Month : August 2011

dream house daydreaming…

Regardless of how our next home takes shape (building, buying, remodeling) – it’s fun to dream and bookmark sources of inspiration as we make it “ours”. This house could be our home for several years (it began as 3, then 3-5, now we’re saying 5-7 is a possibility), so it may need to be something we can grow into a bit. And in addition to home/living space, we also need working space for our businesses. It will all depend, but we may end up buying a bit more than we originally thought we were going to, while keeping in mind that it won’t be our “forever” home, either. Someday, we would love to build our dream home, but for now, this will be our “right now” dream home. 🙂 (And let’s face it, anything after a cramped townhouse with no storage is a dream home!)

Here are just a handful of the things I’ve been pinning recently, for both “today” and “someday” dream homes:

A rockin’, bold accent wall when/where you least expect one…

Source: None via Elizabeth on Pinterest

A cloud-parting kitchen pantry (this is the someday version, but a pantry of a more reasonable size is on my “must” list!)

Source: via Elizabeth on Pinterest

We are both major suckers for a grey color with white trim…but there will be “discussions” over front door color. 🙂

Another “someday” space…but seriously will influence our next kitchen with this idea – dark wood floors and lots of clean, crisp white…

Depending on if we have another laundry “closet” or an actual room, I love the funky blue tile and crazy green walls…laundry needs all the help it can get to be fun!

Source: via Elizabeth on Pinterest

Again, this is the “someday” version, but I would love to create a mini version of this kind of mudroom space…particularly in light of the fact that we’re a shoes-off house.

Source: via Elizabeth on Pinterest

Love this funky idea for the master bedroom (also considering making a headboard, depending on the new room and if our bed goes against a window or a wall)

There are too many pins to ever share in one post…I’m already envisioning some room-by-room inspiration posts as we get closer to “the one” in our home search. 🙂

let the (football) games begin.

It’s hard to believe we’re entering fall already. The summer flew by much too fast – but the thing that gets me through it is knowing what’s coming up next…football – more specifically, HAWKEYE football – season! I have my game day cup all ready to go…now… what to serve alongside the beverages?

I’ve been digging up favorite game day recipes from the past couple of years, but also pinning a bunch of new ones on Pinterest. By the time we are 9-0 this season (right??), I plan to have attempted each one of these tasty delights: (Click on photos to go to links)

Stadium Snack Tray:

Chocolate Covered Footballs:

Mississippi Sin Dip:

Beer Dip: (I LOVE this recipe and there’s not much to it!)

As for some old favorites, I’ll be making the Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe found in this post, and definitely going to bring back some of the popcorn recipes I tried for my Academy Award party.

Additionally, I’m hoping to see the following friends’ dishes at some point during the season (and score a copy of the recipe)…not to name names, but those little tortilla chips with the corn and cheese in them (Mary), chili (Emily), and that mushroom swiss bread (Matt)! 🙂

Do you have any MUST-make tailgating/game day recipes? I love to swap! 🙂

“change” of address money.

When I was a kid, (we’re talking young enough I couldn’t yet get a job), I had a container that I collected change in. I would scour our house for anyone’s spare coins and claim them as mine. Over time, the container filled and one of my parents would drive me to the bank to have the change converted to bills. I can still remember the day they counted the cash back to me and the total was $67 and change. SCORE.

Recently, in the midst of my Living Simply initiative, I started a change jar again. I am forever finding coins around our house, and we have half a dozen little places around here where they seem to collect. I finally combined it all and in doing so, started reminiscing about my bank haul back in the day.

So my idea is this – continue to collect change while we search for a house. On the day we close, we can take the jar to the bank, and depending on the total, either buy a little something cool for the house or at least order a pizza to eat on the floor as our first meal in our new home.

You know the marketing dork in me couldn’t resist playing on the name…it’s our “change” of address money. 🙂

the hunt continues: the good, the bad…and the downright disgusting

First of all, a huge thank you for all of the kind comments, facebook posts, and more. We are so grateful for any tips and tricks you care to share, and can use all the well wishes we can get!

To give a quick re-cap, here’s how our past week has taken shape:

Thursday: met with Nick, our realtor, to get the whole process started
Friday lunch hour: met with a lender for pre-approval
Weekend: drove around a bit on our own and made a list of properties
Monday night: five hours of touring mostly new construction
Tuesday night: five hours of touring occupied/existing homes

In short, I feel like I’ve had a full-blown intensive immersion session in house buying. I can’t believe how much information we’ve taken in…and how much we’ve seen.

The Good:

I am blown away by how MUCH is for sale – there are certainly lots of options. There are sellers (and builders) out there who came to play ball and the homes are immaculately clean, beautifully staged, and priced to sell. We have seen some awesome floor plans, friendly neighborhoods, and some extra perks along the way – a “hidden” fifth bedroom, a garage large enough to fit cars and not have to turn sideways to walk between them (I know, right?!), a cedar-lined spare closet, and some wide open kitchens with (gasp!) MORE than five cupboards. I’d forgotten that such a possibility exists…

In addition to the many homes we toured, we requested a crash course in building options and will meet with a builder next week to tour this house and get a bit more in-depth info. At this point, we literally like EVERYTHING from the century-old homes to the brand new (and everything in between) so we aren’t swinging in any one direction yet. But, we’d like to have as much info about every option as is possible.

The Bad:

It’s not to say we haven’t seen some “bad” stuff too…I wish there was a way to do a post with photos of some of the downright ridiculous things we’ve seen in the occupied homes we’ve been to. Allow me to at least try and paint you a picture…

In one, there was a carousel-themed bathroom (not a kid’s bathroom, this was the main downstairs bath)..complete with merry-go-round border paper, antique horses hanging from the ceiling…and a unicycling clown holding the toilet paper roll in place. I kid you not, people. I’ve also seen a house that I’m pretty sure is where wood paneling went to die. I’m all for projects, but this stuff was floor to ceiling in just about every room on the first floor. Yowza. And finally, let’s not forget the larger-than-life size poster of a woman, in only her bra, in what was hanging in what was clearly a child’s bathroom (there were toys in the tub and kid towels on hooks nearby). Is that even appropriate? I’m thinking no.

The Ugly:

Tales of this initial home searching would not be complete without a rundown of my first adventure in foreclosures.

The first night out, we had requested that we see some new construction homes, to give us some context before we looked at homes built in various decades. Almost everything we’ve looked at has been a property we’ve found and requested to see. So after asking to look at brand new beautiful homes the first night, I think Nick was surprised when we asked to see, and then got excited about, a foreclosure home that, to put it nicely, is in pretty bad shape.

The home last sold for nearly 100k more than what it is listed at currently by the bank. Even at the drastically reduced price, it is still at the top of our comfort zone – in short, it’s a LOT of house, (way more than we could ever buy in any other case) in a gorgeous neighborhood of beautifully maintained homes. You can almost feel the neighbors watching you pull up to the house, thinking a combination of thoughts…”Please buy that eyesore and take care of it…seriously, you guys are brave to look – good luck!”

While the bank has come in and put down some new carpet and re-tiled the master bath, those renovations are just the tip of what needs to be done in this home. To give you an idea, the water hasn’t been on since October, and there are cobwebs EVERYWHERE. Bugs…dust…and standing water in the basement, which, unchecked, has brought on a mildew smell. All three of us were literally rubbing down our arms and legs because we kept getting webs stuck to us. Are you getting the picture?

Now, in spite of all that, (and I realize, this sounds crazy), the house was pretty amazing. The floor plan was huge and open, the master bedroom had three (three!) closets, and there was more kitchen storage than I ever dared to hope for. Add in a primo location and I was starring this one on my list. I think Page was a little less enthused (this would be a whole new level of DIY), and Nick was definitely trying to advise us to keep looking for now ha. The truth is, we couldn’t afford this house and the additional estimated 30k it would take to get it liveable/safe…but you never know. As a foreclosure, the price is re-evaluated every 30 days. It may not budge, it may drop ten grand each time. Let’s just say if we’re still looking in a few months and it’s come way down, I would be pushing for this one, in all its disgusting mess. 🙂

I think I’ve dragged on long enough about the house hunt…but I’ll be back with updates as they happen!

and the hunt begins.

After many, many hours on Zillow perusing homes, attending a couple of open houses, having an initial chat with our bank, and socking away cash every month, we’re approaching the hunting season for the next Smith Residence.

We kicked it off with a coffee date with our realtor on Thursday. We had a list of questions, all of which we got the answers to by the time we got out to the car. It’s so good to have answers, isn’t it? Ahh.

The next step was finding out what the “powers that be” deem we can afford. We had an idea from the zillions of mortgage calculators available online (have you seen the one on Google Advisor? It’s awesome!) but of course we needed an official pre-qual.

All is well and, aside from a mountain of paperwork, we have the green light to begin searching for Casa de Smith.

Up until the green light, never ones to wait patiently (I know, shocking…) we already had a little list of properties we are anxious to visit. As I wrote this post, I found myself circling back to the Young House Love blog and Sherry’s series of posts as they hunted for a new house. I loved her idea, explained in this entry, about how they would “show” the homes, while respecting the current owners’ privacy. In other words, I’m about to straight up steal their idea. 🙂

And so we begin a journey that’s a little scary but a LOT exciting…one I am lovingly referring to as “The Smiths Take On Home Ownership”. My hunch is that we will end up out west (we would love to stay in Dallas county – close to both of our offices and our “bubble” of frequent haunts), but we haven’t ruled out areas in Clive, the Beaverdale neighborhood, and possibly Waukee.

Although we will certainly look at more, there are three in particular that have caught our eye so far. This may feel a little like an episode of “House Hunters”, but here we go….

Number one – charming brick with loads of character…

Number two – great corner lot in our IDEAL location…

Number three – move-in ready, NO maintenance required (new roof, AC, furnace, fence, carpet, you name it…)

Although we’re excited, we’re also not going to make this whole thing happen overnight. We’re first-timers in this arena, so we’ll probably exhaust our realtor (sorry, Nick!) but we’ve both said it would be fun to be in a new place in time for the holidays. They say the minute you make plans the Big Guy starts laughing at them – so you never know. Here’s to simply taking the next steps and seeing where they lead us…

daughter boasting!

Check it out! My mom’s awesome office (seriously…is there a more perfect shade of lipstick pink?!) was featured on the popular home decor site, Houzz!

A couple shots of her pink porch office are featured near the end of this article. Way to go, Mom! You’re amazing, as always. <3 See even more of her fun decorating endeavors on her blog, BeColorful.

in this house…

Perhaps you’ve seen versions of the “In this house…” print floating around the internet lately. I’ve seen it in painted on wood…

…and I’ve seen it in wall decals…

I really want to make one for our home that is uniquely ours – both in design and in what it says. While these things in the examples above all ring true for us, there are some of our own things that we “do” that rank high up on the list.

In the near future I’d like to make a canvas or framed print of our list – but in the meantime, I’ve compiled a list for “us” that I can add to and edit until I’m ready to create the final product.

What do you “do” in your household?

i’ll show you mine…

…if you show me yours!

No, no, mind out of the gutter, people. I’m talking about your Amazon cart!

Amazon is one of my frequent shopping haunts (what DON’T they have?) and long ago I made the mistake of saving my payment info to my account. Literally, one tap of my iPhone sends some new goodie my way. And those three magic words, “Super. Saver. Shipping.” …I just can’t justify getting in the car and driving all over creation to find the stuff myself.

I’ve been pretty good about the shopping lately – and it’s been over a month, (A MONTH, people!) since I’ve hit up Amazon. I know this because I recently pulled up my past purchases from 2011 and had to laugh at the random variety of things I manage to purchase here. Case in point: my most recent Amazon spree:

Item #1: Colored twine. After spying the below image on Pinterest, I needed neon pink twine. Like, yesterday. So I priced it at Home Depot (about 4 bucks for a spool of a single color)…or this whole package of 5 colors for 8 bucks and change? The decision was easy.


Item #2: Grey striped straws. I’ve used yellow and red of the same style before and love the pop of color. I love the chic grey color of these – more neutral and easy to put with just about any party theme. Plus, they were a steal at 7 bucks for 144 straws. The below photo is from – can’t wait to use these with all those frappucino bottles I’ve been saving!


Item #3: Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler. Geek alert – I can’t get my hands on enough reading on this subject. This book was recommended several times at a recent conference, but I had overloaded my brain with enough recommended reading to last the summer. Now I’m ready for a new dose, and this will be it!

Are you an Amazon shopper? What fun finds have you purchased there?