For the Love of BLOGGING


I have just had one of those weeks where Mr Murphy (of the insidious Murphy's Law) set himself up in my life, made himself comfortable, and refused to leave.  What could go wrong went wrong.  It was a bumpy Back to School, a lot of which was probably me missing my old network of moms, and the rest being the Calgary bussing system!  I also dug into switching my blog over to wordpress, which I have been putting off doing.  However, this Saturday is BlogPodium, Canada's only design and lifestyle blogger conference, so I wanted to be able to have my new site all ready.

BlogPodium

Well, as you can imagine, this has not been a simple process.  Those of you that follow me on Twitter were bombarded with every post I have ever posted as I imported them from Blogger not once, but twice (so sorry about that!).  I had everything in a place I was feeling pretty good about, until I made a coding snafu that essentially deleted the URL wickedandweird.com from the internet altogether.

AAAAAHHHH!!!!

With some help from the nice folks at BlueHost, I got it back, but minus all the changes I had spent the week doing.  Sigh.  At least doing them the second time is a bit faster, but I don't think I'll be doing much else this week.

That and trying to organize my itinerary for the week I am in Toronto to see all my friends is driving me nuts and making me feel blue.  There just isn't time to see everyone I love in such a short time!

Toronto Skyline by Aeryn Lynne

My impending visit back to where I didn't want to leave has me feeling pretty conflicted too - I am nervous about my reaction, how I'll feel to be wandering around a city that isn't mine anymore.  But I am so excited to see the friends I thought I wouldn't get to see for long while - it is going to be a fun, fabulous whirlwind of a week.  I am sure I will come back inspired with all kinds of ideas for my blog and for making this new place my own.  After all, I have everything I need: my boys (all three of them).  Everything else is just icing on the cake. :)


Return of the Blogger


Hi all!  I hope you had a wonderful summer - not that it is completely over.  I had an amazing time in New Brunswick as usual and took a break from everything - including blogging.  But I am back re-energized and pumped and ready to get started on this place.

And oh, the projects we'll do!

To be honest, it is a little overwhelming.  Every room I am in, I look around thinking about how much there is to do.  Everything is unpacked and furniture is mostly set, but now I have to make the big decisions, ugh.  I don't really want to paint anything because they did such an incredible job, but some of the colours are just not me.

And I can't decide where to put which art.

And I want new art.

And new furniture.

And new rugs, lights, linens, shelves - you name it.

And my husband thinks everything is perfect just the way it is. Sigh.

The one decision I finally made was on the counter stools for the kitchen.  At first, we weren't going to get stools, and got some low bookcases to put under the overhang.  But they just didn't work for me, so I brought them up to the playroom (where they fit perfectly - hooray!) and started on the long road of deliberations.  Money being a definite hindrance (getting the stool of my dreams would have an easy decision!) I brought home several options before deciding on these bad boys from Bouclair.

 Holy awful colour - usually my iPhone is great but these are terrible... oh well.

These were the previous contenders (more bad pics):

Cheapies from Target - I think they were $20.  You could tell.
They would work maybe for a kids' playroom, but they didn't match the calibre of the kitchen.

Another contender from Bouclair - who knew they had so many stools?
These were just ok, and they had a bigger footprint.  And they were too white.

Anyway, big thanks to my Instagram friends for helping me out with that decision!

The glass cabinet kind of crowds them on the side... I would like to put some walnut floating shelves there instead... I think... there is really nowhere for display in this place.


All that being said, I love, love, love this house.  I think all these projects are more difficult for me to act on cause I don't want to mess it up!  The paint is perfect, I don't want to ruin it, but I don't love the colour.  There is nowhere to display my pottery and tchotchkes, but I don't want to work against the minimalism of the house.  I know that we bought it, I have to live here, etc. but it feels like a complete self-contained work of art, and anything I do to it will be something that future owners will be wailing about as they try to restore the aesthetic of the house, like people who live in Craftsman houses, or something.

Gosh, I really depend too much on external approval, don't I?  Why am I worrying about future owners of the house?  Or design snobs who will shudder at my every post?  Where do I get these wacky ideas??  Sometimes you just need to write something down to see how stupid it is.  And then post it for the everyone to read. :)

Moving 101: Selling Your House


To say that you are "moving" does not really begin to capture the scope of work involved in actually MOVING.  It is such a little word, and such a huge, massive undertaking.  There are so many time-sensitive tasks, so many little to-do's, it is more than a full-time job (on top of the full-time job of packing, and the full-time job of, oh, raising kids...).  To help get you started (in case any of you have a cross-country move in your future), I have compiled a bare-bones action list for selling your home. There are much more complete lists to be found online, and I will list some resources at the end, including my friends at Home Depot Canada.

Selling Your House


So this is kind of a biggie all on its own.  I am actually grateful that I was so overwhelmed with tasks that selling my beloved house was less traumatic than I had feared.  Not that it wasn't emotional - I talked a little bit about it in this post.  But here are the basic steps and a few notes:

-> Find a realtor 


Good heavens the thought of selling our own house on top of it all gives me panic attacks.  Leave all the listing info, photos, showing, etc. to a professional, for your own sanity.  Yes, the commission is a chunk of moola, but did you know that the cost of the commission is tax deductable under moving expenses?  It's all about the silver linings...

In our case, we went with one of the "celebrity" realtors for our neighbourhood.  We figured she had been doing it forever, no doubt had all the right contacts and could get people to come out and see the house.  We were also house hunting in Calgary at the same time, and so we had to depend as much as was prudent on her experienced estimate of what our house would sell for to get a budget for our new place.  Plus, we needed a really quick and painless sale, and thought this would be our best shot at that.

We interviewed her at our house, and had we more time, we would have interviewed at least one or two more.  She came armed with research on comparables - what similar houses in our neighbourhood had sold for, what houses on our street had sold for in the last five years, what else was currently listed, etc.  Our realtor also included a chart showing sales by month, which lit a fire under our butts to get the house ready NOW: houses sell much better in February and March.  All of this provided context for pricing the house.  We had to be realistic - our house had a great main floor and basement, but the original upstairs bathroom and no parking, so we couldn't get what the house down the street with parking got (we ended up getting the same).

A Word On Commissions...  Some will negotiate on commission, others will not.  Our realtor pointed out that their commission includes 2.5% that goes to the buyer's realtor (the seller pays all the realtor costs of the transaction).  If someone offers too low a commission, they may be skimping on the buyer's commission, which may dissuade a buyer's realtor from showing their clients your property.

If they are taking a bite out of their side of the commission, they may be spending less on the advertising required to sell your home.  Our realtor hired an excellent photographer to do the 360 tour, a drafter to measure and do the house plans, and a home inspector to do a thorough home inspection available to anyone interested.  Many will also hire a stager and rent furniture or props.  Our realtor had ads in the local paper as well as the Toronto Star, and of course took care of the mls listing.  Now I feel a bit conflicted about this, because it still seemed like an awful lot of money, and I am not sure an ad in the Star does any good, but who knows what combination of marketing brought about our sale.  In the end, our house sold in less than a week for the asking price, so we got what we needed and it is pointless to spend time second guessing.

One more note: we were a little stunned and overwhelmed during this process so perhaps the obvious escaped us.  However, we were quite surprised to find out from our lawyer when looking at the final figures that we also pay GST on the realtor's fees.  That cash would have been a really nice sofa.  Like, REALLY nice.


-> Find a storage locker


This is where the packing fun begins.  Pack up all the extra clutter in your house and get it right out of the way.  In our case, this meant a storage locker at Public Storage, but if you know someone with a big garage or extra room in their basement, that would be handy.  We were lucky that PS had a promotion on the first month - 1$.  Since we only needed it for 1 month, we only paid tax on the regular rate, about 18$.  Score!

Make sure the storage place is as close as possible to your house.  There will be many trips - in our case lugging everything there and then lugging it all back.  Having a second pick-up for the moving company would have added a substantial cost - we checked.

If you can add a blizzard to your move, it makes it way more interesting.  This is the path I had to shovel to get to the door of the storage unit.  The elevator behind these doors was not working.  So I put everything back in the car and went to the next door, where I shovelled a new path and brought everything in.The dolly tipped over twice throwing all the boxes into the snow.  There were tears and some NSFW language.


-> Declutter


I found it helpful to take a picture of each room to get an idea of how much stuff there was that needed to be packed away.  Otherwise, I found it challenging to get a perspective on what exactly was "clutter".  I had to remind myself that I wasn't styling for a shelter mag (I wish!), I was paring down for a listing.  For me, this meant packing (or hiding) everything from any surface area.  The maximum I would allow myself was one item to be out, but usually it was zero.  

It also meant putting some of the little tables, random chairs, and other furniture in storage as well. Although I thought my place looked quite nice, I realized when looking at other listing photos (which I was doing a lot of for Calgary) that it came across as overstuffed with furniture.

Believe it or not, this is the uncluttered 'after'.
Oh HI backsplash!  Long time no see!
The 'uncluttered' shelves - pathetic I know.  No wonder we were 13,000+ pounds...


As you can see, I did not end up removing every personal item, which my realtor was OK with.  I think it worked in the end, because the buyers were a young couple looking to start a family, and I think our place definitely had a family feel.  But your realtor might be more stubborn on presenting a blank canvas.  Don't be insulted - they know what they are doing.

Be sure you budget enough time for filling holes in the wall, painting walls, cleaning high traffic areas, polishing grout, etc.  We hired someone to help with all of this, as there was some crumbling plaster, missing grout, etc. that we just didn't have the time to address ourselves.  Think of it like a hotel room - you don't want to walk in to your hotel room and find ANY evidence that someone has stayed there before you.  Your home doesn't have to be quite as sterile, but it's the same general principle.  People want to buy a nice home, they don't want to buy your nice home, know what I mean?

Be aware that during showings and the open house, people are going to open every cupboard and closet to check out storage.  If you try to hide things by ramming them into that space under the stairs, it is going to look like your house doesn't have enough storage.  So take this time to go through all of those spaces as well and pack away the things you don't use or haven't looked at in ages.  And if you don't want to pack them, sell them or give them away!


-> Get to know Craig's List and Kijiji / PURGE


If you have the time, start putting up things you don't need or won't bring with you for sale.  I found Kijiji MUCH more active - everything I sold was through Kijiji.  Be ruthless, because you are going to be really ruthless later as the moving date approaches, and the earlier you can start selling stuff the better.  It's another full-time job!  If you have several things up at once, you will be fielding lots of emails, and scheduling people to come look at your stuff, which can get a little complicated as some show up and others don't.  But the extra cash is nice and there will be a point when you will feel huge relief with every piece that is carted away from your home.

A garage sale is also an awesome option, again if you have time.  March was not the best month for an outdoor gale (see blizzard above) so I ended up displaying everything in our basement during our big "We're Leaving Town" party, and it was nice to see pieces I loved but never used leave with friends and family.

I also had great luck with Facebook.  I put up photos of things I wanted to get rid of in an album entitled Things I Am Not Taking To Calgary.  Most were free; some had a small price.  I got rid of lots of stuff this way, and got to see some old friends in the process!

And of course, have several garbage bags ready for all the stuff you are taking to Goodwill.  We had a big pile going in the basement and that made it easy to toss stuff in the bags and not dither about whether to keep it or not.

My advice, by the way, is WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT! (and by throw it out I mean give it away somehow to someone who will find it useful).  Do you really want to unpack it?  Will you just put it in storage at the new house?  Keep in mind William Morris's wonderful dictum: 

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful 

or believe to be beautiful.

Amen Will.

-> A Few Notes


- Don't get too many boxes at this point, because you are just going to have to store them somewhere.  We went on a huge shop at Home Depot, and ended up storing a ton of boxes in our storage locker.

- Don't fill up on groceries.  You are going to be eating out a lot while your house sells as people come for viewings, photos, 360 degree videos, home inspections, etc.  Plus you don't want to fill the house with the smell of garlic.

- Label, label, label.  These are the first things you pack up and I guarantee you will forget what is in them.  Label not only the contents but which room it should go in in the new house.  For these boxes, we put Basement, since they didn't have anything we would need right away.  Many of them remain un-opened below me as I type... I probably should have sold them. :)

- Attack one room at a time, so that you don't end up with boxes with some kitchen stuff, some living room stuff, etc.  It will probably take more than one go-around to get it truly decluttered, so leave a box or two near each room.  That being said, the exception is pillows and bedding, which are wondering soft packing materials for electronics and keepsakes, and help offset a really heavy box.  Down-filled coats and snow pants are also great!

Keep your car handy.  Not everything that was 'clutter' could be stored 10 -15 minutes away.  So our toaster oven, for example, big ugly behemoth that is was, went into the trunk of our car every morning with the coffee maker and winter coats.  I wonder what buyers thought as they walked by a car stuffed to the gills with boxes and tchotchkes.  I tried to park down the street.

- Have a toy box.  Our poor kids had pretty much everything packed up in this initial declutter.  However, their beloved toy cars, along with markers and a few other games, were left to entertain them.  I had one box specifically for dumping all the toys in, and bringing out to the trunk.

- Your House Will Not Stay Clean.  Sadly, your beautiful pristine, photo-ready house will stay that way for about 5 minutes, if that.  Prepare to spend at least 20 minutes every time you leave the house for a showing cleaning counters, putting clothes away, wiping down the shower, folding laundry and fluffing pillows.  Once it sells, the clutter bomb will explode with such force it is frightening.


-> Get a Lawyer


Once your house has sold (yippee!) you will need to find a lawyer to draw up all the necessary papers. Even before finding your lawyer, make sure you pay careful attention and follow along while your realtor reviews the Offer Of Purchase document signed by the buyer and seller - it is legally binding.  If you don't have a lawyer, your realtor should be able to give you a few names (I think they have to provide at least three to avoid conflict of interest), and you can ask family and friends for recommendations.

Your lawyer will look after things like title searches (making sure no one else has claims on your house), liens, etc.  They will prepare the title of ownership documents and the transfer of money to the sellers from the buyers, and, in our case, to our sellers through our Calgary lawyer for our new house.  They will help coordinate with your bank the closure of your mortgage on this house and/or transfer of your mortgage to your new house.  And they will take your keys and give them to the new owners through their lawyer.  Don't forget to budget for lawyers fees. :)


-> Finishing Steps


By all means crack open that bottle of Veuve your agent brought you (you won't want to pack it anyway).  Take a night to relax and enjoy your success before waking up to peer over the cliff at the landscape of Work To Be Done, stretching out in all direction as far as the eye can see.  Just a few little things to do:

- Change Your Address.  Head to your closest post office to get the required Change of Address forms.  For a fee, Canada Post will forward your mail to a new address for as long as you like - the longer the service runs the more money it will cost.  So have your dates ready, and of course the new address.  Eventually you will have to contact and change your address with all of your magazines, banks, insurance companies, PayPal, credit cards, Amazon, Indigo, Etsy, Ebay, etc.

- Change Your Email.  If you already have gmail or yahoo (does hotmail still exist?) you will be fine.  I, however, had my email through Rogers, who was our internet supplier and it got cut off with the internet when we moved.  I had set up a gmail account but neglected to send out a massive change of address email before getting shut down.  So if you tried to contact me - SORRY! :(  I wish I had had the time to go through my folders and not only contact people about the change but save or forward pertinent and important emails.  Lesson: don't be me.

- Cancel Your Utilities, or arrange to transfer them to the buyers.  Sometimes your lawyer can help with this process, but you should contact all utilities to make sure that you won't be billed after a certain date.  The lawyers will usually help in calculating how much you have prepaid for utilities and working it into the final financial numbers of the sale.  Have a contingency for the lack of internet!

- Contact Your Insurance Company.  They will need to know that you are no longer at the home they are insuring for you.  When you know your new address, have them transfer their coverage - there will be a fee for this, of course.

- Confirm or Hire your Moving Company.  Make sure you know what date they are coming, and their estimate for delivery.  Arrange a date for them to come if they are packing for you (DO IT) with enough time for an extra day when they see how much sh*t you have.

- Get Your Stuff Back from storage.  You don't want to be paying an extra month!

- Contact The City about returning any parking passes you have (you can be reimbursed for the months you won't be there if you prepaid).  Also make sure you pay any outstanding fines and return all your books to the library!

- Contact the Province about returning your license plates once you have your new ones - again you can get money back for those pretty stickers you bought.

- Contact Your School to let them know your kids are moving.  The sooner the better for the school, who will use the information to help organize class sizes, and in our case, let someone take Cam's place in Senior French Immersion Kindergarten (*sob*). If there are any records they can give you, ask for them so you have them for their new school (I needed copies of their report cards).  And let the teachers know as soon as you can so they can help your kid and their class with the transition of leaving.  One of our teachers had the class write letters and draw pictures for Will, and made him a farewell book that he was given at his going-away party.  I think this really helped him process the idea that he was leaving. 

- PACK UNTIL THE VERY IDEA OF PACKING MAKES YOU BREAK DOWN INTO THE UGLY LAUGH/CRY THAT FRIGHTENS THE CHILDREN.  

Yeah, there's that wee step... so here's some tips:

- Label everything as well as possible.  You never know what you are going to be hunting for (probably something small but imperative) in an endless sea of boxes in your new place. (The ugly laugh/cry will come in handy here too.)

- Label the sides so that when boxes are piled to the ceiling you don't have to move every single blessed box to see the contents written on the top.  Again, don't be me.

- Don't cheap out on tape.  Cheap packing tape will never come off your stuff.  Fine for boxes, bad for lights, beds, storage containers, chairs, etc.  It will split into those tiny strips that you have to spend 30 minutes peeling one by one with your fingernail.  Is $0.15 a roll worth this?  No.  No it is not.   

Dollar store duct tape will leave the sticky part behind on everything, requiring gallons of Goo-Be-Gone and what's left of your fingernails.  

Just go to Home Depot already, and tell them I sent you. Please?

- Boxes too.   Home Depot my friends - although the liquor store boxes are still the best for books, because those suckers are HEAVY.  I also got some mirror/art boxes from Public Storage, and some extra large mirror/art boxes from GM Packaging in Mississauga.  The rest was all from Home Depot (and full disclosure they approached me about sponsoring a post AFTER I had bought everything.  Yeah. Not bitter at all. :p )

- Hire a piano mover to move your piano.  Or risk this:
I don't wanna talk about it.
Those photos make me ill.  The claim has been filed with the moving company and we are waiting to hear back. Insert ugly laugh/cry on moving day.

-> Resources

Here are a few more online resources that probably do a better job at explaining the nitty gritty of selling, buying, and moving:

- Home Depot Canada Moving Guide  (Home Depot Canada generously sponsored this post)

And here endeth the longest and most boring post ever.  If you made it down here I hereby award you a gold star.

Moving 101: Hiring A Moving Company


I have decided that moving across the country is rather like giving birth.  OK, not really, there may be a few minor differences between the two occasions. However, somewhere in the middle of both events, I was struck by the mind-blowing idea that people do this every day!!  All the time!  More than once! In terms of moving, the whole experience felt so huge, overwhelming, and emotional that it was hard to imagine that my move was just one of hundreds or thousands that were taking place across the country at the same time.


I still can't wrap my head around the amazing people who bring humans into this world on a daily basis the way others, oh I don't know, book ads and produce brochures.  It is definitely much easier to consider that there is a massive moving industry that sticks people's every possession on a truck and deposits it somewhere new every single day.


In fact, right now someone is frantically marking the last few boxes, trying to keep track of  movers in four different rooms of their house at once, freaking out at the sound of any bang or bump, and trying to process the increasingly dishevelled and empty look of their once beloved home.  At this moment they are peering into an enormous cavernous truck, simultaneously awed by the fact that their whole life has been squished into this one space over the course of a few hours, and that they have so much STUFF. As I type they are watching as their every belonging is driven out of sight by complete strangers with a strange and intense cocktail of emotions coursing through them.


It is possible that not everyone is quite as melodramatic about moving/life as I am (theoretically), but a big move is a big deal.  And having realized that others may one day go through it, I thought I would try to distill the various lessons I learned over the past few months.  Because it is such an enormous project, I'll break it into a few posts, otherwise I'll never get anything up!  Up first is the actual Moving Of Things.

So You're Moving! What's Next?


The papers have been signed, the deals done, the "are we really doing this?" looks have been traded and confirmed.  For whatever reason (usually a big one), you have decided to take a leap and move houses.  As soon as you figure this out, you want to get rolling on the details.  Here are a few things to consider and some tips on navigating the world of Stuff-Moving:

Are you going to rent a truck, pack it, drive it, and unload it?  

While this may seem like the least expensive option, it depends on how much stuff you have, how far you are moving, and how many friends and family are willing to help. When putting the numbers together, make sure you include amounts for renting the truck, but also for dollies, platform dollies, carts, straps and anything else you will need to physically get the stuff into the truck.  Think about your biggest items (sofa, appliances, box spring, freezer, piano, etc) and how you are physically going to move them.  Then add in all the time off you will need  to do all the work.  Even if this is irrelevant - say you are changing jobs and have a few weeks in between - keep in mind that there are a LOT of other things you are going to have to do at the same time as the move (shipping your car, changing your address, getting new insurance - I'll make a list in a future post!).  Then add the cost of gas, hotels, meals, etc.  It may not work out to that big a savings in the end, and it WILL be more of a headache.

Compare that total with quotes from professionals.  

One thing that amazed me was the wild differences in moving company quotes.  The highest quote I got was double the lowest.  To get your quotes, ask friends and colleagues for referrals.  Some friends will have had terrible experiences with the companies that look great on paper and vice versa.  Check online, keeping in mind that people love to complain.  Not quite knowing where to start, I put my information on moveit.ca and within an hour was contacted by several local moving companies to schedule visits.

Give them the tour.  

When getting quotes from moving companies, it is important to have them come out to see what you will actually be moving if you want their quote to be anything near the final bill.  I had five companies send out an estimator and two of them especially were really very helpful and knowledgeable about the process, giving me lots of excellent advice.  When you take them around your house, point out EVERYTHING that will be going - including boxes in the basement, your overstuffed closet, and the lawnmower and outdoor furniture in the garage.  We also had a lot of things in storage that we had taken out when staging our house - don't forget to include those!


Prepare yourself for the number

- of pounds that is.  All the quotes you get back will have translated your houseful of junk/priceless articles into how many pounds it will roughly weigh on the truck, and then give you the estimate based on what they charge per pound. For example, a family of four in a two-story house is usually around the 10,000 to 12,000 lbs range, and from what I saw prices can range from 49 to 65 cents per pound.  Personally I had never thought of my belongings in terms of cummulative weight, and it gives a whole new meaning to your ecological footprint.  In the end I am embarrassed to say that we came in at just over 13,000 lbs, and the number kind of made me ill.  That's a lot of stuff.

Get out your calculator.  

When the quotes come back, you'll quickly notice that none of the moving companies use the same line items or break down their estimates in the same way.  For example, one may show a charge of 49 cents per pound, which sounds great, but then you'll see that they also charge a 10 cent per pound freight charge.  Freight charge?  What is that? One company had an 'origin city charge' of almost $300 and a 'destination city charge' of another $300.  Funny enough, they never returned my call asking what those were for (and they didn't get my business).  So ask a lot of questions, and try to make sure that you are comparing apples to apples.

If it sounds to good to be true... 

then, yes, it probably is.  We got a great-looking quote and were very excited, until I noticed that they were quoting on 8,000 lbs.  That would not have made for a happy arrival in Calgary when they gave me a bill for almost double that amount! And even if they are quoting on the same weight, if the rate is well below the middle of the pack, my advice would be to stay away.  As one mover explained to me, for a quote that much lower, they are cutting costs somewhere - either using less people, paying them less, or paying the driver less, none of which is good news for the safe arrival of your stuff.

Are you going to pack yourself?  

I really feel like screaming DON'T DO IT!!! but my experience was brutal for several reasons:

1.  I massively underestimated the amount of stuff I had.

2.  I massively underestimated how long it would take to pack a box.  My mom and I were working from morning until night, and there were days that we each only packed about 5 boxes.  So many things need to be wrapped carefully, and then packed carefully, and each box is its own puzzle.  Do you find little things to fill in the spaces or stuff it with paper?  What happens when you run out of little things?  What happens when you run out of paper? What happens when the only things left don't fit in any of the boxes?  TEARS.  That's what happens.

3.  I massively underestimated how many boxes, how much paper, and how much bubble wrap we would need - and how much it would cost.  We must have made a million trips to Home Depot (who, FYI, have the best prices on boxes, bubble wrap etc. of all the moving stores - and they did not pay me to say that) and a hundred to our local hardware store for more tape and black markers.  We did make one big trip to a box warehouse (GM Packaging) for the odd-sized boxes for mirrors and art, but it didn't work out much cheaper than Home Depot, even in bulk.

4.  I have kids - kids who like to climb.  And our house was a giant jungle gym of boxes and couches - oh and the toys were packed.

5. Oh and my husband was already in Alberta.

6.  I didn't really want to move.  I am sure it is a very different experience to pack up your house when you are really pumped about moving.  Don't get me wrong, I knew the move was for the best, and am sure we will have a wonderful life here, but I was devastated to leave friends, kids, the school, the neighbourhood - a life I loved.  Long days and nights packing make a girl tired and stressed, and tired and stressed people don't necessarily process impending change very well...


My mom was my saving grace, there is no way in this world that I would ever have managed without her. So if you are packing it all, I suggest calling your mom, or a really good friend. I also suggest getting a quote for packing. Even if you end up doing it yourself, knowing how much moola you are saving will be great motivation!

Get Organized

As the boxes pile up and the packing paper begins to fly, things can get pretty messy.  It's a good idea to keep all move-related papers in one place, and to try to keep that place organized.  If you have one oasis in the house to retreat to after a long day, that helps too.  And wine, you'll need some wine.
In terms of a checklist, I will hopefully put one together for a future post.  In the meantime, I found this one to be helpful when interviewing movers:


As well, Home Depot Canada has an awesome Moving Guide, and I am not just saying that because they asked me to (although they did)!


This document is a really thorough guide to just about every aspect of moving yourself, from questions to ask movers to a countdown checklist taking you from eight weeks out to moving day.  It even helps you calculate how many supplies you will need, which I really wish I had looked at in the beginning!  I am happy to promote it for them, because I honestly think it is a great resource to have and will make your move much smoother.  And, as I mentioned they have almost everything you need there in terms of boxes, bubble wrap, shrink wrap, straps, etc.  Who knew!

So there you have it - should you be planning a big move in the future I hope this helps a bit.  Shoot me any questions, I am happy to answer them.  And if there is anything in specific you think I should blog about regarding the move - logistics or shipping or how to wrap art - I would love to hear from you.  And if you just did a big move and need to drink a lot of wine and commiserate, I AM YOUR GIRL.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

New Home Sweet Home

Is rain on your moving day a good omen, like rain on your wedding day?

Welcome to my first blog post as a Calgarian!  The past two-to-three months have been one hell of a transition, and it feels good to finally be on the 'other side' of this whole move.  I have certainly learned a lot about packing, moving, transitioning the kids, and milking my family for manual labour.  My poor mother may never visit me again at the risk of being put to work, and I am sure we both have night sweats just thinking about BOXES (*shudder*).

This room gives me panic attacks.

My mom had the brilliant idea of marking most of the boxes, other than the essentials, for the basement and putting them all in the back someday-guest room (currently room-I-avoid-at-all-costs).  The sheets and clothes and toys we sent upstairs, but this was the perfect solution for all the "misc. candles" boxes, of which I have, um, several.

Take-out anyone?

However, the kitchen still managed to be completely overwhelming.  Thank heavens for my mother-in-law and my friend Carrie, who helped me establish some sort of organizational system.  While the kitchen does indeed have oodles of storage, I would say about 60% requires me getting on the step stool to reach.  That made the remaining 40% precious real estate, and we must have moved things 9 or 10 times trying to figure out which was more important - sandwich bags, tupperware, canned goods or pots and pans?? In the end we have sort of a system going and I just think about how buff my quads are going to be every time I climb up that step stool.


Oh yeah, and did I mentioned that it SNOWED - A LOT - for my first week here?  As in, the first week of May!?  That is not a little dusting pictured above... Luckily, liquor is sold on just about every corner here, so I made it through the nasty weather.  Today it is sunny and warm, and I actually had to venture in to the daunting Room Of Boxes to find the fans (cue the scary music).

I have no idea when I will be able to post some photos of how our stuff looks in the house - those lovely styled shots are nowhere near happening for a while.  There is nothing on any wall, other than a clock I stuck up so I wouldn't forget to pick up Will.  It has also been a little tough to reconcile this beautiful, minimalist house with all of our vases, pottery, bowls, boxes, art objects, etc.  If you look back at the staged photos, you'll see that there are zero display areas!  But between purging and creative thinking, I am sure I'll figure something out...

It is nice to have something to occupy my mind with anyway, so I don't have to think about how home-sick I am. :(

Mucho Modern in Calgary


We did it folks, we bought a new house!!  I don't think I have ever spent so much money so quickly in my life.  Strike that - I am absolutely 100% certain that I have never spent so much money in my life in such a short amount of time.  If I think too much about it, it makes me a little bit ill... so we'll move on.

Here's the scoop:  Last weekend, my husband and I flew out to Calgary after work on Friday, and after dropping our kids off at our AMAZINGLY generous friends' house for 2 nights.  Saturday morning we were up bright and early to explore Calgary with our agent.  At this point our Toronto house was already on sale.

Now if you had asked me about Calgary a few months ago, I would not have been able to tell you anything, other than my opinion that it needed some more trees (lots more trees).  After finding out that we were moving there, I spent hours, and hours, and hours online.  I think I could identify just about any neighbourhood in the city in under 5 seconds at this point, and also tell you the name of the closest French Immersion school, how many minutes it would take you to ride a bike downtown, and how far the closest Starbucks is.  I had that whole every-street-is-a-number and streets-go-one-way-and-avenues-go-another-way-and-don't-forget-about-the-quadrants thing DOWN.  I have my mls/Google Maps/CalgarySchoolFinder black belt, and I know how to use it.

Up until last weekend though, I had never physically been in 99% of the places we were looking.  Luckily, Calgary is wonderfully small!  I mean that in the best way possible - we wanted to be "downtown" and were stressing about one area versus another, but really, they are all pretty close, and it is very easy to get around town.


Our agent and I had determined a short list of houses we wanted to see - I think 12?  (... not sure who I am asking...)  When we walked in this one, our jaws hit the floor.  HIT. THE. FLOOR.  We loved it! But... it was a bit further from downtown, and more than we were going to spend... yada yada yada.  We said we would think about it.  The next day we saw a few new ones that were great contenders, and then went back to look at this one again.  I got tingles.  That evening, we sat at the pub down the street and enjoyed local craft beer while signing our offer document.  It took our agent all of a minute to print them off - he had already filled in all the information for this house the night before.  He knew.  I guess I am an open book.

We put in a low offer hoping that we could bring the price down a bit (yes, you can do this in Calgary!).  When the sellers didn't budge much, we/I got cold feet and decided to drop it.  Yup, just like that.  It was just too nice for us.

Instead we focussed our attention on the "perfect-on-paper" runner up.  The neighbourhood for house #2 was amazing - Chris could walk to work.  We would be near friends of ours, and the school was great.  The house was overpriced, according to our guy, and we could get it for much less than the first place.  It was ugly - DAMN ugly - but heck, there would be lots to blog about!  The before and after pictures would be killer.  It was the responsible thing to do.  However... when they got our offer, I guess the sellers had decided they weren't so keen to sell after all.  They didn't budge on price, and they extended the possession date to the middle of the summer.  This would not work.

I don't think I had even processed this bit of information before Chris was back on the phone to our agent telling him we wanted the first house!  A day or so later, my finger nails were gone, and we were the new owners.  Apparently there are Real Estate Fairy Godmothers, and I have one. (Thank you thank you REFG!)

Before I show you all the pics, let me begin by saying that I am pretty sure we are not worthy of this house.  I can imagine walking in with our stuff, only to have the house twist itself up and spit me and my Value Village/Ikea As-Is finds back out onto the street.  It is so beautiful.  I don't know what the heck I am going to blog about, because I don't even think I will paint the damn walls.


It is a semi-detached, or duplex.  I never thought I would spend so much to live in half of a house, but this is 80% of what is available in Calgary - brand new enormous duplexes.  Our half is on the right.


Please note that this house has been staged for these photos impeccably.  It was empty when we looked at it, but now I can't imagine it with any furniture other than this stuff.


The kitchen makes me want to be a better person.  Or at least a better cook.  Notice how it is similar to ours with the wood on the bottom and white lacquer on top?  And there the similarities end...


There is so much storage in this freakin kitchen I think I am going to have to keep some of my clothes there.


So... yeah.  I know.  It's obscene.  It's ridiculous.  I don't even.... words fail me.  By some amazing twist in the fabric of reality, I will (soon!) be living in this house.  Surrounded by all those BIG TREES. (I'll take my words with a side of mayo, thank you...) Twenty minutes from downtown by bike, ten by car.  With a yoga studio down the street.  Basking like a cat in all that LIGHT.  I am beside myself!

Anyone wanna come visit?