Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Merry Christmas!!

We wish you a very Merry Christmas!

I promise to write more about the Little Blue House in the early new year. We have not been doing any work on restoring the tiny Victorian house lately. It has been far too cold! And Christmas preparations and work keep getting in the way...

All the best, and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Outhouse Haiku

Cold, leaning outhouse
Weather-worn, it stands alone
Chills my frozen bum

Our Victorian Outhouse, Nov 2012

Sunday, 18 November 2012


Guess what? Last week, it was colder inside the Little Blue House than it was outside. It appears that the LBH has a second calling in life, as a refrigerator.

I had to keep my warm jacket and boots on in the house. The snow I tracked indoors did not melt, but lay scattered about the floor in small white clumps, in the shapes of the tread on my boots.

Just to prove this fact to you, I took photos of the thermometers both inside and outside. The amazing thing is, it isn't even cold yet!

Here is the thermometer inside the LBH, reading about -3 degrees Celsius.


Here is the view from outside our front door. It was a mild day for mid-November. The temperature reached a high of about 3 degrees C. It was a gorgeous day for the drive, too. There was lots of fresh snow, which always makes everything look clean and new.

The coolness of the house illustrates the need for some insulation. Presently, the floor is not insulated at all. In addition, the walls are essentially uninsulated. At the time the LBH was built, in around 1898, it was common practice to insulate walls with sawdust. Whatever remains of any sawdust in those walls is certainly not providing any insulating properties now. I think it may be good nesting material for mice. God only knows what is in the attic. I'm quite sure that it's not insulation. I will write more on this project in a future post... it is near the top of "The List."

Saturday, 10 November 2012


Did I tell you about Eva? She is a mysterious figure in the history of our Little Blue House. I wrote a little bit about her in an early post.

Did I tell you that the LBH was once a brothel? It became a brothel after it was moved to its present location (it was moved sometime between 1917 and 1920, probably). Eva Daniell was the madam. Here is the LBH, as it looked when we bought the house in July of this year, all overgrown. We removed the shutters, cleaned the house, and took this photo. The house, as seen from this angle, looks  much the same as it did when Eva was running the show.

I have done some preliminary research on Eva, although I feel that there is still much I have to learn about her and the house's colourful past. During these winter months, we don't plan to do much work on the house, so I may write about Eva as I learn more...

See the bay window in the picture below? Eva's shady ladies would sit in that 5-sided bay window, sewing, and gentlemen would pass by in the street to have a look. As I've said before, if they liked what they saw, then perhaps they would have "some tailoring done."


Eva was a Gold Rush madam before she moved into this house and opened it as a brothel. She apparently ran several brothels in the nearby town of Discovery, during the height of the Gold Rush, which started in 1898. Eva Lee Lambert was an American, born on 24 April, 1874. I still have not discovered where exactly she was from.

At some point, she met and fell in love with a British miner named Samuel James Daniell. They were married, although I don't know when. Was she running the brothel when she married? Mr. Daniell was born in Cornwall, England on 21 January, 1873.

Sadly, Eva's love passed away in their home town on 17 September, 1944. Eva, according to a person who was acquainted with her in the 1950s, never really stopped mourning the loss of her husband. (He was a child at the time, and commented that she always wore black and that some of the local kids thought of her as a witch.) I guess every small town needs a Boo Radley.

Eva erected a large headstone in the cemetery for Samuel, and he was buried there. She wished to be laid to rest next to him, according to local historians. However, she died elsewhere and she was never buried next to her true love.
Eva and Samuel Daniell's Grave

There are several mysteries which I should like to solve. One of them is that the headstone says, "Ena L." and not Eva. Another, and perhaps the most significant, is why was Eva not buried here?

I searched through government records and found out that she died on 11 May, 1956 (age 81) and the location says Victoria, BC. Where is she buried? It's sad to see the headstone, marked "1874-    ."

We are so intrigued by the little house, and the many stories that seem to be waiting to be told. Do you think she will let us in on her secrets?

Friday, 26 October 2012

More Views

Lakeshore Explorations

Bike Riding

Old Barn in Autumn


Gold Rush Boat

The Best Mode of Transportation, Ever!

Friday, 19 October 2012

We Fixed Something!

This is the chimney that was leaking. I described it in a previous post, explaining that water was running down through the attic and dripping from the ceiling in our parlour. We do not use this fireplace, because the chimney was so dodgy. It was clear that water had been leaking for quite a while. We decided that we should avoid using the fireplace when we bought the LBH in July.

We plan to remove the chimney completely and patch the roof accordingly, perhaps next summer. We would like to put an efficient heater in this room, one that fits with the Victorian decor. For now, however, we decided that we had to deal with the leak in our roof.

Leaky Bits

Below is the chimney as we found it. I mentioned that our youngest child really wanted that pink bucket. Well, she got it! She was happy. We found the leaky spots around the base of the chimney and around the heat diffusing ring partway up the chimney stack.
Chimney Before Repair

We used a caulking gun with roof repair compound to seal around the base of the chimney and also around the heat diffusing ring, as you can see in the picture below. Because we are not going to be using this fireplace, it is acceptable to use roofing goo on the chimney itself. It is a stopgap repair, without a doubt, but at least it's keeping the rain outside where it belongs!
Roofing Goo Repair

We placed a different bucket atop the chimney, to keep the rain out. (Not the pink bucket.) In this town, one has to have at least one bucket on a chimney, otherwise the little house would feel left out.

This is not the most glamorous subject for a post, but the importance of staying dry cannot be underestimated.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Pumpkin Pie!

I made pumpkin pie in our 100+ year-old cook stove!

For Thanksgiving, we always make pumpkin pie. I must admit that my mother-in-law made the pastry, which I had frozen. Pastry is not my forte, I'm afraid. Perhaps I should try harder, but alas, I am rather busy, I haven't tried that hard to become proficient at it, and I work too much... At heart though, I think there may be a wee Victorian lady in me, deep down. I am a bit of a nester, which is perhaps why I love the prospect of restoring a Victorian home and spending some time in it.

As it was just our small family for dinner, and there was no extended family present, I did not make a full turkey dinner this year. But here is what we had for supper, made in our 1898 kitchen:

Roasted Turkey Breast
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Mashed Potatoes (from our own garden)
Broiled Zucchini
Fresh Biscuits
Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream
Wine for the grown-ups :) (and milk for the kids)

See the picture below! The sun was streaming in the windows, as it does in the late afternoon and early evening in the LBH. It was very cozy in the wee kitchen, as the cook stove was burning. The kids were excited because it was Thanksgiving, and therefore a special occasion. Outside, the leaves were crunchy and there was woodsmoke in the air.
Thanksgiving Dinner
The pie was more brown on one side than it was on the other. I guess there is a technique, unbeknownst to me at Thanksgiving, of rotating the dish periodically to ensure even cooking? But it tasted amazing, if I do say so myself.

Pumpkin Pie

All in all, the weekend was a success. The kids spent
a great part of the weekend outside, due to unseasonably warm weather, riding their bikes, blowing off steam at the playground, and playing in piles of leaves. If work didn't get in the way, I could get used to this lifestyle. Here is some advice for me, that I found in a Victorian article on "Pies and Tarts," from the Girls' Own Paper, circa 1880-81. The article begins with the statement,

"All girls, I imagine, like making pastry."


Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Parlour Ceiling

I guess the plaster on the ceiling in the parlour is about 114 years old. There have clearly been leaks in the roof over the years, and the roof was replaced once that we know of. I am sure that the roof was repaired and/or replaced in the early years of the LBH, too. What is underneath that ugly brown paper?

A builder recently told me that during the early 20th century, people just papered over things they didn't like. They built new walls over old walls, new floors over old floors, and covered old ceilings. He spoke of restoring a home a block away from our tiny house; the owners told him that the house had originally been a barn. He laughed, but when he was peeling back the layers inside that particular house, he found all sorts of interesting things.

The previous tenants, when tired of the walls, covered over old posters with new wallpaper. One of the posters that he unearthed, depicting North-West Mounted Police posts, is now displayed at the local museum. (The North-West Mounted Police existed under that name from 1873 to 1904.) Sure enough, he removed several floors to find the floor of the barn, horse shit and all! They didn't remove the manure, but built on top of it. I guess it was an expedient, if not smelly, way to renovate one's house. And, as an added bonus, house guests might not overstay their welcome?

Parlour Ceiling

The photo above shows the most damaged area of the parlour ceiling.  I think the horrid brown paper on the ceiling of the otherwise charming room was installed when electricity was brought to the LBH.  I do not know when the house was wired, although I suspect it was in the 1950s. The water damage likely occurred prior to the installation of our current, metal roof in about 2006. (This is what it looks like now, as we bought it - we purchased the house in July of this year.)

Close-Up of Plaster on Ceiling

Here's a close-up that I took last week when I stuck the camera up into that big tear in the brown paper. How many layers do you think there are? We are so tempted to just rip it down - it's like a big, ugly Christmas present! But this one will be the kind of gift that just keeps on giving. I imagine a shower of old plaster, dust, and spiders, revealing even worse damage beneath... Some kids sneak into a parent's closet to peek at their Christmas prezzies - I was never that type of child, no way - but this present would be too difficult to re-wrap. No peeking!

Once we start, we will not be able to stop, and our pocketbooks are not deep enough to explore this yet. I am making plans though. I guess we will tackle the wee house's foundation first... We will get her standing up straight. Her insides will have to wait a little while.

I just hope we don't find too much crap along the way.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Favourite Victorian Homes in Our Town

I want to share some pictures I took recently near our Little Blue House. This is a very small town, and as I've mentioned before, it is a Gold Rush town. As such, many of the buildings there date back to 1898-1900.

There were three fires which destroyed many homes and buildings in the early part of the century. The only reason our LBH survived these fires is because it wasn't there! It was built around 1898 in another Gold Rush town that no longer exists. I will include some pictures of that ghost town in a future post.

Our tiny house was moved to its present location after the last great fire claimed most of the homes on our street in 1917. It was common practice to move homes around in the early 1900s, especially here. I guess one wouldn't even consider moving our gargantuan, sprawling homes these days...

Here is a place across the street from the LBH. It has a story, which perhaps I will share in another post. It is leaning precariously to one side, and I imagine that it's infested with bats. I've seen them zooming around there at night, and it would be a perfect roosting spot for the wee rodents. Do bats roost? Is that the correct term to use with bats?

A Neighbor

The house below is one of my favourites, and it has been well looked-after. I don't know how old it is, but it looks Victorian!
Restored Victorian Home

This miniature blue house is a couple of blocks away from the LBH. It has an amazing mountain view. You can see the fresh snow on the mountains in the picture below, as the freezing level slowly creeps down the mountainside, bringing us closer to winter...
Miniature Blue House

The Globe Theatre, in the photo below, was built after the town's second fire in 1916. The theatre had a player piano, and it was an immensely popular spot. The theatre is still used today for certain events and shows.
Globe Theatre

The last building, in the photo below, was beautifully restored in recent years. I have never been inside it, but I'm curious to see what it looks like. It was a jewelry store.
Eggert's (former) Jewelry Store

Well, I hope you enjoy looking at these Victorian buildings as much as I do. More on our plans for the Little Blue House soon!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Our Home's Feet

Here is what it looks like underneath our Little Blue House. I must say it is perhaps not as bad as I'd imagined. Although when I look at these photos again it doesn't look very good. My husband took these photos last month. We already know that the house needs to be brought to level, and the pictures just reinforce that belief.

Unfortunately, I think we must wait until Spring before we can repair the foundation. There are a few people in our small community that can do this type of work, and we want to help out with unskilled labour. (That is us, unskilled labour, for sure.)

This looks pretty terrible, in the photo below. This is the area underneath the tiny front porch, and it is definitely rotting. The porch slopes towards the house, so we are worried about the snow piling up against the house over the winter. The porch has got to go before we can get underneath the house and jack it up. But if we remove it now, the house will sit there looking ugly all winter!

Underneath the Porch

Where to begin? The photo below shows the area underneath the parlour, in the vicinity of the front door. The horizontal supports look alright to our untrained eyes (ie. they look dry and they are big enough to support the house). However, the vertical supports, as you can see at right, are leaning precariously. This explains why my mum feels dizzy standing in the front parlour.
Foundation Beneath Parlour

This last photo shows the woeful inadequacy of the supports. That vertical piece looks no bigger than a 2 x 4! I think we will have to get some proper cement footings in and gently jack up the house, bit by bit, and install proper posts. This is number one on "The List." 
Wobbly Bits

So there you have it! A very matter-of-fact post to illustrate why our LBH is falling down. Slowly falling down. I am sad that we must wait to intervene! For now, it may be prudent to avoid any wild parties in the front parlour. There shall be no dancing!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Cooking with Fire

Now we're cooking with fire. There is something primal about preparing your food over an open flame. The wood cook stove is the somewhat modern equivalent of an open fire for cooking in your house. The previous owners of the Little Blue House said that they used the cook stove up until their last stay in the house, over 3 years ago.

As I've said in a previous post, these stoves were manufactured in the late 1800s by the Tinnerman Steel Range Company in Cleveland, Ohio. Check out the turn-of-the-century advertisement for the range below:

Our cook stove needed a new gasket, and a good cleaning. Also, the chimney was topped with - you guessed it - a bucket. I got a conical hat for the chimney, to replace the bucket. My dad and I got up there on the roof and installed it atop the chimney. The chimney itself looks to be in really good shape, as it was replaced about 7 years ago with a modern double-walled version.

A Conical Hat for our Chimney

Once we fixed the chimney, I replaced the gasket on the cook stove. See? I cleaned the stove and we lit her up! It was amazing how warm the little house became; my mum was really happy about that. She actually ditched her hat, gloves and puffy vest for a while.

New Gasket on Antique Cook Stove

I cooked part of our dinner that night on this cook stove, which was built in the late 1800s. It needs a little more work, but it is functional. Of the 6 burners atop the stove, 3 are cracked. I imagine that if I look around, I could find new ones to replace those that are broken.

Cooking with Fire

My initial experience with the cook stove was positive, and the next step will be cooking Thanksgiving dinner! I don't know about roasting the turkey in there, but I am definitely going to bake a pumpkin pie. Perhaps I will cook the potatoes and other veggies on the ancient stove, too. I will let you know how that goes. At least we will be warm!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Autumn Impressions

Fall is my favourite season, anywhere. In this small town, where we found our little Victorian home, it is perhaps even more calming. The leaves grab your attention; they seem to say, "Look at me! This is it; I will not be this beautiful again. Soon I will dry up, fall to the ground, and be covered with snow." It is a time of decay, but it is also the start of regrowth.

A View from Town

Autumn Fireweed

Sneak Peek at Our LBH and Workshop

Aspen and Sky

Burning Leaves

Monday, 24 September 2012

Playing with My Level

Does this house look level to you? It isn't, and of course you know this already because you've been reading my blog for a little while, perhaps? If you didn't know this, look at the photos below! Behold our crooked Little Blue House. Being that it was built in 1898, during the big Gold Rush, and being that the house was moved 7 km to its present location, the fact that it is not level should not come as a surprise. Please read previous posts for the story of this house, although the story isn't over yet. :)

The House is Settling In

Okay, we promised ourselves that we would focus on restoring this house from the bottom-up. We actually had a peek underneath the house - specifically, my husband had a peek - and it is not too tragic. We think that it can be repaired, with some work. Those crawl-space photos will follow in a future post.

I went round the house with my little level, just for fun, to see how bad it really is.
Table in Parlour

Here is the table top in the parlour, where the level sat for a little while recently, telling me that the house was all crooked. Look at that! One notices while standing in the LBH that one has one knee bent, and the other leg straight, in order to maintain a somewhat normal standing position! My mother commented recently, "This house makes me a bit dizzy."

Level Resting on Window Frame

The level hung out for a bit on a window frame in the 5-sided bay window room. It looked out at the neighbor's house and said, "What does it feel like to stand up straight?"

The house is slumping towards the street; the house sits on a sloping property, and it's just settling in because it is comfortable there. I think we shall give it a wee lift, gently, so as not to hurt it. A local builder, the fellow who built the extension on the back of the LBH 20 years ago, said we probably should not level it perfectly. If we do so, it may hurt the structure of the house, and will likely damage the roof also.

So I think that this work will be like a face lift on an aging woman. It must be done with care, it must be done by qualified people, it must be done right, it will cost money, and if we screw it up, we will end up with the house equivalent of Cat Lady.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Fringe Lamp

I am putting the cart before the horse, when I find things for the inside of the LBH... We know that we should restore the house from the bottom-up, outside-in... and we will. But we need light to read, don't we? I am not going to go overboard with stuff for the inside of the house, like furniture and light fixtures. Really, I'm not. We must get the back-breaking, labour-intensive, expensive and unglamorous aspect of the house done first. More to follow on that subject in a future post, soon!

There was a lamp that came with the house. It was green and faux-brass. Very 90s. It looked okay. Sort of. However, I was recently in Edmonton, Alberta. There are some amazing antique stores there. Look what I found for less than $100!

Lamp with Beaded Fringe, circa 1920

This lamp has what I call "tattered elegance." It has character! It's solid wood, with a silk shade. The shade is coming apart slightly in a couple of spots. The shade has a silk flower sewn onto one panel, as you can see above, and it is trimmed with a fringe of tiny glass beads. We told the kids, "This is a Looking-At Lamp, not a Touching Lamp."

I found it at the Old Strathcona Antique Mall in Edmonton, Alberta. Check out the mall's website at:

A Reading Nook

I just want to curl up in the chair, next to the warm and inviting light of this somewhat tattered but beautiful lamp, and read something written by Charles Dickens. The house may be crooked, and perhaps it's falling down, but I know we will get to that eventually. For now, let there be light! 

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Girls' Cabins

Beyond Repair

A little while ago, I mentioned that our Little Blue House was a brothel. There are two cabins on our property, where the girls would take their customers. One of the cabins is falling down. Here is a side view. It's beyond all hope, I'm afraid.


Autumn is my favourite season. I love how the fireweed turns yellow, then red, and finally becomes a deep purple.

To Restore or Not Restore?

Should we restore this little cabin? We showed the interior to a friend of ours recently, and he thought that if it remained dry over the winter, that a restoration might be worthwhile. However, there was a heavy rain last weekend, and there were some damp spots on the underside of the roof. My dad looked at it and said, "I don't know if I agree with your plans on this one..."

Does this look like a place where you would like to stay?

Tin roof

It doesn't look so bad for a 100-or-so-year-old roof, does it?

Side View

It even has windows, see?!

Well, I guess we have lots of time to think about what to do with this cabin. For now, it's a good place to store firewood. Oh, and the mice are happy to stay there, too. As long as they keep out of the LBH, I will be glad. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Saturday Afternoon Entertainment

We have no laundry facilities in the LBH, of course. The washtub and washboard I found in the house are the Victorian equivalent of the washing machine.

For our children, a visit to the town's laundromat proved to be both functional and entertaining.