Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What happens when you DON'T keep your house clean while it is on the market???

Well, that is when your realtor will call you with a one-hour notice of a showing! Below are some of the messes I had going when my realtor called today. My entire studio looked like this... And because my studio was a mess, I had also started a project at the kitchen table. Piles of shredded rope that I am turning into "bottle brush" Christmas trees...
And since the kitchen table was a mess, I had also started a project in the den. This looks like piles of mummy-wrap, but it is for another type of Christmas tree I am making...
Sooo...when the realtor called today, I had to go tearing home. The shredded rope and piles of mummy-wrap got thrown into the back of my car. I straightened up my studio lightening fast. Between the kids and I, in less than one hour we cleaned all the bathrooms, vacuumed the hard floors, dusted most of the house, scooped the leaves out of the pool, wiped down all the kitchen counters, turned on all the lights, and ran out the door to go eat dinner.

It helped that under the messes everything was actually already clean. But, I think I will try to keep my mess limited to my studio! I am doing my FIRST-EVER craft show in 3 weeks in Dallas!!! I'm excited! Which explains the hairy rope piles and mummy-wrap piles.

My kids seem to think that I need to review Rule #1 and #2 of my new house rules...


Thursday, September 09, 2010

Keeping Your House Clean While it is on the Market

Well, I thought I would keep up better with some posts about getting my house ready to put on the market. But it was all so CONSUMING that I was doing good to keep my head above water. There is now a sign in the front yard. And our realtor has had one open house. The day before they stuck the sign in the yard I thought I was DONE. But then when they scheduled the open house for one week later, I went from room to room looking for anything else that needed to be done. And you know what? It took me all week to do all the things I found! How??? I thought it was perfect the day the sign went into the yard!

But, now, finally, I do think it is done. Now it is a matter of maintaining. I have instituted some new rules around my house in order to maintain a near-perfect state. Such as:

1. If you put it down, you better pick it right back up and go put it in its assigned home right now.

2. EVERYTHING in this house has an assigned home. And that is the ONLY place it is ever allowed to be!

3. Do not EVER leave a fork or cup or plate on the counter or in the sink. Rinse it and put it in the dishwasher the instant you are done with it. If you leave it on the counter, I will wait till you are asleep and then I will come wake you up and make you put that fork in the dishwasher.

4. If you have a fork to put in the dishwasher and you discover that the dishwasher is clean, that means that you drew the lucky straw - you get to empty the dishwasher, and then put your dirty fork into it.

5. When you are leaving the house to go to school or work or to run an errand, you have to make sure your bed is made and your room is perfect!

6. Every day you can expect me to give you an assignment in the house. It might be vacuuming, or cleaning a bathroom, or dusting the den. But there will be something, so expect it.

7. Every single morning you must wipe down your bathroom sink and counter with a paper towel and spray cleaner. Every single morning.

8. Yes, I know you just cleaned that 4 days ago. Yes, I do mean that I want you to clean it again today. No, you do not need to wait until it LOOKS like it needs to be cleaned. The point here is that nothing should ever LOOK like it needs to be cleaned.

9. You are NOT allowed to EVER wait until every garment you own is in the dirty clothes and the dirty clothes are piled to the ceiling. If the color coded baskets in the laundry room are 2/3 full, then you must put that load in to wash.

10. And when you wash a load, it cannot be "hung up" on your bedroom floor. That is not hanging. That is throwing. Hanging means on a hanger, on the closet rod. See #5 - your room must be perfect before you leave the house to go anywhere.

11. If you come home and there are cars in front that you don't recognize, keep driving. That means a realtor is showing our house and you cannot come home.

12. Do NOT bang pots and pans around in the new kitchen sink and leave those silver/black marks in the sink for me to have to clean. Wash pans carefully and leave the sink spotless.

13. You make a mess, you die.

So far this is working very well! But if you can think of any other rules you think I should add, I'm open to suggestions...


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Get Your Kitchen Ready (to sell your house)

We have lived in this house for four years with blue countertops. NOTHING else in the entire house is blue. I have no idea why someone put blue countertops in this house...the other colors were browns with deep reds in some of the wallpaper. And blue countertops in the kitchen...

But now, they are not blue laminate any more! They are a very pretty soft-black solid surface. I love them! I wish we had changed them four years ago so we could have been enjoying them all this time. But...I would definitely suggest that you consider doing a little updating in your kitchen before putting it on the market...especially if you have blue countertops...

We also put new pulls that are an oil-rubbed bronze color. Our old pulls were shiny brass with plastic cream middles. I know.
Since I was essentially choosing these for the next homeowners, I was torn between a neutral cream and black. So I used the very scientific method shown below...I laid out a cream colored tablecloth and a black skirt...and I stood and stared at it. I'm very glad I went with the black. It makes much more of a statement than the cream would have.
Below are the old blue countertops the day we were about to tear them out. And you can see the old, lovely pulls...
We took the countertops off very carefully and were able to save the tile backsplash. Not that I love the backsplash...I most decidedly do NOT. But we were really trying to do our updates for as little money as possible.
By only doing the countertops and pulls, we did not spend that much, but the kitchen really does look a WHOLE lot better! An update I would highly recommend...


Monday, August 02, 2010

Clear Out Closets and Clutter Before You Put Your House on the Market!

This is Part 3 of "Get Ready to Sell Your House."

Two weekends ago we had our garage sale. We started on Thursday - definitely the day to start a garage sale. About 3/4 of our stuff was gone by noon on Thursday! Friday morning I sold a little bit, and then I just started telling everyone to take whatever they wanted. And did the same thing on Saturday. It's all gone now! I was more interested in it going away than in making some money on it.

People told me they liked my signs because they were easy to see and to follow. I just bought those cheap $3 small garage sale signs at Home Depot, and I covered them in hot pink posterboard, and drew big arrows on them. Make your signs easy to see and easy to follow!

So now I am in the "cleaning out closets" stage. When people look at your house, you want them to see how big your closets are. Also, not a good idea if your closets need a sign hanging on the door knob warning of possible avalanche if opened. So if your closets are packed to the brim, pack some of your stuff and go rent a small self-storage unit.

And think about things like this - I had been storing some of my odd kitchen stuff in the linen closet down the hall from the kitchen. Things that I don't use much, so I didn't want them taking up prime space in my kitchen. But...if people open my linen closet and see that it is full of kitchen stuff, they are going to instantly assume my kitchen doesn't have enough storage. NOT what you want them to be thinking! So I am packing the kitchen stuff that is in the linen closet, and it is going to go to the storage unit, too. After I get all the kitchen stuff out of this closet, I will round up the towels and sheets that are stored here and there, and put them all in their proper home in the linen closet - they have not been in there in four years!

As you are clearing out the clutter, throwing away or giving away as much as possible, make sure you clean as you go. Dust shelves, clean the baseboards, etc.
And while you are decluttering your closets, clear the surfaces in the room. You need to just have one or two items on top of your dressers and coffee tables. You want buyers to be able to picture their own stuff in your house, not be overwhelmed with all of your stuff.

We have about a week to go before our house goes on the market. And still have so much to do! I need for there to be about three more of me...


Monday, July 26, 2010

Get Ready to Sell Your House - Part 2

First up is purging, right? Get rid of everything you possibly can. Be ruthless! So right now my house has paths, no open floor space. Every room is covered in piles of stuff for the garage sale.

I did have to take some time this past weekend, though, to make some kitchen counter decisions. If you inherited blue kitchen counter tops, and nothing else in your whole house is blue, you might want to consider changing them!

Below is my very scientific way of deciding on color. I knew I wanted black, but I was wondering if I should go with a light neutral. So I laid a tablecloth and a skirt out to look at the colors.

I decided on the black. They come measure tomorrow, and install next week. It has just occurred to me that when they come in my house tomorrow, they might be scared. You will see why if you scroll down... By the way, while you are trying so hard to get rid of as much as possible, you should just watch and enjoy moments like these...
My daughters saw some boxes of kids books that I had pulled. They went through every book, talked about the ones they loved, the memories of bedtime stories, etc. Above they are reading one of the Carl books.

They both pulled out a stack of books to take to their rooms and keep. And I didn't mind at all. It was a sweet moment to watch.

Below is what some of my house looks like right now. This is why the counter top measuring man might be scared when he gets here tomorrow...
By the way, while you are pulling for the garage sale - TAKE THE TIME if at all possible to do some cleaning. Wipe down all closet shelves. Vacuum closet floors really well. Use the tools to vacuum/dust all the baseboards in the closet and room. Move the bed after you pull all the toys and socks and pencils and hershey kisses out from under it, and vacuum up the dust bunnies. We had some dust bunnies under beds that were scary big. Big enough to fight back. If you clean as you pull for the garage sale, you will be well on your way to being ready to stage it for showing!
My poor studio....somehow I have to get that blue chair out of that room tomorrow to put it in the garage sale...
While I was pulling for the garage sale in my studio, I did pull and condense enough to clear one side of the closet. Since my studio is in one of the bedrooms of this house, hopefully now lookers can visualize this as a bedroom closet.

Once the garage sale is over this weekend, it will be time to pack some things up and take them to a storage unit close by. Potential home buyers need to be able to open your closets and walk in and see how much room you have! The closet below is about 10 feet deep. But right now it only has room to open the door. Um, this is our Christmas storage room. Yes. It's all Christmas. My hubby might think I have a little too much Christmas stuff.

Tomorrow I am going to start taking all this stuff out to the garage. I think I have it all priced now. And I must remember to get our garage sale listed on Craigslist! Free advertising! Take advantage of it. List the items that you know garage sale shoppers will be interested in. And list the hours you will be selling.

Also - have to make my signs
and get some money to be able to make change

And, just to add interest to the week, one of my daughters is having several girls over on Saturday for a pool party. So I guess I need to make a list of things for her to do to get the house ready for company (is that a joke, or what??). And a list of food to buy.

What else am I forgetting?


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Get Ready to Sell Your House - Part 1

This is a list of the projects on my to-do list for the next month. Our house is going on the market in a month because my hubby is retiring from the Air Force. I want to see this list in print for a few reasons.

First, because it is always swirling around in my head and makes me dizzy. Maybe if it is in print my little head will have a few moments of peace here and there.

Second, because seeing it all listed in one place will hopefully scare me into activity.

Third, because I like to check things off of a list. So I can edit this post to mark everything as I complete it.

This might be the first of a few posts on "Get Ready to Sell Your House." If I follow through with that plan. Sometimes when I try to do a little mini-series...well...anyway. I might make this a mini-series.

So, if you are getting ready to sell your house, the first thing to do is make a list. So, now I have completed this first task. I am going to make this part be red and small - to check it off.

So if you want to laugh, or to feel sorry for me, read on...

Places/Rooms to pull stuff for Garage Sale
my studio - done
Peter's room - done
Lexi's room - done
Rachel's clothes
my closet - done
2 closets in upstairs hall - done
blue bookshelves - done
tall bookshelves in my room - done
bookshelves downstairs hall - done
file cabinet in utility room - done
electronics in utility room - done
any chairs we can - done
garage stuff - done
make sale signs - done

price and set up - done

Put in Storage Locker
(because I don't want potential homebuyers to be injured by falling debris when they open the closets to look in)
stuff from closets we don't need
--linen closet (kitchen stuff)
Christmas stuff
books we keep from shelves we sell

House Projects before it goes on the market
take books to used book store to sell - done
choose kitchen counters - done

schedule kitchen counter replacement - scheduled
either paint or replace kitchen pulls/knobs
paint kitchen

black shelves off kitchen wall-patch holes
get new kitchen trash can
new kitchen light (taking mine w/ me)
touch up studio paint
change studio light (cuz I'm taking it w/ me)
touch up paint in Lexi's room
black shelves off Rachel's wall-patch holes
touch up paint in Rachel's room
paint girl's bathroom
touch up paint in Peter's bathroom
finish paint in our bathroom
paint laundry room
paint family room
touch up dining room wallpaper
get brown swivel rocker upstairs
list homeschool books on ebay
theeeeeen, clear surfaces, stage properly

outside: (well...not me. this section is for hubby & son)
finish fence - finally DONE
take out overgrown bushes
replace with something less bohemoth-ish
flowers for front yard
touch up paint on front bench
replace porch light (cuz it's ugly)

So, now that I see this list I should be scared into activity. But I think actually I just want to go blog-hopping. And maybe take some Advil. And drink a coke.


Dear Blog,

I know it seems like I have abandoned you. But I really haven't. I don't know what happened. I come and see you every now and then. And wonder WHY your Christmas countdown has black flashing lines in the middle of it. And I read a past post here and there. And then I go read a few of your blog friends' recent posts. And I wonder why I am not blogging right now. But I never could come up with a reason why.

But lately I have really missed you. So I am back now. And I have some plans. First up will be about moving. Not you. You are not moving. I am moving. And I think I need a place to chronicle this activity. Not like it is all that unusual. We move every 4 years. But now that I have you, dear blog, I can chronicle this move with you.

Hopefully, you are kind of like "man's best friend." You know, unconditional love. We can pick back up right where we left off. Well, not right where. Because that was when I was starting my Over 40 Comeback. Yeah, I did more than I wrote about. And I am glad about it all. But I am not really in the mood for continuing that topic here. Because now I am up to my elbows in sorting, tossing, painting. Sweating. Yes. I know. Sweating is against my religion. But it is 105, or maybe 140, outside. Well, yes, I am working inside. But knowing it is that hot outside just makes me sweat. And sorting and tossing and rearranging all the closets in my house just makes me sweat more. Just look at the mess I have made today in my studio! Sad, isn't it?
Anyway, I'm glad to be having this talk. Now we can move forward...


Saturday, February 06, 2010

Staging Your Comeback

Well, at this point I am out of my big cast, and in a velcro thing. And my doctor said that I might not need surgery after all. I go back in about a month for more x-rays. At some point I will start rehab. He told me that it was going to be many months before my hand will be back to its full use and full strength.

SO, I had to quit my job at Hobby Lobby. So now I have more time to pursue some other things in life. No money, but more time. I bought this book - "
Staging Your Comeback: A Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45." I have been dressing in middle-age mom frump for many years now. This book just really struck me, and encouraged me to jump into a full makeover.

Step One - My Closet

The day after I finished the book, I emptied my closet. Most of it was stuff I had not worn in many years. And the rest of it was ugly frump.

This pile is PART of what did NOT go back into my closet. I filled up four trash bags that I threw away, and I filled up five trash bags that I took to Goodwill.
This is what my closet looks like now. And there is only one shirt that I actually really like. The rest I kept because if I only kept one shirt, I wouldn't be able to leave my house.

The bottom rod only has a few things that I kept from my kids childhood, and a lot of empty hangers. I only kept TWO pair of shoes - my tennis shoes, and that one pair of black shoes for church. The rest went in the trash.
A couple of days later I went shopping. I bought one pair of black slacks and a few new shirts - but NO MIDDLE-AGE MOM FRUMP! I put on the clothes that I bought to show my kids, and they told me I looked stylish. Now, you should know that the word stylish has never been used in the same sentence with my name. Unless, of course, there was a big, fat "NOT" thrown in there. So that made me really happy. Ugly mom frump is outta here.

Ok, so about this book. If you are in need of knowing what style/shape of clothes will look best on your body shape, and what type of accessories you should or should not wear for your body shape, what make-up and haircut you need to look your best, then you NEED this book, too. I'm telling you, it is the best book I have ever read.

Next up - my new haircut.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Some Lessons Learned

A few of the things I learned as we closed out 2009 and started into 2010~

1. Pay attention and hold on when you are going down the stairs with a broom

because if you don't, you might get tangled up with the broom and fall down the stairs. And break your hand and one bone in your arm and your elbow. And jam your toe. And pull or tear something in your other elbow. And bruise yourself in several other places. And have surgery on your hand coming soon.

2. You really should strive to be 90% ready for Christmas the first week of December

because if you do fall down the stairs the first week of December and are limping and swollen and hauling around a huge cast and have to keep your arm OVER your head for two full weeks, if you have not finished decorating and have not even STARTED Christmas shopping, you will be very sorry that you are not one of those on-top-of-it people who are ready for Christmas.

3. Sometimes you have to let go of your perfectionist, controlling ideas and plans

and just say, "yes, that's good enough" ~ and then really enjoy the "good enough." (And, hopefully, you can always remember this lesson so that you do not get crazy and obsessive about events and occasions in the future.)

4. Your haircut is important - spend the money to go to a really good stylist - and go often

because if you do fall down the stairs and are one-handed for awhile, you need a cut that is manageable. If you have not gotten your hair cut in months, and have a long, droopy look you will be unhappy. And you will look like a scarecrow when you try to do your hair.

If you do find yourself in this scarecrow situation, go to a really good stylist and tell him that you need a cut that can be managed with one hand. Then - be patient - in a couple of weeks you will have figured out little tricks for drying and curling with one hand, and you will get to the point that you can achieve a moderate degree of success most days. Most. And on those other days, just stay at home in your pj's all day, claiming that your arm is really hurting, and send your kids out to do your errands.

5. While we are on the subject of hair -

do not try to use a round brush to blow dry your hair if you are one-handed. Unless your mom is in town for Christmas and can disentangle you.

6. You do not have to do it all!

It will not be easy to get ready with one arm that is also hurt. It will take forever to get ready to leave the house. It is ok to choose to skip some functions or events that you would normally go to. And it is ok if you look around your house and see the piles growing. Because eventually you will feel better and be able to do a little more. You do not have to be superwoman and do it all to perfection. (This should apply to all of us all the time.)

7. God might just want you to slow down and reorganize your time and priorities

He might just want you to simplify a little bit.

8. And God might be reminding you that you are supposed to also take care of yourself

because as mothers we tend to put ourselves at the bottom of the list and do not even keep up with some of our basic needs. So take your vitamins, get a good haircut, and spend some money on a couple of new shirts that will go over your cast - this will make you SO very happy. (Of course, I am not saying to put yourself first and become all witchy - just take care of yourself. It will actually help you to be able to care for your family even better.)

9. Just because you can type at a reasonable speed without looking at the keyboard, does NOT mean that you know where the letters are on the keyboard

but after typing with one hand for awhile, you will learn where the letters are and get surprisingly quick at one-handed typing. Which will also help you when you are using your new Droid phone with TWO nifty qwerty keypads!

10. Speaking of Droids -

can I just tell you that I LOVE having a phone with 2 qwerty keypads, TONS of apps that I can download in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping, and INTERNET ACCESS everywhere I go - anytime I want!!!!! And calendars to organize myself and set event reminders, and places to store all kinds of contact information, and fun background pictures, Christmas trees and mantles I can DECORATE, games like Bejeweled that I can play when I am waiting for my son at the dentist or orthodontist, and the list goes on...

Thank you again to my hubby - this was a great Christmas present!

11. Speaking of typing, if you abandon your poor little blog for almost 2 months, it will forgive you and welcome you back with open arm
S (because it is not in a cast)

and you will be very happy to be reunited.

12. 14 year old sons who happen to have the gift of service can be an amazing blessing

because they will constantly be noticing that you need a drink refill, will be able to tell that you need some tylenol and bring it to you without being asked, will jump up and open the back door when they see that you are having a hot flash, and can decorate a beautiful Christmas tree (since you did not get all your trees up before you fell down the stairs)!

13. A daughter who has worked with horses for several years can be very efficient at wrapping ace bandages when you are still in a temporary splint before your cast goes on. And she will be very efficient at taping your arm up in a plastic bag so you can take a shower.

When you tell her that she is quick and efficient, she will tell you that she has wrapped a lot of horses legs. (Do you think that means she is comparing me to a horse? Let's just not ask her that question, okay?)

14. It is very handy to have another daughter that has worked at Dream Dinners for years and is very efficient in the kitchen

and is a very good cook! And did NOT learn her skills from a horse.

I am sure that I can think of many more lessons learned, but it has taken me all morning to do this post (even though I am getting much faster at typing one-handed). My hubby is flying back into town today. I am still in my pj's. I should probably go get dressed, and turn the lights on, and open the blinds before he gets home.