a fine example of the decline of humanity

Now, I wasn’t alive in the fifties, so I can’t really say whether the above image’s statement is true or not – although my grandmother will certainly vouch for the idea. The image fits with the theme of today though, while I still try to shake off last night’s unpleasant events.
I’m not sure what parents 10-20 years older than me are doing with their kids these days, but the 20 or so high school students we encountered last night made it seem like they are no longer taught the meaning of respect. It’s of course easy to start generalizing when you’ve had a bad experience – but that’s where I’m coming from today, so until some younger individuals come around who disprove this in my world, I’m going to have to just hope that these little twits are a minority, and move on with life as usual. Ideally this will never happen again.

So what the heck happened, you may be asking by now?

Okay that image is a slight exaggeration, but I do like to exaggerate from time to time, especially in times of frustration. Scott and I were having a quiet movie night at home when right near the end of Jackie Brown, when Jackie and Max had just professed their love for each other, some ruckus started outside our window. I suspected the Smallworks sign was being abused. We continued to listen when a much louder bang occurred followed by the sound of immature laughter. I immediately went for the door and saw that our poor mailbox was beheaded, and a group of high school pre-grads were continuing up the block. Well, the Irish/German in me couldn’t stand for that. Unfortunately, these individuals were not shining examples of human beings.
I realize being a teenager can be rough. I still remember the awkwardness, the insecurity, the random feelings of anger, pain and fleeting happiness. But you know what? I dealt with that crap. I swallowed it, exercised, did theatre, dance, art – things to vent those feelings. I didn’t break people’s shit. Nor did my friends. Why? Because somewhere along the line of growing up, our parents taught us one valuable concept: respect. Not to mention learning how to take out your frustrations through avenues other than onto other people.
Sadly, that same sense of respect is what bit both me and Scott in the ass last night, because we couldn’t be the dirty fight-pickers that these fine examples of the decline of humanity were. When I confronted them and asked them to own-up to their vandalism, the last thing I expected was to have it turned around so that WE were the bad guys.

Oh yeah, we’re just sooo bad-ass

Call me naive – I suppose I just like to think most people have the decency to apologize. Eventually my dad also came out to confront them, and they treated him – a man much wiser than they, the same if not worse than how they’d treated us. They dolled out all sorts of great stuff. Name calling, punching, grabbing, and filming with their digital cameras because it was just so hilarious. I woke up this morning and wished it had all been a bad nightmare. Alas, those children actually exist.
In the end however, it’s encounters like this that bring me back to myself. People are who they are, good, bad, rotten, insecure, loving, hateful…. we all bounce off each other like electrons. There was a whole lot of bouncing going on last night, oh boy.  It’s easy to be negative and lose faith in humanity when things like this happen – but there’s not much we can do about other people, because the change comes from within. So while I hope that these individuals are able to redeem themselves in some way and aren’t all bad, there’s no point in worrying about it.
We called the cops and scared the crap out of them, so hey – at least that worked in our favour.

In the end what matters most is 
how well did you live,
how well did you love,
how well did you learn to let go.

– Unknown (based on quote from Siddhārtha Gautama)

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settling in

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a month since we moved in. Time flies when you’re having fun as they say. It’s been so amazing living in our pint-sized house so far. It’s so bright, new and cozy. We feel so lucky to be in here. The first couple of days, we felt like we were staying in someone else’s beautiful new place and would have to leave soon! It’s feeling much more like our own now, with our personal touches around the house. I thought I’d give a virtual tour of what we’ve done with the place. Look for captions in the slideshow for descriptions. Friends who have visited have told us we’ve done a great job balancing modern and traditional design and created a cozy, liveable place. I think I have to agree with that! Thank you, Smallworks, for helping us design such a beautiful new home.

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So, what’s next? Well, we’re waiting on our custom adjustable coffee/dining table, which is being designed and built by a talented friend of ours, Dave Myers. We look forward to sharing the final product with you!

In the meantime, one of the things we’ve been enjoying most is using our new fancy kitchen. One of our favourite websites to get recipe ideas from these days is Gojee. It sources out some of the best food blogs around the internet and organizes them in an attractive, easy to use website and smart phone application.

Tonight’s meal makes use of our garden kale: Shrimp Quesadillas with Kale. Yum! Click the image to visit the recipe. Until next time!


the pint-sized finale

Well, the last few weeks have felt like molasses, only because when you’re this close to having something – time slows waayyyyy dooowwwnnnnn. That said, I see now that heaps has happened since my last blog post, so clearly things were not moving that slowly at all. The little details matter so much though! Smallworks has been polishing up our place nicely, and we’re just days (perhaps hours!) away from being able to move in. What we have managed to get ‘in’ the house however, is our edibles in pots on the balcony and also our balcony furniture! We’re anticipating many a mojito this summer on that balcony, and many weekend breakfasts in the sun.. whenever the sun shines in Vancouver, that is. We ended up planting romaine and red leaf lettuce, cilantro, rainbow sage, variegated oregano, basil, chives, kale and sugar snap peas. We’ve also planted some arugula and nasturtium seeds that should be sprouting in a couple of weeks. Not bad for a first shot at edible balconies, I think! We’re easing our way in and hope to plant a few things for the fall too.

Other than that, I don’t have much to report in words, because I think the pictures say it best. Below you’ll find our finished product, as a slide show. We’re so pleased with our new home and are just dying to move in!

Although our journey with Smallworks and laneway house construction is nearing an end, this isn’t really the end… it’s only the beginning. The Pint-sized House blog will be a place for us to share ideas on small space living, healthy living and eating, and other things that we come across that we’d like to share with others. Not to mention the fact that we haven’t moved in yet and will want to share how we add our own finishing touches. I can’t wait to see what the industrial furniture we bought looks like in there.

Until next time! (when we should be living in our pint-sized house)

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paint it black

The finishing touches are happening all around us these days, some of which we have been involved with as well – that is, fence staining. We’ve had several compliments from passers by about our new fence, and I think it’s for good reason.

The landscaper got creative and suggested the spacing between panels, with the thinner piece in between. We’re all quite happy with it, although staining between those gaps could have been a little more fun. It’s all done now except for two sections and the gates which still have to be installed. We went with a natural cedar stain to keep the natural beauty of the wood. Another pretty addition to the garden is the re-location of my parents’ egyptian iron gates which my dad fastened to the fence in the shared patio area, which will eventually have a vine of some sort creeping along it.

Moving on, I had a DIY project last weekend, prettying up an industrial spool which you may recall from a blog post many moons ago:

I decided, with the help of my mom’s suggestion, to stain it black to go with our black accents on the laneway house. Also, there is a lot of natural wood colour around already so a contrast is nice. I didn’t want to lose the character of the old, distressed wood though, so I went to General Paints and found a semi-transparent wood stain that I got tinted with black. I have to say I’m pretty proud of this:

There’s just the right amount of wood grain and flaws showing, and the black reminds me of the treated wood you see in old industrial areas along the water, like the former canneries and old docks in Steveston.

This spool will reside on our balcony as a table/seat. Perfect for late afternoon martinis or summertime mojitos and a book or good friends…ahh. Only a couple of more weeks until it’s reality! Here’s a photo with the composite decking material that was recently installed. I blogged about it more a few weeks ago. It looks pretty much like real wood!

Speaking of books, I’ve purchased a fabulous one titled Sugar Snaps and Strawberries by Andrea Bellamy, a Vancouver gardener, writer and blogger at Heavy Petal.

As you can see I was already enjoying the spool table with a cocktail yesterday afternoon in the early spring sunshine after work yesterday. We’d really like to have a predominantly, or completely, edible balcony garden, starting this year – although we’ll be a little late to start in the season so we’ll have to consider that when we plant things. Next year I hope to be into it full force though, starting seedlings indoors in the garage before spring. Bellamy’s book is perfect for beginners or those who know a bit about gardening but not much about edibles. It’s well written, has gorgeous photography and Bellamy’s passion for gardening and edibles is contagious. She discusses both balcony and small space gardens – containers to garden beds. I’m kind of obsessed because of this book!

Some more finishing touches around the laneway house include our black painted doors, which are nearly finished (the trim still needs to be done).

I’m a sucker for black and red.. and cedar is the cherry on top. Now, let’s go through the door and check out our new appliances! Wow, I never thought there would be a day when I would become excited about appliances. It’s okay, I still get ID’d at the liquor store so that’s what counts, right?

 Lined up here is an LG refrigerator which is narrow and tall, which come standard with Smallworks’ home designs since they fit perfectly into smaller kitchens. It’s quite lovely inside too, with the bottom being the freezer that has separate drawers to keep things organized. Next in line, a dual fuel Fisher-Paykel oven which we splurged on because we love to cook, and this will make it more enjoyable. There’s a warming drawer with moisture control on the bottom too. Finally, there is the drawer dishwasher, also by Fisher-Paykel. It’s a lot bigger than it looks! Another great space-efficient feature that Smallworks uses as a standard fixture in their home designs. We don’t have a dishwasher in our current place so I think we might be looking forward to using it more than the fancy range at first!

To wrap things up, I wanted to share another crafty project I’m finishing up this weekend. I have some reasonably unattractive IKEA folding chairs that I’ve had for years. I also had heaps of pretty IKEA fabric left over from our wedding. Put the two together and you get this:

The fabric happens to match our colour scheme in the laneway house, so it’ll be nice to cover up those basic chairs when we’re entertaining. Plus, it makes them more comfortable. IKEA has its fair share of low-quality furnishings which are fine for temporary living (which I am pretty well trying to avoid now) but I still find it’s great for things like fabric and home accents. Really, who can resist their funky series of outdoor solar powered lights?

We’re also getting our patio furniture there, something they have great small-space options for, namely this ÄPPLARÖ gateleg folding table that can have both leaves dropped to make the storing size only 8 inches wide by approximately 30 inches long.

Alright, I think that’s enough for today!! I had some catching up to do. Thanks for sticking with me! Next week the flooring goes in upstairs, and minor touch-ups will be done before we sign off and are ready to move in. Have a great weekend! I hope it’s as sunny wherever you are as it is here today.


the paper boy is one step ahead of us

I got home today and was poking around the outside of our little house, and noticed this:

Huh… I guess we’re getting papers (and junk mail) now. Well, there is an address on the house and I suppose that shows how finished the place is looking! Imagine getting papers before moving into your house. I’m sure we’re not the first ones to encounter this, but I was mildly amused by it today.

There was heaps of work done today as well. Our current entrance into the basement suite is no longer a trench! It felt strange to unlock the door and not be waist-level with the door-knob anymore. I almost struggled with it, it was so foreign. Even before the trench was there, it was a bizarre steep drop from the pathway that we had to have make-shift stairs on, so it’s a massive improvement now. The old pavers from the former garden patio were also used here, as with the backside of the laneway house.

Perhaps I should remind you what it looked like before:

Yep. Amazing.

In the front of my parents house, there has been some new additions. Trees have been moved (again) and one provides much needed privacy and a buffer against the dining room windows.

This is going to be so pretty with more garden around it!

I peeked in the window of our laneway house today and saw that the floor is now shiny. I’m not sure if I just didn’t notice it before, or if it was recently made that way – but it looks awesome! Again.. no pictures until I can go inside again on Monday.

Happy weekend everyone!


keep out!

 As you can see, our floor has been done! We’re going with a mid-grey matte finish polish on our concrete floor. No photos for now..We’ve got to wait a few days before we can go inside again. After that, appliances can come in, which is going to make things look pretty finished downstairs.

We’re at an estimated 3 weeks until completion now. It’s crazy to think we only started in December. It’s felt both long and short at the same time. These last 3 weeks will probably feel like the longest! So close now…

Since Monday, we’ve had a lot of ruckus around the place with sewer and water lines being connected by the city. The machinery they bring in makes you realize why it costs so much. Three days later, we’re all connected. We’re very happy that the city added more crews to take on the huge list of connections. Our timing couldn’t have been better, as they added crews soon after we were put on the waiting list. It was the difference between waiting for 3 weeks, or waiting for as long as 18, which would have been pretty depressing. It just reveals how much construction is going on in this city. Dunbar street alone is incredibly chopped up right now, with entire sewer lines being replaced, and curbs, sidewalks and road paving being redone. It’s a little crazy around here, and here we are adding to it with our own construction.

Moving on, my Mom has already been doing a lovely job prettying up the place. Plants are moving out of ‘temporary storage’ (a.k.a. pile of dirt on the boulevard/pots on my parents’ deck) and into the new garden beds set up by the landscapers.

These guys have done a quality job and we’ve been anxious to see their work on the front yard now that the sewer line is done! Yesterday we were at this daunting stage:

And today I came home from work to this:

And this!

My mom has always wanted a more winding path leading up to the house in the front, so this was the opportunity to do it. I think it’s going to look quite lovely when everything is planted and the fence is in.

Here are a few more shots of things recently finished or in progress around here:

The recently finished garden bed in front of our laneway house, ready for new plants under the little birch tree. Our address numbers are on now too!

Pavers just went in for our entrance to the front door. Looking pretty!

Why the colour difference in pavers? We wanted to reuse the old pavers from the former garden patio, both to save money, and not have to use more new materials. This side of the house will not really be seen much so it worked out well.

This maple was bought by my parents in memory of my late grandmother. It’s had a tough time during construction, and these trees don’t like to be moved. Unfortunately it was unavoidable. Hopefully it proves to be resilient and continues to grow.

That about sums things up for now. We’re so close I can taste it!


when sewage becomes exciting

Yup, that there is a no stopping sign. What makes it so exciting? It means our sewer and water lines are being connected very soon!

Perhaps the only time a person could be so excited about sewage is a time such as this.  It marks the last big, noisy and messy part of the project. Hurray!

Moving on from sewer talk, things are looking beautiful indoors. We were able to take a peek recently so I snapped a few shots.

Here we have wrought iron spindles with oak railings, and our custom entertainment cabinetry on the right, made from alder. Alder is a very plentiful local wood, so we feel pretty good about our choice, both from an aesthetic view and more sustainable one!

The left side of our kitchen. We decided on alder cabinetry on the bottom, and white with glass on the top, to make the space feel a little taller and more open on top. I am especially fond of our farmhouse sink.

We decided we liked the clean look of subway tiles. It also goes well with our semi-industrial look.

Our custom built-in corner couch, with storage drawers and a hatch on one side to stow spare folding chairs. Also made of alder. Upholstered seat arrives soon!

A better look at our entertainment unit. The hole in the centre will feature our fish tank.

Our shower tiling detail. I saw something like this on Houzz.com and really loved it, so this is our version of it. I also blogged about it way back in the early months of our project. I really liked the ‘waterfall’ feel that the orientation of the tiles gives.  Quite happy with this! Sorry for the poor photo.. there wasn’ t much light in there at the time.

And now, for my favourite thing:

I have a thing for exposed beams. These were put in after the drywall, and have oak cladding. Super pleased with this! It’ll make our bedroom so cozy. At the back of the room there, we have a window seat and storage built in to maximize the space and not have to worry about finding furniture to fit in. We’ll be using basket or similar to store things on those shelves. A bookshelf is going in on the right as well.

This is becoming a long post. I also want to share what’s going on outside though. Things are looking much better these days!

We’ve gone from this:

To this!

The patio has a few garden beds lining it, one along our house on the left there, another on the right by my parents’ back stairs, and then another one against the fence (not visible) which will have a 20 foot tall tree for extra greenery and privacy. Things aren’t looking green now obviously, but I think it’s going to be a very pretty and useable little courtyard for all of us.

Things will be ‘back to normal’ before we know it.. Spring is starting to show it’s lovely buds and we’re feeling our new beginning is just around the corner!

Smallworks continues to be fabulous and we couldn’t recommend them enough if you’re considering building with them.