A prodigal gift

 Life  Comments Off on A prodigal gift
Feb 242015

Hello again!

I took a longer break than expected because something wonderful fell into our laps.

We saw a “Coming Soon” sign on our dream house in our favourite neighbourhood.  Four days later, we had made an offer before it even went on the market.  Sam was in the bath when the phone rang.  The owners had accepted.  We called our families and baked celebratory cookies.

We’ve been in planning heaven.  We’d like to tweak the main floor and turn the basement into an apartment.  (More on that soon.)

Here’s how it looked when Google drove by last summer:

Google street view

After raising their family there, the owners are retiring to live full time at their cottage.  They took excellent care of the house and made many improvements over the years, so we will inherit the fruit of their labour.

We can’t believe what a wonderful surprise God had ready for us.  He took our exact wishlist and checked off every item in abundance.  It’s a bungalow with a functional layout, which we can easily make open-concept.  There’s a massive window over the kitchen sink.  We can walk to daily Mass.   We’ll use the same door to access the front and back yard so we can keep all our outdoor stuff in one spot.

And He gave us things we hadn’t even thought of.   Attached only at the carport, it offers the advantages of a single at the price of a semi.  A corner lot with a side entrance is perfect for tenants.  We’ll be able to go for bike rides along the river.  And best of all, my hair-vanity will be kept secret because the front door is under the carport, saving me from ridiculous 10-second umbrella use.

Confessions of a control-freak

 Life, Organizing  Comments Off on Confessions of a control-freak
Dec 122014

I’m your textbook Type-A meticulous perfectionist whose idea of a perfect evening is tackling an organizing project.  I still remember the glorious day I stumbled upon iHeart Organizing and discovered I wasn’t alone.

I easily take it too far.  I need to relax.  But how?  I found that answer when I went to Madonna House for a day.

Madonna House Apostolate

Madonna House is a community of men, women, and priests who live together as a family, and follow a simple schedule that includes work, prayer, and recreation.  This little post explains it beautifully.

If you are like me and you go there, you’ll first notice the natural beauty and the warm sincere people who offer you some pumpkin pie and a comfortable place to nurse your baby.  Then, you will be captivated by the architecture and interiors.

In the main house, there is a huge library that also serves as a dining room.   It is beautiful.  But my little heart was doubly enamoured because it is organized.  One floor below, there is a mail room with supplies neatly labelled.  Even the envelopes are sorted by purpose.  In a nearby staircase, four or five dust pans sit on a wooden ledge labelled “dust pans.”  It seems there is a home for everything.

I gushed about this to Zach and our friend André who was there with us.  André laughed and said that if I described this to someone who had never been there before, they might imagine a horrible, controlling, oppressive place.  And yet it isn’t.

Of course!  I thought.  This is what I’ve been wanting!  For my home to be beautiful and organized, but also relaxed and comfortable.  But I couldn’t figure out how they achieved that perfect balance.  Fortunately, my friend Ruth could.  When I told her about this, she pointed out that at Madonna House, organization isn’t the end goal.  It’s simply a means to an end.  The end is a peaceful space.

That may sound obvious to you, but it was a light-bulb moment for me.  So now I remind myself daily that the end goal is a peaceful home.  Keeping it organized is simply a means to that end.


* Photo found here.

Nov 212014


I should take the chicken out of the freezer before I forget.  But first, I’ll run down and start a load of laundry.  Wait – Did I remember to email so-and-so back? 

These tasks are so quick and easy that I want to do them all RIGHT NOW.  But a couple months ago I figured out that there are two things I should do first every morning because they are my home’s potential obstacles (henceforth referred to as POs because “potential obstacles” isn’t catchy).

This isn’t a philosophical post.  Obviously, being Christian, the ultimate PO is to not have a prayer time.  Here, I’m talking about 1-minute tasks that compete for our attention.  If these two tiny things are not done, they prevent me from staying on top of everything else throughout the day.

My #1 PO is not making the bed.  It doesn’t have to look great, it just needs to be a flat clear surface.  For some people, the hub of the home – the place where everything happens – is the kitchen island or the dining table.  In this apartment, it’s our bed.  It’s where we fold laundry, play with Sam, and tackle organizing projects.  So if I don’t make it first thing in the morning, we and our stuff end up on a messy pile of blankets and things go missing.  Once a phone enters an unmade bed, you may as well skip over to Telus and buy a new one.

My #2 PO is not emptying the dish rack.   It’s easy to wash two plates and leave them to air dry.  But if the dish rack is full of last night’s stuff, those two plates get plopped down in the sink and go from needing a quick soapy rinse to a senseless war with crusty cheese/tomato sauce/rice cereal.

So those are my POs.  What are yours?

The desolation of Speedy

 Life  Comments Off on The desolation of Speedy
Nov 192014

After weeks of desolating our home through the infliction of terror and tension, Speedy has met a chilly end.  Oh how the tables have turned.

Evidently, all I had to do was tell the internet about him.  Feeling exposed, he sought refuge in a little cardboard box only to discover that it was a trap.

Last night we found him alive but very much stuck in one of these:

insect trap

He is now being lulled into a cold, peaceful, (hopefully) painless death in the dumpster outside.

Nov 172014

I have a love-hate relationship with our home office, a.k.a. the desk in our living room.

We providentially found it on Kijiji the week we moved into our apartment.  It’s solid wood, provides all the function we need, and fits the space perfectly.  But in terms of my picky decorating preferences, it’s a black hole where dreams go to die.

2014-11-03 486

Also, a cockroach lives in it right now.  He comes out once in a while to terrorize me.  We haven’t been able to catch him; he is fast.   We’ve tried those little cardboard traps and while they’ve caused a blow to our silverfish population, they are no match for Speedy.

Someday I would love to evict him and replace the whole thing with a white lower half and wood open shelving.  I’m so inspired by Joy’s DIY desk:


But for now, I’m grateful to have an organized workspace.  In all fairness to Speedy, sharing an office with anyone is rarely pleasant, and at least he is neat.

Nov 142014

A couple years ago there were more toilets than people living in my home.  There were entire rooms I never went in.  Our fancy townhouse was new, sparkly, cold, and felt like a museum.

Then I got pregnant and started reading a book called Living with Less so Your Family Has More.  It dawned on me that I wanted more time, less stuff, and fewer bathrooms to clean.  Zach was game.  So we sold our house and moved into a cozy apartment, going from 2100 to 780 square feet.

Glenbow to Kirkwood

We got rid of 70% of our stuff, while adding new baby gear, because one month later, our son Sam was born.

2014-11-03 328

I realized I was in good company when I discovered Dana Miller at House*Tweaking who downsized from a McMansion to a modest bungalow while pregnant with their third child.  She has become my design hero for her aesthetic and her space efficiency.

It’s been so freeing to have less stuff and less space to manage.  As we learn to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle, we find inspiration everywhere.  Here is a helpful list I came across this week:  12 Things You Probably Own Too Many Of

Happy weekend!


 Life  Comments Off on Camping.
Oct 242014

I’m obsessed with finding our “forever home.”

So are lots of people, according to HGTV and the thousands of house blogs out there.

It’s a good thing that we want this.  We were created with this desire, so that we’ll yearn for the Home in which we are meant to spend eternity.

August 2013 download 032

While on earth, we are camping.  We can – and I dare say should – make our camp a place of joy, peace, and beauty.  Always remembering that here, it’s temporary.