called their boss right then and there and told them about the "no door stop" and that there is no proof it was them. They then marched out of my house saying not one word to me. Awesome. Fucking. Day.

There were more phone calls after this point, but I won't go into any more detail than I already have. Needless to say today has not been a good day!

Hole in my newly painted wall! I knew it was too good to be true, my work is never done!

Over the past 8-ish months I have had a lot of dealings with shops and contract workers in the name of working on this home. I have dealt with big chain stores and independent shops and contractors. From this I have learned quite a bit - but no matter what I have experienced, there is sometimes no amount of foresight that will prevent issues from arising. Some of the most major problems I have had recently have been with small businesses or "the little guy". I want to support small, local businesses, but to be honest I have been put off. It is not to say all small businesses are bad to deal with, I have just had some bad luck - don't boycott the little guy, just try to learn who you are dealing with first! Small businesses often have strict policies to protect themselves and you can forget about it, they won't budge from those policies for a customer! They are the first to complain that big box stores are taking their customers, but they need to open their eyes and realize it is their attitude and policies that are putting customers off - as a consumer I have to look out for my money just as much as they do!

My first trouble was with a sofa shop this past summer (a small-ish shop with just a handful of locations around the Toronto area) which was not easily or pleasantly resolved. The sofa shop was new to me and had I been smarter, I would have looked up some reviews before making such a major purchase from them! And now the mattress fiasco - I was surprised in this case because I had dealt with this company in the past in fact my brother just bought a mattress from them in the fall and everything went well. On the flip side I have had the pleasure of working with an independent electrician who was A-MAZE-BALLS! He came out less than a week before Christmas to help me with a lighting/wiring crisis and thanks to him, we had light over our dining table for Christmas (eve) dinner! He worked fast, was neat and tidy and did not charge me an arm and a leg - he certainly did not have to take such a small job and so close to Christmas. I also hired a plumber who saved the day back in September, it was a small family run operation and I know exactly who I will go back to for future plumbing issues (fingers crossed I won't need to though!). As for the big box/chain stores?! I have had both good and bad experience with places like Home Depot (it depends on the day and time you go, who is available to help you), but overall they have helped pull me through some tough spots! Canadian Tire? Big store, been around FOREVER, but lately this place has let me down. Customer service is non-existent. I have actually had the same cashier twice recently, and each time she has not looked at me or said two words as she is ringing in my purchases (not even hello! She just mumbles the total and holds out the receipt for me to catch when she's done). This girl looked straight through me and never broke her conversation with a fellow cashier. And good luck finding help at Canadian Tire, there is never an employee to be found on the store floor - you stand a better chance of spotting Bigfoot. And everyone's favorite Ikea! I am sure everyone has had frustrations here, the place is so damn big and there are not many of them, so people come from near and far on a Saturday and pack the showroom maze and self-serve warehouse. Regardless of how busy and nightmarish the crowds can be, I have always been treated well by cashiers and customer service representatives. In fact, when we moved to this home I lost the key to my Ikea PS cabinet (they are the best you know!). I stayed up nights looking for that key - it could not be found and I could not get into that cabinet without it (or without breaking the lock!). I emailed Ikea and within a week I had two new sets of keys and two new locks (in case I had decided to break into the cabinet in a fit of rage). They were my heroes!!! And their meatballs and mashed potatoes aren't bad either!

So there you have it, big business or the little guy, you can have a great experience or be treated like crap. Just remember, when it is a little shop or business that wrongs you, you often don't have anywhere to turn in getting your issue resolved. Sometimes all you can do is write about your experience to vent your anger, sadness and disappointment.

Working on the bedroom...things were almost done...

Since there is so much disruption in a small house when you are re-doing an entire room, you have to work fast! Not so fast that it looks like you rushed things, but you definitely can't mess around taking your time, doing little bits here and there. Just get in, get the job done and get out! So for the past 10-ish days I have been spending every waking minute working on the master bedroom - I want it done! To work in the master bedroom (since it is so small) all furniture has been moved out and split-up between the other two tiny bedrooms...the second floor of the house is an obstacle course! The hallway is full of tools, tins of paint and materials and the other two bedrooms (which already had a fun mix of random stuff that had no home) are absolutely packed!

As of this past Friday the walls, ceiling and trim were painted. Saturday marked a trip to Ikea to get a new bed frame and some bedding in preparation of the new mattress being delivered Monday (I am waiting here, between 10-2!). Yesterday (Sunday) we had to get a new light/fan fixture, which will go up shortly. Since the major stuff is all done, the mess is finally starting to get cleaned up, and for the first time today I walked down the hallway without having to climb over the shop-vac! Overall I am happy things have moved so quickly, I am in pain because of it though! There are still many little things left to do before the room will be considered finished FINISHED! But those things can and will have to wait.

...and just before I could finish this post, the mattress arrived! Happy day right?! Wrong. Very wrong. By the time I opened the door to the delivery guys (who smelled of the nastiest most stale-ass cigarette smoke you could this a pre-requisite for being a delivery person or something?) well, they had already opened the screen door and were coming in! No time to say hi or TAKE YOUR FUCKING SHOES OFF!!!! We only got like 3 inches of snow overnight (on top of about 2 other inches from the weekend). I didn't for a second imagine a delivery person would think to keep their shoes on and walk into someones house with that much snow outside. So on top of the clean-up I have left in the newly painted master bedroom, I am left to mop up the footprints and drag marks from the muddy mattress cover that were left down the second floor hallway and up the stairs....but that's not all! Floor muck is one thing, but that muddy mattress cover?! Streaks of muddy water splashed up the walls and door frame - of course, the newly painted walls and door frame. Happy fucking days for me! And the cherry on top?! The bedroom door was pushed open so wide when they shoved the mattress in, that they punched a hole in the wall with the door knob. Yes! I now get to spend my day cleaning and filling a hole in the wall! I knew things went to well with the painting and what-not in that bedroom...too well! And in case you are wondering, I did not discover the hole in the wall until after the stinky lumps left - they bolted so fast they didn't even collect the remaining balance for the mattress! I heard them arguing about it outside! They came back, got the money and left and then I spotted the disaster! I called the mattress store, who directed me to call the boss-man at the head office store location...and just when you thought things couldn't get worse?! I try to explain as calmly as I can what has happened, what did I get in return? I am interrupted and given a lecture about how it is my fault...entirely my fault! The snow, mud, hole in the wall were all my own doing. Talk about rubbing salt in a wound! It was my fault for not telling the delivery people to take their shoes off - fair enough, but when they had already stepped in before saying hello?! And it was my fault the hole in the wall happened because I was not standing there watching them as it happened (seriously, in a home this small you don't have a fucking audience for a mattress delivery!) and again my fault because there was not a door stopper. Well there you have it! When you shop at Sleep-Ezzz Mattress shop in Cambridge (or Kitchener) just remember, the customer is not always right, in fact if shit happens to your home or mattress during delivery, it's your fault! And now we know why HomeStars was created!

*I apologize for the language, but there is some serious rage in me right now! It will take some time and some chocolate to calm me down.