Browse Category by House & Home

The joys of moving, renovations, and all things homemaking.

House & Home

Renovations!

As I’ve mentioned previously, Rob and I found and purchased a cute little house on a gorgeous bit of land in record time. And the house is great — really well built, very well maintained, new roof, new windows, dry basement, great insulation, etc.

There were two problems, however:

  1. It was decorated in the mid 1980s and never updated
  2. The kitchen

So we’re having some renovations done. The painting and minor cosmetic stuff we’ll do ourselves, but we’ve hired some folks to rip out and replace all of the existing flooring, and to design, gut and rebuild our kitchen/dining room.

The two major issues with the kitchen were that it had no space for a dishwasher, and it was small & dark and sort of weirdly cramped. I also hate having the fridge right beside the stove, but that may just be me.

Here’s what it looked like right after we bought the house (aka: Kitchen Renovation Before):

kitchen renovation before

Here’s what it looks like currently (Kitchen Renovation During):

kitchen renovation during

As you can see, we’re opening the kitchen up entirely and merging it with the dining area to make one bigger and brighter eat-in kitchen. The dining table will be in the middle and double as a large island/prep area. The floors will be a lovely grey-tinged (wet-moppable) laminate that will carry through to the living room. The rest of the house will have warm neutral-grey carpet.

We have also ordered all new appliances including a kickass slide-in dual-fuel gas stove from KitchenAid. We are ridiculously excited about this — we had a very similar stove in our old house in Moncton and have missed it dearly.

I promise that we’ll post (many) “after” images once it’s all done.

Tomorrow the floor guys are coming in, after which Rob and I will finish painting and (finally) start moving in. We’ll be without a full kitchen for a few weeks yet, so it will only be a part-time move-in, but at least we’ll start getting set up and (soon) stop living out of gorramn duffle bags.

I am pretty tired of living out of a duffle bag.

vans_joel_tudor_duffle

House & Home

A little house by the river…

So, we bought a house.

It’s been a whirlwind since my last update: we drove back to Toronto, finished packing/cleaning our house there, drove back to Moncton (one way trip!), settled into our temporary lodgings, started the house-hunting process, found the perfect spot on day 3, put an offer on it on day 4, finalized the purchase at the end of that week, and closed on it a week after that.

Yep, we bought and took possession of our new house in under two weeks.

It’s just a little house — 3 bedroom, 1 bath, 3 level split (plus basement) that was built in the mid 80s. It’s in great shape (unlike the other oh-my-god-teardowns we looked at), new roof, well insulated, and on the edge of Moncton proper meaning we’re on city water & sewer (yay!). We also have fiberop internet that weirdly comes bundled with free phone & TV. So I guess we have TV again.

The most significant change from our plans and our actual purchase is the amount of land we ended up getting. We were initially looking for 10+ acres (or at least 5+) outside of city limits, but ended up getting 2 acres just within city limits. This changes what we can do slightly — limit on # of chickens, no goats or other livestock — but it turns out 2 acres (gorgeous, south-facing, totally cleared and well-drained acres) is enough for pretty much everything else. It’s a good size, and is really just a lovely bit of land right on the Petitcodiac river.

What the house does have is a lovely 12′ x 20′ room that will be my combination office & studio. This is a huge bonus for me, of course, and I am really excited to get my studio set up so I can get back to work. It’s been really way too long since I’ve been able to do any printmaking, and I’m itching to get back to it. So many projects I want to work on!

Unfortunately we’re not going to move in to the house for a few weeks yet, as we’re doing some renovations. More on that soon.

That’s enough rambling for now. More updates soon (now that the initial chaos has finally settled a bit). Have a lovely Canada Day!

 

House & Home

Just about finished in Toronto…

Rob and I are in Moncton this week, having just driven the third and final truckload of our stuff here from Toronto. Everything we own is now stashed in a pair of storage units where it will live until we buy a house and some land here in New Brunswick.

In a couple of days we’ll drive back to Toronto to finish up there, then it’s one last one-way drive back to Moncton, wherein the house-hunting fun begins.

Our goal at this point is to find property that is 10+ acres, has a small but well-kept house, and has decent high speed internet. Extra outbuildings (barns, garages, greenhouses, sheds, etc) would be a significant bonus, but aren’t a hard requirement.

Once we find a place & move in, we have a bunch of stuff we want to get accomplished before winter:

    • whatever maintenance and repairs need to be done to the house & other buildings so they’re sound for winter
    • buy a generator, a lawn mower, a snow blower & any other tools we need (second-hand wherever possible)
    • buy & install a wood stove (if there isn’t one already) & make sure we have a few cord of wood for the winter
    • plan the permaculture part of the gardens (fruit trees, etc)
    • plan our first year vegetable & herb gardens
    • build & mulch some double-dug raised vegetable beds
    • prep & mulch soil for the herb garden
    • prep & mulch soil for fruit canes, shrubs and trees
    • prep & mulch soil for an asparagus bed
    • prep & mulch soil for rhubarb plants
    • prep & mulch soil for growing regular row crops (mostly beans)
    • set up shelves and grow lights for an indoor winter salad & herb garden and for seed-starting in late winter
    • order fruit canes, fruit trees, asparagus crowns, rhubarb plants, seed potatoes, etc
    • order vegetable and herb seeds
    • order and plant a lot of garlic

On top of all of this, Rob will be writing the third book in the New Providence series, and I’ll be working on a bunch of new prints & relaunching my Etsy shop(s). (I have nascent plans for three new shops in addition to Parchment Moon…but more news on that later!)

Right now, it’s raining and it’s quiet. There is no traffic noise. No sounds of people going past on the sidewalk. No sirens or honking or noise from the neighbours. Nothing but the rain.

House & Home

A still-waiting-to-finish-moving update

Pictured above, a mid-summer New Brunswick sunset. It really is very pretty where we’re going.

There’s not really a whole lot to update, since Rob and I are currently waiting out our close date in our mostly-empty house in Toronto. With the majority of our stuff already moved and in storage, it’s a bit of a drag, but we’re making do.

trajectory2

Trajectory: Book 2

Rob’s putting the final touches on his anxiously-awaited second novel (the follow-up to Trajectory Book 1) which he expects to make available for pre-order very soon, with full publication to follow soon after. Full disclosure: I’ve read it, and it’s great. Read his blog post and then go grab Book 1 to get ahead of the game!

Art & Photography

As for me, I’m in a bit of an artistic limbo. All of my art/craft stuff has been moved into storage, where it will live until Rob and I find and buy a place out East. This includes my giant photo printer (boo), so I’ve had to temporarily take all my photography work out of my Etsy shop. I do still have photography available in my Redbubble Shop, but it’s a significantly smaller part of the collection right now.

I am still selling my block prints and chess sets on Etsy, however, and orders for those keep coming in, which is lovely. And I’ve been adding more products to my Canadian Postage Stamps collection on Redbubble. The stamps look crazy great on the totebags and t-shirts, and I love how the framed prints ended up. Fun.

Either way, it really (really) means the world to me when someone likes my work enough to pay me for it and to support me as an artist. Some day I will figure out how to properly thank everyone who has bought some of my art. There may be future surprises in store!

daisy

Gardening research

In the meantime, while in mid-move-limbo, I’ve been doing a buttload of research for a personal vegetable & herb gardening calendar. My goal is to cobble together a general week-by-week schedule & plan for 2017 that covers seed starting, transplanting, and harvesting so we have some idea of how to approach our first year with extensive* vegetable and herb gardens.

There are a bunch of planting calendars out there, but I haven’t found one that covers everything I am interested in growing, and information about all the various vegetables is scattered all over the place. More than once I’ve had the urge to start a public wiki and start compiling it all in one place.

As an example, most calendars have “beans” as a general catch-all, but there are lots of different kinds of beans (pole, bush, snap, dry, fava, lima, edamame, etc.) and seed starting and transplanting recommendations vary between them. Also, many of the information sources I have found don’t have all the details I want, and then the information that does exist isn’t always consistent. It’s a little frustrating.

As an aside

If you know of an excellent, detailed public wiki about vegetable and herb gardening, or if you know of really solid sources for this sort of information, please (please!) send me a note on Twitter or Facebook. It will be hugely appreciated.

A few years from now I’m sure I’ll laugh about all of this because I expect most successful gardening is the result of hard-won experience & wisdom rather than all this rote book-learnin’. But, well, this is where I am right now. And it’s fun, really, I just can’t wait to get started.

 

grasses

Other stuff

In addition to all of that, I’m continuing to read as much as I can about other stuff related to our overall plans, such as

  • Food storage, including freezing, canning, and root cellaring (pickle all of the things!)
  • Compost, soil testing, and soil amendments since we will not be using chemical/synthetic fertilizers in any way
  • Pest & disease identification and remediation, again ideally using organic methods as much as possible (can’t promise I’ll sacrifice an entire tomato harvest to blight, however, so we may not be 100% organic on this part)
  • Pollinator garden design, since we want to attract as many beneficial pollinators and insects as possible, including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds
  • Designing and building chicken coops & chicken tractors — we will probably leave chickens to year 2, but I want to have some idea of what to expect in terms of cost and complexity

Et cetera, et cetera, yadda yadda. It suffices to say that I’m managing to fill the time, I just wish it were less sitting-around-reading and more feet-on-the-ground looking for a place to buy so we can just get started already.

But, that will all come soon enough, I’m sure. More updates as events warrant!

* meaning “more extensive than zero gardens”, which is what we’ve had in Toronto

House & Home

Some reasons for what we’re doing, if you’re curious

Pollinator meadow at the Lockeford Plant Materials Center, Lockeford, California

Here are a few of the reasons Rob and I have decided to move to the country, in no particular order.

We want to own and control our time.

We’re moving back to New Brunswick specifically because there it is possible for us to buy a house and property with our existing savings and live mortgage-free. That will reduce our expenses to the point where we can realistically live off income we earn as self-employed artsy types. After decades of desk-work this is, for us, a significantly better way to live.

We want to grow as much of our own food as possible.

We haven’t set an actual goal in terms of what percentage we want to grow, or when we want to get to that percentage, but it’s something we’ll start relatively small and expand over the years. Our hope is to get some raised beds and a greenhouse constructed before winter so we’ll be able to get started growing vegetables in the spring, as well as planting fruit trees, rhubarb, asparagus, and berry canes.

If all goes well, we’ll also start raising chickens for eggs in 2017, and bees for honey in 2018. Beyond that we’re not sure — goats have been discussed, as have meat chickens, but we’ll see how things go over the first few years. If we’re super lucky, we’ll find property that has existing sugar maple trees and we can nerd out and be even more ridiculously Canadian. With the snowshoes and a sugar shack.

What we don’t make ourselves we’ll try to get from local producers, of which New Brunswick has many. We already know where we can get local grains and flour, maple syrup, cheese & other dairy, meat, poultry, beer & cider, and seafood among other things.

vegetables-930753_1280

We want to lessen our overall negative impact on the planet.

This will take a bunch of different forms: being more energy efficient, building solar/wind generation systems, reducing how much garbage we output, composting our own food and yard waste, using more green/eco-friendly products or methods, etc. Again, this is something that we’ll expand over time as we settle in, get some infrastructure set up and build new habits.

We want to explore a bunch of new hobbies…

…and many of them require a bunch of space. We are both interested in various forms of woodworking, so we’re hoping to put together a wood shop. I want to learn how to dye my own quilting fabric, which is a messy sort of thing to do. Rob wants to build a whole bunch of automated systems for the farm, as well as set up solar and wind power-generation systems. I want to expand my canning and pickling skills, which requires a bigger kitchen. We both want to actively work on our photography and other visual arts. We both want to expand our cooking skills (there are definite plans for an outdoor wood-fired oven sometime in year 1 or 2). Etc, etc. Space and time are required for all of these.

merchandise-bobbleheads-1000x500

We want to leave a little chunk of the planet better than we found it.

Depending on what sort of land we end up getting, this can take a few forms:

  • Build and improve the soil we use for growing food.
  • Create a large (ideally multi-acre) meadow for pollinators, including native and honey bees, butterflies, and birds.
  • Build safe and clean habitats for bats, who are currently under threat from white nose disease.
  • Build safe and clean habitats for birds, particularly migratory birds and birds under threat.
  • Build a bunch of bee hotels, because bees are awesome.
  • Turn a chunk of random woods into a well-managed woodlot & permaculture food forest (if we manage to find land with woods on it).
  • And so forth…

isl-birds.jpg.650x0_q70_crop-smart

Is any of this even remotely realistic?

We think so. We’ve been thinking about doing this for years, reading and learning and planning and thinking and reading and learning and …it’s just time. We are both pretty smart and resourceful people, and while we know it’s going to be way harder than we think, we are also pretty sure we can pull it off. So we’re going to give it a shot, and we’re going to blog & podcast about it all the while.

Want to help?

If you think this is all pretty cool and you would like to help, the best thing you can do is buy Rob’s book or some of my art, or tell some of your friends to check ’em out. We’re pretty reliant on word-of-mouth, so anything helps! <3

House & Home

There and back again…

The lede:

Rob and I have sold our house in Toronto and are moving back out east at the end of May. We are very excited about it.

The longer version:

A little over a year ago, Rob and I both quit our tech jobs to make time for our creative pursuits. We have now decided to extend that indefinitely.

We have also decided to get out of the city, and have just sold our place in Toronto. Our plan now is to head out east, buy a small house on a few of acres of land, and grow a bunch of vegetables & chickens & bees while we continue on with our writing, photography, art and other creative work.

If you know us at all, you know that this was not a decision lightly made, but is something we’ve been thinking about and planning for several years. We finally decided to pull the trigger in January, and here we are.

We also plan to blog and podcast and release ridiculous videos, but all of that is a little further down the road. Right now our next steps are to move the rest of our crap out east (80% of it is already out there, if you were wondering why we’ve been driving so much lately), and then spend a couple of months finding a little house with some land, somewhere around Moncton, NB.

That’s about it. Stay tuned, I guess! If you have follow up questions, you probably know how to find us.

In the mean time, be sure to check out Rob’s first novel (book 2 coming soon!) and my Etsy shop.