Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Diet time again

Last year I made the resolution to shed some lingering baby weight (and then some.) With the 17 Day Diet it was a great success. However over the holidays, I just sort of gave up. I even stopped weighing so I wouldn't have to admit to myself how out of control it was getting.
At my best weight I was 133lbs.  (I wasn't super comfortable sharing that with the world but figured this is how I need to become accountable.) I told myself that from now on I would never allow myself to fluctuate over 135lbs without taking more cautious dieting methods.  After all, shedding a few pounds had to be easier then shedding 23. So yesterday, I decided it was time to brave it and figure things out.  I was at 138.2.  Not as bad as I expected but enough to push me into "are you planning on putting all that weight back on or is it actually time to do something about this again" mentality.
I've decide that since I have a big life event just around the corner on Feb 22, now is the time! I want to look my best before I do this (no, Im still not telling what it is but the time will come, don't worry.) So I have 1 month to shed my final 5-8lbs.  I know that with the diet I lost 10lbs in the first 17days so surely, I can manage this goal in a month.
I've already made my meal plan for this week and purchased everything so I m stuck with un-17day diet suppers but I am starting with breakfast, lunch and exercise. Next week I will go full blown and hopefully have some recipes to share. For, now the main point of all this was to actually tell someone I was starting over so I had to.  I planned last night to go jog this morning but took one look outside and started trying to talk myself out of it. I figure if I state it to you guys I have to make a solid effort.  Wish me well! And good luck to any of you embarking on a similar journey.  Please, if you have great 17day diet recipes, share.  Updates soon...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Selling Secrets of a Stay Home Mom

Well I may not be in the exact position to say these are great "selling secrets" seeing as our home has now been on the market for 2 weeks and we've had 5 appointments but no offers :(
However, I feel like these things are helpful and I'm confident the offer will come soon! So first things first
Get some boxes and start packing.
If you don't have a storage room or don't want to rent one, use the garage.  Pack up most of your nick knacks, clean out and pack things in all the closets you don't need out, and don't forget to clear off the top of the fridge and magnets (for some reason this just makes a huge difference in the appearance of your kitchen) Also, don't neglect the pantry, organize it. If you have appliances (toaster oven, mixer, spice rack, microwave) that sit out you may want them to find a new home in the garage or cabinets. I packed a lot of dishes, tupper ware, baking pans,to give the illusion of more cabinet space and make room for the things that did usually get left out on the counter. Getting rid of clutter and making your closets appear empty bigger makes the house look better to the buyer. I also went as far to color code our master closet. See out closet it really small so I needed it to look organize and believe it or not, not only did it help the overall look, I kind of like the results.
By now you may have taken down some things from walls or even banged them in a few spots while trying to get your newly packed boxes to the garage.  Touch them up! Fill nail holes and touch up the paint on trim. It just looks so much fresher and newer. Also finish up any of those projects you've started. You may not notice them anymore but a buyer will. They are looking for ways to knock down the price of your home. Anything they have to do themselves they start adding to the con's column.
This is the cheapest and best thing I believe you can do for selling your home. Clean everything! Fans, tops of door frames where dust collects, dust your furniture, clean your base boars, microwave, vent hood, oven, next to the fridge/washer/dryer, around the bottom of the toilets, windows inside and out, window sills, blinds, sweep the front and back porch. Don't forget doggy doors, and to poop scoop if you have pets...EVERYTHING. Nobody wants to buy anybody else's dirt.
You may even want to hire someone to get a really good cleaning.  I didn't but once you get a good start you have to keep it clean until it sells so its best to be super thorough the first time.
Do a walk through and take pictures like you would a home tour. Once you've taken the pictures sit down with your spouse and look at them. I would say get them printed (search for coupon codes online) and look through them. You'll notice in the pictures what you need to still do. I went back and packed more boxes from my built in's. They looked too cluttered even though I packed like 15 boxes of books previously trying to try to reduce the look of clutter.

Then I moved a piece of Emma's furniture to the garage. It looked too big in the pictures and dominated the room. We noticed that some green stuff was growing on the back of the house and it looked awful so we took care of that.

See the greenish line across the bottom of the house? I honestly never noticed it in person.
We didn't do the pictures first and I wish I had. These were the pictures the real estate photographer came and took and we used on the listing. But this is there were things I would have changed had I noticed, this is the first impression people get of your home and you want it to look great, to bring them in.
ugh! The hardest in your home with two kids and keeping it clean enough that you can be out with little notice for a showing.
-Make a check list of things that need to be done quickly before you show the house. This way you or the hubster can refer to it as soon as you get the call and get moving. This is mine:

Turn on Scentsy  (I do this first so the smell gets cirrculating)
Make all beds
Open all window (blinds or curtains, Bring in light!)
Turn on all lights
Kitchen: clean everything off the counters, wipe counters, table and sink, run disposal
Bathroom: wipe down counters, dump a little pine sol in the toilet and close the lid, close shower curtains (I
     leave mine open about a foot because our shower are remodeled and I want people to see that has been
     done,)  clear off cabinets, fluff hand towel, put away bath towels (I just fold mine fancy and leave them on
     the counter or the edge of the tub) and put the laundry hampers in the garage
Walk through with an empty laundry basket and get everything that shouldn't be out and put it in the basket  
     which goes it in the garage to be dealt with when you come home.
Put dog bed and toys in the garage
Dogs in crate
If there is time: mop with the swiffer, vacuum

This is pretty good list and works for me. Its what I can accomplish with about an hours notice and the minimum I'm comfortable doing to make the house look the best it can.

Of course that means that every night we pick up most everything, including the kids rooms. I've gotten to the point I ask for their help but don't expect them to really get it right. You cannot expect young children to be able to clean a house to sell it but keeping it picked up makes it quick to do later. I also pick up before we leave to go anywhere so I know that if I need to get home in a hurry to get ready for a showing its one less thing I'll have to do.
Keep up with the dishes and laundry
Clean the bathrooms once a week - I usually do Friday to make sure its ready for weekend showings
Make the beds every morning (again, its one less thing to do when you get a showing. plus it looks nice and feels good when you walk into a room with the bed made, I'll be trying to stick with this habit)
I try to sweep at least once every two days but usually try to force myself to do it once a day.
Vacuum and mop twice a week (I do once on Friday to be ready for the weekend)
Windows, mirrors and doors once a week (use vinegar in a spray bottle and wipe until dry. works great and super cheap)
bathrooms, mirrors, dust, vacuum, mop  Your big showing day will probably be a Saturday. Just get these things knocked out so you can be ready to leave if they call you in the morning.

To make things easier I use a couple of cheats:

These are great to wipe down the granite really fast. It leaves it nice and polished looking

This is the pine-sol I pour in the toilets. It doesn't have that strong pine-sol smell and it makes your bathroom smell fresh when you walk in

These babies are now everywhere. Under the kitchen sink, in the laundry room, and in each bathroom.  I just wipe down the counters and any other spots I notice. Fast and convenient and looks freshly cleaned.

I dump just a little of this down the kitchen sink to make it smell fresh and eliminate the possibility of a stinky disposal. However, I prefer to use orange or lemon peels in the disposal if I have them. So I do try to just keep them in a tupperware in the fridge and throw them down the sink, turn on the disposal, and it smells great in the whole kitchen.

Whats not to love about the swiffer wet jet. Fast mopping, fresh smell.  This is great to manage spills during the week or to spot mop in you have a showing. Or mop the whole floor. Its just convenient and leave the house smelling wonderful .

Ok that sounds like a lot of smells but really, in my house it works and smells like my maid super mom (me) just cleaned the whole place. I like it and I don't think anyone is going to walk in and say "whats that disgusting clean smell" so I'm all right with it.

Anyway, If any of you are living (and working/entertaining/raising children) in your home while you' re trying to sell it. I hope this helps a little bit.  Or heck, if you're just getting ready for unexpected company quickly! Good luck!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Saying goodbye to our first home

There is a time for everything in life and now is the time to say goodbye to our first home. I'm a little sad because after all, this was our first home.  I was so proud when we purchased it and proud of every little thing we accomplished while we were here.  Its not where we brought Emma home from the hospital but its where she celebrated her first birthday and every birthday since. Its the only home my sweet boy has ever known. Its taught us so much about being homeowners. We've upgraded, updated, painted, fixed, floored, and even oversaw our 400 sq ft porch addition.  In return our home has provided us with warmth and laughter. Its seen us through a few seasons of life and its where we celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary.  I didn't realize when we purchased it just what we were getting into or just what we would get out of owning our own home. To be honest, when I we decided to sell it I didn't really realize that I was going to have bittersweet feelings about saying farewell to our sweet little home.  While I will be a little sad I know there are new adventures waiting for us and a new home too. So it is time to say goodbye and in honor of our first home I wanted to post this little "tribute" blog with some of the changes that our home went through while we lived here.
But first let me jam you up with this little disclaimer. This entry is picture heavy and the pictures aren't exactly all the same angles nor the best quality. I had no idea I would want to do a before and after when we started some of these projects so I'm lucky I have some of these pictures at all....enjoy!

This (above) was taken when we bought the house. Flowerbeds galore! By February the following year we were ripping out all the flowerbeds to plant grass (below)

Then I scored some free sod on craigslist and it didn't take long for that to grow in. (below)

Soon after we began demo on back deck to make our new porch so we decided to "re-claim" the lumber and add a deck to the front since it was now a dirt pit. Then we made it fancy with some gravel and painting the door red. (below) 

Over all this what the transformation looked like...

So on to the master. It was actually the first thing I tackled. I think I painted it the very first weekend we lived here.  I couldn't live with waking up to the yellow walls for a second longer. I know it doesn't look that obnoxious but with the sun coming through the window, it was anything but serene. 

I jumped on the gray and yellow bandwagon and have loved our room ever since. Its very calming and lets be honest, I can use any extra soothing I can get.

There was actually nothing wrong with the master bath but I decided to paint it a lighter shade of gray than our bedroom (ok I really wasn't a fan of the beige but it was neutral enough.) Then after painting the kitchen I decided to paint the vanity, and scored a nice framed mirror for less than $30.

Speaking of panting the kitchen cabinets... Well I didn't paint them right away but it wasn't long. The cabinets had been replaced and were pretty nice so I just sanded and painted them. 
original cabinet color and hardware
But first I got rid of that orange-ish wall. That was also taken care of the first week we lived here. However, I was stuck with the tile until just last fall at which point we transformed the whole house with laminate. But I'm getting ahead of myself, here's some kitchen picks (the ones with the wood cabinets are from when we came to look at the house before we bought it but it was relatively the same when we moved in)

ugh still with the ugly tile

OK I had to show you how bad the tile was up close. I'm sorry if you have this in your house and you like it. Its just totally not my taste. While, it was still in good shape, I just hated looking at it anymore. 

It was well worth the wait because this is the kitchen now
oh yeah, I changed the light over the sink and we added the microwave over the stove

It still amazes me the difference the floor made in the house. Look how it opened up the living/kitchen/dining area (ok the paint helps a lot too. Aside from the orange-ish kitchen the living room was a warm yellow - not my style.) 

For good measure, here are a couple more from the living room. All I did was replace the floor, paint, and find an awesome $15 garage sale coffee table!

The next is just the hallway but to me it was worth mentioning. This was just a little pinterest project I wanted to give a whirl. I love the results. We already had the pretty bead board ceiling and I think the board and batten project added a lot of character. Plus painting over yet more yellow helped lighten it up a little. Be warned, the pics aren't great on this one. 

The above and below pics are actually the same angle, the door was just closed in the second one. 

You love it, don't you!? 

And another small project worth mentioning is the built in's we built. This was actually should be listed as one of the first projects. The hubs has a massive book collection and this room seemed... well I just didn't know what to do with it before so built in's were the obvious solution.  I cannot find the actual before picture but this is close, the wall to the left is the wall we added the built in's to.

did you notice the pretty ceiling detail? I was thrilled to have to repaint the entire ceiling so I could  cover that

And finally, most ambitious endeavor we tackled while we were here was the addition of the back porch. I somehow managed to capture a lot of pics from the same angle in this process.

This was looking out the patio door when we came to look at the house before we bought it.

Looking from the corner of the yard back toward the house. Originally a deck. The hubs was  just beginning to  rip out the boards (we used them for the deck in the front, mentioned earlier.)

OK so it was originally a slab the previous owners put a deck over. (My sweet baby Emma to the left there with her favorite toy, a bucket.)  

Took out the tree that was to the left and poured a much bigger slab

A really big slab

Can you believe this is almost the same spot I was standing when it was just a deck.  

The inside from the same patio door the first deck picture was taken. We stained the concrete, put in 2 drains and 2 fans.
The patio was totally worth it. We've lived out there since we added it. 

Well I'm sure I've missed some things and I know I didn't touch on any of the non-cosmetic stuff but I covered the major things.  I hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as we enjoyed the "renovations." And if you know anybody looking for a great home, spread the word, this ones for sale! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Well its been a really long time since I last posted. I have some interesting things in the works but I'm still not quite ready to post about them yet. However, tonight I made a recipe that I thought was blog worthy and wanted to share.
I've been trying lots of new recipes on pinterest lately last night we had this chicken spaghetti from The Pioneer Woman and a very good knock off of olive garden bread sticks found here at Mrs. Happy Homemaker. I served them with a salad, since I got a new salad spinner for Christmas we've had salad almost every night.
Tonight the plan was chicken parm but its been a cold and lazy day and it didn't really sound worth the trouble.  I was kind of stuck though because budgeting and meal planning have been a New Years resolution at our house and I wasn't ready to break it on only the 15th.  I decided to jazz it up a bit and use the cheez-it crackers we had (I bought them last week thanks to the craving that I had from eating them out of trail mix over the holidays and I never did anything with them.) So here's what I came up with:
Cheeze-it Chicken

What you'll need (this is approximate)
3 eggs
1 small box of cheeze-its -crushed fine
1- 1 1/2 cups of flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 heaping teaspoon of baking powder
season salt
garlic powder
oil for frying
mozzarella shredded cheese for topping
1 can of Emeril's Vodka Sauce

*rinse and cut chicken into strips then season it with  garlic powder, pepper, and season salt
*soak chicken in buttermilk in a bowl
*while the chicken is soaking crush cheeze-its and mix in a bag (paper works best but ziploc is fine) with flour, corn starch, and baking powder in a separate bowl whisk all three eggs until a little foamy
* preheat oven to 400 and start heating your frying oil in a large skillet (enough to fully cover the bottom of the pan) have a cookie sheet ready to set the strips on
*once oil is hot remove a few strips (as many that will fit in the skillet in 1 layer) drag each through the egg then drop them into the back with the cheeze-it flour mixture.  Shake coating them well, remove them from the bag, and set them lightly in to the hot oil.
* leave them in just long enough that each side is crispy and slightly brown. Then set them on the cookie sheet and repeat with the rest of the strips. If your chicken was not cooked all the way you can put them into the oven at 400 for 10 min. They will likely need it,  mine did and they weren't very thick.
*while the chicken is cooking warm the vodka sauce in a saucepan

When everything is ready plate the chicken and pour just a little sauce over it then top with cheese. You could serve this on noodles but I did not since we had chicken spaghetti and bread sticks last night and I try to be at least aware, if not cautious, of our carb intake

I served this with a yummy cucumber salad-ish thing

2 cucumbers peeled and seeded then cut up in to small pieces
1 large tomato seeded and cut into small pieces
2 sliced of bacon cooked and crumbled
a tiny bit of cilantro chopped fine
a handful of crutons chopped in the food processor
a pinch of garlic salt, cayenne pepper, and onion powder

mix it all together then add a bit of ranch (I try to use very little and you can add more if you feel like you need it.)

Well guys, enjoy!