Saturday, February 18, 2012

Renting in a Buyers Market

I apologize for my rather length absence, I do have a good excuse though!  We have been consumed with searching for the perfect home to move to, and it proved to be quite a difficult task.  You see I live in a city where it's very uncommon for families to rent, there is an obsession here with being a home owner.  In fact you are rather looked down on as a second class citizen in these parts.  Saying you're a renter, is almost like muttering a dirty word under your breath.

Our local newspaper actually wrote an article about it a couple of weeks back:
Calgary renters rebelling against the 'cult of home ownership'

We knew all of this going into the rental search, but what we didn't realize is what it would mean to us in our home search.  What it translated to from landlords was an awful amount of suspicion about why we wanted to rent.  Some rental applications made me feel like a criminal, wanting credit checks, reports, pay stubs, work references, personal references, credit card numbers WITH expiry dates.... I was surprised they didn't ask for a blood sample and blood testing by the end of it all.

We looked at many houses:  some were too big (who wants to clean and heat 2200 square feet?), some didn't have any storage space, some were on busy roads, some had no amenities in the area and would require a car to go anywhere.  We learned after moving to our current home that in the end the house is not the most important thing, the location of the house is what matters.

So what did we decide on?  In the end we went for a small house with great storage, on a quiet street, with a peaceful backyard with a fenced in vegetable garden and mature lilac bushes.  We can walk to the local rec centre and are just around the corner from the local school.  The landlords are a nice older couple who just retired and are moving to Washington to live with their daughter and her family.

This is our little beauty (only 1060 square feet!)

We take possession in less than four weeks, so if I'm not very consistent on blogging you'll have to forgive me.  I will definitely keep you posted on our moving, downsizing, and simplifying journey.  Each step we take that brings us closer to moving is a huge weight off my shoulders.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Goal Update

We are starting to come out of the fog of almost 2 weeks of sickness, and boy am I glad!  I've managed to accomplish some of the goals I set out, and am trying to get back on track to finish up what still needs to be done and plan for the next week.

So how did my no-spend week go?  Well it ended up being not quite a no-spend week.  I caved and bought some clothes for Brighton on e-bay.  I did feel some guilt about the purchase, but honestly it was a decent deal at $75 shipped for a Hanna Andersson quilted baby jacket, dress with diaper cover, shirt, pants, hat, and hair bows.  Actually it included another jacket as well, but the seller relisted it and will give me some money back on the sale.  Not bad - now other than shoes and a couple of summer hats I can definitely say Brighton is set for clothing for the spring and summer.  Other than that slip up, the rest of the week went okay.  I washed both of our vehicles ($12), and did take the kids to McDonald's ($10).  But overall it was pretty good considering all of my spending was another $100.

Sell $50 worth of "stuff".  As of today, I'm up to $75 for the month of February.  I want to keep a running tally and see how much we can raise!  Last month we sold approximately $225 worth of stuff.  I'm loving it!  I also have a van full of donations to drop off.

Declutter living room, bedroom, and baking shelf in garage. Not done yet.  I have a few more things to clear out of the living room, the bedroom I only accomplished my side table (which is now nearly completely empty), and I will finish the baking shelf today and post a picture.

I'm going to hold off of posting any more specific goals for the rest of this week, and give myself some breathing room to clear out some of the things I need to sell and finish up the decluttering projects I've already started.

I did it!  I finished the baking shelf today, and I managed to purge more than I anticipated.

Here's the before:

And the after... much better!

I purged a huge bag of plastic cups we bought for my son's first birthday party (he turns 6 in June!), a cast iron frying pan, an extra loaf pan, extra muffin pan, plastic party trays, chocolate fondue pot, metal pie dish, glass punch bowl, and a few other little odds and ends.  I'm feeling quite accomplished now!

I still need to tackle this mess though:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Simple Pleasures

I have been dealing with sick children for over a week now, and am starting to feel a bit care worn.  It's always humbling to be the caregiver, to know that someone is relying on you completely to meet their needs and ease their pain.  It's not a time where you can put yourself first or worry about your own needs and wants.  It's exhausting and rewarding all at the same time.  And it makes you appreciate those little steps that we all take to keep our own sanity in tact.

I really, really love silence.  I don't think I quite appreciated  how much I love silence until I had three very loud children come into my life.  Now I relish in it.  I love nothing more than to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea by the fire.  It's restorative.

Which is why I have gotten into the habit of waking up at 4:30am, so that I can shower, and sit quietly with a cup of coffee before the hectic pulse of the day begins.  Right now everything is still, everything is quiet.  It's just me, the cats, and a cup of coffee.  Bliss!

(until you hear the footsteps of a four year old coming down the stairs... apparently it is time for the day to begin)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Being Honest

Courtney Carver wrote a brilliant yesterday on asking the soul shaking question.  I love blog posts that make me stop and give pause to the bigger picture.  Asking ourselves "Why?" is sometimes the hardest question imaginable.

The question I asked myself was, "Why do I have all these great intentions, but consistently fall short?".  The answer - excuses and inconvenience.  There was a great quote at the very beginning of the documentary Fresh, "Americans fear only one thing: inconvenience."  Powerful and true.  I could easily make my own bread, I have the knowledge, the skill, and the tools to do so, but it is far easier to pick up a loaf at the grocery store.  I could line dry my clothes, but it involves being more organized so that I'm not trying to catch up on 10 loads of laundry in a single day.  I could avoid buying new, but it would involve not always having exactly what I want, when I want it.

I like to think I'm not the same as every other mindless consumer out there, but the fact is, intentions matter for nothing.  Action is what matters.  On a consistent, daily basis I need to give pause to my actions, consider how they reflect my beliefs and intentions, and decide whether I am making the correct choice.  It means calming the impulses, being more patient, and living intentionally.  Not an easy thing to do.  But if we want to change the outcome, we have to change our patterns.  You can't expect to lose weight if you continue to eat the same as you always have, and you can't expect to change your financial picture if you spend the same as you always have.

I am going to spend some time in reflection today and come up with a personal mission statement for myself.  Something that I can reflect on daily, put in my wallet, put on my computer monitor, something that forces me to pause and consider my actions.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Random thoughts...

Still dealing with sick kids and lack of sleep, so welcome to a little piece of what's been running through my head...

- I love the content on The Everyday Minimalist, but it drives me completely crazy that the site itself is anything but minimalist.  It hurts my head to look at it

- I wonder if it truly is possible for your head to explode by listening to the non-stop chatter of a five-year old

- My son is apparently a thief and has been swiping Lego from the kindergarten classroom.... must figure out a way to make him really the zillion pieces of Lego he has is already a ridiculous amount, he does not need to steal to obtain yet more of it.

- I have crossed the line from loving coffee to needing coffee.  I'm committed to not doing a grocery shop this week, which means I am rationing coffee, and I'm cranky.

- My fuzzy bright pink marshmallow robe my mother in law bought me for Christmas is quite possibly the ugliest thing I own, but it's too comfy for me to care.

- I've decided one can truly never own too many Mason jars.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Stain fighting power!

I wish I had a more exciting post for you today, but I've been dealing with a sick child and a husband out of town.... saying that I've been "scatter brained" is putting it mildly.

I do want to share this AMAZING stain remover with you all!  I found the recipe on Pinterest, and it is truly incredible.  My kids have this habit of covering themselves in tomato sauce and orange juice.... and I have a habit of ignoring stains until I get around to doing laundry.  This results in pesky stains I can't get out, and I cannot bring myself to let my kids wear stained clothing, it nags at me every time I look at them.

This is a super frugal recipe and you probably already have the items on hand.
1 part Dawn (I use the regular old green Dawn liquid)
2 parts Hydrogen Peroxide
and if you feel like you need some scrubbing power, a sprinkling of baking soda

Mix all these up, pour it on the stains, rub them in a bit, and let sit for a few minutes (I wouldn't leave it on too long as the hydrogen peroxide may discolour your clothing).  Then throw everything in the washer and be amazed when it comes out CLEAN!

I have used this on a multitude of colours from light to dark.  And I've even used it on set in stains that have been washed and dried.

If you give it a shot let me know how you like it!

I wish I was more organized and had before and after pics for you, but yeah, that's not happening today.