Get Out There & Vote!

What are you doing reading my blog right now? Don’t you know there’s this election thing happening in Canada today? Go and vote! Then come and read my blog- I’ll wait.

Done voting? Excellent. I had thought about doing the advanced voting last weekend, but since I had a turkey to make- no go. This morning however- I was first in line at my local polling station waiting for the doors to open. That’s mostly because I finished a night shift and the polling station was a couple blocks away from our home. The timing was impeccable.

It’s going to be a rainy and miserable day in the Vancouver area. Not only will it be miserable because of the weather… but also because we are the last province to be counted. Many of the other provinces will have their numbers in and whatever the west does isn’t likely to skew the vote in either direction. But I have the opportunity to place an ❌ inside of a circle next to a name of some candidate I think will be best for my needs. So I chose someone.

And making the choice this year was difficult. I finally narrowed it down to two candidates and made my choice as I stared at the paper of names behind the cardboard cutout. Maybe you were better informed than I was. Maybe you just vote the same way every time. But a vote is still a vote.

Tell your family to vote.

Tell your friends to vote.

Tell your coworkers to vote.

Tell your neighbor to vote.

Tell the barista to vote.

Tell the traffic safety person to vote.

Tell a complete stranger to vote.

You get the idea. Make everyone have their voice heard today.

If you read all the way to the end before hitting the polling station- all I want to say is “Go Vote!

Another New Stovetop

Yesterday I replaced our island cooktop, again. This time we spent a bit more money on it than the previous cooking surface. And I’m okay with that.

When we first bought our home, we had a really old, but reliable cast iron stovetop. We lived with it for seven years before replacing it. Honestly, if it worked and cooked- why replace it? We only replaced it because my wife found a great deal on a “new to us” stovetop.

On November 25th, 2014- my wife found a $1000 stovetop on Facebook for the price of $50. SCORE! So out with the old and in with the new. Once I installed the new cooktop, the first thing I made was grilled cheese sandwiches. What better way to test how well it works than with a traditional melted sandwich?

The stove worked well for a few years until the large burner stopped working. Parts for the stovetop were not readily available for this model. However, I was able to do a quick fix that worked for quite some time. I had to do this fix twice more over the past year until the burner finally gave up. It was time to bite the bullet and get a new stovetop.

After some online research, I found one that had good reviews and was of average price… average price being just under $1000! The Home Depot had one on display, so I went to talk to an associate about it.

Did you know that Home Depot will beat any advertised price on the same item by 10%? I saved nearly $100 because I found it advertised for 1¢ cheaper elsewhere. One cent saved my one hundred dollars. (Do your research people- it pays off!)

I installed the new stove quickly and you know the first thing I cooked?

A grilled cheese sandwich. Which my son promptly wanted. So I made a second sandwich. Which my daughter then wanted. Finally I got to enjoy the third grilled cheese sandwich I made.

It’s a pretty good stovetop and I look forward to using it. That must be a grown up thing. Looking forward to using new appliances. Oh yeah, it also plays a little tune when it gets turned on and off. Cute but unnecessary. Just like our washing machine.

The songs do bring me joy…

…for now.

Saturday Baking With My Kids

On Saturday I spent a couple of hours with our youngest teaching him how to bake an apple pie. He was very thorough in adding the ingredients and the pie looked fantastic.

As we finished baking the apple pie, our oldest daughter helped in the kitchen by baking some Wookiee Cookies. Those are a favorite of the family. If the recipe is followed they are really easy to make.

Our home smelled delightful and the baked goods are ready for consumption. As the holiday season approaches (in two months!!!), it’s time to get the family involved more with baking.

As well, we love to share home baked goods with friends. The holidays are a great excuse to share. Why not get some tastings going along the way?

Staycation With a To Do List

I just began a week and a bit of vacation away from work. No travel plans unfortunately. In the past we usually get to Disneyland this time of year, but with the kids in high school and other commitments, no such luck. But I still had a week of time off from work to take, so here I am. Alone.

I have made myself a To Do List of activities that I want to get accomplished while the kids are in school and my wife works. I’m pretty sure I’ll get most of them done.

  1. Finish my costume.
  2. Fix the tile and tap in shower.
  3. Fix the sauna heater.
  4. Get the Honda Element serviced.
  5. Decorate for Halloween.
  6. Do some baking on Saturday.
  7. Make turkey dinner on Sunday.

Most of my list won’t cost much. Which is really a good thing since we have a few expenses coming up. Our children and their activities are nickel and diming us this year. Although it’s more in the hundreds of dollars just spread out over the next few months.

Since I am at home and have some availability, I’m hoping to meet up with friends periodically to get a break from being in my house the entire time. So feel free to hit me up during the daytime hours over the next week if I haven’t reached out.

Going To Work Is The Break From Life

I know it sounds crazy, but I’m happy to be back at work for the next few days. I need a break from being in my house. No, it’s not because of my family and there’s nothing negative going on. It’s just my costume for Halloween is taking over my life!

I’ve actually been losing sleep over the logistics of my costume. I have some high aspirations for this year. I’m not really wanting to share any pictures until I have it completed. Just in case I don’t complete it. Being ambitious is one thing. Not finishing is another.

Next week I am on a staycation. But I have some home improvements and maintenance that needs to be addressed first and foremost. That means what I’ve gotten done on my costume is all that I’ll be doing for the next while. I’m glad I started working on it at least.

But we are also six days into October and I haven’t decorated for Halloween yet! That’s unlike me. Usually October 1st and it’s spooky time. Maybe after work I can rustle up some decorations and have the kids help set them up.

Are you ready for Halloween?

Do you make your own costume?

Let me know if you are like me and am starting to freak out over nothing.

Vacuums

I take for granted that we have a built-in vacuum. With a dog that sheds excessively we need to clean up about two to three times every week. That being said, in the dozen or so years we’ve been living here- we give that centralized vacuum a workout. But it only does suction- there is no motorized head spinning to dig up the deep down dirt. Which is fine for the hardwood floors and tile.

The other biggest problem we have is the location of the canister and motor. It’s in the room where our hot water tank and furnace are. So it’s very warm. Which causes the vacuum to overheat. We can usually vacuum most of the downstairs before it shuts off. In the end, the upstairs gets neglected. And that’s where we have the most carpet.

I have an old vacuum that was left behind by my mother years ago. It’s been through a lot, including a duct taped hose in order for it to work. Recently the band on the motorized head snapped, so it was pretty useless for getting the ground in dirt and threads from my wife’s studio. Of course it was when I wanted to do the carpets in the rest of our house that it crapped out.

So today I went to a store that’s been in Langley since, forever (or 1965 according to their website). The ladies in Big Gary’s Vacuums were extremely helpful and fun to talk with. They helped me get a new band and we talked about how people have no idea that Sears closed down ages ago. (That’s where the Kenmore brand vacuums were from). Anyways, $12 later and some shared memories about the Sears Wish Book, I have a working motorized head on an old vacuum.

All I need to do now is find a hose for my old shop vac. This was another Sears purchase two decades ago. I’m pretty sure I’ll find what I need on Amazon! They sell everything. They’re the ones who helped kill the brick and mortar big box stores, the least they could do is sell some parts for me.

Autumn Skies

I’ve been enjoying the colours of the sky over the past couple of days. Autumn astounds me at how majestic it can be.

The morning sunrise has pink hues as the sky starts to light up. I pause for a moment at the end of my night shift to enjoy my country living.

The night sky offers a faded orange backdrop to an industrialized world that I am a part of. The black shadows of straight edges are a harsh contrast to the randomness of nature.

Yet there is still beauty to be found in both.

First Time Generator Usage

Yesterday afternoon the power went out for about five hours. It was most likely due to the wind storm. Besides the wind, it was a nice enough day that allowed me to try out our back up generator for the first time.

In all honesty the generator we picked up is pretty heavy duty considering what we ended up running on it: A couple lamps and the Internet. Yup, we needed online access. Not the most practical use. I suppose I should look into connecting our well’s pump so we could have running water next time. Or maybe the stove top for cooking…

Anyhow, the generator works. Which is a good sign. It gave us a sense of normalcy for the few hours that our power was out.

What A Mess

Getting my kids to tidy up after themselves is tough. Our main living space is already hard enough to keep clean when five of us are always around. Especially with the fact that we are busy and always on the go. Always.

But their bedrooms are entities entirely unto their own. That is their place of solitude and peace if they so require it. As teens, they do love disappearing into their rooms. I just wish they’d make them, uh, more habitable.?.

Our two youngest are notorious for not making their beds. They’re also pretty good at leaving clothes everywhere as well. My wife and I try to get them to tidy up on a weekly basis. But it feels like their rooms explode into chaos almost immediately.

At least our oldest daughter takes pride in making sure her bed is made every morning. She is also the one who tries to ditch doing chores and hides in her room the most. The biggest problem with her room is she has the dog sleep in there at night. Our dog sheds a lot. Our daughter rarely vacuums her room. There is often little furryballs gathering in the corners.

It’s hard to motivate our teenagers to clean up. Instead of motivation, it usually ends up being empty threats of my wife and I claiming that we will throw everything out if they don’t clean up. But because of our hectic schedules, there isn’t much time to let the kids saunter through cleaning, so the mess just continues.

All parents face this dilemma. And it doesn’t get any better as the kids become teenagers. Oh well.

Sauna

We bought our home with a sauna already built in. About a decade ago we stopped using it and it became another closet for storage. After my trips to Winnipeg and Fort St. John, where I used saunas to relax, I realized I want our sauna back.

Yesterday, I cleared it out and set up the benches again. I vacuumed up the cobwebs and dust from the walls and heater. I turned on the elements and the heat was returning. The smell of the remaining dust burning off was strong. However, shortly after the heat stopped working. So much for relaxing on a Saturday night.

How do you troubleshoot a sauna built in the 1970’s? I seriously have no idea where to begin. It obviously was getting power. My guess is that it could be one of three things-

  1. The thermostat is toast.
  2. The elements are toast.
  3. Perhaps there’s a fuse or relay switch that’s toast.

It’ll have to wait until my next set of days off. But how do I go about checking these things? I need to see if there’s and obvious fuse somewhere either in the controls or under the burners. That’s where I’ll first start. I really hope it’ll be something simple. I’m not sure what the cost would be to replace the entire heating mechanism. As well, the thermostat is built into the wood walls and I don’t really want to start tearing apart the sauna.

I’ll post an update if I eventually figure out the issue. I’ll need to relax once this is all sorted out. Wish me luck. I’ll also take any advice you have to offer.