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#12 On My To-Do List

30 Jul
Image from: Apartment Therapy

I actually don’t have a physical to-do list. It lives in my head, which probably lends to my overwhelmed anxiety a lot of the time, feeling like there is so much I need to get done in the limited time that I have. And maybe the reason I feel like there’s so much on my mental to-do list is because each item is just floating in my head with no order to it. Something that’s been kicking around since before we bought our house, and which I think of all the time, is the tufted headboard I want to make for our bed. Totally inspired by boutique hotel décor. The look is simple and modern, and by all accounts, so simple to DIY.

I was reminded again of this project I want to start by this blog I’ve been following, Young House Love. This week, they wrote about another reader who’d made her own upholstered headboard. A while back, they’d even written a tutorial on how to upholster your own headboard. In fact, you can find how-tos all over the place, like here, here, and here.  I still haven’t found the time to do this myself. And at times like this, I really wonder why. It would take no more than a single weekend to do this, I think, including the sourcing of all materials and tools.

I swear, I swear, that this will be something that will be done by the end of this year. I work in the heart of the art and design district here, and there are many textile shops right at my doorstep that I’ve been meaning to visit for sourcing. I know that half the battle is picking the material, me being the most indecisive person you may ever meet. Once that’s accomplished, I’ll be able to kick off this project with more confidence.

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Summer Daze

24 Jun

The last couple of weeks seem to have passed in a bit of a whirlwind, which is a huge shame because summer will be over before I know it! Here are some random notes on what has been taking up my time in the last little while:

I had another race on Saturday, which was supposed to be a whole weekend thing. I unfortunately, could not make it for Sunday, which is too bad because that’s of course when the finals are scheduled. My team ended up winning both Division Finals that we raced in that day.

Father’s Day dinner was a BBQ at my parents house on Saturday evening. Only 1 of my 2 brothers could make it with his girlfriend, and we spent the day and evening grilling dinner for the family. The day turned out to be quite a scorcher, and so it was quite nice to relax and sit by the pool.

We took a short road trip to Buffalo, NY on Sunday evening. The BF and I ordered new running shoes online, and had them shipped to a family friend of his. It was definitely cheaper to do it this way, as my shoes alone cost over 100% more to buy on this side of the border. We hung out for a bit with their kids, a 14-year old girl who had just finished her freshman year of high school, and her 10-year old brother who is an avid video gamer and bookworm. The girl also had a visitor, her BFF whom she hadn’t seen since April and it ended up being really fun because it reminded me what it was like to be a teenager. It was non-stop giggling and laughing and teasing, and her friend speaking to me with wide eyes and being extra super polite to me, and I just realized now that it’s because I’m an adult in her eyes. The little boy, who on paper would appear to be a raging little geek who will never go on a date in his life, was actually super cool and so fun to talk to. He has an intelligent young sarcastic wit, that made me forget that he was so young if it weren’t for his little size.

My fixation on finding a hydrangea for our  front flower bed was fulfilled when I discovered a huge abundance of white hydrangeas in my parents’ backyard. I’m not so sure that the transplant was successful – my dad dug some up for me and which we planted, but it was appearing quite lifeless and sad yesterday. The BF clipped the all the wilted branches and leaves off and we will wait and see if he was successful in resuscitating it. I’m also quite pleased with the way my front flower bed is looking now. A couple of Sundays ago, we bought and planted a bunch of annuals. I was a little worried at first, as they flowers were looking a little shabby, and not in a chic way. Now that a few weeks have passed and they’ve fattened up a little bit, with some new blooms growing daily, I find myself admiring our modest little garden every day.

The fence for the G20 summit this weekend in Toronto has nearly all been constructed and has turned our city into a fortress. Walking to work has made me feel like I’m in the middle of an episode of Prison Break. Thankfully, my company has decided to have us all work remotely for the rest of the week, as we all suspect that incidents may only escalate in these 2 days leading up to the summit. While I’ll still be working, doing it from home makes many things more convenient for me and I’ll be able to tackle some of the nagging home-related tasks that have been bugging me for quite some time now. Most importantly, I was able to schedule an evening appointment to finally get my hair cut tonight. I’m not exactly proud of my current hockey-hair coif and I can’t wait to get rid of it.

Had another nasty mosquito bite incident last week, though not nearly as bad as the one that sent me to the emergency room last June. I looked it up and it appears that I may have something that has been termed “Skeeter Syndrome” that causes the bite location to get really itchy and then swell really badly. Last week, a mosquito bit my the front of my left ankle, and my right second toe. I therefore ended up with a massive left cankle, and a cocktail weiner on my right foot. Thankfully, it didn’t turn into an infection as it had last year. I’ve been trying to find out ways to make myself less delicious to mosquitoes, without the standard tried-and-true spraying myself with massive amounts of DEET. I am also trying to discover why there are certain types people in the world who are more attractive to mosquitoes over other people, and who they are. I am like a citronella candle for The BF. If he takes me anywhere outdoors, he will escape getting bitten by mosquitoes because they love to ravage me.

And this weekend I will be camping with The BF and his team of extreme mates while they participate in their annual 24-hour mountain biking race. My reasons for being there have diminished, seeing as we’re no longer responsible for feeding the whole team and as well because my 2 favorite drinking buddies will not be joining us this time. Drinking Buddy #1 is pregnant, and Drinking Buddy #2 is keeping busy with her 2-month old baby girl at home. I suppose I’ll be holding up the fort, being my own drinking buddy, and supporting the team as best I can. Plus, it’ll be nice to be away from home and to not feel bad about not really doing anything but getting hammered in the sun.

And that’s all the unexcitement that’s been happening in my life lately. Cheers!

Ruff Times Ahead?

16 Jun

Image from: weheartit.com

When we visited The BF’s cousins in New Jersey a few years ago, we also met their Shih Tzu. He was the cutest dog I’d ever encountered, with tons of energy and a huge, unconditional affection for his owners and he was just so eager to please everyone. Whenever anyone would enter the apartment, no matter who it was, he would immediately stop what he was doing and run exactly 2 laps around the perimeter of the living room. Every time. Once completed the laps, he would come to your feet and properly greet you by eagerly pawing at your legs. Who wouldn’t love to be greeted so enthusiastically every time you came home?

We’ve been toying with the idea of getting a dog of our own for a few years now. Even though we have our own house now, things have gotten a little bit harder. The BF no longer works from home, and we are both gone at work for extended hours 4 days a week. We know that it would be unfair to the puppy to leave him at home for that long. It goes without saying that a dog is a living being that depends wholly on his owner to feed him, clean him, provide the necessities to survive, as well as the attention and affection needed to keep him happy and comfortable and well taken care of.

I see it with one of my co-workers and how her life is affected by being a single mom to 2 puppies. She’s up at the crack of dawn every day no matter how she feels or how late she might’ve gone to bed the night before to take her dogs out. She spends hundreds of dollars each week on a dog walking service. Even if we are swamped, she has to drop what she is doing every day to leave no later than 5:30 so that she can dash home to let them out on those days that her dog walker hasn’t visited. Fortunately, when she is planning on going on vacation or even away for a weekend, she has a lot of support and options for the care of her puppies. The most unfortunate thing is that her older one has been suffering from a lot of health problems since he was a puppy. He was very ill for a few days with a virus last year, and after a number of tests, the doctors were unable to determine what was wrong with him and consequently, didn’t know how to make him better. He eventually got better on his own at home, and has been quite healthy since. He’s also had 2 surgeries on his hind knees. He’s just a couple of years old, and she has already spent tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills for him. Luckily, she had the foresight to purchase pet insurance, which has covered the majority of these bills. I see how hard it is on her, being by herself and with 2 puppies, and she says it all the time. However, no matter how tough she says it is when it gets really trying, more often than not she talks about how awesome they each are and how she wouldn’t give them up for anything.

When you choose to become a dog owner you introduce a different set of priorities into your life and they become your most important ones. Spontaneity becomes a thing of the past. Your expenses increase. Your time can’t be considered your own. Many things to consider before we really get serious about dog ownership. It’s an enormous responsibility and a forever commitment. We’ve had lots of talks about what it would be like to have a puppy in our life and what support we could draw on to make sure the puppy is properly taken care of. Without question, our life would change drastically, though despite the adjustments we’d have to make, it would be really fun to have a dog in our life. We would have the privilege of its loyal companionship and seeing its happy face greeting us every time we walk through the door. Camping and our other outdoor activities will have an extra layer of enjoyment with a dog accompanying us. And, we’ll have a good reason to finally get out and explore our neighborhood and the nearby parks with our new friend.

I think that we will be starting to visit breeders next month and taking more steps towards the big plunge!

Notes from a Weekend of Improving and Eating

29 Mar

1. I made butter chicken from a recipe that Ai was kind enough to pass on to us from Canadian Family magazine, and it turned out to be really good and it completely met with The BF’s approval. It was a no-fuss, no-frills way to fake butter chicken without all the dairy and the best of all, without the huge complicated process of preparing the chicken.

2. We saw Alice in Wonderland in 3D. I’m totally inspired by Johnny Depp’s makeup in the movie and one day soon I will open up my kit and transform The BF into the Mad Hatter. You know, for fun.

3. We went for our first swimming class on Sunday morning. Not that we need to learn how to swim, but I signed up so that I could learn how to make my stroke more efficient, and as well to increase my endurance. I also need to work on my breathing. When I learned to swim as a child, I had never made the connection back then as to why we were taught to blow bubbles under water. Up until a few years ago, I would hold my breath while my face was in the water during the front crawl. Turning to breathe every few strokes meant exhaling, then inhaling. I didn’t know that I was supposed to be exhaling while in the water. I’m still having some trouble with this, because I was swallowing a lot of water, especially when diving. Much to The BF’s amusement, I would surface each time after a dive sputtering and choking on all the water that I had swallowed through my nose. I hope to be a master breather and an expert underwater bubble blower by June 20th, which is our last session.

4. On Sunday afternoon, we had a brunch date with one of The BF’s oldest friends B. and his girlfriend C., who happens to be a good friend of my brother’s. Their relationship makes me happy, because it goes to show you that people can find each other and connect through links within their own networks of friends, and by making your way through the degrees of separation

5. We went to West Elm again, hoping to spend the gift cards that my brother has given us for the last two Christmases. Again, we didn’t really love any of the coffee tables there and are banking on the hope that they will get some new styles really soon. I ended up just buying a recycled glass water carafe. We also finally got some white sheer linen panels for our sliding glass doors in the kitchen and he installed them last night. Also on the home improvement front, like everyone else and their little brothers it seems, we took advantage of the sale that Ikea was having last weekend on their Expedit bookcases. He has a couple of them upstairs, as they are the perfect size to store records. We bought the small one to use in our living room as a console table.

6. I decided to try a recipe for Green Tea Poached Salmon by Claire Robinson (5 Ingredient Fix on The Food Network) in the latest issue of Clean Eating Magazine. It calls for limes, honey, fresh ginger, green tea and salmon. Just 5 ingredients, including the fish! Genius. It ended up being totally delicious, especially with the lime ginger sauce you make to go along with it, and is completely not bland as you would expect of poached salmon. I took it to work for lunch today, and it tastes even better the day after as leftovers.

It was a productive weekend, and a good lead-in to this short work week, which is supposed to progressively get warmer for us. What? 28° this Friday? I’ll take it!

When I Grow Up

10 Mar

When I was young, I looked to grown-ups as big people who had jobs and owned stuff like houses and cars and had it all together. They knew stuff. Lots of it. And they always had cash in their wallets. They had jobs to go to and wore dry-cleaned, freshly-pressed clothes, and the ladies wore heels that made grown-up clicking noises on the floor. They were husbands and wives. Moms and Dads. Grown-ups that I looked up to, and who had me believing that someday when I grew up myself, my life would look like that too. I would know lots of things, always have cash in my wallet to buy stuff like Brussels sprouts from the grocery store and clickety heel shoes for work and gum for my purse. I would have a few credit cards stored in the slots of my wallet for the more expensive buys like jewellery and coats and televisions. I would have a husband and some children too.

I would have a house filled with furniture and pots and pans and plants. I would cook all the time, and my fridge would always be full of food and my cupboards full of snacks. I would have the time to do everything that I wanted. I would have fun on the weekends and go on vacations and read books and drink big glasses of red wine and have martinis with my friends. I would have a job that was easy to do because I would be an expert at whatever it was I ended up doing. I would be self-sufficient and intelligent and mature. I would not be unsure of anything.

There is a little bit of a gap between that, and what I am now as a 30-something grown-up.

I don’t always have cash in my wallet, and I have limited myself to 1 credit card. This is so that I can control my money and budget. And while I wear heels at work, I will get out of them and wear flats at my first opportunity because I value my comfort. I stay away from clothes that are dry-clean only, and I will avoid wearing anything that needs to be ironed because I just don’t have the proper time to maintain items like this. I’m always in a hurry to get somewhere because I am constantly running out of time. I have a house, wherein which some rooms don’t have proper furniture and mismatched pots and pans line my cupboards. It’s also where plants come to die. I am cooking all the time, and while I enjoy doing this, the main motivating factor for this is the money we save by not eating out so much and by brown-bagging our lunches. I don’t have a husband. I don’t have children. I have a job that’s not exactly easy to do, and while I’m good at what I do, I’m far from being an expert. I am unsure of many things.

I guess this is what it means to be an adult, to understand that we are always in a state of growing. That there are always things to be learned, that I will not ever have all the answers. That it’s ok that it’s not perfect. I thought adulthood would erase struggles; it didn’t, we just have different ones. Are we all doing what we thought we would be when we grew up? After a few years of trying different things, I have found a career that fits me. For now. But if you ask me where I think I want to be in five years, I wouldn’t have a good answer for you because I really don’t know. A little bit more grown-up, I suppose. A little less afraid of failing. Learning more about what is important to me. Being sure of the relationships that are meaningful to me. And not so secretly wishing that I had more of that cash in my wallet.

*Image from weheartit.com

Home Was Not Built in a Day

19 Feb

It’s our 1-year anniversary in this house together.

A year since we took that plunge into cohabitation.

One year since we walked through that front door with big plans on how we were going to make this small-ish space our home.

It’s hard to believe that this much time has passed, because I feel like I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as  I had set out to do. Was I naively ambitious? Probably. Or did I just lack motivation? I hope not. Since we moved in, it feels like not much has really changed. The carpet we wanted to tear out and replace with hardwood is still here. And while the house came complete with California shutters on our upper level and side windows, our front and back doors still remain without window coverings. We haven’t yet gotten around to painting any other walls besides those of our kitchen. And while we’re in the kitchen, we’d talked endlessly about building a banquette bench in the recessed wall for our table. As of this minute, it still is just a wall. The tufted fabric headboard I wanted to make for our bed still lives in my head as a plan I want to execute next week…or the week after that…or the next long weekend we have.

By now, I thought that things would be different.

When people ask me how the house is, my response usually is, “It’s coming along,” even after a year, it is still coming along. We are building our home s-l-o-w-l-y, and I’ve learned that I have to exercise patience, something that is not at the top of my list of traits. It’s a struggle for me just to deal with the day-to-day stuff – the finances, the meal planning and cooking, the cleaning, the job – and after I’ve done all that stuff, I need to find time for other important stuff like Lost, The Bachelor and Glee. How in the world do I fit in headboard building?

For now, I am content and satisfied because we’ve created a comfortable home for ourselves with as much as we have. And while I wish that I had more better looking things to make my house all charming and pretty-like, I know that I need the proper time to devote to it. We may not have a proper coffee table, or real furniture in our spare bedrooms, but this is the space that we enjoy coming back to every day. And I suppose that should be what is important, and what I should remember to appreciate each day. It’s all the little things that make this modest little space our modest little space.

Curling our toes in this carpet.

Leisurely Sunday morning breakfasts.

Taco parties with friends.

Sleeping next to him in our headboard-less bed.

I hired a cleaning lady. So what?

11 Feb

Almost exactly a year ago, my boyfriend and I moved into a house that we bought together. I knew full well about all the responsibility and the work that comes with being a homeowner. Back then, I had visions of a perfectly kept and maintained house, believing that with the pride you take in keeping your own home comes the ease in maintaining it. Naturally, right? Back then, I was up for the challenge of being at long last, a grown-up homeowner and being a good, responsible one at that. The day that we took possession of the house, I busted through the door with my mop, my scrubbers and my cleaning powders and liquids and I cleaned. Cleaned, cleaned and CLEANED to set this precedent and establish our home as a nice and neat place to live. It was very soon after that I had established this routine. Clean the bathrooms (2.5 of them) one weekend, and then do the entire lower lever the next. BF would take care of the upper level on Mondays – he has these days off. This was all done happily earnestly because nothing is worse to me than having an untidy house. Then the fights started, about the unfair division of work and the extreme burden of having much of my free time taken up by keeping house. I started to resent my life and my house, feeling like I was going from one job at work to another job at home. To this neverending cycle of wiping, laundering, folding, scrubbing, dusting, tidying, vacuuming, mopping etc etc. And I know that this is what it means to be a responsible grown up. It never even occured to me to ask for hire help, until this one time I was having a chat with someone at work and she suggested I look into a cleaning service. I immediately rebuked this notion, worrying that this would mark me as inadequate, or even worse, lazy.

“No, it’s not about adequacy, it’s about balance and quality of life.” She said.

I work downtown at a creative agency, and it’s not the type of job where you can leave as soon as the clock hits 5:00, not even if it’s to take the early train home. I live in the suburbs, and I’m lucky if I get home before 7:30/8. Once we’ve cooked/eaten dinner, cleaned up, I’m able to have about an hour of downtime and then before I know it, I’m falling asleep while watching Cold Case. Then we’re up again and leaving for work in the morning at 7:30. That’s at least twelve hours of the day that aren’t mine. When the weekends finally come, it is pretty much errands and cleaning. Also, my BF’s work week is Tuesday to Saturday, which means that we don’t get to enjoy a full weekend together ever, because Sunday is the only day that we can share together. Sundays are precious to me for this reason, and I don’t find it all that stimulating or sexy when he is pushing a vacuum around while I’m down on my knees disinfecting one of the toilets. Not quality time at all. There was very little “me-time,” and even less “us-time.”

We did think long and hard on this. I feared being judged for being lazy, or being accused of simply not wanting to do the work to clean my own house. After all, our moms were able to do it back then. My mom worked full time, managed to clean the house and raise 3 kids. But, then again, she only went back to working full time after I turned 11 and her job was a 5-10 minute drive from home. Not that I have it harder than she did – I don’t have kids, but she did spend more time at home than I do. I’m convinced that we are working longer hours now compared to back then. I think that a sign of the times are the number of nannies, dog-walkers and cleaning ladies that are busy working around the city these days, not to mention companies like Supper Works and Grocery Gateway for those who barely have time to shop for their food or prepare their own dinners at home .

Still, paying someone my hard-earned money to do something that I am perfectly able to do myself? Who do I think I am? When did I move onto Wisteria Lane? The service is a luxury, having a stranger come and clean my house for me. However, my time – my own time – has become more of an important luxury that I’ve had to reclaim, and I am no longer going to be embarrassed to say so.

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