New Nest – The plan

Now that the Notchwood house has had some closure on the blog (and IRL), it is time to move on and show you what had been taking up so much of our time last year and was (at least somewhat) the reason for me being away from the blog for so long.

We moved into our “new nest”, as I’ve been calling it, in November 2016 and construction took about 5 1/2 months to complete. But before anyone dug a hole or built a wall, we had to have a plan. It took us nearly a month of going back and forth with our builder before we settled on our final product.

What we started with was actually a plan of the builder’s model home. It was called The Station House (which you can find here). And to be honest the first time I walked through it, I didn’t love it. It certainly wasn’t love at first sight. I mean, it was a beautiful home and I thought the builder had made nice design choices for finishes (flooring, backsplash etc.) and structural elements (like countertops and cabinets etc.) but, the plan just seemed to me like there was a lot of wasted space.

The angle of the kitchen/upstairs hallway leaves some large empty corners that are unused space behind a bunch of drywall. And one large space that I knew we could reclaim was the two-storey great room. I’m too practical to give up all that usable living space on the second floor! And one of the major must-haves for our new home was that the house needed four bedrooms and the original plan only had three.

Kitchen no appliances

But what I did like, and husbandman specifically pointed this about the model as well, is that the design isn’t one you see every day. It certainly isn’t your traditional centre-hall plan. And it’s not the more modern take on that which foregoes a formal living room and has a large open kitchen and great room along the back of the house. The Station House Plan was interesting – the angles made it interesting. And as far as new-builds go that was a huge selling point for me.

In our city, there’s still quite a bit of new-home construction going on (though my friend/realtor would probably tell you it has slowed down in recent years). But what we found when we went in search of a builder was pretty much the same house. Sure, there were quirks and unique elements of each house, but they were mostly built from the same mould.

So the uniqueness of The Station House one was enough to convince me that it was a workable starting point for our dream home. Here’s what we came up with.

Main Floor - New NestOn the main floor we didn’t depart from the overall design too much, with one major exception. We flipped the orientation of the kitchen in the middle of the house and pointed the open part of the kitchen towards the long room in the plan. This allowed us to have one large family/great room, and steal some space from the room on the other side for the kitchen and family room. The former two-storey great room became our dining room (with a room above it).

That so-called simple change, did mean we had to do some re-arranging of a few other spaces, like moving the powder room to the front of the house, which required widening the house ever so slightly. We also gained a butler’s pantry with this “move”. And in our final plan we also extended the kitchen length a little to gain a bit more counter and cabinet space on both sides of the kitchen.


Second Floor - New Nest

The second floor we changed pretty dramatically. We went through about 4 versions of our 2nd storey before we decided it was just right. We kept the angled hallway, but since we gained lots of space by closing off the Great Room of the original plan, we had more room to work with. There were 2 main guiding principles that we were working towards as we created the changes upstairs. The first was that I was hoping to give the boys a shared “Jack and Jill” (or Jack and Jack in this case) bathroom. And, secondly, since we had selected our lot and it had a pretty nice view (from the rear of the house) I wanted to save those views for the rooms that would get the most use, ie: one of the three main bedrooms. In the end, the Master Bedroom and Ensuite got the “suite” views, and that was an okay plan with us!

Foster's nursery

I think I’ll put together a full post about how we came up with the plan and the reasons we made (or had to make) some choices, so that if you’re building or planning to build (or even renovating) you’ll learn from some of our experiences.

Eaglecrest with driveway

I’ll be working on putting together a house tour (or maybe room by room depending on what I can muster) but I hope these photos and the plans give you a little sneak peek of what our new nest looks like.

We haven’t done much decorating or designing yet as we get settled in to the new house and figure out just how we’re living in and using the spaces. And this summer we’ve taken our projects outside. If you follow me on instagram you’ll know that the past few weeks have been all about #projectpatio, so I’m hoping to share the backyard transformation with you soon too! We’ve been working on the design and details since March, so it’s been amazing to see it all transform in a matter of weeks!

Can’t wait to show you!


Notchwood – The Final Chapter

At the beginning of the year I mentioned, kinda off-hand that we sold our second home. And I even showed a few photos from the updates we did to the (now old) house.

I thought that a nice way to wrap up that house with a bow and for a little closure and posterity’s sake I’d share with you some parting shots of our second home.

Notchwood- foyer

The main entrance of our house – the foyer. We painted in here, replaced the light fixtures, painted tone-on-tone stripes for an accent wall, and put up some decorative shelves.

Notchwood- Living RoomThis room was basically unchanged the whole time we were here. Our “formal” living room was never really used – except for epic dance parties and when we used it as a guest room for visitors.

Notchwood-dining room

Always loved our dining room. The only somewhat DIY that we did in here was replace the light fixture with the one from our kitchen  after we found a new light for our eat-in kitchen. Did some sewing projects here and shared some delicious meals with friends and family.




Refinished the kitchen table and chairs and repainted the walls, and replaced the light fixture but otherwise this kitchen was already renovated when we moved in.


Lots of transformations and updates in this room. New furniture, new paint, new floors, new curtains and a new rug before we left.

Notchwood-master bedroom

Our master bedroom had its fair share of updates too. New paint, new furniture and bedding, new drapes and some bedside table makeovers. And no room in this house had more of a transformation than our master bedroom ensuite.

Notchwood-master ensuite

All new everything.

Notchwood-Harry's room

Harry’s room was transformed from our guest room once we had made enough people to fill all of our bedrooms. I’m so happy with how this room turned out even though there was still more I wanted to do to it. This room had a new coat of paint, and was the room that kicked off the new trim colour throughout the house. Our DIY dresser still lives in Harry’s new room. One of my favourite projects. And so easy!


So many happy memories in this nursery.



And finally the basement that was one of the last big projects that we tackled by sprucing it up with some paint and making the boys’ playroom a lot more functional and organized.


The playroom project in that house is another one that I was so happy with. I’m hoping to create a similar space for the boys in the new house.

So that’s it! That’s the grand tour of our second home. I have so many great memories of our time in that house – from decorating the nursery and bringing home both boys, many happy meals (and McHappy meals), and hosting friends and family and watching the boys run around in the yard and out to the park. It was such a good house and we’re happy it has found another great family.

PS: All of these amazing photos of the house were taken by the talented Ryan at First Look. So if you’re in need of real estate photography give him a call.


Jumping right back in to share an update for a project that I’m working on at the new house. We’re about to host our first legit house guests in our new guest room next week. We managed to move some furniture around (and we even bought ourselves a new bed) but the guest room is one that was lacking items to make it “live-able”. We’re in a bit of a race to get this room together. One of the first things on my list was to get some new bedding for the room.

I want to keep the room light and airy feeling and somewhat neutral so guests feel relaxed, but also so that I can throw in a pop of colour or some accents as the mood strikes me. And I recently came across some bedding that I really loved. But the price… not so much.

Zara home pleated bedding


Beautiful and simple, with a little detail to make it not so plain. So, needless to say I was on the hunt for a more wallet-conscious alternative. And lo and behold, Ikea had the answer to my bedding dreams.

alvine-stra-duvet-cover ikea


Save $100? Count me in! The Ikea version was an easy choice once I found it, and not to mention, the Ikea set comes with two pillow cases. If you’re on the hunt for some bedding along these lines I found a few more on my search.

I really like this one from Urban Barn, this one from West Elm, and a slightly different take also at West Elm.

What about you? Got any projects on the go with a very looming deadline? Shopping for bedding? Show me your finds!

Bottom’s up

I mentioned the other day, and waaaaay back here that we had new floors installed in the house (now our old house).

It was such a worthwhile project and really made a difference in the space. The carpet was umm… well-loved. And had seen its fair share of traffic and wear and tear. It was the only route to or from our deck and had had many hours of play, laundry, movie nights and regular family life to put up with. It was time for a change.

This is what the room was looking like before we tore out the carpet.

Family room


Family Room 2




Family room 4

You can really see the beating it took in that last photo above. The carpet was pretty badly stained in spots.

Since our kitchen and foyer floors had been updated at some point by the previous owners to hardwood, we wanted to keep that continuity going rather than going with something completely different or trying to get a close match. Luckily the previous owners had left us all the details of the house including the details of any updates they made. So all it took was a Google search for the name and brand of flooring and then looking for a local distributor.

Actually, we even knew who had provided and installed our kitchen floor so we started with them first. But it turns out they were in the process of closing their business so our emails and phone calls went unanswered. We thought we were getting the runaround. But it turns out they weren’t closed enough to have had their phone disconnected or their website down, but they weren’t checking or responding either. (We learned all of this when we found another distributor who had the inside scoop on the flooring gossip).

Once we finally found our guy, who was not closed,  we paid his showroom a visit just to be sure of the match and we decided that since we were tearing up flooring in the family room, why not do the garage entrance/hallway/powder room/laundry room that is on that level too?

Just your typical project snowball effect.

One thing that didn’t take us long was to decide on our flooring. We chose a large scale vinyl tile. But it’s not just any tile, its groutable vinyl tile, designed to look just like stone or ceramic including the grout lines! We had seen it installed in a family member’s house and loved it for the look, durability, and practicality. It’s just like stone or ceramic but a lot warmer under foot. And even though we weren’t doing the installing this time, if you’re thinking about DIY-ing it, it is also very easy to work with for installation.

The vinyl tile was selected for the garage entrance (landing spot), the hallway, the powder room located in that area, and through to the laundry room. That whole area had the original laminate flooring from when the house was built in the 80s. It was in pretty good condition given the age of the house, but it was certainly dated, and in the more trafficked areas was starting to show hints of wear.

We decided to have the existing carpet removed and the floors installed by the supplier, so that we didn’t have to worry about calling in friends for help, or just generally making time to do it ourselves.

What we did decide to do ourselves was repaint the walls in the hallway, powder room and laundry room – which included removing wallpaper in the powder room and laundry room.

powder room 1


powder room 2

We also painted and installed all the trim for the family room, hallway, powder room and laundry room. We installed a new toilet, new sink and new faucet in the powder room and updated the light fixture and mirror. We also painted the existing vanity cabinets to match the same white as the trim to freshen it up.

laundry room 1


laundry room 2

Check out this awesome wallpaper!

laundry room 3

And it took us a little while as we plugged away at the trim as I painted each area, it was well worth all the elbow grease! Removing old wallpaper might be the best and worst thing in the world. So tough and frustrating at some points, and also so rewarding when it’s gone!


Even with the wallpaper still up the space was looking so much better with an updating flooring.

laundry tile 1


laundry tile 2

In the process of this mini (that snowballed into medium) makeover, I found one of my new favourite paint colours – Benjamin Moore’s Fossil. When I went to the store to pick out a colour, I knew I wanted and needed something pretty neutral and pretty light. BUT, I also knew that I wasn’t changing out our almond coloured laundry pair (wop wop!), so it had to play well with them too. I described the colour I was searching for to the sales rep as “latte foam” and she pointed me to Fossil right away. It didn’t hurt that the name referenced our love of all things dinos in our house.

And I forgot to mention that all of this was taking place in the winter of 2015 as we were deciding whether or not these upgrades and renos were for us or for a potential buyer. As we plugged away at the updates, it became clear that our time at this house was coming to an end so some of the projects we finished and didn’t even have the time to take “after” photos. Oops!

So, by the power of the magic of the internet here are the few “after” photos that we have of the renewed spaces.

Family After 1

In the family room the major change was the flooring as well as the new beefed-up trim painted white. We also found the rug at Home Depot for a steal.

Family After 2

Changing out the old carpet made the whole space feel new again despite the fact that we barely changed anything else in the room.

Powder Room After
The powder room is a whole different story. In here we replaced or updated everything except the cabinet countertop. We replaced the floor, trim, toilet, sink, faucet, mirror and light fixture. I also painted the cabinet white in the same colour as the trim and updated the hardware. The whole space was completely refreshed.

Both these updates and the updates in the laundry room (which included removing wallpaper and painting – again Fossil – and of course the flooring) were definitely of the “Why didn’t we do this sooner?” type. We *almost* starting to rethink our decision to move out.

That’s a story for another day!


Another New Year

Happy 2016! It seems the new year always seems to bring me back to the blog. There’s just something about a fresh new calendar that makes me want to start everything over, pick up old (good) habits, and start the year off right.

And 2015 was a big and busy year for us. There’s so much to recap so I’ll spend a post doing a full recap of our amazing year, but since I’ve been gone so long I thought I’d share a few of the highlights so you know what’s in store.

We had new hardwood floors installed in our family room to replace the old carpet.

We updated our powder room on a budget.

We removed all the remaining wallpaper in the house (powder room, family bathroom and laundry room) and did small updates in each of those rooms.

The Pats won the Super Bowl!

Husbandman and I went to Cozumel

Harrison turned 4.

We started house-hunting!

Foster turned 2 and our niece was born on the same day!

We decided to not buy an old house, but build a new one.

Husbandman and I went to Hawaii

We sold our house.

We not-so-patiently waited for our new house to be built.

We took a family vacation to Nova Scotia.

Harrison started school.

More house anticipation.

A jaguar and a cow were the costumes of choice for Hallowe’en this year.

More waiting for the house and packing up the old one.

House day!

Our nephew Jack was born!

Our annual Christmas Open House (3 weeks after moving into the new house)

Christmas mania

A trip to Punta Cana with the family to cap off the year and ring in 2016.

Some of these will require their own post (or posts),  but I do want to try to catch up since there’s been so many exciting things to share.

What’s up with you? New babies? New houses? New jobs? Tell me all about it. Let’s catch up.





Foster – 2 years plus

Dear Foster,

I have a wish. I want you to stay this age forever. You’re absolutely killing me with your cuteness lately. I mean, you’ve always been cute, but lately, as your brain wraps itself around the new words you’re learning every day, the result is just priceless and I can’t get enough. And its not just the funny or sweet or unexpected things that come out of you’re mouth that I’m talking about when I say cute. Its the whole sweet package. I don’t know if its the contradiction of your built-like-a-tank exterior with your soft and sweet personality, or if I’m just a sucker for your curly hair (or both), but you’re charming the heck out of me.

I know that I still owe you a newsletter to cap off your first year, but for now let’s just skip ahead to today so I can tell you how you’re so quick to give a hug or a cuddle. And you’ve adopted a very European way of giving kisses when you give them.

One on each cheek.

And if your recipient is really lucky, they get one on the nose too. Dad and I usually get all three at bed time. And if you’re feeling extra generous you’ll put both hands on our heads and pull them down towards you so we can have a forehead… and top of head… and an anywhere-else kiss too. To delay bed time one kiss at a time. How could I refuse?

And though, you’re much too big to fit entirely in the crook of my arm any more, you will still ask for a snuggle in the chair after bedtime stories. Sometimes we’ll just rock so you can have some quiet time. Sometimes you ask me to sing you a lullaby. It doesn’t seem to matter much what I start singing. Usually you’ll interrupt me with a request to sing about trucks. Excavator doesn’t rhyme with much.

Once you’re in bed, you get tucked in with your buddy, “Woof”, the pillow dog stuffy that you can’t sleep without. Just the other day we forgot him at school and you woke up in the night sadly saying “No Woof. No Woof”. You have a special blanket too. Once you’re all tucked in and I’m standing in your doorway, you say to me “Night, Mom” with a little toddler pause between the two words and it just melts my heart.

When you’re not settling down for bed, or otherwise being especially cuddly, you have very busy active days.

You are a typically “boy’s boy” who loves the rough and tumble play of rough housing and jumping on anything that has even a little bounce to it. You don’t sit still for too long. Though, those stints are getting longer depending on the activity.

You LOVE trucks (construction trucks and trains and cars and any other vehicle that moves). And you have a special fondness for fire trucks in particular. In fact the only “joke” in  your repertoire is about a fire truck. It goes like this:

Knock Knock!

Who’s there?

Fire truck.

Fire truck who?


Sometimes you get excited and don’t wait for the “Fire truck who?” part and skip right to making the sound. Sometimes you tell that joke in your sleep. You find it endlessly funny.

You are your brother’s biggest fan. You follow him around. You want to do what he’s doing, play what he’s playing, and see what he’s seeing. Harrison doesn’t always find this as endearing as I do. But now that you’re talking more, the more Harry is able to play with you and communicate with you. He’ll often ask you yes or no questions (or other “easy” ones) so that he can work with you to play a game, or find out what you want.  You’ve called him “Ra-Ra” for a while now, but you’re starting to call him Harry. Sometimes you revert to the short-form. Usually I think its just because you’re in a hurry to get his attention.

Sometimes he’s the only one who understands what you’re asking for. Like the time not that long ago when we were all sitting around the breakfast table after we’d finished eating and you looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “Tree bow”.

Hmm… that was a stumper. I didn’t know what you were asking for. You cocked your head to the side in that adorable way that you do when you’re asking a question, trying to get out of trouble, or just generally trying to get your way and said it again.

“Tree bow”

I looked over at Harrison who had a little twinkle in his eye and he got up from the table and walked around and whispered to me, “Treat bowl”.

Yep. You wanted to eat a treat after breakfast and of course, Harry knew just what it was you were after. Adorable, but no.

My dear little Sprout, you have certainly lived up to the nickname I gave you before you were born. You’re growing so quickly and catching up to your brother in both height and weight. You may not be the “little” brother for long. It seems as soon as I’ve put the clothes Harrison has grown out of away, its time to take them back out again for you.

So, if you could just stop that I would greatly appreciate it.

I know my wish won’t come true, so each day I try to remember to take in all the little moments with you, make memories with you and hold this time of you in my heart and mind forever. And take lots of embarrassing pictures too.



More about you:

You’re not a picky eater but it takes you FOREVER to eat.

You love to dip your food (most any dip will do).

For months you have exclusively had milk out of your “truck cup”. The only sippy cup that will do.

You love daycare.

Most mornings when I ask you if you’re ready to go down for breakfast you respond with “Yes. Pancakes?”

You will sometimes surround yourself with pillows and blankets and tell us that its your bedroom.

You refuse to wear sandals of any kind.

You always ask to be wiped up after a meal. You will sometimes ask for your hands to be wiped during a meal.

If you can see your rain boots, you must wear them. (rain or shine)

You call Redden, our 20+ pound cat, “Baby Cat”. Which is weird because you usually call things that are small “baby” and the larger version “daddy”.

You have an adorable crush on our friend Priya. You ask if we’re going to her house all the time.

You have a facial expression for every mood. You can pout with the best of ’em.

Your hair is wild and crazy and I love it.

Cool Foster


fire trucks and building blocks


Park Foster


Sweet Foster


Playful Foster


Halloween Foster


Birthday Foster


Me and Foster




Foster and Mama


Friday Finds

Hi everyone! Welcome to the first day of spring!

I hope you had a great week. Being that we’re Irish we were all clad in green on Tuesday to celebrate St. Patty’s Day. How cute are these little leprechauns?

Luck of the Irish


This week I’m loving that I took a fashion leap (no pun intended) and bought this jumpsuit from Forever 21.  I’m also seriously coveting this one from ASOS, but it’s out of stock in my size.

I’m devouring this month’s Food & Drink magazine from the LCBO. Looks and tastes like Spring!

And speaking of drinking, I’m loving everything lately from One Fine Day, but I can’t wait to try this cocktail. Because me and gin are a perfect pair. I bet it tastes like summer in a rocks glass.

This gorgeous table is inspiring my HomeSense searches lately. Must.have. two large vases for our dining room table!


Now this is a foosball table I can agree to having in the house.

A gorgeous spring printable for your home.

You may have heard about March Madness. Here’s a guide for beginners to help you enjoy and even get in on the action.

I always enjoy the lip sync battles on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show and now they’ve made a whole show out of it. Here’s an epic preview to end your week. Hope it’s sunny and springy where you are!