Saturday, December 26, 2009


Christmas has come and gone in the SITH household. Lots of fun, good food, good company and lovely pressies. We should really re-name it "Annika day" as she cleaned up on the present and entertainment front.

So now it is on to France, we are packing a motley selection of items into our cases, bedding, tools, a gas/petrol canister (empty of course). teabags,etc. We are prime candidates for getting our suitcases inspected but these are the ingredients for a productive week in France.

Will report back when I return. We are excited that our son, currently located in the French alps, is making a flying trip over to see us (and pick up laptop we bought him!!) so that will make our festivities complete.

Next job is to drop off the dog and all his paraphanaelia (?) to my kind friend who is dog-sitting for us and make a quick turkey sandwich before we head off.

Have a happy New Year everyone.

Monday, December 21, 2009

One More Thing

The Christmas list is done and dusted. No more trips to the mall, and maybe only one more to the grocery store. Hubby managed to escape the UK before all hell let loose and the snow totally snarled everything up. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the backlog will have subsided by next weekend, and hopefully less people will be traveling so we can catch our ferry to France without too much delay.

We now have to wrap all the presents, the turkey has started the defrosting process and I am beginning to feel on top of things - on the Christmas front that is. We do still have a little side trip to Home Depot to get supplies for France! We are assuming that all the stores will be closed for the best part of next week over there.

Hubby took some photos of our rendered wall when he was last in France and it is looking good. Hopefully I will have some exciting shots of freshly sandblasted beams when we return. I know try to contain your excitement.

The plan is to stay at the house until we are fed up of being cold and have at least ticked a few things off our to do list, hopefully hook up with our eldest son may if he can make it over from where he is working in the Alps in Tignes, before heading back to the UK for a day or two then back to Canada.

It seems more likely at the moment that we will have a whiter Christmas in France than we are having here in southern Ontario. It keeps falling out of the sky but thankfully not settling, just the way I like it - kind of virtual snow!

Anyway if you do drop by over the next few days, I wish you and your families safe and happy Christmas. Do leave a little note so that I know you were here.

Merry Christmas to One and All!

Friday, December 11, 2009

She's making a list....she's checking it twice!

I am a list-maker, it is how I organize my life. I find it tremendously satisfying to cross things off, and great sense that all is well with the world - is this normal.....sad.....scary....? I sometimes even add things, just so I can cross them off!

The Christmas/holiday to do list is coming together nicely. I have bought/ordered almost all the presents which are currently on the list, As you know there always others that have to be added last minute.

I did charity gifts to my nieces and nephews in the UK. I was thinking of sending cash, but didn't like how unthoughtful it would appear and then I remembered a gift my brother sent last year, a donation in my name to get vaccinations for children. I remember it being my favourite present, I loved the idea. So I searched around for some appropriate charities and that's what I did, for my nephews I donated money for footballs (soccer balls) to needy children and to my nieces, education and health donations. I think they are all old enough to appreciate that there are children worse off than them.

Also managed to arrange to get work done while we are in France. We arrive (after a two day trip) on the Monday after Christmas and the sandblasting guys will be there 9am on Tuesday (I know this is France ...on the week between Christmas and New Year but I have all my fingers and toes crossed). Hubby is buying himself a chain saw (hubby Christmas gift .....check) to reduce all the firewood to a manageable size, we will be usng that quite a bit. Also in the hope that the sandblasting proceeds, we have selected paint for him to purchase in the UKm having read all the blogs that say that French paint is not so good.

So apart from the stocking stuffers for youngest son (yep - the 17 yr old) and a few more items for granddaughter, it is just the food to be bought. How big a turkey does one get when having people to Christmas lunch but then flying away the next day. We usually buy large in order to enjoy cold turkey for several days (weeks) after.

When I was unpacking at this end I noticed that I didn't have many photos of my youngest son, that is probably because he lives with me and I see him all the time, unlike the other son, so I searched and found this lovely picture of my three great children on a wonderful day and I thought I would share.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


So I bit the bullet and put up the Christmas Tree, mainly because the boxes were cluttering up the living room and it was either do it or store them away and my conscience wouldn't let me store away the Christmas stuff in December! I have even bought and wrapped a few presents. Who knew!! And what do you is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

I took the photo above so you could see the tree in context but I must say I prefer it when it looks like this, with the lights dimmed, much more magical.

From this photo it looks like I put blue baubles all down one side, but that is just the light from the window doing that, all my baubles are silver. Then I have a few touches of red.

Hubby is in France this weekend. He drove over through the channel tunnel with his brother. He has to take the van back regularly to keep the insurance valid, but also of course to check on the house. It is a long drive from the UK so that part I am not looking forward to at Christmas, especially after a transatlantic flight! The end wall has been rendered and made watertight and he is pleased with the results, he has been instructed to take photos so I am sure some will follow. Surprise, surprise a lot of the weeds were back up in the front courtyard, but I guess that was inevitable but he did say the plants we put in in July have come on quite a bit, again photos have been demanded.

He also managed to speak to Steve, one of our many contacts there, regarding the next phase on the inside work, making an opening for the staircase, and renovating the floor/ceiling to the main living room so that we can start the framing for the bedrooms. I doubt much will be done before we arrive in December, in fact I don't really want an opening in the ceiling as hubby says it is pretty cold right now. His brother and him are both sleeping in their clothes. Doesn't that sound appealing, roll on December 26th.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's a Done Deal!

So we are all moved and the deals all closed today. The closing was a bit of an anticlimax as we are already moved in but thank goodness we didn't have to wait to close to move, because it didn't get confirmed until 4.55pm this afternoon. Apparently today has been a manically busy day for real estate lawyers here in Ontario, a result of the very hot market I mentioned over the last couple of months.

Anyway it is getting quite cosy and organized around here. We don't have as many walls so there are many mirrors and pictures leaning up against the walls with nowhere to go. All the boxes I can be bothered to empty are empty, everything is functioning well, so I am wondering if I actually need what is in the unpacked boxes!

Daughter and son-in-law have already put up their tree and decorated for Christmas. They were laughing wondering what the neighbours thought of them being so organized having only moved in on Friday. Little do they know the decorations are the only boxes that have been unpacked!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Connected Again

So we are in, daughter and son-in-law are in - the brain is fried and the knees and back are complaining but we can finally see the wood for the trees - or should that be the floor for the boxes...?! Anyway the boxes are slowly disappearing and things are getting a little more organized.
I have had my traditional Bell moving experience, whereby I don't have internet, then I do, everything is great, Bell knock on my door, I don't have internet .....aarrgh! We won't even mention wireless connection - I am terrified of trying to add that into the loop for fear of losing everything again. The new house is actually quite cosy, mostly because we have too much, too large furniture! But as winter draws in (and temperatures have definitely dipped over the last few days) it is nice to be cosy.
So now I suppose I should start thinking about the big "C" which is tough because I would rather think about France. The Christmas tree and decorations have not quite made it into the basement so I guess I will have to bite the bullet and get into the spirit but not until we are are safely into December.
I am off to play house a bit more and look at my new rooms....see ya next time.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On the road again!

I have spent the last few days moving boxes from one house to another, but it's getting old. Having moved many, many times I have it down to a fine art, but even so, it is always at this point when I am in the thick of it, I ask myself "why oh why?". Poor daughter is also sick of it, in a way she is doing two moves, her stuff from her house to here, unload, then load up with my stuff to move over to our new place as she is helping me to get all the small stuff shifted. Anyway we are finally on the eve of moving day, almost everything that can be is in a box, tomorrow we will load up all the furniture and my move will be done!

Then Friday we will move daughter and son-in-law's furniture, most of their small stuff is already clogging up my basement. We will all be very glad to get to the weekend and have it all behind us.

On the bright side, we have booked flights for hubby and I to go to France!! Whooppee! We fly on Boxing Day and I return to Canada on January 4th while hubby returns to work in the UK. It is probably going to be cold and damp in the house but it will still be great to catch up with friends, share some festive cheer with everyone and hopefully get to talk to some builders to plan the next step in the project.

Ok that's it, I need to stop procrastinating and get back to it. I will report again once I am settled in the new place, think of me and send me happy, energetic thoughts......

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Just picked up the keys to the new house so I can finally start moving some of the boxes that are liberally stacked around the home. Daughter and son-in-law have been bringing over their boxes on a daily basis so when it actually comes to their moving day, a week on Saturday, all they will have to move is the furniture. However this does mean my house is getting a bit crowded. For a newly married couple they have an awful lot of "stuff". My basement and garage are currently half full with their belongings.

I am looking forward to getting settled in the next house so that I can finally starting thinking about Christmas, yes I know it is just one month away but I am in denial!! I just don't have the brain cells to spare for that right now. There is also talk of us (hubby and I) heading off to France for a week or so between Christmas and the new year which is very exciting. Not that I think we will achieve much while we are there but we need a regular fix to keep us motivated. There is a little pressure to make some serious progress as daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter are planning a trip over next summer, so somewhere out of all the mess over there we have to come up with some "accommodation". But you know us, we like a challenge.

The lovely Annika seems to have turned the corner and is finally sleeping through the night, and taking good naps during the day, which has quite transformed daughter's life, she now has a gorgeous chatty little girl to look after rather than a screaming tiger cub to tame!! Check out the boxes in the background!
I will report back when I have managed to clear a little floorspace.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Coming Up for Air

Progress is being made and I am starting to feel a little less overwhelmed by my life!! You all know how we like it a little complicated around here but every once in a while I do wonder why? I think it boils down to the fact that I have been on the move most of my life, starting with my dad being in the Royal Air Force, we never stayed anywhere for very long. That has certainly rubbed off on me and I tend to get bored if life becomes too steady and predictable.

As we are on the brink of our latest house sale, I have looked back over all the others, which now total 14 in 33 years of marriage so you can see we like to mix it up regularly, and of course these are just the houses we owned, there have been a fair sprinkling of rentals in there. That's where we are off to next, renting a house for a year before we make the next step to France.

It has been a challenge to find something suitable, in the right spot, that is available ASAP. We have seen some grubby ones, some nice glamourous ones that weren't available until January, or too far from son's high school. The one we have finally settled on is clean and tidy, has a two car driveway, fenced back yard for dog, the right accommodation, just not quite in the nicest street, but maybe that is just me being a bit snobby. Anyway I have convinced myself that it will certainly work for a year, 5 months of which are mostly spent indoors (which I will make beautiful) and the rest of the year will hopefully be spent fairly evenly between here and France.

So now I can take a breath, knowing where I am going in a couple of weeks (eek!) and can start packing in earnest, I couldn't get started properly not knowing where we were moving too. Most rentals would start on 1st of the month but this is vacant and they have said we can start moving stuff in anytime but take possession on the 25th, which means I can be out and the house given a thorough clean through, in order that daughter and son-in-law can take it free and clear of all sitting tenants at the end of the month.

Another development is that the colleague I was covering while she was away on vacation, asked me to team up with her as her assistant. Hopefully this will make things a bit steadier, income a bit more regular. Obviously as an assistant there won't be the big commissions but hopefully my cut will come in on a more regular basis and there won't been the constant worry of where the next deal is going to materialize. This agent has been in the business for eight plus years and has a good referral base, the hardest part of the job, and as I can attest to, is pretty busy.

Strange as it seems, I will do a much better job promoting her, than I ever did promoting myself, it just doesn't come naturally. So fingers crossed for a productive and successful partnership over the coming year. That is another thing, she knows I am not in it for the long haul, not looking to build a huge career in real estate and also that I have another little part-time job, so that takes a lot of the stress off as the brokerage frowned on both those issues.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I have been fighting off a cold for the last two weeks, it keeps surfacing in the form of a sore throat and dry cough, but I take my vitamins and echinacea and it retreats for a day or two. The colleague I have been covering for the last two weeks, returned yesterday and things are a little calmer but I feel I mustn't slow down and take it easy in an effort to recuperate, for fear that when I am recovered from the cold, all the momentum I have gained in the real estate business will have disappeared.

Hubby returns again this week for a few days, so I do plan to pull back a bit while he is here, but I am sure we will still be running with other stuff. We have to find somewhere to rent so that we an hand over the house cleanly to daughter and son-in-law on November 30th. Also we will be sorting through our belongings to decide what can be packed for France, what we will need to survive for the next year and what can go. Sounds restful doesn't it?

Most of the leaves have fallen around here and been raked to the curb for collection this week. The pool has been closed at last and the clocks have fallen backwards, all the signs that winter is almost upon us. Where did 2009 go? It seems one minute we were sweltering in the heat and suddenly we need the heat on in the house. Never mind, we are looking forward to 2010 as, having sold this house, we can make some real progress on the French house. At the moment we have the builders in clearing out the ruin so they can stabilize the walls and render what used to be an internal wall but will now be the end wall of the house. They will render and then do "pierre aparent" (?) whereby they push the render in between the old stones, revealing some of the larger stones. Not dreadfully exciting stuff but very necessary. There is some talk of hubby and I going over to France over the New Year and getting our beams sandblasted and talking staircases with people. Does the excitement never end?

Monday, October 26, 2009

What a Week that Was!!

Five deals in 9 days, three of which have already firmed up. I am on a roll!! It has been such a crazy week in the city where I live and work. For some reason there are not many properties on the market and with the mild threat of a rise in interest rates in the coming months and the unknown quantity of harmonised tax in 2010, buyers are suddenly feeling a sense of urgency. So many times this week, I have tried to book an appointment only to be told that it is already conditional, or I book the appointment only to hear that there are offers on it before we get to see it, very frustrating for my buyers, some of whom have to purchase now due to their circumstances. I have other buyers who are getting caught up in this craziness when they don't need to panic, they are not in a rush, and if they get carried away might end up overpaying for something. It is all a very heady mix.

My daughter and son-in-law's house finally hit the market last Wednesday, looking fantastic I might add, and yesterday, after a whirlwind open house, we negotiated an offer. Keep your fingers crossed, we just now have to wait out the inspection and financing conditions, AND find a rental for my family to move into. It could all be done and dusted by Christmas! When I say done and dusted, of course they are celebrating more because it means a lot less dusting and escaping with a 11 week old baby every day!! But all their hard work over the last 6 weeks or so really paid off, with many comments on how great the place showed, what a lovely big kitchen, cosy basement etc. They are looking forward to moving to our house and just being for a while rather than have to be doing all the time.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sorry to be boring!!

What, no comments at all? LOL I should have said I was doing a triathlon and I haven't reached the finish line yet. Two offers over the weekend and another one coming in tonight. Let's hope this one is successful as well. I could certainly get used to this. My what a busy lady the agent I am helping out is. It is an eye opener.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I'm doing a Marathon this weekend!

A real estate marathon!! This morning was supposed to be wall to wall viewings but that now has to be cancelled because those clients bought last night! One down, we now just have to organize a home inspection before Tuesday evening. Then I am off to deliver a deposit cheque in the next city. Then off to daughter and son-in-law's to get their listing up and running - before the snow hits the ground, believe it or not we have had lows of zero C this week and talk of the "f" word - yep - flurries - yuk!! In there somewhere I have to arrange a quick call in to preview another potential listing when it suits the current tenant!!

Tomorrow, I have a building inspection in the morning and an open house in the afternoon, and that it just what I happen to know about right this minute - i.e. 8 o'clock in the morning, before the phones start ringing. Just to be clear - I am definitely not complaining, after weeks, no months, of laying the ground work things are finally starting to happen. There is a sense of urgency in the local market as there is not much property on the market and interest rates are starting to rise.

Somewhere in there this weekend, I hope to find time to deliver son to girlfriends, hug my granddaughter and call my husband, wish me luck - hopefully I will reach the finish line still upright :) What does your weekend hold? Not relaxing surely!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Where Have I Been?

The short answer is nowhere!! What have I achieved? That feels! I cannot believe how long it is since I posted. Just trying to do too much as usual, be all things to all men. Wife, mother, nana, real estate agent, office worker, painter and decorator, friend etc. There are just not enough hours in the day and something will give at some point but not sure which at the moment.

GWE was home for the weekend from the UK last weekend and we had an invite to a 60th birthday party. Typically, for someone who never goes anywhere, life collided and I ended up chasing an offer for clients which didn't fly in the end, just late enough on Saturday evening that it wasn't worth heading out to the festivities.

It was cool and rainy weekend, so although we did manage to address some outside work, getting the leaves out of the pool and pulling out the tomato plants not a lot else was achieved and before you know it, he was back on the plane to the UK.

I have been busy helping daughter and husband whipping their place into shape and it is looking pretty good. We painted all the kitchen units and walls, including a fake brick wall, and it looks great. I think any prospective buyer will now just think "nice big kitchen" rather than "OMG we have to rip out the kitchen!" plus we added a wall in the basement to create a third bedroom and laid a good quality laminate floor throughout the basement to cover the tiled floor, never a good idea in a basement, as it makes it feel cold down there. The new floor has really warmed up the space.

Just a case of whipping the outside into shape now with some weeding and trimming. A bit more tweaking inside with tidying closets (buyers will open them you know) and it should be ready to go on the market. However they are away at the cottage with the in-laws this Thanksgiving weekend, so I will go over and have a tidy round and do some weeding on Monday.

My favourite role at the moment, of course, is that of Nana to the gorgeous but troublesome Annika. I know from the picture above it is hard to believe, but she is proving to be quite a handful in the evenings leaving daughter exhausted and tearful so I gave them an evening off on Thursday while they went out for an evening and I walked the floor with the screaming little madam. It is crazy to see, one minute all smiles - she loves the bath! and her floor mat - gooing and chatting at the smiley face above - hysterical - the next minute screaming as if we are sticking pins in her. However, I did manage to get her off to bed at 9.45 and she slept through to 6.30 apparently so not too bad. But when the screaming fits are happening you do feel helpless.

France seems a long way away at the moment and I was looking back at the old photos trying to my inspiration back. The next step is to restore the end wall on the ruin end, we have had quotes to get the ruin "tidied up" and made safe and the end wall rendered but leaving some large stones exposed. This will really help to restore the look and structure of the wall. But then we should be able to get back to the fun stuff inside, sand blasting beams and getting a staircase installed, etc. etc. While I was looking at the photos I came across these two below which certainly help to keep me motivated when I see the transformation that is possible.

Which do you prefer? Cold and scary .......or warm and inviting

Friday, September 25, 2009


I thought fall had arrived a few days ago and rashly de-nuded my toenails of their summer polish. Well it has been months since my last pedicure (before I went to France - I know!) with many repair jobs since. It really was time to let my poor nails see the light of day. But summer has sneaked back in and the nails are back on show, without, sin of sins, their lovely polish. So this morning I really needed to rectify this. As I type I am up to my ankles in suds, I have my exfoliating gloves and all my foot spa related lotions to hand and am about to make those toes respectable again. When you are as blind as I am becoming this is more of a chore than you might think. Someone gave me a great idea the other day, when, as us ladies do, we were discussing such matters. She sits on some steps to do her toes, not being as flexible as in days gone past, this has been my problem. Not being able to get the toes within focus range!! So I will let you know how it goes.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Babysitting - Not for the Faint Hearted

The day of my first big gig came and, I am pleased to report, went off smoothly. Which is doubly remarkable considering previous reports that my charge could be "brutal" in the evenings and it was carried out in the middle of a construction zone.

Work to whip daughter and husband's house into market ready condition has commenced, so this gave me an added challenge. However, both the priming of all cupboard doors and carcasses went off smoothly as did mine and Annika's evening and a lovely time was had by all.

She was a little fussy but daughter had pumped off several ounces so I could offer her the bottle if I needed to and she took that with no problem, in fact I had to ration her as I did not want to use up all my aces in one sitting (mixed analogies - sorry :) But it was most enjoyable and granddaughter and I spent the last hour of the evening just cooing and smiling at one another. I think the new parents were duly impressed and I will get a call back!!

I am back there again today with son in tow. Lots to do, finish off painting all the cupboard doors and painting the walls. I think it is going to look terrific, my husband said not to make it too nice or they won't want to leave (and buy ours!!). I will report back with more photos.

What have you all got lined up for this weekend? It is going to be a gorgeous one here in Southern Ontario, too nice to be indoors really but needs must. Have a good one!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

One Year On

Today is my daughter and her husband's first wedding anniversary. What a difference a year has made, and I get to babysit tonight! It is early morning here and this time a year ago, my husband and I lay in bed before the mayhem commenced and just chatted about the milestone taking place in our lives, and braced ourselves for the day and all the emotions that lay ahead that day. My husband gets very stressed (like father like daughter!!) at being the centre of attention, i.e. walking the bride up the aisle (while tempered with pride was also scary to him) and the speech - likewise. So I was pumping up his confidence while trying to remind him that no matter how stressed and scared he was today, his daughter was ten times more stressed and scared and to tread carefully!!

Anyway as you know the day pretty much went off without a hitch, everyone had a truly wonderful time and all the stressing and preparation paid off and 24 hours later we could look back and thank our lucky stars that we didn't have to go through that again anytime soon LOL.

Wish me luck this evening, Beautiful Annika morphs into Angry Annika in the evenings, that's how I picked up the gig. I offered a couple of nights before she was born and was told they had thought they would probably take the baby with them to dinner as it seemed to early to leave her - ha!

Monday, September 7, 2009

One Month Old Already!!

Check out the link here for another beautiful picture of my daughter and her baby.  Their friend is starting a professional protography business and doing a wonderful job.

That was taken when Annika was just 6 days old and yesterday she was a month old.  My goodness me.  Today it is Labour Day and I am getting a visit from the family.  I think they take pity on me because I am always on my own, hubby being back in the UK.  He was home last weekend for the Christening and he pronounced the newest addition to our family as "very nice" when asked by everyone with typical British understatement!!  But I think you can see how chuffed he is here, can't you LOL~!!

It has been Ribfest here in our city - a really big deal apparently, I don't get it myself, I am not really into lining up for my food and then sitting at long tables with strangers to eat expensive and messy ribs. Anyhow I managed to sign up youngest son for volunteering (I know what a great mum!) and he has managed to get his forty hours required for graduation done in one fell swoop. I just had a text from my friend who he was helping to say how proud I should be of him and how helpful he was - which of course is very gratifying to hear/read!!

Apart from that life continues as normal with me on the hunt for my next real estate prospect, enjoying the lovely (less humid) weather we have been experiencing over the last week (next stop the weeding) and getting my house ready for market. A bit of a development on that front. It seems daughter and her husband would like to buy it if we can manage to sell theirs. That might be more of a challenge as it is out in the country but I'm game. It is also very nice that they like our house enough to want it - being in the city, close to amenities and not such a money pit as theirs, it is probably a good fit at their time of life. Fingers crossed it goes ahead.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Time is Flying

It cannot be August 25th already.  Where did August go?  It has been very hectic around here, what with my little part-time job, the real estate (where I have been challenged to do three deals before the end of September ! due to lack of productivity the rest of 2009), the arrival of Annika, and hubby back this coming weekend from the UK for short break, I do not have enough hours in my day.  

Amongst all that I hosted the baby shower at my house last weekend, twenty plus adults and small children, lots of baby gazing and pink presents - that was fun!

If I had my heart's desire it would be to spend every day camped at my daughter's house gazing at my new granddaughter but somehow I don't think I can get away with that.  Next down the list would be at least one real estate deal to take a bit of the pressure off, and I am working my butt off trying to get that!  

A few hours in the garden would be nice, the ground elder is back in full force and I just cannot get out there to tackle it.  I did manage to get into the pool for the first time last weekend but have to say it is not so much fun when you are out there on your lonesome (cue violins....I know, I know ....poor SITH floating around in her pool on her own! )

Plus with all that going on we are seriously considering listing our own house which will entail some touching up and tweaking here and there, I guess I could combine that with the major cleaning and tidying blitz that is required to herald hubby's return....ha!

My mind feels like a butterfly, flitting here and there but never quite settling on any one thing for an acceptable or productive amount of time.  Well actually a combination of butterfly and bee hive, because there is also constant activity and it is very hard to calm everything down.

One day when I am in France, I expect I might yearn for such a hectic life, but I am not yet convinced LOL

Friday, August 14, 2009

Love at first sight

She's adorable - no question.  I cannot believe how smitten I am, we all are.  And how excited.  

My daughter just said the other day how it changes your life, a few weeks ago she was a marketing assistant and suddenly now her whole reason for being is to sustain this precious life, to keep her happy, fed and healthy.

It certainly took me back to those first weeks as a mother, when your whole life is broken down into minutes and hours, how many minutes on each breast, how many hours apart were the feeds, how many hours sleep were you able (or more likely, not able) to get.  Although it is all seared into my memory, it also flashed by in an instant, and that is my greatest wish for the new parents, to enjoy each and every second, no matter how stressful, if will all come to an end far too quickly, and before they know it, they will be looking at their baby with her baby.

Monday, August 10, 2009

She's arrived!

My beautiful baby granddaughter arrived yesterday August 9th, on her due date - bless her! 
She is gorgeous and we are all totally smitten.  In fact, mum, dad, nana uncle spent many a moment just staring at her.

Talking to my daughter about her birth experience obviously brought back many memories. Where did those 28 years go?

                                              Daughter day one

                                             Granddaughter day one

              Another mother and daughter  - starting their journey together

                                                Meet Annika Rose, 8lbs 1oz 
                                                   Blond hair and blue eyes

(Well you can certainly see where the 28 years have gone when you look at the two photos of yours truly LOL)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Back in France!

Yep GWE is back there, very briefly, to pick up our blue blob of a van and take it back to the UK so he has some wheels. One good thing about the blue blog, it is very easy to spot in a car park, unlike my silver Jetta. In fact when we were in the UK recently my son and I were caught trying to get in to someone else's charcoal grey generic car (which we had rented) - whoops - we had to explain sheepishly, it was identical to ours LOL

Anyway GWE reports from France that the weeds have be kept to a minimum since we were last there but not sure if that is a result of all our labours or the amazingly hot temperatures they have had recently. Our great neighbour, who picked him up at the airport (these people are wonderful) says that their thermometer has been registering 40+ degrees! Here is it going to be a wonderful 22 degrees but will get much warmer over the weekend, might have to get into that pool at last.

Also we have managed to acquire a couch in France, it seems we are to be the recipients of anything anyone else in the street no longer has a use for! It is not the greatest couch in the world but we have so much more work to do, it is not worth buying any good stuff yet. Anyway the word is out, that couple at the end of the street are living like squatters, give them your junk. haha

So GWE is just there overnight, out to Fish and Chip night in a nearby village with our friends this evening, before he sets off back to the UK tomorrow.

Aren't you glad you dropped by. It's all happening here!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

He's not in Wichita anymore!

Yes GWE (alias hubby) got his "get out of Wichita" ticket (sorry Wichita) and he couldn't be happier. Well he probably could right now, he is back in the UK and probably feeling a little jaded and jet lagged after a very long journey which ended with coach trip down to his parents on the south coast. I had couriered some stuff to him including some UK bank cards, cash and our daughter's wedding dvd. Guess what somehow between Canada and the UK, US Customs (!?) opened it up and now no cash!! What is the world coming to?

Anyway I am trying not to dwell on it (not very successfully as you can see LOL). GWE is now in the UK to start a job in a week. In the meantime he plans to fly over to our house in France and pick up our French "wheels".

The reason for him working in the UK (or wherever) and me here at home in Canada is that we are waiting for teenage son to finish high school before we can then travel together or go to France. No problem - obviously I want our son to finish well and go on to college/uni as he wants to become a commercial pilot. Yes I am in full agreement with this plan, but on sunny holiday weekends like this one, when hubby is somewhere, son is away at a friend's cottage and I am here on my lonesome, the plan doesn't seem so great!!

But on the sunny side of life, it is just one week until my daughter's due date - whoo hoo

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Our Week in France

You might be forgiven, after seeing the photos of our transformed bathroom, for thinking that our petite maison boasts fine accommodation but as you can see from today's photos, there is a little more work required.  
Note the well appointed kitchen...

The cosy bed sitting room....

                                                                        The .......squat!!

You can now appreciate how it was a little difficult to "chill" in such surroundings. In fact my mind was in overdrive for most of the time just thinking of all the steps required .........which step to take first.............who is going to take those steps for us...

However having said all that we had a great time, eating al fresco....

Exploring the ruined end of the property....

Stopping to admire the flowers....

Oh to be in France again.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Generation Game

It is just two weeks, one day until my daughter's baby is due.  It has come round so quickly and we are all very excited.  I have been busy at my sewing machine helping her to make custom bedding as she didn't particularly like the ones in the stores, either too gender specific or too cutesy.

I have made a roman blind for the nursery and made cushions for the rocking chair. Tomorrow morning I will go over to their house to help put up the blind and put the room to rights.

It is really hard to believe that my baby girl is about to have a baby.  It has brought up lots of memories as you can imagine.  Here are a couple of shots of the mother-to-be.

Monday, July 20, 2009


The jet lag really knocked me for six last week and then over the weekend I went down with a cold ( not swine flu - although I did check the symptoms ).  So it has been an uneventful few days, but I did read a couple of good books which I can highly recommend.
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova and 
  • The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. 
Both very compelling and very readable.

But more news on France, when we finally arrived, we were itching to see what have transpired in our absence and couldn't wait to see the bathroom transformation:

The before and after:

As we first saw it back in 2007, with ivy coming in through the window, a toilet you wouldn't want to sit on and a scary looking hot water tank in the corner.  Looking at the picture it actually doesn't look as bad as it did in reality but even so I think you will agree the present state is a great improvement.  Note the vanity unit built by son!
Click on the pictures for a closer look.

We were thrilled with the results of our neighbour's handiwork and rushed up the road to introduce ourselves and convey our delight.  What a lovely lady - within minutes were were sat in her back garden with a glass of wine to hand - those are the kind of neighbours we like!  

A little later back at the house we found we were in need of a corkscrew (I can't believe son and girlfriend survived for three months without one) and a bread knife to cut the bread made by same neighbour!!  So she joined us for the rest of the evening to partake in several mugs of wine (yep - no glasses either).  Welcome to France :)

Another transformation later in the week was the front yard.  Everytime we get there we have to cut back all the weeds so we decided to take the matter in hand and we totally cleared out the beds, and cut back all the unwieldy "shrubs", put down some membrane to inhibit the weeds and spread gravel.  It looks a bit clinical but we are hoping that the lavender we planted will eventually give the yard some colour.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

Bewitched by our little piece of France, just love it and never want to get back on the plane; by all the lovely people we have met over there;
Bothered that we cannot get there permanently just yet; that it will live up to the dream when we finally do;
Bewildered and befuddled by jet lag and hence the delay in posting.

Don't know where the title popped up from but it kind of sums up how I feel right now.

It was, as usual, a whirlwind trip, three days in the UK visiting friends and family, attending a great family party, my brother's 25th wedding anniversary.  A wonderful time was had by all, it was three in the morning as we poured ourselves back into the taxi!

Sunday morning included a fabulous British breakfast which certainly help to diminish the hangover before we had to rush off to catch the plane to Nice.  Wow it was very warm and beautiful there.  

We met up with son and girlfriend and drove along to Antibes where they are staying, another few drinks (it was a very liquid vacation!) down in the old town of Juan les Pins, very lively with lots of lovely street stalls selling jewellery and baskets.  Then we went up to find our hotel which was in the hills above the town amongst all the lovely villas, dripping in bougainvillea.

This is my handsome son and his gorgeous girlfriend and the view from our hotel balcony.

Then it was out to a very nice dinner with them.  When we got back to the hotel, they tried to call for a taxi (it was just after midnight) but nobody responded so they had to crash on our hotel room floor, it was very cosy LOL  (This photo was taken the morning after, wish that I looked that good after a night on the floor!)

We left them back in town early in the morning as they had to get to work and then we set off on the marathon 8 hour journey back up to our house.  The van they had purchased is ideal for picking up building materials, furniture etc and pootling around the villages, but not ideal for this journey.  It was very, very warm, no a/c, plastic was a long 9 1/2 hours by the time we reached our destination but it was worth it!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

And we're off!!

Yes I think almost everything is done, just Ralph to the kennels, pick up one more gift from the Liquor Store and hand the key over to our neighbours so they can take our mail in for us.  GWE is currently stuck in Chicago, flight delayed, so our turnaround window is shrinking, typical!  Looks like he will be landing around 3.30 - 4.00 and then back home in rush hour, re-pack the cases and back to the airport leaving home around 7.15!

It has cooled off a bit today but still very sticky.  However I spoke to our "tiling neighbour" yesterday and she said it is very warm over there, 40+ degrees.  I don't think we will need to light our wood burning stove!

One positive thing is that the boat is sold, I had to meet the buyer down at the marina at 10.15 this morning to do the deal!  That is a weight off our minds, and a little bit more in the bank account.  Perfect timing.

So watch our Europe, we are (almost) on our way.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Just three more sleeps and we will be on our holidays!  Getting excited to see family and friends and of course get to the house in France.

With all that has been going on recently, the courses, the revising, the exams, the possibility of new job for GWE, new job for me etc etc I had completely forgotten that Wednesday is Canada Day!!  I.e. all the shops and banks will be closed.  So suddenly I only have two days to get everything I need done, for example, get some euros.  The banks need a bit of warning so that is one of my first jobs this morning.

Youngest son needs some new shorts, I need a manicure and pedicure, we all need travel insurance, and I still have some gifts to buy. I think the next three days are going to fly by.

Also I have been in touch with our neighbour in France who is tiling our bathroom out of the goodness of her heart (yep - I know!!) and she assures me everything should be ready by the time we finally arrive at the house on the 6th.  I have asked her to give me a UK shopping list so I can try and repay her kindness! 

Did I mention we are flying into Nice to see our son and girlfriend and pick up the van?  From their photos on Facebook, it looks gorgeous down there, well we all knew that the south of France was gorgeous, but it makes me even more excited to get there and take a (very quick) look around before we head back to the house.

Once at the house we plan to do as little as possible, apart from taking many, many photos that I can bore you all with on my return!  There may be a little drinking, and possibly some eating, but hopefully mostly just sitting around soaking up the peace and quiet and reading books and chatting with friends.

So Debra at Us In France, look after Misty and I will hopefully see you in Le Dorat sometime next week.

I may find a few minutes to post again before I leave, but if not, a bientot, mes amis!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

R.I.P. Michael

Reeling from the shocking news that Michael Jackson has died at the relatively young age of 50 !  (From one who's now 51 :)  Remembering the good times ...the wonderful 80's - fabulously talented, strange yes, but fascinating.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Are you ready for your close-up?

It's been pretty hectic this week doing the course and doing a deal at the same time (whoopee!), actually it is my first referral so that was exciting.  Someone I previously worked with passed along my name, so very gratifying.

I really enjoyed the course although as usual a lot of information to take on board, and manage to retain until the exam next Saturday (and beyond, of course!!).

It has also been a very rainy muggy week so I had to take another walk around my garden to check on everything and couldn't resist a few close-ups.   The peonies are gorgeous, these are my second clump, you can see the lighter pink ones in my previous post, those have now go over and got trampled by the rain. 

The lupins are pretty splendid too.  Check out these enormous, almost rain-forest-like proportioned hostas.  I think we have had a longer spring than usual and this has had an impact.  I put the pool broom in the picture to give you a perspective.  The broom is probably more than a foot wide!

What else has been happening?  Well we have been trying to work out how we will retrieve the van from our son who is now down in Antibes working in a bar but not sure of their next move.  We might fly into Nice rather than Limoges and drive back up and get to see some of the south of France but of course this all reduces the days at the house.

Debra over at Us In France and I have made contact and hope to try and get together while we are there, even if just for a coffee and put a face to a name :)

Oh and I start my part-time job tomorrow so we will see how that goes, perfect timing as now the weather has decided to change and it is predicted to be up in the high 30's this week.

School is almost out, youngest son has one more exam and then is lined up to do some volunteer hours this week. As part of the graduation requirements here students have to do forty hours over their four years in high school, son moves into his last year in September and has about three under his belt!!  

That pretty much cover all the exciting news from this part of the world.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

So soon...?

I know two blogs in three days, you're getting spoiled.

Anyway I thought it was time for a walk around the garden again, I will miss this garden. It is almost all of my own making....and I have the blisters and bad back as a result. When we moved into the house four years ago, the previous owners who had lived here 23 years had a deck that was more like a fort, only one measly little set of steps down into a field of grass with one or two variegated euonymous and that was it.
We opened up the deck the first roasting summer, temperatures verging on 40 degrees C, I remember we had to move the patio umbrella around the work area to keep the midday sun off, because of course us Brits were out there!! The following year we had the pool installed, it is not a deep pool, just 4.5 feet at its deepest, but as long as I can float around on the air bed, we can sit around it drinking a glass or two with friends, or just look at it, it cools me down on the hottest day. Definitely something we want to repeat en France.

So everything else you see is pretty much the result of a lot of hard work on my part, and I have enjoyed every minute. I find when I am on my hands and knees, up to my elbows in dirt and weeds, these are some of the few times in my day to day life when I am actually right in the moment, it is so calming and relaxing, and of course, rewarding. 

As you might imagine, I am already making my lists of plants for the garden in France and lavender is up there are the top of the list, all varieties, I just love it. A lot of the plants you see are what my gardening mentor in England would call "orphans", off the sad 50% off as I am about to die shelf, or cuttings begged and kindly bequeathed by friends and neighbours, free plants always grow the best, don't you find.

I have a few garden accessories, of course, my stone lady near the lilac, my milk churn on the deck (actually bought by my garden mentor when she came to the wedding last year - we found it in an antique shop and she said I must have it), also I just bought a wrought iron obelisk for a clematis ( which I must remember to whip out next spring to take with me, before the clematis gets going (note to self)) but my favourite and absolutely essential garden accessory is the big soppy black hairy thing below, Ralph.

Click on any of the pictures for a better view.

Also as a footnote, very relieved to report that I passed my Property Law exam, just, 76% and I needed 75% to pass ....phew!! Glad that is behind me. On Monday I start the final requirement of my articling period, I have been told it is one of the harder courses, typical, so wish me luck, I can also see the light at the end of the tunnel.....or wait a minute, I see what it is reward.

Friday, June 12, 2009

And so..

Sorry to have been so lax at blogging recently but quite honestly I have been waiting for something interesting to happen for me to blog about. It really is the same old, same old here. GWE is back in Wichita and life is a little easier now as he is house-sharing and they have wireless internet.....well maybe I should say they have "access" to wireless internet!! He says it is sad how much better that makes life but it does, it also is a little easier on the phone bills as we can Skype each other. Still waiting for the job god to wave his magic wand or whatever and whisk GWE off to somewhere (ideally) the other side of the pond. Only ideally from the point of view that that is where we want to be long term, not so ideal when it comes to trips home but hey can't have everything.

Also, the BIG news is we have finally booked tickets to France and we leave early July, a couple of days in the UK at the beginning of the trip and the end, but then a week in France the house....yes in the house...eeek. Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for wonderful warm and dry weather. Son and girlfriend have taken themselves off to the south of France, Nice and Antibes (very nice) looking for summer work. All of the work on the house (in this year's budget) has pretty much been completed and they felt they were just killing time towards the end. I don't blame them for moving on....three months without showering facilities..I know I would have gone much sooner. Anyway as I write the bathroom is being tiled (by a very nice neighbour!!!) and then the plumber will come back in and finish off the plumbing and hey presto, we should have showering facilities when we are there in July. Very excited as you can imagine.

The real estate market here is very active unfortunately I am not managing to take advantage of that this year, this time last year was very hectic for me, but I have a challenging listing which is in a neighbourhood a little off the beaten track and it is taking a while to sell. There nothing wrong with the house, it is a very nice four year old bungalow in great condition, it seems to be the location and as you know....location is everything. Anyway I do have a couple of buyers I am working with but nothing on the scale of last year. Also I have been busy finishing up my articling courses, and am awaiting the result of the last one and start the next one on Monday.

I have been offered a little part-time job, 20 hours a week, made up however I want, so that is ideal. It will allow me to continue to do the real estate as well, without leaving me with so much time on my hands, and a nice little "regular" amount of money coming in.

Also been keeping busy helping my daughter getting the nursery bedding and soft furnishings made. We spent most of last Saturday making a crib dust ruffle. It is so strange to see what a domesticated little lady she has become from the scary wild teenager that gave me many sleepless nights and grey hairs!! Quilt making and paint chip toting as she is now, I had moments when I didn't think we would ever get here. We joke about karma, and how she is banking on her husband's good karma (he was a good child/teenager) canceling out hers. She was a challenging baby too so I have my fingers crossed for her :)

So before I start the next course on Monday followed by the start of the little part-time job and then our trip to France, I have a roman blind and rocking chair cushions to run up for the nursery, that should keep me out of mischief.

We did have a couple of people interested in the boat but no firm sale yet. However season is definitely getting under way so hopefully there will be a few more bites and we will be able to get it sold before our holiday.

Blimey this seems like a really boring post with no interesting photos ....sorry will try to do better next time...if you can bear to come back.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A change is as good as a rest

First of all many thanks to for a lovely award. There are some rules that go with this and I promise to get to those in a future post. But wanted to say thanks. As you can see having technical difficulties which will hopefully be resolved in the next post. :)

Hubby is due to return to darkest Kansas today but we have had a lovely week, the weather didn't always cooperate but there has been some sunshine.  We are hopeful there maybe a new job for him on the horizon unfortunately it hasn't quite materialized yet but we have our fingers and toes crossed and I will of course keep you posted.

We pottered about on the boat, now it is back in the water, we didn't actually sail anywhere but spent the day cleaning and polishing so it ready for any potential buyer, so if you know of anyone :)


We lazed around for most of the week, hubby just enjoying access to the internet, cable TV and movies!! But it has been good for him and he heads back, maybe reluctantly, but refreshed.

Yesterday we spent a lovely afternoon with our daughter, now very pregnant, wandering around the lovely town of Niagara on the Lake enjoying the Garden Tour. Daughter had bought us tickets for Mother's Day (you might remember last year we did the B & B Tour down there). Anyway it was a gorgeous day, not too warm, wandering through the lanes nosing in people's gardens. I must admit to more often being impressed by the gardens that were not on show rather than the ones that were.

Check out this fabulous wisteria. One of my absolute favourites although it requires some commitment as it takes several years to establish and bloom and as you know we haven't stayed anywhere long enough in the past. I guarantee this is one plant I intend to include in my pergola/cobbled courtyard garden in France.