I love Kijiji

Check out these beautiful chairs I just found on Kijiji for a steal of a deal:

Now check out how great they look in our dining room:

And to think, I almost didn't buy them because they didn't match anything in the room. I beg to differ with myself.


Now where did I put that book??

By: Melanie

Remember me? Well, I'm back. We survived the moves - from Brooklyn to Toronto and from Toronto to Ottawa - and have been settling in to our new home for the last six weeks or so. We've done a pretty good job of getting unpacked and set up, which is much easier when moving from a small-ish 1 1/2 bedroom apartment to a 3 bedroom house with a basement than the other way around, but I'm starting to hit the wall. 

There is still furniture to be purchased, window coverings, photos to be enlarged, framed and hung, a clothesline to be installed, and a myriad of other things that crop up every day. And with a toddler running around infiltrating my every thought with her exuberant questioning and lists of demands, it is becoming more and more difficult to move forward. 

Every time I decide that's it, I'm driving to IKEA and I'm not leaving until everything I need is in my cart, I realize that I have no idea what I'm going for. I also realize that I'm not sure IKEA will do it for me this time. I've been relying on everyone's favourite Swedish Solution for years now, and although I still appreciate their anything-you-could-possibly-be-looking-for-under-one-roof-at-pretty-incomparable-prices (uh, except for bedskirts, it would seem), I'm just a little tired of the generic-ness of it all. I'm feeling the need for a little more personality. Which is another great reason to scour Kijiji, except that requires massive amounts of free, uninterrupted browsing time. Nonexistant in this household, unless I pick up insomnia as my newest hobby.

But, it must get done. I had a deadline of being completely unpacked by July 1st, which we essentially met. When I say essentially, I mean that boxes continue to trickle in from Toronto that we get to as they arrive, and there are boxes of books and things that cannot be unpacked until the furniture that will house them is purchased. But, other than that, we're unpacked.

Now I'm giving myself a new deadline. By September 1st, I want the house to be fully set up. Curtains, bookshelves, a proper guest room/home office - heck, even landscaping. Although I'm using that term loosely. That gives me 5 1/2 weeks, and if I can't do it by then...well...I won't even have to worry about that, will I? Now I'm off to hunt down that little green book and get back on track!


Wanted: Used, preferably not abused, but nonetheless well-loved stuff

By: Melanie

I love brand new shiny things. But I also love almost brand new sorta shiny things, especially when they're a great deal. Plus, I love the feeling of giving a perfectly good piece of furniture or item of clothing another kick at avoiding the can by shopping at stoop sales or on websites like Craigslist or Kijiji.

Of course, the downside to this kind of thing is the guesswork and risk involved. Is the seller being honest about the condition of the item? Is there some kind of flaw with the item that is leading the seller to sell, that I will discover after the deal has been done? Will I be kidnapped and tortured by the seller? I tend to go to the worst case scenario with this stuff. At any rate, as with buying used anything, there is always an element of the unknown.

Mind you, I have bought brand spanking new rainboots that cracked within a couple of months, and hot-off-the-slats IKEA furniture that splintered upon assembly. New is not necessarily better. These days, new doesn't even guarantee a grade of Satisfactory.

So it turns out that either way it's a gamble. And I figure, why not give something not-so-new a try? It's cheaper, it's creating less waste, and you'll be doing someone else a favour as well as yourself. Win-win-win. Plus, when it falls apart you'll be much less devastated than if you had paid full price for the piece of crap.

Besides, I'm turning 35 this year and I'm starting to see imperfection in a new light. Age is beauty, lines show character, and scuffs and stains are the mark of an item that is well loved.


To DIY, or not to DIY?

By: Melanie

When one is furnishing and decorating a new home under strict financial constraints, the question of the Do It Yourself project inevitably comes up. My husband and I are not DIY-ers. We don't do it ourselves. We buy it. I personally love the idea of DIY, but I also love the idea of running a marathon, being a ballerina and living in the south of Spain. You see where I'm going with this.

Recently I've been perusing an assortment of home decor magazines and I've come to a few rather stark conclusions:

#1. I have expensive taste.
#2. I have wildly opposing ideas about how I want my house to look.
#3. I do not possess the talent and skill of an interior designer.

In light of these discouraging findings, I have begun to revisit the idea of DIY. If I can find a few fairly easy and convincingly not-cheesy looking projects in these magazines, it might just be worth my while to undertake one or two in an effort to save myself from a) applying for another department store credit card and/or b) sinking into a deep depression, surrounded by cardboard furniture.

So far, I've found an article about making an upholstered headboard out of a tartan blanket. I'm not a big fan of the tartan, but I like the idea of a plush corduroy or maybe a bright floral, if the rest of the room is fairly neutral. Too ambitious? I have also been tossing around the idea of fuzzy zebra print cushions to liven up our black and white dining room chairs. The fact is that there is no shortage of ways to cut corners and save a few bucks, but will I be happy with the results, or will I just glare angrily at my crappy creations and end up spending more by paying for both the project and the retail replacement of said project?

Any DIY success and/or horror stories out there to help nudge me in one direction or another?


Rational Budgetization

By: Melanie

I realize that this blog has recently become more about money matters than organizing, but I promise you that once we move into our new house in June I will get right back on track with the little green book. For now though, all I can do is daydream and think about things I can't afford. So you're going to have to bear with me for the next three weeks as I rant and ramble about spending, or not spending, the money I don't have. Let's start with spending, shall we?

Yes, yes, we're not supposed to be shopping right now. But here's the way I see it. We need new luggage. In the last four years we've gone through approximately 10 suitcases. That's a lot of suitcases. Not surprisingly, the only ones left standing belong to the set that my parents gave me in high school before my very first international adventure. Everything since then hasn't made it past the 2 year mark. Between shotty craftmanship and violent baggage handlers, none of the last 10 even stood a chance. 

Now it's true that we can make do with the handle-less, dented and torn fragments that remain. Sure, it's not the end of the world. But the fact remains that at some point we will require new, better luggage. And while it's something that we could put on the back burner until a few more important household items have been purchased, I strongly believe in taking advantage of limited windows of retail opportunity. While leafing through the paper earlier this week, my mother-in-law noticed that The Bay was having a one-day, 75%-off sale on luggage. 75%. In my opinion, it would be terribly unwise to pass this up, only to end up saving a paltry 40-50% or *gasp* paying full price later on. I mean, sales come and go, but 75%??! 

We bought beautiful Samsonite suitcases and carry-ons that were regularly priced at $360 and $300, respectively. Total regular price without tax = $1320.00. Ouch.

What we paid including tax = $335.21. Yes.

What if I tell you that I also fell for the oldest trick in the book and signed up for a credit card to get an extra 10% off? You might lose all respect for me, but I can live with that with an extra $132 in my pocket. And a 1-800 number to cancel the card next month.

Now, what to do with our brand new luggage?


The List

By: Melanie

As I mentioned in my last post, my husband and I are putting ourselves on a crash financial diet. No. More. Spending. When you're moving into a new home in a new city, that's a tall order. For a lot of people a new space is carte blanche to buy all new furniture, a new city offers the perfect excuse to embark on a credit card-bruising tour of the best restaurants in the area, and heck, the stress alone can account for all manner of regrettable impulse purchases. Not us. We're no strangers to being strangers. We've had more new spaces in the last four years than I hope to have ever again. We don't need to fall into that trap, we can do things differently. For once.

What follows is a list of things that we want, but that we will only purchase once we have saved up enough cash to do so. Please feel free to check up on us regularly to see if we're staying strong, or if we've buckled under the pressure of the I WANT IT ALL RIGHT NOW philosophy. And please, wish us luck.

A couch. We don't have any seating of any kind for a living room, so this will be one of our first purchases.

A BBQ. This will be tough, as we're moving in the heart of bbq season, but I really think we should get a couch first, no?

A guest bed. For now we have an inflatable queen sized air mattress, which is better than the floor.

A new bed. We've never purchased a new bed. It's time. Once we have a couch and a bbq, although it might beat out the guest bed.

Bed frame and night stands. The old mattress-on-the-floor combined with water-on-the-floor-to-be-inevitably-knocked-over phase has run its course.

Patio furniture. We'll probably get through this summer with two camping chairs and a donated lounge chair. It's a good thing the winters in Ottawa are long.

Outdoor playset. We're really hoping that the novelty of just having a backyard will keep the little one occupied for a few months before she realizes that it would be much cooler with her very own swing/monkey bars/treehouse.

TV. If only our unused TV had made it into the U-Haul, but space issues excluded it from the trip. And though our consciences are in no rush to flood our daughter with hours of brain-numbing garbage, it sure would be nice to watch a football game or a movie now and then.

These are the major items we're pining for at the moment. Rest assured that the list will grow longer as time goes on, and the order may change with our priorities. But now you have a basic idea of what to look for when you come to visit and demand to scan our credit card bills.