Our baby is here!

Baby OurTorontoLife

Little D made his way into the world on December 11th!

Things are settling down at home, and it is a huge help to have my mom from Vancouver here with us.

So far, the little guy is finally sleeping ok, eating well, pooping the stinky diapers, and loving his YouTube playlist including Baby Beluga and Elmo’s song.


The Office Makeover

The office used to be the previous owner’s nursery. It was gross with the two-toned paint and giant wall stickers.

Plus, it was dark and the corner closet fit a max of 5 jackets.

Cy carefully knocked a few things down: the corner closet and a wall. Add a glass wall, new baseboard trims, paint, custom light fixture, accessories and furniture and we had a modern/vintage office.Before and After Office Makeover DIY OurTorontoLifeHere are the pieces that make up the office:HomeSense Shelves Vintage OurTorontoLife
Filigree shelving and fake plants that I don’t have to water from my favourite and affordable decor retailer, HomeSense. Go there for unique pieces, and they change up the selection often. The little tile with the yellow tram is from Cy and I’s trip to Lisbon.Lighting Rustic Wood Easy DIY OurTorontoLife
One wood plank and two IKEA pendant lanterns made up this floating light fixture. All Cy did was split the electrical and built a frame on the ceiling to mount and support the weight of it.Painting Light Rug Reno Office OurTorontoLifeFrom top-bottom, left-right: My fall cottage painting (just kidding, it’s from HomeSense). Cy’s floor light and black Yahama SBG 1500 and a “rug.” It’s not actually a rug, but a faux fur from Fabricland to add texture and shape to the office.

Other pieces included:

  • IKEA desks x 2
  • Vintage tulip chair with chrome base from Kijiji
  • Crate & Barrel molded wood chair
  • EQ3 lounge chair from Kijiji

The idea was to source creatively and keep all pieces affordable – except the glass wall. The glass wall/door and install was 2/3rds of the budget. But, it’s worth it for all the light it brings into the house on the 2nd floor and down the stairs!

Total cost: 1/3rd of what a contractor would have charged.It helps to have Cy act as drywaller, framer, electrician, floor installer, and painter (and I helped a bit too).

How to Make a Turducken

Happy Thanksgiving How to Make a Turducken Recipe OurTorontoLife

Cy and I have a secret handshake when we celebrate small and big things. After we pulled off this turducken, we must have done this handshake like 100 times. I mean, we had to pull this off. We didn’t want to disappoint ourselves and the friends that we promised to feed.

So, this is how we did it!

Buy all of these necessary ingredients: Whole turkey, whole chicken and duck breast. Meatballs are optional.

Buy or make your favourite stuffing.

1) Preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit.

2) Debone the chicken – yes, the chicken first before the turkey! You can “practice” on the chicken, and it doesn’t matter if it looks “bad” since it goes in the turkey. Use a sharp knife – we didn’t have a filleting knife, so Cy used both a Chef’s knife and utility knife.

Cyrus Turducken OurTorontoLife

3) Debone the turkey.  If you are using a frozen turkey, make sure that it is completely defrosted!

4) Remove the duck skin from the duck breast.

5) Brine all the meats overnight. Use 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of brown sugar dissolved in 1 gallon of water.

Turducken Turkey Chicken Duck OurTorontoLife

6) Remove meats from the brine, and start the meat layering! Open the turkey breasts, and place stuffing inside. Then, layer the chicken, and duck on top.

7) Sew up the turducken. We MacGyvered it, and used the twine we had at home. Once sewn up, we stuffed it with meatballs to “fill it up”. Tie the turducken so it holds it’s shape – across it’s “waist” and from “head” to “butt.”

8) Season the turducken however you want. We used a mixture of rosemary, garlic powder, basil, freshly ground salt and pepper. Plus, we added garlic slivers in the skin.

9) Slather the turducken with melted butter, and cover it in foil. Throw it in the oven, and baste every 30 minutes.

10) Remove the foil with 1 hour left to brown it! 25-30 mins/lb of turducken.

How to Make a Turducken Layers Turducken OurTorontoLife

Slice, and serve! And, secret handshakes.

*Happy Thanksgiving to everyone*

First and last picture by Susan – thank you for being our star photographer!

I went back home

@judyelee vancouver ourtorontolife

I’m sorry if I didn’t let everyone know, but I was in Vancouver for a one-day work event. The Art of Leadership was held last Thursday, and my coworker/friend A ballz and I were there to take it in. One highlight was watching Susan Cain who first crossed my YouTube screen first in a Ted talk on the power of introverts.

Another highlight was just being home. My entire family lives in Vancouver, and it’s almost a treat to go back due to limited vacation time and the ridiculous airline fees to/from Toronto. This past trip, I went on my own while Cy stayed in Toronto. I spent time with my family and in laws, and even caught some very quick bites with some very close friends.

While I was home, it was comfortable yet strange at the same time. I was surrounded by a once familiar life that I left behind nearly 3 years ago. Meals that my mom would make, the interactions with my family, the smell and taste of her cooking, old clothing from my university days, the neighbourhood that I’ve known so well that proudly boasts one of my favourite bakeries in the city…and more.

Even with all of these things, I was missing something and someone – my home that I made with Cy. It makes me think, what does home really mean to me now?

Tearing Up The House with My Husband

Cyrus Home Renovation Toronto Semi Glass WallGoodbye, wall! Oops, that wasn’t part of the original plan. Let’s start from the beginning.

After finishing up our upstairs bathroom, we can say that we have the reno itch. Let’s do this, this and that! There are plans for the basement, backyard and now, the office (formerly known as the guest bedroom).

Go up the stairs, and the room on the right is the office. It needed at the very least, a fresh coat of paint, and new electrical outlets where they no longer exposed and at floor level. On top of that, Cy envisioned new baseboards, and demolishing the corner closet (see the Solid Works floor plan). Then, I had an AH-HA moment! Let’s knock down the wall.

Imagine this. Floor-to-ceiling glass to create the look of uninterrupted space. Functionally, it will let in the bright sunshine for natural indoor light. The office will have almost a look of a loft while being enclosed, and a curtain could easily be installed to provide some privacy.

Part of our inspiration came from pictures, and our Pinterest accounts (Cy’s Pinterest; Judy’s Pinterest) are blowing up with our dreams of building something modern in our character home.


Right now, as I type out this blog post, Cy is hammering his heart out to finish the  framing of the “window.” After that step, we have far more ahead of us. It turns out, that this “small project” with a few steps turned into a big project with many steps.

With Cy doing most of the hard work, I’m left to assist and do the rest of the house work. So, I have to say that team work is the biggest key to DIY renovations. It starts by understanding each other’s strengths (Cy is handy, detail guy; whereas, I am the design and big picture gal), and leveraging them as far as you can – divide and conquer! What are some other tips?

  • Communicate all dreamy ideas and make sure that all decisions are made together.
  • Agree on a budget that you are both comfortable with.
  • Take breaks, and reward yourself with froyo or something special because you deserve it.
  • Remember, the reno will be worth it – and in the meantime, exercise a whole bunch of patience, keep an optimistic attitude, and have fun with it!

Soon, we’ll show you our AFTER pictures where we will start the post off with “hello, glass wall!”

Goodbye Our Cat: A Few Words About Yuly

Goodbye Our Cat-OurTorontoLife.comThis morning on March 16th, there were sprinkles of snow coming down from the sky. We woke up with our cat Yuly, and took her to her vet appointment at Leaside Animal Clinic. It wasn’t her first time there because she suffered from a poor kidney, infection, and possibly cancer-  and today it was her last time there.

Our beloved cat Yuly passed away at 17-18 years old as we held her.

I started to cry. For the first time, I saw tears in Cy’s eyes too.

The Beginnings
Yuly came to me when I volunteered for the Forgotten Felines shelter in Vancouver about 10 years ago. Her previous owner abused her, declawed her, and scarred her. Plastic bags, loud noises, strangers and the brush would scare her – she didn’t like to be picked up or cuddled. Eventually, we slowly grew to trust each other. She even started following me (and my family) around, and couldn’t stand being alone.

Life with Cyrus
Yuly moved in with Cyrus when I moved to Toronto. At that time, Cyrus had only visited her a few times, and they just didn’t know each other very well. They bonded over Canucks games, weekend reading, and napping on the floor. Imagine how shocked I was when Yuly started resting her face on his hand, and eventually resting her hands on his lap! A cuddly cat was starting to emerge.

One of Yuly's Cutest Pictures-OurTorontoLife.com

Trying Times and More Cuddles in Toronto
Together, all of us moved into a basement apartment, and then into our new house. Around this time, Yuly started to to have some health issues. But, she always had her feisty and persistent personality that both amused and annoyed us at times. Her diet changed from dry food to wet food, and she started to cry a lot to be pet and for more food (at times, she would knock on the door in the middle of the night – up to 2 times, for food). Even in trying times, she kept us company, warm, and happy.

The past 4 days
She stopped eating, and she couldn’t even hold herself steady when we gave her gentle pets on the head. Her usually loud motor of a purr was gone, and it was a coo-ing noise that we’ve never heard before. Our hearts broke when she jumped from her little red bed, and fell on her side. That has never happened before – she was so weak. These past few days, she slept on Cyrus’ stomach through the night.

Now, she is gone. Today is a very sad day for us. I am still crying, and she isn’t here to greet us at the door, cuddle while we watch movies, or join us on the patio as we eat our breakfast.

In a few days, she will come back to us in a cedar box (she loves the smell) with a purple paw print (colour of royalty). We talked about spreading her ashes in the backyard where she loved to explore and eat the grass even when it made her throw up.

We miss you already, Yuly (aka Yuly Bear, Beario, Bear Bear, Fuzzy, Siu Hong Hong etc). We will love you forever.

Our Family Portrait Yuly Cat-OurTorontoLife.com.jpg

RIP, and goodbye, our family cat.


Our Year in Review

Everyone says that a year’s time passes by so fast. I’d have to halfheartedly agree because looking back there were as many things we’ve done as there were things we wanted to get done. Here are some of the highlights that Cy and I enjoyed together in our first year of marriage.

FEB We moved into our house at the beginning of the year. This is the house that we’d like to grow older in. Right away, we decided that the upstairs bathroom renovation was a priority. There was no need to live with avocado paint, lack of storage and horrible lighting for much longer. We spent weekends and weekday nights sourcing materials and then doing the grunt work to piece together the bathroom. After a few months, it was done! If we were to impart any wisdom, it would be to be patient and be creative in your problem-solving. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have an enthusiastic engineer with skills in project management, electrical, plumbing, tiling, and painting (hey, I helped too!)

DIY Bathroom Reno - OurTorontoLife.com

FEB to DEC New beginnings for our family and friends with weddings: Phyllis & Bryan; Telisha & Greg; Cindy & Cory; and, Middy & Ian (see picture below – I was a bridesmaid and piano player; while, Cy was the guitar player). There were even some little ones that entered the world: Darien, Thea, Noah, Maddy, and Ava.

Godzilla Exxpos - OurTorontoLife.com

SEPT We celebrated our one-year anniversary in the charming Niagara on the Lake area. During our weekend trip, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sip some wonderful wines. One of wineries that caught our attention was Caroline Cellars Winery. There were no fees for sampling! And, there was the plum wine. Refreshing, sweet and of course fruity. Then, there was there was the story behind the plum wine. The farm nearby had an overabundance of plums that couldn’t be shipped out due to the poor weather. From this problem, the farmer and the winery came together to produce a wine. Since then, the plum wine has a been a popular seller.

Besides sipping wine, we also biked and bumbled around the “downtown” area.

JuCy in Niagara On The Lake - OurTorontLife.com Edit.jpg

SEPT We cottage’d with friends in Haliburton for the very first time. While the weather was poor (rain, rain, and more rain!), we made the most of it with hikes, water sports, Kawartha Maple Walnut ice cream, board games and of course Lion King sing-along songs . It’s true what they say about keeping good company – keep it and treasure it.

Cottage Glamour Shot - OurTorontoLife,com

MAY to OCT We joined new sports teams including the Exxxpos for softball, and Godzilla for ultimate frisbee. While Cy is a natural athlete, I’m simply not. What I lack in athletic prowess, I make up for it in my competitiveness and team spirit. I love it when team mates share the same approach to the game – and, we lucked out with friendly, helpful and team-minded individuals.

Godzilla Exxpos - OurTorontoLife.com

It’s nice to look back at the past year. A lot of our highlights couldn’t even be described because there were so many small yet simple things that we love. Sharing time with old and new friends. Dancing in the middle of the night at home. Singing at the top of our lungs to Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold”. Stuff like that.

In 2013, it’s nice to visualize and plan our future ahead. And of course, we’ll blog all about it.

Let’s rock and roll.

Cyrus Built Our House (in SolidWorks)

Cyrus Built Our House (in SolidWorks)

Look what Cyrus did. He built a 3-D model of the house that we bought. We are moving in next month! Excited.