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When death comes knocking, change your address…

When death comes knocking, change your address…

I confess I can’t even remember (or find) who wrote that, but I’m guessing they didn’t mean do this:

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But better safe than sorry right?

Yes, we moved from one side of the country to the other – from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Sooke, British Columbia to live with my parents and basically exhale.


That’s all our worldly belongings in a U-Haul at the bottom of my parent’s driveway. This is the moment that you REALLY hope you remembered to lock it…

And then a year later we moved again, this time up the Island to the small town of Ucluelet.


And that first move from Nova Scotia was two years ago already, though it feels like yesterday, and also a million years ago.

And I’ve been meaning to update and end this blog ever since, and it bothers me daily that I haven’t, even though really only 3 people read this: my mom, Sam, and (briefly) a guy in Panama…

So…here we are, on the other side, both literally and figuratively. The short story of how and why is that Sam got really sick, so we sold our house, packed up our things, and moved across the country to be closer to my family. The long version of the story is…just way WAY too long, and probably just too much information anyway – plus, let’s be real, I will definitely never get around to writing it. I’ve started and stopped this update multiple times and have pages and pages written in my head (usually at 3am, obvs) about all that transpired…but I have come to the conclusion after two years that I really just don’t have it in me to write something profound and inspiring. Maybe one day.

So, yes, we sold our precious home in a move that was both heartbreaking and like removing a gigantic weight from our shoulders.

Here’s what it looked like when we left:

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A little reminder of where we started…

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Blood, sweat, and more than a few tears to be sure.

And now we have a new home in which to direct our energies, though this one is about 100 years more modern…but not without its own special quirks (you didn’t think we’d buy something completely normal and trouble-free did you?).

I was toying with the idea of re-starting this blog as we update this 70’s split level wonder we just moved into (the classic ‘BC Box’), but honestly after all we’ve gone through…I’m done. For now.

Before we found a house we could afford we spent 7 months in a camping trailer.
(feel free to google ‘B.C. housing crisis’ )


And after that, plus Sam nearly dying, home decor just isn’t a huge priority anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still obsess over paint colours and light fixtures and all that fun stuff, but I’m just grateful right now that we have a place to live that’s not on wheels, and that my little family is intact and happy and healthy. The fact I have popcorn ceilings and carpet is really neither here nor there.

But I did write a poem for our new house…ahem:

Oh BC Box
you cost quite a lot
for something that
is very…
But you have four walls and a roof
and it’s incontestable proof
that we’re much better off than
if camping

So I may be back at some point. Goodness knows, there’s always something to work on…


(clearly we won’t live in a pink house forever)

But for now, I wish you all good renovations, but more importantly, good health, and a sound roof and four walls that don’t keep you up at night…

Carly x

You can find me over at as I focus full-time on my art career, and on Instagram at carlybutlerart


Spring = get off your ass

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Spring = get off your ass

Ahhh…so here we are, after a small (cough) hiatus…

I could blame motherhood, but then everyone and their dog seems to be writing blogs about parenting (not even going to bother searching for dog-writing blogs to reference here, just sure they exist) so clearly that is not a valid excuse for not writing.  I will say, in my defence, that it is difficult to renovate in 1-2 hour nap increments.  And if you’re worried that I’ve been holding out and not updating you on all my wonderful new creative projects (this would possibly apply only to my mother), I assure you, that is not the case because I HAVE NOT RENOVATED ANYTHING.  Yep, it all looks pretty much the same as what, a year or more ago?  Two? Jeepers.

Oh – here’s some awesome highlights from the past year I neglected to tell you about:

Finally put a plate on a light switch:

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– pretty fancy right?

Uh…labelled some bins in the pantry with chalk:


Yep. Take that Martha Stewart.

What else?  Well, we haven’t been completely idle, but most projects are falling under the category of ‘things that started to look worse’.

For example:
…we tore the tile off the tub when it leaked into the ceiling downstairs:


– because this happened:

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And then this (unrelated):

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And both events probably would have made very good blog posts if I wasn’t just so angry/upset/sad, and feeling basically overwhelmed and out of love with my house (not to mention poor).  I couldn’t even make them sound amusing, because they weren’t.

Well, maybe a little in retrospect…

Right, but all that’s fixed.  Actually, that’s a lie.  The kitchen ceiling still needs to totally come down and be replaced but I can’t face it yet (it’s a long boring story about the chimney, my fear of heights, and the ‘Jamaican Mason’ – actually from Antigua – who hasn’t shown up yet).

But moving on, I am ignoring that for the minute (yes the hole in the kitchen ceiling still looks exactly the same, possibly growing larger) and going to tackle other (smaller) things.  First up – the bedroom, because my life coach has determined it’s why I haven’t been sleeping properly.  And if that sentence sounds totally insane coming from me then a) yes, you probably know me well and b) yes I got a fucking life coach – don’t judge.  Sometimes when your house is falling down around you and you wonder what the hell you’re supposed to be doing with your life (and figuring drywalling ceilings isn’t it), a life coach seems like, and is (as it turns out), a good idea.

But basically this mini project is giving me the kick in the ass to get on with it and get out of the funk I was in.
Was I depressed?  Maybe.  Tired?  Definitely.

So here we are, the bedroom as is – unedited (SO hard to release these photos to the internet):

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Yeah, it’s not a bedroom made for lovin’ right now.  No wonder I haven’t been sleeping well.

And yes, that is grey fabric stapled to the wall.  We finally put up drywall (you can read a bit about that saga – and why the floor currently looks like shit here), but couldn’t face sanding, the excuse being it was too cold to open the windows – nice one right?  The fabric was Sam’s inspiration while I was away on holiday with Fin.  Not like I expected it to be finished and painted or anything when I got back…no no, stapled grey fabric on the wall instead was an AWESOME surprise.

And that was over a year ago.

I do feel the need to point out that I am usually a stickler for making the bed, but Finley has this new favourite game of climbing on it and tearing it all apart so she can throw pillows, so, yeah, sometimes I just let her.  The rest of the mess, yep, that’s just us lately.  So.  Embarrassing.

But there you are.  I feel like we were well on our way, and then at some point just got stalled.  And messy.

So here’s what I managed today:

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Look – an empty shelf!

And yeah, those yellow pillows look weird now (the were bought to stop Fin from falling down the crack when the bed was against the wall – a legitimate concern as it turns out), and I HATE the carpet (though Sam loves it), and we have no headboard, and the Mexican blanket is just there to distract from the fact that we’re sleeping on a box spring…and there’s about a hundred other things to fix, but it’s still a vast improvement.

I thought I liked the bed against the wall in the corner, but I just ended up feeling trapped as that’s my side of the bed – though it was a good excuse to make Sam get up in the night to deal with Fin.  I also thought that we’d gain all this great space that Fin could use to play in, but she never did, and then it just became a dumping ground for crap.

As it turns out, right after I finished moved everything around Fin came home from daycare and seemingly disappeared, until I found her here:


This has NEVER happened (though I would love to pretend it did all the time and I’m some kind of supermom), so I guess moving the bed was the right thing to do.  So weird though.

Tomorrow being Mother’s Day here, I have asked that in lieu of brunch or flowers or whatever other amazing things they had planned, we instead spend the day finally sanding and painting this damn wall.

But flowers would still be ok too.


A Nursery in 36 Sq Ft – The Final Countdown

So we’re about to get this show on the road.  Yep, baby times are ahead.  9 days and counting…

Which is why it’s probably a good thing that we actually got the nursery finished.  Finally.  And sort of.

Cue our new theme song:

‘We’re heading to Venus’ folks.
Maybe we should play this in the delivery room?  Hmmmm…
We can embarrass this kid before it even comes out of the womb.

But compared with my panic back in November, I have calmed down somewhat.  In my now 38 weeks of pregnancy wisdom, here’s what I have learned from friends and strangers (or just stubbornly decided myself) are the only things necessary for a nursery:

1. A place to store all the baby crap – drawers seem to suffice.  Even if you buy your child nothing to wear, he/she will soon have more clothes than you thanks to all the gifts and hand me downs you’ll receive.

2. A place for the baby to sleep.

And actually, as the baby is supposed to sleep in your room for the first 6 months (yep, guess who finally dragged her ass to a parenting class?), the nursery need only be a glorified closet for the first little bit.

But, and it’s a big but, the other thing I’ve learned is that none of this means dick when you’re pregnant, hormonal, and nesting.

No.  You want THE NURSERY.  I think it’s just totally psychological (and cultural).  I was having a complete hyperventilating meltdown about the state of our nursery (really wish I was exaggerating here, but yes, the lack of ‘nursery-ness’ really made breathing difficult occasionally), that only went away when Sam came home with a pine chest of drawers.

Antique Nova Scotian pine no less – though missing the part of the bottom apron, which made it affordable for us, so I’m not complaining. (And whoops, you can also see some evidence of my failed painted floor experiment – one day we’ll put some proper flooring down.  One day.  Oh, and put the heater pieces back on too.)

Turns out all I actually needed was to take the baby stuff out of the bags in the closet (some of it had been given to me around 6 months ago when, to be honest, it just freaked me out), fold it all, put it in drawers, and all was well with the world.  Who knew?

As you might remember, this is what the office/nursery/dumping ground looked like before:

And here it is now:

Now, let me come clean and say this is a bit fake.  The crib (it’s a travel crib – small and on sale, so perfect) will be going beside our bed.  The chair – the BEST baby shower gift from our amazing group of friends who obviously know us well (though I also need to show you guys the sexy stroller our other friends sent us – yes, sexy and stroller in the same sentence…) – will also be moving, into the living room, or maybe our bedroom if I can get it to fit.  The only thing actually staying in the room right now is the chest of drawers.  We bought it as the height means it can double as a change table, but from what everyone tells me, we’ll probably end up using a changing pad on the floor or the bed.  Truth be told, I only put the change pad on the dresser for the pictures so no one thinks I’m a bad mom-to-be who doesn’t even have a place to change her kid’s diapers…

So there you go – a basic gender-neutral nursery (yep, still don’t know what’s going to come out) in 6 x 6 ft.  It is possible.

The other side of the room has our long desk that Sam built in December – one side for me with a variety of egg-related art and studio ephemera, and the other for Sam’s accounting textbooks and place to study.  It’s organized and working (finally), but it’s too stressful to try and take pictures of that right now.  I want it to look good, and right now it really doesn’t.  I need some drawers and containers to make it look less cluttered, but that will have to wait.  So just imagine for now that it looks amazing and I’m some kind of Wonder Woman.
Did I mention I’m having a baby in 9 days?

But for the next month at least, the nursery/study will be a room for my mom.  Who arrives tomorrow.  Which means I should probably get off my pregnant ass, stop farting around taking fake nursery photos, and inflate a bed so she has somewhere to sleep.

One more time…

new year, new beginnings, new adventure – but a hold on renovating

Yep, renovating is going to take a hiatus for a month (well, depending on whether or not Sam continues his ‘getting ready for baby’ whirlwind, but don’t hold your breath for any updates from him here!) while I head off to Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in Canning, Nova Scotia for a 4 week art residency.

I leave tomorrow, and in order to keep myself motivated, I’m starting a new blog:


– where, yes, I will be creating and posting a work of art every day for the next 4 weeks.


(image from

’tis the season for getting sh*t done…

…or, ‘in awe of the male nesting instinct…’

So…wow.  You ever live with someone for nearly 10 years and then they go and do something – or a series of things – that totally blows your mind?  Yeah, well, turns out I’ve been living with a secret carpentry/renovating genius all these years and had NO IDEA.  Until now.  Not that he didn’t do a lot before, but nothing like this (and with remarkably little swearing).

To re-cap, in the past 3 days, Sam has:

1. built shelves in the living room for the record collection

2. built a desk in the study/nursery

3. added two new storage shelves in the study/nursery (- what the hell are we going to call this room?)

4. finished the trim in the bathroom

5. installed all the quarter round and moldings for the hallway baseboards

6. installed new light fixtures

7. replaced all the thresholds on all the doorways

8. cut all the doors to fit the thresholds

…and a million other small things that have been bugging the shit out of me since the summer.

Here’s the pile of records you might remember:

And, voila (which is what it felt like – I think I maybe had time to go to the corner store and they were done)
– here’s the new shelves:


Bathroom trim and other improvements:

– which might not look like the biggest deal, but remember what we had to cover up here after the tiling was ‘done’:

It required either an entire new row of tiles to cover all that crap at the top, or a very WIDE piece of trim.  We chose trim – and I no longer feel I need to pee with my eyes closed.

And really, how did I live with that light fixture for so long?  Gross.  We’ve had this $5 bargain from Walmart ready to install for about 4 months now…

New medicine cabinet is on hold (oh, and Sam built new shelves for that too – I’m telling you, he is on FIRE).

But why are there not pictures of everything Sam accomplished?  Because he’s too damn fast, that’s why.  By the time I get my lazy ass in gear and waddle over to take a ‘before’ picture, it’s already been transformed into an ‘after’.  Oh, and in the case of the study/nursery I still need to organize things so the photos do the new desk justice – we are almost there (as in the room no longer looks like a craptastic dumping ground), and I have recovered from my nursery panic/frenzy – hence building of desk and not change table, though it could be both.

Sam is like a man possessed.  Let no one tell you it is just women who get the nesting instinct.  Oh no…I’m too busy feeling fat and eating candy on the couch for that (especially now the gestational diabetes test came back negative – horray!  candy for everyone!).

Give a man about to be a dad a saw and a nail gun and magical things can happen…

how to not plan a nursery – probably

Ok, brace yourselves, because this is what the future home of baby Butler/Parent currently looks like:

I know – yikes.

We put these shelves up thinking that would solve the storage problem.

Not exactly.

Where the hell did all this stuff come from?

I like to think I’m pretty good at weeding stuff out, tossing things – i.e., not being a hoarder (moving every few years certainly helps), but I’m at a loss for what to do with all this.  It’s a combination of not having a studio space at home (well, this was, uh, supposed to be it), so we have cameras, slide projectors, sketch books and related art paraphernalia, mixed with a former career in the auction biz (that might become relevant again – more on that later), meaning auction catalogues and reference books out the ying yang, and topped off with all Sam’s former music college recording stuff, current music making stuff, and now including everything for the studious accounting student.  Phew.   Oh, and we discovered everything in the basement gets mouldy so some stuff had to be relocated up here.

I guess it was obvious from this list that 2 measly shelves wasn’t going to cut it.

And now we have to fit baby in here too, and of course I want it to look super sexy. Well, ok, not sexy, like I want a sexy baby (weird), but I want a great looking space.  Actually, at this point I would settle for one that wasn’t a crap-tastic dumping ground and could make way for, I don’t know – a dresser, maybe a crib.  Obviously a change table would be asking too much.

Unfortunately, baby furniture appears to be a minefield of pure awfulness.  Check out this little gem that popped up when I innocently put the word ‘crib’ into Amazon:

Wow.  And only $7,932.50.

But apart from decor/taste issues, the simple issue of size is something I can’t get my head around.  How can something so small need so much stuff?  And why is it all so huge?  Someone on-line (can’t find where I read this unfortunately) lamented the fact that many children’s cribs are the size of a small hatchback.  Too true.  And we don’t have room to park a bike in there, never mind a vehicle-sized bed for a tiny infant (well, I’m hoping tiny, otherwise I’ll be rethinking this whole ‘natural childbirth’ idea).

We have a maximum of 57 x 45 in. for crib, change table and some kind of storage.  Yep, it’s a challenge.  I also have to accommodate my family who will be coming over for the birth and still have room for Sam to study as he’ll be heading into final exams – just after the baby is born.  Convenient.

So, here’s a few thoughts I have:

1. I’m actually considering an Ikea loft bed with a desk underneath.  Bed for mom, plus office area for Sam:

Obviously the ladder isn’t ideal for your average grandma to be, but my mom isn’t your average grandmother (she was a PE teacher – nuff said).

Ok, so the bed combo aint sexy, but it might work.  Never mind Ikea is an 18 hour drive away and they don’t seem to deliver this particular bed…it’s the idea we’re working with here people…

2. I have discovered there is such a thing as a ‘mini crib’.  Horray!  Here’s one:

This is by Bloom.  I love that it has wheels and is only 19.2 x 37 x 33 inches.

3. I’m on the search for a wall mounted change table that doesn’t look like I’m in a public washroom at Walmart.  It’s proving near impossible.  There’s this one by Bo Design,

but there’s something weird about it, like it’s a plywood toilet seat.  And it’s $750.

Not gonna lie – I have no idea how this is all going to pan out, but I do have another 3 months.  Surely we can pull it together by then?

Ideas welcome…

slow progress, but some progress…

So, we’re still here, though the renovating has slowed to fits and bursts – largely dependent on a) if anyone is coming to visit and b) if something just drives us crazy enough so we finally fix it.  I’m becoming surprisingly tolerant though.

Actually being back in school (or college for you guys in the UK – they think ‘school’ is for kids) is taking over all my spare time, and I actually want it that way.  When the view from your studio looks like this:

is it any wonder you want to spend all your time there?

When the baby comes I’m going to be stuck with the house (and in it I guess), but I only have less than 2 months (2 months!!!) to finish my fine art degree.  It feels like a race against time to empty everything creative in my head into amazing art projects before Christmas while I still have the chance.  I’ve actually had profs say ‘you won’t make any art once the baby comes’ and similar scary prophecies on a ‘children will ruin your life plans (oh, but they’re great too)’ theme and it’s stressing the beejezus out of me.

The fact that most of our light fixtures are mere dangling wires no longer seems to concern me (well, not as much).

The house is basically functional, though we still have no shower (all baths, all the time – it’s like living in England again), and until a week or so ago we had no heat.  Or, more accurately, we either had full blast heat, or none at all (which explains our crippling heating bills last year thanks to our last tenant obviously thinking extreme heat 24/7 was perfectly normal).   Turns out, the thermostat was actually connected to – nothing.

Crazy.  Nothing as pedestrian as actual wires, just stuck there like an ornamental relic.  For show, I guess.  Though nothing much surprises me about this house anymore.

So that was more money (as we are, as I might have mentioned, electrically challenged), though I’m trying not to think about it.  Finances are dire, and the only job I’ve been able to find is one hour a day at minimum wage in the Craft and Design office at the University.  So I might be able to spring for a new pair of socks to at least keep my feet warm.

But doom and gloom and dashed dreams of art careers aside…let’s see some before and after pics of the living room:

Yes, that would be the entire record collection piled precariously in the corner.  We’ve bought some shelves, now we just need to actually put them up.

Oh, and the wicker chair (scammed for free, left out in the rain, and not exactly ideal but nevermind) now replaces the matching green chair some of you might remember when we were downstairs.  Unfortunately, the crack it always had in the leg finally gave out and it’s been regulated to the nursery/office (which, frankly, is just a fancy name for ‘room of crap where Sam tries to study’).  The sofa is also making suspicious and very worrying creaking noises so we finally broke down and bought a new sofa this summer, which will arrive in about a year – or so it seems.  We were told 6 weeks, put down our (non-refundable) deposit, and then were called the next day and told it was actually going to be 16 weeks.  Nice.  So I keep forgetting we bought it at all.  I’ll update you all around Christmas time.

Yes, that is the door to the room we took off still propped in between the windows.  We can’t seem to agree whether or not to put it back on or not, so it sits there in limbo.  And that isn’t a sculpture in the corner on top of the speaker, it’s actually a lamp (made by my great aunt in England and shipped over with us) – just with no wiring and no lampshade.  Add it to the list…

Finally, of course, let’s not forget the hole:

It might not be the most professional job in the world, but hey, at least I don’t have a hole in my ceiling anymore.  One day (!) we might take down the entire dropped ceiling in this room and repair the original ceiling, but that, my friends, is somewhere near the very bottom of a very large list.

Oh yes, and we will put a light fixture here eventually.

Back to the studio…

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