6 Thing Thursday

1. I went to see my lovely Nana last Friday.

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She is looking so good and doing so well. She has an alarm attached to her bed now, which goes off if she gets up. It is because she’s had a few falls (but nothing major and she just keeps on truckin’), so the nurses want to know when she is out and about. She has a hard time hearing so the alarm doesn’t bother her, but it sure surprised me! She got our of bed and this crazy siren was sounding, and it is quite loud and alarming, so I was all “Nana! What is that?! What is happening?” and she said “Oh just hit the button, hit the button,” and continued puttering around like it was no big deal. I’m not sure if the alarm is to deter her from getting up, but if it is it’s not working.

She requested that I bring a couple things with me that she has been wanting. One of them was chips. Two large bags of plain salted chips. She said she can’t stop thinking about them. I understand.

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She was pretty happy to get those. I hope she is going to town on them right now. I’ve said it before, but I hope I am just like her when I am 100. Actually, if I ever make it to 100 and I’m in a nursing home my plan is to be in my room playing video games all day long. By that time video games should be on the same level as the Matrix, so that sounds like a pretty good time to me. I’ll use the call button to get the nurses to bring me sandwiches and change my diapers while I’m running around The Barrens (that would be a WoW reference…I used to play, and I still would if it wasn’t such a time/life suck).

2. I have been on a serious cider kick lately. It started in the spring when those Somersby ciders became all the rage. It was my drink of choice all summer and I still can’t get enough. Normally I stick to beer and wine, so cider feels like a natural progression. I can’t drink just cider all night, but I like to mix cider between beer to tingle my tastebuds. Since the spring I have been on a hunt for my favourite cider and I have tried them all, or so I thought… I was sent these samples this week from Molson:

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The Molson Canadian cider I have tried several times (and I like), but what is this MadJack?! Also can I just say how extremely excited I was to receive booze in the mail? I thought I might be getting a coupon to get beer, but when the box arrived and I opened it to find those I nearly lost my mind.

Anyway, MadJack.

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It is delicious, and apparently it’s available at The Beer Store. It’s different from Somersby and the other ciders I have been trying, it tastes more like a lager and it’s not as sweet. I loved it immediately. And check out these recipes for apple cake and apple cider vinaigrette using the ciders. The kitchen has been a mess so I haven’t tried them yet, but I certainly plan to. I know Evan wants to make me that vinaigrette.

3. One of my coworkers also happens to be co-owner of Oyster Boy on Queen West. I haven’t been to that restaurant (but I have heard really good things!) but I need to go immediately. She brought in oysters for us this week and OMG.

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Fresh from the East Coast!

I have never seen oysters look like that before and they were the BEST oysters I have ever had. Not that I have had a lot of oysters, but one of my other coworkers is a self-proclaimed oyster connoisseur and she agreed. They were so good.

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I could not stop eating them. I had at least 10 and I’m not exaggerating. I think oysters might be my new kick. Oysters and cider.

4. My mom shipped me all her Christmas baking from BC! Cookies and rum balls!

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I really need to learn how to make a good rum ball. They’re one of my faves.

And the dessert of my childhood:

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Peanut butter marshmallow squares!

I ate two of those immediately. It has been so long. I remember bringing them into my kindergarten class! That would never fly now, since peanut butter is the devil. Oh they’re so good. Thank you mom!!!

5. We had some room between the cabinet and the wall in the new kitchen, so Evan decided to make a wine rack. A custom wine rack, with a spot for my box of wine:

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Because, as I have said, it is very important to have a place for your box of wine. That Evan, I tell you. That is just such a thoughtful gesture. I will never go thirsty.

6. Speaking of the kitchen…guess what?! IT’S DONE!!!!!

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AHHH!!!

Well, as done as it’s going to be before Christmas. We will be staining all the pine beams/wood, but that won’t happen until after the holidays. Doesn’t it look amazing?! I can’t get over it!!! Evan and Brotherman did such a good job! It looks so great I almost forget what it looked like before… Full update to come. And if you need any reno’s done in your house you should probably hire Evan and Brotherman, just sayin’…

Christmas Came Early!

Hello and welcome to THE BUSIEST WEEK OF THE YEAR! In my opinion anyway. I always find this week to be the busiest every year. Trying to wrap up all the work things before the holidays, squeezing in the weeknight holiday parties (our condo’s Christmas party was last night and that was a hilarious evening filled with bad karaoke but good cheese), holiday baking, and trying to get your own house hostable for parties = busy times. And I don’t even have real responsibilities like children.

But Christmas really did come early this year. After the painting party on Saturday, Evan and I got ready and headed to my dad and Mona’s for our annual Christmas dinner. Just a week and a half early. My dad and Mona are going to Florida for the holidays so we decided to bump up our family celebration.

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It worked out well having it early. We also have Christmas dinners happening with Evan’s family on Christmas and Boxing Day, so I personally enjoy spreading out the turkey love. So do my pants. I have a bit of time to recover before round 2 and then round 3.

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My dad made us all drinks when we arrived. He had quite the Caesar bar going on.

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I love that vodka clamato deliciousness.

Ritson was in his festive gear…

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Santa wasn’t quite staying upright, but he looked like he was having a good ride.

And the kids made a fort in the mound of presents.

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I miss being a kid so much sometimes. And sometimes I feel like I would rather hang out with kids than adults.

The traditional order of activities at my family’s holiday gathering each year is drinks + catch-up – dinner – presents – dessert. Dinner was amazing.

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Yes, mashed potato volcano always.

And that was before I added a giant piece of ham that covered everything on my plate (and by the way Mona, Evan and I were talking afterwards how that might have been the best ham we’ve ever had). God I love Christmas dinner so much. I wonder if I would burn out on it if I ate it every day. I don’t know, but if I was on death row I’m pretty sure that’s what I would request as my last meal.

Mona is a big fan of me being safe while I am out at night, so last year she got me a sneaky siren that attached to my purse and I could pull if I was being harassed (never had to use it, touch wood). This year, she stepped it up:

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A megaphone. A real deal, loud megaphone, complete with a siren. Even better than that little one we were taking around with us in Boston. This may be the best gift I have ever received. I am very excited to try it out (I mean out somewhere, I have been trying it out at home on Evan and Winnie all week, they like it).

Speaking of Evan, he got some really fabulous gifts for the kitchen. His gifts were mostly related to cooking which is PERFECT for him and he genuinely loved them. But I thought it was funny that Evan gets all the kitchen gifts and I get fun things like megaphones. One of his awesome presents was this wonderful breakfast sandwich maker.

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I’m pretty sure everyone was jealous of it. We actually tried it out on Sunday morning…

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Perfect. It works better than expected. If you’re looking for a last minute gift for someone I recommend that thing for sure. Say goodbye to boring breakfasts!

But back to Christmas. Can you tell my dad’s favourite team?

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Is it the Maple Leafs?!

He’s pretty easy to buy for. I told him he needs to bust out that giant hand while he is watching the game alone in his basement. He loves his Habs.

My stepbrother’s girlfriend Leslie and I with our oranges…

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I do not know why…

And dessert:

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Evan’s grandma’s apple cake made by Evan, cupcakes made my Mona’s daughter, fudge made by Leslie, ice cream. All good things.

We had a such a great night. I am thankful that my dad and Mona are so welcoming to Evan, and I always really enjoy hanging with Mona’s family. Mona’s daughter’s husband (so my step brother in law I guess?) makes me laugh pretty hard with his straight-faced dry humour.

Sunday was Emily and Corey’s holiday open house, or the jingle and mingle. And here we have the best thing about the holidays:

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The food tables. Oh lord the food tables. Emily is notorious for her ridiculous food spreads, and I feel like she even stepped it up for the holidays. I planted myself in front of that table and went to town. And that picture was taken before the Oriental Party Pack from M&M’s made an appearance.

Emily and Corey’s doberman Ace was looking cute in his Christmas jammies…

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Onesies look good on everyone.

Evan did not come with me because that man is busy. Poor guy. I feel like the busiest bitch who ever busied this week, and he seems to have a million more things to do than I do. But after I got home from the party we headed out to the majestic forest, also known as the Ikea Christmas tree lot, to FINALLY get our Christmas tree!

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Finally! I feel like we are the last ones to get a tree! I really wanted to go out and cut our own as we did last year, but time was not on our side. The trees all looked the same at Ikea, but I feel like we picked a good one.

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And then we busted out the decorations and discovered that we were not very organized in putting them away last year…

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That was a bit of a tangled mess. Like iPhone headphones times a million. But we got it.

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All is well. And I finally feel ready for the holidays to happen.

Just a Little Painting Project…

Disclaimer: CIL compensated me for this post, but all opinions are my own. We were painting the kitchen anyway, so the timing really worked out!


We are seriously hurrying to get this kitchen renovation complete. We hit a couple of snags last week (everything always takes longer than you think it will, you know?), but we are pretty much done everything now except the back splash and the staining of the pine beams (the staining will likely happen after the holidays). The real deadline in my mind has always been this Saturday the 20th because we are hosting a holiday shindig in the condo and want to show off our snazzy new kitchen. We just want to be done for Christmas! I think we’ll make it.

One of the last things on the must-do list was painting. After all the cabinets, trim, beams, etc. were in we had three small spaces that needed to be painted. This wall:

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And above the counter to the bottom of the cabinet will be back splash.

This spot:

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Again, back splash will go to from the counter to the bottom of the cabinet.

And this teeny tiny crack between the wood beam and the cabinet:

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Not a lot of surface area to cover. So when CIL reached out to me asking if I would be interested in trying out their colour testers for a small painting project before the holidays, it literally could not have come at a more perfect time. That was EXACTLY what I was looking for.

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This little can may be small, but it covers a good amount.

All CIL colour testers are on sale at Home Depot for $3.97 until December 20th. One and a half of those testers was enough paint for two coats on all our areas, which is pretty impressive. This brings the total cost of paint for the kitchen to $8. Ridiculously inexpensive. I was surprised at how well the paint covered. CIL paint is Evan-approved also, which is important to note because he knows his stuff and is very picky with his paint. I don’t want to call anyone out, but there are several brands he straight up refuses to use.

On Saturday we were finally ready to paint. Evan is the painting savvy one in this relationship, so he patched and sanded the wall and got it all ready for me.

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Once the area was prepped, I taped up the wood and the counter tops/cabinets so we wouldn’t get paint on them.

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I don’t always paint, but when I do I wear lederhosen.

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I used the coloured masking tape I got for hula hooping on Steven and Chris. It came in handy!

Because we only have a few areas to paint, we wanted to pick a bright accent colour. I love turquoise, we already have a bunch of turquoise accents throughout the condo, and we were both in agreement that was the colour we wanted for the kitchen. We chose the colour Visa Marine.

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Looks like quite a marine vista. I love it.

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But if we end up not liking it, or want to change it down the road, it’s such a small area we can easily repaint.

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And it didn’t take me very long. Two coats on all three areas took a couple hours and I was actually sad it ended so quickly. I love painting and I wanted to keep going. Afterwards I was all “What else can we paint?!” I need to find other projects to use that paint on.

I am very, very happy with how it turned out.

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Remember the back splash will cover the area between the counter and the cabinet.

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I love the pop of colour. I can’t stop admiring the kitchen.

Full kitchen update to come at some point this week, ’cause Evan and Brotherman have done quite a lot. Just need some back splash in there and it will be ready for our Christmas party. But it is ready for Christmas selfies!

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If you have any small painting projects you hope to complete before the holidays make sure you swing by your local Home Depot before the 20th and pick up some CIL colour samples on the super cheap. Or if you are at the tail end of a complete kitchen re-do, either/or. Whatever you’re looking to paint CIL has you covered. And I can personally vouch that a little goes a long way.

Books Lately

I thought I would talk about books before I leave it for too long and I have 30 to recap. Well alright, maybe 6, but still, that’s a long post. So here’s four I have read lately.

City of Thieves by David Benioff

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Synopsis:

During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible.

By turns insightful and funny, thrilling and terrifying, City of Thieves is a gripping, cinematic World War II adventure and an intimate coming-of-age story with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men.

I read this by my pal Cely‘s recommendation, and oh my God. I wished it never ended. I can’t tell you how much I loved this book. I love most historical fiction from the WWII era, but this book will always hold a place in my heart. It is special. And I, like Cely, will never be able to put into words how amazing this book is, so I completely agree with her, just go and read the first review at this link, because that man says beautifully what I would never be able to. But if you don’t feel like clicking over, please just trust me that the book is amazing. Go read it.

Until We Meet Again by Michael Korenblit and Kathleen Janger

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Synopsis:

“Until We Meet Again” reads like a novel, yet tells the compelling true story of two families decimated by the Holocaust. In 1942 in a small town in Poland, 17-year-old Manya goes in hiding with her sweetheart, Meyer, also 17, and his family. For three long years, Manya and Meyer endure the loss of parents and siblings, separation from each other, and the horrors of concentration camps, including Auschwitz – but are helped at key points by courageous Polish Catholics and are constantly sustained by their faith and their love for each other. Co-authored by their son Michael, “Until We Meet Again” has been praised by historians for its vivid portrayal of the times, by teachers for its educational usefulness, and by all readers for its absorbing and inspiring narrative.

Another WWII era book (I’m on a bit of a kick), but this one is a true story. An absolutely incredible true story. I am fascinated by Holocaust literature and this book was no exception. If you’ve read other Holocaust non-fiction, you will probably not be shocked by Manya and Meyer’s experiences (crazy how reading about it will desensitize you from the horrors), but their story is unbelievable and I just cannot imagine living through it. I rated it 5 stars on Goodreads, which is rare for me and I probably wouldn’t have if it had been fiction, but well-deserved. The synopsis is right, it reads like a novel and it is insane that it’s true.

Me Before You by Jojo Meyes

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Synopsis:

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

I have been putting off reading any of Jojo Meyes’ books for a long time for some reason, but I finally picked this up on a recommendation from a coworker. I tend to judge books by their cover (I can’t help it!), and the cover of this looked a little romance novel-esque and fluffy to me. But the book really surprised me. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. It also gave me quite a different perspective on what it would be like to live as a quadriplegic. I really felt for Will, and I am not sure what I would want to do if I were in the same situation and I had the same…options. However, I am not sure I liked any of the characters until at least midway through the book, if ever. Louisa’s attitude bothered me a lot in the beginning, and her parents and sister relying on her to support them all bothered me as well. And Patrick, Louisa’s boyfriend was…how do they say in Kiwi-land? An arse. He was an arse. I didn’t love everything about the book, but the writing was good and the moral of the story was in the right place, so I’d recommend. I also think it’s just a matter of time before people start writing their own fan fiction on it. Somehow it seems to have attracted a few salivating fan girls.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

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Synopsis:

In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book is full of words to live by.

Right away I will tell you this:

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I love Amy Poehler and I think she is hilarious, and this book made me love her even more and want to track her down and force her to be my friend. That said, the book was not what I was expecting. So in order for me to enjoy the book, I learned quickly that I needed to change my expectations of it. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, one big SNL skit? I definitely expected LOLz, and they just weren’t happening. I also had a tricky time getting into the book because she tended to jump around a lot.

But I liked it. There were many passages that made me seriously relate to her. Like the story about her getting trapped in the handcuffs with her friend and purposely losing the key because it would be funny to see what happened. That is absolutely something that kid-me would have done. My life was also fairly drama-free (as in, not exciting) so I would create drama. Like kid drama. Like sticking a pin in my waterbed when I was 8 (what was I doing with a waterbed? My parents didn’t want theirs anymore so I inherited it) to see “what would happen” (I’ll tell you what happens for free: your luxurious waterbed will leak and you will not be able to patch it, so you will be forced to get rid of it and that will make you sad). I did many stupid things to get a reaction out of people (I still do). I understood that doing silly things would get people to laugh at me, and I liked that. I really related to Amy when she was writing about this. And don’t even get me started on babysitter snooping (right Melissa?!).

I would also like you to know that Amy Poehler stole my joke. When she writes in the book about the first time she smelled pot and she says she thought it smelled like her dad’s car? Yeah, that’s my joke. The first time I smelled pot I thought “hey, this smells like my dad’s shed!” I have been telling my friends this for years. That line was going to be in my book one day! What am I supposed to say now? Everyone will think I stole that joke.

So anyway, while not the hilarious novel I was anticipating, it was interesting to get a glimpse into Amy’s mind and kind of see where she came from. She also gave some great advice/words to live by, like the wise old owl of the forest she is. It actually really inspired me to just hurry up and finish already my own book that I have been working on for 10+ years (I’m thinking the thing but not doing the thing).

I will love you forever, Amy. And I forgive you for stealing my joke.

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That gif is mesmerizing.

I am currently reading Meaty by Samantha Irby who writes the blog Bitches Gotta Eat, and it is absolutely slaying me so far. She is hilarious. Her book might even be funnier than her blog.

And next on my to-read list is All The Light You Cannot See, because I hear it’s the best book I’ll ever read, and you know what happens when you read the best book you’re ever going to read? You can’t go back and read it again for the first time. So I am savouring it. I am putting it off until I am ready to have that impact me. The holidays are coming, THERE WILL BE READING!

New (Old) Floor & Dawnald’s Birthday Celebration

On Saturday we spent the day re-installing the laminate floor. Well, Evan spent the morning doing the floor, and I spent the morning Christmas shopping, grocery grabbing, and picking up the new over-the-range microwave for the kitchen (Black Friday Sears online special!). By the time I got home things were looking pretty promising floor-wise.

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I say REinstalling the laminate because this is the same laminate that was already installed in this same space. Evan and Brotherman had removed it to extend the kitchen tile and add the new area around the front door, and also because some of the pieces were damaged. Evan had extra of the laminate saved, so he replaced the damaged pieces with the new ones.

Winnie and I were installation helpers.

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Winnie is pretty useless, and tends to get in the way more than anything else, but she does really enjoy being part of the action.

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In addition to following Winnie around and taking pictures, I actually did help. And I am pretty sure Evan really enjoyed my help. He mainly did the cuts and the tricky areas, and I laid the underlay and helped click that laminate into place. We were a good team and we were able to finish the floor at 5:55pm, which was perfect because you can’t make noise on a Saturday in a condo building after 6pm. And the saw be noisy (even though we have it set up on the balcony).

The floor is back!

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Finished except for that tricky area on the left near the sunken living room part, as the natural floor seems to slant downwards there and Evan needs to build it up with concrete…

I didn’t realize how nice it was to have a floor until we didn’t have one. I can walk around in my bare feet again!

Not too bad at all for repurposed laminate.

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Evan had to be very accurate with those cuts that nudge up against the edging of the tile… I was impressed with his handiwork in this corner (and all over, really). Everything is perfectly aligned.

After the laminate party, we showered and got ready and headed to my friend Dawn’s to celebrate her birthday.

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Birthday Girl!

Evan and I had a late lunch of grocery store frozen pizza and sushi and did not eat dinner, so I stalked the substantial food area…

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I brought these cheese ball, but it was store bought so I take no credit.

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Plus unpictured fruit and veggies and dip. Dawn’s fabulous dip creamy cheese dip in the phallic pan wins the night once again.

Dawn got some great gift bags…

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Batman is my fave.

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Emily classed it up with her mini bottles of sparkling wine…

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And we all had a good ol’ time.

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If you are wondering what we are holding, that is a ring toss game.

There was cake!

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Which Dawn somehow ended up fisting…

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I just remembered that I meant to faceplant into the cake when we got home from the bar, but I completely forgot. This makes me sad now. Oh well. There will be more cake another time.

And we took festive photos by the Christmas tree with all our ladies.

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As we do every year! And as is tradition, we let Joel in the girls’ pic.

This might be a new tradition though:

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Romantic gift giving under the tree.

We ended up at the Tartan, because where else, and it was busy like the Tartan of yesteryear. We actually had to wait in line to get into the back room for the first time in…well, at least three years for me. It was a good time, but it made me feel a bit old. And the entire night reminded me that I cannot drink that much anymore. My body does not like it. So Sunday mostly looked like this:

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We had big plans to be productive but…oh well.

Also, Winnie has it good here and don’t let her tell you otherwise.

The Kitchen Reno So Far

I took a bit of an impromptu blog break last week. I came down with a cold on Wednesday evening and just wasn’t feeling like doing much. But I am back! And as promised, here is an update on kitchen progress thus far. Please note we still have the cosmetic things to do, but right now the kitchen is functional again.

A couple things: I am not Young House Love. I don’t know how to write a blog about renovating. Also, most of my photos are dark and/or crappy.

This is the first true renovation I have ever really been through. Painting is pretty much the extent of my experience prior to this. I mean, I used to hang all my pictures with thumbtacks. So completely gutting a room and redoing it is very new to me. Especially a kitchen with all of the plumbing, appliances, cabinets, counters, tiles, etc. It was an invasive process. It was not like redoing our bedroom.

One thing I noticed about myself was that I couldn’t stop asking questions. I would get home from work and be like “This looks great!!!! …but what’s happening here? Is this going to look like this? Why is this here?” Even though I KNEW it wasn’t complete yet. It was like my boss asking to see the rough draft of my marketing plan or something before I was finished it. Like “DRAFT! THIS IS A DRAFT! Please don’t judge!” And I have seen Evan and Brotherman’s work so I know it’s good. But because of this I can see them getting harassed by homeowners walking into the middle of a reno.

Anyway, here are some kitchen before pictures to freshen your memory:

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Probably should have taken the recycling out first… This is probably the messiest our kitchen has ever been actually, and I promise I’m not exaggerating.

They’re not the best. I took them really quickly before I left for work one day because I had a feeling that Evan and Brotherman might forget to take before pictures (when they redid our master bathroom they forgot to take before pictures and it looked sooo horrible before, so I’m sad to not have those to compare the redone bathroom to). They did forget the before pictures. So it’s a good thing we have these.

Anyway, the kitchen was ugly. It’s fine, you can say it. We’re well aware. The chevron wallpaper, the gross linoleum (which always looked dirty no matter how much you scrubbed it), the mismatched cupboards (because they had started to replace them, so a few were updated), the unfinished wall behind the counters and sink…the list goes on. Not a dream kitchen.

The kitchen was originally your standard narrow condo/apartment kitchen. Nearly every apartment I have been in has this same, small kitchen. A few years ago the boys knocked down the wall that separated the kitchen from the rest of the condo. I never saw the condo with the wall still intact, but I have seen the kitchen’s of other people who live in our building and I am going to say it was a very good move on their part. I love open concept, and there is so much more space with the wall gone.

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Ignore the state-of-the-art telephone, it is to buzz people in only :)

Those wires/pipes is where the wall used to be. Those need to stay there, and there is also exposed concrete and other weird things across the ceiling where the wall used to be, so to fix this the guys made their own beams out of knotty pine.

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They measured and cut the wood to fit, and then they enclosed all the wires/weird things with it. They also added it to the edge of the wall behind them in the above photo, and the half wall beside the fridge, in this photo:

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They secured the beams with wood glue and staples, and clamped it to keep it in place while it set.

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They also added the beam along the top.

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And will add another along the top of the cabinets. Eventually we will stain all the wood.

After the beams, we removed the wallpaper. Ugh, is all I really have to say about that.

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The wallpaper smelled like old musty cellar when it was coming off. And it was so messy.

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This is when I started to understand the attention to detail that is required in renovating. When I was removing the wallpaper I would think I was done, but then Evan would point out that there was still glue on the wall so I’d have to go over it again.

Can you see the vision?

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Next we got to demo-ing. I got to do the first hits, which was very exciting.

We be demoin'

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I felt like such a beast ripping off that cabinet door!

Evan and Brotherman pulled out the rest of the cabinets while I was at work. They also built out the corner wall so it would be flush with the new cabinets that were going beside the fridge. They did this purely to make the cabinets look custom and built-in.

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Once everything was out of the kitchen, it was floor time.

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Evan has had this natural stone tile for a long time. He has been saving it just for this.

He found a pattern he liked online, and then just added to it and made it work with the tile sizes we had.

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I love it. The stone looks awesome.

He added a metal edging around the stone, where it will meet the laminate when we put it back in, and he also extended the stone to build a little foyer area around our front door (he told me to mention that for this kind of tile it was important that he “back-butter” the stone – ie: apply the adhesive to the back of the tile as well as the floor).

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I love that he added the area around the door, it looks so good! We ran into a bit of a snag with the grout – the colour was not added in the store somehow, and it was plain white between the tiles instead of a colour that would match the stone. Luckily the guys only grouted a small section that would be under the cabinets and appliances before they noticed. I didn’t realize grout colour was important until this happened, but they really were looking for a colour that would match the stone since the stone itself is porous and has nicks, holes, etc. that need to be grouted as well. So when it was the wrong colour it was REALLY noticeable.

I need to just take a moment to again mention how messy renovations are.

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It was chaos in here until this past Sunday. Just such a mess. I told Evan that the main reason I would not want to be a contractor is because of the cleanup. The cleanup though, this is Evan’s thing. Evan and Brotherman did some work for my Dad and Mona, and Mona was telling me that she has never come across contractors more clean than them. She said when they were done everything was pristine and they even vacuumed. This does not surprise me of course, Even is a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to cleaning.

After spending about a day fixing some plumbing issues, the guys were ready to install the cabinets (these ones from Home Depot).

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(You can kinda see the wrong colour of grout under the cabinets there – we fixed this later with the new grout)

And the “custom” cabinets surrounding the fridge.

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Eric on the fridge, continues to judge.

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You should always make sure you have a spot for your box of wine. This is very important.

By the way, we did not bother painting the wall behind the cabinets or the appliances. No one is ever going to see it so it’s all good. Once the cabinets were in, it was time for the countertop. We chose this silver travertine laminate from Lowe’s:

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We liked this particular one because it had a straight edge, not your typical laminate countertop with a rounded edge. Again, no granite here because it would not be worth it in the condo. As long as it looks nice, all good. I definitely checked out a bunch of silver travertine kitchens on pinterest for inspiration.

With the cabinets and the appliances and the countertops all in, you can see it really coming along!

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We will have a custom shelf above the fridge – but not the one that is there now, that is actually one of the old cabinets and doesn’t quite match. I know it looks good there, but it will look even better with one made for it.

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And I already mentioned this, but last Sunday we finally grouted the floor.

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You take your trowel and you get that grout into every little crevasse and corner, between the tile and on the tile, because it is natural stone and has tons of little crevasses. And then you wash it. And wash it and wash it and wash it. So much washing. Until there is no “film” left on the tile.

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Grouted tile. It still was not the colour we were hoping it would be, but close enough.

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Can you imagine if there was still a wall where that beam is? How narrow of a space would that be…

 

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And then the sink, which was a bit of a headache. But Evan cut into the counter with a jigsaw, with a special laminate blade so it doesn’t damage the surface (masking tape as well for that)…

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And then he plopped the sink in and set it all up (that was the headache part, but he got ‘er done).

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It’s beautiful!!!

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And one last pic of countertop with floors.

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The lighting is terrible here, so that’s pretty washed out, but you get the idea. I will get some good daylight pics eventually. I feel like I am never home in the daylight anymore.

So that is the progress so far! The boys had another job they needed to do last week, but are really hoping to finish the rest this week (still need backsplash, paint, cabinet knobs, bunch of other finishing touches).

I am super impressed they were able to accomplish all they did in a week. I was reading an article the other day about kitchens taking months and thousands of dollars to complete. We were lucky that Evan and Brotherman can do all the labour and installation themselves, including the basic plumbing that was required. And we have an electrician friend (hi Dustin!) that we paid in beer and the promise of Evan’s tiling services in the future.

I am very, very excited for it to be complete.