#NoNewvember Challenge!

I’m really excited today to finally share a challenge I’ve been thinking of creating / sharing / doing for years. Having a baby and then emigrating kept me busy the past few Novembers, but this year I can share my idea and challenge that I hope you will jump on board with this month; my #NoNewvember Challenge!

I’d like to think the hashtag is pretty self-explanatory, but for the sake of adding more sustenance to this blog post, I’ll explain in more detail and give all the positive reasons for choosing to join my #NoNewvember Challenge.

The challenge I’m setting is for the month of November; should you need to buy something for your home, for yourself or for someone close to you, I challenge you to try and source that thing secondhand vs. buying something brand new. This is essentially a newer version of my Nearly New Wood Challenge [please excuse the higgledy-piggledyness of the layout of that post] from a few years ago but come on, this one is punny and everyone seems to be on board for monthly challenges these days. I’ve got to try and keep up with what the kids are doing.

For me, the three absolute main selling points to try this challenge are …

1. THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
I try not to talk too much doom and gloom about the current environmental climate, but it’s something I think about every single day. Buying secondhand pieces vs. buying a brand new factory-made piece is kind of a no brainer for me. It’s become far too normal to mindlessly buy things we don’t need. Take charge and become more conscious of what you’re buying and what type of market you’re feeding. The environmental impact of creating new products is overwhelming. The fashion industry alone is one of the most harmful contributors to pollution and climate change. I don’t want to focus on the negative, but this is now our reality and this is one of the many ways I’m trying to proactively do something and do something positive. Everything you need is already made and living out there somewhere! Get creative about what you need and enjoy the challenge of finding that perfect secondhand thing! For me, the challenge and reward of finding something perfect secondhand is one of the best parts.

2. BUYING SECONDHAND WILL SAVE YOU MONEY
There is nothing that gives me more smug levels of joy than telling people how I got this amazing thing and for like $20. Like our dining room chandelier. That cost me just $10 and it’s more beautiful than a baby’s first smile. Buying secondhand will 99% of the time be cheaper than buying brand new items, and especially with Christmas just around the corner, who wouldn’t like a bit of extra cash? Hi, my name is Alex and I like not spending huge amounts of money. Who’s with me?

3. IT’S [FOR THE MOST PART] ONE OF A KIND
Yes, I know, technically there is going to be more than one of the secondhand thing you found because if it was made 30 years ago there for sure wasn’t just one made, but those things aren’t currently on shelves at over a thousand stores nationwide. I have found some of the most amazing things secondhand and for me, that is so exciting. And some times choosing to buy secondhand has meant they’ve been sturdier and better made than what you can buy brand new nowadays.

You can apply the #NoNewvember Challenge to so many things for you and your home. From couches to curtains and sweaters to scooters, you can source it all secondhand. For example, this summer I was in desperate need of shorts once it climbed above 40°C. I looked in main brand stores for a week or two and found nothing that would suit my shape or basic requirement to have a crotchal section in a pair of shorts. I went to our local Value Village and within 30 minutes I had found two pairs of secondhand shorts that I not only felt very comfortable in, but actually looked good in. That is no easy feat for me.

Another example is for Cora’s birthday a few weeks ago I took to Kijiji to find a present and found a secondhand wooden play kitchen which was not only a fraction of the price of buying a brand new one, but it was exactly what I was looking for, would not have been able to buy locally and would have spent a small fortune on shipping. I found the original toy wooden kitchen online and it retails for $450 brand new. Hell no, I would not have spent that much IRL. I spent a fraction of that [and of course, I will be sharing it soon!].

I could go on and give more examples, but basically my entire blog is kind of now based on secondhand stuff so feel free to keep scrolling and see all the things I’ve found secondhand over the years. I’m also hoping to share each day this month a photo per day of some of my favourite secondhand pieces I’ve found over the years that I love just as much as the day I found them (and use often). I’ll be sharing them on social media, and at the end of the month I’ll be sharing a blogpost with all the #NoNewvember finds that are shared and posted online!

So please share your favourite finds using #NoNewvember online and help spread the word about my new challenge!

p.s. Obviously, there are some things I can understand you would not buy secondhand; undergarments, dentures, pillow inserts, hygiene products, mattresses etc. There is a line that maybe shouldn’t be crossed, but that line is pretty far away and to be honest there aren’t many things on that list. Please use your own judgement.

Emigrating to Canada – one year in

One year ago today I finished packing our four suitcases, Robert dismantled Cora’s crib and together we wrangled it into a box, secured it shut, coaxed Juniper and Toshi into their cat carriers, locked the front door to our Dublin apartment and left the keys in the post box. We headed to the airport and there began the beginning of a very long journey from Dublin to Ottawa.

I think in an effort to save myself, I mentally checked out the entire day we traveled which meant whenever there was a problem, I calmly solved it instead of having a massive melt down. Like when we missed the last train from Montréal to Ottawa and we had to get a taxi for the 2 hour journey to our new apartment at 23:00 …

I really can’t believe that was all a year ago. It’s been a good year, but it’s also been tough.


Robert and I with Cora, Juniper and Toshi, two backpacks, four suitcases and Cora’s crib. Picture via @scruffy_lookin_nerfherder.

Emigrating has been much more difficult than I thought it would be. We started from the beginning with everything. We slept on the floor for three weeks, we ate sitting against the wall since we had no chairs, we kept takeout containers to reuse as dishes, we had one pan and used it to make everything; porridge, stir fry, Cora’s formula, everything. Our first winter was tough since Robert started a new job and would be gone for 12 hours a day. It was too cold to bring Cora outside because she was a flimsy little toddler then and she was [rightly so] stir crazy most days so she screamed a lot.

Summer seemed to come quickly and again, sometimes it was too hot to bring Cora outside for long periods of time. It felt like there was about a month where the temperature was no lower than 40°C. It felt like the only time I wasn’t sweating was when I was standing in the shower. Cora was a different kind of frustrated because it was too hot to even do anything at home. The humidity was exhausting and we could barely escape it. I had an endless number of things on my list [and a lot of it pressure I decided to dump on myself needlessly], but had zero cares to do any of it because of the heat.


What Robert and I slept on for nearly 4 weeks. Picture via @scruffy_lookin_nerfherder.

We didn’t [and still don’t] have a car. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you’re living in a country like Canada where everything is so much father apart, it takes a lot of planning to get anything done. For example, for me to get paint samples from Home Depot for the One Room Challenge, I had to wait until 18:30 for Robert to come home, walk to the bus stop, take two buses to Home Depot [as there was no direct route from our neighbourhood] which took the best part of an hour and a half, choose tester pots of paint, walk back to the bus stop and do the reverse hour and a half journey home. And I ended up going back two more times until I got the right colour. If we had a car it would be a 15 minute drive to Home Depot. It’s just as bad for me to go grocery shopping except I bring a suitcase to put all our groceries in and get the bus home. It takes a lot of planning to do really basic things and now that I’m working full time, once I get home, entertain Cora and serve dinner, I’m exhausted. It’s mentally exhausting planning everything out, but once we get a car, I think we’ll be in a much better place.

Up until January I still had hip problems. There was a period where I could barely carry Cora and walk at the same time. Walking from the living room to the kitchen was a chore, so anything above and beyond that was overwhelming. I couldn’t turn a corner and pivot my hips without being in pain. A lot of emotional eating happened because what else would you do when you’re trapped indoors with a toddler when it’s -35°C outside? [This is where a lot of my anger towards “loosing baby weight” comes from. 1. It’s not anyone’s business what a woman looks like before or after she has a baby. Or regardless of her having a baby. It’s not your business. 2. If a woman does put on weight, you don’t know the endless painful physical or mental or hormonal circumstances for it happening. If she’s able to form a sentence and her child is fed, you should be applauding her].

Though most of this post has sounded like complaining, it’s meant to be far from it. It’s been hard work but I can feel we’re moving in the right direction. Through everything that has happened, we’ve never doubted our decision to move from Ireland to Canada. Even though Robert and I haven’t been out by ourselves since moving here [as we still don’t really know anyone / any babysitters. Unfortunately we’re antisocial AF]. It’s slow and hard work, but I honestly don’t think we’d appreciate our situation if it came to us easily. We have a lot more work ahead of us and I still have a long list of things I [feel I need] to do, but every day it is getting easier. We’ve been through and solved so many things as a little family of three than I could ever have imagined. Looking back over the past year and seeing the changes we’ve made and hurdles we’ve crossed makes me feel very proud and I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store.

If you’re curious, you can read the reasons why we decided to move to Canada here!

Storage bench makeover with Fusion Mineral Paint

I’m sorry. I did it again. I painted a thing. Is this get boring? Correct answer: NO.

The relentless humidity we’ve been experiencing here in Ottawa broke last weekend and in a burst of energy, I started to organize our front hallway. One of the many updates I’ve wanted to make to our hallway was to add a storage trunk of sorts that could hold our hats, mittens and scarves in the winter and store our shoes in the summer. I also wanted it to be cushioned so we could sit on it, but it could be no wider than 40 inches as that’s the exact width of the small alcove-type space in our hallway. So I did what I do best and logged in to Kijiji to see what I could find.

It took me a long time to not only find the right size storage bench, but one that hadn’t already been taken by someone with a car that could pick it up sooner than I could. I’m talking like 10 months of searching to find something, but F I N A L L Y last weekend I found a storage bench that no one wanted, that would fit our picky hallway nook and the owner offered to deliver it to me for free. Yassss.

It was a storage bench only a mother could love. It was made almost exactly 51 years ago [according to the stamp on the inside saying “October 1967”] and was covered in brown and beige faux leather material. It was pretty fugly, but I could see its potential.

It is very well made and has some heavy-duty hinges and for $40, it was a total deal in my mind. A few hours after it was delivered I was painting it with my now very reliable Fusion Mineral Paint. The storage bench isn’t going to be a major focal point in our hallway, so I wanted it to be in a dark colour that could hide the scuffs and scrapes that come with an entryway, so I painted it in Coal Black from Fusion Mineral Paint. Just like our painted tufted leather armchair!

I painted two coats of Fusion Mineral Paint’s “Coal Black” on the dark brown sections and three coats were needed to cover the lighter beige [in the photo above you can see the difference between two coats of paint on the beige vs. one coat of paint on the right. The two coats were good, but still streaky so a third coat was needed]. I took my time and left the bench for a few hours between each coat.

After the three coats were painted, I left the storage bench open overnight [so the paint on the seams wouldn’t seal shut] and by the next morning it was ready to be used.

I continue to be amazed by how well Fusion Mineral Paint works on leather [and faux leather alike]. The coverage is perfect and you honestly cannot tell it’s a piece that has been painted. I’m not just saying this because Fusion Mineral Paint sent me paint. I’m saying this because I feel more people need to know that the DIY possibilites with paint are becoming more and more endless. If you see a secondhand piece of leather [or faux leather] furniture for sale but the colour isn’t your favourite and the thought of having it reupholstered is making you gently weep, know that painting it with Fusion Mineral Paint is 9,000% an option.

Our hallway is still a WIP, so it’ll be a few weeks before I’m able to properly photograph our storage bench in its new home. But for now, I’d like to thank Fusion Mineral Paint, again, for providing me with paint to do this project [and a few more coming soon!]. It means a lot to this busy working mom who is barely holding it all together 💕

DISCLOSURE – while this post is not sponsored, I did receive this paint free of charge from Fusion Mineral Paint in exchange for a blog post. I only work with brands that I like and of course, think you will too. Thank you for supporting the companies that support The Interior DIYer.