House update

I’m taking a quick break from Georgian’s Got Talent Benefit Concert shenanigans (show is tomorrow and Friday and tickets can be purchased here!) to update you all on the state of my house.

After stripping acres of wallpaper last summer and painting walls last fall, we took an extended home maintenance break.

Snowy road

This was my drive to work late last week

Probably too long a break, actually. I blame the horrid winter we’re (still!) enduring.

We hired a nice handyman named Scott to clean out our eaves troughs just after Halloween. They froze before he could get to them, so he said he’d come by at the first thaw. Well, the thaw never came.

I just did the math and that’s almost five months – or about 40% of the whole damn year – under ice.

We didn’t spend those five months hammering away as planned, but we did pick up fun new skills like pipe thawing, flood fighting, car boosting, and ice chipping – all vital when powering through cold, cold February in a Victorian home.

In any case, we’re getting back into the swing of things — our energy levels rising as the days grow longer. JF is nailing in our new powder room ceiling as I type.

First priority when things thaw? Stripping the addition’s siding so we can insulate the mudroom. There goes the hardwood floor budget, but at least we’ll avoid more long winter nights holding hairdryers to our pipes.

Here are some photos of our space as it looked last weekend. There are about a zillion things that don’t look right or need to be fixed, but it’s feeling like home.

Heather and Jerry left us this lovely sign for our front porch

Heather and Jerry left us this lovely sign for our front porch

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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.