Sunday, November 14, 2010

CSN Product Review and a confession

Vickie at Frenchy Addict inspired me to take part in doing product reviews for CSN Stores. They have everything under the sun from pet and gardening supplies, shoes, kitchen accessories and even children's luggage! They even have some eco-friendly options, which may need some research before buying but at least they have potential alternatives.

I always prefer to buy locally but no matter what some things just have to come from away so I thought why not got to a one stop online shopping place! I have to confess that I LOVE shopping AND I have to seriously restrain myself.

Why do I restrain myself? First and foremost the environment. Everything we buy has a footprint and I want to minimize my footprint to keep our home (aka Planet Earth) livable for future generations. Secondly, we have a tiny place so we have no room for just we are always careful considering what we we need it and where can we put it. This is also something we try to convey to family and friends with respect to gifts... However, once a year to satisfy my shopping urge, I will blitz Value Village or the Salvation Army for used clothing and kitchen items...I also always go there (or Kijiji) first before buying anything new.

So why shopping online? Well, I sometimes find it very hard to find exactly what I want here in Halifax. It is the largest city in the Maritimes BUT finding some specialty items can be very time consuming and you are almost always faced with well...they just don't have that this side of Montreal.

I know many of you are thinking, what about the impacts of transportation?? Almost every single product you can buy in the stores comes from somewhere else, so technically the impact of transportation will be the same BUT you get exactly what you want...not something close enough that may end up in the trash because it wasn't perfect!

For you coffee/tea lovers...stay tuned for my review!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget

Today we remember those who have given their lives and continue to fight protecting the interests of our country and other countries who have been or currently are under siege. Although, we may not agree with war or the reasons for it, the people who were/are there on the front lines truly believe(d) in the cause and were/are willing to die for it. It is this tenacity and strength of conviction that we should respect and pay tribute to. We should also pay tribute to the families who have been left behind or are faced with the challenges of welcoming home a wholly different person.
Flander's Fields - The Great War
War takes huge toll on society and today we are faced with this stark truth more than any other day of the year. We should cultivate the feelings that Remembrance Day stirs in us to support efforts to resolve conflict through more diplomatic, humane and peaceful means to end the cycle of loss and suffering and honour the ultimate sacrifice already made by so many.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Installing a dishwasher was our first large home renovation project... I say large project because we never had a dishwasher in our flat and it took 8 full days from start to finish!!!. If I have never mentioned this before, you need to know this now for you to understand...our house is 109 years old and was divided into two flats likely in the 1940's or perhaps even earlier. Our kitchen was likely the master bedroom since it is the largest room on the second floor and our sink and counter space is located in what was probably a dressing room and is quite small (as you will see in the series of photos).
Being an old house and having been converted into flats means that there are many oddities that adds the character that we absolutely love...but can also cause some headaches with home renos because what is standard in new not in our house!

The first thing we needed to do was determine where we could put a dishwasher. We figured out that the only place we could put it and be able to open the door fully was about 4 feet from the sink. We also found out that the depth of our counters was definitely NOT accommodate the back door (exit is right across from the sink in the above photo) they had to make the counters narrower (19" rather than the typical 25" in North America). So herein lies two problems:
  1. We could not put in a North American made full size dishwasher (they are 24" wide and deep)
  2. To accommodate a 19" wide (20" deep) dishwasher, we would have to not only cut out the cupboard...but also the lathe and plaster wall behind it!
Pilot holes to see what is behind the wall. The cupboard you see to the right (with the tupperware) is the one under the drawer in the first photo and that is the back door immediately to the left. This is avery small kitchen!
Diego had a good time using a reciprocating saw to cut out the wall and cupboard that we lovingly referred to as the "Schwarzenegger" because he had to hold it like a big gun and made a lot of noise!
Cupboard and the wall taken out...notice no insulation on the outside wall...not even paper!
We decided that since the dishwasher was going to be on the outside wall that we would insulate behind it using some pink insulation that we bought and some foam board we had in the basement. We then closed it in with wood that we had in the garage, basement and from the cupboard we removed and plastered the cracks to seal it.

Our first try.
Sadly when we tried the dishwasher, it was sticking out too far to be able to fully open the cupboard beside we decided to carve out 1/2" of the studs you see in the we had to undo everything we had just done, setting us back one day. Time spent on this part so far...3 days. However, when we were done it was all painted and the dishwasher slid in nicely, we were glad we did it.

The eletrical and the plumbing took another whole day on their own! The plumbing under the sink was installed before dishwashers even existed, so we had to redo the whole thing!
Cast iron and copper plumbing under the kitchen sink.
Diego cutting the cast iron pipe with the "Schwarzenegger".
Our beautiful new plumbing!!!
We had a minor set back with the electrical when Diego wired the dishwasher to the light switch...which of course induced panic when we tested the connection by turning on the dishwasher and it didn't turn on!
When we flicked on the switch to see what the problem was the dishwasher came to life and we had a good laugh!!! It took 1/2 a day to re-wire it and get it right! Time spent so far...4.5 days. The next part is what took us the longest...rebuilding the cupboard in the small space beside the dishwasher. Since our kitchen is so small we had to do something to make this space useable and we of course couldn't make it we decided to make a small larder (aka: a drawer with shelves). We also wanted to reclaim as much wood as we possible could, not just to save $$ but to save TREES!!! This of course made it more difficult because the pieces were sometime bowed but also because this old house is a little crooked!!
This was such a technical job. So much finicky cutting and adjustments to get it "straight" in a crooked opening!
It took 3.5 days just to get this built, stained and layer of clear coat!
But now I have space for our cooking utensils and my teas (yes they take up 3 shelves) and we have a DISHWASHER!! This will save on water and headaches figuring out who will do the dishes!!! :)
Even though it feels like we should have lost space, we actually gained some in the main part of the kitchen! With a little re-arranging and purging of items not used in years, we now also have a potato and onion drawer!!!

It was well worth the 8 days! Now we just need to sand and stain all the cupboards the same colour...