Naked snake

A flasher recently passed through the farm. He left his coat behind.

We’re keeping our eyes open for a skinny fellow, more than two feet long, currently wearing shiny new scales. He’s not considered dangerous.

In case anyone still hasn’t guessed the answer to last week’s guess what post, it’s a freshly shed snakeskin.

Shed snakeskin

I found it in one of our flowerbeds last weekend. I’ve never seen a snake skin before outside of exhibits at the zoo. I found it really neat how it was all in one piece and how the scales were so clearly defined.

Close up of a shed snakeskin

A few of you guessed that it was a milk snake. Matt and I have conducted extensive research online, and we’re pretty confident that this skin belongs to just a regular garter snake. Regular or not, for me the snake skin is another novelty of country living.

Guess what?

What is this?

Hints:

  1. Found while weeding the garden last weekend.
  2. While it’s not that exotic, I’ve actually never seen one before.

How to play:

  1. Leave your guess in the comments.
  2. Check back next week for the answer.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

My own private island

Island hopping has taken on a different meaning here, as I’m jumping for joy over the newest addition to the kitchen.

Kitchen island painted white with wood countertop

Our new island was the subject of Friday’s “guess what” post. Last week, Meghan guessed that we got a new kitchen, and we might as well have for all the difference this island has made.

It is fabulous and exactly what our kitchen needed. Oh, and so much better than the metal patio table “island” we’ve been living with for the past year.

Metal patio table with appliances stacked underneath

Small appliances, cookbooks, dishes and mixing bowls spent last year all tucked under the table, most of them still in their moving boxes. It was neither convenient nor tidy. For someone who loves cookbooks and will happily spend an afternoon reading recipes, the new island offers a much more accessible and attractive solution.

Cookbook shelf in island

In addition to the cookbook shelves, the island includes another section of open shelving for cutting boards, cookie sheets, cooling racks and trays. I don’t know about you, but I find these items incredibly awkward to store. But not anymore.

Narrow cookie sheet shelves in island

In our whole kitchen, we have only three drawers, and very narrow ones at that. I would have happily made the island all drawers, as I think they’re more useable than cabinets. However, in consideration of the budget, I only included one drawer. The good news is, it’s large and, while it may look cluttered, it is in fact very functional.

Utensil drawer in kitchen cabinets

The biggest benefit of the island is its size. At 80 inches long by 42 inches wide and 34 inches high, it adds about 23 square feet of surface space and about 55 cubic feet of storage space. I think my mixer, food processor, slow cookers, blender and coffee maker are as happy as I am that they finally have a home.

Small appliances kitchen cupboard

The island is made of four cabinets, and so far I’ve only filled one, so there’s lots of room to grow.

Someday, we will redo the whole kitchen. At that point, we may expand it or tweak the layout. However, I knew that the kitchen would drive me crazy if I didn’t do something to fix the storage and counter space issues in the meantime. The island solves all of my problems and exponentially increases the functionality and the beauty of the kitchen.

White painted kitchen island with wood top

How do you handle storage and prep space in your kitchen? This is my first time having an island, and I’m actually a bit surprised how incredibly functional it is. Do you have an island? How would you improve your kitchen if you could? New appliances? More counter space? More drawers? Who else out there loves their cookbooks? Do you have any favourites to recommend?

Guess what

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these Friday guessing game posts. I think this one’s pretty easily identified.

What is this?

This is a big development for us.

The same drill applies. Leave your guess in the comments, and then tune in next week for the story.

Degree of dustiness

If you zoomed out on Friday’s photo, you would have seen something like this.

Matt and me after sanding drywall

Matt and me after sanding drywall

No, we did not have a baking accident and we’re not 18th century aficionados who powder our hair and faces.

We’re renovators and these days drywall is on the top of the to do list. Actually, it’s probably more the “please can we just get this done already” list, but I’m trying not to sound too desperate.

The photo that I posted on Friday was a thick layer of drywall dust coating Matt’s arm. Even though I teased her at the time, Catherine was actually pretty close with her first guess on last week’s post of “really dry skin.”

Drywall dust

Skin and arm hair with a heavy dusting of drywall. Yum.

The sanding stage of drywall installation is usually the time I start to reconsider my affection for DIY renovations.

This is a lot of work, and sanding drywall is really not fun work.

  1. Pretty much every single surface in the basement has new drywall or at least a patch of some kind. That means I’m sanding more than I’ve ever sanded in my life. My arm muscles are toned like they’ve never been before, but my nails and fingertips are rubbed off in some places. Ow. And I’m sure the amount of dust that has entered my body through my nose, eyes and mouth can’t be healthy.
  2. We’re not pros, so we’re slow. Therefore, the drywall and sanding stage take a long time.
  3. Even though we’re only working in the basement right now, dust is everywhere. Good news, you can slide around easily on the floors upstairs which makes getting around quick. Bad news, don’t set your black clothes down anywhere, or else you’ll have to choose a new outfit.
  4. We’re not pros, so there tend to be a few more bumps and ridges that we have to sand out… meaning more time, more sore muscles, more dust.

Matt uses the pole sander, but I have never been able to master it. I also feel like I get a better finish by hand. So that means I get up close and personal with every single square centimetre of drywall.

Covered in drywall dust

It’s a good look, wouldn’t you say?

The good news is that the basement is looking really good. We’re at the third (and final) coat of paste pretty much everywhere, and a few spots need only touch-ups.

If we can keep up the momentum, I’m anticipating being covered in paint spatters instead of drywall dust in just a few weeks.

That will be a nice change of style. I’m ready for a makeover.

Oof!

Friday’s mystery image was a preview of this week’s to-do list. There is only one item on the list. And it’s a doozy. It makes me say, “Oof!”

As many of you guessed last week, the picture was of shingles. The project for this week is the roof. Oof.

You’ve seen the detail shot. Let me zoom out a little bit and show you the scope of our issues.

Old shingles

Shingles are not supposed to look like this

Our shingles have gone beyond curling and are officiallyfried. They have to be replaced.

Roof

At this angle, I’m looking above the broken shingles on the house and gazing longingly at the steel roof of the barn

Somehow, our attic is still dry inside, but I’m a little anxious about what the plywood under the shingles is going to look like.

Shingles in need of replacement

The front half of the roof is as bad as the back

Normally, roofing a whole house is not a job I’d choose to DIY. However, given the long list of must-do fixes we’ve done so far (new geothermal system, upgrading insulation in the attic and the basement, redoing the well and water system, rewiring the basement) the budget is reaching its limits, and so we chose free labour (us) over professional help.

Matt will be the lead on this, as he’s able to be home while I have to keep up with my day job. However, I will be working in the evenings and he’ll have some help from his dad and one of his friends.

The roof is just under 3,400 square feet. That works out to 110 bundles of shingles. Oof.

In addition to new shingles, we’ll be looking to make a few other changes to the roof.

Collage of roof images

Areas of concern from our roof

Clockwise from top left:

  1. The sea creatures–or moss–that have grown up on the old shingles will be extinct by the end of the week.
  2. The old hook-ups for the solar hot water heaters for the indoor pool will hopefully not be too difficult to remove and patch.
  3. The cupola and buxom rooster weather vane (the only thing I like about the roof) will be carefully removed so that I can reuse them on the attached garage, which we will build some day.
  4. The last remaining piece of the woodstove chimney will be removed and the hole will be patched–with plywood and shingles, not a garbage bag and duct tape.

The other necessary upgrade is to improve the ventilation. Currently, there is not a single vent anywhere on the roof. Hence the reason why our shingles look the way they do–they cooked. No vents is not only unhealthy for our house; it’s also against the building code.

We’re crossing our fingers that we haven’t taken on more than we’re capable of with this project.

If anyone has any pointers or words of encouragement, they would be most welcome.

Guess what

I have another Friday quiz for you. It’s been a little while since we’ve done one of these. For those that are new to the game, here’s how it works.

I post a photo, and then it’s up to you to figure out what this is. Leave your answer in the comments and tune in next week for the answer.

Here’s the photo.

I think this is a pretty easy one.

I’m looking forward to reading your guesses.

Have a great weekend, everyone. See you next week for the results show.

Mystery marble

Thanks to everyone who weighed in on what they thought was the answer to Friday’s mystery photo. Most people recognized pretty quickly that it was stone of some kind and guessed they were looking at tile or a countertop maybe. Close, but not quite.

Dave got it right: this is in fact marble for Matt’s bathroom shower. More specifically, it’s the slab that will go on the top of the bench in the shower.

Marble slab for shower seat

It’s a beautiful piece of white and grey marble.

This was my first time buying marble, and finding the perfect piece was not as easy as I expected. We needed one solid surface for the top of the bench. No seams or joints minimizes our risk of leaks. However, none of the tile or home improvement stores that we visited dealt in large (but smaller than counter-size) pieces of marble. The top of the bench had to be 18″ x 32 1/4″, and the best I found was 18″ square tile. That would have meant a seam, so that was a no-go.

As well, I was picky about the colour and veining on the marble. I wanted something mostly white with smooth grey veining (not too speckled). Granite suppliers are common in our area, but in my experience they tended to have a very limited selection of marble. Plus, understandably none of them wanted to cut into a countertop-size slab and end up with a leftover that was too small to use on another project.

Finally, we found a granite supplier that had a larger selection of marble and a good collection of remnants. They let us go through their warehouse and pulled out many pieces for me to examine. In the end, we found a piece that was just the right size and just the right colour. They gave us a good deal on the price and cut and polished it to my exact specifications.

Here’s a sneak peak of how it looks with the marble mosaic we’re going to be using for the shower floor.

Marble slab with hexagon marble mosaic tiles

The slab is a great match to the hexagon tiles.

I love marble over any other stone, and I’m really happy that we’re going to be able to use some in Matt’s new bathroom.

Our tile order should be arriving shortly, so stay tuned for more updates.

Any other marble fans out there? Anyone have tips for sourcing natural stone? And looking ahead to the next stage, any advice for installation?