New House Noises

Whether a new build like ours, or a new to you home, there are noises that this new home makes that you have to become accustomed to.  But after a couple of weeks in our new home we were  surprised to be awoken by a new noise in the middle of the night.  It sounded like some kind of motor.

When DH got up to investigate, the noise stopped.  DH got up to investigate anyway.  I heard the motor start again then stop just as quickly.  When DH returned, I asked what the noise was, he replied that he had no idea, he hadn’t heard it again.  I explained what I heard and assumed that he had found the offending item and fixed it.  Then it started again.  DH hopped out of bed again, I could hear him rummaging through a cupboard in  the bathroom next door.  I got up and joined him in the search and found the offending item.

So, what was this object that caused such disruption?


Yep, a battery operated Crest SpinBrush toothbrush that I had just unpacked that day and put in the cupboard.


Happy New Year!

I can’t believe another new year has started, the last one went by so fast.  Probably the reason for only one blog post last year!

A lot has happened since that post.  We sold our previous home in what can only be described as a bit of a whirlwind.  Ottawa and its surrounding areas had been experiencing record house sales and prices, and we were no exception.  We were listed for one day when we received and accepted an offer.  A lot of work goes into a house to get it ready for sale.  A lot of cleaning and editing of furniture to “stage” it for pictures, then you have to keep it that way for showings, ugh.  We had just two months to get the new house finished and move everything over, and there was a lot of stuff to move, but we got it done in the end.

While we still have some work to do inside (and a lot of landscaping outside) this is what the inside looks like now:

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Looking across room from kitchen area.
main room 2
Looking towards kitchen from living area.

Even though we built a new house, we wanted to add a bit of character to the space.  The kitchen island was a general store counter from the 1880’s.

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Looking to kitchen area from stairs.
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Kitchen Island

The large south facing windows allow for a lot of sun to come in and heat the house, but if temperatures dip too low, a wood stove provides additional heat.  The one thing I am not really happy with in the house is the wall behind the stove, we will have to see what we can do about it next summer.

Fireplace 1
wood stove

A propane stove on a thermostat in the basement provides further back-up if required, or if we go away.

basement fireplace
basement stove

The one thing I felt was missing in our last house was a large entry to come into, with a place to sit to put on boots and shoes.  That shouldn’t be a problem here.

mudroom 1

Behind the sliding barn door above is a laundry area, followed by a bathroom.

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A place to sit.
mudroom 2
Looking into house from mud room.

The sliding barn door, the french doors above, and the pair into the pantry, were all kijiji finds from people renovating homes.  The tile in the entry was given to us by a friend, there was just enough to do the entry, laundry and bath.  The light fixture over the dining table is an antique brass fixture that we purchased years ago at an antique store and that DH rewired.  We brought it with us from our last house.

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Doors to pantry.
pantry 2
Pantry Inside
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Pantry Inside

The pantry is not yet finished.  More shelving is required.  The sink in the pantry was another kijiji find.  It is a Kohler sink from 40’s maybe, and is much larger and deeper than most sinks.

That is the tour for now, I hope you enjoyed it.  There will be more to come.









Construction Progress Update 4

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about house construction since November!

While construction did continue throughout the winter, I guess most of the stuff wasn’t “blog” or “picture” worthy (if this was a more technical blog maybe it would be).  Insulation, vapour barrier, plumbing, electrical and ducting don’t create the same excitement as say…….SIDING!

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South Facing

Now the house is taking on the look of a home.

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South and West Facing

The North and East walls have yet to be finished.

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North Facing

We ended up going with a vinyl board and batten style of siding.  Our original thought was to have the house sided with stained or painted cedar boards and battens.  However, that would have required more work and maintenance in the long term, something neither one of us was prepared to deal with.

Drywall is right around the corner, stay tuned.


Construction Progress Update 3

The biggest change to the house since my last post is that we now have windows and doors, yay!

The windows are triple pane argon filled European style tilt-and-turn windows from Bonnechere Valley Windows in Eganville, Ontario.  From other blogs that I have read, it seems that many passive house builders have chosen to purchase their windows from European suppliers because they are more efficient.  While that may be true, I’m not sure if the added expense to bring them here is offset enough by the energy savings they will have.  Also, by buying locally, I know that we can contact the company if we have any problems, and besides, it doesn’t seem right that my windows have done more travelling than me.

In addition to the windows, the roof is now covered in tin.  There is still a roof to go across the south side of the house that will shade the windows in the summer time, as well as a porch roof on the north side.

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South Side Exterior

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North Side Exterior

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South Facing Inside

The next two pictures show the opening options with the tilt-and-turn windows.  When the levered handle is up, the window tilts in with the top opening.

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And when the handle is sideways, the whole window swings in

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Construction Progress Update 2

Progress is being made with the second floor now framed and roof trusses installed.

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North Side
progress pic 4
South Side

You will notice in the above pictures that all the windows have a box around them.  To help make this house energy efficient, our exterior walls will be thicker, with more insulation than your average house build.  To do this, we are having Larsen Trusses attached to the exterior sheathing, which creates a cavity for the insulation.  Our builder, Paul Coutts, can be seen in the above photo applying a special tape to cover all the joins in the OSB to make the house air tight.  The picture below shows what the trusses will look like.

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Larsen Truss

We are hoping the windows and doors will be installed in about two weeks time.


Construction Progress Update 1

With the great weather we have been having since construction started in August, the house has been progressing quite well, faster than I can write a blog post about it.  Framing has started and it looks like this:

Progress pic 1
North Side
progress pic 2
South Side
progress pic 3
View out the dining area window.

Framing of the second floor has started and I will hopefully have pictures soon. Meanwhile, on the the other side of the yard, the studio/shop is slowly taking shape.

studio 1
Studio Front
studio 2
Studio Back




Construction Has Begun

We had hoped to begin building in the spring of this year.  First, our drawings were done later than expected.  Then there was the arduous task of getting contractors to quote on the build.  I guess in the end, it all worked out.  With the rainy spring and summer we’ve had, I’m not sure how much progress would have been made.

But construction has begun, and we’ve enjoyed a pretty good stretch of weather (except for one day).  Heavy equipment moved in and began to clear the house site.

construction 1

Next was a shovel to excavate the hole.

construction 2

There were a lot of large rocks.

construction 3

But before long, it looked like this:

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And four days later, we had this:

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Happy to be making progress.



The House

Since purchasing the property, we have had lots of time to think about what type of house we would build.  We started out thinking about a house in the Ontario Farmhouse style, then possibly a log house, then relocating an old log house that was built in the Ontario Farmhouse style.

But traditional house plans did not offer the layout I was looking for.  This house was going to have a small footprint, too many rooms would make it feel small and choppy, so it had to have an open concept.  We have, what I think, is a lovely view to the south, a rolling field that heads down to the cedar bush, and I wanted to bring as much of that view into the house as possible.  We wanted the house to be cost efficient to build, as well as heat and cool.

So what did we choose?  We have chosen to build a passive house.   A simple rectangular house with extra thick walls and a large expanse of windows on the south side.  A wood stove in the middle of the house will heat it nicely on really cold days.  Our house was designed by Mike Cooke of Resilient Works.  I supplied Mike with some pictures and drawings and a list of what I was looking for and he went from there.

house drawing 1

house drawing 2

house drawing 3

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Why McDonalds Corners?

Before purchasing our property, we had only been to McDonalds Corners once before, 25 years ago, when looking to buy a wood stove for our first house.  Wood ‘N Energy was there and they sold Vermont Casting stoves.  The store was located in an old wood framed building that is still standing, looking at it now, I’m not sure how it never burned down.

The village has general store with post office, a church, an agricultural society that  hosts a fall fair; bird auctions twice a year; and this year The Festival of Small Halls.  It is also home to the Lanark Highlands Basketry Museum run by Ankaret Dean.  Close by is the Purdon Conservation Area, known for its display of lady slipper orchids.  Just 15 minutes away is Back Forty Artisan Cheese and their handcrafted cheeses (I like their Bonnechere).  But my main interest was in an organization called the McDonalds Corners/Elphin Recreation and Arts (MERA for short).  I was just a knitter when I first heard of MERA and knew they had an active knitting group.  By the time we bought our property and I joined MERA, I had begun weaving and discovered what an active weaving group they had.  I have learned a lot from this group of weavers, but more importantly, I have made some lovely dear friends.

MERA offers more than just knitting and weaving.  A weekly Farmer’s Market runs from May through October, workshops taught by some of the many talented people in the area, a pottery group, quilting group, visual arts group and a book group, plus music concerts and more.

Now, if someone were to open a pub, the village would be complete.






And So It Begins

A couple of years ago my husband and I began thinking about a move back to the country.  We live in a quiet rural subdivision with a large 2+ acre lot close to schools, a hospital and shopping – perfect for raising two little boys who were then just 3 and 5 years of age.

But as our sons entered high school, and with the reality that they would eventually leave home, we thought a change might be good for us as well.  A small acreage with room for sheep, chickens and a studio/shop for yarns and my handwoven items seemed liked a good idea, and the search was on for the perfect property.

There was a small list of criteria that had to be met, namely commuting distance to work, and though wanting to be rural, we didn’t want to be in an area where we felt isolated.  Searching real estate listings on-line, we found one that sounded promising, located outside of McDonalds Corners in the beautiful Lanark Highlands.  With address in hand and permission to walk the property, we headed out.  The instant I saw it, I was in love, it was perfect.  We walked silently through the fields and down to the cedar bush where a creek runs through, its burbling almost lulling us to sleep as we sat and listened.  After a while my husband asked “well?”, wondering what I thought of the property, I answered back with the same question, hoping he liked as much as I did, and he did.

After some negotiating back and forth, we had our dream property.

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