08 October 2015

Surprises When You Move From California

I had to write a little post about the adjustment process of leaving California. Despite all the things about California that are frustrating, there is a lot to love too and having spent most of my adult life there, it's hard to say goodbye to the conveniences Los Angeles afforded! So here are a few things you don't think about when you leave California for a new life:

1) You can't buy shorts year-round in other places...WHAT?!

2) You can't just say "Hey I feel like going to Disneyland" any time you want, get in your car and be there in 40 minutes....Bummer.

3) Apparently fruit goes out of season in other states...honeycrisp apples "out of season"? why can you buy them in CA all the time?...Lame.

4) The farther you get from the coast the less flavor strawberries have and the faster they go bad...Sad.

5) In other states the same chain stores are smaller and carry less variety and merchandise...Tragedy!

6) Good luck finding restaurants that stay open past 9 or 10 pm - even on a Saturday....Had to start a list of places where we could actually get a meal after 10 with addressses.

7) In other states if a store doesn't have something you want you can't just head over to one of the other 10 locations within 30 minutes of your house....(One HomeGoods in the entire state? WAH...)

8) Things you take for granted, like beaches get really far away when you move inland....Bone dry.

9) Nail salons charged higher rates but then you don't pay a ton for every little $5 extra....More relaxing.

10) You can see the stars at night without all the glare of the city lights....Stellar!

Thankfully I committed myself to love all the great new things about our new home and treasure the things I appreciated about life in California. It's still a transition but committing to see the good and be positive has paid off daily!

Life Lessons: Excel At The Priorities

A few weeks ago, at the end of a long week in the office, I sat at my desk at the end of business hours with my face in my hands, frustrated and a little teary-eyed. My boss just happened to appear in my doorway at that moment and said, "You're frustrated."

I looked up, apologized and said I was just tired and still had our monthly report to do that was due first thing Monday morning. Taking it home sounded a little ominous at that point because I would have to prepare a lot of files and organize a bunch of emails for me to access to do it. She offered some thoughts on how to make that easier and in the end I ended up staying at the office and was able to get the report done in about 40 minutes.

This is a report that in my first few months on the job took me three hours to pull together frequently. I was so happy to realize that I was getting the hang of things around there and could do things that one seemed so hard much more quickly now that I had been managing and organizing the process myself for a while and knew where things were and what the data meant.

I thought about that day frequently over the next few days. I tried to understand what it was that made me feel so hopeless and frustrated. I later realized that what was frustrating me so much is that I wanted to really excel at my job but there were so many worthy and often critical projects on the table that I felt rushed and unable to do a good job at anything but rather running in crisis mode often trying to just make the deadlines and frequently feeling disappointed that due to workload it was difficult to give everything it's rightful attention. That IS frustrating.

As I continued to mull these thoughts over, my boss said two more things that impacted me. One was "we need to do the best for the city" and the other was "is this project 'neat' or is it a 'need." These two phrases rambled around in my head for a couple of days and then a lightbulb went on in my head.

I did not have to excel at EVERYTHING. I only needed to excel at the top priorities. I tend to get a lot of 'neat' ideas, but they are all "needed." That took a huge burden off my shoulders when I began to prioritize and it allowed me to breathe freely again without feeling so frustrated. I have repeated this to myself over and over again, just excel at the priorities. I think this has helped me be a better employee, a better support to the organization and I think I'm doing a better job focusing on what is best for each project and how I can better support our awesome team.

I still have a lot of learning to do, but for the past few weeks this has been an important lesson. I don't have to be excellent at every single thing a mom can do, I just have to be excellent at the priorities my kiddo needs. Will I be able to do EVERYTHING I see every other mom doing -- No, but I can do what is best for my kiddo.

I don't have to be involved in everything perfectly at church, I just have to prioritize what I can do and participate it. I don't have to be an 'I can do everything' wife but I can watch for what is most needed and appreciated from me and do those things. Can I give our new house 100% of my attention right now? No, but I can give it my time and energies when I can and work the most effectively that I can while I am there. Last week that mean going over and pulling out 30-year-old contact paper from the kitchen cupboards.

Another important priority is me. I can't do everything I want or everything I need every day, but I sure can take SOME time to care for me each day. Whether that means a great meal, more sleep, a nice long shower or bath, or just buying myself a couple of magazines. Last week I picked up the latest HGTV magazine and the big, beautiful issue of one of the fall fashion magazines. When I got home quite late from work on Friday night, we all climbed on our bed and brought something to read or look at and just relaxed. It was a great activity and I tabbed some pages in the HGTV fall issue that might inspire some good stuff at the house and made a list of some great places to save big on home furnishings.

The days keep moving along and life stays busy but it's sure nice to tie the days' experiences together by learning from them and finding ways to work smarter and make my/our lives easier going forward. I am so glad I have these clarifying thoughts that are helping me do better and be better in every area of my life. Now I just need to keep working at these goals....until the end of my life...haha. I guess this all goes back, as I'm thinking about it, to my goal for this year "SHINE" and I'm finding ways to shine more at fewer things. Good stuff!

06 October 2015

Heights House 3: Big Savings On Washer & Dryer

We've all seen the gorgeous laundry rooms pinned all over Pinterest. At some point it became a necessity to have a stylish laundry room with the top of the line, prettiest colored washer and dryer. Yes there are some really cute rooms out there and of course who wants an ugly laundry room. But right now my real priority is creating a happy, peaceful, comfortable AND stylish home for my family on a budget.

There are so many places to put money and throwing down $3000 to have the cutest washer and dryer in the world doesn't even register. I need something that's big enough to wash sheets and blankets that can also be gentle enough to wash fine delicates as they call them.

So I turned to Craigslist once again and found quite a few fantastic deals. There's one things I've learned about Albuquerque's Craigslist...people don't remove their postings after their stuff in sold. In LA, this happened pretty much immediately. The other thing I've learned here is that when you respond to their posts, people don't ever reply if they've sold things. I jumped right on a great deal for a nearly new washer/dryer set the first day and never heard a word back. I was hoping originally to find something I could buy "from owner."

Once that didn't seem to be panning out, I started checking the dealer listings. We found a nice set, in good condition for $250 and they are heavy duty/extra large load size. Such a good deal for us and I don't feel bad if I work them hard. The sale included free delivery and my husband talked them from a 90-day warranty to a 6-month warranty. They're refurbished obviously but they are working for us.

Since the washer in the place where we are now died a few weeks ago, as I mentioned in the flood story, my husband asked to buy another washer from these guys and he got a great deal bundling the three purchases and with free delivery to two different houses and help setting everything up. Good deal indeed.

Now sure I'm going to do what I can to pretty up the laundry room. It's nice and big with lots of counter space to sort, fold and stack clothes.It also has a lot of storage space which is great. It also has a space for our other refrigerator or to put a freezer in there instead. Our house doesn't have a lot of rooms in it, but happily all the rooms are a good size except maybe the two other bedrooms which certainly are a decent enough size. But there is plenty of room outside and in all the main rooms of the house to spread out.

Last week we hiring a contractor to fill in the kitchen and dining room floors where there were once giant indoor planters. I'll share the details soon. But we removed the gorgeous brick floors in the laundry room to use the brick to fill in the floor in the kitchen/dining room.  It's sort of massive and then so 'the right thing to do' for the best interests of the kitchen and dining room. We're robbing Peter to pay Paul in a sense.

So that's how we saved big money on the biggest investments our laundry room will need. Now it's just a little updating and accessorizing. If I do things right I will love my laundry room just as much with my $250 washer and dryer set than anything I could've done with a $3000 set. Here's to happy, peaceful, stylish living on a budget!

02 October 2015

Heights House 2: Buy Used Tools And Borrow From Friends

We learned within a day or two of closing on our house that we would likely be stopping at Lowe's or Home Depot nearly daily or at least multiple times a week if we were going to quickly pull this house together. And boy howdy, those trips can get expensive when you start buying things like tools and ladders, painting and yard equipment.

So I decided to start watching Craigslist tools and free stuff sections for good quality used tools and equipment. It's amazing what you can find when you look around for it. Sometimes I would find truckloads or tool benches full of tools for sale. Other times old ladders and things. Here is a little list of great things I've seen available for sale in the tool section:

  • Camping/Hauling Trailer with a dropdown tailgate & locking storage boxes -- just $400.
  • Band and Circular Saws with Table
  • Drill Sets
  • Vices
  • Rolling Tool Carts
  • Generator
  • Scaffolding & much more.
We also got smart that we have family and friends nearby who own ladders and other tools that they rarely use and are glad to let us borrow for a brief time. I am a real stickler on not putting people out and not being an irresponsible borrower. So I try to only borrow tools for a set time and try never to get lazy or forgetful about returning things as quickly as possible. Tools also get returned with a nice little thank you treat and card whenever possible.

There are a lot of expenses involved in fixing up a house and some tool and equipment purchases are necessary but if you can save money on your purchases or borrow the things you only need for a very short period of time, that savings can really stack up quickly.

Right now we'd much rather give that money to contractors we hire to do the few but major fixes we don't think are too smart to do or are too time consuming to do ourselves. First priority is getting the concrete and brick planter boxes out of the kitchen/dining room and filling in the space with matching brick flooring.

Thankfully we have found a way to solve the needed brick problem that I think is going to work out great. We're making final arrangements on that with the contractor and it looks like we can have the work done by the end of this week. That is some very exciting news and the number one major fix we want to make to the house right now. Can't wait to see it finished. More to come on the house fix ups and I have a post I need to write up about a great work/life/sanity balance lesson I have learned in recent weeks to give you a break from all the house talk.

Hope you are doing well. It's so lovely to hear from you on comments here, on Instagram and FB. It makes me feel not so far away from this world when I am at work for so many hours each week. I do love my job but I very much miss my daily interactions with blog friends and followers. Thanks for staying close. It helps me be brave to do the things I have to do and happy to feel connected to the things that make me very happy and feed my soul.
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