Marisa Iacobucci


Making it right! Useful book tools for home renovations

This past December, as most people were decking the halls for the festive season, we began major basement renovations.

Yes, you read that correctly! Crazy, I know, but we actually didn’t intend for it to happen during the midst of winter and holiday madness. Since it was the first major renovation we did to our home, a series of events, some by design, others mostly accidental, led us to that time and place of no return. As our beloved contractors literally moved in to rock our foundation and lives, keeping it all together with two small children who were confined to a teeny play area in our jam-packed living room was no small feat. Nothing could really fully prepare us for the renovation, but looking back, I learned some valuable lessons, the main one being: before you renovate, do your homework.

This could mean many things. Talking to family members, friends, and neighbours who have gone through similar renovations will offer some invaluable advice and tips. It could also lead to some reputable contacts, professional contractors and designers who won’t lead you astray, mainly because of the referrals, when all the walls come tumbling down. I would also recommend interviewing at least three contractors and other home professionals, as well as gathering a few quotes before making any final decisions about a renovation team. You’d be surprised at how many contractors disappear or don’t ever deliver a quote. Finally, I’d look for answers in books and magazines.

We gathered quite the library of reference materials. Of course I went to Make it Right® sources, foolproof tips and advice from Mr. Mike Holmes himself. A few of our favourites were The Holmes Inspection and Make it Right® Attics and Basements.

In The Holmes Inspection, we learned, albeit after we bought our home, how to identify problems during the inspection process that can prove to be very costly for home owners down the road. Our basement was unfinished when we bought our home and although we didn’t identify any major problems in that state in the four years we lived in our home, the real problems came out during the renovations. We sure could have used Holmes’ inspection checklists as references.

Another favourite was the Black and Decker Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair. It includes 350 projects and 2000 photos for people, like my husband and me, who sometimes need the visual guide to explain complex undertakings. The useful advice and easy-to-follow instructions on almost every home repair and maintenance job from the interior to the exterior of a home make this book essential for all home owners, whether you like to fix things yourself or hire help. And, finally, but by no means the end of my book recommendations for home renovation and repair information, we found Real Simple: 869 New Uses for Old Things, a comfort read for making life easier every day. Finding new uses for old things is not only fun, it’ll also save you a ton of money so you could start the next major house renovation project.

I’ve got my eye on the kitchen. What’s yours? Good luck!

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Bookish about love: 5 reads for a spring fling

This article was originally published in May.

Ah, with spring in full bloom, it’s not surprising that love is in the air! If you want to impress your spring fling, forget the flowers and chocolates; they’re so cliché! Read a good book together. Here are my top five books that are guaranteed to woo even the most cynical of hearts. Give them a try and don’t forget that to always read between the lines when it comes to love.

Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
This collection of 44 love sonnets written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning between 1845 and 1846 for her, then, future husband Robert Browning, should be a poetry staple on your book lover’s shelf. Nevermind that that this collection contains some of the most famous love poems of the Victorian Age. Over time, it has proven that the changing nature of relationships, in all of its beauty and ugliness, has never been so eloquent.
64 pgs, Dover Publications, 1992 edition.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
Who hasn’t read this gripping Gabriel García Márquez story about the enduring power of true love and not wept or vomited? For all the bleeding hearts out there, this devastatingly beautiful tale of unrequited love (Florentino for Fermina) really proves that lovesickness can literally be an illness.
368 pgs, Vintage, 2007 edition.

The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro
If you’ve ever wondered what people would do for love, this collection of eight stories by Canada’s beloved Alice Munro is an essential read. Passion, in all of its crimes and secrets, propels Munro’s fascinating characters and those around them, to take some pretty risky and unexpected routes of discovery.
416 pgs, Penguin, 1999 edition.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
This book, the touching tale about a young boy and a tree, speaks volumes of the ultimate act of self-sacrifice and can be enjoyed over and over by all of the loves in your life. Life’s greatest lessons are always this beautiful and this simple.
64 pgs, Programs and Genres, 2012 edition

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
There’s nothing like a bit of scandal and “a madwoman in the attic” to rock the foundation of true love. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, the story of a young, plain governess who falls in love with her Bryonic employer, unaware that he has a mad wife incarcerated in the attic, continues to scandalise readers even today.
576 pgs, Michael O’Mara, 2011 edition.