Sky Time

Every so often I am just in awe of the sky. Last year I shared a bunch of photos I had taken over the years- Read about it here: What Were The Skies Like.

Today I came home after a night shift and was again filled with wonderment of the sky. I’m also enraptured to have such a beautiful view available to enjoy; and share. The pleasure I get staring off is immeasurable. The view from our front balcony and the back balcony make for an almost 360° sight line of the sky.

On a day like today, I’ll just stand around soaking in the world. My concerns are gone for a brief moment until I get distracted by family members. But these little moments are the zen required to fulfill me and create inner peace.

How does the sky make you feel?

Hazy Sunrise

One of the things that I do miss about our old home in the countryside is viewing the sunrise through the trees. Especially an Autumn Morning Sunrise. After a night shift it was always nice to see the sun crawl through the mist as I drove home.

It wouldn’t have mattered much if we lived in our old place this morning. The sunrise is being hampered by the smoke in the air from the forest fires. Every so often the sun was giving off an orange glow- creating more beauty than should really be allowed.

Yes folks, I do believe global warming is real. This summer is only just the start of what we can expect on a regular basis over the next few years. I’m trying really hard to enjoy the sunrise through the smoke filled sky, but it nags at me the cause of the smoke.

We can do better as a species. And we really should try more often. On the weekend some friends and I were having a discussion about recycling and trash pick up. Individually, most people are doing their parts. But the waste collection companies still toss the majority of everything into one pile. This saddens me.

How do you feel about global warming or recycling? Are we doing our part? Is it wrong to enjoy the colours of a hazy sunrise?

Dino Mountain

There are plenty of paths in our neighborhood. Some lead around the houses, other paths lead through trees and parks. One of the paths has been filled with toys and art. It is titled “Dino Mountain” and was created in 2017.

There are little plastic dinosaurs near a large rock. My daughter will often straighten the ones that have toppled over and sometimes set up little scenes. I think it’s a fantastic way to encourage children to go on walks. It’s neat that the City of Surrey has also left it for the neighborhood to enjoy.

Today, we added our own touch to the Mountain.

Back in 1994 I was given some promotional material from a video store for the release of Jurassic Park. I have put them on display in all of our houses. Because I love the film so much, it was time to give back to the world and share some fun. I took the cardboard signage and taped it up in hopes that it survives the elements. Off to the trail we went and put them up for others to enjoy.

So if you’re in my neighborhood and go for a walk passing Dino Mountain- make sure you keep an eye out for Dinosaurs Crossings the path.

Road to Repair

I woke up early today to the sound of construction just outside our home. At first I thought it was the garbage collection, only it kept going.

I took to our front deck to watch the action for a bit. I was impressed at how quickly the City of Surrey took action in repairing the road. It was about a week ago that it was reported and inspected. Unlike our last neighborhood where portions of the road are collapsing for years now and no plan for repairs. Just some orange spray paint was added.

The work being done in our current neighborhood is clean and quick. I am thoroughly impressed with the road work by Surrey. I really do feel like we have a good suburb that we moved in to.

Even if my day of sleeping in was disturbed.

Juliette Deck

After a quick dip in the pool, I went upstairs to get changed. From our bedroom on the third floor we have a small balcony. Some call it a “Juliette Deck” in reference from Romeo and Juliette. Of all of our decks (four of them in total) I spend the second least amount of time on it. The one above our front door I actually spend less time on.

But tonight I decided to sit in the sun on the Juliette Deck. As I sat there, numerous hummingbirds came to visit. I even caught the shadow of one as I took a selfie.

The visiting hummingbirds arrived because off to the side of the deck, we hung up a hummingbird feeder. At first it wasn’t getting much attention. But tonight was a flurry of activity. The warm weather is causing these birds to seek refreshments. I’m glad we have a spot so close by to enjoy their buzzing little wings.

It was a peaceful way to end a long day of errands. I think I shall call the bird that kept coming back… Romeo.

I Need Some Of That

Earlier this year Weezer released a new song, I Need Some Of That. I immediately connected with the lyrics. The same way I can associate life with the Barenaked Ladies song, Pinch Me. Both songs are well written songs about youth and living in the suburbs.

Only recently have we re-entered the suburban lifestyle. I hadn’t realized how much I needed it. Seeing children playing, folks washing cars, dog walkers, joggers, sprinklers on the lawn; all of it is a sense of serenity and life. A life I had as a child and teenager that somehow I forgot about or didn’t acknowledge at the time.

I now enjoy being around neighbors who stop and say “Hello”. Not that our old neighborhood wasn’t like that. It just took walking for a couple of acres to possibly see someone. In our old neighborhood- everyone knew everyone for decades. This neighborhood? Perfect strangers greet each other with a smile and a kind word.

It’s just what I needed. A lifestyle consisting of strangers just being nice. A wave or a nod sharing a moment. Living in the suburbs has a zen like feeling you cannot find anywhere else. A sense of security and safety. I’m totally drinking the cherry koolaid on this one folks.

Littles

Today was a good day. I had the opportunity to have a few coworkers over with their families. Each of them have young children to take care of.

It’s been a long while since my wife and I have had to deal with small kids. It was nice change to hang out with everyone. And see how they handle their kids.

I’ve always been good with children. They seem to gravitate towards me. Today made for another one of those moments. My favorite part was being able to hand back the kids at the end of the days. The kids were well behaved. I’m most impressed with my friends’ parenting skills.

Garage Success

About a month ago I mentioned about Making Space In The Garage. We have been able to park my wife’s car on her side since then. We also rearranged some of the storage last week to make it more accessible and easier to manage. This afternoon- we tackled my side. And won!

With a few things still needing better placement, I’m happy with the progress. We have some donations to send out and some recycling to toss that will help with the space. But all in all, I now have a spot to park my car.

We now have two cars parked in a two car garage! This makes me tremendously happy. Much to their chagrin- I had to have to kids out there to enjoy my moment of triumph! This was a total “Dad Flex” to unbury the garage and park our cars.

Go Joe! Next is to organize the shed…

Peaceful Easy Feeling

Back to work after vacation doesn’t mean that enjoying summer is over. I’ve been coming home the last couple of evenings feeling grateful for what I have.

Having a positive outlook on life is important to having positive things happen for you. Luck is also a huge role in everything that happens. We are lucky to live in this part of the world. Clean water, good education, and plenty of opportunities for success.

Finding success can create happiness. At some point though you really need to step back and admire what you have accomplished.

Vibing with a peaceful easy feeling is what my summer is all about. Come on in. The water’s fine.

Fog and Sun

I still can’t get over the fact that we have a view to enjoy from our new home. Usually I’m sharing photos of the backyard and stories of sunshine. Yesterday was the last day of my staycation. This morning I had to head into work in order to pay for this lifestyle.

Before leaving my oasis, I enjoyed a cup of coffee as I looked at the fog leading off into the horizon. The sun wasn’t out yet, so the colours of the world were subdued and cool. If there wasn’t the occasional tree and a hill in the far distance, I would’ve thought we were in the clouds.

Everyday I become more appreciative of what we have. It has been a long road leading to this. This home is now my sanctuary. Or if you wish- My Happy Place.

Searing Steaks

I’ve been a self proclaimed and avid grill master when it comes to using a gas grill. Over the years I have gone through about half a dozen BBQs. Each had a side burner. One or two had a rotisserie burner. But my latest one that my family gave me for Christmas had something I’ve never used before.

There is a side burner. Only it is for searing meat. After seven months, I finally decided to try it out. My wife picked up some red meat (which is rare for us- pun intended). I decided to try the searing option on the grill.

First off, I love that this BBQ has cast iron grills. Secondly, searing the steaks turned out perfect! We all love a rare steak. With a normal grill- I had a tough time getting it right. Searing burner took the guess work out. Get some grill marks within a couple of minutes per side and the steaks were perfect.

Letting the steak rest with some garlic butter made for a perfect meal. We had some deep fried white potatoes and sautéed spinach with mushrooms as the sides. I can never go back to not having a searing grill option again. Best steak I have ever made.

Lights, Now Cameras!

Since we moved in, we have been slowing making this house our home. I threw in a couple of ceiling fans for the kids. We added lights to the outdoors- along the railing and what we call our “Tokyo DisneySea Light” as well as a few others. Plus a tv and some outdoor furnishings.

It’s time to make us feel secure in all of those purchases. The weather cooled off enough today for my son and I to hit the attic and run some wires. It was CCTV camera install day. There are plenty of YouTube videos and how-to sites that I’m not going into those details.

My wife and I had bought six Lorex cameras and a hard drive a few months ago from Costco. I always wanted to have security cameras in our last house, but the undertaking would have been tremendous with all the brick work. So my wife indulged me and I got a set for this house.

First off, the install started off long and arduous. Having to find the best spots and figure out how to run the cables. After that- it was a bit of tinkering and we now have four of the six cameras up and recording. My wife was having fun with me while I set them up.

We opted to put the monitor in our laundry room. My wife didn’t want the screen to be front and center in our lives. I agree with her on that. The neat part is the hard drive connects to our internet and we can access the cameras remotely from our phones.

The hard drive allows us to have up to 8 cameras and we can also get the kind that you can move, zoom, pan and tilt with. That might happen in the future. Anyways, before next summer, I will finish adding the last two cameras to completely view our property.

I know the cameras may only be a bit of a deterrent for crime. Most criminals don’t care about cameras or security systems. If they want in your home, they will get in. I just like the sense of security the camera system offers my family.

Plus now I can decide if I want to open the front door or ignore people.

Shelved

Our kitchen is larger than our last one. There is great use of space in most of it, and a beautiful flow making it easy to navigate. There are a couple of down sides however.

The first one is that the pantry is far smaller than we are used to. It’s basically a broom closet with shelves. This will take us some getting used to, but is completely manageable. The second was an empty space with just a countertop. It looks like the space was originally created a decade ago for a phone or computer. So it was time to do something with the empty space and make it functional.

My wife and I were trying to find cabinets that we would like. But with the world being what it is, most products were on back order or not what we wanted to match our home. Since we have a certain style, it was time to get creative. I love a good diy.

Since we love dark woods and the industrial look, we came up with a plan over brunch while out in Fort Langley. Why not reclaim some wood we have and build our own shelves? I made a farm table once before. This should be easier.

A quick stop at Home Depot for some iron pipes and connectors- and voilá- shelf brackets. I went with ten inch wide pipe and twelve inch for height, with a small bar at the top to finish it off.

I needed some help to measure the anchor holes prior to hanging it up. My wife also suggested that we measure from where the coffee maker opens to so we don’t have issues trying to make our favorite beverage. What a smart lady. It’s always good to have a second set of eyes on a project.

Oh and those wood slats? They came from an old IKEA bed frame. Soon I will stain the pine wood a darker colour to match the other stuff we have. With the cost of lumber these days, I’m glad we didn’t throw them away.

So that was my quick project for our coffee bar and cookbook shelves. I like the openness of the shelves and the industrial look that matches our tastes. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Vintage Love

I am a huge fan of all things retro and vintage. Sure, I still like my modern amenities and won’t give those up any time soon. But there are some things that just bring me joy and are unique in many aspects.

I do like when old mixes with new. I picked up a couple of Panasonic noise canceling headphones with Bluetooth capabilities. I love the look of these headphones and how they remind me of elementary school libraries. That “station” where you could listen to an audio book or watch those short little filmstrip projectors. Those headphones were indestructible. I’m hoping these new ones are equally as awesome.

But the greatest thing we got as a housewarming gift came from my in-laws. They gave us six new towels for our use in our pool. The towels are fluffy and the color scheme screams 1970’s. What’s even better? The towels are from SEARS. So either my in-laws had these in storage, or somewhere out there is a Sears that is still in business. No matter what the case, I love these towels.

Do you like vintage and retro style? What makes you think it is vintage? Let me know in the comments.

Twenty Year Celebration

Yesterday we had some close friends over for an evening of hanging poolside. I love to entertain, and our anniversary was a great reason to have friends over.

We supplied our guests with food and drinks. There were bottles of wine chilling on ice for everyone’s pleasure. I had also printed off some custom labels for the water bottles. I made sure to keep everyone hydrated as we hung out in the sunshine.

Most of the evening I spent wandering around and socializing with everyone. At one point in the evening my buddies and I took a “Bro Pic”. We had done the same thing years ago at a brewery. It was the only picture i know of that was taken all day.

That’s a good thing. It means everyone was having fun and distracted from their phones. My wife and I are lucky to have such great friends that we have known for years. Even better is the fact that they mesh well with one another.

A hearty thank you to everyone for coming over and having fun yesterday. We look forward to having our friends over more often now that we are settled into our new home.

Life’s Good

We moved into our new place three weeks ago. For the last four months, I’ve been trying to figure out how to install our projector and motorized screen into our living room. But unless I want to dig into the ceiling and walls, I had to go with the alternative- a large TV.

The chaos of when we first moved in.

As you can see, our 55” tv looked sad in its new home. With a large frame around where the tv would be mounted, we had no choice but to go bigger. At least that was the argument I had with my wife. So for the past few weeks, I’ve been searching for a new tv.

Today I removed our old tv and measured to see what we could fit. Then it was off to Costco to see what they had in store. Today happened to be a good day for tv buying it seemed.

We bought an 75” LG tv. It dropped by $900 today. I joked with the cashier that we had only come in to buy paper plates and we were walking out with a new tv. But we used the money our real estate agent had given us back as a gift for “incidentals”. Incidentally, our tv was too small.

It’s a much better fit than the last one. I’m looking forward to enjoying some family movie nights on this big screen. We shall see how well an LG product is. I’m usually a Samsung guy since they’ve never caused me grief. Brand loyalty is something I’m proud of. But it’s worth a shot to try something new.

Especially for a wicked deal mid-summer!

Need To Get A First Nap.

I still haven’t had my first official nap in our new home. I’ve tried to relax, really I have. But there is still so much to do! Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying all my little projects on the go. It’s far better than having projects that are a necessity.

But I could still do with a nap one day. Our bed is very inviting- except the views keep me alert and daydreaming.

I’ve tried relaxing in our hammock poolside, but that has been cut short due to the heat. I end up back in the pool or finding air conditioning in the house.

Going back into the house also means more projects. It’s a vicious cycle. I think I’m going to have to schedule a nap in order to get one!

Hanging Out With A View

After almost three weeks in our new house, we have been extremely active in setting it up. Unpacking, organizing, getting a cleaning routine going, that sort of thing. On an almost daily basis we have also been hanging out in the pool. All of it is great and keeping us busy.

This evening I took a page from my wife’s book. We stopped to enjoy the view from our living room. Sure, there’s more work to do and a dinner to make. But taking a breather to remember why we bought this house is important.

The skyline. Something we gave up in our last home. But the exchange in our last place was the beauty of living in a park like setting. Old growth trees offering natural shade and cooling of the home. To me, this exchange is equivalent, even though different in many ways.

Appreciating what we got and what we work towards is necessary. We love our new home and are working hard to create Kingdom Havelka as a magical place to live.

Organized Chaos

Even though we “Purged” before we moved, we still have a bunch of stuff that needed to find a place in and around our home. As fun as it is to fill the ,Garage, I like being able to park at least one of our cars inside. The other side will have to wait until the summer is ending in order for me to want to hit the attics again.

I took advantage of the nice weather today to hang up our kayaks and ladder on our back fence. At least it keeps them off the ground and away from moisture and dirt.

Last week I worked diligently on organizing the garage and utilizing all the available space. I went old school with a pegboard for my tools- which my son organized and put up. I also built a makeshift 4×8 suspended shelf for my wife’s fabric. I throw a couple hooks up for bikes and the car topper. It made for a ton of more floor space and easier to navigate around the garage.

While we still have a few boxes in our home to unpack, this is a great start to our new life. Unfortunately with things the way they are, we are waiting for bookcases and a hutch to become available in order for us to complete the house. For the time being, those items are off to the side and out of our main living area.

How organized is your home? Do you feel like you have too much stuff like we do?

Let me know in the comments.

Floaties

Having a pool means having friends over. It also means having FLOATIES to enjoy.

We bought some lounging inflatables before we moved in. You know, just because… I love the fact that everyone enjoys them all. Some are tubes with an animal head attached (the duck and flamingo). Others are just silly fun, like the llama and narwhal. I love the crazy fun we have with each one.

The narwhal is ridiculously difficult to ride. So it has become a game amongst everyone to see how long they last. Kind of like a mechanical bull. I’m the winner so far, but I’ve also had a lot of practice.

I think next summer we will try and get a bunch more floaties in order to fill the pool. It’s been so much fun this year, why not double it next year?

Lego Bonsai

Today we went shopping for some summer clothes. We also went to a couple of stores just because we were at the mall. One of those stores happened to be The Lego Store. I totally did a spontaneous purchase of a Lego set.

The Lego Bonsai Tree.

We got it home and decided to put it together as a family. This is the first set we have built in the new house. It’s also been years since we last tried to build a set together. The Lego Spaceship from The Lego Movie was an ordeal and a half one Christmas! We were lucky to not repeat that fiasco.

But we were able to work together and got it completed rather quickly. We even had a spot all picked out at the bottom of our stairs for it to hang out. I think it looks really neat.

As well, when spring comes around, we can change the bonsai tree into a Sakura tree.

Back To Work Blues

Vacation doesn’t last forever. It was time to return to work last night. After getting through a couple thousand emails, I was up to date with the operation. But in the back of my mind all night was thoughts of our new home.

When I finished my night shift, I headed home and got into some swim trunks. I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed down to the pool. As exhausted as I was from doing my first night shift in ages, I still enjoyed the refreshing water. I’m even contemplating doing yoga this summer.

Standing on my deck I realized- this is my lifestyle now. You know what else? In two weeks I have some more vacation time to chill out in our yard. I plan on owning the summer and making the most of what we have.

Morning Home Paradise

I woke up early this morning to enjoy my regular cup of coffee. The AC was on and the house was comfortable. But outside, that’s where the beauty was waiting.

With our backyard having a western exposure, the shade from our house cast over the pool. With protected green-space and farm land behind us, the views go on for ages.

When we moved I thought we would lose the sounds of the birds. Instead, there is two to three more times the amount out. This morning is like a symphony being conducted by an owl. Peaceful and serene.

We have found a slice of paradise in our own backyard. With this heatwave, it’s a welcome bit of joy.

Night Sky Happy Feelings

After a hot day poolside, it was just as nice to just hang out as dusk fell.

We could see the skyline off in the distance. As the horizon faded from the orange to darkness above, I relish in the pleasure of knowing we will have this view for years to come.

My wife and I took a brief stroll around our cul-de-sac and discussed some future plans for our front yard. Having continuous dreams keeps us going. And in the end, it makes us happy.

That’s the goal life- happiness. And I do my best to achieve it everyday.

Raised Spirits

After a week in our new home, it was time to enjoy quality time together. Boy was it fun!

This evening before dinner, we all hung out at the pool. Loads of laughter and splashing. It was an excellent way to cool off after a smoldering hot day.

To finalize our family time together we did something we always do. We watched a movie as a family. The movie of choice? Spirited Away. A favorite amongst us all. We love Studio Ghibli movies and enjoyed visiting Studio Ghibli when we travelled to Tokyo a few years back.

We also chose this film because it starts with a family on their way to their new home, yet adventure takes hold. It’s the perfect film to boost our spirits amongst the chaos of unpacking. I’m so happy to feel like a family once more. Stress is behind us.

Time to live our best lives.