sound bytes from a moving adventure.

About a month ago, I started an email draft to myself with a list of “sound bytes” if you will, from our moving experience. For most of this adventure, it has been just the two of us around taking on one hurdle after another, but sometimes I laugh out loud at the thought of someone overhearing a montage of all our vocal commentary – both the ups and the downs.

A peek into the past few weeks….


“How much does that cost?”

“Our budget is X.”

(Sigh) “It’s fine. I’m used to the fact that if my wife is involved it somehow always costs more than I expect it will.”

“Attached is the addendum to the first addendum – ammendment item #26 has been added.”

“How much does THAT cost?”

“Our budget is X. But we could go higher…”

“I’ve never seen anyone move to a new house…in a skirt.”

“Ummmm……I think that just broke.”

“Seriously? It costs THAT much??”

“Wait…what was our original budget?”

“If you can sit backwards where the passenger seat was and rest your feet up on the cushions, we might be able to fit all of this in one car load, total.”


“How am I supposed to clean out this fridge if the breaker is off?”

“Well, how am I supposed to uninstall this ceiling fan if the breaker is on?”

“High five, I just uninstalled that ceiling fan. In the dark.”


(him) “Measure from that corner to the beginning of the hardware…”
(her) “It just needs to come down a skoshe”
(him) “Okay, a ‘skoshe’ is not a unit of measurement”


“Do you have it? You got it?”
“Yep, I got it.”

neighborly christmas cheer.

After our nose-dive arrival into the neighborhood with the martian green front door, I figured we owed the neighbors a little peace offering. Plus, a couple have already been by with holiday treats and I’d like to return the favor. The problem? My kitchen is still half-packed and baking is about #407 on my to-do list right now.

Enter the wonder that is the holiday “oreo” cookie from Trader Joe’s…Peppermint Joe Joes.

I saran-wrapped a handful of these for each house, and whipped up a little card with a nod to the whole door disaster…and everyone loves a little store-bought humor…right?? šŸ™‚

From our (crazy and still half-packed) house to yours…Merry Christmas. šŸ™‚



“before” shots

We closed last Thursday afternoon and spent the weekend getting a whole bunch of tasks checked off our list – with new construction, we learned there are several “extra” to-dos before you can even start the actual moving, including installing hardware on all the cabinets (so we can actually open/close them to unpack all the dishes!), hanging curtains over all the windows (done on the first floor for now…working on the second), installing the garage door openers, getting speakers wired, alarm system installed, fridge delivered, and what seems like a zillion other things.

I’ve been asked to see the “before” stage. It didn’t really occur to me that “before” meant, like RIGHT NOW pics of the move-in process. To me, “before pics” are after you’re all unpacked and things are put away…but before you start projects around the house and making it feel like your own. šŸ˜‰

Anyway, we’ve been so busy getting it TO the before stage so until just now there wasn’t much to see and quite frankly we didn’t want to stop since we only had a weekend to get it together before moving day. Now that we’re a bit more caught up, here are some pics for those of you who aren’t in town to swing by and for those of you who ARE, please come see us any time….although the type-A me would prefer you wait a week or two until I’ve had a chance to unpack and decorate and get everything in its place. šŸ™‚

Thanks to some great friends helping us this coming weekend, I’m hoping we can be totally unpacked very soon. We are both completion freaks when it comes to moving; this will be our sixth move since we’ve been together and we always work like crazy for a week straight to get everything unpacked before rejoining the world. Especially this time around, moving in December, we’d rather be crazy people for a couple weeks straight and be DONE with everything in time to relax and enjoy our holidays with family that will be in town to check out the digs. Plus…it’s our first home…who would want to WAIT to play house in it?! šŸ™‚

(my office)

(guest room)
(guest bath)
(Page’s office)

(master bedroom)
(master closet and bath…already making some plans for this! šŸ™‚ )

So cue the blog pause as we get on with the unpacking, some holiday shopping, and an overall very merry December. šŸ™‚

door drama.

When we last left off, the neighbors were left blinking (hard) at this unsightly paint job in a shield-your-eyes shade of green.

Yes, the green was too bright. Understatement. But I’ve decided that what made it literally leap off the page and scream at passersby was the fact that the TRIM was painted green as well (someone mucked up, needless to say). I am slightly calmed by the fact that had this been done correctly – yes, I still would have wanted to change it – but at least it would have seemed a BIT more toned down. Heck, with a big wreath on the front I might have even liked it. Not that the neighbors would have… šŸ™‚

So fast forward through a long holiday weekend mixed with a good bit of aren’t-we-done-yet, eleventh-hour builder v. buyer v. realtors v. developer drama. To make a very long and boring story short, we found out there is a covenant for this development that details – among many other things (no raising poultry on our land!) – the acceptable exterior colors for homes on this street. No shocker that martian green is not on the menu.

In our defense, I asked way back at our specs meeting in September about painting the door a bright green and if there were “rules” about colors. I heard nothing and obviously, the door was painted green without argument. Fast forward through a bunch of covenant drama, and we were finally told over the weekend that the door would be painted white in the interest of time and this week’s close as it all had to be finished and signed off on beforehand and there wasn’t time to approve a new color. We could submit paint colors to the developer and paint it ourselves comes spring (it’s gotten too cold here this week for exterior painting). Somewhere in the multi-email exchange surrounding this issue, I mentioned liking Benjamin Moore “Heritage Red” – a color I’d seen on many a red Googled door image. Fast forward to our walk-through with the builder tonight, and I pulled up expecting to see a WHITE door this time around…only to pull up to this:

I couldn’t even be mad about the COMPLETE lack of communication (our realtor had the same WTF look on his face that I did) – I’m just happy we have some color on the house and it’s a color we LOVE! It’s the perfect red – I can understand why it’s by far the most popular shade when you search for “red front door”. Kudos to our builder for cutting through the BS and making this happen!

And here she is at night, after we left our walk-thru…

Just have to make it to Thursday. There have been a few back-to-back drama items in the past couple of weeks (maybe to be shared at a later date…) and we are more than ready to sign on the dotted line and be DONE. I have to laugh…I keep wondering to myself if this is how pregnant women feel in their ninth month? šŸ™‚ Let’s get this this over with already!



Building Our Home: Week 10

Week 10 is complete…and the house is nearly complete as well. I was flipping through previous weeks’ posts and it was fun to see the progress in pictures. It’s hard to believe we will take one more “finished” photo next weekend before we close! Here’s a peek back at the past nine weeks…

During this weeks’ progress, our pillar has been built on the front patio and the stone to be added to it and the front of the house is in that pile you see on the driveway. Most of the sod has been planted, and if you squint (ha!) you can see one of two tiny sticks (aka trees) in our front yard. Because so many contractors have to come and go, the front door paint is the very last thing they’ll do…can’t wait to see it finally turn green! šŸ™‚

Inside the house, the carpet has gone in, tile has been finished up, appliances have been delivered and the lights work and the water runs. A cleaning crew has been through (thankfully!!), and we’ll do final walk-throughs with both an inspector and the builder to cite any touch-ups this coming week. Assuming all goes as scheduled (fingers crossed, saying prayers!) we’ll turn our very own key in the lock a week from Thursday.

Just like that. Surreal!

It has been quite a journey and while the last three months have flown by, it also seems we’ve been immersed in this project forever! It’s crazy to think that less than ninety days ago, we were standing on what would become our lot, feeling almost out-of-body as our realtor negotiated away on his cell phone as we tried to close the deal. We sat at our kitchen table into the early morning hours that night writing up our offer and purchase agreement and within 24 hours the experience had begun.

We’ve learned a lot, and there are a couple things we might approach differently, but overall we have no major regrets and would do this all over again without hesitation. I overuse the word experience lately when referring to this build, but that’s exactly what it has been. It was an endeavor neither of us had taken on before and we have been in a head-on crash course and loving ALMOST every minute of it. šŸ™‚

I look forward to posting some pics of moving weekend, an excursion to Ikea for the long-and-still-growing list of needs, and eventually some “before” pics of each room (because you KNOW there are projects to come once we get our foot in the door…did someone say “built in bookcases”?) Thanks for all the facebook replies and comments – we’re awfully excited and can’t wait to share more as our life in this house unfolds.


Building Our Home: Week 9

Week nine is complete and we’re officially starting to get antsy to make the move! We sold the last of the “big stuff” we needed to sell this week, and made some major progress with packing. All that’s left are the basic pots and pans to cook a few more meals in our townhouse, our clothes for the next few weeks, and of course, our computers to keep making a buck to pay for the new digs. šŸ˜‰ As you can see, our house is getting ready for the big move, too. This week they poured our driveway and front stoop, which we dedicated by etching “Smith 2011”!

The progress ’round back continued as the deck was finished up with railings and stairs – just in time for central Iowa’s first snow! (It got awfully muddy after it melted as you can see…) The patio was poured underneath. This part seems like it all came together smoothly – but there were many, many revisions and conversations between us, the realtors, the builders, and the contractor, trying to get this to all work out as we planned. Aside from expanding the original dimensions, we moved the stairs that would have come diagonally across the large window in the basement, so that they instead went out into the yard (so much happier with this) although that in turn became a hassle to pour the patio the dimensions we wanted (for a someday hot tub nook under the stairs) but still have adequate room to get all of the deck supports in place. It’s a long, pretty dull story…but let’s just say we’re high fiving that this part is over!

Inside, the walls turned “Mindful Gray” and I love how much the trim pops against it. Floors went in as well (they’ll be gorgeous when all that dust is cleared away!)

The bathrooms and laundry room now have tile, and mirrors and light fixtures have been installed throughout the house. The pedestal sink for the powder room finally arrived – love it!

Shelving has gone into all of the closets and all interior doors have been painted and hung. Some of the lights are hooked up and some aren’t – it was nice to get some lit photos especially now that it gets so dark so much earlier.

And my favorite part of this week…the granite and subway tile is in! It is so hard to envision when you pick from tiny sample squares – and granite naturally is so varied from one batch to the next, so I was really anxious to see it “in action” with all of our other selections. I’m totally happy with it! Now all that’s left is finishing up the tile and appliance delivery to complete the kitchen.

Now that all electrical is being finalized, Page got back in to add the volume control panels to the outlets he wired a few weeks back. Can’t wait to close so we – who am I kidding – PAGE can install the speakers and we can rock out throughout the house while we unpack the sea of boxes. šŸ™‚ I don’t know how he just KNOWS how to do all this stuff – nice work, babe!

Until this last week, I’ve been operating in panic mode and nervously counting how many weekends we have left to get ready…so much progress has been made that I can now look ahead anxiously…and things are starting to accumulate that I’m excited to get into the house – like these baskets I found that fit like a GLOVE in the entry bench.ƂĀ  Can you feel our anticipation?! Let’s move in already! šŸ™‚

cover it up: window shade DIY project

One of the biggest warnings we got when we announced we were building a new home was, “be sure to budget BIG TIME for window coverings – you’re starting from scratch and it add ups fast!”.

While I plan to go frugalista and employ my fair share of Ikea curtain panels and bargain-priced rods throughout the house, it will still inevitably cost us a pretty penny to get all of these windows properly dressed – and stay on our new neighbors’ good sides by not showing all kinds of business through uncovered panes. In other words, I was on the lookout for some cool but inexpensive window solutions.

When it comes to DIY projects, I’m always game. When it comes to DIY projects that involve fabric….I recoil a bit. I can do a basic stitch on my idiot-proof sewing machine, but that’s pretty much the extent of my abilities. So when I found this tutorial that involved nothing more than my trusty bottle of Fabri-Tac glue, I was totally on board. It all started with the photo above – I instantly saw our kitchen when I looked at it (we have this same size of window and layout) and fell in love with the fabric – color, pattern, all of it. $25 to recreate this beauty? I’m listening.

Check out the tutorial on how to make this DIY shade at A Well-Dressed Home. Her instructions are super clear and every step is illustrated with photos. It seems redundant to post my own version (since it’s literally a carbon copy) but here are a couple pics of me making my version. My only change to the process might be (and Page insisted I make note that this was his original suggestion – which I blew off) to measure the fabric and iron creases along where the fabric will fold and adhere to the backside. The shade was very flexible and it was hard to keep it taut and know exactly where to fold the fabric over the vinyl without creating bubbles.ƂĀ  Regardless, I’m happy with how it turned out happy that the project cost me the same amount of $25 and change. To buy and ship my fabric (purchased on Etsy) was $16, plus $5.50 for the shade and mounting hardware, plus $4 for a 2-oz bottle of Fabric-Tak. I can’t wait to hang it in our new kitchen for a true “after” photo.


Speaking of the new kitchen, I was goofing around with a photo I had pinned on Pinterest when looking at white subway tile. Page pointed out that not only does it have all of our finishes, but it’s our exact layout (except that there’s a window over the sink). So I haphazardly photoshopped in our paint color and some elements I plan to use and while this looks a little like a fun house, it’s still cool to get an idea of how it will all come together. A couple rugs in that pattern are on my to-buy list, and the “E-A-T” letters are already purchased, packed, and ready to go to the new house.

The hardest part of planning ahead and shopping for the house is that I can’t see for myself what the final product looks like while it’s still in progress. It’s hard to know if something will be too small, or too large for the space – or too light or too dark. It’s not like I can bring a few decorating options home, try them out with furniture that hasn’t yet been delivered, in a room that is still being built. So I’m heavily relying on photoshop to get a rough idea in my head so my imagination doesn’t completely fry.

(Stay tuned for a similarly awkward photo rendition of our new sofa and my many throw pillow options…) šŸ™‚

Building Our Home: Week 8

Eight weeks are behind us, and it’s truly starting to feel like a home, not just a structure, although it has yet to sink in that it’s “ours” and not just some project we’re a part of. šŸ™‚ There isn’t much difference from the front this week (we’re anxiously waiting for them to add the stone!) but there are plenty of changes around back and inside.

This week was a bit brutal for us both in terms of work load, schedules, and massive to-do lists. And on top of it all we had our final lending meeting on Friday to prepare for. So glad it’s all behind us and coming out to see the latest progress was a great reward for getting through the week! It’s crazy to think next time we go to visit “the money” (lender office) it will be on our close date, which we have officially confirmed will come in on time — December 1st!!!

Page managed to get out to the house on Tuesday night and snap a few mid-week pictures which are fun to compare to these from today – just a few days later. So much happens in the span of a week!

The first happening was the addition of our deck – hooray!

(on Tuesday…)

(and today…although we couldn’t get the same shot because the doors are masked shut for painting)


Trim work was finished up including our fireplace mantel….the big TV cut-out looks less ridiculous and more in proportion now! (on Tuesday…)

(and today…)

We have our entryway bench (on Tuesday…)

(and today…)

And there are finally some stairs from the garage into the kitchen which I have plans for, mentioned here….I’ve been informed by the guy who has for the most part let me decorate as I please that the garage is a “man area” and that overly cursive lettering and/or girly colors will not be tolerated on my steps project. Duly noted, honey. Duly noted.

The walls are primed and we’re told they’ll be painted by Monday/Tuesday. We’re also expecting to see the hardwood and tile go in this week (fingers crossed!)

I made a point to get some “before” pics of the upstairs rooms with my fisheye lens before paint and eventually carpet go in – it’s easier to get a feel for the room layouts with this lens, although I’m still clearly learning how to get it to focus correctly. šŸ™‚


(Pager’s office)

(my office)

(guest room)

I’m off to try my hand at DIY-ing a shade for the kitchen window. Hopefully a post on that success (??) will be coming shortly!