Book Review

The President is Missing - a Book Review

July 03, 2018

The President is Missing - a Book Review
It’s been a while since I did a book review – mostly because it’s been quite a while since I finished a new book. I think I’ve mentioned before that I do most of my reading while commuting to work, so that means I generally read in 30-ish minute increments. If a book is particularly riveting I’ve been known to continue when I get home (sometimes completely ignoring anything else), but those short spurts of reading can be problematic if a book is one that’s slow to get going. Given I get my books mostly in e-book format from the library they’ve been known to expire before I’m finished. In fact I had one expire last week when I was 95% complete. This was particularly annoying as it took a while for me to get invested in the story, and given the wait list it’ll be months before I get it back and by that point I’ll likely have forgotten some plot points and will have to restart it.

This past weekend was a long one for us Canadians as we celebrated Canada’s 151st birthday. It was also ridiculously hot. Since I’m not lucky enough to have a cottage to escape to, I spend a bit of time hiding from the heat indoors where there was AC.  While hunkered indoors I finished up ‘The President is Missing: A Novel’ by James Patterson and Bill Clinton. The foundation of the story is an intriguing one, and one that is completely relevant today – the US is under attack, but not by conventional methods. This time the US is the target of a massive cybersecurity breach that will see a computer virus infect every electronic device connected to the internet and render it useless. This means all electronic records (financial, medical, social, etc) will disappear, and the US economy will grind to a complete stop as anything that runs on a computer ceases to function.

The President is the narrator of this story which confused me – given the title of the book I expected the President to be, well, missing. Anyways, along with the cyber threat the President must deal with a Speaker who’s gunning for an impeachment, and a traitor within his own cabinet.

I don’t think I’ve ever read any of James Patterson’s other books so I found the incredibly short chapters of this book strange, but short chapters are apparently something he’s known for (there are 128 chapters plus an epilogue in this novel, but some are only a paragraph or two long). As a writing style I found it extremely odd, but short chapters were rather handy for my short reading spurts on the subway.

One of the marketing tag lines for this book is it’s ‘filled with information that only a former Commander-in-chief could know’ (which I confess might have been what drew me to the book in the first place), but to be honest I can’t think of anything that was ‘revealed’ in this book that only Clinton and other Presidents might know.  Sure, at one point the President leaves the White House via a ‘secret’ underground tunnel, but everyone has known about the tunnel since Kennedy and Marilyn right?

Anyways, at 500-ish pages it’s not really a quick read, but it is a fairly easy one. If you’re looking for something cerebral this isn’t a book for you, but if you’re looking for something to while away a few hours over the summer it’s a book with a assassins, stuff being peppered with bullets and/or blowing up, secret codes, and a vision for what America could be.

The President is Missing book cover
Book Title: The Pressident is Missing
Author: Bill Clinton and James Patterson
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 528
My Rating: 3 Stars
Buy the Book: Amazon
The President Is Missing confronts a threat so huge that it jeopardizes not just Pennsylvania Avenue and Wall Street, but all of America. Uncertainty and fear grip the nation. There are whispers of cyberterror and espionage and a traitor in the Cabinet. Even the President himself becomes a suspect, and then he disappears from public view . . .

Set over the course of three days, The President Is Missing sheds a stunning light upon the inner workings and vulnerabilities of our nation. Filled with information that only a former Commander-in-Chief could know, this is the most authentic, terrifying novel to come along in many years.


One Room Challenge | Week Six | Kitchen Makeover Reveal

May 10, 2018

It’s finally here! Six weeks ago I decided at pretty much the last moment to participate in the One Room Challenge, I’m happy to say that despite more than a few late nights, some self-inflicted injuries, and a few hurdles that I thought might prevent me from completing this makeover on deadline, I’m ready to share what I’ve been working on (If you missed any of the weekly posts for the challenge you can read them here: week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4, and week 5).

I decided to makeover my kitchen for the simple reason that I’ve never liked it. I’ve lived in my apartment for 8 years and I’ve dreamt about tearing it out since the day I got the keys. Sadly I haven’t yet won the lottery so a full gut will have to wait, but I’m very pleased with what I’ve been able to do with my space.

Here’s what I was starting with:

White Ikea kitchen with white and yellow wall tiles
And here is my finished One Room Challenge space:
White kitchen with brass accents and Morton Salt Poster
I pulled off all the old tile with the unattractive mustard-yellow accent stripes, repaired the walls, retiled, replaced the faucet, installed a new light fixture and re-imagined the kitchen hardware. All in 6 weeks and, except for some help with the demo from my ever-helpful mom and the electrical repair that I hired out, I did all the work by myself.

I love my kitchen now that it’s complete– it feels so much bigger. I think a lot of the reason the room feels bigger is I removed the 4-inch backsplash ‘lip’ that matched my counter. That combined with the horizontal line of the mustard yellow accent tile visually shortened the room in my opinion. The actual distance between my counter and upper cabinets hasn’t changed, but it visually looks like a much larger space.

I installed the Delta Trinsic Faucet in Champagne Bronze and I’m in love. I didn’t opt for the Touch2O version because there was a nearly a $200 price difference and I figure I can’t miss what I never had in the first place. The faucet it so pretty, and it doesn’t leak like my old one! When I first installed it I was a bit concerned with the scale – I thought it might be too big, but I think that’s just because my previous faucet was so short in comparison. I have to say this was so simple to install – I was really worried given how much difficulty I had taking out my old one, but  the whole install took maybe 10 minutes.

Delta Trinsic Faucet in Champagne Bronze
If you recall I had trouble finding handles for my kitchen that met the requirements I needed (length and with a backplate) and in the end I decided to get the ones I already had plated. Yes, I could have spray painted them which would have been way cheaper, but I decided that as kitchen handles are hard-working they also need to be hard wearing. The end result is little darker than I would have preferred, but at a cost of less than $15 a pull it was still considerably less than the $50 (USD + shipping and duties) that I was quoted for the only replacement pull I could find that met my requirements.

Ikea Spann Handles metal plated
Ikea Spann Handles metal plated
When it came to tiling I did all the work myself, and that included cutting all the tiles by hand (I used this, and this – it’s slow, but you can tile without access to an electric tile saw). I’ll be honest and say it was a lot of work, but I’m quite pleased with despite my aching hands. I debated going with white or grey grout, and in the end I went with the white. The walls aren’t perfectly straight so neither are the tiles, and because I had thin grout lines I needed un-sanded grout which wasn’t available in the shade of grey I wanted. Some might question why I went with the ubiquitous white subway tile instead of something more interesting, but I thought with the navy floor and the grey speckled countertop that anything more ‘out-there’ would have just been competing for attention.

Delta Trinsic faucet with white backsplash
White kitchen with wood cutting boards
I bought the West Elm Sphere + Stem 3-light semi-flushmount last fall with vague plans to put it in my foyer but procrastinated about installing it. I have to say I don’t think I would have liked it as much if I had installed it there as I would have been able to see its shape as easily as I can in my kitchen. The light can be installed as a pendant or a flush mount as I have and it was pretty easy to install – just make sure you read the instructions a few times before you start as they were obviously written in another language and then translated into English. I love the warm brass and the glow from the glass orbs. It doesn’t come with bulbs so when I rushed out on Monday night to buy bulbs all I could find close-by were incandescents. The three 60W bulbs emit a lot of light but are also very warm, so I’ll be replacing those shortly with LED bulbs.

West Elm Sphere + Stem Pendant in a kitchen
When I did my original plan for my kitchen I envisioned a bright and colourful piece of art on the back wall. I even spent a number of hours researching inexpensive downloadable art, but it turns out I had already found the perfect piece.  In February of last year I was in the kitchen at work and I spotted a container of Morton Salt. I think it’s an American brand as I’ve never seen it in grocery stores here, but I was struck by the packaging. Anyways, I found the logo online and had it printed in poster size and I love it.

Morton Salt Logo as art in the kitchen
If you’re curious about how much this all cost here’s my budget breakdown:
  • Handle plating: $250
  • Electrical work: $350
  • Faucet: $320
  • Tile: $130
  • Primer & Paint: $0 (I used what I had on hand)
  • Plaster, grout, baseboard, painters tape, tile cutter and tile nips, grout float, grout sponge, notched trowel, and various other supplies: $ 300
  • Light fixture: $350
  • Art: $60

    Total: $1760 
I didn’t really have a budget going into this makeover since it was such a last minute decision, but it was a bit more in the end then I had really hoped. That said, two of the more expensive items – the electrical work and the handle plating could have been skipped, but in order to get a kitchen I was happy with the costs were necessary and I'm thrilled with the results.

Here are a few more pictures as I'm a bit proud.
White kitchen
 Left side of my madeover kitchen
 Microwave above a grey counter and white back splash
Left side of my madeover kitchen
There you have it – my finished kitchen. What do you think? Was all my work worth it?

One room challenge Guest Participant
Want some more One Room Challenge makeovers? Make sure you check out the 20 featured designers doing the One Room Challenge, and the other One Room Challenge Guest Participants.

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One Room Challenge | Week Five | Art Dilemma and Tiling Progress

May 03, 2018

Okay – week five. I can see the finish line on this One Room Challenge, but there are still so many things to finish before next week! My kitchen makeover is moving right along, but my to-do list seems to be getting bigger not smaller which is stressing me out. In fact, I’m taking this Friday off work in order to get a head start on the weekend in the hopes of getting most of it done.

Let’s see, what can I update you on? I finally finished all the wall prep. It’s not perfect, but it’s many, many times better than it was and I’m hoping nobody will look too carefully at the wall. My building is almost 100 years old, so imperfect walls are to be expected right??

Galley kitchen primed white
My kitchen when just primed is very boring and institutional looking.
I’m hoping I’ve come up with a solution to my hardware dilemma. Late last week I took my handles to Canadian Builders Hardware in the hope of getting them plated. I won’t be able to get an exact match to the Delta faucet I bought, but I’m hoping it will be close?? I won’t know until I get them back though so there could still be some late-night spray-painting in my future.

Plating colour options from Canadian Builders Hardware
The colour options available at Canadian Builder's Hardware. The hex pull on the right is an approximate match to my Trinsic faucet. here's hoping the end result is alright.
On Sunday I went to Olympia Tile and purchased the tiles I’ll be using on my backsplash, and have finally started on this big part of the makeover. I ended up going with the 2x8 tiles instead of my original plan of the 3x6. I think they’re slightly more modern, and let’s face it – my high-gloss cabinets are not traditional in style by any stretch. I bought a hand-held tile cutter and it’s working fairly well, but as this is my first time attempting to tile it’s a bit of a slow moving process.  I spent a bit of time watching YouTube videos and found this one helpful when it came to actually tiling, and this one for tips on using the hand-held tile cutter. I still have to find one on how to properly grout tile, but one step at a time.

I have run into a hiccup though when it comes to the tiles I bought. Last night I opened the box of tiles that contained my edge pieces and discovered that instead of giving me my requested 10 bull-nose tiles that I wanted to use to edge the nib walls I mentioned in last week’s post, they gave me 10 corner pieces. So I have to go back to the store to exchange them. Grumble. I also still need to decide on grout colour – my original plan was white, but maybe, since my counter top is grey I should go with a pale grey to break up the big expanse of white?

White 2x8 back splash tile in progress
I've started the tiling of my back splash. I think the small and narrow cuts will be very hard to do. I hope I bought enough extra tiles to cover breakage. 
With the last of the major construction-y- stuff under way I’ve turned my attention to trying to decide on pretty things like art. I had originally used a wonderful piece by Leslie Weaver in my mood board, but between the plumber, electrician, hardware, tile and other material costs my budget is beyond blown. That said, I really want something big and colourful to go on that back wall – otherwise I think the kitchen will be boringly monochromatic and rather stark and institutional looking. I could try my hand at something DIY (I even have a blank canvas in my storage locker), but I don’t know that I’ll have the time if I want to get this kitchen makeover complete by next week.

I’ve spent a considerable bit of time online and surprisingly I’ve found quite a lot of downloadable art that might work. Did you know that a number of Art Institutions around the world have digitized some of their collections, and even offer some images for download? Here are a few works that I think could work in my kitchen. I think I can probably get it printed rather inexpensively at Staples or Walmart, and put it in a basic Ikea Ribba frame for under a hundred dollars.

Printable art that's free to download
1. Joséphine-Éléonore-Marie-Pauline de Galard de Brassac de Béarn (1825–1860), Princesse de Broglie by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, via The MET 2. Edna by Robert Henri via Los Angeles County Museum of Art 3. Coney Island by Joseph Stella via The MET 4. Peonies by Charles Rennie Mackintosh via The MET 5. Makaro by Gordon Walters via The Museum of New Zealand 6. Faustine Léo by Henri Lehmann via The MET
When I increased my budget a bit and started looking for art I could download and print for a reasonable fee (and by reasonable I mean $20 or less) there was quite a lot of choices. A lot of what I found was word art which I’m not a huge fan of, and not really the ‘look’ of what I was going for, but I did find a number that I liked. Here again I could print it and put it in an inexpensive frame.

Printable art for less than $20
1. Peonies via Jenny's Print Shop - $15 2. Orange Square by Paradigm Art on Etsy - $8 3. Floral Lady by aljahorvat on Etsy - $15 4.  Abstract by DanHobdayArt on Etsy - $11 5. Blue and Pink Abstract by DanHobdayArt on Etsy - $11 6. Australian Native Print by LilaxLola on Etsy - $7 7. Columbine Flowers Flat Lay by Vicuschka on Creative Market - $10 8. Dragon Fruit by LilaxLola on Etsy - $7 9. Pellegrino bottle by The Crown Prints on Etsy - $6
What do you think? Would you put any of these in your home? (I've got quite a few more free and reasonably priced art pieces saved on Pinterest if you're interested)

So, with one week to go before the ‘big reveal’ what do I still need to get done?
  • Finish plastering/fixing walls
  • Prime walls
  • Paint ceiling and back wall
  • Pick wall tile
  • Purchase wall tile, mastic, grout and all needed supplies
  • Finish tiling the walls 
  • Grout the walls
  • Clean up ALL THE DUST
  • Figure out what to do for cabinet pulls
  • Install cabinet pulls
  • Hang ceiling fixture
  • Figure out some art for the walls to add some colour
  • Remove old faucet {This was literally a ginormous pain the neck!!}
  • Install new faucet
  • Add baseboard to the back wall
Oy – still so much to do! And at some point (hopefully in daylight, and not with my phone) I also have to take pictures so I can show you the *hopefully* finished space next week. Wish me luck!

Want some more One Room Challenge makeovers? Make sure you check out the 20 featured designers doing the One Room Challenge, and the other One Room Challenge Guest Participants

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