On September 3rd we celebrated Mia’s first birthday. As most parents are, I was filled with mixed emotions. Incredibly happy that she is a growing, healthy, happy little girl, but a little sad about the fact that time is passing so quickly, and I was already rounding the finish line of my maternity leave. The last year has been full of ups and downs, changes for myself and our family, and a lot tears both happy and sad for all of us. It easily has been the both the most amazing and the most difficult year of my life in ways I never would have expected (…but I’ll save that for another day).
Renovating a house is a HUGE job. It takes a ton of time, and if you’re trying to save a penny or two by doing some of the work yourself, it takes even longer. After Mike and I bought our house we decided the indoor renovation would be our first priority. Although we didn’t have to move into our home until the renovation was complete, once we found out we were pregnant it was important for us to make sure our indoor space was both functional and comfortable before her arrival. Unfortunately, that meant that the outdoor space took a bit of a backseat, and now it definitely needs some TLC. Mike and I have always loved hosting our family and friends, and although we have a wonderful outdoor space to do it in with a large screened in gazebo and back deck, it isn’t the most inviting space decoratively speaking.
Perspective is a really funny thing, especially when it comes to everyday life. The world we live in is big, beautiful, and has so much to offer. We are all truly lucky to be here. I, for one, am insanely thankful for the opportunity to be living on this earth surrounded by some pretty spectacular human beings. I would definitely say that I am a glass half full person most of the time, however, I haven’t always been, and it has taken me a while to get to the place where I am now. Life isn’t always easy, especially for some, but it is perspective that will always bring you happiness at the end of the day.
I’ve always been the kind of person who likes everything, or at least likes to try everything. I’ve never been a picky eater, and I’ve always pretty much eaten everything that’s been put on my plate. I grew up dancing as my primary source of physical activity, but I love yoga, cycling, running and the list goes on. I love getting my hands dirty working on home renovations, but I also love planning events with fancy details. I’m a huge fan of hiking and being in the country, but I also adore the city life and one of my all time favourite travel destinations is New York City. Most people would think that it’s great to be well rounded, and it’s nice to like a lot of different things, however, in my experience it’s proven to be a little challenging at times as well.
It has been quite a while since I’ve posted on the blog. Nearly a year to be honest… and a lot has happened in that time! This time last year, Mike and I were knee deep in our home renovation, and had just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. It was an exciting time for us, and little did we know it was about to get even more exciting.
In this day and age, everyone I know is busy. Busy with work, busy with family, busy with responsibilities. Mike and I are no different, and have certainly fallen into the busy trap, especially with our home renovation. Every weekend is scheduled with tasks to bring us one step closer to moving in, but it has also brought us closer and closer to burning out. Mike quickly realized that we needed a weekend away to completely recharge, and spend a little time just us two (and Emma, of course). One day he came home, and asked if I had anything planned on a weekend in early November, and I reluctantly said no, and then quickly typed “House Renos” into our shared google calendar for that weekend. I had safely assumed that was what he meant…but I was wrong, and better yet, pleasantly surprised! Mike had contacted this lovely woman, Lucy, who owned a beautiful log cabin in Val-des-Monts, Quebec, only 30 minutes from downtown Ottawa, and had booked us a weekend stay. Once Mike had told me what he actually had planned, I was beyond excited and quickly became obsessed with looking at pictures and reading about the cabin online!
This post is definitely long overdue. With the closing of our house, diving into renovations, my best friend’s bachelorette in Saratoga Springs, NY, her gorgeous fall wedding in Quebec, and my new job being busier than ever we have definitely had our hands full. That being said, I’ve been dying to share about our adventurous family holiday in Portugal.
In any home renovation, demolition is both super exciting and totally nerve wracking. All renovation projects, but especially ones involving older homes, are somewhat unpredictable and you never really know what surprises you’ll find behind the walls, or in our case, in the ceilings! Mike and I got the keys to our new home on August 4th, and we decided to set up a temporary bedroom to spend our first weekend there. Since we were leaving for Portugal the following weekend, I didn’t think we would crack down, and do a full demo of the house, but I was wrong. I should have known that the man I married will never get rid of the ants in his pants…so needless to say, Saturday morning, bright and early, we started to hack away at our beautiful new home. With the help of some good friends and family we managed to accomplish a ton. Our renovation had officially begun, and it was super exciting!
I had never really thought about buying a house or what end of town I wanted settle down in. When I met Mike that all changed, and where to build a future together was the hot topic we discussed most often. City versus country, east versus west, bungalow versus two storey, buy land and build versus buying a home, buying a turn key ready home or a fixer upper to make our own…we talked about all of it, and we talked about it ALL the time. Mike had it in his head that he wanted to buy a country lot, or home in the east end of town. He liked the commute to his downtown job, and he wanted a big wooded lot to fully engulf himself in country living. I, on the other hand, hadn’t thought much about what it was that I wanted, and was open to all possibilities. In this particular instance, not being decisive or having a strong opinion left my poor husband flopping around like a fish out of water.
A shorter commute to work, close to nearby trails, privacy in the backyard, and a big enough house to grow a family/host as many of our loved ones as we can I soon decided were my primary criteria. Mike, on the other hand, had a different laundry list of must haves for his future nesting grounds, and his top priority was acreage. He wanted a place where he could utilize our yard to its fullest potential, have a bit of privacy and that feeling of country living. As the hunt began, our opinions began to change, and our broad spectrum of what we wanted narrowed pretty quickly. We looked at numerous lots from 70 acres to 3/4 of an acre. They were all so different, and each brought very strong positives and negatives to the table, but in the end none of them were hitting the nail on the head.
As Mike often did, one morning he sent me a link to a house for sale on a 2.5 acre lot just outside the village of Manotick. Manotick is an adorable, quaint area south of the city that runs along the Rideau River. I have always loved Manotick, but since Mike had always been so keen on moving more east, I never thought to propose the idea to him. Although he was very unfamiliar with the area itself, he loved what he saw in the home listing. It was a split-level home that appeared to be in great shape, but was fairly dated. Originally, we both had agreed to not take on another renovation (we had both done a few to date!), but of course we ignored our inner judgement, and decided to attend the first open house. We were in trouble, we both loved the house, and although I was apprehensive because of the amount of work we would have to put in we went ahead and called our realtor, Natalie, to schedule a second showing. Before we knew it we were signing on the dotted line….WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!
The next few months will be busy to say the least, but we are both thrilled to be starting our next big adventure in our very own home! We will be sure to post updates of our renovation, and progress at the house along the way! Stay tuned… 🙂
Also, if anyone reading lives in the Ottawa area (or is hoping to ;)) and needs a realtor, check out Natalie McGuire! She is the most fantastic, hard working gal, who will truly make owning your dream home a reality.
A good Canadian summer is not complete without a visit (or many visits) to the cottage. After a long Ontario winter, there is nothing like enjoying your morning coffee by the river. Watching the water sparkle in the warm sunshine is the best way to start off your day. Mike and I are very lucky to have access to my parents place in the Thousand Islands all year long, but in the summer we like to try and get up there as often as possible. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts (or as you may have seen on my instagram) their place is on one of the Thousand Islands with an unreal view of the majestic St. Lawrence River. It is a tiny slice of paradise, and I am busting to get there tonight for our 3rd Annual Cottage Weekend with a huge group of our friends!!! On top of that, it is my 30th birthday on Sunday, so the timing couldn’t have worked out better! We will be boating, wake boarding, canoeing, and stand-up paddle boarding all weekend long! Mike surprised me with a paddle board of my very own last night, and I am thrilled to give it a go on the St. Lawrence this weekend.
Here are a few pictures from our Annual Cottage Weekend last year!
We’ve been so lucky this summer to have already spent a few weekends at the cottage, as well as a weekend at a rental cottage in Quebec where we were graciously hosted by our good friends (and matchmakers!), Maddy & Paul! It was a beautiful new home with an adorable beach house feel close to Notre-Dame-du-Laus, Quebec. The property was stunning, and it was situated on a very peaceful waterway with a killer view of the hilly Quebec countryside. We had an incredible weekend, and it was nice to be at a different cottage exploring a new area! Although having your own cottage is wonderful, being able to venture into unknown territory makes for a fun adventure 🙂
Here are a few snaps from our weekend at the Quebec rental!
Hope you`re all making the most out of your summer holidays!
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I'm Jessie, and welcome to Cool, Calm & Cozy!
This space is an outlet for me to connect with my creative side and keep long lasting memories with my family. Writing and making videos of our adventures together is a passion of mine, which I hope brings joy to my whole family presently and in the future!
Hope you enjoy Cool, Calm & Cozy, and thanks for following along!