Operation California begins in 3….2….1…..

We’re officially leaving Oregon.  We have a plan!  It’s for real this time!  Let’s start with the overall gist – you can get more details if you keep reading.

  • We’ve found a town home down in San Jose, California that we feel could be “home” for a few years
  • We have a tentative move-out date of October 1 and, lastly…
  • We have a Property Manager picked out to supervise all of the nitty-gritty of managing our house as a rental property so we don’t have to.

Phew!  That’s a lot!  Yup, we’re DOIN’ this!  So if you’re a glutton for punishment (or an internet stalker – I know you’re out there), then feel free to read forward on this page for more detail than you can shake a stick at…

The new place:

Bear in mind that I have not actually seen this place, but I trust my hubby to have found a place that will work for us in the long run and the pics he took of the property are far and away better than anything I’ve seen in the previous 7-8 months and they were pretty grainy iPhone shots.  It’s been an odyssey finding a decent place that didn’t feel absolutely crap-tacular, cramped or cost us an arm and a leg!  I can’t say that it’s not still going to cost us an arm and a leg, but this is definitely a place where patience was a virtue and we got so lucky to find it when we did.  Overall, it’s a 3 bedroom, 3-story town home with a 2-car garage and around 1800 square feet according to the online ad – although a lot of that is hallways and stairs so it looks much smaller than 1800 square feet.  It has everything we need and nothing that we don’t.  There’s no yard, but we were mentally prepared for that anyway as NO PLACE that we could afford had a yard.  Also, it’s California.  If I’m not getting my ass outside every day to walk the dog, then I’m just a jerk and a wimp.  I’m from Ohio originally and have spent the last 4 years in Oregon.  California is going to seem like a dream come true weather-wise compared to those two places so I *really* can’t complain about not having a yard…but I might change my mind once I become a California softie…

We don’t have pictures yet (at least, none we feel comfortable posting here since it’s not our stuff in the pictures), but we’ve already secured ahead of time that we can paint the walls in our new place and publish photos on the blog so you can bet that we’ll be “re-making” a new place, albeit this time without too much surgery.  It’ll be an interesting challenge to makeover a place where I can’t do much more than superficial changes so paint and decor is where it’s gonna be for a few years and it’ll be interesting to see how I cope with that.  A lot of bloggers do it very successfully, I might add – just check out The Nester and The Borrowed Abode if you don’t believe me.  The fun part is that since we’ll have a garage we can keep all of our tools and jump on the opportunity to build more “modular” solutions to suit a rental lifestyle – i.e. more furniture and less built-ins.  Regardless, it’ll be an interesting journey and I’m glad we have this here blog to start that quest all over again!

Moving our stuff:

We’ve done this before.  And we learned our lesson.  If you’re getting relocation from your company/new job, don’t pack anything yourself.  When we moved to Oregon four years ago from Ohio, the *cheapest* part of the move was the pack!  We thought we were being all smart and saving ourselves oodles of money by packing everything except for the breakables.  Lemme tell ya something – it really wasn’t worth it and we probably saved ourselves about a hundred bucks.  Ugh!  Fugheddaboudit.  A good moving company will pack up everything for you AND insure it so if anything breaks, it’s their problem to replace and not yours.  Since we’re not going to be able to get around the price of gas (that’s always fixed and not something we can control), we’re going to just go with our gut and have them pack it all, pack it in, drive it down, unload the truck and be on their way.  We are in no rush to get things unpacked in California when we get there – we’re not hosting any holidays this year and we’ve quietly limited our out-of-town guests as much as possible so there is no pressure to get things “perfect” before anybody comes to visit, so we can unpack as we go and take our time.  Absolutely worth the expense in the long run.

The move date is tentatively scheduled for October 1st, which means the movers will come to start packing things that day and will begin driving down to San Jose that night.  Then after that, we are slated to move into the place in San Jose whenever the truck shows up down there, which gives us a cushion of a few days to get the house cleaned up, the carpets steamed so that we can….

Rent out the old place:

…turn everything over to a local Property Manager here in Portland so they can handle all of the day-to-day.  They take care of everything, including finding a tenant, doing the background checks, getting them into the property, collecting the rent, and managing any maintenance issues that might crop up.  Overall, the only thing we need to take care of on our own is paying the mortgage and the HOA fees.  We’ll get an automatic deposit of cash every month and they trim about 8% off the top for expenses and the like.  It’s the best thing that will work for us at this point!  We know selling isn’t an option for us right now (you can read more about why by clicking here) so we may as well try to rent it out, make a little bit of income on the side which is preferable to listing, letting it sit and then earn nothing off of it.  Fingers crossed it all goes well!  Once it’s listed, maybe we’ll post it here and if anybody wants to rent it…..*wink*wink*…

Please rent me!

In final:

We have a busy month ahead.  Most of it is administrative work that needs to be done and not much that people can really help with.  However, once the house is empty, then we’ll definitely be hitting the ground running in terms of getting the house spotless, the carpets cleaned, etc.  I do have a fabulous cleaning lady, but that last week we’re here will be sort of a race to the finish line.  We’ll be sure to ask for volunteers if we need them!  We may need to crash at somebody’s house that first week of October if anybody is willing to open their doors…*hint*hint*…

Questions?  Concerns?  Anybody else making a big cross-country move this fall?  Having done this once before, it seems so much easier this time around…


Yes, we’re still alive…

No, we didn’t crash and burn between Portland and Silicon Valley.  It’s been a whirlwind few days of packing, unpacking, moving, blah, blah, blah.  We’re still in the discovery mode of, “Where is the nearest Grocery store?” and, “Ohmygod, I need an oil change – stat!”  Yea, I didn’t exactly have time to prepare THAT well before we moved – le sigh.

So here’s where we are – and this is a picture-less post for reasons I will explain in a minute.  We’ve unpacked almost everything and have “settled” as well as we think we reasonably can for an apartment that we are not quite ready to call our “permanent” place.  We still have piles of boxes everywhere with the thinking that we may just end up moving again before we’ve lived here a full 30 days – again, more on that later.  We also don’t have internet set up in our place yet – though the internet Lords are supposedly at our apartment right now with Dr. J while I’m ensconced safely at work, so hopefully before this day is through we can take some pics of our new place and show you it in all of its “underwhelmingness” – haha!  Hence, no real picture postings to share.

My first impressions?  The traffic isn’t as bad, the drivers are horrible (I can’t decide if they’re aggressive @$$holes, bad drivers or just simply Californian), the weather is a little like living in that movie “The Truman Show” (perfect *every*single*day* – completely not normal for this originally Midwestern girl) and living in a two-story walk-up with a pup isn’t as terrible as I thought it would be, though I think she’s mostly bored to tears.  It helps that the weather is always nice so taking her on walks  really isn’t a big problem – I may change my tune come winter.  In other Maggie news, she’s still not quite accustomed to all of the “noises” like car doors and people walking outside our window, so she’s a little jumpy and barky but we’re adapting by keeping a fan on for “white noise”, so that helps – we tried last night to go “fan-less” and she barked at least every hour on the hour – “Bark!  It’s 1 am and all’s well!”.  She’s also made a million and a half friends with all of the cute kids in our complex and has licked the crap out of practically all of them – she would’ve been a great Momma.  I’m also getting used to an endless morass of people everywhere *all*of*the*time* and can really appreciate why people around these parts buy a place in Lake Tahoe just to “get away from it all”.  No, I really do!

As for “plans” at this point?  We’re still trying to figure that out.  We may end up moving before our first 30 days are up on the lease simply because I don’t really have a decent place to work from home.  Even though my company is based here in SV, they’re not looking to provide me with a cube or an office anytime soon so I do need a decent place to squat from at home.  Working from the kitchen table, the bed or the couch just isn’t going to work for me in the long term.  However, we’re also not looking to spend a ton of money until we can lease our house back in Portland (which we haven’t even started marketing yet) and even when we do get our house leased, I’d much rather be saving my cash for “the perfect place to buy” in a few years.  I may be spoiled, but I can deal with an ugly place so long as it “functions” for the needs that we have.  The present place just isn’t quite at full functioning for us right now.  But it was cheap, took dogs and, most importantly – it was available!

So that’s what’s up with Tell’er All About It…still figuring things out and trying to stay “sane”.  Expect an update soon with pics of the new place – word is we’ve finally got internet at home!  God, how can one live without it???

Pack it up, Pack it in…

Right now our house is looking a little like this…

That is to say – it’s total chaos…

It might be pretty obvious by now but in case it isn’t we’re only moving two rooms (the Room of Requirement and the Guest Bedroom).  We’ve split up our kitchen items and have purchased just a few “basics” for Dr. J when he gets down there.  I have my doubts that all of our crud is actually going to fit into that trailer plus two cars and a Maggie….but we shall see….wish us luck!

Shut the Front Door!

We’re on an exterior mission to fix up the house’s curb appeal before we lease the house.  Here is step one!


It’s pretty sad and pitiful, isn’t it?  We heard from several of our neighbors that this door had been “knocked in” by the previous owners.  Something about being a foreclosure and them trying to get in and “steal” things from the bank (like the kitchen sink and all of the appliances).  Pretty sure they won “Homeowner of the Year” award in a parallel universe.  Oh, and we still haven’t traded out the Sheriff’s Locks on this bad boy.  We’ve been rocking the two toned handles since 2009!  Pretty sure we win “Homeowner of the Year” in this universe – haha!

But as if all of that weren’t bad enough, the door also faces west and gets all of the prevailing winds and moisture from our rainy Pacific Northwest winters.  Once it’s wet, the sun comes out and bakes it so up close it’s looking a little more like this:

…in other words, kind of warped, damaged and dried out from the sun.  We kind of hemmed and hawed around repairing this door for awhile for God knows why.  First it was because we thought we would need a handyman or carpenter to repair it because it looked like it was “out of true” and we wanted to try and salvage it.  The door looked crooked in the frame but after breaking out our level and straight edges we realized it was the casement that was crooked and not the door – haha!  Classic.  Reminded me of that Shel Silverstein poem about the kid who has wavy hair and eventually shaves it all off only to discover he just has a wavy head.  Well, we definitely weren’t going to tackle repairing the casements (that takes a calibre of skill that neither of us have and a can of worms that we didn’t have handy).  So that kind of gave way to the fact that we could go ahead and try refinishing the door and then seeing what happens.  After all, replacing this door is not an option.  It’s a full 8′ tall and as expensive as they come so may as well try to give it some spit polish…

So we removed the door:

…which gave Maggie a perfect perch to monitor all of the goings on:

…and then Dr. J got to sanding it down so it was smooth as a baby’s behind – literally took like 20 minutes:

…then it was into our secret stash of stains and paints and we found a leftover stain from….mystery project?  It may have been leftover from when we finished the Ikea Countertops for our desk in the office but we really don’t remember.  In other words – it was free.

Then we let it dry, sanded, poly-ed, sanded, poly-ed, replaced the door hardware and VOILA!

How’s that for some updated curb appeal?  Not bad for a quick weekend project that only cost us the cash to replace the locks.  Is it perfect?  No.  But we’re renting this house from here on out so it doesn’t have to be perfect for us.  It just has to look good!  And since we’ve purchased a nice storm door to protect it, we’re hoping that this finish will be nice and protected from the elements – fingers crossed.

Let’s take this outside…

Do you realize we’ve been in our house almost three years and we’ve only posted on the outside/landscaping like maybe a handful of times?!?  Wait, let me see if I can throw them all out there for you because it’s really not much:

The Back yard:

The Front and all around:

Three years…and that’s ALL we’ve done.  All of that and a bottle of rum .  It’s actually kind of embarrassing.  But when you spend your summers moving in, renovating a laundry room and finishing up a massive bathroom remodel while hosting a bajillion out of town guests, some things just kind of have to get skipped.  And let’s be honest, summer in Oregon really only lasts a solid two months so whenever we have a free minute and the weather is nice, we’d much rather be doing this:

…or maybe something like this:

Who wants to spend ALL of their spare time working in the yard?  Certainly not me!  Get me outside so I can have F.U.N!  But there are only so many times that you can play the “fun” card before your parents come to visit and tell you to “Grow up!”  As I hang my head in shame I kind of have to agree (*pouts*).  And since we’re planning on putting this house up for rent, we need to figure out a low maintenance scheme so that when we leave it the house will hopefully be on “auto-pilot”.  We’ve got some serious issues floating around our outdoor spaces and it’s high time we grow up and fix ’em.  First, perhaps a little bit of a list might help:

Front yard:

First off, we feel pretty lucky that we don’t have to do a ton of maintenance in the front since most of it is covered by the HOA.  We don’t have grass in the front so no need to worry about mowing and the HOA covers mulching every couple of years (though they do “barkdust” instead of mulch, so it erodes fairly quickly.  HOA, fail!).  And our plant life has been looking pretty paltry lately.  We’ve dug out roughly 6 bushes that have all bit it since our time living here and we have another one that’s on it’s last leg (*update* – it died.  We had to dig it up too).  We’ve done some planting here and there over the past 3 years but the landscaping could use some help.  Here’s a WAY old pic from before we closed on the house…

All three of the bushes in front (the two red and one green) are dead and gone and then the spider-y plants behind those have all died as well.  On the left side we dug up another bush and we have a Rhododendron that we planted just under the front window that I think is having drainage issues and is kind of on its last leg :-(.

Our front door…*groan*…

It’s a hot mess.  It’s obviously seen a fair amount of water damage over the past few years and since it faces west, the sun has done the rest of the work that the water didn’t – cracks, scratches, and just overall baaaaaaad.  We did purchase a nice storm door to hopefully quell any future water damage but the whole finish is a mess and needs to be refinished.  You can read about it in this don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it article of yore.  We also still have the old sheriff’s locks that were installed when the house was foreclosed – one brass and one brushed nickel.  In short, reeeeeeeeeal classy.

Back yard:

Oh, the backyard.  First off, it’s just plain dinky.  After we built a fence and dug out a garden, we’ve just tried to keep it as maintenance free as possible.  Here’s a pic from before moving in…

Let me explain a few things.  First off, Oregon summers really only last about 3 months (if we’re lucky).  We’re beating down the beginning of July right now and we’re still dealing with rain showers pretty much every day and temps hovering around 65-75 depending on the day.  Fabulous if you’re a vampire – horrible if you like to garden.  Last year, we really didn’t get good summer-y temperatures until the last two weeks of August and we still only got up to around 85!  That being said, we basically only use our backyard for two things – growing vegetables and Maggie’s personal loo when we’re too lazy to take her on W-A-L-Ks (yes, I have to spell it – she goes nuts if I say “walk”, “park”, “block” and about 100 other words and phrases that she understands – seriously, she’s the smartest dog ever!).  We don’t really use our backyard as a “hangout” spot because, let’s face it – it’s always friggin’ raining!!!!  So I have quietly eighty-sixed multiple plans by my husband to build decks, pergolas, buy more expensive furniture, etc, etc.  Honestly, I just don’t see the point because we never use it.  In fact, we spend more time “maintaining” our backyard than we do sitting out there and enjoying it and I blame it mostly on the weather – haha!

But there’s still so much to be done back here.  We’ve done a fair amount already (when we’re diving between rain drops and/or chopping down our overgrown Sage and Rosemary plants:

…but I admit we could do more.

So here’s hoping we can figure out some time this summer between road trips to California to get’er all done!  We’ll be updating a few things here and there.  In fact, we’re sneaky – some of those things have already been tackled!  Muwahaha!  Stay tuned…

Decrease, delete, declutter…

We’re moving to California!  Which means….we need to downsize – a LOT!  In fact, we’ve put a deposit down on a….wait for it…1 bedroom, 600 square foot apartment.  Yes, we are moving from a 4 bedroom, 1900 square foot house with a garage to a 1 bedroom, 600 square foot apartment with no garage and no real storage (more on that in another post).  I know, I know – it is certifiably crazy, that’s for sure!  Regardless, there’s a lot of this going on lately:

…in other words, we are trying to clear out the clutter.  So far we’ve already paid one junk hauler to come through and take away half of our garage worth of stuff and have taken one Mazda3 car load worth of clothes to send to Goodwill and to Powell’s Books to get rid of a laundry basket filled with old paperbacks that we never read.  Seriously, I got rid of some of my summer reading requirements from my high school AP English classes and even the dress that I wore under my gown to my High School graduation!  We won’t discuss how many hairstyles ago that was…

So this brings up a good point.  How do you decide what to give away, donate, re-furb, etc.  I’m a MASTER de-clutterer.  It’s probably because I’m not really a very sentimental person except in rare cases and my Mom taught me from a very young age to go through the crap and keep only what is super meaningful/useful to you.  So I thought it would be good to kind of detail here a couple categories of things here – maybe it’ll be helpful, maybe it won’t?  And maybe we’ll be getting to more stuff later on!

Clothes – Ahhh….yes, clothing.  Here is where we ladies tend to go overboard.  But I have a few simple rules for controlling clutter.  First off, you need to go through your closet every season change (well, fall and spring essentially).  And you should also go through it whenever heavy items fall on you whenever you open the door – it’s always a good rule of thumb.  But here is how I determine what to keep/throw away:

  1. Have I worn it in the past 6-12 months OR have I worn it in the previous season?  If the answer is no for both of those, then it’s probably time to say hasta la vista, baby!  Just to be safe, try it on to be sure it fits….
  2. Does it fit?  This probably seems pretty obvious, but I can’t tell ya how many people I know who keep those “skinny” jeans just in case they might fit again.  Lemme tell ya somethin’, honey.  Get rid of them!  Once you do lose that weight, treat yourself to a non-calorie item and go out and buy NEW clothes!  Also, remember this saying always – “You should wear your clothes.  Your clothes should NEVER wear you!”  If you don’t feel absolutely sexy/beautiful/insert miscellaneous compliment here, then it’s time to get rid of those clothes.
  3. Stains?  Missing buttons?  Repair work that’s outside your scope?  Again, pitch it.  Especially if you’ve attempted repair and it’s just not taking.
  4. If you need more space, then click here to learn how to fold your clothes the “right” way – Seriously, I have so much space in my drawers now because of learning how to fold shirts this way.  And it sounds silly, but both Dr. J and I used to have our own “methods” for folding shirts and now we both fold this way because it saves us *so* much room!  It may just change your life – you never know!
  5. Lastly, understand your climate – Everybody said when we moved to Oregon that we wouldn’t need our warm winter coats and (for the most part), they’re absolutely right.  There are also a lot of “climate” issues that I’ve noticed about living in Oregon versus living in Ohio – anything that’s suede and/or water penetrable in my closet absolutely *cannot* be worn.  That means shoes, coats, blazers – you’ll rarely see an Oregonian strutting their stuff in a pair of Uggs – it’s the most colossal waste of money!  So eliminating these items from my wardrobe is pretty important.   Now that we’re moving to California, we’ll no doubt be going through a whole other set of wardrobe changes….gotta make room for it!
Books – I’m finding out as I get rid of books and try to offer them to people that so few people are reading these days!  Ugh!  It’s such a crime!  I can’t sleep at night if I don’t read a few pages of *something* before I go to bed.  But I think books are kind of clutter-catchers, especially light summer reading paperbacks.  Dr. J can read a 500 page novel in about 36 hours on a vacation so we have amassed quite the collection of books.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this snap below:

I know a lot of people feel somewhat sacrilegious in throwing away books, so here are a few tips that might help you out when it comes to decluttering books and also some thoughts on how to purchase books in the first place:

  1. Buy yourself an e-reader – Are you a Nook-er or a Kindle-er?  In our household, we’re both.  And honestly, I don’t think it matters very much anymore what kind of e-reader you should buy.  If you like to read, they are VERY affordable nowadays (an entry-level e-reader will only set you back about $100 these days).  And if you’re looking to declutter, this is an absolute no-brainer!  We purchased an e-reader about a year ago and honestly it is just about the best thing we’ve ever done.  When we went to Hawaii last year, we took our Nook and Dr. J read about 2000 pages in a matter of a week.  Not sure how many books that was but it doesn’t really matter.  An e-reader is a declutterer’s best friend!
  2. Go to the library – This is one I’m always trying to get Dr. J to use – I mean, 2000 pages in a week is easily 3-4 novels – possibly more!  And since his tastes in reading tend towards fiction, it’s very “disposable” light reading that he can easily check out of the library and return with no need to store it!
  3. If you must buy, then leave the paper, take the hardback – Here’s a tip – hardback books are pretty and they really give a bookcase a nice “distinguished” look (minus the dust covers).  Paperbacks, however, are ugly.  Their spines never retain their shape, the artwork is very often ugly and super market-y/loud and they just DO NOT look good – i.e., they are very disposable.  I realize books aren’t all about looks, but if it’s something that I feel “obligated” to keep because I’ve read it, then YES, it IS about looks once the passage of reading enjoyment has gone.  And, no, I don’t believe in keeping books as “conquests” or as a brag sheet.  That’s what the public library is for!  If it’s paperback and it’s a “disposable” title, then I say pitch it – unless it’s something you read often.  And if you read it often, you may want to consider forking over a few extra bucks for a hardback version because a paperback is not good for repeated reading – or see about buying it on your e-reader!
  4. Now I have the book, how do I decide to keep/pitch? – This is a very personal question – and it really depends in your level of interest in the book.  I have a few books that I re-read every few years or so and make it a point to keep them handy for those times.  For example, I re-read the Harry Potter series probably every couple of years from 1-7, so those books will always be on my bookcase (and some are paperback just to give you an idea).  However (and I will probably get a lot of crap for admitting this publicly), I had to pull teeth to get through the Twilight series  so I ended up sending those books to the toss pile even though it was a high quality hardback set.  If it’s a book that I will likely never touch again and it’s a paperback (see paperback note above), then I have no qualms in giving it the boot.  So ask yourself these questions – Do I love it?  Will I read it again?  Does it have a memorable inscription/meaning?  Do I need this book for work/class?  If the answer is ‘no’ to any of those questions, then it’s time to retire the book.
  5. Where do I send my old books?  – As unsentimental as I may be about “stuff”, I do still think that books should be given proper burial.  I.e. – send them to a used bookstore, a library, or see if some of the titles you have are appropriate for your local school and call to see if they would accept donation?  There are so many options for getting rid of books.  Don’t ever feel like you have to throw it in the garbage – that IS actually a crime!

So that’s all I’ve got for now.  I’m sure there will be repeats of tips above on other sites, other places.  We still have a long way to go – namely the kitchens and the bathrooms will need a serious down scaling.  But we’ll get to those in time.

It’s time for another (video) house tour!

The last time I did a video house tour, it was back before we renovated the bathroom and finished up the Room of Requirement – i.e. it was well over a year and a half ago!  And since we’re planning a pretty massive move down to California, I thought now would be a good time to update the latest video tour.  Because…le sigh…it might be the last time to really photograph the house before it gets all “torn up” before we move.  So here goes nothin’!


Oh, and if you’re curious what the last house tour was like, then you can click here for the one we took in January 2011.  It’s kind of funny to watch them one after the other just to spot the changes.  Dr. J and I recently watched the one from 2011 and it’s amazing to see the old master bathroom and how much of an upgrade we gave that sucker.

Here are some fun things to point out in the 2012 tour:

  • Maggie, the Mascot Mutt – she kept following me around upstairs (as she always does) and made some cute cameos :-).
  • My “technical difficulties” with the camera – I just couldn’t win (story below)
  • The completed office, Room of Requirement and Master Bath!
  • I was still wearing my Pajamas when I made this tour so notice how I slyly avoid looking in mirrors throughout the tour – haha!  there are a few peeks, though – don’t worry, it wasn’t anything too risque!
  • Apparently I say “Love it! Love it! Love it!” a few times throughout.  I don’t notice it, but Dr. J did…haha!

So that’s the video house tour 2012.  Hopefully it should come in handy for our future renters-to-be??  Who knows?  Also, I just couldn’t seem to “win” the day I shot this.  I went to use the Flip cam, realized it was out of battery and switched to my point-and-shoot camera which has video capability.  I shot the downstairs with no problems, then when I went upstairs I accidentally shot myself directly in the mirror wearing my pajamas and my hair all a wreck (classy!).  So I had to do another take and then my camera ran out of battery (gah!), so I had to do a quick charge and rush through the last half of the tour – hah!  It was funny :-).  Like I said, I just couldn’t seem to win!

Let me know what you think.  You’ll have to head on over to YouTube to watch the video but it should give you a pretty good idea of the layout of our house and all the changes we’ve made since the last tour.  Enjoy!