Look, all Instagram pretty!

Bathroom Reno Update (Iphone Version)

Look, all Instagram pretty!

Look, all Instagram pretty!

A few months ago I posted about a renovation we were going to undertake…and how I feared it.

Well, the time is here. The leak that propelled us into the sphere of renovations would not stop, despite all our best attempts. The fact that the shower would only pour water into the downstairs hallway when I showered will forever be a sore spot for me.

We are in the middle of the job right this very minute, camped out in the boy’s bathroom, while our bathroom is being rejuvenated…renovated…reconfigured even. The dust and mess is not bad, our contractor and his team are great and thank goodness for the guiding design hands of the gang at Lux Decor because without them? This would be one fugly bathroom redo.

Things I have learned is that you never know what you are going to find when you open the walls up. In this case, at least we were assured that the renovation was justified as we discovered a ton of water damage, soggy wood and soaked concrete. Our shower was finished and heading to the point of mold and disaster.

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Also? When the walls are opened up, you do not want to close them. Let the sun shine in on our new shower space…and new glass and new doors. Yikes. Sunshine is expensive.

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We are totally going to just put it back the way we found it…

Oh wait...didn't there used to be a wall there?

Oh wait…didn’t there used to be a wall there?

We are still committed to the plan to update the existing cabinetry and keep our bath, toilet and vanity…but I have to be honest…the urge to change everything is strong.

Oh, well that is a half truth. Because if I had to actually make a design decision? It would never happen. Shopping for all the fun stuff? Is not fun for me. I suck at it. I went for a shower head and ended up like a dear in headlights. THE CHOICE. How do people decide? I had to leave the store. I could not handle it. I think shopping for a vehicle is easier than shopping for a new shower system. Who knew there was so…much…choice??? The best decision I made was letting someone else make the decisions using my somewhat paltry input (herringbone floors! Apparently that is all that I was able to share in my 200 Houzz master bathroom idea book) and elevating it with their innate design genius.

This one?

This one?

Or this one?

Or this one?

Or this one?

Or this one?

Or this one?

Or this one? ( Spoiler…it ended up being none of these )

Today some of the walls are being closed up, the shower floor has been poured, shower niche has been niched and a drain style chosen ( who knew drains had style???). We are getting closer! We have been lucky…our experience so far has been way more Bryan Baumler than Mike Holmes but it certainly is no Fixer Upper! This is a dirty job, with surprises around every corner…or rather under a ton of plywood and hiding in drain pipes. Ick. Ick. Ick.

Sometimes you have to deal with the ugly before you get the pretty, just like in real life I guess;)

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I will be prettier in a week, I swear…

 

The irony of this whole thing is that I was going to document every bit of this reno in high res, wide angle, hell maybe even HDR  interior photographer style. Well, that is not happening. When you are in it? You use your phone, you shoot at night and you do not see the creative beauty in the dust. Only dust.

 

 

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This Way to the Magic View

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I feel really badly that I did not share a post about last year’s Ouareau’s Women’s Weekend before I left for this year’s Women’s Weekend.

It was just selfish of me. Maybe I just did not want to share my pumpkin spice cake, homemade and dripping with fresh icing. Or perhaps I feared having to share my nostalgically rustic yet oh so new cabin with anyone other than my sister.

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Or maybe it was the fact that I wanted to up my chances in winning next year’s weekend at the BINGO party. It didn’t happen, I remain a three time loser.

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Okay…I just did not want to share Laukie ( therapy dog and puller of wagons extraordinaire ) with anyone.

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I apologize. I am sorry you missed out on it all.

But, there is a bright side. There is another weekend coming up this weekend. If you move fast, there could be a spot for you in Haida or The Barn or UBG or even Cliffside!

Cliffside. Really.

Cliffside. Really.

And next year? Ouareau is celebrating 10 years of it’s Women’s Weekend! We have already been promised oodles of fun.

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I am wondering what more they can add? This year there was massage (thankyouthankyouthankyou Amber!), facials, archery, hiking, kayaking, swimming ( it was NOT too cold ), rug hooking, raw food demonstrations ( and eating ), fondant flowers on cupcakes ( and more eating ), time shared with Barbie and Laukie, her beautiful therapy dog discussing their experiences, Tanya from Village Cafe sharing her experience as a woman entrepreneur with life/ family balance, photography, ceramics and yoga, just to help you unwind from all the excitement.

And the dock. Really, what more do you need?

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Oh, and there was lots and lots and lots of eating. Meat eaters, vegetarians, lactose free, caffeine lovers, caffeine free types, mushroom connoisseurs…there was food galore for everyone.

I realize that in writing about camp this year, I have not even mentioned the fact that I owe my coming to this weekend to the fact that my daughter is the original Ouareau camper in the family. I have said for years that I feel that the freedom to be herself at camp, surrounded by unique minded, outspoken, capable women has played a huge part in developing my daughter’s beautiful independence.

I can only hope that something similar is rubbing off on me. Next year I am jumping in the lake.

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( For the record, I am totally not sponsored by Ouareau for any of this. Although I would pretty much kill for a Ouareau tuque if any higher ups are listening…)

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My public school exit letter

Dear Public School System,

We are parting ways this summer. I entrusted my youngest to you and you have let him down. I happily listened to the promises of extended second language teaching, manageable class sizes and quality teachers. We were smug in the fact that we were lucky enough to live in the right zone for this school and were not in need of a coveted transfer from out of zone. We even had at our door busing ( the irony of this will be seen further on )!

How great – private school perks at a public school price I thought to myself.

Well, how foolish was I.

It is funny. The two times in my life as a parent that I remember feeling the most ill prepared, frazzled and out of my depth surround the education of my boys. While the situations are somewhat similar ( they are brothers after all ), the first led to a quick change of path within a receptive school system.

This time we were not so lucky.

I still wonder why, when in October, when I asked for insight into why my son was not thriving, we were not listened to.

And then again in December. December, when we started with our own investigation into why this little boy was…just being missed.

And then why in February, as the result of my phone call, finally it was agreed that he was not where he should be. But he is lovely, not a problem at all in class. By then we were well into the private process of assessment. Finally he was receiving some extra support at school…but to the detriment of his self esteem. See? He knew he was being pulled out because he was not as smart as his friends.

I know, I know…that is not the case, he is very very smart…but when you are 6 and being reminded daily that you are not getting the answers right, and that it hurts to write and that you didn’t understand what the question said…well, it is much easier to just slouch down in your chair, rub your eyes and tell your teacher that you are tired. That you can’t do it. That you won’t do it. And then he is just a little less lovely to his teacher, still nice but…

And then the long waited for IEP meeting. Is he getting enough sleep at home? Are you reading to him every night? And we know he changed teachers in the last 6 weeks of school but kids adapt. And he is an August 30th baby and a BOY. So…you know. It is just a case of maturity. He needs to step up. He will adapt. We don’t have many kids with his intelligence in resource. We will let next year’s teacher assess him without giving her too much information. We will reassess him in October.

October?

October?

No, no you won’t. Why? Because if we wait until next October, we will lose my son in your school. He will never be trouble in the class, he will never stand outside the classroom banging on the door, screaming at the teacher, he will never stab another kid with a pencil. He will just quietly fade away until he thinks he really can’t do what his friends are doing until the point he really can’t. It will be a quiet loss, but a very real one.

So, we as parents are left as the ones screaming at the teacher’s door. But we didn’t. We played by the rules and it took eight months to get a meeting that really led nowhere. Well, it led us out the door of the school.

Which is a shame because my kid has lovely friends in the school, and so did I. I was class mom. We were involved. We cared about the school. It was our community.

And when the school let us down in the worst way, the day the school lost him and sent him home to sit by himself on the stairs of an empty house, alone, sobbing for an hour and a half, we did not completely lose our minds.

Even then we did not leave the school. Although we did ditch that originally coveted bus service. We worked with you, biting back our anger and disappointment,  so this would not happen again to another child in our school community.

But dear school…you lost our son in another way. You helped him lose his interest in learning and now we are left trying to recover that spark he had at the beginning of the year, the one that had him curious and excited every day. This is why we must leave.

We simply can not afford another year in your public school. The price for my child is too high.

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Decorating Paralysis

That is what I am suffering from right now.

I am sure Mark will be thrilled that I am finally explaining why we have had a huge hole in our main floor hallway ceiling for months ( okay…if you count the first hole we had fixed after the first leak…then we may be looking at over a year of hallway hole-i-ness ).

The hole has nothing to do with a lack of handiness around the house.

The hole has nothing to do with a lack of qualified professionals available to do the job.

The hole is not something we think adds to the rustic modern aesthetic I would like to aspire to.

No. The hole is evidence of my absolute inability to commit to fixing the problem because it involves decisions and choices and commitment.

While I spend hours photographing and mooning over beautiful rooms, capturing the details and workmanship and essence of what makes a room livable…I am terrified of one room. One master bathroom. Mine. Terrified.

The first part of my resistance started with the fact that this is a perfectly good bathroom. It is well designed with quality materials. It has lovely light. It has a shower that sold us when we saw it for the first time ( yeah, back when I swore never to live on the West Island. It is all this bathroom’s fault I am here). BUT. The shower is leaking. Big time. Although apparently only when I shower.

The water, seeping into the underneath of the tiles, drips down through the ceiling onto the hallway floor below, leaving puddles for unsuspecting family members to slip in. The poor dogs even bore some blame before we realized what was happening.

So, we need to tear apart our perfectly good-on-the-surface shower. Well, we needed to do this 9 months ago. But this is where the paralysis comes in. How do you choose? Floor tiles, wall tiles, shower floor tiles, shower wall tiles, fixtures, grout colour, porcelain, natural stone…so many decisions. Shower surround. Built in niche. Do we need a new countertop? New sinks? New vanity?

What if nothing matches!!!???

I do have a guiding light. The woman who created this bathroom.

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Bathroom designed by Lux Decor, Pointe Claire, Quebec

And this bathroom.

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Bathroom designed by Lux Decor, Pointe Claire, Quebec

And THIS bathroom.

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Bathroom designed by Lux Decor, Pointe Claire, Quebec

I broke down and begged for guidance ( okay, I asked quietly because I do not want to abuse her talents in the name of friendship ) and she told me to grab a pen and start writing down a plan of design attack. It was genius. Now I just have to do it.

So, here are my befores.

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See? A lovely bathroom. That is now warping my downstair floors from a leak we can not fix. Sigh.

We are keeping the tub, and maybe the vanities, and the light fixtures (they are PINK!). The rest is up for discussion. Now to just do it. Let’s see if I have an update before another year passes. At that point it may be “bathroom designed by over the edge husband”.

It may not be such a good look. I better get on it.

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Swapping on a Sunday

Yesterday was our 4th annual clothing swap!

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We ( Holly and I ) held our first swap the very first year we moved to Montreal. I had always wanted to hold one and finally got my act together and committed to it. With nothing but 4 clothing racks, 100 dry-cleaning hangers, 40 cupcakes and the secret ingredient…wine… we waited to see if anyone would come.

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Well, come they did! With their jeans and blazers and shoes and scarves and purses and dresses. Armfuls of clothing, all pretty and pristine and ready for a new home.

A tradition was born.

We have observed some universal truths since that first swap.

We learned that people always bring more than they take. And that everyone has something in their closet with a tag on it.

That there are sizes for everyone. And that everyone loves shoes, shoes, shoes.

That teens need their own space to swap. And that moms love the teen space because we all buy our kids nicer clothes than we buy ourselves.

That the first time a swapper swaps, they are tentative and a little worried. The second time they swap? They are right in there at 2PM, ready for the first grab. 4th year? They do not even make it past the mannequin at the front door before finding something awesome ( yes, you can undress the mannequin…we do not have any stuck up store rules! ).

Cupcakes and brownies are the universal food of swapping…but all the grapes and tomatoes will disappear as well.

That there are swappers who love the dressing room. And swappers who never disrobe.  Ever. Not once in four years.

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 Why, when you can just fit that dress right over top!

Wine.

We have honed some details since that first swap. We made a lot less rules. Tooling around on the internet ( yes, Pinterest ), I found that there are a lot of clothing swap rules. Hell, there was even a clothing swap where the hostess spelled out a dress code to best complement her clothing swap decor.

Nope. We are simple…bring the items sitting, lonely, in your closet that you would want your best friend to wear. The best of your unloved. The pieces you bought because you could not resist them…but that somehow let you down once you got home. You know how that happens. Too often. And then swap them,  allowing them find life again on someone else.

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We really believe that there is clothing waiting for everyone. Especially beautiful jackets that everyone coveted but…like in Cinderalla…was only meant for one!

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In the early years, the swap was totally and completely free.This year we switched that up. We had a dedicated charity and asked that every participant donate 5$ to the cause ( the Sheela Bal Bhavan School in Jaipar, India, if you are curious ). This was awesome and several hundred dollars was raised for an extraordinary cause. Girls helping girls.

And of course, as in the other years, all the left over clothing will be donated to charities supporting women. The teen clothes will go to teens in need  and to India with Holly’s trip. The casual clothes will go to young moms. The business clothing will go to women needing to revamp their wardrobes to re enter the work force. Women helping women.

And so as I look around at my post swap home, waiting to undress those racks and pack up the hangers for another year, I am smiling.

And already planning next year’s swap.

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Let me know if you want in on the fun, new swappers always welcome!

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Oh, this year, we had a photo booth. While this may come across as one of those over the top Pinterest fuelled ideas, let it be known that we had the backdrop and all the props on hand already. So only a little bit crazy. Teeny tiny bit cray cray. Kind of like the photos…

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i can feel the tide changing

There was warmth in the air today. Almost.

Yesterday was a record bracingly cold day, according to CTV’s Lori Graham. I really did not need her to tell me that, but I am glad for the support.

I really thought I would post a day or two of sunshine and we would be back into spring here…but much like the Montreal Canadians taking it in four…it just did not happen.

But I am holding out hope for tomorrow. Sunday. A day of hope.

For the weather and the hockey;).

Let us hope the sun has set on winter, finally…

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sunset in sandiego, california

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I really did not think we would get to this point

It is still freezing. And so I keep posting photos of sunnier times until I am warm.
This morning?
Not warm. Not even close.

Do you remember when you were the hottest you have ever been? The one place that immediately comes to comes to mind for me was Jamaica in the month of September (I can not even imagine summer months!), on a trip with Dabble Magazine. The temperature hit 40+ degrees celsius and I thought I might melt.

Photographing the resort of Goldeneye in Oracabessa on that day, I spotted this ladder descending into the ocean and I wanted nothing more than to jump in…

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ladder + ocean at goldeneye resort, oracabessa, jamaica

I would welcome melting right now.

( That is Nicholas Rosaci up on top, soaking up the heat in long pants and a blazer! Chic until the end, that guy! )

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Springy Ding a Ding

It is here, it is finally here!

Sunshine and blossoms and green everywhere!

Wait.

Or not.

This is Canada. So maybe Spring is taking it’s sweet time getting here. Again. And maybe it is more rain and muck and brown than the lovely hallmark colours of yellow and purple we so desperately need.

What to do. What to do. On instagram, I have been posting daily photos of sunshine and oceans and that wonderful shade of blue that happens in salty sea air. And so I have decided that I will do that here as well.

At least until we are waking up to warm breezes once again.

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surfers in the water in san diego, california

Sigh. That is better.