A boat rack to save our backs!

13 Nov

Think about one of the worst jobs to do at the cottage…carrying the boats and canoes up and down the hill has got to up there at the top of the list.  Well, I have an idea that could save us a whole lot of effort and a bunch of space in the shed!

How about building a boat/canoe rack right down by the water?  The old, moss covered deck down by the lake is going to have to come down soon as it is rotting and will soon fall down.  I haven’t seen anyone use it in years.  That might be the perfect place to build a sturdy boat rack  to store our boats.


Cottage Life has a great article on how to build a boat rack, complete with step-by-step plans and a full materials list.


We might have to slightly modify the lower cross arm to accommodate the Laser but this could be the  answer to having the boats accessible to the water at all times, even when you come to the cottage alone.


Strategically placed hooks could also provide a place to hang those towels, cover-ups, life-preservers and other things you take down to the lake with you but don’t want to leave on the ground. 

The roof would keep the elements and tree debris off the boats in the summer and we could throw a big tarp over it in the winter.


Part one of the project would be site review (will the area where the old deck is be suitable?) and site preparation (tearing down the old deck).

Part two would be building it.  We could attempt it ourselves…but I think we might be happier with the result if we had someone a little more skilled do it for us.  Perhaps the deck builder?


Well,  what do you think?  Love it?  Hate it?  Think we should do it?  Put it off till another year?  I’m always looking for feedback!

CLICK HERE to see the complete plans and materials list and download it all in PDF.

More cozying

13 Nov

I have been haunting the Value Village and vintage clothing stores lately, hoping to find some thick blankets or quilts to make into dog beds.  This week I hit the jackpot…but not for dog beds.

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I picked up this thick, hand-quilted twin size quilt at Value Village for a mere $9.99. It was clean, no stains or smells, and in really good shape. I’ve washed and dried it and it’s a beauty -  all ready to cozy up a bed at the cottage.

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I found this quilt, done in the Dresden Plate design, at a vintage clothing store for $17.99.  This is a lighter weight quilt, I think it’s a double.  Just look at all that hand-stiching!  I don’t think the quilter was an expert because some of the “plate” designs are ever so slightly puffy (you can see that in the photo below) but it’s still quite a find. 

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In the spring and fall, when the cottage is pretty chilly at night, these babies will keep us warm.  In the summer, they’ll provide a comfortable cover to lie on. 

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I’ll take both of the to the cottage when I go in the spring and figure out which beds they will grace.  Cozy, cozy, cozy!

Deck design

3 Nov

OK, the beams are in, the cottage floors are flat and the house is stable again.  Now it’s time to think about the deck.  Wouldn’t it be great to have a nice new deck constructed and ready for this summer?  All we have to do is agree on size and design.  Once we’ve done that, I can draw up some specifications and send them to Bob, Tim M. and any local deck building companies I can find for quotes.  I’ll bet we could have everything lined up to be done in the spring.

I haven’t drawn up my potential design yet, but if you’d like to play around with some possible design suggestions, here are some pictures and dimensions that might help.

Go big or go home…just my opinion…

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Bird house project

31 Oct

Here’s a great family project for next summer…build a home to provide shelter to birds on the property. take a look at the state of some of our bird houses.

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A sad state of affairs. Wouldn’t it be great to have bird boxes all over the place to keep our feathered friends safe from predators and the elements? How about making it a project the next time you are up? There is plenty of spare wood and I’ll make sure we have some nails and screws…

Take a look at this chart before building your nest box, keeping in mind that birds make their own choices, without regard for charts. So don’t be surprised if you find tenants you never expected in a house you intended for someone else.

birdhouse sizes
Here are a few other things to keep in mind when constructing a home for a bird:


You should provide air vents in bird boxes. There are two ways to provide ventilation: leave gaps between the roof and sides of the box, or drill 1/4 inch holes just below the roof.


Water becomes a problem when it sits in the bottom of a bird house. A roof with sufficient slope and overhang offers some protection. Drilling the entrance hole on an upward slant may also help keep the water out. Regardless of design, driving rain will get in through the entrance hole. You can assure proper drainage by cutting away the corners of the box floor and drilling 1/4 inch holes. Nest boxes will last longer if the floors are recessed about 1/4 inch.

Entrance Hole

Put the entrance hole on the front panel near the top. A rough surface both inside and out makes it easier for the adults to get into the box and, when it’s time, for the nestlings to climb out.
If your box is made of finished wood, add a couple of grooves outside below the hole. Open the front panel and add grooves, cleats or wire mesh to the inside. Never put up a bird house with a perch below the entrance hole. Perches offer starlings, house sparrows and other predators a convenient place to wait for lunch.


A bird house with easy access makes the job simple. Most bird houses can be opened from the top, the side, the front or the bottom. Boxes that open from the top and the front provide the easiest access. Opening the box from the top is less likely to disturb nesting birds. If you clean out your nest boxes after each brood has fledged, several pairs may use the nest throughout the summer. Some cavity-nesting birds will not nest again in a box full of old nesting material.
In the fall, after you’ve cleaned out your nest box for the last time, you can put it in storage or leave it out. Leaving your houses out provides shelter for birds, flying squirrels and other animals during winter. Each spring, thoroughly clean all houses left out for the winter.

Limiting Predator Access

Proper box depth, and roof and entrance hole design will help reduce access by predators, such as raccoons, cats, opossums, and squirrels. Sometimes all it takes is an angled roof with a three-inch overhang to discourage small mammals.
The entrance hole is the only thing between a predator and a bird house full of nestlings. By itself, the 3/4-inch wall is not wide enough to keep out the arm of a raccoon or house cat. Add a predator guard (a 3/4-inch thick rectangular wood block with an entrance hole cut in it) to thicken the wall and you’ll discourage sparrows, starlings, and cats.

I plan to find a good birdhouse instruction document or website and post it here later. Happy building!


23 Oct

When I was last at the cottage, I spent a few hours walking the property bent over, scanning the ground for mushrooms.  I began to see wonderful colors and patterns and textures in the wet leaves coating the forest floor.  I took a bunch of snaps, here are some of them.  I would have done dry leaves too…if it had ever stopped raining.

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The 2010-2011 Annual Report

22 Oct

I am making this annual report/update mid-year for 2 reasons;

1. I have been remiss in not preparing a 2010 report (sorry guys…)

2. I have changed the cottage bank account from a savings to a checking account, so I want to start fresh.


New couch/bed and pillows on the porch – thanks to Sue for picking the bed up and putting it together!  New drapes for the porch.





Fixed the dock barrels – thanks a bunch to Henry!

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  • De-squirreling of the eaves and roof (yikes, that was ugly!!!),
  • Finally got the clothesline up and running (not perfect, but better),
  • Significant mowing and hacking back of brush to make more clear area to play. 
  • Lots and lots  of poison ivy clean-up (an on-going pursuit).
  • Had exterminator in to get rid of flying ant infestation.

Matt wasn’t a great find, handyman-wise. A lot of what he did wasn’t exactly perfect and some had to be fixed up later. I am feeling pretty good about Bob’s reliability and capabilities. Here’s some more of Matt/Bob’s work:

  • Installed (Matt), then fixed (Bob) main cottage eavestroughs
  • Cleared dead junipers from the hill above the deck on the way to the lake
  • Replaced the stairs and railings leading to and from the first deck on the way to the lake, built (Matt), then improved (Bob) a railing from the bottom of the stairs to the lake.


New rugs to cozy things up a bit, replaced a LOT of scary bed pillows, new mattress in the middle bedroom. Changed a few things around…

BEFORE                                                    AFTER

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New shelving in the shed made from the wood from Mum’s old deck. I asked Bob to build the shelving large enough to hold big blue plastic bins – so each family can have a mouse-proof place to store the items they want to leave at the cottage all year. There should be room enough for 2 bins per family, including Mum and Tim of course.


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  • new keypad entry deadbolt lock (see previous post for instructions)

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  • new kettle and large and medium frying pans
  • new vacuum filter (I’ll try to remember to get a few spares), a few new tools, nature library update
  • Book case clean-up (got rid of baby books)


The plan was completed, the property was reviewed by a Forest Plan approver (Frank), the plan has been submitted to the Ministry of Natural Resources for final approval, work has begun (by me) on tree selection and clearing, families have expressed interest on path adoption and clearing, spring fertilizer has been purchased…

We are well on our way.  I will contact you when I get word from the government on our plan approval and on the tax reduction.  I will provide more detail on the plan itself in some upcoming posts .


I won’t put our finances up here, I will send you all an email later with the financial summary.

Just a note, so you don’t think I am a spendthrift with the cottage account.  The new lock, the rugs, pillows, the books and numerous other smaller items that have recently been added have not cost the cottage fund a single penny.  They have been donations from me personally.  And with regard to some  items I’ve recently purchased for the cottage, I am always looking for deals – I bought  the new kettle and frying pans for 75% off. 

Next year, a big-ass deck?  look for an up-coming post on that…


21 Oct

I love this mushroom, everything about it is special.  The color is not ostentatious but it is startling all the same – you don’t often see to much purple in nature. 

BLEWIT - LEPISTA NUDA 3When the blewit is young and fresh it has this lovely purple/mauve color, soon turning to a light tan or flesh tone as it ages.  I like the size too – the blewit is s nice substantial mushroom, easy to spot. 


“The ubiquitous blewit is the quintessential embodiment of spunk and persistence – cut one down and two will grow back!  Decapitated stems will often continue to grow as if nothing had happened – a new cap will not form, and a grotesque (but edible) cancerous looking pale purple growth will take its place.”

~David Arora from “Mushrooms Demystified”

The blewit is supposed to be quite tasty.  I think I’ll try the next one I see that looks new and fresh… do I dare?  Eating a purple mushroom might be an experience…


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