Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fun in the snow!

The new sleds for the Valley House Daycare have come in useful...for wood hauling and for some fun sled rides for Brian and Jenn!  Not much work going on at the house in this very cold weather, the deck building will have to wait until it warms up and Brian is busy getting both the business accounts sorted out for the accountant. 

Sunday, January 04, 2015

WE'RE BACK!!!!  Goodness me, how time has flown....but I have been struck by the creative muse this cold January morning, so have taken a few photos and will try and update you.

 my birthday celebration was held at wonderful Luckett Vineyard
some of the helping painters at work this summer

here is the corner of the playroom after mudding, before trim and painting
exposed central beams, looking through to dining room

the completed playroom...a large "boy" is stuck in the play tunnel!!

my newly delivered metal sign, now displayed on front lawn (thanks to Sophie for great design work)

Brian, complete with safety harness, up on scaffolding

after digging a lot of holes, we finally found the septic tanks and had them cleaned out

Since the last post in 2013, I have left the world of classroom teaching, and started my own home-based daycare.  Still teaching, but with a lot more fun, outings, and yes, diapers!  I am licensed through Family Matters and am really enjoying the creativity and joy of working with little ones.  The response has been overwhelming, so we have full enrollment.  Brian is a great business and moral support partner, he has created a wonderful playroom (photos above), helps with practical matters like dishes and cleaning, and does the books.  You can see lots of photos and read about our adventures on our facebook page:  the Valley House Daycare

 Brian was diagnosed with prostate cancer (the only symptom he had was a slightly elevated PSA level  (gentlemen, have the blood test done to check your could be a life saver!)  but a new type of biopsy revealed trouble, and he had surgery in Feb. 2014.  The cancer was aggressive, so hormone replacement therapy was necessary, as was 7 weeks of radiotherapy in Halifax.  He's a strong man, and is back to "normal" ; ) now.  We are very grateful.

The house is coming along very well.  The exterior is finished, bar some painting.  That was a huge job, with help from friends with painting, and working on the ground with the saw while Brian fitted the wood siding on the scaffolding.  Inside, the playroom/dining room just need a few finishing touches, the kitchen is done (well, it will be once the dishwasher arrives!), the living just needs a bit more work on walls.  Upstairs, the bedrooms need finishing, and we hope to have the bathrooms in by the end of this year.

To celebrate survival, we are going on a Caribbean cruise this winter, with eldest daughter Emily ( she has her own blog, Tinfoil Tiaras and has co-founded a suiting program for disadvantaged men Suits his Style) and her boyfriend.  Youngest daughter, Stephanie, is loving studying journalism at Kings University in Halifax.

Will try and keep this blog updated more frequently!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

God bless our insulated home..............

How time flies!  Hope you had a great Holiday season and all the best for 2013!  I am writing this from my sickbed, with pneumonia, but Val is at my feet as a trusty footwarmer.  Brian is outside putting wood from the barn into the basement for the wood stove.  It's a lovely sunny day, but it is very cold!  Brian includes a weather link below for exact temperatures.

In October, I was delighted to get a term job teaching Phys. Ed. and French until April 2013, and am really enjoying it.  I go between two schools, so it is busy, but the staff and students at both schools are great.  Brian's taxi business is doing so well  that he finds me carping at him to get the house renovations going again!  He has just done up the business books for the accountant, and is starting work on the kitchen this week...hooray!  My studio is finished and I delighted in creating some Christmas gifts and have started making mosaic tiles for the backsplash that will go behind the kitchen sink.

We had a nice "city" get-away in October and found ourselves grinning at the fact that we didn't know anyone/or they didn't know us at the "Split Crow" (my favourite pub from NSCAD days)!  Halifax is a lovely city (it's where I grew up) and we enjoyed walking downtown, seeing "Cloud Atlas", and visiting friends. 

In December, we had an early Christmas weekend with Steph here in the Valley House, and met up with her again, and her boyfriend for dinner at "The Wooden Monkey" in Halifax (delicious food) before going to the airport hotel to be ready for an early morning flight to Ottawa to spend Christmas with Emily and Maher.  The weather in Ottawa was sunny, cold and snowy and the Christmas lights on Parliament Hill were beautiful.  We had a wonderful visit and really enjoyed eating the "vegan" way.  It was delicious, but we both confess to having intestinal tumult with the incredible influx of fibre and veggies!  Their new house is lovely and situated in a lively neighbourhood.  Maher and Brian got "lost" en-route to an art gallery, we found them grinning in a nearby pub happily downing a pint (or three). 

Val is enjoying the snow, she scoots a piece along the crusty surface, chasing it, tackling it and rabbit-kicking it into submission!  She then darts behind a drift and assumes hunting position, crouched down - tail lashing, before leaping mightily on the offending hunk of snow and resuming the chase. 

Over to Brian now for house news and photos!

Work on the house centered on getting the place as watertight as possible for the winter months. But the progress has been gratifying with half the house now completely insulated. 

The ground floor long room

This room will become a large living/dining room and, with the exception of the south wall, the work completed has not changed since the last blog. However, all windows and doors have now been completely replaced in this room on the ground floor. We have also added a new door where a window used to be which will lead to a new deck. To the left of the door we have added a new window to get the best of the light and another amazing view of the river. 

The main outside boards all had to be replaced (see picture below) leaving a huge hole ( I was getting nervous at this point). One beam had considerable rot at the base and had to be strengthened using 2x6 studs. Then the careful task of building the new frame work for the door and window. I thought it was going to be fairly straightforward, but a house of this age had other ideas with odd angles, beams not quite where you need them to accomplish a flat wall etc. But the window went in perfectly followed by the door. That was a small triumph for us as it was the first door we had done without any help. But ( and there is always a 'but'), I was so elated that I forgot to finish the weather proofing outside. That night a rain storm went through sending several gallons of water into the room via the top of the door.  Jenn managed to catch most of it in a bucket, so no harm done!

The next step for the long room

We are waiting for the plumber to rough in the pipe work for the new bathrooms on the first floor. This will have to come through the corner of this room and into the basement. 

There will new some new wiring for sockets and our heating for this room will be a heat pump. Cheap to run and cleaner than another wood stove, it's becoming a very popular source of heat for many houses here. 

The gyproc (plasterboard) ceiling will also need to come down to make way for some of the new wiring. Then we can add insulation, Rx foil backed foam board and gyroc walls. The new ceiling will need to put up and finally the ply floor will come up revealing the original boards underneath. Some of these near the front door need replacing, but the hope is that we can have this room finished by summer.
First floor

The bedroom above the long room still has lath and plaster walls and ceiling so this room will be gutted at some time this year. This room needs two new windows added.


The east side of the house needs to be completely stripped of all wooden siding or weatherboard from the first floor to the top of the roof gable. We will need a fair amount of scaffolding to get this completed and is definitely a summer job. In addition some weatherboard needs to be added to the front of the house. 

The winter difference

Jenn and I are often told that last winter was mild. Which was just as well as we did not have the insulation we have now. This winter is NOT mild. We have a lot of snow and certainly since just before Christmas, it's been very cold. Today (Jan 23rd) is -15c and the wind chill is -25c and its been like this for the best part of three weeks. Take a look at what we have in store. Click on the link in the next line:
"Local weather for the Valley House"

However, the insulation and all the hard work has paid off. We are warm and comfortable with no more snow blowing in under the back door or howling gales through windows or walls!! The difference is remarkable. The studio last winter never got above 5c. It's now a cozy 18c.

The Taxi Business - Annapolis Royal and Bridgetown Taxi

Started in May 2012, the number of taxi runs has increased to over double what I was expecting. Most are long distance, to Halifax Airport or the City. That is a round trip of about 250 miles. As an example, this weekend I have four runs to the airport in five days. Have met some amazing people with many interesting stories and I am really enjoying the chance to run a small business. 
The car is performing well, in some very difficult driving conditions. Snow is the main problem, but the snow clearing here is amazing and very efficient. Winter tyres are essential and next year I may stud them as well. Salt is the biggest issue and the Nova Scotia highways department put down tons of it.  With temperatures typically -10c to -20c, you cannot wash it off that easily, so the car looks like a white ghost.  

Well, that's it for the moment and keep an eye for the next blog soon. If anyone has any questions please drop us an email or send a comment.
The Annapolis River from the house

Studio south wall finished

The winter river, frozen and snow covered

The East Wall with the frame work going in for new window.

From the outside
The East Wall and new main boards
East wall and the house wrap goes up

Windows in place on the east wall

The south wall of the long room. Cardboard insulation. The window is now a door

The south wall with the window due to become a door
The south wall boards removed
The beam on the south wall with the rot removed

Outside the south wall. Door to the left and window to the right

Carpenter marks

Peg and beam on the south wall

The new door and window. There will be a deck built here if you wondered why the door was so high

Val love the snow and is rabbit kicking the snow

Sunrise across our valley

Winter from the house with the river frozen and snow covered

Our local marsh walk and sunset

Valley keeping warm

The Valley House

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The house still has four walls .....just!

What happened to Spring here in Nova Scotia? Well, it just ran into Summer and forgot how to rain!  With long hot days, it has been the warmest and driest in many people’s memories. Not that we are complaining here, but when you are trying to restore an old house, the odd day below 25c would be nice. The area we are currently working is facing south, and with nothing in the way of shade it became very hot  to work.

So what has happened since May 29th, the last blog?

Very, very sad news first and foremost. Marmalade (Marmsie) our beautiful orange tabby, disappeared late on June 28th. She was outside at 10pm and refused to come in so we left her another hour. But when we went to try and coax her in she was not there. We suspect a Coyote.  We are so desperately   sad to have lost her as she was such a treasured member of this adventure. Always part of any gathering, Marmsie was so comfortable around people. She was my little helper, always investigating what I had just done, and keeping close . I am sure that, had she a thumb, she would have picked up a hammer.  So have I have included a few shots of Marmise as that is one cat we shall not forget.

However, at the end of July when we were just wondering if we should have more cats, one turned up on our doorstep. During a late-night, rare rain storm, Jenn heard a cat outside and rushed out in the hope of seeing Marmsie, when a skinny, black and grey tabby kitten, ran past her into the house.  Three tins of cat food later, she had made herself very comfortable and she is still with us.  She is about eight months old and a very gentle, long-legged elegant young lady with double paws on all four feet.  Her name is Val, short for Valley Cat.

Just before I left for the UK, Jenn went to St Anne’s University (an all French Uni) for a four week immersion course, where every student signs a contract to speak French 24/7.  Jenn enjoyed the lobster and clam dinners, the beaches and making new friends, and got an A, so her French has really improved.  This, we hope will increase her chances of retaining her long term substitute job she is in, until April next year. BREAKING NEWS September 27th - Jenn had her test earlier this week with the school board and she now is at INTERMEDIATE level, so she is very pleased.

I had a lovely two weeks in the UK and met up with some old friends and family. It was great to see my young son Andrew in his new student house in Huddersfield, and to be flown by my eldest son in a light airplane. Thank you to all for the accommodation, meals, drinks  etc.  I had a great time.

Jenn and I celebrated her birthday and our 4th wedding anniversary with a night away in Yarmouth, staying at an elegant B&B.  Jenn was still at Ste. Anne’s then, and had to get a note of permission to leave the campus and speak English!

Jenn's daughter Emily and her boyfriend Maher have bought a lovely home in Ottawa.  Jenn and her other daughter, Stephanie, enjoyed a week's visit there late August, and we are thinking of visiting there over Christmas.  Stephanie has switched her degree to Psychology, and is enjoying living in a house with friends near campus.  

House news…Bedrooms
Much work has continued to turn this place into a home which we hope will keep up warm this winter. On the inside and upstairs, the long room has now been split into two bedrooms. The stud wall was added at the beginning of June and I had a deadline of June 19th, when my Mum was due to arrive to get one half finished. That was done, and although it still needs more work it will do for the time being. The two new rooms  all have their new windows and the walls are insulated with R20 insulation batts and a high density, foil backed foam board.  This gives the rooms a cosy(we hope) R27. In an old house that should be ok against the cold winter of Nova Scotia.

The small bedroom next to the long room is ready for the pipe work to turn it into an en suite for one of the long room bedrooms. Which means that only one bedroom remains with its lathe and plaster ceilings and walls, along with its dressing room. They will be tackled in October.


Of the 25 windows, and 3 doors, one door has still to be installed along with five windows.  I have learnt how to put windows in.  The  four in Jenn’s studio, I did myself with a little help from my Mum, Marcia, Tony and Jenn. Really pleased with the results.

Jenn’s Studio

The old summer kitchen now has all the insulation added and the gyproc (plasterboard) is almost finished. Again the construction is to R27 with batts and foiled backed foam board. I have now finished plastering (mudding as they call it here), and the walls are painted. Skirting boards have been installed, which just leaves the floor to be painted.  On the outside it all now has the house wrap added along with new facias and trim around the windows. The here also requires a lattice work cover before the weather board to added and that has also been done. The weather board will be added as and when I have time.

We move on to the East side of the house in September which include the remaining three rooms in the house.   

The Wall Bulge

On the East side ground floor a bulge appeared after the house was lifted and after taking off the lathe and plaster, the problem was revealed. Nothing was holding the wall in place at floor level (see picture) which means two thirds of wall can be moved with your hand!! With  the advice of Paul Uhlman, I should be able to make it secure.

The Taxi 

The company which I started is going well - Annapolis Royal and Bridgetown Taxi.  There have been some very interesting customers and journeys . The car is performing well but it suffered some damage just over a week ago when I hit and sadly killed a large dog, that had not been tied up by the owner.  You are always on the lookout at night for deer, racoons, coyotes, and porcupines but it was bad luck to hit the one animal that should have been tied up!

Thanks for my friend in Sweden, Sabine, for reminding me about the blog or the lack of one. Pictures found below!

Marmsie inspecting our contractor's work

Resting in the Valley House
Marmsie making sure the window will fit

Mum working on Summer Kitchen south wall


All windows in and lattice work added. This was not something I wanted, the building inspector insisted

Val, our new cat

The long room wall about to revel the problem with the wall

The clear space between posts and the world outside!!

The bottom of the east wall showing the problem

 More of the same. The light coloured timber at the bottom is the new sill

7 1/4' railway is about an hour away from home. It good to see some running trains

Trecothic Creek and Windsor Railway. At last some real steam engines 

The gathering clouds last night, from our back steps - Winter is approaching