We’re Moving! AGAIN!

It’s finally happened. The Pie and I have joined the impoverished proud ranks of people who are horribly in debt forever first-time homeowners. And we couldn’t be more terrified happier.

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We close on the 14th of January, so we’re on a tight timeline to pack up the Tower and get ourselves over to the new place. So in the meantime, please excuse the mess you see in the background at Ali Does It, and possibly more cheater posts than normal in the next few weeks. I promise you that we will be back to regularly scheduled programming – and more! – by the end of January. We bought a house that is almost 60 years old and came with a good many of its own quirks – which we will, in true Ali Does It style, make our own.  And we will make sure to fill you in on all the craziness while we’re at it. Crazy corgi included, of course.

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Plus the house has way more space for making stuff and doing things (it. has. a. WORKSHOP. and. COLD STORAGE. I am so excited), a bigger, brighter kitchen, more light in general, and NO MORE BLUE CARPET. So things are only going to get better from here on out, on the blog and otherwise. Stay tuned!

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Our New Digs

We moved! Again. I am itching to start cooking in a kitchen all my own again.

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After my parents came back from Florida they no longer needed  us to take care of their house and so we decided to get our own space while we continue our exhaustive house hunt.  We rented a cute little townhouse not far away.  It’s conveniently right next to Krystopf and Atlas’ office, so they can come and bug us at lunch times and we won’t have to brave rush hour traffic to pick Krystopf up for dinner when Atlas steals the car anymore.  And everyone in the neighbourhood seems to be both our age and have dogs, so we’re set!

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Plus Gren gets his own backyard and a new window to bark out of.

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The old blue carpet is, of course, hilarious, and will take some adjustment, especially as both our couches are more or less the same colour. But at least I don’t have to worry about getting it dirty …

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The best part is that in addition to having our own garage, we also have TWO basements! The first one is the ground level, opening to the backyard and the garage.  This is going to be our mudroom/utility room.  It’s also got a crawlspace with the fuse box and some additional storage.

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And then there’s a whole OTHER basement, with a five-foot ceiling, that is dry and warm and well-lit and a good place to store winter tires and seasonal gear.

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Stay tuned for many hijinks to come as we get ourselves organized.  I’m going to make another attempt at container gardening, and I’m going to have lots of things to show you as we make this place our own. Currently it is utter chaos, with piles of things everywhere and boxes shed like snakeskins littering the joint. But I have internet, which means I can “go” to work tomorrow. And make this post. And that’s all that really matters, right?

August in Photos: the Skinny

You may recall me saying that I was going to take a photo a day for the month of August, seeing as it was going to be such a momentous month.  Well, here’s my little August gallery.  You can see the ones that didn’t make the cut on my Flickr here.

1 August:

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Dad admiring the new paint job on the old Cape Spear lighthouse.

2 August:

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Last day at work in the Lawffice Liberry.  For five years this was my exclusive domain.

3 August:

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Met a very calm snowshoe hare at the Salmonier Nature Park.

4 August:

4 August 2013

It was raining, so I painted the bathroom. Apparently yellow wasn’t neutral enough. Oh well.

5 August:

5 August 2013

Still raining. HARD. We stayed inside.

6 August:

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Dad and I went to the Crow’s Nest (a members-only club for naval officers) in January of 2008 when we were thinking of moving here. Today we bookended our time in Newfoundland with another visit. Here is the angle from the “hidden” door down the stairway.

7 August:

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The first Wednesday in August (weather permitting) is Regatta Day, the oldest regatta in North America (195 years old in 2013).  This is our view from blueberry picking up behind the Johnson Geo Centre.

8 August:

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After some hectic back and forth, we sent Gren off on the plane to stay with my parents. This is one of the extremely nice and helpful security officers using cable ties to make sure Gren stays put.

9 August:

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We had to re-paint my office to a more neutral colour. I was trying to get excess paint off my brush.

10 August:

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Down to the essentials now in our pantry: booze, Oreos, ramen …

11 August:

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Our house is surrounded by trees, and the moving shadows the sun creates as it shines through the blowing leaves is quite spectacular.

12 August:

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Today I packed up the kitchen. My parents bought these plates at the Denby factory when we lived in England over 30 years ago. I bet they’ve moved almost as many times as I have.

13 August:

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One last walk along the jetty after breakfast at the downtown Cora’s.

14 August:

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I had a job interview over Skype today, so this was where I spent the most important part of my afternoon.

15 August:

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Moving day. The movers were late and when they arrived they were unaware they were supposed to be moving the whole house so it was a little frazzling but we got it done.

16 August:

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Sun in an empty room. My favourite Weakerthans song (which is based in turn on this painting).

17 August:

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Our first morning in Ottawa.  Gren was very happy to have us back with him.

18 August:

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Brunch at the new home of Mags and her boyfriend, the Flying Dutchman. YUM FRESH FRUIT!

19 August:

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Best shawarma in the city is Castle Shawarma on Rideau Street. They have spicy garlic sauce that is incredible.

20 August:

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Today we got the Pie fitted for some suits to wear to interviews at Moores. Looking pretty slick.

21 August:

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My dad was painting the woodwork on the ground floor. He may have accidentally painted me in passing.

22 August:

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Our fourth wedding anniversary. Crazy how time flies.

23 August:

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Grenadier reunited with his sister Bakhita at Bruce Pit.  Both of them reunited with some mud.  This is the picture I took BEFORE Bakhita stuck herself in the middle of an enormous puddle and refused to come out.

24 August:

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Gardened with Mum today. Harvested a ton of rhubarb. Obviously I made pie.

25 August:

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ICE CREAM! THERE’S AN ICE CREAM TRUCK ON MY STREET! ICE CREEEEEEEEEEEAM!

26 August:

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Out for a misty stroll on the Ottawa River Parkway. Reminds me of St. John’s.

27 August:

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Caught the Star Wars Identities Exhibition at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. Epic. Like, literally.

28 August:

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We weeded out the path at the back of my parents’ house today, and got to use the weed torch on the remainders. I love setting things on fire.

29 August:

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Hanging out at a cottage with some friends. Gren actually swam voluntarily.

30 August:

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Cottage life: early morning on Mississippi Lake.

31 August:

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The Pie started growing this beard at the end of July, just to see if he could. He’s a little tired of it now so I recorded it for posterity and he’ll shave it off tomorrow.

And that was August!

Packing Tips: Last Out, First In and the Bits and Bobs Box

Last Out First In 1 I have one last packing tip for you (and thanks to everyone who has contributed their own packing dos and don’ts). You already know when packing that you need to pack up the stuff you rarely use first, and as you get closer to moving day, you start packing up the more often-used items.  But what about the things you’re going to use on moving day?  For this, you need a Last Out, First In box.  This is the stuff that you need in order to actually unpack and move into your new home.  It’s the last box that leaves your old house and goes into the truck last because it’s the first box that enters your new home. A typical Last Out, First In box will probably include some of the following:

  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Toilet Paper & Hand Towels
  • Tools (Hammer, Screwdrivers, Allen Keys)
  • Box Cutter (more than one would be useful)
  • Documentation (Rental Agreement, Proof of Insurance, etc.)
  • Shower Curtain (there is never a shower curtain when you move into a new apartment, or the one that is there has seen better days)
  • Bedding (gotta sleep somewhere that first night)

And most importantly, your Last Out, First In box will include all the little pieces you carefully saved when you dismantled all your furniture before you moved: the casters from chairs, picture hooks, screws from your table … all those pieces.  I put all these things in separately labeled baggies in my Bits & Bobs Box.  I have done this for three moves now and it’s the smartest thing I have ever done.  Many people will just tape the screws or nuts and bolts or whatever to the actual furniture from which it came, but the number of times I’ve seen those come off and get messed around on the floor of the truck is just sad. So if you put them all in the same box, into your most important box, then you will know where they all are at any time. As I take apart my shelving and my tables and desks and whatnot, I put all the little pieces that hold them together in a baggie, label it, and shove it in this box. Last Out First In 2 If I grab little random pieces from around the house and don’t have a second to sort them properly, they go into this box-within-the-box so that I can sort them later and not worry about them getting lost in the interim. Last Out First In 3

Moving Tips: Packing Your Delicate Items

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I am ever-so-slowly building a wall of boxes in our living room.  In fact, I’d say that would be the most important moving tip I have for you, my dear readers, and that is to start early.  You may think you can pack up your entire house in the course of the week right before you move, and maybe you can, but you won’t be happy while you do it, and you’re probably going to make mistakes.  If you take your time and approach packing systematically, then you are less likely to end up with broken or lost items when you reach your final destination.

Careful planning comes into play especially when packing your more fragile items.  I recommend that you get your fragile items squared away at the beginning of your packing endeavour.  When you start packing, you’ll want to work on all the stuff you use less often, and I can guarantee that I will not be using my crystal stemware or vase collection at any time in the next eight weeks.  Getting the really delicate stuff out of the way first is also a good way to protect these items while you rummage through and shift around your other possessions in preparation for moving. Also, if you can dedicate a wall or a low-traffic corner of a room to initial box storage, you won’t find yourself dodging the things while packing other stuff away.

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So.  Get on with it, Ali.  For my credentials here, I’ll have you know I used to work for a domestic and international shipping company (which no longer exists but you’ve probably heard of it), and I have never had anything break that I have packed myself.  Like, never.  I was really good at my job.

First of all, give all your stuff a wash or a wipe. I’m always amazed at how dusty something can get when it’s been shut away in a cupboard for a while.

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I think that’s a plaster chunk in the closest glass. Don’t want to imagine what it is if it isn’t.

I find the best way to shine up glass and crystal is to pour a cup of white vinegar into your soapy water. Works brilliantly.

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Newsprint here is your best friend.  I’m not a huge fan of purchasing brand new packing materials, but in this case, your best bet is to get a giant bundle of blank newsprint in which to pack your glassware and ceramics.  Using old newspapers is all well and good, and you can do that if you wish, but I find that the biodegradable inks they use on newspapers in Canada tend to come off on pretty much everything, and the last thing I want to be doing when I move into my new place is scrub black smudges off all my crystal.  So blank it is.  And these bundles are super cheap.  Definitely worth getting one or two.

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You’ll want to make sure that the boxes you use for your breakables are among your sturdiest.  If you can squish the box with your hand, imagine what that will be like when it’s on the bottom with a bunch of other heavy boxes of books on top.  Bad idea.  If you can find a double-walled box, then all the better.  Boxes from liquor stores are also handy in these situations, because they have those handy cardboard separators inside to keep things from banging into each other.

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When wrapping up your items, remember, this ain’t no Christmas gift.  Be messy with your wrapping job.  The more wrinkles in the paper, the more space between this item and something else.  Feel free to wrap something up and then wrap it all over again, just to give it an extra cushion.

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When wrapping plates, you’ll probably end up with one side of the plate being cushioned with a lot of extra paper, and the other side having relatively little (for me that’s generally the bottom of the plate).  That’s fine — just make sure that you then put the more vulnerable side of the plate up against the more cushioned side of another plate.

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The vulnerable side.

Another important note about packing plates: pack the plates in the box on their sides, not stacked one on top of the other.  Why?  Because if there is a shock to the box (say, someone drops it a little more roughly than intended), then there will be less pressure to the edge of a plate with only its own weight to bear than one on the bottom of a box with fourteen others nestled on top of it.  IF you get a breakage with plates on their sides, then it will be restricted likely to chips one or two plates, and not smashes to the whole box, which is more likely if you stack them on top of each other.

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For stemware, you have to be really careful.  If you have those cardboard separators or a special stemware box, that’s fantastic.  All our stemware is different sizes and shapes so I prefer to pack them each individually.  And if I can, I like to ease them snugly into my vases, for added protection.

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When wrapping stemware, concentrate a goodly amount of your paper at the stem, which is the most fragile part.

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You can see the little extra ring of stiffer paper around the bottom of this glass.

Once you’ve got it wrapped, slide it into another container — vase, jar, doesn’t matter.  You want a snug fit, but don’t force it: remember that if you have trouble getting it into wherever you’re stuffing it, it will be even more difficult to get it out, and you don’t want to break it after having already safely moved it.

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Padding is extra important, obviously.  I have used a fleece blanket in the bottom of my box.  When putting your vases and larger/heavy fragile items into your boxes, think a little about the physics of the things first.  Is your vase heavier on the top than on the bottom?  Maybe you should put it in the box upside down, then.  With fragile stuff, it’s also a good idea to put them in the box as they would be stored in your house, on the pressure points upon which they were constructed to sit.  This means that your vases should be put in the box either upright or upside-down (in the case of those gravity-defying ones), and not sideways or on an angle.

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Don’t be afraid to use crumpled newsprint or other padding between your items so they don’t clink into each other.  Remember these lovely coffee-filter peonies?  Turns out they crush up nicely into little buffers between my big-ticket items.  That was Mrs. Nice’s idea.

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With breakables, you don’t want them butting right against the lid of the box.  This is not to say you’re not packing your box to the fullest, but you’re using padding instead.  So leave a bit of space between the tops of your items and the lid of the box, and fill that instead with lots of crumpled newsprint (packed tight) or another blanket.  Once the box is sealed, you can do the same “shake test” you did with your non-fragile items, and you should be good to go.  Remember, if you hear things moving around in the box, you’ll need to add some extra stuffing.  You don’t want those precious breakables shaking, rattling, and rolling around all the way down the highway, do you?

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Leave an inch or two of space at the top.
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Fill that space with something soft and solid.

One of the most important things to remember here, in the end, is that the stuff you’re packing is just stuff, after all.  Sure, it may have sentimental value, but it’s just a thing.  If it breaks, it’s not the end of the world.  If it’s worth fixing, it can be fixed.  If it’s not, then that’s one less item cluttering up your life.  If you’re really worried about your great-grandmother’s wedding crystal and you don’t trust yourself to do it right, then pay the extra bucks to get a professional to do it for you, and make sure it’s insured.  Just keep in mind when I say extra bucks I mean EXTRA.  When I was doing this for a living about a dozen years ago, packing a china service for four would run you about $300.  Is it worth it?  That’s up to you!

Moving Tips: A General Timeline and Philosophy

I’ve got so many good moving tips for you.  Before I go into detail again on packing things like delicate items (which you will see Friday), I thought I’d take a step back and give you a more general idea of all the things you should be thinking about when you’re planning a move.  You may find some of the ideas in here repeated in some other posts, but that’s just because they’re very important ideas to my moving philosophy.

Do the Paperwork (and the Legwork).

Address changes: There’s always paperwork involved with moving, the least of which is ensuring that your new address is registered with everyone who sends you mail.  The convenience of modern technology means that you can change most of your correspondence online — or better yet, take the green option to have your correspondence (bank statements, magazines, charitable organizations) sent to you electronically.  Make arrangements to cancel or transfer your phone, power, water, and any other bills associated with the house.  Make sure the Tax Man knows where you’re moving, and notify your school, work, hair salon, veterinarian, and any medical professionals you visit, if you know that they keep your address on file.  And make sure your friends and family know where you’re going, as well.  It would really be lame if one of them dropped in only to find out you didn’t live there anymore.

Asking the professionals: Many people my age move with the help of their friends, because we are broke and it’s just easier sometimes, especially for short distances.  When the Pie and I moved from Ottawa to St. John’s, we booked (well in advance) a 36-foot UHaul and put everything we owned in it and drove it across the country (you can check out my photo record of that epic road trip here).  This time, my sainted mother has decreed that she doesn’t like the idea of us doing that again so she’s paying for a moving company to come and take our material goods away for us.  When hiring a moving company to work for you, make sure to shop around and get the best price for the service you want.

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Me and the Pie. We took Angor to Fredericton and dropped him off on the way.

Do some research on the companies you are looking at and read the customer reviews of the same.  Make sure that when getting an estimate for a move a member of the organization visits your home in person to evaluate what you have before giving you a real cost for the move.  Find out if the company offers a discount for packing your own materials, and, if so, if they require you to use their company’s packing materials to do so.  There may be differences in cost for insurance as well, if you pack your own things.  In addition, some companies offer a discount for moves that occur in the middle of the month, as opposed to the end or the beginning of the month, so make sure to ask.  Remember that the summer months are a busy time for movers so if you’re moving between May and September, make sure to book well in advance.

Legal stuff: If you’ve signed a new lease or rental agreement or just bought a new home, make sure you have gone over the documentation carefully ahead of time just to make sure that there will be no surprises waiting for you on moving day.  Many rental agencies insist that tenants obtain renters’ insurance before they can get the keys to move in, so make sure to shop around to get the best rates.  In practice, you may never need your renters’ insurance, but that’s the case with most insurance.  We have had two sets of friends lose their apartments to fire and without insurance have been unable to recoup their losses.  Something to think about.

File forwarding: If you are moving between cities, states, provinces, or countries, you’ll need to make sure that you bring with you your file history for practices you visit.  This could be your lawyer, accountant, doctor, dentist, chiropractor, pharmacist — anyone who would have a case history for you.  If you know where you’re going, and if you know the name of the practitioner you are switching to, you can arrange for one practice to transfer your file from one to the other.  For doctors within Canada, for example, they can do this electronically.  If you don’t know where you’re going, however, you might want to keep hold of those files yourself.  For a fee, the practitioner can make you a copy of anything you need.

Purge, Purge, and Purge Some More.

You really don’t need it: From every move I’ve participated in, I would have to say that the major issues and mishaps that occur are entirely related to that vague and yet oh-so-appropriate term, STUFF.  I can’t stress this enough: you really don’t need all the “stuff” that you have, and you especially don’t need it when you’re about to pack it up and move it somewhere else.

Consider your space: If you know where you’re moving, you can get a general idea of what stuff you have will fit in the new space and what won’t.  If you’re moving into a bigger space, resist the urge to keep everything in order to fill in the gaps.  Stuff for stuff’s sake is never worth the hassle.  If you’re moving into a smaller space, then less stuff is ideal.  And if, like us, you are not sure of the space you are moving to (all of our things are going into storage for a while as we live with my parents for a couple months), then the less stuff you have, the better.  The last time I helped Stef move, I packed his tiny kitchen up carefully only to discover that he owned about 97 mugs, none of which even remotely fit into his new, tinier kitchen.

Take your time: If you have advance notice of your move, take time to consider what you want to bring with you.  Approach one room at a time, or one section of a room, or even a bookshelf, or just a cabinet, and sort through it, evaluating what you want to bring and what you don’t.  If you do this enough in advance you can probably go through the same area again at a later date and get rid of more stuff.

My rule of thumb for stuff management: We have a rule in our household for keeping what we own to a minimum, and keeping our closets and cupboards as decluttered as possible.  If you haven’t worn it, used it, or displayed it in over a year, get rid of it.  It’s that simple.

If you haven’t worn that dress in a full season, chances are that it is out of style now and you don’t have any accessories to go with it anymore.  Does it even still fit?  Never keep anything with the idea that someday it will fit again.  By the time it does you will probably not want it anymore anyway.  And do you really need that many pairs of socks?  Really?

Moving Closets

Do you use that extra-large party fondue pot?  Like, ever?  Don’t keep stuff (unless it’s emergency survival equipment) in case of a what-if.  And do you really need that many mugs?  Really?

You know that picture that your great-aunt gave you that you hate, but you feel like you can’t throw it away because it was given to you by a family member?  Don’t worry about it.  You might as well donate it to a thrift store and maybe someone else can have it who would appreciate it more.  Sure, we all have sentimental attachments to stuff.  But in the end it’s just stuff.  Your feelings about your great-aunt won’t change if you don’t have this picture.  Because the picture doesn’t have feelings.

That’s not to say that you can’t keep things with sentimental value.  We definitely have a lot of that kind of stuff on display in our house, right where we can see it every day and think about the person or event to which that object is attached.  And yes, we do have things we keep for sentimental value that we don’t display, or use, or wear.  But for each of us that’s limited to one medium-sized box, and we go through that box often enough to see what still pulls at our heart strings.  For me, it’s do you really need that many rocks from the beach and bits of shell?  Really?

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Mostly my answer is yes. But I’m getting better.

Before you chuck your stuff in the garbage, however, ask yourself if there is a better place for it.  Many electronics retailers will help you to recycle old televisions and DVD players.  You can try to sell stuff on Craigslist or Kijiji or eBay or Amazon, and if you can’t do that, then have a yard sale.  And if nobody buys it, see if any of your friends or family wants or needs it.  And if they don’t want it, donate it to a thrift shop or charity flea market.  Or recycle it.  Or upcycle it into something else that you want or need.  And if all that fails, then yes, feel free to just throw it out.  Just remember that some items, like batteries, CRT televisions, and many electronics have special needs when it comes to disposal, and in many cities, you can make appointments with your garbage service to come and pick up large or hazardous items.

A Few Weeks Before Moving:

Get help: Let’s face it.  You cannot do all of this yourself.  Ask your friends.  Ask your neighbours.  Ask your family to come and help you move when the time comes.  Real friends are those who will help you move.  And you will help them move.  And they will not complain, and neither will you.  And those are the rules.

Box Party
We had a party the last time we moved. Most of the invitees to the party came out a few days later to help us load the truck.

Transportation: And if those friends own station wagons or trucks, then they are really true friends and you should keep them forever.  If not, if you’re over 25 in Canada you can rent a truck of your own.  Very handy for moving the larger items.  If you feel comfortable driving one, and you have a lot of stuff, look into renting a larger cube van, from a company like UHaul.  That way you only need to make one trip (though you will need to be aware of the parking situation at your home and future home to make sure this is a feasible option).

Drivin'

Food: Take a look at your pantry.  Are there packages of noodles and cans of peas in there that you aren’t going to use?  Donate those to the local food bank and stop stocking up on extra items when you grocery shop.  If you’re moving locally you can keep whatever food you want, but on a long-distance move you want to keep this stuff to a minimum, so clear out whatever you can.  Start eating what’s in your freezer, too, and go through all the opened condiments in your refrigerator.

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Fix it up: Living anywhere for any amount of time means a certain amount of wear and tear on the place.  If it’s fixable, now is the time to do it, and doing it right will ensure that you’ll get your security/cleaning deposit back when you go.  Start patching holes in your walls and touching them up with paint.  If you scuffed the wall, you can scrub that off.  If you changed certain features, like lighting fixtures or shower heads, make sure you return them to their original state before you move.  There’s probably only so much you can do, especially if you’re in a rental, but do your best.

Wall Scuffs

Pack It UP!

If you are having a moving company pack your boxes, then good for you — instead of dealing with the hassle of having to wrap up and pack everything you own, you will now just hover over their shoulders and hope they don’t break anything.  Because stuff breaks.  It just does.  But it’s just stuff.  Don’t sweat it.

The right stuff: If you’re packing on your own, make sure you have the supplies right for the job.  I like to re-use boxes and so have been keeping a stash in my garage for just this purpose, but you have to make sure the boxes you are re-using are sturdy and up to the task.  If you are packing fragile items, make sure the boxes are double-walled to avoid crushing.

Packing up the headboard
You can make your own custom-sized boxes with the aid of a knife and some good tape.

Bubble wrap is very handy for packing electronics and delicate items, but use it sparingly, as it is expensive.  Avoid foam peanuts.  They tend to settle in transit, leaving empty spaces, they get everywhere when you are packing and unpacking, and many forms of them are next to impossible to dispose of.

Newsprint is a good buffer and filler between objects.  Make sure to use plain newsprint on your nicer objects, as the ink from the printed stuff comes off on your fingers and can stain your stuff.

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Packing tape and a tape gun are a must.  Have you tried using packing tape without a tape gun?  That’s an exercise in frustration.  And as someone who has worked in shipping before, I have my own preferences for what works.  I actually prefer the packing tape sold by Canada Post to every other kind — it’s tougher and it tears better.

Also make sure to have a few box cutters on hand to cut open the boxes you just packed when you realize you accidentally sealed your cellphone in that last carton.

Old dirt, new dirt: This is another major rule for me: I always clean off all my stuff before I move it.  That means washing curtains and rugs, wiping down pictures, dusting figurines and furniture … all that stuff.  You are probably already going to be cleaning your new house when you move in — even if it’s just sweeping up after the movers have left — so what’s the point in bringing old dirt with you?  Nothing sucks more than pulling out something from a box you just moved to find out that before you can put it away you need to wash it first.

Exercise caution: When you have sealed a carton, especially if it’s full of fragile material, should be able to shake the box quite roughly and hear nothing shifting on the inside.  Remember that your fragile stuff is going to be on the same truck as the rest of your stuff and it’s going to get bashed around quite a bit.

Labels are key: Make sure as well that each box is labeled (with a fat permanent marker) with the generalities of what’s inside and what room it’s supposed to go into at the destination location.  This will make everyone’s work a lot easier.  Because our stuff is going into storage when we get to Ottawa, I need to be a bit more specific with my boxes, and I’ve actually numbered each one and itemized the contents in a spreadsheet so I know exactly what’s in each one, and I can see which boxes I need to keep with me.  It also means that if I’m looking for something while it’s in storage I don’t need to cut open every box to find it, because I’ll know right where it is.  But that’s a little extreme for just a regular move.  If you label your box “KITCHEN: UTENSILS” that will probably be sufficient.

Last in, first out: I usually have a box or bucket or crate that is filled with basic cleaning supplies, like glass cleaner, surface cleaner, a few cloths, paper towels, toilet paper, a broom and a mop, and these are things that will leave my old house last.  They will be packed at the door of the moving van so that I can unpack them first.  You will want to do some last minute tidying when you leave your old place and some cleaning when you get to the new place, so it’s a handy thing to have.  Also you will probably use more toilet paper on moving day than you anticipate, so always carry a spare roll.

A Few Days Before Moving:

Finish that food: Go through your food stores one more time and donate, give away, or throw out everything you’re not going to eat in the next few days.  You will have some stuff to chuck on moving day, but the last thing you want to be doing that day is sitting there with your fridge door open, throwing out or packing food while everyone has to dodge around you with boxes.

For your furry, feathered, and scaly friends: Make arrangements for any pets you have to spend moving day somewhere quiet and secure, like a friend’s house (or better yet, the day before and the day after as well).  When my parents come to visit in early August they will be taking Gren home with them on the return flight.  Moving is a stressful business for pets, what with people coming in and out constantly, things being moved around, and it would be a simple matter for a dog or cat to escape through a propped-open door while you’re distracted with something else, or for a smaller caged pet to catch a chill in the drafts during a cold-weather move.  Best to just put them somewhere else where you don’t have to worry about them.

Big Game Hunter 1

Clean some more: Most of your major cleaning should be done by now — wipe down every shelf after you pack its contents, dust the furniture as you dismantle it.  Don’t move old dirt.  And if you’re lucky enough to have access to your new place before moving day, take a tour around there and see what needs to be cleaned up before you get there.  I’m not a huge fan of moving into someone else’s dirt, so I always want a few days to clean up before moving if I can get it.

Be organized: If you have lovely friends who are going to help you move, make sure you make it easy for them.  Make sure as the time draws near that everything is packed as it should be.  Dismantle all the furniture that you can without their help.  Ensure all your boxes are properly labeled, and sort out all the logistics of the big day so there will be no hiccups for your friends when the time comes.

Moving Day:

Delegate: You can’t be in both places at once.  Make sure you can delegate someone who can direct movers and give reasonable instructions and answer questions when you’re not around to do so.  Someone needs to be at the new place to greet the movers, to arrange for elevator service, or to let people in.  And someone needs to be at the old place to do the same stuff.  Moving is a team effort.  With the advent of cellphones this is easier, because everyone can be in constant communication.

Food for the minions: Remember that the people who are helping you move, regardless of whether they are your friends or if you are paying them to do so, are handling all your prized possessions.  So it behooves you to be very nice to them, and this includes FEEDING them.  Make sure to have your fridge or cooler stocked with drinks (especially if it’s a hot day), though save the alcoholic ones for the fridge at the destination house.  Put out some sandwich making materials and other snack foods.  Moving is rough work and people get mighty grumpy when they’re hungry.  Make sure as well, if it’s friends moving you, that you treat them to a meal and a drink afterwards, just as a thank you for their hard work.

When all is said and done: Finally the old place is empty … or is it?  Have you done your due diligence when it comes to cleaning the place?  Are all the surfaces wiped down and dust-free?  Has the bathroom been cleaned?  Make sure the toilet and bathtub are scrubbed, and remove old, stained shower curtains.  Take out the garbage and sweep and mop the floors.  Imagine how you would want a place to look the first time you walk in, and that’s the condition you should leave it in before you hand over the keys.

The things we leave behind: Some stuff always remains when you leave a place.  It might be the appliances, or the furniture, or whatever.  Before you leave it, make sure it’s clean and that it works, and make sure the manuals for any appliances are put somewhere that the new tenants can find them.  I’m also leaving the future tenants at Elizabeth the remainders of the paint from when we re-did the rooms, with clear labels should they wish to buy more.  And in the bathroom I like to leave a roll of toilet paper, and a bar of soap, for emergencies.

The Day After You Move:

You can never say thanks too much: Once you’ve got yourself settled in, make sure to contact your moving helpers with an official thank you, just to let them know you really appreciate what they did — even if they broke your teapot (or, in the case of Krystopf and Stef, put one of my statues through a wall).  If you’d been on your own, you probably would have broken a lot more stuff.

For Cait - No Trucks

We’re going with Allied Van Lines this time around.  We’ve dealt with them before and they offer very professional and efficient service.  They also have their own checklists and timelines that you might find useful, even if you go with another company or choose to go it alone.  You can check out some of their tips here.

Moving Tips: Packing It Up

You might know that the Pie and I are moving back to Ottawa in the middle of August.  Now, I’m not a professional mover or anything, but I have moved.  Often.  And because of my fancy set of organizational and OCD skills, I have helped most of my friends move, often more than once. Heck, I can even park a truck.

de la Republique
Oh yeah. That’s between the yellow lines. Just.

Many people find moving to be extraordinarily stressful, but in my opinion that’s simply a result of poor planning.  I have certainly participated in some BAD moves when helping out friends at the last minute.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  So beginning today I have for you some tips I’ve picked up over the years that might help you out, whether you’re moving down the block or to the other side of the world. Today we’re going to focus on the packing process itself.

Re-use, re-use, re-use!

Commercial packing materials are bloody expensive. So if you know you’re going to be moving in a few months, start hoarding your materials. This nice brown packing paper came with something I ordered online, and was very handy in wrapping my fragile items.

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You know what also makes good packing material? Wool. Cotton. Fleece. Here I used a winter scarf to line the bottom of a box containing fragile items. An extra bit of padding goes a long way.

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This scarf makes a great buffer around the edges of the box.

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This one is nice and long and goes around a fragile object enough times to make it safe.

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Don’t move old dirt.

Wash yo’ stuff before you stuff it in a box.  Give everything a good wiping before you stow it away.  No sense in transporting old grease and dust to a new place.

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Put like with like, and stuff within stuff.

You got photos displayed everywhere? Great. Put them all in the same box. Makes it easier to find later. Stack them so they pack nicely. Putting all similar objects together will strengthen them and also make your packing job much more simple.

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Got small or fragile stuff?

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Put it inside other stuff to protect it.

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Heavy stuff on the bottom. Always.

This is just simple physics. If you don’t want your stuff getting broken or dropped or otherwise messed up, put the heavy stuff at the bottom of the box.

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Also remember that the bigger the box you fill, the lighter the stuff is that goes in it. If you can’t lift the box, then chances are a mover (your friend or a professional) isn’t going to be too happy about carrying it either.

Empty space is a bad thing.

Do you have negative space in your box? Fill it the heck up. Even if it’s within an item.

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Remember that any empty spaces in your box allow other items to shift, which could possibly damage your stuff.

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Make sure your boxes are all packed to the gills and secure. A good way to do this is to put smaller items inside a smaller box, packed tight …

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… and then put that smaller box inside a larger box.

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And then fill up any extra space with something squishy.

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Once the box is sealed you should be able to shake it back and forth and not hear anything rattling around inside. If you can hear something, you need to re-pack that box.

A good label goes a long way.

This may seem super OCD to you but it is crucial that you label your boxes properly. Firstly, label your boxes on the SIDE of the box. They’ll all be stacked on top of each other and people can’t read the top if it’s got another box on top.

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Secondly, put your NAME on the boxes. If your moving company is putting your stuff in a big truck and taking it somewhere else, chances are the company is moving someone else’s stuff at the same time. Best way to ensure your boxes don’t get mixed up is if you label them with your name.

Thirdly, put an arrow on the box to show the movers the right side up. No sense in opening boxes upside down!

Fourthly, you’ll want to number your boxes, and create a box inventory. I know, it seems over the top, but it’s a good idea.

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If you number the box, then you’ll know right away if one of them is missing. And if you label the box with the items inside it and the room it is supposed to belong in, then moving day will go that much smoother for you.

A box inventory is also crucial if, like us, you are putting a large number of your items in storage for the short term. This way you don’t have to go opening every box when you are looking for Aunt Mabel’s wedding present.

More tips to follow in the coming months!