Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kitchen Update - Cabinets and Counters

This side of the kitchen has a makeshift counter made from old plywood to support the sink and keep the dishwasher from falling over when we open it. We are going to put a small pantry on the right of the counter.  We hope to go to Ikea in the next few days and pick up the last few things we need. This side has the old counter for now but no way would I ever have a white counter again.  It shows every mark and I was constantly bleaching it.  All the knobs and drawer pulls are installed.  There are still some trim pieces to go in where the gaps are and the kicks still need to go on but we are getting there!  Next we will install a valance around the bottom of the upper cabinets and under the cabinet lighting.
Apparently the counter manufacturers are closed until January 4 so we have some time to make the final counter decision.  Want to help? From the beginning I wanted green to match the tiled backsplash and the curtains and provide a contrast from the beige floors.  We considered butcher block as well but it wouldn't fill the gap completely because it is a solid flat piece.  I know black and dark counters are in but they look putrid with the backsplash.  Every time I make a (final) decision, someone criticizes it  I keep collecting more samples (and creating more confusion).  Do you think green is too dated?

Kitchen Update - Flooring

This is what our hallway and kitchen floor looked like before Christmas.  Click on the photo to see how threadbare the carpet was.  And boy oh boy was it dirty under the remnants of the underlay!  We removed dustpans and dustpans full of sand!   This is the divider between the old linoleum in the kitchen and the old carpet in the hall.  The divider strip came off years ago so it has been taped down since.  For winter (Christmas/Valentine's Day) we used tuck tape instead of duct tape to make it more festive.  I know I should become a professional decorator with tricks like these.   We wanted to use the same flooring all the way from the front door and into the kitchen.  We couldn't use linoleum because there would be a seam in a high traffic area.  We couldn't use ceramic because our floor is very uneven and our house settles a fair bit still.   
The solution - DuraCeramic.   It looks like ceramic but is really laminate on a limestone base.  The grout is acrylic so the whole floor is more flexible.  It is also warmer on the feet.  It was finished before Christmas but with 4 overnight guests and 17 people for Christmas dinner I was too busy to update before now.  The furniture is all back in place and Kevin is doing the baseboards now but I can't be bothered going up for another picture.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

What is your favourite Christmas movie?

Kevin's is undoubtedly National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  I think we have watched it every Christmas but one for the last 26 years.  It is hilarious but I want to watch some other favourites this year.

We saw Joyeux Noel a few years ago.  It is definitely not a laughing movie but a wonderful, thoughtful movie to celebrate the season of love and giving.

I enjoyed The Nativity Story when it came out several years ago.  I thought it was an excellent recreation of Jesus' birth and we will be watching it again this year.  

Last year Connor and I listened to an book on tape when he was recovering from his tonsillectomy.  We both really enjoyed Christmas in Canaan and were excited to hear it was being made into a movie this year.  It was only released a few days ago.  If the movie is anything like the book/tape it will be well worth looking for.  It was co-written by Kenny Rogers and stars Billy Ray Cyrus.

So what are you going to watch this holiday season?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Kitchen Update

This was the kitchen a few days agoKevin and I removed all the old upper cabinets Friday and Armin (Alec's best friend and our surrogate son) arrived just in time to help Kevin install the tracks the new cupboards hang on.  Thank goodness he came or we wouldn't have made nearly as much progress.  Thanks Armin! The installation instructions say to remove the entire kitchen then install the uppers but this seems to have worked well. 
This is what the kitchen looked like about 9 this morning.  I moved the location of everything in an effort to cut down on the congestion we have at the morning hour rush and meal times.  So my kids make note of the new location of the contents or you will never find anything when you next come home.  
And this is about half an hour later.  We actually really like the cupboards bare.  I am not sure we will install knobs. The upper cabinets went in much smoother than I expected. 
We removed the lower  cabinets on the left side after church and are at a bit of a standstill.  It is difficult to move until the neighbour who wants the cabinets comes to pick them up and we are having a chicken and egg conundrum.  You know - what comes first the floor or the cabinets?  Okay maybe the microwave should come first, then the floor or cabinets. 

Friday, December 11, 2009

23 years ago

These two entered my life.  I became a mother for the first time. I had a routine pregnancy until a second heartbeat was detected at 24 weeks.  We didn't believe it until an ultrasound confirmed it 2 weeks later.  Other people (not my doctor) had said all along I was large but what did we know?  It was our first pregnancy so we had nothing to compare it to.  Because we were living in Labrador and there were no obstetricians or pediatricians I was sent home early where there was better care.  The babies were originally due January 1 but as is common with multiple births they were early.  Their delivery was pretty "normal" (I won't bore you with the details) and Caitlin and Alec arrived in the wee hours of the morning.  My mother (who repeatedly said she was not old enough to be a grandmother) was so excited when she phoned her brother that she told him I had a little girl - 5 -13 and a boy 6 ft 4.  

Is anyone every really prepared to be a parent?  The first 6 months were exhausting - I only "remember" what we have pictures of.  They crawled up the stairs at 6 months and walked at 9 months.  But the rewards so far outweighed the bad times and I am proud of the adults they have become.

A few pictures from the years.


First day of school 

Can you guess what we are up to now?

Living room yesterday
 and today 

Thursday, December 10, 2009


We bought this deacon's bench a few weeks ago.  We assembled it on the weekend and I have spent the week staining it. It took me a while to decide on the stain.  I knew I wanted to stain it, not paint it so some of the beauty of the grain shone through, but I also wanted it to look custom, not like I just bought it finished.  This is the bench after 2 applications of Minwax driftwood.  It is shown against the new half wall Kevin just built and I painted.  Our entrance is really small and I wanted somewhere that we could sit and put our shoes on (not on the stairs because that causes a real traffic flow problem).   
So here's where I need help.  Should I leave it plain, as above or paint flowers (or something else) as shown below.  I painted the flowers quickly on a piece of clear plastic just so I could see what it might look like.  I hope my real paint job is a bit better, though it has been years since I painted anything.  I could also put flowers in other spots.  So please, give me your opinions. 
One of the last times my parents came to visit my dad mentioned that the banister needed refinishing.  That would be because of an unnamed child who slides down the rail with his shoes.  So, I added that to my list of things to do before Christmas.  Thanks Dad - I didn't have enough to keep me busy.  There are a few drips but it sure looks better than before.  So shiny!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Patsy the Pussycat

I do not have a pussycat named Patsy.  However, when the kids were little we had a book by that name.  It was about (you guessed it) a cat named Patsy who lived on a farm.  One day the farmer's wife painted the kitchen thereby disrupting Patsy's world.  No fire in the stove to keep warm by, no bowl of milk - you get the idea.  So Patsy visits all the animals on the farm looking for advice? sympathy? a new home?  At the end of the day, she returns to her kitchen and is overjoyed to find everything back to normal.  

When I started writing I was going to tell you that our dogs were Patsy this week.  Kevin replaced the banister at the top of the stairs with a half wall and I started painting it 3 days ago.  Awkward position for me and the ladder.  Since I had the paint out, I gave the halls a fresh coat - we must be a dirty family because I recoat the halls virtually every year.  Then I figured I might as well paint the kitchen since it needs to be done before the cabinets are replaced in the next few months.  So Shasta and Darcy's beds were moved downstairs.  Shasta couldn't care less but Darcy couldn't settle all night.  Their bowls were moved to the other side of the kitchen.  And they have been locked up in the laundry room for the better part of two days because they insist on leaning against the wall I have just washed or painted.  They have many other places to lie, but have to pick the one spot they can't.  And of course, I didn't have time to walk them.  I am a supreme multi-tasker but I haven't figured out how to be inside painting and outside walking yet.  

As I wrote I started to think that I was really Patsy.  I hate things out of place for days on end (like tables covered with tools, curtains and other things that should be hung on the walls).  I get very impatient.  I wish I had some animal friends to go elicit compassion from.  The painting is done.  All I have to do in the next 24 hours is clean the whole house from top to bottom, put all the light covers and curtains back up and at least start the holiday decorating.  We have a dinner at the church tomorrow night and for the first time ever, I am not baking something.  I love baking but new I wouldn't have time so I bought a lemon tart before this craziness started.

Next week doesn't look any better for me - get the Christmas cards and baking done and a new special project I will blog about next week (as long as it turns out).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Kevin is Happy

Kevin loves Coke (as in Coca Cola)(and Dr. Pepper but today's post is about Coke).  While shopping today we found these cute little bottles of his preferred beverage.  They look like little Christmas ornaments.   Unfortunately they are probably too heavy to hang on a tree - but I bet they'd fit great in his stocking! 
I, on the other hand do not like pop of any sort.  I might have 3 sips a year - if I am really, really thirsty.   What do you like to drink?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Paddling with Darcy

Yesterday was another beautiful, unseasonably warm day so we went for a paddle on the Nottawasaga River. At the last minute we decided to take Darcy with us.  She is the more timid of the dogs and not really happy unless Shasta is with her but she sits quietly in the canoe - sort of.  She is so nervous she shakes the whole time she is standing and  the whole canoe vibrates.  She doesn't want to lie down and relax as scary things like tree branches and splashes may attack.  But we keep hoping she will become more comfortable with the canoe.  She also suffers from travel anxiety (the fancy name for canine car sickness) so she drools like crazy when stressed and often throws up (she did on the way home). We don't like to take Shasta paddling - once was enough - she is too high strung and LOVES to swim.  She would be racing back and forth and throwing us off balance or jumping in. We didn't see as much wildlife as we usually do but we did see this duck.  I cannot identify him (her?) using my book or internet.  He is quite small and the eyes are red.  Anybody know what kind of duck it is? 
A large fungus. 
 NOTE - The waterbird has been identified as an American Coot.  Supposedly common - I guess I have been canoeing with my eyes closed previously.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


The surgery went well.  My dad was a real trooper through the hospitalization.  He remained upbeat unless he was in a lot of pain.  When he started joking with us and the nurses and telling stories we knew he was well on the road to recovery.  He came home this afternoon.  We still have to wait the results of the biopsy, have spots on his lung checked out and then go ahead with mitral valve repair/replacement.  He has been tired and has had very low endurance for the last while and they determined he needed mitral valve replacement or repair.  The cancer was discovered because of pre-op blood work for the heart surgery, so it was discovered early. Thanks to everyone for your support.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fall Frenzy

It happens every fall when I am laid off.  I go on a cleaning and baking and organizing spree.  I clean things like ceiling fans and the top of the fridge, defrost the freezer and re-organize bookshelves - the things that I just don't have time for when I am working.  I start by baking tons of goodies with the leftover pumpkins from hallowe'en like bow-wow breakfast bars for the dogs and muffins and loaves for the people.  Then I move on to the Christmas baking and shopping and cards. This year is going to be different for several reasons.  I was laid off Friday, about 3 weeks earlier than normal because of the weather. In theory that should give me more free time but it hasn't worked that way because my best in-town friend's 15 year old son was hit by a car last week when he was long-boarding and I have been watching their house and trying to get everything cleaned up at both houses before leaf pick up this week.  He is at Sick Kid's (2 1/2 hours away) and is expected to make a full recovery over the next few months but will have pins in both legs forever. He also had a fractured skull and a broken vertebrae in his neck.  It is a miracle he is alive.  An old friend of Tori's died - he was 3 days younger than her.  Kevin is away for 2 weeks. Tomorrow my dad goes in to have surgery on a cancerous section of his colon.  I will be staying with my mom for the next 4 days.  It is impossible to sum up the worry of the months of testing that have been happening; the feelings I want to share but can't put in words.  Needless to say I am very emotional right now.  I would appreciate everyone's prayers during this difficult time.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm Ready Now

Hallowe'en is past and the reindeer are heading south so it is time to start the Christmas preparations. Aren't they cute?  I wish I had storage space for off-season.  I would have brought one home in a flash.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is it too early?

I got my first Christmas card today.

What do you think of that?

I admit I have placed a few "mail" orders for Christmas items but I think it is a little early for cards.  I haven't opened it yet but it is from a neighbour - the same neighbour who was first with cards last year and she confirmed that is what it is.  She told me she has 180 cards to go.  If I do open it will I feel that I need to start baking and buying and wrapping right away?  Will I want to get my own cards out before Hallowe'en?  If ignore it for a few weeks am I being a scrooge?  I will confess that last year I updated our Christmas letter regularly through the year so it was ready to mail in December with minimal work but that was a first.  I am just not ready to think much about Christmas for another month.

What about the rest of you?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Que Sera Sera

When Connor was a toddler he loved diggers and dozers.  All his books were about construction equipment, his room was decorated with them and that was what he played with 90% of the time.  He would get mad if you called a piece of heavy machinery by the wrong name.  Even at 2, he would sit for hours and watch machinery work. This obsession lasted for 5 or 6 years and we were pretty sure he would work in construction.  

Then gradually he became more interested in cars.  He could tell you what an approaching vehicle was from a square inch of the front, or by the headlights.  He knew the specs on all the fast cars and could tell you what year that Mustang was.  He loves Gone in 60 Seconds and The Fast and The Furious.  This interested started with sports cars but expanded to trucks when I got one and is now pretty much anything with wheels.  We started thinking he would maybe be a mechanic.

In the last year or so he has shown great interest in buying and selling things.  He bought a guitar and sold it a year later for almost the same amount.  He bought a kayak with the money from the guitar and sold the kayak this year to upgrade it.  He sold it for very close to what he paid for it after using it for more than a year.   He spends a lot of time online looking for "deals".  Hmm, maybe he was destined to be a car salesman instead of a mechanic.  Still a logical progression.

In August he started work at a big chain restaurant.  He loves the money, the work environment and everything about this step to adulthood.  It is funny when we go out because he will tell us how many grams of this that recipe takes or that his restaurant puts more cheese, or a different blend of cheese in what we are having.  This week he started talking about owning his own restaurant.  Huh!  Wait a minute!  Big step away from things with wheels.  We went out for dinner last night to a nice restaurant and discussed what his restaurant would serve - appetizers, main dishes and desserts are mostly worked out.  I am looking forward to preparing his desserts to be showcased at the entrance.  

I know next year he might be wanting to become a professional snowboarder or teacher.  I'm just enjoying the ride.  Whatever will be, will be.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend - 3

After church on Sunday, Kevin and I and my parents drove up to Meaford.  The whole drive there was along the southern shore of Georgian Bay - desolate and windy at this time of year but still enjoyable.  We love visiting the Meaford Factory Outlet.  You never know what you will find there.  We make a trip every fall to get stocking stuffers and fill up the Samaritan's Purse shoeboxes.

Meaford is also home to the Scarecrow Invasion.  The whole town is decorated.  There are scarecrows in store windows, front lawns and climbing buildings and street posts.  These scarecrows were at a garage.

 These scarecrows were at country homes.

We took the scenic route home through the countryside.  It was a beautiful fall drive.  The colours were great.  We saw 2 deer and a flock of wild turkeys.  We stopped at Walter's Falls.  This picture is taken from the bridge over the falls looking down.


My parents and Alec went home today and we went to see Kevin's mom.  It was a great weekend. 

Thanksgiving Weekend - 2

After the corn maze, we went out to the pumpkin patch activities.  My parents and Jenna are having a duck race while Connor watches.  You use an old fashioned pump to race the rubber duckie down the chute.  Behind them is the catapault.  If you get your ball in a hole you win a free pumpkin.  My mom was the only one to get it in but she did it on her practice shot so it didn't count. The lady at the catapault had an interesting hat.  You can see it better if you click on the picture to enlarge it.Myself, Kevin and Connor racing while Amber cheers us on.  The mini-golf is behind us.


If you find a fake pumpkin hiding in the field you get a real one free.  Guess who was the only one to find one?  I was the only one last year as well - I found 2 last year.  They are very realistic replicas.  They are just a little shinier than a real pumpkin and have a seam on the bottom.  They come in all shapes and sizes. That is the fake I am holding.
Then we came back to our house where Alec had been tending the turkey all afternoon.  These pictures are proof that turkey contains tryptophan, which causes people to be very drowsy, even in a room full of people. 

Leanne had a headache (hence the sunglasses and ice wrap).

Thanksgiving Weekend - 1

Last year Connor and I had a great time at the local pumpkin patch so we invited my parents and my sister and her family up to join us.  There are 4 friendly farm animals hidden in the maze.  When you find them, you punch their picture with the shaped hole punch and turn in your sheet to win a prize.  I wonder how many children have nightmares about the cow.

The chicken was my favourite. 

Connor kept running ahead and hiding in the corn and jumping out to scare my mom.  She jumped every time.  Except this time.  You can see Connor's arm in the bottom left corner.  It isn't a great picture, but captures the fun.


My dad. 

Connor and the Green Monster

These pictures are a few weeks old but I haven't had time to download them until now.  When we were at the Coldwater Fall Fair  Connor met the Green Monster - not scary at all I promise.  Connor (and Victoria) love giant dill pickles and everybody loves chocolate so what could be better than combining the two and adding sprinkles to make it pretty?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Coast to Coast

Victoria has been in New Brunswick for several weeks, attending Mount Allison University.

Caitlin has just left Jasper on her way to her new position as an au pair in North Vancouver.  So tomorrow I will have children living on opposite coasts!

In the middle are us and Alec.  Alec will also be travelling tomorrow as he goes from Base Borden back to Kingston where he will start a course soon.  

Connor also does a lot of travelling ... on his bike.  And I am pleased to report he bought shin pads - no more owies.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bike 2 - Boys 0

Connor this time.  No stitches but I wrapped it really well so it doesn't keep reopening since the worst one is close to his knee. 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A special day

Today Kevin and I went out for my birthday lunch.

We left the house at 6:40. Yes - 6:40 a.m.

We drove for 2 hours and got on a small cruise boat in Parry Sound. I thought it was really interesting that the Chippewa spent the first 35 years of service as a "Maid of the Mist". She has been sailing Georgian Bay for the last 14 years.

We traversed the waterways of Georgian Bay for 2 more hours and arrived at Henry's Fish Restaurant about 11:00. It is world famous. People fly in and boat in to enjoy the fresh fish. I had the pan fried pickerel and Kevin had the deep fried pickerel. Both meals came with fries (or rice), coleslaw and baked beans. I had a super runny butter tart for dessert. The meals were good - not as good as I expected after all the hype - but all in all it was a great day. The weather was perfect. I wanted a memorable birthday and I got it.

There are lots of other day and dinner cruises offered on Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe so we are already thinking about our next trip.