A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

Give Thanks

As the rest of the country prepares to relax and contemplate their blessings with family tomorrow, I am writing a to-do list that includes basic house-hold chores and packing prep.  We have virtually no food in the fridge, as we’ve been preparing for our move to the new house the following week – and worse yet, we have no plan for what we will eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Although we chose to skip the traditional Thanksgiving in favor of focusing on our move and settling into the new house before Christmas, the events that have transpired since that decision have changed the tone from excitement to melancholy.

A laundry list of errors requiring repair were identified during our home inspection last weekend and continued delays with the builder have put the entire moving schedule in serious jeopardy.  The house was supposed to be completed and given a final seal of approval from the inspectors by now, with the possibility that we’d do an “early occupancy” sans rent while waiting for the paperwork to clear and closing to happen.  Instead, we discovered Monday evening that not only was the house not complete and ready for final inspection today, but none of the repairs had been started and no cleaning had yet begun.  With movers scheduled to begin packing our belongings next Wednesday, there is simply no room for these delays.

We’ve given the builder until Monday evening to have everything 100% completed and reinspected, or we will cancel our movers Tuesday morning, although doing so will mean we are no longer guaranteed   a paid move from the military and IF they do reschedule us it could be at least 4-6 weeks before they can get us on the calendar!  Beyond this, we’ve locked in the interest rate on our loan and if we do not close by mid-December there is a penalty fee, plus a fee to buy back down the rate when we do close – totaling close to $2,000.  Add to that time off requested, arrangements for utilities and mail services and finding someone to fulfill our lease and I’m about ready to just burst into tears at any given moment.

This should be a time of happiness and cheer, but instead it’s become one of stress and anxiety.  I’ve spent countless hours following up with the builder, his realtor, our realtor and our lender in an effort to keep everyone updated and moving forward.  I can only imagine the utter chaos that would be upon us right now if I wasn’t a detail oriented planner!

Both the builder and his realtor still claim that they will have the house completed and ready for us to move in on the 6th, but I’ve heard similar promises before from them and won’t believe it until I see it.  In the meantime I’ll continue to prep and plan our next steps, all while also planning a backup plan just in case.  “Semper Paratus” as my retired Coastie hubby would say or “Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best” as my mom would.

But even as I massage my temples and take deep breaths, I remind myself that there are many who would LOVE to be dealing with the problems I have instead of the ones they are attempting to tackle.  Obviously this isn’t the perfect situation – and if it gets much further in the hole there will be screaming for compensation – but I’m thankful that this is the problem I’m facing, rather than something more serious.  So I shall count the blessings that I do have.

  1. We DO have a roof over our heads and we certainly won’t starve tomorrow.
  2. Both we and our fur babies are in good health.
  3. Although some we love are fighting illness, they are all relatively well.
  4. We both have steady employment, which allows us to be in a position to be building a new home.
  5. We have friends and family who love us and support us.
  6. We will be together on this holiday – something military families understand isn’t always the case.
  7. And the holiday will give us an opportunity to sleep in, which hasn’t happened in quite a while! 🙂

Access to Down Below

The access to our crawl space is located in the master closet.  Although my plan is to put a rug over it, we wanted it to blend in with the other flooring, so we decided to cover it with the same material and apply a trim to the edges of the panel. (Please ignore the remnants of the removed builder shelving that wasn’t supposed to be installed – he forgot that we have our own highly efficient design, which we will install just before moving in.)


We replaced the OSB that was in place, as it was already bowed and starting to chip on the edges.  Instead we used a solid piece of plywood which hubs cut to size and glued flooring planks to. Next he carved out a spot for the handle, so it would be recessed on the panel.  Smart thinking since it will be underfoot everyday in our closet.


Although the covered panel blends in, the lip that it sits on was still visible and exposed so we decided to add some trim to the edges.


We got some threshold molding from the flooring store where the builder ordered our flooring material and miter cut it to fit the square.  We didn’t need the extra strip of foam on the bottom since we weren’t using the pieces for a raised threshold, so hubs just sliced them off.


Without the extra strip of foam on the bottom the pieces lay flat on the panel which is what we want them to do.  That will allow them to overlap the exposed lip gap, which is at the same level as the panel.


We planned to use both wood glue and small finishing nails, but the nail gun jammed and then malfunctioned, making the nail look more like a staple, so we decided to just use wood glue and clamp everything together.


AccessDoorClampsNotice the builder’s mess surrounding our project? That’s just part of what I described in my post the other day.  It seriously makes me itchy, but I’m overlooking it because I know it means progress is being made.

We left it to dry for a few days as other projects were being done around the house.  It will soon be installed for the finished inspection.  We didn’t initially plan to use the access panel much, but during our home inspection yesterday we realized that we’ll need to change the filters on our furnace and HRV which are in the crawl space, so it will probably see monthly use for a good portion of the year.  That actually works out fine since the crawl space will also become home to my holiday storage, saving precious garage space! 🙂

Stay Calm and Spit Shine On!

We noticed our first major scratch on the new floor as the stone work sub was cleaning up the other day.  We’re not sure if his equipment was the culprit, since there have been several subs in and out of the house recently, but it was upsetting regardless.  And to add salt to the wound, the scratch was in a spot that would require pulling up most of the room’s flooring to replace.


But before I began hyperventilating, I decided to see if I could eliminate some of the effect with a quick spit shine.  Literally.  Hey, the house is under construction still (hence the scratch amplifying white dust) and that’s all I had!  But as you can see it already looked much better.


After this photo, I also rubbed my thumbnail over the edges to remove any fibers sticking up and that made it even better.  I’m sure that once I can attack it with some Old English you’ll never even know it was there.  You can’t even feel the scratch when you run your finger across it, so it’s not as bad as I initially thought.

There are a few spots in the house that we know the edge of the board is chipped because we saw it as we were on floor level installing it, but at walking height you’d probably never notice them.  We plan to put some clear silicone in those spots as we find them again, but they shouldn’t cause any major issues now that there is support around them from the adjoining board.

This is exactly why we chose this material.  We have large, very active dogs.  We have guests over.  Life happens.  I’m sure I’ll see the little lumps and bumps as we move in and start living on the floor, but that will be ok.  It shows that we’re living our life, not just ‘presenting’ an ideal.  And let’s face it, those little spots just give me a reason to go buy a new rug to cover it.  And that’s just fine by me. 🙂


The Skhoop

SkhoopAlthough it’s been in the negative temps around Anchorage recently, I haven’t broken out my full arsenal of cold weather gear yet.  But with a work trip to Fairbanks today, I finally gave in and dug out my Skhoop skirt.  This insulated skirt is basically a coat for your booty and legs.  I first heard about them last year when I was visiting Anchorage from Kodiak and noticed someone wearing one.  I asked how she liked it and when she said it was awesome I asked where I could get one.

When I researched them a little more and saw the price tag I decided it wasn’t really necessary, but the next trip over the hubs made he got one for me because he knew I’d love it – especially since he got the purple one!

Dubbed “smart clothing for active people”, the Skhoop brand originated in a small Scandinavian village where outdoor winter activities necessitated insulated clothing.  Now available in a variety of styles and lengths, along with other clothing and jackets Skhoop has become a best seller in cold climates like Alaska.

I chose the shorter skirt, just because I was afraid my clumsy self would get tangled up in the longer version and do a face plant in the snow, which would defeat the warmth on my posterior.  Although there are days I wish I had an extra layer on my lower legs, that’s probably the area of the body least affected by the cold – at least for me.

I’ve added a pair of Polartec touch screen gloves from Althleta to my daily use line-up this year and am pretty pleased with them.  Especially, knowing that I got them for free thanks to rewards points on my credit card!  I also got a pair of fleece tights with the balance of that reward card and another $9!  I love a good bargain, but I relish it when it keeps me warm too!

DIY Glass Insulator Pendant Lights

We knew we wanted something unique for the pendant lights over the bar in the kitchen, but weren’t sure exactly what that might be.  I spotted this idea on Pinterest and immediately loved it.  Surprisingly, so did the hubs who took me to an antique store he’d just discovered to pick out insulators for our project a few days later.

We also acquired some heirloom insulators from the hubby’s Aunt in Colorado during our road trip in September, so we had quite a selection to choose from.  I set them all out and tried different combinations to decide which we liked best.

We hadn’t given the project much more thought since then as we were busy with other details and the house wasn’t ready for light fixtures just yet.  But now that it is, we suddenly had to figure out how to make it happen and choose exactly which insulators to use.




And finally decided this was just right.


My handy dandy hubs found the right bit and snuck in time on a drill press at work to drill the holes.  The first four drilled without a hitch, but then while drilling the last one it cracked!




We had a few others in the same color and size, but they all had pretty big chips, so that wonderful hubby of mine made another trip to the antique store and picked up two more for $9 each.  He drilled both without a problem, but one did develop an internal crack.  We decided to still use it since it added character, and that left us a spare in case any ever did meet an untimely fate and require being replaced.

We followed the tutorial from Pinterest and purchased the same materials to retrofit the pendant cords the builder installed.


It took a little trial and error to figure out the best method for removing the parts we didn’t need and reusing the parts we did, but the hubs made it happen – even though he was super tired!

Notice that mess on the counter? That’s how the rest of the house looks too.. I think I have hives.. LOL


It also took a bit of adjusting to get them all at the same height, but they look awesome!


The builder thought we were nuts when we showed him what we were planning, and all he had to say when he saw the finished product was “It’s different.  I’ve never seen that before.”  But at this point, if it’s something he doesn’t have to do, he’s game.

The LED bulbs don’t put out much light at 0.6 wt, but the recess lighting in the main area of the kitchen supply plenty of light to cook by.  They do make a nice ‘night light’ when on by themselves, so that’s probably how we’ll use them the most.  We will be on the lookout for brighter bulbs that will fit, but for now these it the bill.


I just adore the finished result.  Not only are they unique and repurposing something that is otherwise unused, but they bring a piece of family history to our new home.

Have you ever used old glass insulators for projects?  If so, please share!  We still have several and need some ideas.

Shared at Knick of Time’s Vintage Inspiration Party #203!

The Finishing Touches

It’s been a very busy few days at the new house!  We’ve finished the flooring – after several very long nights.





The counter tops are finished and look fantastic.



The tile in the master bathroom has been installed, grouted and sealed.




The stone work on the fireplace is up, although it needs to be grouted.  The stone on the front porch still needs to be started.


The appliances have been delivered and are being installed. I can’t wait to use all the space in this fridge!!




The electrical fixtures (switches and outlets) are almost complete and the baseboard trim has been installed and touch up filler/paint is in progress.


I was worried I might second guess some of the lighting selections, but everything I’ve seen so far looks great.









The prop fan we selected for the family room is on order, so a ‘temporary’ fan was installed for the appraisal.


The builder is now back on-site and doing what he can to keep everything on schedule for closing on December 1.  Our movers are scheduled for December 4-6, since they believe it will take a day to pack up our stuff, a day to load the truck and a day to deliver.  It seems so close and yet so far away.

Unfortunately, all this progress tends to create a trail an explosion of tools and supplies throughout the house.  Every time, I’m there and see the mass of stuff everywhere I twitch unintentionally.  But I know it means I’m closer to living in our new home, so I’m working my way through it with deep breaths – which seem to worry my husband more and more. 🙂

And this was a “super clean” day!

The appraisal was supposed to be done today, but might have to be finalized next week once everything is at 100%.  The energy rating will be done soon and our home inspection is set for Saturday.  We’ve also locked in our interest rate for our loan.  If for some reason the paperwork causes a delay, the builder has agreed to do an early occupancy without rent to accommodate our scheduled movers and time off from work.

Other than making sure all the elements are finished, all that’s left will be cleaning and finding a new renter for our current place!  Our landlord had someone lined up, but hasn’t gotten confirmation just yet, so we’re hopeful that will work out.  Stay tuned for posts on more of the details!

Finding My CHI and My Lucky Streak All at the Same Time!

I’ve had a CHI flat iron for about 2 years now and love it.  I was first introduced to the brand when I borrowed my mother-in-law’s iron while visiting her and instantly knew I wanted to upgrade from my ‘bargain brand’.  Unfortunately, it recently developed a short where the cord connects to the iron.  I first thought it had popped the fuse because it wouldn’t turn on, so I hit the rest button on the plug with no success.  But the heating indicator light came on when I moved the cord, so although I was able to continue using it with the cord strategically positioned, I knew the end was in sight.

I originally thought I’d hold out for a black Friday sale, but then I saw a purple CHI flat iron on sale at JC Penney while browsing a beauty look book in my Shopkick app!  (Seriously, if you don’t have this app, get it now.  It’s become an obsession for my hubby.)  Same awesome brand, but in purple and on SALE from $95 to $74.99?!  Um OK!

The only JC Penney around is downtown, which always means parking hassles and traffic, so I wasn’t looking forward to the shopping trip, but it was worth it.  Luckily the hubs was off and wanted to run errands with me, so I let him drive on the snowy roads.  This was just the beginning of my lucky streak.  Not only did we find a curb-side spot right by the door, but just as we were about to put coins in the meter a woman passing by explained that you don’t have to pay the meters on the weekends!  Say what?!  If I’d known that… nah, I still wouldn’t like driving downtown.

Once inside we collected our ‘kicks’ and then were quickly directed to the salon by a Bieber look-a-like (figured if anyone would know where it was, it’d be him! LOL) and the sales lady there knew exactly what I was looking for when I asked.  She also helped us get an additional 20% off for being retired military on Veterans Day weekend and explained the warranty on my old CHI would probably be honored if I sent it back to them.  More good to know info!

And the cherry on top was realizing that the new iron came with a free gift – a bottle of CHI silk infusion serum!  Score!


I’ve used the new iron twice now and am pleased with how it performs.  It’s a little different than my old model, in that the indicator light and on/off switch are on the inside of the iron rather than the side.  It doesn’t have a heat selection option like my old iron did, but I honestly never really changed it other than when I’d bump it accidentally and then wonder why my iron wasn’t very hot! So it’s not a feature that I really miss.  The cord on the new iron is also much longer than the old one, which I appreciate.

I’ll be contacting CHI about my old iron to see if there’s anything they can do about that.  Wouldn’t hurt to have a spare  on hand – maybe I’d even keep it at work for those days when the weather kills my style. 🙂

The Homestretch

It’s been a long, but very productive week at the house. The shower floor and threshold were poured, niche shelves were installed and a waterproofing coat was done to the drywall.  Although we drew out where the decorative tile would go, we opted to make life easier on the tile guy and move it up a little from the niche so he can do a bullnose tile border around the shelves, then a full 12″ x 12″ tile and then the decorative tile.  You can see the new line drawn below the shower head pipe.  Above that will be one more 12″ x 12″ tile and another finishing bullnose tile.  The floor will have a mosaic pattern with similar colors.  The tile guy picked that part out without our input so that the shower floor can be slopped for drainage, but he did choose something that coordinates with what we chose, so we gave him the green light to proceed.  He will also use a piece of the quartz we have as counter tops for the threshold top so that there are aren’t tile cuts showing on the edges.


The finisher also installed all of the windowsills.  The nail holes still need to be caulked, but that will happen at the very end.  He also installed shelving in all of the closets, which was not supposed to be done.  I felt bad about them wasting time and money, but what they installed was not efficient use of the space – and that’s the exact reason we had that specific request included in our contract.  We did save them some cost by choosing not to have crown molding in the master since we didn’t want the lights behind the molding, so I guess it balances out.


The hubs and I have spent a good deal of this week working on the flooring  and are officially out of material until the second shipment arrives tomorrow or Tuesday.  We were able to finish the main living area, the laundry room, start the hallway and do part of the master bedroom and a section into the master bath so the tile work on the tub and shower can be started.



The odd shapes in the Master bathroom have certainly proved challenging.  That small piece in front of the tub and shower took three tries to get the right shape and joints!  Luckily, all three were cut from scrap pieces I’ve been saving and categorizing as we’ve progressed.  We’ve only had 1 or two mis-cut boards, which were then used in another spot by cutting the mistake off and using it for a starting board.  So, overall we’ve had extremely little wasted material.  Flooring-MasterBath

We’re loving how the floor is looking, even without the trim and lots of foot prints!  The girls were in and out the back door the whole time we were working, tracking in snow from outside and it held up perfectly.  You probably couldn’t even tell it was damp if it weren’t for all the dust still inside!


The counter tops were being cut while we were there working and we got to see them come in, one by one.


Notice their caulking warming station int he heat vent over by the door?  I was actually pretty impressed with their resourcefulness.


The foreman asked if we wanted round or square sinks and since we didn’t have a preference other than that they be under-mounted, I told him to do whatever was easiest.  He said the round was, but still laid both out with the counter for me to see before deciding.  When he pointed out that the round sinks were also deeper that made the choice clear.


I didn’t think about the fact that the round shape means more counter space until I saw them in the space.  Guess that was a good choice!



We left for a bit to get some dinner after we ran out of material, but stopped back by before heading home to see the progress.  By then he had most of the counter tops in place and was working on the back splashes.  The island is so long it has to have a seam on the bar top, so that’s why there is a bit of bare board on the end.  The back splash on the island will go from the top of the inside counter to the bottom of the bar counter, which should be super easy to clean!


I’m loving the under-mount kitchen sink, which will have a single faucet head that doubles as a sprayer.


I was originally worried that the counters would be too dark or too orange, but combined with everything else they look fantastic.


Down the street, the new neighbors foundation is in, as is their well and septic.  They are obviously trying to get things up going before winter sets in.


But they may be a little too late since all this came down while we were on-site yesterday.


And because I forgot to put up the window I’d had down for the dogs on the ride in, we took some of it with us…


Please ignore the lovely hole my fur-babies have started in my seat.  We’ve decided to just let it go and replace that chair once it’s fully destroyed, since seat covers didn’t prevent it from ripping in the first place.  😦

Our First Offical New House DIY Project!

I promised a post about our flooring installation, so here it is.  It’s been a little slow going because we can only go to the house in the evenings after work, but we’ve made pretty darn good progress in just 3 days.  The first night we rented a drum sander from Home Depot and sanded all of the subfloor joints and any spots that had high spots from other portions of construction.  Of course, prep work begets prep work and before we could start sanding we had to cut off the excess plastic sheathing installed on the exterior walls as part of the energy efficiency, which you saw in this post.


This stuff was applied with a super sticky and gooey tar-like substance that has been very annoying to clean and work around at the base of the walls.  We could have laid the flooring over top of the portion on the floor, but with all the paint, mud and texture residue on the plastic it just wasn’t a good idea, especially since the flooring warranty could be voided if there is any under layment.

Next up was sweeping all of the dust and debris to be vacuumed with the shop vac.  There was a LOT of dust and a good bit of debris…


Once the floor was vacuumed, the hubs started sanding.  At first he did the whole area but we soon realized that wasn’t necessary so he focused on the seams of the subflooring and anything that had a high spot.


We started installing the next evening. Each piece has a tongue and groove edge so that it locks into the piece next it on either side without use of any adhesive.  And without need for an underlayment, it can be installed right over the subfloor, as we did.


It took us a while to find a ‘system’ with the material, but once we did it went fairly smoothly.  The hardest part was getting those first few rows down so there was something locking the other pieces into place.  There’s been a slight learning curve and a few ‘dang it’ moments, over all we’ve not had any major hang ups. Here’s what things looked like near the end of the first night of installation.


We had the dogs with us while on site and were pleased that they stayed out of the way for the most part.  Granted that’s likely because they’d been to Doggie Day Camp and the groomer that day, and were just plain tuckered out.  Sangria decided she’d hide out in the pantry since it was the one area we weren’t walking through.


A nearby lot was recently purchased and they have begun clearing for construction.  As we left that evening, I was stunned to see that they not only burned the trees cleared rather than grinding them back into the dirt like our builder did, but they left the smouldering pile glowing unattended!  I have a sneaking suspicion I’m not going to be crazy about this neighboring project, but I’m trying to reserve judgment until I meet actual people…


The hubs had a light schedule at work today, so he left early to go work on the flooring without me and spent most of the day there.  He made pretty good progress, including some difficult ‘tight spot’ pieces that took extra time to cut.  Here’s what it looks like now (sorry for the phone pics, but it’s all he had with him, since the ‘photographer’ wasn’t around).

Dining room done into the laundry room and the edge of the kitchen.
Heading into the kitchen.
Heading into the kitchen.
Laundry room, almost complete.
Laundry room, almost complete.
Great room fireplace wall done.
Great room fireplace wall done.

Unfortunately we got a call from the flooring store saying there was some ‘mix up in Seattle’ and the other half of our flooring wasn’t shipped until TODAY!  It was supposed to already be here, so this is quite a set back.  It’s now supposed to arrive Monday or Tuesday and then has to sit on site for at least 1 day before it can be installed.  We’re not sure yet how the will impact the overall completion schedule, but we’ll continue working with what we do have until we run out in an effort to keep things as on time as possible.

Inching Toward the Finish Line

As anticipated the November 1 closing date has come and gone without the house being ready.  We’ve signed an amendment to extend the deadline, but it’s still going to be tight to get everything done.  The hubs and I went to sand the sub floor in preparation for installing the flooring on Saturday, but found painting and cabinet installation in full swing when we arrived, so we weren’t able to get anything done.  We did unload the half order of flooring the vendor had in stock so it could acclimate on site for the recommended two days.  The remainder should arrive tomorrow or Tuesday, so we’ll have to let that acclimate on site as well before installing it.


We had a meeting with the foreman and the realtors today to go over the timeline for the new closing date of December 1.  We will work on the flooring every evening this week, and the master bathroom tile should be installed in the next few days so we can finish flooring around that at the end.  Then the following week all of the finish work will be done – trim, doors, electrical outlets, paint touch up, etc.  The should put us at 95% complete for the appraisal the week before Thanksgiving.

The power line has finally been installed, so there is electric to the house now.  They ended up having to take a few more trees out at the end of the driveway to run the line, but getting power to the house is worth it.



You can see the small green box to the side of the house.  That’s our electrical pedestal.  That side of the house is getting pretty crowded with pips and utility features, so I’ll have to figure out some landscaping beyond my rain garden (which will have a retaining wall made from those tires) to hide them next season.

Inside, things are finally starting to look like the finished vision we’ve had all along.  The cabinets look great with the paint color and the tile coordinates perfectly as well.  Hopefully I’ll have pictures of that later this week, once it’s installed.





The counter tops are on-site and ready to be installed once the final tweaks are done on the cabinets.


I tested out the flooring next to the cabinets just to get a feel for it, and I’m pretty happy – even with the dusty paw prints!  I plan to attempt documenting the install over the course of the week and share that, so stay tuned!