Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blog Blog Blogger

If I was a good blogger, I would update my blog at least once a week.
If I was a good blogger, I would offer things like DIY tutorials and recipes.
If I was a good blogger, I would learn how to use my camera and take nicer photos.

Instead, I am a mediocre blogger. Maybe even a less than mediocre blogger. I update when I remember (or reach a level of guilt that cannot be ignored), keep all of my secret recipes to myself, and point and click with reckless abandon, then photoshop my photos until they are passable. I'm 99% certain I'm fooling no one.

I've had a few conversations with friends over the summer that have questioned the possibility of really developing a blog and taking it seriously and making it into some sort of professional thing. I'll be honest - I've considered it, but then once I get into really thinking about all the things that would have to be done in order to even BEGIN making my blog more polished, I get overwhelmed and say "nope!" I'm an avid reader of all kinds of blogs - home style, fashion, DIY, lifestyle, etc etc - and I've caught myself sighing more than once and wishing that I could make a living off of my blog the way that all of these other bloggers are. It would be great to make a career out of this the way that some of my favourite bloggers have done, but I'm very aware that I'm just a little fish in a big bloggy pond. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to promote and grow your blog, and I'm pretty sure I don't have the skill set necessary to do that at this point. I don't even have my own web address, I'm piggy backing off of blogger! So my little, unpolished, rough around the edges, sometimes updated sometimes not blog will probably keep plodding along in its current state. That being said, I really AM going to try to make a better effort to keep it updated. I have an acquaintance who has started a travel blog that looks all shiny and impressive, and it's inspiring me to make this one a little bit....more.

Also - blog blog blog blog bloggity blog blogger. There. Now that word has COMPLETELY lost all meaning.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Renovating the Yard: Part 2 *****see note

So after the last blog post I thought I'd wait for a beautiful, bright, sunny summer day (of which there is always an abundance during a PEI summer) to take some after photos of the back yard....and then it began to rain. And rain and rain and rain. For about a week. I finally woke up to the sunlight streaming in through the window this past Saturday morning. Perfect weather for some quick snaps but alas, I had to go to work and circumstances led me to getting stuck in a parade and eventually ending up in a potato field....long story..... So FINALLY....I managed to take some this evening. Of course, first there needs to be a quick reminder of our starting point:

 The first glance of the house....not even really taking the back yard into consideration...rookie mistake...

Right after we got the keys...

Our first realization that we might have to do something to the yard.

Still thinking at this point that we had it all under control....we just needed to do some raking. Ha!

And now, after a long cold spring waiting for the grass to grow, we finally have a yard! Behold our new yard in all its glory:

There's still a bit of work to be done (of course, there's always more work to be done....this is finally starting to sink in after almost two years of home ownership....) but it's looking really spiffy, don't you think? And yes, that is my veggie garden peeking out from behind the shed.

The new view looking from the corner of the deck (we are very aware of the paint situation going on with our shed...be patient, this should be taken care of by the end of summer, weather and mosquitos permitting):

Main difference? The shed now being in the back corner, which really opens up the yard, and the disappearance of my wild garden! I'll be honest....I kind of miss it. I tried to save some of the gorgeous plants, like the irises (irisi?) and peonies, but they are suffering somewhat in their new shady locations. I'm hoping to take care of this next summer and have some plans beginning to form that include a potential full sun garden along the deck...TJ permitting.....

A view of where the deck used to be. The grass is still a bit spotty here, but it's not really a concern because we'll be putting in a walkway to lead to the driveway, as well as getting some new stairs. There's also plans to do something to close in under the laundry room, as once we ripped off the deck we found that there was no foundation or insulation. Suddenly it made a whole lot of sense why the pipes froze the first winter and also why we have to keep the electric baseboard heater cranked to high from September to May. I'm hoping that if I make TJ crawl under the house with a bunch of that pink fluffy stuff we'll see a small difference in the electric bill next winter! Looking at this picture I'm realize that our chestnut tree would be the perfect place for a swing. Hmm....grown ups get swings too, right? Not just for kids? Also noticing that our laundry room window needs some paint and a nice window box. The best thing about this part of the yard is how much easier it will be to shovel snow from now on!

 The view from the lower part of the deck, with a bit of Ru's swimmy pool sneaking into the photo. Also featured are my DECK TOMATOES! I'm just a little bit excited about those. If you look to your left you will see my new clothesline....I've been waiting for a clothesline forever! Its presence makes me more inclined to do laundry this summer. It only fell down three times and Wayne only had to visit twice to "make a suggestion" (a subtle phrase he uses a lot when talking to us....he is a very patient man...) before we figured things out, so I'd say TJ is now an expert in the art of clothesline installation. However, if anyone wants a clothesline installed, you probably shouldn't call him because I get the feeling he wasn't really into the idea of being an expert clothesline hanger. Wayne however, would be a good person to call. You may notice that our hammock is missing. It was eaten by a squirrel and despite my best efforts, could not be fixed to meet safety standards.

All in all, the yard is looking well. The mosquitos drove me away before I could take pictures of the other side yard (to the right in this picture) but we've also been attempting some work down that side as well. There's two sections mapped out for some flower beds, and we chopped down a good portion of the lilac and maple trees, as well as the mysterious bushes with the white flowers that smell nice. We're currently waiting for some more grass to grow down that way before attempting anything else at the moment, but I have lots of fall bulbs and some perennials to stick in the gardens once the "mozzies" die down....if they ever die down.....

So there you have it! Yard renovation 2014 (mostly) complete. Ru is quite pleased with her new space and loves to sit on the deck and survey activity on the Confederation Trail in the early morning. She's not a fan of when the lawn chairs blow off the deck but hey, who is?

*****Note: TJ would like to make it clear that he was very much involved in the great shed moving and deck chopping of the previous post, despite what photos may depict. He is quite certain that the only reason he does not appear in any of the photos is because he was usually UNDER the shed or the deck when they were being moved, otherwise he would be featured quite prominently. I told him I'd make a note of this to appease him as well as reassure his adoring public.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Spring 2014: Renovating the Yard

I'm baaa-aaaack.....

After much begging and pleading from masses of my fans (okay....2 people....maybe 3 if I stretch it...) to bring back the blog, I'm finally back in writing mode and ready to update! I can't lie, I'm pretty motivated by the large coffee I had this morning (is anyone surprised?).

So what's been going on since that stormy, stormy few weeks in April? Well, once the snow melted our backyard started to unveil itself little by little. At first we thought "Oh, it just looks so terrible because we had so much snow...it's just a little muddy. It'll dry and look nice soon."


Our backyard had no intentions whatsoever of drying out or growing any of the grass that we had so painstakingly planted last summer. After all of the chopping, ripping, tearing, shovelling, raking, seeding, watering, etc etc that had happened last year, we were left with a big, soupy mess. I couldn't believe it. I thought that the yard had been looking pretty good by the time the snow came. See?

The grass was growing in nicely, we had a veggie garden, we moved some plants around....what happened? Canadian winter. That's what happened.

So. What were we going to do about this? After buying the house, TJ and I had thrown around a few ideas about what we would do to the backyard if we could start from scratch, but didn't really put any of them anywhere near the top of our renovation list. However, we were starting to realize that maybe we should shuffle that list around and make the yard our top priority this spring. It was time to bring in the big guns.

First things first, we had to keep hauling out the bricks, rocks and concrete blocks. A few truckloads later, the yard was looking slightly better. But why stop there? Why not move the shed to the back of the yard?

So we did.

After moving the shed I was surprised at two things. One, that the shed was still intact. Coulsons don't have the best track record when it comes to moving sheds. Two, look at how big our yard looked all of a sudden! So again....why stop there? Why not....RIP OFF THE DECK!

No, no, wait. First we should dig some holes.

How the conversation is going in the following photo:
"Digging holes is hard."
"This machine will make everything much easier."

Yes, the machine will make everything much easier.
The conversation in the next photo:
"It's just some little ruts. It's still good, it's still good."

Okay, NOW let's rip off the deck!

Many thanks to our neighbour Gary for keeping a close eye on the going-ons and jumping in to lend a hand!

The next week or so was spent nailing all the pieces of the deck together and making sure everything was lined up correctly. Most of it was. Like many of our previous disclaimers, if you come to visit us, just make sure you kind of squint and let your eyes go unfocused. Everything will look great!

But once our "new to us" deck was in place, something was just not quite right. Hmm...what could it be.....

oh yes, the mess we had made along the way. No problem! More heavy machinery should do the trick!

There! Now everything was just like new:

Yes. This was much, MUCH better than the soggy, muddy mess. Now it was just a muddy mess! That's progress, right?

The good news is, it gets better. And soon there will be photos of the better....but for right now, enough of blogging, I'm going to sit on my deck!

Friday, April 4, 2014

On The Other Side

We did it. We made it through the storm! And.....it wasn't that bad. One of the many great things about living on our street is how protected we are. There's only a few houses, but they all seem to work together to block the wind for our house, especially anything coming from the North East. Also, all of those fantastic, overgrown chestnut trees that I like to complain about in the fall really seem to keep the weather away. Even though the wind was definitely howling and shaking the windows, it would have been a lot worse if we were out in the country! We only lost power a few times, and only for a few hours. TJ kept the wood stove stocked and the heat in our place was phenomenal - it even got to the point where I was too hot. (This, coming from someone whose daily outfit includes mittens and layer of blankets, is pretty impressive). We heated up soup, cuddled on the couch, and when the power came back, we turned off all the lights and pretended it hadn't, because we were feeling quite cozy. *Please take note that we send out huge apologies for our power outage nonchalance to all of our friends who went without power for days....we promise that you can yell at us the next time you come to visit.....

We woke up the next morning feeling like survivors. We laughed, and complimented each other on our storm prowess. What pros! What talent we had! We shovelled out our driveway in 30 minutes, again praising ourselves (and Wayne) for parking the car at the end of the driveway, which managed to create some sort of barricade to prevent snow from forming 4 foot drifts. Ru jumped through snow hills, thoroughly enjoying these magical marshmallow hills that once again allowed her to walk on the roof of the shed (and also now sit in the chestnut tree in our backyard). We came inside and made a lumberjack breakfast and many cups of coffee. We listened to storm cancellations - basically, the island was closed for business. Then we listened to more storm cancellations again the next day. And the next day. I began to wonder just exactly what had happened to the rest of the island while we were busy enjoying our house fortress.

And then there was another storm.

It's cool, I said. We've got this. We can handle storms. 48 hours of freezing rain? 30 more centimeters of snow? No biggie.

Snow day #4

On snow day #5, I cracked. At this point, I'd been confined to my house for 7 days, minus a 2 hour period where I escaped to the library for a work shift. I don't know if it was entirely the fault of the weather, or the weather combined with the lethally strong coffee from Costa Rica my mother had brought back from her travels, but I went nuts. TJ diagnosed me with cabin fever, and sent me outside to shovel and get rid of some energy.

I shovelled the deck.
I shovelled the snow bank.
I shovelled the steps.
I shovelled around the front of the car. We had forgotten to park the car at the end of the driveway this time around, and the snow had taken the opportunity to create a massive drift down the little alley between the car and the house.
I shovelled a bit of the drift.

And then I could shovel no more. I hated winter. I hated snow. I hated wind. I hated that the wind was blowing the wintery snow in my face. So I did what any self-respecting Canadian would do.

I yelled a barbarian yell and threw my shovel into the backyard. "GET IN THE HOUSE!" I yelled at the dog.

I stomped inside, threw my winter gear on the floor and continued to stomp into the living room where TJ was sitting innocently.

"I HATE THIS! I HATE WINTER! I GIVE UP, WINTER HAS WON," I wailed, draping myself across a chair. Ru stared at me with bewildered eyes.

TJ sent me to bed, and went outside to finish the shovelling. He has turned into a very nice Canadian.

Eventually, we made it out of the house. Life slowly began returning to normal. This morning we woke up and the sun was shining. Maybe spring will come after all.

And maybe we will start saving up for a tropical vacation next March.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Weathering the Storm

Once upon a time two people started a blog. They posted in the blog a little bit. Then they forgot about it. The End.
Except it wasn't the end! One day they remembered the blog, and Victoria decided that she should try to write in it again. So here it goes:

If you're a Maritimer, I'm sure you may have noticed on Facebook, the radio, television, newspapers, any type of social media, in the grocery store, etc etc.....a storm's a brewin'. I enjoy a good storm. I love cozying up in my bed, layers of blankets wrapped around (with various textures of course, you've gotta have a bit of wool, a bit of chenille, some cotton...you know, make sure you cover your basics), books piled on the floor, a never ending cup of coffee, a specially created playlist loaded on the laptop and a dog sprawled across my feet. I've spent quite a few days in this state over the winter, watching the snow drifts climb higher and higher up the front of our house. I don't mind the snow, as long as I'm cozy and do not have to go outside.

And this house...you guys, this house was made for storm days. The 500 porches make it seem like some kind of fortress where we can retreat to the inside walls and fire up the wood stove to wait things out. I've got a great view of the neighbourhood and the street from my bedroom window, so I can keep an eye on all the goings-on. Like already I can tell you that the storm is not yet bad enough for people to stop driving hay bales around on the back of their truck. I am sure that farmer was on important storm business. The wind is starting to pick up a little and Wayne has parked his car at the end of the driveway, which I've noticed is part of his bad weather preparations. Wayne seems like the kind of guy who knows what he's doing, so TJ, not wanting to blatantly COPY him, but thinking that maybe he should do something similar, has started parking the car facing out towards the street.

Book stockpiles, blankets and car parking are all part of the normal preparations for any kind of winter weather here, but this particular storm is supposed to be the BIG ONE. Like really big. Despite that we're already 5 days into spring (Mother Nature, flip your calendar already) there's 50+ centimetres on its way, plus another 30-40 cms supposedly coming on Sunday. We're being told to prepare for 72 hours of isolation, just in case. The Island is shutting down. And as much as I enjoy a good storm, this one is making me just a little teensy bit nervous. I think it's mostly the 100km winds that I'm not looking forward to. I felt like maybe I should be doing something to prepare, so I went to the store and bought....vegetables. Spinach and carrots. Let's just say my preparation abilities were pretty rusty. The newspapers suggested to buy batteries, make sure you've got flashlights, canned food, etc. I wasn't 100% on what we would actually use batteries for, aside from flashlights, so I didn't buy any. Is that a storm faux pas? I do have a rather extensive candle collection. Canned soup is not my favourite, so I made soup. I did buy the #stormchips. I made sure Ru had lots of extra food and bought 3 giant jugs of water so she would have clean drinking water just in case. I later realized that there would be an abundance of snow that could be melted for drinking water (survivor skills!) but it was too late, I was not going back to Superstore. I filled the bathtub with water too, just because that's what my dad always did. Is there anything I'm missing? A rotary telephone. I just realized. Does anyone know where I can get a rotary telephone?

I've never had to deal with a major storm before - good timing prevented me from being right in the middle of both Hurricane and White Juan, hightailing it out of Halifax before they hit - but I think we'll be okay. I hope. Maybe. Maybe we'll be okay. I feel like there's a fine line between survival mode and sheer panic in my life, and I'm not entirely sure which side I'll be on once the storm reaches it's peak. If there's power, I'll be sure to update and let everyone know. Until then, I'm going to snuggle back into bed with this little one, who had a natural instinct to take cover:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The One With The Before And After Photos...

The day has finally come! I think every house blogger, whether professional or pathetically amateur (such as ourselves), starts their blog just to get to this moment. Yes, that's right, it's finally time to see the "after" photos! Well, not the complete after, maybe more so the "middle" photos. There's still some renovations to do, but as we mentioned before, we're now a year into owning our home and are pretty proud of how far it's come since that day last August when we walked in the door. The change has been pretty awesome. It's been a lot of work and sweat, but thankfully, not as many tears as we thought! We definitely couldn't have done this without the help of our families, in particular, my dad and my brother in law, Shane. So thank you, thank you, thank you to anyone who has showed up to knock out walls, put up walls, sand walls, wash walls, paint walls, or look at walls. We'd also like to take a moment to thank everyone who has been following our little blog. We love hearing all of the comments from readers, and we hope to keep the blog going as long as we can, so please, keep following! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday Begins.


That's the collective sound the three of us make when we realize it's Saturday morning and the sun is beginning to rise through the bedroom window. We are morning zombies. Or vampires? Which is it that don't like the sun...maybe both? We are morning zompires.

Ru is the first to wake up. She snorts and wiggles and then squirms her way from the bottom of the bed up to the pillows, and stuffs her nose into my ear. Then she stretches her long legs, and they jab into my stomach and ribs. While I'm gasping for breath and trying to dry out my ear, she flips over and licks TJ's head to see if it will wake him up. It won't. He is immune. So I get out of bed, and we go downstairs into the cold November morning.

Ru rings the bells that hang on the doorknob to tell me she wants outside, so we both go out to survey the yard. No snow yet. But soon. After a quick look around, we're back in for breakfast. Ru loves breakfast (and food in general) and performs her food time ritual of jumping around in a flip before sitting at her food bowl. She gobbles, and it's out again. By now I'm wide awake, and also frozen from our outside trips. No sooner do I lock the door after coming back inside and Ru is already upstairs, snuggled back into bed, fast asleep.

I trudge upstairs, wondering if it's possible to sleep again, or do I just suck it up and stay awake? I sit in bed, and the blankets are still warm. It's so cozy. WOMP. Ru's foot is back in my ribs. I sigh, and pull out my laptop to see what happened overnight. Ru and TJ snore in unison. They stretch like a synchronized swimming team, arching backs and turning to dive back under the covers. Outside, the birds in the bare chestnut trees on our street are screaming across the road to one another.

Saturday begins.