Designing a Custom Home – Part 13 – Unpacking and Getting Settled

We moved almost two months ago.  We are still not unpacked.

The garage looks like this . . .



The sunroom looks like this (at least we did get a tree decorated for Christmas) . . .


The bathrooms aren’t too bad (the grasscloth wallpaper that’s supposed to be above the tub is still on the punch list) . . .



The family room is actually in pretty good shape (the dogs like their beds although they don’t always pick up their toys) . . .


My point is, even though we spent the greater part of a year designing our home, and then another seven months building it, this house is a stranger to us.  We need to get to know it, to learn its idiosyncrasies, and to figure out how it will best function for us.  This is why there are no pictures on the walls yet and anything on a shelf or in a cabinet is subject to be moved.  Just because it made sense unpacking a box to put silverware in “that” drawer, doesn’t mean that’s where it will live forever.  Nothing is permanent yet, and that’s what stresses me out a bit.  I’d love for everything to be in its place, but I don’t know where that place is yet.  But it will happen eventually, and all will be well.

My advice is to take your time getting settled in.  If you’re like me, you want everything done yesterday, and that’s just not realistic and will likely frustrate the living daylights out of your spouse (not that I’m speaking from experience, LOL).  Listen to the voice of reason (aka your spouse), and do a little bit at a time.  Take time to rest and enjoy your new home.  Sit on the couch and think about which picture will look best above the fireplace.  Go to sleep at night and dream about which drawer you open for tea towels.  Taking your time and getting things right the first time will save you time, money, and energy in the long run.

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Twelve Years

Earlier this month, Robert and I celebrated our 12th anniversary.  Where has the time gone?  We both agreed that there are times that it just seems like yesterday that we said, “I do,” and other times it feels like we’ve always been in each others life.  Every day, though, I’m grateful that I found my best friend, my soul mate, the love of my life.

Love of my life

We celebrated by going to Branson, Missouri for the weekend.  We had dinner at The Keeter Center on Saturday night, and brunch there the next day.  We were extremely impressed with the quality of food and service, and the young students who are working for their education at College of the Ozarks.  They were all decked out for Christmas, too, with this enormous Christmas tree in the lobby.


After our amazing meals, we were surprised with an anniversary cupcake to share.


We’re looking forward to what year 13 has in store!

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One Year . . .

Veterans CemeteryOne year ago today, my dad died. There are days I still can’t believe it. Every day on the way to work, we pass the assisted living facility where he spent most of 2013, and my car automatically wants to turn into the parking lot.  I miss him every single day.

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Maui 2014

Earlier this fall we had some friends and coworkers giving us a hard time about our “annual trip to Maui.” For the record, no, we do not go to Maui every year. Yes, we have gone four times in the past five years. What’s your point?

Anyway, after everything that happened last year, I knew that an island getaway would be necessary to restore my mental health. If only we’d known how true that would prove to be.

Checking our frequent flier miles and the reduced rates chart, we determined that the end of October would be the best time to return to Maui. Steve and Ginger were on board with us as well, so we looked forward to a fun-filled 10 days. But there was this minor issue of building a house, and as the weeks ticked away, we started to get nervous. Our completion date was still scheduled for October 1, which would give us four weeks to move in. Cue the weather delays. Cue the materials delivery delays. Cue whatever other delays prevented us from being able to move in until FOUR DAYS before we were getting on a plane.

We managed to get most of our belongings out of the house and the beds set up, knowing that the garage and shed would have to wait until we got back (and no, we’re still not done). Then we had to find our suitcases and swimsuits and pack. Not to mention that our pets were a little traumatized as we uprooted them from their home, put them somewhere new, and then abandoned them with a new house sitter. I’ve never been this stressed trying to go on vacation – ever. And let’s not forget that now that we live in the country, we needed to leave our house at 4:30 a.m. to get to the airport (thanks again for the ride, Steve). But once we were on the plane, we had to let go of what we were leaving behind. There would be no unpacking or organizing this week, so rest and relaxation was the plan.

We opted for an ocean-front room this time, which meant every morning we woke up to this.


Because of jetlag, we woke up around 2:30-3:00 a.m., and this was our view.


We spent a lot of time hanging out on various beaches.






We had the best fish tacos ever at the Paia Fish Market.


After having driven it ourselves multiple times before, we took a private tour to Hana. Robert, Steve, and Ginger finally got to see Charles Lindbergh’s grave.


We saw countless waterfalls.


And the rainbow eucalyptus trees were pretty cool.


We also took a submarine ride on Atlantis.



Of course we indulged in some Hula Pie.


Finally it was time for our farewell ceremony.


Our travels home made for a very long two days, but finally we were back in the new house with our furbabies. It was time to get serious about unpacking and getting settled.

Aloha, Maui, until next year time.



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Annual Peanut Brittle Makin’ Days 2014

For many years now it has been a family tradition to make peanut brittle around Thanksgiving to share with our friends and family. My dad started this adventure decades ago, and then my sister and I joined in to learn his secrets. Looking back at older posts you can see my mom’s smiling face as she “supervises,” while my dad stirs and watches the candy thermometer rise to hard crack. Although last year he was unable to participate, Kathy and I made the brittle and he handed out several bags to his caregivers in the assisted living facility. This year, though, was the first year we moved forward without him, which really made the day bittersweet.

On a happier note, though, we had our candy factory set up in our new house, and it worked out very well. As part of the design of our house, I told Suzanne and Jennifer at Stitt Energy Systems that the kitchen island needed to be a certain size to accommodate the boards we use to pour the brittle on and spread. (Dad made the boards years ago and Kathy and I both got one.) The new island worked great! Although I’m sure it was probably the first time that Stitt had been asked to design a kitchen around a once-a-year family tradition, LOL.





I’m also pretty sure that Tim and Nathan, the guys who built our cabinets, had never before had a request for a specialty cabinet to hold a peanut brittle cooling board. But in our old house, the only place I could keep the board was between the refrigerator and the cabinet, and in my dad’s house, it was in the utility room leaning against the washer. Now I have a place dedicated to keep it safe until the next year.



Kathy and I had a lot of fun making the candy, talking, and catching up. We laughed and cried both as we remembered peanut brittle past, and talked about what we wanted for Christmas. As it turns out, we don’t want or need anything except time with each other. And that’s the best gift of all.

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Filed under Dream Home, Family, Holidays