East Coast

Winter Blues

My desk with a few of my favorite things.

I know I'm not the only one who's feeling the side effects of this extreme winter.  This winter is the first one I've spent fully on the East Coast and its been a harsh one, or as the elders here call it "an old time winter".  Anyone I talk to here says its been decades if ever, they can remember a winter like this.  I was born, raised and lived in Toronto all my life I can honestly say I've never suffered from the winter blues, until now.  The thought of another 2 months (or more!?) of this gets me down.  I'm well overdue to be back in TO and right now I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss the sunshine.  Last week I found myself in such need of a pick me up I got up from my desk and drove into town solely for the purpose of finding some flowers.

I was excited to find a dozen long stem creamy white roses at Loblaws amongst the standard mixed bouquets. They'd just been marked down 50% because they'd reached their peak but did I care, ummm no, in fact they appealed to me even more because I felt like I was saving them from dying right there in the produce aisle without they're beauty ever being enjoyed.

The roses went immediately on my desk where I could enjoy them the most right along with some of my other favorite things.  Little things can make a big difference.  These flowers brought a cheery vibe to my office and gave me joy to look at (and smell) all day every day this week.  They really were a pick me up.  I need more!  I'll be searching for more flowers this week and maybe some spring bulbs.  I need to force a little spring to happen around here.  

The photo of the roses also captured some of my favorite things that live on my desk.  I keep them here because I love looking at them and/or they remind of some one or something beautiful that makes me smile.  At the back of the tray you can see a glimpse of a special gift from my friend Michelle, a rendering of my house in an antique gold frame.  The antique glass bottle was found in the dirt crawl space of our stone cellar during the renos last winter.  There's a quartz rock from our beach that I use as a paper weight (I have many sizes of these!).  Next to the flowers is a piece of vintage studio pottery I picked up at an antique market in Ontario, I keep paper clips and a few cards in there, the one visible is from a beautiful home accessories shop in Lunenburg that I discovered last winter. The card reminds me I need to go back for a visit.

The PENTPER General Shop, Lunenburg, NS.

The faux animal print wallet was a Christmas gift from my cats : ) I have a terrible habit of carrying my wallet only into stores and have often caught my cards falling out the end.  This zip up one has been so handy and I looove a leopard print, but what makes me smile every time I open it is there's a quote in gold lettering printed on the inside lining:

"If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can't buy."

Definitely something worth reminding ourselves of everyday.  Its the little unexpected things isn't it!  (Leopard print wallet from Chapters Indigo.)

Later on in the week, despite another snow storm, working at my desk remained cheery with these mini mandarines - probably the cutest thing I have ever seen at the grocery store!  It was another effective pick-me-up shared with a few more favourites.  I treasure this japanese tea pot from a best friend and the next best thing to having a cup a tea with her.

On this ground hog day Punxsutawney Phil has predicted 6 more weeks of winter but Nova Scotia's own Schubenacadie Sam has predicted an early Spring.  Which probably mean the same thing.  I think only six more weeks of winter is equivalent to an early spring in Nova Scotia.  I'm running out of ways to beat these winter blues so, seriously Sam, I'm counting on you now. 

All Photos:  Carol Reed

My House: Dining Room Progress

For the past 11 months we've had the front part of our East Coast house and the entire 2nd floor undergoing an extensive renovation.  The reno area consists of a living room, dining room, hallway/staircase, 2 bedrooms and a bathroom - in total less than 1000 s.f.  Its been 11 months and this new work is still not finished.  I expected we'd  have the entire house reno completed by now but reality is I'm dealing with Atlantic time here. Nothing happens quickly.  This first phase of renos is complete enough now that we've moved into the new area and its a huge relief to have the extra room and to have the tools and dust and daily trades gone.   

Its fitting that the very first room we used in the new part of the house was the Dining Room (even before the bedrooms).  What better way to christen the new space than a special dinner with family, our very first house guests.   I never imaged 3 months previous when we planned their visit that w'ed be scrambling to get the new space livable by July 1st.   It was a close call,  I'll be honest, new beds arrived for the bedrooms on Thursday, the plumber arrived on Friday to install the bahtroom fixtures, boxes were being upacked on Saturday and our guests arrived on Sunday.  I had hotel rooms reserved just in case but miraculously we didn't need them.   Shortly after they arrived we gathered in our "new" dining room for a big dinner.  To give you an idea of how far this room has come, here's a little before and after along with a peek at some of the progress.

Dining Room Before

Dining Room After (same view as "Before" photo)

The only redeeming feature about this room "before" was that it was a decent size.   Fake wood panelling, acoustical tile ceiling (its everywhere here), nasty pet stained carpet, mis-matched trim work - it all had to go.  With a house this old a coat of paint and a steam clean isn't nearly enough to bring the space up to todays standards.  Behind the walls and above the tile ceiling your likely to find no insulation, mould, loads of mouse droppings, critter nests, faulty wiring and water damage.  We found all of that and more.  The only way you could move forward with this interior was to go backwards first.

On the floor we stripped back a layer of carpet, a layer of vinyl and a particle board subfloor to reveal what I had suspected (and desperately hoped) was there. Original solid wood wide plank floor boards, complete with a solid wood subfloor beneath.  I was ecstatic when we uncovered these and that they were throughout the entire house.

These are what the floors looked like after stripping off layers of paint. 

The next most exciting discovery was uncovering these original timber ceiling joists in the living and dining rooms.  Just like the wood floors, these beauties hadn't seen the light of day in a looooong time and I had no intention of covering them up again.

Almost there,,,many months later here's the dining room just after the drywallers finished.  We reframed all the exterior walls, added insulation, new drywall and new wood windows and all new trim work.  The wood ceiling beams were left bare and new drywall was seamlessly fitted around them.

Below is a sneak peek of what the dining room looked like the day we used it for the first time with our guests, I literally took the building permit out of the window seconds before these photos were taken.   The room was far from finished; there are no light fixtures, no electrical cover plates, no vent covers and barely any furniture.  The table and chairs we moved into the room are completely temporary but work for now - it will ALL be replaced in the near future.  The fact that the room isn't complete and is a long way from where I want it to be, would never stop me from making use of it now as best I can.

This is how the table looked while I was half way thru setting it for our first dinner.  I filled the bottoms of the hurricane lanterns with sand from the beach and added wild daisies and ferns that I picked from the side of our road (there's no flower shop to run to).  In case you're wondering what was on the menu for this inaugural dinner - we had a lobster feed of course. : )

So that's a sneak peek of the new construction in the dining room, the furnishings and artwork are another story all together.  Stay tuned for sneak peeks of the other "new" rooms which I'll be posting soon.  You can also check out some before photos of the exterior on my first post about the property here and one other post on some of the demo progress here.

Room Design and all Photos by:  Carol Reed