Every day life and occasional adventures of Emily Snow and Family

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Unpacking is a S-L-O-W Process

It's been two weeks since we received our stuff. We are certainly making progress but it is slow. It would be easier if we had moved into a bigger house. (Not complaining, James & I both agreed to move back into our old home, but we knew it would have it's challenges!) If we had moved into a bigger home, we could have designated a couple of rooms for boxes and then had the appearance of living in a neat and orderly home. Instead, we are living amongst boxes and it is chaotic. In our house in Germany, we had a whole unfinished basement that was eventually lined with shelves, in other words, over time we had a lot of storage set up in the basement. When we absolutely ran out of places in the main and upper floors in that home, we could take the pile of "whatever" and put it on an empty shelf! But even that, took time, I remember it took six months to unpack, so I shouldn't worry that we are two weeks into it and still in boxes, right?

The fact that we lived here before, isn't exactly helpful because I have this idea of using the existing storage space almost in an entirely different way. For example, we hope to, at least one day use our garage to park James' car in it. Well, we used to have Tailer's litter box in the garage. Well, if James is going to be pulling in and out of the garage I don't want her to happen to be in there and either get ran over or run away. I'm also not going to be "on call" to go get Tailer and James isn't going to want to deal with her either. After all, he tolerates her, and he certainly doesn't want to inflict pain to her, but she's definitely mine.So, we decided to move her litter box and cat bed into the space under the stairs. Which I might add that I think she loves having that space, she naps there voluntarily during the day even.

Anyhow, back to the space under the stairs, I have had shelves set up against one wall for years, and I used to have our food storage in there. Well, I'm not putting food storage in the same space as her litter box, even though it's covered and gets cleaned daily, that would still be GROSS! So then, I decided to move the food storage elsewhere but now the items that I stored in that room previously have to go somewhere else. So, I am constantly going to Target and Bed Bath & Beyond for storage solutions, or Freecycling or taking items to Goodwill. Items get put away, then a few more boxes opened and we do it all over again! A slow process, indeed! We'll get there someday.

Until later,


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall is Here!

Fall is here! Can you believe it? I enjoy Fall. Sort of... I enjoy the cooler temperatures, but when I say "cooler" what I mean is that 70 degrees is a nice feeling. And I quite like seeing the leaves change colors. I like cozy sweaters and sweatshirts. Typically, I like decorating for Halloween, but I don't think I'll be doing much this year. We have yet to hang any of our regular decorations. But, I can't for the life of me shrug the feeling that "winter is coming". I despise winter. I find nothing redeeming about the season. I think one day I'd like to be one of those people that live in Arizona for the winter. Although, I've never been to Arizona except for that "four corners" spot, but that doesn't really count, does it?

Until later,


Monday, September 20, 2010

Re-doing the Nursery/Guest Room

While our house was empty, we took advantage of the opportunity and we (James) repainted a large portion of our home. He repainted the basement, living room, and all three bedrooms. It was also easy because we were replacing most of that carpet (with the exception of the living room carpet, which was still in good shape). To my surprise, (and to James' delight) I actually still liked all the colors, which meant everything just needed one coat to make it look fresh again. With the exception of our nursery. I had painted this when I was eight months pregnant with Thomas. It took many, many hours of me sitting on the floor being very uncomfortable doing this. When we found out we were having another boy (Toby), the walls still looked great, so I felt there was no need to change it.

But, eight years later, the light blue walls and bugs had to go. This required two coats of primer and two coats of paint. The walls are now a very light buttery cream color, although I know in one picture they look quite yellow. They are not, that picture was just taken in the evening light.

(in case you are wondering, that blue stripe is painter's tape)

Look at the detail in this border. I am NOT an artist, but I was pleased how this part, in particular, turned out. Obviously, it was done with a stencil, but what you may not recognize is that it was a stencil with three layers! That's right, I went around that room three times with stencil paint which is like dried out paint/pain in the neck paint. Now imagine doing that while eight months pregnant and having sciatic nerve problems...now that's love! Or it craziness? All the same, it was time, past time to get rid of the bugs.

Nasty, nasty carpet!

New and improved guest room!

Until later,


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tips on Tipping Your Movers

We found this article last week and found it to be very helpful as we had two crews of movers work for us this week!

Tips on Tipping Your Movers

Everyone likes a reward for a job well done
By Rick Hazeltine

Consumers put a lot of faith in professional movers, which is why good ones are as prized as a competent and fair mechanic. As a customer, you are entrusting all of your possessions, prized and otherwise, to people you may not even have been introduced to before they started taking your stuff and loading it into a truck.

Although movers are considered part of the service trade, there is usually a lot more riding on their job performance than, say, a waitress or someone who cuts your hair. If the waitress drops your rye toast, she can quickly get you a new order and, hey, your hair will grow out.

If a mover, however, does a poor job packing, drops your family heirloom or drags your furniture across the wood floor, there is a lot more at stake. Besides, there are few people in the service industry that work as hard as movers.

Perhaps because consumers rely so much on a mover doing a good job that they don't consider them as a service professional. But they are and proper etiquette requires that they be treated as such. This means it is proper to offer a tip, whether it is cash at the end of the day or you buying the crew lunch or even both.

As with any other service provider, you would base your "tip" on job performance – a bad attitude and indifferent work habits would hardly be considered tip worthy. If, however, you think your crew was attentive, helpful and professional, then give what you believe is fair.

Movers usually don't expect a tip but is appreciated when given. More than anything, it's a sign that you recognized their effort and thought it worthy. You may think you're paying a small fortune to the moving company, but what trickles down to the guys actually lugging your stuff won't have them driving home in a Beamer.

Moving is a stressful life event overloaded with thousands of small details that need attention. One of those is how to treat the crew moving your life's belongings, so here's a quick reference that should keep the guys happy and moving:

Moving is hard, back-breaking work so it would only be common decency to have cold bottled water, soda or sport drinks on hand.

Some people prefer to buy the crew lunch in lieu of a tip and this is perfectly fine. Some do both. It's whatever you are comfortable with. If you do offer to buy the crew lunch, make sure to ask if they have a preference as to food choice. Many people think, "Oh, we'll get some pizza," so you can imagine how much pizza these guys might have had that month.

You will hear varying advice on how much to tip. Percentages don't really work as they do in restaurant work. The difference between a $2,000 full-truck move and a $20,000 full-truck move is likely the distance the moving van travels, not how much time it took to load the vehicle. Basically, if it's a half-day (4 hours) move, $10 per person is considered appropriate. If it's a full-day move (8 hours), then $20 is the consensus. If you have a lot of heavy furniture, narrow or winding stairs, a steep lot, etc., you should consider adding to the amount. If the crew works 12 hours to get your belongings packed, figure $40 as fair.

A tip about tips from movers themselves: Don’t give the lump some to the foreman or driver. Give each worker their tip. First, it shows that you recognize and appreciate their individual efforts. Second, there are some unscrupulous foremen, who will keep the entire amount for themselves.

Avoid giving the guys beer at the end of the day. It's a bit stereotypical and most legitimate moving companies have rules against drinking on the job. It also opens liability issues. Make the tip cash and the movers can spend it how they wish.

Until later,


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Kitchen Countertops

Before we moved to Germany, I knew that if we moved back into our house one day that I would like to upgrade our kitchen countertops. They had had their better day already and were white Formica after all. When we got back, our countertops were disgusting! We knew right away that they were definitely going!

I spent a lot of time pricing countertops. And deciding on colors. And options. Even when I had made all my decisions, I had to make another when we found out that our cupboards were made by a Canadian company that is now out-of-business and they did this one unique thing with their style so when you go to put a new countertop you run into a problem. Luckily, we were working with an experienced professional who has an eye for details and he caught it and he had a solution, which unfortunately for us meant a little more $ but it was worth it.

I ended up going with Hi-Mac's which are like Corian. They are a synthetic solid surface countertop. I was really nervous about the color...whether I could tie the cupboard color, floor and the countertop color all together, well I think I did! I am so thrilled! You can't really tell from the pictures but they are a brown base with flecks of black and peach and darker brown. I also got a new sink out of the deal and we opted for a new faucet as well.

I think I'd like to paint the kitchen just a light cream color. It's always been white and my breakfast nook has two walls that are painted sunflower yellow, and I'm still happy with that, and I don't think the cream would clash.

Here are some before/during/after pics:

This stuff had become so warped.

Gross, tiny sink. James had been painting and using the sink to rinse items
off in, so it looked even worse.

Our renters apparently didn't like these two pieces...they were there when we left.

A whole lotta white going on in here!

I guess there's no turning back now...and just like that the
old countertops were destroyed!

And wait till you see the difference:

Approximately 4 hours later...

(And you better believe I hope to get a new stove in the next 6-12 months, I'm switching to black, I got a new dishwasher this week, so now I need the stove and fridge...eventually!)

Until later,