Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Holidays from Lez Renovate

Well hello there. Nice to see you. How have you been? What have you been doing? I bet that you have been preparing for the holiday season. So have we. And we have also been trying to get this gosh darn bathroom done! But, we are taking a break so we can enjoy the festivities! Here is a little video with us in cute Christmas sweaters.

So we hope you have a fabulous holiday and a fantastic New Year. We'll be back in 2012 to bring you more renovation mayhem, laughter and general wackiness!

LL and Cool J

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Lez Renovate!

On Dec 13, 2009, just 2 weeks after I (CoolJ) was laid off from my highish-paying high-tech job that financed the whole operation, we took possession of Georgia Cottage.

Luckily, that was also the day that I got the offer from my current highish-paying corporate job. 

You can imagine that the blood sweat and tears of Lez Renovate started with a fair amount of sweat.

We came right over to the house that evening, and were filled with a thrilling combination of emotions. Mostly fear. Remember the first day we came to the house?

The place was filthy, cold, slanty, and small. And pricey. Ah well. Now it is not as filthy, warm and cozy, still small, still slanty. And still pricey!

Two years in, Georgia Cottage and Lez Renovate have grown a lot.In season 1, we built a basement suite as a mortgage helper (let's face it, this is a necessity of life in Vancouver), and really got to know our charming neighbourhood. 

We were so grateful to family and friends who pitched in, and loved the hired tradesfolk who provided both great assistance and painful reality checks. And needed to be paid in cash or cheque. We learned a lot, spent a lot, and acquired a substantial collection of tools.  Our big reveal in the season 1 finale, Extreme Homo Makeover, made the pain of countless hours and lost weekends fade (somewhat) into memory.

Through Season 2, we putzed around with little projects here and there - first hoping to build a rock&roll jam space under our porch, then procrastinating undertaking the inevitable horror show of renovating a rotting bathroom by lounging about on our porch.

Finally, Season 3 Bathroom Guts and Glory is wrapping production. The bathroom project has taken exactly 6 months so far, and will be finished "soon". We lived through 3 weeks without a shower, a week flushing the toilet with a bucket, and months of dust, angst, and paint.  You who are following along online are living in our past and the videos will catch up soon. If you want to have some real holiday fun, you can book a live tour to see a behind the scenes glimpse. book early. Karaoke Wrap party to be held Dec 31, so fans can sing along to such hits as "Metal Mortar Minute" and "Pony Wall"

We hope that Santa will send us the roofer elf to cut the hole for our exhaust fan, and maybe another crew of elves to do the paint touchups, and then we will start the new year with a complete bathroom. Just in time to plan the next project! Who wants to guess what next??

Happy birthday lez renovate!  Maybe if we're lucky, Homes on Holmes will jump out of the birthday cake!

How about you, loyal fans? What have you managed to do with your lives in the last 2 years that we've spent dashing through the drywall dust? Probably some have had babies, completed advanced university degrees, taken wonderful vacations. And some of you, like us, have been wearing work clothes & scouring Craigslist for gently used plumbing fixtures...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lez Put Up Drywall - VIDEO

Well hello renovators and renovating supporters. First, let me apologize for not having a video for you last Friday, we had some technical difficulties. But now, we have a new video ready for your enjoyment.

In this video, we are dealing with the ups and downs of drywalling. Have you ever drywalled? Have you ever mudded a wall? Have you ever sanded said wall? Well - if you have, then you know how messy and annoying it can be. Even if you are good at measuring the cuts properly, you inevitably run into some kinda problem. Plus, the sanding stage is not pretty. Take a look for yourself.

And just as an FYI, this marks our 35th video on Afterellen.com! Cool hey?

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tis the season, to decorate

Yep, its that time of year again. The time to put plastic on our windows to keep out the drafty Vancouver rain/wind/slush/snow. It snowed last night for the first time this season. It's quite exciting, until the snow turns to slush and my shoes turn to mush.

But its also the holiday season! Which means family gatherings, parties, shopping and decorating. Decorating. This is something that I like to do, every year. We even cut a tree down in our front yard to put in our living room. The smell of pine needles always flashes me back to days of 'ole, when the Consumers Distributing catalogue existed (See previous post about that), tinsel wasn't considered dangerous for pets and the use of real candles on the tree wasn't unheard of.

Now, its plastic this, plastic that, safe this, safe that, energy efficient this, energy efficient that. I want to smell the real holidays in my home! Pine needles, egg nog, peppermint and excitement. So, I put this out to you - if you are decorating your house for the holidays, use all natural materials! Ok, I know its going to be difficult and dangerous to hang different coloured candles on front porch awning but I'm sure you can figure something out!

Here are a few DIY projects for making holiday decorations from natural materials. 

1. Pine Cones
Gather some up and make a wreath, center piece or a string of garland.

2. Fall leaves

Create a bouquet to hang in doorways or on a mantle.
Or you can be super fancy:

3. Sticks and branches

Create a fancy wreath!
Those are just a few suggestions. Do you have any other ideas? Share! Let make this holiday naturally sustainable. Oh and, fun!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lez Just Keep Working - VIDEO

Holy cow, the time just seems to be flying by! Another video already. Wow. Well, I tell you, the bathroom renovation is STILL not done. I am, however, going to ask Santa for a finished bathroom this year. I will put aside my desire for a PS3, my little pony and the Animal drumkit from the Consumer Distributing catalogue just so we can have a finished bathroom. I have been a good girl, really I have. Such a good girl, in fact, that I deserve a finished bathroom AND the Animal drumkit from the Consumer Distributing catalogue.

Do you remember the Consumer Distributing catalogue? If you do, then you are from Canada and over 30. Great, I just spilled my beans for you. If you don't know what I am talking about, it was basically Ebay and Ikea rolled into one. Consumers Distributing aimed to reduce costs for customers by stocking merchandise in a warehouse type stocking system instead of displaying them in a costly showroom. Customers made their selections from a catalogue, filled out a form with product identification, and waited for stock staff to retrieve the items from the warehouse.

I remember the excitement of looking through the catalogue at Christmas. I would circle everything I wanted in a red pen and dog ear the pages so my parents couldn't miss it. And every year I would circle and circle and circle the Animal drumkit. 5 years of circles. Nothin. Then, one year, I found a guitar and amp under the tree with the disclaimer "THIS you can plug headphones into!". Fine.

But to this day, I have longed for the Animal drumkit. And I haven't been able to find it anywhere. Not even a picture! So for now, I will have to settle for a finished bathroom. Which is almost as exciting. Check out the latest installment:

Have a great long weekend!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lez Get Ducty - VIDEO

Happy Friday! And what happens on Fridays? A new video!! Yayyy

Lez Get Ducty

Now, I don't know about you but, creating a ducting system from scratch is something I have never done before. It's all so riveting. 

Have a fabulous weekend. Oh yeah, its Halloween! What are you dressing up as? Well, whatever you do - be safe out there!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bathroom renovation is taking for *@#%ing ever!

So the bathroom renovation is taking for *@#%ing ever! And to be honest, I have emotionally moved on from it. I know physically I haven't, since I have a band aid on my finger from the recent mishap in there the other day. No, I have moved on to thinking about another project. One that will give me somewhat immediate satisfaction. Well, it won't take 6 months to do.

We, as renovators, are always looking around our house to see what we can get up to next. I know there are a couple pressing issues that we need to deal with, but it needs to be nice outside to do them. Well, it doesn't NEED to be but, I am not working outside in the rain. Remember, we don't get paid to do this!! So lets do some indoor work over the winter and make our little house even comfier than it already is...minus the bathroom.

We had discussed that re-organizing/painting the living room would warm things up. Also, getting a cozy couch. So we are going to do that, soon. But - I found something else that can immediately change the aesthetic in our kitchen and nicey-nicey up the area we spend a lot of time in.

The kitchen is the last on our list of things to change, since its not too bad. The cabinets are the thing to change but will cost the most money. So, we thought that changing the face of the kitchen will do the trick until we really do it up.

We replaced all of our appliances when we first moved in, which was a great treat to ourselves. The last time I had a dishwasher was when I was living with my parents.

Lets meet our appliances:

Franz - because he's European


We have steel appliances. Fine. And they all have names so we treat them with respect and last longer. Well, that's my hope anyways.

And our tile is white with gross grey/yellow stained grout. We were thinking of dying the grout a different colour. I also got some advice from the internet that letting Oxygen Bleach sit on the grout line, eating away for 30 mins does the trick. And it did! But, I think we want to dye the grout a different darker colour because white gets dirty so fast! Take a look at the before and after shot.

AFTER ----------------------------BEFORE
So yes, that trick works. Probably do the rest to clean it up but then dye it. Also, we want to put a new backsplash up around the counter, maybe like the one we put in the basement:

Remember this? Nice silver backsplash.
We also want to replace the hardware on the kitchen cupboards and couple other things.. So lets take a look at the list of things we want to do:

1. Clean grout lines
2. Dye grout lines
3. Put up new backsplash
4. Replace cupboard hardware
5. Replace faucet
6. Replace tile-laminate transition

How long do you think it will take to do all of these things? In Lez Renovate time?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Lez Go Green-E - VIDEO

Season 3 - Episode 4

Have you ever had to race against time? We have....a few times. Ya see, if it weren't for our tenant being away for weeks at a time, we wouldn't have been able to do this bathroom renovation. Not only because he allowed us to use his bathroom while he was gone but it also allowed us to rip out his bathroom ceiling when we busted a pipe and was told by our plumber that the sewer line had to be replaced.

So, things have to happen quickly. But, we are far from quick with our renos. To be honest, I just want to sit around a sip lattes on the weekend, not rent a van and go pick up very expensive and very heavy Green-E board to put in the basement bathroom. You see, we picked Green-E because of its eco-ness, durability and resistance to mold. Perfect for a bathroom. But, holy heck - its heavy!!!

So, if you choose to install Green-E board in your bathroom, workout for a couple weeks first.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Thanksgiving and birdies

Ok, so its gobble gobble weekend for us here in Canada. That means we get to stuff our faces with friends and family while we reminisce about the good 'ole days when we stuffed our faces with friends and family. Of course we could use the weekend to work on the bathroom but stuffing our faces must not wait.

What is left to be done on the bathroom you say? Well, finish installing the floor, build recessed shelving, stain the wood on the medicine cabinet, install a sink, stain/install wainscotting, cut a hole out the roof for the fan. Stuff like that. And the last one has been on the "research" list for quite some time now.

Let me tell you a little how Cool J renovates. First off, if she doesn't know how to do something, she watches a bunch of videos on the internet. Then, if she still doesn't feel confident, she starts asking around to get advice. If she still doesn't feel confident, she watches more videos and asks more advice. Convinced that she can do anything, she usually does a fine job but sometimes, well, not. And then, eventually a professional is called in. It takes a bit of hemming and hawing before she comes to that conclusion.

Case in point. She wants to climb the roof and cut a hole out of it to run the venting for the bathroom ceiling fan. Yes, she has used many cutting devices. Yes, she has run venting for a ceiling fan before. And yes, she has watched many videos on how to install a roof cap. But she hasn't been on a roof before.

I have. Back in grade school (speaking of reminiscing). It was the roof of my dad's garage. I was playing badminton with my best friend in the backyard. I think it was one of my lobbing moves that landed the shuttlecock (heehee) on the roof of the garage. We only had one. It was the 80s. Anyways, we fought back and forth on who would get it. "You get the birdie!" "No, you get the birdie!!". Eventually it was decided that I would climb the ladder and rescue the birdie. As I climbed we could hear our neighbour yelling over the fence, "You kids leave those birds alone!" To this day, he probably thinks we snatched some birds out of their nest. Kids.

Anyways, I got onto the roof, grabbed the shuttlecock, turned around and noticed that my best friend, soon to be ex-best friend, removed the ladder, layed it on the ground and ran into the house giggling. Leaving me to rot on the garage roof with a birdie in my hand. I had no way to get down. I think she left me up there for 5 mins but it felt like 5 hours!! I'll always remember the feel of roof shingles on my thighs as I sat up there. Of course short shorts were all the rage for badminton. I eventually came down, was mad for 5 mins and then we resumed playing.

That is my experience with being on a roof. Not sure Cool J has any experience being up there but I feel nervous about her "giving it a whirl" and then falling flat on her face before she calls a professional to do the job.

Have you been up on a roof?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Lez Go Crazy - VIDEO

Season 3 - Episode 3

You know how your hair stands up when you discover something unpleasant? Or how your cursing quota goes way up when you a forced to deal with crappy situations? We do.

Aha, I said crappy and we are doing a bathroom renovation. I'm so witty. Note to self: Comb hair BEFORE turning the camera on.

Have a fantastic weekend!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

A break up letter to our toilet

Dear toilet,

I really find it hard to believe how inconsiderate and inconvenient you are being, even after the love letter I gave you. I professed my love to you, gave you a public appreciation and this is how you respond? I don't think its going to work out for us. I have been tolerant and understanding but now you have sunk to a new low. You cracked under pressure. Literally.

I know that its important to be delicate with you, treat you with care and not over tighten your bolts but, you were leaking. So, I tightened. And before I knew it, the water works came. And so did mine. You're broken and some am I. Porcelain is delicate and so am I.

So here we are, back to square one. Back to the days of flushing with a bucket of water and a sense of being incomplete. Time to look for someone/something else new.

I raise my toilet bowl brush in anger.



Friday, September 23, 2011

A love letter to our toilet

Dear toilet,

Oh how I missed you. I am so happy that you are back. It seemed that you were only partly present the last few weeks and I wondered if you were ever going to fully come back. Months ago you left, only to reappear for a few short weeks and then disappear again. I felt lost without you, incomplete, incontinent and full of longing. You know how its said that 'you don't know what you've got til its gone'? Well, I didn't, but now, I do. I think we, as a society, under appreciate the privilege of having indoor plumbing. Toilet, you are under appreciated and I recognize that. From now on I am going to clean you religiously, hug you a little bit more on those particularly difficult drunken nights and praise the Water Closet gods that you exist when I have a stomach flu again. Which, unfortunately, had to happen when you weren't there. Well, half of you was there, but it still made it difficult.

But I digress. Now that you are back, I can relax and get back to living a privileged life that includes indoor plumbing.

I raise my toilet bowl brush in honour of your greatness.



Friday, September 16, 2011

Lez Gut it...Wait, Still? - VIDEO

Season 3 - Episode 2

Today on Lez Renovate, we experience what every true renovator experiences at one time or another. Exhaustion. Demolishing is hard, especially when you do it with dinky little tools, like we did. A hammer? We used hammers. Not sledge hammers but, carpenter hammers. What? Why? I don't know.

Thanks for watching!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Small bathroom design mood board

CoolJ here. I'm someone for whom  the words "mood" and "bored" do not find themselves in close proximity. This post however asks for HELP from our friends. I am finally making public my interior design idea for our tiny bathroom.

So I have created this 'mood board' as the designers call them, to share my idea about how our bathroom should look when it is finally done.

Would love your input. The specs
Bath is about 35 square feet, with a ceiling height over 8 feet.
One small window in the shower, one ceiling light fixture.
If you've watched our latest video, you've seen some of the before.
Here's my mood board for the bathroom decor theme "Peachland Beach".

Let me walk you through it
Shower is already DIY-tiled with 4x6 subway tiles, white with alabaster (grey) grout. Recommended by our Tile Savior, Doug the owner of Lower Mainland Ceramics Tile and Stone. You will see more of that project in an upcoming video. It took a loooong time but we think it looks good

Shower fixtures are likewise square shaped. Chrome. So far we chose a transparent curtain to let some light through the one window.

The longest wall will have "weathered" wood running horizontal, to a height of about 4 feet. As shown in the pic (sampled from Design Sponge), the boards are different widths, some are pine, some cedar, some unknown pulled from this house, most of the rest rescued  from futon frames. Weathering technique will be covered in a separate post.

Flooring is  ceramic tiles by Marcacarona, 10 inch squares pretty much as shown. They likewise appeared on a clearance pile at Lower Mailand Ceramic Tile and are sparkly brown & grey & black with lots of color depth and texture. Like a sandy beach. Again, sourced at Lower Mainland Ceramics Tile and Stone for an AMAZING bargain on their clearance rack! Yes!

This lesbian renovator  wants to step out of the tub onto riverstones, not the burning hot pointy rocks of the real Peachland beach, but since I spend all my money on this house, going for a shower might be all the beach vacation we get!   I hear that grouting around pebbles or pebble tile is a pain, but I'm still looking at the landscaping yards and may do some rock hounding. I wanna rock! or as Doug at Lower Mainland said "Rock on girl. Don't let them talk you out of it!" Pun intended.

Light will be marina-themed too, and above the door a box light with a pic of Okanagan Lake fun.

Dear friends, these are  the design questions about this bathroom renovation.. i put it to you:
What do you say to light blue (close to as shown) walls and a darker blue ceiling? I'm thinking Behr's Regatta Bay for the ceiling.  Will dark ceiling and light walls make the room look small, or will it look punchy and feel like we are really at the lake? Would you instead do walls/ceilings all the same paint color? If yes, light or dark blue? Or maybe dark blue walls, light ceiling? White ceiling? I'm biased because we already have a gallon of light blue paint :-)


Friday, September 2, 2011

Lez Gut it - VIDEO



This season kicks off with a brand new video, complete with a brand new intro! Let us know what you think. And thanks to Afterellen.com for hosting our program!

Demolishing a bathroom isn't as easy as it sounds.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Lez agree. Vancouver is awesome!

Hey Lez Renovate fans,

Only 1 more sleep until the launch of Season 3 videos! Huzzah!  We wish we could tell you that means our bathroom is done. It is not. We wish we could tell you that we will launch on major network television. We will not. HOWEVER, we are still very excited to be syndicated by the formidable, vast, and welcoming online community at AfterEllen.com, the pop-culture site that plays for our team.

We also admire many other blogs and webtv creators, and we love to connect with folks who are making waves in the online renovation tv world. Or who would like us to make waves with our bathroom project! and want to help out.

This season you'll see some celebrity guests - tradespeople, neighbours, and mentors helping us out.

While you are waiting for our first video, have a look at VancouverIsAwesome.com.

A great initiative to celebrate vancity, introduce local folks and activities, and they won the Urban Culture Award as best lifestyle blog in vancity and best event blog in vancouver. Thanks so much to the DIYVR section for profiling us this week in their weekly spotlight on "...all things handmade, done-by-oneself, crafted and hacked around Vancouver, featuring profiles of makers, event announcements, exhibits and general DIY fun."

Maybe with support like this we can win next year's award for "best lesbian DIY bolog" in Vancouver.

May we suggest you enter the DIYVR home improvement challenge - share your tips on how to do stuff (like wire up in-floor heating or building recessed shelves, etc etc)! Visit their flickr group & share your DIY bragging rights!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lez replace a single pole switch for a light fixture

CoolJ here, having learned just a few days ago the value of having a  DIY renovation video blog.

I found a need to watch and rewatch and forward and rewind and slow motion watch some recent footage we'll soon share with you in Season Three. Yes! This Friday is the launch of Bathroom Guts and Glory.  So enjoy the teaser and plan your long weekend around watching us sweat as we gut the bathroom in our 1929 bungalow:

You'll note this bathroom reno started about 10 weeks ago & though we are going into video production, the bathroom is far from done. 

CoolJ: "KT would you please come over for dinner this friday?"
KT: "Shall I bring my tools?"

Ahem. Yes please. KT is wise in the ways of the electrics, so such an offer should not be refused.

SPOILER ALERT for Lez Renovate season 3:  there have been some questions about DIY electrics,  so we cooked our Sparky friend a nice dinner found on blog called A Cooking Life. And then we put her to work.

Turns out that indeed, it takes more than good looks & a wee thrift store electrical book to install a new box light: KT discovered that I had brought no power to the light above the door. And it was all behind drywall that LL was guarding with her life. Oops.

KT: "Try to remember where this wire comes from"
CoolJ: "Hmmm. I THINK I pulled it from the ceiling. Or maybe I ran it TO the ceiling. I didn't write it down."
KT: "Let's watch that video again where you 'explain' how to wire up the light to the switch.
So we watched the video again. A few times.  You'll have to do the same in a few weeks to learn more!

Now you know why we REALLY do Lez Renovate videos: to help narrow down the possibilities of what the deuce I had done. Sadly for KT, there was still a fair amount of rummaging in the attic with flashlights and flicking of circuit breakers. But I let the expert do that this time. I just made the videos and took notes for posterity!

I remember when we first moved in, we had a clear and helpful diagram of all the electrics in the house.  Except it was all labelled in Vietnamese... Which, you may intuit, neither LL nor I can read fluently.

What about others out there? Do you painstakingly create wiring diagrams and file them neatly in a folder, or tape inside the breaker box? Are you a total pro like the electrician who rewired our house and labelled every wire?  Or do you sometimes freestyle and live to regret it? Well have no regrets, because Lez Renovate Season 3: Bathroom Guts to Glory will launch this week & you too will be able to watch those videos again and again.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lez fix drywall, install GFCI outlet, install a fan to vent a hot shed..

Dearest LezRenovate fans, we have been very busy this month.
Just got back from 10 days visiting our respective folks in the sunny Okanagan and I must admit that I was considering moving right back to my homeland, where they have hot sunny summers, juicy peaches kissed by  organic farmers, and the hot babes of Peachfest floating down the penticton river channel.

What  a great time. Primarily because we managed to squeeze in some renovating at CoolJ's mom's place. It seemed like an all inclusive vacation until the sweating and swearing started!

CoolJ says: I had offered to fix the drywall that had been cut out during a recent plumbing repair, but as is typical with many fix -it jobs, soon my job grew to replace a GFCI plug and to team up with my alter ego HotTemperedJay (my brother) and my brother in law to install a fan to exhaust the heat out of mama's survivalist hut (she has a gigantic freezer in there and it throws off a lot of heat).

A few deep thoughts arrived at while Lez Renovating in the land of my youth (Kelowna BC, aka Ktown):
1. The fellas at the local lumberyard have a whole secret life in the back & ladies are not privy to it.
Lumberyard guys: "Har har har har har".
[Having fun in the back]

Bet I could fit a door in there too
CoolJ: Yooo hoooo. I'm taking some dryyyyyywalllll

Lumberyard boss: "Sorry miss! Usually whenever a lady comes in here they all jump to help!"

CoolJ inside voice [I guess i'm not that kind of lady. See picture above]

Lumberyard boss: 1 sheet of drywall.  OK. Are you going to install that YOURSELF?!

CoolJ: Yes. I have a renovation program. Would you like to guest star?

Lumberyard boss: Heh. Heh. [scuttles away]
I took that as a "no"

2. You can fit a whole sheet of drywall in a KIA SUV. 
If you cut it first. Luckily I confirmed I can carry the sheet by myself, which was good to know since the lumberyard guys made themselves real scarce. What a way to treat a 'lady' renovator.

4. Kids these days grow up too fast
My 3 year old nephew can drive drywall screws already and didn't dispute that ladies can too. Extra points for him. The nephew, by the way, is much beloved & we look forward to him being big enough to carry bags of concrete etc & when he comes to work for visit us in the future. 

5. Why do we call them "GFI plugs" but the box says "GFCI"? So puzzling. And why did the painter paint over and jam the buttons? safety first.

How about the rest of you? Who does the fixing for the grandmothers in your family? If your folks live in hot locations, especially with lake frontage,  Lez Renovate would be happy to spend a week and do a little tinkering and tease the local lumberyard hands. Until then, i'm back to the bathroom renos & you'll see the videos coming along this week!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Season 3 Teaser

We are a blog AND vlog! Yes, we are. Although, it may not seem like it as of late. Well, we are currently editing Season 3 together and airing the first episode soon enough.

Can't wait that long? Well - here is a little sneak peek to get you excited for laughs, tears, bruises, tips, tricks, rock and fun!

Stayed tuned!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bathroom Update #4

LL says:

Did a holiday weekend just pass? Huh. It didn't seem like it, although we managed to go to Playland for a couple hours. But, for the most part our time was spent in the bathroom.

I am happy to report that we are done tiling and grouting the shower! Yayyyy us! Although, it took us 3 (2 man) days where it should of taken 1 (1 man) day. Oops. Well, we never claimed to be professionals so whatever. But I have to say that finishing that job made me not hate renovating anymore. It was getting pretty tense, stressful, ugly and dirty. Yuck. When we finished that last bit of the grouting, we high fived each other and then went to the local outdoor pool to celebrate with a dip. Also, to use the public shower. Ha. Only a day or 2 away from using the shower for the first time! Holy crap! 4 minor things to do first.

1. Use a cheese cloth on the tile to make all nicey-nicey.
2. Fill the tub, sit in it and caulk around the tub.
3. Hang shower curtain rod
4. Attach faucets

All tonight.

So lets talk a little about item #2, fill the tub, sit in it and caulk around the tub. Why, you may ask, do you do that? Well, simple. The tub bends and flexes when water is added (and other heavy items) so you want to simulate the usage to properly caulk the tub, allowing for space between the tile and the tub to contract and expand. I can't remember who taught us that, Ask the Builder or Mike Holmes. Although I'm pretty sure neither of them have ever seen a lesbian lying in a tub full of water, caulking. Like this.

Artist rendering of LL caulking tub.
Hot. I know.

Which leads me to the question of the week: Have you ever taken a shower/bath with your clothes on? And, why?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bathroom Reno Update #3

LL says:

Well, we were up til 1am last night putting the tile in the bathroom shower. Holy crap, thinset mortar is some messy stuff! It looks like we had a mud fight in there! But the tiles are looking good. Well, I'm sure that they will look good once the thick layer of anger that is floating around in there dissipates.

Did I mention that our house is not level or true? Anywhere? That includes the bathroom. We tried to our best to make it level but of course, since we are amateurs, we didn't reach that goal - to be straight. I'm pretty darn sure that I will never make that a goal in life.

Anyhoo - Cool J is working tonight therefore I have to finish off the last of the tiling and clean up the drywall dust, dried thinset mortar mud and tile shards before the inlaws arrive tomorrow. Oh, and a tool bomb went off in our kitchen and patio. So, lots to do - lots to do.

Here is one of the many videos that I watched to learn how to tile. Home Depot had a pretty thorough explanation and we based our plans around theirs.

We didn't start from the middle of the wall though, which might have been a mistake. We made due though. It seemed that I had the knack for placing the tiles, and Cool J took on the cutting of the tiles. It took her awhile to get the knack.

We did have a small miracle though! I tend to have faith in reno miracles and just show up to the supply store and wish myself one. It happened 2 times at Home Depot and now just recently at Lower Mainland Ceramics. We were having a struggle disagreement full on fight regarding how to deal with tiling around our window. Since we are amatuers (did I mention that?), we didn't FULLY measure out how the tiles would EXACTLY fit on the wall, therefore the window coverage came as a surprise! We came up short and started brainstorming what to do. Add a decorative border? Put a huge plastic trim around it? We were stuck. So, we headed back down to Lower Mainland Ceramics and said "Doug - help!!!" After walking around the store, looking for decor options, Doug pulls out of his closet the perfect thing...ceramic corner pieces!! Here I am excited about the miracle that happened before my eyes.

Tile miracle!!
And let me just say, the miracle happened just in time. We were about to break up over tiling! I thanked Doug for saving our relationship and off we went. Once the season 3 of Lez Renovate starts, you will be hearing more about our saviour, Doug.

In the meantime, the question of the week is: What would you like to have in your dream bathroom?

Ok, that's it for now as time is a wastin' and I gotta get back to it. Have yourself a fabulous weekend!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bathroom Reno Update #3

Ok, ok, ok. I know it has been awhile since we have updated you on all things bathroom. Well, we have been uber busy and haven't had time to collect our thoughts let alone write them down. But today is Sunday and I'm sitting on the couch with a coffee and Menue, watching youtube videos on how to apply tape/mortar to a tub enclosure.

So where did we leave off? I'll have to read the last post to see...

...ok, I'm back.

The amount of work that was laid out before me in the last post seems like decades ago! Insulate the wall, install electrics, cut a hole for the ceiling fan, hang the drywall and Green E-board and make recessed shelves. WELL - I can safely say that we completed that list by 80%! Just yesterday, we put the last of the drywall up. And of course all of that other stuff had to be done before we put the drywall up. So yayyyy us!

And now we are onto the taping/mudding stage of the process. When we fixed the basement suite we hired a guy to do the drywall, although I was around to assist and learn. He taught me some valuable things. Like, wear a mask when you are sanding the mud, use con-fill to fill big holes and blare classic rock. Well, I knew about the classic rock thing a long time ago. In any case, my acquired knowledge has brought me to believe that I can pull off doing it all myself (and Cool J or course). But I feel nervous. If you don't do a good job, its TOTALLY noticeable. If the joins aren't covered properly, you can see them, if you don't have straight (gayly forward) lines in your ceiling, the rest of the room looks crooked, if you don't blare classic rock when you are doing it, you are not a real renovator and your project is fake. So here is the first of the taping/mudding.

Cornering is tough!

Impressed by Cool J's electrical box cutouts? I am.

So far so good. Now its onto the thinset mortar taping in the tub. Which I haven't done before. That is why I am watching youtube videos on how to do it. Of course I get sidetracked and watch a few kitten videos. Don't you?

Right. Applying mortar to a tub. Right. Like this:

Ok, enough dilly-dallying! Lez Renovate!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bathroom Reno Update #2

The other night we made burgers and sat on our patio looking at the calender trying to figure out the schedule of finishing the bathroom. We kind of have a time limit since we have family coming up to visit at the end of July. Oops. So, we looked at our list of things to do, perused our respective schedules and almost started crying. Work is very busy for both of us! So renovations have to happen on the weekends and the odd weekday evening. Lots to do. Lots to do.

And have I mentioned that I hate dealing with drywall? Hence, I am not very good at it. If you don't like doing something, you tend to not be very good at it. And I especially dislike the mudding/sanding process. It takes clean lines and dirty lungs. We discussed that it might be smart to hire Pete back to work his magic. I am hesitant though. It's Lez Renovate! Meaning, Let's Renovate! Meaning - we do it! But sometimes I have to admit defeat and get a professional to do it and save myself the agony. As Cool J's family says, "Spend the extra 6 bux!". Hire a professional.

Speaking of professionals, Cool J has a mini-crush on our plumber! She managed to stop herself from flirting and making him feel awkward. Which she felt was a smart idea because she didn't want him to feel weird. I say that it was good that she stopped herself because it would feel weird when she would be sleeping on the couch if she did!

So what's next for the bathroom? Well, Cool J is out of town for a week and I'm staying behind, once again, to work and renovate. In the next while I need to complete the electrics, including the Nuheat we decided to install, cut a hole in the ceiling for the fan, insulate the outer wall, hang all the drywall and massively heavy Green E board and build recessed shelving. Phew.

Let's talk about Nuheat for a second. This is a little something we like to call heated floors. I don't think we would of entertained the idea of heated floors if we didn't live in a suite for 6 months that had it. It was wall to wall. In the bedroom, living room, kitchen and of course, the bathroom. And the bathroom was pretty much covered in tile. It was a beautiful bathroom, inspiring us to get our own magical place where we can lie down in the dead of winter when the plastic on our windows isn't quite do the job of keep the heat in. I'm excited. We may be fighting over the bathroom more often, great.

And Green E board. What's this you ask? Well, apparently its the heaviest "drywall" known to man, unbeknownst to us. Cool J researched this product and its basically enviro-friendly, mold resistant gypsum. We are putting this in our shower and using it for backboard for tiling. When we picked it up at Standard Building Supplies we had no idea that we would be yelling at each other while transferring from the van to the backyard because of being so heavy and for us having extremely short fuses.

This better turn out to be the most amazing renovation or I am going to lose it.

Anyways, our schedule is tight so I may be knocking on friends doors to help me at some point. Anyone willing to lend a hand in the next couple weeks? Nothing major, it would include beer or some other drink of choice! Plus, you could be an internet star in one of our videos. Only if you want!

Speaking of videos, we are going to be posting again soon - don't worry! We have a plan. ;)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lez check our bathroom renovation budget and statistics

A quick checkin by CoolJ, CFO of Lez Renovate on our bathroom renovation budget and expenses to date.

My planned fantasy budget:  $1500
Total expenses to date (excluding treats/beer):  $1274.82

My estimation of required labour for entire project: 30 lesbian days 
(no you smart arse, they are the same length as a regular day, they just include more cuddling and sharing. And there are 2 of us, so 15 days x 2 lesbians working etc)

Revenue: $100 (thanks family for the gift cards!)
2 scratch lottery tickets that each won another chance to play
Who's that little friend peeking up at me?
5 chances to win on the lumberyard customer survey

# of days since project kickoff: 6
Total # of lesbian-hours spent to date by LL/CoolJ (excluding trips to the lumberyard & for treats. Includes time spent arguing while not driving to or from lumberyard):  48 hours (approx)

# of hours of professional tradesperson's expert work: 6
# of dyke-days late for or missing work: 5
# of times peeing somewhere somewhat inappropriate because it was more convenient: 2 (coolj only)
# of showers at public facilities:  5
# of trips to lumberyard or equivalent:  5
# of days with no workable shower in our suite: 6
# of days with no workable toilet in our suite: 6
Estimated date of toilet installation:  June 27 (10 days after project kickoff)

Time spent with LL lez renovating = priceless

All in all, I think things are going well, as you can see
What do you think? We'll post more pics & videos shortly. I forget when LL said she would post the next video.

I have to take a moment to give props to mint.com for the cool web-based financial tracking that can track all our bank & credit card transactions. I've been afflicted lately with symptoms of the Visa Flu, which includes chills and anxiety about mounting renovation costs. As I'm a software usability/interaction designer by day,  I have to say that Mint (made by the kind people at Intuit who make my income tax filing so simple) is very helpful in figuring out just where all that money is going. I can even take the financial report on the road (to the plumbing supply shop) to track expenditures as the money is spent goes down the drain.

Any other good renovation budget tracking tips? Have any of you handy women adapted your Wedding Planning Spreadsheets to track DIY renovation?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bathroom Renovation - Guts and Glory

We forgot what it was like to deal with a substantial renovation. The last time we dived, head first, into a something like this it was Basement Suite 2.0 and we had no idea what we were getting into. We had possession of the house for one day before we started tearing it apart. We knew that we were going to come up against some hardships and mistakes. We even knew that we would find some unlikely things behind the walls. Like a bear claw. It's true, I found one. But we didn't know how angry or frustrated we would get trying to make things work or finding out that they didn't. Blurg.

I forgot about the anger. I forgot about the frustration. I forgot that this house is 80 years old and most likely has layers upon layers of linoleum, plywood and drywall covering up the 60s, 70s and 80s. So of course it took us 3 days to demo the bathroom because it had 3 generational layers! Blurg.

I can't believe how much crap came out of that bathroom. And its still coming. The plumber is in there now shaking his head and saying stuff like "they don't make these anymore." I know that! Gotta replace it. Ok. What does that mean for us? More work. Blurg.

I also forgot what it felt like to have drywall wall dust everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE! Why we didn't learn to put a plastic sheet over the bathroom door while we were demolishing I will never know. But, we cleaned it up, hired someone to take the crap away and went to Cool J's work to have a shower. Ahhhh employee benefits.

I keep standing in the middle of the empty room looking around and saying to myself, "why did we do this?". Oh yeah, so we wouldn't have to look at the duct tape holding the shower together anymore. Right! Oh, and because not having a fan was simply not an option anymore. Right! So the plumber is here, doing the best he can with what he's got. And we are going to do our best to make this a quick and painless renovation. Famous last words.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

If you show me yours, I'll show you mine.

So we ended last season with the promise to demolish our bathroom and finally make our dream a reality. I am looking forward to having a bathroom with a fan and a shower that doesn't leak. Cool J is probably looking forward to making her vision a reality. This time we are dealing with style people. Not just your run-of-the-mill home renovation, but the kinda stuff that gets shown on HGTV! That's the hope anyways.

And I can tell you that I am totally looking forward to demolishing! That is the fun part. And its to the studs demolishing, unlike the basement suite. We had to be careful where we were throwing the sledge hammer! Remember these fun times:

We have done a couple demolitions yet we are not immune to minor bumps and scratches. There have been a couple times where filming our accidents would of been perfect for tv but instead we looked after each other since we are a very small crew of 2. A little help is all we need time to time.

Anyone want to help us demolish or lay some tile or take crap to the dump or do some painting or cut a hole in our roof or help us find cheap/free shower fixtures? We are taking applications.
So, have you renovated your bathroom? What did you do? Send us some pictures, we would love to see what you did. If you show me yours, I'll show you mine.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lez Build a Bench - Part 2 - VIDEO


Alright renovation peeps, here it is, the finale to Season 2! We decided that we wanted to finish up this season and move onto Season 3, in which we fully intend to renovate our bathroom. Finally! So many things came up last year and we could get to it. Now we are motivated and ready to take on the grossness that is our bathroom.

Of course we had to have a decent patio to lounge on though! It's summer, well, sorta. Where else are we going to enjoy beers after we rip out the bathroom, or drywall mud or have a fight about the bathtub not fitting?


Happy fun time summer good yes!

Monday, June 6, 2011

El Arrayan - Puerto Vallarta Restaurant

The weather has been beautiful lately. I think that we have been waiting too long for sun. Cool J and I were riding our bikes around without jackets! Crazy. It made me think of the vacation that we took in March. We went to Sayulita, Mexico, a little surfer town an hour north of Puerto Vallarta. The last time we went was 5 years ago and it was long overdue.

We love it there! Most of the time we just lay on the beach drinking cerveza's, waiting for vendors to peddle their goods and people watch. Awesome.

That's pretty much it. But, we decided that we would start our trip off by staying in Puerto Vallarta for a couple of days. Of course as soon as I put word out that we wanted some advice from our friends as where to go, the information flooded in. Hikes, cheap drinks, bars, hotels, you name it! So we had our 2 days pretty much planned out. Except for the restaurants. So I did what I do best when it comes to looking for stuff. Google it! Just like when we were looking for a real estate agent. I searched 'realtor, Vancouver, lesbian'. But this time it was 'restaurant, Puerto Vallarta, lesbian'.

A little restaurant called El Arrayan came up. Not only is it lesbian run and owned, it won best Mexican restaurant 5 years in a row! Sign me up. So, we went. And boy were we happy we did. The atmosphere was great, the food was great, the service was great and the renovations were great! I bet you were wondering how I would make this post about renovating weren't you? Ha.

We chatted up the owner, Carman Porras, about her restaurant and the renovations that she did. I admired the sink that they had made out of old wash bins and she was quite proud of the bar that was made out of brick.

I was quite happy to meet lesbian business owners who renovate their own businesses. They didn't just hire someone to do it, which seems to be the case most of the time. They got their hands dirty, strapped on a tool belt and went for it. I love that! No blue job/pink jobs at El Arrayan. And also, they had lesbian servers. Awesome.

So if the fact that these women renovated their own restaurant hasn't convinced you enough to go, the food will. Like I said before, they won best Mexican restaurant 5 years in a row. Check out what we ate.

And oh my, it was so delicious. Next time we go back to PV, we are going to El Arrayan. Not only to eat the fantastic food but to talk more renovations with lesbians.

Friday, June 3, 2011

UHaul, Co-op Car or Panel Van: What do lesbians bring on a second date

What do lesbians bring on a second date? The classic joke takes a turn when those lesbians are waste-conscious and try to recycle our renovation waste.

CoolJ here, staring out into the rain at a renovation garbage pile in our back lane.

In typical LezRenovate fashion, I have thought about the DIY solution to this problem so long it has become much worse. In the fall, we had some garbage left from some repairs & gutting we did, assuming we would either build a jam space or update our bathroom. I thought I would save money by getting a trailer hitch on my car and getting a utility trailer, then haul the stuff away to be recycled or landfilled.  I had hoped that there is a place to recycle carpet, toilets, lumber in Vancouver. But it is not so easy... more on that later.

Anyway. Over the last 8 months we neither recycled, nor hauled it away, nor hired anyone to haul it away, nor indeed, updated our bathroom, nor built a jam space, despite all the fun it was to rip out the old storage room under the deck

Here's what we'll look like this sunny saturday
So now we've missed Vancouver's free dumping clean up month. And lez friend whose truck brought in most of our lumber and drywall last winter took that truck and a Uhaul to Halifax (on a very looong lesbian date),  I need a Plan b to transport the smelly & unweildy junk from our backyard  to its recycled or upcycled future. And I need to make this happen in time for the fun of this weekend's Open House at the Vancouver City Landfill, which promises to be fun for the whole family.

Maybe we'll join the Modo Car Co-op and use one of their trucks to do our hauling. I've been a member  of this  co-op  before, when I lived in a shared house of five lesbians and the car co-op was the Cooperative Auto Network,  the first carshare co-op in North America. I checked & they have trucks with and without canopies, parked nearby in East Van. Let's run the numbers:
North America's first car share coop
  •  $500 refundable deposit (ironically the refund of my membership share when I left the co-op in 2008 to get my own car went toward the real estate closing costs on Georgia Cottage)
I'm not sure if the Co-op would see Lezrenovate as a business...we are certainly not yet profiting (though I would like to) but let's work it out as if we were a business or non-profit member:
  •  $6/hr on weekdays (to a max) x 2 hours for a run to the Kent Ave transfer station or North Vancouver city dump = $18 to dump this junk
  • $8/hr on weekends (to a max) = $25 to dump the junk
By comparison:
Trailer hitch install = $200 (approx)
Craigslist utility trailer = $700

The punchline:
I could make 56 trips to the dump, recycling station, or Craigslist Dunbargains using the co-op truck before the trailer option makes sense, and the trailer option does not include fuel, insurance etc. whereas co-op membership covers all of this.

So Co-op truck is looking good so far.  How does it compare to the HomoDepot Load & Go Van available in Vancouver? A friend reno/cheapo gayfriend of ours uses these vans and trucks for any large load he has to carry that his convertible won't fit - including items not purchased at HomoDepot. Hmm. Crafty.

This van is $19 per 90 minutes. So it would be $24 for a 2 hr dump run + fuel. About the same as the Co-op, only no feel-good-community-support aspect to it.

What do you think? Shall we get a LezRenovate membership in Vancouver's community auto share co-op? Get a trailer hitch on the VW & buy/build/beg/borrow a trailer? Or scoot over to score a Craigslist Dunbargain (a bargain in Vancouver's Dunbar neighbourhood) with the HomoDepot van?