Sunday, February 24, 2013

Confessions of a Book Lover

When we moved away from British Columbia we had to let a lot of things go.  Furniture, tools, dishes, plants, keepsakes.  The list of items that we had to part with was endless.  Some things were easy and it was a good excuse to clean out our closets.  Some things were difficult.  There was an antique jug that I still regret selling, even though it's been three years.

One of my coveted items is books.  I read a lot.  I always have.  Beginning in elementary school I always had a library card, I received books as presents and then as an adult I progressed to purchasing my own books.

My shelves are filled with books that I love to look at, remember, read again, and sigh over.  Some reference books provide invaluable daily use.  Our shelves are filled with everything from novels to gardening, plays, philosophy, furniture design, and house repair.

The first time we purged of our household pre-move it was mostly novels that were dispatched.  But there were several more purges after that first one and each one got harder.  When push came to shove and the truck was full there were still boxes of books that needed to be culled.  I had to say goodbye.

You can't move to Prince Edward Island and not keep a collection of Anne books
There were trade offs.  The entire Harry Potter set went to the moving sale in lieu of my hardcopy edition of Little Women.  That was a gift from my father when I was just a girl and there was no way to part with it.

Garden books were kept with the promise of my very own garden to come.

I whittled away until only a box or two was left behind.  Even so when we moved into this house it took no time to fill the existing shelving.

Now books are piled in every available corner.

and on every surface

My love borders on addiction some days.  I've re-purchased books that I used to own, taken bags of books from second hand sales and keep adding to the stacks.  Unfortunately I don't read as fast or as much as I would like.  So those stacks seem to consistently increase.  I see a lot more bookshelves in our future.

If you had to move and could take only a few of your most treasured books with you, what titles would you choose?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Built in Shelving

Since purchasing this house 3 years ago we have tried to take on at least one renovation each year.  It's a slow process but it means we are never too stressed about budget or time.  Last year we tackled one big renovation by putting a new roof on the house.  We also managed a smaller renovation too though.

There is a built in cabinet in our living room that has been bothering us since moving in.

Now I love built ins.  They provide storage space without taking up a lot of room and they do this while looking beautiful.  A well done built in can also add value to your home.  When we first saw this house I was thrilled to find a built in but I wasn't thrilled that the shelves were sagging in the middle due to lack of support.  Or that the largest shelf was at the top instead of lower down.  I also hated that the bottom of the cabinet was open so that plumbing pipes were visible.  It needed a makeover.

I should mention.  This is NOT, like many things in this house, an original piece of work.  It was done by the previous owners.  If it had been original we would have taken care to preserve it.  As it was, we decided to remodel.

The first step was removing the mouldings and taking out the shelves.

This also provided a grand opportunity to remove the wallpaper.  I have absolutely hated that wallpaper since the day I set eyes on it.  I couldn't rip that stuff off fast enough.  No more cabbage roses for this girl.

Next we contemplated how we would put the space back together again.  We liked the large space at the bottom for storage but it needed to be enclosed so those pipes wouldn't be visible.  In the upper cabinet space we wanted room for books but also for electronics.

The shelves were built in three sections.  Essentially each shelf was created as a box.  Unlike the free floating shelve we had before, the boxes provide ample support so sagging will not occur again.  They also enabled us to add drawers to the space.

We decided that rather than a background of drywall, pine board would be added to give some rustic appeal.  We do live in a farmhouse after all.

Some critical thinking was necessary at this point.  Since we were adding electronics it was necessary to make sure all the power cords could be accommodated but would not be visible.  A power bar was installed inside the lower cabinet area and holes were drilled in the shelving so cords could run down to the power.  Along with the plumbing pipes it makes the lower cabinet a bit ugly looking but the addition of doors fixed that problem.

The power bar is visible on the right hand side of the cabinet
and the power cord exits through a capped hole in the base
Another issue was that the previous incarnation of this cabinet did not include a base.  The bottom space was open right to the floor.  We intend to remove the carpet in this room eventually and that will change the height of the floor so it was impossible to guess what size the cabinet doors should be.  The answer to this issue was to build a false bottom.

The new base under the cabinet doors now perfectly matches the existing baseboards.
This solution worked really well as it not only means we can change the flooring at any time without issue but the false base matches the existing baseboards.

The final touch was paint.  Like our previous renovations we opted to remove as much dark wood as possible.  We used the same cream trim colour as our piano room and used a darker shade of cream milk paint for the cabinet doors and shelving.

A little contrast was added by making the drawers and cabinet pulls out of walnut.

The final result is a much cleaner looking, more functional space.

Now if only I could have one or two more of these.  I've already run out of space for my books!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

It Must Be Love

We celebrated an anniversary in our house recently.  Ten years of domestic bliss.

So what do you buy for a loved one on a special day?

Flowers maybe?

Or something sparkly?

After so many years one gets to know another person, and their quirks, quite well.  Although I happen to like both flowers and sparklies that wasn't quite the right gift for the occasion.

One evening when I arrived home after work this week this guy greeted me at the door.

Nothing says love like yard art.

I think I just found my next garden project.  He's going to look perfect swimming through a sea of ornamental grass.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wind Sculptures

I was reminded by readers that not everyone is familiar with the effects of wind where they live.  Indeed when we first moved to PEI the wind surprised me.  Our first visit I didn't think too much of it but the second time we visited the island I was like 'really, doesn't this ever stop?'

The answer to that would be - No, it does not.  A windless day here is something to write home about.  The difficulties it presents in each season vary.  In summer it knocks down my taller plants.  A bit of extra staking can be required.

A strong wind had everyone leaning to the left this summer
It is appreciated though on a hot day and some here would remind me to be thankful as it keeps the mosquitos at bay.

In winter the effects of the swirling and gusting is particularly noticeable and baffling.

Wind gusts turn snow banks into hazards as it becomes
difficult to see with the air full of flying snow
Fellow blogger and ex-BC resident Kim at Top of the Meadow recently posted on this same issue.  To quote Kim "There can be a six-foot snowdrift in the doorway, and only two inches on the car".

A fortuitous wind pattern meant digging a path to the shed was unnecessary
As you can see in the above photo, we didn't need to dig our way to the shed.  But some of you noticed in my last post our entire porch was clear of snow while a foot was piled directly in front of the door.  You win some, you lose some.

Banks 3 feet high around the shed but a path perfectly cleared right to the grass 
I still haven't figured out exactly why the wind moves the snow in certain ways or where it will place it.  Every storm brings a new pattern.  I was quite surprised this weekend to find my rose hedge almost completely obliterated by a snow drift.

There's roses behind there somewhere
Some things make sense.  Our overgrown meadow with its masses of wildflowers and grass captures a lot of snow in the dead foliage.  The front lawn, perfectly mown, does not catch the snow and in many spots I can see the grass peeking through.  This is one of the reasons we are trying to rejuvenate our old hedgerow.  Instead of watching the snow blow away, a growing hedge will capture the snow.  That snow will protect plants by insulating them over the winter and will eventually melt in spring keeping the ground moist through summer.

Our hedgerow mostly consists of Goldenrod but that is
enough to create a snowdrift 4 - 5 feet high
Other drifts baffle me though.  From our house to the veggie garden the lawn is quite flat.  In summer it looks like this.

After the latest storm the normally flat lawn rolls up and down

A trip to the garage would require waders, or snowshoes, at this point.  

Despite bent plants and poor driving I do like the wind in some ways.  It turns an otherwise plain landscape into a sculptural feast for the eyes.

Do you have to consider wind in your garden?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Obligatory Mid-Winter Weather Report

What would winter be if we couldn't talk about the weather?  Over a week ago it felt like spring had come, plus 10 degrees, rain and I could see not only my lawn but all my garden beds exposed.  It was tempting to pick up a shovel and start digging.

Before I could even think about doing such a thing we took a trip to Halifax.  The Atlantic Craft Trade Show was held last weekend and Jody's work once again made an appearance.  I was all too glad to tag along to this event.  I really enjoy small doses of city life and Halifax is a joy to visit (particularly when it means meeting up with fellow bloggers.  Brenda thank you for playing host and spending a glorious afternoon together).

Although we had diligently checked the weather prior to taking this trip we were completely caught off guard by the sudden change that took place upon our arrival.  Saturday was cold and clear but Sunday looked like this.  Welcome to winter in the Canadian maritimes.

Halifax Citadel through the snow
Getting home suddenly looked a lot more difficult.  So an executive decision was made.  Hotel stays were extended and we took ourselves shopping.  Jody's latest obsession is turn tables and Halifax happens to have an exceptional record shop that kept us busy.

An easy walk from the hotel despite the snow,
we spent a fair amount of time at Taz Records
Luckily I appreciate a good record as well and some fine purchases were made.  Some that we are enjoying as I speak.  

You see, the weather system did eventually subside, and we made it home.  Only to find another storm system has blown in.  Sustained winds of 50km with gusts of 80km, blowing around 30cm of snow.  There's little to do today other than listen to some good records and keep warm.

Blowing snow is funny.  The entire deck was clear this morning
EXCEPT for the pile right at the door
Some of us are curled up at the computer, dreaming about plants (Copper Beech is available at Honey Tree Nursery!) and some of us are putting golf balls down the hallway (just no chipping please).  I don't generally mind the winters here but being stuck inside during a blizzard can certainly make one long for spring.

Rather than post more photos of the white stuff (can't see much outside anymore anyway) I thought I would leave you with this sight.

Each winter crows on PEI come together in the evening to roost in Victoria Park.  I happened to be downtown Charlottetown on business this week and caught the first groups arriving in the park.  A stunning sight to behold.