Renovations/Repairs


A Wall of Books


Posted By on Dec 5, 2011

As you can imagine, Dear Readers, it can be a challenge to juggle everything. I was recently awarded the contract for the St. Lawrence War of 1812 Bicentennial Alliance. If you’ve been following Crowder House, you’ll know of my penchant for sewing and all things heritage – and likewise, how easily I might be absorbed in such an anniversary. Moreover, when one is paid to blog, that other writing tends to take a precedence. All of this isn’t to say things have been stagnant at Crowder House. I just don’t always have a spare moment to blog about it. The latest major development is a built in bookshelf, crafted by none other than Garnet Carmichael. As you might already know, Crowder House has some storage issues. With only three closets, one with permanent shelving, we’re strapped for hiding places. What’s more, we own a lot of books – as in, there isn’t a room or space at Crowder House that does not have books in it. I also work from home and as my business grows, I seem to be spreading out all over the house. Thus, we had Garnet construct some new storage space. There are few optimal walls at Crowder House for a built-in cabinet. The only one offering function and practicality was in the living room, pictured here above right as it was when we bought Crowder House. This wall also had the washroom pipes running along it, behind an odd encasement. Instead of maintaining as much space in a small room as possible, the encasement came out 6 inches farther than it needed. It was as if the encasement was built with scrap pieces and was not made to measure. Fortunately, Garnet had the foresight to take it off before he measured for the bookcase.   Installing the cabinet was not without its challenges. Old houses are often a little crooked, and Crowder House, while in excellent shape, is no exception. The ceiling and floor slope just enough to give Garnet and his helpers a run for their money – taking two attempts to install the upper half of the bookshelf. Good thing Garnet is a pro at these things! The end result is beautiful and practical. We plan eventually to use the centre cabinet to store our electronics, including a projector which will point out to a screen hung from the ceiling. This will eliminate the need for a television in the living room, allowing for another chair to reside in this rather small social space. My hope is that when a veranda is returned to the front of the house, I might even...

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Preparing for Winter

Preparing for Winter


Posted By on Nov 14, 2011

It was a little frigid around here last winter. Crowder House just seemed to eat up oil and wood. Much of our efforts in the past couple of months have been to prepare for the inevitability of winter – with much delight at how late it has been in arriving. (It’s expected to be a high 15˚C today!) After having the basement sprayed with foam insulation, the Man turned his efforts to another no-go area – the attic. He discovered that above the kitchen and office, the attic was insulated haphazardly, at best. While it hasn’t exactly been cold in Spencerville, we have noticed that our house is very warm. Some of our regular visitors, like Lady Lily, have been commenting on how much warmer the floor boards are. And I must admit that the kitchen and office have been far warmer. These rooms are on the north-eastern side of the house, so my hopes aren’t great that they will remain so, but relative to last year, there is already a noticeable difference. The Man also had some more aesthetically pleasing ideas for insulating the windows. While he insisted on stuffing the two front doors full with pink insulation, he had a better plan for the space in between the windows. One day he asked how much fabric I had in store and whether I might make long sacks to fit in between the storm and inner windows. His plan was to fill them with pink insulation and stuff them between the windows. This way, instead of the unattractive pink fluff, each window could be coordinated with the curtains hanging in front. It’s a small thing, but it looks much nicer. Over the course of the summer, the Man had also made some changes to the windows, rendering the storms easier to deal with. Originally, we had fixed four windows to the house, so that we could open them year round if needed.The rest of the windows had to be physically removed to be opened. It was harrowing to watch, I can’t imagine what it was like for the Man to do. Thus, we decided to fix all of the storm windows permanently, with a hinge at the top. The Man added additional clasps on the inside so that the storms could be closed tightly. And last but not least, before the first frost hit I harvested some of our perennial herbs. In a space constrained house, I have resorted to drying them on a ceiling fan that is never used – in fact, I think it might be broken. One of my horticultural experiments this year is lavender....

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Domains, Cellars & Readers, Oh My!


Posted By on Oct 24, 2011

We’ve heard from a number of unhappy readers. Our delinquency in posting not only led to your disappointment, but the vanishing of our site! Yes, this very domain was registered under a long forgotten account, and thus lapsed, taking everything down with it. Fortunately, several of you are so dedicated to Crowder House that the issue was resolved swiftly. If only we could convince you to come out and toil the land, surely we’d have more time for posting, but I digress. A lot has been happening down in Edwardsburgh, it’s a challenge to pick a starting point. As penance, today I went down into the cellar and took some pictures of our new spray foam insulation. The basement is my least favourite section of the house, for those not already in the know.  Do let me know how much this gesture has taken off my blogging purgatory. Over the past couple of weeks, we have had the cellar sprayed and fireproofed. Everyone we asked about the process raved over the effects. Not a single person who had this done in their house thought it a waste. Despite such optimistic responses, I admit to skepticism. And honestly, it’s been difficult to judge whether or not the spray foam insulation worked – mainly because we’ve been having such nice weather. Yesterday, on the other hand, was sunny, but brisk and blustery. After leaving our English Country Dance class, a few of us returned to Crowder House. With the wood stove afire the living room was a sauna. Our friend Lady Lily commented on how warm the wooden floorboards above the basement were. And the Man and I both noted just how much warmer the kitchen and office were, which heretofore had always been colder damper spaces. It was obvious, the spray foam had worked. While I can’t offer you any scientific proof, I can attest to the fact that the house feels much warmer, and at that too with a much smaller fire. We’ll see what the winter brings us, but at least I’m hopeful. And seeing as I was down in the cellar anyway, I also took a picture of our dryer vent. Instead of sending the heat outside in the winter, we exhaust it into the cellar. (During the summer, we use an outdoor clothesline.) This change was made after we installed the new washer and dryer in the kitchen. Every little bit helps when weaning a house off...

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Painter on the Roof


Posted By on Jul 18, 2011

Slowly but surely, we’re restoring Crowder House. As many of you might be aware, we had initially been concerned about the state of the roof. It had been covered by a layer of ivy so thick it had begun to compost over the shack. Even after removing the dense foliage, we had no way of truly assessing the situation until Stan Bernard went up to replace all the nails with screws. Fortunately, the roof was still in good shape, but needed to be painted. And as we can apparently only hire people with the same name, Stan Linnen recently finished painting the top of Crowder House. Below are pictures of before to the left, and as it looks today to the...

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Ordinarily, I wouldn’t post something that was only partially finished. If we continue at this rate, however, you might never hear from us again. I’d love to say I was exaggerating, but today it feels like the truth. There is a reason why Mother Nature is considered a force. Some days, to struggle against her in a bid to make one’s surroundings orderly, well, it just seems futile. I give. She wins. And yet, I must be a masochist (or so slavish to The Man’s commands), because every day that time permits I am back outside in an area that might loosely be defined as a lawn. Until very recently, I had been laboriously (and periodically happily) creating a garden on the south-west side of Crowder House. Below left is a picture of the house as we found it – to the right, our burgeoning garden. I write the above in the past tense because I found myself no longer alone in the flower bed. A garter snake frequents the area and regularly scares the bejeezus out of me. The worst part about it is, after I have fled the encounter screaming, I can no longer find where the black and yellow slithering beast has moved – and the process repeats itself. I am my mother’s daughter. Thus, today when I was attempting to dump the rest of Scotts Nature Scapes Sierra Red Mulch (we found it at TSC for $4 a bag on sale) in a bid to outsmart the weeds – I encountered the snake, panicked and called it a day. All is not lost, though dear readers, as I am at last updating you. The Man has also been busy – albeit with far less shrieking involved. He has been systematically cleaning, priming and painting the Shack to make it slight-less, well, shack-like. Below left is a picture of the Shack as we first encountered it – crime-scene tape and all. To the right is The Man’s work in progress. In addition to the aforementioned work, we also have a couple of other flower beds in the works and a garden that produces grass most spectacularly.      ...

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Blog Series on HomeStars.com


Posted By on Apr 25, 2011

I have been contributing to HomeStars.com for a series called “Old vs. New”. As it relates to Crowder House, dear readers, you might be interested in this week’s post entitled “Window Wonderland.” One of the first things people told us to replace in our old house were the windows. It was almost as if window replacement was matter of fact.We couldn’t possibly consider keeping the original windows, even if the storms were mostly in tact. It just didn’t make sense from an energy standpoint. And quite sheepishly, we went through the process of costing out replacements. Our beautiful, oversized windows were definitely not the standard. With a curved arch at the top and standing at around 5 feet, our windows were a thing of beauty-past – and would be costly to replace. More...

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