moving checklist (free printable!)


As promised — coming at you today with a moving checklist! I know there are several floating around in cyberworld, but I found myself needing one that applied to those who have to move TWICE — both to temporary housing and a storage unit, and then again in a few months. So I included some line items (if applicable) for anyone else in the same boat.



Click the link above (or hover on it, right click, and save) to download a copy to your computer.

Happy packing!


Posted in freebies, General Tagged , , |

new york is calling…

chloevaux on Etsy

In the midst of the chaos, New York is calling.

And a girls trip (a vacation in general!) is long overdue.

I must go.



Posted in General Tagged |

organizing our move


At this point, boxes are all over the house!

We have three weeks until our move. But in those three weeks, I have a handful of photo sessions to shoot and edit (in addition to my day job), plus I’ll be out of town for a few days. Page is overloaded with web work between his day and freelance job, and he’s handling the logistics of the move itself and the apartment/storage unit/truck rental, so the physical packing part of the move is on MY to-do list. (It works well… because I’m a tad neurotic about knowing what’s where and how I want it all transported!) ;)


This move is a little more complicated than past moves, because things are being split up — some things go to storage (evaluating what items we won’t need for the next 8 months), and others will go to our apartment with us. Keeping the destinations of the boxes straight, in addition to labeling the contents, is a process I’ve been able to streamline a little…neon labels are my new best friend!


Each box gets packed, and a Sharpie note in the front/top/right corner of either what’s in it, or where it needs to end up. If anything inside is fragile, it gets a hot pink sticker — I buy the large rectangle ones, that I can quickly tear into pieces and stick a bit on each side, so no matter at what angle one of our helpful friends picks it up, they can see if it requires a little extra care to move. (This keeps me from writing out “fragile!” over and over…and over!)

Boxes going to storage have a lime green sticker – so we can quickly sort on moving day and know which boxes go in which trip. Before I knew we could secure some temperature-controlled storage, I also was using orange labels to denote temperature-sensitive boxes (anything that can melt, warp, or freeze).

styrofoam plateAnd while we’re on the packing topic…this tip I came across on Pinterest has worked like a charm: the fastest way to pack your plates? Styrofoam plates between each — so much faster than wrapping each one individually!

Check back next week — I’ll be posting a FREE PRINTABLE moving checklist! 


Posted in General Tagged , |



There are times when I still blog something just for me, and not for anyone else. Today is one of those times.

I’m a huge believer in things happening for a reason, and events being made known to you to keep you aware of just how much you have to be thankful for. While I find myself sending up a thank you prayer on a regular basis, a few recent events have me particularly aware of just how grateful I am for all that I have.

During this home building process, I’ve been weirdly excited to move into a one bedroom apartment with Page, put the bulk of our stuff in storage, and live pretty simply for the coming months. I think we are about to realize just how much we have…and remember how much we can do without. Additionally, in the face of some friends going through tough times, I’m reminded of just how strong we are together and that while, like anyone, we work at our marriage, in many ways we are blessed it’s been as easy as it has.

Cheers to a fun adventure in the months ahead, but also to appreciating the awesome guy I married, hanging on the couch, maybe eating off a paper plate, and needing little more than a good laugh together to feel completely fulfilled. Cheers to being grateful.

Happy weekend.


Posted in General Tagged |

the decision to build. again.

photo 5

We’ve decided to build!

You can ask our realtor — we’ve come a LONG way from where we began this second home search. We started out headed for Kansas and ended up in California. Or for Spain and went to Switzerland. Whatever the phrase is.

photo 2 (1)

Laughing at the lockbox hooked to an “extra” door knob for no reason?

We first walked through an existing home back in February “just to see” if we even thought it was the right time to move. We were on the fence, and many more things seem to factor into the decision this time around, but when we saw that first house, we actually loved it more than we expected to and it whet our appetites to relocate. But then it was pulled off the market… we took it as a sign to keep looking around.

photo 3

I was in love with this tile…but that was about it.

We started out asking specifically to NOT see new construction, but quickly saw just how little was for sale, even after we seriously widened our price range at both ends and expanded into other areas around Des Moines (we even took a drive out to Adel, which for us, was a stretch). We saw the same handful of listings in our favorite areas, that met our criteria, again and again, but none of them felt even remotely right. Our conversations evolved, perspectives changed, and you guessed it, we started looking at builders.

photo 1 (1)

pretty arches!

Don’t get me wrong, we saw some beautiful homes and met with talented builders. But I felt “meh” about all of it. We were in love with the idea of a 1.5 story plan, but no one was currently building one or had ever done one before to reference, so we rather quickly pushed it out of our minds and focused on something in general more open and sprawling with higher ceilings – which led us to ranch plans. Give or take a few details we loved, we saw the same three floor plans, over and over and OVER again, from a variety of builders. (I think we met with at least a half dozen in person and toured many more). You can only do so much with a ranch floor plan, and we saw it all…and loved…none of it. We actually came close to signing on the dotted line with a builder who was the best of what we saw, but thankfully in a bit of Divine Intervention, the plan fell through.

On the same night we were supposed to do a final meet with this builder to start talking plans and put together a purchase agreement, they cancelled the meeting to be out of town. Micole, our realtor, saw an opportunity to show us something she hadn’t given up looking for, for us, and had JUST found. I honestly was OVER meeting with builders at this point and was ready to pass (Page had to convince me to go!)…but then she mentioned the home she wanted us to tour was what now seemed to be an urban myth…a 1.5 story!

We oohed. We ahhed. We pretty much drooled. THIS was the builder, the right vibe, and more or less, the plan we had been looking for, and it could all happen in a price range we were comfortable with. (I don’t even have pics to share, I was too busy loving it!) We’ll change and move around several things, but more or less, the IDEA is totally spot-on. Open/high ceilings in the main area, master on the main level, bedrooms/office space for PageSmith Design upstairs, and a basement level in which we can eventually add an extra bedroom/bath, great room, workout space, and (halleluiah!) unfinished storage space. And it turns out we weren’t crazy…they shared with us that night that only ELEVEN 1.5 story homes were built in all of Des Moines in 2013. No wonder we weren’t finding any!

photo 1

Seal of approval!

I know this post is heavy on words and light on pictures of anything but us giving a bunch of thumbs up on an empty lot, but more are coming, I promise!

photo 2

Can’t wait to photograph in my own space!

And yes, we’re 99.9% sure this is the spot where the house will eventually stand. In fact that’s me standing more or less in a front “flex room” that will be able to go back and forth from a living area/office to small studio space for ClickSmith!

At this moment, we’re balancing the search for some temporary (and immediate!) housing, with keeping things rolling on casa 2.0. Back soon with updates on all of it.


Posted in General Tagged |

how we sold our house, ourselves.

How we sold our home ourselves |

My husband and I recently sold our first home ourselves, with great success. (Part of me wants to call this post, “How we sold our house in THREE WEEKS!” but I know the markets are different for everyone.) What I want to share today are tips and tricks we learned along the way, that we think contributed to our FSBO success.

Our main motivation was to save money from the sale of our house, that we could roll into our next one, a rationale we shared openly from the beginning with our buying agent for our next home with the original intention of giving the process 30 days or so on our own before re-evaluating. I know it’s not for everyone, but we would do it this way again in a minute!

1. Determine your price. In a market with little inventory in our price range/location, this was tricky for us. Page did a lot of research on comparable sales in the surrounding areas in the past twelve months, and compared what our three-year-old house had to offer with new construction by similar builders and plans nearby. There were no exact comparisons, and some guesswork and averaging involved in the beginning. Additionally, we were working with outdated assessments of our home (new construction values are constantly evolving in the beginning), PLUS our finished basement numbers weren’t yet reflected anywhere. Our final hurdle was that our original purchase price doesn’t accurately reflect what we bought at the time — upgrades that our builder “threw in” weren’t included in the price, as well as the upgrade from daylight to walkout basement, for which we didn’t pay a cent (more on that unexpected free upgrade here).

Do as much research as you can to set the right price the first time, so you aren’t drastically dropping it thirty days later. It’s easy to question yourself the first time a buyer’s agent asks how you arrived at your price. But we took it as a sign that with so much traffic through our home, people had decided for themselves that the price was not an issue.

updated laundry |

2. Stage your home. You know the drill here – declutter, clean like crazy, and stash as much personal stuff as you can. Set out only selective items that help buyers visualize themselves living there (fan out a couple magazines on the ottoman, place a stack of clean white towels on the dryer). You can read here about a few tricks we employed to keep things neat between showings. Clean and simple is best — I didn’t keep the table set, for example, I just placed a bowl of lemons in the center and moved on. Speaking of lemons, scent is your friend! You know that saying that you can’t smell your own home? I always worried that scents from the previous night’s cooking or something would linger and I wouldn’t be able to smell it. So, I used a clean lemon room spray in the main floor, and lavender upstairs in the bedrooms/laundry before every showing. Last minute things out the door included making sure all the toilet seats were down, emptying trash cans, turning on all the lights, and putting on quiet background music throughout the house on the speakers. Make your home as inviting and friendly as possible!

3. Prepare the house for showings. This is different than staging. When listed with an agent, your agent’s job is to get in and out of the house and to make sure there’s information available to prospective buyers. When you’re selling FSBO, this is up to you. We spent about forty bucks on Amazon for a yard sign, document holder, and a combination box for our front door. We staked the sign and stocked it with copies of our flyer (keep count of how many you put out there — you can gauge interest by how quickly you run out!). The combination box allowed us to not be on call during showings. We changed the code on the lockbox regularly, and only hung it on the outside of the door during showings, keeping it inside the rest of the time. Page would simply text the combination to the buyers agent the day of the showing, we’d turn off our alarm system remotely, and we didn’t have to worry about being around. The only exception was one showing to people who didn’t have an agent of their own, for which we stuck around but out of the way so as not to crowd them.

Shoot low | FSBO photos

4. Take pictures of your home. If you don’t feel comfortable taking photographs or don’t have access to a camera (not your phone), this would be a step worth investing in, whether you rent equipment for a day or hire a photographer. Even though it drove me a little nuts as a buyer to see “larger than life” photos, I was coached to shoot real estate photos as wide angle as possible in every room – even if things appeared super distorted at times.

Shoot on a bright, sunny, day and of course only after your home is picked up and staged to show. I tend to squat a little when taking room pictures (see photo above) — just dropping the point of view down a few inches can make the photos feel more like you’re there IN the room looking at it, (and ceilings appear higher!). It sounds a little weird, but the difference is noticeable!

our FSBO flyer |

5. Find your inner Don Draper. No one but you is working for your house when it’s FSBO. It’s tough to write marketing for your own home without it dripping with personal attachment. We worked hard to keep it to just the facts and not use “we” or “our”, while still injecting little tidbits about upgrades we’d done (so buyers knew the house was well cared for) and the neighbors being awesome (great location). Our fantastic buyers agent for our next house, Micole, helped us as well. Her tip: Even when character limits online are brief, spend them on a first sentence or two that really sets the stage and invites buyers to read on.

FSBO flyers and signage |

We created a one page flyer (see above) available inside and outside the house, and some fast facts about our little Des Moines suburb (we quickly learned many showings were for out-of-towners not familiar with the area) displayed in a frame during showings. We picked up a clear document stand to keep copies of the flyers, the sellers disclosure agreement, a local city publication, and visiting agents’ cards all together.

6. Get your home on the MLS and Zillow. This work was KEY to our traffic (ten showings in the first two weeks). Page ran point on this, and after weighing a few options, he created our Zillow listing (costs nothing) and went through to create our MLS listing. You submit all the nitty gritty specs of your home, write a brief description, and you upload photos (and can pay for more than the standard amount of photos to display). The fees involved with this part were around $400, but verify based on the state in which you’re selling. We learned that in Iowa, in addition to these up front fees, a .5% of the purchase price went to an agent because Iowa has a minimum service requirement, meaning an agent has to be assigned for minimal assistance, even when you’re technically selling the home, yourself. This cost added up a bit, but was well worth it to show in every real estate and online search tool. Also, when it came time to navigate what to do with multiple offers, the assigned agent was very helpful and his attorney handled all of the purchase agreement paperwork for us.

Anyone else sell their home themselves? I’d love to add to this list of tips via your comments!


Posted in General Tagged |