Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Party House

One of the reasons for our renovation was to create a better space for entertaining.  We usually had a least one big party a year but it had to be in the summer so we could use our outdoor space.  We have occasional dinner parties, and we love it when the kids' friends hang out at our place.

Last weekend, we tested out our new space with a Movember Stache Bash.  We ended up with about 75 invited guests at a family-friendly, buffet dinner and go-as-long-as-the-last-person-is-standing shindig.

How did the house do in its first real test as an entertaining space?

1 - We used the office as a bar - worked well until the end of the night when 15 people were jammed in the office and I had to move all the booze back to our much more generously sized kitchen.  Lesson learned: kitchen parties are centered in the kitchen because the booze is in the kitchen.

Why are these women wearing moustaches?

Could something here be to blame?

2:  The kitchen did work well as a gathering spot as intended.  Great place to chat near the snacks and ice.  Big island is good!

One corner of the kitchen

Photo courtesy of G. Hayes

3. I didn't take any pics of the buffet in progress as I was a bit too busy running to meet the needs of the kids at the party.  Note that although there were about 35 kids at the party, none are featured in the pics.  That is because they were tucked away in the basement rec. room or upstairs.  We ran two movies to keep the little ones happy so that we could all party down.
Here are some of the stache themed treats from the party.  I admit, I love theme food.  Ask anyone!
Photo by K. Thibeault

Mo Cookies - Photo thanks to K. Thibeault

We got several requests to make our Stache Bash an annual event, so in terms of creating a place for entertaining, mission accomplished.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


(I wrote most of this on Thansgiving weekend!  I was afraid that I had missed people so I am not publishing until now.  I'm sure that I did forget to mention people who have been supportive, so thank you first to everyone who has supported us!)

We are back at home and feeling grateful in so many ways.  First of all, we are so lucky that we were able to undertake this project.  When we look around our renewed home we can't believe our good fortune! 

We are incredibly grateful to our kind hosts during the time we had to be out of our home.  First, Kerry, Dino and family - they let us live in their home just two doors away and they made it seem like we were doing them a favour!  That is just the kind of people they are. 

Then, former neighbours Jen and Craig let us squat in their already sold home until the new owner took possession.  I know you won't believe our good fortune, but that house was just two doors in the other direction.  We are so grateful for your generosity!

Of course, we have an amazing family.  Drew's parents took us in in June when we had to vacate out house earlier that expected.  And in September, they took us in again.  The experience of never having to cook a meal or pour my own cocktail in the first weeks I was back to work  in September was unbelievable.  Thank you to Nan and Granddad for welcoming us as long-term house guests and for making our lives so much easier.  We promise we will eventually move all of our boxes out of your basement.

I want to express my gratitude to my mom and dad.  My parents gave me a very generous 40th birthday gift (a few years back ;) ) which allowed us to take care of most of our first mortgage.  It is hard to imagine that my dad won't get to see our house all finished.  He would have loved it!  Our guest room has been dubbed "Gran's room" and she has already had the first of what we hope will be many overnighters.   

Now all the other thanks:
Thank you to all of our neighbours for their patience and support.

First, to our immediate neighbours, those most impacted by the disaster construction zone.  I know that living beside a port-a-potty in the summer was no fun but you were still supportive.  Amazing!  Mark, Fiona and kids, Henrietta and Pete - thanks for being so darn cool during this long summer!

Kurt and Lois - thanks for inspiring the whole thing.  When you did your big reno a few years back, you set the bar for making a small home broken into separate rooms into a comfortable and spacious place.  I know that we had the "loudest reno ever", even on some weekends, but thanks for putting up with us with such grace.

Peter and Sheila - you saved our July.  The kids were not totally on board with the "renocation" and not going away for most of the summer.  Seeing your orange flag go up signalling that your flag was open to the neighbourhood was always a welcome and refreshing diversion. This summer many generous friends of friends also opened their pools  - thanks!

If you haven't started to get the picture yet of how amazing our street is, then read on, because there is more.

Our kids feel at home in most homes on our street, but none more so than the homes of their best friends who happen to be neighbours.

Paul and Andrea were always open to the kids joining them and their daughter (my daughter's BFF) so that Drew and I could head out on one of our many shopping outings for house supplies.It never seemed like a bother to them and the offer was always open to both kids. These two have been our friends since before we arrived on the street.  We moved in in September 1999.  A few months later, they showed up at our door to tell us they were looking at houses in the hood and would 5 doors away be too close. It has been great!

Jen and Rick, other reno-inspiring neighours, also kept their doors open to us and our kids during the reno. Their older son is our son's BFF and their younger son has said he wants to marry our daughter.  (It was later revealed that he really just wanted to live in our lego-filled basement, but you are like family anyway, K!)   A quick text or call and the kids were happily occupied while we ran around to tile, bathroom, electric stores.  I have to add that I never enter either of the above-mentioned homes without being offered a delicious and stress-relieving beverage.

To all of you who poured us a glass, asked how things were going, complimented the progress, toured the construction site, commented on how fast things were going, provided boxes, took the kids off our hands.... the list goes on.... THANK  YOU!!!  

I will update the thank you list as time goes on and my feeble brain remembers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Botox for Our Home

It has been a month since my last post. No surprise  - there seems to be some connection to my return to work!  Things have been very busy at our site/house.

One of our neighbours commented after seeing the refinished exterior of our home that the stucco had taken 20 years off our house.  I don’t think that she meant that our house looked like it was built in the 80s!  Instead, it is like the house had a facelift.  We had a colour consult on the exterior and it was worth it to me. 
The new windows add to the new and improved face of our house.

We are moving back home in a few days.  All the plumbing is working, rooms have been painted and the floors are being varnished tomorrow. There will still be some finishing in the inside and  work on the outside left to do, including posts for the front porch and building the side entrance.   Here are some sneak peeks of some of the almost finished rooms.
Cupboards waiting for doors

Master bath in progress
We have been living at my in-laws for the past three weeks.  We have all been spoiled terribly.  Thank you for the hospitality, Nan and Granddad!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

In the Thick of Things!

Wow!  I thought things were busy at our house a few weeks ago.  I am hoping that now is the really busy time because if the need for immediate decisions gets any heavier, my head might just blow off!  Interestingly, people keep asking me why I don't seem stressed.  Hmm... I must be hiding it better than I thought.

Decisions made in the last few weeks seem to be about things we thought we had decided.  For example, we picked lovely bathroom tile for the master bath but, it is back ordered and we couldn't hold up the work.  So we had to go on the hunt for a similar tile (bathroom colour was based on the tile) that was available to work with the timeline.

More reno fun, our side door and our front door both arrived just slightly wrong but the problems were significant enough that the doors need to be returned.  The front door came with a very shiny white finish (it was meant to be paintable) and the side door opened the wrong way (into the light switches!)

We also had to chose a different granite because the slabs we picked were not big enough for the island, we had to pick paint colours, hinges and door knobs, tile patterns, etc.  Phew!  No wonder that when I was out for a much needed girls night I was yawning before 10 PM. 

New windows and roof over entrance
All in all, the process has been stressful but exciting.  We have all our new windows and stucco is ready to start this week which will completely change the face of our house.  Stay tuned for photos.  Here are some recent shots

The kids heading in to scope out the colours in their rooms
We have the unbelievable good fortune to be able to stay on our street for July and August.  Thank you this time to J & C,  we have stayed within two doors of our house during most of the construction process.

There have been two good omens in the past week.  I walked into the house one night last week to find several of my neighbours walking around our kitchen family room-to-be, wine glasses in hand.  I look forward to celebrating the end of this process with friends properly in that very room when we are back in our home.

Then this evening we had this sight over the house.  It has to be a good sign, right?
I hope that you can see the rainbow! Note that the gray on the house is not the stucco colour but the wall preparation for stucco.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Beehive of Activity

It is very handy to be so close to our house during renovation. (Thanks again, K & D!)  I could hear the buzz of activity outside this morning.  OK, so the buzz was really the sound of insulation being pumped into the house but there is quite a bit going on this morning.

In addition to the insulation, scaffolding is up in preparation for removing the old siding, putting in the new windows and putting on the stucco.  There are at least 8 workers on site and the foreman is on the run.  I love watching our money at work!

Now a little test... What is missing from the front of the house other than the old shutters? (Aren't those lovely dirt shutters being left behind?)  Not sure?  Take a look at an old shot to see ...

Watch while my wonderful father-in-law makes quick work of the removed items with his car and a chain.
  Apologies - I keep forgetting that I can't take videos in portrait mode - please tilt head to left. The nagging Canadian voice in the background is me ;)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sneak peeks

I was so excited when the walls came down between the addition space and the old house.  The feeling of space and openness we had been hoping for is becoming a reality.

Here is the before and after looking down the hallway from the front entrance:

Before - hallway with view to pantry and back door
After - no pantry and view to hole where French doors will go

Now before and after looking toward the front door:

Old front entrance with vestibule
view from former pantry spot- No more vestibule!

Another BIG change with the reno which is not visible in these pics is the elimination of the stucco ceilings.  The ceiling is getting either new drywall or a lovely smooth skim coat.

The real opening up of the house will be better illustrated when I will post some pics of the new spaces (family room, kitchen and master suite) next time!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Carpe Diem

My dad passed away 3 weeks ago.  I had to check a calendar to see that it really has been three weeks already. I want life to slow down so that I can wrap my head around it.  But life doesn't slow down.  It is either full speed ahead or it stops.

That was true for my dad.  When his cancer was diagnosed, he and my mom decided to squeeze all the living they could into the time he had left.  He saw family and friends, continued to travel the world and participated fully in community activities.  He went full speed ahead.  In the last week of his life, he spent Thursday in Ottawa having lunch with family, cashing in some wise investments, and taking his grandchildren to buy toys before watching my son's soccer game and having pizza dinner with us.  He also wanted to see the progress in the renovation.  I was concerned that he was overdoing it since he was in a great deal of pain and walking with a cane, but he knew he had to pack in as much living as possible into his remaining time.  That Sunday, on Father's Day, he finally was slowed down by cancer.  He could not get out of bed.  A day later, he died at home.

So, in honour of my dad, even though I feel like slowing down and taking time to just be sad, I keep moving ahead full speed.  I took time off from work, but I had to keep working - it was report time.  The reno didn't stop - we had decisions to make and the last of our stuff to move out.  (We have lived in three different places in the past three weeks.  Fortunately, we are now settled in the home of generous travelling neighbours for the next few weeks and it is very close to home.)  Our kids didn't stop being kids, wanting and needing things and desperately wanting life to return to normal for them.  Thank goodness.

I did stop blogging for a few weeks though because I knew that I would have to write this and I would cry - I warned you that there would be tears in this blog.  Before I get back to house blogging, I will leave you with some photos of my dad who lived life to the full right until the end.

Now I will stop crying and go carpe diem.

In the early days, with me and my brother in Halifax.

My parents, sharing a dance on their 40th wedding anniversary.

Memories of a Caribbean cruise.

Cocoa Beach - our annual Conrod family vacation.