The thing with the kitchen cabinets

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When we first walked through the house, I was glad to see they had already ordered the cabinets, assembled them, and had them roughly in place. This gave us a good idea for where things were supposed to go, as far as appliances, etc.

There was no sink, but on our second visit I found the sink in a box in the other room. It is this DOMSJĂ– porcelain apron sink from IKEA. By then we had pretty much decided to buy the house, so I was super excited.

My Pinterest board for kitchens is covered with images of apron sinks in country farmhouse kitchens. As my mom would say, this was A Sign.

Once we visited the house a few times, and started thinking and planning the kitchen, we had a good look at how the cabinets were installed.

Or rather how they weren’t.

While the upper cabinets were anchored to the walls, the bottoms ones were not. We also realized the layout of the cabinet pieces by the sink were… less than symmetrical.

As you can see, there was a drawer cabinet, the sink cabinet, a cupboard with a door, then another drawer cabinet. Once we noticed it bothered the crap out of both of us.

So we moved them around.

We also took down the upper cabinets with a thought of using them maybe elsewhere. It really opened up that wall, and the best part was, when you come in the front door you’re not greeted in the face by the side of a cabinet.

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Some open shelving will go here instead – nice and white painted wood with some solid white wood curved brackets. We also made sure that the sink cabinet will be centred under the window.

The island in the kitchen, we also planned out using the upper cabinets, just as placeholders. This helped us decide exactly how far away from the other cabinets it should be, how long and where exactly the dishwasher goes. There is a pipe coming up in the floor already for the dishwasher, so that’s what we worked around.

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And a good thing, too, because the next Monday IKEA had a free shipping sale that day only. We ordered exactly the matching cabinets we needed, and the extra legs we also discovered we needed.

On another day, Ron also went back and levelled the base cabinets next to the sink and anchored them to the wall. He even started cutting the holes in the sink cabinet for the drain pipes, since they come up from the floor.

While we had our daughter Sarah there today, we showed her what we had done and then had an idea about the fridge placement as well. It’s still along the same wall, except we’re going to try it in the pantry alcove instead of the wall near the door.

So we do have progress, it’s just slow. We have loads of time.

Cleaning up from Arthur

Front view at time of purchase

Tropical storm Arthur came through New Brunswick and downed so many trees that we were 8 days without power. The longest power outage I had experienced prior to that was under 36 hours.

Our new property had 10 trees blown over. I expect that all of them were taken down by Arthur. While the trees don’t need to be cleaned up right away, the longer they sit there the more work it takes to clean them up. It’s also more work once the snow gets so deep. Since we aren’t trying to move in as soon as possible, cleaning them up sooner is better.

I grew up around chainsaws. We had a woodlot and had heated our place in Wirral with wood so I’ve spent a few hundred hours working with chain saws. Over the last 10 years I’ve had hardly any reason to use one so running one started out as both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.

Almost 30 years ago, I took a job doing pre-commercial thinning which I did for 3 years. The weapon of choice for forestry thinning is a bush saw that hangs from a harness that you wear.

If I remember correctly, my brush saw weighed 25 lbs, my safety gear weigh another 10, thinning an acre required walking an average of 17 miles, and your goal was to thin an acre a day. Running a brush saw could wear you out.

The trick to running a brush saw for 6-8 hours a day was developing a rhythm and letting the saw do the work. You job is to keep track of your footing, where trees, obstacles, etc. are, and guide the saw.

While I was cutting up the tree on the front lawn I realized that I also had a rhythm with the chainsaw. It had probably taken about a half hour for me to get it back. The rhythm isn’t the same as a brush saw because they are different equipment doing different jobs. But, the rhythm is based on the same things: footing, obstacles, what’s next & letting the saw do the work.

It’s safe to say I sleep well after an afternoon on the business end of a chainsaw but I find it relaxing. Given I spend Monday to Friday sitting in front of a computer there are definitely benefits to keeping my heart rate up for most of an afternoon.

Front view after cutting up the downed tree
This was taken from approximately the same place as the front view on purchase picture

Finding the edges of the driveway

somewhere to park

So one of the things about our new house is that the yard is terribly overgrown. Since winter is pretty much here and there’s building supplies all over the small from garden, there’s not much to do.

Walking in the shed door one day, I noticed the ground felt a little firmer. Turns out there were pavers under the “grass”.

Next time I went to the house for the afternoon, I made sure to grab a shovel and start finding out where the pavers where for the path out the shed door.

somewhere in here is a pathway

We’re calling it a shed right now because back door doesn’t seem right. It’s less than twenty feet from the front door, which is on the side of the house, facing the driveway but not the road. The shed can also be reached by a door off the kitchen, so we could call it a mudroom, but right now it’s full of junk and building supplies. Plus a new window. So shed it is.

After some careful scraping and figuring out where I could run the edge of the shovel, I found a few pavers and a whole pathway.

a pathway!

It doesn’t reach the driveway yet. I was stalled by a pile of bricks left in the way from when the old chimney was removed.

This weekend I again picked up the shovel and worked on clearing out the encroaching weeds and vine plants and dead leaves that were spilling over the backing up space. It’s a handy spot to leave my car so I can just drive out and not back down the entire drive.

So here’s today’s work, tho I haven’t shown the other side of the car. This space is wide enough for two cars, but was so overgrown on the edges, as a driver you just weren’t sure where it dropped off onto lawn.

somewhere to park

Now you can park here just fine. Even though I took up all the space today and parked in the middle.

Further on down the driveway there is less work to clear off because it is raised a bit off the field. It’s mostly overgrown by the house itself.

Mexican Bamboo

Japanese Knotwood

Both the property in Miramichi and the one in Lakeville had a colony of Mexican Bamboo (or Japanese Knotweed). It’s a fast growing invasive species that is capable of killing off most vegetation that does not grow taller than it does.

I succeeded in killing it off on both properties. In both cases, it took 5 years. When I looked out of the window on our second viewing and saw it in front of the house, I chuckled. Having done it twice before I knew I could do it again & how long it was going to take.

When I was working away at it in Miramichi I did some Internet research. I found a site that explained why it was so difficult to kill off. The roots are brittle and are prone to breaking. The root system of the growing plants emit a chemical into the soil. So long as the chemical balance of the soil contains a certain level of the chemical, the broken off pieces of root remain dormant.

My guess is that the broken off roots only have a shelf life of a few years. If they don’t grow within 2-4 years they die. That means that if you can keep it from extending it’s root system for 3-4 years, the remaining roots in the soil die.

Even though the growing season is over, I got a head start on next year. The old stocks get in the way of cutting it back the next year’s growth. It doesn’t hurt that it improves the street view of the house.

After the Japanese Knotwood was cut back
View from the front after the Japanese Knotwood was cut back.

Blog refocus

As you may have guessed by the last post the Ron And Andrea blog is undergoing a change. Instead of WordPress or business related thoughts, our posts will now focus on remodelling and finishing our new house.

Not a huge change right now, mostly the theme and some cleanup. Older posts will remain but eventually shuffle off into the archives.

So – if you’re still reading via RSS and were only interested in WordPress related news, you might wish to unsubscribe with no hard feelings. However, if you want to keep tabs on our house news and what we’re doing, this is the place we will be posting everything.

Tune in! We have tons to say! (and pictures… so many pictures… )

Back to the country

Front View

Andrea & I have been living in Fredericton for about 2 years. Before that, a trip to visit the children/grandchildren was most of a day. We having been enjoying being closer for visiting more often and the convenience of close shopping.

When we moved we planned on staying in Fredericton for a few years saving up to purchase a piece of property and build a home. Since we are both technically self-employed with a business that has almost no “real” assets, borrowing for building a home is slightly more difficult for us. Knowing that, we planned on saving a good portion of the funds before building.

In the mean time, it doesn’t hurt to research the market for availability, prices, etc.

Given our business, the only absolute prerequisite has been a location where we could get decent speed Internet either with a high bandwidth cap or unlimited bandwidth. In Lakeville, we had satellite first then wireless. Either of those are okay for casual usage but are less than ideal for people who use the Internet all day.

Second, we want some elbow room. I have been mainly keeping an eye out for property that is at least 3 acres (1.2 ha).

Third, because we work at home, we don’t get out and around as much as people who commute to work. A house nestled in a larger treed lot does have privacy but if you are there almost all the time it’s a bit claustrophobic. A property with a view would be a big plus over the long term.

Over the last year Andrea & I realized that century old houses that came onto the market were more likely to include a few acres than properties in our price range that met our wants.

We started looking at listings of older homes with a small parcel of property.

In September, the family leasing the Lakeville house were approved for a mortgage. At the time there were 3 houses on the market that met our list. We arranged a viewing of all 3 spaced over a week.

We put in an offer on one of them in early October and became the owners on Friday.