the_plan: (Why Me?)
And probably someday I'll learn something about it.... but the amount of effort required to learn the particular itty bitty bit of code I need ... is disproportionate to the effort it'll save by having it.

Spent all day buggering around with Canada Post's website trying to work out simple tables for shipping costs. Eventually we'll add a nice little shopping cart to the site - but right now that's a bit more trouble than it's worth. *sigh* So the plan was - now that we've worked out packaging and weights for the glassware for http://www.cafenewf.ca I'd do a nice simple chart for the website for shipping and handling costs. Surprisingly US was easier - there's only 51 states - and they all fit into one of 7 shipping regions. Working that out was fine. I got a nice chart - look up the state, see your shipping region code letter, go to the chart and see how much the glassware you want to order will cost to ship. Unfortunately Canada - while there are only 7 shipping region rate codes that apply they're based on postal code, not provinces. Makes sense, every province has remote regions that cost more to ship to. So having gone through it all, found the rate codes, found the pricing tables for those codes, worked out the fuel surcharges, and the applicable taxes.... there's just no way to nicely incorporate it into the website. Sure I can work out a nice table for the 7 shipping regions. But there's no nice way to look up what code applies to the customer's postal code. I have a lovely comma separated values list - and turning that into a widget where customer plugs in the first 3 digits of their postal code, and it then tells them you're in rate A or rate G which they could then just look at the chart.......

Yeah, it's a simple goofy widget of code. Piece of piss for a first year programming student. Which I'm not. Honestly you'd think Canada Post would already have this code written (and they do - you can look up any parcel rate for anywhere on THEIR web site (that's how I've been manually quoting). However, they don't seem to have any information on such a nifty little piece of code, or even a nice little widget button the small business owner could add to their website that would use their own code and website to give our consumers the information they require. Maybe if I call their 'Business Sales Rep' office they could point me in the direction of something simple to make our little lives a little easier and more expedient. You'd think they'd have it in the Small Business 'Online Business Centre', where all the other little helpful tools like printing out one's own shipping / stamp / postage - self shipping options and tools are.

For now I guess we can post the little US and International charts, but Canadian customers will have to email us for a shipping quote.... and THAT makes me feel stupid.
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
I heard back from the contractors - even if Western Bay does sell, there's no way we could afford, or at least justify affording $30,000 to do the fences.

For that price we could buy a used Dingo with an auger which would be the right tool for the job (I'd hope). Of course it'd still take us far too much work, and far too long to do it. The dingo would be worth having..... might consider getting it and then just doing the horse yards with it. (Which in and of itself would cost $10K+ to get the contractors in for it)

I don't know... If we do stay another year, I'd really LIKE to have some better fencing; more accessible spaces for the dogs, but... the cost and the work is just so scary with all that ROCK.

I don't know if we have a Plan B this time.
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
Sooo with thunderstorms and rain I'm not out in the garden today, and I'm less interested in going walkies with the dogs (although I still might if it dries up a little this afternoon). So I've spent the morning lazing about on the computer, updating my long lists of 'Interesting Properties' and doing a bit of daydreaming.

Despite being thoroughly convinced that we really don't want to 'pay for someone else's renovation' every once in a while I happen across some listing over our price range an already renovated home that pings all my bells and whistles, or something so extraordinary it just makes me drool.

In the six plus months of doing this, I've only had 3. Came across the third one this morning. Despite a) not wanting to be in town/village b) wanting 35-300 acres c) wanting ocean frontage d) not wanting to pay for someone else's renovation: This property is damned near perfect. At almost 4 acres it's more than double what we have now, the house has been beautifully sympathetically renovated, it has gorgeous workshop/barn space, it has a separate apartment for the Feychild and her Pippin, it has it's own pond for Buddy, and it already has my three rail fence. It is delightful and charming. And it's $379,000

A few weeks back I bookmarked an oceanfront property in Gabarus Cape Breton. This house needs a bit more work than the other one. But dude! 161 acres of beachfront, 1500 ft of shoreline - of sand dunes and rocks and ocean for the puppers to play in! There's also a barn and fields for my gardens. An oh my word the privacy! We could be right good hermits there! Price? $390,000.

Honestly right now, if we $350-$400,000 to spend I'd be hard pressed to say which I liked better.

I did have one $3,000,000 marked, just because it's the only million+ property I've seen I actually LIKED. But do I like it better than these two... honestly I'd be hard pressed to say I liked it $3,000,000 worth more. After all for all the dramatic 4000' ocean frontage - it's only 70 acres and it's not as private as Gabarus. It's a nice house - biggish at 3300 sq ft, but we have almost that much now and want to DOWNSIZE (I hate cleaning 3000+ sq ft of dog hair). The house certainly isn't as charming in my mind as the Midway house. It's a bit more beach house than century character. And Midway has the charming barn and guest apartment....

Nope I can't see myself spending $3,000,000 on a house even if we DID win a lottery, I think I'd rather buy one of the others and spend a few dollars on it.
the_plan: (Bliss)
One of the problems with trying to chronicle this adventure that James and I have been on is well ... we're so busy adventuring it's hard to find not only the time, but the headspace to write about it.

One of the things I've been doing in my head - and I think this is a mistake - is planning on writing looooooooong posts when each job/room/project is finished. Kinda like DIY TV - see it go from drab to fab in 30 minutes.

But that was never really the point of this blog. It doesn't go from drab to fab in 30 minutes. I'm tired and I'm burnt out about a lot of things, and we still have so far to go, and yes - I've had WHOLE WEEKS of being a lazy cow and getting nothing done. Eventually though we move forward. And I think it's important to document the PROCESS. Whether that's a lazy day, or a full one. Whether I get one flower planted or twenty. This isn't all gloss and shiny and professional. We're just a couple of DIY hacks making do the best we can, sometimes that's better than others, but I think this blog has more value (well it has more value to me, I don't know about it's social value) if I record THAT part of it, the ALL of it.

And maybe you'll hear from me more often

And maybe writing the posts won't seem so long and huge and daunting that I end up putting that off as well.


In other news.. there's no news on the Western Bay property yet. Could be a few days, we'll see when we see.

Still we hope. Spent a large part of this morning discussing and researching the fencing project. This was the ONE job we really would have liked to do, but got cut for budget/sales considerations, however, if Western Bay does sell we're likely to stay here another year, and we'd really like to have the fence done, both for resale value and for the dogs. We'd have a budget for it.

It's a huge job though 12-1500 linear feet of fence. I wanted a nice 3 rail pressure treated wood fence. If the sale goes through we can afford the material - but I don't even want to think about what work putting in 150-200 fence posts in Newfoundland rock would be. It'd kill us both with only the two of us to do the job. Not gonna trade one set of heartbreaking stress for another. So I emailed a contractor, Avalon Rencing, I want to at least have them out for a free quote - maybe do the back sections in chain link and the horse yards in 3 rail, or maybe just get them to set the posts. I am presuming they'll have the kind of augers needed to go through the soil here. We looked at buying an auger ourselves and probably still will after the move, but for the job here, nothing we could afford would do the job.

Hopefully they'll get back to us in a few days. We haven't had much luck with contractors here, the landscaper came by for a look, never got back to us with the quote, the guy we called about the basement took 6 months to return my call with a "I understand you need a quote on a job?" - uh no... we've move on buddy, and now the septic guy... called him twice, he promised to be here before the end of the day, then the end of the week... that was LAST week - not even a call back. I really don't know what it is?
the_plan: (Seal Cove)
James got an email tonight (sent two days ago!) from one of our agents... the property in Western Bay we've had on the market since October of '09... she has someone interested, did we have the survey? huh? I thought we gave her the survey when we listed with her... oh well, no worried I have it here in the filing cabinet. *small aside folks*, however you do it, whatever works for you DO maintain a filing system - even if its one only you understand, it DOES reduce your stress levels my multi-dimensions

Emailed her back, told her we'd call her first thing in the morning, and emailed her a high res scan of the survey. I'm *really* hoping that the two day delay hasn't lost us a deal.

Selling this property would allow us another year to prepare to move here, and we won't lose money staying. It would give us some breathing room to finish the updating here without killing ourselves, and a bit of time to take a break before we have to face moving to another house needing renovation. Heck we could even finally fix the fencing here like we wanted to be safe for Buddy and give the dogs run of the property again, and that would make staying another year a lot more comfortable. It would also allow The Feychild to finish college, and maintain her provincial funding without disruption.

We'll still be selling and moving on - The Plan®, it's just going to allow us to do it more comfortably without a financial gun to our heads.

We're keeping all appendages crossed and hoping for some very good news before the weekend is out.
the_plan: (Welcome to the Kitchen)
You've heard me talk of my dream of an 'Apothecary Kitchen'. The kitchen reno we've done here is a lot more traditional kitchen than that, but I'm always tinkering with that plan for that perfect kitchen dream.

But what is an 'Apothecary Kitchen', and why?

The apothecary kitchen is one filled with jars and bottles and vials of powders and liquids and herbs and colours and scents. It's filled with tools and devices - some of it seems magical and mysterious. What sort of powders?

the spices the spices
The results of a recent spice restocking trip. I saw a TV show recently where someone opened a spice drawer and the host was agog at the array of 24 bottles.... I have 60. 60 different flavours, spices, and I'm still missing mace, hot paprika, and a few others.

the spices the spices
For me, the one 'art' I consider myself an adept with. I love all the arts, but cooking is where I can call myself talented. Professional? No. I've just not got the hand/eye coordination to be able to do it in a professional environment, but I do have the creativity.

Spices are my paint box. Chicken, fish, beef, pork - they're just meat until you add the spices, add the flavour. They are the canvas, the spice cupboard is what I create with.

the spices the spices

the pantries the pantries
And then there are the pantry cupboards. There simply isn't enough storage in our kitchen. Not enough space fror my spices, for our glassware collection, for our cookware collection, for the small appliances, and for the FOOD.

the pantries the pantries
So we added stand alone pantry cupboards, 3 of them, and they're overflowing. They don't really work in the kitchen, so they're around the corner in the mudroom (which without a door is a bit more of a hallway extension). It's a solution here, but it's not the dream.

The 'Apothecary Kitchen' has a separate pantry, walk in cooler, and it has... OPEN shelving. Yes, yes, I know it's a decorator blashphamy but one thing I've learned: if you cook cupboards are an abomination! How much time do you spend when cooking digging through a cupboard for a bowl, a tool, or a can hidden at the back? It's a frustrating waste. Open shelving, no more than 2 items deep, hanging pot racks these elminate that aggrevation. Look at pro kitchens, look at cooking shows, ask a good home cook - open shelves. The ability to reach one handed and get what you need. 'What about the mess?", you cry. My kitchen will be an artist's studio - it's not supposed to be neat, it's supposed to be functional and creative. "A clean desk is a sign of a sick mind". I'm looking forward to having space to be MESSY!

Musings....

Mar. 4th, 2011 12:57 pm
the_plan: (Default)
Ya know, what we really need is a 'DIY" TV series of our own...

With the huge proliferation of DIY shows and interest and networks on the cable dial these days, I'm not sure there's really enough Canadian content.

I mean really - we have Bryan Baeumler, Mike Holmes, Sarah Richardson and Ambrose Pryce, there's a few others - Income Properties, Marriage Under Construction, but we've also lost Jim Caruk (now doing his wonderful BIY Workshops), Colin and Justin have got their hands full in a 100 new and exciting projects, and Family Renovation kinda finished up after only one family. So amid a small handful of new shows by already known presenters there's a ton of reruns, and American content (both old and new).

I think we need new Canadian content.
Intelligent content, less about fools and their follies, or experts, but just real, everyday people, doing what most real everyday people do - real projects, real problems, dealt with in real ways. Or maybe that doesn't make good TV.

Of course most real people also don't sell up their executive home to move further out into the wilds to build a sustainable lifestyle and create an over the top artist retreat EITHER.

And ya know, the show would have a little bit of everything.
Money and downsizing in a touch economy
Renovating and decorating for resale
Selling a house
Buying a house/property (out of province no less!)
Next season we could cover the working on the new house, building the barns and cottages

Just to mix it up - we could do guest spots - all those well known and well loved faces? We'd invite them in, Sarah can come do a room, we'll give Colin and Justin one whole cottage to make over, Bryan can come help sort out the kitchen electrical (heck he's looking for new projects to film), and Mike can show you how to build a PROPER country fence that'll actually keep the dogs in. I figure we can get at least 2 maybe three episodes outta James and I flying off to Toronto to do Jim Caruk's BIY Bootcamp. Scott McGillivray can advise on what one best needs to get out of the cottages to make money on em...

Yeah it's a hell of a brief I tell ya...
Brilliance - pure brilliance.

Too bad I don't know any TV production companies I could sell the idea to.
Guess I go back to hoping one day this blog might pick up a sponsor or two.
the_plan: (Bliss)
One of the really wonderous parts of this journey we've been on is the fact it really does constantly evolve. We start out with one plan, and it grows and changes and tweaks and before you know it it doesn't really look like what we started out with in the first place at all.

And yet, it is.

In order for the 'new plan' to fit into 'The Plan®' it must contain certain critical elements, answer deep needs for both James and myself. As you're building the life you've always dreamed of it must contain the critical elements of the dream. That's the thing of it, we've always known the dream - we've not always been sure what the dream LOOKS like when it's all built. So we've added pieces, and taken away pieces and tinkered and tailored it.

Recently 'The Plan®' took another left turn.

I think we're going to leave Newfoundland. It even feels a bit odd saying it. I worked and planned and wanted for years to end up here. Largely at the time it was because Newfoundland was somewhere I could work, that would take me back to my own roots on ocean and specifically the North Atlantic, and James needed to be close to water as well. Newfoundland made sense. And the house we bought in Seal Cove made a lot of sense at the time as well - we needed the privacy, the quiet, the serenity that living deep in the forest gave us, and kept me close enough to work. Then I quit working, relations with the neighbours reminded us that we weren't as enclaved as all that, the kids began to move on, in other words - life changed.

We still want the things we were looking for in this property - just more of it. Room for animals (dogs, cats, horses, alpacas, pigs, lambs, - NO CHICKENS!), the quiet and privacy that the forest and large plots of land provide, we still need the ocean, I need water - ocean, stream, pond, something - for me and for the dogs, I need room the dogs can run without harassing the neighbours.

However, there was still the question of what would our lives look like? What would we do with ourselves day in day out, and how would we afford it?

One of the things that became clear after a while, was that what we came to Newfoundland looking for didn't exist here for us. The dream job turned out not to be such a dream, and our visions of private acres of field and forest by the ocean couldn't be ours. Yes! Those sorts of properties, the ones you see in the tourism ads, the quaint life everyone wants to come and see - that IS here. However, anyone who owns an old farmstead or saltbox with more than a few acres by the sea, they're not selling it. They're holding on to those properties for 'when the kids come home', and the kids will come home.

So one day I'm perusing the real estate listings on the internet, as I am oft likely to do and I come across a commercial listing in Sydney Cape Breton for a 23 acre motor speedway 1/4 mile track, all concessions, stands and out buildings. Now I know this is a joke, we can't really afford it, and all of that, but ONE of the great loves James and I have always had is race cars. Could be fun. So we spend a day looking at it joking about it, considering it, turning it over and seeing if it could work. Including property prices in the area for where we might live. Well owning a racetrack isn't really the sort of retirement business we'd enjoy doing all day every day, so the Island Speedway idea fell to the wayside. However, the property search led us to finding that there was a good possibility we could afford a large piece of property (25+ acres) with a livable smaller home, and the possibility of outbuildings (sheds and barns) and still leave us a sizeable chunk of cash to live on while James builds up the laser business.

We started looking further afield. Cape Breton, Guysborough County, Antigonish. As I was looking I came across this:

It's being sold off in 4 or 5 chunks of various prices - but the whole thing together is about a $1,000,000. We can't afford a million dollars. But I knew - just knew then and there on the spot that THIS was the life we've been looking for.

We don't want a B&B, we're too intensely private to have people in our home, but we love having company. We want self sufficiency and sustainability a la River Cottage, but we're no hair shirt people - we like our creature comforts and our technology. We want hospitality and tourism, but without the tourists.

So here's the dream - the latest evolution of 'The Plan®'. A Writer's and Artist's retreat. All along we've both needed our artistic outlets - that's why James bought the LASER, he needs to be creating, he wants to teach and lead again, I want to play, with colour, with fabric, with metal and wood and paint and clay and.... but I have zero talent for any of those things, and I want space, physically and mentally, to write and cook and sew, and I want to organize it all. And we want to share these things, with all of those people we've always connected with so well on the internet - the artists and writers and cartoonists, and creative people. We won't make a fortune. We don't really want to. We'll start with one of two small cottages, hopefully make enough to justify building more and bigger art studios, add another cabin or two, maybe host some weekend workshops, invite established artists to lead a workshop or two, maybe even eventually build a small professional music studio.

So yeah we're gonna need that forested acreage by the sea after all. We can't find it in Newfoundland, but maybe we can find it in Nova Scotia. I don't have a $1,000,000 to buy it already built. But maybe, just maybe, we can find something, somewhere in Nova Scotia - Fox Harbour Advocate Harbour, Digby, Annapolis Royal, Kentville, Parrsbaro, Cape Negro. I think maybe we can. Maybe even this one. It might take us a while yet to get there, and there might be a detour or two along the way - depending on how things turn out, but then 'The Plan®' is an evolving thing, but I think we're on the right track.

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the_plan: (Default)
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July 2011

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