Thrill of Living

A lifestyle blog from Canada's West coast

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8 tips for surviving a renovation with your sanity intact

We are currently in the middle of the largest, most life-disrupting renovation yet – our kitchen!  Living without a kitchen kind of sucks, and we’ve been living without one for over two months now. The whole house is turned upside down.  Our fridge is in our second room, along with the stack of drawers we removed from the demolished cupboards, and multiple Rubbermaid bins filled with dried foods and pots and pans.  I’ve replaced books on our bookshelves with dishes for easy access, but they’re frequently covered in a thick layer of dust.  Thank goodness we found a two burner electric element on Used Victoria or we’d be in deep trouble!

Of course I’m not complaining – I know we’re so fortunate to be able to tackle a project like this… and it’s going to be amazing to have a clean and functional space we’ll love to use for years to come in the not-too-distant future!  And task lighting!  I can hardly wait.

This project has been particularly challenging – the mess, the scope, the joys of running between three rooms to create a meal – but through it and the other projects we’ve worked on, I’ve learned a few things that stop me from losing my mind while living in chaos.  Here are my top 8 tips for surviving a renovation while keeping at least some sanity intact.

1. Buy a good mask

Totally crucial, please get one before you begin!  I use this respirator-style mask which is rated for asbestos and lead. It lets me breathe easy knowing that I’m not totally endangering myself*, and it lets me breathe without fogging up my glasses.  Oh, puns.

*please hire a professional for asbestos removal and have the material you’re demo-ing tested for asbestos before you begin.

2. And… a pair of work gloves 

It’s the cheapest path to feeling invincible! Plus they help keep your hands from getting destroyed.  At around $5 a pair, you can buy yourself a new set when they get gross (like after you clean up rat poo from your crawl space.)

3.  Downgrade your old favourites to your work clothes pile and invest in cover-alls

  • A toque.  A ‘work’ toque saves the (hair) day when you’re making a renovation-sized mess.  Your shower drain will thank you!
  • A pair of pants that you like, and fit well.  One sad day my favourite pair of cords got some bleach on them at work.  Even though they aren’t ‘fit’ for the office or much else, they’re still a well-fitting, comfortable pant that I enjoy putting on.  Turns out it’s made every renovation day since a little more enjoyable.
  • Cover-alls.  Want to feel like a super-hero? Wear cover-alls.  They’re a girl-going-in-a-crawl space’s best friend.

4.  Allow yourself a reason to stop working

Just because you’re renovating doesn’t mean you need to decline every invitation on the horizon.  Is your friend having a birthday party? House-warming?  Don’t say no, say yes!  It’ll give you a reason to shower, eat something and get out of the house  – you’ll be ready to go the next day and you won’t hate your life.

5.  Include take-out in your budget

It doesn’t matter what you’re renovating, you will find yourself starving at the end of the day with no will-power to cook for yourself.  Include take-out in  your budget and you won’t have to feel so guilty about it!

6.  Give attention to your relationship

If you’re doing this project with your boyfriend/partner/spouse/friend/whatever, don’t forget that they’re under pressure, too.  If you’re not careful, renovations can be as destructive on relationships as they are on your house on demo day!   Be aware that your partner likely feels stress for different reasons than you, too.  Talk about it.   If you want to relieve some tension (or stop it from building in the first place), say thank you frequently – show you appreciate the work they’re doing.  Lastly, try not to fall into ‘gender’ specific tasks – do what you can to keep the workload even.

7.  Don’t stop cleaning just because it’s going to get messy again

Throughout this renovation we’ve had a few friends and family come to visit which has forced us to clean the bathroom and other rooms throughout the renovation.  You wouldn’t believe how good it feels to have a clean(ish) house even if it is short-lived.  It’s definitely a sanity booster – kind of like how you feel after showering when you’ve been at a music festival for a few days… so fresh!

8.  Have a clear vision of what it’s going to be like AFTER the renovations.  This will keep you motivated better than anything else!

8 tips for surviving a renovation with your sanity still intact | Thrill of Living - |

Halli, amid the kitchen floor refinishing fun.

June 21st is Car Free Day in Victoria!


I just found out that June 21st is Victoria’s very 1st Car Free Day!  It’s going to be a huge street fair on downtown Douglas Street celebrating the best parts of Victoria’s culture.

Check out our great downtown businesses and local vendors, pick up a few groceries from the farmers market, enjoy a local craft brew, and see some live entertainment.  There will be family friendly activities, too.  You can find out all about it  on the Downtown Victoria Business Association’s (DVBA) website.

I am totally supportive of anything that promotes our fair city as the wonderful place to walk, bike, and take transit that it is!  I thought you might be too!

Hope to see you out on the street, car keys at home 🙂

Car Free Day 2015

TOL cycles the TCT: the beginning!

Irvin and I are embarking on an adventure of epic proportions this summer. When we’re done, you can officially call me thunder thighs and I won’t be offended!

Beginning on June 27th, we will be riding our bikes from our home in Victoria to my hometown of Fernie, BC.   Assuming all goes well, our wheels will tread over 1100 kilometres through mountain passes and valleys, pavement, gravel, dirt and sand. We’ll be traveling on the lower British Columbia section of the Trans Canada Trail as much as possible, changing course as necessary to finish before our vacation time runs out.

We are very excited. Three weeks off? During some of the best days of summer? Traveling at cycling speed through scenic mountains, valleys, even desert… Experiencing the majesty of this beautiful province at a pace we can take it all in – the sights, the sounds, the air! Pulling over to refresh in lakes and rivers. Sleeping while constellations spin overhead and the earth drums beneath.  Waking to bird songs and sunrises. I can only imagine that at times I will feel the most alive of my twenties. Oh, this is something to look forward to.

As excited as I am, I await the day we embark with considerable caution and fear. I don’t feel ready – not in a ‘did I remember my toothbrush’ kind of way but a ‘do I have what it takes – the knowledge, skills, luck, karma(!?) – that will get me through this no matter what we might face?’

I can imagine a slew of unpleasant scenarios, most of which I’ll never voice out of superstition. There might be bears, or worse, cougars, but we have bear spray and bear bangers, and I have a compulsion to sing while biking, which is bound to put the round-eared furry friends in a pleasant, non-threatened mood.

We could injure ourselves slowly – hour by hour, day by day, joints grinding, muscles tearing. We could injure ourselves quickly – a stick in a spoke, a surprise pothole, a trip head first, gravel biting into skin.

We have a first aid kit, we can hope we will know enough to patch ourselves up. We will, and we will do what we can to be careful. Our family will be on call should we need to be rescued… we are lucky! If we must stop, we will.

One by one we’ve checked off the gear on our packing list – just a few things left. We are prepping our bodies with more frequent and longer rides. We’re reading up on what to eat, where to camp, how to replace a spoke, remove a chain link.

We both know it won’t be easy, we won’t always be having fun, and there’s going to be opportunities for danger that we’ll need to be smart to get through.

I can’t know what will happen, but we will soon find out. I do know that it’s going to be one crazy adventure.  Take the journey with us here (subscribe if you like) and follow me on instagram @thrillofliving for frequent updates. I’m excited to share this experience with you!

Cycling the Sunshine Coast highway.

Cycling the Sunshine Coast highway.

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