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Officially Closed on Our Second Home!

September 6, 2012

On Friday, August 31, 2012  we FINALLY closed on our new home!!  Friday was day 87 of our (supposed) 30 day closing.  It was the most stressful and agonizing experience ever, thanks to Chase bank.  I won’t get into the nitty gritty of it all, but it involved underwriters, appraisals, second and third appraisals…just a mess.  The whole process was one-eighty of the experience we had six and a half years ago with Chase bank when we bought our first home (before the bubble burst).  In true Michelle fashion, I made Ryan get in front of the house with our for sale sign for a photo-op.  I’m sure our new neighbors already think of me as the crazy lady with a camera and tripod.

I know it’s cheesy, but we did the same pose with our first home on closing day.  That closing photo hung in our home for six and a half years.  I would glance at in every now-and-then to remember how different our home looked the day we bought it.  I like before and after’s in case you didn’t know.

I look forward to see how the outsides evolves over the next 30 years…assuming we don’t move anytime soon.  After this whole closing and moving process I am never moving again.  They can roll me out and bury me in the back yard, haha.

We ended up closing on both homes on the same day by some act of god.  Both closings were very last minute.  Not last minute like we found out on Monday we closed on Friday, try last minute as in we found out the day before.  Serendipitously both closings were at the same title company as well.  We came in early to sign off on the house we sold then returned at 4pm to sign our life away on our new home.  We celebrated by taking the boat out for a sunset cruise (which of course included cocktails).  Later that evening we popped some bubbly with friends, just as we did six years ago.

So now that we officially own our new home we are rearing and ready to go on zillions of projects.   I’ve actually already started on a few.  Our (very) long list includes:

  • Remodel of the master bath
  • Remodel of upstairs full guest bath
  • Painting all the beige trim and crown moulding white
  • Painting paneling in the den (I don’t want to hear it)
  • Painting the kitchen cabinets (I don’t want to hear it)
  • Resolving drainage issues
  • Creating a craft/sewing room for Michelle
  • Creating a shop for Ryan
  • Garage addition (make the 2 car a 4 car- for the boat)
  • Moving the driveway off the main road and to the side street

I know there is way more, but these are the big projects we have on tap for the next few years.  We’ll see how our vision changes as we live in the house and our needs change.  I’ll be back with before interior photos soon!

And a few last photos of our last day at our first home….August 30, 2012…we will forever miss you R. Hills….Especially the ever important closet photo where Ryan proposed to me on my custom built 6×8 shoe shelf about five and half years ago.  If you look closely, you can still see the “will you marry me” in stain 🙂

We hope you are in good hands, R. Hills…………..xoxo    Love you, mean it.

Moving On…..

August 21, 2012

It’s official, we are moved!

The moving trucks packed us up this past Friday.   We used a local company named Dunbar Transfer.  They sent 2 trucks and 4 men to transfer all of our worldly belongings from one house to the other.  I can not speak highly enough of this company, these men were MACHINES!  Only two of the men even stopped to eat the lunch tray we provided for them.

The whole moving process only took about four and a half hours… which was 4 hour less than what I expected.  Around 11am we said good bye to our first home.  Yes, I cried.      …And snapped one last picture.

Well, it’s wasn’t goodbye forever.  I was back the next day.  We actually haven’t closed on either house.  The banks are backed up right now because of these historic low rates which caused mass re-financing.  Luckily, the new home we are buying is Ryan’s childhood home.  His parents have so graciously allowed us to move in prior to closing.  It goes without saying, we couldn’t ask for more understanding parents!

After shedding a tear or two we hit the road (all of 5 miles) and waited for the moving trucks at our new house.  They arrived and quickly unloaded boxes and furniture while I gave direction (something I am not usually very good at since I like to control and do everything myself).  I took a minute to snap a few photos.  There’s nothing I love more than ‘before’ pictures.  And if you know me as well as I know you do….there will be many after’s to come over the years.

We are very excited to start the DIY process on our new home.  We have big plans.  Huge Plans.   Ginormous Plans!

So far what we love about our new house:

  • More bedrooms!
  • Double the square footage!
  • Acreage!
  • Fenced in (fairly flat) yard!
  • Well taken care of!
  • Updated kitchen!
  • Wood floors!

Of course there are a few things we don’t love, like the powder blue bathroom and the smaller garage but the good far outweigh the bad!  SUPER PSYCHED!

Now if we could just get the banks move their butts along so we can close on both these properties…..

Neither Here Nor There…

July 18, 2012

It’s officially been a week since we listed our house with a real estate agent.  We went By Owner for about 2 weeks, got some good traffic through the house, but really couldn’t get the exposure that Old Colony Realty could provide us.  Ryan and I had high hopes to git r done on our own, but this marketing guru called it quits.

To my knowledge I did everything I could:

Oh well.  My dear friend Addy is doing a lovely job.

It was slightly annoying packing up the dogs and leaving several times a day for showings, so we have unofficially moved out of our house.  The pups jumped into the car and we piled in some clothes and necessities and set off to the new (semi-vacant house).  We haven’t officially closed on the new house, but we know the owners (wink, wink) who have mostly moved out.  Because we want to keep our house staged we brought nothing with us.  We ended up buying a new mattress (that will be used in a guest room in the future) and have been sleeping on it.  No bed frame or headboard, it’s totally college style.  We also have a sofa that was left to us and a kitchen table, but that’s about it folks!  I must admit it’s quite inconvenient but in the long run what’s (hopefully!) only a few weeks?

Last night I went through and snapped a few photos, so here is a sneak peak of our almost-new-semi-vacant house in it’s current lonely state:

And if you look real close in this one you can see our college-style matress in the background…

Yep, that’s what we’ve been up to…a whole lotta house moving/buying/selling.  Hopefully it won’t take me another half century for our next update.  It’s just kind of hard to blog when you haven’t had the internet in about a week!!!  Internet: love you, mean it.    Until next time, we are neither here nor there….

Officially on the Market (By Owner)

June 28, 2012

After six years of living in the space we’ve made a home it’s finally time to sell…and it’s so bitter sweet.  We bought our fixer-upper home with visions of what it could be.  Today it is officially that.  We’ve worked so hard over the course of so many years to get where we are. Now that our house is finally ‘finished’ we are moving on…

And a walk down memory lane….

We built retaining/landscaping walls out front and removed/added landscaping, giving this house some great curb appeal.  Here is  a before and after from the day we bought the house.

In our living room we knocked a hole in the wall to open up the space between our dining room and living room.  The working fireplace is a great place to get cozy in the cold winter months.

And the before and after in the living room:

The dining room wasn’t much too look at but now it’s a great space for entertaining, having hosted many parties.

The dining room the day we bought it and now:

In our master bedroom we took out a wall and built a custom master suite equipped with a large walk-in closet and granite bath.

The custom built master closet contains a 6×8 shoe  shelf.

 The kitchen was our most recent over-haul, installing tile flooring and granite countertops.

Two guest bedrooms.

The upstairs full bath was renovated several years ago with porcelain tile and wainscoting.

The rec room walks out on to a 50 foot private patio, a great space for outdoor entertaining.

It’s hard to believe just how much she has changed over the course of 6 years!

If you or anyone you know is interested in our south hills home, let me know.     It’s a great piece of updated property that’s been well loved and taken care of.  Send me an email at

A Surprise Ruby Anniversary.

June 26, 2012

It’s been several weeks since my last post.  We’ve been so consumed with moving that I haven’t even thought about blogging or documenting what we’ve done (and we’ve done a whole lot!).  Bad blogger, I know.  In the mix of the whole moving/selling process we also planned a surprise 40th anniversary party for Ryan’s parents on June 15th.   Ryan’s sister and I started planning this shindig at the first of the year.  It’s killed me not to blog about it.  Seriously. Killed. Me.  I DIY’d so many great things (and went a little over budget in doing so) but was so thrilled with the end product.  So without further ado, here is the way late blog post on the surprise ‘Ruby’ (40th anniversary is Ruby) party we threw….

The above is a picture of my in-laws on their wedding day, June 17, 1972 in Rialto, California.  That’s the picture I used when creating the invitations and the same photo I posted in the paper!  I just love that photo.  My father-in-laws ‘chops’ just kill me.  It’s a great reminder that everything goes out of style then comes right back in and leaves again…haha!

The biggest hurdle in planning this party was trying to figure out how to get the parents to the venue (The Women’s Club of Charleston).   We decided on a plan.  A very well thought out plan.  That of course got altered several times due to ‘complications’.

While we waited with 40 of their closest friends we were notified that they were running late….a sure sign they had no idea about the party…score!  The moment my in-laws walked in the door made all of our hard work worth it.  I think they were a little confused, but ultimately completely shocked and appreciative.

We planned out every detail from the food to the drinks/bartender and the music…Ryan’s sister and I are definitelydetail oriented girls, no question.  Joe Zando from Catering Unlimited prepared a wonderful spread of heavy appetizers and Mike Hackell with Men in Black Bartending set up a fully stocked bar.

As part of a photo tribute to the  happy couple we blew up a 24×36″ photo (taken the weekend before… as my father-in-law said ‘happy 40 years” (awe..) to his loving wife while I took the photo) along with a photo board of historical black and whites to spell out ’40’ on a ginormous red board.

Along with these ridiculously large photo displays we set up a table with framed photos from the past.  How did I get all these photos you ask?  I snuck into their attic while they were gone!  We pulled out 5 boxes stuffed with albums and loose photographs.  I then spent 4 hours scanning any photo I deemed relevant.  They were uploaded to and printed off.  Ryan’s sister also created a photo book from Kodakgallery and left blank pages in the back so that it could also serve as a signed guestbook at the party.  I found their wedding album and  garter in the boxes of photos, so they were displayed on the table as well.

Since we had my mother-in-laws wedding garter from 1972 we found it only appropriate to set them up in the middle of the floor (while “I’m Too Sexy” played in the background) and replay that moment from 40 years ago….

After the garter removal it was time to cut some cake.   We made them stand behind the cake (made by my dear friend Holly at Holly Pops) and cut it together just like they did 40 years prior.

And of course it wouldn’t be my mother-in-law without a little direction…

Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty of party planning….

We all know I like to DIY as much as I can, and this party was no exception.  I bought everything in strides over the course of 5 months.  First off was the table linens.  The Women’s Club supplied the white table cloths but it needed some umph.  I found some great chair sashes at the table cloth factory to cover the ugly plastic chairs then decided on a teal accent color and purchased  12″ table runners as well.

I also decided to DIY the centerpieces.  I bought 8 matching vases and spray painted them white.  After researching flowers, I found that Sam’s Club (who knew?!) sold bulk flowers.  I had 150 stems of red carnations shipped in 2 days before the party for $66 bucks.  When they arrived from Columbia I immediately cut the box open and placed the somewhat dehydrated flowers in a  Rubbermaid tub of water and Flora Life flower food.  It took 2 days, but the flowers completely hydrated as indicated.  Amazed.  I spent all morning the day of the party putting these 8

centerpieces together.

I’ve never actually tried to be a florist.  Ever.  So it was really brave of me to assemble 8 center pieces using 150 flowers the morning of the party.  Looking back on it now…what was I thinking???!!  Luckily it all turned out well and they looked beautiful in the end.

My goal was to make contemporary low lying vases.  I watched a few videos on you tube, so I had some sort of ‘idea’ of what I was doing.   Very impressed.  I may go into the florist business…not.   Next to the centerpieces I added 2 black and white framed photos on each table.  I got the frames at the Dollar Store  so they only ended up costing my $16 (plus the cost of the prints).  Here’s what the canterpieces ended up looking like:

In a last minute frenzy I decided to order some red cloth napkins from the same website I got the chair sashes and table runners.  My biggest pet peeve is an empty table at a buffet party.  I would have none of that.  I decided since there was no formal place setting there needed to be something on the table to fill each seat.  I bought the napkins for about 75 cents each.   On my computer I created cute little “Dave and Cathi: 40 Years” wraps to go around each napkin.  I printed the wraps on card stock and wrapped them around each freshly washed and ironed napkin then secured with double stick tape.

It ended up only costing me about $30 extra, well worth it for the ‘Ruby’ tablescape.

Last but certainly not least was the candy buffet.  I was totally unsure of how this would play out, but it ended up being the most visited table of the night.  My vision was a mis-match of candy jars flanking the cake.  Well, it turned out to be just that.  I can’t tell you how many people repeatedly hit up the candy bar, leaving us with very few left overs (thank goodness!).

I spent a few hours DIY’ing these ‘To Go’ candy bags for our guests.

And a close-up of the cake….

Being the great party host that I am, I cut the cake.  I’ve never cut a tiered cake so I was a bit nervous but I think I did an OK job (with some guidance from Joe Zando).

There is a balcony at the Women’s Club so I was able to get an aerial before everyone arrived. Here is one last photo of this magnificent surprise Ruby Anniversary Party  (6 months in the making)…

To sum it all up….it went off without a hitch.  Everyone had a blast and no one went thirsty or hungry.  We would especially like to thank Joe Zando with Catering Unlimited, Mike Hackell with Men in Black Bartending, and The Women’s Club of Charleston for helping us throw  a wonderful surprise 40th Anniversary party for our parents!

P.S.   we stayed up until midnight at Ryan’s parents for an family ‘after party’ which included late night pizza and a very wide-awake niece!!

And the Packing Begins….

June 7, 2012

Yesterday we met with the loan officer and we are officially moving forward!  We are in contract on the new house and if everything goes as planned we should close on our new house in 45 days!!!  It’s exciting and scary all at the same time.  We’ve grown so comfortable in our first home, it’s scary to think about moving to a home twice the size!  Ryan and I have been hording boxes from work and they are starting to take over our family room.

Last night I decided to start packing up the dining room.  I have a large curio cabinet in there stuffed with serving platters.  I don’t plan on having any parties (but knowing me it can always change at a moments notice) anytime before we move so I started the process of wrapping up those babies and packing them away.

It took six boxes to empty out that cabinet.  If that’s any indication of how much stuff we’ve obtained over the last 6 years- I’m gonna be in packing misery.

My sewing station is also packed away.  I have no plans to sew/mend anything anytime soon, so no one ask!  Michelle’s embroidery service is officially closed.

That’s what we’ve been up to…lot’s of paperwork.  Not much DIY’ing around the house lately.  Although I did pressure wash the front walkway last weekend.  No need for pictures of that, a sidewalk is a sidewalk no matter how you spin it.

Finishing Touches on the Kitchen Shelves.

June 1, 2012

I bet you thought the kitchen was finished, right?  Well that’s a big fat no.  We are still in the process completing those few last details.  You probably don’t recall, but back in April I gave you a sneak peak when Ryan surprised me by cutting the shelves for the wrap-around cabinets (found here).  Well, about two months later we finally got the motivation to finish those bad boys up.  It’s really no surprise that it’s taken this long since we are officially burnt toast.  And now that it’s boating season our once high motivation (which dropped to a 4 a few weeks ago) has now leveled out at 2 on a rating scale of 1 to 10.

Needless to say, those bitches be done!  Excuse my french, but the process just took forever.  After Ryan cut the three boards back in April, the kitchen looked like this:

Michelle set up her unofficial paint shop in the basement and primed and painted all three shelves over the course of a few days.  Ryan hung the  bottom and middle shelves by screwing them to the side of each cabinet.  We lived with these two bare shelves for about a month and a half.

To hang the third (high) shelf Ryan had to cut some support brackets.  There was absolutely no way he could secure this shelf from inside the cabinet since it sits right on the soffit.  (yes, we know we have to patch the crease between the ceiling and wall)

This wall is funky which is why the support braces look like a jigsaw puzzle.  Ryan pre-drilled the holes and halfway drilled in each screw before going into the side of the cabinets.

I used a small level and pushed against the wood to hold it steady while Ryan drilled the screws on the opposite wall.

Obviously the raw wood needs to be primed and painted (story of my life) but before doing so I got out the wood putty so I could fill in the screw holes and the gaps, making the shelves seamless into our existing cabinetry.

I used a putty knife on the screw holes to pack the filler in, but in the cracks I ended up just using the trusty ‘ole finger.

It looks pretty nasty, but after smoothing out the filler with some fine 220 grit sandpaper, you will never notice my handiwork.

I find it completely ironic to put so much work into something that you don’t want to be seen.  Never really thought about that one before…HA!  But anywho, you guessed it, I hit the smoothly sanded areas up with some more Kiltz latex primer and paint.  I think in all I gave the shelves two coats of paint and one final overall touch up.  They look all purdy, glossy and white.  As usual, love.

I have absolutely no idea what to display on the top shelf.  It’s so high so it has to be something purely decorative.  Maybe I should shuffle the aloe plant (a homegoods steal for $5, holla!) to the top and stack some cookbooks on the middle shelf.  We really enjoy the bottom shelf housing our ripening fruit.  It frees up some counter space and the fruit gets  good light.

One last glimpse…….


It only took 2 months to git-r-done, but I am very pleased with the final result.  Now that we’ve officially kicked it back into gear I foresee completing several more project this coming weekend.  What about you?  Any good DIY plans for the weekend?!