Office essentials

One of the things that Kelvin and I like most about our current house is that it has a study at the front. This is our workspace, our think space…and more often than not, our YouTube/Netflix space. Alas, like many other well-intentioned spaces, it is also often a messy space, full of paper and miscellany that make working at all a difficult thing. 

That changed this weekend.

Thanks to a trip to IKEA, family visiting, and a holiday weekend (time off!), we made this room just a little more functional. I cleared off my desk (finding a professional magazine from two months ago…along with a number of statements that needed to be filed), and assembled this:


Prior, we had had a tall bookshelf in this space. It was white, but it blocked a fair amount of the light, plus it was full of books that we didn’t access often. Our files sat lined up along the bottom shelf, making any sort of filing a pain. 

The solution?

We bought and built a white GALANT file cabinet system (SO great…other than the really tricky lock which we decided to not install after having read a number of horror stories). It also gave us a good surface to house our printer (which had been upstairs in our guest room for the longest time). Third, we mounted an ALGOT to the wall, complete with three shelves. Now everything is clean and accessible. And I’ll know where to find it all!

Saying Goodbye

It’s a bittersweet time.

Today, Kelvin and I closed the sale on the first house we ever owned. It wasn’t a big home, nor a fancy home, but it was our home. And for that reason, it will always hold a special place in our hearts (okay, maybe a bigger place in my heart than in Kelvin’s…he is super thrilled with our current home).


That little home was where we hung our own artwork, and painted our own walls. It was where we hosted small groups and where we invited friends to stay with us. It saw many iterations of IKEA and Target furniture and linens. It’s where we started our family, and where we set up Andy’s first nursery.


Things I will miss:

  • the foyer (which we REDID)
  • the proximity to everything
  • the white walls (in our MASTER and our DINING ROOM)
  • the front door
  • the ceiling fans (Andy loved them, plus they were so awesome in the summer)

Things I won’t miss:

  • the orange/pink colour in the kitchen
  • the weird cut out in the basement wall between the main room and the storage room
  • hearing our neighbours through the walls
  • that finicky sliding door leading to the deck
  • the struggle of getting the lawn mower to the backyard

I moved into this house in October of 2011, just a few months out of school. I was working 3 different jobs to piece together an income, and I was just discovering what Kingston had to offer to those who were no longer living the student life. THIS is what the house looked like. 4.5 years later, a lot has changed, and though this little home will no longer be part of our everyday, we are grateful for the memories that we made within its walls.

Goodbye, house. It’s been so nice knowing you.

42.

Andy is slowly getting back to his usual self. He has now traded his fever for a cold and his laboured breathing makes him sound like Darth Vader, but at least he is active and smiley once more. And he doesn’t cry when we put him on the ground. 

  
We are working on getting him to sleep through the night once more, so that has been its own beast. There have been multiple nights of some pretty wicked crying. In the last ten months, there have definitely been many moments in which I’ve been extremely frustrated and have turned to the Internet for help and solace, only to become more frustrated or confused. I looked up sleep schedules and they were all over the map. 

In other news, Andy now has 7 teeth, and when he bites you it hurts. Attempts have been made to get him to stop, but I think it is mostly exploratory right now so there isn’t much we can do. This also translates to him taking bites out of his food, which is really funny. Regardless of how small and item is already, he likes to take one bite first, just because he can. He has also made some progress in developing his fine motor skills in his right hand, especially when it comes to feeding himself. (But as you can see in the picture below, he still prefers his left hand…)

  
We’ve left the baby gate off his room more frequently since we are home and are watching him when he plays. The cutest thing is when he is playing in his room with me, hears Kelvin in our bedroom, then promptly crawls out of the room to find him. We may need to get some knee patches for his pants if this keeps up.  

On the home front, we took an Andy-less trip up to Ottawa for brunch and a visit to IKEA. We ate at Baker Street Cafe, which sadly we did not find as awesome as the hype made it out to be. I mean, there was a line for it. An out the door and onto the snowy Westboro streets line. We had a fairly successful time at IKEA, though, picking up a great new shelf that really changes the aesthetic of our main floor, a much-needed mirror for our front entrance, and a few other knick knacks. Kelvin also got around to treating our dining room table. 

  

All in all, it’s been a successful second week of the holidays. I’m looking forward to finishing some books and starting new ones, and to getting back into the groove of teaching by crafting a work plan for the remainder of the 2015/2016 school year.  

Hope your first week of 2016 was great!

How not to hang art in your home

Kelvin and I love hanging art. We think it adds something personal to our home. We buy prints whenever we can on vacation. We have a weakness for local art. 

Last night, we decided to hang these prints, which I have talked about before. Normally we have no problem with hanging art. We frame whatever it is we have, wire it up, check for studs, and bring out the drill. We’ve hung a series of prints before, but this one was a little different, as we decided to position them heading up our staircase. 

  
We were pleased with the end result, but let me tell you – though there are three pictures up, there are definitely more than three holes in the wall. 

Here are some tips we should have heeded:

  1. After you mark out where you’ll be drilling, make sure you double check whether or not there is a stud. If you drill assuming that it’s drywall, you will find you have a hole much larger than is useful. 
  2. It is also helpful to use the right drill bit. I am seriously contemplating using nail polish to demarcate which bits are used for which nail sizes. 
  3. If you find yourself using a drywall screw, make sure that your nail corresponds with the right drywall screw. If you use too small of a nail, it’s not that big of a deal, just move up a size. But if you use too big of a nail, it gets caught and then your attempt to jam it into the drywall screw with brute force will result in a very large, almost shameful hole.

  
Thankfully, there was some room for error.  However, this would not be the case if we were doing something like a gallery wall. Thus, I am seriously reconsidering our idea of doing a gallery wall. 

35.

It’s been a weird week. Andy has been really inconsistent with his eating and sleeping tendencies, which makes for lots of unpredictability and more nighttime wake ups than I would expect. That leads to grumpiness on my part and just a general lack of unattentiveness. I had a mini meltdown yesterday where I started to silent cry while feeding him his lunch, most of which ended up on the floor. He was crying too. It wasn’t pretty. 

Despite these moments of weakness, Andy  continues to bring joy and smiles. And he continues to pull himself up on anything. 

   
Yesterday, we decided to go on a family walk around our neighbourhood. Andy fell asleep in the carrier before we even left the house. (Tangent – I wore him on my back yesterday in the carrier and it made vacuuming SO much easier)

 One of the interesting things about living in a still-expanding subdivision is that there are model homes to visit. Both homes were new to us and one in particular really amazed us! There is something to be said about smart layouts. Having a big home with lots of wasted space definitely is not better than a smaller home where everything is well-used. Speaking of homes, Kelvin introduced me to House Tweaking earlier this week. Their home is probably my dream home. 

Another thing he showed me – all the beautiful swaddles at modern burlap, which we would more likely use as a wall hanging because we don’t swaddle Andy anymore. Such truth in these quotes! 

On the reading front, I’ve got a few books on the go. Just finished Shani Mootoo’s Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab and will be starting Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. A friend ordered Teach Us to Want by Jen Michel Pollock for me and I am enjoying the author’s candidness so far in this. Also reading Rick Richardson’s Reimagining Evangelism, which is giving me a fresh perspective on what it means to share my faith with those around me. Highly recommended! 

23.

This has been one of my least productive weeks so far. Perhaps I need to move my goal calendar over from the old house…

The heat and humidity has kept us mostly indoors this week, save for that one morning we went out for an hour-long walk in our neighbourhood and returned essentially dripping with sweat. That day, I realized how great having interior access to the garage is. I rolled the stroller into the garage and took my time transferring things back into the house. Then I had a huge glass of water.

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I continue to think that Andy quite likes it here. Or maybe he is completely oblivious and just likes playing with the same things that he’s always had. He’s developed quite a penchant for this pillow (see picture). Whenever we come down to the living room he needs to sit with it and pat it with his little hands.

This place is starting to feel more like home. In fact, this morning, inspired by this house tour on A Cup of Jo, Kelvin started spouting off all the things he wants to do in our home. Like paint the whole main floor ultra pure white (we do love our walls ultra pure white). And add subway tile. And open shelving. The list gets longer with each passing day.

Moving on.

Yesterday, we headed to our local library – if you have read any handful of posts from this blog you will know that it is one of my favourite places – for a puppet show extravaganza. Andy thoroughly enjoyed this, his eyes fixated on the bright little stage in the otherwise dark room. On our way out, the puppet animals were available for hugs (one of the stories they portrayed was “Who wants a hug?”) and Andy took a liking to the little bear. It was the only puppet he reached out to touch.

In the evening, despite the torrential downpour, we headed to Lake Ontario Park for Loving Spoonful’s annual Food Fiesta. Got myself a brisket sammie from The Big Smoke Food Truck. It was pretty delicious. I’d been meaning to check them out for quite some time.

On the topic of food, I’ve been off the new recipe ball for the past month or so, but this week we tried a few via Budget Bytes – this one for corn and zucchini tacos which we really loved, and this one for spinach ricotta pasta which was insanely dry. Maybe I used the wrong type of ricotta. Maybe the gas stove is making me want to cook more?

Also, something I’m really excited for: the first in a guest blogger series that I’m doing for our local conservation authority. I do find the bio description a little comical, though. Catherine is a Kingston resident, popular blogger, and mom. I don’t think I’ve ever introduced myself in that way before.

Anyways, next week is a busy one, and also happens to be the last week of August (WHAT). Fall is coming.

22.

Writing this post from our new home (!!) at 1 in the morning. On my phone. It’s been a busy week to say the least. 

As of this week, Andy is officially five months old! Where did the time go? We’ve commented multiple times on how little time has actually passed, but how it feels as if he’s been with us forever. Earlier today I was looking at my Facebook timeline (which I rarely do) and found a picture of him when he was just a few weeks old. I can’t believe he has grown so much since then. I mean, look at this mischievous guy!

  

He continues to chat up a storm, and his little personality is really shining through. He loves it when people talk to him and  hates to be left out of anything – conversations, mealtime, get-togethers… With my family in town, this means that he has been heading to bed later because he’s just so excited! This also expedited our need to add the baby set to his Tripp Trapp, which Kelvin and my dad did last night, so that he can sit at the table with us now. His curiosity continues to grow, and I love watching him stare intently at new things :)

One great thing about us moving to a bigger place is that Andy has a much bigger room. We had some trouble with configurations earlier, what with outlets and vents and windows and all, but I think we’ve settled on a nice arrangement. It’s also been great having our own ensuite. And a walk-in closet. And a study that’s a little bit removed from the rest of the living space. What luxury!

One thing that wasn’t so great was the physical act of moving. Now I know why people hate it! And also why people hire movers! My parents continue to remind me that we had a ridiculously easy move (I mean, 3/4 of our furniture is still over at the old house), but I still stand by my statement that moving is a pain. We rented a U-haul and did the heavy lifting ourselves. And by we I mean mostly Kelvin and my dad. I need to get to the gym more. My strength level on a scale of 1-10 is maybe a 3.5. Subpar at best. 

So I won’t go into detail about our U-haul experience, but here are five things I learned:

  1. Always check the vans before you leave the lot
  2. Insurance is $15 but there is a $150 deductible if they notice any damage
  3. Diligence is not a forte at this establishment
  4. Driving a large vehicle is both frightening and exhilarating 
  5. The 9′ cargo vans do not fit a queen size mattress vertically (it fits diagonally, making it somewhat awkward to fit everything else in)

This would have been a really great place to insert a picture of me driving this van. Alas, we neglected to take one. 

Our new house is mostly in order now. We have half a box left to unpack, and then the moving continues of all those random little things that are still over at our place. 

Good sense tells me I should sleep, so I will leave it here. Good night!

21.

So the big news this week…we are moving!! Due to a series of timely events, our little family will be calling a new (but also familiar) place home. The official move date is next Saturday, so we are really excited!

It’s surreal sometimes to think about all that’s changed in our little home and with our family in just under four years. I came across this old picture from March of 2012 – documenting one of our first attempts at personalizing this house (with some handmade art). This was before we got a nicer lamp, a lighter sofa cover, brighter pillows, and before we repainted our dining room!

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Even though we love travelling, it’s been so nice to once again be at home. Andy thinks so too. He is talking constantly now, and the number of videos that I’ve been taking of him has increased dramatically now that he does more interesting things. He is also beginning to develop an understanding of musical instruments (or so I think). I was singing and playing guitar for him the other day, and he would look at the hand that was strumming, then the hand that was chording, then my mouth. It was really cute seeing him do that. Have huge aspirations for him on the musical front haha.

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I’m going to keep this post short as I still have to finish packing. We are heading down to New York state to attend a wedding this weekend (for which all three of us are super stoked and excited for!!) and I must capitalize on the fact that Andy is napping right now!

I will leave you with two things:
1) Earlier this week, I watched Tig on Netflix. Highly recommended.
2) Here’s Part 1 of a series of guest posts I’ll be doing!

After the Storm

This is what I woke up to this morning – thick snow and blue skies.

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The snow was halfway up the window in the spare room, and I definitely wasn’t looking forward to shovelling my way out. Fortunately, I made it down my driveway no problem even without shovelling. Unfortunately, I did not have as much success going down my unploughed street.

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This evening, I put some clothes in the dryer and the machine made such bad noises it literally frightened me. Thus, I donned my hunters and headed out to clear the vent area.

Unfortunately, even they could not protect me. Snow was up beyond the top of my boots. I sank into the fluffiness, later opting to climb over the deck banister rather than walk around it to get back inside.

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Despite the cold and the wind, there is still beauty in the snow. Kingston remains a lovely place in my eyes.

Staying In

Oh snow. You have this ability to incapacitate people and cause them to hole up in their homes. At least, that’s what I’m doing tonight :) I made it out this morning for a supply call and came home to many inches of snow. About half an hour later – and with the help of some neighbours – my driveway was clear and my car found its way into the garage.

Hilariously enough, on the way home I decided to make the detour to pick up our next month’s book club read – Gillian Flynn’s gone girl. I hear good things about it so I’m excited to get started.

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I made myself some quick and easy pasta with green beans, onions, chicken, and cherry tomatoes to accompany this book, and I am contemplating turning on some jazz fm.

Anyways, there you have it – my plans for this snowy evening. Stay safe, stay warm, and I’ll see you all in the morning.

Dining in Style

This past week, Kelvin and I made some pretty significant changes to our dining room. Despite my hesitation, we decided to paint our dining room “ultra pure white” (yes, that is the name of the paint colour, and yes, Kelvin did feel like we were getting ripped off a little because it’s the factory colour).

It didn’t start off very well. The first coat we applied looked terrible, and I was seriously doubting our decision. Alas, we have gone to far to go back, so we journeyed on.

Now, our dining room wasn’t terrible to begin with, except for the ugly blinds and horrible trim. However, we are proud that it is now coolly minimal and much more in line with our personal design aesthetic. Oh, and it brightens up our whole main floor. Next step – fill that large wall with something typographic or abstract :)

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What do you think?

You can read about the experience from Kelvin’s side of things on our joint blog.

Amazing Things Around the Web

I love to read blogs. On my iPhone, I have an app called Newsify, and every morning I try to make it through all the posts that have come up. Admittedly, some of them I will gloss over, but there are others that draw me in and move me to action. Here are four posts that I dwelled over for a while – 2 of which I would like to see come true in Kingston, and 2 of which were more for my own personal interest.

The Happy Post Project: Spreading Cheer Via Post-It Note (via GOOD)

Last year, I initiated Kingston Through My Lens. It was an amazing experience, and my plan was originally to run it again this year. However, as circumstance would have it, I need to do something a little less involved for Culture Days this year, and I am leaning towards organizing a Happy Post Project in Kingston. Simply put, people will come and answer the question “what makes you happy?” on a post-it note, and then you display it in some shape or form. Then, you take all the post-its and mail them to The Happy Post Project to help them reach their goal of 100,000 happy posts.  If you live in the Kingston area and want to help me out with this, just send me an email!

Little Free Libraries Around Toronto (via Apartment Therapy)

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As it says in the article, the idea of book swaps is not a new one. I came across Book Crossing a few years ago, and really liked the idea, but I wanted something that kept the books more so in the local community. This idea of little free libraries is great, but the price of purchasing one of their libraries is quite prohibitive, and I really don’t trust my ability to create one from scratch. Most likely, the thing will fall apart, and we will be left with a yard full of books that have been destroyed by Kingston rain (though lately we have been getting no rain…and my lawn is definitely showing evidence of that). That being said, I think Kingston could really benefit from doing something like this – maybe we could use little mailboxes or something like that. According to the little free libraries global map, there is one in Landsdowne, Ontario, on a boat dock…but alas, I do not have a boat. Don’t worry, I will find a way to get this off the ground. Again, I am sending out an open call to people who live in the Kingston area, if you can help in some way (maybe you just happen to have a vast quantity of mailboxes that can be used for this project), please email me!

A $10 Bicycle That Actually Works! (via Apartment Therapy)

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Can you tell I love Apartment Therapy? =P After watching this video, I was amazed not only at the bicycle, but at the man behind it. His process of trial and prototyping, his determination for success amidst the skepticism of others, and the way he used his skill set were inspiring. Though this is not something I would do, I have so much respect for him, and would love to try out the bike!

Monday Giveaway! (via A Cup of Jo)

There are a few personal blogs that I subscribe to, Joanna Goddard’s being one of them. I have this attraction to people who live in NYC and SF, so it seems most of the individuals that I follow are from one of those two cities. Anyways, her giveaway yesterday was this SWEET diaper bag from So Young. I am not yet at that stage of life where I will need a diaper bag, but I forwarded it to Kelvin nonetheless, after which I received a text that said “That is one of the best baby bags I’ve ever seen…How much?”. We then proceeded to scour their website, amazed at all the cool features the diaper bag has, and how it has such a rugged exterior that Kelvin would proudly tote around. In particular, we liked the built in sunglasses case, though Kelvin and I will need to determine whose Raybans will go there. And for those of you who are curious, it is $175, and available at a number of fine retailers as well as online (with free shipping for orders over $50, which this bag definitely is).

Now that I am at the end of this post, I just want to say that I really enjoyed sharing my thoughts. Often times, these thoughts will get sent off to twitter or in emails to Kelvin, my sister, and my parents, but perhaps I should use this outlet more to share cool things I find.