This past weekend my parents stayed with us in our new home for the first time. They were kind enough to help us with a few projects, the biggest of which was fall clean-up of our landscaping. The bushes and perennial gardens in the front yard had all been neglected for quite awhile. The overgrowth was crowding out the beautiful windows and diminishing the curb appeal.
My parents have invested a lot of time and money into their landscaping so we were in good hands when they offered to help us get our shrubs and perennial gardens under control. The burning bush (Euonymus alata) on the right corner of our house was overgrown and my dad trimmed it back to half its size. In the process he discovered that most of the bush was dead. We will cross our fingers that it will survive. If it doesn't, I will consult this Better Homes & Gardens feature, "Top Trees and Shrubs for Fall Color" to find its replacement.
My mom helped trim back a few other shrubs in front of the windows and pulled out several volunteer trees. She also removed weeds and cut back the perennials in the beds by the walk leading to the house, around the perimeter of the home and in the backyard.
We worked from 9:00 AM until Noon and then from 1:00 PM until 4:00 PM. We filled 26 bags with branches, dead plants and leaves.
I feel good about what we accomplished today and am so thankful for the tremendous help of my parents. Our gardens will hopefully flourish from all of that hard work.
The real benefit of spending so much time outside last weekend and this weekend is that we have met several neighbors who have walked over to introduce themselves and welcome us to the neighborhood:
We have already been getting a lot of compliments on the effort we are putting into our home. It is a great way to start this new chapter.
Friday, October 19: Closing and moving day
Although we had the day off work, Scott and I were up at our regular time of 5:45 AM so we could get started on our move. It seems like no matter how much you do ahead of time during a move, there are always last minutes things that pop up. I do not respond well to these 11th hour challenges because I always think I will be able to plan my way out of that frenzy. Not so.
Scott left for our Penn Avenue closing at 8:30 AM. I stayed behind and soon found myself pacing around grumbling about the fact that it was raining after a two month dry spell. Thanks Mother Nature! When the moving company did not arrive when I thought they would, I called to confirm they were on their way. I did my best to keep my cool after the moving company rep assured me that the crew left Burnsville at 7:00 AM. So I did the only thing I could do -- connect with friends via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
I called the moving company a second time at 8:15 and was again assured that the movers were on their way. They finally showed up at 8:30 an hour and a half from when I was supposed to have everything out of our house. Spoiler alert: that didn't happen. Scott texted be updates as he took care of the closing. Fortunately there were no last minutes issues. His texts became less helpful when he started conveying messages from our realtor was urging me to hurry up - like it was at all in my control that the movers weren't on time and that they were still loading the truck at 10:00 AM when I was scheduled to be out of the house and on my way to the closing of our new home. I had no choice but to leave our house while the movers were finishing the job. I was sad that I was unable to take photos of our empty house like I had planned. I did get a shot of Scott saying goodbye to his gaming room/office.
In order to make it to our closing on time, I shoved all the random odds and ends that I was unable to put in boxes and threw it into the backseat of the Prius.
When I arrived at Coldwell Banker Burnett Lakes office, I took deep breaths and focused on the positives because I was not going to let the unfortunate start to the day ruin this momentous occasion. Thankfully this self pep-talk worked. Scott joined me shortly after I arrived with the biggest check I've ever received. It was ours for approximately one hour and then we signed it away to the mortgage company. We again lucked out and had no last minute snags. With keys in hand, we were on our way to our new home (well, after signing our name a thousand times).
While the movers did their thing, Scott and I unloaded the electronics and beer from the cargo van we rented. Things went smoothly and the only thing that broke in the move was a carboy from Scott's homebrew supplies which the movers deducted from the bill. They were on their way around 4:00 PM. Our friend and former neighbor Karen stopped by to deliver us a drink so we could take a little break. It was fun to show her around - we are really going to miss living so close to her. After she left, the first thing we did was clean out the refrigerator. It honestly seemed like it had never been cleaned. After we had it looking like new, we decided to call it a day and went out for dinner at The Lowbrow to properly relax. It was a full day and we ended on a high note - better than I expected.
It feels like the night before Christmas only with a bittersweet twist. I've been dreaming of and planning for a move for many years. Now that the time has come it is full of emotions I didn't - but should have - anticipated.
The best decision I made was to take the entire day off of work. I was able to start the day slow and get some more last minute packing and cleaning taken care of. I also scheduled my last hair cut with Zoe at Juut Salon Spa at the Gaviidae in Minneapolis. She has been my stylist for five years and though I've had some great cuts in my lifetime, she tops the list for knowing how to work with my thick, course, wavy/colicky hair. This has nothing to do with my move - it is just a coincidence that Zoe is also moving. She has a fantastic career opportunity with Juut and will be in California. So, we've been trading moving/career change stories for the past couple of months.
The afternoon was spent boxing up our electronics which we will be moving ourselves - along with 125 bottles of Scott's home brew. I do not watch a lot of TV these days but it is strange not to have the option - even if it is only for 24 hours.
In the afternoon we had our final walk-through of our new home. It was gray and dreary so it was the first time seeing the home when the lights needed to be turned on. The weather and bad lighting seemed to also darken my mood. I was suddenly seeing flaws and things I'd want to change whereas the other previous visits left me feeling like we'd hardly have to lift a finger after moving. I shuffled from room to room in a daze and became overwhelmed. I'll also admit to feeling sad and scared. Did we make the right decision? Why are we leaving a home that has three recently remodeled rooms? Why didn't I realize that the office doesn't have a door? Why doesn't this original 1950's bathroom seem charming today?
It didn't help that the seller and his team of buddy movers were there. I wanted to take my time going from room to room snapping photos and imagining our own furniture and belongings in each space. That romantic vision was not to be. That said, the seller was very nice and showed us how we can make use of the built-in speakers on the main-floor. He lived in the home for 17 years and highlighted all of the benefits of the neighborhood and the excitement I've had since finding our home returned.
After we were done with the walk-through we ran over the details of the closings with Brian. We are closing on our current home at 9:00 AM and using the proceeds of the sale towards the down payment of our new home which we close on at 10:30 AM the same day. Brian decided to make our afternoon extra fun (read: stressful) by mentioning that if the final numbers are off that we'd need a cashier's check from our bank. The title company will only accept a personal check up to $2,000 and while I was confident the proceeds from our current home would be more than enough at closing, I live by the motto "it is better to be safe than sorry" so off to the bank we went.
On to the next stressful task - picking up the UHaul cargo van. It actually ended up being a quick and pain-free experience so we were in and out of there in no time. We returned home to pack the van with our electronics, computers, cleaning supplies and beer. Originally we were going to use the van as a way to save street space for our movers but at our walk-through we realized that was a horrible idea. Scott backed the van up to our garage so you can't get the back doors open and then parked his car next to the side doors so you can't get those open. We also left our garage security lights on.
Soon after we finished loading the van, I got a call from our mortgage guy and he went through the settlement statement (HUD documents). It was a huge relief to know that instead of having to write a check to Title, they will be writing us a check! Time to celebrate.
We went to the only place that made sense for the last night living in Armatage - we had to go to Pizzeria Lola. We had a lot of fun and it was great to decompress before heading back to our empty home. Our neighbor Karen graciously agreed to take care of Stewie during our actual move so he is having a sleep-over at her house. She has a new dog, Louie so hopefully they're either getting along or ignoring each other.
I wish I would have been able to sleep through the night but much like the night before Christmas it is impossible.
I'm testing the Weebly iPhone app for this post. I could see this being quite useful when I'm onthe bus or on vacation.
On my mind today is the remaining tasks on the moving to-do list.
Tonight I'm donating our refrigerator and freezer food to a Co-op on campus. I had great intentions of using it all in creative recipes but of course decided Gandhi Mahal take-out was a much better plan.
I'llalso bring our remaining boxes to the garage and clean.
I'll probably also manage to drive by our new house for the hundredth time...
In 2004, Scott and I moved into a classic southwest Minneapolis story and a half house on Penn Avenue. Over the next eight years we tackled projects large and small and I'm quite proud of what we accomplished. As we approach our moving day, it was fun to look back on all the blood, sweat, tears and MONEY we put into it.
One of the first improvements we made was to the exterior. While you can't fully appreciate it in the above photo, the home was pink stucco. I am sure you all assume that Scott bought the house FOR that color, right? Wrong. We selected a green from the historic colors at Hirschfields, and enlisted the help of our family to paint the house. The house felt more like my home the moment that paint dried. It is still mind boggling to me that one of our neighbors repeatedly told us that she preferred the pink. I told her that she could paint her own house that color if she liked it so much!
We also discovered there were bigger problems below the surface - the overhang above our front door was rotting and the front steps were crumbling (both issues were disguised by the previous owners). We added a new roof, overhang, columns, gutters and downspouts, and new concrete steps. We also added an updated mailbox and house numbers.
BASEMENT LAUNDRY & BATHROOM
Scott and I quickly realized that sharing the one bathroom in our home was not going to work for us. It is on the main floor and definitely on the small side. We decided to add a bathroom to our basement which was the most expensive projects we completed because it required a substantial amount of plumbing since it was brand new. It made a huge difference in our satisfaction with the home though so it was worth every penny.
This bathroom has heated floors, under the stairs cabinets, an electrical outlet under the sink for electric toothbrushes and a pocket door to make most of the space. I though of most of the features in this room and am proud of how it turned out. The next time I take bathroom photos, I will remember to put down the toilet seats!
We moved the new washer, dryer and laundry sink to the opposite side of the wall outside of the sliding door but I didn't take a photo of it since we didn't finish the rest of the basement it doesn't look all that impressive. Oh, another lesson is that when you have the appliance company remove your old washer and dryer - make sure they are empty! We lost almost all of the towels we received as wedding gifts.
One great feature of our house is a decent sized backyard for Minneapolis. Even better, it was fenced in which is a must for Stewie, our dog. The original fence was deceptive in appearance- if you were to look closely you'd see the wood was fastened together by staples! This was one of many examples of my preference for investing in quality even if it takes longer to acquire. It turns out that the previous owners were bit by the DIY HGTV virus that plagues our nation. Our mended fence made it until July 2008 when a thunderstorm knocked a portion of it to the ground. Midwest Fence installed a solidly built cedar fence which has received many compliments by numerous neighbors.
MAIN FLOOR BATHROOM
I'll confess to something now that we are moving - the before, part I image is my attempt to replicate the way the previous owner decorated this bathroom. It seems a little odd to me now because it wasn't really my taste - I guess it took a few years for me to be empowered to find my own style.
Before, part II was a bit more my style but still not quite right. The walls were plaster and horribly done. The big basement bathroom must have given me the courage to make a more dramatic change because one day without too much thought, I took a hammer to that ugly plaster and the rest is history.
After gutting the bathroom, I basically set out to create a mini version of the basement bathroom. We used the left over hex tile for the floor and thankfully had enough paint for the walls. We replaced the disgusting plastic shower surround with subway tile and created tile corner shelves. The bath stopper never worked so it was nice to get rid of the replacement rubber plug with quality fixtures. Because the bathroom is small, we repurposed the petite pedestal sink and just replaced the faucet. We also swapped out the light fixture and added a bath exhaust fan/vent thingy.
The kitchen remodel helped me stay happy in my home for an extra four years. Before, it was cramped and had an awkward layout with very little work surface. In order to add counter space and a built-in dishwasher, we redesigned the layout and replaced a window with a shorter one. We also increased the door opening as much as possible to create more of an open feel. We used marmoleum flooring - a choice I am still happy with today. This room was on a tight budget since we completed it on the heels of the basement bathroom addition. I think we spent our money wisely.
MAIN FLOOR BEDROOM
The main floor bedroom had horrible sponge paint and ugly valances. We used the same buttery yellow that the previous owners smartly used in the hallway on the second level. It is such a cheery color. We never really furnished this room and I still have that Target dresser pictured in the before shot.
We did not do much to change the living and dining room other than new paint (tried to cover up the sand texture paint) and invested in new living room furniture. We discovered that what we call our living room was originally a bedroom and our dining area was the living room!
Before putting our house on the market, we installed linoleum flooring. It came in 12 foot sheets and didn't require any adhesive. It made a huge difference for a reasonable price.
This bedroom was used as ours for most of our eight years. It used to have sponge painting and cheap blinds. We repainted it and put up better looking window treatments (though still cheap!).
This is the smaller of the two bedrooms upstairs which Scott used as his "man cave". We recently changed the desk but I didn't take any photos of it. The only change we made to this room was to give it a fresh coat of paint and use the same window treatment as in the bedroom.
Around the time of the basement bathroom project, we carpeted the basement stairs since we were going to be using them several times a day. We also installed a clever shoe rack on the wall to help keep our dirty/wet shoes out of the way.
We replaced the wood non-adjustable shelves with Elfa from the Container Store. This allowed me to store coats as well as linens and other household supplies.
SUMMARY OF IMPROVEMENTS
Packed boxes have taken over our house.
We started the packing process when we decided to sell our home so it feels like this move is never ending. We have packed up the majority of our belongings with the exception of essential day-to-day items.
Speaking of essential, over the past two months we have made five trips to Arc Value Village with loads of household goods no longer deemed necessary. I am the opposite of a hoarder in that I start tweaking when I am surrounded by too much stuff. I have to actively resist the temptation to call 1-800-Got-Junk and have them take everything.
As I go through each room I assess if we've used an item over the past year. If we haven't and it doesn't hold sentimental value, it was donated or recycled. The hardest items to part with were related to Scottoberfest - an annual party we held for eight years in the backyard of our current home. We are downsizing our garage space from 2 1/2 to 1 stall so we had to make the tough decision to get rid of most of the party supplies (100 bowls and spoons for chili and more than 100 tasting glasses for the beer). We haven't decided what to do with the tables yet - they were expensive so I'm hesitant to just give them away.
I am doing my best to get rid of stuff safely. We recycled old paint and other remodeling materials at the Hennepin County drop off facility for household hazardous waste and recycling. I've also learned how to safely dispose of medications - again through Hennepin County at their medicine drop off sites.
When I'm not packing, it seems i'm busy mentally decorating our new home. I have an on-again, off-again relationship with Pinterest and right now I've taken our relationship to a new level nearing obsession. It's gotten so bad that I want to pin real-life objects and when I see things I like I immediately know which board it belongs on. Pathetic. That said, I am noticing patterns in what I like which I am not sure I'd see if I didn't use Pinterest. I'm hoping to enlist the help of friends and possibly a professional as we decorate this new home. Stay tuned!
The Nivens Family