Full disclosure: sometimes, I want to steal stuff.

Now, don't worry. I'm no klepto. But sometimes, especially when I see something unloved and unappreciated just sitting around, I want to grab it. To give it a good home. A place where it would be loved.

This wouldn't be such a strange impulse if I was talking about, say, puppies or something. But I'm not talking about puppies. I'm talking about housewares. Furniture. You know, inanimate objects that are indifferent (as far as I know) to being loved or not.

Anyway. :)

Here's the thing: right now, at this very minute, there is something in my office that I want to steal. (I work at as a writer/editor at a cool graphic design and marketing communications firm in Toronto.) The item appeared, mysteriously, sometime over Victoria Day weekend. It's sitting right now in our shared kitchenette, sadly abandoned on the stove top. And I want it. Oh, how I want it.

It's a vintage Cathrineholm enamelware bowl (Scandanavian, from Norway to be exact) in an olive green lotus patten. And it looks very unloved indeed. (Well, not really, but I have to justify myself somehow, don't I?)
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Mid-century Scandinavian enamelware has become a popular collectible, but I've found it hard to discover much in the way of Catherineholm history. I know it's a defunct ironworks company. That's about it. Other bloggers have discovered more, as demonstrated in this post on Tandem Antiques.

Am I actually going to steal it?

Yes.

Just kidding. No, of course not. I may ask my boss about it, though. Who knows, maybe she'll just give it to me. Maybe.

A girl can dream, right?
 
 
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If you read this blog, or my Twitter feed with any regularity, you probably know that I've been really inspired by Craigslist finds lately. I keep seeing so many fabulous things that I want to buy.

The latest is a pair of wonderful, vintage farmhouse pendants. Industrial style. I wish wish wish I could buy them. At only $120 for the pair (that's $60 each) you really can't beat the price. Even big box stores don't offer pendants for that rate. And they certainly don't have anything with even half as much charm. Alas, I am in a rental. And I really can't keep investing in stuff like this without real need. I hope someone out there snaps these fixtures up. They really shouldn't go to waste. They may still be available, so if you're interested and in the Toronto area, check it out.

Anyway, I think a pair of lights like this could be used in a variety of different spaces, but the obvious choice would be in a kitchen. For example:

Vintage look from Canadian House and Home:
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Eclectic and semi-rustic from Marie Claire Maison:
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Sunny and 1930s retro from Southern Living:
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I recently thrifted this picture of an embroidered (or whatever you'd call it) Blue Jay. Now I'm trying to decide where to hang it. It was only $5.99 and I think I like it, but at the same time, I'm unsure. Is there any charm to this piece, or am I off my rocker? Sometimes, it's hard to tell.
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If you've been keeping track of all things Jen Selk of late, you've probably noticed that I've become addicted to Twiiter. One the things I've been doing with my feed is sharing Craigslist finds. These are not things I'm planning to buy. They're things I think worth buying. That said, I get that it can be hard to see what's great or worthwhile about a Craigslist item without using your imagination. So, here's what I've been thinking lately. Make of it what you will.

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I saw this dining set for sale for about $150 a couple of weeks ago. I don't think it works in it's current incarnation at all, but I loved those chairs. If I were to buy the set, I would break it up. I might put a couple of chairs in the living room. Or around a chunkier, wooden table with modern lines. The key is imagine these pieces out of context.

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The living room below was part of Country Living's 2009 House of the Year.
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Next, we have a round pedestal table. Always a good idea.  This one was a mere $20. I know it doesn't look like much, but remember that the context is key. It needs a clean and polish. Were you to buy it, you'd need to invest a little time a elbow grease into making it shine, but I think it could look really great.

It could fit into this eclectic space, featured in Living Etc.
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The pedestal table could also work well in a light, bright space like the one below. (Since the Ikea table in this room by super blogger and designer Sfgirlbybay is white, switch it up. The table I found is dark, so you'd have to use white or contrasting chairs for a similar effect.)
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Finally, we have a classic Banker's chair that I was listed along with a vintage desk for a total of $200.

As with the dining set, the key is to break it up. Never do a matching wood desk and desk chair (unless you want your house to look like a Brick showroom). In the end, you can't really go wrong with a classic chair like this one. Imagine it in a modern, white office. Or tucked into a corner of your living room. Or anywhere, really.

The simple work-nook picture (below) is from Omoo on Flickr.

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Anyway. The point is this: if you can image Craigslist stuff (or Salvation Army or Goodwill or Value Village stuff) cleaned up and place in a new environment, you can do some very pretty things for practically nothing.
 
 
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This guy on my softball team wears Kung Fu slippers. Like, the ones you see in Chinatown for $3.99. Like, the ones with the all-cotton sole. Like, every day. Even on the subway.

Whenever I ask him about them he shrugs. "They're not really shoes," he says. "But they're really comfortable."

It's kind of an understatement. I know this footwear staple is hardly an innovation, but I bought my first pair recently and MAN, they ARE comfortable. They are more than comfortable. They are literally the most comfortable things I've had on my feet ever. Ever!

Confession: I prefer to go barefoot. I love shoes to look at, and I love what they do for an outfit, but I've never had a pair of shoes that was really and truly comfortable. Like, comfortable for more than ten minutes. No matter how long they're on for, actually. No matter how far you have to walk. The Kung Fu is. The Kung Fu shoe stays comfy.

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And it's chic. Really, it is! It's black, and not unlike a loafer. When worn right, it has a sort of Audrey Hepburn vibe about it. It might become my go-to shoe.

I know what you're thinking: how can I wear a shoe with a cotton sole around the grubby city? What about the rain? What about the broken glass? What about the urban quicksand? Well, they come with rubber soles too, you know. And sometimes, the ones with the rubber soles are even cheaper than the basic cotton ones.

Regardless, they are comfy comfy comfy. The simple cotton construction lets your feet breathe and the interior cushioning isn't bad.

I know, I know, I know. I'm going on and on about a slipper. A cheap slipper. But it's a chic slipper. I swear.

 
 
Shopping for bedding for my still unfinished guest room has me thinking about patterns. Specifically, bird patterns. And about how much I've always wanted them on my bed.

In real life, I'm a bit of an anti-avian. Live birds -- with their sharp beaks and beady eyes -- sort of freak me out. But as a decor motif, the bird thing works for me. Only, I fear I may have jumped on the bandwagon too late.

I went to eight different stores in a recent bedding hunt. Did I find anything I liked? Well, sorta. I saw some birds. But twin duvet covers were incredibly hard to find in general. (So annoying. After the fifth store, I started to get pretty frustrated.) Regardless, I couldn't commit (even if twins had been available.) I fear the bird renaissance may already be on the way out again. It's so hard to say. I think I'm going to go with plain white and inject pattern via top sheets or something. 

Nonetheless, for your viewing pleasure today, here are some birdy bedding designs:

1. Dwell Studio's ubiquitous Chinoiserie Pattern:
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Pottery Barn's Spring Sparrow bedding:
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And finally, my favourite: handmade Etsy bedding from Urban Accent Home:
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I've lived in a number of places. After spending much of the first 18 years of my life in my parental home, I went off to University and spent a year living in a dorm (as students tend to do) before moving on to share a house with four friends. I loved that house. It was a student hovel, but I miss it every day.

I miss all of my past homes. I mourn them in part because it takes so long to get a new place looking just so. I live in a lovely place now, but though I've been there nearly a year, it still doesn't look quite the way I'd like it to. In fact, some of my moving boxes are still waiting to be unpacked. Some times, I peek into the (still-in-shambles) office/guest room and despair. WHY? Why is it taking so long?

I guess it's taking so long because I plan to stay awhile. When I moved back to Toronto in 2007 (from Vancouver, where I had been for five years), I took an apartment that felt temporary. I had very little money and furnished the place in less than a month for less than $1000. I just wanted it done. It was thrown together, but fun and functional and in two years, I came to love it. And though I'm into the more permanent now, I still think that apartment was a great lesson in budget living. Here, some of the key expenditures show in the living room (with apologies for the picture being a little dark):

1. Yellow vinyl sofa: $100 on Craigslist, plus a $30 delivery fee. I bought it without seeing it in person, and it was a great gamble. I'm still using it.

2. Orange love seat: $75 on Craigslist. Unfortunately, though this piece was comfy, the fabric was sun-damaged and kept ripping. It also had a rather large footprint and I when I moved, I gave it to Goodwill.

3. Coffee table: $10 at a thrift store. It wobbled, but I loved it.

4. Blue mid-century arm chair: $30 on Craigslist. I had to drive out to Rexdale to pick this badboy out of someone's basement, but it was worth it. This chair is comfortable and fabulous. Unfortunately, it's also really big and as a result, it my new place, it lives in the basement, but I'm hanging on to it.

5. Shelving: $15 each unit from Ikea. These are galvanized gardening shelving units. I bought 4. They worked great and I still have them.

I bought the TV for $20 and found my DVD player in the trash. I nicked accessories from my parents and bought a few more from Value Village, the Sally Anne and Goodwill.

Anyway, it just goes to show that you can make a lovely home for yourself, even if you have almost no cash. And even if you never planned to stay, that doesn't mean you won't miss it.