He's baaacckk!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My dad came back from Antarctica a week ago yesterday. He had his new Canon Xsi, and a bunch of lenses, and took some of the best pictures he's ever taken (that I know of). Here are some notes from his trip along with just a few of my favourite pictures. There were so many to choose from.

"We went farther than the Polar Star had gone before, to 67.33.9, a full degree past the Antarctic Circle. I only used 40 % of my pictures, 250 used. In some ways not editing them would have given a better picture of what it was really like. I have some great pictures and some good pictures (some not as good) but it gives you an idea of what it was like. On our first zodiac ride, it was drizzling, then it turned to rain and then snow blowing horizontal, but all the rest were good. We had one landing at 0500 and another at 0530. We had recaps every day and frequent info sessions. The ship was good, the food was good and people were good and Antarctica is like no other place I have seen. Ice bergs are classified, Growler <1m, Bergy Bit was between 5m and 15 m, small were bigger than 15 m by 50 m.

large iceberg
leopard seals
penguin chick
whale bones
penguin toboganning

Gee, I wish I could have gone.



Monday, February 23, 2009

I knew it would happen eventually, but I never imagined it would happen before they were even installed. I found a set of lights that I prefer to the ones I bought for the basement bar.

The lights I bought

The lights I want

I wonder if it's too late to take the other lights back? Just kidding DH!


Basement Reno Home Stretch

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Now that week 15 of our renovation is over, we are in the home stretch. It has taken much, much longer than planned, but the cost hasn't changed, and we are very happy with the quality. The guys that work in our basement are considerate and polite, so it isn't a hardship to have them here. I could do without the mess, but they really haven't been too disruptive. The main inconveniences are the boxes in the spare room and living room, the chest freezer in the kitchen (which is also handy sometimes), and the garage full of stuff that belongs in the basement storage room. Shot with my 50 mm lens so I couldn't get the whole back wall in the photo!
Our cabinetry was delivered and installed last week. We got maple cabinets, with a dark brown stain installed in our bar. To break up the expanse of cabinetry on the back wall, and to save a few dollars, we installed IKEA's Utby shelving unit between two maple cabinets. Black granite countertops from Peribonka, Quebec will be installed in a few weeks. They've really thought of everything as they installed an outlet for the fridge and also an outlet at the end of the bar (for blenders, I presume!) We're getting a round, undermount, stainless steel sink, and a stainless steel faucet. We have no upper cabinets. I have a really cool idea for art for over the bar. Stay tuned for that.

Below is the armoire we had built to cover up the entrance to the crawl space and the drain vent for the plumbing in the mud room. We have removeable panel in the middle in case we ever need to access the crawl space. DH and I have big plans to put some really big art in that niche. One day.

The armoire will anchor the 'games' area of the basement. We have a games table that DH's late, carpenter grandfather built. We may get that reinforced or put on a pedestal so we can use it for playing cards, doing puzzles, or playing board games.
The armoire's top portion fits board games perfectly, and we have an enormous collection. The bottom cabinets and the drawers (with lovely slow-close hinges! I heart slow-close hinges) will probably end up housing toys for the next few years.

In the foreground, you can make out the cork flooring. It is from Portugal, which goes against the 100-mile basement rule which we have been following for the most part, but it is a sustainable, reneweable choice, hypoallergenic, soft on the feet and attractive to look at.

On one side of the bar is a half wall, which it will share with a large sectional, which we'll be able to afford in about a million years. DH even ran speaker wires, cable, etc. so we won't have any wires sticking out anywhere. We'll have a little TV area there.

The tinted primer on the walls doesn't show the final colour choice. Once I saw the tinted primer, I got cold feet on the colours we had picked in the designer's office. Now that the pot lights are working, I'm even more convinced that changing the colour was a good idea. We've changed the main living area to Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore. The bedroom will be Hemp Seed. The bathroom will remain a sea foam green by SICO called Shark Fin. We couldn't afford the back painted glass tiles on all of the powder room walls, so this paint colour is the next best thing.

There is a large bedroom downstairs too, but there really wasn't anything to photograph. It fits a queen-sized bed perfectly, and has a rather large closet. We put one pot light over each bed-side table, and I think it will be a great guest room until Mr. Boy decides he would like to sleep as far away from his parents as possible.

I would show you a picture of our powder room and custom vanity too, but due to a communications problem, the vanity we received will have to be redone and we won't get to see it for a few weeks. I think I will be suggesting to the contractor that clients should have the opportunity to talk directly to the cabinet maker. We had a very good idea of what we wanted, and even had a picture of one which only needed a slight modification. We gave this information to the designer, down the direction of grain we wanted. Unfortunately, this information didn't make it to the cabinet maker. What he made is beautiful and the quality is great, but it isn't what we wanted. He felt bad and we felt bad, but the contractor is taking care of it. I can't tell you how many times they have said things like "we just want you to be happy." And we are!


Nature Walk in the Snow

Saturday, February 21, 2009

It is beautiful weather here. Just below freezing, and a bit of snow. No wind. Ahh. Nice.

Geoff suggested we go on a nature walk, so DH and I packed up the kids and headed over to the pond to take a walk. I brought the camera, of course. January is always the month where I take the least photos, and now that there is more light and I feel like taking photos again.

I took a bunch of photos of Geoff and the girls, as well as of my family. I asked DH to take a picture of me with Precious on my back. It's nice to have a picture of myself. Precious looks so cute because of her adorable toque that Great-Grandma made, as well as her pale white skin with a red nose.

I had a girl's night out with a few friends last night and it was really nice to catch up and the location was perfect for talking. I went to a work-related education session this morning, and it was a little slow at times, but all-in-all the 4 hours flew by. Tonight, we're going out for dinner. Tomorrow the two older kids are going skiing.

DH's dad has gone back home. My dad got back from Antarctica on Tuesday. My mom came back from Barbados today and my brother's on the way back from Myrtle Beach as we speak.

I'm feeling very excited about winter coming to a close. There was hardly any snow this year. My basement is almost done. Precious' speech is coming along really well. I'm applying for a new job and I'm excited by the prospect. I feel lucky to have such a great family and great friends. My husband's company isn't doing too well, but we'll survive.


Reading a Book

Thursday, February 19, 2009

DH and I went on a romantic weekend back in September and I read an excerpt of a book called The Night of the Gun, by David Carr. I was fascinated by the story this man who is a journalist, married, with three children. A former crackhead and drug dealer, he sets out to tell his story. Only problem is, he can't remember a lot of it. So, rather than tell his story, he asked others, checked police records, and researched his own autobiography.

When I got back from the weekend, I requested the book from the local library. I guess quite a few other people had heard of this book, too, as I was a long way down the list of people waiting for it. When others are waiting for a given book, the library will only lend it out for one lending period (3 weeks), rather than three lending periods (9 weeks).

DH's dad came to visit for a week, and I've had a bit of a head cold for two days, and I volunteered at Mr. Boy's school, etc., etc., meaning I haven't had time to blog. I've been too busy reading. I have to finish this book before my three weeks runs out. Everything else will just have to wait.


Thinking Outside the (Big) Box (Store)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The contractor for the basement dropped by yesterday. We're now in week 623 of our basement renovation. No, that's not right, it actually week 77 but feels like week 623. Wait. Let me check the calendar. Seriously, we're in the middle of week 14 of our basement reno. Tomorrow, it'll be 3 months since it started. There's been someone here every non-holiday or weekend, save three. Sometimes there were 6 guys down there at once, but often just the two regular guys.

The 'guys' are working on installing the cork floor today, and they claim they'll be done that today, but they went out almost 2 hours ago and I haven't seen them since. The doors, painting and trim still need to be done. The cabinetry should be delivered this Friday or next Tuesday. The lights all need to be installed. The bathroom toilet, vanity, etc are still not put in. Still, it feels like we are getting to the end. Last week, I made a last minute paint colour change. The main living area was an icy blue, and now it is more of a gray. The bedroom was a deep tan with a lot of yellow, and now it is a much lighter tan with a green undertone. The bathroom is still sea foam green.

When the contractor dropped by yesterday, he asked me about the undermount sink we had chosen for the bar. I said "what undermount sink?", to which he replied that people who pay for granite usually get undermount sinks because it looks so much better and they don't really have to cost much more than the overmount sinks, so why wouldn't I get an undermount? I didn't say anything, but I was thinking that I went through a lot of trouble to get a good deal on an IKEA sink, since I had to make more than one trip, and I was pricing out and comparing overmount sinks all along, and I bought the sink so long ago, that the return time has probably expired, and I have only a couple of days to decide which undermount to buy and I don't know the first thing about them!

So, in a bit of a panic last night, I looked up undermount sinks at Home Depot. I guess I could find a decent one for about $400, but that is WAY more than the IKEA sink we had picked out. And I liked the round sink we had chosen, and what a hassle it'll be to have to return the old sink. Just like in any project, communication is really the hardest part. The contractor assumed that the designer had told us to get an undermount, and we've never designed a bar before nor had granite countertops, so it never occured to us, plus we overspent on the lighting and were looking for ways to save money. Good news is, there is a Home Depot near me and I'll head out and get an undermount sink today and have it here when the cabinets are installed so they can see it when they template for the countertops.

I hope to share 'after' photos with you very soon.


Random Notes on Life

Monday, February 9, 2009

This is my first time trying one of these 'random' posts. Should be fun!

1. My mom left today for a vacation in Barbados.
2. We got our new central vac installed yesterday. Sad to say, it may have been the highlight of the weekend.
3. I forgot how sore my shins and ankles get when I play soccer after not playing for a while. Ouch.
4. I've been carpooling to work for a couple of months because of a transit strike.
5. I love the Twilight series of books, but haven't read Breaking Dawn, and I thought the movie Twilight was terrible.
6. I secretly want to write four bestsellers. (O.K. The secret's out now)
7. I'm pretty pleased that my hockey team is doing so well this year.
8. My father-in-law is coming for a visit.
9. I don't eat enough vegetables.
10. I'm tired of doing Photoshop tutorials, so I went to the library and got a book about makeup, of all things.
11. I never wear my glasses except while driving and watching movies.
12. I find it pretty overwhelming to stay on top of my son's homework/schedule/lunches/piano, and volunteering in his class, and he's only in grade one.
13. I stopped watching Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters, just until Lost wraps up.
14. I have a black cat whose fur is constantly full of knots.
15. One of my pet peeves is a ring of milk left in the bottom of the glass. Another is how DH always manages to leave (forget?) one item on the counter when he puts away the groceries.
16. I am a sucker for the movie Beaches and I will always sob at the end.
17. I think President Obama is pretty cool. The President, in one of his fingers, has as much sense, transparency and charisma as our Prime Minister.
18. My dream retirement includes nightly walks with DH, after supper.
19. I can speak French (well), and Japanese (not so well).
20. I shop at Costco.
21. I hate trying on pants.
22. I love playing euchre.
23. I go to bed really early.
24. I'm done having kids.
25. I wonder if my basement will ever be done.


Taking Care of Business

Friday, February 6, 2009

I haven't had as much time for blogging, or chatting with Christine lately because I've been exercising more. I joined GoodLife but only get there around once a week. I go to the gym at workusually once a week. I play hockey once or twice a week. I try to do yoga about once a week.

My yoga pass, at this great yoga studio expires at the beginning of March, and with 10 weeks to go, I still had 13 classes left. That means that rather than wondering 'should I go to yoga this weekend?', it's more like "how many times can I get to yoga this week?" I've been going once or twice a week since mid-December, and it's been really great. The more I go, the better it is. I'm more flexible and I don't take as long to recover between classes.

Most of the time when I do yoga, I feel powerful and centred. I love the deep breathing, and doing yoga in a heated room. Sometimes I'm humbled, like when I can't get into a certain pose, or when I can't hold it very long. I know yoga isn't competitive, but every so often, I look around and notice that 'old ladies' and even men who look a bit like retired linebackers are doing poses better than me. So I'm humbled once again. My yoga instructor, Heather, is like one of those twisty pretzels, and she is so strong and lean, it's awe-some.

I have what could be called a 'strong' practice. I have parts of my practice that are stronger than other parts. I am usually good at focussing. My balance postures are great, and I can do most poses that require strong legs. I love doing back bends like upward facing bow and wheel. Things that require strong abs like crow and handstand are quite challenging for me.

The thing I love and hate about yoga is that there is always another challenge ahead. Some days, even the 'easy' poses are hard. No matter how much I practice, there will still be poses that I won't be able to do. And the only person you really have to answer to when you're doing yoga is yourself.

Yoga is a daily exploration. In my dreams, I have time to do an hour or 90 minutes of yoga every day. Wouldn't that be nice?


Monday, February 2, 2009

I edited some photos using actions by Pioneer Woman. I plan to replace the photos over the couch in our family room. They're about a year old now. I'm really excited to see these pics blown up and hanging on the wall!



Sunday, February 1, 2009

My dad left here for Toronto on Friday. From Toronto, he was off to Buenos Aires (Argentina), then onto the southernmost part of South America. He'll leave on a cruise ship and head over to Antarctica. The weather right now, in their summer, is similar to our winter.

My dad headed out with a ton of photographic equipment, and I expect to see a ton of photos from him when he gets back. Maybe he'll see a whale or two. Some seals, and possibly a penguin or two.


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