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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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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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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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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1 Month in the RV

Well, we made it through the first month! Time is moving quickly, and we are getting more comfortable in this small living area. We know as winter approaches we will face a whole new set of challenges, but for now we are enjoying the fall weather.

Last weekend, we didn’t really go anywhere. The weather was great, so we enjoyed some time outside. My husband got his model airplane out of storage and flew it around the property.

airplane flying

 

He enjoyed himself until the wind caught it and the airplane got stuck in a tree. After we finally got it down, we decided the airplane would be returning to storage. Then he built us a fire and we enjoyed the cool fall weather.

fire pit

From these pictures, you can see we are dealing with a lot of red dirt. That’s the biggest battle I face on a daily basis….the battle to keep everything clean. When it’s not raining, we stay outside a lot and that makes keeping ourselves, the dogs, and the camper clean a challenge. We are starting to get some nice patches of grass, but it’s still not helping a lot.

Between waiting on inspectors and dealing with a lot of rain, they are a couple days behind at this point. Tuesday an 18 wheeler loaded down with block showed up. He unloaded the truck using a fun three wheeled forklift and set the pallets of block all around the poured footers.

block set out

The crew showed up at 7am the next morning to start working on the foundation.

starting foundation

I was fighting allergies and, even though I wasn’t feeling well, this crew of 9 guys made me feel like such a slacker. By lunchtime, they had over half the foundation done.

finished section of foundation

By the time I got home from work, they were gone and we had a completed foundation. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture on my phone. We have tons on the camera, but I haven’t learned how to pull pictures off the new camera yet.

The next day, nothing got done simply because we were waiting on the county inspector. He decided to show up about 7pm.

Friday our builder was waiting on lumber to be delivered, so basically the only thing that got done last week was the foundation. We finally got to close on our loan Friday as well.

In other news, with all the traffic in and out the driveway I was searching for a way for my dogs to play safely. I found a nice nearby kennel that offers doggie day care. My husband prefers to call it “day kenneling.” We needed somewhere just in case we needed to board them anyway, so I took them to be evaluated and see how they would respond. After our closing, we went to pick them up. I was relieved to hear they had shown no form of aggression towards any of the dogs they put in the yard with them! I really wasn’t sure how Daisy would do, but I was very proud of her for behaving herself. Evidently they had fun, because they passed out time they got home and slept all night. This will be a great option for days when I’m busy and need them to have exercise and they get to socialize with other dogs. Now I just need to find somewhere to get them a bath that’s reasonably priced.

We had a fun and busy weekend. It rained buckets Saturday morning, but when it cleared up we headed over to the Pumpkin Festival. I enjoyed looking at crafts and getting ideas with Heather while my husband strolled her 3 month old. When he wasn’t taking a million pictures of the baby in the stroller, he was redesigning the stroller in his head to be more off-road friendly. He agreed to join us because he always enjoys the food and entertainment. We try to go to the Pumpkin Festival every year, because it’s an outing we both enjoy. After getting back home, we headed over to Lowe’s to pick out our shingles for the house.

We woke up Sunday morning to more rain….I’m just waiting on the camper to turn into a boat and float away. I told my builder this morning that he is not allowed to give me any more predictions about when he plans to finish the house, because it has done nothing but rain since he did that on Thursday. Anyway, Sunday afternoon in the middle of the downpour we headed over to Greenville to visit some friends and enjoy their 3 year old’s birthday party. I will do a post on the gift I made for him hopefully sometime this week. It was good for us to get out the camper and enjoy time with friends this weekend. Now we are just hoping the rain will pass so construction of our house can continue. 🙂

 

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Construction Begins!

We have been living in the camper for three weeks now and construction finally began on our home this week! Construction was suppose to begin two weeks ago, but the bank sent our loan application to the wrong department. Let me just share how funny that is. We are dealing with a small local bank, so sending it to the wrong department meant it was sitting on the wrong person’s desk no more than twenty feet away. Since the loan committee only meets on Mondays, we had to wait until this past Monday to finally be approved. Our builder was ready to get started time he got the phone call. Tuesday morning he arrived and started measuring out where everything would go. By the time he left, the yard looked like this.

Painted outline

I thought this was spray paint until I got closer. This is a chalky substance, which means we had to make sure to keep the dogs away or the lines would no longer be lines and they would be covered in blue. My husband and I went out to look that night and became concerned. Looking at it now, it looks like we are building too small. However, we were warned we would feel this way at this point. It’s like when you pick out a Christmas tree that looks so small in the field, and when you bring it home it’s actually bigger than you thought. Since this is just painted on the ground, being open in the large area makes it look very small.

Digging Footers

They started digging on Tuesday, but most of it was done on Wednesday. By Wednesday night, the chalk lines were gone, and our yard looked like this.

Ready for Concrete

Thursday morning I headed over to the laundromat and knew they would be hard at work when I got home. I was shocked to find no one in the yard when I returned. I just knew I was going to have to navigate a maze of trucks and trailers, but I was the only one in the driveway. After lunch, our builder showed up, and I took the dogs out for their midday walk. Turns out they were waiting on the county inspector to come approve their work. They did not waste any time when the inspector left, because when I got home from work, the concrete had been poured.

Poured Concrete

This is where we will stay for the weekend. It has been raining off and on all day, so that’s all the work that will get done this week. Our builder was determined to get the concrete poured yesterday simply because he knew it would rain today. We are excited to see what gets done next week! 🙂

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Preparing the Land & Packing the House

To say we have been busy is an understatement. Last Monday, Labor Day, my Dad brought the tractor up to do some work on the property. Basically, from the moment he got here until Thursday evening he and my husband worked up there constantly. They only came home to sleep and bring me their sweaty, orange tinted clothing. Dad on the tractor

The first thing my Dad did was assess how hard the soil was and he told me very quickly that we had bought concrete. The plow was barely scraping the top, so they went and rented a box scraper with things that will dig into the ground. By Tuesday night, they had everything broke up quite nicely. Wednesday, after a long search, they picked up some lime to plow into the soil. We had a soil test done and were told we needed this, so they went ahead applied it while we had the tractor. At this point, they were on a roll and decided to get fertilizer and grass seed. So my husband put the stuff in a spreader behind our four-wheeler and my dad followed behind with the plow to make sure everything got covered up just enough for it to grow. While they were busy at the property, I was packing up the house and working in the afternoons. I finally got to have dinner and spend time with my Dad on Thursday evening before he left at 5:30 Friday morning.

Yes, 5:30. He wanted to make sure he got home without having to deal with a lot of traffic since he was pulling the equipment trailer with the tractor. I was awake at that point, so I cooked us breakfast and we began our day. We decided we needed somewhat of a break, so we spent Friday running errands. We also visited the bank to sign our paper work and went by the property where we discovered our new driveway.

driveway

Our builder had been busy! There was gravel all the way to where our garage will be located. He had also measured out the four corners of the house. In the picture below, you are looking at the drive going into the side of the house. The house will actually be angled to face the drive coming from the road then the drive turns left and follows the tree line to the side of the house.

house siteOn our way out, our new neighbor came over to see what was going on. This is one of two pretty horses that will greet us every day!

horse

 

Saturday and Sunday were spent moving the rest of our stuff out the house, except for our bed and two bar stools. I was moving right along until I realized how much stuff was still left in the kitchen. I got to the point where I was scared to open another cabinet door. To keep me motivated, my husband came through and stuck post-its with check marks on every cabinet and drawer that was empty. I finally got everything packed or moved to the camper. Monday I got to the point where I could actually start cleaning, and that is what I have been finishing up this morning. There are only a handful of items left upstairs, and a truckload for the storage shed in the basement. We should be completely finished tonight. Tomorrow I will clean the basement and be done.

This has been a crazy couple weeks. My husband and I have moved this whole house without any help, and we are both wore out. I’m already requesting we hire a moving company to empty the storage shed, because I really don’t want to move all that again. The gravity of the adventure we are beginning is also starting to set in. I love this house, but it’s time to move on. Maybe it’s because I’m tired, maybe it’s because I’m scared, or maybe it’s because I’m so excited that I just want to get closing over with. As I sit in the kitchen of this house we have lived in for almost 6 years, I already miss it. We had thought about selling this house and getting something nicer for the past couple years. I was scared of selling, because I knew I couldn’t get this house back if we did sell it. Now we are building a house I will love more, and that is what keeps me motivated to keep moving and finally say goodbye to this house.

I’ve been typing this while waiting on my freshly mopped floors to dry. Now it’s time to get back to work. 🙂

 

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