We built a #sleeperhouse and it has made all the difference.

In February of 2016, my little family of four was finally on a much needed holiday on the beautiful island of Kaua'i. I had found a super cute condo in Princeville, and we settled in for our week in paradise. The condo is important - I’ll come back to it.

 We loved everything about this little piece of Paradise!

We loved everything about this little piece of Paradise!

At the time, we were on the look out for a new property to buy back in Edmonton. It was something we had been talking about for the past two years, ever since that day in 2014 when life changed for our family in the blink of an eye and the bleep of a heart and lung machine. Suddenly, how we wanted to live became more clear to us, and we realized we had emotionally outgrown our current BIG house, on our BIG lot ,and all the things we thought we wanted and needed.  

I woke up the second day of our vacation, took my laptop and my coffee out on the lanai to do a little writing, and there it was in my inbox. A 60-year old, 1200 square foot bungalow, on a smaller lot, steps away from a beautiful tree-lined boulevard, and a 10 minute walk to the kid's school. And priced to SELL! 

I called my real estate agent and he took me to "see" the house via FaceTime. I knew it was the one. To be sure though, I had our builder also go to the house and give us his expert opinion. He agreed it was a solid house with a good foundation, and with that we made an offer. By the time we got back from holidays, the house was ours! 

The concept of building what we call our "Sleeper House" came to us because of a few house renovations my husband had seen online. The builders had taken these beautiful heritage houses, left the front facade of the houses in their original state, and extended the houses with very modern additions/renovations at the back. From the street, the houses maintained the look and feel of the neighbourhood, but once you walked inside, the house was not at all what you expected (hence the term “sleeper house”). Inside you were taken into a completley redesigned house and into open, airy, thoughtfully designed contemporary spaces. This was exactly what we wanted to do with our new house - maintain that ambiance of the streetscape in our older established neighbourhood, while still renovating and updating the house to suit our needs.

We added 800 square feet to the back of our little bungalow and turned the original house into our bedrooms and laundry room. The addition became our main living space with an open concept living/dining/kitchen area, a small office and the mudroom/pantry leading to the attached garage. And when it came to decorating, we all agreed that we wanted it to feel like very much like our little condo in Kauia - simple, cozy and colourful (and eventually with a vintage surfboard mounted on one wall).

 Colourful - CHECK!

Colourful - CHECK!

This house is our grounded space, our connection to that which we hold dear in our lives. To that end, we have strived to fill it with design elements that speak to us of nature, mother earth, history and togetherness. 

We have barn doors, a bedroom feature wall, and a custom dining room table made with reclaimed timber from a farm corral built in the 1940's. To honour the house that was, we recycled the original metal kitchen cabinets and used them in our laundry room. We have a full wall that is made of real mason-laid brick that serves a dual purpose of bringing an earthy warmth to the house both aesthetically and thermally. We installed a wood burning stove which brings the element of fire into our home to spark creativity and transformation, and fuel our passions. We built the main living area around the space for the piano and guitars, so our house will always be filled with music and magic. We built 20 feet of bookshelves lining one whole wall to feed our minds and souls with words, knowledge, stories, and wisdom of others. We have 12-foot ceilings in the addition and large windows to let the light into our home and our hearts. 

 Reclaimed 70-year old wood for the table and barn door. 

Reclaimed 70-year old wood for the table and barn door. 

This house was built with a purpose beyond that of simple shelter. We built this house to reflect our truths as a family. We are a pretty tight little foursome and we wanted our home to reflect the things that matter to us. A home in which we can have family-style dinners every night, or sit in front of the wood stove and warm our toes while we read our favourite books, or all curl up with pillows and blankets in front of the big(ger) TV in the basement and watch old movies. A home that showcases the artwork we have collected in our travels and that the kids have made, the memorabilia that has been passed down to us from our parents and grandparents, and our own kitschy collectibles. The house is 30% smaller than our previous one, and yet, for all the space we no longer have, everything here feels just right.  

Earlier this week, my husband said of all the houses that we have built (this is our fourth), our #SleeperHouse is the one where he feels the most comfortable. I have to agree. And I know it is not just the house. It is the neighbourhood and the community we are in as well. We live in a place where when the doorbell rings, 90% of the time it is not for me. It is a friend coming to get the kids to go for a bike ride, or to play in the park, or throw some hoops, or climb a tree. When it is for me, it’s a neighbour coming over for a glass of wine, or a coffee and a chat while we sit in the kitchen or on the front porch and say hello to all the other neighbours walking by. Our bright yellow door is a beacon and I love it!

 The house with the yellow door. 

The house with the yellow door. 

We set some serious goals when we decided to build this house. We wanted a smaller, more compact home. We wanted to really incorporate the "sleeper house" aesthetic we had seen done successfully elsewhere. And above all, we wanted a house that reflected our family values of togetherness, sustainability, thoughtful design and purposeful living. Values we encompass in our family motto of All you need is less.

We've been living in the house for almost three months now and I can honestly say that I fall more in love with this space and the way we are living in it each day. Along this particular home building journey, the most important lesson we have learned is this; it is not the house that makes a place a dream home, it’s when your dreams of a purposeful and meaningful life become a reality in your home.

Our #sleeperhouse definitely has us on the right track. 

 ....and Unicorns. 

....and Unicorns. 

This post is part of The Whole Family Happiness Project, in partnership with Social Currents and the Low Carbon Economy Narrative Initiative. The Whole Family Happiness Project poses the question, “What is the connection between our individual purpose, our family happiness, and the happiness of the world around us?”

To learn more or get involved, visit Whole Family Happiness on Facebook. #wholefamilyhappiness

I am still here - just a bit broken...

And I needed some new parts. 

I swear to god, I sound like an old Ford Model-T or something almost as vintage. (I am saying vintage these days because It sounds way more bougie and fun than old.)

Last November I had my first knee replacement. It went well, and I got a gold star from my surgeon for my recovery and rehab. We decided then to go ahead with the other knee six months later. In June.  

Hey - lookie here. It's June. And apparently my body had other ideas. 

On May 20th, while en route to my niece's graduation ceremony, I bent over to do up a buckle on my shoe and in the process, twisted a bit too much and dislocated my right hip. AGAIN!


We turned the car around and headed to the ER. All the while with the kids in the back seat, experiencing what I imagine is all kinds of PTSD triggers brought on by trips to the emergency room. It was a stellar day people. 

Since this was my third trip to the hospital for this very problem, I figured it was going to be the same as before. Easy Peasey, give me the knock-out drugs, reef on my leg, pop the hip joint back into place, off I go - Lemon Squeezy.

I was wrong.

Three tries later and way more propofol than one should probably have in one day (sorry MJ), and the very nice and super cute orthopedic surgeon told me the bad news. They couldn't get my hip back in place and I would have to be transferred to another hospital to have a surgical revision done.

This was Saturday. 

Sunday morning I was transferred. And Tuesday morning I had surgery. YES. You counted correctly. I laid in a hospital bed for three days with a dislocated hip joint. Something I do NOT recommend. And people - bed sores are serious business! One more day and skin would have broken and it would have been BAD. 

The gist of things was that the lining of my acetabulum (the socket part of the joint) had worn out, and along with the head of the femur (the ball of the joint), had to be replaced. So, new parts for me and another six weeks of post-op recovery. 

 Emergency surgery means you get to keep your nail polish on!

Emergency surgery means you get to keep your nail polish on!

And no driving. Sigh.

I am sitting here at week five and everything is healing up very nicely. I am technically supposed to still be using my crutches until next week, but my goodness are they ever a PITA! I can move around easily now at home and am starting to get stronger when I am out and about too. (And I may have gone for a short drive to pick up milk yesterday!)

Needless to say, that right knee replacement that was actually scheduled for THIS Thursday is not happening. I managed to negotiate with my surgeon for a date in September instead. This is what you get to do when you are a gold star patient like me. (Or at least that is what I am telling myself). 

So I get the summer with the kids, we can focus on finishing up everything around the #sleeperhouse (including landscaping), and I get to put in some time at work leading up to the Fall Fashion season. 

And I am writing again. So, this forced confinement and convalescence hasn't been for naught. Perhaps it is what my mind needed. A chance to be still within myself and find that place where the words and my thoughts meet and then pour forth through my fingers. I'll post a few links to what I have been doing and where, as most of the recent writing has been for other publications. 

You know how the saying goes... everything happens for a reason, blah, blah, blah..... Well, maybe that is true. Or maybe I just need to stop reaching for shit in my car and twisting my body into positions it clearly is not meant to do anymore!

 Bus ride for persons with reduced mobility!

Bus ride for persons with reduced mobility!

Did you miss me?




Weekly grocery shopping done in under three minutes!

I remember the days when my babies were actually babies and going to the grocery store by myself for an hour in the evening felt like a bloody vacation! I would stretch the time out and walk every single aisle and just listen to the musak playing in the store and read ingredient lists for funsies. 

Fast forward 8 years later, and I now dread grocery shopping. I don't need a Safeway Vacation these days. I need a 2-weeks-on-the-beach-with-my-husband-and-six-books, vacation. PLEASE!?

Unfortunately, that beach vacation is not going to happen anytime soon. In the meantime, I have to find ways to get our weekly food staples into the house, while also maintaining my sanity and avoiding the grocery store. 

Inevitably, every time I go to the store to get milk or bread or eggs, I come out with about 10 other things my stomach thinks we MUST HAVE right now! (Like Licorice Allsorts and Hawkins Cheezies and four different kinds of fancy cheese). This routine is simply not working for our food budget, or my pant size!

Enter the solution: the SPUD Weekly Staples Box

With one simple click, I get over $65 worth of the items we use on a weekly basis, delivered right to my front door!

And now you can too! For the month of March, you can try out SPUD home grocery delivery and the Weekly Staples Box for only $40 a week (new customers)! 

Your time is precious and I really want you to have that hour or more you would have spent driving to the store, picking everything, and then paying for and sometimes packing your own groceries, to do something else. Maybe catch up on your fave Netflix show. Have a family board or card game night. Go for a nice long walk, or get to that class at the gym you can never go to because - stupid grocery shopping!

Go for it! I can't tell you how much SPUD.CA makes my life easier. And you know what, I don't care what anyone says, Organic Milk DOES taste better in my morning latte!

Yours in health(y food) and (extreme) laziness,



*Disclosure: I am a Spud Ambassador and was compensated with a one week trial of the Staples Box. All opinions are truly my own, because I am that lazy and really do hate grocery shopping!