weekend redesign

Saturday morning, Brandon and I cleaned the apartment, as we were having some people over for my birthday. Sunday morning, after he left to host a panel at Edmonton Expo, I put in a couple hours on my Redesign course. Very excited about this, by the way. When it’s all said and done, I will be able to call myself an “International Redesign Professional“. Pretty swanky, if I do say so myself. I’ve been doing my own version of redesign with spaces all my life, so it will be nice to have some base knowledge under that life experience.

After digging in and completing a few assignments, I felt inspired. Brandon had recently moved the television to where I think it always should have been. I tweaked a couple things by turning the dining table around and creating a reading nook, and the whole room looks more put together now. It can be tough in a rectangular space to not have everything touching the walls(and it’s not like I haven’t decorated like that in the past), so I think this layout is better at creating depth and layers.

I also (finally!) took a look at the front hall closet. And you know what? Wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I didn’t even remove everything from the closet. I removed everything I thought we could donate or recycle, which only added up to around a dozen items. What really made a difference was moving stuff off the floor to higher shelves. Soon enough, I’ll be moving the fan back into the closet, and the winter coats up to the front, so the time I took this week will make my life easier down the line.


small reno, big changes: week one renos

The renos begin!


Now that our renovations are underway we’ll do a breakdown of what’s happening day-by-day.

Week One

Monday – In one day the contractor tore up our bathroom by removing our tub and removing some of the drywall. They also removed our entire kitchen right down to the studs, and did the same with the two smaller walls in the hallway.

What used to be this:

Before 4 Before2






Is now this:

construction 1 construction 2







We also received our floor tiles that day – 2 pallets, approximately 3000 pounds worth of tile (it’s basically going everywhere).

Tuesday – All of the debris from the demolition was removed. Emma and I removed the drywall covering the concrete pillar – surprisingly, it took only an hour but there was still an uneven, discoloured layer of plaster on the column, which proved incredibly difficult to remove. We chipped away at it for a while, but it looked awful, so we decided to go ahead with our plan to cover this with a clay plaster to give it a clean, concrete-looking finish.

Wednesday – Electricians arrived and consulted with us to see what work needed to be done and where. They also took all of that exposed wiring out of the opened walls and studs, thus making it safe for the contractor to removed the unnecessary studs and frame in the new stuff. Also, our contractor discovered exactly how and where the smoke from other units was entering our suite, which allowed us to explore cheaper options to stop the smoke drift. Initially, we were going to have spray foam insulation put in the bathroom to stop the drift, as spray foam hardens and acts as a good barrier against that sort of thing. But since the drift was coming in directly through massive holes in the floor and ceiling for plumbing, all we had to do was find a solution to plug those holes. This discovery and the new proposed solutions would save us over $3000! That’s huge, as both the contractor and the electrician’s work is going to be a bit more than originally quoted, as their scope of work changed a bit.

Thursday – The electrician wired some boxes for the stove, range hood and kitchen plugs, and did some other electricity-related things that I don’t understand. We also received our Ecorad radiators. Luckily, there were three electricians around to help me get them into our place as the delivery company didn’t call before delivering and showed up out of the blue, and the radiators themselves were extremely heavy. It ended up being perfect timing, as the electricians were able to take a look at how the wiring for the radiators would work and where they would go.

Friday – The contractor removed the remaining studs and framed in our kitchen. We received our toilet and showerhead and the electrician did some more electrician things.

Saturday/Sunday: Emma and I opened our countertops and after much research (googling) and contemplation (arguments) decided to use mineral oil to help treat it. As the birch Akerby does come pre-treated we only did one extra layer of oil. It may have been unnecessary (or not enough) but we’ll see how it goes, I suppose!

Some pictures from Week One from Jessica’s Renovation album on Facebook.

deleting electronic clutter

E-clutter is just as important to clear out as physical clutter. It’s probably worse because much of the time, we don’t even realize it’s there. It’s that mailing list that you delete without reading every month, the site that you signed up for to two years ago because it sounded fun, the sites that you bookmark and then never look at again. I don’t do giant sweeps of my e-clutter, because that would be overwhelming. But every so often, I trim a bit. Like this week, for instance.

I took 15 minutes, sat down at my computer, and dug in. I had a couple ideas where to start, so I unsubscribed from two big sites right away(and deleted the bookmarks). My Pinterest boards took a bit longer, but there were a couple boards I never even looked at, so those went first. I even went into a board I was still interested in, and deleted some specific pins. It all counts. Even a single pin being deleted is progress.

Try not to put yourself down, or tell yourself that it’s not enough. It is enough, for today. My tweets are little pats on my back. I’m not good at self-congratulating, but this is my way of being accountable to not only my friends, but myself. I can look back and say, I did that.

learning from packing for trips

I packed my faux 333 Project for my vacation. And then I packed more clothing. And then I bought shoes. And then and then and then….

Looking back, what I was wearing before the vacation was what I wore to work. Business casual. I should have known then that not everything in there would be what I want to wear when traveling. After about a week, I noticed I had been leaving a few items at the bottom of the suitcase. They were untouched, and it wasn’t because I didn’t like them, I just didn’t feel like wearing them. I do wish I had brought more casual/weekend apparel, and I will remember that for next time. I also packed heels, which I didn’t need. We both packed “dressy” outfits, just in case we went out for a really swanky dinner.

But we’re just not those people. Much of the time, when we were hungry, we searched for comfort food at a reasonable price(thought we still ate really, really well). We didn’t need “fancy”. I had all the fancy I could handle wearing a brand-spanking new diamond ring. Being engaged is pretty awesome, with the exception of all the questions. We were asked(by multiple people) if we had a date picked out the day we got engaged. Give it time, people. I don’t have much planned out as it is, and I like it that way. It’s not going to be a whole big to-do anyway.

Brandon and I ended up mailing home two boxes mid-trip, filled with not only weather-inappropriate wear(it never got cold), but gifts we had bought for others, and books we had bought for ourselves. I think we came home with over 20 new-to-us books? Then again, we hit so many used book stores, so I don’t think we spent too much on them. Though I never regret a book.

Even though there is nothing wrong with my current carry-on bag, I am feeling a bit swayed by the carry-on bags with hard siding and wheels. Mine is a shoulder bag, and after a bit, it did start feeling heavy. I’m not going to purchase anything until the next trip, so I’ll have to keep tabs on myself to see if I still feel this is something necessary for my travels.

small reno, big changes: packing and moving

In this weeks’ article, Jessica tells us how she and Emma prepped for the total overhaul that is their renovation. Walls down and everything.


Once we signed our renovation agreement with Jostar we had about five weeks to pack and to move out of our place. The renovation is supposed to take about six weeks and during those six weeks we can’t be in our place, as it’s getting (almost) completely gutted. I thought five weeks would easily be enough time to meticulously pack and plan everything but when it came down to it we definitely could have used an extra week!

We sold any extra furniture that we knew we definitely wouldn’t need in our new space but made sure to keep the furniture that we still love and think will still work in the renovated space. We sold our bed, some bookcases, some stools. We also donated a lot of clothes and books that we hadn’t touched in awhile. Even though the packing process is a pain in the butt we made sure to use that entire five weeks to really go through our stuff and purge anything that we didn’t need anymore.

We put the majority of our stuff out at my mom’s farm, we rented a second storage locker and we even bugged some of our friends in the building to see if we could put some of our stuff in their storage units – even though our place is only 450 square feet, we had lots of stuff in it! We have appliances all over our building in multiple people’s storage units! We certainly owe a debt of gratitude to our amazing friends!

Reno demo – it begins!

…Well, kind of. Our contractor completed a bit of demo work the Friday before the September long weekend and they were going to continue to demo after the long weekend but, unfortunately, one of the guys on their two-man crew injured his hand on another job and couldn’t continue with ours. This meant we needed to find a new contractor, and fast, because there was just no way we could delay the renovation now with our place partially demolished. This was another instance where we were glad to have Jostar involved. They lined up another contractor right away. We met with him the very next day, and by the end up the week he was on board. Any further work would have to wait until the beginning of the following week, but we were very much relieved to be back on track.

We did get a few things done in the midst of the contractor uncertainty. Our new ventilation pipes were installed, and we received our floor tiles.








ventilation pipes

As the project has progressed we’ve encountered a few hiccups regarding some of our plans. We had initially wanted to move our laundry units into the kitchen and make the former laundry space into a front entry closet. As the plumbing would need substantial re-routing that idea has been nixed. The laundry and plumbing stays where it is currently, and our entry closet will be located in the kitchen; which we’ll make into a combined broom/coats/boots closet.

The other slight hiccup is that the two concrete pillars that we had wanted to expose have drywall glued to them, making the drywall extremely hard to remove. If we were to remove the drywall by chipping away at it, it would take a very long time and in the end the pillar would be chipped and messy and would look…well, terrible. The solution we came up with is to patch and repair and drywall on the pillar and use an architectural mineral coating that gives the illusion of concrete. We found several excellent plasters at Carbon Environmental Boutique in Edmonton, made by American Clay. If you’re planning a renovation and looking for environmentally friendly products and alternatives, I would highly recommend Carbon.

Plastering over the concrete pillars have several advantages. It reduces the time that the contractor will spend demolishing our place, the cost is minimal and it acts as a temperature-controlling element (which is advantageous as one of our pillars is on an outer wall and cools our place substantially in the winter – hopefully this plaster will help with reducing our heat loss).

Fortunately, none of these changes have been much of a compromise and, in fact, might work out for the best (and within our budget)! We’ll see how it goes!

construction 1 construction 2construction 3

what I learned about america on my vacation

1. You will always be able to find Adele OR Journey when scanning radio stations.
2. Dunkin Donuts and Subways are EVERYWHERE.
3. People in Connecticut are really nice and friendly. The whole state feels neighbourly. People greet you when walking down the street.
4. The East Coast vibe is way different then the West. More relaxed, friendly, and generally helpful.
5. I kind of knew this, but they are SUPER patriotic. American flags are everywhere.
6. Brandon and I learned that we like being by the water. Being in a small town by a harbour was a highlight.
7. Guilford is our favourite Connecticut town. We might retire there. If you’re ever in the area, definitely stop by. Sit and people-watch in the village green, go down to the harbour and watch boats, eat at one of the great restaurants around town, check out house tours in home over 300 years old.
8. Connecticut is probably one of America’s best kept secrets. Many people questioned our holiday plans, but it was the perfect location for Brandon and I.

labour day weekend

The last few days involved a combination of driving days and visiting family.

After Cape Cod, we headed north on Thursday, through New York and up to Ontario to visit family whom I rarely get to see. Spent the weekend in Whitby. It was so nice to be able to stop and relax. I think we had been doing so much the previous week, but didn’t realize it.

We’re currently in the Rochester area, so have another driving day. Aiming for Stamford, CT tonight, with a more relaxing drive day tomorrow as we wind along the scenic highways and stop in little towns and harbours.