Friday, December 31, 2010

Adios, 2010

As 2010 comes to a close, and progress on the house really ramps up, I figured I'd pop back in for a visit here.  I haven't posted in over two months, but things are-a-happenin'! 

So far, I've finished the foyer project I discussed in my last post, we've made further progress on the laundry room, and progress on the basement has really ramped up.  Derrick has finished most of the drywall in the basement, is expecting to finish the rough plumbing for the basement bathroom this weekend, and the drywall taping/mudding is scheduled for next week.  For that, we hired someone.  Have you ever taped/mudded drywall?  It's a horribly messy process...we'd like to leave it to a professional!  (As is removing over 1000 sq. ft. of tile with a power chisel - trust me on this!).

I'll be back with progress pics and updates soon! 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

room by room: foyer

Two weeks ago I showed you the floorplan for the main level of our home.  Next up, I want to show you each room, and what our "task" list is for each of those rooms, since at this point selling isn't a "maybe", but a "when".  These things need to happen.  How quickly they happen, however, is another story (ahem...). 

This is a view of the foyer from the living room.  A few things....I've mentioned the paint before in our floorplan post, but the entire house (yes, every single room) was painted this same color.  It is a nice, neutral color, but it's actualy quite dark.  Another downside?  It's flat.  I like she soft sheen a nice eggshell provides, as well as the much easier cleanup.  A big part of the reason that we need to paint so many walls is for that reason!  They are flat, we have two small kids, and the walls are just dirty!  I've wiped and scrubbed them, but to no avail.  And we can NOT match this darn paint color/sheen.  I've tried.  Three times.  They can match the color, but then not the sheen. Or they can match the sheen, but then not the color.  Sigh.....  So repainting most of the house is in order.  Notice anything else about this foyer, or anything you don't notice?  Storage.  That's right!  No coat closet.  Another thing to remedy. 

When I took these shots I decided I wasn't going to sugar-coat it.  Show our house, as it is now, and what it means to have a house with two small children, two dogs and a cat, that is very lived-in, and needs some sprucing up before sale.  Well, here it is, in all it's glory.  This is what the foyer looks like lately.  We have a picture that is missing from the collage, the buffet is covered with run-over from my studio, and again, we have no storage.  Not that we ever enter through the front door anyhow (almost always from the garage), but when people come over, especially now that the weather is turning cooler, we'd like to have a place for people to hang their hat (or more appropriately, coat!). 

And then there's the paint.  Do I need to say more?  This is what a few years of settling, little hands, a curious child with a screwdriver, and some spackle to fix said spots will get you. 

So, what is our plan?  Well, we haven't settled on a color for this area just yet.  I may do a bit more digging into where the painting subcontractor purchased the paint so that we could just do touch-up (because it's not from the place the builder told us).  So, here's the plan to ready the foyer:
  1. Touch up paint/repaint if need be
  2. Take down family photo collage to depersonalize the space and make room for a coat hanger
  3. Get some salvaged wood and make/paint coat hanger (talked about here)
  4. Move buffet into studio (which we'll likely stage as a dining room....more about that later)
  5. Repaint bench we already own and is in our garage
  6. Create cushion to add to the top of the bench
Here's the bench.  Look familiar?  We modeled it after the Pottery Barn version and my hubby and a friend built it out of mdf and then we painted it.  This was it sitting in our front entry of our last Arizona house (which also had no coat closet). 

Cute, no?  I'm excited to get started!

Monday, October 25, 2010

What a difference....

a week makes.  Sorry to drop off the face of the planet, but we had a bit of a hiccup.  Derrick's truck basically needed $3K+ worth of repairs (and it's estimated value via Kelly Blue Book is around $700).  So, we spent over a week researching and shopping for and test driving cars.  With two small kids.  Not recommened. 

Actually, the kids did great and we ended up with a great deal on a new car.  Something we never thought we'd do (buy new again), but a few decisions we made over the past few months left us feeling like it was the best option at this point in time.  You see, back in August we had some money in the bank.  We took said money, and put it ALL toward's Derrick student loan.  It's gone. YAY for us!  But boo for our savings!  (For what it's worth, we were beginning to follow the Dave Ramsey "baby steps".)    Then, very unexpectedly, my mother passed away in September.  She had not been feeling well for some time, but was way too young to pass.  She lived a very simple life, and did not have much.  So, as you might imagine, there was an unexpected funeral cost and being the oldest and really the one with the most means, we took that on as well.  With the "baby step" recommended $1000 in the bank, and even the cheapest of funeral expenses costing far more than that nowadays, we had to put it on our credit card. 

credit card image taken from here

Cut back to the car.....our plan once we went on the "baby steps" was to pay cash for a used car and get whatever we could afford.  Well, given the current situation that means we don't get one.  And that just doesn't work for us right now (I Soooo would be a one-car household if we could swing it).  But with a roundtrip 60 mile drive to school and back right now, not possible.  So then we considered getting something older (and therefore, cheaper).  But then the dilemma we ran into was if we bought a used car and it ended up only lasting a short while and then the Accord (our other car of seven years) went around the same time.  Then we need to buy two cars.  Granted, our financial situation will hopefully be different then, but we ultimately decided to purchase new, and drive it into the ground like we have done with both of these cars (and the Accord is still running great and we haven't had a single problem with it so far). 

But it did make us take a step back and think about the bigger picture.  And once again, we came back to the same conclusion as before.  We need to sell this house.  Not only to get closer to our kids' school, but also to get into a smaller, cheaper home.  We don't need a house like this one.  We're lucky to have it, but right now, for the lifestyle we've chosen, a smaller, cheaper home will suit us far better.  Wow - we have a lot of work to do!  Derrick started a list last night....(and I know this list is just a start....)

Now that I've caught you all up, I should mention one thing that bugs me about Dave Ramsey.  I think his message is brilliant.....I mean, in not so many only what you can afford, stay out of debt, etc.  But the fact that he makes his money off of the very people he's trying to "help" is not lost on me.  I mean, he charges around $100 per person on courses that basically rehash everything in his books (which you could borrow from the library for free, which I did).  And when he talks about his envelope system, of course he offers one in his shop and turns around and charges $20 for it.  Seriously?  $20 for something that could cost me around $1, and for people who are trying to get out of debt?  I don't really get that, but to each his own.  As with anything, we take the idea and fit it to our life as best we can. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

recycling remnants

This past weekend, we visited with my in-laws at their home.  Much of their land is an inspiration for what we eventually want ourselves (I could do many posts just on the beauty of their land alone).  But while there, I also get to sit back and relax a bit more than I do at home, with grandma and papa around to entertain, acres and acres of woods to explore, the pond, etc. 

While there I caught an episode of Sarah's House, where she and Tommy hit up an antiques/building remnants type of store and purchased a piece of wood to refinish and make a beautiful coat rack in one of the guest bedrooms of the farmhouse they are renovating.

Wanting to do this same thing in our foyer at home, I started thinking of how great it would be if I could find a place like that in Fort Wayne.  To my knowledge, one didn't exist.  Well, until I started really looking, anyway.  I found a place, called the Wood Shack, where apparently they have just this sort of stuff!  Old wooden boards, doors, windows, etc.  I can't wait to hit it up and see what kind of treasures I can find!  Old windows might also  make the perfect cold frame for the garden!  Hmmmmm.....

Photo taken from here

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

room by room: main floor floorplan

I thought it would be a good idea after unveiling the outside of our house to show you the inside, but as a floorplan.  I will unveil each room in time, but for now you can see the layout of our house and how it flows, as well as how we currently have it furnished (for the most part). 

This was made using, and it was surprisingly easy to use.  As you can see, you enter into the foyer (marked Hallway), and the Office/Dining Room (which currently serves as my studio) is to the right.  If you were to go straight from the foyer you come into the main family/living room area.  This is the room with the large windows that overlook our backyard and all the trees we back up to.  There is a fireplace on the left as well as lots of built-in bookshelves and space for a large television, as well as the fireplace.

To the left from there is the Master Suite.  This room is currently really cluttered with furniture and I have big plans for this room!  To the right of the living room is our eat-in kitchen.  The Powder Room and stairs to the basement are tucked away in a small hallway (which also connects to the studio).  The stairs to the basement are conveniently located under the stairs leading upstairs.  Through the kitchen you can also access our laundry room and garage. 

The floorplan works well, for the most part, but is a bit akward as well.  For example, the way the family room is laid out....fireplace in the center of the wall, built-ins on either side, large entry into the kitchen, makes furniture placement somewhat difficult.  You want to see the fireplace, but also the tv.  You want the furniture placed well, but cannot block the flow of traffic from one room into another.  We have always struggled with furniture placement in this room. 

The laundry room is nothing but a tiny little hallway.  I can't get around the washer door if open, so it can be a bit of a pain.  This is one room that I'd love to see larger in our next home. A combo laundry/mud room, if you will.  A room we could also have as the dog's place of refuge (instead of my master closet floor)....

The colors on the floor indicate the actual colors of the walls (not the flooring).  Originally, the entire house was painted the taupe color, but we've since painted the dining/office when we moved my studio upstairs, as well as painted the kitchen a much lighter yellow to brighten up the space. 

So there it is!  The upstairs and basement will follow at a later time.  I'm really glad I did it also because I can see me wishing we had it after we're long and gone (just as I now wish I had done in our last two houses).  How about you?  Do you have a floorplan of your place you can refer back to? 

Monday, October 11, 2010

House, Reader; Reader, House

After all this talk about selling our home, I figured it was time to actually show it to you, or at least the outside. 

The home is as old in years as we've lived here....almost three and a half.  It's not exactly a tract home, but certainly not a custom home, either.  We live in a community that is the epitome of suburban living (which has both it's upsides and downsides, I'll be honest).  When the weather is beautiful there are flocks of people everywhere....dogs being walked, bikes being ridden, strollers being pushed, laughs ringing out through the air.  We also live in an amazing school district - one of the best in the state, actually. 

I love our house, but it certainly does lack charm like an older house (as well as established landscaping).  There are no large trees, and some plants (like the Sky Pencil Barberry flanking the entryway) are very slow growing. 

 As far as changes we'll need to make before selling, there certainly are things.  Make sure there are attractive (and living!) plants in the pots, weed the beds, and possibly replace those barberry.  They do look sort of sad in this picture, huh? Also the house numbers (which I've blurred in this photo) have begun to leave a dark streak on the house which will need to be painted over. 

This is one of the improvements we've made that we're most proud of:  the deck.  Made as maintenance free as possible, which cement board siding, Trex decking and treated lumber underneath.  It's a really large size as well (and cost only $2K more than the builder wanted for a simple, treated deck that was less than half the size)!  Our dogs Bailey and Zoe are enjoying themselves on the grass.  Both are labs, and have been with us for nearly eight years. 

We love that our yard does not back directly up to another house, but instead backs to all these trees.  It was one of the things that sold us on the house!  The fence was added as a means to keep our (then three, but now two) dogs from running free.  I also love the security it adds for the children. I can actually make dinner inside while the kids play on the deck or in the grass. 

It's difficult to see in this picture, but there are raised beds with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries along the fence line. 

Yet another shot of the back.  You can see the large windows we enjoy in our family room, and also the windows for the daylight basement. 

The playset we added last summer when I was pregnant with Lilah.  I do have to keep a serious eye on her with that thing now, though!  She's been climbing up the ladder for months.  Anything she can to keep up with her big bro!

We're very much into eating well, and organic as much as we can, therefore we have all of these raised beds and the large bean teepee at the end for growing as much of our own food as we can.  The last three summers we've grown beans, carrots, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, peas, tomatoes, peppers, melons, onions, garlic, potatoes, and strawberries.  What a future buyer will think of these I'm not entirely sure.  We'll think about and broach that subject more in the coming months. 

Yet another shot of the back and another angle of the deck.  You can also see the curtains I have in the family room (off the rack curtains I purchased at Lowes that don't really go well in the space from both a fit and design perspective) which I'd like to change out for roman wood shades. 

There will be lots of cleaning up that we'll do out here when it comes time to sell, for certain, but we're definitely focusing on the inside first.  We have so much to do inside that we're just not sure how long it's going to take.  Heck - there could either be snow on the ground, or it could be next spring! 

Friday, October 8, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} is a regular Friday Feature over at SouleMama's blog, and I plan to do the same here.  A simple moment of reflection from the past week.  A reminder to slow down, savor these special moments, as they are so fleeting. 
{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What Started It All

What really lit a fire under us about this whole "move" thing was really a few things in all honestly, but one that really made us sit back, reflect about it, and consider what was best for our family. 

I found a house for sale on the MLS.  Why on earth was I even looking?  Well, I'll be honest.  As much as I love the school that Noah goes to, I can't stand the drive up there every day!  It takes up an hour and 45 minutes of my day, every day, it's smack in the middle of the day which breaks it up in a weird way, if Lilah has napped a little before the drive then she screams in the car, if not then she sleeps, which is great, but then it always seems to affect her later in the day, etc.  There just doesn't seem to be a happy medium to it all, and I also can't help but think about how much time I'm spending in the car when I could be doing so many other things I'd rather do or need to do.

So, the house.  Yes.  I found a 3000+ sq ft house on 8.5+ acres with woods and a pond!  The pictures of the house didn't seem great, but cosmetics are easily fixed.  But oh!  The woods!  The pond!  The land!  The PRICE!!!  Seriously - all of this for quite a bit less than we paid for this house. 

Just like as old adage goes, "if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is", this was the same way.  I drove up to it and checked it out with the kids and was excited and disappointed all in one.  I loved the land.  Loved the woods.  Absolutey loved the privacy and how peaceful it was (until we heard the neighbor's donkey bray....that was, um, interesting....and loud....and annoying!).  I even really liked the pond (but also knew Derrick would be disappointed at the size). 

But wow.  There were sooooo many things wrong with the house.  And it was in really poor condition.  But let's start with the 

Right off the bat you can see some of my concern....why on earth is half of the house buried in soil? 

And I'm not sure you can even tell from this picture, but it wraps around the house that way, all the way over to the front door! 

Um, what?????!!!!!!

Okay, now I realize that whoever built this house must have had a perfectly good reason for doing this, and I see that the house foundation is concrete, but I can't wrap my head around that much house with zero windows.  I don't do well without sunlight. 

The view towards the woods (and the long windy driveway through them) was great!

Another shot of the driveway and then behind the pine tree on the right was some open clearing.

A shot of the pond and thanks to Noah, an idea of scale. 

All in all, while it could be a cool house to fix up and make our own and the land/lot is exactly what we're looking for, the fact that so much of the house was buried in soil and lacked windows was a huge concern for me.  As was the amount of work the house needed (and this was just from seeing the exterior). 

But, it was really a blessing in disguise.  Finding this and reaizing that we really do want to move (even though we really don't want to move, if you know what I mean!) was a good thing.  The idea of being closer to Noah's school and having more of our day back, possibly finding some land that has even a little of what we'd all like, and maybe even getting a house that could be a fixer upper and we could make our own would all be good things.  After all, we like those house projects, right sweetie?  Sweetie? 

Monday, October 4, 2010

And it begins...

I guess it could be considered a continuation of our old blog, Our Green Living Journey, or perhaps something a bit different since we're going in a slightly different direction, but either way, it's here.  Why now?  What's going on?

Well, in a nutshell, lots.  After almost three and a half years in this house, we're going to put it on the market.  Why?  Well, mostly due to the location of Noah's (our oldest child's) school.  It's an amazing place, we really think it's such a perfect fit for him, and we've already decided between ourselves on a minimum of two years there since we'd like him to be able to finish out the primary program before moving on to another place.  But, we also realize this could be a long-term thing as well. 

That being said, when we think about relocating, being much closer to his school but also being in a certain school disctrict would be ideal so that if at some point down the line we decide that the public option is the way to go, we're in the right district and relocating again isn't an issue.  But we'll see where the cards fall...

So what are we looking for exactly?  Well, a few things.  And these are also just another reason for this blog.  We've been talking for years about not only buying land but also building (from scratch) our dream house, and starting a scrapbook to store all of our ideas/thoughts/pictures so that when it becomes a reality, we have them ready to go.  Now, does that mean that we plan on buying land and buildling from scratch?  Not exactly... 

At this point, we only have one plan.  Get our house ready for sale and get it sold.  Our house may only be 3 and a half years old, but it needs quite a bit of sprucing up to get it ready for sale.  There is touch up painting, things to go in storage, small projects to finish (laundry room), large projects to finish (basement), organizing, decorating (as in, two of the upstairs bedrooms still haven't been decorated!), etc.  And after that, we'll see where we stand. 

Because we're planners by nature (okay...not really.  I am a crazy planner and Derrick would much rather wait and see where the chips will fall before worrying/planning/strategizing/etc) we have at least considered what will happen when we do sell.  If there isn't anything on the market at that time we're even remotely interested in or think will be a good fit for us, we'll simply rent until we figure out where to go from there.  Whether it be buying raw land and building or buying something that needs some fixing up (which we're totally open to as well), we'll just have to see what's available when it all happens.

But we have a lot of work to do first.  Seriously.



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