Spend Nothing-uary

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Happy New Years! Somehow, we’ve all made our way across the threshold into 2016. As for me, I was among some really great friends in the midst of our annual (lightly debaucherous) cottage retreat when the clock struck midnight. There’s something about the holidays–from about December 12th (my birthday) and onwards–that slowly becomes more and more unhinged. Wine every night? Why not. Spend that extra $100 for a Christmas gift? Sure thing. Avoid exercise, yoga, and really anything physical until January? Nailed it.

I can’t be the only one who craves the slow crawl of early January and the resolute goal-setting that comes with it. I am drawn to New Years Resolutions. But instead of “resolutions” I like to think of goals that I’d like to accomplish. Goal setting, for me, shifts the focus of resolutions onto our desired outcomes.

My personal goals for 2016 are all starting with a general re-commitment to mindfulness, and intentional living. I’ve adopted a daily mindfulness practice, for example. I’ve also set up some guidelines for my daily life, including new habits that will help me to achieve those goals. Conversely, I’ve schemed to put myself through a couple challenges to help me break habits that are keeping me from achieving my goals.

Enter “Spend Nothing-uary”. Catchy, isn’t it? The idea is to spend nothing in January, beyond groceries, gas, and existing bills. As I was preparing this blog post, a friend of mine posted that she was doing a true-to-form “Spend Nothing-uary”, complete with no groceries and only one tank of gas. The “pantry deep-dive” edition. While I find that super inspiring, I’m going to be doing the “lite” edition: Groceries (especially fresh fruit and veg) and gas are on the menu.

My intended outcomes are to:

  • Not seek out distractions (dinners out, new toys, movies in the theatre, etc) in order to recommit to my goals;
  • Develop more awareness of when and where I am drawn to spend money;
  • Align my spending habits with a minimalist approach;
  • Start saving more money on a month to month basis;
  • Appreciate what I already have.

I’ll check in when January is done to let you know how it went. So far, so good. I almost went to see Star Wars before I realized that doesn’t fall under the umbrella of groceries or gas.

Do you think you could muscle your way through a month without spending any of that hard-earned cash?

The House Diaries_009: Is this my kitchen?





We’re closing in on 2016 and it seems fitting that our reno is starting to kick up a few real gems, including one amazing, functional, and farmhouse-sexy kitchen. Isn’t she a beaut?

The photo features a lot of little details that are a credit to my wonderful family and friends who have been inspired to contribute to the project, too. I am not over exaggerating when I say that without them, the pictures above would feature some half-taped drywall and exposed wiring. Instead, they feel surreal. How and when did this happen? I am in love with the vintage school lights and clock, the decorative pot set and the vintage pyrex bakeware. Each were lovingly sourced and gifted.

My favourite piece (and it’s a tough choice) is our new pot-rack and matching shelves, all finished with iron brackets crafted Quebec. Can you believe it is handmade?! What?! I am chuffed. What’s more: This was a Christmas present. I am truly lucky beyond comprehension to have really creative, industrious people who love me.

The past few months have gone by so quickly, and I often found myself reluctant to document it in greater detail. By and large it’s been rewarding, but the physical and mental effort has been unlike much that I’ve experienced in my lifetime so far. Truly, I doubt if I’ve worked on anything this consistently with this much effort. It seems right that I get to cap this year off with such a beautiful photo. It’s a nice tribute to 10 months of work.

I have made it a personal goal to document the project more fully as the new year rolls over. A resolution, you might even say. I already miss some of the funny, messy moments, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten even more. I also think that, at this point, I may get to show off a few more finished details which is much nicer to look at than a series of photos of half-peeled wallpaper.

Though, there’s plenty more of that to come, too.

Getting ready for winter

I risk sounding like a pilgrim, but here it goes: We are rushing to get ready for winter. The last few weekends, we have insulated things that can easily be insulated, and tried to get our home “gas inspection” ready so that we can finally get that new furnace burning. From removing the old oil tank in the basement, to venting our gas range, there’s a lot of little check-marks that we need to account for before the gas company will give us the thumbs up.

Otherwise, he’s a little play-by-play of what’s new in the world of our century-old little farmhouse.

Project 1: Wrap it up

We’re wrapping the back addition — also known as the kitchen — in rigid foil insulation before re-cladding it. We’ll take the opportunity to make the whole back side look the same. Those garages burn holes into my retinas with their ugliness. Consider this first image a “Before”.

sep_2015 (8 of 9) sep_2015 (9 of 9) sep_2015 (2 of 9)The north-facing wall is getting a double dose of insulation. We’ve already stuffed it and dry-walled it before moving our kitchen in to place. Speaking of which…

Project 2: Finish the kitchen

sep_2015 (3 of 9) sep_2015 (4 of 9) sep_2015 (1 of 1)The kitchen is here! As you can see we’ve already covered most of it with things like empty bottles of wine and wilted celery. (I really considered not posting that last picture but it’s just too good.) I have to photograph the kitchen a little better. I didn’t even take a picture of the island, which is currently housing a lot of tools and renovation materials. But, I’m going to wait until we finish it before showing it off.

Right now, we’re installing a new window that will fit snugly behind our gas range. Since we mainly put in solid blocks of work on weekends, the house can tend to get into regular “messy phases” where all sorts of construction materials are propped against walls, and the dining room table becomes a resting place for sheets of measurements, boxes of screws, and so on.

Project 3: No more American Horror Story staircase

The “before” picture here doesn’t capture the beautiful new walls and fresh coat(s) of paint that have seriously revivified our hallways. I bought floor paint, too, and planned to attack the staircase next. But in a fit of inspiration, we decided that the stairs would look awesome if we made them two-tone; natural wood treads and deep red rises.

The amount of time, effort and mental fortitude that it will take to make this happen is staggering. But it’s worth it if only for the “After” photo.



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Project 4: Gaze longingly at loving dog

Oh Pekoe… be still my heart.

sep_2015 (1 of 9)C’est tout! I’m really digging the fall in the new house. I have been burning scented candles, and taking Pekoe for tons of walks while enjoying the fall colours. It’s a pretty beautiful time of year in the Ottawa valley.