Category Archives: Home

Our New Entrance

This past week before school started, Kelvin and I decided to redo our front entrance way. This is what it looked like before we got started (but picture it with rows of shoes underneath the jackets).

photoThe first things we did were spackle, sand, and wash. Then we started with our coats of ultra pure white paint. We loved the effect we got when we painted our dining room white last  year so we used the same factory white. It always looks terrible after the first coat.

imageOnce that was all dry, we taped off the area for stripes and painted those “Jamaican Sea” blue. I’ve seen this on pinterest and on home design blogs very often, but we weren’t sure if it was going to work. Luckily, Kelvin found this technique online to help with getting crisp lines with no bleeding. We used this Scotch blue painter’s tape and sealed the edges in by painting over the tape with the white paint before applying our accent colour.

image_2The last thing we needed to do was move the new furniture in and install the shelf and hooks. Now we have tons of shoe storage and a lovely little nook to greet us when we come home.

photo (1)

Refuge from the heat

I’ve been living here for almost 2 years now. I made it through last summer with just ceiling fans. But this summer, with two of us in the house, the need for central air in our little home became glaringly obvious. Our furnace was due for removal anyways, so we decided to do it all at once. And now, I am writing to you from our little climate-controlled piece of heaven.

Reader, meet Bess. She’s our new learning thermostat. It’s only her first day, so she is still adjusting to her surroundings. But over time, she will learn our habits and keep our home happy while we’re away. She looks pretty sleek, and everything makes so much more sense coming from her! Kelvin and I can both control her via our iPhones or our computers. Here’s to many happy years together!

The Black Hole that is Costco

It is virtually impossible to go to Costco and come out empty-handed.

Pretty much right after we got married, Kelvin and I went to Costco to sign up for our memberships. Since then, we have been going to Costco on a weekly basis. Sometimes we spend a little, sometimes we spend a lot, but always, we leave with something wonderful for our home.

20130626-190528.jpg

These bowls we actually bought before we got our membership (we went in with some friends…), but we have been using them so much that we wanted to share the goodness with the rest of the world. Kelvin was hesitant to buy them because they were so fruity-looking, but I convinced him otherwise. He has since changed his mind. He uses them all the time.

We love them because the box came with four different bowls that nest into each other for easy storage. The big plus is that they each have lids, which are so handy for transporting the bowls to potlucks and what not. They’re still at Costco for some ridiculously low price (I want to say $19.99). Trust us, they’re a steal.

Brunch

Usually Sundays are our unwind day. We’ll go to church in the morning and then we have small group or a Bible study at night. Those 6-7 hours in between are some of the most relaxing and, often, productive times that we have to do stuff around the house. Lately, and by lately I mean the past couple of months, we’ve been finding ourselves eating out for brunch quite a bit after church.

IMG_1684

Now that Gary and Joyce are regularly attending our church we’ve had some additions to the brunch table and we decided that we should try to eat in every so often.

IMG_1682

IMG_1734

This past week we had our weekly brunch at Pat’s place. There was this crazy smorgasbord of waffles, breakfast casserole, bacon, fruit, and of course a cheese platter! Since joining our new small group at church I’ve realized how awesome cheese+fruit platters are and so at every “home” brunch I’ll try to put a simple platter out. I also tried making sangria for the first time. It did not turn out great. In hindsight I should have put more fruit juice (maybe try a lemonade next time) and less wine. Oh well!

Christmas

Just some shots from what we’ve been up to over the Christmas break. It’s really great that Cat and I are able to work in similar fields, which means that most of our vacations coincide with each other (except I don’t get summers off!).

Image

Our annual family Christmas party was in Kingston this year, and it just so happened that some of my cousins’ little ones from a branch of the family that we don’t see often joined us this year! So my brother and I decided to host a gingerbread house event (it wasn’t really a contest) for the little guys at his place. My cousin at the end of the table there is an architect in Montreal so he was REALLY into it with his open floor plan gingerbread condo complex.

Image

Things were so busy this year between me traveling for work shortly before the Christmas break and heading to Toronto to spend some time with Cat’s family that my parents didn’t get their presents until after Christmas day! Early on Boxing Day my brother and I headed over to my parents place to give them in person.

Image

Catherine and I were totally loaded up on gift cards from Christmas and we decided to spend most of them on home decor. I ended up getting some JBL Duet II speakers for a real bargain at Home Sense and Catherine picked up a few more coffee table books. We also decided that we should spend some time during the break sprucing up our dining room. First part of the project was to remove the horrendous wallpaper trim that has been assaulting my eyes since we first bought the place. I REALLY hated that wallpaper.

Image

Next phase was taping off everything. I originally wanted to try painting the whole main floor, but we quickly realized that it would be way too much work. You can see our little test strip of paint over where Cat was – it was really hard to judge how the room would look based on that one tiny little portion.

Image

This is after two coats of Ultra Pure White by Behr. I love the way it brightens up the space, even at night the white paint makes such a huge difference. We’re going to have to reintroduce colour on that main wall there so that it doesn’t look so washed out, but we’re both really pleased with the outcome so far. This project only cost us about $50 (plus $20 for lunch from Kenko!) which is HUGE savings compared to hiring someone to do it but I’m not sure if I would be as thrilled to do the rest of the main floor. It’s a lot of work doing the prep work for painting (spackle, sanding, washing) and our entry way has a lot of tight corners. Oh well, maybe in the spring.

EDIT: We finished up the dining room today. This is what it looks like!

IMG_1647

From the Archives: Setting Up House

As I was clearing out my dropbox (I’m up to 3.5 GB now! Still nowhere close to Kelvin’s capacity, but it’s getting better…) I came across these two shots from when we were trying to accessorize our living room.

Is it just me or do we look really little in this picture? Anyways, those frames are from IKEA (Black Ribba frames!), and the drawings are just sketches I did of Princess Street, which is one of our main E-W arteries in Kingston. We took this picture by placing the camera on the stairs and setting it on a timer. Clearly I am more ready than Kelvin…or maybe he was asking me where I wanted it. In the end, we opted to put three pictures up instead of two, because we felt that two looked too empty. (In an interesting turn of events, Kelvin actually wants to get white frames now…)

ImageNow this is what we envisioned on our side walls – two levels of shelving to make for more interesting frame and picture combinations. However, once we put the three Princess St. sketches up, it was too heavy to put both shelves up, so we now only have one. The remaining shelf is still sitting in our hallway, waiting for a home.

(A)typical Saturday

Saturdays in Kingston are typically now our free days. I’ll spend a couple of hours at work in the morning and by lunchtime the day is ours again. Our favourite lunch place to hit is a little Japanese hole-in-the-wall in Portsmouth Village near the university. I don’t want to say the name here because this joint is so small and so good that people will no doubt flock to it in droves.

Lunch here is always so so so soooo good and typical to Kingston, the owners of this Japanese establishment are Korean but the food is delicious and the value is just right. During lunch today Cat and I tried to map and time out how to best use the rest of our day. We decided that we would first go for a hike at Marshlands Conservation area along Front Road. Catherine has been wanting to show me this place ever since she went on one of her biking excursions down there.

The trail itself, I’ll admit, was a bit boring. It’s certainly not the lengthiest or most varied trail in Kingston, but it definitely has it’s charm. We came across a couple of link ups to the train tracks, which brought out the inner vagabond in us. There was also these really neat crossing points that had the trail turn into a wooden plank bridge across the marshlands. Also unlike typical trails this one was a straight line, meaning that once we got to the end point (Queen Mary Road) we had to turn around on the same trail. I don’t know how often we’ll come back to this trail for our hikes since it’s quite far from where we live but it’s pretty awesome for people who live close by!

After the hike we decided that we should head to the Hudson Bay Company at the mall. Earlier an aunty from our former church dropped off a gift card on behalf of the moms and dads of the youth that we used to work with. It was such a sweet and generous thing of them to do. We’ve been in the market for a vacuum cleaner for the past 4-6 months and much to Cat’s resentment I’ve been holding us off on the purchase until I’ve “completed my research”, which basically means scouring the internet for vacuum reviews. Appliances are kind of my thing so Cat is more than happy to let me have at it, even if it means our carpets go unclean for longer periods of time. Just as an obligatory hygiene note: we have been borrowing my parents’ spare vacuum for the past little while, so our house IS clean!

When it comes to picking out appliances or other products I’ll turn to my friend Terry, who got engaged around the same time as Catherine and I, and we’ll get into lengthy email/text conversations about which brand is best and why. Terry, along with my parents, pointed us in the direction of Miele, a German company who has basically written the book on how to design the cutest looking vacuums while making them incredibly functional. These bad boys, depending on the model, can range from $400-1200.

So walking into the Bay I knew what brand/model-ish we wanted and had coerced Catherine into being okay with buying a $600 vacuum (hehe), reassuring her that I knew what I was doing. Man did we ever get lucky. As we walk up to the vacuum section there’s only two of the S2 canister models left, one of which was a fairly dinged up floor model and the other was a sealed box model with no price. The floor model had a sticker on it that said $359.99 (MSRP $599). I started freaking out to Catherine because I felt like we had totally lucked out on that price, even if it was for a floor model. A sales associate comes by and I ask about the floor model and he mentions that there’s a sealed box model on top (duh) and that it’s priced at $359.99 as well. I don’t even remember if he finished his sentence before I told him that we would take it. AND since we had giftcards, we ended up only paying about $100 for this vacuum.

Our new Miele vacuum on the right, aptly named Blueberry the Blue vacuum. My parents’ Miele S2 on the left, which Catherine dubbed PomPom (for pomegranate)

It’s hard to explain my emotions on getting this amazing Miele S2 Continuum canister vacuum with powerhead and HEPA certified filters for basically 1/6 of the price. We’re so domestic-ized.