Tuesday, August 30, 2011

On the Farm

Tonight will be our 3rd sleep in the new house. It's still pretty surreal that this place is ours.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of moving day activities, Uncle Doug took the kids on a blackberry-picking expedition. There are enough blackberry bushes bordering our property to keep us picking for h-o-u-r-s. So, if anyone's looking for a good place to pick...

We've also made other great discoveries on the yard. There are several fruit trees - a few apple trees, a pear tree, a yellow plum and a purple plum tree. The plums are in full production right now and are dee-licious :)

Now, onto the house...
The living space leaves a lot to be desired, but it's totally functional for our family right now. Right now there are boxes everywhere and I feel like I'm making very slow progress. Erik's been busy doing outdoor jobs and helping renovate the downstairs suite, so the unpacking and childcare has been mostly up to me.

So, here's the first glimpse of the living space for Erik & I and the kids, which is in the upstairs of the house.

The living room is actually quite spacious even if the paint colours are not quite my style (the walls are either icy blue or dark navy). The only improvement I've made is tearing down the window treatment since I took this picture.
Oh and cleaning up some of the toys :)

This is the back wall of the living room. The brick has been painted in the same lovely shade of ice blue. The fireplace is no longer functioning so somebody decided to custom build and paint that little floral insert...

She's a beauty.

This is our sunroom - a.k.a the dining room, since our table will not fit anywhere else in the house. Right now it looks like this - until Erik can find the screws that fit the table legs onto the table top... These window treatments have since been removed. I wasn't really digging the plaid and floral country motif.

This wall of cabinets banks one whole side of the sunroom. Not pretty by any means, but jeepers - are they ever practical! I've already hidden tons of stuff in there, and there's still plenty of room to spare.

In between the living room and the sunroom is the kitchen.
Yes, there is a fireplace in the kitchen.
And there is also a whole lotta brick.

I took this picture yesterday morning...

And this one yesterday evening. Did I make any progress? A little. The window treatment is gone and I think there are a few less boxes on the floor...

The kitchen's biggest downfall, in my opinion? The lack of a dishwasher. This is the first time in my 10 years of married life that I have been without one. After the amount of dishes I've been doing already in the last few days, I'm not sure I'll last too much longer without one...

Now if you were standing in my kitchen as above and did a 360, this is what you would see on the other side. To the left is the door to the sunroom, to the right is the hallway to the living room. This area was used by the previous owners for their kitchen table, but since that won't really work for us, it'll probably be the home office (a.k.a "random space to put random things").

Now, because we only have two bedrooms in the upstairs for our family of five, we decided to give the kids the master bedroom. It's a large room and it will have to double as their play space since we don't have a lot of room in this house.

I was getting tired of waiting around for Erik to help me move some heavy things, so I took it upon myself to get this area rug in here. Believe me, that thing was stinkin' heavy.
And awkward.
But, wow does it ever make it more cozy... Erik still needs to set up the kids loft beds which I hope will help with the toy storage issue in this room. I'm thinking I need LOTS of shelves.

And this is the mess I'm dealing with by the kid's closet. It's a bit overwhelming - mostly because I just don't know where to put this stuff.
Yes. Shelves are a must.

And here is our one and only upstairs bathroom. The kids were super pumped about the palm tree toilet seat cover. And the previous owners were kind enough to leave the matching shower curtain too...

Yeah. The curtain had to go.
This one from Superstore is a big improvement. The toilet seat will have to stay as-is until we put in a new toilet.

And here is the smallest room in the house - our "master" bedroom. We tried to fit our HUGE Hemnes dresser from IKEA in here and the only way it would work was to have it at the end of our bed - like one gi-normous foot board. The idea wasn't all that bad, but it was just a little weird and awkward. (This picture was taken post-dresser move).

In the end I decided to give the kids the big dresser (after all, they needed one) and create a bit more space in our room - especially since we needed a bit of room for Silas' playpen (he'll be sleeping in here until I'm brave enough to try to put him in the kids room).

And we settled for one of Mom & Dad Toews' extra dressers, which is small but pretty. The bedroom has turned out to be my favourite room in the house so far.
Probably because I don't feel the stress and panic of mountains of boxes when I'm in there.

The consensus between the 4 of us owners is that building a new house on the property might be our best option - though not in the immediate future. So, in the meantime we'll do very minimal improvements. I may decide to paint a few of the walls (namely the navy blue and the deep red) but we'll have to wait and see.
Some more extensive work had to be done in the bottom floor to make it workable for Erik's parents. I'll have to share the befores and afters of that space another time.

Really, it's the outdoor space that is irreplaceable. I don't think it's really sunk in for any of us just what we have here!

So, I hope you enjoyed your first tour of the farm. Stay tuned for many related posts to come! And now that I'm reaching the end of this post, exhaustion has hit in full-force... My ability to write anything coherent is quickly diminishing... So, since I cannot bear to keep my eyes open for 1 more minute, I'm off to enjoy a little down-duvet and memory-foam action...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


The new kitten has been a great source of entertainment over the past week. Taking away "kitty time" proves to be an effective punishment (especially for Keziah).

But I do have to monitor the handling, especially for Silas who thinks it's hilarious to hear Moses meow while he repeatedly pulls his tail.

But I'm pretty sure Moses is a glutton for punishment...

Or just really forgiving...

He's been put to sleep in doll beds and zipped up in princess snack bags...
And he takes it all in stride.

And when it comes to "cat"-napping, he really is the best snuggler around.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cabin Makeover

My summer may have been filled with trips to the lake, fireside suppers, backyard sun-tanning and cousin supervision, but Erik's summer?
It looked pretty different.

6 days a week he drove about 40 minutes (one way) to and from my parents' cabin at Lake Metigoshe where he worked long days on completing the cabin renovations.

Last year was the year of surprises. The renovation plan started off with a "let's-just-take-this-one-wall-down-and-open-up-the-living-space" kind of idea... But anyone who watches a little HGTV knows how those stories often turn out. Erik felt a lot like Mike Holmes as he lamented the bad, bad skills of the person who built the cabin in the first place.

So by this year, the surprises had all been uncovered and mostly corrected, and the main floor was totally renovated. So, it was time to focus on the upstairs (bedrooms/bathroom) of the cabin as well as replace the roof.

(I included these roof pictures mostly for Erik's benefit, since to me, a roof is a roof...)

But it is noteworthy to mention that this little room was an addition. Thankfully it worked out for one of Erik's employees to come out and work with him for 3 weeks. He was super helpful with this whole part of the reno:

Here's another view. The addition is a utility room that holds the water tank, laundry facilities and a bunch of other boring (but necessary) stuff.
New siding for the cabin was one of the things that didn't get completed this summer. It'll be nice to see how it looks when it's all finished on the outside.

We're bruised already from kicking ourselves for not taking just a few pictures of the inside of the cabin before the big demo started last year. But you know how it is when you're anxious to get going with a project...
Lesson learned for next time.

So I scoured my computer for any pre-demo-phase pics. The pickings were pretty slim but here are a couple...

Note the pre-reno ceiling and lack of window casings...

And if you can look past cute 2-year-old Keziah and her marshmallow, you can see the old lino and carpet on the floor...

Yeah, those pictures don't really help too much.
So, let me paint you a mental picture:
70's style everything, various carpets in shades of green and brown throughout, 2 separate and small living spaces on the main floor (the inner one being really dark and mostly occupied by an old, non-functioning hot tub), a narrow and crooked staircase that made you feel a little like you were in some mysterious anti-gravity house whenever you climbed up and down, small wooden windows (some of which didn't even open, I don't think), a very outdated bathroom with camper-style toilet...
The list could go on but I hope you can visualize it in your mind. Just a little bit.

We did start taking lots of pictures in the demo stages, so here are some before and afters:

Kitchen before:
Note the old cabinets and small window. The studs you see left standing are what's left of the wall that separated this living space from the darker, hot-tub room. In the back right was where the staircase was.

Larger window, wood ceiling with pot-lights, IKEA cabinets, laminate floors...

And an open floor plan creating one larger kitchen/living space.
(Now to convince Mom and Dad to put some new furniture in there!)

Here is a before shot looking from the dark hot tub room towards the front living room/kitchen.

The hot tub room was raised up slightly and so we spent hours digging countless wheelbarrow-fuls of dirt out. I can say "we" because I actually helped. It was pretty intense.
Then Erik had to pull out these old wooden floor beams:

Floors are nicely levelled and unified with only a couple of posts breaking up the large area.

A closer look at Erik's handiwork with the posts and beams.

Looking up where the narrow stairs used to be before:


Staircase looking down before:


As for the upstairs, Erik turned 3 teeny tiny bedrooms into 2 more spacious ones. Late in the game, the decision was made that Erik would skip the drywall mudding/taping phase so he could focus on what he's really good at, which is the finish carpentry. So, you'll have to visualize all of these walls after they're painted...

The new master bedroom has 4 nice big windows and overlooks the lake:

It's a pretty nice view from up there.

The beam detail that Erik created for the upstairs. A ceiling fan will replace the dangling light bulb.

Some quality peel & stick tiles went in the hallway and bathroom.

Erik sprayed the doors to match the trim.


And this was Erik after his final day of work, exhausted and glad to be packing it in for the final time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Home (& a new friend)

This was us leaving my parents' farm early Wednesday morning:
Micah looks like he's already anticipating the way he'll feel after 25+ hours in the van...

After stopping in Saskatchewan to visit relatives, we had a quick 2 night-stay in Edmonton so we could enjoy the mall. A few rides in Galaxy Land, some time in the waterpark, a little shopping and then we were off again, and looking forward to being back in beautiful British Columbia.

I didn't take many pictures on the trip home - other than these few while we stopped at Mount Robson. Erik took a quick catnap in the van while the kids played...

Pyjamas make great traveling clothes.

The last stretch from Hope to Abbotsford is always the worst.
Correction - I think the last stretch of any drive is the worst. And inevitably, for our family, there is always at least one child who has a meltdown during that entire hour.
After almost 15 hours straight of driving? We expected it.
We waited for it.
But... it never came.
The kids - especially Silas - amazed us.

I think we're raising some hard-core road-trippers.

We pulled into Toews headquarters on Saturday evening, happy to be "home" - even though we'll be living out of suitcases and boxes for a couple more weeks until the big move into our new place.

And once we were home, it was time to fulfill a promise we made to the kids....

Meet Moses.

The kitten belongs to everyone, but we knew that Keziah would pretty much take over all pet-sitting responsibilities, including deciding when he shall eat, sleep, play and poop. I call her my "smother mother".

Poor Moses is being a really good sport.

He let her tuck him in this afternoon and stayed there for a long catnap.

And I knew the kitten was a keeper when I watched him sit still while Keziah brushed his fur with a barbie comb.

Welcome to the family little Moses.