Home Renovations – Part 3

The biggest project in our home was the kitchen renovation. We were a bit out of our element so we worked with a designer to draw up plans and helps us choose materials. It was an exciting process and like any renovation a roller-coaster of emotions. On a personal note this happened in 2017, shortly after we took the cabinets down and I was helping Chris carry them downstairs, I found out I was pregnant with Cillian. 

We live in a condo so there were some options for changes but limited by our space and the rules of the building. With that being said we still changed the space dramatically, from a U shape to a galley kitchen. When we first saw the new plans I was very surprised how this would add more storage given that we were taking cabinets away from the one side of the wall all together. The allure of more cabinets. The reality was we had a lot of dead unusable space in those corners and the galley setup allowed installations of drawers all around and make the entire space functional.

It is now 4 years later and certain decisions were excellent, others not so much. Hindsight highlights:

  1. The island shelves instead of a breakfast bar.  Breakfast bar was a delusional attempt to make condo people think they have more space than they actually do. Instead of this so called bar, we installed shelves that wrap around the corner and it is one of the biggest wins. They hold an impressive volume of books and both Cillian and Maudie have loved throwing each one of them to the ground over the last three years. At least twice a day I restoke them. 
  2. The cement tiles, the flooring, great visual choice and I still love the look but the material is very picky and if you have a potentially uneven surface they do not settle very well and get hairline cracks in them. 
  3. A narrow fridge and dishwasher. They are small and require us to be very organized with how we stack or store things. 
  4. White quartz countertop, it looks good and it is nice and bright but needs care and regular cleaning.
  5. The front door closet with the new shelving for shoes and clothes. Its usage needs some choreography in order to keep things from going everywhere but I am not sure how else we could have maximized the storage there.
  6. Ikea Kitchen cabinets, so far so good. Choosing drawers all around is a great option to access everything.

planning 0_after 2_after 3_after 4_after 5_after

The final project and the details of the company we worked with are also available at this link:


We worked with https://www.facebook.com/levelbuilt/ for our contractors and we had a great experience with them.

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Books of 2020

These are my fun friends of the past year:

  1. The Time in Between by Dueñas, María
  2. Cartea cu Apolodor by Gellu Naum
  3. Inferior by Angela Saini
  4. Wuthering Heights by Brontë, Emily
  5. Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert
  6. Gheişele by Guillain, Robert
  7. Olive, Again (Olive Kitteridge, #2) by L.M. Montgomery
  8. Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin
  9. Analfabeta care ştia să socotească by Jonasson, Jonas
  10. ¿Y si fuéramos nosotros? by Albertalli, Becky
  11. Gigi and The Cat by Colette
  12. Tobit by Agopian, Ştefan
  13. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Thompson, Hunter S.
  14. Mitul democraţiei by Lucian Boia
  15. Prospect de femeie by Ana Barton

Let 2021 bring more fun readings!

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Home Renovations – Part 2

Our new home, now 5 years old was a source of some fun projects.

Bedroom Closet

The first renovation in the home, other than flooring and painting was for us to maximize our closet in the bedroom. With three walls available we wanted to make sure we made the most of every space possible. We worked with Royal Custom Cabinets and Closets for the design and delivery. Our experience with them left us pretty happy. If I remember correctly we designed it with a gentleman called Brian but I don’t seem to find his details on their website so maybe he has moved on. The original closet had two bars across the parallel walls, a shelving unit and a sliding door. Some of our changes:

  • We took out the doors and never put them back in. I like the open space and having it easily accessible.
  • We made sure we used all three walls even if certain areas were slightly obstructed
  • Included two towers, one of only shelves, one of both drawers and shelves
  • Included a scarf/belt rack

We have been using it now for 4 years and it has fulfilled our needs originally, and then later on we found space for Cillian to also share the same closet.


Murphy bed and Library

The second bedroom in the apartment was a standard room with a standard closet with sliding doors for the closet.  It also had a pair of French doors leading into the den. It was, and still is, important for us to keep the option of a second bed in the house as we tend to have family and friends visiting and sometimes for more than a couple of days. Now with kids in our lives even more we need to have the option of a second bed. At the same time I didn’t want us to have a room blocked off with a bed. I thought a Murphy bed with built-in shelving around it would make the most of the room. We talked to our installers of the bedroom closet for a tentative design but thanks to a post I saw in Design Sponge featuring a Toronto home with custom shelves and built-ins we went another way. I contacted to ask for the contractor who did the work and see if we can get a quote. The feature had a blend of walnut wood with white and I loved the contrast between the two.

The contractor was not in the country at the time and recommended his friend. It was pretty exciting to have her come in and do the work. I felt things went well and I was also very happy to work with female contractors. It felt like a nice change. I loved the result and was very happy with it, still, I am quite happy with our decision to make the room into an office/bedroom. I was disappointed they were not responding to some of my concerns regarding one of the shelves sagging after we started using it. We had it repaired by Mike, a wonder of a cabinet maker. I felt saddened by their inability to maintain their work after it was done but still overall their work has been used for years now successfully. On the opposite wall from the bed, we managed to fit a sitting standing desk from UpliftDesk and the room has been used heavily especially now as we are both working from home.

Murphy Bed.Murphy Bed.

Murphy Bed.

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Thank you 2019!

Dear 2019,

You were pretty impressive so here are some of your highlights.

Personal highlights:

  • Arranged travels to spend time with family and friends
  • Organized the first birthday picnic for Cillian
  • Cillian learning new life skills like walking, talking, starting daycare
  • Gaining more confidence in myself as a mother, although there are plenty of moments I still have to work on
  • Husband completed a certification he worked very hard on
  • My Etsy shop sold one order and I received my first feedback
  • Stuart and Ernie are still home with us and stable geniuses

Travel highlights:

  • Trip to New Jersey to spend a weekend with family.
  • First trip to Australia as a formula of 3. While there we spent a lot of time going to beaches and enjoying new sights.
  • Trip to Europe including England, Germany, Italy, Romania and France. Spent time with family and friends and had an amazing time.

Toronto highlights:

  • Walks and time spent in parks.
  • Organized the first movie night in 2 years with an amazing group of ladies.

This year was such a beautiful rich year, Cillian has claimed the centre of our lives and we loved it. Of course, there are many challenges and it is a rollercoaster of emotions but it is also a new license to discover life through his lens. My goal is to try to have a clean slate to discover the world as much as possible void of my fears, insecurities and negative experiences. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I need to work harder. We spent more than a third of our year abroad and we soaked it all up. It was amazing to spend time with the Australian family, Gus and Aggie are beautiful souls, we had some hard times with people in our lives struggling with hardships. I have also lost my last grandparent, the Queen Mother the matriarch of the family has left us. It has been a big special year and we are grateful to have so many amazing people in our lives to love. Even when we lose them, our love for them still enriches our lives and their memory will keep us company.

Thank you 2019!

PS: This end of a decade and a decade that has seen me live in 3 countries, travel, work too much at times, following some hobbies at times, not following them enough, reading some good books, having fun, struggles with fertility, giving birth, becoming a mother. Overall it has been amazing and I feel very lucky to be starting a new decade. May it bring joy and adventures to us all.

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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.

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.


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.

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.


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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!







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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.


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.


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.







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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.



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