Water-Proof, Scratch-Resistant and Just Plain Pretty

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Sawcut Arizona Allure Ultra Flooring (Source: The Home Depot)

As promised, here’s a little run down of the flooring we plan to use throughout the whole house.  I knew I wanted wood floors because not only do I love the way they look, but they are easy to clean and should be better for my allergies than carpet.  The hubby had laminate floors in previous homes and was adamant that we would not use a laminate because of the issues he’s had with them, so we started looking at hardwood and engineered hardwood products.

We found several that we loved the look of, but were completely beyond our budgeted allowance with the builder and just wouldn’t stand up to our rough and tumble dogs.  Plus they wouldn’t work in areas like the kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms, which meant we’d have flooring transitions – something we were trying to avoid whenever possible.

During one of our ‘research’ trips to Home Depot I spotted a new tile product made to look like wood floors and asked an associate about its durability.  When I explained what we wanted he asked if I’d see the new Traffic Master Allure Ultra Flooring.  We hadn’t, so he took us to the display and explained how easy it was to install (click & lock with no under layment necessary) and how resilient it was – water proof and scratch proof.  Click here to view a video about the product, describing all of it’s attributes and installation.

The store associate also mentioned that he was about to install it in his own home and that his manager had also used it in his home with great results.  That made us even more interested, so we took a couple of samples to see which we liked best and test them out under doggie feet.

Because both samples held up perfectly to the dogs’ attacks, the hubs decided to give it a little extra testing and actually took a key to the sample we liked best trying his hardest to get it to scratch.  When that didn’t produce any real visible result he moved on to testing with a very sharp knife, which finally did have a result, albeit minimal.  The scratch was minor that you probably wouldn’t see it from a standing height when it was on the floor.

That was the critical selling point for us.  Adding in that it was comparably priced to the end cost of a laminate or tile once you factor in the extra materials needed for installation sealed the deal.  Then we learned that because we would be installing it in a residential home there was a 25 year warranty.  Plus because we plan to use it throughout the whole house there will be no transitions!  I don’t think we could have asked for a better product.

Of course the true test will come once we install it and move in, but based on our testing I don’t anticipate having any issues once we are living on it.  We’ve chosen the Sawcut Arizona style for its rustic look and variety of colors.  I wasn’t crazy about it when I saw the small sample but when I pieced several together and set them on the floor I was sure I liked that style better than the other we tried out.  It’s going to look fabulous with our dark cabinets and light counter tops – which will be featured later once we pick out the exact ones. 🙂

Our New Home

We are officially under contract (again) for our custom built new home!  There are still a few hoops to jump through, but it looks like everything will come through finally.  And since I know everyone will want the details here’s what I have for now. The floor plan we chose is called the Calypso – a 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch style. We chose a ranch style for several reasons:

  1. It’s easier on my husband’s knee after his joint replacement.
  2. Our dogs sound like a herd of elephants going up and down stairs. (So won’t miss that!)
  3. I despise cleaning stairs after having lived in 2 story homes most of my adult life.
  4. We like the look and flow of a ranch style better than a traditional 2 story.


This floor plan appealed to us because it had several features we were looking for:

  1. A dedicated studio/office space for me (not one of the bedrooms) near the main entrance so clients won’t walk through our whole house.
  2. A large kitchen with an open concept for entertaining
  3. A formal entry way without the other traditional ‘formal’ rooms that are wasted space to us.
  4. A 3-car garage for both our trucks and ‘toys’ (the UTV mentioned here and my ’55 F-100)
  5. A laundry room.
  6. Space for large furniture and large dogs.

We looked for almost a year and half before finding this plan and it still wasn’t exactly what we wanted, but it was acceptable as it was built.  Unfortunately, it sold before we were able to put in an offer.  So we contacted the builder and told them we wanted the same house, just on a larger lot.  It’s been a long haul to make everything come together, but we are almost ready to begin construction!

Here’s a ‘tour’ of the house we walked through during the final stages of construction.  I’ll note the changes we are making per the modified floor plan above as we go along.


The third ‘bay’ of our garage will stick out to make it a little longer for the hubby’s BIG truck.  Rather than a shingle roof we will have a metal roof, likely in a brown color depending on what exterior colors we choose.

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The laundry room will be laid out the same way with a dryer, washer and sink along the wall with the cabinets.  Rather than tile we will be using a new flooring product that is scratch proof and water proof throughout the whole house.  Yes – I promise I will do a post about it very soon. 😉

4Again, no tile in the kitchen due to the whole house flooring.  We will also be adding a corner pantry with a solid door.

5Because we are adding the corner pantry the fridge will be moved a little farther down the wall here to add back in some of the counter space we will loose in the corner. Our kitchen island will be farther out, making the inside edge even with the laundry room wall.

6Our fireplace will be done in the same style, only in the corner.  We are foregoing the french doors seen leading into the studio/office area because we plan to install sliding barn style doors like these later.

7My studio will have wall-to-wall desk space for photo editing and crafting like this on one side with open space for backdrops on the other side.  I’ll decide which side the desk will be on once we see how the house is positioned and light comes in.

8This is where the sliding barn doors will sit when open.  I still have to figure out how to do the doors and the wall-to-wall desk, but I’m sure we’ll come up with something.

9The formal entry, which will have the same flooring as the rest of the house rather than tile.  I plan to put a dresser closer to the front door like I mentioned here, with a bench next to it.

10My current plan is to make one closet ‘our’ coat closet because we have LOTS of coats thanks to the Alaskan weather, while the other will be for guest use.  Depending on how that works out I may convert the one closer to the door into a mudroom/bench area with hooks like this where guests can stop to take off or put on shoes and coats.

I’m not posting pictures of the bedrooms since they are the typical empty ‘box’ and the bathrooms will be reconfigured a bit from how they were in this house.  But this gives you the basic feeling of the house.  I can’t wait to share more details as we choose finishes, light fixtures and more!

Roller Dollies


3My hubby is what you’d call the ‘handy’ type.  He knows a little bit about a lot of things and a lot about several things.  So when we needed to fit his retirement gift – a side-by-side UTV and my truck in the same 2 car garage along with everything else stored there he came up with a quick solution – roller dollies!  Seriously, how smart is that?!

I wasn’t around when he made them to get shots of the construction (sorry no step-by-step instructions on this one), but it’s a pretty simple design – four boards and casters.  Yet simple as they are they are amazingly functional.  Those top two boards act as chalks for the tires once they are on the rollers.  See told you he was a smarty pants! Smarter than me because I never would have dreamed up such a great idea! 🙂

To use them, he jacks each tire up just high enough to get the dolly underneath then releases the jack and moves on to the next tire.  For now he’s using a small jack he had on hand, but will soon be adding a floor jack to his tool arsenal, which will make the process not only easier but faster.




8Once all four dollies are in place, a couple quick pushes or pulls (with his muscles because mine are apparently too puny) and the UTV is against the wall with room to spare for my truck and a walkway between the vehicles.  When it’s time to take the UTV back out for some fun we just do the same process in reverse.  Takes a total of about 10 minutes.

I find it adorable that he’s figured out the exact height of the UTV when on the rollers and keeps items ‘stowed’ just so to fit under it when moved back and forth!  I’ve taught him well! LOL

I can’t wait to see what that always thinking brain of his creates once we move to our new home!  Hopefully he doesn’t start to out-pace me in the DIY projects!


A New Leaf

LeafThose of you who know my husband and I personally know we’ve been waiting a VERY long time for his military retirement to happen due to a severe knee injury and the resulting numerous surgeries.  We anticipated that we wouldn’t get official word for a few more months, so we were pretty shocked when he got a call the other day that his orders had been processed for an ‘out date’ of July 1!  Luckily we had been preparing for this transition for some time now and had a basic plan of action, but the shortened timeline caused a few snarls in our plans.  That’s nothing new when working for Uncle Sam – as any military family will tell you.

What struck me most about the news is how we reacted to it though.  It certainly caused plenty stress and a lot of “What ifs?”  But I think we both feel a sense of peace about how it all worked out.  He will have to return to Kodiak for a few days to complete the process out paperwork, retirement physical and check out of his barracks room, which meant we had to reschedule the second portion of the CDL course he’s currently in.  He was able to switch with someone in a class scheduled for July giving him enough time to wrap up his military career before returning to school and finishing the certification that will likely lead to his next job.

We’ve also been extremely thankful for the numerous offers our wonderful friends have given to help with any detail they can – from the little things to the big ones.  We are truly blessed to have these people in our lives and will certainly not loose touch with them after this transition.  I know that although my husband is ready to move on, he is sad to no longer work side-by-side with many of these same people.  But life changes and people move on.

As we’ve worked our way through the emotions of the situation, I find myself declaring The Band Perry’s “DONE” our anthem one minute and feeling sentimental for my first year as a military wife the next.  I was proud of our sacrifice.  Missed birthdays, long hours, changed plans.  I still am proud of what we’ve given.  But my husband has paid his due and then some to serve his country.  And now it’s OUR time.

Ironically, just as we were dealing with this news we were signing a contract to build our new home and starting the loan process.  We’ve been dreaming of this for a while and I literally have the house decorated in my head (via Pinterest) already.  We both look forward to building this new life together, over the foundation laid during our years with the military.  We know that whatever may be thrown in our path we can overcome it with grace, as long as we do it together – balancing each others strengths and weaknesses.

We took a little walk in the neighborhood park the other day to decompress and I spotted this pretty little heart shaped leaf on the newly green trees.  It’s become my symbol of the growth in our relationship and personalities.  Then just tonight I found a perfectly fitting quote to go along with that image.  It stuck me because I’m a self-admitted impatient person.  But I’ve come to realize that God’s continuous lessons on that very subject matter weren’t about testing how long I could endure, but rather if I showed faith while waiting.

As always his timing is perfect.  I’ve come to understand this lesson just in time to carry it into the next chapter of our journey together, where there will be plenty of ‘new leaves’ not only on the trees that will surround our home, but the garden I will plant.  And beneath those leaves will be the beginnings of some very DEEP roots! 🙂

Beautiful and Delicious!

Bread2Another recent successful recipe pin was this Lemon Blueberry Bread.  The first time we tried it we used frozen blue berries which all settled at the bottom.  It was still super yummy, but it was a little strange having a massive clump of blue berries at the bottom of each bite.

So the second time we used fresh blue berries and as you can see they stayed throughout the batter during baking making it a better mixture of bread and berries in each bite.

Although the glaze did make a huge mess – possibly because hubby was in a hurry – it truly was the icing on the cake.  I highly recommend making it with Breadthe glaze for those of you with a sweet tooth, but if you’re trying to be ‘good’ then skip it.  Trust me, it will still be a delicious little treat without that little added hit of sugar.

I’ve been eating a slice of this unglazed loaf every morning with yogurt for breakfast and it’s very satisfying.  While I’m sure it’s not the lowest calorie option out there, it is homemade which means no preservatives or other additives.  I think this recipe will become another staple in our house!

Our First ‘Harvest’

Tomatoes2  Tomatoes

Tomatoes&RanchOur cherry tomato plant I mentioned in my last post has now produced it’s first harvest!  Albeit meager, it was sweet and juicy!

And it was the perfect compliment to this homemade ranch recipe we recently tried.  I found it on Facebook and decided to upload it to Pinterest for later.  I’m sure glad I did.

My hubs, the hobbist chef, liked it, so I think this one is a keeper – both the man and the ranch! LOL!  We added a bit more dill than it calls for, but that’s just to suit our taste.  My one issue is knowing how long to keep the ‘liquid’ batch once it’s made as there is no suggestion on that in the recipe.

We also halved the recipe since we don’t need such a large quantity for just the two of us and still have enough dry mix for at least 3-4 more batches.  So it’s highly economical too!  Tasty and practical.  That’s my kind of recipe!