The Ikea Kitchen Event Is On NOW!

...  And my Love-Hate relationship with Ikea continues.  As some of you may know, this is not our first Ikea kitchen rodeo.  When we purchased our condo, our kitchen looked like this:

And, thanks to Ikea's 2010 kitchen event (we got 15% back in gift cards and used it to buy our dining room chairs) as well as Corey's handiwork and the amazing photography skills of my real estate photographer, Thea Menagh, these next two photos show what our kitchen looked like when we sold nearly three years later.

Not bad, right?  But at the time, we were renovating to sell and I didn't want to over-renovate for the price of my unit.  For this reason, I chose the cheapest appliances and finishes I could find that would still look impressive.  Nothing was to our personal taste and we hated our splashy faucet.  Even the cabinet doors were chosen because they looked modern and were on clearance.  We gave ourselves more storage but I never really loved that kitchen.  To make matters worse, the staff at Ikea didn't give us all the cover panels and spacers we needed (They're supposed to look over your kitchen plan before placing an order) and so we ended up with a huge gap by the stove and a random drawer that we couldn't put a pull on or it would prevent another drawer from opening.  We would have ordered the spacers and cover panels but our kitchen was clearance because it was discontinued and there were none available so we just grew to tolerate our secret drawer.

Last time, we were surprised by the lack of assistance we received when we went to Ikea to plan our kitchen.  Even though we had taken room measurements, we found the process to be complicated and not entirely user friendly.  We lived with our first Ikea kitchen for years and kept a mental tally of mistakes we wouldn't make again.

When we purchased the house, we remembered that Ikea can be a great resource for renovations and the love-hate relationship quickly resumed.

We knew from the beginning that our kitchen would need to be redone and we assumed we'd do another Ikea kitchen... only with nicer appliances and finishes this time.

We had already decided that most of our wedding gift money that had not already been specified to be put towards something else, would help us with our kitchen.  We desperately need more cupboard and counter space before the baby arrives and I had wanted a grey and white kitchen.  The Inspired Room had a great inspiration photo (below) which helped me sell my idea to Corey. ;)

And so, I spent an evening planning our new kitchen on Ikea's online kitchen planner.  I knew I wanted a big apron sink (for baby's first baths) and some glass cabinet doors to display some of our pretty dishes and stemware.  We also wanted a gas cooktop with an electric oven.  Also on my list was a pantry (which will be a great feature when we eventually sell the house) and as much extra storage and counter space as we could squeeze in.  To top it off, I have longed for white quartz counters for quite some time so that is exactly what we're getting.

Hours later, we finally had a rough plan.

I even found room for a small wine rack and a tiny bit of open shelving, which used up some dead space.

After a couple of (not so quick) trips to Ikea, our order has finally been placed.  By the time Corey puts the finishing touches on our bathroom and demolishes our current kitchen, our new one should be delivered.

What would your dream kitchen include?


So, This Happened...

Do you still have lead pipes?  We did.  With so many old Toronto neighbourhoods still serviced by lead pipes, we weren't surprised when a routine water meter replacement turned up a little lead problem.  Not only did we need to replace our shut off valve, we had lead pipes!

Not being an alarmist, I chalked it up to a necessary cost of homeownership and Corey put us on the waitlist for replacement pipes while we started running the water on cold before drinking it.  The way it works is the city will replace their portion and the homeowner pays to replace theirs.  For the sake of simplicity and scheduling, we decided to use the city's contractors and they quoted us about $2000 for the work.  To be honest, I was a little relieved because I had assumed the cost would be higher.

When I discovered that I was pregnant, I lost my devil-may-care attitude towards our drinking water and switched to bottled water while Corey started calling to check on our appointment.  Nearly seven months later, we finally secured an appointment just weeks before the wedding.  Woo hoo!

The guys arrived and dug out our driveway.  (Now we have an excuse for our lack of landscaping!)  They also dug up part of the street and discovered that the city pipes had actually been replaced and just hadn't updated their records.

They used a little torpedo that shook the house and sounded like a jackhammer!

Look at those shiny new copper pipes!

Their patch job was underwhelming but we need to redo the walkway and driveway at some point anyway, so it's not much worse than before.

In the past, the city of Toronto has offered rebates for lead pipe replacement and they are now considering a loan program but with a baby on the way, we didn't want to wait.  At least we can check another thing off our house list.

Best of all, we can now drink our own tap water! 



All photos in this post (except the ultrasound pic) are courtesy of my amazing photographer Lew D'Souza of Engaging Images

Today, I turn 32.  If Taylor Swift wrote a song about 32, what would the lyrics be like?  I have no interest in dressing up as a hipster or making fun of my exes... Although I do look at photos of their growing families on Facebook with interest and I find myself wishing them well.  Happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time come close but don't quite apply at this point.  Neither do miserable and magical.  For me it's more, happy, free, confused and fulfilled at the same time.  It's terrifying and empowering.  What would your 32 song be about?  Mine is about reconciling the fact that I'm now a grown-up with the fact that I don't really know how or when it happened.

Last year on my birthday, I looked at how far Corey and I had come in the past year.  My 30th birthday the year before had been bittersweet because it made me realize that I had been neglecting my life checklist a bit and so my 31st birthday allowed me to reflect on all the work we had done that year to sell our condo, buy our first house, begin renovating that house and even begin planning our wedding.  I reread that post today and I smiled when I read the last line "It makes me wonder what my 32nd birthday will look like..."

At the time, we did know we'd be married by now but we had no idea that one afternoon in the middle of March 2014, I would turn to Corey and half jokingly say, "You know, if we got pregnant this month it would give us a baby in December when work is fairly quiet for me..."   At the time, we had no idea that our conversation would lead to an immediate pregnancy but we were over the moon when we realized little Singleton would be arriving in December.

Renovations continued and I worked hard during my busiest year at work (yay!) and we surprised ourselves when we decided to adopt one of our foster greyhounds and welcomed Cheetah (or Pretty Cheetah, as we call him) into our family.  I can't tell if we're gluttons for punishment or if we just like a busy, chaotic house.

Next came our wedding day, which was a blur to me at the time but it helps to have photos to look back on, which I will be sharing here in weeks to come.  The highlight for me was finding out Singleton's gender.  It was such a surreal moment, but it did mean that we got to spend the honeymoon calling her by her real name.  I had always wanted to start my family with a little girl and now I'll have another girl around the house to balance out Corey and our two male dogs!

What a year!  When I look at the first photo from our wedding day of us looking out over a cliff, I now think it may be an appropriate metaphor for what's to come.  This is going to be another BIG year and we can't wait to share it with you guys.

So, We're Having A...

All photos in this post are courtesy of my amazing photographer Lew D'Souza of Engaging Images

As soon as I discovered I was pregnant, I pictured myself having a girl.  I knew right away what I wanted to name her and Corey and I agreed on our girl name long before we found a boy name we both liked (which I hear is common) so the thought of a girl became very real to us.

During our first ultrasound at 10 weeks, we kept saying "she" and "her" and then it suddenly hit me:  What if she was a he?  Would I feel disappointed?  Corey and I had both been sort of hoping that our first child would be a girl but, while I was certain that Corey would be thrilled either way, I was terrified that I would feel a little... sad.  Almost as though I had lost the girl I'd been picturing in my head.

To guard against this, I started imagining a boy.  For most of my pregnancy, I used masculine pronouns when I referred to Singleton and when we would browse baby clothes, I would only allow myself to look at baby boy clothes.  Seeing my friends with baby boys also made me realize in time that a boy would also be a perfect fit for us.

Knowing this, I wanted to surprise Corey with a really special gender reveal.  He had been so patient waiting for me to be sure that I was happy with either gender before finding out.  At our 20 week ultrasound, we had our ultrasound technician write down the gender of our baby and seal it in an envelope.  We then promptly mailed it to my brother so that neither of us would be tempted to open it prematurely.  Corey and I decided to open the envelope during a special private dinner we had booked in the cloud forest on our honeymoon... but I had already made another plan.

Corey's always surprising me and I feel like I don't often get to catch him by surprise (Except, I suppose when I got pregnant so quickly,) so I wanted a really special gender reveal for him and I thought our wedding would be the perfect time for it since we'd be surrounded by friends, family and our photographer...  After our speeches, I grabbed the microphone from Corey and explained that I had a wedding gift for him.  My brother had opened the envelope and wrapped either pink or blue balloons and if he chose to open his gift, we could both find out together.

I'll let the pictures tell the story.

I was so swept up by the excitement of the day and I was still nervous from giving my speech that it actually took me a second to comprehend that pink means girl.  You can actually see the OMG I'M HAVING A GIRL moment.

Immediately after, we had our first dance to Louis Armstrong's 'What a Wonderful World' and the news made for an emotional and beautiful first dance.  I think I cried the entire time.  Happy tears!

Groomsman Gifts

All photos in this post (except for the photo of just the ties) are courtesy of my amazing photographer Lew D'Souza of Engaging Images

I had so many blog posts in various states of completion before the wedding and things got crazy so I'll be posting them now that we're back from our honeymoon and fully settled into normal life.  This is my first of many wedding "catch-up" posts.

I made necklaces and gave each bridesmaid a clutch as a thank you gift for the ladies, but we were stumped for the groomsmen.  In the end, we decided to give them cigars and ties to wear on the big day.

Our colour theme incorporated various shades of green and we wanted our wedding party to coordinate without being too matchy so we found a fantastic Etsy seller who worked with us to choose the exact shades of green that would work with our colour scheme.

We asked our groomsmen to just wear light or medium grey single-breasted suits with white shirts.  We think we ended up with a pretty handsome bunch!

Of course, two of our groomsmen were dogs and we needed them to be dressed appropriately too.  We found another amazing Etsy seller who let us choose colours and custom made ties for Barkley and Cheetah.

More photos to come!

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