Thrill of Living

A lifestyle blog from Canada's West coast

Tag: victoria (page 1 of 2)

our K I T C H E N – before, and after!

Kitchen Renovation Before 3

bench seating kitchen renovation arrangement before 4

This bench area was super cute but it now makes more sense as the nook for the fridge and pantry cabinets.

kitchen renovation before photo 2

I’ll admit that when we bought our house, we loved the character of the existing kitchen. Between the truly inadequate lighting, the leaking pipes, and the rat who ate our potatoes, it was time for a change!

irvin removing flooring during reno

Here’s my smiling Irvin uncovering water damage from years past. Luckily we were able to use some of the flooring from under the original cabinets to patch this area. You’d never know there was water damage there now!

pano kitchen reno

For whatever reason, when we were cycling the Trans Canada Trail across BC, much of the silent time reeling one foot in front of the other was spent thinking about what projects we’d undertake when we reached home. Go figure – the motivation to get to work presented itself when it was entirely impossible to do it! Shouting to each other over the windy resistance of our packed bikes, we both decided the kitchen had squirmed its way to the top of the list.

After we arrived home, the tipping point of the decision occurred when a small rat and I had a staring competition through the hole in the wall where the kitchen plumbing goes into the crawl space. There would be no more waiting, the time had come.

Within three weeks of arriving home, the kitchen was entirely gutted. We took apart the original cabinetry and counter tops ourselves, and hired an asbestos remediation company to uncover original hardwood hiding below 3 layers of vinyl flooring and plywood.

It was a huge relief to find the original hardwood was in good enough condition to refinish – a major undertaking in itself but in the end – definitely worth it!

Other big tasks included switching the location of the sink and the range, replacing a window, and adding a few new circuits for additional lighting and appliances.

We bought our new cabinets and counter from IKEA rather seamlessly with just a few nights spent fiddling on their Kitchen Planner tool and an hour ironing out the kinks with an associate in the Port Coquitlam location. The delivery truck arrived a couple of weeks later, with our new kitchen in literally 127 packages.

Although there were a few hiccups, I’d say installing it was probably my favourite part of the renovation. It’s Lego for adults! I’d get the heck out of the kitchen during an earthquake though.

When we started, we had ambitions to be done in time to throw a Halloween party. In the end, it took us from the first hammer swing in mid-August to the final nail or touch of paint or, more realistically, the ‘that’s it, no more’ moment in early December. What a slog! We were done just in time for family visits around Christmas.


thrill of living kitchen

This has been the largest project we’ve taken on so far and though it is absolutely worth it now, the challenges, patience and learning required to complete it were a test of endurance as epic as biking across the province!  We ate more take out than any budget or belly should withstand.  When we did cook, it was over a two burner cook-top in the living room. Dust was an ever-present and all-encompassing factor we (mostly) pushed far out of consciousness for the sake of our sanity.

Needless to say, we are so, so glad it’s done – but also so glad we did it! Cooking in the new kitchen is now a complete pleasure and it makes us so happy to have a welcoming space to share meals with our family and friends.

A few notes on design choices.

First, let me just say that almost every colour of the rainbow is my favourite colour, yet we chose a totally white colour palette – white for the cabinets, white for the walls, and white for the tile – hardly a palette! It seems like a lot of white, but I love the clean feeling of white, and another really wonderful thing about white is that it goes with absolutely any colour and even makes those colours look better by being placed against it.

I’m happy to bring colour in with other less permanent elements like art, tea towels, and a fun nautical themed fabric I found at the classic local shop the Smoking Lily for our dining chairs! There’s also a lot of wood and even exposed brick from our chimney which add plenty of warmth, as well as a beautiful copper pendant I found at Barn Light Electric. It makes me smile every time I see it – it’s just so pretty!

One of my favourite pieces in our new kitchen is our new/old dining table. Along with beautiful hand turned legs, ornately carved detailing and two super functional slide-out panels, this table carries the story of my family from when my sister was born, through our life on the Sunshine Coast, and now here in Victoria.  It really makes our new kitchen feel like home.

Thanks for reading about our big project!  As always, feel free to comment below or send me an email if you have any questions about anything you see here.




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.

5 West Coast beers to ease into Autumn

We had a wonderful (and busy) summer marked by day upon day of beautiful weather, fantastic friends, home improvements, time in the water and even a couple of memorable trips to Portland and LA.  It was the kind of summer I’ll compare future summers to for the rest of my life – a really, really good summer.

As the seasons change, so do my beer preferences. Through the summer months I tend to favour light, cold and refreshing beer, while in the fall and winter I prefer dark, bold and thicker beer.  This year, even though the weather hardly called for it, by September I found myself reaching for a darker beer – surely an indication of a full and satisfying summer. We’ve had some heavy rain this week, and I  am feeling quite ready for the onset of fall!

Here are five local-ish beers from Victoria (or nearby) to help you ease into the coming darkness, fog, and high visibility bike gear.

Ordered from light to dark:

Electric Unicorn White IPA by Phillips Brewery (Victoria, BC) – a light beer with a kick ass name and high-ish (6.5%) alcohol percentage.  A nice transition beer that would do well in the summer too.


Avatar Jasmine IPA by Elysian Brewing Company (Seattle, WA) – an elusive beer worth trying if you are a fan of IPA’s and the flowery flavour of a nice loose-leaf jasmine tea.


Fat Tug by Driftwood Brewery (Victoria, BC) – an islanders favourite.  Refreshing, filling, and very hoppy! Possibly the first IPA I ever tried – reminds me of grapefruit juice (which I love).


Dark Matter by Hoyne Brewing Co. (Victoria, BC)– for a grey evening reading a book by the fire, or doing crossword puzzles by yourself at your neighbourhood pub.  Yes, that happens here.  Any dark beer with caramel and coffee notes gets points when I’m keeping score.


PBC Dry Stout by Perspehone Brewing Company (Gibsons, BC) – my all time favourite stout hailing from one gem of a brewery! We discovered Persephone on our last trip to the Sunshine Coast.  On 11-acres, they grow their own hops and vegetables which they use on wood-fired pizza made to order.  They’re relatively new (about a year) so I’m still waiting for our local pubs and liquor stores to start carrying them. As they make such fantastic beer I am hopeful it will be available here soon!


I’d love to hear what your favourite craft brews are in the fall.  Any thoughts on which brewery does the best pumpkin beer?  Post in the comments below!

Until next time friends, cheers to the summer and happy Fall!



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