a different kind of home improvement

In 1987 I built a house with my dad, it was the second house we built together (more on the first one another day, it was Penny-sized). I have fond memories of building it then decorating with furniture my mother received as a child from her parents.

A few weeks ago, when visiting with mum, I retrieved that house from the attic where it rested for over twenty years.

Today it sits on my workbench waiting for me to make decisions about how I want to renovate it.

1987 house transport

A few decisions are easy, Dad and I had plans to add electricity. Today with LEDs and knowledge of basic circuits, I look forward to wiring it up.

I need to fix all of the siding and repaint; I recall my research was that salmon was an appropriate colour for a house of this type, but I’m not sure I’ll keep that detail. I also need to fix the roof, we lost a few shingles as I pried it out of its attic corner and when we put it into the car. Maybe I’ll even add an addition and build a sunroom!

1987 house, exterior

For the interior, I need to decide if I want to decorate entirely with the furniture mum gifted me (acquiring missing pieces via ebay), or update to my tastes and keep a few sentimental pieces on display. It’s been cleared out in preparation for all the work to come.

1987 house, interior

In any case, I need to catch up on what’s out there and where to source pieces that I can’t easily make myself. I’m really excited about this project and curious to see where it leads.

a new space

For the past year, I’ve rarely spent a full day in my basement office. I found I’d unplug my laptop and work all around the house instead. The laptop is no longer my primary machine and I also recently made several other changes to how I work. So last week we decided to take these changes one step further and I moved into a corner of the library. The new space worked though the desk was too small for how I spread out during the day. On Sunday I purchased a new work surface and put my monitors up on a shelf at a height that should keep me working on better posture. There are still several little things to configure, but they’ll happen. I’ve only been here for two days (due to Sukkot), but so far I really like it.


a new nook for reading

For the past two years we’ve been slowly making the upstairs of the house ours. This space used to be the closet. It works much better as a reading nook. The new chair came home from IKEA with us on Sunday. We still have a few things to finish such as patching the carpet, installing better lighting, and reshelving more books.

reading nook

Now I need to make another blanket.

stand simple

After first discussing the need a year ago and out of frustration doing something about it in February, I finally built a laptop stand last weekend.


The parts arrived sometime in March. Other high priority projects kept taking our time and the temporary solution was functional if not very attractive.

It features shelves for paper and notebooks, a routed channel for pens, and the bracket holds to various angles so I can adjust the screen height. I still need to add a few things for cable management, but it’s functional.

Is it perfect? No, it’s the first iteration, but it definitely beats the old solution. I’m already planning version two.

Update on Friday, August 15, 2014 at 11:50am. Several friends had asked for additional photos. Here are two. I’m amazed by the attention this project has received as I consider it a first draft. Once I work out some of the details, I will provide some instruction for building your own. :)



… end update

Yes, I did build it. There are a few things E did with my assistance because I’m still too small to easily do them. Two people working on the project does make it go faster. I’m also too impatient to deal with finishing so he did most of that, but I am the master sander.

I’ve been using power tools for over 30 years. Here’s proof:


dreaming of spring

I had planned to post about how my 2014 planner system is working out. Short answer: I still like it and am amazed at how well it’s working, but mother nature had other plans for today.

It snowed again. I know, at this point, that’s not even news, but it was slightly significant for me.

Early this morning it was beautiful with a very light powder falling in large flakes on top of the snow we received last week.


There were also wind gusts of over 30 miles per hour. Once the sky stopped falling, we suited up and started shoveling. The first part went easily, the powder was light and the bottom of the driveway is flat.


Yes, there is a car under there. Somewhere.

Then we encountered multiple challenges. First is where to put all the snow? There were many trips to the bottom of the driveway to toss over the fence into the back yard. As we made progress to the top, we were able to add to the snowbanks on the sides again, but this was difficult for me, as they are very close to being taller than I am!

Then the frozen rain started.

Each shovelful became heavier and the surface was slick. I didn’t fall though so that was good. Shovel by shovel we persevered and made it to the top!


So why is this significant? I’ve been struggling with some neck/back issues and loss of strength again. I’ve been changing my workspace for better ergonomics, and doing the dreaded PT exercises and working with weights.

I’m very happy to state that I did very close to half of the work (aka all of my share of it) without pain. Yes, I’m a little sore now, but I am happy to have been able to do the work.


It is kind of pretty, but I’m very much ready for spring and warmer weather. I miss running in the trails, one year I’ll acquire snowshoes… Spring won’t happen in the next few days though. We could get quite a bit more tonight (or not), and there’s chance of another system this weekend.


We’re at the point in winter when even I am starting to crave color. I hope you and yours are safe, snuggled in, and warm.