We bought a house!!!

>> Tuesday, September 20, 2011


SAM_0907It’s a beauty, I tell you! We took possession on September 2. The past two and a half weeks have consisted mainly of one thing – demolition. But before I get into any of that, I’d like to show you around a little! As you can see from the outside, it is a ranch style modular home, complete with awesome bay windows of the ‘80s. Gotta love that! It is also a “wonderful” light peach color. It also comes complete with old curling shingles and a nifty wheelchair ramp. Needless to say, we were a little underwhelmed when we first pulled up to view it.

SAM_0918Here is the view from the front door. Straight ahead is the kitchen (obviously), to the right is the living room and to the left is the hallway.
SAM_0909The view of the living room from the entryway. I bet you are jealous of our wallpaper and curtains. It’s ok to admit it. To the left there is the dining room.

SAM_0910This is the dining room. To the left of it is back into the kitchen and straight ahead is our lovely sunroom. More pics of that in a minute!

SAM_0911Here is the view from the living room, looking back toward the entryway.

SAM_0912Another view of those gorgeous curtains from the dining room.

SAM_0913Our strange little sunroom.

SAM_0914Hopefully one day we figure out something useful to do with this room. In Alberta, we get a lot more cold weather than warm so we’ll have to see how useable it will be in the fall and winter.



SAM_0917So here is our fantastic kitchen. The cabinets were actually in not too bad shape but there were definitely some things that weren’t working for us…

SAM_0919… like this. I love the idea of having a desk in the kitchen but not when it compromises so much useable counter space. Plus that bulkhead is just nasty and fake!




SAM_0920This is the view from the dining room through the kitchen. That little half door is a huge pantry. Off to the right is the laundry nook and the stairs to the basement.

SAM_0921Here you can see the laundry nook and the door to the basement.

SAM_0923Coming full circle, here we are at the front door again.

SAM_0924Just a plain old hallway with some giant mirrors at the end and some handy railings all the way down it.

SAM_0925Here is our main bathroom. Nothing too exciting to see in here. Which is kinda the problem.

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SAM_0927Here is the first bedroom. It’s a little on the small side, but in my opinion kids don’t need a huge space so it will work just fine. And luckily it came equipped with some linoleum and exercise bars. Just what every kids’ room needs!

SAM_0929Although Landon looks pretty pleased with it!

SAM_0930Here is our lovely master bedroom. This is the view from the hallway.

SAM_0931The master actually used to be two smaller bedrooms so it is quite large. We are excited to have a nice little sitting area in our room too.

SAM_0932Just another angle of that lovely blue carpet!

SAM_0935And last, but not least, is our ensuite. Isn’t it lovely??
So there you have it. Our house in all it’s 80s glory. An spoiler alert – there is not one room in the house that still looks the same. Awesome eh? Although looking at these pictures, I kind of just miss having flooring and a toilet!

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Packing

>> Thursday, June 16, 2011

I thought I’d share a little bit of what we did to ensure all of our stuff arrives to it’s destination in good condition. Although, now I’m worried I’m jinxing myself since our things have only taken a little ride across town to a storage unit. And that’s basically nothing compared to the 3500 km trek we’ll be taking in a few weeks. I guess I’ll just have to call myself a liar then if anything gets broken!



First things first – I started packing more than a month before we moved. I know that may seem a little excessive to some people but I’ll tell you one big thing I’ve learned since becoming a parent – don’t try to rush things!



Case in point: Before having kids, I would plan grocery shopping for the hour in between when I got off work and when we had dinner. That included getting ready, driving, shopping, driving, unloading and putting away. When my oldest came along, I had to remember to give myself an extra half hour to make sure his diaper was clean, the diaper bag was packed just in case, and to baby talk to him as I walked the aisles. Now that I have two little munchkins, I just plan for the whole morning. This accounts for finding shoes, packing cheerios, water and fruit snacks so they don’t go crazy the second I sit them in the cart, coaxing them to get in the car and dealing with the tears once they realize we aren’t going for a walk to the park, picking up my list after my youngest throws it on the floor a hundred times, telling them we are not buying candy two dozen times, breaking up a few fights in the cart, and then making them lunch before I can put all of the groceries away because they are starving!!

Wow. Sorry for the tangent. And the run on sentences.  Back to business!

Anyways, I figured if I was going to handle all of this extra work on my own in addition to all of the regular things I do, I was going to need a lot of time to keep myself and my children sane. (In case you were wondering, I do have an incredibly supportive and helpful husband who just so happens to have a job that requires a lot of time and travel in May and June. Which didn’t leave him a lot of time at home, period, let alone to pack.)
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The first thing I did was cleared out our basement. It was only about half finished down there and we basically used it for watching TV and as my husband’s “office.” So we packed away the big screen and brought our little TV up to the main floor so we wouldn’t need the basement anymore for living space. Then I started going through all the stuff that was down there.  I went through every box that was down there already – baby & maternity clothes, a box of keepsakes, picture frames and d├ęcor items, out of rotation toys. Stuff like that. I started boxing things up for good and also created an area in the storage room for things to sell at a garage sale. I also listed almost all of the basement furniture on Kijiji since we didn’t want to take it with us and well, any extra cash helps!

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Then we just started stacking things! It was really nice to have all of the ‘ready to go’ boxes out of the way so we weren’t living in total chaos.

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One thing I wanted to be sure of is that I could find anything I needed. Since we are not immediately moving into a new house, it will be essential to discern what boxes need to be unpacked and which can just go straight to storage for the next few months. Since many of the boxes are used and have lots written on them, I decided the easiest way to label them would be just a plain sheet of paper and some packing tape. Every single box has a big label like this. Hopefully they will last for the whole journey – hubby had some doubts about that. I guess we’ll see.

Well, this post is getting pretty long so check back soon to see our secret weapon for packing all of our furniture!!


 

 


Ok, just kidding. I have one more thing to say. The best thing we ever did was to let my in-laws take the kids for the last few days before we moved. That way we had no distractions when it was actually crunch time, especially while loading the trucks!

Ok. Now I really am done. See ya soon!

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Moving tips: Get Organized!

>> Saturday, May 28, 2011

Well, it is officially official! The money is in our account and we are no longer homeowners. I’m just a little sad but we’re trying to look forward to the great things ahead!  So far this has been the least stressful move we’ve had, despite being the biggest by far. I’ve done my fair share of packing and moving in the past few years and like to think I’ve learned at least a thing or two. To me, the most important part of moving is the organization. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your new house only to be tearing apart box after box looking for a can opener or the remote control. Or missing a payment on your credit card because you forgot to advise them of your new address. Or staying up all night the week of your move just to get it all done. Or… well, let’s face it, when you are moving, there are so many things that could go wrong. And most likely something will. But as long as you are in control of the situation, you can take each setback in stride. We got through the first half of the move with minimal stress – and I’m sure it is all due to the fact that I am organized!


 

 


It all started when Jen started talking about her Household Binder. I was super excited about the idea but initially put it off, thinking it would be best to create a binder once we were settled into our new home. Then it dawned on me that the move was one of the main reasons I needed a binder. How else was I going to keep track of all the things I had to do to prepare for and during our move? So I started putting together a binder and just added a “Moving” section. It is mostly just blank lined paper for making lists and plans and I added a pocket divider to hold any moving receipts or important papers.

Then came the fun part. I had to decide what it is that needed to be organized. And for me, there were three main areas of focus.

1. Budget: Moving can be expensive! Especially if you are moving long distance and/or buying or selling a house. But even if you are just moving across the street, it is still important to write down exactly what you expect to spend. I just made a quick little list of all of our anticipated expenses. I made sure to include things like packing materials, rental equipment, moving companies, storage, travel expenses (gas, meals, hotels), and closing costs.

2. Change of address (and discontinuation of services): About 2 months before we moved, I started taking note of every single piece of mail that we received. I just created a simple list of every one of those companies. Then, since I do receive many bills online, I went through every bill that I pay in a month and listed those companies too. This is when you start freaking out because you have a list a mile long. But the process was relatively painless. I just started making a phone call or two each day until I had every company on my list crossed off. I found that this worked well since some companies require more notice than others. For instance, some magazines are printed and labeled a month or two in advance so it could take up to two months for an address change to come into effect. Also, many utility and cable companies require 30 days notice for discontinuation of services. Banks, credit cards, schools, work, government, insurance etc. don’t usually require as much notice so they were left to the bottom of my list.



3. Getting us (and our stuff) from point A to point B: For us this was kind of huge since we are moving across the country. And cross country moves can be really, really expensive! I called around to a bunch of different moving companies for quotes but all of them were ridiculously out of our price range. In the end we decided to rent a U-Haul and make the 4 day drive ourselves. **Now I just have to insert a disclaimer here. We are in no way fans of U-Haul. Yeah, you read that right. We have booked two one-way rentals with them before and both have been disasters. So why are we doing it again??? Because the stress and problems that could occur in that one week are nothing compared to saving three, four, or five thousand dollars. So we’ve just mentally prepared ourselves for things to not go as planned and not set any strict timelines, just in case.

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Packing

>> Sunday, May 1, 2011


Anyone know if there is a way to just skip over the next few months?? We begun packing this week and I’m already sick of it! We have only 27 days until we have to hand over the keys to our house. And how on earth do we have this much stuff?? I am in no way a hoarder and we don’t shop a ton so I have no idea how we have all of these things. Luckily, I have no problem getting rid of things I haven’t used in years. (Wedding gifts that are still unused? Goodbye!).

Unfortunately, in addition to all the useless things we’ve been storing, there is so much other stuff that we use frequently or will need in the future. Why do babies need so many gadgets? I’m so tempted to just get rid of our baby stuff and buy new when we have another kid just so I don’t have to store all those awkwardly shaped things. But we all know how expensive baby stuff is so I’ll probably continue to hang on to it.



One other thing I’m realizing is that much of the things that I’m now saying goodbye to are things we received from other people that I didn’t necessarily need or love but thought we should take just because it was free. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful here because there are many generous gifts we’ve received from friends and family members over the years that we absolutely love and use all the time. But I’m beginning to realize that if I don’t love it, I won’t use it. And then I’ll just end up storing it for a few years until I realize that I didn’t need it in the first place and finally get rid of it. I think my new rule should be that I can’t bring it home unless it is something I’d be willing to spend money on. In some ways it is a blessing that we are moving into a small 2 bedroom apartment because I simply cannot afford to keep stuff.

But as much as there is left to do, I’ve already taped up a few boxes and every time I do, we get closer and closer to getting it all done. Here’s to a month of hopefully minimal chaos! I’ll breath again in July when have arrived in Alberta with all of our things!

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Rewind: Outside Update

>> Thursday, February 24, 2011

 

One of the last things we did for our house was to update the exterior. It all started when we replaced the Master bedroom window (the upstairs window in the picture below.)

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It is difficult to tell in the pictures but all of the green trim around our house was really peeling and flaking. Our original plan was to sand it down a bit and then just repaint it. But things aren’t quite so easy. As my husband and a friend were ripping out the window, they took a closer look at those boards and found that they were in fact rotting away. So a mere paint job progressed into replacing all of the boards and then painting. That’s a lot of work!

That’s when we started to consider installing vinyl siding. We also realized at this time that our soffits and fascia could use some help too. So we got a couple quotes and approached our neighbors, who were totally on board.

Then came the hard part – picking the colors. As you can see, we were stuck with a really awful color of brick. Seriously, who uses pink brick on a house?? It’s only saving grace was that there was a fair amount of gray in the brick too, which is a color I love for exteriors. The other part of our dilemma was the roof that we had just replaced about a year before. We chose a medium brown color because that was what was there before and we really weren’t even considering changing the other colors of the house. So that is what we had to work with – pink/gray brick and a brown roof.

After much debate and a major oh-no-what-have-we-done freak out when the installation started, I’m happy to say that we are more than pleased with the finished results.

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We decided to go with a grey siding, white soffits, and dark brown fascia and eaves. We also had the color matched some dark brown paint and just painted our garage doors. We are so pleased with the modern updates and now instead our house being one of the most run down looking on the street, we are definitely the most modern looking. It’s amazing the transformation that can happen in a week. The other advantage was that we gained ventilation in the attic, which was sorely needed.

So while we didn’t touch a single thing during this outside transformation process (except our checkbook), we are proud of the finished product and think it was definitely money well spent!

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SOLD!

>> Saturday, February 19, 2011

We sold our house!!! I cannot begin to explain what a relief it is! I suppose if any of you have sold a house with kids then you might have an idea. It is so ridiculous to keep a house clean when there are two people running around after you making a mess. But luckily after only 3 days of showings, we had an offer. And now a week later, all the conditions have been removed and we have officially SOLD!
I consider us so blessed to have sold our home so quickly and to get near our asking price. It is such a weight lifted. Now I can focus on all the other things that need attention in my life. Like my boys. Sadly they have been a little neglected the past few weeks!

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The ups and downs of selling

>> Friday, February 11, 2011

So we finally listed our home this week. I was kind of relieved when I finished all of the cleaning and touch ups but I didn’t really think about the fact that it would be just as stressful to have constant showings. Here’s a little recap of what’s been happening in the last week.
Our neighbors had a bunch of showings last Thursday and Friday and got an offer that was finalized by Sunday. And now they have a “SOLD” sticker on their sign so I’m guessing everything went well with the inspection and financing.
This is great because: their house is now off the market and therefore no longer competition; we know that there is demand for our type of home in our area at our price.
This is not so great because: they were really motivated to sell (they had an offer on another house) and we think they have accepted an offer that is a little lower than we want to go (which will probably make it harder to get the price we think we deserve); after viewing their house, I think ours shows better and probably would have had an advantage over theirs if ours were on the market at the same time.
In the end though, we can’t change anything that has happened with their house so we just have to hope we will have similar luck!
We’ve now had 3 showings and have 5 more booked for the next three days. I’m excited that there is some interest but it sure is tiring having to clean our house non-stop and having to be out of the house at nap/bed time. And just because my kids don’t think I have enough to worry about, they are doing their best to make sure I have lots of toys to pick up, food to clean up, beds to make and diaper cream to clean out of the carpet (yeah, don’t ask!).
Let’s just hope this whole thing is over with soon!

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Isn't it ironic?

>> Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I’ve been really busy the last couple weeks touching up all of the main areas of our house. It is really slow going with the little guys but I’m nearly done! Can’t wait to be finished all the actual house stuff so I can get going on cleaning and organizing.

Our original plan was to list on March 1. A few weeks ago our real estate agent mentioned that the market was pretty slow and we might want to consider listing at the end of February. We were fine with that and that has been our plan for the last couple weeks. Then today we had a little wrench thrown in our plans.

My husband got home from school today and immediately asked me if I saw what was in our front yard – a for sale sign. Not ours, but the owners of the other half of our duplex. And technically it was on their side of the front yard, but still!

So naturally we called our real estate agent in a panic perfectly calm manner to see what effect this will have on us. He’s getting back to us today on what our plan of action should be but I’m definitely a little nervous about this. One of the things we felt was on our side was that there are not many homes like ours in our area, which is actually quite desirable. And now, there isn’t just a similar house, there is one exactly like ours. Plus it may give people a bad impression if both sides of our duplex are for sale at the same time, like something is wrong with the house.

Anyways, we are just trying to make the best of it. On the good side, we are happy with their price point so hopefully we can both get what we are looking for.

Thank you, life, for the curveball!

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Rewind: Fireplace

>> Thursday, January 20, 2011

I thought I'd just take a step back and share a little of the changes we have already made to the house. We haven't done too much but I think the projects we've tackled have really made a huge difference.

We bought our house in September 2008. It was our first time as home owners so needless to say we were a little excited! The night we got possession, we started ripping out baseboards! The other project we tackled immediately was our fireplace. It was not a pretty site! Our old fireplace was ‘nice’ pink brick with concrete slabs for a mantel and hearth. It was also huge and off center in the room. We really had no idea what we were doing but all we did know is that we wanted it gone! 100_2667

So within days of moving in, we (I use that term pretty loosely!) started sledgehammering. We actually built a sort of a tent to try and contain the dust because it was awful. After a few days of demolition, we were left with a blank slate. We knew we wanted a gas fireplace but knew nothing else. Everything else was basically ‘learn as you go.’

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We decided to go with a gas insert since it was the easiest and most cost-effective. We figured we could deal with the off-centeredness of the fireplace (more on that another time). So we found an inexpensive, but nice looking insert and had it ordered.

The next step was finishing around it. We used cement board to cover up the interior brick and make it level with the existing drywall. Then I got to teach myself about mudding and taping. I’d seen it done before but never done it myself. It took a little practice but I did it and I was happy enough with the results. 100_2699100_2702100_2711

We decided to use the fireplace wall as an accent wall and painted it green so the fireplace would really pop. That’s me trying to figure out how to tile!

We were on a very tight budget for finishing this thing, so we went with a stock ceramic tile from Home Depot. It was also my first time tiling and I it was actually pretty fun. I’m quite happy with how that came out. We bought our mantle from Home Depot as well. To make it a little higher, we built bases for each of the legs and we also added a decorative scroll to the front. We painted and mounted the whole thing and we were done! 100_2713100_2718

We are really thrilled with how our new fireplace turned out. It really becomes the statement piece in the room, and not in a bad way! We also gained a lot more space by knocking our the hearth and making it level with the rest of the flooring. It was definitely a very involved first project but we are so happy we did it. Even 2 years later, it looks great!

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DIY with toddlers

>> Monday, January 17, 2011

I love home improvement projects. I also have a 3 year old and a 1 year old. When we first moved into this house and completed most of our projects, my oldest was only 8 months old, meaning he slept quite a bit. That left me with lots of time to myself to break out the tools. Now my 1 year old only has one nap a day and my 3 year old only naps every few days. This has drastically cut back on my project time! Add to that the fact that I have a very busy husband who is in school full time and has a full time job. I've just accepted the fact that anything I want to get done is going to take a while!

I haven't always been ok with this fact. I few times I've tried to just go all out for a day or two. Let the boys watch movies, don't worry about meals or cleaning. And from experience, all I can say is that doesn't work! I'm left with a finished project but with two boys starving for attention and totally off schedule. Plus I have a disaster of a house. So for every day that I spent completely devoted to a project, it took me another day to get back into routine and organized. To me, it was not worth it!

Now I plan to do most of my work during nap time or after bedtime. I will occasionally put a movie on for my older son while my little one sleeps but I've learned that at this point in my life, slow and steady wins the race!

Here's to hoping I get everything done in the next month!

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Sell This House: Part 1

>> Friday, January 14, 2011

We are planning on putting our house on the market in about 6 weeks! Which is very exciting but also means there are a lot of little things to finish up to make our house a little more presentable. We don’t plan on spending a lot of money right now. After all, we have done quite a few upgrades in the 2 1/2 years we have lived here. Our goal now is mostly just to make our home as clean and fresh as possible.

The first thing on our list was actually our floors. We took advantage of the time my husband had off school just after Christmas and shampooed the carpets. They came out so clean, which was really encouraging because before they were pretty bad!

The other problem with our floors was the squeaking! It was definitely not in our budget to rip up the carpets and screw down the subfloor. So we just sucked it up for a few years as it got worse and worse. Then last Christmas, I randomly walked into the living room at my parents and my Dad was watching “This Old House.” They featured this product that was supposed to stop squeaking in your floors. I was super excited and once we got home I searched and searched for it. I found it online and sent them an email but they replied that they didn’t sell the product in Canada. So I just sucked it up an paid the extra shipping.

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Yes, those are screws sticking out of my carpet. You just screw them right down through your carpet into the floor joist to a certain height. They are pre-scored so that you can snap the top off just below the top edge of the subfloor. The most difficult part is locating the joists but they send you a couple bits to help.

The best part though? It works! I’ve eliminated all of the squeaks in our living room and the upstairs is next on the agenda. The unfortunate thing is that in the squeakiest place in the house – my son’s bedroom – we discovered the squeak was coming from where the wall is attached to the floor so we may or may not cut out the drywall to fix it.

At least the rest of our house will be squeak free!

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My favorite new gadget

>> Wednesday, January 12, 2011

14.4V Cordless Hand Vac




Just before Christmas we bought ourselves a little "gift." A Dustbuster! I've thought that I wanted one for years but just never took the plunge. Can I just tell you that it is the best when you have toddlers. Like instead of sweeping the floor after every meal, I can just vacuum up all of the stray Cheerios. Plus it comes in handy when you are doing renovations with kids around. It's great at vacuuming up sanding dust!

Seriously Dustbuster, where have you been all my life??

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