Thursday, April 19, 2012

Getting My House Ready to Sell–Tips and Tricks

We have been on the market now for almost 3 weeks and we have had 6 showings.  After every showing, we receive feedback via email.  There is an 8 question multiple choice form the realtors fill out that gives us an indication of how the house showed, if the buyer is really a potential buyer, and if there is anything we can do to improve our home.  Every response has been excellent.  Our house shows perfectly –from curb appeal to cleanliness.  The only problem is the schools and the neighborhood.  Big inner city school system is not what most home buyers are looking for.  But we’re hopeful that the right buyer will come by and love our home and buy it up quickly.  We’ve been in the top three for 2 different showings, so I’m sure it won’t be too long now.  Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I’d love to show you some of my little tips and tricks on how I keep my house show-ready or at least easy to get show-ready in no time at all. It’s things that I will keep doing whenever we move to our new home, since it leaves your home spotless and beautiful in just a few quick steps.  Who doesn’t want that?


No one wants to see your dirty trash when they look through your home.  I’ve come up with some quick tips for keeping our trash tamed.


I have put all of my little trashcans from the bedrooms and bathrooms in the basement crawlspace.  I’ve always been bad at emptying those things on a regular basis anyway, so I got rid of them for showings.  Now, I just hang a Kroger bag over the handle.  When the showing comes, I take the bags with me and either throw them out in the outdoor trashcan or throw them in the van to bring back later.

My recycling days are on hold for now.  I used to hang a trash bag in my laundry room (which is right off of my kitchen) to hold our recycling trash.  We don’t have to sort our recyclables when we take them to the recycling dumpster.  Everything goes in the same dumpster, which makes it really easy on me.  But, now that I have to keep my rooms clean, I stopped recycling.  That’s one last bag I have to worry about grabbing before a showing, and one less hook I need to have on my laundry room wall.  I can’t wait to start recycling again. 


No one wants to see your dirty laundry when they look through your home.


On a regular basis, I keep two laundry baskets on my closet floor (one for darks and one for lights) and one in my son’s room.  On a showing day, I will grab those three baskets and put them in the back of my van.  I’ll then make sure to vacuum the floor where the baskets were to get the marks off the floor.

The other bit of laundry we have is towels.  On my master bathroom door, we have three hooks over the door with three towels hanging there.  I take those down (hooks and all) and plop them in a wicker hamper that is slightly hidden beside my dresser.  After the showing, I put them back up to make sure they don’t get mildewy


This picture reminds me that I also run through the bedrooms and make sure all the dresser drawers are completely shut before we leave. I think I have a disease.  I leave dresser drawers open just a little all the time. 

Makeup and Bathroom supplies

No one wants to see your hairbrush, makeup, or shaving cream when they’re trying to picture themselves in your space.

I have a big problem with having too much STUFF.  One area where this is evident is my makeup and hair supplies.  Who knows why I need to have so much to choose from, especially since I use the same few items every day.  Getting my toiletries wrangled was probably my most rewarding cleaning/de-cluttering project in this whole house-selling adventure. 


I now have a basket under each sink for my daily items and figured out a way to store the rest neatly.  I organized and de-cluttered my hair stuff (like bobby pins, ponytail holders and clips) and organized my machines (like flat iron, hair dryer and hot rollers)  Thanks Pinterest!


My makeup was a bit trickier for me.  Included in my ‘makeup’ was my lotion, deodorant, and many makeup supplies.  They used to sit on my dresser, but after getting rid of some of my clothes (we donated a LOT last month) I ended up having a free drawer in my dresser.  I put my supplies in little baskets and they all fit neatly into that one drawer.  Now, I can take them out when I need them and hide them away when I’m done.  It makes me just a little giddy each time I hide my baskets away.  I really do love being organized.

Finishing Touches

I change out the bathroom and kitchen towels for ‘show towels’.  I bought two kitchen and three bathroom hand towels that look new and fluffy.  It cost me about $10 for all of them.  I put them under the sinks or in a cupboard in between showings, and my family knows they are not to use the new towels for their hands.  Ever.


Before each showing, I make sure I have one or two nice bouquets of flowers in my kitchen.  I buy the $5 bouquet from Kroger.  These things last weeks if you take care of them.  I re-clip the ends after a few days and put them in fresh water.  I may crush up an aspirin someday too.  My mother says it keeps flowers living longer.


One of my friends recommended baking some cookies before a showing so your house smells like freshly baked cookies.  I did that for the first showing, but now I find that it’s too much work for me to do that every time.  Instead, I leave out a bowl of candy.  So far it has been jelly beans (thanks Easter candy sales!)

I leave every single light on in my house (downstairs) when I leave for a showing.  I also open all the blinds and let as much light in as I possibly can.  Besides the obvious reason for leaving all the lights on (getting it as bright as I can in here), I have another reason for leaving the lights on.  All the lights in the living room are on a remote control switch, and I don’t want there to be any confusion trying to get the lights on when they come in the house.  


Another reason I leave all the lights on is to show off my under-cabinet-lighting in my kitchen. If they don’t look, they might not know that it’s there. (oh, and we’ve fixed the dangling cord, so it doesn’t dangle anymore)P2270634

When everything has a place, cleaning up before a showing goes quickly and smoothly.  It doesn’t stay clean and spotless every day, but it can get clean and spotless in just a few hours (including mopping the floors) when a showing is scheduled. I just hope someone makes an offer soon.  I’m noticing the diligence with which I used to keep the place clean is starting to wear off.  If I go 4 days without a showing, it may take a bit longer to get it back into tip-top shape, but it’s still doable. 

What other tips do you have for keeping your house ‘show-ready’?  Do you live in a house that is always ‘show-ready’? 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Getting My House Ready to Sell–Toys

If you have at least one child in your house, chances are you have enough toys to entertain 10 children at one time. At least that’s how it is in our house. Let me show you some shameful before photos I dug up from my files to show you just how bad it is in our house when it comes to toys:



There are a LOT of toys. Because we have so much space in the living room, we tend to fill it up with a lot of stuff. The biggest fear I had going into this house selling adventure was “what do we do with our toys!?” I couldn’t see how I was going to make it so that Jack could keep his toys, and we could stage this house for selling. Being at home all day, every day makes it impossible to keep a house clean. Toys are out as soon as the boy gets up in the morning. My challenge was to figure out a way to be a stay-at-home-family but not get the place messy.

In order to be ready to show our house in a moment’s notice, we consolidated, stored, and donated a LOT of toys. Here is what we were left with at the end of the day.


I can grab this box with all the little boxes inside of it and easily take them to the basement crawl space or even to the back of the van when we leave the house. Jack knows where everything is, and he now knows that if he gets something out, the last toy’s he played with need to be returned. It doesn’t always happen like this, but it does help.


We also have this ‘corner’ of the room with toys. It is also easily grab-able and stored in the basement at a moment’s notice.


His big trucks have been parked in the room along various walls at different times, but I finally consolidated them into one ‘garage’. Having just redone our floors, our closet hasn’t yet gotten filled with random things, so I had the space to park the big machines in there. Jack thinks it’s fun to park them in their garage.

I’ve had to do some hard weeding out of toys. Jack loves trains. He loves his Geo Trax that he’s gotten from his cousins, but we decided to box them up and store them in the basement for now. I think they may make a few appearances before we move out of here, but they’re not out ALL.THE.TIME like they used to be. There are two other train/car tracks that are still out for him to play with, but they fit in smaller boxes, so they’re allowed to be up here.

I have to admit that baby toys take up MUCH MORE space than toddler toys. Matchbox cars and planes can be put in a small plastic bin. However, a bouncer, swing, baby gym and whatever this is called: DSC09380_thumbtake up much more space in a home. I’m not sure what I would have done if I had to deal with these toys in my home. (For now, they’re in our basement crawl space)

There are other things we’ve done in our living room to make it bigger, cleaner, and nicer, but those are not so much toy-focused as they are furniture removal. I’ll do a separate post on those whenever we finish staging our living room. Once the carpet is done upstairs (I’m typing this while the carpet guy is doing our carpet today), I’ll be able to get more ‘after’ photos from our rooms upstairs as well. We’re moving right along on this house selling adventure! Thanks for joining me on my journey.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Foto Friday–On the Water

Last month, we took a trip down to Florida to visit Jack’s Grandparents.  While it did take 2 days to drive from Ohio to Florida, it was not a hardship at all.  We were on the Gulf side, between Sarasota and Ft. Meyers, FL.  The weather was PERFECT and BEAUTIFUL.  We spent a few days at the beach (where I got sunburned badly), one at the big aquarium in Sarasota and the rest of the time just enjoying the company.  I love that my In-laws are Snow Birds.  I think I may join them next year. 

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip.  You can be sure there were a ton more than this, but I thought I’d pick my favorites for this post.  I did run them through Photoshop, but the only touch ups I did for any of them was auto levels/color/contrast.  I didn’t do anything fancy at all.  I didn’t feel that they needed anything.  Maybe I’ll play around with them another day.

The surf was exceptionally strong (high?) the first day we were at the beach.  This guy was taking advantage of the good surging conditions.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These are my in-laws.  I loved how they look as they’re taking a walk on the beach. Of these two very similar photos, I couldn’t decide which I liked better, so put them both on here.

P2230572 copy

P2230573 copy

After the grandparents finished their walk, they said they’d watch Jack while Rick and I went for a walk on the beach.  What a great time.  I want to remember what it feels like to walk in the surf and sand.   


This Egret looks so regal sitting on the pier waiting for his next meal – an accidental drop by a fisherman perhaps? The Herron was ready at a moments notice.  Or maybe he just enjoyed watching the fishermen on the pier like we did.


The last night of our vacation, we went to the beach to watch the sunset.  It was a cloudy night, so the sunset wasn’t all that impressive, but the subtle color in the clouds were still beautiful.  I’ll definitely miss the beach!

still had a pretty sky

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Getting My House Ready to Sell–The Kitchen

Well, Folks.  I’ve been absent again from blogging.  This time I have a VERY good excuse.  We’re getting our house ready to sell!  We haven’t liked where we are living for years, so this was a long time coming.  We can now move away from this house and neighborhood without fear of losing money in the deal.

There’s just one problem.  We I have a lot of junk.  I mean A LOT!  I’d like to blame Jack and all his toys, but really it’s all me.  It’s all stuff that I have acquired over the years and haven’t been able to let go of.  Really, do I need to keep the dozen Skintimate shaving gel samples I got 12 years ago from a school P.E. kit?  If I haven’t used them by now, I need to get rid of them!

Much of my cleaning out so far has been just that.  Getting stuff out of my house that has no purpose.  The Goodwill donation site guy is going to know me by name soon.  I went twice in one day, because I had so much stuff and couldn’t fit it in one load.  (and I drive a minivan, people!!)

While I’m cleaning out and making our house market-ready, I have learned a few tricks.  I thought I’d share them with you.  I can’t say yet if these tricks work for selling a house or are even any good, but I can say that they have made a huge difference in keeping my house clean so far.  (once you look past all the boxes of course)

Let’s start with the kitchen.  Here is a before picture of my kitchen.  Aye-yai-yai!!


This picture actually came from last summer.  But fear not, this is how awful my kitchen looks on a daily basis.  When I have company, it looks a bit better than this, but there’s still a lot of stuff on my counters that I’ve had to deal with.  Let’s talk about what I’ve done so far.

Cutting boards – you can’t really see them in the before photo, but they’re back in the corner, on the counter, to the left of the Cuisinart.  I finally got those off my counters and into a cupboard above my (broken) microwave.  I had to clean out some stuff from that cupboard that I wasn’t using, but it freed up an entire cupboard for me to use.  My mom took the baker, and some pottery that hadn’t been used in 6 years.  (Sorry mom, since you bought some of those for me!)


Recipe boxes – My pretty recipe boxes that were sitting on my counter to the left of the stove (the before picture was taken before I covered them with pretty paper) also got put up in that same cupboard above the microwave.

Tool caddy – I had two big/FULL kitchen tool caddy’s on my counters.  I use just about every gadget in those caddies too.  So instead of getting rid of it all, I put my most used tools in a drawer, left a few big spatulas and a whisk in the pretty crock, then loaded everything else that comes out every once in a while into a canvas ‘box’ that sits in my pantry.  It’s really inconvenient to have to dig through the box to find the can opener, but it makes my counters MUCH neater, so I can live with it until we move.  I put my unused tool caddy in storage.  I’ll be bringing it back out when we move!


Food processer and Dutch oven – I am fortunate enough to own a BIG Cuisinart food processor and (since this Christmas) a HEAVY Dutch oven.  I love them both, and use them pretty regularly.  Up until this move, they’ve been sitting on the counter or stovetop full time.  I moved them both to my pots and pans cupboard after weeding out pans that I don’t use anymore.  (a big ‘spaghetti pot’ as we call it usually sits inside the Dutch oven, but it’s being used right now)


baking canisters – I bake pretty often.  Well, maybe I should say I use baking ingredients (flour, sugar, brown sugar) often.  I make bread, desserts, and I use sugar in our oatmeal most mornings.  But they were ‘clutter’ on the counter, so I had to figure out a way to get them out of there.  I ended up putting them in the pantry.  It’s pretty convenient that we just redid our floors, and I had to clean out the pantry completely during that process.  My pantry was pretty organized when I started this kitchen clean up, so I had extra space to fill up in the big pantry. 


Fridge - I have a lot of pictures on my fridge.  Every time I clean it off, I think I’m not going to clutter it up again,  but it always ends up cluttered.  This time I took off ALL the magnets and put them in a Ziplock bag to be brought out again once we move.  I also had to clean off the top of the fridge.  That happened when we redid our floors.  I had recently cleaned out all the medicine from the cupboard next to the stove (don’t they say NOT to put medicines next to the stove???) and put the container turn-about in there. 


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Island organized – I have no pictures for now, but trust me when I say that I can make my island clear of clutter.  I have a mail center now that collets the mail, receipts, notepads, and random paper clutter.  It sits in the middle of the island and can be taken with us when we have showings. I just haven’t taken a picture of it yet.

So do you want to know what my kitchen looks like now?  Here is a (bad) photo of what it looks like when we’re on top of our game and ready to show. (I’ll have to do something with the loaf of bread, but for now, it stays there).  I purchased some “display” towels that will be hung when we go out for a showing. 


Let’s see the dramatic before and after of this one again!

05 May 2011

I’m pretty proud of my cleaning and decluttering accomplishment.  This seemed like an insurmountable task!  I’m glad I have at least ONE room in my house ready to go!

As for the next posts on how I’m organizing other spaces in my house, I may be lacking with the ‘before’ pictures.  I’m not upset about that (since it means I don’t have to show you how BAD it all was), but it would have helped with the "wow factor” when you see how I’ve organized some other spaces. 

Until next time!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Foto Friday–Hands

I’ve been out of this Foto Friday thing for a while.  It’s fun to join in, but I just haven’t taken the time to do it in a long time.  This week’s theme is HANDS. 


This picture was from last month, but I took the same picture last year.  If I don’t lose that little front loader, I’m planning to take this picture every year. Here’s what we have so far:

Not a TON of difference yet, but it's there.

Click on over to Lori’s blog to see other Foto Friday entries for this week.  Have a great weekend!


Monday, January 30, 2012

An Interview With a Three Year Old

Recently, Jack turned 3.  Did you know that he also turned into a little man?  He says thinks like “that’s unfortunate!” and “How in the world did that get there?”  His vocabulary is incredible, and I love having conversations with him. 

After catching up with my favorite blogs in my Reader, I saw that a bloggy friend’s daughter just turned 3 this month as well.  She did an interview with her daughter and plans to do this every year to see how things change.  I love that idea, and I’ve seen it around other places and have been meaning to do this before.  Here is my interview with Jack, my just-turned-three year old.

1. what is your favorite color? Green

2. what is your favorite toy? John Deere

3. what is your favorite fruit? Grapefruit (really? it’s not the blueberries or strawberries you ask for EVERY DAY?)

4. what is your favorite t.v. show? John Deere or Winnie the Pooh (I asked it twice, and got two different answers)

5. what is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?  grapefruit (again, really?)

6. what is your favorite outfit? John Deere pj’s  (he doesn’t own any)

7. what is your favorite game? Marbles (he just finished playing a magnet marble game that he never plays)

8. what is your favorite snack? fish crackers (I never buy these, but he knows about them!!)

9. what is your favorite animal? fish or zebras (I asked it twice as well, and the answers were different each time)

10. what is your favorite song? I can’t say

11. what is your favorite book? Otis (By Loren Long is currently on loan from the library. It’s about a tractor)

12. who is your best friend? Roo (from Winnie the Pooh)

13. what is your favorite cereal? Frosted Mini Wheats (he likes to eat just the frosted part)

14. what is your favorite thing to do outside? play in the mud (we don’t play outside all that often)

15. what is your favorite drink? milk

16. what is your favorite holiday? Christmas (I’m surprised he knew what holiday meant)

17. what do you like to take to bed with you at night? Pooh

18. what is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Frosted Mini Wheats (really?  Not the pancakes you ask for EVERY DAY?)

19. what do you want for dinner on your birthday? No answer

20. what do you want to be when you grow up? A TRACTOR!!!

The final answer was my absolute favorite answer of all time.  I love my little tractor boy!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Three Sisters A Shop

Have I ever told you how many cousins Jack has?  He has 8 cousins.  This may seem like a standard amount of cousins to grow up with, or it may even seem like very few to you.  But to me, it seems like a lot.  Until I was in high school, I had 2 cousins.  TWO! And they were about 16 years older than me.    Then, 20 years ago, my youngest cousin was born, and I now have a total of 3 first cousins.  That made for very small family gatherings growing up. 

Jack will grow up with different family dynamics.  Thanks to my sister, he has two cousins on my side of the family.  And thanks to my husband’s sister and brother, he has 6 cousins and counting.  Our family gatherings with Rick’s side of the family are much bigger (and louder) than my side.  Here is a look at all the cousins on that side:


Aren’t they beautiful?  (pardon the littlest girl’s skin…she had fun putting ‘makeup’ on that day with some markers she found) Thanks to our newest member, the boys aren’t so out numbered like they used to be!  It’s going to be fun watching those boys grow up together.

The three oldest girls are possibly the most creative girls I know.  They are also the most talented girls.  They write, draw, paint, take pictures, knit, crochet, and who knows what else?!  The oldest has a passion for all things British.  She is planning to study in England someday (hopefully at the end of this year). That isn’t cheap, as we all know, so she and 2 of her sisters have created an Etsy shop to sell their creative wares. This will help her (and any of the others if they can someday) get to England to study and work.

Want to see what they make? Here’s a sample:

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Look at how cute these little dolls are!  Aren’t they adorable?

Crochet Dolls - Celeste

And these little animals.  So sweet!

Esmeralda Cloth Elephant


They also make paper crafts like these flower  balls. They’re bright and fun!

Flower Balls - Circus Parade Collection - Set of 6 Flowers

These notecards are all personally hand drawn by the youngest of the three sisters.

Hot Air Balloon Note Cards - set of 5

Head on over to Three Sisters A Shop on Etsy to check out everything they have to offer.  I’m so proud to be their aunt, and I couldn’t be happier to advertise for them here.  I can’t wait to hear all about her trip to England…we’ll be able to swap stories then!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jack is 3! (And a Few Growth Chart Moments)

Jack had a birthday last weekend.  I can’t believe my little guy is 3 already!  Here is a collage of his 3 birthdays

1 January 2012

We had a very small celebration the morning of his birthday.  Rick and I had decorated the kitchen after Jack was in bed, and we laid out his many presents for him to see when he came downstairs in the morning.  He was surprised, that’s for sure. 

All ready for his birthday!

We don’t do a big Christmas – only three presents each – but we love to do big birthdays.  Actually, I should rephrase that. We don’t do a big Christmas for JACK, but do do big birthdays for JACK.  When it comes to us, we still do birthdays pretty low key. It’s so fun to lavish Jack with presents!  It’s also hard to resist the toys in the toy aisle when everything you look at shouts “Jack would LOVE this!”  So, we over did it.  I’m not worried about it.

LOTS of presentts.  We spoil him on his birthday, that's for sure!

The other big part of Jack’s birthdays is the cake.  We love being ‘creative’ with his cakes.  When I had a minor computer crash last year, I lost very few photos.  We were really lucky.  But the one set of photos that we did loose were last year’s birthday pictures.  So, if you want to see our AMAZING (well, impressive perhaps, but amazing, I’m not sure) train cake from last year’s birthday, please check out last year’s birthday post.  We were pretty proud of that one. This year I found a cake on Pinterest that I knew had to be Jack’s birthday cake this year.  The original is so much prettier than mine, but ours turned out much better than I thought it would.  This was a super easy cake to put together!

Birthday cake

The fun part was that the inside was a surprise- it was construction colors.  If you go to the original link, you can see how much better hers was.  And you can see a picture tutorial on how to make the diagonal cake design from one of her links. 

Construction zone cake

The best part is that Jack loved it.  He wanted to help the backhoe dig up the cake.

Jack’s such a big boy now.  He’s completely potty trained – even at night.  He talks up a storm, using words and phrases like “I realized I had the wrong one..” and “I’ve been thinking about ….”  He uses utensils like a champ when he eats .  He listens to chapter books at bedtime now (Magic Treehouse). He wants to do everything himself and he’s usually pretty good about doing it right.  He helps us cook and even puts the toothpaste on his own toothbrush without smooshing too much out on the brush.    We’re very proud of him and hope we haven’t ruined him yet in his first three years.  Hopefully he’ll get a little brother or sister this year.  That was our hope last year, but it looks like this year will be more likely.  Fingers are crossed!



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