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An Update

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Well hello there. What in the world are you doing still hanging around? The past year has been a real world wind. I will never say anything bad about my job. I love it, a lot. As I wind down to retirement one year from now though my job has been busy.

The demands for the job have meant that I haven’t had much time to do any creative work. That will be changing.

So, here is a quick update on life as a weekend country girl.

  • We are expecting granddaughter number two in mid June. Sweet Amanda and Baby Boy are going to be giving Lucy a sister and we are thrilled. I am getting busy on nursery preparations finally. The sweet girl may not have everything finished before her arrival.
  • The Southern Belle and Joe have left the city that they love and have moved to Denton, Texas for work. I now have all of my kids living in a four hour drive. I am thrilled and will be filling you in on that quirky town soon. They have bought a house and it is going to get a mini makeover before they move in this month.
  • We bought an RV. We have taken it out on the maiden voyage and love it. We have plans for a lot of trips in the future.
  • This week we will start an exterior makeover of our house. I am so excited! We are getting an enlarged front porch, a carport, and exterior paint on the bricks.

I hope you are all doing well. I promise that I will be doing a better job of keeping you up to date from now on.

Thanks for hanging in there. I appreciate you all more than you know.

Blessings,

Karen

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Selling a Home

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I am not an expert in a lot of areas.  Never ask me to knit, crochet, sew, or bake a soufflé.  I can’t grow anything that is is the least bit tricky (this month alone I have killed an orchid and it appears one of my succulents are dying), and car repair of any sort is not my thing.

What I have learned a little about in 34 years of marriage is how to sell a house.  As of now we have sold 4 homes, each one sold in less than a month, most in about a week.  House number 5 is currently under contract after being on the market for less than 5 days. You can see the home here.

I am pretty proud of our track record selling homes, but my guess is that my kids wished we did things a little differently when they were growing up.  My daughter commented once that we never finished any projects until we were putting the house on the market.  Guilty as charged.

Here is what we do, when we are selling a home:

  1. ” IZE “ your home.  You know what I am going to say here already:
    • Neutralize– Appeal to the masses.  Nothing that would be too taste specific.  Not the time for a purple wall or leopard print carpet.
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    • Depersonalize-You must detach from the home.  You are breaking up with this house anyway, so start moving on in your head.  Family photos, ribbons, medals, and shopping lists on the fridge must go.
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    • Minimize- Go ahead and get a start on moving out.  Have a garage sale, donate to Goodwill, and store anything that is not essential, in pristine condition, or that is too overpowering.  My green hutch and all of the milkglass got moved out.  This is not the best shot of my beloved hutch, but it was all I could find.  I will have an awesome picture of it when it moves in to my craft room.  Promise.
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    • Sanitize- I am not saying you are dirty people, really I am not.  What I am saying is it needs to be cleaner than the way we, at our house, live on a daily basis.  We washed the windows inside and out, had the carpet professionally cleaned, weeded the flower beds, and scrubbed the grout in the bathrooms, organized the linen closets, and power washed the sidewalk, porches, and driveway.  The bathroom counters got emptied and cleaned.  I am sad to say that a lot of that only happens when we have a house on the market.
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  2. Upgrade your home.  It takes money, and/or elbow grease to make money.  In our case a little of both.  Mostly on the back of Mr. Math.
    • Lighting– This is honestly one of the areas that I do not understand why more people don’t take care of before putting their house on the market.  If your house is more than 5 years old, or is a builder basic, you probably have at least one light fixture that needs updating.  If you shop around, you can find some great lights for not a lot of money.  Mr. Math replaced the very builder basic light on the front porch and in the entry way.  I stood on the ground and begged him not to die.  Not all lighting is this challenging to change out.
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    • Flooring– Go with what is selling in your area.  I checked out the two recent sales in our neighborhood.  See what they both had?
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      • Both had hardwood flooring in the family room.   We had carpet so we knew we were going to have to up our game.  We shopped for the best deal on neutral engineered hardwood flooring and had it installed. We spent some serious money on the flooring, but we knew that it would not get any traffic if we weren’t on par with the other homes on the market.  It is really nice, but I probably would have gone a lot more rustic if I was purchasing for me and not the masses.
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  3. Make your home memorable.  I know I said neutralize, so why would I also say to make it memorable?  What I mean is make your home stand out from the rest in the minds of buyers- in a good way.  Keep the walls neutral but try to have at least three rooms with something in them that will be remembered by the buyers.
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    • We added this barn door and buyers can see it as soon as they walk in.
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    • Our neighbor had this awesome turquoise buffet in the entry way.
    • I love my teal dresser that we use as an entertainment center.
    • Oh that bathroom.  I am going to miss that beauty.  The dresser, the antique vanity, the fence board shelving unit and the light are all neutral but very memorable.
    • The faux shiplap wall is getting a lot of traffic right now on Pinterest.  It is easy, and makes quite a statement.
  4. Hire the realtor in your area that is actually selling homes and then listen to the realtor.  The person who is selling homes quickly in your area probably has potential clients already lined up.  The realtor we used sold the home next door quickly and for above listing a month before ours went on the market.  She had a list of people who are currently looking to move into our neighborhood from her last sale.  She also set the price for the house which was higher than I thought we should go.  She was right.  If she had told us our house was not worth what we believed, we would have had an opportunity to fix the problems before moving on or not list, but I would never list higher than the realtor believes it will sell for.  I would either need a different realtor or realistic expectations.  Our realtor walked through the house prior to listing to make sure we had everything done that would help the house sell.  She was honest and helped us see things that we had not considered with furniture placement.

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It made me proud of our hard work that we had more than one family want the home, and that the new buyers wanted to buy some of the furnishings as well.

We love hearing from you.  Thank you for following along on our journey as we move into our forever home.

Blessings,

Karen

 

 

Sometimes the Answer is Not Yet

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This week Mr. Math and I went to look at the home that is for sale to be moved.  He thought it was cute too and was also excited about it.  That thrilled me.  I sometimes run ahead of myself and was worried that I was stepping out where my husband wasn’t willing to go.  He gets me and what I want to do and for that I am grateful.

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As we walked around the house, there were some issues that are going to make moving the house very hard and expensive.

  • There is a concrete foundation wall completely around the perimeter that would have to be demolished before the under the house work could begin because of the design.
  • The porch is not stable and would have to be removed in order to move the house. The porch beams are attached to a concrete porch and the chances of us successfully removing the porch intact to reattach would be slim.
  • The bathroom was added on at a later time than the house was built and would have to come off.
  • The main support beam that runs along the bedroom side of the house has dry rot and would have to be replaced.          Mr. Math checked it out top to bottom. 

All of that information was a bummer, but still potentially doable.  (We still hadn’t given up at that point.) The nail in the coffin on this house for us was that chimney.  Well not exactly the chimney, because I already knew it had a chimney that would have to come out.  It was the dummy who removed that structural wall between the two front rooms that now has the chimney stack holding up the ceiling weight.  The chimney has to go for the house to be moved and in order for the house to be stabilized enough for that to happen.  The interior work required for that to happen would be an unreasonable amount of money and would destroy the flooring in the front room.

  
The brick showing through the Sheetrock

Soooo… the house is not the house is not the one for us.  That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a house for us out there.  I have Craig’s List set to notify me by email everytime a home to be moved is listed.  Today this showed up.  It is cute, and new, and I love the vaulted ceiling, but it is not what I am looking for.

We have decided to “be still” and wait.  I guess my version of being still may not be everyone’s version.  My version is to focus on getting things in order to make another life change so that when the opportunity arises we will be ready.  Yep.  I know you saw this one coming a mile away.  When I tell my friends this life change, no one is surprised.  NO. ONE.  How have I been so personally unaware?

We have decided to put our suburban home on the market, hopefully this spring, if we can get the list of “to do’s” taken care of.   We will be commuters to work which I never wanted to do, but our heart is in the country.  I never, ever, thought I would say that.

My Burb Home

Once our suburban house is sold, we will make the big move to the country.  We will be “one home” owners for the first time in 10 years.    Frankly, that scares me a little lot.  We currently furnish over 4800 square feet.  We have six bedrooms, two living rooms, two dining rooms, four bathrooms, and an office.  Paring down to 2200 square feet means that we will be getting rid of a lot of things and will have decide what stays and what goes.  I am committed to making the hard decisions as we go and letting go of things I do not need or does not have a spot in my home no matter how much I love it.  Things like my beloved mudroom bench, my funky bedroom furniture, and one of my media center dressers.

Finished Mudroom Bench

Hold me to that, friends.

I slept all night for the first time in weeks after thinking this all through and getting this post written.

Thank you all for following along on our mid life journey. 

 In the next six months we will have our first grandchild, put our house on the market and will hopefully make the move to our forever home.  There are plenty of projects ahead for me to keep busy.

Blessings,

Karen

 

Recessed Lighting in a Ranch House

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I am so very excited to show you guys the recessed lighting in our home.  When we bought the home there were a few non-negotiable items that would be changed for me before I was willing to sign on the dotted line.

  1.  We needed a mud room.   We need a spot for the messy stuff to stop and hang out before it wanders into the living space and makes me cranky.  Right now we are about 75% complete with the mud room.  The wall is up, the lights are moved, holes in the ceiling are patched,and the trim is done.  We still need to add the bench, the back wall cabinets and the coat hooks.  I am guessing that most will be done this spring.  If it stops raining on the weekends.  I cannot wait for you to see it.  It is glorious.
  2. The kitchen needs a makeover.  Right now that is on hold until summer except we are getting the propane hooked up and a gas stove soon.
  3. New flooring.  The carpet had to go.  This one is DONE!
  4. Recessed lighting in all the main rooms of the home. All. Of. Them.  The 1980’s ranch home has 8 foot ceilings, which are fine unless you have lived in homes for the last 20 years with high ceilings like we have.  The previous owners installed energy saving windows which are great, except they are tinted and the filtered light is not as bright as I would have wished.  There are fewer windows than our last home had.  There were no overhead lights in the main rooms of the home.   The home is situated on the lot with the main room on the west side of the house which should provide lots of afternoon light but we have huge trees in our back yard that I love but they block the light to the family room. Finally, adding the mudroom meant blocking the main rooms of half the windows.  Add it all up and the home felt dark and dreary to me.  I dreaded winter coming because the home was going to be so dark during the rainy, cloudy winters we have in the Texas Piney Woods.

Before you all get started looking at the pictures, I took all of them using my iPad and at roughly the same time of day because I wanted you to see the difference in the lighting.

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    The photo above shows the two windows that are now blocked by the mudroom wall and the area that is now our dining room along with the only two ceiling lights we had when we moved in.  You can also see the last of the cream colored carpet and what a zoo it is at our humble abode.

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    Why yes that is a huge, ugly ceiling fan in the kitchen.

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    No overhead lighting in the family room.

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    The door was sheet-rocked over in order to have this dining room.  The one ceiling light was over the table in the center of the room that makes no sense now that we have a functioning front door.

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    More views with no lights.  Oh and the

    Enter recessed lighting.  I knew for certain that I wanted recessed lights in the house.  Mr. Math was not so sold on the lighting because I am pretty sure he is at least 1/4 vampire but I stood firm on this issue.  I must have light.  I believe I am part plant.

    He really panicked when I let him know how many lights I was thinking about.  25 recessed lights spread out over our kitchen, front entry, mud room, dining room, and family room.   The roof is pretty low and the wiring was suspect in the house so we hired this one out.

    The first step was to figure out where all the lights would go.  This involved a pole with rolled up blue tape on it to stick everywhere I thought a light would go.  I had been to this awesome site: recessedlighting.com  They tell you everything you need to know about how many, where, what kind to buy… the whole ball of wax.

    I had my buddy, The Social Planner over for backup because I knew when showed Mr. Math (A.K.A. Count Dracula) how many lights were going up he would be less than excited.

     

    Once the placement was made, we had the electrician come to give us an estimate for the cost and time frame.  After he came and let us know what to get it was time for to purchase the lights.  All 23 of them (we re-used two lights for the mudroom.)  The retrofit led recessed lights were close to $30.00 each.

    The next step was to have the electrician come and start the install process.  It took three Saturdays to get all the holes cut, wires run, light installed in the ceilings,switches installed in the walls along with bringing our attic wiring up to code, removing  the kitchen ceiling fan box and installing two outlets.  The difference in the rooms is amazing.  The lights make the rooms feel bright and cheery without overpowering the space, they seem  to make the rooms look more up to date as well.

     

    We just had our first rainy-all-weekend trip after the lights and I can tell you it would be impossible for me to be more thrilled.  They are amazing.

    The lights are 3 inches and are hardly noticeable when off. The photo above is before the ceiling touch ups.

    Here is a photo of the moved light and the beginning of the ceiling repair.


    Above you can see the recessed lights with the ceiling lights off and on.

    We added lights over the dining table too, but the Edison bulbs didn’t photograph well so they are off.  The wire hanging down is straightening out.

    Thanks for taking the time to follow along on our journey.

    Blessings,

    Karen

      How to Install a Barn Door

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    I love barn doors.  They solve the problem of swing out doors in small spaces, can be made to fit odd sizes, are easier to install than a pocket door and they look cool.  I love them so much that soon we will have three.  One on the giant bran door that allows us to close off a section of our suburban home when we have guests.

       
     
    The wood in the barn door above came from my husband’s family barn.

    We will soon be putting a barn door over the opening to our mudroom.  It will be open most of the time but can be closed off.

      
    And finally, we installed a door on barn door hardware last weekend.

    Our master bathroom at Provdence didn’t have a door.  That bugged me.  

    A lot. 

    The opening was 36 inches wide so o immediately thought of a door we have had for 16 years or so.  I bought it for $20.00 at a community garage sale.  It was an unfinished, solid wood pine exterior door that I stained and used as my  daughter’s headboard.  It then became our headboard.   I knew it would work as our bathroom door and best of all, it wouldn’t cost us anything.

    The reason there wasn’t a door on the bathroom was that there just wasn’t room for a swig out or in 36 inch door.  A pocket door should have been installed there 30 years ago when the home was built.

    The best solution for the door was a solution I had already used before on an odd opening, a barn door.

    I bought the hardware from Tractor Supply. 

    The rails come in two styles, a rounded bottom rail and a square bottom style. 

    We like the square style.

      The roller kit we buy comes with everything needed to attach the door to the rail.     

        
      

    We are probably going to eventually paint the rail and hardware black, but right now it is about getting a bathroom door. Fast.

      

    This particular door is heavy. Mr. Math had to make sure the door stays securely attached. The bolts go complexly through the door and are tightened down.
      

    I recommend phoning a friend to hang the door.  Our frien, Larry saved the day.

      

    I don’t have a picture of the first step.  Hang a 1 x 4 into the studs above the opening.  This allows for the door to move across the door facing.  The next step is to hang the rail.  You have to buy the hangers separately.  We bought 3 to hold up our 6′ 8″ rail.
        

    The hangers are adjustable by twisting the nuts on the bolts.
        
       

    I am so happy to have a door.  

    I hope you all have a wonderful week.

    Blessings,

    Karen

    Curtain Problems

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    Our “new” ranch home, built in 1982, has a curtain problem.  Well that is probably not accurate.  I have a curtain problem at the ranch.  I love the look of floor to ceiling curtains in a home, particularly a home with 8 foot ceilings, but for some reason our windows/walls/ceilings just don’t seem to fit standard curtains. 84 inch curtains hang at an odd spot above the floor that bugs me and 96 inch curtains turn into a puddle on the floor which is not at all cool in a house that is designed for easy care and informal living.

    According to World Market, I must be doing something wrong:

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    Curtain Guide

    This is what I am getting:

    96 inch curtains

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    Do you see the puddle on the floor?  That is with the curtain rod all the way to the crown moulding.

    84 inch curtains

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    The picture above is with the curtains hung just above the window frame, not at the ceiling.

    I don’t sew well but I think that some alterations are in my future.   I believe the best option for the craft room is this look I found on Pinterest:


    Curtain lengthening 

    I also plan to chop off the top of my master bedroom curtains to shorten them.  The bottom is the part I love.

    I am pretty sure that I need to learn to sew.

    On a happy note, I have searched high and low for curtains and the best prices for curtains are at

    • Fallas- This somewhat sketchy store in the Houston area has great prices on curtains.  The craft room curtains and the set in the guest room came from there and they were $5.00 a panel for 84″ curtains.  The guest room curtains are even blackout fabric at that price.
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    • Tuesday Morning- I love the quality of the curtains at Tuesday Morning.  The panels are either 84″ or 96″ and are about $19.00 for a set of two panels.  They are heavy weight well made.  The only down side is that you may have to go to several to get more than one set of the same fabric.
    • Home Goods-  The awesome curtains in our office are from Home Goods.  They are lined, 96″ panels and are stunning.  I snagged them for $29.00 a set.
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    The Expand-O-Matic Facelift

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    This past spring I bought this beauty at a community garage sale for $20.00.  I had no ideas what it was, but I thought it was cool the way that the front slid out and turned in to a table.

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    A little research, and checking out the drawers for a label, taught me all about the mid century Expand-O-Matic.

    It was designed at a time when we Ameicans were moving off the farms and into the city.  Space was tight in apartments so furniture had to do double or triple duty.  Here is a a 1960’s advertisement after they tried to update the name by calling in EXPANDWAY.  I like the 1940’s/ 1950’s version- Expand-O-Matic.

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    I find it ironic that I bought it because I am moving to the country not the city.    My plan is for the desk/table to move into the back guest room.  I plan on us making a Murphy bed for the room along with the desk.  It will be able to convert between office space and bedroom as needed.

    The room looks like this right now: 
    As you see above, the room needs love. 

    The room is going to be kiwi ( a little richer than lime but bright green), cream and teal.  The top and legs were stained with a Minwax gel stain  called special walnut.  I am so excited to have my own space inside he house to paint, sew or just piddle as my mom calls it.  It will be a fun, bright, creative space with my awesome painted chair which will have cream legs when we move in, this super cool desk/ worktable, and a kiwi colored cabinet with a Murphy bed in it.  I am thinking I will be painting a rug to go in the space in case of disasters that occur when I craft.

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    Here is the inspiration room:  

     
    Of course my room will have a little more of a rustic vibe.

    The hardwood runners that allow the table to expand to 6 feet are all cleaned, waxed, and now move easily between open and closed.  We still need to fabricate the leaves, but  the body is painted (Behr Real Teal) the drawers are a mis-tint sample I picked up for fifty cents.  The mis-tint is darker than my go to “sea salt” cream, but still an off white color.  I tried to stain the drawers but they were too far gone to save.  I was able to save the top and legs even though ther is an ink stain on the top.  (I wonder what happened there?)

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    Ink stain

    stained drawers

    The drawers above were sanded until I almost sanded through the veneer but they still were not going to look right.

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    I tried to polish up the hardware but in the end, I had to spray paint them with metallic spray paint.  (Rustoelium Soft Iron).

    Wouldn’t this piece be great in a mini house?

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    I found these awesome curtain panels for $5.99 each too!  The color is a perfect match to the teal color on the Expand-O-Matic.  There are three windows in the office so getting the curtains for under $40.00 is amazing.

     
    I hope you have a wonderful day.

    I love to hear from you.

    Blessings,

    Karen

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