Mucho Modern in Calgary

We did it folks, we bought a new house!!  I don't think I have ever spent so much money so quickly in my life.  Strike that - I am absolutely 100% certain that I have never spent so much money in my life in such a short amount of time.  If I think too much about it, it makes me a little bit ill... so we'll move on.

Here's the scoop:  Last weekend, my husband and I flew out to Calgary after work on Friday, and after dropping our kids off at our AMAZINGLY generous friends' house for 2 nights.  Saturday morning we were up bright and early to explore Calgary with our agent.  At this point our Toronto house was already on sale.

Now if you had asked me about Calgary a few months ago, I would not have been able to tell you anything, other than my opinion that it needed some more trees (lots more trees).  After finding out that we were moving there, I spent hours, and hours, and hours online.  I think I could identify just about any neighbourhood in the city in under 5 seconds at this point, and also tell you the name of the closest French Immersion school, how many minutes it would take you to ride a bike downtown, and how far the closest Starbucks is.  I had that whole every-street-is-a-number and streets-go-one-way-and-avenues-go-another-way-and-don't-forget-about-the-quadrants thing DOWN.  I have my mls/Google Maps/CalgarySchoolFinder black belt, and I know how to use it.

Up until last weekend though, I had never physically been in 99% of the places we were looking.  Luckily, Calgary is wonderfully small!  I mean that in the best way possible - we wanted to be "downtown" and were stressing about one area versus another, but really, they are all pretty close, and it is very easy to get around town.

Our agent and I had determined a short list of houses we wanted to see - I think 12?  (... not sure who I am asking...)  When we walked in this one, our jaws hit the floor.  HIT. THE. FLOOR.  We loved it! But... it was a bit further from downtown, and more than we were going to spend... yada yada yada.  We said we would think about it.  The next day we saw a few new ones that were great contenders, and then went back to look at this one again.  I got tingles.  That evening, we sat at the pub down the street and enjoyed local craft beer while signing our offer document.  It took our agent all of a minute to print them off - he had already filled in all the information for this house the night before.  He knew.  I guess I am an open book.

We put in a low offer hoping that we could bring the price down a bit (yes, you can do this in Calgary!).  When the sellers didn't budge much, we/I got cold feet and decided to drop it.  Yup, just like that.  It was just too nice for us.

Instead we focussed our attention on the "perfect-on-paper" runner up.  The neighbourhood for house #2 was amazing - Chris could walk to work.  We would be near friends of ours, and the school was great.  The house was overpriced, according to our guy, and we could get it for much less than the first place.  It was ugly - DAMN ugly - but heck, there would be lots to blog about!  The before and after pictures would be killer.  It was the responsible thing to do.  However... when they got our offer, I guess the sellers had decided they weren't so keen to sell after all.  They didn't budge on price, and they extended the possession date to the middle of the summer.  This would not work.

I don't think I had even processed this bit of information before Chris was back on the phone to our agent telling him we wanted the first house!  A day or so later, my finger nails were gone, and we were the new owners.  Apparently there are Real Estate Fairy Godmothers, and I have one. (Thank you thank you REFG!)

Before I show you all the pics, let me begin by saying that I am pretty sure we are not worthy of this house.  I can imagine walking in with our stuff, only to have the house twist itself up and spit me and my Value Village/Ikea As-Is finds back out onto the street.  It is so beautiful.  I don't know what the heck I am going to blog about, because I don't even think I will paint the damn walls.

It is a semi-detached, or duplex.  I never thought I would spend so much to live in half of a house, but this is 80% of what is available in Calgary - brand new enormous duplexes.  Our half is on the right.

Please note that this house has been staged for these photos impeccably.  It was empty when we looked at it, but now I can't imagine it with any furniture other than this stuff.

The kitchen makes me want to be a better person.  Or at least a better cook.  Notice how it is similar to ours with the wood on the bottom and white lacquer on top?  And there the similarities end...

There is so much storage in this freakin kitchen I think I am going to have to keep some of my clothes there.

So... yeah.  I know.  It's obscene.  It's ridiculous.  I don't even.... words fail me.  By some amazing twist in the fabric of reality, I will (soon!) be living in this house.  Surrounded by all those BIG TREES. (I'll take my words with a side of mayo, thank you...) Twenty minutes from downtown by bike, ten by car.  With a yoga studio down the street.  Basking like a cat in all that LIGHT.  I am beside myself!

Anyone wanna come visit?

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Hi guys, this is not really related to anything, except that perhaps it is helping with the moving stress.  I have watched this about 15 times and it cracks me up every time (my favourite line is when he knocks on the doorbell...and rang it).  I went through a few others and they are also amusing, but for some reason, this one just gets me!


I have not been on here for a while, and here is my excuse:  Somewhere towards the end of February, out of the blue, my husband got offered his dream job in Calgary... starting the beginning of April.  From that point on, life became a blur of packing, storage, moving companies, agents, listings, open houses, de-cluttering, and even a quick jaunt to Calgary to look at houses.  Any spare time was spent on the internet flicking between mls, google earth, and the calgary school board school finder page.  Entirely too much wine and coffee was consumed.

Last night we sold my beloved house, the subject of so much of this blog.

It actually felt kind of nice to "stage" my house for sale - I felt quite proud of the photos and virtual tour, and was happy to pack up a lot of the chaos to let the house shine.  Sure, maintaining clear surfaces was a pain, but it was lovely to sit in the evenings with my bottles of wine and think "I did this!"  I made this warm and cozy space.

The downside is that, despite my efforts polishing bathroom fixtures, filling in the nicks in my painted bathrooms floor with a Sharpie, hauling my toaster oven out to the trunk of the car every morning, and scrubbing every handprint from the walls, we received but one offer.  Happily, it was for our asking price, but somehow the hype of the Toronto real estate market had me secretly hoping for more.  With all the press around multiple offers and bidding wars, scarcity of product and rabid buyers, it was generally assumed that for a house like ours, in the neighbourhood we are in, people would be lining up at the door.  I know that sounds like hubris, but this message was reiterated and reinforced over and over from friends, agents, and armchair analysts.  Day in and day out, the real estate sections of the papers crowed about the seller's market, the unstoppable prices, the results that exceeded everyone's expectations.

So when we had one agent quietly submit the offer last night, I felt relief to have received our asking price, relief that this big component of our process was finished, and relief that we could bring the toaster oven back in permanently.  I even felt really happy for the nervous couple that were no doubt waiting outside in their car with their fingers crossed.  But I also felt a little... rejected.  So many views online, so many showings, such successful open houses, and one offer.  No one wanted my beautiful house.

Now, before you all start reassuring me that this wasn't the case, I have a beautiful house, I should feel proud (cause I know you guys are amazing and sweet and kind and will do that!), or chastising me for being so greedy, know that I consciously and rationally accept that it was not the house, it was the lack of parking.  Parking is a huge hairy deal around here, and that was the overwhelming feedback from the viewings.  Our neighbour, who has had his completely top-to-bottom renovated fancy house on the market since November, has been having the same frustration.  The other issue is that the school zone right next to ours is apparently the one everyone wants to get their kids into.  Plus there are a LOT of really beautiful houses around here.  So I am very very grateful to have had someone buy it at the price we were asking (which seemed huge).

All the same... it sort of stung.

HOWEVER, this morning I am feeling much more upbeat about the whole thing, and concentrating on the full-to-the-top glass and not the missing overflow!  Our house still sold in a week, for a very silly amount of money.  Three of these seven days we were all out of the house and didn't have to worry about wiping the fridge handle every time we closed it or camping out at the coffee shop while people toured the house.  I already have a large chunk of the packing done.  It was a quick and painless process, when it could have dragged on and on and on.  It is a huge financial relief, and we now know what our budget is for Calgary and that we can move forward on a house there without worrying about carrying two mortgages.  HOORAY!

Amazing what a good night's sleep can do for one's perspective. :)

Now everyone sing along with me:

Things I never thought I would say

You know, it's hard out there for a blogger.  Any time I see something funny and cool I want to pass on, I scroll down my Facebook feed and see that it has already been sent around 20 times.  But whatever, I am posting these posters anyway, cause they are damn funny.

I know everyone has had at least one moment with a child where you say (or, more likely, yell) something outrageous at your kid. It's only then, once the words have left your mouth and you have heard yourself say them, you stop, slightly surprised, and think "Wow. That's the weirdest thing I have ever said."  Then you post it on Facebook and file it away to trade with other parents at a later date.

Well, Nathan Ripperger is WAY more industrious than that.  He takes the crazy and insane things that come out of his mouth and turns them into really cool posters.  And then sells them in his Etsy store:  Wish I'd thought of that.

I have definitely said the toilet seat one.  Actually, let me think of some of the things I said this week:

- No penises on the table. (How many times do I have to say it??)
- Why is there toothpaste in both your eyebrows?
- Just because your brother is sitting on your head does NOT mean you get to stay home from school.
- Yes, you can bring Giraffy the Turtle to the dentist.
- Everybody has to wear their OWN underwear.
- No scissors in the bath!
- Yes you can take a bath with the farm animals.
- Stop wiping your nose on my arm.

Do you have any memorable "I never thought I would say that" quotes?

Crayon Hearts

This weekend the hubby went away and the boys and I had some Quality Time together. I would just like to say how much respect and admiration I have for actual single parents, especially those who have to work one or more jobs.  I knew my husband and I were a good team, but you just don't realize how much you depend on each other until your team mate skips town.

Anyway, we did do a few activities besides Netflix...  I had bought a silicone heart mould at the dollar store before Valentine's Day and the boys have a bucket of crayons they never use - they are straight up marker dudes.  I had seen lots of tutorials about melting down crayons and when I suggested it they were pretty excited.  I won't describe the whole process, since there are lots of tutorials online, but the essentials are:

  1. Take paper off crayons: this is kind of tedious and your kids will abandon you and your nails will never be the same again.
  2. Break crayons into little pieces:  or not so little, depending on your hand strength.
  3. Put them in the silicone mould: if you want hearts that are actually shaped like hearts, you may want to skip the dollar store and invest at, say, Walmart.  (Our mould was promptly chucked in the garbage after this craft, and I am relieved to say that none of it remained in the oven.)
  4. Back up 3 steps and set the oven to 200 - 250 degrees.
  5. Once your oven has heated, put the mould on a baking sheet and pop 'er in.  Plug your nose and watch them melt, slowly, for about 15 - 20 minutes.  Open windows.  Wonder how many toxins are in crayons and look worriedly at your children.
  6. Put them on the back porch to cool down.
  7. Ooh and Aah as you pop them out of the mould and watch your kids colour diligently until they remember they don't like crayons, get bored, and go watch Netflix.

The weird thing was how the pigment sank to the bottom and all the extra (filler?) wax pooled at the top.  I assume that these were probably not top-of-the-line crayons... I didn't remember anyone mentioning this online.

Me being me, I took out a paring knife and shaved off the extra wax. Then I noticed the shaving were kind of pretty so I took photos.  Then I went and got my hair dryer and experimented with melting the shavings onto paper and canvas.  They looked sort of pretty until they got quite liquidy and the green overpowered all the other colours.  The result sort of looked like someone barfed on a canvas.  I didn't take photos.  But it was kind of fun to get my hands dirty and play around. I also noticed that the heart crayons made it into their stories and play for the rest of the weekend (I think at one point they were alien space ships) so I am calling it a successful craft.  :)

Building a design portfolio

As I launch into this interior design business, I realize that if I am going to go beyond friends and family, I am going to need to put together a professional-looking portfolio.  I am finding that this is hard to do in retrospect because the perfect "Before" shots may not exist, and I am not sure that my photography skill level is up to the best looking "After" shots (understatement).

I thought I would start by putting something together about my own kitchen first, since I have oodles of photos. None are styled the way I would like, but beggars and can't be choosers, and I am way too lazy to do that now. There is nothing like looking at your space on a photograph to really force you to take a step back.  For example, in the first photo my Breville espresso machine would be way better than that fugly toaster oven.  The chair and table are distracting in the corner.  The thermostat on the window sill needs to go and the whole counter, window - everything could be styled better.  I do like the splash of red/orange though.  Otherwise the kitchen is pretty bland in a photo.

It is also difficult to match up the angles of the before and after shots, but hopefully you can tell it is the same space.  It looks so wildly different to me, it's not even like looking at the same house!

And then there's the drawings.  Do I add the drawings?  Are they part of the portfolio?  Do I add the final one or all the layouts I played with to get here?  I tell you, I pretty much did a masters degree in this SketchUp program by the time I was done this...

And I didn't do an inspiration board for myself, but I guess I should put one together in the style I would present to a client...

Anyway, thanks for reading.  I am excited to be moving forward on this. I have to say, Sarah Richardson's post on Facebook this morning was exactly what I needed to hear, and really got my butt in gear.  I even have found a photographer to do some of my other projects, hopefully they will end up way more profesh!  And the more I realize I have already done, the more I realize that the only thing holding me back is a lack of confidence, not a lack of ability.  And that just seems silly, now, doesn't it?

Back in it with Waterlogue

So, my Blogger dashboard tells me that I last posted December 9.  That's a while ago.  I won't go into too much about why, where I was, or what I was thinking - there are some great posts that sum it up so well by Grace Bonney, Jen Flores, and Janice.  Suffice it to say that it became a lot of work, a big time investment, and I was just not that into the new 'direction/professionalization' of blogging for myself.  I like to just throw stuff up that I think is pretty.  I include photos of my kids.  I don't really fit in a niche, and, having tried, I don't really want to.  I was all set to "take this thing to the next level" with a new Word Press site, fancy hosting, plug-ins, SEO, bla bla bla... and then I just stopped.  Stopped writing, stopped reading blogs, stopped spending all my waking hours looking at the computer.  I have read a LOT of books in the mean time!

But I kind of miss it.  I say 'kind of' because I don't really miss all the techie stuff, much as I liked it. And I certainly don't miss looking at my numbers, that stresses me out.  And I don't miss all the emails asking me to review things, blog about things, let other people write on my blog, etc.

I miss having a place to post stuff I like in a more thoughtful way than pinning it on Pinterest (which I still love).  When I post things here, I am forced to ask myself why I like it, and what about it speaks to me.  And here I can post about design, products, apps, crafts, colours, fashion, environment, music, you name it - it's my freakin blog!

So if you are with me, awesome, I love you, and I am grateful for your company.  If you are no longer feelin the love, that's cool, carry on, I'll be around if you change your mind.

But now, on to the main event, the reason I opened up this posting thing again: Waterlogue.

I know it's cheating, but hey, so is Instagram.  I know I am not actually a fabulous watercolour painter artist-extraordinaire, but I get to imagine how awesome I would be if I had the skills.  Just like with Instagram, I get to feel like a real photographer, capturing magical moments in time with just the right je-ne-sais-quoi. (On that topic, you must watch this hilarious video:

You will see from my heading at the top I have a huge love of watercolour.  Watercolours happen to be very "hot" right now - the loose impressionistic aesthetic is similar to the current rage for hand-written fonts over structured typefaces.  The artistic, the individual, the one-of-a-kind is refreshing in a world of cookie-cutter everything.

The irony of this is that you are no doubt going to see Waterlogue used EVERYWHERE now - your Instagram feed is about to go all David Milne.

This is my son at a recent Toronto Symphony Orchestra student concert (field trip).  I am just so blown away by the treatment of this app, the fidelity to real watercolour techniques and effects.  The photo above looks like it could be an illustration in a kids book.

So there you go: Waterlogue.  Best $2.99 I have spent in a while! :)

Thanks for reading. xo

Yao Cheng Design

Yao Cheng Blue Waves print from Wicked and Weird blog
Blue Waves

I was cruising around the internet the other night looking for inspiration for a silkscreening class I am doing and came across the beautiful work of Yao Cheng.  I just love the pretty pinks (never thought I would say that!) and soft watercolours paired with her beautiful hand lettering.  Her patterns and prints are just lovely as well.  There is so much talent out there it constantly amazes me, and just when I thought my days of blogging might be done, I find a slew of incredible artists I feel like I just have to share.  Also, I would like to take a watercolour course next!
Yao Cheng abstract circular shapes from Wicked and Weird blog
Abstract Circular Shapes
Yao Cheng floral wreath from Wicked and Weird blog
Floral Wreath

Yao Cheng Colorful Dots Falling print from Wicked and Weird blog
Colorful Dots Falling 

Yao Cheng Landscape Forest in Indigo and Greenprint from Wicked and Weird blog
Landscape Forest in Indigo and Green
Yao Cheng Triangle Shapes Light print from Wicked and Weird blog
Triangle Shapes Light
Yao Cheng custom postcard from Wicked and Weird blog
Yao Cheng custom postcard from Wicked and Weird blog