Monday, December 31, 2012

A New Year

The last day of 2012! And if I can use one word to describe this year, I'd say... pretty-glad-it's-over. It's been a tough go. Lots of stress, plenty of tears. But at the same time, as much as I'm glad to see the calendar flip to 2013, there have also been some good memories made and some amazing friendships developed.

I think there is something important about writing some things down at the end of a year. Whether you call them 'resolutions', or 'goals', or even if it's just a look back...it sets your feet firmly in a time and place, and I think it builds our character to take a good hard look around ourselves.

So first, a look back at the last 12 months. And yes, I'm scrolling through my Instagram page to try and remember what the heck I did this year. And then a few quick resolutions for 2013. :)

January marks the month I started and ended resolution #2 I made last year: "Make my bed every day." I started off so strong! But I didn't last, and soon Kevin was making the bed, and I was like "Hey! This is way easier!" So...yeah. January also marks the first full month of one of my best friend's greatest endeavors. The Cannon opened on December 21st, and by January it was already packed and had totally become an instant haven for lovers of Hamilton, coffee, great food and meaningful time spent with friends. This shop has become my happy place, and my favorite coffee shop in this city. It's been amazing to see Anne and Cindy grow it from the ground up, and dangit! Those lattes!
First latte at The Cannon!
February. 2012's hardest month. I remember sitting in the doctor's office, and telling her that my anxiety was suffocating me. Bless her heart, she said "I'm not giving you medication. Let's try some alternatives." She showed me some breathing exercises and recommended going on a walk every evening to clear my head. Simple solutions, but so helpful at that time. This was the first time I've ever dealt with this, and it's been a bit of an interesting realization, as I never pegged myself as someone who would be crippled by emotions, or tangibly affected by social anxiety. For some reason, to me, that was something other people suffered with, and I never expected those feelings to just pop up. This has been an ongoing process, but has grown me in ways I couldn't have imagined. February brought a lot of heartache, as I watched a lot of hearts get broken, and witnessed a lot of hurt around me that I couldn't control. It felt like a very sudden jump into being "grown up", and I quickly remembered the resolution I had made just weeks earlier: "Learn to suffer well: We live in a broken world, and we can't wrap our minds around the terrible things that happen. I want to be a person who knows that is true, and who looks forward to God's kingdom being fully realized and everything set to right, but also lives in the tension of knowing that we're not there yet. I want to 'sit shiva' with my friends that are grieving. I want to acknowledge pain, instead to digging desperately for optimism. I want to make soup for people who are sad. I want to cry over broken hearts and broken lives." I think God was preparing me for a big, hard year. 
Night walks.
February was also the month that Needlework opened. Two of my dear friends started this sewing shop, and it's become my other 'happy place'. Their little line up of sewing machines, and their giant cutting tables became the place where I practiced creativity this year, and where I was able to find moments of clarity and peace when shit hit the fan. Who would have thought that local businesses could be such a literal blessing, but Needlework (and the Cannon) have both been that to me this year.
Needlework, just before it opened.
March was one of those months that was just full of a bunch of fun events. A few of us organized Cash Mob. We threw a dinner party at the Baltimore House. Lindsay and I launched an online fundraiser to renovate our vintage camping trailer (a project that is still a long way out, unfortunately). I have learned this year just how much I'm a person who likes to Do Things. I love organizing, and planning, and bringing people together, and working on projects bigger than myself. It's a good thing, but it can be dangerous. Keeping busy can swallow you up, especially when you know that it's rest and quiet conversations that will stir your heart. Doing Things is a distraction, but it is also a joy. It's learning to find that balance of productivity/excitement/creativity and stillness/peace/reflection that is so hard.
Dinner at the Baltimore House.
April was full of more fun things. Like...going to see First Aid Kit in Toronto. And concluding forty days of "climbing high mountains" and ending that journey by celebrating Easter on the escarpment. And throwing a dance party to raise the last of the money for Sweet Ice's camping trailer. That was a good month.
May was a month of fresh starts. The days got warmer, and summer activities started. We cleaned up the back yard and I started jogging. I took some "offline" time to clear my head. Sweet Ice got rolling again, we sold our house, and started house hunting.
Hamilton Waterfront.
Cleaning the backyard.
The wallpaper I loved when we were house hunting. Wouldn't have guessed that this house would eventually be ours.
June's greatest accomplishment was the Sweet Ice commercial. It kindof speaks for itself. I'm still blown away that this came together, and I feel so very proud of it.
July is defined by the Great Disaster of 2012 - the flood. This was an absolutely awful month full of stress, disruption and unsettledness. We spent the next 3 months moving around, living out of a laundry basket. The greatest thing I learned was that people are kind, and so hospitable  It made me want to be kinder, and more hospitable. I hope that if someone I know has a disaster in their home like we had, I will be the kind of person that welcomes them into my home, because we were so blessed by that.
The only saving grace in July was the three amazing weddings we got to attend. Kevin's sister got married, and I had the honor of being in her wedding party and Kevin officiated their ceremony. It was pretty darn special. Kevin also got to stand up in the wedding of our dear friends Aaron and Cath. Lastly, my cousins got married on the beach, and Kevin officiated their ceremony. Then there was a pig roast.
August! We got our new house on the first of August and began renovations right away. We unpacked the kitchen, watched the contractors knock down a few walls, then escaped to the cottage for a week. Thank God, because the renovations were the biggest undertaking of life, and we had no idea that we'd still be working on the main floor at the end of December. The house has come a long way though, and it is slowly and surely becoming a home. We feel so blessed to have gotten this house - it really is (or will be) our dream house, and we're so thrilled about the location. I'm excited to see what life will look like in 2013 in our new place!
August is also when I accomplished last years resolution #1: "Pay off my school debt." Buying a new house is what allowed us to do so, and it was a huge weight lifted! 
September, in Hamilton, is basically know as Supercrawl Month. Most of the people I know are basically getting ready for Supercrawl for the first half of the month, executing whatever awesome thing they’re involved in, and then spending the second half of the month coming down from the Supercrawl high. It’s a good month. A crazy one, but so good. I had two awesome ways to get involved this year. First, Sweet Ice was setting up, for two days this year instead of just one, and second, the Beehive was installing our Modular Beauty piece. We got ready, we executed, and then we rested.


October was a great month because I really got to settle into Autumn. Every year I say that I want to do more “Fall Stuff” and unfortunately this amazing season only lasts about three weeks so you really have to make an effort to squeeze all that Autumn goodness out of it. Kevin and I went for a lot of walks, we carved a pumpkin, we drank apple cider, etc etc, but the most exciting I did was Sports! (I capitalize it, because it really is a new concept to me…almost otherworldly, actually.) My carpoolie Meag and I partnered up for a charity bike ride and we killed it! And it almost killed us. But we did it! Also, we finally moved into our new house at the end of October. It’s been a bit like camping, because we’re missing a lot of the essentials (stove, laundry, bathroom sink), but it’s cool how well you adapt to making all your meals in a slow cooker, using the laundromat, and washing your hands in the bathtub.
November was the month of 'making home'. I started making pillows, and decorating for Christmas, and buying furniture and finishing projects. I got some kind of second wind, and just stormed through home-projects.
Linds and I hosted the Not-So-Sweet Ice Dance Party, our season closer, and it was super fun and successful. It's always so humbling to see all these amazing people come out to enjoy snow cones and dancing, and to hear their feedback. It was such a great way to close our season; especially to end on a high when we were both ready to hibernate for a few months. November was also the first time we welcomed a big group of people into our home. We've always wanted a place where we could host large gatherings, and it was really cool to offer our place for our friend Tim's CD release party. I hope that this year will bring many more gatherings of friendly faces.
Aaaaand December. Lots of highlights in December. Obviously Christmas is always a fun time, but I had the added bonus of an amazing trip to Buffalo with Kevin, where we saw one of the best concerts of my life. Not to mention Shopocalypse, where our church raised over $7000 in one night to provide fresh drinking water to an underpriviledged community in Ethiopia, AND I got to celebrate my birthday about 4 different times because I'm spoiled like that. 
Whew! So there's the nutshell version of my year.
Now, the new year...let's address that. I'm declaring 2013 to be the year of simplicity.
Here are my four resolutions.

Slow down. 
Take a deep breath, don't sweat the small stuff, say no to things, enjoy my evenings. Read some books. Take time to sit and craft and talk.

Clean Up
Organize my life/house/brain. We've got housemates moving in this Spring, so the goal is to have all things in their proper place, and a purged and organized home before then. Also included here: cleaning up finances! I want to pay off our  $7000 car debt in 2013. We were debt free for two weeks in 2012, and it was nice...but then our car died! I want to get back there by the end of the year. 

Finish What I Start
Accomplish two projects each month. January is baby shower and wedding shower month. February is Operation-Terri-Gets-Married and cleaning my basement. March is finishing my braided rug and....so on and so on.

Quality Time
Last year was high stress for most of the people I know. It was a a tough year, and everyone had a lot on their minds. This year, things are simpler, so I want to take advantage of that and spend more time with friends and family.

So there you go! That was a long writeup, but it's nice to take a glance back and a look forward. Happy New Year, friends!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Murray St Renovations: The Kitchen

So about that new house we bought! It’s coming along…
It’s been a massive undertaking, and after nearly three months of renovations, we still haven’t been able to sleep there – but we’re getting so close. So many people have asked to see pictures of the house and of our progress, so I thought I'd start posting a bit on here, room by room. Last night I was able to do our first bit of unpacking (with the help of my buds Steve and Linds!), and it felt so great to get our kitchen set up a bit.
We'll post some more "official" pictures once everything is set up and finished, but that at least gives you an idea. The kitchen has been an interesting project. We decided to refrain from any major overhauls, and just work with what we had in there. Even though all we've done are surface changes, the room feels so much more open and fresh, and we’re really excited about it!

What We've Done:
  • The dark brown wood cabinets were in good shape, and they’re now a fresh minty blue with new handles and knobs.
  • We painted over the retro brown back splash tiles with a clean white, and we’re going to try to get them nice and glossy.
  • At the last minute we decided to remove the dropped ceiling and gained about two feet in height, which was a great decision. That naturally created a sort of shelf around all the cupboards which is super cute.
  • We pulled up many layers of linoleum, and refinished the original pine floors.

What We Still Need To Do:
  • Paint the walls.
  • Install the new counter tops and sink.
  • Get a stove!
  • Build a little island in the middle and find some cute little stools.
  • Make a little braided rug for the floor by the sink, like this one or this one!
There is so much cupboard space in this kitchen. I unpacked everything I owned, and I don't think I even filled half of the cupboards. I can't wait until I can get some groceries, make some dinner, and sit down with friends over a good meal. We'll probably be sitting on the floor, but that's okay!
Kevin is so cute at labeling boxes.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Beehive Craft Night


Last night the Beehive Craft Collective got together and did something unheard of. We crafted!

Ever since we started the collective it’s been project followed by project, which has been so amazing. We’ve gotten to do some really rewarding things, like the recent community-driven art piece that was installed at Supercrawl. But we’re ready for a break, and as the weather gets cooler and things get cozier around here, we are all excited to settle into some serious crafting. Rather than scurrying to get things done, we’re entering a season of what we like to call The Slow Craft Movement. Quilting, knitting, embroidery…at a slow, human pace. I haven’t quite gotten there mentally, with the insanity of moving into our house, so I was whipping up curtains on the machine, but as the days get colder and darker, I’m really looking forward to spending more evenings like this.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cottage Life

Just got back from an amazing week at the cottage. So relaxing, and perfect timing to get away from this home renovation craziness!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Great Disaster of 2012

Last weekend we came home to something interesting. After a super relaxing weekend of visiting my parents, we went to the Bread Bar for an amazing dinner. We took our time, devoured some incredible pizza, and eventually headed home for the evening. I opened the front door and heard a really loud sound “SCHHHHHHH”, like the sound of a shower, but much louder. And the sound of rain. But indoors. There was a MASSIVE flood, and water was everywhere. The entire main floor was raining, there was a small river flowing down the stairs, and everything was soaked.

Cue the instant panic.

That combined with wet, slippery floors must of made for a hilarious scene. In hindsight, we totally wish we took a video or at least a picture of this moment, because there were emotions present that we had never experienced before.

Because neither Kevin or I had ever had any kind of home catastrophe, in that moment we kindof forgot about home insurance and sort just assumed that we had lost everything and that we’d be homeless forever. We’ve already bought our new home, and sold this home, which made things even more complicated. We were in a state of panic. Slippery, flooded panic. I’ll never forget when Kevin called his parents.

Mom: Grab every towel you can find!
Kevin (into the phone shaking his hand towards heaven): BUT WE DON’T HAAAAVE ANYMORE TOWELS!

Dad: Well son? That’s why you have home insurance!
Kevin: We have home insurance??! (Yells:) MEEEGG!! WE HAVE HOME INSURANCE!!!!

Here are some pictures of the damage. In the first picture you can kindof make out the giant dehumidifiers we've had running for the past week. We’ve moved out and are living at Kev’s parents house indefinitely. It’ll be an interesting few months, by the time we can get into our new place. All things considered, I’ve got an warm, cozy roof over my head, clean clothes, a good job and a husband who knows how the make the best of anything. I feel blessed.
A while back we had scheduled a photo shoot with our friend Hollie, because we had hoped to capture a bit of our first home so we could remember fondly this place that has set stage for so many great memories. Instead, the house gave us a giant EFF YOU and kicked us to the curb. I canceled the photo shoot, but after a few days, reconsidered and Hollie came over to capture this memory for us. I’m thinking that in a few years, we’ll likely look back fondly on this time.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Canada Day Weekend & Some News!

What a GOOD weekend. Biking around TO, fireworks at the pier, a day trip to the beach - I feel like I had a Canada Day weekend right out of the movies!
On Friday we went on a day trip to celebrate our 5 year anniversary. We decided to put together our own Toronto Latte Tour, and basically asked friends for recommendations and planned a route around the city. We threw our bikes on the GO Train, and away we went! Here are the places we stopped:
 ^ Lit
Then yesterday, we went to the BEACH! Here are a few pictures - it was so hot and sunny that you could hardly walk on the beach without burning the bottoms of your feet. I'm a bit sun burnt, and every muscle in my body is aching, but those are the results of a weekend spent outside and with great friends, so I'm pretty happy.
Aaaaand some really big news from the weekend - we bought a house! This is extra exciting because it's actually the house we originally put an offer on a few weeks ago - "The Dream House"! It ended up back on the market and somehow...we got it! We could not be more thrilled and excited, but also kind of terrified, because it happened so fast and it feels too good to be true! This picture was taken right after we decided to go for it - I like it because we look happy and scared.

So that's happening. We move out of our current house and get possession of the new one on August 1st. It's totally bittersweet, because we love this house, and it's the end of an era, but there are good things ahead, I'm sure of that.

And tomorrow is the Beehive + Etsy event, which is going to be so much fun. We'll be working on our Supercrawl project which is a community-driven art installation that anyone can get involved in. I really mean anyone - it's very simple to make and we'll be providing all the supplies.

So, friends, come out to that and we can craft and drink wine together! That's all for today. Too much goodness to write down, really.

xo
Meg