Project 1650 to 1340: And Done!

We have been in our house for 5 months now. It took a little getting used to driving different routes and learning to get around in our new area. But I’m already learning the back roads and best ways to get to all the places I like to go. Moving north has put us closer to the towns of Rogers and Bentonville, which are growing at an amazing rate. They have every store, restaurant, and amenity you can imagine (if you’re willing to brave the traffic – ha!). Lowell (where we live) still maintains that small town feeling; their boundary sign states there are 9,000-something residents – but I’m sure it is well over 10,000 right now. It’s growing too

Back in mid-June, we experience our first Mudtown Days at the local park, which we can walk to. Lowell, Arkansas was once known as Mudtown. In the 1840’s Old Wire Road came through the area, running wagons and supplies (and later the telegraph) through the state, and the deep ruts in the road were treacherous after a strong rain, making it hard for wagon trains that were coming through. And thus Lowell earned its nickname.

Lowell experienced some incidents related to the Civil War, even hosting a Confederate encampment for a while. Its most famous resident was the car manufacturer Edsel Ford, who attended elementary school in Lowell in the early 1940s. There are lots of interesting things that happened in this little town Lowell, Arkansas (Lowell rhymes with BOWL, by the way).

Anyway, we’re slowly adjusting to living smaller (it isn’t so bad!). We got rid of so much and have slowly added new items – bar stools for the kitchen counter, a bench for the front entry area, a new head board, lots of new and repurposed storage, and a new rug for the living area. We still need a coffee table and some more seating for the living area as all we brought over was a small couch. Some day I’d like a smaller dining room table. All in good time …

(I can’t wait to get a privacy fence too!)

Miriam has a tiny garden going on our back patio – and for the first time EVER, we’ve had a tomato plant that has actually produced a few beautiful, ripe, red tomatoes. It’s a Lowell Miracle! (especially if I could tell you how black my thumb is!)

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SETTLING IN: Project 1650 to 1340

Looking back on 2022 so far, it’s been a wee bit crazy!! Living in this house seems a little surreal. In the last few days, I’ve been working from home due to a tornado taking down our internet/phones/electric last week! THANK THE LORD our building was fairly spared while the ones around us were gutted and across the street was flattened! I attribute that to our boss praying over us every day. So, I’ve finally BEEN HOME a few days to soak it all in.

I won’t re-cap all the things … but we just got back from a quick Spring Break trip to see my dad and catch up with some friends. 🙂 which was AMAZING! And bittersweet as we sorted through some of my mom’s things. Which means MORE STUFF to bring home – but things I am glad to have.

My little bedroom has become my favorite place. It is smaller than my old one, but we bought a new, smaller headboard. My desk is no longer in my room, but I’ve got my little work center nearby.

My view across the room is this corner that has my very favorite picture of my Oma – taken in the early 1950s. Plus I made a little collage of my favorite French prints: a little oil we picked up in Giverney (Monet’s hang-out near Normandy) and a poster from Mount Ste. Michel (which I have since found a frame for at Goodwill!) and a Van Gogh we also found while thrifting a long time ago.

The chair there was also my German grandparent’s.

Dan has a little corner as well. He’s never had a “love me” wall as they call them in the military … with all his awards and certificates. I did put up a few favorite pictures – my Opa, Dan’s great-grandfather who was in the Danish army, and Dan on an Army chopper. Plus his commission and a few favorite awards/commemorative times from his Army days. He doesn’t really like the attention, but this is something I am proud of – and normally only we can see.

While our room is somewhat compact, we do have the whole back length of the house as part of our master “suite”. We have a huge closet, that is kind of a L-shape and part of it serves as a storage. Our bathroom is ok … despite not getting the walk-in shower I’d hoped for. It’s all good.

Seeing some old familiar things (that Target-clearance berry wreath has been with us FOREVER! Probably 10 years!) and hanging some memories and souvenirs remind me of all the other places we’ve already seen and the people some of those things belonged to. It is starting to feel like home.

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Project Downsize: Kitchen

I will admit … I miss this kitchen with its GIANT pantry.

BUT with the determination to DOWN SIZE, a lot of dishes and gadgets have been donated, trashed or passed on to my son’s bachelor pad. And my new kitchen is small but functional:

These cabinets are strategically filled with the most useful things. Extra dishes, crock pots, the bread machine, the blender, and other such items are stored in the china cabinet or the laundry room.

FUNNY thing about our new fridge: the front door is NOT magnetic! Magnets will not stick to it (only to the sides). So much for our idea of covering our scratch-and-dent fridge’s flaws with magnets. Ha!

BUT I did find a cute way to display our extensive magnet collection – thanks to this board from Hobby Lobby:

I was on the lookout for a kitchen cart or cabinet due to the lack of cabinets I have. A friend told me she’d found some open storage and really liked it … and I too found this open shelving at Target (they have a new line called Brightroom) that fits my space and meets the need for a coffee station and additional storage:

And my pantry is a work-in-progress. I think I can do better than this – but for now, I am satisfied with what all I was able to stack and store and organize:

I’ve cooked a few meals by now and baked some treats … and it works out just fine. Sometimes more than one body in the kitchen gets a little tricky – but we’ll get used to maneuvering around each other.

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Project 1650 to 1340: Moving In

It has ben almost 1 month since we closed on our little house. We’ve been busy moving our things, getting rid of MORE stuff, working, going to school, and to add some interest to my life – we went through a big deal inspection that affects our accreditation at my work place last week! (which we passed with flying colors, thankfully!)

Northwest Arkansas has experienced some more winter weather. In fact, today, after a week of almost Spring-like temperatures, it snowed this morning! It shut down schools, but we were still able to go to work.

We have been pleasantly surprised at how well all our “stuff” has fit into the house. The hardest fit was – as I knew it would be – the kitchen. Our garage is set up much like the game Jenga – which I am actually rather proud of (my son helped a lot in organizing it!) – and I will document our innovation in garage storage later. Sadly, we can’t park 2 cars in the garage any more … but we knew that would be the case.

So, do come in! One new items we bought for the house is this entry bench from Wayfair (at a super sale price!). I just ordered some kitchen stools from them as well yesterday – they do have great clearance & sale prices sometimes.

This key holder is one of my favorite things – I got it at a craft bazaar when we lived in Germany. The vendor was from England, and the design reminded me of the cottages we saw when we visited the Cotswolds in 1997. The little “take a deep breath” plague is a house-warming gift from my sister-in-law – and I couldn’t agree more every time I walk into my house!

This bookcase is one of 9 pieces I bought unfinished, and I then stained, sealed and built for Dan many years ago when we moved to our house in Missouri. It was my labor-of-love to support his love for books and collections. In our rental house, we were able to have all the bookcases in our living room except 1. Upon down-sizing, we weren’t sure how many pieces we’d be able to use – but we’ve managed to fit 5 bookcases into the living room. The remaining 2 book cases and 2 end pieces (triangular display shelves) are in the garage.

More sneak peeks into our down-sizing project to come! Meanwhile, this weekend, we are donating the last of the items we don’t need, can’t use, or are clothes that don’t fit (mainly Mim’s clothes as she is suddenly getting tall!!). I wish I had kept a record of everything we got rid of – which I know you can do for tax purposes as well … but they include a huge dresser w/ mirror, a huge head & foot board w/ frame (from our queen size bed), and dishes, CD racks, desk chairs, bedding (comforter sets), clothes, shoes, old toys & electronics, 1 lawn mower, and broken TV/VCR combs (we had 2!!?!). Plus all the stuff we threw away or disposed of that NO ONE would need. And it has been AMAZING to downsize! I highly recommend it. 🙂


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Oh, Yeah … By the Way


Closing went very smooth on February 15. In fact, overall, everything about building/buying this house went fairly smooth! PRAISE THE LORD!

It still doesn’t seem quite real as we are still not sleeping at the new house quite yet … but we are getting there. One van, car or SUV load at a time ..

We started getting serious last Saturday when I was able to borrow my work’s delivery van to move some bigger items. We also needed a refrigerator. And friends, let me tell you – appliances are EXPENSIVE! I had some major sticker shock looking online at what to expect.

Thankfully, there are a few scratch-and dent places around here, and the first one we went to had a fridge both Dan and I really liked. But we wanted to make sure it was the best deal. And it was – so we were able to buy it and load it up in the work van, which also saved us a delivery fee.

There are a few scratches and dents .. but as my genius older daughter said, we can just put a cute magnet over those! ha! I compromised an in-door water dispenser, but the freezer does make ice. So yeah – I’m pretty pleased.

The best thing is this same fridge costs almost $700 more at Lowe’s – so I can definitely overlook the minor flaws.

Our area is supposed to get a big ice storm tomorrow through Thursday. School is already canceled, and I will probably get to go home at noon tomorrow – and be iced in for a day or so That is JUST PERFECT as I have a lot to organize at the rental house yet – and a lot to clean and touch up. And just maybe get in a good nap!

Stay tuned to see how we continue to down size as Project 1650 to 1340 continues …

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Project 1650 to 1340: the HOO

HOO = Home Owners Orientation

We had ours on Friday afternoon, Feb 11. With our builders, that means the house is COMPLETED and ready for closing! We did a walk-through and talk-through with the community manager and construction supervisor. They told us how to “use” the house (ie air filters, water shut-off points, what is recommended to maintenance & when) and made sure we know what all is under warranty and how long those warranties last. Etc., etc., etc.

We are all set to close this Tuesday, February 15!

An item of note just for me, we had to get an appraisal done (not sure if all home loans require this – but the VA loans require it before closing). AND the final paperwork stated that our home is 1341 sq. ft. That 1 square foot might make all the difference! (that, or someone made a typo!).

#419 is almost ours! (Well, our mortgage company’s, but they will let us live there!)

My project this weekend has been to figure out HOW IN THE WORLD to fit my current (amazing, wonderful, best-ever!!) kitchen…

…into this: lovely but SMALL kitchen:

And YES, project #1 once we move in is install our PRIVACY FENCE

(just look out those windows :-O !)

I also need to downsize my AMAZING current pantry, that is basically a small room in-and-of itself:

into this pantry:

While we are very excited and very THANKUL for this new house (especially in this CRAZY housing market here in NW Arkansas), there is some sadness over leaving the house we have LOVED for the last 7 1/2 years. Favorite. House. Ever.

But we are SO incredibly thankful for the journey of financial restoration that we’ve been on the last probably 8-9 years after a job loss, serious injury, and so many other things God has allowed to help us focus on HIS provision – and most of all, that THIS WORLD IS NOT OUR HOME! Where we live and what we live in – in the light of eternity – doesn’t really matter (except to us as human beings who crave comfort and convenience). So while I may mourn the letting go of our rental house (a lot!!), I am seriously trying to focus on BEING THANKFUL for what God has given us – a brand new house with our very own mortgage here on His lovely planet earth in lovely NW Arkansas!

For the moment, until we have signed every last closing document and I have keys in hand, I am still somewhat holding my breath … and once that happens, the REAL project 1650 (sq ft) to 1340 (sq ft) will begin as we start to move in!

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House On Hold:

We are due to close on February 15. I haven’t been by the house in a while. Sadly, as many of you know, my mother passed away quite unexpectedly on January 23. I think we’d been to the house a few days before that. In one of the last phone conversations I had with my mom, she was asking about the house, saying she wished she could come help us move, but she couldn’t leave Dad (ironic, isn’t it!). And toward the end of the conversation, she asked, “You are happy, aren’t you?” and I assured her I was. And she affirmed she was glad I sounded so excited and less stressed out than I sometimes I get with work, life here so far away from my extended family, and things I let bog me down.

Maybe some day I will post more about my mother. It is still very surreal that she left this earth so suddenly, unexpectedly, but I know she is in Heaven and because of God’s grace through faith, we WILL see each other again! I am overwhelmed with the love and support of so many friends and family who have surrounded us these last almost 2 weeks. I talked to my dad today, and God has given him amazing grace in these last days as well!

The last time I saw the house was some time during the week of January 16. The house is now locked up tight, and I couldn’t get inside so I doubt we’ll be back by there until we have our next inspection/walk-through with our builder. So far, despite not getting a few feature we’d hoped for (but weren’t promised), we are mostly pleased. There was one little error — our house # isn’t 941. Some worker decided to change our address!

One thing we didn’t have a choice about in the community plan was the outside (or elevation) of the house – and we ended up with brick & stone, which I would definitely have chosen if I could have! I do think our house is prettier than some of the others of the same model! 🙂

We have gutters and blinds now, and the front door and garage door are painted. We are hooked up for utilities and internet and climate control.

OH! And our house # is actually 419 (ironically the same house number as my parents have back in Tennessee.).

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In the Light:

Mid-January our house made great strides. We have LIGHT! Lights, appliances, carpet!!

Bedrooms w/ carpet – and lovely (ha!) builder grade ceiling fan.

Everything is covered in construction dust for now … and the appliances aren’t BLUE – ha!

I had hoped for white cabinets … but with this plan of building, we are bound by what was available. And the cabinets look nice with the countertops.

At this stage, the house still needed gutters and blinds and other details I don’t even know about: but it’s getting pretty real:

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Moving Along … but Not In Yet:

We have countertops – sinks – the walls & trim are painted. The dishwasher is installed – the stove & microwave (over-the-stove) are waiting their turn. Some doors are on and shelves are installed in the linen closets and pantry and closets.

There is no electricity yet so all the pictures here are taken at night. So the colors don’t really show.

It is motivation to clean out and clean up the lovely rental house. Got 6 more trash bags full to donate. I bought at least 6 or 7 plastic storage bins and under-the-bed bins over the weekend – and filled them up – and my FAVORITE: labeled them with my handy-dandy labeler.

Still SO MUCH to be done – here and there. Thankfully it has been cold but not freezing or rainy here this week. Maybe some brick and stone work will get done?!?! Here’s hoping I can post about that soon!

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New Year – New House!

It is getting closer .. estimated house closing was January 31. And that’s just a few short weeks away. I think we’ll make it. That’s one – perhaps – good thing about a pre-planned house: you don’t get a lot of choices so you can’t make a lot of changes!! The builders just do their thing – and you watch.

Last we saw the house was around January 1st. We have floors, trim, kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Waiting on painting, bedroom carpets, counter tops, sinks, and appliances. EEK! Well, and the finishes like light fixtures, ceiling fans, and light switch covers .. oh – and don’t forget blinds and gutters!

Here’s my teeny tiny kitchen. Good news is I’m not an elaborate cook; I don’t have a huge family; and God did not give me the gift of hospitality. So this will be just fine. And who needs 47 places settings, 53 glasses, and 22 coffee mugs? Not ME! That’s how many dishes it feels like I’ve weeded out and donated to our local charity center.

I am getting a fairly sizable, flat kitchen island which will have space for a couple of stools and allow me to spread out a little. The builder gave me a little insight to how his own islands helps him maintain dishes: you won’t be able to stand the sight of dirty dishes and pans stacked up on it so you’ll be (hopefully) more apt to do them!!

Same style/color cabinets in the bathrooms.

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