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Hello and Welcome friends and visitors.

This post is dedicated to all the Do-It-Yourself-ers and weekend warriors out there, brave enough to tackle a home renovation project. You might be slightly off your rocker to even contemplate such an undertaking but I understand you!! I salute you!!

I know it’s only T -8 days until turkey day and I will be thankful. I promise. It’s time to be reminded of the little things, and it’s the little things that matter! Right? It’s mainly all those pesky little things which have been driving me nuts these past few months anyway. Pull up a soft chair and open your brewsky..

Let’s get the Little Shop of Horrors Pre-Thanksgiving Day Party Started!!!


cardboard wall paper layers April 30, 2014

When the threat of falling fortunes enters your reality and the idea of living in a cardboard box seems like where things are going, be reminded of this image.

It’s what cardboard wallpaper looks like, layers of it. Some were simple thin pieces, others a bit more substantial (insulated) all of it was a pain in a butt to tear from the walls because gazillions of tiny tacks were used to adhere it to the walls.

Technically, wallpaper has come a long way since the 1950s, but in my opinion it’s all still ugly.

Good riddance cardboard wallpaper.




heaps of cardboard wallpaper

As the month of April zipped past and was eclipsed by the lure of warmer summer weather, we encountered the aches and pains of hard labor. No one has stepped on a tack lately, or had to bandage split knuckles which we are both so thankful for.

There were so many wasted hours spent chiseling the mortar from the brick in the kitchen. I wish to have all that wasted time back. Who does one go to see about reclaiming misspent chisel time??


about half-way into a project that would be later re-covered in fresh plaster.

Oh the look of the brick peeking out through the white residue of the old mortar still beckons a desire in me to cast off that plaster and free the brick… free the brick…

Yes, this is the scene of many a bruised knuckle, sore and cramped up hands and fingers. And, the countless hours of chiseling hell, all to no avail or purpose.

There are many things that can, and do go wrong during the process of home renovations and repairs.

Tip 1: Think it through before you commit.

All the effort wasted on this – only to have it plastered over. This was a painful lesson.


Demolition is so exciting – it’s what everyone who jumps into a home renovation project looks forward to. Getting hammers and just beating the crap out of everything in sight . Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that, and unfortunately, as much fun as hitting everything with hammers is, what happens to all the stuff you’ve been beating into a pulp??… there’s going to be a lot of junk to pick up afterwards… someone has to pick up all that mess…and you guessed it, that person is you!

So as much as you’re looking forward to beating the walls into splinters, remember to don the gloves, goggles, and wear proper clothing for the task. Also, try and keep your demolition ‘work area’ manageable in an effort to reduce injury. There’s nothing quite so fun as stepping on up-turned nails – so avoid the hysterics and drop your enthusiasm to annihilate your space a few notches… you will possibly save yourself a trip to the E.R. (Note: no loss of eyes or toes and no animals were harmed renovating this house)


Peltomaa waste services provided these great dumpsters which we filled numerous times with demolition debris…

After the first solid months of home renovation go by, you enter into what can be called the – “When is the end in sight”- phase. It’s the time-suck period when you wonder how long the money will hold out, how long your sanity will hold out, and whether you can hold off killing your spouse who must have been the one who talked you into this house renovation project in the first place… It’s the phase where any patience you have becomes sorely tested. Your resolve to finish what you started pushes you into making some interesting decisions and can make your daily life a living hell.

Tip1: Realize and accept that you WILL spend more money than you bargained for.

Tip2: Don’t kill anyone.

This phase happens at different times for every DIYer and lasts as long as it lasts. Some people have a wealth of patience on which to draw, and they manage somewhat better than the (me) type of impatient person who wishes the end of the project sooner than the end can be delivered.  The process can be grueling and rob you of sleep, happiness, money and interfere with your ability to do anything right when it comes to tackling the numerous projects still awaiting your hammer.

I’d show you a picture of patience. But she was late for her portrait sitting.



What else do you need besides patience to complete a home renovation project? I’m so glad you asked! Let me tell you… Follow these 10 recommendations..

  1. You will need quite a bit of money, and then you will need some more.
  2. You will need help from all sorts of expensive people.
  3. You will need to have people at your disposal who know what they are doing.
  4. You will need to draw from your own wealth of personal experience from previous repair and renovation projects to see you through. What? You don’t have any experience? Go back to item 2. Now go back to item 1.
  5. You will need patience and lots of it.
  6. You will need band-aids, disinfectant, bandages, tweezers and pain reliever. (alcohol counts!)
  7. You will need tools… and the right tools for each job. See item 1.
  8. You will need supplies like lumber, nails, hardware and some pieces you’ve never even heard of. But you’ll need them. Do yourself a favor and open an account at the lumber yard or supply center. They will get to know you on a first name basis… trust me.
  9. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Be realistic about what you can accomplish based on time (haha) and money available (become knowledgeable about loan procedures)
  10. Avoid trying to incorporate every good or neat idea you’ve ever seen in this one all-encompassing project. Don’t create a FrankenHouse!!

There have been a few SNAFUs on our project over the months. Namely there was the illogical idea of storing all of our possessions in a building with a known leaky roof. Yes, that one would seem like a no-brainer…But that’s what tarps are for!

Please consult with someone if you’ve never tied down a tarp over a leaky roof before. There is a right way and a wrong way! It’s anyone’s guess how dry our stuff is in there, I’m almost okay with the ‘not-knowing’ …

Should the leaky roof of your intended storage unit cause you to seek alternative storage options, I can attest that putting them outside under cover is NOT your next best alternative option.  All of the items placed in Pekka’s “fun-house” have suffered for their participation in such a lame attempt at preservation. Most notably, white leather chairs and couches do extremely worse than say, storing them inside..


yes, those are snails… and who knows what else..

My recommendation is to avoid placing anything you value or ever plan to use again in temporary storage that has open sides, is not tied down well, and/or doesn’t provide adequate safety and preservation of your items…or anyplace that leaks.

I’m so fortunate to have learned this lesson at only the expense of a few hundred euros worth of white leather furniture. It could have been a more costly lesson, but I’m not sure how…

Tip1: storage is useless if you are exposing your items to the elements.

Tip2: secure proper storage options – your belongings will thank you.

You can control a lot of what happens on your job site, (yes, I know I made a funny just then) but one thing you cannot control is the weather. If you’re about to pour concrete, you can expect that the skies will darken and the rain will come.




We encountered rain, without fail, on our job site each time we began any new concrete pouring. It is PROOF that if you pour concrete, it will rain. What more do you need to know…







this is NOT our driveway



Also, should you be excavating your job site. Expect rain then too.




All in all, I’m so thankful for many things. It sure is great to have icy cold water running in the kitchen tap. I have wondered though how it’s even possible for water that cold to still flow.  Maybe there will be hot water and a toilet or two in the new year. Golly gee, can we really have an indoor toilet!!??

I’m sure I forgot to mention the dings, bangs and broken bits here and there that have happened. Like the old soffit falling and smashing the new stair steps and breaking them. Or the time the newly installed metal outdoor window sill was crushed and bent, or the tools that have either broken on their own or mysteriously walked away never to be seen again. A home renovation project isn’t a fun one unless a lot of these things are happening!! So be thankful!

Here’s how the four corners look today 19 November. We started in May.


front street view.








“old” half of the house







“new” half and backside









“new” construction side. Our private road is to the left (out of view)

You can see from the pictures how well the roof project is progressing.  At some point all the bits and pieces laying scattered here and everywhere will have to find their proper place.

As we say good-bye to our little red house tomorrow, I am thankful for all the good things that have come of the renovation so far. Of all the bad things, the disappointments and delays, I say so long and good riddance. You were a real pain in the neck and I won’t be sorry to see the last of days like that.  But before we can depart tomorrow Pekka and I have to make yet another tile store run because the tile we picked out previously is now undeliverable and out of stock. Start over and go back to step 1 all over again. Joy of joys is it my birthday!