Posts Tagged 'moving'

Big Changes Sometimes Happen Overnight…

SunflowerWell, you can plan your life as carefully as you like, but you can’t plan for the unexpected! We’ve experienced that in spades this year with a sudden change in the health of a close family member. Within a matter of three weeks, we packed up, cleaned up, and bid a fond farewell to our wonderful trailer in the woods and headed out to resettle elsewhere. We’re now helping to care for a relative and have put plans on hold for building our dream place in the country.

But, you know what? That’s perfectly okay! We’ve just rolled with it and rolled up our sleeves to tackle what needs doing in our “new” place (which is a 55-year-old house that can use a loving, creative touch!). I haven’t had a moment to update the blog or even think about posting any new projects, but I want to assure you that “Queen of My Trailer” will still go on. We may not be in a trailer any more, but we’ll still be tackling a lot of DIY jobs in the coming months. We don’t know how long we’ll be needed here, but we’re going to do our best to make a wonderful nest where we are, blooming where we’re planted in this season of life.

Thank you so much for all the kind comments and emails. I promise I’ll get back to posting again soon and will have some great book reviews, website recommendations, and more ASAP! I’ve also started taking my DIY pictures and creating how-to articles over on eHow.com, so be sure to stop by and post a comment and say hello!

Warmly,

Amanda

Putting out housefires and holding down the fort!

Putting out housefires and holding down the fort!

Nearly unpacked…and some musings…

We did find the keys. I had a “Eureka” moment when I remembered laying them down on the counter at the neighbors’ before church on Sunday. My husband had started the van with his set of keys that afternoon, so I never felt the need of my set until it came time to unlock the POD! Thankfully, I found them Tuesday morning, so we had all day (and ample help) to get the POD unloaded.

Let me tell you, it is a real adventure to forcibly downsize yourself–going from 2200 square feet to 1700 is truly revealing. I’ve prided myself for years for not being a pack rat, yet I have to ‘fess up to some pretty wacky things that have come out in this move. In our last three houses, we’ve either had a huge attic or a storage building out back, so I think I just lived in denial, believing we really didn’t have that much stuff. ::Cough:: We have enough stuff to choke a small army.

With the contents of the POD emptied all over the front deck and the lawn and stacked inside the house, I felt a slightly grim foreboding coming over me. There was no way all that stuff would fit into our trailer. No way. I got back to feverishly unpacking things that could go where they belonged–like pots, pans, dishes, clothes–daily stuff we use all the time. A sudden thunderstorm forced us to run out and schlep a whole bunch of stuff back into the POD to avoid a drenching, so I just focused on unpacking and settling what was in the house. Felt pretty good, as long as I could forget what lurked in the POD.

But I had to face it eventually, and I started thinking about storage buildings. I decided to look online to see if it was cheaper to just go ahead and buy one rather than renting storage space. If you go on a monthly payment plan, you can get a nice 12x8x8′ building for about $39 a month over a year’s time. Sounds pretty reasonable compared to $69-119 per month for similarly sized storage at a rental place. So I decided to be a smart shopper and actually go check out these handy dandy sheds. Both Lowe’s and Home Depot have over a dozen sitting in the parking lot, so my oldest son and I walked through a few. The pricier ones with real windows and lofts we ignored. We finally ended up at the bottom rung of storage building Hades in an 8x8x6′ metal shed with no windows. Hey! Only $199! We could just buy that outright! So we headed inside to ask about ordering.

No one seemed to know who was in charge of buildings, so I got passed around to three different people before an indifferent cashier finally handed me a phone and asked me to talk to whoever she had called about buildings. The rather testy lady on the other end informed me that the particular model I had looked at did not come with a roof or a floor; I’d have to buy those separately. WHAT? You mean what I see isn’t what I get? Nope. “Oh, and you have to put it together yourself,” Testy Saleslady said. “It doesn’t come built. None of them do.” All righty. So, now we’re looking at having to purchase flooring and roofing materials and build this thing from a kit. Now I understand the Glory of Storage Rental Units. But I’m not willing to pay over $1000 a year to store things. We made this move to get seriously frugal and save money–not blow it out the window by giving the Christmas tree an air conditioned apartment!

So I head back home, my brain on overdrive, thinking, thinking, thinking. There’s no way around it. All that stuff in the POD isn’t going to fit into that trailer. I park the car, walk through the front door, and announce to my husband, “We’re selling it, giving it away, or throwing it away.” He raises his eyebrows, surprised that I’ve come to this conclusion so quickly and decisively. He’d had that idea all along, of course. So we roll up our sleeves and attack the contents of the POD. Here’s where Embarrassing Confessions of a Closet Pack Rat come in to play. Wanna know what I found?

  • Two boxes of letters and notes dating back to high school and college. Drum roll: These boxes had not been opened or looked into since at least 2002. They had come through more moves than I want to admit and were filled with stuff I have no intention of keeping. What on earth did I think I’d need my eleventh-grade biology notes for? This coming from a woman who has laughed at her mother for saving her fourth-grade spelling tests in the attic for 20 years!
  • One box of items complete with price tags from a yard sale we had in 2003. This box of leftovers was supposed to go to Goodwill after the sale and somehow ended up in our moving pile. Go figure….
  • Two boxes labeled “scrapbooks” that contained photos I haven’t organized since I was a newlywed. The boxes had been taped shut in 2001 and never opened since. I managed to consolidate all of the scrapbook stuff into one nice plastic bin for the “someday” when I have enough time to put pictures in cutesy arrangements on pretty acid-free pages complete with captions (that is, if I can remember the captions by then).
  • Two bags of clothing that should have gone to Goodwill two moves ago–including a cap and gown from college graduation.
  • Three boxes of paid bills and bank statements dating back to 1995.

The list goes on, but we haven’t finished yet. We do see the light at the end of the tunnel, though! The POD gets picked up empty Tuesday, after all, so we have good motivation to keep at it. My husband has been happily shredding the old bills and statements, since you don’t have to keep those for thirteen years, and I’ve been ruthlessly putting things in the Giveaway or Sell Pile. Today I managed to clear out a large corner of the utility closet here to fit four boxes of books that we cannot fit on our shelves but don’t want to part with. I also managed to go through three boxes of fabric, dumping all the scraps too small to use and organizing all the ones I want to keep or give away. Oh, and does anyone need five rolls of black and white toile wallpaper?

Though it hasn’t been easy to go through everything (especially in 95-degree heat and dripping humidity), I am very thankful that moving into a smaller place has forced us to actually look at what we’ve been schlepping around all these years. There have been surprises and there have been moments of hilarity, and, at the end of it all, there is deep satisfaction in knowing that what is in our closets now is stuff we really do use. No storage buildings for us. No paying rent so our boxes can sit for another year. Paring down can be painful or it can be an adventure…or it can be a painful adventure. But it is well worth it. We’re excited to see that our family actually can fit into our cozy, double-wide cottage and live on less.

Almost moved in…

I haven’t posted in a while, since we’ve been packing up and moving, but I promise I’ll get to the kitchen counter tile soon! It turned out wonderfully.

I’ll have to post in future about our experience of moving with a “PODS” (portable on-demand storage) container. Word to the wise: make sure you keep the spare set of keys to your padlocks in a safe place. I made the mistake of putting the keys AND the spares on the same key ring–which we now cannot find (went missing yesterday). Since we can keep the POD until August 3, we’re not at the panic stage yet, but I’m not exactly the type to sit around and wait for something to happen, so tomorrow will be “Treasure Hunt Day” for the whole family until those keys turn up!!!

Off to rest before we dig for gold…

Here we go!

So, what would possess a middle-class family to trade comfy suburbia for a double-wide trailer in the sticks? Two words: “Reality Check.” My husband and I finally accepted the fact that our dream of one day building a home on our own land just couldn’t come true if we were holding on to the “American Dream”–i.e. a big mortgage that left little room to save seriously.

When the opportunity came to rent a 4-bedroom house on ten acres for about a third of what we pay each month for our 4-bedroom house near the big city, we jumped. We’d become landlords, turning our suburban home into an asset instead of a liability, and we’d trim down and live in slightly smaller quarters while we saved and worked toward building our own place.

Now, as a little background here, I’ve always looked upon trailer living with a jaundiced eye. Not that I’m a snob, but I just couldn’t picture a mobile home as anything other than tornado bait on wheels–and definitely cramped. So I was very pleasantly surprised when we took our first walk-through of our future abode. Four bedrooms (yes, they’re on the small side, but thank goodness for bunk beds!) give us room for everyone plus a home office. A huge family room/dining room provides plenty of space for comfort and even having people over. A good-sized kitchen leaves room for a work table in the center, and a sunroom off to the side provides extra space for projects. A big bonus is a nice laundry room with space for our second fridge, plus a giant walk-in closet that we plan to use as our “universal closet,” where all the children’s clothes can be organized by size–yippee!

I did know right off the bat that I wanted to paint the rooms and redo several things to make the house more user-friendly–particularly for twenty feet tracking in and out every day. Thankfully, our landlords are also good friends and are open to letting us decorate any way we like. So I’ll be sharing home dec adventures and do-it-yourself projects on this blog–showing you how you can do beautiful things on the cheap, whether you live in a trailer, an apartment, or a conventional home.

So let me give you a first peek into Trailer World. Here is the living room as it appeared before I started painting:The Living Room

Here you see the typical vinyl “wallpaper” with laminate beadboard around the lower third. I saw potential, because I love beadboard, and I knew it had to be possible to paint over the vinyl wallcovering. Sure enough, I found a fantastic resource with a few clicks through Google: HammerZone. Here I learned that I definitely needed primer, but also that I needed to clean the walls prior to any painting. While Hammerzone recommends Zinsser’s B-I-N primer, a short talk with the paint desk man at Lowe’s convinced me that I could go with a less expensive option that would work just as well and would clean up with soap and water. So I purchased a five-gallon bucket of Zinsser’s 1-2-3 primer (and found an added bonus–no awful fumes to leave the house reeking of paint!).

Let me give you a glimpse into the kitchen as well:

The Kitchen

The cabinets are all laminate over particleboard, so I wondered if I’d be able to redo them with paint. First I went back to HammerZone to see what they had to say about refacing laminate cabinets. Looked fairly simple, but I worried about regular paint not being able to stand up to our kind of wear and tear! Once again, Google’s search came through for me, and I found this fantastic resource: Cabinet Rescue! Wait until we get to our do-it-yourself, cheaper-than-dirt kitchen makeover post! You aren’t going to believe how beautifully this stuff works. I’m really excited to share it with you. And you’re going to love how we’re re-doing the white linoleum floor (White floors with eight kids? No way!)….

I’ve been working off and on in the trailer for about three months now, so I have lots to post, including pictures and fantastic links that are going to help you with your own home projects without spending thousands of dollars. If you’re anything like me, you love those before and after pictures in magazines like Country Living and Southern Living, but you’re not prepared to sink tons of money into what should be simple cosmetic fixes. Well, we’re going to walk through real-life, do-able remodels and home dec projects on this blog, and I look forward to seeing your comments. I hope you’ll share your own fantastic links and fun projects as we move along!


About the Queen…

Amanda Livenwell is the pen name of a stay-at-home mom who shares the adventure of living large on one income in, yes, a double-wide trailer! Join our family as we say goodbye to suburbia, trim down, and start saving to build our own home. We're going to talk about doing it yourself, living beautifully on less, making do or doing without, and counting it all joy in the process. We'll cover prep-work and painting, refacing kitchen cabinets, flooring on the cheap, tiling over laminate, upholstering furniture, and just rolling up our sleeves in general. If you love home improvement, this is the place for you. Let's get cracking!

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What Inspires Me Most!

"She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness." ~ Proverbs 31:13, 17-19, 27

"Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings;he will not stand before unknown men." ~ Proverbs 22:29

"The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich." ~ Proverbs 13:4

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