Thursday, 11 April 2013

Heritage, Heritage

On Tuesday, I went over to my mom's house in the evening to find a treasure trove of family heirlooms. My mom was going through my Oma's old china as well as my great-grandmother's doll collection. It was a little crazy, the dining room table was covered in china, and when we were done with the dolls, a small section of them looked like this:

My Oma 2 (what we called my great-Oma), started a doll collection and it soon caught on so that when her family or friends would go on a trip they would bring back a doll from that country. She had about 140 dolls (132 spread on the carpet here, plus one that was moldy that we discarded of - ugh - and some Japanese dolls that were set aside for another collection). My Oma had them set out in a china cabinet, and my mom did after that. Some of them aren't the nicest, they're just souvenir dolls - the main thing that's interesting about them is that they're old and they came from all over the world. I couldn't see them part without taking a couple, so I took 4 dolls from Holland that maybe some kiddos of ours can enjoy one day. 

I am not really the sentimental type, and definitely prefer to purge rather than accumulate things that we don't need, but I thought these were kind of special. My family all comes from Holland (actually except for this great-grandma who was from Germany so I guess I'm 1/8 German), and Philip's family is pure Mennonite, and knows a lot more about their past and has carried their heritage forward a lot more. He speaks German, we go to a Mennonite church, but I hope that my kids know they have a bit of Dutch going on too and maybe they'll like these cute dolls!

At the bottom of one box, I also found this print that I thought could look cute in a frame once we do our frame gallery hallway, so it found a place in my bag also. 

Do you have any keepsakes from a grandmother or great-grandmother, or perhaps grandfather? Do you hold on to things like this? We aren't big "keepers" so sometimes I have to fight my urges to throw things away or donate them, because it's nice to have a few special things around that have been passed down a couple of times. 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Window Shopping Wednesday: West Elm

West Elm doesn't exist in Winnipeg, but they do ship, and one of these days I'm going to pull the trigger and buy me some beautiful West Elm goods. It's not cheap, but a splurge item now and long as you track it on your Money Tracking sheet ;)...doesn't hurt if you save up. Also, I like to look at a store's website that's out of my reach (I'm talking to you Restoration Hardware/Jonathan Adler/West Elm/Crate & Barrel) and think of how I might be able to recreate the product with materials or products that are more income accessible to me. 

First up, Furniture. 

I'm loving the clean lines and white-ness (is that a real adjective?) of this dresser. Would look great as a Media stand, or entry way table that serves the dual purpose of a lot of storage.

This isn't my typical taste, but outside on a patio this mosaic tiled side table has great color and would be great paired with wood or painted furniture. 

These melamine plates are too excellent. I love the bright colors! We're planning on hosting a lot of BBQs (if we had a BBQ) and bonfires this Summer, and these plates would look great on a buffet table next to a lot of fruit salad and hamburgers. 

Did you know that we like yellow and grey?

I don't often find a rug that I like, but this one is the exception to the rule. I love the different shades of grey, and the geometric pattern that's just striking enough to get your attention, but not so attention-grabbing that it steals the show. 

Wouldn't these prep bowls make cooking heavenly?

If this April snow isn't enough to convince me to move, the haul I would come out of West Elm with might just be the final straw. Been shopping lately? Found any good finds? 

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Would You Tues: Finances

Tying in with our new blog series that we launched yesterday, we're wondering:

What's the biggest obstacle you face when it comes to your finances?

a) Saving for retirement; it seems pretty far away and is kind of hard to make a priority right now.
b) Creating a budget; numbers aren't my thing and it seems like too much work. 
c) Giving; I would really like to be giving more to the church/my community but can't make it work in my budget. 
d) Entertainment/Personal spending is out of control. 
e) I am overwhelmed by debt. 
f) I don't know what all of you people are talking about, I have more money than I could ever ask for and my problem is that the stores don't carry enough shoes to fill my closet. 

There are a lot of options there, because people face a lot of different financial obstacles. While we aren't experts, we are a couple of people who think it's important to be open and take on our finances head on - depending on the responses, we may add on or delve further into these topics in order to provide some resources or a discussion forum for them. While we are a DIY blog, and will remain that way, learning to take care of your own finances is a great tool and something we're slowly learning to be more responsible for since getting married and moving out. 

We'd love to hear your feedback, whether it be by email (, Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments. 

As for us, right now we converse a lot about whether to invest extra money when we have it, or to put it into our house (which at some level can also be considered an investment). Philip was forward-thinking enough to have invested a fair amount before we got married, and now  we've taken a year or two off from putting any significant sum away because of our renovations. While we walk through this budgeting exercise over the next couple of weeks along with you we'll be talking as a couple about if we should put our money into saving for a kitchen, or put away more money for our future. 

Monday, 8 April 2013

More Money Monday: Step 1

We're going to be doing a new series here on the blog each "Money Monday". We got the idea because we've been realizing how challenging personal finance can be, especially when you're renovating, also because a lot of you showed interest in a post we did a long time ago related to finances. Philip in particular has done a lot of work setting up a budget for us here, and we figure there's no reason more people shouldn't benefit from our hard work.

We've broken it down into a month-long process that should help set you up for financial security. Along the way, we'll even provide some free printables that should help you along as you get rolling. So without further ado...

Step 1: Start Tracking

This might be the hardest step of all, and it's really very simple:

Every time you handle money, you write down what you did.

Complicated? No. Time-consuming? Not really. Requires discipline? Yeah, a bit. So to help you, here's a printable that you can use to keep track of everything.

As a method for keeping track, we suggest the following:
  1. Empty your purse, wallet, or pockets of all your receipts. Put them in a separate place (or better yet, deal with them however you planned to deal with them in the first place).
  2. Every time you handle money, get a receipt. (If you can't get a receipt, i.e. if you're doing something online, then perhaps write it down on a Post-It.) Put the receipt/Post-It in your pocket/wallet/purse.
  3. At night, before bed, empty all the receipts/Post-Its out of your purse/wallet/pockets. (If it's just one day's worth, there shouldn't be too many.)
  4. Keep the printable from above beside your bed with a pen/pencil. Write down your receipts before your head hits the pillow.
  5. Decide how you will handle receipts. We put ours in a box with other papers to be shredded, and our bank hosts a "Shred Day" once in a while where we can take the items to be shredded at no cost, if you have a shredder or a friend who's generous with shredding privileges - that will work too. 
This doesn't sound like a very helpful step in terms of saving money or budgeting, but you can't budget effectively unless you know where you're money's going presently, and if you stick with the process for the whole month, you'll have developed a good habit and will have an excellent base of knowledge for making your money decisions easier.

Next week, we'll be talking about setting goals and start getting into the actual creation of your budget. Take advantage of this easy week and starting a great habit of writing down what you spend and spending money with intention and planning.