Who Said Retirement is Relaxing?

We have been so busy the last few days, that by the end of the day I’m too tired to blog.

Tuesday through Thursday we tore up wood flooring, and Friday we finally got to start laying the new flooring in the kitchen and living room. This vinyl plank flooring is pretty neat. We rolled out pressure sensitive adhesive around the perimeter of the room. Once it was set, we started laying the planks. They aren’t tongue and groove or click together, so you plop them down and abut to the previous row. The most time consuming part of the process is cutting the funky pieces, but you can use a box cutter for the straight cuts and we used the awesome new oscillating multi-tool for the trickier cuts. I say we, but Shawn did all the cutting. My job was laying the full pieces. It took us about 5 hours to get the kitchen and dining area done. We still have lots to go since we intend on putting it throughout the house, but it is so nice to have a few rooms done, and it is so much quieter than the bare plywood. Our knees are toast.

While we were waiting for the glue to set, we took the opportunity to explore our new acreage. Friday morning was clear and sunny, so it was a great day for a walk. We were trying to figure out the boundaries of our property which is not as easy as one would think. The house sits at an angle on the lot, so the corners of the lot are hard to figure out. The previous owner marked one of the back corners, but we could not find the other back corner. The back half of the property is wooded and the front half is grassy. A seasonal creek runs through it. We saw many fresh signs of deer.

We had a quick chat with our driveway neighbor. He gave us the rundown on the other neighbors. Below us are the “hippies”; they grow plants under grow lights. To the west is a retired Costco butcher. Shawn is pretty excited about meeting him. Across the road is a gunsmith; quality of work unknown. We were also warned about the guy down the road that likes to get into everyone’s business. He was described as “drives a Toyota Tundra, smokes small cigars, is a self-proclaimed expert at everything, and has about five teeth.”

Today, our last POD arrived so we spent the day getting it unloaded. As with the previous PODs, the unloading commenced in the snow. We woke up to a few inches of snow on the deck and ground, but by afternoon the sun was out again and almost all of the snow had melted. I was so happy to have my washer and dryer setup. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea where the laundry detergent is. I think that will be the story of our lives for the next few weeks as we begin to unpack.

Tonight, after another long day of physical labor, we sat in a couple sections of our sectional sofa facing the windows and enjoyed the spectacular view and sunset.

MorningAfternoon

Be Our Guest

We spent the majority of our day working on the guest room flooring. An early morning trip into Coeur d’Alene (CDA from now on because it’s easier to type) for more flooring and assorted supplies at Home Depot. You can’t go into town without a trip to Home Depot to buy and/or return stuff.

Yesterday we pulled up all the carpet, pad and tack strip and filled the holes in the floor of the guest room. This morning we rolled out contact adhesive around the perimeter of the room and closet. Then we just started slapping down the vinyl planks. The center of the room was done in no time, but cutting the planks for the ends, edges, and doorways took a few hours. It looks much better than the original gray indoor/outdoor that was there originally. We will paint and install new baseboards when we return in March.

Empty with original indoor/outdoor carpet
Contact adhesive applied
Contact adhesive applied
New flooring
New flooring

Today I noticed that I would walk from room to room and forget why I had entered the room because I was distracted by the view. While standing at the kitchen window, I watched a flock of small birds hunting for treats in the bushes. While passing through the living room, I stopped to watch a hawk soaring through the pines. While putting away tools in the basement, I looked out the window to see a deer staring back at me. It appears every task will take me twice as long to accomplish here, but that’s OK because I will have time to stop and enjoy the view.

If you’re in the area, stop by. The guest room is the only room with flooring and a bed! And don’t forget your mittens…it’s chilly.

 

Let the Home Improvement Projects Begin

There were so many other blog titles that went through my mind today while tearing out carpet, such as “Carpet is Disgusting”, “I Know Where All the Dead Skin Cells Go”, “What the Hell Were These People Doing on Their Carpet? Sacrificing Animals?” We have been tearing out carpet for two days, and it is gross. We are going to install 3,000 square feet of “luxury vinyl flooring” that looks like gray weathered planks. It is waterproof and nearly indestructible. No more dead skin cells filtering into the carpet pad. I see a Roomba in my future.

Vinyl flooring acclimating before installation
Vinyl flooring acclimating before installation

Toilet replacement was one of the first projects on the list. Shawn was not going to use another man’s throne, especially one with a wooden (ick) toilet seat.

Dethroned
Dethroned

This house has about a million doors, and half of them don’t shut or lock properly.  Shawn replaced the doorknob on the garage door so it would close by itself instead of banging into the door jamb.  Today we noticed that our bedroom door to the deck was not locked.  The deadbolt was a half inch below the hole in the door frame.  Of course, we’ve been told that no one locks their doors in Idaho.  I have not shed all my California paranoia yet, so Shawn fixed the door.  I noticed the lattice on the French doors was loose, so I removed it and greatly improved my view.

We got Internet today.  Mike from Red Spectrum Communications installed a big ass antenna below the deck.  A tree or two may need severe pruning or removal to improve our download speeds, but we have lots of trees and can spare one or two.  Mike shared some interesting Idaho facts with Shawn.  For example, if the previous homeowner leaves stuff and then later decides he wants it back, you have to give it to him or pay him for it.  WTH?  Within the boundaries of the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation, a tribe member can shoot something on your land and then come to your door and ask you if they can remove the kill.  As I saw numerous whitetail deer meandering across the front yard today, this may be a problem (or a way to make new friends).

More random stuff from the previous owner
More random stuff from the previous owner

Tomorrow is our last full day at the house.  Hopefully, we will get about 1,000 square feet of flooring laid.  We haven’t unpacked much because we want to get the flooring in first, so we have been living like college students with camp chairs in the living room and eating sandwiches and Cheezits off paper plates.  Soon our house will be a home.

My new work attire: gloves, back brace and knee pads
My new work attire: gloves, back brace, and knee pads
Sunset from the deck
Sunset from the deck
View from the deck today - the snow is almost gone after the rain last night
View from the deck today – the snow is almost gone after the rain last night

We Have Arrived in Idaho

On December 30, 2017, we closed on our new house in Idaho. We sent 2 out of 3 PODs worth of our stuff to Idaho in the first week of January, and now we are spending a week in Idaho. We had great plans of arriving on Saturday afternoon and having a few hours to unpack our bed and necessities before sundown. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Our flight from Sacramento to Spokane was delayed an hour and a half. The sun was going down as we raced from the airport to Home Depot to get a couple of lamps, an extension cord, and a snow shovel before heading to our new house in Worley, Idaho.

There was a tiny bit of light left when we drove up the driveway.  Our new neighbor, Kyle, stopped by and gave us the lowdown on how he had plowed our driveway for the delivery of our PODs.  Kyle was very helpful and we truly appreciated his efforts.   Kyle is a busy guy this time of year as he has a trapline that needs to be tended to every 72 hours.  Unfortunately, when our PODs were delivered, they weren’t really where we had hoped they would be:  near the garage with the doors facing the house.  Instead, they were up by the workshop with the doors facing away from the house.

So at 5:30 PM, in the dark, with a bit of snow and ice we began unpacking our belongings.  Basically, we needed to unpack enough stuff to find our bed and one box with a few necessities like toilet paper and bare essentials for the kitchen.  Shawn had the forethought to pack a powerful light to illuminate our path.

I think I may have mentioned that we bought the house after seeing it for about 40 minutes in November.  Since then, I have been pouring over the pictures we took almost daily, and they made everything a bit larger and shinier in my mind.  I had a moment of buyer’s remorse as I saw the state of the house in the fading light. With all the furniture removed, the rooms seemed smaller to me and everything a bit more worn and dingy.  Then I woke up Sunday morning, saw the incredible view and remembered everything that made me love the place the first time I saw it.

Saturday night after shlepping our stuff through the snow into the house and workshop, we drove into Coeur d’Alene to get some dinner and groceries.  Across the parking lot from the Chipotle, we happened upon Growler Guys.  They had 42 taps of craft beer and cider and were happy to let you taste them all (we did not…yet).  They were also advertising “Beer Yoga” the following evening.  We left with a couple 32 ounce “crowlers” of cider and barrel aged stout.  Back home, dead tired and in bed at 10 PM.

 

Sunday dawned a glorious sunny day.  We donned our work gloves and beanies and headed out into the cold to work on emptying the PODs.  I have moved in a lot of conditions, but this is the first time snow and ice have been in the mix.  Most of our stuff went into the workshop, garage and main floor of the house, but a few of the larger pieces of furniture needed to go in the basement.  This involved using a hand-truck to ferry the items around the side of the house through the snow and a few icy patches.  Shawn did an amazing job and no furniture was lost in this endeavor.

A few of the tracks in the snow were not ours…some 4-legged visitors had wandered through the yard

The previous owners left us a few things.  Some were thoughtful; others were downright weird.  The notes indicating which fuel was diesel or regular gas for the tractor = thoughtful.  The 1970’s era end table, full compost balls, yard butterfly art, child’s drawing of the water cycle, and assorted dishes = weird.

Before noon on Monday, we had everything out of the PODs.  We still need to unpack and do a million other things, but we are officially moved in!

Our first guests

 

Selling Our House in California

When you live in a house for years, there are just some things you start overlooking…the missing tile in the corner of the bathroom; the hole in the closet for the CAT 5 cable you installed pre-wifi; that overgrown corner of the yard that no one sees; the unpermitted electrical in the garage.  It turns out you need to deal with those things if you want to get top dollar for your house.  Our realtor, Joey, also gave us a lot of other suggestions to improve the saleability of our 21-year-old house.

Shawn had a lot of shelves and electrical built into the garage.  That all had to come out and then Joey suggested painting the walls white to give a cleaner, larger, brighter look.  If you’re going to have a 4-year-old “help” on a painting project, the garage is probably the best place.  To fill the holes left by the electrical conduit, Shawn found this nifty spackle that goes on pink and turns white when it’s dry.  No more trying to paint over wet spackle.

“Helping”

The water is our area is very hard, so we had years of buildup on our once clear shower doors.  I found a service to clean the doors and clean the tile grout.  What an amazing difference that makes.  Of course now we no longer use the master shower because we don’t want to get any water spots on the glass.

Before
After

We recently had the interior of our house painted, so the walls are in pretty good shape; however, our youngest son’s room still had purple walls and a wallpaper border of his favorite basketball team.  Joey said that had to go.  Seriously, who wouldn’t want a house in Sacramento with a Kings motif?  You need to support the home team people!  We removed the chair rail and wallpaper and painted the whole room gray like the rest of the house.  So boring.

 

Each of the kids’ rooms had a closet with double sliding doors.  When the kids were young, the doors were a hassle, so we removed and discarded them (the doors, not the kids).  It turns out people don’t want to buy houses without closet doors, so off to Home Depot to buy three sets of replacement doors.  Shawn had already packed up his power tools and sent them to Idaho in POD #1, so he had to buy a hacksaw and cut the tracks to length manually.

We had a few projects in the yard too.  General weeding and pruning to get the yard back in shape; updating the flowerbeds with fresh bark; fixing a few boards in the fence; removing a Japanese maple tree that we want to take with us to our new house.  Out next door neighbor has let her yard go a bit, so Shawn coaxed her 10-year-old son into helping rake leaves, and I repainted her fence while they were on a bike ride (we have an HOA that demands that any street facing fencing is painted a specific shade of gray).

The Japanese maple ready to move

This week Joey is taking pictures of the house for the listing and he plans to have an open house this weekend.  The carpet was shampooed and has the requisite vacuum marks.  All personal items and photos have been removed.   The closet is staged to perfection (matching hangers, clothing sorted, shoes lined up).  The house is looking very shiny and spacious.  The only pieces of furniture we have left are a sofa, dining set, bed, armoire, nightstands, three TVs, a desk and two desk chairs.  The house is so empty that it echoes.  Of course all this fixing up makes you wonder…why didn’t we do this ages ago?

The echoing gray cavern that was our home
This is really happening

 

Packing Our Stuff

I completely underestimated what a huge undertaking moving would be.  We have lived in our current 4-bedroom, 3-bath home for 21 years.  We’ve raised three children from school-aged through college.  We’ve remodeled, repainted, redesigned and repurposed rooms many times.  We have acquired new tastes and hobbies and all their accouterments over two decades.  We have accumulated stuff.

The first step in moving was to get rid of some stuff.  I started with my closet.  Having gained and lost weight and finally settled at a maintainable size, it was time to let go of the extreme sized clothes on both ends of the spectrum.  Knowing I am retiring soon also allowed me to let go of a lot of career clothing.  Many bags of clothing headed to Goodwill.  My husband, Shawn, did the same on his side of the closet.

We cleared out our mini-storage and put the stored stuff in our garage so we could have everything in one place and get a better idea of how much stuff we really have.  The answer?  Too much stuff.

Next, we started going through other closets and cupboards in the house and decided we had enough excess stuff to warrant a garage sale.  Furniture, books, videos, lots of kitchen stuff, camping gear, holiday decorations, more clothing…we hoped this would bring in a few dollars.  Mid-December is not a popular time for garage sales, but we gave it a try anyway.  Luckily, we had a sunny morning and people were happy to be outside searching for bargains.  Most people were friendly and happy with their finds, but a couple of ladies took bargaining a little too far for my liking.  I priced a crystal salad bowl at $5, but these ladies wanted it for $1.  I ended up giving it to a nice lady for nothing.  It’s not always about the money.  We got rid of lots of stuff that day and made a few dollars.  The rest went to Goodwill, and a few larger items were listed for sale on Nextdoor.

It was fortuitous that we had our annual “bulky waste pickup” in December.  This allowed us to pile a lot of garage and yard detritus in the street for garbage hauling.  We also took bags and boxes of household toxins and e-waste to our city recycling center.   Yet we still needed to make a trip to the dump.

Now it was time to start really looking through the stuff and begin packing.  We’ve had a sturdy brown box marked “Camping” in our garage for years, yet we never open it each summer when it’s time for camping, so what could be in it?  Shoeboxes, each neatly labeled with the year.  And inside the shoeboxes?  Envelops filled with that year’s bills.  I know you’re supposed to keep important tax papers for seven years, but these were from the early 90s.  Let the shredding begin.

We are using PODS to move our stuff to Idaho.  Since we plan to put our California house up for sale in January, we ordered a POD for the first of the year so we could de-clutter and make our home look spacious, per our realtor Joey.  We planned to have a second POD delivered in March for the final move.  After the first POD arrived and we filled it, we knew we could not fit all our stuff into only two PODS.  Now we’re filling two PODS in January and another one in March.

I had grand plans to be very organized while packing boxes.  I wanted to strategically place things in boxes that belonged in the same room, closet, or cupboard in the new house.  That lasted for about two boxes.  Not wanting to make boxes too heavy, there was a lot of mixing and matching going on.  A box of books topped with a quilt.  A box with a bathroom light fixture, three quilting rulers, a gym bag and a stuffed bear.

Remember those shoeboxes in the camping box?  Well, it turns out that wasn’t the only place I had stashed old bills.  There were filled shoeboxes in the back of my closet, under my desk, in the linen cupboard, and the oldest box dating back to 1988 in my cedar chest.  Thank God I started scanning papers in 2012, and this will not be an issue moving forward.   Although it was kind of fun finding a paystub from my first job out of college.

Day 5 – We Are Buying a House in Idaho

After three rainy days on our Washington-Idaho house hunting adventure, I was convinced it wasn’t going to happen.  Many houses and properties checked off a few of the boxes on our wish list, but I need a house that will satisfy the majority of my housing desires and Shawn’s land requirements.  Sunday the sun came out and the first house we visited gave me that “this is the one feeling”.

  • Beautiful views of farms and forest
  • 18+ acres of pasture and timber
  • Big windows
  • Deck
  • Attached garage
  • Workshop
  • Updated kitchen and baths
  • Daylight basement
  • Room for guests

Today we made an offer, and after a bit of back and forth, it was just accepted.  Come Spring we will be retiring and moving to Worley, Idaho.  Here are a few pictures of our soon to be home.

Day 3 – House Hunting in Idaho

We drove from Spokane to Coeur d’Alene this morning and entered Idaho for the first time in both our lives.  Right away we both thought Idaho was prettier than Washington.  We met our Idaho realtor Tony and his wife Alicia and headed out to look at five properties today.  Tony asked how it went in Washington and I replied we saw 9 properties: 1 maybe, 6 no’s and 2 hell no’s. The day was looking promising for Tony.

House #1 – 16830 W Nelson Loop Road, Rathdrum, ID

The house wasn’t terrible, but the land is mostly hills and valleys.  There is little flat land for growing and it is only 10 acres.  We decided to move on pretty quickly.

House #2 – 8247 E Black Bear Road, Athol, ID

First off the town Athol sounds like you’re saying asshole with a bad lisp.  This house was the opposite of the first house – flat land and a house with high-end finishes.  Unfortunately, the house has a terrible layout.  A lot of wasted space in the entryway and not enough space at the back of the house to put a sofa to enjoy the lovely windows.  Once again, we moved on pretty quickly.

House #3 – 3916 Peterson Road, Priest River, ID

On the way to this house, Tony drove us by the house that was our first pick in Idaho based on the Zillow listing.  Tony nixed it because of the neighbors (ramshackle trailer homes…one flying a confederate flag) and because the house was too rundown inside (unlike the photos).

Walking into house #3 we were welcomed by soft music, fall scented candles, and Thanksgiving decorations.  This lady knows how to stage a house.  The kitchen and family room have big windows looking out on the 30 acres of farmland.  It is in a valley with farmland and mountains all around.  The two bedrooms downstairs are smaller but nice and share a bathroom between.  There is a spiral staircase up to a peaked roof nook.  There is a large newer outbuilding on the property.  This house and land have potential.

House #4 – 2760 Kootenai Road, Sandpoint, ID

While this house lacked the staging of the previous house and could have benefited from a scented candle to mask the smell of dogs, the layout of the house is good, and it has a fully finished basement.  This property is also flat, but it the back corner is treed.  It also has a huge red barn.  The proximity to the town of Sandpoint is also a plus for this house.  We had lunch in Sandpoint, and there seems to be a lot going on year round with festivals, farmers’ markets, and concerts.

House #5 – 398 Starlight Road, Naples, ID

This house is the furthest north that we looked, and it gets more snow than the other homes.  The road up to the house still had a good covering of snow and was a bit slippery.  As far as layout, this was my favorite house (I assume the owners will be taking their prized stuffed animals and heads with them).  It has great views off the back deck of a valley below, but we were concerned about the road leading to the house and the distance from a town and airport.

All in all, a good day with a couple of potentials.  We have three more properties to look at tomorrow before we head back to California on Monday.

We had a great fresh seafood dinner at Anthony’s in Coeur d’Alene.  We didn’t have a reservation, so we ended up sitting at the bar looking into the kitchen which was much more entertaining than sitting in a booth.  I had salmon over lemon risotto with edamame and Shawn had crab fettuccini Alfredo.  The waiter suggested the house Chardonnay to accompany our dishes and it was a good choice.  Too full to even look at the dessert menu.

Tony and Alicia were a lot of fun to spend the day with and they were excellent Idaho tour guides.  They assured us that Idahoans don’t hate everyone from California and that Idaho isn’t full of skinheads (just the one guy with the Confederate flag).

Day 2 – House Hunting in Washington

Today we ventured north of Spokane to Colville, Chewelah, Deer Park and Chattaroy to look at five properties.  It was definitely more scenic as there were more trees.  Temps were in the 37-44 range and there was still snow on the ground for the first few houses.

House #1 – 738 Applegate Road, Colville, WA

This house was better than anything we had seen the day before.  It had a nice updated kitchen and open floor plan and four outbuildings: a shop decked out with heating and wired for sound, a 2-car garage, another huge shop that would fit multiple RVs and toys, and a barn.  The 30-acre property had a nice mix of trees and suitable farmland for Shawn’s planting desires.  The major drawback was no cell service.  We want to be remote, but still connected!

House #2 – 2660 Burnt Valley Road, Chewelah, WA

When we arrived at this house the owners were there and it started out a bit awkward but turned out to be quite informative.  The 80-year old gentleman was quite spry and took us on a tour of the 30 acres up and down hills and through the snow.  The house needed a lot of work and wasn’t quite what we were looking for but it was fun to traipse around the property…until I saw the bear tracks.

House #3 – 4935 W Casberg Burroughs Road, Deer Park, WA

I wasn’t feeling good about this house as we drove up, and touring the house didn’t improve my impression.  The house had a crazy layout including the laundry room looking down on the living room…seriously, it only had half walls like a loft and you could see it from below.  Spent about 5 minutes here and didn’t even take pictures before moving on.

House #4 – 36104 N Milan Elk Road, Chattaroy, WA

This was a beautifully maintained 20-acre parcel with 2 houses.  The main house was an A-frame built by the owner in the 70’s.  He was 80 and decided it was time to sell so he could spend more time traveling and with his girlfriend.  The house definitely needed updating but it had great windows and views.  There was also a cute little log cabin where grandma used to live (she probably died there too).  While it was a very pretty property, it wasn’t quite what we are looking for.

House #5 – 37010 N Rabe Road, Chattaroy, WA

I was a bit skeptical on this one after looking at it on Zillow and it was even worse than pictured.  When it said it had a few updates, it meant they replaced the closet doors in the master with sliding barn doors a la Chip & Joanna Gaines and put a new sink in the bathroom.  The rest of this house and land was very run down.  We were out of there in 5 minutes.

The first house was the most promising, but we aren’t in love with it.  Tomorrow we are off to Idaho to meet our realtor Tony and check out 10 more properties.

For dinner in Spokane, we came across a charcuterie a few blocks from our hotel.  It was a great find and we ended up sitting next to the chef’s parents who were there to celebrate their 31st anniversary.  We started with cocktails and a fresh beet salad with bacon and local creamy blue cheese.  I had a bowl of chicken and black bean soup and Shawn had one of the best steaks I’ve ever tasted.  We finished with ice cream topped with dried condensed milk crumbles.  Salty and sweet, you can’t go wrong.

Day 1 – House Hunting in Washington

We are in search of the perfect home for retirement and have decided to look in eastern Washington and northern Idaho.  We’re looking for some land, about 20 acres, with a combination of timber and flat land for a bit of farming. I’d like a house with views of this lovely land and a nice kitchen.  Should be simple, right?

We flew into Spokane this morning and met up with our Washington realtor Chris.  We have spent months on Zillow looking for just the right place and we sent Chris a list of our favorites.  Unfortunately, our number one pick is no longer on the market, but we did visit four houses today.  It’s funny we have been dogging the pictures people post on Zillow thinking they could do better.  After today, I thought “damn, those pictures made the house look at lot better than it really is.”  Of course, most of the photos were taken in the spring when everything is green and lush.  Today it is raining, foggy and there is an inch or two of snow on the dried up tundra.

House 1 – 15611 S Madison, Valleyford, WA

A big old house on 30 acres of rolling farmland with a ramshackle red barn.  The house was really dark inside but it had potential.  Unfortunately, its price is at the top of our budget and does not allow us to bring that potential to life.  It had a cistern in the basement which is something I’ve never seen before.  There was also an atrium that ran up through the middle of the house where Shawn said we could grow fig trees and pot.

House 2 – 324 W Gibbs, Spokane, WA

This was a tri-level house on 32 acres.  The parcel was long and skinny.  For the same price as house #1, it seemed like the better deal but still too expensive for the work that I would want done.  You know it’s bad when your first thought is “we could remove that wall.”

House #3 – 47793 E Hampton, Edwall, WA

This house looked so darn cute on Zillow and for the most part it was, but it also had some real issues.  For example, there was a beautifully remodeled bathroom on the first floor, but the master bedroom was around the corner through the kitchen and living room, and the closet was 8 inches deep.  Upstairs there were 2 bedrooms, but only a half bath.  It had a great kitchen, but the rest of the house just didn’t flow.  Across the street, it had the most picturesque classic red barn, but there was very little usable farmland.

House #4 – 20407 W Indiana Lane, Medical Lake, WA

First off, Medical Lake is a weird name for a town.  This house was hecka cute (do I have to quit saying hecka if I leave California?) on Zillow but kinda odd in person.  There was a Murphy bed in the living room.  The world’s skinniest spiral staircase led up the master which had so many nooks and crannies that there would be no place for a California King size bed, but maybe two twins.  It had some nice looking farmland according to Shawn.

So bottom line, no dream house on day one.  Tomorrow we are going northeast of Spokane where there are more trees.  Hopefully one of the six houses we are seeing will be more inspiring.

The receptionist at our hotel recommended a good Italian restaurant for dinner.  Europa is a quaint,  family-owned restaurant.  I had chicken Gorgonzola fettuccini and Shawn had manicotti with creamy pesto sauce and lasagne.  For dessert, carrot cake and pumpkin roulade cake both with cream cheese frosting.  I would definitely go back for date night.