Mini Bathroom Renovation: The Before Picture

Okay, so all I have is the before picture right now because poor Muppet and his brother are still knee deep in it, so to speak. I am very excited by the prospect of a new dual flush toilet and some actual ceramic tiles in the upstairs bathroom, though.

Apparently, taking off the toilet revealed a nest of what we like to call ‘beetles’ but, let’s face it, they’re really those gross big city roaches that our cat likes to capture during the night and dump in his kibble bowl as a trophy (much to the displeasure of our other cat). This necessitated a trip to Home Depot for something to take care of the situation. I didn’t ask. I don’t want to know.

Aaaaand here is the bathroom in all its current glory.

I am hoping that by the end of the day there will be a toilet back in place because I do not want to consider having to run all the way downstairs in the middle of the night to answer the call of nature. Also, I am not altogether sure that Monkey is awake enough when he gets up to realize there is no toilet in place. This could get ugly. I’ll keep you posted.


Iced Tea Ecstasy

So, I am a bit of a caffeine addict. At times in my life, I have been on the hard stuff (coffee), but I have managed to wean myself off for the most part and now I am mostly drinking black tea to the tune of about 4 big cups a day. Which is fine and all, until the disgusting heat and humidity hits and you would rather sell your own children to the circus than do absolutely ANYTHING that makes you sweat even more than you already are. Entrer Iced Tea Ecstasy!!

Honestly, I must be a little slow on the uptake because it has taken me this long to even think about switching my steamy beverage for its sweet, icy counterpart. Maybe its because I absolutely loathe any kind of store bought iced tea. I also had a couple of bad experiences in the States with their nasty, unsweetened versions. So, when I came across this recipe on this blog, I had to give it a whirl…

All I can say is OH MY GOD, I AM SOOOO HOOKED. Here is a picture of it brewing away on my stovetop with mint picked fresh from my garden…








The only thing I would add to the original recipe is that I used Tetley Dark tea bags, which is a richer, stronger tea. But, I am not a minimalist, so I like my iced tea strong, sweet and very minty. I put about 20 mint leaves in there and it leaves you with a nice fresh aftertaste. I also probably put more than one lemon’s worth of juice in there but to each his or her own.

And here is the finished product, ready to be enjoyed. Have I mentioned that photography isn’t my strong suit? ENJOY!!

Vi’s House Is Falling Down

I love my house, in all its 92 year old glory. Yet I am realizing that a relationship with a house is like a marriage. If you don’t work at it, it falls apart. Didn’t I read somewhere that 7 years is like some kind of bump in the road for marriages, like if you make it to 7 you either get divorced or go on for another 20. Well, the house and I have hit that 7 year mark and I am a little worried it wants a trial separation.

You have to understand that when I say 92 years old, I am not talking about one of those gems where you strip off some paint to find gorgeous mahogany underneath, where the lot is vast and the ceilings high and glorious. Nope. I’m talking about 92 years in east end Toronto. Rumour has it our streets were once a bit of a ghetto for the factory workers of the east end docks.and portland. No stained glass and expensive wood here, folks, and that’s maybe why I love it so much. Our house is sturdy and bare bones, practical and strong, just like my ancestors! But now, it is showing its age.

My loving partner is not a handyman, as you may have guessed by his moniker. Muppet does not exactly conjur up visions of a do-it-yourself kind of guy with a wrench in one hand and a hammer in the other. He is much more at home sculpting clay action figures of Plants vs. Zombies for the Monkey or teaching Mini Me and his buddies how to play Dungeons and Dragons.  Total geek, totally not handy.

But this summer, I’m putting my foot down. If we don’t look after this poor old house, it’s going to fall down around us sooner rather than later. So, where to start? Well, there’s the front porch that desperately needs replacing, the back mud room which has to be drywalled, insulated and tiled, after a flood last year that left the old drywall stained and crumbling. Then there’s the upstairs bathroom floor with its loose peel and stick tiles, the kitchen with its scuffed peel and stick that is about 5 layers deep. Oh, and the two toilets that need to be replaced with low flow before the city forces us to put in the new water meters. Sigh.

Oh, and did I mention that hiring somebody to do all of this for us is totally out of our budget? Yep. Let the games begin! Maybe I should start submitting our poor old house to some of those home improvement shows that will take pity on you and do the stuff for free? I wonder if I can convince Mike Holmes that he has to ‘make it right’ around here.

The fun starts next week with the mud room and I am going to document the hell out of this because I’m sure it’s going to be a crap load of frustration and hard work but this is a relationship worth saving. We’ve invested 7 years and I want to do whatever it takes to get over this hump. Wish me luck!

Downtown Zen

I had to travel downtown today to drop my son off at his summer camp because his dad is at the dentist. I was really looking forward to the change of pace not to mention popping in to the fancy Winners store nearby

As we took the subway across town this feeling started to creep up on me. Not only was my baby growing up but he was such a city kid. He knew which end of the train would get him closer to the stairs at his destination. He had his tickets securely tucked in his pocket and confidently led me to the museum, our destination, along a path I hadn’t considered.

As we walked down the street towards the museum I felt wave after wave of realization hit me. What a lovely city Toronto is on a summer morning with the sun shining. How much it felt like Manhattan or Paris with its sidewalks still rolled up, tourists absent, and locals heading to work. The museum is reminiscent of the Natural History Museum in Manhattan and overlooks a grand boulevard filled with imposing and beautiful buildings.

And here we were, Mini Me and I right in the thick of it. Him in his Pokemon t-shirt and backpack, lunch packed sunscreen applied. Ready for another day at architecture camp. I always wanted my kids to have the opportunities I never did and this morning I realized that I had done it.

We live in this truly beautiful city and as Torontonians we tire of hearing the term “world class” because it sometimes sounds like our Canadian way of asserting ourselves despite our insecurities. But truly, I feel so privileged to be here and to let me kids enjoy all it has to offer.

Now, I realize there is a lot of dislike for Toronto in other parts of the country, and this big city is not everybody’s cup of tea. But my little love- fest for my adopted city is about more than buildings and summer camps. It’s me realizing how much I have to be grateful for in my life and to take stock. As a teen living in southern Ontario I dreamed of the kinds of things I get to do all the time now. I look up and can see the CN tower from my neighborhood. I take the subway, I go to concerts, restaurants, plays, musicals, dance clubs (or at least I did until I had the kids!).  I live amongst like-minded people who agree with my life views. I can take virtually any kind of class that I can dream of for fun or education. I can be whomever, and love whomever I chose without raising an eyebrow. I have this city to thank for me realizing my dreams. I hope my kids will have the same, and for that I am grateful.

Ugly Bug Ball

Since my posts have been so serious and introspective lately, I bring you… bugs making out in my backyard. Seriously, I went out to hang the laundry yesterday morning and find these two huge reddish-brown beetles hanging onto the underside of a branch… and each other. I didn’t want to interrupt anything, so I took the picture and skeedaddled. Thing is, I went out there 4 hours later and THEY WERE STILL AT IT!!!! These beetles were having some kind of kinky tantric sex marathon in my backyard. I walked away slowly and they were still at it when I last checked at 7pm last night. I don’t even want to go out there and look this morning. What happens in my backyard, stays in my backyard (shudder!).

Fat Is Not The Enemy

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately putting pressure on myself to be something I’m not. I’m lucky enough to work from home and part of my daily tasks is to follow a bunch of health and wellness bloggers. These are amazing women (and yes, they’re almost all women. Seriously, don’t guys blog?) who are striving to live fulfilled, lhealthy lives. Some have kids. Some don’t. Some have overcome tremendous physical hurdles to become fit and happy and I love to hear about their journeys.

I think I’m the kind of gal who focusses on what I should be rather than what I am, so these blogs have been doing a bit of a number on me lately. Raw food. Vegan food. Daily workouts. Yoga. Meditation. Smoothies that are an alarming shade of green. Quitting an office job to be a fitness coach, zumba instructor, yogi, life counsellor. I wonder why I can’t do that too. Why can’t I find the passion for health and fulfillment that these women have. They are so awesome and I am so obviously lacking.

Then it kind of hit me while I’m sitting here at Timmies having my medium coffee (double cream, one sweetener) that I am passionate. I am passionate about being me but I somehow don’t seem to think that’s enough.

I am more fit now than I have been since I was 20. I exercise pretty much every day even if it’s only the 35 minutes or so it takes me to walk the kids to and from school. I eat pretty healthy most of the time. I cook lovely homemade meals and bake cookies so my kids get a least a few less preservatives in their bodies. And if this keeps the scale over the number I idealize in my head, then maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.

I’m not saying there are things I wouldn’t improve. I’m an emotional eater and stress always finds me munching on something. I love wine and a night chatting with the girls while splitting a bottle or two.

I guess my realization is that I need to be good enough for myself and figure out what that means. I can be my own worst enemy or my own best friend and maybe if I’m kinder to myself, I will find it easier to make more little changes. Yes, I take cream in my coffee today, but hey, at least I didn’t order a donut. One small step for woman…