The Paint Fairy returns

I hate to say it, but I think I might be a (rather unhappy but) slightly better person when JF is away. I watch less television, sleep more, eat better, and get more done.

While he was in the Yukon, I:

  • put up some floating shelves
  • hired a new handy man
  • cleaned the house top to bottom
  • practiced my piano scales
  • exercised
  • re-organized my filing system
  • volunteered a lot
  • re-mulched the front garden

He’s only been back for four hours and I can already feel my brain descending into happy slothfulness.

In any case, my greatest accomplishment – while JF was slurping on Bonanza Browns by the Klondike – was painting the attic.

JF's man attic - desperately needs a coat of paint

JF’s man attic, pre-paint. And covered in spackle because it was once a studio.

Months ago, my aunt JoAnne (a.k.a. the Paint Fairy) offered to come by and help me finish the sucker. The rest of our home was painted last fall, but somehow the pocked-marked upstairs nook was intimidating. So many unusual angles and corners.

The Paint Fairy’s kind proposal — and my aunt Denise’s paint donation — finally gave me the kicks in the arse I needed.

The job took two coats and a whole day to complete. I couldn’t have asked for better company. We painted, paused for toasted tomato sandwiches, painted more, puttered in my garden, painted again, and then celebrated our success with wine and roasted potatoes.

Here’s the room in stages:

Merci, mes tantes pour vos beaux cadeaux. Our house feels more finished for them.


Home Sick

This morning, I woke up with a runny nose and a big lump in my throat. After about ten minutes of trying to remember what day it was, I realized I couldn’t face a full day of using my brain. So I called in sick. And then I did what I’m sure every 29-year-old woman does on a sick day; I called my mom.

At this moment, my mother is making what she calls and “immune-boosting” soup with kale and about a dozen onions. I am sitting in front of her fireplace, curled up on her comfiest chair. I look like shit and there’s a big pile of used Kleenex next to me, but it sure beats sitting at home.

A view of the fireplace

Sitting comfortably at my mom’s

Why would I rather be here? Well aside from the obvious nice company, toasty fire and great food, being at my mom’s means not doing housework.

Sitting on my own couch, I can’t help constantly contemplating what task most needs doing in our clunker of a home. There’s the everyday stuff like laundry, raking leaves and cooking. But it’s the once-in-awhile jobs that get me – stuff like sharpening my garden shears and repainting trim. Together, they make my to do list gargantuan.

I have a theory that the constant housework (and stressing about housework yet to be done) has made me ill. I’m literally home sick.

I really don’t know how grownups do the whole homeownership thing and still find time to exercise, go on dates, or call friends. Either they are better, faster and stronger human beings, or I am way more anal than I thought I was. It might be the latter, since JF has actually said the words “you have to lower your standards.”

Perhaps this illness is my body’s way of saying: “slow down – I am going to implode!” or maybe “you should eat better and exercise more!” or even “your house will never look like Elle Décor anyway!” Or maybe it’s just that the flu is going around. Time will tell. In the meantime, I’m going to eat some of my mom’s soup.

See caption

My mom’s immune-boosting soup

The chronicles of hardware

Did you know that if you want to return something you bought at Rona in Midland at Rona in Barrie, you can only do so for store credit? Neither did I, until recently.

I also learned that Home Depot doesn’t even need a receipt to do a full return, provided they recognize and can sell the product; that Canadian Tire has great deals; and that Home Hardware in Elmvale has the friendliest service in Simcoe County.

I used to be afraid of hardware stores, but now I think you could strap a blindfold to my face and I could still find the paint section. I’m drawn by the smell of fresh, plastic-wrapped brushes and frog tape.

It’s amazing how much crap you need to renovate a room — and how easy it is to buy the wrong thing. Did you know that vent covers come in different widths and lengths? Because I sure didn’t.

Owning a fixer upper has really expanded my handiness horizons. I can now use a drill, mud walls, and paint like a pro. At least I think I can. There may be the odd drip or extra hole here and there. Either way, you can call me a renaissance girl.

We’re hoping to finish the walls this weekend. I promise to post pictures soon. After that? Refinishing the floors. Eek.

Settling in?

It’s been 2.5 weeks and our house is starting to feel like home. Sort of. We’ve finished de-wallpapering, painting and unpacking two out of 13 rooms. Two important rooms — the kitchen and living room — but that is still a measly 15% of the spaces in our house.

The good news is, we’re really enjoying that 15%. Tonight we sat on the couch and surfed the internet for several hours. That was great.

Living room before and after.

Living room before and after.


The bad news is, the rest of the house is in shambles. Pockmarked walls, smelly grey carpet, and a few sticks of furniture. I generally pretend those parts don’t exist. Or I attack them with spackle in the hope that they can soon be painted and prettied up.

Dining area before and after.

Dining area (in the kitchen) before and after. I need a bigger area rug.


I don’t think I’ll ever claim the main bathroom and damp basement as ours. They might be lost causes.

Kitchen before and after.

Kitchen before and after.

Neither JF nor I have fully absorbed the implications of home ownership. I still treat my mom’s like a grocery store. And JF still refers to the Toronto apartment as “home.”

I say THE Toronto apartment because, as of August 31, it is no longer OUR Toronto apartment. Aside from the baby squirrels that currently live on its dining room windowsill, it’s vacant. And soon, someone new will take over the lease.

Generally, we haven’t had any time to ponder the deep, existential, seismic change that empty apartments represents. We haven’t even cut our lawn yet. I’m waiting for that “holy crap this is real” moment.

In the meantime, we will keep trying to enjoy our new life while chipping away at the monstrous project we started when our mortgage went through.

Love Army

I am the luckiest, most blessed person ever. Lately I’ve felt so valued by my beautiful friends and family. I’ve also felt totally overwhelmed by everything that’s going on in my life. So basically, I’m joyverwhelmed.

Since I last posted, we moved everything we own into our new home, unpacked dozens of boxes, and painted broad expanses of cracked, uneven wall. I also celebrated my 29th birthday, organized a bachelorette party for one of my dearest friends, and started a new job.

Me, in the chaos of our kitchen

Me, in the chaos of our kitchen

In between all of that, we tried — and failed — to find time to do boring things like check our mail, do our laundry and pay our bills.

We also tried to settle into a new, Elmvale routine. So far our routine is: wake up at 7 a.m., put in a full day of work, have takeout dinner (note: it took us under 10 days to try ALL of Elmvale’s takeout), work on the house until 2 a.m., zombie to bed, and then do it all over again.

Under normal circumstances (note: nothing about August has been normal) I would have buckled under the magnitude and weight of all this change. It’s all good stuff, but sometimes it feels like a big, heavy pile on my shoulders. The thing is, I have a veritable army of people propping me up and keeping me moving. My love army.

Dozens of people have stopped by to say hello and lend a hand. Far too many to thank. My uncle Dan left half an hour ago after spending his whole night moving my washer and dryer.

My friend Cynthia was the first to strip wallpaper with me

My friend Cynthia was the first to strip wallpaper with me

Over 20 individuals came by on my birthday to help strip the acres of wallpaper that used to cover this house. Some — my dad, aunt Denise and uncle Dean — were here from 9 a.m. in the morning to 10:30 p.m. at night.

When the army took a break to eat Life’s a Slice Pizza (note: it arrived an hour late because the small Elmvale pizzeria had never made 3 party-sized pizzas at once before) I felt surrounded by love. It was in the gluten-free birthday cake my sister baked just for me, the aching shoulder our friend Donna braved to free our bathroom of sheep, and the bus ticket my old university roommate Steph bought to get here.

My cousin Duncan, sister Genevieve and mother Helena lighting my birthday cake

My cousin Duncan, sister Genevieve and mother Helena lighting my birthday cake

Without all of our loved ones, we would have had to fix up this big old house on our own. We’re not even close to done yet, but they literally saved us months of work.

I promise to post pictures of our progress soon. But before talking about our new space, I needed to devote a little bit of cyberspace to the unsung heroes of this brief, hectic period of my life. Thank you all for sharing in this transition. For helping me bear the load. And for loving me enough to strip wallpaper.