30 Jul 2013

Our New Digs

We bought a house! A new house....well, an old house, but a new house to us.

New House

I'll admit...I am super excited but also slightly terrified all at the same time.  

Let me back up a little.....

We decided to move because we simply needed more space.  We wanted a bigger backyard with a place for Fin and Dief to play.  We have an outdoor kid - she'd live outside if she could, and our postage stamp sized yard wasn't really cutting it any longer.  We also desperately wanted a second living space that wasn't in the basement.  Right now we watch TV in the basement and we don't love it. I also work from home 2 days a week (plus spend endless other hours on the computer), and my computer is currently in the basement.  It was just getting old.  It would be a such a nice day outside and I'd have to work in the basement where it was cold and somewhat dark.  Aside from all of the above, Dief refuses to go down the stairs to the basement, so we aren't able to spend time with him at night while we veg in front of the TV.

Our wish list for a new house was:
  • In the same city (which is a suburb of Edmonton, where everything is about 10 minutes from everything else)
  • an older neighbourhood with established trees
  • a big yard
  • a quiet street
  • 2 living spaces (living room & family room), both of which aren't in the basement
  • 3 bedrooms or more
  • ensuite (master bathroom)
I can't actually believe it, but we found it all.  The house we bought was actually the very first house we looked at.  We liked it right away, but we felt that we needed to see what else was out there.   Over the next couple of weeks we looked at about 15 more houses, none of which were cutting it for us.  We kept comparing everything to this house, so after much thought (and after our own house sold), we decided to make an offer.

The house was a foreclosure, which was a bit scary for us.  You have to buy a foreclosure as is/where is, which means you get what you see and have to take it as it is.  Yikes!  The other strange thing is that you are negotiating with a bank....which is nice because there aren't a lot of feelings involved, but also annoying because it can take them a day or two to respond.  After going back and forth for a few days we finally agreed on a price and a possession date.  We had heard that there had been more than 5 other offers that had been denied by the bank, so we were quite happy when ours was accepted. 

Once the offer was sealed, we then had a week to get all of our ducks in a row and to get our home inspection done.  We knew that there was going to be some issues with this place and the home inspection confirmed it.  There are various issues from leaky faucets to stuck windows to a defunct furnace, but all of it we figured we could handle (money, sweat, money and more sweat!!!).  

This is a project house.  It was built in 1979.  Some aspects are still original and some are updated, but have been updated really poorly and need to be redone.  Our heads are spinning a million miles an hour with ideas and plans, and it's going to take us a while to settle down and figure out everything that needs to be done.  

We take possession in 2 weeks (ACK!!) and will have 5 weeks where we have both houses so that we can fix the new one up a bit before we have to move out of our current house.  In that time we hope to lay some new flooring, fix up the baseboards, maybe scrape some stipple off of the ceiling, and paint - all the things that are tricky to do once furniture is in)

Ready to see it?  These are all pictures from either my iphone or the MLS listing, so my apologies for the quality.  I've actually only been in the house once, so I haven't had a chance to get in and take some decent pictures (Mr. Swell went back again for a second viewing, and then again for the house inspection, so he's seen it 3 times and I've had to rely on his judgement :)   

The family room, which is just off of the kitchen.

family room before

The kitchen. Don't you just love that sunshine ceiling (ick!)

kitchen before

The main floor half bath.

main floor half bath before

The view of the dining room from the living room.

Dinning Room Before

Check out the headers on doorway....it's just really thick baseboard that has been slapped up. Trust me, this house is looking to be in better shape in these pictures than in real life.

The main upstairs bathroom.  Could that accordion door thing be any uglier?

The garage. It's MASSIVE!  I see more furniture projects in my future in this space.


The backyard.  I am slightly concerned that I might get swallowed up by the overgrown vegetation back there!  There is even a hot tub....which looks like it hasn't seen any attention for many years, but we are going to try our darndest to get it running again.

back yard

Upstairs there are 4 bedrooms and another bathroom off of the master bedroom.  Sorry, no pics!

So there you have it.  We are crazy happy and can't wait to get in there and get going.  Are you ready to follow along on this journey?  I have a feeling I won't be short on blogging material for about the next 5 years!

I promise once we take possession (soon!!!) that I will record a video tour so you can get the full feel of our new pad.

28 Jul 2013

The Week's End - July 28, 2013

The Week's End - July 28, 2013

The Week's End - July 28, 2013

The Week's End - July 28, 2013

The Week's End - July 28, 2013

The Week's End - July 28, 2013

The Week's End - July 28, 2013

The Week's End - July 28, 2013

The Week's End - July 28, 2013

24 Jul 2013


Our House is Sold!

Phew...I can finally spill the beans.  I've been pretty mum on what's been happening with the sale of our house and I am so happy that I have good news.  I didn't want to jinx anything by putting it out there into the universe before things were solidified, plus I wanted to respect the privacy of the buyers until everything was official. 

I can definitely say that I am SO happy that the house is sold and that we don't have to go through anymore showings!!  I have all the respect in the world for those poor families that have to have 20+ showings.

Our house went on the market on a Friday morning, right around 10am.  That day we had 2 showings, and then we had another 5 showings on the Saturday.  It was busy!  By Saturday night we had an offer, which surprised both us and our Realtor.  We thought that it would go fast, but weren't quite expecting it to go in less than 48 hours.

We waited (quite impatiently) all of last week for conditions to be removed.  We actually had so much interest that we had more showings mid-week from interested buyers even after it was pending.  We finally heard back late Sunday night that everything was good to go and conditions were lifted.  Thank the Lord!

We priced our house quite aggressively and are glad that we took that risk.  We didn't have to move right away, so we wanted to try a bit of a higher price for our neighbourhood and see how it went.   We felt that we had done upgrades to our house that made us stand out around our neighbours, which helped us justify the higher price.  Also, we were lucky that when we listed there wasn't anything else in our small neighbourhood that was for sale at the same time.  What we did learn fairly quickly is that our neighbourhood could support the higher price, especially given the number of showing requests that we received.  

Why Using A Realtor is Worth It

Given that we DIY'd pretty much everything in our house, the one question I am sure some people might have is why we chose to go with Real Estate.  Believe me....we weighed every. single. option. a million times before we made the decision.  We explored listing completely on our own, going through a discount brokerage (such as ComFree where you sell yourself but can list on MLS), or going the traditional route.  

After crunching the numbers we finally decided that spending the extra money on a Realtor was worth it for us.  First, we were buying and selling in the same market.  We felt that it was worth it for us to work with one consistent person who would be able to help us sell and buy.  We really didn't want to end up without a place to live for a while, so it was important for us to have someone help us make all of the timelines work.  Second, we have a 2 year old and a Great Dane.  'Nuf said?  Getting those 2 out of the house (and cleaning it behind them) is no easy task.  If we had listed ourselves, it would mean that one person would have to take the 'kids' and the other person would have to show the house.  For safety reasons, Mr. Swell and I both weren't comfortable with me showing the house alone, so that meant that he'd always have to do it, which pretty much meant that we could never have a showing on a weekday during the day.  We simply felt that we could only handle so much stress at one time (or I'd end up more insane that I already am!), so a Realtor was the way to go.  Plus, because we were selling and buying, we were able to get a lower commission which didn't end up being that much more than listing on MLS through a discount brokerage.

So where does this leave us?  Well, thankfully, the possession date isn't until mid-September, so we have a couple of months to pack and get out of here.  We've been looking, and looking, and looking at houses to buy.  Again, I don't want to jinx anything until it's all done, but I will say that we did put an offer in on a house and it has been accepted, so now we just have to work our way through all of the conditions.  We were quite specific as to what we were looking for and I think with this particular house we have found it all....but it is definitely a fixer-upper! Hopefully, if all goes well, I will have more to share in the next couple of weeks (that, or I will share that we'll be moving in with family because we have no house!! Cross your fingers that's not the case!).

Stay tuned....

21 Jul 2013

The Week's End - July 21, 2013

The Week's End - July 21, 2013

The Week's End - July 21, 2013

The Week's End - July 21, 2013

The Week's End - July 21, 2013

The Week's End - July 21, 2013

The Week's End - July 21, 2013

p.s. the wine was definitely required this week!!

p.p.s. this is my 10th Week's End post.  What do you think?  Are you liking this series? How do you feel about no narrative?  Sometimes I want to say things, but not having words forces me to make the pictures talk.  Would you rather have a bit of a description?

19 Jul 2013

Printables For The Win

You guys! Life is insane these days.  I am not sure if I'd ever recommend selling two houses (our rental and our own) and trying to buy a house all in the same month.  I actually feel like I am losing brain cells on a daily basis.  Keys? Sunglasses? Cell phone? These days I don't ever seem to know where they are. I used to know ALL. THE. TIME. where my things were! I am losing it.  But, at least I know that it will all be over soon, and someday I am sure I will sit back and laugh at how nuts we were.   

I have to admit...I am not sure what I am going to blog about for the next little while.  I usually have a plan, but all of my plans have gone out the window.  I don't have time for projects these days....and clearly I'd be a little nutty to put MORE holes in the walls at this point in time.  So, please bear with me as we work our way through this time of transition.  It might be a little quiet around here...but just wait until we get a new house....then you are going to tell me to shut the heck up!

Ok, let's get to the point of this post.  

Our Realtor didn't think we needed to do much to stage our house before we listed it.  I was really thankful for that, as I wasn't really up for moving a bunch of furniture around or renting a storage locker to make our house look sparse.

One thing we did need to do though was remove all of our family photos.  I didn't realize how much I love our photos and how many times a day I look at them until I took them all down.  Sort of made me sad! 

Most of our photos were in free standing frames, but I did have a few on our gallery wall and a couple more in our bedroom.

gallery wall with printables

Instead of paying to print more photos at the photo lab, I decided to fill all of the newly empty frames with free printables that I printed on my home printer on plain ol' white paper.  I have a Pinterest board dedicated to printables, but hadn't used many of them in frames in the past.  It was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to try and find prints that I liked and that also fit in the frames I already had.

The "I can & I will" worked great in the black frame.  Although it's only made to look like chalkboard, I think this affirms that I am a chalkboard addict.

gallery wall with printables

The "Be Kind" print is actually available in a bunch of different colours.  I thought the teal and pink brightened up the stairway space.  (Just ignore the mat that has yellowed like crazy beside the window!)

gallery wall with printables

The frame that holds 3 vertical 5" x 7" prints was a little bit trickier to work with.  

The feather is from My Daily Randomness, which is a blog that I actually read quite often, and the "Hello Sunshine" is just so darn cute.   Then I got stuck.  I couldn't find another vertical image that was working for me and kept a consistent style.  Once I removed the back of the frame I realized that I had left the stock images that came with the frame behind our family photos.  I picked the one I liked the best and slapped it in there.  Surprisingly, it actually sort of matches!

gallery wall with printables

And here's how the gallery wall looks now.  I am a little sad that I don't get to Fin's beautiful newborn pics any more (was she really ever that small???), but I am already planning in my head how I am going to display them in a new house. I've been wanting to paint all of these frames white for about a year, so you know for sure that they will experience a colour change before they get up on any new walls. 

gallery wall with printables

In the bedroom I changed out the pics for 2 free botanical prints.  I really love these botanical prints. I think they'd look great with a bunch of them lined up in skinny gold frames. Maybe in the new house....

So there you have it! The changes that I made before listing our house, which took about an hour from start to finish.   

Tell me, how do you feel about house staging for the purposes of selling?  Would you judge people by their pictures if they were up and you were looking at a house?  Any favourite sources of free printables? 

16 Jul 2013

Breakfast For Dinner Birthday Party

My little girl has turned 2! What? How did that happen???  Seriously, time is flying and I feel like I can't keep up.  If you saw The Week's End post on Sunday, then you saw a little glimpse of the party we had for Fin to celebrate her second birthday.

Breakfast for Dinner Party @ ASwellPlacetoDwell.com

We threw a big party with friends and family for Fin's first birthday last year (don't judge the photos in that post...yikes) so this year we decided to keep it super simple.  We had her grandparents over for dinner, and as much as I was tempted to go all out with a Pinterest inspired crazy themed birthday party, I decided to save my sanity and keep it easy.  Sometimes easy is the way to go, isn't it?  She's 2, she didn't notice that I didn't have a consistent theme going on.  She was just happy that she had some of her favourite people all in one room to hang out with her and eat cake. 

Breakfast for Dinner Party @ ASwellPlacetoDwell.com

I pulled out streamers that I had left over from the birthday party last year and strung them across the ceiling in our kitchen.  Then I went to the dollar store and picked up some balloons.  Fin has a thing for bunnies, so I bought some balloons with bunny ears.  Bad idea...they were the hardest balloons ever to blow up, but after about 4 of them Mr. Swell got the hang of it (even if he was about to pass out).  I also bought some balloons with 2 on them and we just hung them from the ceiling fan and the curtain rods.  A bit ghetto, but it worked.

Breakfast for Dinner Party @ ASwellPlacetoDwell.com

Fin's favourite foods are anything breakfast related, so we went with a Breakfast for Dinner theme for the food.  We made baked french toast using a Pioneer Woman recipe and it was SO delicious.  I ate it for lunch for 2 straight days after the party and was so sad when it was done.   We also made shredded hasbrowns and scrambled eggs, and had a big fruit salad.  It was really easy and most of it could be made ahead of time.  Sorry, I wish I had some pictures of the food for you, but I was too busy eating!

Breakfast for Dinner Party with Pancake Cake @ ASwellPlacetoDwell.com

To carry on the breakfast theme through to the cake, we made Fin a pancake cake.  Keeping with the whole idea of an easy party,  I used a boxed cake mix (Betty Crocker Vanilla).  I made the cake exactly as the directions and then added a couple handfulls of multi coloured sprinkles.  We heated up 2 frying pans and then poured 1/4C of batter into each frying pan, just like cooking a pancake.  The cake was a bit trickier to flip than a regular pancake, but once we figured out to cook low and slow then it started to get easier.  Once each pancake was done we stacked it up and started cooking another one in the pan.  I made a quick glaze using icing sugar and water with a bit of red food colouring and poured it over the top.    

When Fin woke up from her nap she saw the cake sitting on the counter and was so impressed.  That made us pretty happy!

The cake was really easy to serve as each person just took a pancake and then we added a scoop of ice cream.  

Breakfast for Dinner Party with Pancake Cake @ ASwellPlacetoDwell.com

Overall I'd say the party was a big hit.  The one person who mattered most loved it to death, so that was good enough for us. 

So tell me, am I the only one who is sort of revolting against fancy parties?  Have we lost track of what's really important, which is celebrating the person who has reached another milestone?  

In other news.....our rental house is officially sold!  Conditions were removed last week and now we are just waiting for the new owners to take possession, which is at the end of the month.  We feel so relieved to have that stress off of us.  Once conditions lifted on the rental house, then we were able to list our own house.  Our house went on the market Friday morning, hence why it has been a bit quiet around here. We were busy doing odds and ends to get it ready to list and were then out of the house much of the weekend for showings, so we have been busy little bees.  I don't want to jinx anything, so I have promised myself that I am not going to blog much about selling this house until it's all done.  Hopefully I will have some more good news to share soon. 

Linking to: The Shabby Nest

14 Jul 2013

The Week's End: July 14, 2013

The Week's End  www.aswellplacetodwell.com

The Week's End  www.aswellplacetodwell.com

The Week's End  www.aswellplacetodwell.com

The Week's End  www.aswellplacetodwell.com
The Week's End  www.aswellplacetodwell.com

The Week's End  www.aswellplacetodwell.com

9 Jul 2013

Quick Kids Reading Nook with Baba Souk

A few weeks ago, Stephanie from Baba Souk reached out to me asking if I'd be interested in reviewing one of their products.  Since I was already familiar with this awesome online boutique, it took me about 2 seconds to reply back and say YES PLEASE!

Baba Souk passionately supports independent design and creativity.   In Stephanie's own words, Baba Souk is an online boutique for creative cool cats, indie design and  craft lovers.  Fun, right?  I always wanted to be a cool cat!  The shop features handcrafted designs from super creative and talented designers, plus some seriously beautiful home goods sourced straight from the souks in Morocco.  Everything about Baba Souk pretty much just screams joy (doesn't hurt that the stuff is beautiful to boot!).

A few weeks ago a beautifully wrapped package arrived at our door.

Baba Souk Package

Inside were our new friends Jimmy and Alfred.

Jimmy & Alfred from Baba Souk

When I saw our new buds I just about died inside.  They were THE cuttest hooks I'd ever seen.  It was love at first sight.

I had just the space for a new hook in Fin's room.

Reading nook before

There is a little space between her dresser and rocking chair that had become the book dumping ground.  I originally had the books on top of the dresser, but Fin is too short to reach them up there, so they always ended up on the ground (usually in a big mess).  Each night I'd tell her to pick out her bedtime book and she'd start hucking books here, there, and everywhere until she found the one she wanted.  (By the way, the bunny basket is the soother basket...he holds all of the soother goodness in our household!)

My new pal Alfred came to the rescue and helped me organize this tiny little area into a new book nook for Fin.

Quick Kids Reading Nook with Baba Souk.  www.aswellplacetodwell.com

We hung Alfred on a stud so that he would be able to support the weight of the books.  I picked up a clearance pillow at Target ($13 - score!) to provide a little bit of cushioning for Fin's back.  The woven bag is one that we got in Turkey a few years ago.  I love that it's see through so that Fin can see the book she wants and then pick it out.  (Now I just need to figure out a way to get back to Turkey so I can buy more!!).  All she has to do is pull the one side of the bag off the hook and she can rummage through everything.  The bag is also nice because we can take it right off of the hook and bring it downstairs for reading time.

Quick Kids Reading Nook with Baba Souk.  www.aswellplacetodwell.com

Fin really loves this little nook.  She will position the pillow just right and will sit down and read a book for a few minutes.  She doesn't sit for anything, so I consider this a HUGE success.

Quick Kids Reading Nook with Baba Souk.  www.aswellplacetodwell.com

She's also quite obsessed with Alfred and is always touching his eyes when she grabs a book.

Quick Kids Reading Nook with Baba Souk.  www.aswellplacetodwell.com

The books are pretty heavy, but Alfred's arms haven't bent one bit with the weight.  Hurray for Canadian made and awesomely designed goods!

Quick Kids Reading Nook with Baba Souk.  www.aswellplacetodwell.com

I decided not to use Jimmy for this project as it was feeling too crowded with 2 hooks in the small space.  I have him tucked away though and can't wait to find a place for him down the road.

Baba Souk also carries Steve and Guy which are blue and black hooks that would look great in a boy's room.  Or, if you aren't in the market for hooks, they have some beautiful pillows, jewellery and prints.


Definitely not stuff your neighbours will have!

So tell me, do you also have a book problem in your house (be it kids books or adult books)?  Do you have a great storage solution for them?  Please share!

Disclosure: Baba Souk provided both Jimmy & Alfred to me free of charge.  I wasn't asked to say nice things, but I did, simply because I love the product.  All opinions are 100% mine. 

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