Sunday, February 19, 2017

Launching My New Etsy Shop

I mentioned briefly in my last post about opening a new online shop.
This post I am formally introducing it.

Just Teacups on Etsy

 Just teacups for now, plates and teapots I will be adding down the road.

  I remember the first time I held a teacup in my hand.
On my 17th birthday, my mother gave me my first fine china dinner set.

 Up to that point, I was a typical teenager.
Just finishing up my final year of high school.  Wondering where my life would go from there.

It was pink, it was elegant, it was dainty.  It was the most beautiful gift I had every received in my life.

 That pivotal moment would lay the map on my appreciation for these fine pieces of porcelain for years to come.
As I grew into a woman, married and raised a family on my own, I have always stayed close to my passion for fine china.

That same year on Christmas, my 17th Christmas, she gave me my first Christmas dishes.
That year was a pretty good one wasn't it!

Around the same time I was introduced to the actual drink of tea.
I am thinking this is what put into motion her starting these collections.
She just knew me.
For years after that she would add one place setting per year, or another piece to either one of these patterns.

I love it all, both fine china and transferware.
Don't have a preference for them both equally.
And sell both styles in my shop.

Since I opened up my Etsy shop last week, I have been busy photographing my teacups for sale.
In the next few weeks I should be including plates and placesettings as well.
But for now, my main focus is just teacups.

I also opened up a new Instagram page for my new shop.
Displaying images of my new listings, or just posting some pics of pretty teacups I have.
Just Teacups on Instagram, follow along if you're on IG.

 As most of you know I own a house construction business.
I renovate houses and stage them.
Of late I have not been feeling my decorating groove, the reno side of things taking every thought in my head.
The other day I was out antiquing and came across a lovely vintage teacup, my heart ever so lightly skipped a bit.
When I came home I decided right there and then this is what I needed.
I opened up a teacup shop online.  Since then, I feel it all coming back, I've got my decorating groove back!
I am steady laying out plans to what and where I am purchasing items to style each house.
And I am feeling so very, very excited about.  And there's a trip coming up....road trip!!
Thank you teacups.

But here's something ironic, what to know a secret.....
when I do make myself a spot of tea, it's actually in a hearty coffee mug....go figure.
This is the woman I am!

Follow along my new Etsy journey.
Just Teacups

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Friday, February 17, 2017

A Day in the Life of a Lady Contractor

 Welcome back to my profile of what life is like in the construction business.
And being a lady contractor.
I did a two part series, profiling what it takes and the day to day routine.
Read Part 1 here

So now that you know how I got to be a contractor, where I'm heading and my overall mentality,
follow along with me and spend a day in the life of a lady contractor.

I start my day early.  Up at 6am and usually out the door by 9.
Making a cup of tea, I crack open the laptop and start my daily ritual of administrative paperwork.
Answer email.  Map out any physical locations I have to go to.  Make a list of things that need to be picked up.
Confirm any appointments for that day.
Input in my ledger the expenses from the day before, in both wages and expenses.

 Out the front door right into the door of my new Jeep Liberty.
The black Jeep Patriot died over the Christmas holidays and it was torture without wheels,
but was so appreciative when I finally was able to get my new baby.
First stop is always a Tim Hortons coffee.  Small double double.
It use to be a larger size coffee, but these days I do try to monitor my daily caffeine intake.

The distance from one property to the other is approximately 110km.  A little over one hour one way.
This 110km is stretched out over the course of the day.
Each day I make my rounds to all four properties.

The stores
Before I make my way to the houses, I start off with the purchases.
The drywallers need material, stop off at Home Depot and pre-order it.
Stop in at Lowes, check out a few doors and while I'm there the plumbing department.
Grab something at Canadian Tire.  Maybe it's cheaper at Walmart.
Sometimes Canadian Tire have good prices on light fixtures, sometimes Walmart is better.
Painting is happening today, grab some drop sheets at the dollar store.
The lawyer wants those papers sent to him, stop off at Staples.
Investors wants pics of the renos, put a reminder in your phone.  Leave your phone in the car you will totally forget it in the store.
Darn it, forgot to price out laminate flooring, back to Home Depot.  And since I'm here, price out ceramic tile.
Pick out carpet for this room and an area rug for that one.
Meet that Kijiji seller to pickup that awesome find.
Need gas for the Jeep, hope it's full service.
I'm tired from all this rounding around, Tim Hortons drive thru. 

 The farmhouse
The blue farmhouse is finished renovations, with just a few minor things left to do.

I am slowly working on the staging and styling of this house.
Going with a classic farmhouse style, blended with a bit of primitive and a bit of vintage.

At this time, I am working on styling the newly finished master bedroom.
The bed, an area rug, curtains, a few chairs, a couple of lamps.

The country house
Not far from the farmhouse I make my way to the pretty little country house.
Located on a large property, surrounded by a few neighbours but not many in this very small town.

Not even a country variety store or gas station.  Just a small town with a handful of houses.
Blink and you've missed it small town.
Work started last week on this property.  The boys went in and spent 10 hours in one day with the demo.
The paneling came down from the walls, speaking of walls one came down to make room for a brand new entrance into one of the bedrooms.  This house will go from a two to a three bedroom house.
My target market for this house is a young family.
Like all my houses, it will get a new kitchen.  Shiplap in the livingroom and drywall throughout the rest of the house.

I pulled this mood board together to style this house for staging.

The flooring is good throughout the house, with exception to a few rooms that most likely will get new laminate wood flooring.
The crawlspace in this house will need a new facelift.

The bungalow
From the country house, depending on my mood, I can either jump on the 401 to get to this destination or take the scenic route.
 More than often, I take the scenic route.

For the last several weeks, lots of noise going on at this property.

We just finished intense work in the crawlspace.  Jacking the floor up, replacing support beams, sistering floor joists, installing a brand new sump pump, vapour barrier on the ground.
Demo started with the kitchen throughout the house.  Roof was replaced.
 This house is bigger than it looks, both inside and out.  And there is a lot on this property that needs my attention.  And these days its getting it.

The city condo
Lastly, there is the sweet city condo.

 What I love about this drive is not only the country peaceful drive, but I go through a Native American Indigenous community.
Never fails every time I drive through it, you can feel the rhythm of this historic part of the region.
It has a heartbeat.
Rich in folklore and traditions.  A close knit community.
You go from miles of country roads to deep woods and forest.  I am always seeing wildlife prancing around in the woods, or sometimes on the road.  Needless to say, always watching my speed.
Best of all there is a brand new food market and gas station....and wait for it....a small Tim Hortons outpost!
And the gas is always cheap.
I just love this part of my daily driving!

The condo needs very little renovations.  I am thinking maybe a new kitchen, or maybe not.

I have my eye on a new chanty for the dining room.
Can't wait to start decorating this little two story condo.
If you follow me on Facebook and IG, I change my decision almost weekly on how I'm going to style this place.
But I have now started to pull together an actual shopping list.
From IKEA to World Market to a shopping trip in America.
And what is starting to emerge is a classic traditional style.
What I have planned I am thinking will suit this place just perfectly.

A day in the life of a lady contractor.
I feel truly blessed to be doing something I love.
I'm busy, but it's a good busy.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Profile of a Lady Contractor

This is me.  And I am a contractor.
I just sort of stumbled upon it. Yet I have been flipping houses long before it was trendy.
I plan.  I build. I organize. I communicate. I spend.
I study. I get dirty. I operate noisy tools. I sweat. I pray.
I put on makeup and curl my hair.
I am a lady contractor.

I think about this time last year.
I owned a beautiful red brick farmhouse.  In pristine styled order.
Take the tour here

One year later, I own four properties.
The blue farmhouse, the bungalow, the country house and the city condo.
All in various stages of renovations or styling for market staging.
My world is construction, sub-contractors, hardware shopping, online shopping, phone calls, text messages, admin paperwork.

In the course of one year, how did I get from being a city lady moved to the country,
to a woman overlooking the complex renovations of several properties?
I had a plan one year ago.  A very good plan.
I sold my pretty brick farmhouse and set out to follow my goal.
My long term goal - living mortgage free in the country.
And happy to say, I'm still on track.  It's still going to take me a few more years yet, but I'm on track.

 Profile of a lady contractor
Well lets see.....
On site, I wear blue jeans, it would be crazy to wear anything else, I always walk away dirty. Always.
I have boots in my vehicle, a change of cloths, headbands to tie my hair back, several pair of work gloves.
I am a quirky woman, slightly insane.  But doing what I'm doing, my personality fits.
And never far away is a pretty good sense of humour.
I have money, but almost never have cash....totally hate that, but cash is hard to keep when you are buying for four properties.
And every once in a while I like to feed myself.

The team
I have over the year put together an excellent team.
Some know my long term goals, some don't.
They range from sub-contractors, drywallers, floor guys, electrical guys, basement guys, plumbers, lawyer, investors, advisors, employees.  A couple of sisters and my mother.

Throughout this blog post, you will see how much I love what I do.
Everyday I look forward to my being in each property.
I'm proud of all my houses and what I have achieved.
When I think back a decade, I had
I love my new vocation.  There's no turning back now.  There's no stopping me now.

The big boys
Without a doubt, it's a man's world.  I am a woman in a sea of men.
I would say when I am at the Contractors desk at any given hardware store, I am surrounded by 98% men.
But I hold up to these guys.  I know what I am ordering.  From sizes of lumber to the screws and nails that go with them.
Sure, I may not be able to carry the lumber around, but that's what the carts are for right!

I will confess sometimes in my world of construction, dirt, sawdust, mud and tools, sometimes I need pretty.
So to channel this need I sat down one day and opened up an Etsy shop selling teacups. Just like that! Just teacups.
So in a nutshell, I order bulks of nails, lumber, drywall and at the same time teacups.
I am a complex woman.

Lessons leaned
When I set out on this journey I knew it would not always be easy.
I gave myself some forgiveness for mistakes.  And I know there would be difficult choices to make.
And there would be times when there would be no money, no food.
And that I would be standing alone for parts of my journey.  And at times I would be defeated.

I would say I made a lot of mistakes with the blue farmhouse.  Lessons learn.
There would be workers I would befriend, and then have to watch them move on.
I'm pretty sure I have lost a few pounds when money got so tight, I went hungry.
But I have learned to appreciate more.  Food tastes better.
And with no vehicle, I  walked more.  I feel healthier.
I had time on my hands, I did a lot of thinking.  Made decisions.

This past December was a particular difficult month.
My vehicle breaks down.
And I was going through a difficult mortgage transaction.
A new investor, his mortgage broker and his lawyer had no idea had to process a private mortgage.
My own lawyer had to pretty much walk them through the legal process.  This took months.  Long grueling months.
So many things I should have done differently, I should have walked away when they made their first major mistake.
I suffered so badly. No money, no car, no food, very alone. Lesson learned.

These days I feel stronger.  I call the shots.  I pick and choose my investors.  I determine what is best for me, my investments, my goal.
But all the while still feel I have a few more lessons to learn.

Just recently I was able to buy myself a new vehicle....a Jeep Liberty.  I love my Jeeps.

Money may not always be plentiful, so I stock up on food.  In the freezer and cupboards.
I try to keep a small stash of cash for fuel.
I feel that much smarter.  I feel a little more in control.  I stand a bit taller.


Responsibilities of Four Properties
You would think that owning four properties would seem daunting.  Overwhelming.
Sure I have four hydro bills to pay.  Four mortgages.  Four gas bills.  Four tax bills.
But having four properties makes me feel secure.
The hydro gives me access to my computer to work on getting property number five.
And it gives power for my guys to build one more square foot of my dream.
The gas bill heats my home, allowing for a good nights sleep.
The mortgages remind me that I paid for these properties low and am selling them high.
I have private mortgages, someone was kind enough to give my dream flight.  Sure they make money, but thank you anyway.
The tax bill I see every time a snowplow goes up and down my road.  My garbage is picked up at my curbside.
The OPP drive around my community, keeping it safe.  The parks in the summer are breathtaking.

I am planning for a secure future, so I'm working my butt off now while I'm still in good health.
I may have a gypsy soul, staying put is hard for someone like me.  Commitments are tough.
But these responsibilities I take stone solid.  I protect my four houses.  I do not lose my investments.

Decorating 101
When I started this project, sure I had my long term goal mapped out.
But I so looked forward to the decorating end of these flip houses.
However, as time goes on I am finding I have less and less money to buy the furnishings I need to style it the way I want.
Most if not all of my money goes into the material end of renovating the houses.
So it is taking a little longer to style the houses that are finished.
And I will confess this frustrates me.  I love decorating houses.
But when it comes to buying a pretty table or paying for lumber and labour, the lumber and labour always wins.
I have started to budget a little more in detail for the decorating end of things.
While other parts of the reno material I am putting aside for a bit.
Trying to produce an even balance between the two areas of my job.

   So now that you know how I got to be a contractor, where I'm heading and my overall mentality,
follow along with me tomorrow and spend a day in the life of a lady contractor.

This is a two part series
Stay tune tomorrow for Part Two
A Day In The Life of a Lady Contractor

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