thoughtful nest

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Still Here, Still Truckin'...

I am a terrible blogstress, I know. Between the death of our second laptop and our transition to this iPad (which I can't figure out how to do anything on, including transferring pictures from my camera), the final push on selling our current home (officially done last Friday, phew) and on getting all the assessments & inspections completed on the new build, it has been complete mayhem around here for a good eight months now. Add in the usual suspects: taxiing kids around and keeping them happy & occupied, dealing with the occasional flus and other family health concerns and fitting in a workout here & there, and it's all been kind of a blur.

Now, I can at least say we are getting into the holiday spirit here. We have the tree up, the brown sugar shortbreads made and painted by the boys, a crockpot apple butter recipe ready to jar up, the eggnog in the fridge, and a cupboard or two of gifts ready to wrap and give. We had a blast at our friends' Christmas party last weekend and will spend this last Christmas in the house we started our family in, thinking about how to furnish and decorate our new place. We will move in mid-February and I expect a lot of our big home purchases will take place in early January, when things are on sale. A good time to buy patio furniture, I'm thinking...

But back to the holidays. I love giving. And if you haven't found the website "Pinterest" yet, you must check it out. I got my recipe for crockpot apple butter there(), along with an idea for these gorgeous, inexpensive bracelets to make for gifts(go here and scroll down to the twine and pearl delights: ), candy cane vodka tutorials, activities for my kids, ideas for the home...the list goes on. You have to request an invite, or a member can invite you. Just let me know if you would like an invite!

Hopefully I will have time to start writing again. I let it drop almost completely, save for a letter to my friend Jen here and there, around last spring. I just couldn't find the time, or the quietude I needed to get any done. Speaking of Jen, though (who is my best friend ever), she just had her little boy, Henry, at 29 weeks. He is the tiniest, sweetest little guy, and so strong. He's in an incubator but doing so well, and all I can say is I can't wait to meet him (They are in Edmonton. Sigh).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'm still here!

Yes, it's true, I have not in fact fallen off the planet. I have been doing things like cleaning my house, cleaning my house, cleaning my house some more...staging my house, cleaning it again, keeping fresh flowers in vases, and cleaning my house. Trying to sell it. Also, making rosmary chicken and then mirepoix for the soup that followed. Yes, autumn is here. I love fall food. I love fall decorating, too, but don't have much time for it these days.
Things are good in general, but our lives are currently completely dominated with trying to sell the home we are still in so we can move into our new place! I can't wait to be there. I will wait a few days until I have a chance to get current photos and then will post some here. My kitchen cupboards and floors are mostly in and look INSANE! But I digress. Not a lot of point in talking about the house on the lake until I have photographic evidence for you. In the meantime, our initial real estate listing has expired, the market is deader than dead, and we are going to drop the price a second time and relist. We want the place sold, so we're willing to price it accordingly. It's a nice place! I think someone will love it. But we have to consider the current economic climate, which is, well, sucky.

I've been thinking a lot about Bruce lately (if you haven't been following - and I don't blame you if you haven't, with my infrequent posting - our friend and the architect/designer of our home took his own life in June). I wish I could have just one more conversation with him. I doubt it would change his choice, but I wanted to know more about him, and for him to know I loved having him as a friend. However briefly.

Our patient old boy with Noah. July 2010.
I had a dream the other night that our dog Rupert, whom we had to put down just over a year ago (old age/failing faculties), came to see me. This wasn't a normal dream at all. I realized he was there with me - we were in a big hilly field on a farm-type property - and expressed disbelief: "This can't be right. You died." But he sort of psychically nudged me, as if to say "No, I AM here, and you need to acknowledge it." Okay, okay, I thought to him. So come HERE then!" Suddenly, as if because I had accepted his presence, the dream became PALPABLY real. I can still feel his warm body and healthy fur, and the wonderful cuddle we had. He pretty much mauled me with a big dog hug, and did this purring thing he used to do(he was an English Mastiff - 185 lbs in his prime)...It was wonderful. And it makes me wonder if I should feel safer "believing" or hoping in something big on the afterlife front. Why am I so fearful of committing to faith? I just feel that I can't possibly "know" something that big for sure. After all, the whole dream, real as it felt, could have just been my brain doing me a lovely favour. Right? I invite any of you readers who have committed to a faith of some sort to offer feedback on this. I'm kind of grappling with it a lot lately. I'm even thinking about seeing a psychic for my birthday. How does one go about finding a "real" psychic, anyway?

I turn 37 next week. I'm going to go give blood. I feel it's going to be a great year for me and I want to start it off on a good note. I have now officially lost 32 lbs since my youngest was born (about 2.5 years ago). I have a little more to go but I feel like I have finally kicked the worst of it. I am no longer completely out of shape and my strength & stamina are going steadily up. My hubby complimented my muscular arms the other day. He also claims that my butt no longer looks like "two cats in a bag" when I run. You have to know my husband. This is the highest praise. And he would never have said that it looked like that WHEN it looked like that (he would have suffered greatly had he risked it)...Indeed, the best compliment I've received lately was when he referred to me as a "beautiful jackass." I already know I'm a jackass (sometimes, at least - isn't this human nature?), so really it's the same as if he just called me beautiful (I am much happier having an honest life partner than one who sugar-coats everything. But I digress).

I feel great, and like I am looking ahead on a wonderful time with my family. We're happy and healthy and I'm about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Growing my own food, starting a bed and breakfast, and in a year or two, the boys will be in "big-kid" school and I (in theory) will have time to get back to making art and writing after far too long a hiatus. No complaints.

Preparing to have a little Thanksgiving weekend with my mom & sister visiting, while hubby will be racing his dirtbike in the annual "Terra Nova" in Cowichan. They call it the "Aqua Nova" though because every year it rains torrentially. At least they get a turkey dinner with it! I will be keeping our meal at home simple, on Saturday night, so that I can enjoy the day with my girls on Sunday. I hired the sitter, bless her heart, to help out that day so we can get out for lunch and maybe a matinee.

This concludes my long overdue journal entry for the time being. Will be back with housey pictures. Have a lovely Thursday and thanks for stopping in...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Help Find Kienan Hebert

I have been up since 3:30 this morning, when I woke and started thinking about the poor three year-old boy, Kienan Hebert, who has gone missing and it probably with a convicted sex offender. This horrifies me in general, but since I became a mother I really can't handle stories like this. I hope that they find little Kienan and bring him home safe today. My heart is breaking for him and his family. Please say a prayer or send out good vibes (or whatever you do), or join the search parties in Sparwood, BC. Thinking of you, Kienan.

TO UPDATE: For those of you who don't know, Kienan was returned home by his abductor, who was later caught. I believe Randall Hopely is in jail awaiting trial. Unbelievable outcome. It's weird, I'm not sure if I believe in God. But I think I believe in prayer.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

It's a Beautiful Life, This Crazy Life

Good morning readers! How are the four of you today? Ha. If you're even still there. I have been a terrible, terrible blogstress this summer. It's been hard to know what to write about with so much going on. I will try to summarize the goings on without boring you all.

Went to the market in Sidney the other night with a girlfriend (we left the kids home with their Dads). It was amazing! I had no idea it was so huge. I actually bought a dress which I love so much...I seriously almost started to salivate when I saw the fabric. This is what Tim would refer to as "very Sammish." The girl selling the dresses designs them and then has them made. Tons of great fabrics! . These ADORABLE earrings are so sweet I want to swear about it, but I won't do that here. They're from a gal who makes great stuff. Check her out at .

We have met with another designer friend of Tim's, Ivan Meade, and his colleague, Echo Eaton, of The Meade Group in Victoria. Definitely check out their blog and website at . They have interviewed a plethora of amazing designers, as you will see, including our friend, the late and great Bruce Wilson. It's a comfort to me that Ivan worked with Bruce on several projects. I think he will keep in mind, as he helps us with the interiors, what Bruce envisioned for our space. Certainly Ivan is an artist in his own right, as you will see when you visit his site.

The colour palate has evolved a bit in the kitchen. Because we have re-purposed interior doors with a bit of a red tint to the stain (don't love it but it's more cost effective to leave them than to strip and re-stain them), and hardwood floors in a medium oak tone in the area surrounding the kitchen (above), the original plan to go with a walnut in the kitchen was posing a problem. It would have just looked like too many woods when you include the dark brown stain on our rafters. So Ivan ended up making the same suggestion Bruce had, which was to go with a bit of a faded or washed out oak (if you've looked at any of the Restoration Hardware catalogues lately, you can probably picture the look I'm talking about). I resisted the idea when Bruce brought it up because it seemed like such a departure from what I had pictured. But it does seem to be the best solution. The floors have arrived and are in their boxes waiting to be installed (picture at top left). I am also leaning more toward an old-style inset drawer pull than the long thin handles I originally thought I wanted. Something like what I've shown above. I actually quite like the tarnished brass look...but it seems kind of crazy to be planning a kitchen in oak and brass - conjures up terrible images of kitchens from the 80's! That is NOT where we're going with this, not at all. The cabinet fronts will be very sleek too, with little millwork. Of course, the new wood selection meant the original counters we chose weren't going to work. Ivan and Echo have suggested what you see in the picture just to the left, above, for the other finishes. Clockwise, from top left: Backsplash, Floor tile with grout suggestion (I want it darker to mask grease and drips/stains), paint colour, and granite counters. It's all pretty mellow and I am even a little nervous it's all just going to look beige. We're doing a herringbone floor with the tiles which I am thrilled about (similar to shown, but with a darker grout). And, ironically, Bruce had presented us with the exact same back splash tile from the start. So you can see, things are coming along. I am trying to just have faith that my very existence in this kitchen will fill it with colour...I cannot have a blah, bland, beige home...I will be putting in a found table/butcher block base (have to start shopping for that) which I can make any colour I want, and my pottery, glassware and china collections are pretty colourful as well. I will find a way to add some with the lighting too, if I have my way.

That's pretty much the update for the house. First coats are on the walls and cabinetry/millwork should start to go in in the next few weeks. And now, I am simply going to barrage you with a selection of images I have shown to Ivan and Echo to give them an idea of who is going to inhabit the space; namely yours truly, crazy old moi. Enjoy - I consider this a lovely mess of eye candy. I will not source these photos as the ones with sources have been shown here and credited before. It's a beautiful life, this crazy life!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Daze

Summer is flying by. We missed Bruce's service because we'd already booked our first vacation in a year out of town, but it sounds like he had a huge turnout, with lots of great stories and a lovely celebration for his life. We're meeting with his friend Kory tomorrow and I'm so looking forward to hearing about it; she read a little something I wrote at their open mike so I hope to hear from some of his friends and family with stories or photos of his life before I knew him. I think that will help me with making sure he is honoured well in our home. I definitely want a great photo of him for the family and friends wall I plan to do.

Paint colours are up now and soon flooring will start going in. We've reduced the price on our current home as the market is seeming quite inactive since we listed a couple of months ago. (Pics aren't great but it shows well. It's been a great home for us).

We went up to Lillooet to see my brother in-law and his gal Lisa, and also my father in-law and his lady Phyllis for a week with our boys. They had a blast! Swam in the pool and ran all over the huge yard full of fruit trees and vegetable gardens. My husband and I didn't get much sleep but it was worth it to see the family and watch the kids have such fun. Saw lots of neat things too, from an Osprey nest on the old bridge there to the geo-cache hunt Uncle Kelly took Griffin on. I didn't know about geo-caching until then, it's very cool. Like treasure-hunting for a current version of a time capsule using a GPS. Oh, and it was totally hilarious to open a parcel yesterday and find our toddler toilet seat in it, with a few other things. We always leave something behind, even after a triple sweep of the place...

Griffin also received a late birthday gift from Uncle Kelly: a new bike with training wheels and pedals. He never mastered pedals with the trike because when he was two Kelly gave him this rad balance bike that was all painted up to look like my husbands dirt bike. Noah has now inherited that one and they are LOVING their bikes. I take them to tennis courts nearby, which are great - enclosed and safe for them to ride around in.

Took about two weeks off on the working out and calorie counting, and gained a couple of pounds but stayed where I wanted to, more or less. Today I got back to the Jazzercise as I was starting to feel like a slug, and it was fun and sweaty. I hope to keep the weight dropping consistently. Maybe I can even reach my goal by my birthday in October. I'm going to plan a shopping trip to the states for around then, which I've been putting off since Griff was born, and MAN do I need a wardrobe makeover. Time to start stashing my cash for that one.

Well, the kids didn't nap today and my husband is off riding his dirtbike, so I am going to bathe the boys, put them to bed and hopefully I will get time to watch a chick flick and maybe eat a little supper made of things I have to avoid when Tim is home, like capers and onions. Bwahaha...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Life Goes On

With Bruce's passing (see my last post: My Friend Bruce) it's been hard to think about blogging blissfully away about the continuing development of the house and the choices we're starting to make about decor - the fun stuff. But the truth is, and Bruce's friends would agree, I think, that he would not want his choice to be a dark cloud over our new home. In fact, if there is a life after death (which is a whole different post), he's probably "up there" somewhere wondering why we're not cracking a bottle of bubbly with every decision made.

I still feel sad every time I spot one of my House & Home magazines, which I have poured over and given him clippings from throughout the architecture and design process until now (Bruce was actually sited in the 2009 H and H list of Canada's Top 100 Designers). Even in my Jazzercise classes, I'll be doing fine and then one of the songs will trigger my sadness that he's gone (you try crying and doing aerobics at the same time. How to feel like a tool 101). We were only friends for a year or so, but I felt especially close to him the last few times we got together. I had just programmed his number into my cell phone. I knew he would be over for family dinners and had visions of him designing a hair salon for my sister one day. I could tell he wanted to talk more. I wish I had had more time with him. I guess we all do.

At any rate, the process does continue with our home and Tim and I will wonder with every decision whether  Bruce would like what we've chosen. At our recent meeting with our carpenter and draftperson - both friends and colleagues of Bruce's - we each lit a candle for him before we started. I joked that if any of the plans or drawings caught fire that it would be Bruce telling us it sucked. He was never one to mince words! We will try to honour him at every turn, knowing of course that he wanted us to enjoy our home and make our own choices. I have plans to include him on our family & friends picture wall and will probably do a small plaque for him on the property somewhere.

"Golden Ray" granite: kitchen counters
grey slate kitchen floors
At the moment we are seeing nice progress. The garage doors are on both the main house and the outbuilding. The siding will soon be complete. Drywall is almost done and the painters have begun. I can't wait to see the wall colours done. In a couple of weeks floors will go in and then the landscaping and railings on the deck will start to move forward. Then the really exciting stuff will start to happen. I AM DYING TO SEE MY KITCHEN COME TOGETHER! (Slate floor pic sourced at The cabinets will be in a cherry colour similar to the picture on left ( The range will be a Viking 48 inch in stone grey, similar to the one shown ( Finally, I will include a pottery barn pendant light I like( It might be the closest I can get to the bouy re-dos I want to create.

Bruce added a final detail over the bar counter that he hadn't talked to me about before he went, and when it came up at our meeting last week I quite liked it. I am keen to implement any of his final ideas into the remaining process, as long as my dear husband likes it too. His drawings were always full of genius detail and design. I plan to put them in an album at some point, with all the plans and clippings that helped us along the way.

Well, it's just after eight AM and my two year-old is crawling all over me while my four year-old takes over 30 minutes to eat his oatmeal. I am off to get the day started for them now. Including some pictures to give an idea of the kitchen concept, though I don't have all the samples yet, and my scanner is packed so I can't show you the actual plans. I will try to post soon as I figure out hardware & fixtures. Have a lovely Friday, folks.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My Friend Bruce

I haven't written for a while because it's hard to know what to say. My friend, Bruce Wilson, who designed the home we are building, took his own life early last week. I am struggling with this on many levels, so I will just include a brief reflection on what's happened for now. He was a formidable man going through a difficult time. I was so optimistic he would pull through. It amazes me that he continued to meet us about the design of our home right up until a few days before he left us. I am grateful for everything he gave us. Love you forever, beautiful friend ~
My heart is broken by your choice, and I know I'm not alone. There is a vast, collective sadness.
Our friendship was not long, but I did think of it as a gift. Thank you for telling me you felt the same way.
I wish I could have given you some hope; that any of us could have shown you some of what you needed. 
You will always be honoured in my heart and in the beautiful home you helped us create.
I hope you are still out there somewhere, free of it all and with all of our love around you; with joy and strength.
Until our hearts meet again, Bruce, rest in peace.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Whittling and Whining and Flooded New Drywall

Griffin Asher
Noah March
Hello, darling readers, I know I've been a negligent poster of late. I have been busy as usual, with the usual things, including LOSING 10 LBS since the end of April. Yes, I am very proud of myself, and it's been hard work - especially with the constant demands of my little lovelies (or maniacs, depending on how you look at it). I plan to keep going as I have more to lose, but I am officially starting to believe that I can do it. It's taken me over a decade to get back down to where I am, so it's a big deal! My clothes are fitting differently (some not at all anymore, some in the first place as I couldn't wear them before). I feel so much better being in control. Some days are easier than others but I'm enjoying my workouts for the most part and now that I'm eating more cleanly most of the time, my body reacts much more noticeably to the stuff that isn't good for me (felt totally pukey after a piece of my husband's birthday cake, even though I made it from scratch myself). So yes, permanent and lasting change seem to be in my future (and unbelievably, my present as well). I am whittling away at my accumulated neurosis/love handles and coming out of it a much stronger person in mind and body. It is definitely a feat of mental strength making strides in this way. I can really feel how positive an effect my being fit and strong and mentally sharp is having on my family as well.

Spastically excited to share a room!
My one complaint right now is that since we moved the boys into a room together, our sleep patterns are out the window. We've tried a variety of things and I've come to the conclusion that I need to cut their naps way down. Up to this point I have been very fortunate to have two boys who will nap for three hours or more most afternoons, and I think it's hooping us at night. With a sitter here last night, the boys were up until almost 10 (they napped late), and STILL they woke me up at 5 this morning. Actually, they woke my husband, who had developed a raging headache through the night and wanted me to get up with I awoke to find him talking away at me about getting up with the kids, as though I had been awake for the first part of the conversation. Meh. I'm so tired I'm becoming a crazy person(exhibit A to the right - tell me I don't look a little manic). I'm going to short-change the kids on their naps today and PRAY we can get them to sleep reasonably early tonight.

Just before drywall completion
On the house front, things are coming along, er, swimmingly. Just as we finished the drywall and primer coat in the basement, the plumber overlooked an un-stopped pipe and flooded our master bedroom and the theatre below. With soundproofing/insulation between the two, the entire ceiling of the theatre will now have to be ripped out, reinsulated and re-drywalled to avoid mold growth and the like. Tim is not happy. This will add considerable time to the finishing of the drywall and painting in the house, which was probably only two weeks from done before this happened. At any rate, the plumber is very, very sorry.

My sister is in France having a fabulous time right now, and keeps sending me pictures of her meals and the various wonderful places she's seeing (that's Monica to the left, sitting with the dog in her lap). I am jealous and simultaneously, vicariously enjoying her experience. Hopefully she will bring me some nifty souvenirs or something. I can't believe six years have passed since our honeymoon there. We'll celebrate 16 years together this July.

I am off to force feed my cranky tired children the rest of their breakfasts, but will return a bit later to add some illustrative photos for your viewing delight. Oh, and a clip from the album I just bought by The New Pornographers. It's such a happy album. Not new to me but the copy my friend sent got drooled on and's so good that I made a special trip to the store for a new one.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hockey Riots and Colour Swatches. What a Week.

I mean, REALLY, Vancouver?
WELL. I am extremely embarrassed by the behaviour of Vancouverites in general tonight, though I know MY friends and family have had no part in the burning of cars, destroying of property or violence toward one another that I am seeing on the news.
So the Canucks lost. The Bruins had an impenetrable goalie. It was over as soon as it started. Sure, disappointing. NOT a reason to make our whole country look like assholes! My goodness. Here is the link to the photo source:

...I am so not a hockey fan, and only really watched this game because my husband wanted to. I made a nice taco dinner and we watched it with the boys. As soon as it became clear that it was not going to be Canada's game, my husband said "Oh no, they're going to trash the city..." but this is insane!

However, I will move on. By the time anyone turns off the news and checks this out, it will be old hat anyway.

Yesterday, we met with Bruce to choose our interior paint colours. I will elaborate on colour names and locations in a follow-up entry soon...but for now here is a photo of the swatches. I am thrilled and excited to see them up - the primer was going on yesterday. I can't believe how fast it's all starting to go. Now, if someone would just buy the house we're in. Sigh. The market really is just BLAH right now. Hopefully that will turn around soon.

I am sick with a very sore throat and got about four hours of sleep last night. So for now, I am off to sip a warm neocitran and climb into bed. May Vancouver just stop the nonsense now and all go to sleep as well...What a scene.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Whatnots and Whozits, Etc.

We're keeping flowers around all the time now, in case of showings
It's 5pm, my husband will be home in about an hour, and my children have flat-out refused to eat their tuna sandwiches, though they have done so before. I refuse to make them another meal. Before we had kids, we used to watch this one poor friend of ours as she played the role of short-order cook to her two boys. One of them would literally only eat hotdogs, pizza and macaroni and cheese. The other was better, but not by much. She would end up making three meals to accommodate her kids, her husband and herself. We would drive home and agree that I would never succumb to such a fate. Seriously, moms, don't do it! Her son is now about 22 and has moved in a girlfriend who does the same thing for him! Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with a Mama's Boy. But my Mama's Boys will know how to both grow and cook their own food AND do laundry. By the time they're 10.

Griffin eating actual veggies, hidden in his mac and cheese!
Admittedly there have been times when I have made a second meal for one or both of them. When they are babies, there is some leeway to be had on pretty much everything you thought you knew how to do beforehand. But now that they're bigger (and growing faster than I can keep up with - my two year-old put on a pound and a half in less than a month!), I refuse to continue letting them woo me with their cuteness. Okay, that's totally not true in the grand scheme of things. But I AM serious about meal times. I will not be the parent whose kids are bewildered when they sit down to a family dinner at a friend's house. They will know what to do. They will know how to eat. They will be able to carry on a polite conversation and hopefully tell a story or two. They will understand that they must at least try everything on their plates, and that no dessert will be had (or anything else for that matter) if they don't eat what is put in front of them.

a snapshot of one of our market hauls from last summer
It can be hard to be consistent and not just do what's easiest in the moment. We have busy lives. I won't claim this will fall into place perfectly and smoothly; that I won't bribe them to get the results I want sometimes. But they will be subjected to quite an adjustment as we move into our new home and I truly begin my enterprise as a homesteader. Less sugar and packaged food, more time outside in our garden, less television, more get the picture.

I haven't talked about the "Clean Eating" diet for a month or two. While there are strong principles and guidelines in Tosca Reno's books, they are pretty rigid and I am changing my ways a bit more gradually. On the weekends I still have a drizzle of maple syrup in my coffee. But the way I am eating now involves portion control and tons of fresh fruit and produce. I think the example I'm setting will pay off (for all of us). Down over three pounds since last week and hoping to meet a goal by next Monday with the support group I mentioned in my last post, and by tracking my daily food and exercise on . It's been a huge help and a motivator.

Front of house as seen from behind outbuilding
In other news, our designer has had some things preoccupying him and we haven't had a chance to meet with him together for a couple of months now. So in some ways I am chomping at the bit to dive back into things - he's talking in our emails about getting paint samples up on the interior walls, etcetera. Things will start to move pretty quickly and I think we'll be move-in ready around September. Unfortunately, having listed the house almost two weeks ago we've had almost no interest so far. My Dad blames the hockey season, I blame the first decent weather we've had all spring...but whatever the case we've only had one showing and not a peep since. That was a week ago. Hoping things change and people start shopping soon so we can stop worrying about the place being perfect all the time. We worked our arses off getting it ready to show, and now we're in limbo. Blah.

outbuilding seen from front of house
Great room seen from back of kitchen
Will post pics of our most recent photo shoot at the new house when I get a minute. Such a challenge lately! For now, I am off to represent the children with their wilting sandwiches. They think they can be stubborn? Boy, have they got somethin' coming.

Ha ha - ten minutes later, the boys have had a good play and are back in their high chairs chowing down on their sandwiches. Mama rides again. Until bedtime, anyway...