Why I’m Skipping Halloween

Anyone who knows me personally knows I ALWAYS decorate for EVERY holiday.  I planned to break out my spooky gear and do it up like usual until I realized that I don’t have a yard to decorate this year.  Our rental is a duplex style town house and our front yard is all driveway with stairs to a tiny landing by our front door.  My alternative was to decorate the now winterized balcony, but when the neighbor told me not to expect more than a dozen trick-or-treaters I just couldn’t justify finding the time in my super busy schedule to haul out the tubs of décor for less than a week’s display.

The hubs is starting a new welding course this week that is almost every evening and Saturdays, so he won’t even be home for Halloween.  No hubby, minimal trick-or-treaters and crappy weather have led me to bah-humbug the whole shebang.  No candy, no décor, no costumes.  Nada.

It makes sense in my head, but my heart still misses it.  And to add injury to insult I’ve realized that we won’t get ANY trick-or-treaters at the new house because we’ll be so far in the boonies.  Granted, I’m not willing to trade the privacy the rest of the year for that, but it’s still a little sad to think we’ve seen our last cute costume on our doorstep.  😦

Perhaps we’ll host a big Halloween party next year since it will be on a Friday and anyone who needs to ‘sleep off’ their monster brew will have the room to do so.  And we could go all out, even set up a scary maze in the woods on our property.  And I think I’m going to upgrade my decor a bit.  A little more Pottery Barn gothic and less cutesy.  I’ve certainly got enough ideas on Pinterest to make it happen DIY style!

For now, I’ll live vicariously through everyone else’ blog posts and pins.  With the pending completion of the house and possible move near the end of November or early December, I have a sneaking suspicion that the same will happen for Thanksgiving.  But I guess that means I get to go whole hog for the holidays next year!!!  I can hear the hubs planning some trip far, far away just prior to that! LOL


The Home Stretch


We made our weekly visit to the house yesterday to find it ready for paint, cabinets, flooring and finishing touches. It’s finally starting to look like the house we’ve been envisioning all this time!




The texture is done with a minimal flat finish.


And all of the corners are rounded for a smooth clean look.


Our builder wants to finish by November 5, but he hasn’t ordered the flooring yet – which takes 10 days to arrive from Seattle and then needs to sit on site for 2 days – so that’s not likely.  We’ve struck a deal with the builder that we will install the flooring ourselves to reduce cost, so that should happen the weekend before Veterans Day.

While we wait to hear from our builder about the flooring we’re anticipating that we won’t close and move until the end of November or early December.  Hopefully, some things can be scheduled simultaneously like the energy rating followed by the VA appraisal to speed things up, but we all know this isn’t a perfect world so we aren’t anticipating it will go that smoothly.

Here’s what’s still left to be done:

  • Paint
  • Cabinets
  • Flooring
  • Electrical outlets & switches
  • Light fixtures
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Stone work on the front porch and fireplace
  • Interior doors, trim and window ledges
  • Appliances
  • HVAC vents
  • Locks

It’s so close and yet so far away, which makes me crazy.  I’m a planner and not knowing when things will happen makes me crazy.  It doesn’t help that we have to coordinate dates with our current landlord, our lender, my job and the hubby’s new schooling schedule around these unknown dates.  It all has me wishing I could push fast forward and just zip right to moving day.  If things work out, I plan to take a week off for the move so I can unpack and get settled, but we’ll see how things line up with my work schedule. At least it looks like we’ll be done and living in our new home before 2014 arrives!

My Upgraded Desk

Because we know this is just a temporary space until the new house is complete we didn’t want to make anything too permanent.  So, I’ve been using a small folding table as a computer desk since we moved in back in March.  I was NOT a fan.  It wobbled, wasn’t big enough and I’d hit my knees on the supports underneath about a 100 times.  So when I saw a free interior door on Craigslist I decided it was time to upgrade.  We’d already purchased two wood filing cabinets for $50 to replace the ones we sold in the move.  We plan to paint and use them to make a wall-to-wall desk in the new studio, so we used them as the base for the new temporary desk.  A few screws to secure the door to the cabinets and we were in business.  Here’s the before (even prior to the filing cabinets, which lived next to the table for quite a while):


And the after!


It’s not my dream creative space, but that will happen in the coming months as we move into the new house.  It is a nice upgrade until then though!  Now I just need to get my business license framed and hung so the wall art feels more balanced.  And notice how all the cords are wrangled into the little box in front of the chair?  The hubby built that based on this!  The bonus to having one made of wood?  It’s a pretty nice foot rest! 🙂

The door isn’t long enough to be a desktop at the new house, so it might become a top for a workbench or perhaps a gardening surface in the greenhouse.  I’m sure I’ll find some use for it – eventually! LOL

SURPRISE Baby Shower!

As an event coordinator for a community bank, I plan a lot of different types of events, but I was recently asked to arrange a surprise baby shower for a co-worker.  Yes, I have an awesome job! 🙂  Luckily, I already had a “Baby Shower” board on Pinterest full of ideas.  Those who know me personally would now say “but of course you would!”  LOL

My recon/planning partner learned that the nursery was being decorated in yellow and purple, so we based all of the decor off that, including a ribbon garland that can be hung in the nursery.     Garland

My co-hort picked out adorable mini cupcakes with purple and yellow frosting to match our theme so I made a simple cupcake stand with two square glass plates from Walmart and a glass candlestick from the thrift store.  Easy peasy!  And you’d never know it only cost about $8 to make! Oh yeah!  Thrifty chic!

CupcakeStand Cupcakes

And what baby shower is complete without a diaper cake?  I’d recently seen a new style done to look like fondant on Pinterest, so I gave it a try.  Note to self – next time use thinner ‘flannel/receiving blankets’ rather than the cute, but thick fuzzy blankets!  Granted the chevron one was from her registry so I just had to make it work.  A little ribbon trim and thrifted faux flowers gave it the finishing touch.  Our male colleagues were quite baffled at the idea of a cake you don’t eat, but they too thought it turned out pretty well.  Although it did look good enough to eat on my pretty cake stand I bought last year at Home Goods for a measly $15!


My Pottery Barn knock-off drink dispenser – which I found at Safeway for just $17 – finally found a use other than decorating the tops of my kitchen cabinets.  It held the very tasty pink lady punch that was a surefire hit!  And the recipe was super simple:

  • 1 quart pineapple juice
  • 1 quart cranberry juice cocktail
  • 2 quarts ginger ale
  • Cranberries to garnish (or substitute fruit or other berries)


It was actually so good that I brought the rest home to share with my hubby who liked it as well – which means it’s super good because he’s a secret chef! 🙂


I also framed a picture from the maternity session I had done with her and her husband the week prior so their baby girl will have a picture of mommy and daddy in her room from the moment she arrives!

We all chipped in to get the stroller she still needed and put together a hospital survival kit, so she’s got everything ready for the trip to the delivery room!  I’m still surprised we were able to pull it off without her finding out.  We had a few close calls and thought she might be on to our little scheme, but we were very happy that she was truly surprised!

That was my take on a simple, chic baby shower!  Whatcha think?

Playtime at the Park!

We stopped by a park we’ve been wanting to check out on the way home from seeing the house the other day, and while there the girls learned a new trick.  Going down the playground slide!





Everyone who saw them do this were amazed.  Granted this isn’t the first time they’ve been on playground equipment.  We’ve often had them climb stairs and cross things as part of their agility training, but this was the first time they’d actually gone down the slide instead of turning around and coming back down the stairs.  It took a little coaxing the first couple of times, but once they realized it wouldn’t hurt them and they wouldn’t get in trouble, it was game on!




Guess we’ll have to keep an eye out for an old playset with a slide for their yard at the new house now!  Wonder if one might show up on Craigslist!?  Although even if I have to pay a few bucks for one it would be worth it to look outside and see this every so often!


And just so you know it wasn’t staged, visit my Facebook page to see a video of them in action! 🙂

Light at the End of the Tunnel?!

Today’s visit to the house today began with a completely finished roof!




And to top that, there was a crew inside muding and taping the drywall!



We didn’t want to interrupt their progress, so we didn’t stick around long, but we were amazed at how fast they were working thanks to some nifty tools!


Tool  Tool-Stilts

That TapeTech gizmo was pretty darn impressive.  It loads mud via a hand pump and then applies mud and tape together via a trigger!  And those stilts had built in springs to make walking in them feel so natural the guy said it didn’t take him more than 5 minutes to get used to it.


We didn’t see this tool in action, but it supposedly makes doing the inverted corners lightning fast.


And of course what’s muding without mixing batches of mud?  A simple drill with an adapter makes quick work of that task too.

The house was pretty darn warm inside too, even without a heater!  It was actually so cozy that the guys working cracked the slider door open because they were getting hot.  Hopefully that means that we won’t have major heating bills!  Plus a higher energy efficiency rating will make us eligible for a bigger rebate after we close!


We also discovered an outlet right next to the garage door, which we hadn’t noticed before.  That will be super handy for outdoor decorations and projects!  Now if only someone can tell us what the heck this outlet near the ceiling in the garage is for!  It’s not the garage door opener because there’s one for that on the ceiling in the middle of the door.  Any ideas?


Gold Dipped Toes

I’d been itching to update my wardrobe for fall when I spotted this post by one of my favorite bloggers and realized I had the exact same pair of shoes!  I don’t wear them that often and figured this might make them more versatile.  So, a quick trip to Michaels with a store return gift card in hand and I was ready to make it happen.

I’m not going to do a tutorial, since it was as simple as getting my supplies together, taping off the section I wanted painted, and well – painting.  The hardest part was making sure I made the gold section the same on both shoes! Here’s a few shots of the before, during and after.

Step 1
Step 1
Step 2
Step 2

They turned out pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself!  And unless you inspect them closely, you’d never know that they were painted.  Now I’m thinking I should also paint the wedge part gold or do a similar pair of flats with polka dots!  It might also be a way to fix the scratch on the top of my favorite pair of kitten heels…What do you think?  Good idea gone bad or worth a try?

A Few New Accessories

PhoneOne of the few negatives about Alaska life is that you can’t activate a Verizon iPhone while in the state so, while we were traveling across the lower 48 recently, both the hubs and myself got new phones.  Our old phones had been in service for several years and were starting have a few issues that were annoying, so it was time to upgrade.  While he chose to cross to the dark side and get a new Samsung Galaxy, I just couldn’t unlearn my well-honed iPhone habits – as evidenced by my constant frustration while playing with his phone a few days prior to upgrading mine, so I chose to move up from a 4 to a 5.

Unfortunately, the day we chose to go get my new phone was the day after the new iPhone 5c and 5s came out, so it took a while to get everything transferred over to the new phone.  I didn’t have any need of the higher end 5c or 5s features so I went with a regular 5, which I upgraded to the new iOS7 that evening.    It took me a while to get used to the new look and feel, but after a few days I was feeling pretty comfortable.

And of course because the 5 is a different size than the 4, I had to buy a new case.  Lucky for me, we found an extra batter pack and case in PURPLE, which I’m in love with.  I love it even more after my phone fell out of my coat pocket the other day and survived without so much as a scratch on the case!

And to sweeten the deal the retailer offered a $100 gift card if you traded in your old iPhone when purchasing a new one, so of course we took them up on that deal, which made the new phone free!  We couldn’t trade in hubby’s old iPhone since he bought a new Samsung, but we sold it on Craigslist with all the accessories for about the same price to a young Army officer in desperate need of a new phone after his broke, so that was a win-win too.

I also picked up a new mustard yellow purse while on our trip.  I’d been on the hunt for a yellow purse for a few weeks, having given my old purple purse to my sister, but hadn’t found anything that spoke to me, but when I spotted this beauty in the window I heard heavenly hold music.  I spent a little more on it than I typically do for purses, but its leather and should hold up to the on-coming Alaskan winter weather.

PurseThe mustard shade seems to coordinate well with whatever I pair it with and is a perfect color for fall.  The thing I’m enjoying the most is all the pockets it has.  It’s like whoever designed this purse knew exactly what I wanted to keep in it and made a pocket just for those items – including my new purple phone!  My sister has already laid claim to it when I’m ready to move on, so I guess I’ve got good taste! 😉

What’s your latest accessory upgrade?  Was it something new for fall, or have you already jumped on the holiday bandwagon?

Well Worth the Elbow Grease

Yesterday I recounted all of the freebies we’ve scored on Craigslist, so I thought I’d give a little progress report on our biggest find – the hot tub.  Here’s what it looked like after the hubs gave it a good cleaning and started working on the plumbing.


After he got the guts fixed, he scored a super deal on supposedly ‘oops’ paint at the box store and started updating the exterior as well.  Here’s a few shots of the difference.



And here’s the finished product, looking pretty darn good for investing less than $100 when a new tub this large would have run us $10-15,000!


Unfortunately, it’s sitting in the garage unused until we move to the new house since there isn’t an outlet for it at the rental and we learned it’s illegal to have a hot tub in your garage in Anchorage!  Who knew?!  Ironically the 220 plug at the new house has been the most expensive part of this venture, bringing our total to approximately $450.  Now we’ll just have to see what it costs us to run!  Wonder if the hubby can rig a generator to a treadmill the dogs run on.. wouldn’t that kill two birds with one stone? 🙂

A Few More Freebies

Windows These old wood framed windows are my latest Craigslist freebie score!   I don’t have a specific plan for them just yet, but I’m thinking several might be touched up and enhanced with holiday themed vinyl cutouts!

As I drove home with my new treasures, I contemplated all of the things we’ve found for FREE since moving to the mainland and having access to the genius of Craigslist.  Let’s recall some of my finds.  There was the massive hot tub, the fruitful raspberry plants and wildflowers, a future fire pit drum, next season’s strawberry planter/compost barrel, an interior door that will become a new desk top for my office, NEW Christmas decorations that came with a large heavy-duty wheelbarrow in need of a new tire, 2 chairs for photo props, shutter style bi-fold doors for craft fair booths or photography backdrops, and of course a delivered load of used tires for my rain garden!

As you can tell, I’m a regular in the free section.  It’s kinda addicting – I’ve even got my hubby scanning the list pretty often! 🙂 I actually get all warm and tingly reclaiming and reviving something that would have otherwise been added to the landfill.  But I’m apparently not the only one, as someone did beat me to the vintage metal lockers I was hoping to snap up for the garage a few weeks ago! It’s amazing what’s offered up – free for the taking if you put in a little effort.

Yet even with all these amazing finds, there are still things I’ve passed up just because it’s just better to wait until we’re in the house and ready for that item or project – like free chickens or an old fridge the hubs can convert into a smoker (luckily not in the same ad!).  And the fact that the garage is starting to feel a bit cramped… But, that’s the beauty of the Craigslist free section – there’s always more to choose from!  So I’m sure there will be another old fridge available when we’re ready to hunt and in need of a large smoker next year.  And I bet there will be an old chest freezer for free or nearly too!  As you know, I’ve also found several great deals like this and this on Craigslist that were low-cost albeit not free.

Are you a Craigslist freebie hunter too?  What treasures have you found and restored?  I want to hear about them!