Home Renovations – Part 1

I am glad to have a bit of a window to write some of the highlights of our journey into our first home. We entered the house hunt in 2014 after years of renting, traveling and living with parents. It was not an easy find after a long series of apartment visits, even houses that didn’t fit until we found IT. We do have to thank our real estate agent Gabby Goldring for having the patience to guide us through this journey and bringing us to our home. They were right when you know, you know. It probably took about 5 minutes to know that this would be the home we wanted.

The apartment was empty except some random paintings, there was a fresh coat of paint and new flooring in the bedrooms. We had a bit of competition but at the time condos were not as in high demand and even the bidding wars were not as fierce for them.

New home.

Before we moved in and we made changes to the floor and painting.

Floor
We spent a lot of time going to shops to search for new flooring. The apartment had a mix of new laminate in the bedrooms and and old engineered oak in the living room. It was a strange transition from one to another so we decided to replace it and put the same across the apartment.

We are relatively good at taking things out and apart so we were able to remove it ourselves. In order to not produce landfill and throw out the existing flooring we were as careful as we could be in removing it and we were able to give it away. There are plenty of ways to allow other people to use what you may not need at the time. Both the laminate and the old oak flooring were claimed. People usually need them for cottages or sheds. Please take the time to plan your removals. In Toronto a few options work well:

  • Kijiji
  • FreeCycle
  • Leftover
  • Facebook Marketplace

For the flooring we did not want laminate but also installing pure hardwood was not feasible since we would have had to build a floating underfloor as part of condo rules. We aimed to find the most eco friendly option possible and locally sourced while considering affordability. There are many options out there and we were getting a bit weary of looking but we decided on an engineered Maple from Mirage. It has been four years with it and although you can’t drop some big weight on it without getting damaged, we are still happy with it. It is warm and pleasant and allowed us to decorate the place easily. We also were keen to have a concave trim rather than convex.

Floor.

Paint
We were thinking to experiment with paints but it was hard to visualize accent walls and how we would end up decorating in the end. We decided on a light olive green across the entire house. Still love it 4 years later.

Furniture
Except our little record cabinet we didn’t have any furniture to start with. We did have an Ikea round dining table which was part of the first furniture we bought when we moved to Canada. And I must say that furniture served us so well through many moves. It took 3 re-assembles over the years but by the fourth one, ours, the table was on its last legs, pun intended. The first essentials were a bed and a couch which we found locally made from HUPPÉ for relatively good deals at the Bay.

Other pieces in our house except the custom made items, are old and used from the shop called Guff. I am sure there are plenty of other stores around which update pieces but I liked keeping track of new stuff they get and we easily filled our house with a teak table and walnut chairs, a teak credenza, a teak coffee table and a walnut chest of drawers varying from the 50s to 80s. All the pieces were bought through the last 4 years and it allowed us to absorb each piece at a time and enjoy them as they made it their home with us.

Furniture.

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Thank you 2018

Dear 2018,

Well here I am on time this year. This time I have to start with personal highlights, one does not give birth in a year and still start with travel highlights.

Personal highlights:

  • Cillian, the Son arrived in a hurry April 6 and made our lives a rollercoaster of emotions. I watch videos of him from when he was born and it is hard to absorb how much approx 9 months with him has changed our lives.
  • Spending time with the Son and family and friends.
  • Visits from family, especially Cillian’s grandparents as well as friends.
  • Entering motherhood with a support group made of family and friends who always keep me in check with everything from food, necessities for the baby and more importantly company and moral support.
  • Stuart, our Norfolk Pine Tree is doing better and made a pretty healthy comeback after a rough spring. I am not sure if it was jealousy for a new member of the family but in late spring he was rapidly going brown. We are doing better now.
  • Ernie, the resident qumquat tree, had an excellent winter in 2017 but not a great summer and so far not a great winter. Fingers crossed his journey improves.

Travel highlights:

  • First cottage trip with the Son to Haliburton.
  • Trip to New Jersey to celebrate my cousin’s wedding.
  • Trip to Maine with the Son and family.
  • Trip to Nashville, Memphis.

Toronto highlights:

  • Walks.
  • Canadian Opera Company and Toronto Symphony Orchestra subscriptions had us going to some beautiful performances early in the year.

While the highs of this year were as high as one would expect, the lows were there to remind me how precious every moment is. We started the year with a vacation cut short by Husband getting sick in the US of A, and then the year continued with us losing people dear to us. There are many things that help you understand life more rationality but then your heart reminds you of the emotions of it all. While I am relieved our family and friends are not suffering anymore, their presence is missed and I hope their energy is moving on to happier pastures.

The pain of losing them will fade, and their spirits will bring joy so time will help but 2018 will be the year my Son entered my life and filled my heart with more love than I thought possible. It has not been an easy journey to motherhood before nor after but the love that comes with it lights up my path going forward.

Thank you 2018!

2018.

2018.

2018.

2018.

2018.

2018.

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Gift Giving 2018

I did this a couple of years ago and I would like to do it again this year. All the suggestions from that post are well worth a visit and your consideration so please feel free to visit Gift giving 2016 edition.

1. Migrateful – London

One of my favorite things to give is an experience. And this is something I wish we would have in Toronto as well. Leaving the complicated politics of refugees, one thing we can all agree on is that everyone wants to feel like they can participate in a society in a meaningful way, and everyone wants to feel valued. This brilliant organization seems to help people on the road to achieve that by offering cooking classes taught by chefs who are refugees from different countries. They have gift vouchers available and you can enjoy it yourself or gift someone the experience of cooking from 13 different cousines: Afghan, Iranian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Tunisian, Albanian, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Nigerian, Pakistani, Bengali, Cuban and Ecuadorian.

migratefulWe have in Toronto something a bit similar Depanneur which I would like to try at some point.

2. Cuddle + Kind

Gail bought Cillian, the Son, Wyatt from them and he loves it. They way a 7 month old loves things, by licking and chewing on them but he loves them. Although Gail could have made it herself because she is the biggest Maker of all, bags, beading, quilts, sewing you name it she does it. But Gail also loves a present with a story so every doll is made ethically and provides income to families in Peru.

cuddle+kind

3. Nature Concervancy Canada

A great gift for kids to start learning about their country, local nature, our responsability protecting it. We have supported this organisation for the past three years and they do amazing work in buying land to protect it. They have a variety of symbollic adoptions of different species including the spectacular puffin.

Nature Conservancy Canada.

4. Modelina Clay Stories

You want to go for the sentimental, thoughtful gift then personalized gifts are the way to go. You have your pick from photo gifts to illustrators who do custom family portraits, and yes that includes pets. This Romanian shop makes custom portraits in clay and turns them into pendants you can wear. Have a look at her shop it is absolutely precious.

ModelinaClayStories.

5. A magazine subscription

There are so many to choose from and I have done this both for adults and kids. Who does not love to receive mail they actually enjoy. Here are some of the ones I used before or want to use in the future:

  • Positive News – This one is mentioned in the previous gift giving collection and well worth a second mention. As the name says it is Positive News, highlighting people who do amazing things.
  • Womankind – I bought ane issue when I was in Australia a couple of years ago and read it cover to cover. It was an excellent read.
  • DoR – A Romanian gem, which I have been reading for the past two years. They send magazines internationally so a great gift for someone who wants to keep in touch with excellent storytelling from back home.
  • Illustoria – We got this for my Aussie twins as their Christmas present last year and Aggie especially enjoyed it. It is full of activities for creative kids.
  • Bravery – Great for kids, full of stories of strong women. Never too early for inspiring role models.
  • Anorak – For kids again – Have not tried it yet but looks pretty fun.
  • Kookie – This will be this year’s present for Aggie.

6. Useful kitchen related gifts

Gifts don’t have to be just nice things. I love giving and receiving a useful gift that you can use all the time such as these gems:

Credit: All the photos are of the original websites where the items can be found.

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Thank you 2017

Dear 2017,

I did not honour you earlier this year as it should have happened but it is even more fun trying to dig up my memory as 2018 approaches the end. Here are some of your:

Travel highlights:

  • A memorable trip back home to Romania.
  • A trip to Catskills with family.
  • Trips to New Jersey to welcome new family member.
  • Prince Edward County and Haliburton.
  • Bruce Peninsula with international adventurers.
  • Montreal and Quebec City with my sweet friend Dani.
  • Trip to Nashville and Memphis, turned into a bust but yet a bit of a highlight when visiting Graceland.
  • Quick day trip to Buffalo

Personal highlights:

  • Family started growing in 2017. The growth completed in 2018 but by August we started to calculate things in base 3.
  • Sharing the news with family and friends that we were are adding a new member.
  • Completing an adoption course.
  • Spending as much time as we could with friends and family. Felt even luckier with the great visits from abroad: Japan, Germany, UK.
  • Fulfilling our auntie and uncle duties with aplomb, if not that, then definitely with gusto. (Copied from 2016 still accurate and we even had our first sleep over at our place. Homemade mac and cheese almost sent the kids back home but we powered through)
  • Continued beading with the best group of girls I could wish for.
  • Stuart, our Norfolk Pine Tree is still growing beautifully and and so is Ernie (Copied from 2016 – still true although Stuart had a bit of a rough patch this year but he recovered)
  • My work in software development went full steam ahead and it was a very work full year. Completed a major project in May which I was very proud of.
  • Started a kitchen renovation which took a bit longer than expected but turned out well.
  • Chris was a spectacular Santa.
  • Making a bag for my niece Aggie with Gail.

Toronto highlights:

  • Walks.
  • Family and friends’ visits from overseas get us outside of our city comfort zones. (Copied from 2016 still true)
  • Canadian Opera Company and Toronto Symphony Orchestra subscriptions had us going to some beautiful performances.
  • Concerts: Sleaford Mods and Nick Cave – both excellent.

2017 was very much a full year with lots of work quite similar to 2016 especially in the first half of the year but by the second part of the year personal growth took centre stage.Travelling wise it was a strange year.  Looking back now our trip to Romania was such a blessing which I will detail in its own post. We were supposed to go to Australia too but we had to cancel as I could not travel such a length of time while pregnant. Nashville and Memphis were also a rollercoaster which will put in a post as it is worth remembering later on. So while travels were a mixed bag of emotions, it was a spectacular year in terms of sharing good news.  The kitchen renovation was an adventure of its own but we can’t imagine our place any different now. Similarly to 2016 I fell short in taking care of my hobbies, but I spent a lot of time focusing on health improvements also some of the artistic dimension was filled with the beading creations. An extremely rewarding occupation.

Thank you 2017, you were definititely one of the most memorable ones yet.

2017.2017.

2017.2017.

2017.2017.

2017.2017.

2017.2017.

2017.

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Books of 2017

These are my fun friends of 2017:

  1. Something out There by Nadine Gordimer
  2. Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox
  3. Bossypants by Tina Fey
  4. That Summer Affair by Sarah Challis
  5. Cheri and The Last of Cheri by Colette
  6. Val si Cetatea Sufletelor by Ana Alfianu
  7. Claudine Married by Colette
  8. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
  9. Claudine and Annie by Colette
  10. Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky
  11. La isla bajo el mar by Isabel Allende

Some lovely children’s books:

  1. Jill & Dragon by Lesley Barnes
  2. Maya Angelou by Lisbeth Kaiser

Let 2018 bring more fun readings!

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Thank you 2016

Dear 2016,

Here are some of your:

Travel highlights:

  • A trip to Southern France with Family.
  • Long weekends with Mum and Dad.
  • Hiking and Skiing in Blue Mountain with Family.
  • Visit Family in New Jersey.
  • Spend time in New York with my sweet friend Dani.
  • Spend time with dear friends in Manchester, Sheffield, and London.

Personal highlights:

  • Spend as much time as we could with friends and family.
  • 5-year wedding anniversary.
  • Guns N ‘ Roses Concert with my brother.
  • Fulfilling our auntie and uncle duties with aplomb, if not that, then definitely with gusto.
  • Read 17 books and 5 children books.
  • Did not give up on the blog and kept chipping away at it.
  • Continued beading with the best group of girls I could wish for.
  • Stuart, our Norfolk Pine Tree is still growing beautifully and now has a happy partner in Ernie, a kumquat fellow.
  • My work in software development went full steam ahead and it was a very work full year.
  • Became a bit of a hamster and had days in which I would walk around our condo in order to get to 10000 steps.
  • Went back to Yoga at the end of the year and spent a lot of time trying new things for my health such as Accupuncture, Osteopathy, and smoothing fruits and vegetables.
  • Kept my Etsy shop and added a couple of prints.
  • Made our condo a home which we love. But that deserves its own post which I hope to cover soon.
  • Excellent coffees at home.

Toronto highlights:

  • Walks. One especially beautiful during fall time organized by Nature Conservancy Of Canada, an organization we are supporting.
  • Hosting dinners in our nest and making it more our own one month at a time.
  • Family and Friend’s visits from overseas get us outside of our city comfort zones.
  • Canadian Opera Company subscription with two performance already checked off: Ariodante and Norma. Four remain to be seen.
  • Beautiful concerts with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, starting the year with an emotional Mozart Requiem and ending with a soulful and funny Jann Arden.
  • Good food at Rose and Sons, Smoked and Cracked, Café Belong brunch, Lee Namjang, Stockyards and a new favorite Marigold.
  • Mama Earth Organics weekly food deliveries.

2016 was very much a full year with lots of work. A year I felt I learned and became more confident in my technical abilities. Reaching that point where you know that not knowing is ok. I never knew anything in this field but with dedication and work all the unknown becomes familiar and you can get on with the work. I still enjoying the learning curves and the problem solving aspects of it. It was also a year of family time, we were lucky to see family here locally but as well visitors and through our traveling. During this year we confirmed that buying our condo/flat was one of the best decisions we made and we were happy not to push ourselves above our means to buy a (town)house. I fell short in taking care of my hobbies, but I spent a lot of time focusing on health improvements also some of the artistic dimension was filled with the beading creations. An extremely rewarding occupation.

Thank you 2016 and here is wishing a blissful 2017 to all.

2016.

2016.2016.

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Books of 2016

These are my fun friends of the past year:

  1. The Continuum Concept: In Search Of Happiness Lost by Jean Liedloff
  2. I Saw Ramallah by Mourid Barghouti
  3. No se lo digas a nadie by Jamie Bayly
  4. Supleantul by Petru Popescu
  5. The Mulberry Tree by Jude Deveraux
  6. The Concubine’s Children by Denise Chong
  7. Oameni din Dublin by James Joyce
  8. To the End of the Land by Davis Grossman
  9. Push by Sapphire
  10. În arşiţa dragostei – Poeme şi confesiuni despre Mircea Eliade by Maitreyi Devi
  11. Noaptea de Sânziene by Mircea Eliade
  12. Scrisori către fiul meu by Gabriel Liiceanu
  13. Flesh and Blood by Michael Cunningham
  14. Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963 by Susan Sontag
  15. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  16. The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew
  17. So, Anyway … by John Cleese

Some lovely children’s books:

  1. The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito
  2. Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst
  3. The Hockey Song by Stompin’ Tom Connors
  4. Hello, Mr. Dodo! by Nicholas John Frith
  5. Big City Bees by Maggie de Vries

Let 2017 bring more fun readings!

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Gift giving

I am a big fan of Christmas and I have always been. I started holding on to Christmas as a strict tradition to follow in our small family with my mom and my brother, probably overcompensating my parent’s divorce. Each was to get a present for the other two and it was supposed to be a surprise. Years passed and I still love it. I love the journey of trying to guess gifts that people may enjoy. I don’t appreciate going to the mall the week before to get everyone something. I don’t find joy in that and I dislike buying irrelevant things just for the sake of buying. Instead as early as September when things come in my path that I think would make someone happy I start the Christmas presents box. Especially now as my niece and nephew in Australia are not close, I need to send their presents earlier to ensure they arrive if not by Christmas at least by January.

Anyhow this year I saw Oprah’s list of favorite things and I got giddy with excitement to create my own list of recommendations. Especially because some of the less known things she recommended such as Artifact Uprising, I have been using for two years. So brace up people here it comes:

1. Positive News Subscription

This is a must in a world where we are bombarded with highlights of dramatic and traumatic experiences to dangers at every corner, one has to put real effort into remaining optimistic and finding inspirational stories. One day I google Positive News and indeed found them. Their work in constructive journalism is so important as it highlights the amazing efforts of people solving problems in the world, keeping a positive outlook and making a difference. A subscription includes a quarterly beautiful printed copy with amazing articles and even the commercials support relevant business. Buy buy buy people, buy.

Positive News.

2. Koala Adoption

So far I have used Save the Koala for in memoriam tree planting but now I am considering for happier occasions. For Christmas, you can ‘adopt’ a Koala, of course symbolically, the koala does not come to your home but what a great concept to support them and also teach kids about Koalas, or make Koala-loving adults giddy.

Koala Foundation.

3. McKean Studio

You know someone who loves a city so much they would wear it as a bracelet? Excellent so do I. I bought them for my sister-in-law for her bday and they are gorgeous. The artist based in Australia and makes bangles of cities she has visited.

McKean Studio

4. 31 Bits

You would never think these beads are 100% made from recycled materials and mostly paper beads. Their jewelry is gorgeous and you are supporting the work of Ugandan women. Take the time to meet the artisans on their main website and buy buy buy because they are beautiful.

31 Bits.

5. JordanGraceOwens

I keep meaning to do this for my nieces and nephews and may do it this year. I thought the idea was marvelous to make paper dolls inspired by family members.

JordanGraceOwens

6. Bucketfeet

Bucketfeet is a great avenue for beautiful shoes based on designs from artists all over the world. You are in part supporting the designing artist and you cand find some vegan shoes in there to make you the cool vegan on the block. Well Vegans are cool by default but even cooler.

Bucketfeet.

7. We Are Well Made

This is a new discovery and I was extremely excited to try them. We are slowly filling our walls with various prints and one spot was quite tricky to cater for. We have a wall bed, a Murphy bed, and we wanted to set up a print in the wall space visible when the bed is down. The space requires a very small frame and without a glass. After some googling, I found these frames and they are beautiful and they work so well. Extremely flexible and easy to install too.

We are well made.

8. ArtLifting

Now that you bought a frame then rush and buy some prints or who knows some original art from ArtLifting. The company is set up to give homeless and/or people with mental health problems support to create art and also the pride of earning from your work or passion. I keep spending 30 minutes here and here just browsing everything in there.

Art lifting.

9. Book Pickings
You have to buy books for Christmas. Sounds imperative because it is, reading is one of the richest experiences in life and we have to keep nurturing and nourishing the quest for beautiful books. I tend to buy now mostly used books because I keep running into book fairs but if you are looking for good ideas the author of this blog has plenty. Because of her I discovered Maya Angelou, bought some beautiful children books and many more other on my wish list.

Book Pickings.

10. Rare Tea Company

A gorgeous tea company we discovered while leaving in UK. Henrietta’s passion for fairly sourced tea and the art of a properly made cup of tea is infectious.

Rare tea company.

11. Province Apothecary

Toronto made cosmetics which come in nice glass packaging and make skin look beautiful.

Province Apothecary.

12. My Prints

Self-promotion alert. My little print shop has not been getting much attention from me, although I love still everything about it so here I am doing a bit of promotion here at the end.

Whanganui - Afternoon.

There are many other things I can think of but it is best to stop and remember this is about enjoying making people happy. All these gifts assume budgets but if money is not available then still surprise people. I love receiving food gifts, or as I mentioned in a previous post I now am part of a small beading club so you can make jewelry or just write a thoughtful letter. Enjoy sharing thoughtful caring moments!! Let me know your suggestions if you wish.

Credit: All the photos are of the original websites where these can be found.

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Beading – Part 2

To continue the collection from the previous post, please enjoy some more necklaces.

These two necklaces are in my collection but unfortunately I do not remember the beads.

Beading.

Beading.

This one has made its way to my sister-in-law for Christmas and the small round green beads are Jasper.

Beading.

Beading.

No clasp needed for this one, as the red chain is very long allowing for it to fit over the head. It is reserved for a friend who doesn’t event know yet it is coming her way :).

Beading.

Beading.

This is all the beading output I have for now but hopefully soon enough there will be more fun projects to entertain with.

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Beading – Part 1

Beading has been an extremely fun hobby recently absorbed under the guidance of a friend, let us call her Mrs. BeadMaster. She is an amazing woman who inspires me to create fun projects such as these, she is the engineer who taught me to create all of these fun items. Let the photos speak for themselves.

Necklace – This is one of my first pieces and I loved the colour combination. It has now a home with my soul-sister as a Christmas present. It is using green white jade round beads with purple glass beads.

Beading.Beading.

Necklace – This is also part of the first batch and I love the texture of the white turquoise round beads as well as the filigran piece. This necklace also has found a home with my sweet friend, whose lovely wedding I was part of last September. I need to keep her happy since she sends me boxes of chocolates at Easter and Christmas :).

Beading.Beading.

Necklace – Lapis Lazuli, this is still one of my favourite necklaces to wear. They are two strands of these gorgeous beads, on leather strings and I wear them both. A third one was made later on and it too has a home now with another friend as a Christmas present. Indeed there is a trend, my new gift for you may be a necklace so beware.

Beading.Beading.

Beading.The following two necklaces are from our latest beading session and this one is made with shell pearls, light pink and turquoise and mother of pearl center pieces. This necklace was a gift for the Mrs. BeadMaster herself; a little thank you for all the support and inspiration she has provided me in picking up what is one of the most relaxing hobbies.

Beading.

Beading.This last piece was fun to do, so were all the others but the colour gradient was fun to do. The beads are semi-precious and I think they are agate, but not 100% sure. This fun piece is also a gift for a friend who for the past two years has been a constant support and help.

Beading.

Beading.

Beading.

Similarly to the photographic prints, making these necklaces brings me a lot of joy to have something palpable that I, or friends can enjoy. Also beading days with friends are such a fun way to spend a day, highly recommend it.

 

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