Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas in Pictures

Just a few pictures taken over the last couple of days. Apologies for the blurry/dark/noisy shots, this Christmas I've ignored all the settings on the camera and decided to just shoot away.

First of all, mum and dad's Christmas present showed up a few days early:

Mocha! An 8 week old Labradoodle, who won't stop growing.

Dad loves her, and woke her up early on Christmas morning to build her a fire to keep her cozy.

Also, a few small photos of the living room at our place all decorated for Christmas:

And to wrap it all up, the perfect use for those cast iron rads? Drying mittens!

It Snowed

So I'm up earlier than usual for a Christmas vacation day...although let's be honest, the latest I ever sleep in on any vacation is about 9am. I was shocked that the snowplow didn't wake me up at 4:30am. This first year in our house will be a constant learning experience. A few days ago I learned that the snowplow comes at 4:30am. And when it scrapes the snow from the concrete and then tries to back out of our little dead end street by doing some kind of three point turn (that is really more like a 17 point the turn by the time it actually gets out), it sounds like the world is ending. When I heard it for the first time I thought perhaps the Mayans had miscalculated by a few days and it was actually the 23rd of December that the world would end. Our bedroom overlooks the street, and as you have seen from the pictures, our house is practically ON the street. I half expect the snowplow operator to just knock on my window and say good morning. Anyway, this proximity means that the sound is magnified 500x. So, something to look forward to this winter. Another thing I have learned is that we will have to shovel. Those who currently live in apartments, do not take snow removal for granted. I know I know, at first, it seems kind of fun. You're shovelling snow! You're in the outdoors! All the neighbours are out, shovelling their snow. There's comradery, you're all in this together. And you're all wearing toques! (That's right, I bought myself a snow shovelling toque. It has a pom pom.) But here's the reality: Those comrades? They've been doing this longer than you have. They don't appreciate your cheerful "Isn't this great? SNOW!" sort of attitude. No, they already understand just how awful snow shovelling is, and they approach it with a different sort of demeanour. There's no prancing through the freshly fallen snow, no, they just GET IT DONE. And you know what? Halfway through shovelling your little path to your vehicle, you realize that this is serious business. Snow shovelling is no joke. It's sweaty, and the snow is heavy, and your shovel is ridiculously awful and in no condition to shovel this snow, what were you thinking? You need one of those push shovels that can shovel ALL THE SNOW. You're going to get one straight away. Except you can't get out of your driveway, because there's snow in the way. And then you learn this: neighbours are awesome. They will help you shovel your snow. They'll bring their own push shovels and shovel your driveway in less than 3 minutes (partly because your driveway is kind of small and partly because those push shovels are AMAZING). And then during the next snowfall, when you awake and throw a coat over your pyjamas and shove your feet into your rubber boots, you'll notice that good old Wayne has gotten up even earlier than you and already shovelled off your deck and made you a path to your car. Neighbours are the best. Especially the neighbours on Chestnut Street. Which is great, because we're supposed to get another snowstorm on Sunday. Just kidding neighbours, stay in your homes. I've bought a push shovel. And now I leave you with a little song:


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Winter's Night

Our blog has been severely neglected this month. I was thinking it was due to all the preparations for the Christmas season and other things, like laundry and running from school to school for sub days, but you know what I've realized?

WE'VE SETTLED IN. That's right. Weekday evenings and weekend afternoons were usually reserved for blogging, but this last month or so we've been putting the blog on hold and instead settling into the coziness of the kitchen and living room with extra cups of coffee and the Vinyl Cafe on the radio. "What blog?" we've said. "We don't blog. We drink coffee in our living room now. We bake things in the kitchen now. (me) We build things in the basement now. (TJ)"

I have to admit, it's been nice. But it also means that we've abandoned all of our little projects. Sometimes even in the middle of projecting. Like painting the furniture in the blue bedroom. Right now it has a coat of primer and a coat of paint, and is also sitting on top of plastic. Completely unfinished. But it's easy to forget that, especially when you can just close the door. Anyway, I'm thinking that the new year will revive us, and we'll get back to our projects in 2013 with a new energy. It will also help to have TJ back in the country, as at the moment he's at home in Ireland, celebrating Christmas with his family. I had to stay home to hold down the fort. It's not been too bad, although I won't lie, I've spent the majority of my time at my parents' house. It turns out that with TJ gone, our house is suddenly bigger and scarier, and there's new noises that I've never heard before.

Anyway, the point of this particular blog post is to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and holiday season, and to thank you all for following along on one of our biggest adventures so far. We love hearing all the comments in the comment section, as well as in person. It always makes me happy when we go out and someone stops us to say how much they are enjoying the blog and seeing the progress we are making on this cute old house. I promise that we'll get back to it all in 2013. Until then, tuck yourselves into your own cozy homes, pour yourself a glass of something delicious, and enjoy the holidays with those you love!

We'll leave you with some of my favourite winter music:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

From the Kitchen...

Just a quick blog post before heading out to my sister's house on this snowy day for meat pies and Christmas parades and cider at the Railway station.

Do you know how much I love my kitchen? So much. I love the farmhouse looking sink and the old fashioned taps, and the chef's table and the old meat grinder TJ saved from the antique dealer. I love it even more now that I have inherited my grammie's cookbook. And let it be known that this one has the good recipes inside, not the edited ones she would pass out to those who asked her for her tasty recipes. Also let it be known that she refers to recipes as "receipts" throughout the entire book, and has her receipt for salmon loaf included about three different times.

Today was the first day that I actually made a receipt from the book. Cranberry nut bread. It smells amazing, and it was the perfect thing to cook today. We have our Christmas decorations up in full, and it's been snowing lightly all morning. I put on a pot of german chocolate cake infused coffee, set the radio to the Stuart MacLean show and got started by chopping cranberries, pecans, and zesting an orange. I love baking already, but to be able to use my grammie's cookbook made it all the more special.

Love this book. It's an old scrapbook from what appears to be the 1950s, filled with construction paper pages that are covered in my grammie's beautiful handwriting. The recipes are in no particular order other than how she came across them (the salmon loaf must have occurred multiple times in her life...). Also included in here? The original recipe for the Frosty Treat's clam batter, invented by my grammie.

Chopped pecans, hazelnuts and pretty in one of the pottery bowls made by Joyce (the lady who lived here previously).

And the finished product, minus the lemon glaze. If only everyone could smell this....

By the way, remember my previous post wishing for snow? DOESN'T IT MAKE THE GARDEN LOOK SO MUCH BETTER?

Told you so.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Snowflakes and Silver Bells

It started to snow this afternoon - very light, sparkling, swirling snowflakes. I can see them collecting on the roof of my neighbour's house and as it's nearing the end of November I suddenly realized that Christmas is less than a month away. TJ is leaving for Ireland on the 15th of December, abandoning me for three weeks while he partakes in the Belfast Christmas market, family sessions at the Vintage and New Years Day at the Woodville. We want to have somewhat of a Christmas season together before he goes so I've started sorting through boxes, looking for decorations. Doing so, what I've come to realize is that what worked in our apartment is definitely not going to work in this house. What a great reason to go shopping for Christmas decorations, am I right?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Green thumbs...and pinkies and palms

We decided to take a little break from indoor renovations last weekend and focus a little bit on the outside portion of our house before it became too cold to even think about going outside. We haven't really shown a lot of our yard, and to be honest, there really isn't much to see other than a lot of overgrown gardens. Just like the inside, the outside has a lot of work to be done. And, just like the inside, we started out not knowing a whole lot about outdoorsy type work, but hauling into it anyway!

Mum and dad had actually come over the weekend before to help us out by tilling up a patch of yard that we're hoping to use as a veggie garden next year. Hopefully the area they tilled up is within our yard's boundries - we measured in a very technical manner that included standing at the end of the driveway and marching around in big steps and counting out loud in very big voices. Once we were happy with our garden area they had to do a lot of raking and digging through a mess of bleeding heart and rhubarb roots. After an entire afternoon filled with visits from neighbourhood dogs, we finally had a garden patch.

This past weekend, TJ and I braved the weather, which had turned really really cold all of a sudden. Sadly, we had no choice as the Waste Watch fall clean up pick up date was the following Monday and our yard definitely needed a clean up. The lady who lived here before was an avid gardener, and actually had some really beautiful gardens full of a huge variety of flowers. One of my favourites was even in there - Lily of the Valley. Sadly, it hasn't been taken care of in the last few years, and everything has just gone haywire. Plants everywhere. And rocks. Lots of rocks. Also leaves. And about 5 million chestnuts, thanks to the giant chestnut tree that stands in prime position to drop every single chestnut into our pathetic garden.

TJ stepped up and took care of one job that I really hate - piling wood.

I was kind enough to help him load it into the truck. After that, he was on his own. And I was on my own to tackle the backyard.

The largest picture is the view off of our deck. The brownish mess that takes up the bottom of the picture is a giant flower bed. It actually doesn't look so bad at this point now that the plants have all died off for the winter. In the summer you couldn't tell what was in there at all, it had just all grown together. After some excavation, we found out that it had actually been built in tiers. Kind of neat. In the other pictures you can see our little garden shed, as well the the view from the back of the yard beside the pine trees.

In this set of pictures, you can see our tilled up veggie garden. Then, clockwise from the top middle we have yet another weird garden under the pine trees, a poppy garden under the windows of our reading porch, the view looking from our backyard up to the street, the side garden under our living room window, and then another garden beside the shed belonging to our neighbours. A little hard to tell what's what if you haven't been to visit us yet.

And a close up of the tiered garden that I was "fixing" this particular weekend. What you can't tell from this picture is that buried under the leaves and chestnuts is an entire garden full of rocks and a large underground city of iris roots that have somehow all grown together to create this root system maze that will eventually have to be completely dug out of the ground in the spring. Not that it matters, because we'll have to dig out all of those giant pieces of wood that are creating the tiers of the garden anyway. Other garden plans include a bulldozer and a bunch of grass seed.

Actually no, maybe that's being a little hasty. I think I'll keep the lily of the valley and the lemongrass plant.

Anyway, it took all day and then another day, but we finally have the garden completely raked and most of the irises are at least sheared down to just the roots. Despite this, it actually looks worse than before. It could be the abandoned wheelbarrow that's been pushed over onto its side in a fit of coldness and frustration, but then again, it could just be the garden. Right now I'm hoping that the snow comes soon and covers it all up so I don't have to think about it until the spring.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


We've spent the last few weeks settling into the house, unpacking boxes, STILL PAINTING, and trying to establish some kind of routine. It's really strange having two floors to ourselves and so many rooms. Sometimes I lose TJ and have to call out "Marco!" and wait for him to answer "Polo!" from whatever area of the house he's in. We're still trying to find places to put things away and realizing it's hard to find spaces to fit in furniture because the majority of our walls have either a window, door or cast iron radiator on them (and sometimes several windows, doors or cast iron rads....) so there's only a small selection of areas to put furniture. The hardest one to place is my giant haberdashery cabinet and I'm beginning to worry that I might have to get rid of it.

Our reading room and sun porch aren't done yet and are currently being used as storage for furniture, tools and various building supplies, so I haven't been able to set up our actual reading spaces, so I'm beginning to find other favourite little spots for reading, which is great. I love finding those cozy spaces that are perfect for snuggling in a warm blanket with a book and cup of coffee, where the light comes in from the window and hits in just the right spot.

To make things even cozier, we had our flue examined and cleaned, and were given the ok to use our fireplace insert. TJ was very excited about this. I, of course, panicked.

Do you see that sheer look of man-setting-fire-to-things-induced-excitement in the first photo? Luckily, wood that has been stored in the basement for 30 years, as well as 28 year old newspapers (March 12, 1984) make for very dry burning materials, which will go up in flame quickly, and then be done. Our first fire was short and sweet. After restocking, the next fire lasted a little longer, and heated up the first floor of the house enough to make the smoke detector go off. And no, it was not because we forgot to open the flue. This thing gives off heat!! TJ made lots of plans for how we can cook things when the power goes off, as well as how we can seal off the living room and make a cave that will keep us alive until the power comes back on. I'm not sure what storm he's preparing for, but he's very certain it's coming this winter. Fair warning to everyone reading this, start preparing now.

We also celebrated our 8th anniversary over the Remembrance Day weekend. Our gift to ourselves was a chef's table and two stools, which TJ stained and finished just in time for a nice dinner.

(No, we didn't indulge in a full bottle of straight vodka, we just ran out of wine bottles during our last home brewing session)

It's starting to feel more like home now, though it still looks like a bomb site. I can't wait for the day when I wake up on a Sunday morning and can just come downstairs for a cup of coffee and sit in the reading room without having to think of the 5 million projects that still need to be done. Speaking of which, the sun is out and the frost is starting to melt from the trees, so it's time to get back in my jungle garden. More on that later!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Alive and moved in!

Finally, internet!!!! We're back in the land of the living after many phone calls to Bell Aliant and many days of waiting for a technician who never showed up when they were supposed to....we're connected...and this means blog updating! 

This is going to be a huge update. Fair warning.

When we last left off, my dad was beginning to cut in the living room. I've tried cutting in before. It's not pretty. It requires a steady hand, a sharp eye and lots of patience, none of which are particular strengths of mine. Therefore, it's been up to pretty much anyone else to do the cutting in. Maybe they'll also eventually fix all the little spots around the house where I practiced. Anyway, before we bought this house, I didn't realize how much work actually has to go into painting. First, all of the rooms had to be seam filled so they wouldn't look like they had great big craters carved into the walls. Even with the seam filling, some of the rooms are still a bit dubious. Then everything had to be covered in a coat of primer - latex for the walls, oil for the trim. The ceilings had to be rolled 3 times. Then the rooms need to be cut in with colour. They each get 2-3 coats of colour, and the trim needs 2-3 coats of actual paint as well. Then there's those practice spots that I mentioned before which will eventually need touching up. Anyway, this is what it looks like after the first coat of colour. You can really see all the spots where the seam filler had been because the paint really soaks into those areas. I promise that it looks fine when it dries. The colour we chose for the living room is called Wythe Blue, and I think it might be my favourite colour in the entire house.

After the living room, we started in on the hallway. This was the one colour I wasn't 100% certain about. When it went on the first wall, I almost made my dad put the cover back on the paint can. I thought that it looked way too brown and it didn't go with the colour in the kitchen at all. We decided to paint a few more spots and then wait overnight and come back in the day to see if it looked any better. Luckily, it did. It still looks somewhat brownish in these photos, most likely because I took them at night and ignored my camera settings. The colour is called Revere Pewter. It runs up the stairs and throughout the upstairs hallway as well.

We then moved on to the bedrooms. The smallest one turned a pretty shade of blue, but I can't remember the name and the paint chip is currently in the back of my dad's truck. It looked pretty dark at first but seemed to lighten up once all the walls were finished. The second room was painted with Winter Grey….which actually looks more like lilac purple. I like the purple, but was really hoping for more of a grey tone. Maybe this room will get a paintover someday down the road. Like after all those stops at Winter Projectsville and Summer 2013 Land, plus all the pitstops through OhGreat,WhyDidWeBuyAnOldHouse County.

Shane's weekend project was finishing up the tiling in our shower and laying the tile for the floor. There was a sign saying not to walk on the floor, but of course I didn't see it (I told you, sharp eyes = not my strength) and I walked on the floor. So now there's one part that's particularly tiled down. We also put a little bit of colour on the wall so the plumber could come and install the sink and toilet. 

You may have noticed the lovely mural, which has been a joint effort between myself, TJ, Shane, and some of his men. First, it was a unicorn. Then it turned into a mermaid unicorn. Then it turned into a disgruntled French mermaid unicorn with a shark fin. If you look closely, you can see that now there is a little man dressed in a fox suit riding the disgruntled French unicorn mermaid with the shark fin that bears an uncanny resemblance to Jeff Paynter. I'm going to be sad when our mural has to go and gets replaced with a boring old door.

TJ decided to hang the doors back on the closet in the master bedroom. Everything was fine until it was not. Apparently door hanging is a two person kind of job. Luckily Shane, who had moved to painting the hallway, heard TJ's cries for help. 

 He immediately sprang into action, arriving in the master bedroom in record speed to fix the hinges and save TJ from a lifetime (or 5ish years, whenever we sell the house) of crookedly hung closet doors. Crisis averted.

Finally, all the rooms were painted with at least 2 coats of colour and 1 coat of trim. That meant they were almost move in ready.


At this point, we decided to take up the paper in the first room to be 100% complete. We then held a ribbon (tape) cutting ceremony.

All of this took place over the week leading up to and including the October 26/28th weekend. Like I said in my previous post, big push to get into the house by the end of October. Finally, it was time to move in.

It turns out that we have a lot of stuff. 

It also turns out that moving is really awful, and our worst nightmare is having to do it again some day. We took a quick "first night in our new home" picture on the couch, and then settled in for the night. Not pictured: us playing "What's That Noise?" and me requesting that we sleep with the closet light on.

We made it through the first night relatively unscathed. Then began the long days of unpacking our belongings and trying to figure out where everything should go. This is not an easy task when most of your furniture is in the sunporch and is too heavy to be carried up the stairs by anyone in their right mind. I decided to wait for reinforcements to arrive on the weekend. I also had to wait for appliances to turn up - this was a long three days. We ate a lot of crackers and Halloween candy. Life is not fun without a refrigerator full of nice things. 

Let it be known far and wide that I'm in love with our appliances. Particularly the dishwasher. Having lived without a dishwasher for two years, I can confidently say that our new one is now replacing TJ as the love of my life. I think he understands, especially as he is also particularly fond of the dishwasher. The washer and dryer run a close second, as the ones we were using last made my pants all fuzzy and soapsudsy. For the first time in my life, I'm looking forward to doing laundry. Our stove is also very lovely - it has two super burners which can be used as small burners or giant burners. There's also a warming element so the potatoes don't get cold when you forget that they finish cooking earlier than turnips and carrots, even though your mother always reminds you of this whenever you have dinner at her house. And it's CLEANS ITSELF. This is very important because, as any female writer should be, I am wary of sticking my head in an oven. 

 And then there's the fridge. It's giant. I looked in it tonight once all of our groceries were put away and was shocked to find nothing on the shelves. All of our food fits into the door compartments. I was very surprised. Either we eat less than I thought we did or we just eat a lot of condiments and nothing else (other than cold potatoes and undercooked turnips and carrots). Anyway, our kitchen and laundry room are looking MUCH nicer today. Especially the kitchen, because our chef's table also arrived. It needs to be finished (staining and painting will take place in the near future, hopefully) and we also need to find some stools that are tall enough. Now all the kitchen needs is a few touch ups of green paint, another coat of trim paint, some more baseboard, and the window trim needs to be primed and painted. Then it will be all ready!

The living room is also looking much nicer these days. It was the first room to have the paper taken off the floor. It was also the first room to have giant scratches put into the floor. If you come to visit, please pretend that you don't notice the giant scratches. You should have no trouble as long as you avoid looking under the couch. There's still a lot to be done - the mantle needs another coat of paint, and then we need to find curtains and another chair, and probably rearrange it several thousand times. We also need to extend the hearth around the fireplace insert and have the flue cleaned. Luckily for us, there's an experienced fireman who lives across the road in case anything goes wrong. I feel that this was a good move on our part.

This house has come such a long way from when we first came to take a look. There's still a lot of work to be done, but it feels amazing to finally be living here. We've had our first cups of coffee, first showers, and now, our first blog update. I can't wait until we finally get it to the stage where we can invite people in. Now that the main projects are complete, our posts will start to show all of the little things that need to be done to really make this place into a home. We're starting to get really picky with all of the small details! It doesn't help that now I am trained to look for tiny imperfections. I caught myself at school the other day thinking "Hmmm, if I had a caulking gun and some paint I could probably make this classroom look a whole lot better." I expect that I'll soon have my own home improvement show. Should be any day now.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Almost Ready

Tonight I'm taking a few quiet minutes at my parents' house to use the internet and make important phone calls and also maybe (just a little maybe) to avoid unpacking boxes. TJ just showed up so we decided to do a  blog update duet.

By now everyone knows that we've moved into our house, but there's still lots of old updates about painting and little fixings here and there, so we wanted to try and get some of those pictures up to keep ourselves on track. TJ is going to drink a cup of tea while I do this. He says he is having trouble thinking.

So two weekends ago we put a big push on getting the house ready to move in. That meant painting. I thought that we'd never get to this point EVER.

My aunt Faye and uncle Ben showed up to help. They are pros at the whole renovating business and have renovated and built multiple houses all across Canada. We were able to just pass over the paint and let them do their thing, so they tackled the dining room.

One thing to keep in mind while viewing these pictures is that paint colour does not translate well on the internet. If you're looking at these and thinking "Eugh, that colour is hideous!" just believe that the paint colour we chose is actually really beautiful and the problem is with your computer monitor. If you're having trouble with this, just come visit us and you can see the beautiful paint colour in person. And we'll probably also have cookies or something.

The dining room is a soft buttery yellow colour. I think it's called something like Wheat Field or Straw Hat, or maybe Sunny Day. I've really been enjoying the paint colour names. I just checked with TJ and he says the paint colour is just called yellow, it doesn't have a fancy name. TJ is grumpy. He says that he's not grumpy, he's exhausted and if I write that on the blog he'll drive away and leave me at my parents' house. So don't tell him that I told everyone on the blog.

Dad spent the weekend painting the master bedroom. This colour is called Linden Hill Green. I don't know where Linden Hill is exactly, but it's green, though not too green, more of a greyish green.

Shane was there of  course, tiling the shower for us. Since our shower is an odd shape with slanting ceilings and funny corners, we were unable to buy a surround and were forced to go with tile instead. This was great, because I wanted an excuse to have a tiled shower. Shane didn't feel the same way, especially when it came time to use a new type of grout which apparently wasn't that fun to use.

No picture of the final result yet, but you get a pretty good idea.

To cheer himself up, Shane took a break and challenged TJ to do pull ups in the closet.

I don't think either of them won.

Dad began cutting in the living room. This was the colour that I most wanted to see go on the walls. It was the very first one that I picked out and the one that I wanted the most. Luckily for me, TJ gave in after a lot of whining on my part. It's called Wythe Blue from the Benjamin Moore Collection and was their 2012 Colour of the Year. Since he was only cutting in there's not a lot to see, so I took a close up of the colour beside the trim (which was done in something called Silkworm)

Mum and Charlotte also came along to help out.

Mum has taken over the caulking so I'm finally free of that job! We made Charlotte start with sanding, and told her she had to put in grunt work before she could graduate to using the actual paint.

Visitors have also started popping in - first, my friend Elizabeth came by with a housewarming gift, but she was too quick and I didn't get a picture. Then my university buddies Amber and Jamie came from Fredericton with another housewarming present. Let me tell you, if you want presents, buy a new house.

Lots of work has been done since this particular weekend...mostly painting...and then all the moving. We're both looking forward to never moving ever again. Ever. Our internet will be installed on Friday, so we should have another update this weekend with lots of pictures from the last week, so check back!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Moving Day!

Hi Blog Readers!

Well, it's hard to know where to begin. I have a backlog of pictures, stories, more pictures, more stories,  and lots and lots of news about what's been happening over the last week or so. But guess're going to have to wait, because today is MOVING DAY! Well, maybe not 100% moving day. My teaching contract ended Friday and I'm now back on the old substitute list, and I booked a job for I said NO WAY to moving everything into the house today and then actually having to sleep there, wake up with no shower/appliances/knowledge of where any of my belongings are and go to a sub today we're just moving most of our things, leaving only our bed and clothes (and makeup...come on....) so that I can feel somewhat human tomorrow morning.

TJ probably would have been okay sleeping there, he won't feel human at all tomorrow anyway since he's the one having to move everything. I'm also on the fence about whether or not my dad will even make it to work tomorrow, since he's also moving everything. We tricked our across-the-hall neighbour (also named TJ) into helping us too, and he was awesome - just in case anyone is wondering, football coaches make excellent movers.

So now it's just me, some empty rooms, some empty boxes and a big echo left all alone in the apartment. I still can't believe that we're actually going to be moving into a house that we OWN. The most expensive thing I ever owned was a laptop, and we all know how that turned out. Hopefully if I spill soya sauce and Glade plug in oil on my house, the results won't be as destructive.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich!

With our move in date being two weeks away from today, there's a big push to start getting some serious work done in our house. This past week has been one where we're not only making a lot of progress, but now we can actually see it as well. The biggest change has been, of course, finally getting our kitchen installed.

We began the work on our kitchen about a month or so ago. The first step was to make an appointment with the lovely people at Prestige Kitchens to discuss what it was we could actually do with our kitchen. We have a decent sized space, but due to having three doors and two windows in this space, we were limited as to where we could actually have appliances and cabinets. Thank goodness for kitchen designers. There were multiple conversations about pantry areas, window arches, window trim, 28 inch spaces vs 30 inch spaces, etc etc. We finally decided on a design that would give us a functional and beautiful kitchen.

The next part was deciding on the cabinet panel design, countertop, hardware and flooring. Never having gone through the kitchen design process before, I was at a loss. I had absolutely no idea how to go about choosing countertops and floors that went together. On advice from our designer, Mike, we started by choosing a floor. We went with this picture for inspiration:

Taken from

We really liked the stone colour of the floor, as well as the look of different tile sizes. We tried to find something similar, but couldn't find anything that was the right colour or the right look. We decided to go with something that had a stone colour rather than tile sizes, since we couldn't have both. I think we made the right decision. Our floors are a light colour, but still dark enough that the dirt (hopefully!) won't show. Besides, after all the work on the house, I've become an expert at sweeping. I've swept the entire house about three or four hundred times now.

Once the floors were chosen, it was much easier to choose a countertop. We knew that we wanted a darker colour since the cabinets would be white, so we took home samples of every dark coloured countertop that Prestige had available. We narrowed it down to two samples, and since TJ had let me choose the floor I wanted, we went with his choice of counter - Basalt Slate. It's a textured countertop, and it has a very slight whitish marble running through. Very pretty, and it looks fantastic with the floors. We went with an oil rubbed bronze finish for our hardware, and after much begging and pleading, convinced Mike that we could make a farmhouse pull work with the cabinet panels we chose, even if it meant that we would have to re-order three of our drawers.

Then the hardest part came - waiting three weeks. For anyone who knows me well, they know that I HATE waiting for things. Sadly, I had no choice. I spent most of my time over the next three weeks searching for the perfect kitchen faucet. We had found a great sink at Kent in Kensington. It's fiberglass, but the finish is so great that it actually looks like it's made of ceramic. Our ideal kitchen sink would be a gorgeous farmhouse sink, but seeing as they cost approximately five million dollars, we had to go with the next best thing. It still has the farmhouse look to it, but it fits our budget much better! Anyway, we had to find a faucet that would really complete the look of the sink, as well as match our cupboard hardware. That oil rubbed bronze cupboard hardware.

There is a much smaller selection of oil rubbed bronze kitchen faucets than I imagined. The selection that is available is very pretty, and also very expensive. Upon finding this out, there was no turning back. There was no way I wanted a boring old silver faucet with my pretty sink. No way. I needed something oil rubbed and bronzed and old fashioned. And I found it. But we will now be eating oatmeal and lettuce for the next two years. But we can eat it while looking at our fabulous kitchen faucet!

Finally, on Thursday evening, our three week wait was over and it was time for the unveiling of our brand spanking new kitchen.

Just ignore the snarling Irishman in the corner - I usually do, and he eventually stops snarling and does a wee jig.

See, there he goes.

The sink with the lovely faucet....not installed just's a bit of a long story, but one that ends well!

We also had the plumber come in and set down our fixtures in the downstairs bathroom, so we finally have a functioning powder room once more (this is very welcome news to any ladies who have been working in the house for the last month). TJ took the facilities for a spin:

And a close up of our pedestal sink - I love the old fashioned feel of it, it reminds me of my grandparents' house (307 to any of the Harris Clan who happen to be reading...).

And there you have it - finally progress that you can see! We're so happy with the way things are coming together. It's been a lot of work, and there's still a TON of work ahead of us (every half an hour we add another item to our "Winter Projects" or "Summer of 2013 Projects" lists), but we love our little house. We've decided to take tonight off to get some R&R, as the work has been catching up with us and it's becoming quite noticeable. One of my students let me know today that my eyes were "All squinty sorta, like you're having trouble seeing me", so that's telling right there! Oh grade two. So honest.

Stay tuned for our next update after the weekend - painted walls!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

TJ's First Blog Post!

Well, it's been a big week at the aul' house. A lot of the serious work is done or almost done, and we're into the home stretch in a few spots.

On Tuesday, the flooring guys called in to put down our vinyl through a lot of the downstairs rooms. Kitchen, half bath and the back hall and laundry now have nice new floors and look a lot better. Well, maybe not the back hall, it still needs a serious going over. Anyway, here's a wee look at the stuff we picked. Not half bad lookin', is it?

We also collected the nice sink we chose for the kitchen, and threw it in there to see how it looked. Awesome. That's how.

Thanks to a wee drop o' precipitation, we also got a visit from some professional house-fixer-uppers, who plastered a couple of rooms with this handsome wainscotting:

IHQ (Immense House Quotient) increased by over a thousand!

Once those panels were up, we got the aul' skirtin' boards back on and gave them a lick o' primer. We finally found an off-white we really liked for the top coat, which is a relief cos we have a ton of skirting boards, door and window trim, doors and assorted other decorative features needing spruced up.

"Ach", we thought, "sure while we're at it, maybe we'll do a full room of paint..." So we threw some colour on the kitchen walls. 

First we tested it. 

The foreman was delighted. He joined in too, slapping some waterproof coating around the shower stall. 

And we got a wee set-tub/cabinet jobbie for the laundry room. This will be in beside the washing machine and dryer.

Today, we got a nice delivery...our kitchen cabinets were installed! White cupboards, slate counter. Pahrful lookin'. Time to order some appliances to fill the gaps methinks. The kitchen is coming along nicely.

Oh, and on top of all that, the plumbers called in to stick the half-bath back together so we have running water again! We've returned to the 21st century. I told you, big week!

So all in all, a lot of progress but still a lot of hard work to be done. Lots of wallspace to get paint on, miles of thon skirting board and trim to do, but we're well on track towards being able to move in.