Monday, December 24, 2007

The biggest Christmas present...

Two Fridays ago, I arrived home from a work retreat to find my crazy parents had been slaving away on their knees for many hours grouting our newly stained and sealed floor (I say "crazy" with a lot of gratitude and amazement at their energy). I quickly donned my grubby clothes and got to work - we finished that night!

We were scheduled to move in that Sunday afternoon, but the weatherman (I have several other names for him that I won't use publicly) was forecasting the storm of the century... of course. We haven't had this much snow in December in many years! We couldn't switch to Saturday because it was the only time Dave & I could get into a prenatal class before our birth due date, and lord knows we need all the help we can get in the "soon-to-be-first-time-parents" department.

Once again, my parents surprised us and moved a large load of furniture while we were tied up and helped us load up our vehicles so that we were ready to go early Sunday morning. With the help of our friends Charles and Phil, we finished moving in mid-afternoon on Sunday. And, yes, it was storming...*a lot* by that point, but we finished ahead of the dangerous part and everyone made it home safely on the snowy roads.

This week has been as hectic as ever with the usual Christmas preparations still to do - only I did them WEEKS later than I normally would have each evening after work. Note to friends: our Christmas cards will come in the form of...hmmm...well, they may not come at all, even in the the new year. Now we have to finish unpacking, preparing for baby, and making the transition to take a year off from my university gig. Dave and I have always agreed that we enjoy a challenge...good think we're both on the same page here...

Above, a glimpse of our newly arranged dining room. Still some finishing touches to do, but this gives you a view of our finished floor.

An image of our fireside seating area in the same room. Miraculously, between unpacking many, many boxes (and there are still many to go) I managed to decorate the Christmas tree after my Dad and the tree finished WWIII (hmmm... my Dad and tree stands have never gotten along well... it brought back many childhood memories of me trying to watch the classic Rudolph and Grinch cartoons amidst flying fir needles).

The artwork above the mantle and on the next wall are Bruce Stonehouse originals...couldn't resist the plug for Dad Stonehouse...

We still have much to do in preparing our other rooms for the long term, so look for more of the story to be posted in photos later this week as I work my way through each room over my holiday week (while Dave works away at the newspaper).

A Carol Taylor angel snuggled into our living room nicho seemed like an appropriate bookend for a Christmas eve blog post. Happy Holidays all!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations. It looks beautiful.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Shooting Star Nursery - Christie and Scott Mackison said...


Well, ferrous sulfate has thus far not impressed us. The floor is mottled, from orange to really orange, with a lot of plain gray concrete inbetween. My question is - did you have any problem applying the acid stain over the ferrous sulfate stained concrete?

We are thinking about trying to shift the color spectrum from orange to brown with the acid stain.

Thanks (and happy new year!)


11:39 PM  
Blogger Kara said...

We weren't happy w. the ferrous sulfate either - what a let down! However, I did find that the acid worked really well over the f. sulfate without any problem. We mopped it on in two coats (one coat left the grey concrete showing in between, but two looks good once it is sealed). I would suggest washing it well and letting it dry first though before applying the acid stain. Happy new year to you guys! -k

9:40 AM  
Blogger Shooting Star Nursery - Christie and Scott Mackison said...

Thanks Kara,

Your house has really come together, by the way. It looks beautiful inside.

One more question if you don't mind. Did you notice a jump in performance of your radiant floor system when you put in the rigid insulation at the perimeter of your slab? We haven't put in the insulation or even backfilled yet, and while the system doesn't have any trouble keeping the place warm, it's devouring kilowatts at an alarming rate.



10:26 AM  
Blogger Kara said...


We had rigid insulation installed before it was poured. The insulation runs under the slab and extends out four feet all the way around the perimetre (to keep frost from affecting our floating slab) and it also runs up the side of the slab all the way around and ends flush with the top.

We only recently put flashing around the insulation (in addition to the flashing we'd already installed for run off from the wall) to protect the insulation from the elements. The sun can really break insulation can rough gardeners like me :)

So, all that to say, I'm not sure what difference the insulation would make, but I think it would be quite important. We're still monitoring the system to see how much energy it's using. Our Jan and Feb energy bills should be a good indicator.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Shooting Star Nursery - Christie and Scott Mackison said...

Thank Kara,

We're putting up the rigid insulation at the slab edge this week. Having heated the slab for the past 3 weeks with no insulation, I'll definitely have an idea of the insulation's benefits within another week or so.

Enjoy that house!


12:06 AM  
Blogger Tracey said...

Hi Kara,

I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago and have been enjoying it immensely. My partner and I live in Saint John and want to look into building a straw bale house this year. If you folks still need any help with your finish work, we'd love to lend a hand some evening, and pick your brain about straw bale stuff at the same time.


6:30 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

Hi Kara,

not sure how it stumpled into my head to check your blog, but i'm glad i did. THe house looks gorgeous. The inside is amazing. i'm sure you are enjoying it immensly!

hope all is well,


12:03 PM  
Blogger greasemover said...

Hello, I love your blog. I'm a green builder in Tennessee specializing in straw bale construction and organic blogging. I would love to exchange links with this great blog. I have my business site and a discussion forum about straw bale construction. If you're interested, my email address is on my profile. I look forward to reading more here in the future. Keep up the great work

5:54 PM  
Blogger StrawBoss said...

I hope all is well with you and yours.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Offgrid said...

Wow - beautiful house. I'll read more of your blog - Where in Canada rea you ? I'd love to build a straw house.

4:07 PM  

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