Thursday, May 30, 2013

Paying It Forward

Yesterday was officially moving out day. The moving van came at 9am, and by 4 that afternoon they had loaded everything onto the moving van.

It's amazing how much stuff one family of five can accumulate over a twenty-five year period!

It was a bittersweet day. The house looked so sad and forlorn without all of the things that make our house a home.

 Realtors will tell you to have your house "broom clean" for the next owners. Sorry, but that's not good enough for me. When I leave a house, I leave it clean from top to bottom. Cabinets and shelves are wiped clean, baseboards and ceiling fans are dusted, carpets are vacuumed, floors are mopped, and bathrooms are scrubbed clean.

I like to think that I'm paying it forward.

It is our hope and prayer that the next owners will enjoy our home as much as we did.

The future may seem fragile from this point on, but we're keeping this end up!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Boxing Day

The packers are here today to box up our worldly possessions. To be completely honest, I wasn't prepared. Oh sure, you can work all weekend to ensure that things go smoothly. But on the morning of the packers' arrival, you still feel like there are two dozen things you didn't get to.

You'll still be frantically doing laundry, emptying garbage cans, collecting cleaning supplies.

In the end, you just have to let it go and submit to the chaos and the capable hands of the folks who know what they're doing.

I always feel the need to apologize to the poor people who draw the short straw and have to pack my craft room.

"Sorry about the mess. I tried my best to clean it up for you."

"This is nothing!" the ladies said. "We were just saying 'We love this woman! Look! She put all of her liquid bottles in Ziploc baggies!' "

I'm sure they just said that to make me feel better.

I really thought of telling the packers that someone broke into our house, and instead of stealing stuff, they left a bunch of crap instead. But something tells me they've heard that lame excuse before.

Here's a short list of some things we did to prep for the packers:

* In the yard, we gathered all garden statues, fencing, bird feeders and bird baths and put them in the garage for packing.

* In the craft room, I packaged all papers neatly, put all my inks, sprays, and mists into Ziploc baggies, and made sure all accessories and tools were stored in drawers.

* In each bedroom, we put our suitcases and any other items that would not get packed onto our beds.

* In the master bathroom, we put a pile of cleaning supplies in the bathtub. These items will be handy when the house is empty and we do a thorough cleaning before turning it over to the new owners.

* On the kitchen island, we made a pile for the new house owners that includes manuals for all appliances, garage door openers, spare keys, extra real estate flyers, etc.

* We labeled rooms with directions on where the items will go in the new house. We put Post-It notes with the boys' names on their bedroom doors, and labeled rooms according to their placement in the new house: Family Room, Den, Living Room, Kitchen, etc.

* We made sure all dishes were clean and in the cabinets. We also took any items we'd still need from the pantry and put them in a "Do not pack" pile.

* We emptied all garbage cans.

* We did one final "purging" and took another van load to Goodwill.

I have no doubt that I will be unpacking some items this weekend and asking myself "Why didn't I get rid of this?" It's bound to happen. But for now, we're feeling pretty good about the move. The packers are a family bunch, and they're extremely patient with us.

We're tired, but blessed.

"Don't forget to pack me, Mom!"

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Choosing A Moving Company

More great advice from Angie of Angie's List:

Unfortunately, when you move with a relocation company, you do not get to pick who your movers will be. We've had wonderful experiences with Grabel movers in the past. This time, we'll be using a new company. I hope we can give them a glowing report as well!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Finding A Realtor

Good advice from Angie of Angie's List:

Angie has another great article today about finding the right movers. I'll post that one soon!

Friday, May 24, 2013


Today, I will be heading over to the vet's office to pick up Maggie's prescriptions before our move. Our vet has taken such wonderful care of Maggie these last five years, and we're so thankful. I decided to cut a bouquet of roses from my garden (it's still my garden until May 30th!). I'll be giving these to the ladies at Hamilton Hills Animal Hospital to express our gratitude.

Moving is a wonderful time to stop and think about all of the people that have been such a blessing. Pastors, teachers, doctors, neighbors, so many special people who deserve our thanks.

I think I may be handing out a few more bouquets before the week is over.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

On Packers and Packing

The packers will be arriving on Memorial Day. Yikes! I can't believe how the time has flown! It seems as if one day we were pondering a move, and the next day we were moving. Actually, it didn't happen quite that quickly. This process has been slowly unfolding since February, but when you are so busy, it seems to go by in the blink of an eye!

Here are a few things you should know about professional packers:

* They pack by rooms. If you want something in Sam's room at the new house, you better make sure it's in Sam's room now so that the packers will label it correctly. Otherwise, you may be digging through boxes unnecessarily.

* If it's not nailed down, they will pack it. Yes, packers have been known to pack a garbage can with garbage still inside. You have to be one step ahead of them in this regard. Think ahead!

* Packers work quickly and efficiently. Try not to hover over them, inspecting their work. If there's something you do not trust them to pack, then be prepared to pack it and transport it yourself. The moving company can only guarantee the items that were professionally packed.

* Use Post-It notes to label items with "DO NOT PACK" signs.

* Make sure that you've packed your suitcase and personal items before the packers arrive, and label it with a Do Not Pack sticky note.

* It may be best to move items that won't be packed to one central location...the car, maybe.

This week, I am working room by room to get the appropriate items in their proper locations. For example, there are a lot of decorative items that I plan on using in my new kitchen. I have moved them into a corner of my current kitchen to make it that much easier.

Are you picking up a theme here? I've had some of these items in storage because they just didn't work in my current kitchen. But I know they will look fabulous in my new kitchen!

I purchased these adorable measuring spoons from a store more than two years ago...for my future kitchen. And now, they'll finally have a permanent home!

When I remodeled my dining room last January, I took down these buffalo check plaid curtains and replaced them with sheers. I washed them and stored them for another day.  I think these will look fantastic in my new living room!

In the meantime, all of my college sons are now home, and we are sorting through their belongings as well. The house is in one of those stages where things look worse before they get better. Hopefully, we'll be completely organized by Monday!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

One Week Countdown

We're in the home stretch now! In less than one week, the packers will be here to begin the process of packing our items for the moving van.

There are a LOT of things to accomplish when you are in the final stages of a big move. Here are just a few items that go on the priority list:

*Cancel utilities and services for your former home.

*Get utilities and services set up for your new home.

*Get homeowners insurance, as well as auto insurance for your new residence.

*Get prescriptions filled at your local pharmacy, if necessary. In our case, that means getting my geriatric dog's prescriptions from her vet before needing to find a new vet.

*Check with the schools about transcripts.

*Check with the doctors and dentists about medical records.

*Fill out change of address forms at the local post office.

*Update your church and friends with your new contact information.

*Get your home organized and in order for packing day.

*Take one more trip to the local Goodwill or other charity to donate items.

*Consider going through your kitchen and donating food items to a local food pantry.

This weekend, my husband came home and loaded up the car with quite a few house plants, which he will be keeping in his apartment in Pittsburgh until the move. (That's just one of many items that the movers will not move). He plans on leaving the car there, renting another car, and driving back this weekend for the moving week. That way, we will only have two cars left here that we can use to transport our family and a our overnight necessities.

In the meantime, we've been visiting a few of my favorite places here in Noblesville, Indiana.

Lunch at the Uptown Cafe:

Watching the train rumble through the historic square:

Checking out the lovely window displays at one of our favorite shops, A Corner Cottage:

It's a lovely small town, and I hope to visit it again one day, perhaps on one of my drives out west to pick up my college son.

Good memories!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

True Green Building

My oldest son, Luke, recently graduated from Ball State University with a degree in construction management. Much of the focus of his studies has been sustainable building practices, green energy, and environmentally friendly building practices.

Over lunch this week, we discussed the many ideas that consumers and home owners in our country have about "environmental" home remodeling. I cringe every time I watch a remodeling show where the homeowners rip out everything, and then want to rebuild with "environmentally-friendly products."

You know what is truly environmentally friendly? Keeping things out of landfills and using what you have!

Honestly, we are living in a disposable age, where we'd rather throw away something old before giving any thought to fixing and using what we have. It used to be that you bought something, used it, took care of it, fixed and repaired it, and were happy to have it. Now, we replace something merely because it's not currently popular.

Here's the big problem with following a trend. Trends have a very short life span. What is popular today will be unpopular ten years, five years, even a year from now.

When making decisions on your home, you have to ask yourself a few questions:

*Can I live with it?

*Can I give it an update without throwing it away?

*Do I really love it, or am I only loving it because advertisers are telling me to love it?

*Will I love it five years from now? Ten years from now?

*What is the environmental impact on my decorating and home decisions?

*What are the pieces of my home that are timeless, and what are the elements that are trendy? Am I investing too heavily in the trendy when I should be investing in the timeless?

Here's an example. I have two "vintage" bathrooms in my new home. One is "pink" and one is "yellow".

My realtor hated them both.

"So dated!" she said.

And in truth, they are dated. But you know what? I love them both! This little yellow bathroom is so sweet! I love the pedestal sink on the chrome base. I love the original tile floor. I love the true porcelain/ceramic tubs that keep the heat better than any of the vinyl tubs today. I took one look at these bathrooms and instantly thought "I can live with that!"

There will be other things in my new home that I will not love and I will not be able to live with, like the bulkhead cabinets in the kitchen that block the view and make me feel claustrophobic. Those will eventually go. But I hope to repurpose those cabinets somewhere in the home, maybe providing extra storage in the laundry room.

Small changes can make big impacts. Working with what you have can be a challenge, but I think that's half the fun!

Tell me...what steps have you taken to make your home a little "greener"?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Big Moving Sale!

When the stickers and Sharpies make an appearance, you know what it must be time for...the big moving sale!

I try to have one garage sale every year. It's just a wonderful way to purge your house of unnecessary clutter and give it a little breathing room. I promised myself that I would take a long hard look at my storage room before the move. My goal was to reduce the amount of items by one-quarter. I decided that if it's been in the storage room of this house for five years, it would probably stay in storage at the next house for another five years. And seriously, why are we holding on to items that occupy valuable real estate in our homes? I say let those items bless another home.

Here's another thing to consider: if you don't have to pack it, then you don't have to unpack it either!

My corporate relocation package includes a full move. That means that packers come a few days before the big move to pack everything, and after the move they come back to unpack everything. They may not realize it, but one reason I have a moving sale is to make their jobs that much easier!

I thought I'd share a few garage sale tips, in case you were thinking of having one this season, too.

For starters, I always advertise my sales on Craigslist about a day or two before the actual day. It helps to list some major items, and provide photos as well.  I put this photo on my listing at last year's sale, and I had a woman here at 8am to look at my Stampin' Up goodies. That is the power of advertising!

Give some thought to how you display items. Some folks like to look at tables, racks, or shelves, while others like to root around for buried treasure at the bottom of a basket. Put your big ticket items on prominent display, and save the baskets and boxes for small ticket items. I like to arrange my tables and racks in a welcoming U shape.

Invest in some various sizes of lunch bags. These are great for pricing small items like jewelry or crafts.

Make a child's day by offering a hodgepodge of free items in a box at their eye level. It's a nice way to make moms and dads and grandparents happy, too!

Here are a few tips on preparing for your sale:

*Clean everything. If it is dirty or in total disrepair, it probably will not sell. Add a button, sew a seam, and make it neat and presentable.

*Price everything before the sale if at all possible. Trust me on this. You can tell folks to make you an offer, but they won't. They will, however, make offers on items that are marked. Marked items sell so much faster!

*Keep some stickers and Sharpies handy for price changes.

*The day before the sale, get some change at the bank. I usually get about 40 to 50 dollars, broken down into a roll of quarters, 20 one dollar bills, and a few fives.

*Price it fair, and price it to move. Be prepared to mark some items down for hagglers. Ask yourself if it's worth it to save it, or is it worth it to get it out of your house.

*Wondering if an item will sell? Put it out there and see! I'm always amazed at the things I sell. I have sold old lamp shades, drawer pulls from some old dressers, some old bed linens, never can tell what some folks will buy!

On the day of the sale, remember these tips:

*Keep your money on your person at all times. No cash boxes. I prefer a cross body handbag for this purpose, and the money is never out of sight.

*If your sale is in your garage or front lawn, then lock your front door and all other doors to your home.

*Never let a stranger into your home for any reason. Always recommend the nearest public restrooms, gas stations, etc.

*Never leave your sale unattended.

*Keep your cell phone and house phone handy.

*Provide bags and boxes, if possible.

Some things that typically sell well at my sales:

Mens suits
Children's Clothing
Ink pads, stamp sets, and craft items
Children's Books
Sporting equipment
Housewares (blinds, shades, kitchen items, and decorative items)

And here's my most important tip:


Greet every customer. Talk to their kids. Chat with them about their awesome finds. Don't hide behind a table with your arms crossed and a scowl on your face. Walk around, smile, and spread a little joy!

That's good advice for any day of the week!

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Radio Debut

Do you listen to Moody Christian Radio? If so, you may have heard me on Chris Fabry Live today.

Chris' program today was asking the question: How do you know when to make a move? How do you know when God is telling you, as He told Abram, "Go!"

Chris confessed that he and his wife are in the midst of this right now, trying to decide whether to make a big move.

I shared my own story of our corporate relocation, and how we came to the decision that God's timing was right for us to take this leap of faith. Here is the long version of what I revealed:

We are in the midst of our third corporate relocation now. They say that a relocation is one of the top three most stressful events in a person's life, right up there with the death of a loved one and a divorce.

Our first relocation, from Michigan to St. Louis, was not a cake walk. I moved three sons, one starting high school, one starting middle school, and one who was a toddler. It was a terribly frightening proposition. Not only were we leaving behind all of our friends and family and embracing the unknown, but we were leaving behind the comfort of our jobs and our schools and our church. To make matters worse, my father had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and it broke my heart that I would not get to pop over and see him every day.

Our move was difficult, but it was also filled with blessings. We had an amazing church, with amazing Christ-filled friends, and within a year, we truly felt at home.

Within another year's time, my husband's job was eliminated after a corporate buyout, and we were unemployed for six months. After much prayer, he found a new Indianapolis. Once again, we had to move.

This second move was tough. It had been a Job kind of year. I had lost a dear sister-in-law, a dear niece, my father, our job, our amazing church family and friends, and a beautiful home and community that we'd come to love. I will admit, I came to our new town with a broken spirit. To make matters worse, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder, and spent a lot of months coping with illness. I do not think that I was in a good place, so to speak, to meet new people and make new friends and start a new life over once again. I became pretty reclusive, which led to more social awkwardness. Let's just say that I often had a hard time making a good impression. I had a hard time being real and authentic and being accepted for the broken person I was.

We did not immediately find a church. And we did not instantly have a big group of friends. But we persisted, we found a church, and we slowly made friends.

Last fall, while I was in bible study and the Word, I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit revealing inside of me a deep seeded bitterness over my life that left me feeling discontented. I knew that I had let this bitterness prevent me from experiencing the grace of my loving God. It had been four years since our move here, and I was ready to let it all go and embrace the life that God had in store for me. I began to see God's blessings in new ways.  At that same time, my husband and I began to feel that God was prompting us for some sort of change.

Last February, my husband came home from work and said "My boss has a position he wants me to Pittsburgh. I need you to pray, and start praying now!"

One of my favorite ways to pray is to meditate while walking on our nature trail. On this day, I decided that a day of praying and fasting and walking was in order. As I walked the trail, God and I talked about some of my thoughts and concerns and prayers. And that's when God spoke right into my heart.

"Remember that prayer you prayed here last week? When you prayed that I would bless your husband and prosper him so that he could bless others? Well, this is me, answering that prayer!"

I shared this with my husband, and we both felt God's nudging to take this new leap of faith once again.

Are there risks?

Most definitely!

Will I miss our home here?

Without a doubt. I will miss many of the people we've met along the way. I will miss the historic small town that I live in, filled with all of its quaint shops and cafes and parks and trails. I will miss our church and the flat Indiana farmland and wonderful roads. I will miss the view of the nature preserve and the trail in our own back yard.

I am in a really good place now, healthy and whole and healed, ready to embrace whatever future God has for us. I know, without a doubt, that His plan is to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a hope and a future.

Want to hear something wonderful? He is already blessing this move in amazing ways, working ahead of us to set good things in motion.

I got an email last week from one of my dear friends from my St. Louis church, who moved out to Pittsburgh with her family five years ago. When I told her where we'd finally found a house, she responded "That's just ten minutes from where we live!"

We have an awesome God, don't we?

"Be strong and courageous...the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

You can visit Chris Fabry's website and learn more about his radio program here:

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Perks of the Older Home

This week, I bumped into a sweet young Mom from my church who is also in the middle of a corporate relocation. We compared notes on our buying and selling process. Her husband's job is taking them to Michigan. After house hunting for a while, they've decided to live in a temporary apartment while they build a new home.

I will admit, as the weeks went by, my husband and I did consider this possibility. There's something very appealing about a brand new, fresh house. You can pick the paint colors, the fixtures, the flooring, the lighting. But there are the drawbacks. In our area of Pittsburgh, brand new construction price points began at the top of our budget. That would mean we'd be getting a bare bones, builder grade house on a lot the size of a postage stamp.

And let's talk about that lot. In a new construction home, they literally scrape away the topsoil to build. You are left with a sand pit, or worse yet, clay soil that you are forever trying to amend.

My husband and I are lovers of nature. Our surroundings matter, both inside the home and outside as well. We could never be happy on a lot that my mother-in-law has dubbed "an F and F-er". She calls those open yards "Freeze and Fryers", because without the trees and landscaping, you are likely to freeze in the winter winds and fry in the summer sun.

She's got a point there!

This week, my husband went back to our potential future home for the inspection, while I stayed home to attend to the boys and the house and school events.

"Send me photos of the yard!" I begged. It has been a month since I toured the place, and I really didn't get to inspect the yard very thoroughly.

He sent me these photos, and I swooned with delight!

My future yard looks like a park! Flowering trees and shrubs! Hydrangeas and hostas and lilacs and rhododendrons! I'm so happy! And let me tell you husband is normally pretty stingy with the photos, so when he sent me this many shots, I knew it could only mean one thing. He loves the yard, too!

"It's very private," he said. "You can't see your neighbors."


"Trust me," he continued. "You are going to spend HOURS in Mary Rose world!"

He knows me too well.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Save The Pink Bathrooms!

So, my future home has pink toilets.

There, I said it.

When friends and family ask me about my new house, this is usually the line I open with because really, it just speaks volumes.

First of all, it tells you a general age span of my home. Let's face one chose pink toilets on purpose after 1980. Pink was so out-of-date, and really everyone knew that mauve would be the color that would never go out of style! ;)

Second, my "pink toilets" opener also tells you that my home has a few projects in store for the future.

Finally, I like to think that my "pink toilets" segue says a little something about me and my husband that a cookie cutter builder grade house in the newest subdivision would not say. It says "Hey, look at me! I'm kicky, quirky and sassy! I'm an original!"

And speaking of originals, here it is:

Here's the part where I make my confession.

My husband thinks we bought this house under the "assumption" that we'd be ripping out those pink toilets in the not-so-distant future.

Well, you know what they say about "assumptions".

I confess...I like the pink bathroom! Dare I say it, I may even come to love it!

When I'm done putting my shabby chic retro inspired spin on this room, it is going to look like I chose those pink sinks and that pink toilet on purpose!

I found an entire website dedicated to saving the endangered pink toilets of America.

My sons, however, are not too keen on the fact that this retro pink bathroom will be the place where they will greet each new morning.

"Too girly!" my son, Sam, declared.

Girly? I think not! Look what I found today:

Here it is! Proof that a boy and his beloved dog can enjoy a "timeless" pink bathroom for many years to come!

Score one for the pink bathrooms of America!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Happy Place

Do you have a happy place in your home? Maybe it's your kitchen, where you bake cookies, or your front porch where you read in the sunshine.

For me, it's the laundry room. I love to do laundry. I know, weird, right?

Every house we toured, my husband would check out the placement of the laundry room. If it was in a damp, windowless basement, he would say to me "Not your happy place!"

And then we toured "the one", and this laundry room made me so happy!

A laundry chute! I'm so excited!

A door out to the flagstone patio! It is not a dutch door...yet. But give it time. It will be!

A window to bring in natural light.

And hello, happy sunshine yellow gingham wallpaper!

Gingham! I love gingham!

I have big plans for this happy room.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Homeless No Longer!

I have wonderful news to share...we made an offer on a house yesterday, and it was accepted! Thank you, Lord! Now if all goes well at inspection, this will be our home sweet home.

We feel as though we already have a history with this house, as it was one of the houses we drove by on our first trip to Pittsburgh back in February. And I remember my husband's words when he saw it:

"They want HOW MUCH for that house?"

Well, weeks went by, prices dropped, inventory started to decline, and we finally made it inside for the home tour in April.

Our realtor called this house "a money pit". She did not like it at all. My husband wasn't keen on it either. But something about that house spoke to me. It said "home", it said "gracious", it said "room for everyone and a flat-ish yard for dog".

It took a few more weeks of house hunting before I was able to convince my husband to give it another look with a fresh set of eyes. He began to see the potential.

It's interesting...this house sat on the market for almost a year, and no one wanted it. Well, the house we live in now also sat on the market a year, and no one wanted it, either. But somehow, we managed to give it a complete makeover from top to bottom, and it sold in one day. I have no doubt we could do the same for this house as well.

Speaking of you think I was influenced by my family's home back in Michigan?

Maybe just a little.

I'm decorating in my head now, and planting future flowers in the garden.