Friday, March 4, 2016

I'm back!

To tell you the truth, I forgot about this until now. I have been so busy and trying to find the time to put my thoughts down is not always easy. So much to do and going on in our lives right now. Where to begin?

Well back in the summer of 2015, I decided (my wife that is) to begin the renovations to our en-suite. The bathroom was dated and had some previous leaking issues so we had saved some money to buy and renovate. Let me tell you what is so much fun....demo! Nothing better than destroying something but in a controlled way and not breaking everything in sight. Since the tiles were crap and needed to go this was our starting point. At first it was a little difficult but found out this sheet rock was the issue. Not bad issue because we expected it to be there but tough to get the tiles off safely. What we found was that half of the shower/tub wall had sheet rock and everything else was just drywall. The tiles and drywall came off like nothing. Then the drywall came down from the walls. I forgot to add that the vanity had already came out and toilet was still there is use. Many trips down to the truck to fill it up for a run to the local dump.

We also took out the old vapor barrier and insulation for the better batten insulation and new vapor barrier. The tub came out and left out for the metal recycle people and anything else that was left to clean up. The mortar on the floor to hold the tiles was a bitch to get up. lucky for me I had an air compressor and a hammer chisel! What a job even with the air tools. ow this was taking place over a month or more. Doing things when I had free time since we have one full bathroom and a powder room on the main floor. Once we had the en-suite gutted we could begin to insulate with the batten. that was actually so easy and fun. Very quick to insulate and then to hang and tape vapor barrier. Next came the plumbing for the new shower we were putting in. We got rid of the tub and are putting in a shower only. My soldering ability had improved over this project but as we began to plumb, I decided that the best way would be to PEX the hot and cold water and then into the diverter for the hand wand or rain shower head. PEX is an awesome product. Very forgiving and easy to install and cut.

Once that was all done and tested for leaks, it was on to installing the shower base and walls. This was something that worried me. Knowing that the studs weren't perfect and the drain was a little off from the new base, there was some adjusting and tweaking to do. This was more of a head game than was expected. The drain was installed but found that it was too high and stuck out the shower drain. I had to adjust it and lower it so the drain assembly could fit. Also making sure the base was level and square so the walls would be as well. The shower surround seemed less work than sheet rock and tile but needed more precision. I was able to work through little obstacles and finally after a lot of small adjustments, had a square surround.

Next was installing drywall! I thought this wouldn't be horrible and it wasn't really Just made really sure my measurements were accurate and it went up without too much issue. My mudding and taping skills are okay but I'm really hesitant to put paint on a wall that I haven't made damn sure was smooth or had no issues.

So this is where we are at. I have to sand a couple spots and then we are painting the walls this weekend. Then the mortar and tiles right after. Once the tiles are in the vanity and toilet can be installed and ready for use. I am still trying to figure out how to crawl up in the attic and connect my exhaust fan. But we are quickly coming to the end of the project. I'm going to be so happy to get this one done. Proud of what my dad would think of it and happy to not go through it again!

We are planning a kitchen reno in 2 years but we are paying someone to do the work.....I'm good with that!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Don't be content with insurance!

Recently, I received my renewal for my insurance company and noticed my rates went up from last year. I know we moved into a bigger house but car insurance went up also which doesn't add up for me. I am supposed to pay $3017/year for my auto insurance which includes a 2004 Saturn Ion, 2010 GMC Sierra, 2009 Polaris Sportsman 500 & Snow utility trailer to haul the ATV. I thought fuck this and considering I have been with the company for 7+ years, my rates should not be going up. No accidents, tickets or claims so why the increase? I am not going to ask....just cancel!

I started to do my research and found the best way is to do a quote on-line but to really push the quotes lower, you need to call and dedicate about 20 minutes to each call. The on-line quotes gives you a good starting point to see who is offering competitive rates with what you are currently paying. After doing the sites like insurance hunters, insurance hotline and others, it turns out the best rates I found by far are from Belair Direct. I will lay it all out for you in a minute. Basically, I have to use two insurance companies for insurance because Belair Direct doesn't insure ATV's. I do know an agent who does ATV's and his rates are rock bottom. So here is the break down and savings.

The Personal insurance company is offered at a "good" rate for Bell employees which is bullshit. I am scheduled to pay $3017/year for my vehicles which I mentioned above but here is what I am going to pay when I switch on my renewal for April 1st. Belair Direct offered the rate of $2040/year for the Ion, Sierra and trailer. I called the State Farm agent who put me at a rate of $275/year for the ATV only. So by having the two companies and switching I am now paying $2315/year which is a savings of $702/year. I also have Belair give me a quote for home insurance which comes to $52.20/month or $626.40/year. The Personal wants $676.80/year so I am saving $50.40/year.

So overall we will be saving $752.40/year and that makes me happy! Belair Direct is the only company that said they would "love to have me as a customer with my driving record and credit rating". They also did a credit check, which I said yes to, and it turns out on their credit ratings from A-Z this guy gets a B!! This helped to bring the rates down but I am happy with the savings up front and they are calling me back today to set the insurance up for April 1st.

Do yourself a favour and put the pressure on your insurance company so they don't think you aren't looking and comparing because when I saw the rates going up, that was my cue to move on!!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Reasonable kids sports

I am a guy who grew up playing hockey and softball. I love hockey and it was such a great sport to be involved with. I learned so much from hockey like teamwork, sharing, unselfishness, bonding, brotherhood and friendship. When you play on a team, you learn these things because it is a sport that forces you to work together like football, baseball, soccer and any other team sport in which you rely on each other to get to a common goal. When the girls were looking at playing a sport we tried soccer first. Zoey liked it and so did Hailey but they enjoyed it at different levels. Zoey started a little later and was a little behind on some skills but that was our fault. Hailey had entered in at the right time and was on par with everyone else or a little above some players. She scored often and did well. Zoey did score a goal but wasn't as confident because other kids skills were a little ahead but she was the hardest worker out there.

After one season of soccer, the girls wanted to do something else so we looked at other sports they could do. Some how we arrived at bowling after we found free bowling in the summer for kids to get them interested in the sport. Zoey and Hailey both took to bowling better then we would have thought. Hailey finished second in a regional tournament she qualified for and as a team, Zoey and Hailey won the consolation championship for their division. During the banquet last spring, each won individual awards and their trophy for the championship. They have 2 trophies and 2 medals each for their first year. I hope they didn't set the bar too high!

This year we were lucky to find 5 pin bowling balls on Kijiji for a very cheap price. A set of balls brand new usually goes for around $100 and we found 2 sets with 5 balls and a bag each for $40! The girls were thrilled and if they do stick with it I will buy new balls for them as they move on and up in the levels. I wasn't ready to spend $200+ if they were only going to do this for a couple years and quit so it is so much cheaper than hockey! It costs us $20.50 each week they bowl and that pays for the lane use, shoes, banquet & prizes at the end of the year. The year end banquet if pretty good and the kids have a blast. They get a medal, prizes, food and a trophy if they win.

I am glad they found something they do very well at. This year Zoey is bowling one handed and is still throwing an average of 85 per game. Hailey has a 87 average but has been throwing an average of 100 each game. Hailey has won bowler of the month for her consistent high scores and will compete for bowling of the year at our bowling centre. If she were to win that for her age group, she would compete for bowler of the year for the province and then nationally. We will see how she does.


Monday, January 21, 2013

I'm Back!

Well it has been an interesting 6 months to say the least! With a work stoppage and moving, it has been busy and stressful. We are in our new home and the move went great. It rained like crazy the day we moved and the basement in the old house started to leak. I had to pay for the repair which was $678 which was a take it or leave it offer. The guy was a really douche bag and offered to run a gas line for me even though he was trying to get $1200 out of us. I hope karma bites him and he gets his. The worst part it he had 2 home inspections and lifted all conditions but I still had to pay. I would have loved to take him to court but not working and having extra money really affected that.

But putting that crap behind us and looking at the new house. I can't say enough about how nice it is to have a house with not having to worry about noise and the semi next to us hearing things! We back onto the school and it is great walking to school twice a day. The girls love the house and so do Nicole and I. Nothing to do but paint and maybe put in a pocket door so we can better access the hot water tank. The basement is fully finished and functional which is great and love spending time in any room of the house. Quiet neighbourhood and nice people so far. Garage is nice to store my ATV and trailer and all the other things like snow blower and lawn mower.

Being back to work is nice but a hard 4 month battle with negotiating. I will fight again in 2016 if we need to so we can get a fair deal. I'm running for union steward which is a position to help my fellow brothers and sisters with questions and discipline if it comes down to that. I have no idea if I get paid anything but I want it for the experience and to be able to fight for all my fellow employees.

Nicole and I went to Cayo Coco, Cuba in the end of October and had a great time. Made some friends and had lots of fun which is always nice. Love the country and the people at the resort. Bought some black market Cohibas which are the real deal and are a really nice cigar to smoke. Better than the $2 cigars I bought back when I was 19!!

Looking forward to this year and new travels and adventures to new or familiar places. Going to sit down and plan some trips that are maybe local or a plane ride away or drive in a couple days. We will see how the finances are and go from there. I'm glad we moved and with money we did have in profit, paid off all our debt that allowed us to focus only on house, truck and regular bill payments. Now I have racked up a little debt on the credit card but it is manageable.

Tonight we went out to buy the girls leg warmers since it is supposed to be -21 with wind chill this week and since we have been promising for a month we caved in and bought semi permanent hair dye for the girls to add streaks to their hair.

Anyway, I look forward to writing more often and keeping my 2 followers up to date on what is going on in our home. This is my life having daughters!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012


First I'd like to apologize to my loyal reader! I'm not sure anyone actually reads this other than you but hopefully more do.  So I have some updating to do.

Our garden has been doing really well. I will take pictures and upload them soon. The corn is growing very well and Zoey was able to eat a few strawberries before they stopped growing. More to grow in the fall. The banana peppers have grown and I have picked one to try. Cucumbers are blooming and hope to see some growing soon. Peas have pods but are just filling up and the watermelon plants are getting bigger. I forgot how big the cucumber plants get and spread so I have to cut them back a bit. Very happy with how everything is growing.

Secondly, we have decided to move! We feel that we have outgrown the current house and decided to put it on the market June 22nd. We had 5 viewings on June23rd and two offers both above asking. We picked the offer with the most flexible closing date and was also more money. After the home inspection and conditions were met we closed the deal and sold the house on June 29th. Now we have to find our new house. We are looking a little more east in Courtice, Bowmanville or Newcastle. Most likely Courtice or Bowmanville will be our best bet. The packing has begun and we will see how the house hunting goes. Hopefully something this week comes up and we can put an offer in to have it accepted.

The girls both graduated and are very happy with their progress over the year with Zoey getting a B/B+ average and Hailey getting expected levels and above in SK. Now the girls are going into Grade 3 and 1. New school, new house and new friends. The housing market is hot right now and interest rates are very good so we decided to sell.

Anyway, I will post our garden pictures and update on anything else that comes up. Mostly, I have been very busy with work and home so I have been neglecting the Blog but will try and keep a better posting record.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Well I have been not updating my blog as my only follower may or may not have noticed!! Spring is here and we have already planted new flowers and things in our front garden. I have also built, with Zoey's help) a second gardening box for our vegetable garden. A very easy project and I think I wrote about it last year. The only things you need are:

6 - 6 foot fence boards
1 - 8 foot 2 X 2
1 - package of outdoor deck or fence screws 1 5/8 length

I used wood glue last time I made this but didn't this time because I forgot. Wouldn't hurt to use it but not really one of those things that will make or break the project. Take the 8 foot 2X2 and cut it into 8 pieces. You will have a 9th piece left over that is smaller than the other 8. Place two boards side by side and use the total width as your guide which works out to be about a 10 or 12 inch piece of the 2X2. Then use that to make the marks on the remained 8 foot 2X2 and cut your pieces. They will be used for middle support and end attachment of you boards. Cut two 6 foot boards in half as these will be the ends. I drilled pilot holes for the screws in my boards which does make it a lot easier and you can place your screws and then come back and drill them all in. When you screw everything together you will end up with a 3 X 6 garden box that you can use for flowers or veggies!

This is not the one I made but should look similar. This one is made with 2X4's and it was dug into the ground. You can do that also but I just placed mine on the ground and am going to fill it with topsoil.

The girls picked out seeds so we will hopefully be growing corn, peas, cucumber, carrots, radishes, watermelon and sunflowers. I also bought a strawberry plant and red pepper plant that we got from Walmart. I also planted herbs in a small planter that consists of dill, chives and sweet basil. I am going to try and grow garlic and jalapeno's if I have enough room. I may make a third box to plant the rest. I found out last year that big and tall plants and vines need a lot of space or they won't let anything else grow. I am carefully planning my boxes so I can maximize space and not have the taller plants block out the smaller ones. Last year the cherry tomatoes took over 50% of the box with the pumpkins take 40% leaving very little for the other things we planted. I am a little worried about the corn and watermelons. Not so much the size of them but the timing. I want to pick them at just the right time so I am following the chart on the package which gives the growing time from seed to harvest.

I will be documenting the progress to see how the garden grows. I have started the seeds in jiffy pots we bought at the dollar store and it worked great last year. Only time will tell. You can cheat and buy the plants at Canadian Tire, Walmart or any store that sells vegetable plants so you are already 3 weeks ahead of waiting for the seeds to sprout. I like the seeds because it was my care and watering that I was able to grow from a seed!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Lorax Review

Dr. Seuss and his many brilliant books have been made into some enjoyable movies. It began in 2000 with Jim Carrey in How the Grinch Stole Christmas and a 3 out of 5 stars. 2003 was Cat in the Hat with Mike Myers that was rated 2 out of 5 stars. In 2008 it was Horton Hears a Who with Jim Carrey again & Steve Carell that received a 3.5 out of 5 stars. March 2nd 2012 saw the release of the 4th Dr. Seuss movie with The Lorax which has received some very good reviews so far. I have seen mostly 3.5 stars but some have been out of 4 instead of the 5.

Sunday morning we all went to see The Lorax in 3D at AMC in Whitby. Not the IMAX version which was more money. For anyone who is unaware, movies before noon are $6 for regular, $9 for 3D & $11 for IMAX. This applies to everyday of the week so if they are showing a movie before noon it is a discounted price. We paid $36 for the 3D movie which normally would have cost us $54.50 and using the savings to buy snacks. A normal 3D ticket costs $15.75 which saved us $13.50 for two adult tickets. The AMC provides a very good experience and would highly recommend them over anyone else.

The Lorax was a very colourful and musical movie. The movie begins with singing and introduces the town of Theedville. Everything is plastic and there are no trees or plants. Two young kids, Audrey (Taylor Swift) and Ted (Zac Efron) talk about trees in the story and wonder what happened to the trees. Ted talks to his mother and Grammy Norma (Betty White) about where the trees are. Grammy Norma tells Ted where to find his answers and to take 3 things and see The Once-ler (Ed Helms). The movie goes back and forth between the past and present with The Once-ler telling his story and how the trees disappeared. We are introduced to the Lorax (Danny DeVito) when a tree is cut down. Without giving anything else away, because I recommend going to see it, the end of the movie ends with the Theedville people needing to make a change in their ways or face an uncertain future. I really enjoyed the movie and the whole message in the story was not lost on myself or any of the adults. I am not sure if all the kids watching the movie picked up on the message but Zoey did.

I would give The Lorax a 3.5 out of 5. It could have been higher but the story in the film about the present is only about 1/4 of the whole movie. 3/4 of it is based in the past and there could have been a bit more story about the present state and future of Theedville. The message in the movie is a great one and should resonate in everyone with today's climate questions and preserving out natural resources. I recommend seeing the film since it does send a positive message and hope for the future if you are willing to change and it begins with one person. It is actually refreshing to see a movie about a story that was written in 1971 that can still be relevant today and Dr. Seuss had that vision back then.

Go and see it and hopefully it will make you think about yourself and if you are doing enough or making the right choices in regards to our environment.