Monday, June 29, 2015

Arizona House Living Room... Sort of

Today was my first day of residency and I did not reach the goal of getting everything unpacked. I got about 90% there on things I could unpack and we still have a bunch of boxes that we just don't have a place to put the contents. The biggest issue is that the Florida house had so many built-ins by the time we were done with it and the new house has nothing for shelving. It's a big beige box.

Above is the relator pic of the dining room/living room combo before we moved in and below is the real life chaos that is going on in the same space now. We are having a hard time with the amount of blank wall space combined with lack of shelving so for now, nothing is on the walls (except the TV). We have been going through different ideas for a couple of weeks and we think we have at least one wall figured out so hopefully things we'll be on the walls and out of boxes soon.

While we are trying to figure out the walls, we've also had a floor situation. We only kept a couple of rugs when we moved and one went in Will's room so we were left with the one from Will's playroom. I love this rug but it is too small and too beige for the living room. I never intended it for this space but with the hard tile we needed something for this spot until we found a new rug.

After checking Craigslist a million times in the last two weeks, I finally found a winner. I got an 8' x 10' barely used Pottery barn rug with a rug pad for $150 (woo hoo!). It makes such a huge difference and I hate the beige walls just a little bit less now.

The chairs are also new to this house. We got them after the second day of having nowhere in the house to sit while we waited for the truck to get here. They're from Ikea and so far I love them. They are deep and SUPER heavy so they don't move around. 

Small changes and a little progress at a time is how we're rolling right now.  

How do you unpack?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Beginning of the End: Living Spaces Before and Afters

We really loved our house in Florida and we're pretty sad that we had to leave it behind. I really felt like we grew in so many ways while we were in this house and really found our style. We thought we would be in this house forever so it really evolved into a space we were really comfortable. 

But, life goes on and it was time to leave and now it's time to take a step back and see how far this house came in the 4 years that we owned it. 

There is basically no way we can do all the before and after pictures of our Florida house in one post, so I'm going to break it into 5 chunks, starting with the living spaces. I can't really pick a favorite space in this house so these are in no particular order. I'm including what we did in each room (including things that we never shared here) as well as what we already miss.

Living Room

What we did:
What we miss:
  • Mantel/Fireplace
  • Character and the color!

Dining Room

What we did:
What we miss:

  • Chandelier (although we do have a new one in the design plans)
  • Cabinet for glass storage
  • Wood floors

Sun Room

What we did:
What we miss:

  • Shelving
  • All the natural light from those windows
  • French doors

What we did:
What we miss:

  • Play table and activity center
  • I miss the birds
It's a little crazy writing down what we did in each space. These are rooms that didn't get a ton of attention compared to the rest of the first floor and they still have quite the lists attached to them. It's also interesting (and a little scary) to see how my photography skills have changed over the years. Check out the links to see some real winners.

Up next will be the downstairs bedroom areas!

Monday, June 22, 2015

We Moved!

We've been MIA for a couple of weeks as we packed up everything we owned and moved across the country from FL to even hotter AZ! Here are a bunch of updates:

Nate did most of the actual driving of the move, driving one car out a couple of weeks ago and then driving a 26' truck (towing the other car) with the dogs out about a week ago. This was all so that Will didn't have to make the 32+ hour drive which I think everyone was very grateful for but I'm pretty sure he never wants to see another truck again.

I've basically been either packing or unpacking for a straight month now so I'm pretty sick of it, but the new place is coming together slowly. We'll start sharing pics of the new house once things settle a bit more. The goal is to have everything unpacked before I start my residency on Monday... wish me luck.

We're under contract on our FL house and should be settled on that in about a month so we'll also be sharing before and after pics and a final house tour soon. 

In case you aren't aware, it's really really hot in Phoenix so we dropped everything yesterday and headed up to Flagstaff to get some cooler weather. The scenery here is a lot different than what we are used to, so instead of sharing any more boring moving details, here are some awesome pics from our day trip!

It's not only hot but really sunny!

Luckily we haven't see any yet

Lowell Observatory

Pluto was discovered here!

Telescope used to discover Pluto

Getting to move the telescope

Pluto Dome

The pine trees smelled AMAZING!

We're loving the mountain views everywhere

SkyRide up to the top of AZ Snow Bowl

"SkyRide" = Chair lift

This enthusiasm lasted for half the ride

Will took a bunch of pictures in our attempt to keep him occupied


Did I mention I don't like heights??

Top of the Snow Bowl

Elevation 11,510 ft!

Will did not mind the height... at all

Will wanted to take a snowball home... he did not succeed 

Ski dreaming

Don't be fooled... it was a portapot 

Going back down was a lot scarier

Biggest white birch we've ever seen

Rt 66

Since no post is amazing without a before and after...

The chairlift was a little scary with Will but the whole day was totally worth the cool weather and amazing views! We're definitely heading back!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Universal Studios - 6 Tips and Tricks

Living in Florida has definitely had its perks but we haven't been great about taking full advantage of them. This year we finally decided to buy passes to Universal and after being able to go a few times there are a few things that we have learned that make the experience so much better.

#1: Seriously Consider Yearly Passes
If you are a Florida resident the yearly pass is by far the best deal and if you are vacationing and are planning on spending more than a couple of days at the park then the yearly pass is usually a better deal (check the special offers though). An added bonus to the monetary savings is with the yearly pass you feel less stress to do absolutely everything in one day. AKA you aren't that parent telling your kid "YOU MUST HAVE FUN!"

#2: Buy One Preferred Annual Pass
If you are planning on parking at the park, buying food and souvenirs, the preferred pass gives you enough discounts that the price difference is made up really fast (if you park 5 times you're even). The trick is to just buy one. As long as the person with that pass is with the group, you get all the discounts without needing everyone to have one. Now, the power pass does come with blackout dates so if you really don't want to deal with those then you will have to have all tickets be upgraded.

#3: You Can Still Get in the Park on Blackout Days (Sometimes)
If you have a power pass and there is a special even going on at Universal on a blackout day, you can get into the park after 5 pm. This includes the concert series and Mardi Gras and you can go on rides  until they close them for the evening.

#4: Later is Better
A lot of people try to get a jumpstart at the park and so by 5 or 6 pm they are heading home. This is especially true when it's really hot out. So, if you plan on getting to the park around that time then you'll see much shorter lines and you won't be dying in the sun. Later in the year is also better. If you can shoot for October not near any school breaks things will be a lot more pleasant.

#5: Plan for "Cool Off" Stops
Especially if you are spending all day with littles, cooling off throughout the day is a must. Even an hour in the sun in FL can be too much during some times of the year. Universal is really good about having spots to cool off so in addition to sunscreen and hats, bring swim diapers and suits for splash areas (there are good ones in both parks). Eating lunch in one of the air conditioned restaurants is a nice break and Jurassic Park Discovery Center lets the little ones play in air conditioning.

#6: See Blue Man Group For Cheap
If you have an annual pass, military ID, AAA or have kids, you can get pretty inexpensive tickets for a show. If you have a student ID and are willing to get tickets the day of the show, you can go see BMG for a mere $34/ticket. We did this and got front row tickets so it's a pretty amazing deal if you get the tickets early in the day. See Here for all the discounts.

We've really enjoyed having these annual passes especially when we can go for a couple of hours or for a date night. Nate and I have gone by ourselves half a dozen times and brought Will quite a few times as well so we feel that we've already gotten full value out of the tickets and we've only had them for half the year. I also think Universal is much more toddler friendly than a lot of other parks so we would definitely buy passes again if we weren't moving!