Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Plant a Row – Grow a Row

OK, I’m probably counting my chickens way too early, especially since this is my first vegetable garden. But something tells me come harvest time, I’m going to have more produce than I know what to do with. I also recently read an article where the journalist describes how he and his family of 3 tried to survive on a food bank basket for 3 days. In the article he describes what comes in the basket. The only fresh produce in the basket was 2 carrots, a lime and 3 potatoes, which is woefully inadequate. A lime between 3 people isn’t going to prevent scurvy. So I figured there must be a way for me donate my (hopefully) over-abundant harvest of tomatoes, eggplants, herbs and peppers to someone who can actually use the produce. And lo and behold, after a bit of surfing I managed to find “The Plant a Row – Grow a Row“ program.

http://www.toronto.ca/health/plant_a_row.pdf

For anyone else planning on having a backyard veggie garden, you can drop off extra harvested produce to the following centers:

Chalkfarm CC
180 Chalkfarm Drive
Contact: Tod Debling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 416-395-7802
Elmbank CRC
10 Rampart Road
Contact: Roman Dasek . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 416-394-8671
Harrison Baths Pool
15 Stephanie Street
Contact: Chris Leonard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 416-392-0335
Heron Park CC
Lawrence Avenue East and Manse Road
Contact: Margaret Crosby . . . . . . . . . . . . . 416-396-4335
. . . . . . . Jennifer McPherson . . . . . . . . . . 416-396-4366
John Innes CRC
150 Sherbourne Street
Contact: Dave Hains . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 416-392-0043
Lawrence Heights CC
5 Replin Road
Contact: Helen Kennedy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 416-395-6120
Masaryk-Cowan CRC
220 Cowan Avenue
Contact: Vince Lawrence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 416-392-6930
Regent Park South CC
203 Sackville Green
Contact: Lucky Booth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 416-392-5490
Rose Avenue CC
675 Ontario Street
Contact: Rick Lee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 416-392-1085
Scadding Court CC
707 Dundas St. W
Contact: Kevin Lee & Krista Fay. . . . . . . . 416-392-0335
St. Lawrence CC
Esplanade
Contact: James Honeyman. . . . . . . . . . . . . 416-392-1347

Monday, April 26, 2010

Annoying IKEA Guy Was So Right. We Really Did Sleep Much Better

My wife and I were really starting to hate our old mattress. It was about 10 years old, and it just wasn’t comfortable anymore. We would both toss and turn, keeping the other awake. And each morning we would both wake up sore. So we decided it was time for a new mattress. We knew one day (when we finished the 3rd floor master suite), we would want to be able to get the mattress up to our third floor, which has a narrow winding set of stairs. So the mattress not only had to be comfortable, it also had to be pretty flexible too. That meant most spring mattresses were out. So we focused on latex and memory foam mattresses.

We asked around, shopped around and did research online. We were leaning towards the TempurPedic mattress, because friends who have them, rave about them. After having laid on them in the showroom, we both agreed that they were really comfortable and that motion didn’t transfer from one side to the other. But before spending the $2500 on a TempurPedic, we thought maybe we should try some other memory foam mattresses just for comparison.

We went to IKEA, and tried their Sultan Flokenes mattress, it has a 2 ¾” layer of memory foam, over high resilience foam, similar to the Tempurpedic, but it also has lambswool and lyocell, to wick away moisture and to dissipate heat. Something the TempurPedic doesn’t have. Our online research also showed similar or slightly higher ratings for the Flokenes than the TempurPedic. And as a final test we laid on the Flokenes in the IKEA showroom and were every bit as impressed as when we had laid on the TempurPedic. And at less than one third of the price, we were all over it.

The first night we had the mattress, it actually felt very hard and uncomfortable kind of like our old mattress and nothing like the mattress in the IKEA shwroom. There wasn’t any give at all, it just felt really hard. But strangely each night it got a bit better. Maybe it needed to be worked in, because now that we’ve been sleeping on it for a week, we really do find it incredibly comfortable now. I would definitely recommend the IKEA Sultan Flokenes.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Building Raised Planting Beds

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Bustan’s and bought a grow light and starter flats to start the Tomato, Eggplant, Basil and Pepper seedlings. Carefully following the instructions that came with my seeds, I planted up the vegetables that would need a head start. Since that time the plants have really taken off. Here they are:

















Our backyard is actually too small and too shady to grow vegetables, so we’re actually planting the garden a few doors down, in my brother’s backyard. We spent a weekend building raised beds out of cedar. Here’s how they came together. Now we just need a delivery of 2 yards of triple mix and some consistently warm weather to start planting.

Before:
























During:
















































After:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Finished Basement Bathroom Reveal

I promised I would do a posting once I found a mirror for the basement bathroom. And here it is. It is a really tiny bathroom, so it's hard to get decent photos of it. Please also forgive the hideous plastic shower curtain.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mirror, mirror on the wall…whose service is worst of all?

Our bathroom is quite small, and with a GFI outlet, light and wall mounted sink all vying for space on this narrow wall, I needed to find a small mirror which could work in this space. After a long fruitless search for just the right mirror to go into our newly finished basement bathroom, I thought I’d be resigned to my fall-back choice - the Eleanor Small Rectangular mirror from Pottery Barn. Its size would fit nicely, but I had reservations about the frilly shape working with the simple light and sink I had chosen. In spite of my lack of enthusiasm for the mirror, I felt like it was probably the best I could find. So off to Pottery Barn I went.

When I got there I didn’t see the Eleanor mirror on display, so I went to go find a sales person. Who knew it would be that difficult, especially considering the mall had just opened and I was one of only three customers in there. Every sales person I saw was really busy... pretending to be busy. They either walked away to another part of the store avoiding eye contact or were on the phone with another employee. After about 15 minutes of invisibly wandering around the store, being shunned by the sales staff, I decided I really didn’t want that mirror that badly. So I decided to abort, just as I was on my way out something caught my eye – the Thin Metal Profile picture frame in Polished Nickel. I thought to myself, hmmm I could replace the mat and glass with a mirror and it would work perfectly and since they were stacked on the shelf, I could just get it myself. So I did.

I then took my new frame over to SOHO framing on Roncesvalles Ave, to see if they could cut the right size mirror and swap out the glass and mat. And man what a difference in Customer Service? The people at SOHO were really great!

So here it is:


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Living Room

Once again it took, having company coming over for us to tidy up our living and dining room enough that we wouldn't be embarrassed to share photos of it. And with the fresh tulips, i figured now was probably the best time to do a post on it. Especially since it's been a while since we finished these rooms and i really haven't ever shared them on the blog.

One of the things we loved when we first saw the house was that all the trim and ceiling medallions had been mostly preserved. So too were the original plaster walls. All we had to do was patch a few cracks and holes in the wall and give the trim a good sanding, then we spent a weekend priming and painting everything. After that we changed the lights and flooring, and voila our mostly original main floor:



Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bye Bye ecoENERGY Program

It has been announced that the popular ecoENERGY program has been abruptly cancelled. Under the program homeowners have an initial energy audit performed on their house by a qualified technician, and would then be entitled to rebates for various energy efficient home improvements once a final audit was done to confirm the improvements. Fortunately anyone who has booked an appointment for their first audit is still eligible to complete the process. But those who have not, are out of luck.

We were fortunate enough to take advantage of this program, and know others who also have. It’s unfortunate that this program has now been cancelled, as I think it was a real win-win-win for consumers, the economy and the environment. Not only did it really encourage and reward green building choices, I also think that it brought the more expensive technologies into the main stream. Hopefully now that things like tankless water heaters, condensing boilers and solar powered water heating are becoming more commonplace their prices will continue to fall.