A Good Home, Canadian Families, Canadian Gardens, Canadian Homes

What a Project!

Whenever I phone my longtime friend Carol, I always ask: “And what’s Wayne up to now?”

And as soon as she says, “Well, let me tell you…” I’m already grinning.

Wayne, you see, is always building something — from cars to houses — and he thrives on a challenge. 

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol House 1

He played a key role in the recent renovation of Justine Viske’s SOS Lounge, one of many interesting projects.Blog Photo - SOS Justine and Wayne

But he has also been working on his own home between these client-projects. And what a project!

Wayne and Carol bought their current home several years ago, in the village of Warkworth, a 90-minute drive east of Toronto. Long before they moved in, Wayne had plans.

“First up”, says Wayne, “was Carol’s garden shed (with the stained glass windows, lighting and power).” 

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Gdn shed2

And since Carol is a serious gardener, the front landscaping also needed attention.

Blog photo - Wayne and Carol front garden

And since the house was small, they decided to extend it. 

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Addition1

“Now it’s 2014 and the addition is starting to take shape”, Wayne recalls. “The foundation and sub-floor are in place. The walls and trusses are up, and it is beginning to look like we know what we are doing!!…LOL.”

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol house addition

The addition houses a family room and more:

“Well, by late summer 2015, we have a washroom for overnight guests. Carol has an office, and I have completed all mechanical necessities in the main entertainment area, including the fireplace, and have built custom cabinetry throughout.”

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Family Rm inside

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Family Rm inside 2

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol tiny new office

Wayne carefully designed every bit of space.

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Closed-in Porch

It was the same with the new kitchen.

The original was dark and inconvenient for Carol, who is a great cook. So Wayne decided to build her a much better one, in the adjacent room. He redesigned and built the whole thing from scratch.

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Kitchen Pantry

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Kitchen ws

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Kitchen 2

That’s Wayne. Where other people might see an insurmountable problem, Wayne sees an exciting challenge. 

Carol has a say, of course, in both design and decor.

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Living-Dining

But she’s quick to point out that “It’s all Wayne”, while praising him for his meticulous work.

And it is meticulous – the kind of work that stands up to close inspection, whether it’s indoors or out.

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol garden with red maple.JPG

“Early in the nice weather of 2016”, Wayne says, “WE decided to do a little landscaping before starting work on MY pet project, the garage — better known as ‘the Coach House’. 

“As you can see, the landscaping involved the acquisition of a considerable number of fair sized rocks (I FOUND them at the sides of the road, and on the outskirts of farmers fields!!)”

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol new landscape

“Some rather larger rocks were used in the landscaping of our new driveway, the one leading to the new ‘Coach House’. I have to admit they were very difficult to get into the back of my SUV!!!”

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol new driveway and huge rocks

As their friends know, Wayne gets restless without a project.  He completed the kitchen just weeks ago, and returned to the project he started last year: the Coach House, with room for his vintage cars and a guest suite. 

Blog Photo - Wayne and Friends raise coachhouse walls

Blog Photo - Wayne and friends inside coachhouse walls
Wayne Shaw, right

The Coach House exterior is now complete, while work continues inside. 

My family and I can barely wait to see the finished product.

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol Coach House

 Meanwhile, we’ve dubbed their much-expanded home  “The Shaw Estate”.

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol House exterior with fence

Blog Photo - Wayne and Carol House and Fence sideview

But we’re betting that one of these days, I’ll call Carol and she’ll say, once again: “Well, let me tell you…”

Bravo, Wayne and Carol!

~~

Photos provided by Wayne Shaw.

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A Family Christmas, A Good Home, Canadian Families, Christmas Arrangements, Christmas Decorations

The Week Before Christmas

 

Here, for your viewing pleasure (I hope), are some images from our home in the week before Christmas. We started decorating a few weeks ago.

Blog Photo - Christmas -Advent Calendar

The thing above is our unusual Advent calendar.

Before Advent officially began (December 3 this year), we wrote notes/quotes and put them in the tiny drawers. Important reminders of love, slowing down and appreciating our blessings.

Next, we brought out an oldish but favourite Christmas book.

Blog Photo - Christmas book exterior

Inside are pop-up scenes marking the 12 days of Christmas, which traditionally don’t begin till December 25.

Blog Photo - Christmas Book third day

Blog Photo - Christmas Book Three French Hens

Blog Photo - Christmas Book inside

Then the tree got properly decorated…

Blog Photo - Christmas ornaments Peace Angel

Blog Photo - Christmas Ornaments Golden Dove

Blog Photo - Christmas Tree 2017

Except for the lower branches.  We ran out of lights, planned to replace them before adding more decorations, but forgot.  

Blog Photo - Christmas Living rm 3

Then I assembled this centrepiece — using birch-bark candles by the talented artist Jean Long, pine cones, baubles, whatnots….

Blog Photo - Christmas plate and candles

And Santa’s sleigh, of course.

Blog Photo - Christmas Santa sleigh

Husband had already filled this very old basket with logs for the fire….

Blog Photo - Christmas Fireplace Logs in Basket

Blog Photo - Christmas 2016 - Logs Burning

Finally, the table was set with Christmas plates ….

Blog Photo - Christmas plate setting

Blog Photo - Christmas table2

And then I apparently ruined the “tablescape”.

Husband asked: “What on earth is that?”

“Those are real autumn leaves and real fake berries,” I replied. 

“Hmm,” he said.

I didn’t tell him I planned to replace the leaves with green sprigs. A woman must retain some mystery, after all.
Blog Photo - Christmas Plate with leaves

Wishing you a good week before Christmas and – whatever your special celebration or preparations — I wish you all the best of the season.

 

A Good Home, A Story for Lauren, Canadian Families, Children's Books, Difference, New Books

Meet Myrtle

A story I wrote 27 years ago to comfort my 4 year-old daughter is about to be published.

Illustrated and designed by well-known blogger Jo Robinson, it’s titled “Myrtle the Purple Turtle”.  It’s about a turtle who suddenly realizes she is different from her friends. She doesn’t like it, and tries to change.

The story is about difference, friendship, and overcoming obstacles.

It was inspired by an experience my daughter Lauren had one day when she brought her black doll to her nursery school.

Blog Photo - Myrtle 2 with title

I’d been producing children’s TV shows back then; that may be why I made up this story for Lauren.  It immediately became her favourite. Soon she knew it by heart!

In fact, Myrtle’s story was improved each night, in response to Lauren’s questions and her father’s and older sister’s suggestions.  

Early this year, egged on by my husband and Chris Graham,  the popular British book blogger — and supported by my children — I decided to publish the story in book-form and asked Jo to illustrate it.

So, 27 years later, Myrtle will finally get her time in the sun! 

Another interesting development: Lauren, now one of Canada’s brightest lights in digital media, has been helping to shepherd the book to publication, and will oversee its marketing. 

Jo, meanwhile,  has been working on the illustrations for several months, and is now adding the final design touches to the book.

I’ll share the book cover with you very soon.

 

 

A Good Home, Amaryllis in Bloom, Canadian Families, Canadian life, Christmas, Flowers

Time for Something Cheerful

Friends:

As you may know by now, I love sharing cheerful posts, especially in challenging times. So here’s one, with pictures provided by the wonderful Hamlin Grange.

~~

First, you may recall that I save our Amaryllis bulbs each year, hoping to get them blooming again at Christmas. Amaryllis are a Christmas tradition in this part of the world.

Blog Photo - Amaryllis Blooms CU1

The trick is to cut the flower stem off after blooming, and allow the plant to keep growing in its container. Take it outside in the spring, and only stop watering in late summer. Then I shake the soil off the roots, and store the bulbs in a big paper bag in the cold cellar.  

But – once again — I forgot all about them. Till late June. And discovered they were growing — in a peculiar colour.

Husband and I planted the alien creatures right away in a big ugly container …

Blog Photo - White Amaryllis 2 - July 2017

Blog Photo - White Amaryllis 4 - July 2017

… and hoped that beautiful changes would take place. 

Blog Photo - Amaryllis Blooms 4 - July 2017

Blog Photo - Amaryllis Blooms 3 - July 2016

And here is the outcome: Christmas in July.

Blog Photo - Amaryllis Blooms 3 - July 2017

Blog Photo - Amaryllis Blooms 2 - July 2016

Whoever said “better late than never” was not thinking of this, I’m sure. But after the 3 weeks just past, these flowers are such a cheerful sight, we wanted to share them with you.

Take care of yourselves, all of you. Thanks also for your kind wishes. I’m not back to form yet, but speaking more clearly today, moving around a little and taking no risks. The new cast is providing more support, the sun is shining, and my family and friends have been wonderfully kind. I’m thankful for every blessing.

~~

Photos by Hamlin Grange.

ps: Some photos are mistakenly labelled 2016. Pls. ignore.