Living Laughing And Creating

Loving Life On A Budget

Our New Home

 

 

 

We have been enjoying our new home for almost a month, and we could not be happier! We thought we were going to get away with not having to deal with snow this winter….man, were we wrong! The Lord was really watching out for us, because we were able to move in the house a couple days before the snow and ice hit. So, this was the first finished outside picture that was taken. It ended up snowing two more times over the next couple weeks, so we were very grateful to be out of that camper!Finished Outside in SnowThis is my beautiful new kitchen that I absolutely love! I basically used the design of my old kitchen and fixed everything I didn’t like. Lazy susans in the corner cabinets make a huge difference in my ability to organize. Not having cabinets over the bar counter also gives me so much more light! I thought I would have less cabinet space, but I actually have more.

Finished Kitchen This is one view of the living room. The little nook to the left is our office area. We decided we didn’t want doors there right now, but had them frame it so we could add some if we decided to later.Finished Living Room 2 This is the view of the living room from the other end. We enjoyed those gas logs while it was snowing!Finished Living Room This is our master bathroom. We are loving have separate sinks! We put in a huge shower (across from the sinks), and a bathtub behind that little half wall. The toilet gets it’s own little room, which is across from the bathtub.Finished Master Bath This is the master bedroom. It looks really small in this picture, but it’s actually quite large. We now have our king bed and a dresser in there with plenty of room to spare. I’m actually thinking about getting a couple sitting chairs for a reading area in our room. To the left is our large walk-in closet…by large, I mean huge. It’s about 5 foot wide and 15 feet long. We only put the clothing racks on one wall, and my desk actually sits in the closet as well. Finished MasterAcross the house, we have two more bedrooms that share a bathroom, a linen closet and a broom closet. One thing our old house was majorly lacking was closet space, so we made sure to fix that problem with this house. We also have a bonus room over the garage where we put all the holiday decorations and all my crafting supplies. We are slowly finding a home for everything. Once I get my craft room set up, I can begin the fun part of creating some new things to put up around the house.

finished house

All that’s left is getting the grass seed planted. We just have to wait for it to stop raining long enough! 🙂

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Books I Read In 2014

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a month, but I’ve had the hardest time getting back in the swing of things since Christmas. We have been busy around here, and anxiously awaiting our house to be finished. I stopped posting updates, because they have been working on a lot of odds and ends, such as lighting, pouring porches, and putting up the garage door. When the house is finished, I will post lots of pictures! Until then, let’s look at what I read over the past year. I didn’t read as much in 2014 as I did in 2013, but I was slightly more busy and distracted. I am a big fan of Dorothea Benton Frank and Pat Conroy, because I love anything set on the South Carolina Coast. I read more of their work than usual last year since I was longing for a beach trip. I didn’t comment on ever book, but nothing I read last year was really a disappointment.

1. Get Happy: The Life Of Judy Garland (Gerald Clarke) – I was not a fan of Judy Garland after reading this book.
2. The Duggars: 20 and Counting! (Michelle & Jim Bob Duggar) – I’m fascinated by this family! Not so much by the fact there are so many kids, but how all their kids have such good manners and how well their house runs on a daily basis. After reading their book, I have even more respect for how hard they worked to get where they are.
3. Remember Me? (Sophie Kinsella)
4. The Last Original Wife (Dorothea Benton Frank)
5. Walt Disney: An American Original (Bob Thomas)- I love Walt Disney….this was just a good book about a man with a huge imagination.
6. Bulls Island (Dorothea Benton Frank)
7. Knowing God By Name (Jaynes, Smith, & Southerland)
8. The Friday Night Knitting Club (Kate Jacobs) – This was a good book about friendship and community.
9. Amazing Encounters With God (Clayton King) – I always enjoy hearing Clayton preach, and his book was a good read.
10. Cane River (Lalita Tademy) – This was a very interesting and heartbreaking book about four generations of women who experienced slavery.
11. Plain Truth (Jodi Picoult) – A page-turner about what happens when an infant is found dead in an Amish barn. I couldn’t put this one down.
12. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery) – Everybody loves Anne 🙂
13. The Antelope in the Living Room (Melanie Shankle) – I laughed my way through this book twice! Melanie’s book about marriage hit close to home for me, and my husband even enjoyed it!
14. South of Broad (Pat Conroy)
15. Home: A Memoir of My Early Years (Julie Andrews)
16. Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain) – I just love to throw in some classics.
17. Someday, Someday, Maybe (Lauren Graham) – I’m a fan of Lauren Graham, so I was curious when I saw she wrote a book. I was impressed, and I hope she continues to write.
18. The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way (Amanda Ripley) – fascinating book
19. Isle of Palms (Dorothea Benton Frank)
20. Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy) – This one took me almost three months, but I did enjoy reading this classic.

There you have it…my list from 2014. I’ve already finished 3 book in 2015, so I’m hoping to enjoy many great books this year! 🙂

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4 Months of House Building & RV Living

It’s amazing to me how far the house has come in four months. Even with a few weeks of bad weather, things have moved along nicely. They only have a little more to brick and then they will pour our concrete porches. That would have been done this week, but the weather has been too cold for them to finish.

House bricked

 

On Tuesday, the power company came out and moved the meter over to the house. Our temporary power pole is gone, and we now have a long cord from the camper to the side of the house. Yes, there will always be a RV hook-up on the side of our house….a subtle reminder of our RV living adventure. Finally having power allowed them to cut some heat on in the house, so the floors can acclimate and start being finished next week.

Power to House

 

On Wednesday night, it dropped to a very chilly 8 degrees. The heat kept up pretty well. Unfortunately, some of our water pipes froze. We could only get cold water out of the bathtub and bathroom sink, and water would not come out of the kitchen sink. Since we could at least get cold water, we put some in a large pot to warm on the stove for bathing. The optimistic side of me was very happy to have good hot water to wash my hair, because what I warmed on the stove was warmer than what usually comes out the shower. After putting a large kerosene heater under the camper for several hours, water began to flow again. Since it was going to be very cold again last night, we shut off the water pump and blew out the lines before going to bed. Thank goodness we had running water this morning when we cut the pump back on.

After four months of RV living, this camper is getting smaller by the day. I’m not going to lie, the trunk of my car is full of stuff I just needed to get out of here but don’t want to put in storage. At any time, I can pull travel bags, clothes, and even bedding out my car. Today I added some Christmas decorations from the tree I decorated for school. The thing I’m ready for the most is the ability to have a place for everything, so I don’t have to deal with the clutter anymore. If I had to do this again, I would organize the camper a little differently, and put more things in storage. With the end in sight, I see no reason to go to all that trouble now, however I think it would have made our time in the camper more pleasant.

We continue to learn new lessons through this experience, and we still do not regret the decisions we’ve made. Hopefully within the next month we will be moving into our new home. If not, our cozy little camper will continue to serve our needs. 🙂

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2014 Review…Happy New Year!

GO Mantel

In January, I randomly threw these items on our mantel after putting away the Christmas decorations. My husband pointed out that our mantel said “Go”, and we had no idea how true this was going to be throughout the year. We had not yet purchased the land we are living on today, but we were discussing selling our house this year. Our house had more issues than I care to list, and we knew we would never get the money back out of the house. Mid-January, we put an offer on our land. After a lot of negotiations and standing firm on our offer, we finally purchased the 25 acres in late February.

driveway

When we knew purchasing the land was going to happen, we started working like crazy to get the house ready to sell. We rebuilt the privacy fence, which led to a nail through my foot. After that, I supervised my sweet husband as he did his best to make our yard look desirable. We cleaned, de-cluttered, packed, and painted throughout March.

New FenceOn April 1st, the for sale sign went in the yard. I spent my days cleaning and waiting on the phone to ring. I would make sure the house was ready for a showing at a moment’s notice, then go to the craft room to work on Christmas presents. I know that sounds crazy, but I didn’t know when we would be moving or if I would have the ability to keep my crafting supplies with me. I finished work for the summer at the beginning of May and did my best to stay calm and hopeful. There had been no showings, and we were concerned. Unfortunately, about the time we listed our house, the market slowed to a crawl and nothing was selling. As the summer went on, we continued to live constantly cleaning. By July, we had enough and decided to go to Atlanta for the day. While having lunch, we got a phone call and ended up racing home. We had two showings that night and both families made offers. We accepted one of them, and the fun began! After much discussion, we packed up the house and moved everything to storage. The house closed on September 12th, and we moved into the RV.

RV Home

In order for us to do this, August was filled with packing, cleaning, moving, laying water  and power lines, and putting in the driveway. On September 11th, we pulled the RV (packed heavier than it should be) out the driveway as we left our house for the last time. Yes, I was sad, but I was also very excited.

house site

By the end of September, the house build had begun, and we had settled into RV living. We got a good bit of rain right after we moved here and that was a very difficult time for us. We couldn’t get the dogs outside to play, and we had to fight muddy paws when we could get them out. After that, we had a nice stretch of beautiful dry weather. We enjoyed time outside and the building moved along quickly. In early November, we drove down to my Dad’s house for the weekend. It was nice to stay in a house! While there, we drove down to Charleston to visit the in-laws since they were in town. That’s really the only trip we took this year. I’m looking forward to a vacation next year!

Dried In Front

The house was dried in by mid November, and the very next day rain returned! We have had rain off and on since then, but they still come and work on the inside when it’s raining. Over Thanksgiving and into the first week of December, the dry wall was installed and finished. We enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at Cracker Barrel and participated in the craziness that is Black Friday shopping. We even purchased our appliances during the Black Friday sales.

Christmas TreeThe Christmas tree in the camper is my little Charlie Brown tree…sad…I know. However, I did have the kids at school make paper ornaments for a tree I decorated in a local contest. We entered to win a $1,000 grant for our after school program, so I hope people are voting for our tree. Since I didn’t have a tree to decorate of my own, I had fun decorating this one.

For Christmas, we packed up and went to my Dad’s house for almost two weeks. It was so nice to use a real shower, sleep in a real bed, and have access to a washer and dryer. It rained almost the whole time we were there, but we still had a good time with Dad. We were excited to return home and see the progress that had been made while we were away. Unfortunately, not much had been done due to all the rain.

Back of House Dec 2014

I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by! We have been so blessed this year, and I am very thankful we decided to take this opportunity. This year hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth every bit of blood, sweat, and tears we have shed throughout this experience. The house isn’t done yet, and RV living is still our life, but we hope to spend most of 2015 enjoying our new home and welcoming others to enjoy it with us. I’m excited about 2015, and I hope you are too! Happy New Year! 🙂

Happy New Year!

 

 

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3 Months of RV Living and House Building

I can’t believe we have been living out here for three months! Time has really flown by, and for that I am grateful. To think there was nothing in this field three months ago is crazy. I’m so excited by all the progress that has been made, and I’m hoping in another couple months we will be moving into our new home. I’m going to be honest….I haven’t actually gone into the house in about two weeks. That’s so sad…I know! First, I don’t like going in while people are working, because I don’t want to be in the way. However, by the time I get home from work, it’s dark outside and the house is not hooked up to power yet. The second reason is because it’s difficult to get in and out of the house on that little ramp at the door. The people working don’t have a problem with it, but I do. It wasn’t bad when it was nailed to the floor, but it is not nailed down anymore. I’m scared of heights and falling, so I don’t go in unless my husband is there to hold my hand. Considering he almost flipped off of that ramp the other day means my concerns are valid, and that makes me feel better.

Since the last time I posted, things were moving a little slow due to Thanksgiving and cold/rainy weather. The week of Thanksgiving, they came to hang the sheet rock. Since then, they have been slowly finishing it. The guys doing that have been very careful to make sure everything was drying well before sanding the walls. Since the weather has been so cold, they have been here about every other day.

Living Room Dry Wall

A couple days ago, they finished the dry wall in the main areas of the house. The next day, painters showed up to start priming and painting. That same day, the tile guy arrived. In only a couple days, he has the tile laid in all the bathrooms and the laundry room.

Tile Cutting

In order for us to have the power company come hook the house up to power, the brick has to be done at least to the area where the meter box goes. The masons are still finishing up another project, but they came out the other day and got the brick laid to the point we can have power hooked up. Hopefully our electrician will be here today to get everything ready for the power company.

Brick Day 1As for life in the RV, I have a couple complaints. I miss cooking, and I miss having my washer and dryer. Other than that, we are doing well. This morning it was 26 degrees here, and our water line had frozen. Thankfully, our tanks did not, so we still had water to shower. After 3 months, we still do not regret our decision to live in the RV, but we are ready for the house to be finished. I definitely could not live in the RV with no end in sight, but it’s not so bad when we can watch the progress of our new home each day. 🙂

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We’ve Been A Little Cold

We have adjusted fairly well to RV living, but we were also fully aware that once winter hit we would have to make some adjustments. It looks like fall decided to leave early this year and winter has already started. When we saw the temperatures were going to get into the 20’s, we made all the necessary preparations. We turned on the tank heaters, filled the tanks and disconnected the outside water source, then hoped for the best. Fortunately, all of these preparations worked well, and nothing in the camper has frozen…yet. What took us by surprise was waking up cold at 5am Tuesday morning. My face was freezing, and I knew something was wrong. I woke up my husband, and he realized right away that it was too cold in the camper. After working on the furnace for over two hours, he had to go to work, and I was still without heat. During his lunch break, he came home and pulled the furnace out. The guy at the local camper place was super nice and had it ready for pick-up by 5pm. It turns out a safety switch had gone bad and the furnace would not turn on unless that switch was working. After 14 hours with no heat in very cold weather, we finally were up and running again. The good news is I wasn’t too cold, because I got use to bundling up last winter when we were only running the wood stove. It wasn’t the most pleasant day, but it all worked out. We knew we would have bumps in the road living in the RV, and that was a chance we were willing to take. Now if I could get several more days of warm weather, I would really be a happy camper! 🙂

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It’s Been 2 Months, And We’re Moving Right Along!

We have been so busy the past couple weeks that I have neglected to post an update! Our builder was gone on a mission trip for a week, but he made sure things kept moving while he was gone. That week, he had one of his guys out here working on odds and ends, another guy working on our plumbing and electrical, and the roofers were also here for three days. On Friday, our windows were delivered and a couple of the builder’s crew showed up to install them all that day. This is what the house looked like at that point.

Dried In Front

Dried In Back

Our tubs and showers were also installed. It was interesting to watch them push those through the windows! I’m super excited about actually having a bath tub in this house. That was one thing I really missed having in the old house, and I made sure that was not left out when looking at plans for this one.

Bath tub

Last week, our electrician was the main person working, and he was very busy. The air unit was also installed. We had to make some decisions regarding our kitchen as well. On Tuesday, the custom cabinet guy came out here after I pretty much tore up his original design. I could tell this man obviously does not cook. Anyway, he was very pushy and only wanted to build what he wanted to build. After that encounter, we requested to talk to the people at a local building supply. We liked the design and cabinets they had to offer, so we went with them. I’m so glad my husband is good with color matching, because he chose our counter tops in less than 5 minutes. I would have stressed over the choices for days! So on Friday, we ordered our cabinets and counter tops. I am also in the process of shopping the Black Friday sales for appliances, because I can get a much better price now than if I wait a couple months. The good news is the store will hold them for a while, so we don’t have to find a place to store them.

Craft Room in progressI have a feeling this is going to be my favorite room in the house. This is going to be where all my craft and sewing supplies will be organized and used often! This is technically an “unfinished” bonus room, but all we’re going to have to add will be flooring.

That’s where we are right now! I can’t believe we have only been in the camper two months and have already seen this much progress on our home. We are excited to walk through the house every day and see it progress. Our only complaint is that it gets dark so much earlier! 🙂

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Wrapped & (Almost) Roofed

So those allergies I was struggling with turned out to be a good old fashioned cold. I figured this out when my husband got sick last Sunday night. Needless to say, last week was not a normal week. I did my best to keep enough energy to go to work, and he ended up home a couple days. Watching them build the house while home sick was better than TV! They had ended the previous week by having all the walls framed. They started the week by sheathing and Tyvek wrapping the house.

House with Tyvek wrap

Then they worked on odds and ends while waiting for a crane to come available. Evidently cranes were in high demand last week. Anyway, watching the trusses be craned up was very cool.

Craning the Roof

Roof In Progress

By lunch time on Thursday, our house looked like this!

Roof UpOn Friday, there was a guy working inside and a couple guys working on the roof. Hopefully they will have the house dried in before rain comes on Wednesday.

Back of House Roof

I’m excited to see what happens this week! 🙂

 

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Reversible Cape

Before we moved out of the house this summer, I did a lot of sewing and crafting. I knew making gifts in the camper would limit what I could make, so I chose some gifts and made use of all that time I had to keep my house clean for showings. I would get the house clean and confine myself and the dogs to the craft room in the basement, because I figured people would understand if that room was a little messy. Anyway, one of the projects I finished were reversible capes for some friends’ two little boys. One of their birthdays was earlier this month, so I headed to the storage shed to find the cape I had made for him. Everyone loved it, and I had other parents asking me how to make them. This is simple to make and it looks super cute!

I found the tutorial for this here: http://hideousdreadfulstinky.com/2012/12/reversible-cape-tutorial-for-capes-for-kids.html.  This little sewing project is definitely a keeper! 🙂

Green & Yellow Cape 2Green & Yellow Cape

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The Walls Go Up!

Saying this past week was crazy would be a slight understatement. Monday the crew showed up and worked all day preparing to put the floor down. I watched as their lift sunk into the already wet ground and left huge tracks. As I watched this, I prayed they wouldn’t lose control and slide into the house foundation. Fortunately, they were able to get everything done even in the very muddy conditions.

Tuesday brought some bad weather including tornado warnings. When you are living in a camper, tornado warnings are very scary. I just have to say I have the best friends in the world. Heather opened her home to me and the dogs, and Allison texted me to make sure we were okay while taking cover at her daughter’s preschool. I hate being a burden on others, but I’ve come to realize there are just some times in our lives when we have to accept the generosity of others and not feel bad about it. Taking cover at someone else’s home for safety is just one of those times. When I returned to the camper that afternoon, I found everything in one piece and massive amounts of water.

water

When the builder showed up on Wednesday, he dug some trenches to try to get some of the water away from the foundation. Then they set to work putting down the floors.

Wednesday

Thursday morning I had just returned home from running errands when the most exciting thing yet happened. I watched as the first wall went up! I honestly can’t put into words how excited I felt.

First Wall Up

By the time I went to work, there were three walls up. It was all I could do to get in the car, because I wanted to stay and watch all the action.

3 Walls Up

When I got home from work, all the exterior walls were up. Friday was the day I had been waiting on since we started this build. All the interior walls went up, and we got to walk through our future home. My husband and I went through and discussed various things, made a list of  questions for the builder, and we were both very relieved to see the rooms were the sizes we had hoped they would be.

Walls Up

One of the most difficult things about picking a house plan is figuring out if the rooms are the size you want. When we picked this plan, we were still in the old house, so we would take the tape measure and compare to what we already had in that house. Walking through the house yesterday confirmed we picked the right plan for us. We also picked the right builder for us, which is just as difficult a process. We told him things we didn’t like about the plans, and he changed them in a way that made sense for the flow of the house.

I know this sounds weird, but I can’t stop staring at our new home. I’m really grateful we decided to live in the camper here, because it is so much fun to watch the house be built. We would miss so much not being here all the time. It’s also very convenient for our ability to constantly communicate with our builder. We have learned through this process that having a builder that communicates well is very important. We talked to a few that felt like we had to pull teeth to get answers. That would not have work out well, because we have chats about several things on a daily basis.

Now I’m going to rest, because my allergies have decided to make life miserable. I’m hoping if I rest enough this weekend, I will be able to fully enjoy the excitement when they finish drying in the house next week. 🙂

 

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