It’s Christmas Time! It’s Christmas Time!

So, it is officially the first day of the Christmas season.  This year, for the third time in my adult life, I get to have Christmas at my own house.  Can I get an amen?  Hallelujah!!!  No traveling for us! The thing is, my mom decorates her house from top to bottom.  Because they have lived their for over 20 years, she has established traditions (the creche goes here, the candles go there. . . etc.)  In this new house, I have not only a new space to decorate, but a whole new color scheme to think about.  Add to that the new South Florida climate, and we get a whole new Christmas look!

So today, after the post Thanksgiving potato pancake breakfast (yum, and thank you to my mother-in-law).  We went to buy a fresh tree.  Since we don’t have to travel, we get to have a fresh one this year, a first for my little man who has only ever had artificial trees.

We are keeping the beachy vibe going with our Christmas decorations.  At first I was torn between the beautiful tree that I wanted and the multi-colored, multi-styled ornaments that I had been collecting for years.  I used all of my old ornaments, but added the turquoise that I love all over the tree.  I also used cheapy plastic bulbs in turquoise, silver, and green in fishbowls.

Ornaments aren't just for the tree!

Keeping the color theme going without going overboard.

So the 8 foot fresh tree was a MAJOR steal at only $31.00.  I added a dozen super cheap turquoise glitter snowflakes for $2.50.  The silk poinsettias, silver coral, and turquoise and gold ribbon were a little more pricey, but I had left overs of to use elsewhere.  My mom bought the tree skirt for me for my birthday, so the whole thing (including tree stand, extra lights, and decorations) cost about $110.00.  In some cities, you can’t even get a tree for that, and I will have all of these decorations for years!  Take a look at this gorgeousness.

Our Beachy Christmas

Please disregard the boxes and bags that I had not moved around.  The lantern also moved to live on the buffet.

Turquoise Poinsettieas? Yes, please!

Note the peanut ornament that my parents purchased at the Carter Foundation.  They were there at an event to honor donors to Habitat for Humanity, and knowing I was eating my heart out, they bought me this ornament.  Now every year I can remember that I couldn’t go.

Margaret Furlong Shell Ornament


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Pulling it together

Twenty days after we moved in, we hosted Thanksgiving for our parents.  For those of you who want things to be “perfect” for the holidays, imagine 50+ boxes to unpack and make into a home in less than three weeks.  The last twenty days have been a whirlwind.  I have to say that I am truly thankful to be settled into our new home!

If you are moving here is how I was able to unpack and organize so quickly (Hint: the secret is in the packing and planning)

Kitchen boxes

This was the beginning of the unpacking gauntlet.

      1. Plan the layout for your space.  I actually made a scale diagram of our new home and played with the placement of the furniture.  It takes more time than you would think to rearrange a room once furniture is already placed, so take good measurements of the space and of your furniture.  Make sure to include door and hallway dimensions. Knowing where your larger items will go will save you time in the long run and the stress of trying to get a too large piece of furniture through a too small doorway.
      2. Use moving boxes.  At most corporately owned Uhaul locations, they have a leave a box/take a box program.  We, did not find this out until we were getting rid of boxes.  This is important because the boxes will stack well in corners and be sturdy enough that you are not wasting time cleaning up damaged items.  After you unpack, you are going to need a place for these boxes to go.  All of our Uhaul boxes are going back to them, which will empty out our garage dramatically.

Label your boxes with the room and the items or even unique location  within the room.  For instance we had boxes labeled “Buffet Drawers Fragile” and “Items from Secretary” not only did we know what room they went in, but where in the room.

We unpacked all of this in 18 days.

  1. Have help if you have children.  My mother-in-law stayed with us and took care of our son and pets while I unpacked like a possessed demon.  Had she not been here that first week, I would not have been ready for the holidays.
  2. Set up donation pick up.  Even though we got rid of quite a bit of large furniture, prior to the move, we still had boxes of clothes, toys, and a mattress that needed to be donated.  Salvation Army and Amvets will come to your house and load up the donations themselves, saving you tremendous time and stress.
  3. Lastly, set aside time.  I took a total of three days off to move and I knew that we had the week of Thanksgiving off from school.  I unpacked enough that during this week we concentrated on arrangement and cleaning.  While it may seem like too much time to take to set up your house, know that until you feel settled you will be unpacking every night after work.  I come home to a pretty, comfortable home and can relax after a hard day of work which makes me more productive the next day.
  4. Have an area or room where you forgive yourself for your lack of unpacking/organization/attention.  For us, it is the garage.  We chip away at it small bits at a time–or not.  I am completely OK with this messy space.

Here is what we ended up with.  The pictures are dark, please forgive me.

More to come later!

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Meet George Jetson

Meet our new house!  It’s a rental and we don’t intend to be here forever, but we will be doing everything we can to embrace this place and make it a home.  Here is a break down of the strengths of this house:

  • Garage-Hallelujah!!! Storage tops our list of needs when looking for a new place.
  • Two full bathrooms, one of them an en-suite off the master.
  • Plenty of electrical outlet
  • Windows and light
  • Large office for Greg
  • Fenced in back yard
  • Plentiful counter-space and cabinets in kitchen
  • Tile through-out (the potential for scratches on hardwood with three dogs mean almost no chance of a returned deposit–same thing for carpet)

While there are challenges with The Spaceship House, the fact that we know we will ultimately be building our dream home, makes these issues minor.  In many ways we are using this move to develop better habits and improve the quality of our lives.  Here are some of our goals for our new life:

  • Have less.  We have already started this by making some hard choices on what to keep and what to move.  As we were packing we were overwhelmed by how much junk we had accumulated.
  • Cook dinner and eat at the table.  We have lighting in the dining room!  I am ashamed to say that we lived for six years with a dark space that we never used.
  • Have a place for everything and put things away when  we are dine with them.
  • Exercise.  We will have a nice little home gym, and Saint Petersburg is huge on parks and recreation.  There are so many great places to explore with Jack
  • Go to community events, and participate in the community. I am joining a pirate krewe for Gasparilla (more on this later 😉

Not huge goals, but their effects would change our lives.  Moving is such an opportunity for change.  Have you ever reinvented yourself in a new place?

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The Beginning

I have lived in many, many places.  So many, in fact, that my family used to write my address in pencil.  Since I graduated from college in 1997, I have moved 13 times.  We lived in the last house for six years, getting married in the backyard and bringing our son home there, but it never felt right to either of us.

Sometimes a place is just not right for you.  So, we headed South to the Tampa Bay area.  We are going to be making our home in Saint Petersburg.  This blog will chronicle how we get to know our new city.  This blog will cover everything from making our rental house a home until we build the dream home to finding schools and making friends.  Please join me as we plant some new roots.

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