Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Message From The Universe

"Hello, Nancy?  The universe here."

I love it when the universe sends me a message.

Several months ago, my friend Donna asked if I'd accompany her to Paris this coming summer.  She wanted me to show her the sights of the city I love so well.  To celebrate her 50th birthday.  In style.  Of course I said yes.  I am always excited to share my passions with others.  My dream of becoming a tour guide was coming true!

We immediately booked our plane tickets for July, made arrangements to rent an apartment on the Left Bank, and each of us went on with our busy lives.

A few weeks ago, the Sea-to-Sky Teachers Association held its annual Professional Development Day.  I had arrived early, so went to peruse a table of free books while I waited for my colleagues to come through the door.  I saw a book called 'Path Without Destination' by Satish Kumar and thought, "I think Donna would like to read this."  I picked the book up and carried it with me to the high school multi-purpose room where my teacher friends were sitting.

As I was waiting for the keynote speaker to begin, I thumbed through the book and found something wedged within its pages.  A metro pass.  For Paris.  Complete with a metro map.

"Well, whaddaya know,"  I thought to myself.  "The universe is sending me a message."

I love it when stuff like that happens.

We are going to have such a great time in Paris.

Thanks Universe.  It was great to hear from you.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Gettin' Closer

I know I sound like a broken record when I keep repeating the same statement "We're getting closer to the end of this renovation!"  But it's true.  We are getting closer.

But before we get started on the tour, here's a photo of my Valentine bouquet from Joe.  Still going strong 11 days later.

I love green and white together.

Here's what's been happening in the house of Sotham:

The free-standing gas fireplace has now been fully installed in the basement TV room.  Except it won't stay lit for some reason.  Even the gas guys can't seem to figure it out.  Oh well, back to the drawing board!  I'm sure they'll get the logistics figured out in time for spring.

Cold stove

Joe decided he'd help Nathan out by insulating the foundation where my built-in bookshelf is going to be in the TV room.  Hmmmm.  I told Joe it looked like a construction murder scene.

Joe's handiwork.  Nice job, Joe!
                                                              Drops of deliciousness.  

The good news is that Big Bertha is finally up and running!  A repairman came last Tuesday and replaced the faulty lever and removed two errant O rings from her innards that were wreaking havoc with her plumbing.

Joe has been drinking so much coffee it isn't even funny.  "Just one more" is his newest phrase.

"I'll just sneak in one more espresso before I drive to work."

Keeping the crew happy.

Drywall dust has gotten into and onto everything.  The other morning I had an hour to spare before I went to school, so I decided to clean the top shelf of the linen closet.  I had to get a footstool and reach waaaay back to pull stuff out that hadn't seen the light of day in decades.

We found a neck brace from when I slipped down a set of stairs and gave myself whiplash 15 years ago, and a plastic cone that one of our cats had to wear after a long-ago operation.  Nothing like modelling these items at 6 o'clock in the morning AND THEN TAKING A PICTURE OF OURSELVES!

Two idiots.  Plain and simple.

The hardwood is now on the stairs.  It is beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful.

Toby is the man who made all the hardwood happen.

With the upstairs pretty much finished, now all that is left to do is the basement TV room.

Construction zone.

All ready for the carpet to be laid on Wednesday.

I am looking forward to the day that tools do not grace my living room.

Joe and I needed to get out of the house today because Ray was painting our living room ceiling.  I ask you:  "Who in their right mind has the ceiling painted after the renovation is complete?"  Us, that's who.

Anyway, we decided to drive into the city this afternoon to do some furniture shopping.  We are still in need of an area rug, an end table, a table lamp and a floor lamp for the living room.  We did not find an end table we loved.  We did find an area carpet that we loved (and we did not buy) and a table lamp we loved (and did not buy).  We didn't even look for a floor lamp.

Joe fell in love with this Calvin Klein area carpet called 'Estuary Sand'.  
Only $2,600.00 for a 5'x7' rug.

I fell in love with this table lamp.

And that, my friends, is that.  I will leave you with a little ditty that I teach my class every February:

This was the view from my back deck this morning.

Oh, February is the shortest month,
But the nicest month of all,
Though fluttering snowflakes fill the air,
A promise of spring is everywhere!

Enjoy your Saturday night everybody!  And your Sunday too!

Monday, February 20, 2012

First Car

Our daughter Paige bought her first car last week.  A little blue Hyundai.  She is thrilled.  And we are thrilled for her.  Watching her drive off on Sunday morning made me think about my first car.

Paige and her new wheels.

I bought my first car for $200.00 in 1977 from my boyfriend's sister.  A cherry red 1966 Valiant.  Gawd, I loved that car.  'Val' took my friends and I everywhere.  I think I even slept across the bench seat once.  Or twice. 

My beloved first car.

I have never loved a car like I loved Val.  In fact, I've never loved a car since Val.  Man, I wish I had still had her.

What was your first car?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"'S math sin!"

"S math sin" means 'great!' and 'terrific!' in Gaelic.  And that is exactly what last night was.

A tipsy piper falls into a wine-soaked tray of scotch eggs.

Some hae meat, and canna eat, 
And some wad eat that want it; 
But we hae meat, and we can eat - 
And sae the Lord be thankit.

We were a tad tardy getting our 14th annual Burns Supper off the ground.  But who cared if we were 3 weeks late in getting our scotch and haggis on?  Certainly not us!

Our evening was filled with the usual shenanigans: toasts and graces; mirth and merriment; songs and laughter; poetry and thick brogues; tartan and yorkshire puddin'.

I will let the photos tell the story of our evening.  Fourteen years now and counting.

Scottish highland dancing to kick the night off.

The pipin' in o' the haggis.

No matter how we cook it, our haggis never fails to explode.

The wearin' o' the tartan kilt.

The toast to the lassies.


...'To A Mouse'...

...amid gales...

...of laughter.

The singin' o' "Scotland The Brave".

More poetry recitations to end a fun-filled evening.

I'm already looking forward to celebrating Robbie Burns' 254th birthday next year!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Home and Design

I was reading the 'Home and Design' magazine that was delivered inside the Vancouver Sun this morning.  In it was an article describing a couple of glorious make-over projects on Gambier Island and in Fort Langley.  Both renovations had been nominated for Georgie Awards.  Included alongside the article were the perfunctory before and after photos of the kitchen.

I thought, "Phfffffft.  You call those before and after photos?  I'll give you before and after photos!"

I think Marcel Lanter deserves a Georgie Award for our kitchen renovation.  Seriously.  Talk about making a silk purse out of a sow's ear!  Not only that, he did it in 38 days.  Thirty-eight short days!!!  He started gutting our old kitchen on November 17th and on December 25th Joe cooked Christmas dinner in our fully functional new kitchen.  CRAZY, I know!

But that is how it is when Marcel is at the helm of your project.

Professional, knowledgeable, high quality workmanship, and stress-free.  (Well, almost stress-free.  I did have that mini-breakdown over dust, remember?  I think all homeowners must have issues with dust.  You can't have a reno without dust.)

I'm nominating Marcel Lanter for a Georgie Award.

I was going to wait to write a blog post with the entire collection of before and after photos, but after reading that magazine article this morning I decided to publish the photos of the kitchen today.








I love our new home.  In the mornings before work I sit on the couch drinking coffee with the fire flickering in the background and I think to myself, "I can hardly wait to get back here."  

I've said it before and I'll say it again:
Marcel Lanter
Markor Construction

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Forwards and Backwards

Our renovation went three steps forward and one step back this week.  I guess that is to be expected.  "C'est normal" as they say in France.

As everyone knows, Joe's amazingly beautiful espresso machine arrived from Italy last week.  Amir, from Stone Galaxy, came up from North Vancouver on Saturday to cut a hole in the silestone countertop to prepare it for the plumber.

Joe was playing around with Big Bertha's levers and discovered that the right hand lever made a metal-on-metal grinding sound when he pulled it.  Uh-oh.  A few phone calls were placed and now we are waiting for a repairman from Naples (just kidding) to arrive next week.

Poor Big Bertha is in sick bay before she's even able to pull one cup of java.

Several days ago, our hot water tank decided to spring a leak.  OF COURSE IT DID!


We decided to replace our old hot water tank with a tankless hot water heater.

The heating guys were scheduled to come on Friday.  But someone (not saying who) forgot to keep the front door unlocked for them.  Hmmmm...I wonder who that was?  Needless to say, the new hot water tank did not get installed nor did the free standing gas fireplace in the TV room.

The floor tiles sit bereft of the gas fireplace.

Now that the entryway landing is tiled with charcoal grey slate, the front door was looking sad and tired.  We decided to get Ray (Howe Sound Painters) to paint the front door black.  All I can say is, "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, JUST WHERE WILL THIS RENOVATION STOP?"

Priming the front door.

Paint it black.

Now all we need is a new door handle and we're done!

We finally returned all the leftover bits and bobs from our kitchen renovation to Ikea.  We discovered that we had $400.00 worth of odds and ends.  Ikea advertises that you can always return things.  But we discovered that to get cash back, you must return the items within 45 days of purchase.  Who can build a kitchen in less than 45 days?  (Well, actually, Marcel can.  With one hand tied around his back.)  But we were lazy and didn't get around to returning the stuff.  What Ikea will give you after 45 days is an Ikea gift card for the amount.

Ikea's exchange and return department.

We decided to use the $400.00 gift card to buy door mats, waste paper baskets, candles, throw pillows, frames, a duvet and its cover, blankets, and cupboard pulls for the bathroom.


Instead of buying someone else's art to decorate the walls, I decided to use my own.  I went through thousands of my travel photographs and chose a few to frame and hang.

A sampling of photos.

I enlarged one of my favourite photos to 20" x 30" poster size.  It is of the medieval village of Puy L'Eveque where Joe and I stayed for a month this past summer.  I bought a huge frame during our shopping spree at Ikea.  I later discovered there is no glass in the frame, just plexiglass that seems to get scratched by breathing on it.  I mounted my photo to the white mat, attached all the screws and wires, only to have one of the frame corners come apart in my hands!  Grrrrrr.  I was so frustrated!  I just MacGyver'd the two pieces together with a piece of tape and said, "To hell with it."

I love Scotch tape.

Our kitchen's fairy godmother (aka Colleen) gave us her father's 1956 Telefunken stereo cabinet for our living room.  We are hoping to convert it into a bar.

Drinks, anyone?

The heating guys came on Monday and installed our tankless hot water heater!

Hot water forever.

The heating guys also installed our free standing gas fireplace in the TV room!  (But we have to wait for the proper chimney pipe.)

Almost there....

Dave, the electrician, came this morning to install our entryway light fixture.  It was hand-blown on the Island of Murano, just off the coast from Venice.  We love it.

Blown glass loveliness.

And that, my friends, was the week that was.

Happy Valentines Day!