Tag Archives: home

When Vacation Time Becomes Home Maintenance Time

Maybe it’s a product of having a busy life and many interests, but I long for the day when I can take a vacation and for it to be entirely made up of time to put my feet up, read a good book and just relax in well-earned peace and tranquility.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a home owner. I also love taking care of my investment. The problem is that through a normal work week, when you factor in time for social activities, writing, cooking, cleaning and laundry, there isn’t much time or energy left to bring out the power tools and the paint cans to knock things off my home maintenance to-do list.

And even when I do set aside time for do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, I want it done right the first time. I don’t want to rush the project and risk making a mess. For that reason, it needs a generous time allotment.

It would be one thing if I had no natural inclination for DIY projects or if I hated them, but I don’t. I actually think they are a joy and a privilege.

The worst part is that I am responsible for the to-do list and I tend to expect a lot of myself, so the list does get a little ambitious.

That being the case, the list of projects often get deferred to the only time where time and patience are in good supply: vacations… or should I say, stay-cations. Continue reading

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My Love/Hate Relationship with Software Updates

As a blogger and as a writer, a well-functioning computer is absolutely essential to ensure the smooth flow of ideas from the brain to the device.
But to get to that point, do the software updates have to be so long, painful and intrusive?

Whether at home or at the office, it seems that computers have a mind of their own when it comes to updates. Even though I have Windows Update on a strict schedule to seek, download and process updates in the middle of the night (an option for which I am so-o-o-o grateful), it’s the other software applications that need to take a lesson if they don’t want to be deleted from my life.

How many times do I have a glimmer of creative brilliance, only for my keyboard to stop responding in the middle of it, as a dialogue box pops up telling me to save all my work for an urgent update that will download in 5 minutes? Of course, as Murphy’s Law has it, updates like this happen most in the middle of corporate emergencies with tight deadlines. Stupid machine!

On another occasion, I showed up for work knowing I had a meeting 5 minutes after my arrival. I just needed to see where the meeting was being held and I would be on my merry way. But no! My computer wouldn’t allow me to check my calendar as it needed to make an update as soon as I got in. Why couldn’t it do it just before I arrived, when it was on but idle? Stupid machine! Since then, before leaving the office, I review my calendar for the next day in case of early meetings… just in case! Continue reading

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Spring Cleaning: Not Just for Spring Anymore

Not too long ago, a friend asked me what I was up to over the weekend and one of the first things out of my mouth was “spring cleaning”. His laughter spoke volumes because at the time, we weren’t anywhere near spring.

The issue, as he pointed out, is that spring cleaning seems to get slipped into conversation 52 weeks of my year. He is right. If I were to promote spring cleaning, my slogan would be “spring cleaning: it’s not just for spring anymore”.

Who has time for spring cleaning in the spring?

After 4-5 months of grey skies, snow, ice and cold temperatures, we Canadians come out of our wintry shells and spend time outdoors to do something …anything!… to get away from the confines of the 4 walls we call home. As much as we may enjoy hibernating and cocooning on the couch with Netflix, ketchup chips, poutine, crispy bacon or anything involving maple syrup, when we don’t HAVE to cocoon anymore, we are outta there!

After being caged up for a season and a half, we become possessed by a heightened appetite for freedom.

When the days are getting longer, temperatures are soaring and our long underwear has been put away for the season, why would we stay home and clean? With the calendar filling with invitations to barbecues and outdoor festivals popping up every weekend, spring cleaning in spring seems so wrong on so many levels.

The season of choice for spring cleaning defies logic to a Canadian. Continue reading

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My Garden, My Science Project

My garden, spring 2015

My garden, spring 2015

Since I moved in 14 years ago, the little garden area in my backyard has been a perpetual science project.

Located under the staircase leading up to the balcony/deck on the second floor of my house, the area is not really conducive to becoming an outdoor living space or serving any practical purposes. As a new homeowner 14 years ago, I decided to take on the challenge of making it an ornamental space to give my postage stamp sized backyard some kind of visual appeal.

Before I could even start planning on what to plant there, it was clean-up time as previous owners/occupants never really did anything with the space. Waste and debris accumulated there – lots of it – in the form of organic and non-organic waste. I spent two weekends clearing out garbage of all kinds including newspapers, candy wrappers, bottle caps, beer cans, dead branches and leaves, lots of rocks as well as some unidentifiable household items, but fortunately, nothing requiring “CSI” intervention. There was so much junk to be hauled, my muscles could only do so much in one day, but what a great workout! I am sure a “Fitness Boot Camp” program could have been planned around it.

Planting season 2 was an experience in itself. I planted a few easy ones to get things started but they immediately died. The soil was nowhere near being ready to sustain life and the resident insects there were still in party mode. My mission in the second season was to get rid of some of the old soil, add new soil and fertilize it sufficiently to be able to sustain plant life. Along the way, I discovered random wild root systems lurking about a foot down that needed to be pulled out. Unfortunately, while pulling out some very tenacious roots, my lower back made a popping noise (and not in a good way) so I was out for the rest of the season.

In planting season 3, my back had healed well enough and I managed to get the soil conditioned in time to get the season started, only to discover that the neighbourhood squirrels had a voracious appetite for almost everything I planted. I read online that a good way to discourage squirrels naturally was to plant onion bulbs. I woke up one morning to find little bits of onion skins scattered around the postage-stamp sized backyard as the squirrels seemingly feasted on those too.

In planting season 4, I stayed away from any plant source that involved bulbs and discovered what should have been there in the first place: ground cover plants. Given the garden’s placement, it only received partial morning sunlight until 11:00, so the journey began to find virtually indestructible plants that liked shade. Hostas and Japanese spurge took off like crazy and the lily of the valley I planted the year before seemed to survive the squirrels and gave me three stems. I think we finally have a garden!

The years that followed involved much online research and trips to the garden centre, buying a few individual plants to see if they would take. Some did, some didn’t, and some resurrected a year or two later, causing congestion in the little garden. Continue reading

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Top 10 Signs You Might Be a Homeowner

Château d'Azay-le-Rideau
10. You have more paint chips in your wallet than you do family pictures

9. You genuinely worry about losing garbage cans and recycling bins on windy days

8. Moments of deep serenity are attained, not by fountains and a zen garden, but with free-flowing gutters

7. Even though you might not have any home renovations planned, you still will brave the crowds on a Saturday afternoon to attend a “Home and Renovations” show

6. Even though you might not have any home renovations planned, you buy tools in case you do

5. Your vacations are no longer planned at the travel agency, they are planned at Home Depot or Lowe’s

4. You stop noticing the game show models and pay more attention to the appliances they are showing

3. Flashing, soffits and fascia are regular words in your vocabulary

2. You binge watch HGTV

1. Your social calendar revolves around “garbage night”

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.net. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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