Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Moving On from a Year of Hell

I can't remember much of 2014. I mean I can't remember what happened in the news. I can't remember even one event that sticks out and that's because I stopped listening in 2014. 2014 was the year I took care of my mom in my home until she passed August 18th. I remember her birthday celebration on July 16th because she turned 90 and we were so pleased she managed her last milestone before she passed. I remember the endless parade of VON Nurses and palliative care workers who came to my home every day to take care of mom. I don't remember Christmas except the one in 2013 which was the last Christmas I spent with my mom, and I was going to make that so so special! I remember gardening like mad, planting annuals and more perennials because my mom wanted to see flowers. I remember our many chats out on the back deck, warming ourselves in the sunshine, watching the dogs play, sometimes in sheer silence because my mom was enjoying her last views of the world.

I remember those last moments with my mom.

A lot has changed since then. Early in the year I had lost a good paying job. It was a first for me to experience such fear. A different kind of fear then I was used to. This was a security issue. The fear of going bankrupt. In the end I lost my home that I had for 10 years. In fact the anniversary of when it sold was very close to the date I bought it, so almost 10 years exactly. I loved that home hence why I started the blog. I loved home decorating, gardening, home maintenance and stuff like that which prompted me to want to share my ideas. I had a knack as they say for decorating. Of course that stems directly from abhoring clutter. I just like pretty, organized and very simple vignettes. Things I had in my home had to balance always. I'm a libra! We don't have the scales of jutice for just show. It's all about the Ying and the Yang. 

And then there was the garden, I loved my garden but it was a huge work in progress as most gardens are. But I still had a lot of ground to break. And not easy ground, we are talking the hilly kind with lots of big rocks. A lot of work. But I loved my garden and sadly I think I was just getting the right combination of perennials, annuals and shrubs so it had a nice full look to it. Gardeners know what I mean by that!

But now I have moved on. I did manage to get another job and just recently they extended my contract for another 3 months and gave me a good raise. I've moved to an apartment which has great views of the Bedford Basin and the bridges that span our harbour. I can watch the endless parade of sailboats as they glide unobstructed through the dark waters. The unit is not small, so I don't feel claustophobic and it has lots of sunlight which is the panacea of all ills I think. I've lived in a north facing apartment once and I hated it. I think the only time I got sun was in the early early mornings and I had to press my face up to the window to feel it's warmth. I never wanted to go back to that feeling of darkness again. I suffer from depression so I need all the support I can get, even if it's from the sun.

I have the comfort of a little money that I got from my home which is so nice to have after experiencing such heart pounding fear that I had when I thought I was going bankrupt. I never want to feel that again. I am almost fearful to spend money as I never want to go back. Which brings me to this blog. I started the blog to show off what I liked in home decor. The vignettes I thought were beautiful, and to show off what I was doing to my own home. I wanted to share my experience, knowledge and even show examples of what I though were brilliant (insert tongue in cheek) examples of my own home decor. But that was when I had my home and I no doubt felt I had lots to draw from. However, now, in an apartment where everything is new and will never be subjected to much change because it's not mine, I don't have much to draw from. The paint colors will never change. The knobs on kitchen cabinets will never change, nor will the light fixtures. What ciould possibly change might be the layout of furniture but even then there are few choices to draw from. The colors of my bedspread may change, which it has and the few add ons in accessories, but overall it's pretty boring. So the blog may change.

Removed from what I loved I am a little lost in my new identity, homeless. I don't quite know what is in store for me right now. I don't know where my next interest will come from. I am searching, redefining, reinventing a part of me. I will always love home decor but I'm almost relived that I no longer have a home that took so much of me to sustain. The obligation of owning a home confined my interests to that home. That's all I did. I painted and renovated. I gardened, and then gardened some more. I planned for those next steps and it took all my resources because they were labour intensive and I could only afford the product and never the labour. I was a prisoner.  Yes, I was a prisioner.

So what is next? I do not know. But I have time, which I never had before, and I can search for my new beginning. And this blog might change to reflect that new interest, or, it may not. I'm still searching.



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Living Without A Parent!

The saddest day of my life was August 18th, 2014 when my beloved mother passed from this world to the next. And since then there has not been a day, an hour, not a moment when I don't think of her and wonder what's to be come of me living without her.

As the day has grown colder, I am over come with sadness thinking about the months to come and dread how fast they will come. I want time to stand still for awhile while I grieve. I don't want to to see my birthday, or thanksgiving, or even Christmas. The thoughts of those days bring a hurt that is almost too much to bear. It's bad enough I can't see her today. It's sadly sureal, to not be able to call out her name, to kiss her one more time; to see her smile or crack a joke  which she often did to make me smile. 

The sadness is often paralyzing. I sit for what seems hours not sure what to do next, except to replay over and over, the last special moments we shared. The song that repeats in my head constantly is the last song we played to her on those special nights when alone in the dark, we would comfort her and reassure her that she was not alone and that we loved her with all our hearts.

That song was "In the Garden". 

I often wake up in the mornings as if I'd been singing it all night long. But sadly, now it provides very little comfort, when before while she was here, I was so very comforted by that song. It's melody was so beautiful and the words so appropriate as everything this year was about the garden. Now sadly I look at the garden and I no longer see colors but black and white. I feel helplessly unjoyous about it all!

I wish often that time would just stop. I'm not ready to move on. I'm not ready for the next day or the day after next. I just want it all to stop for a long moment so my heart can catch up. I feel sadly disrespectful that that the next day can be lived without her. As easy as that!

There are very few friends whose parents are still here. They've shared this grief well before me, and I witness those occasions when  I hear them reaching out. I see postings of birthdays, mother's day or father's day, and I know I'll become one of those. Hoping that she can still hear me, that indeed she is still with us well after she's vacated the premises. 

Strangely to comfort you many will suggest that a moment will pass when you will feel her presence. A butterfly, a sign that her presence is still with you. 

Everyday, I look. Please mom, show me a sign. I need you to show me that you're still there watching over me, guiding me, smiling with me, giving me the advice I really don't want, but right now...I'll take anything! 

I guess she's a little busy right now. Reconnecting with all her past friends that have gone well before her. I guess I just need to be patient. 

I know she has not forsaken me. And I have not forsaken her. I will continue to look and interpret all signs. I will try to hold her memory of her for as long as I can before it fades...fades...until silently l no longer wake to the song. 

I dread that day.   

Monday, August 4, 2014

When a Parent Suffers From An Illness!

My Mom is dying from lung cancer. And her wish was to live out her remaining days with her family. So she's been at home with me and my son. It's been a harrowing expereince, because dying is ugly. There are times I want her stay forever, but then at othertimes, listening to her struggle I wish the end would come quickly saving her from her struggles with breathing and the natural outcomes from her illness.

Up until a few days ago I was incomplete denial that her end was near. I planted a garden for her. I was convinced that the liliacs that disappointed her this year because they failed to bloom like they should have, would be all in it's glory next year. And she would be here to see it!

I was convinced she would make it to her 90th birthday, and she did therefore she's be here for mine in October. And then of course she would have to be here for Christmas, because, what's a Christmas without her. 

A few days ago, the reality struck, like a severe slap in the face, when filled with too much fluid her body was breaking down and she almost died. Thankfully, this time, the Palliative team and the VON nurses swiftly brought her back. But it didn't change the reality, and the family and palliative rallied to express their opinion that the end was near.

Prepare they said. Prepare. 

What does that mean? Oh yes, the will, the Power of Attorney, the Furneral home, the basic obligations when one dies. But how do we prepare emotionally for their end. The thought of losing her was the unthinkable. I couldn't, I wouldn't, it's just not possible to accept this! I was fearful How could I live without her!

After the episode, I decided to spend the entire next day with her. I wanted her all for myself. If the end was near, I was going to make our day together as special as possible! We talked and we kissed and we snuggled and told stories. And we laughed. She knew and I knew that this was a special day. It was closure for the both of us, just in case, just in case we never had a chance to say goodbye because of unforseen circumstances.

 It was the best day of my life.

Our moms are special people. And although we rejected their interferences all through out our lives, deep down, we knew it came from a special place. There is no bond like a mom and daughter. Moms are always there. They are truly the ones that have your back! 

And now I have hers! The cycle of life can be beautiful if you embrace it for what it is. The intamacy we share now is no different then the intamacy we shared when she was caring for me as a baby. 

Remember that book by Robert Munsch

Oh how I cried when I used to read this to my son! But in reality this book was meant for adults. Really!!! It was a book about dying and the love of a parent and a child!

I love my mom so very much but abhore the suffering. It is then when I realize I need to let her go. And I pray to God now to take her because I know she's ready. We've had that conversation because it's an important one. "if you can take it anymore mom, it's ok, we'll be OK". It's so important that they know that because they will always be moms right! Right to the bitter end. Instead of thinking about themselves, they are still thinking all about you!!

My best friend!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Renovation Tips!

Once upon a time, not too long ago I was a Lisenced Realtor. I loved that job. It was the best job I ever had! I loved my clients, I loved being on the road, and I loved looking at other peoples homes. The best joy was watching the client at precisely the moment they fell in love with the home they had been looking for. It's certainly an emotional revelation. Priceless!

I learned a lot being a realtor. What I learned most that whatever you do to your home, in decorating it or renovating it, you have to think of resale, always! Because you never know if the "home of your dreams", the home you swear you'll live in for the rest of your life, for many reasons may have to be sold. So whatever you do, think about resale. Remember, your home is your biggest investment, and you want a handsome return.

We all know that updated kitchens, bathrooms and finshed basements add tremendous value to your home. But they are also the most expensive. Easily a kitchen can cost upwards to $30,000 or more depnding on your style. At minimum, a new bathroom can run into the thousands, to finish my basement, with the bare minimum of changes was priced at $25,000. That's not including sometimes, the appliances for the kitchen or furniture for the newly finsihed basement!!

And often we resort to color as the first choice in renovating, which realistly should be the last. I've changed the color so many times in my home, that my son often jokes, the walls will fall down from all the paint! But it was easier and cheap. What I didn't realize that it cost me more in the end because I always had to buy all the accessories, new furniture, and whatever, to go with the new color, when in the end, for many reasons it still dissatisfied me. 

I've gone from beiges, to all types of greys, which in some ways I loved dearly but also bordered too much on the color blue and made the room feel "cold" especially if the room was north facing. Oh I spruced it up with lots of tourquois and silver, even various shades of orange during those autumn days you want it to feel like fall! But it failed for me. 

So when I finally invested in making a major renovation to the main floor, which was instigated by my desire to change the front entrance, that's when the real process and commitment to your decisions begins. What I knew were these things:
  • I couldn't change the kitchen cabinets, they are Oak, in good condition, and I had no budget to chenge them.
  • I had oak floors, that required re-finishing
  • And that I had to go with vinyl in the diniing room and kitchen because I couldn't afford wood, and I don't like the coldness of ceramic.
  • And whatever I chose, had to somewhat hide some of the filth that the dogs bring in, so I' didn't have to resort to cleaning every 5 minutes! I'm very OCD!
So I decided the biggest investment was the flooring. I refinshed the floors and chose a vinyl, that not only complimented the Oak cabinets but allowed for a variety of color options in accessories or furniture. I only had $10,000 to make all the chnages I wanted.

So I chose a good quality vinyl! Don't underestimate vinyl! It's cheaper to instal, less expensive to purchase and the options are far more lovelier than in the past!

I made subtle changes to the kitchen. I changed the sink faucet to a dove tail design...love it, all the light fixtures, and all the cabinet hardware. The kitchen was in pretty good shape when I bought it. I did think about changing the counter top, but talk about expensive!! That would have eaten up a third of my budget just doing that as I have tones of counter space. And then of course I would have wanted a new kitchen sink...you know where this is going! I had to prioritize. But in the end, both the counters, the oak cabinet all blend together. Some would say black appliances would look best here...but again not in the budget as they are all white!! If I had any regrets, and they are huge, I would have had the electrician instal recessed lighting in the bulk head. My one true regret!!

Opening the front entrance which was a pretty expensive plan was what started the whole renovation idea.!It went from this

To this!

And as you can see I used the same vinyl I used in the kitchen for continuity.I had the floors refinshed, and updated all the light fixtures. But like all renovations you always find "problems" you didn't know existed. I found out that the wiring in the kitchen was under code and needed a lot of updating! That was a shocker as it could have burnt the house down. 

The colors I chose for some might be quite boring. I thought I might even go white as I do love sometimes that swedish look or cottage look of brightness, and understedness. But it too can be a very cold color. However, I do love it. But in the end I chose Benjamin Moore Stone Hearth. I wanted to return to a color that was warm, neutral so I could add any color as an accessory, and it would again hide any dirt from the dogs! Well better than white would have! 

My inspiration came from this

Well not this picture exactly, but you get the point. The only difference and I'm still not 100% sure I made the right choice, when choosing an accent color that was deeper and richer in color. My mantle piece is one huge brick fireplace! I had it painted white for years. But it's massive and sometimes it felt like it was too much of a focal point! (I'm thinking I need something either more outstanding to go over the mantle piece or turn that mirror so it's vertical.)

I think that's better! Always a great idesa to take pictures...

So I painted it a Benjamin Moore Buckhorn. And carried that color to the kitchen bulkhead and center island (although not really an island) and the inside of the front door.

Sometimes I think the colors I chose were safe, easy for resale if I decided I needed to sell my home tomorrow. It's a color new owners could work while deciding on their own how they wanted their home (my home!) to look like.

Decorating is a challenge for most of us, because we live in the real world. A credit card only goes so far! The choices I made were safe, nothing too drastic that would cause another buyer to reconsider purchasing my home. But I think the choices were good ones as they added, if not improved the value of my home.and that's always what you have to think about whenever you decide on a change. Just because you like the color orange on a wall doesn't necessarily mean someone else will and trust me the effort to change that color is taken into consideration when buyers are purchasing.

I've seen it!!

And to go with "safe" colors, instead of changing with the trends, which is something I did in the past A LOT, doesn't mean you're boring, It's really choosing a color that allows you to change things up when you want to with accessories. I get tired of the same thing....but accessorizing allows me to add color, whatever color, as both colors I have chosen goes with just about  any color, and therefore takes that edge for change away!

It's hard these days with pinterest, facebook, decorating shows, the internet to not feel the pressure of having that perfect home. I know I am OCD and crave a designer home. But then I look around and say to myself....hey...it's pretty awesome that you have what you have! Just be grateful!!

And I am!
Have a happy day folks It's our Natal Day weekend in Halifax. I'm off to enjoy the day!!!

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Day of Laughs!

You know what they say when the going gets tough resort to a few laughs!!
Here are some I found that just made my day!

Hope it gives you a chuckle as well!

Have a super weekend folks!!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

It's a Summer Day for Laundry!!

I don't know about you but I love doing laundry! And I love hanging my sheets out on the clothesline every chance I can get!!! There is nothing like the smell of fresh sheets on the bed!!!

Which got me thinking about laundry rooms. I came across this picture by accident trolling other websites for ideas like I usually do Saturday mornings while enjoying my coffee. And came across this photo.

Whew, that's one big laundry room!!!

I don't have a laundry room per se. After 8 years of living in my home, I have yet to be able to finish the basement. Other than the insulation being up, I have never been able to afford what it would cost to have it exactly the way I would want. I once priced it out and it actually came to about $25,000. That's a lot of freaking money. I often wished that I could call on "Bryan" from HGTV (have I got that right?) to plead with him to take pity on me and do my basement. 
Yeah right, like that will ever happen!!

But a girl can dream. 
If I had one wish, one wish, I would love the perfect laundry room.
Here's are some ideas I found that would do just fine!!

I would actually love to have a laundry room right off the entrance to my back door. So close to the clothesline, and would serve as a mud room as well. But I would have to move.

And to have a place to bathe the dogs...OMG...that would be even more ideal!!!

But I could compromise, and any one of these would do just fine!

Just love this color!!!  And it's so charming!!

How about a TV?

I'm glad I have a window in the laundry room. I think it would be just too dark without one. But hey, you gotta work with what you have, right? Right!!

Ok, I'm off to buy a lottery ticket. Maybe...just maybe...but I won't hold my breath!!!

Enjoy your day folks!!