I was at a street sale the other week, and for the most part didn’t find anything worthy of purchasing.  Lots of people selling baby/kids stuff, but nothing else really interesting.  Well, that is until I got to the corner house.  You know when you’re garage-sailing and you can just tell this house is gonna have some good stuff, well this guy didn’t disappoint.  The home-owner was a retired radio dj, so his garage was a virtual time-capsule of milk crates filled with old vinyl, cool signs on the wall, various vintages of turntables and other neat stuff.  I don’t really have a need for any of those things, but it was kinda cool to browse through it all.

As I was making my way back down the driveway, I spotted a box under a table filled with old magazines.  It turned out to be about two decades worth of Science and Mechanics, with a handful of Popular Science thrown in – all from the ’50s and ’60s.  I must say, it was a pretty cool find.  I found myself immediately leafing through the magazines mesmerized by the old-school ads, the retro cars and all the crazy articles; “Build an electric clothes dryer”, “Pick the right antenna for your Top TV reception” and of course the very necessary “How to tame wild hummingbirds.”

I decided to buy a couple and ended up paying ‘face-value’ for them – yup, I paid what they paid back in 1955,  25 cents.  I bought two Science and Mechanics (1952 & 1955)  and one Popular Science (1960), mostly because the cover page was for the Chevy Corvair and I knew my grandma owned a Corvair back in the ’60’s, so I thought my dad might like to browse through it.

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In 1955 apparently it was easier to build your own clothes dryer than to purchase one.
In 1955 apparently it was easier to build your own clothes dryer than to purchase one.
There are some serious directions.  Although I suspect getting your hands on some asbestos board to build this dryer may be a little tricky!
These are some serious directions. Although I suspect getting your hands on some asbestos board to build this dryer may be a little tricky to do in 2014!

I also like this article for spray-it-on suede, as a potential home-based business no less!  In fact, I was surprised at all of the ads for home-based businesses.  There were ads for how to make money at photography, doing door-to-door sales of “Presto” a chemical in a can designed to put out fires (it looked more like a can of mousse than anything able to actually put out a fire) and plastic laminating as a one man business.

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But my personal favourite has to be “The Snooper – find a fortune in uranium.”  Just send away for the Geiger counter and let the money start rolling in.  It even comes with it’s own radioactive sample, just so you know it works.  And of course it comes with an ‘ironclad money-back guarantee.’  If the irony doesn’t kill you first.


It was great reading through all these old magazines and basically taking a walk back in time.  I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with them, but I’m toying with the idea of matting and framing the covers since the colours are so vibrant and the look so retro, so stay tuned, that may be a future post.



Book report: Juno – Canadians at D-Day, June 6, 1944

With the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, I thought it was only fitting to write about a book that details the Canadian effort on that infamous day.  Juno-Canadians at D-Day, June 6, 1944 is one such book.  I actually read this book a few years ago, but often find myself referencing it from time to time as it is filled with details, facts and personal accounts of the Canadians that served on the fateful day.


Author Ted Barris, weaves together an accurate and vivid account through the numerous interviews and written testimonies of actual D-Day veterans.  Barris pays particular attention to the days leading up to Operation Neptune (the codename for the actual invasion day; Operation Overlord was the codename for the larger invasion of Nazi occupied France) and provides insight into the days and weeks that followed .  Browse the Military History section of any bookstore and you will find plenty of books on the American account of that day – the storming of the beaches at Normandy.  Even the names of the US beaches are likely familiar to most, Utah and Omaha.  But few likely know the significant contribution of  the Canadians and their assigned beach: Juno.

In very simple terms, there were five invasion points that day. The Americans would land at the beaches codenamed Utah and Omaha, the British beaches were codenamed Sword and Gold, and the Canadians, they would get Juno.  As Barris recounts, one amusing story holds that the British decided to name the Commonwealth beaches after fish, originally with the code names Sword(fish), Gold(fish) and Jelly(fish).   Well, fortunately for history’s sake the Canadians thought the codename Jelly, sounded, well, a little hokey and suggested Juno instead.  And I’m glad they did.

What I like the most about this book is how Barris provides varying perspectives on that day; from the infantry men of Le Regiment de la Chaudieres and the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, to the sailors aboard MTB’s (motor torpedo boats) charged with protecting the flotilla of over 7000 vessels preparing to cross the English channel.  He includes first-hand accounts from numerous RCAF airmen, few of whom were older than 25 on D-Day, and accounts from soldiers aboard X-Crafts; mini-subs that were quietly off the shore of Normandy providing reconnaissance in the days before June 6th.   He also captures the experience of the media who were embedded to report on the actions of that day, even including a picture of the CBC’s first “mobile” media van (with no satellite tower in sight!)  Even the book’s cover picture (which is actually a screen shot) is particularly significant, as it is the only moving film of Canadians actually landing at Juno beach that survived the conditions and chaos of the day.

Perhaps one of the more amusing stories that Barris includes comes from naval sub-lieutenant Scott Young, who discovered a tired and weary homing pigeon with a tiny canister strapped to it’s leg that had landed aboard the HMCS Mayflower.  Instructed to bring the bird to the local army headquarters when they arrived in Arromanches, the exhausted bird barely moved and never pooped during the remaining journey across the Channel.  Once at the headquarters, Young was impressed with the scene, top-secret maps lined the walls and the high-ranking officials where eager to see the contents of the tiny canister.  As Barris describes, “Whether the pigeon was excited about being brought out into the light or the skipper gripped the bird too tightly, Young has never been sure, but the bird let fly several days’ worth of pigeon manure.  It spattered the officers, it blotched the maps, it sprayed everything and everyone in the room. ”  He goes on to say that Young didn’t wait around to find out what the canister contained.

Barris concludes the book with the chronicling of the grass roots effort to build a memorial to those Canadian soldiers who came ashore on that beach, both the ones who survived and the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice.  Begun in 1995 with a modest goal, it evolved into a truly remarkable tribute that would include a visitors centre, gift shop and memorial sculpture.

So as we reflect upon the enormity of that day some 70 years ago, let’s not forget the brave soldiers who landed on Juno beach.



Bathroom Reno-Reno

As you may have read on my About page, we’ve been in our home on our little cul-de-sac for close to 14 years now.  Over that time, we’ve reno’d pretty much every room in the house.  Not long after we moved in, we decided to add a shower stall to our basement bathroom.  I had to dig though the ‘actual’ photo archives, cuz pretty much no one had a digital camera back then.  So here is what our bathroom looked like back in 2000:


Yup - this is a picture of a picture.  Our bathroom circa 2000.
Yup – this is a picture of a picture. Our bathroom circa 2000.

It was an usually large bathroom for a basement and it actually seemed weird that it didn’t have a shower, since there was clearly lots of room for one.  It’s hard to tell in this really bad photo, but the floor was a very-yellowing vinyl that was curling up at the edges.  So when we installed the shower, we put in some new ceramic tiles too.  I wish I had pictures of the actual reno, but we basically hammered up the concrete floor, moved the plumbing for the toilet and added plumbing for the shower.  This is where it comes in handy to have a father who knows how to do all this stuff and a hubby willing to actually do it.


The toilet (purple seat-cover and all!) was  moved to install the shower.  Everything else... untouched.  Circa 2001
The toilet (purple seat-cover and all!) was moved to install the shower. Everything else… untouched. Circa 2001

So besides adding the shower and a new tile floor, we left everything else untouched, including the wanna-be-marble ’80s counter, sink and faucet and even the paint colour (the previous home-owners left all the paint, so we just used it to touch up the walls).

Fast forward to this past March and hubby and I were actually chatting about how the basement bathroom was the only room we haven’t renovated in the house.  (I guess in his world, adding a shower stall and moving a toilet 14 years prior no longer counts as ‘renovated’).  In all fairness, it was still feeling pretty ’80’s, right down to the cabinet handles placed in the middle of the cabinet doors.  So, the reno began.  Again, I wish I had taken some true ‘before’ pictures, but hubby had a day off work and didn’t hesitate with the demo, so when I came home from work this is the best ‘before’ I could get:

The floor tiles and cabinet doors are already gone.
The floor tiles and cabinet doors are already gone.


Almond sink, faux-marble-swirl counter tops and leaky faucet.
Almond sink, faux-marble-swirl counter tops and leaky faucet – oh my!

We basically decided to do just a good update, no moving plumbing this time.  So we started with the floors.  Beautiful, porcelain tiles that mimic the look of light, wide-plank hardwood.

With the toilet removed, the flooring is underway.
With the toilet removed, the flooring is underway.



The tiles are grouted.  It's amazing what just re-doing a floor can do for a room.
The tiles are grouted. It’s amazing what just re-doing a floor can do for a room.
Love-love-love the look of these tiles.
Love-love-love the look of these tiles.

Next we re-built the cabinet. The old one was just looking really tired and yellow.  Since this bathroom is the basement, and doesn’t get tons of use, we opted to keep things fairly budget-friendly and just went with laminate countertops.  Though I do like that this one ‘looks’ like a stone-finished counter.  We added a nice glass mosaic back-splash to add a little flair.  The tiles are in varying shades of grey with blue undertones, that would work nicely with the cabinet doors we selected, which were a darky grey with a hint of blue.

Old vanity and countertop is gone.  We kept one section and just re-painted it.
Old vanity and countertop is gone. We kept one section and just re-painted it.
New cabinet and countertop, things are starting to look good!
New cabinet and countertop, things are starting to look good!


Close-up of the backsplash.
Close-up of the backsplash.

We chose a modern square sink and some chunky chrome faucets.




We painted the walls a light grey (silver streak) and the trim and baseboards a nice, crisp white.  Even though I wanted to put up a new mirror, we opted to re-mounted the original mirror since it was a good size and really, there was nothing wrong with it.


It’s so nice to see it looking so modern, I don’t miss my 80’s bathroom at all.  I added in a few splashes of colour and viola – we’re done:


We’re pretty happy with the final product and it’s nice to have a bathroom from this millennium!