Taking This City for Granted

I’m always excited to travel to other countries, states, provinces, and visit different cities. I enjoy driving around certain cities such as Los Angeles or Calgary. Some of my favorite cities to walk around are Seattle, Tokyo, and San Jose. As well as the beaches of California and Hawaii. And of course, Disneyland.

Our adventures over the years have taken us to see some beautiful cities and picturesque landscapes. From unique architecture to forests to parks to beaches. But I forget that Vancouver is unique and beautiful in its own way. With many of the things I have experienced elsewhere.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to work downtown Vancouver. It made me want to come down to this city more often. I’ve begun to take the time and just wander around Vancouver as well as take in a Hockey Game with my son. Vancouver has parks and architecture that you can only find here.

The outskirts of Vancouver boast beautiful trails located in many municipalities; and White Rock’s beaches aren’t crowded. This year, we aren’t planning any big trips or vacations. I’m going to plan more daily explorations of our current stomping grounds. Let’s share what the Lower Mainland has to offer.

By all means, give me some ideas of places to visit and things to do. No need to keep secrets about this exquisite locale we call home.

Roof Repair

We had a fairly substantial rainfall the other day. At which point my wife noticed that the door frame to one of our bedrooms was leaking. Ya. The door frame. I knew immediately what it was from.

Two weeks ago, we had a tree fall on our roof during a Wind Storm. I had only gone out on the roof that day to quickly assess the damage and clear off the broke logs. At the time I didn’t see any damage near where the large logs lay. So I planned on going back up on another day to clear off the roof and check some more.

I forgot to go back up. Because Christmas got in the way.

Part of a branch had punctured through. When I finally pulled out the remnants, it was in the shape of a thick blade about two inches long. My guess is that it snapped off of part of the tree when it collided with our roof. And remained hidden by the other branches and twigs.

Out came Handyman Joe to the rescue. I cleared away the surrounding debris from the hole. I had a can of roof repair handy from previous years of issues before our old roof. I over-filled the hole, making sure that the tar went under the shingle. Then I went to work liberally applying and smoothing our the patchwork tar.

No way to know if my repair was successful until the next rain storm. But I have a feeling that I was. At least, keeping my fingers crossed that I was.

Christmas Video Games

Almost all my life, Christmas has involved video games. Either getting new systems or games. This year was no different.

We picked up a Switch for the family and the NES/SNES minis for my wife and I. Even though I didn’t want to last year. We also picked up a couple games to play. All afternoon and night yesterday had us playing as a family.

Even today, everyone has been gaming throughout the house. Lots of laughs and smack talk a-plenty. When I was younger, my family never played games with me. I did play with friends quite often. Which was great. I also powered through those endless games for hours on end.

As well when I was younger, we had one of those large wooden cabinet tvs that sat on the floor. Over the Christmases, starting around 1980, our home had consoles arrive that would require Channel 3 or 4 to work. Intellivision was our first one. A couple years later, we got a Colecovision/ADAM computer combo. At which point my father bought another tv. This time a small 13″ one that could go into a different part of the house so that I wouldn’t bother him as I played games.

Eventually, when we moved to a new home, that small tv ended up in my bedroom for a couple years. Until the Sega Genesis came into my life. We moved again, and then my parents bought themselves another tv and I was given the large old one. Which took up half my new bedroom. So I got a Futon bed to fold into a couch in order to play games more. Which meant I also never put it into bed form. Super Nintendo, followed by the N64 became favorites to play with friends as well.

Growing into an adult and having a place of my own for nearly the past two decades, I have changed TVs every couple of years. With technology constantly evolving, “upgrading” is one of my favorite things. This Christmas we upgraded our theater room projector. For about five- six years, we had a small 720p Epson projector. It got a ton of use. But as the game systems and games got visually better, it was time to upgrade.

So on Black Friday, we ordered a new projector online. Since we had such good luck with Epson, I wanted to stay with it. Our new projector shows images in 4K. We weren’t expecting it to be such a large machine. However, the entire family agrees that the quality in the images is incredible. Especially when shown on a 106″ screen.

It was strange today to play on the big screen and then take the Nintendo Switch out into handheld mode for the same game. Going from 106″ to 6.2″ would seem incomprehensible in 1980.

What memories do you have of video games? Do you still play them? Have you upgraded your tv or stereo to match the quality of modern systems?

Windy

Yesterday was a crazy bad windstorm. We did not fair well at our home.

The top half of a tree snapped off and crashed down onto our roof and deck. Moments later, our power got knocked out.

We ended up going out for dinner. The restaurant was packed. Seems that when 120,000 people don’t have power- they all go out for meals.

Our power was not restored until just after lunch today. A little over 25 hours without heat, electricity and water was becoming frustrating. I’m glad that BC Hydro was able to get everything back up and running.

Every time our power goes out, my wife and I talk about getting a generator. Then the power goes on and we figure that for the four or five days a year without power we cannot justify a couple thousand dollars. So a warm fire and going out will just have to do.

Plus, we now have another tree for firewood!

Cozy Music

I’m glad to have a couple of days off- I can now enjoy our home. It’s become very cozy for the holidays. Besides just the decorations.

Even our oldest has decided to lay down by the fire and listen to music. She has discovered that she has full control of the music that plays in the house. All from her iPhone. I let her download an app the controls our music.

At the moment, we get to enjoy a variety of Christmas music played from the Radio Addon on our Kodi Box. It’s been the best part of our home theater setup. Access to the internet and a variety of commercial free music of almost any genre!

A few years ago I installed small speakers all around our downstairs. This allows for a Disneyland like feel. As you walk through our downstairs, the left and right speakers slowly melt from room to room.

Playing Christmas music really makes the home feel inviting. Add a fire, a comfortable blanket and some warm tea- you may not want to leave.

Indoor Footwear

When I come home I take off my shoes. Only to put on slippers. Indoor footwear? Why? I guess to keep my feet warm. I don’t really mind walking around in socks or barefooted. But slippers are just a way of life. And we go through them rather quickly. About every three or four months, we need to get new ones.

I like owning slippers. My slippers wait for me at the side of my bed. The fuzzy comfort for my feet as I roll out of my nice warm bed. I always get at least one pair of slippers at Christmas. One year, my daughter gave me three pairs. She figured that way I wouldn’t run out before the next Christmas.

My wife has slippers that my children often steal. Even though they each have their own, they find it fun to take their mother’s slippers and walk around in them.

Recently, I picked up some “back up” slippers. They are hung under our stairs near the front door just in case someone in our family forgets their slippers upstairs. I also bought them because they reminded me of our trip to Tokyo.

Our hotel gave us each a pair of slippers that we were told we could keep. We received new ones Every Single Day. So we ended up with a pretty good stockpile of white slippers. My wife and I plan on giving them out when guests come over. Even just for dinner. We are going to offer slippers to make our home feel like a comfortable place they our guests can feel like it’s their home.

I’m looking forward to getting a new pair of slippers for Christmas. I should probably go out and buy a pair for my wife also. The kids are slowly killing hers.

Handmade Decorations

Christmas decorations have taken over our home. I love to decorate for the season. I even love piecing together decorations from the craft stores and dollar stores. Here are some of the house decorations we have that I’ve made over the years:

I love our garlands. The red, green and gold baubles are simple and elegant. (Even if the items are from the dollar store.) Here is this year’s Dollar Store decoration:

It’s our Nightmare Before Christmas themed wreath. This was easy to make. A few years ago I made some snowflakes that took me hours to cut out with an exacto knife:

Over the years, we also pick up items from craft fairs. I have a friend who makes awesome cards. Another couple who knit. One friend who makes winter houses. A friend of ours makes these neat flowers from sheet music, (we tend to leave it out all year because it’s awesome.)

My kids discovered some other crafts that they’d like to try. One includes molding old records, and we have quite a few of those around. So our kids want to make bowls as gifts:

There’s always more ideas floating around. More crafts to make and buy. More decorations to create. I’m worried that one day our home will turn into a Christmas house 365 days of the year at this rate.

What do you make at Christmas? Do you support local craft fairs as well? Let me know.

Tanks A Lot

Yesterday I mentioned how on Facebook it reminds me of my Yearly Bad Day in the memories section. It seems that the universe likes to throw curve balls at me every year around this time. Only this year was off by a day. Must’ve been a leap year of evil or something.

Last week I blogged about my Budget Friendly Kitchen Reno. Today I planned on finishing it up in order to clean the downstairs. In between coats of paint I decided to check on a slow leak we had coming from our pressure tank that helps pump the water into our home from the well. We had a plumber come out to fix it about two weeks ago. Only there was more than one leak- as I had discovered after he left. So I went behind the tank and checked the leak.

I figured out that I could fix it on my own. So I sent my wife to Home Depot for a part. While she was out, I turned off the pump and drained the water from the house. I proceeded to cut the pipe. Only I didn’t quite have all of the pressure out of the system. 40PSI Of water “BOOFED” at me as the knife cut through the pipe.

Soaked with ice cold water I scrambled to get some towels. My wife came home and I replaced the part easy as pie. Turned the water back on and a few minutes later I crouched down to check on my handiwork. Of course, I noticed a small leak still coming out. As I twisted the pipe to try and wedge it in a bit tighter, “BOOF” a different part exploded- this time with the pump on- our laundry room flooded. 20 times more ice cold water covered me.

I lost my shit!

I ran to shut off the pump. And returned to the tank to see what happened. And then a second piece snapped off. Soaked and angry, I had to go to the Home Depot and spend $20 to fix it. I came back home and my kids and wife had cleared out the laundry room giving me some space to repair the pipe again for the third time.

Five minutes later, everything is fixed and working. Now there are no leaks.

Just an angry Joe trying to catch up on his day.

Update the Kitchen- Budget Friendly

About a month ago I mentioned that we are thinking of Moving. But the home we are in is still a perfect size for our family at the moment. We’d only be moving for a short time, then have to downsize again later as it is once the kids move out. They do move out, right?

So my wife and I made a list of all the things we want done to finalize our home. That way we can spend the next while enjoying the house before selling. The number one thing was our kitchen. But our budget is really low. Like really, really, really low.

We couldn’t afford a total gut job of $25,000, so I called Home Depot about getting just the cabinet doors replaced. $6500 to start. Ouch. Next option? Paint. That’s more in our budget. And I found a product that does it for a fraction of the cost.

We bought Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Kit from Home Depot instead (as well as some new hardware for the drawer pulls). A little bit of hard work and preparation is required in order to change our cupboards into some much nicer. Out with the orange oak and into an elegant whitewashed antique style.

The process is time consuming to be honest. We have 20+ doors to redo. First is a deep scrub followed by two coats of white chalk like paint. Then a brown stain is applied and wiped off. Once dry a finishing coat is added. Simple, easy, and I have been truly enjoying it.

Over the course of three days, I have completed about 1/3 of the kitchen. My wife and I are loving the final results. It’s updated the kitchen on a budget spending less than $400 on paint, supplies and hardware. The only downside is the time it is taking me to complete the project. Our kitchen is in some disarray but I’ll get it done in a few more days.

If you’re a DIYer like myself, this product is fantastic. I’ll gladly recommend this to anyone who wants an updated kitchen at a low cost. I can’t wait to show off the final result to our friends at our next dinner party!

Season Transition

The past couple of days have felt like utter chaos in my home. I feel like I have to make a mess and clean it up before I make another mess. Does that make sense?

These past few days go like this:

Take down Halloween decorations and put them in storage.

Take out stuff in storage and decide what to give away.

Take out Christmas decorations and return storage stuff back into storage.

In our home, the transition from Halloween to Christmas has already begun. Some may say it’s too early for Christmas decorating. Pshaw. Our home looks amazing when done up for Christmas, so why wouldn’t I want it to last longer?

Problem is I’m home for a week and really wanted to do some painting and some final touches to complete our home. What I have done is make a big mess. Clearing out closets and storage areas trying to revamp the look and feel of our home. As well as getting a collection of donation goods and clothes for give away. Decluttering our home is an ongoing process.

But so are home improvements. My staycation is making me tired. At least the Christmas lights are up outside!