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!