Category Archives: Remodling

November Madness and Music I’ve Become Obsessed With

Jillian here. Happy November. For those of us doing NaNoWriMo, we’re in the midst of the craziness right now. Last night, I accidently added a zero to my word count, so instead of 22,003, the website had me as 220,003, which is ludicrous. When I tried to fix it, it said I had like negative 199,000 words, so it has been even crazier trying to get it to register correctly now. It even has me as already winning it and that is certainly not true. 🙂 I confess, it is driving me bonkers! LOL

About two months ago, when I was watching an episode of Grantchester on PBS, Robson Green, who plays the detective, was walking around his office singing a little. Someone told me he used to sing with a partner and they were called Robson and Jerome. I had no idea even though I have loved Robson since he was in Wire in the Blood back in the early 2000s.

Of course, I had to find what he sang. You tube has a great selection of their songs and I have been obsessively listening while I work. One day recently, my son asked me who I was listening to and when I told him, he looked them up too. He recognized the Jerome guy from Game of Thrones. I only ever watched two episodes of that show as it didn’t appeal to me, but Jerome was also in Ripper Street which I did like. How cool is it that these guys are so talented? Acting and were also successful recording artists.

Here are links to a couple of songs: What Becomes of the Broken Hearted

If I can Dream.

Update on the bathroom renovation: It’s going slower than the hubs wanted but he is still feeling effects of the cancer treatments and not moving as fast as he wants. He has to rest a lot and has been going to bed super early. I am not stressed about it, but he is. He has also done a few things 2-3 times as he isn’t happy with how he did it the first time or two. He has reset the shower base three times. He thinks he can live with it now. LOL

This week, we honor our veterans here in the US with Veteran’s Day and my friends in the UK have Remembrance Sunday as well. Happy Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks.

I’ll leave you with a picture I took in Rhode Island when my son lived there.

October Round-Up

Mid October, and here in the UK autumnal colours are filling the trees, hedgerows and gardens, a distinct chill in the air although the days are often sunny and out of the wind, mild. But I do miss the summer heat. Whilst we enjoyed the high temperatures, the garden suffered. Our vegetables were a disaster except, surprisingly, our potato crop and most flowers in the front beds perished due to lack of water. Dave pulled out the majority of them, leaving only the dahlias in-situ even though they were failing too. What a difference to them now. Thanks to plenty of rain showers and cooler weather, they have come into their own and look lovely.

You might notice in the background of the photo in front of the wheelbarrow a flush of yellow that should not be there. These are wallflowers that should not be blooming until next March/April. For some unknown reason they are in flower now and thus too late to move into their proper position around the drive. Hey ho, win some, lose some. Good job we have a plan B.

We kept the pots and baskets watered as well as we could, and by using grey water on the rear garden, but they all struggled to thrive despite all loving the sun and warmth. To our joy, most have only recently come into full flush, as are many things in the back, thanks to the rain. I still even have honeysuckle, clematis and a climbing fuschia in bloom. The Californian poppy by the bird-bath, a survivor from last year, has been in flower since May and is still going strong. We are just hoping the first frosts keep away as long as possible. Oh, the wonders and vagaries of Mother Nature.


And what of our pond? Last week, we called in a waste contractor to remove the remaining rubble as was too much for Dave to clear on his own. Glad we did, the work was done within an hour. Now we can order in the topsoil and, fingers crossed, have a lovely flowerbed by next spring. What we can plant here is limited as this area is in full shade most of the day, one of the reasons why the koi pond was placed here. The first thing I shall be planting is bluebells – you know how much I love them!

The past month saw me running another acrylic art workshop. A small group this time which worked better because I was able to give them much more individual attention. At the end of the day it was lovely to see finished paintings, and each one different. I do not like seeing a group of virtually identical artwork all the same as mine; I encourage individuality. They obviously love it and already champing at the bit for another workshop. That won’t be until early next year, giving me plenty of time to work on what to do, and get my book finished! Yes, I’m still working on it, having made a few changes to the ending.

Talking of painting, you are honoured to be the first to see my newly completed piece. Called simply “Yport”, it was inspired by a collection of photos taken in Yport, France by a friend who is a brilliant photographer who gives me free reign to use any of her pictures. I would be lost for ideas without her work.

Enjoy your month whatever and wherever you may be.

Kit Domino’s websites and blogs

Remodel Project

Jillian here- Happy October. Bet you thought I’d do a post about my love for Halloween, didn’t you? Well, not today! LOL!

Last year, the hubs and I agreed to no Christmas presents for us since we don’t need “stuff” and, instead, we would remodel our small bathroom. Weirdly, in our house, the master bath only has one of those big sunken tubs with water jets and no shower so we have always taken our showers in the bathroom at the far end of the house. There is another bath that the boys use but we have always used this third one for ourselves for showers. It’s also one of the two rooms–the other is the laundry room–that we have never changed the flooring in (and we have owned this house since Oct, 2000). It’s an awful color, but when I suggested it was past time to tile it, Mr. C said he’d rather do the whole bathroom over. So, that was supposed to be our Christmas present to ourselves. Yes, 10 months ago…

Life took a turn with a cancer diagnosis for Mr. C in February and, as he planned to do the work himself, it had to wait for the procedures and treatments to be done and for him to feel better. He was lucky that he didn’t get too sick, but he was tired all the time and didn’t feel like doing much–which is totally acceptable and understandable.

So, today, we start. He is cutting up the tub and removing it. Here are the “before” shots. And I know, it looks like I need to clean, but I have put it off since we have D-day today. Will do some “afters” when it’s done. Wish me luck as he gets to be a bear when he is laying tile-and he is doing the whole shower wall and floor–he’s a def. perfectionist!! Which is good for the final product, but not so good for his mood while it’s happening. 🙂

August Musings

Here we are already in the middle of August. It seems unbelievable to think in a few weeks’ time we will be in the ’ember months of the year. Before you know it Christmas will be upon us again. It has already arrived in some of the stores here in the UK, and the children haven’t even returned to school yet from their summer break. But enough of that.

I missed posting last month; my apologies – major meltdown due to extreme heat! Heat that has only today started to climb back down the thermometer, and we have rain. Not a lot, admittedly. We do need plenty here as, like many countries, we are in a drought situation. Keeping the flowers and plants alive in the back garden has been hard work, but we’ve made the most of our grey water from the kitchen, about the only real exercise I’ve had, backwards and forwards several times a day. The vegetable garden and annual flowerbed at the front has, I’m sad to say, been a failure because of lack of rain; we have avoided using the hosepipe. As a consequence, we’ve written this year off on the gardening front and back, because the back garden will be given another make over.

The reason being, we have demolished our large koi pond and intend turning the area into another flowerbed. Whilst we both had a lot of pleasure from the fish, which had grown huge, it was becoming increasingly hard work for Dave to keep it going despite so-say modern filters and UV lamps and fitting a new pump each year – not cheap. We were plagued with pond weed, the water never clear. The fish loved it; we didn’t. We agreed back last October that we would run the pond down as each winter we invariably lost a fish or two. Needless to say, this past winter they all survived.

One of the koi (28lbs)

We gave the fish, some as long as 2-3 ft and weighing many lbs, to a local koi keeper so we know they would be going to a good home. Catching them was another matter. All three of us got soaked! Then
began the fun part, demolition of the pond walls. The pond was/is over 8ft deep, with half of it above ground, so we were hoping the bricks and blocks would fill that below ground level. Miscalculation. We now have to dispose of a lot of rubble. This Dave will do in the autumn when the weather is a lot cooler.

Before
After
Demolition begins

The extreme heat here has meant I have not done a lot of art. A special request for a contemporary flower painting was completed and I began working up one for my students to copy at my next workshop at the end of September. They had requested a waterfall, so waterfalls I did. Several of them. It became clear to me that each one was a little too adventurous for some of my group, but I finally came up with a much simpler version that hopefully will stretch them without any duress.

“Pastel Pastures”
“Autumn Waterfall”

Other than these efforts, I have to admit nothing has been done. Hardly any writing because my office was too hot even with a fan running. No housework other than the basics – no point with all the doors and windows open; little laundry to wash – thank goodness for kaftans to lounge about it in all day. On the plus side, we’ve spent most days and long into the evenings in the garden. Our patio is in shade from midday so it has been comfortable, and I have been able to enjoy uninterrupted reading, getting through 5 books, unusual for me in a short space of time.

We treated the month as a long holiday, being exceedingly lazy and relaxed. It was fun while it lasted; now it’s back to normality. I hope your month has been good too.

Kit Domino’s websites and blogs

Delays and Jubilees

I’d hoped to show a finished remodel this month, but we’ve had a few delays. Primarily plumbing. One of the walls we are sheet-rocking has the last of the old plumbing in it. It made sense to redo that last bit of plumbing before throwing sheet-rock up. However, our plumber got in an accident, which thankfully, he will recover from. But it took us another month to find a plumber.

That piping is now all done, thank goodness. And the sheet-rock is up.

But no tape/mud yet. And our guy is fitting us in between other jobs because of our delay, so it might be another couple weeks before the next thing happens.

I find it funny that I’m not a patient person but this isn’t driving me nuts. Since we have a front room and a family room, it’s not a hardship to be without it. At least for me. Hubby wants his space back. 🙂

With all that’s going on in the world, I send prayers for all the horrible parts, but try to focus on the happy parts. Like the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee which just ended. I may not be British, but I was grinning all weekend as I watched festivities. What an amazing life and accomplishment! And did you all see the spot with the Queen and Paddington Bear? Priceless.

On that smiling note, I’ll leave you for this month. Have a wonderful summer solstice. I hope you get sunny weather at just the right temperature.

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Remodel and Renewal

Remember paneled walls? Not the cool wainscoting or shiplap, but the old, brown, thin stuff with the dark indented lines to make it look like fake wood? Well, that’s our family room in a nutshell. Straight out of the 20th century. 🙂

We made the decision that it was time to bring the room into the 21st century. The paneling is gone. Hallelujah!  My husband did all the demo and is in the process of re-insulating the room.

Then the plumbers come in to re-pipe the last part of the house that hasn’t had new plumping since it was built. After that, it’s sheetrock time! I can hardly wait to see what it looks like, and I’ll have to post finished pics if/when we ever get this done.

Once the sheetrock is done, it’s time for my project. Cleaning the fireplace rock.

I’ve done some research into it and it just takes time. I’m also considering re-painting the grout. The sheetrock will be so light, I think the grout will look dull in comparison. But, I won’t be able to decide until I get the rock cleaned.

While waiting for my turn, I decided to get away from it all and renew my psyche in my happy place. The ocean. Whether calm or blustery, it soothes my soul.

I hope you have a place you can head for to renew yourself. We all need that sometimes, eh?

Have a wonderful May!

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Moving Day

Are you are sitting comfortably, as I’d like to tell you a story. A true one.

Once upon a time there existed a village called Charlton nestled on the edge of the county of Gloucestershire, England. Surrounded by farmland, there were some large houses, a pub, post office, and several small cottages clustered around a village pond. Through modern eyes, it might seem idyllic but life then was simple, but harsh especially in winter as cottages were small, two-bedroomed buildings with no hot running water. Each had a kitchen and a small living room but there was no bathroom and the toilet was outside at the end of the garden.

Charlton was close to what was then the largest factory in Europe (later to become part of Rolls Royce) which designed and built aircraft, including engines and spare parts. Due to its manufacturing importance and its runway, it was a prime target during WW2. Thankfully the village survived the bombings, however, after the war, a compulsory purchase order was issued by the air ministry who wanted to extend the runway to accommodate take-off and landing requirements of a new aircraft, the Bristol Brabazon, and to build what would be the largest hanger in the world to house this experimental plane. The village was demolished, the government rehousing all the residents in brand-new houses in a larger town close by, thus keeping most of the community together.

In 1947, Vera and Albert and their two sons became the first family from Charlton to move into the new semi-detached homes, the national press on hand to record the event. With three bedrooms, a kitchen with storage cupboards plus larder, an anthracite boiler in the corner for hot water, a dining room, a living room with a large open fireplace, and joy-of-joys an indoor toilet, and an even bigger joy, a bathroom with a sink and airing cupboard with an immersion heater, Vera felt like she had won the football pools. Outside was a shed with a coal store and another toilet attached to the house, all surrounded by a large garden in which to grow vegetables and flowers. Some nine months later another son was born – a celebration of the new house Vera would proudly boast.

Reader, 30 years later I married that new son, and a month after, moved into that house to look after my terminally ill mother-in-law. It is where we still live. Whilst for Vera the house was wonderful, for me it was not. The kitchen was cluttered, small, had only one electric socket sited under the wooden draining board by the sink. The boiler created constant battles with soot and ash, as did the fire in the living room. There was only one electric socket in each room, nor was there any central heating. I truly hated the house but put up with it all.

Over time and the years we have altered and changed the house to the extent Vera would never recognise it or the gardens, and slowly I have come to like it. We are happy here. And we’re still improving and changing things. Whilst the majority of it is now as we want, the kitchen is desperately in need of updating again, but a chance situation last week changed that, putting its refurbishment on the back burner once more. Instead, we had a new drive laid. The old concrete one we installed some 30 years back was cracked in several places and breaking up and was always frankly too narrow. Laid within a day and a half, we are delighted with the result. Dave still parks right on the edge, still steps onto the grass to get out of the car, but he’ll learn soon enough. And I’m in no hurry for the new kitchen. It’ll come in time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my story and trust I haven’t bored you with it. Oh, and the photograph of Moving Day? That’s Vera alongside her father who helped that day and the little boy is my brother-in-law, Bev. Funny thing with Bev too – his wife has the same name as me. Often causes confusion!

 

Kit Domino’s Website and Blog

Opening the Back Door

First, apologies for being a day late. What I had intended to write about has been delayed, so at the risk of boring you I will once again open the back door and reveal the back garden. We’ve been working hard and so thankful for the brilliant weather experienced here in the UK lately which has meant we’ve been able to get practically everything done we intended to do. Everything is growing well, and we can at last enjoy sitting on our new patio admiring our efforts as it all slowly grows and flourishes. In the space of a four to five weeks the long border has gone:

And a bird’s eye or rather bedroom view:

There is still the other borders to transform but they are going to have to wait. Two plants are been particularly stunning at the moment: my ever-faithful perennial aquileiga and a new clematis bought for £1.69 from our local Aldi supermarket.

In preparing the groundwork last November, Dave smashed two of the blue bowls on the new water fountain but, bless him, he bought me another and rather than waste the old, transformed it into a new pot feature.

Yesterday, I counted the pots around the rear garden, patio and front garden – there’s 85 of them! And that doesn’t include the old kitchen sink next to the water fountain. Plus he’s planted up and hung 20 wall baskets. So you can understand why we’re so impatient for it all to grow. We’ll have to wait. Let’s hope this marvellous weather continues.

As to what else has been happening… for those who haven’t seen or heard – two weeks ago some of my paintings were in a public exhibition held by my art group. The full story can be read over on my art blog, but I was delighted that one of my works sold. On top of which, I was asked to do a commission, and I won a prize in the exhibition raffle. All in all, a brilliant weekend.

 

On the downside, now the garden is done, we have no excuse not to start on the major living and dining room makeover and that’s going to be a very messy, dusty job. Not looking forward to it and I may have to escape for a few weeks whilst it’s going on.

Have a great June, everyone.

Kit’s Website and Blog , Kit’s Kitchen  Kit’s Art  Site

Building Fences

I can’t believe it’s December already! The past month has gone by in a flash for two reasons. One, we’ve been exceptionally busy during the first half; and second, the past few weeks I’ve been laid low by a nasty chest infection which is still hanging on. Whilst I won’t dwell on the latter, the busy part was exciting but messy. But heck, it’s what we wanted. I’ve mentioned before our intention to revamp the backyard as Dave wants a larger greenhouse, I want more space on the patio, and the fence between us and our neighbour has over the past few years disintegrated due to the high winds we experience here.

Before the start

So we decided it was time to put plans into action. We wanted a garden contractor who would do the complete works: remove all shrubs and trees, take down a high wall and build new fences and a gate, as well as lay a new larger patio. The first quote we received sounded good, we liked the chap and the very same day we agreed, he left his labourer to help Dave dismantle the old greenhouse, which by the end of that Friday, was gone, never to darken our door or garden again (the greenhouse that is, not the labourer!).

And so it begins

Monday morning and the sun was shining. The contractors arrived early and began knocking down the wall with a mini JCB. This had to come down first so they could get the digger into the garden in order to rip out the trees and shrubs. Job done, they then started lifting the old patio slabs.

Nearly ready for the new patio

The next day, the heavens opened, the garden rapidly becoming a quagmire, but they continued on. Fence erected, remaining slabs lifted but, oh boy, the mud! Undaunted by the weather, slowly things took shape. A major problem was found in laying the new slabs. It was hoped the foundation from the old patio would be solid enough for the new one but not the case, so extra work and hardcore were needed. This delayed progress and by the end of the week the timetable was running over. On the Saturday, there were still finishing jobs needed but Dave agreed to do the work himself; it would give him something to do. A project until the new greenhouse arrived.

Some 200 slabs later

We’re pleased with what had been done. The greenhouse duly delivered,  Dave has spent the past week putting it all together as well as running up and down the stairs looking after me. Good job he’s fit. If he wasn’t before, he certainly is now.

The new area

There’s still lots to do gardening wise, but it’s the wrong time of year to dig the soil, put in plants and repair the lawn. It must all wait until spring. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying myself planning out my new borders, ordering new bulbs and shrubs, but I do miss my birds. Their trees and hiding places have gone and for the time being so have the bird-feeders and birdbath, consigned to other places but in the last few days I’ve noticed they’ve found both and are slowly returning. They’re in for a treat next spring too because I’ve a new birdbath planned as the old one leaks. (My Christmas present from Dave, although I haven’t told him yet! 😉 )

This has all helped keep me going during the past dark days of barking, coughing and wheezing. As we approach the winter solstice and the toughest time of the year for me, I can dream, plan, and organise the garden for next year. Bring it on!

Meanwhile wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and everything you wish for in 2018.

What Happened to February?

Well, what happened to February? It’s gone by in a flashier flash than even January did! 20170226_111643Maybe it’s because Chez Jones has been inundated with workmen since the beginning of the year with a bathroom remodel and copious other little jobs that spun from that one big one. I’m sure you know the sort of thing I mean: the leak from the newly installed toilet that produced a waterfall through the kitchen ceiling which consequently required repainting, the drip from the mains water tap discovered when they turned off the water supply to start the work, and which had resulted in an annual water bill which was basically double the norm (since been sorted, thankfully – both the leak and the bill!), and the new bathroom spotlights and extractor fan which resulted in discovering that the whole house needing re-wiring!! Suffice to say, we are doing the re-wiring thing in stages. Our nerves (and bank account) need time to settle down 😉 But that said, we absolutely love the new bathroom and said workmen did a fab job with everything. Such a great group of chaps – artisans, all of them.

20170218_113500In other news, Vivvy is doing really well with her training. She now has her bronze and silver awards and we are currently working on her gold (although Daddy says she’s already his golden girl *eye roll*). She picks up things really fast, especially if there’s a treat at the end of it, and seems to love scent work and hide & seek games the best. I’m trying to teach her to put her toys back in the box at the moment, but that’s a work in progress. I think she wonders why her minions can’t do that sort of menial task, thank you very much. I’m also attempting to teach her the cup game, but she just knocks all the cups over until she finds the treat underneath. Something to keep working on, I think, and maybe one day she’ll be as good at the task as Snow the cat in the following video: