Kitchen Reno – New Trend Stone Countertops

The Kitchen Reno was precipitated by two events. The first was the unfortunate choice of counter top surface that I made twenty years ago. The surface was a laminate with a very slight texture to it. In my defense, those little sample chips of laminate don’t really prepare the buyer for what the product is going to look like when it becomes a blanket of counter top. And in the case of this product, the slight texture wasn’t as slight as I thought, and dirt didn’t think it was slight either. Regular attacks of a bristly brush and lots of muscle power were required to keep it clean.

But I lived with it for 20 years before the second event set the ball rolling. A new business opened in the town nearby. It is called Granite Transformations.  I researched it on the web, and checked out it’s reputation. In the meantime, my Spousal Unit stopped by their showroom one day and was impressed with their product. So he invited them to come to our house and show us how they could transform our kitchen. Which they did.

Granite Transformations Tropico

The saleslady explained all about the product, then laid out the little sample chips on our counters. After much hemming and hawing, I finally chose several that I liked. But I wasn’t prepared to make a commitment to one of them. Then the saleslady went out to her car and brought in big samples of the product, so that I could see what they really looked like. That narrowed my choice down to one. But I wasn’t prepared to make a commitment.

Then the sales lady got out her tape measure and calculator, and next thing we knew she was ready to give us the price for our kitchen’s transformation. Which she did. But I wasn’t prepared to make a commitment… although by now I had spent several hours with the product and I could really see how it was going to look in my kitchen. And the big sample that I had chosen was happily sitting next to the cook top, acting like it was already part of the family.

So then the saleslady, who was also starting to feel like she belonged in my kitchen,  told us how much she was willing to budge on the price if we would like to make a commitment before she rounded up her product and set off into the night. She assured us, however,  that we had two weeks to completely back out of the commitment for no charge. Spousal Unit and I retired to the living room to review the contract terms, and  decide whether we should sign it. We signed.

For the next two weeks we did the research we would have done anyhow. We visited a lady who had recently had her kitchen done by Granite Transformations. She was happy. We looked at granite slabs and compared prices. We looked at other products.  At the end of the two weeks, we were content that we had made the right choice for our kitchen.

The product we are purchasing is called Trend Stone. It is an engineered product that is – wonderful, to hear them describe it. The counter top sections will be prefabricated in the shop from 1/4 inch thick product. Then they will be installed right over top of our existing counter tops. This has a lot of appeal to us. Our renovation philosophy is reuse or recycle, so not having to tear out our old counter tops and back splash is a big bonus.

Cook top and counter before reno

The cost? It is going to be about 4 times as much per square foot as what we spent 4 years ago for some laminate counter tops in the workshop. For that, we get 4 more features – hot pans can sit on it, knifes won’t scratch it, chemicals won’t stain it and flames won’t mar it. Who can argue when the numbers align like that?

I see that some designers are forecasting that granite counter tops have perhaps reached the peak of their popularity, and are heading towards being out of style. If that is the case, so be it. Our dining room set has been out of style since shortly after we bought it over 30 years ago. Ditto the kitchen flooring that is 20 years old. We’ve been married for 40 years, which is probably out of style too…

The installation was completed in two days, and was very professionally done. We are happy with the results, and look forward to many years of easy to care for counters!

Kitchen Cart Cutting Board – Reno Continued

IKEA Bekvam
IKEA Bekvam

The Kitchen Reno is progressing relatively smoothly. That is because nothing has actually happened yet. No, that is not entirely true. We raised a small table height piece of counter up to match the height of the rest of the counter, resulting in a larger peninsula.

I also wanted to add a free standing Cutting Block to the kitchen, so carefully measured out the exact right size. With measurements in hand, I approached my Spousal Unit and asked him how long it would take him and his dad to make it for me. With a grunt that suggested Hell might freeze over first, he then suggested I look for a premade one.

I was somewhat skeptical that I would find what I wanted – 18 inches wide by 24 inches long by 34 inches high. The absolutely perfect size. Much to my surprise, one of the first carts that popped up on the internet was almost the perfect size -the IKEA Bekvam – 19 5/8 inches wide by 23 5/8 inches long by 33 1/2 inches high.

This was a no-brainer purchase. It took me about an hour to assemble the cart, including the time I spent putting on multiple coats of IKEA’s food safe oil, SKYDD, onto the butcher block surface – top, bottom and sides. Eventually I will replace the wheels with multi-direction wheels, and put a coat of stain on the rest of the cart. In the meantime the work surface is performing just as I hoped.

Kitchen Reno – An Induction Cooktop

Our 30 year old Jenn-Air Cooktop is on its last legs. When I ask it to heat, it has to think long and hard before it comes to work. I decided to replace it with an Induction Cooktop. Induction cooking is an established technology in many countries, but is a relatively new choice for homeowners in North America.

I found information on 19 Induction Cooktops that were apparently available from retailers such as The Brick, Home Depot, IKEA, Sears, and two local dealers. The Manufacturers included Bosch, Electrolux, GE, Jenn-Air, Kenmore, KitchenAid, LG, Miele, Thermador, Viking, Whirlpool, and Wolf.

I wanted at least one burner that was 10 to 11 inches in size. That eliminated these cooktops:

  • Viking VICU206-4BSB
  • Electrolux EW301C601S
  • Wolf CT30IU
  • Wolf CT30VS
  • Whirlpool GCI3061XB

I wanted one large burner at the back and one large one at the front. I didn’t want both large burners at the front. That eliminated:

  • Kenmore MD C970-40823

I eliminated these ones because they cost more than what I wanted to pay:

  • Miele MasterChef
  • GE Monogram
  • Bosch 800 Series
  • Jenn-Air JE10430ADS
  • KitchenAid KICU500XSS
  • Thermador CIT304GB
  • KitchenAid Architect Series

I also eliminated these ones for lack of information, or other features that I didn’t want or like:

  • IKEA NUTID
  • Bosch 300 Series
  • GE Profile
  • Electrolux E301C801S

With two to choose from, I went to visit:

  • LG LCE30845
  • Bosch NIT5065UC
Bosch 5065

I ended up ordering the Bosch 500 Series. What I like about the Bosch  is the way you choose the heat setting. Most cooktops have a plus/minus pad that you tap repeatedly to move up or down the range of temperatures. The Bosch has a bar with numbers on it, so you tap the number  for the heat setting you want. Bosch makes two other cooktops, one with more features than this one, and one with fewer features.  Sort of a Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear. I chose the Mama Bear.

Induction Cooking – Pots and Pans

What you’ll find in this post about Canadian Induction Pots and Pans:

An Introduction to Induction Pots and Pans
Review of all the sets I considered
Photos of many of the sets
A few words about the Manufacturers

Introduction to Induction Cooking

In the never-ending reno, the kitchen is getting an Induction Cooktop. Induction cooking requires special pots – they have to have flat magnetic bottoms. My old Revere Copper bottom pots meet neither of those requirements.  (You can test the magnetism of your pots by holding a magnet up to the bottom. If it sticks, your pot is magnetic.)

So, what to buy? Well, I wanted something handsome, shiny and silvery.  This meant, to me anyway, stainless steel. Stainless steel is an iron alloy with chromium and nickel. It is corrosion resistant, and non-reactive to alkaline and acidic foods. It is also resistant to scratching and denting. The best percentage of chromium and nickel is 18/10, but some pots are 18/9 and many are 18/8. The thickness of stainless steel will vary with the expense of the pot. Lower end pots will be made of stainless steel that is .5 mm thick. Most pots will be .6 mm, while premium pots will be .7 mm to 1 mm.

Stainless steel doesn’t conduct heat very well, so pots will have aluminum or copper or both of them to conduct and retain heat. Less expensive pots will have these metals only in a conductor disk on the bottom of the pot. More expensive pots will be clad, that is they will have a layer of copper or aluminum extending over the entire pot, in addition to the conductor disk on the base. The conductor disk will be enclosed in stainless steel, with the layer next to the induction cooktop made of a magnetic metal.

I expect to make a lifetime commitment to these pots, so I looked on the internet for local Canadian retail outlets where I could visit my prospective purchase before I bought.  I checked internet listings for pots that came in sets, because that is the cheapest way of buying them. All in all, I collected data on 34 prospective lines of pots, though there are likely more. The information that follows may have inaccuracies – I didn’t actually go to the store to verify the information.

Most of the pots listed below will be 3 ply stainless, unless otherwise indicated. Most will have riveted handles. Most of them will likely be Made in China, even when the manufacturing company lives elsewhere. Many of the pots listed below are available from other sources, often directly from the manufacturer via their website.

A Review of the Pot and Pan Sets – All of the prices are in Canadian Dollars  (in December of 2010).

1. I didn’t want pots with black handles – no big reason, just a preference. (However, black handles are generally less slippery.) That eliminated:

Lagostina Elysee – available at Sears.ca; 5 pots, 4 lids; black handles, tempered glass lids; $500

Lagostina Ticino – available at Canadian Tire; 5 pots and 5 lids; black bakelite handles; $350

Lagostina Venezia – available at The Bay;  6 pots and 5 lids; black bakelite handles; $500

Lagostina Verbania– available at The Bay; 10 pots and 7 lids; black bakelite handles; $700

Paderno Artistry – available at Sears.ca; 5 pots and 4 lids; handles black silicone; $540 (was on sale for $400)

Paderno Royale – available at Home Hardware; 4 pots and 3 lids; black handles; $290

2. I didn’t want pots with “pot bellies”.  I also didn’t like the appearance of some pots. Again, no big reason, just a preference. That eliminated:

Henkels Twin Select – available at Sears.ca; 5 pots and 4 lids; $950

IKEA 365+ – available at IKEA; 4 pots and 3 lids; $50

IKEA FAVORIT – available at IKEA; 4 pots and 3 lids; $170

Lagostina Commercial Pro – available at Canadian Tire; 6 pots and 6 lids; $200

Lagostina Gastronomica – available at Sears.ca; 7 pots and 5 lids; handles have santoprene inserts; $700

Lagostina Padova – available at Canadian Tire; 6 pots and 5 lids; handles have santoprene linserts; $600

Lagostina Capri – available at Canadian Tire; 5 pots and 5 lids; $430

3. Some pots didn’t appear to be  high temperature oven proof, according to the information I found. That eliminated:

Kuraidori Kuradri – available at Home Hardware; 5 pots and 4 lids; handles have black inserts; oven safe to 350F; $200

Lagostina Windsor – available at Sears.ca; 6 pots and 5 lids; oven safe to 350F; handles have santoprene inserts; $600 (was on sale for $300)

Wolfgang Puck Gourmet – available at Bed Bath and Beyond; 5 pots and 5 lids; oven safe to 400F; $180

4. Some sets contained pots that I didn’t want. Some pots were more expensive than other pots of equal specifications. And some pots were just very expensive. That eliminated:

Calphalon Tri-Ply– available at Bed Bath and Beyond; 8 pots and 5 lids; $380

Calphalon Contemporary– available at The Bay; 5 pots and 3 lids; $1000

Gordon Ramsay Maze – available at The Bay; 6 pots and 5 lids; $800

Weil – available at Bed Bath and Beyond; 5 pots and 3 lids; $650

Kirkland Signature Tri-Ply – available at Costco; 7 pots and 6 lids; $300

Paderno Everlast – available at Paderno.ca; 5 pots and 5 lids; $600; (was on sale for $400)

Paderno Paradigm – available at Home Hardware; 6 pots and 5 lids; $400

Paderno Hearthstead – available at Sears.ca; 7 pots and 5 lids; $750 (was on sale for $200)

All-Clad Stainless Steel– available at Bed Bath and Beyond; 8 pots and 5 lids; stainless steel lids; $1400

Culinary Institute of America – Masters– available at Bed Bath and Beyond; 6 pots and 4 lids; 7 ply; $700

Lagostina Academy FivePly Copper – available at Sears.ca; 5 pots and 5 lids; 5 ply; $1350 (was on sale at Lagostina.ca for $800)

Costco Heritage – available at Costco; 6 pots &  inserts and 6 lids; manufacturer unknown; $200

Mauviel 1830 – available at Bed Bath and Beyond; 5 pots and 4 lids; 5 ply; $900

5. This left me with only 5 sets that met with my approval. In order of apparent quality, starting with the best, they were:

Lagostina Pro-clad VII – available at Sears.ca; 6 pots and inserts and 5 lids; 5 ply body; $900 (was on sale for $450)

Paderno Copperline – available at Sears.ca; 6 pots and 5 lids; 5 ply; $750 (was on sale for $350)

DeLonghi Genoa – available at Sears.ca; 7 pots and 7 lids; stainless lids with steam holes; $700 (was on sale for $350)

DeLonghi Venice – available at Sears.ca; 10 pots and inserts, 7 lids; stainless lids with steam holes; $700 (was on sale for $350)

Paderno Flair – available at Home Hardware; 6 pots and 5 lids; $700 (was on sale for $230)

And the Winner is:

A trip to the store let me look at the pots, feel their weight, and admire their features. After much consideration, I chose a set of Paderno Copperline pots, and one 8L Pasta Pot from Paderno Flair. All the Paderno pots I looked at above are made by a Canadian Company, not the Italian manufacturer also called Paderno.

Here are Photos of many of the pots I reviewed in 2010.

Styles and availability of these pots will likely be different today. To see these photos in full size, and view the slideshow, click on any of the photos. To close the slideshow, click your ‘ESC’ button, or the little ‘X’ in the top left corner.

The Major Manufacturers of Pots and Pans that are available in Canada are:

 All-Clad – All-Clad is an American Company that was formed in 1971. Their products are made in America, from American metals.

Calphalon – Calphalon is a company formed in 1963 in Ohio, USA.

Culinary Institute of America – Masters – The Culinary Institute of America is a non-profit culinary college. The Masters collection is high end cookware.

DeLonghi – DeLonghi was founded in 1902 in Italy.

Gordon Ramsay – Gordon Ramsay is a Scottish celebrity chef living in London.

Henckels – Peter Henckels registereds the ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS logo with the Cutler’s Guild in Solingen, Germany in 1731.

IKEA – IKEA is a Swedish company founded by Ingvar Kamprad  in 1943. The company is committed to providing good quality, affordable products manufactured in a sustainable way.

Kirkland – Kirkland is Costco’s store brand.

Kuraidori – Translated from Japanese, the word means grade, class, quality, unit, digit. As for the pots, I can’t find any information on the internet about the manufacturer.

Lagostina Canada – Lagostina is an Italian Company founded in 1901.

Mauviel 1830–  Mauviel was founded in France in 1830. It is still a privately owned company.

Paderno Canada – Paderno was formed in 1979 in Prince Edward Island (Canada). They still have a plant there, and it makes their Classic line (which is trademarked as Pots for Eternity), their Chef’s Choice line, and their new Fusion 5 line. Their plant does not  have the machinery or capacity to manufacture some cookware demands (tempered glass lids, induction cooking, copper encapsulation, etc). These come from different countries around the globe (Germany, Italy, China, Indonesia, etc) but are made to Paderno’s standards from inspected manufacturing plants. Their importation of these products have allowed them to increase their Canadian employment in administration, retail and warehousing without eliminating any Canadian manufacturing jobs. Paderno is the only Canadian cookware manufacturer.

Weil – Dr. Andrew Weil is an American who writes about healthy lifestyles through alternative medicine.

Wolfgang Puck – Wolfgang Puck is an award winning chef from Austria who has a line of professional quality cookware.

Basements – A Place for Home Reno Disasters

In this part of the world, most houses have basements. They are usually delivered to a new home buyer in a pristine, unfinished state. The basement is an empty canvas just waiting to be tenderly converted into a series of rooms that no architect would ever stoop to designing. Basements are generally developed by owners who have had very little experience in any of the trades needed to do such things. Basements usually have small windows, and slightly lower than average ceilings, so the comparison of a basement to a cave is fitting.

Our basement met most of that criteria when we moved in. It had been “developed”, but not very well. So over the years, we have modified the room placements, upgraded the materials, and improved the overall ambiance. This basement has been part of our lives for about nineteen years now, so it has seen it’s fair share of comings and goings. Everyone in the family has called it “home” when they were temporarily between homes somewhere out in the real world. A few relatives have done the same thing. And a steady flow of “stuff” comes and goes with the people and purpose that is prevalent at the time.

As the Never Ending Reno continues, we are  focused this week (or probably month) on the basement. It is our goal to sort through all the stuff that resides there and either keep it or dispose of it. To do this, it is important to decide what purpose each of the rooms now serves, and then put the right stuff in the right room. So, we designated part of the basement as an office for my Spousal Unit’s Company. And part of it holds the elaborate sump pump system that keeps us high and dry. Part of it is a dual purpose room – a dark room for the photographers in the family, and a wine making room for the drinkers. There are a couple of bedrooms, the obligatory bathroom, a sauna and shower room, a furnace room and a workshop. And the Family Room, which I will get to later.

It is likely hard to imagine how this many rooms could fit into a basement space, but as I said, no architect would approve of this floor plan. But you truly can create quite a few rooms if you don’t have much hallway, and if each room leads into the next. For example, to get to the sump room you pass through the Office, then the Workshop, and then the Dark Room. Or, you can go Office, Furnace room, Dark Room, Sump room. To get to the Bunkroom, you go Office, Family room, Bunkroom. As you may have gathered, the Office is right in the middle and it has doors everywhere you look.

As I mentioned earlier, the Family Room is the prime focus right now – mostly because it houses an extremely large and heavy sofa that required several strong people and access through a window in order to get it into the room. It was on the list of things to find a new home for. But getting it out of the basement was not a task we looked forward to, so I decided it would just have to stay, and I would work around it – and the treadmill, and the deep freeze. Besides, the sofa, and it’s matching chair, were the first new pieces of upholstered furniture we bought after we were married, and there is some sentimental attachment.

The sofa and chair were modern in their day, and the busy floral fabric was all the rage. Of course, our grown up children absolutely detest this furniture, but they aren’t the ones that still take afternoon siestas on the sofa…

So the sofa and chair are going to stay, and the walls of the room are going to be decorated with framed photos of the family. And that is why it is going to be called the Family Room… which sounds much nicer than the Treadmill Room, or Deep Freeze Room or, as the kids might call it – the Big Ugly Couch Room.

Rabbit and Cat Be Gone – Don’t Dump Your Pets in the Country

A few weeks ago, a rabbit moved into the fenced area of our property. The fence is of the sturdy chain link variety, about 4 feet high. It was erected by the previous owners to keep their dogs from being coyote bait. The fence serves no practical purpose for me because I have no dogs, and cats scale it without difficulty. The white tail deer sail over it with impunity. Crows and magpies fly over it, as do red lily beetles. Weed seeds fly through the fence, as do mosquitoes and the ever present wind. And, apparently jackrabbits crawl under it. It is really a useless fence – though not entirely useless – it keeps the coyotes out. And that is why the jackrabbit (actually a hare) enjoyed several weeks of unabated eating before I realized what was going on.

We have never had jackrabbits in our neck of the woods (well, prairies) before. At least, not in the past 19 years. Our urban neighbours to the south have at least one on each street corner, however. And that is, perhaps, how the rabbits arrived at our door. It is my theory that someone from the city trapped a few rabbits, and then transported them to the country and released them.

The trappers action resulted in the demise of much of my vegetable garden. All my peas, spinach, lettuce and carrots were eaten. At first I couldn’t figure out what was munching all the tender leaves, and what was excavating saucer size depressions throughout my yard. Finally I spotted a furry critter, and was surprised to see it was a rabbit. I was not pleased.

It is, of course, possible that rabbits have actually migrated into our area on their own. If they have, the four predator species that already live here will welcome a new source of game. I suspect, however, that the rabbits arrived in the same manner as many stray cats do – human transportation. Some people seem to think that the way to dispose of animals they don’t want is to drive them out to the country and turn them loose.

Foolish people. Domestic felines may be the king of the cats in an urban environment, but in a rural one they generally do not survive for long. They quickly become the hunted, not the hunter. They may outsmart the predators for a summer, but they will perish with the arrival of winter. There are places where cats should be taken if they are not wanted, and one of them isn’t my backyard.

But what to do with a pesky jackrabbit? There are two courses of action. The first is to fence them out so they don’t eat the garden. The second is to encourage their demise.

How to Save Paint Brushes from Drying out Mid-Project

Sometimes when I am in the middle of a painting project, I don’t want to clean my paint brush until I am done. Sometimes being done means tomorrow, or the next day. Or, sometimes it is a month later if the Never Ending Reno is in progress…

  • I’ve tried wrapping my paint brush in clingy wrap, but the other day I ran out of cling wrap. So I popped the uncleaned wet paint brush into a small heavy duty zip lock bag. I scooted the brush over to one side and  zipped up the bag as close to the handle as I could.  Then I folded the empty part of the bag around the brush as many times as it would go. Lastly I used a twist tie to secure the bag around the handle. So far I’m on my fourth week of not being done, and the brush hasn’t dried out at all.
  • A similar process can be used for paint rollers. Lay the uncleaned wet roller on a square of cling wrap and wrap it up tightly. Pop the roller into a plastic bag, preferably the long plastic sleeve that new roller refills come it. Secure the open end with a twist tie.
  • Lastly, the paint in a paint tray can also be saved for later. Lay cling wrap right over the surface of the paint in the tray.  Pop the entire tray into a plastic kitchen catcher size bag, and secure the open end with a twist tie.
liner
Paint tray lined with Glad Press’n Seal Wrap

I purchased several teflon coated paint trays because I don’t like cleaning paint trays. After I am finished painting, I leave a fairly thick coat of paint in the tray, and let it dry. Once well dried, the paint peels right off the tray. If the paint coat is too thin, it is more work to peel it off.

If you don’t want to buy teflon coated trays, then line the paint tray with Glad Press’n Seal Wrap. Press it down tightly, especially along a seam. When you are finished painting, let the paint dry, then peel off the Press’n Seal Wrap.

Fly Proof Your House

I have two coats of paint to apply to the walls today in order to see some progress on a renovation that was started in January. This renovation is a continuation of last years project, which took  two and a half months. And this was a continuation of a project the year before, which took most of the summer.

There were two goals to doing this work. From my husbands perspective, we were going to make this house less drafty, and therefore reduce fuel consumption. Note, I said reduce consumption, not reduce cost. From my perspective, we were going to banish house flies from ever entering the house again.

House flies might seem like a minor inconvenience, but when 30 or 40 of them are buzzing around  the room every day, sitting on my supper, and batting themselves silly inside lamp shades at night, they are a real pain.

The first year, The Car Guy bought several cases of sealer, and went around the outside of the house filling every crack and cranny he could find. There was no appreciable difference in the fly population, but it likely helped the draft situation. The next year, we started addressing the problem from the inside, and started with the family room. We removed all the tongue and groove pine wall boards, vapor barrier and insulation. When we identified the places where flies and mice were obviously entering, we filled the holes. Then, we reinstalled the insulation, vapor barrier, and drywall. (And caulked the windows, put down new flooring, replaced the old bar cabinets, etc, etc.)

We were so pleased with the result of this project, that this year we are doing the same thing to the dining room, living room, front entry, stairs, and hallway. We didn’t find any places where the “mickey’s” are coming in, but found a few more crevices that were being used by the flies. Fly be Gone – and now they are. It is wonderful.

There are a few of lifes little unanswered questions in this story. We don’t have any more flies coming into the house, but we also have very few flies outside, either. Is it because they don’t hang around houses that they can’t get into? Or is it because fly populations swell and crash for some reason? Will we ever be completely finished any reno project before we start another one?  How many years from now will the next owner of this house tear of the baseboards in the living room and say, “Oh look, this wall was once painted Autumn Leaf!”?

Nostalgia – Old Time TV’s and Toasters

In the early 1950’s, the neighbours next door drove to the city to buy a Toaster. They came home with a Television instead. It turned out they didn’t have enough money to buy the toaster, and the appliance store wouldn’t let them pay for it in installments. They could, however, buy a TV in installments…

The new TV made the neighbours the most popular people in town. I remember watching Howdy Doody and the Ed Sullivan Show in their living room. A few years later, we had a TV too. I came to think of it as the family pet. It had spidery legs holding it up, and rabbit ears on top.

Many, many years and a few televisions later, we moved into a house with a Satellite Dish! It was a very large thing that took up a fair chunk of real estate, and the program choices weren’t really worth what the service cost. We contracted an installer to put a TV antenna on the roof, instead, and contented ourselves with the local broadcasts.  Ten years later, the same installer was back at our house, this time with a much smaller satellite dish and a wealth of program choices. Another ten years passed, and the same installer was back  with a new dish for HD TV. We joked with him about what kind of technology he would be delivering to our house twenty years from now. “None,” he said. “I’ll probably be dead.”

Back to toasters. We didn’t have a toaster when I was a kid. We couldn’t afford butter, either. We had margarine that came with a coloring pack, so that you could make the white margarine at least look like butter – sort of. But even if we had been able to make toast, the bread at our house was a mass produced bland brand that was delivered door to door in a bread truck. But my grandmother had a toaster, wonderful bread from  the Loblaws bakery, and real butter. When we stayed at her house, our bedtime snack was toast and butter.

1947 Toastmaster toaster model 1B12

Her toaster was a Toastmaster model 1B12. I know this, because it is my toaster now. It has been making toast for 3 generations of our family since it was manufactured sometime between September 1946 and July 1947. (There is a Toastmaster website that tells you these things.) I’ve never had to have it repaired. It just keeps making toast.

I’ll have to think for a while to see if there is some great life lesson in this story. Or a social commentary about technology, or modern manufacturing…

When I was a kid… no, wait, I still do that…
– Author Unknown –

This weeks WordPress photo challenge is Nostalgia.

How to Fix Your Bed so that it is a Snore Stopper

Laugh and the world laughs with you.
Snore and you sleep alone.
– Anthony Burgess –

The QuipperyIn the Inventive Uses for a 2X4 category, the most recent one I am test driving is the enticing promise that it will reduce (if not stop) a person from snoring! In our household, late at night, now and then, someone might be lying awake in bed – listening to the saw like sounds of the person who lies beside them.

Enter the 2X4, a dimensional piece of wood that is actually about 1.5 by 3.5 inches. Depending on the length of the board, it could be used to poke the snorer until they woke up and quit snoring. But, we have inadvertently found that if the 2X4 is used to raise the head of the bead by 3.5 inches, snoring is reduced significantly. At least, so far the snoring is reduced. We will see what happens in the long term.

We raised the head of our bed for quite another medical reason.  The jury is out as to whether the other medical condition is improving, but if the snoring is alleviated, we’ll both be pleased!

Raising the head of the bed can be as simple as putting a few blocks of wood under the feet. Or it can be as time consuming as ripping some 2X4’s obliquely to create long wedges that attach to the underside of the box spring. Much depends on how stable you want the result to be, and how much you care about the damage to your carpet from the blocks of wood…

Be warned! For the first few nights you might feel like you are slowly migrating towards the end of the bed while you sleep. You probably are, but you really don’t slide very far. You will also find that your night tables are now too low, by about the same number of inches as the bed was raised. The Car Guy has some creative suggestions about how to raise the night tables – with 2X4’s, of course…