May 2016

We’re in the fourth week of kitchen renovations, and I think it’s safe to say we’re in the home stretch. I think it’s also safe to say that the build phase was fraught with more peril than I expected. (Note, I wrote this a week ago – it’s been THAT kind of week!)

In our last update, we had torn out the entire original kitchen to the drywall and beyond. Over the course of the next week and a half, the kitchen was gradually rebuilt on the same footprint. First, walls and paint and the upper cabinet boxes:

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Then, new floors. Have I mentioned the new floors? We’re replacing cheap and boring ceramic tile with lovely warm wood-coloured tile that looks like knotty pine boards.

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Willie approves of the new cabinets.

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I have to admit to being fairly ambivalent about a lot of the choices we had to make. I knew we wanted light coloured cabinets, for example, and warm accent colours. I knew we were maintaining the same basic footprint. I loved the idea of an oversized farmhouse sink and butcher block counters, both of which were incorporated into the design. The one thing I coveted above all other things, though, were pot drawers. And now we have them – everywhere!

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Along the way, there have been a few mistakes, miscommunications and mis-steps. The wrong sink, for example, and the wrong drawer pulls ordered. Hidden drawers overlooked. I have to say, though, with each and every one of these things, whether the miscommunication was on our side or not, the construction and design team have immediately rectified or rebuilt or otherwise worked really hard to ensure that we had exactly the kitchen we wanted. I really can’t say enough nice things about Justin Linden and his team – they have been beyond awesome at every bend in the road.

When we got home from a few days out of town to find that the new microwave had been installed much higher than I had expected, I was worried about safety. The kids use the microwave regularly, and the idea of them reaching up over their heads to pull hot food out of it made my stomach clench up. All I had to do was mention it, and they pulled out the installed cupboard to insert one that fit the space better and brought the microwave down to a safer height.

I’m wretchedly behind in my bloggy updates, and truth be told, the kitchen is actually already done. Stay tuned and maybe I’ll get photos of the whole thing in the next couple of days. Spoiler alert: it’s AWESOME! I also have a post or two to write about things we learned about executing and surviving a kitchen remodel.

Bonus question: Anybody recognize the quote in the headline? It has absolutely nothing to do with kitchens, and there was no extraordinary technology involved in the renovation – but suddenly, out of the 1970s, that quote was in my head as I wrote this post.


Lucas and the dandelion bouquet

by DaniGirl on May 28, 2016 · 0 comments

in Lucas

Lucas and I are walking home from school on a brilliant, warm late spring afternoon that feels more like mid-summer. As we come up the hill to our house, I notice the elderly lady from down the street and think that in the nearly six years we’ve lived on the street, this is the first time I’ve ever seen her by herself.

She’s quite elderly, probably over eighty. I often see her walking carefully on her husband’s arm as they make their way patiently to the stop sign at the end of the street and back again. I watch her as we approach from behind, and she is slowly walking the length of our lawn, picking yellow dandelions. I feel a mild tremor of concern, seeing her by herself. I know she is frail, and I wonder where her husband is.

I don’t want to startle her as we come up behind her, so I speak softly as we approach. “Did you find any good ones?” I ask with a smile, nodding toward the straggly handful of dandelions she is holding.

“Oh, you probably think I’m crazy,” she replies with a sheepish shrug, and I can see that she’s older even than I expected, her blue eyes slightly red and rheumy.

“Of course not!” I assure her with a smile. “We pick dandelions all the time, right Luke?”

I cast a quick glance up the street, hoping to see her husband standing at the end of their driveway, but I don’t see him. She seems to be okay, though, and after a moment of pleasant small talk I’d just decided to turn up our driveway and leave her to make her way home when Lucas pipes up.

“Here you go!” he says with a smile, and my heart sings with pride. He’s handing her a big bouquet of quickly-picked dandelions from our yard. Tears come immediately to my eyes. My sweet, sweet baby boy. He holds the dandelions out unselfconsciously, and she takes them carefully, like the treasure they are.

dandelion seed head


Remember when you were a kid, how fun it was to hurl yourself down a hill and try to outrun your momentum?

Today’s lesson was “gravity always wins.”

Sand dune fun

Lucky for us, the day’s other lessons included “cousins are awesome” and “it’s finally summer” and “there’s nothing better than family, even when they’re howling with laughter as you face-plant in the sand.”


Nothing says summer like road trip, family, nine hour car ride, and then watching the sun set into the Great Lakes on a warm evening.

Barefoot on the beach

Hello, summer, how I have missed you!

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We have driven past this monument in the Half Moon Bay section of Barrhaven many times, and I’ve always been curious about it. Last night after swimming lessons, Lucas and I decided to head over to check it out up close.

There’s a placard that explains that what I thought might have been a starfish is actually a falling star, and the monument is one to whimsey and astronomy – two of my favourite things! So I told Lucas: “Go catch that falling star!”

Catch a falling star

Today’s lesson is that if you have the chance to chase a falling star with a lively eight-year-old at sunset on a pretty late spring evening, you should absolutely do it!

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We’ve arrived at the end of the first week of the great kitchen renovation project with sanity (barely) intact. In case you were wondering, it takes about a full week to adapt to the idea of not having a kitchen, and apparently longer to the idea of not having a sink, because I still catch myself moving toward where the sink used to be with the dregs of a can of soda or snack bowl to be rinsed or an apple to be washed.

We seem to be making good progress. We have passed through the destruction and discovery part of the remodel, which was definitely the most fraught with peril. We discovered several code violations in the wiring and a few outright fire hazards that added another chunk of change to the final bill for some electrical work, including no less than five (FIVE!) issues with the oven outlet alone. The previous owner’s habit of playing fast and loose with structural and electrical issues continues to haunt us six years after the fact, but at least the microwave hood fan will no longer vent to the gap between the walls (sigh) and we know that the household wiring is safer than it was before.

Here’s how we progressed each day of the renovation.

Day one was destruction and discovery day. Greasy stained drywall was removed, subfloor pulled up, mystery pipes were revealed, and electrical hazards became apparent.

Kitchen Day 1

Day two comprised more prep work, and the delivery of the bulk of the new cabinets and cupboards. Our dining room became a storage / staging area. Nerves frazzles and frayed.

Kitchen day 2

Day three was dedicated to electrical work. 15 amp wires that ran into 30 amp breakers were updated, dangling outlet boxes were secured, blatant code violations were remediated, and blessed routine was reclaimed from the chaos.

kitchen day 3

Day four brought fresh drywall and approved permits for the electrical, and a sea change from destruction to construction. Yay progress!

kitchen day 4

The one thing that the last week has illustrated is that we were insane to even consider taking on the kitchen renovation as a DIY project. There is no way we could have even identified, let alone dealt with, the issues that have come up so far. They weren’t devastating, and they were easily addressed by the contractors, but from tearing up the subfloor to the safety issues with the electrical, I have been grateful to have someone who knows what they are doing. Even if we did manage to install the cupboards and cabinets ourselves, it would have been putting lipstick on a pig because there were so many small but important structural issues that needed to be addressed so we could build upon a strong foundation.

I’m full of optimism for next week, which should bring subfloors and tile floors and fresh paint. I’m also relieved that the last of the major decisions has probably been nailed down, and I will no longer be frantically Googling various faucet models, ceiling fans and over-the-range microwave reviews. Trying to decide whether the drawer pulls need to harmonize with the sink fixtures may have been the nadir in decision-making “who really cares about this sort of thing?” hell, but we’ve made it through to the other side.

We’re managing meals with a mixture of takeout and sandwiches, and I bought more pre-packaged and processed foods in the grocery store today than I’ve probably bought in the last year. I honestly can’t remember the last time I bought packaged cookies, but hey, there were PC Points for Oreos today so I stocked up. An hour later, they’re already mostly gone, of course.

TL;DR? Week one was long and stressful, but could have been far worse. Having a team we trust doing the work has made all the difference in the world. And doing the dishes in the bathroom sink is far from ideal, but at least manageable. With the backdrop of the situation in Fort MacMurray playing out this weekend, I’m grateful to have my house intact and in one piece.

Stay tuned, the adventure continues on Monday!

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Kitchen remodel phase one: In which the schedule gets accelerated

2 May 2016 Happy @ home

We’d just paid the deposit and signed the contract on our kitchen renovation, with work scheduled to begin in late May, when the contractor sent me an email. “We’ve had an opening and our next client wants to delay construction until June. How do you feel about starting on Monday?” Um, Monday? Five days hence […]

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