Monday, September 30, 2013

House Update: It's Ours!

Happy closing day to you all!

Today is the day that StanPac officially signed our house over, giving me carte blanche to make it my own.

Now it won't stay like this for long, so look fast. This is our closing day tour!

There you have it! After months of waiting, this is our "finished" product. 

Next on the schedule: appliances are being delivered plus a bit of painting tomorrow and move-in is Wednesday!

 And next time you see our house I hope to have some fall decorations up.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Not Yo' Momma's Moving Tips

There are a lot of articles out there about how to simplify the process of moving from one home to another. Despite the breadth of information, there does not seem to be a lot of depth. And most seem to candy coat the experience like, "start well in advance and the transition will be seamless."

I may not be an organizational expert, but I do feel pretty well versed in the subject of packing moving boxes, after all this is my eleventh move in seven years. Despite what those other "helpful hints" columns may tout, there is no way around the fact that moving - specifically packing - is tedious, hard work and cannot be over simplified.

Now I could tell you about how I pack small items in labeled shoe boxes, then pack them into bigger boxes based on what room they'll end up in...

Sidebar: I always pack based on room, not function. What good does gathering all the spare power cords into one box do if they'll need to be doled out to different rooms once you arrive? No matter how well you label, that will end up a tangled mess.

...or how shipment boxes from Gap are the perfect size for three rows, two layers of DVDs.

Just saying.

But what we'd all really like to talk about how moving can be made more tolerable.

1. Loud music: Think Backstreet Boys, the Pitch Perfect soundtrack, or Disney tunes. Light guilty pleasure music you can't help but belt really improves anyone's mood. You could even settle for 'NSYNC.

Watching a favorite TV show on Netflix or DVD also works, just make sure you've seen it a thousand times and it's light-hearted. This is not the time to start watching Breaking Bad (am I the only person who still hasn't seen it?!) nor is it the time to re-watch season four of Dexter as the goal is to remain motivated. That junk will pull you in no matter how many times you've seen it. I still can't believe Trinity killed [blank]. (the Woodward Place is semi-committed to remaining spoiler free)

2. Alcohol: For those of you with a cat who swats every cord being rolled up or a dog who has to smell every. single. drawer you open, take the edge off with some light day drinking. Not only does it improve your singing voice dramatically, you'll have a much better sense of humor about all those little annoyances. Caution: we are trying to accomplish a goal so you should probably avoid liquor drinks. Now is not the time for Margarita Fest 2013 to commence.

3. Get comfy: What better time to wear a threadbare t-shirt with sweatpants and no bra than when you're shamelessly singing Lily Allen while buzzed on Light Cider.

4. Purge ruthlessly: I try not to accumulate stuff that I don't find to be beautiful or know to be useful...but stocking stuffers happen.

Even when I'm not preparing to move, I have three piles constantly building with stuff to Donate, Sell, and Repair/Clean (I hope to refine this system once we're in the house so I'll go into more depth later). When a bag gets full, I do what it says. Donate goes to Goodwill, Sell goes to Plato's Closet or on eBay, and Clean goes to the cleaners. Simple enough.

When we're moving, these piles grow fast. Since clothes are my clutter weakness, I made myself a rule: every time I get dressed in the morning then change at the last minute because that top accentuates my back fat or whatever, it goes into the Donate or Sell bag. If I don't like it enough to wear it that day, I don't need to keep it.

This is also the perfect time to replace something that is wearing out. Our cats' litter box is now four years old and is getting harder and harder to clean. I already bought the replacement, which I won't set up until we move in and the old one won't get packed, it will get trashed.

Sidebar: since moving can be more stressful for pets than for their people, pet supplies should be replaced with identical products. If an identical product cannot be found or no longer meets your needs, the replacement should be introduced prior to move or not for several weeks after.

Don't forget to get rid of the stuff that might be a necessity now but will be obsolete at your new residence. For example, we have a wire shower organizer that we couldn't live without now, so when we decided on our upgrades, we included tile shelves in our shower. Buh-bye wire shelves.

By purging all year long and then being ruthless immediately preceding a move, I find I have a lot less to pack.  

5. Don't touch his stuff: I don't want to, nor should I have to, figure out if my husband wants to keep all the notes he took in his Econ 604 class years ago or the 100% polyester Christmas tie that he will never be allowed to wear ever again. If it were up to me they'd be long gone, but he might actually miss something I throw out.

I go through and pack up everything I solely use or we mutually use and leave the rest for him. It is then his responsibility to toss or pack. Since throwing something in the trash is significantly easier than my labeling system I have found this to be a very effective method of purging his belongings without lifting a finger.

6. Don't start too early: Who really wants to live out of boxes for a month or more?! To me, that only adds to the stress of moving. If I want to watch High School Musical (yes, I not only own it but my mind gives me almost no warning before deciding I need some Zefron time), I don't want a taped up box to stop me nor do I want to feel guilty about unpacking when I should be doing the opposite.

I typically start about one week before the move and try and work in stages, accomplishing about a stage a day. The first stuff I pack is always the decorative stuff that won't stop needs from being met if it's boxed up. Art, pictures, and trinkets are the first to go.

From there, I pack rarely used items according to where they'll go in the new location. If some books will reside in the living room and others will move to the office, now is the time to separate them out.

A few days before the move I pack stuff that I might miss but cannot predict (movies, video games, rarely used beauty items, etc.). This is the stuff I can easily live without, but I really don't want to.

I wait until the day before to pack clothing and toiletries. Unless you're the type of person who can plan out your wardrobe a week in advance, this is crucial. This way, I only have to leave out comfy clothes, sturdy shoes, and my most basic toiletries for the morning of the move.

No matter how early you start, there will always be a few boxes that are haphazardly packed the morning of. Accept this and move on.

Cleaning supplies don't go anywhere until the current place is completely empty of everything else.

7. But give yourself plenty of time: One of the things that makes moving most tolerable is that it practically forces you to be nostalgic. Allow yourself to look through photo albums or page through your commemorative Royal Wedding Edition of People magazine. Don't rush past all the fun that can be had. And if something doesn't make you as happy as you thought it would, toss it.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pre-"New Home Presentation Tour" List of Things to Fix

So this happened...

With our closing date looming just over a week away, I guess it's a good thing that our house looks more inhabitable and less like a construction site.

We have our "New Home Presentation" next Tuesday while Pat is out of town on business so I'm doing this alone. My understanding of this walk is basically that the builder and I walk through the house and pick it to shreds. What works, what doesn't, and every little speck of dirt will be notated, so it can be fixed in time for us to close next Monday.

Since Pat won't be joining me, we walked the house last night to make a list of things we want addressed. The larger items are:
  • The back door is hard to open/close
  • Our cable outlets don't look like cable outlets, just plastic covers
  • We had a doorknob on the pantry door, now we don't
  • Still have a broken dining room window
  • There's splintered wood on the railing
  • Double checking to see if the loft actually got the ceiling fan prewire we paid for
  • Missing shoe molding in the bathrooms, laundry room
  • Still missing a kitchen cabinet door
  • We have no water pressure (might just be turned off)
  • The center column is still not level
Also, the oven is not the one we ordered. We picked a single oven with a gas range; the one we got appears to be gas, but it's a double oven. I'm indifferent to it, I just want to make sure we don't get charged for it. Has anyone had any bad experiences with double ovens (Thanksgiving turkey not fitting, only one oven heating at a time, etc.) that would necessitate I demand the one we ordered?

It's a pretty nit-picky list that goes way more in depth than just the things I listed here. Here's hoping I can be assertive enough to ensure everything gets done and I don't miss anything; that could be a very expensive mistake.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

We Have a Date!

I feel like I need a drumroll to announce this.

But also like a drumroll can't even come close to building the anticipation we've been feeling around here. Like, I need a fireworks show or canons firing in rapid succession or both.

September 30 is our tentative closing date.

Love that even now that we have a closing date, we're still going to act like it's not really nailed down. Because that's how we were advised to our builder.

For those of you who still feel like it's July or are yet to have your first pumpkin spice latte of the season or aren't drooling over the mums outside of every grocery/home improvement store, that's eleven days from now. PS, your kids started school about a month ago, just FYI.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Window Things!

One of the most under acknowledged costs in building a house, has to be the cost of window coverings.

Back in March, April, I don't know, when we had our design center appointment, we opted not to include blinds from the builder. See, we paid almost as much as blinds would cost for window moldings, and StanPac's blinds are mounted in a way that would cover a large part of the trim. So we've known since then that we'd need to buy blinds. (At least I knew, Pat told me a few weeks ago that he had no idea we didn't get blinds included in the base price of our house...)

Since we'll be buying our own (and likely installing them ourselves too), I've decided there's a couple of features I want that wouldn't have been an option had we gone with StanPac's blinds.

1. Cordless: Sure its safer for pets and children, but the real reason I want cordless is because one of our fur-babies (I'm looking at you, Atticus) really likes to play tether-ball at 5am with the plastic pulls on the cords. He's learned it's a very effective method to wake us up, at which point we invariably feed him just to give him something better to do. Because we've conditioned him to think blind cords = food I doubt he's going to give up this habit anytime soon. Plus, cordless styles just feel nifty to lift and lower.

2. Inside Mount: Like I said, we paid for window trim, it's one of my favorite parts of our new house, and I want to see it.

3. Roman Shades (if possible): I love the look of a classic roman shade. It has the appeal of curtains with the functionality of blinds, plus you can layer drapes over them for another layer of texture. Fabric looks richer than slatted blinds and can transcend trends. Unfortunately, cordless roman shades are hella expensive.

4. Blackout: It's no secret that Pato and I are big sleepers, so it's no wonder we want blackout, at least in the bedrooms.

Now, let's look at a little inspiration:

These Pottery Barn roman shades have everything I want. Not only are the one of the very few truly cordless roman shades on the market, they are the perfect light neutral color and the linen texture is an added bonus. I'd buy these right now for every window in the house if the starting price wasn't $209 per window...and we have 28 windows...

But just look at the potential...

It's like I tried on a wedding dress I can't afford. Moving on has been a very real struggle.

Since I would never, ever suggest we spend nearly $6,000 on shades, I've looked at all the usual big box stores' assortments. Most offer 2" faux wood blinds for around $30-$50 per, but I'm having a bit of trouble adjusting to the idea of blinds versus roman shades.

Another question about choosing blinds is what color to pick. Most styles are available in white and then several wood colors. Since we're already planning to paint the trim slightly off white, I seriously doubt white blinds would work. 

Wood colored blinds (especially espresso, which would match our floors) are currently having an "in" moment, but I'm not sure that moment will last long enough for me to commit to such a major expense. Plus, I worry about it feeling too dark with the darker wall colors I plan on using.

There is a small selection of "inaccessible cord" roman shades for $40-$60 per. Please tell me I'm not the only one with no idea what an "inaccessible cord" is or how it works. These look really nice, come in all shades of neutrals and are on super sale for $18.99 right now...

...but those cords look pretty accessible to me...

I've also found some that meet all my requirements, but the colors don't come anywhere near where I want to be (think burnt orange or bright blue). That's definitely not something I'm willing to compromise on.

If it were up to you, where would you compromise or would you splurge for the ones with everything? Does anyone have any experience with inaccessible cord roman shades?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mini Succulent Accents

I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a lot going on around here; between pricing out window coverings (more on that later) and trying to decide whether we want to DIY our fence or hire a professional there's not a lot of time left over. And I usually fill that time checking my email repeatedly, anxiously awaiting news of a closing date.

But I keep reminding myself to find time to enjoy the little things, like these mini succulent arrangements I made a few weeks ago.

This little guy is actually a repurposed candle jar. I used the super easy method of pouring boiling water over the candle remnants to melt the wax, then I poured out the empty wax (not down a drain!). That's it!

I can't wait to move this to the new house; I think he'll be adorable by the kitchen sink. Just a little touch of green and pink in an unexpected place. For the next few weeks, he's resting in a sunny spot on a bookshelf in front of my Harry Potter collection.

Then, there's the triplets:

I have no idea how I ended up with these three plants, but I love them. They live in an old wedding gift that I ended up coating in chalkboard pant. Eventually, these brothers will end up in the window sill of the half bathroom.

Succulents are such an easy plant to care for and they're so stinking cheap I can't help but keep adding to my collection (I'm sure several of you remember my DIY Terrarium from this summer). They're like small-scale pets that give your life an added ounce of purpose and joy and they make any room they're in feel alive.

Most importantly, they make me smile whenever I see them.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

House Update: the Amost There Tour

Well, well, well. Here we are again: another house update with no big changes.

Candidly, I feel like we're getting to the point where I'm splitting hairs to find something new to update y'all on. At this point our home basically appears finished. Every time I go, I can pick out maybe one or two new things that aren't really newsworthy (did you see the new light switch?). So I've decided to suspend any house updates until it's move-in time; not-so-secretly, I'm afraid sharing every tiny detail will make the grand reveal anticlimactic at best.

In place of pictures of menial changes, I've compiled all the most recent pics into one convenient post. I have been getting oodles of requests to see up-to-date pictures, so the last house update for the foreseeable future will be the Almost There Tour. Hopefully this will hold you over for the next couple of weeks until I'm ready to show you everything.




New Alert: shelving is in throughout all the closets. Ironically, one of the projects I look forward to the most is tearing all this wire junk out. Best part of the pantry is, this view is only half of it.

New Alert: The bathrooms all have mirrors!



New Alert: We finally have a shower door! Not too shabby, Racheds.

Not new, but I thought all of you would like to know that I've christened the throne room...I really had to go. It's fine, the toilet flushes, but without any electricity it was like peeing in a cave. Like in school when you learn about absolute darkness that your eyes can never adjust to. Then when I came downstairs after peeing in a dark room in an unfinished house on a construction site, the realtor was there. Mildly embarrassing.

New Alert: Our garage has siding, still needs the trim work completed and the actual garage door.

Just because I'm suspending house updates does not mean I won't be blogging. I've got plenty of stuff going on between now and move-in day and I'm sure I'll screw something up in a ridiculously embarrassing way. I'm blushing preemptively.

See you soon!