Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Woulda, (Maybe) Coulda, Shoulda

     When we were in sales meetings for our Ravenna with Ryan Homes I wish I would have asked about noise. When someone turns on the fan in the first floor powder room I hear it louder in the master bedroom than if the fan is on in the master bathroom. My husband making calls in his office is also loud in the master bedroom. We paid for the highest pad upgrade we could for the carpets, and we put soundproofing insulation in the master bedroom wall which butts up to the bonus room. I am not sure what more we could have done, but I'm sure Ryan knows how to make a quieter house, even if they don't do it.

     Television on in the family room downstairs? The sound travels right up the stairs, over the half wall, and around the corner in to the master bedroom. Maybe, just maybe, if they didn't insist on cutting the doors with inches of clearance from the floor it wouldn't be so loud, but it is loud. My half wall is probably going to be turning into a closed off something in order to try to get some of the noise to stay out of the master bedroom. It's the same when someone makes any noise at all in the kitchen. Our house is usually pretty lively, so it's no big deal. Until the house isn't lively, and all you want to do is get some rest. The master bedroom is not the peaceful sanctuary I was counting on it to be. While the kitchen and family room noise travels up the stairs, the office and powder room noise travels through the walls and/or floors.

     And like The Ravenna Ranter said, the light switches seem like a nuisance during the planning stages. Or at least the did to me. I had seen people suggesting we decide where we want them, but I thought it was too much of a hassle. Now I tell you to get yourself to the model of your floor plan and check all the light switches in the house. Because I am convinced many of them are placed by mischief-makers. My living room lights are my least favorite. But I also wish the light switch in the garage was duplicated inside the house as well. And it could have been done so easily - so it is nonsensical that so many homeowners have to live with this frustration. I think it would be nice to have another switch way in the master bedroom, and many other people think there should be a single spot to kill all the master bath/closet/toilet lights. Basement lights? Don't even get me started. You have to go down the stairs and around corner to reach them. For heaven's sake, they need to install a light between the utilities (giant heating unit, water heater, humidifier, vac canister, etc and the stairs. Because that area is d-ark. And big. For storage. (Especially for us, because we have a guest suite where the big storage area is in the Ravenna). So this is where we have our food storage. Some light would be swell. But it is all blocked. It would probably be great to get a light in that area - or at least an outlet, for Pete's sake, so you could put in a corded light. But something, please, dear Lord, something. My cereal and canned beans are scared of the dark.

          While I am writing this post my husband comes upstairs and he's just rammed his foot into a television in the basement. Because it is so dark. Yep, folks, this is what I am talking about. Of course, had my sons not blocked all the light from the little window so they could have total darkness for the projector, it wouldn't be pitch black down there, but it would still be majorly dark.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Charlie's L'Etoile Verte

     I have no idea why they only gave themselves a green star. Clearly they were being modest because we give them a gold star and four enthusiastic thumbs up! We went for lunch on Wednesday and tried to go for lunch again on Friday, but they were closed. This broke our hearts. No, really, it did. The lunch menu was quite impressive. Even more impressive was the food when it was delivered to our table. Amazing. The freshest of the fresh. They do not ignore a single detail at Charlie's

     Their sweet tea was right on the money, they brought fresh lovely bread to the table, the mixed greens with a champagne vinagrette was fresh and lovely, the duck was perfect and the fish was yummy. The sides were prepared with so much love and attention to quality that I cleaned my plate. Garden fresh peas and carrots - this from a girl who understands 'garden fresh'.

     Charlie's writes their menu daily. Daily! They do it to give you what's fresh and good each day. Isn't that lovely? Shouldn't everyone do this? Top this off with a price you will not believe. Also, if you're a wino? They have you covered! We could have paid at least this much for lunch at any casual dining chain.

     When I am in Hilton Head I would like to have lunch here daily.
Charlie's L'etoile Verte on Urbanspoon

Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort: Traveler Reviews

     As usual, I used Priceline to bid on a resort on Hilton Head Island. This time my bid got me The Omni Oceanfront resort. It's in the same plantation as the Marriott Resort & Spa. They are practically right next door. It is different than the other resorts we've stayed at on the island. Here's my view:

     The lobby is smaller than the other resorts. The lobby (among other places) is a free wi-fi area. The front desk staff is much more friendly than the Crowne Plaza but not as friendly as the Marriott. The Concierge, Will, is great. The bellmen are all great. You never have to go through this lobby to go to the pools or other outdoor areas, which is a plus to me.

     The room is pretty nice. It has a table with a couple of chairs, a larger than usual fridge for a hotel room, microwave, a few plates, mugs, bowls, and silverware. The bathroom is a bit awkward with door configurations rendering the outer area unusable since it's a tight pass-through to the actual bathroom, but it's nice to have two sinks and counters. In our King bed room there was also a desk with chair, two more chairs, plus a sofa bed. Adding up all the chairs in the room and you have 6 plus a three seat sofa. There was a good sized balcony with two chairs and a table inside, upping the possible seating to 11. No real complaints about the room at all. It has an iron & board, hair dryer, and safe. Two robes are provided as well. Coffee maker with decent coffee. The freezer section of the fridge doesn't keep things frozen. We learned this the hard way with our beloved Blue Bell ice cream turned to liquid.

     My biggest complaint of the whole stay would be the housekeeper we had. One day of our stay we had a different lady because it was the regular housekeeper's day off. The regular housekeeper returned and the service she provided was just junky. The replacement should replace her permanently. She did the whole thing with love. The regular lady didn't clean a lot of stuff - sinks, floors, counters - all dirty when she was done. Replacement housekeeper had made everything perfect, left the towels all fancy-folded and put toiletries on the tray in an organized way. Regular housekeeper literally tossed the stuff on the tray all willy-nilly, left the same dirt on the floor our whole stay, left the same thing in the sink, threw out toiletries which were still half full, and in general had a nasty attitude when we saw her. She even kept leaving only decaf, even though my husband only drinks regular. I would have to go out in the halls and find other maids and trade after she did our room every day but one.

     Room service is totally lackluster. We are usually big room service piggies, but this place left much to be desired, even for us. If my husband says a chicken sandwich was too greasy to eat, it had to be bad.

     The layout of this resort kind of wins me over. It's not as high-falutin' as Crowne Plaza or Marriott, but you go down the hall and go outside and you are at the pool. You are almost at the beach. If you want to go to the beach from your room in the Crowne Plaza you have to go through the lobby and walk through a maze of gorgeous to get out to it. I enjoyed the simplicity of being dressed for the beach and being practically there when we got outside. The balconies all allow for an ocean view. Ours was nearly the furthest from the ocean, so it wasn't a perfect view, but you could see it. It beats the views we've had at Crowne Plaza and Marriott. (I don't mention the Westin much because we only stayed there once for a couple of nights and I wasn't impressed. Sorry Westin lovers.)

     The fancy restaurant on site was also disappointing to me. Not much on the menu and I felt like it was trying to hard to be 'fancy' and not trying hard enough to be delicious. The desserts were sad looking, so we passed. It just seemed like there was no love.

     The pool setup was pretty nice. Two pools, one for adults only, which was far away from the family pool. The water was like a lukewarm bath, which was good for me. There are also two jacuzzi tubs, although they were a maze-walk away from the pools. The bartender at the pool area bar was unfriendly to the extreme, but reviews online all seem to agree about him, so I guess it's not very shocking. We kept our encounters with him to two.

     There is a little cafe/store downstairs which offers many types of drinks, a bunch of candy, some desserts, and things like microwave popcorn. The cafe serves you at little tables. Burgers and pizza, etc. We used the store part, but not the cafe. My husband loved the coffee at this little cafe - and the girl working the counter said they cleaned their machine daily, which, according to her, is what makes their coffee so much better than other places. My husband gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up!

     Internet is $9.99 a day per device unless you sit in the lobby or other free wi-fi areas. Parking was $9.00 or $10.00 a day with valet parking being an extra $3 per day. Valet parking doesn't seem as necessary in this resort as the others because it seems like parking is readily available, but don't take my word for it because we used the valet.

You can't go wrong with any oceanfront resort at Hilton Head Island as far as I can tell. They each have their strengths and weaknesses.

Go on and visit. Tell them I sent you!

Bluffton Family Seafood House

     Nothing fancy meets fresh seafood of your dreams! Go to Bluffton to eat here, you want to do that anyway - especially on Thursdays when they have the farmer's market. This place has only been open a few months, but they've been running the seafood factory forever. They know what they are doing. This place is owned by the people who own the seafood factory in Bluffton. Let them fry you up a basket of your favorites. It will make you happy, I promise. It's small and nothing fancy, but it's worth the trip. Check out the big table in the bar, it's interesting. Prices are amazingly low. You're going to love it!

Bluffton Family Seafood House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Shine Project



     Every once in a while someone comes along who helps us express what is in our hearts. These people are our treasures. If we are lucky, we get to have them as friends forever. Sometimes, though, they reach out and share something with us from a distance. That's the case this time. I don't personally know Ashley, but I love her idea, The Shine Project.

     In a nutshell, the shine project encourages people to do nice things. To enrich their own lives by enriching others. It's a kind of pay it forward project, for everyone to have a chance to shine their own light in their own way. It could just stop there an I would already be in love with it. But it doesn't. There is a Shine Store and there are Shine events and in the end kids are getting help with college scholarships and leadership mentoring.

     Go look at The Shine Project yourself. It's pretty interesting and inspiring.

Look at the stuff I just ordered from the  Shine Store:

Love this so much!

Shine Wristband

Shine Necklace

Considering The Dirt Devil Central Vac?

     I say go for it! I used mine for the first time today and WOW! It has suction for days. It makes my Kirby seem like a cheap hand vac. I had used the toe kick part in the kitchen a few times already, but today was the first day with hoses and the powerhead. It was fun to be tickled over a vacuum cleaner, but I was. The Kirby, even with the Hepa filters, still made the house smell like dust when it was used. It just made me feel sick. I love the dirt being sucked through the walls and into the basement container. Love it! I think it is definitely worth the money.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

So You Have A New House

     Now What?

     Although I got the oil rubbed bronze plumbing fixtures, the faucet in the kitchen has a chrome finish.  This, the stainless steel sink, and even the oil rubbed bronze bathroom faucets, I have rubbed with waxed paper so they don't get ugly water spots. Works like a charm, and everyone has waxed paper, right?

     We have these beautiful glass shower doors in the master bath. I have cleaned them with Clorox wipes and Invisible Glass, which works great. (I love both the spray and the wipes) But tomorrow I am going to Rain-X  the doors, both the glass and the frames. Might as well get that water to sheet right off, rather than build up on the doors, right? I hope doing this from the time they are brand new will keep them nice.

     While we are talking about what I plan to do tomorrow, I am going to use car wax on the top of my stove. I hear this will make it much easier to clean up spills so they do not become stuck on spills. (I have a gas cooktop)

     I am also a huge fan of Bar Keepers Friend. I have used the powder in the gold can for over twenty years. It's way less abrasive than Comet or Ajax, and I think it works better. I already used it to take a rust spot off my stainless steel kitchen sink.

     When I moved to this new house I got rid of most of the cleaning products I was using, and just brought a few great ones. One of the other ones I brought is Quick N' Brite. That stuff is magic! Four generations in my family swear by it for anything from cleaning grease and oil out of carpeting in the car to cutting the grime in the bathtub. It's very safe, too. I like a product safe enough to use around babies and pets. Shouldn't everything in our homes be safe around humans and pets?

     Do you have any tips or tricks to help us start off on the right foot?



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Frugal, Lazy Fix For Builder Grade Doors With Big Gaps At The Bottom

     As much as the gaps under the doors make me crazy, they were bugging my husband even more. Today I browsed the local hardware store and inspiration struck! Mind you, this is probably not a permanent fix for any of us. That said, it could hold us over well until we are ready to do the work of fixing wood to the bottom of the doors or replacing the doors.

This is the remainder of the Polyethylene Pipe Wrap Insulation I bought at Lowes for $1.18

This is how it opens when you pull it apart at the pre-cut slit.

This is how it looks after I shoved two pieces of it under my door, one wrapped around the other. (kind of the same way you stack your bowls or measuring cups. Nothing fancy here folks)

Just for good measure, this is how it looks from the end.

     Now I'm sure some of you have been told you need these gaps under the doors for air return. But talk to any HVAC guy and he will tell you this is a line of rubbish. I'll leave it to the pros to explain it, but it comes down to a 3 cubic foot hole in a door would be necessary for proper air return, and the little inch (or even two) underneath is not doing the job. We have return air vents in every room.

     I'm sure you can wrap some fabric around the outside and make it prettier. I would not recommend spray paint, because I know it dissolves Styrofoam, and this is too close for comfort for me. I did not have to use any adhesive or anything else to attach it, it is cuddling up to the door all by  itself.

*Sadly, these images are my own and I do have to claim them. I don't even know how I can blame the 'crappy cel phone picture' since it's 8GB, but I am anyway.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Modified Closet and Laundry Room

     For Steve and Ericka, here is the modified closet and laundry room I did in the Ravenna model:

Sorry about the blurry laundry room, but you get the idea. Straight wall. No cutout into the master closet for a laundry tub. With a bathroom on either side of this room, I was certain I did not need a laundry tub.

I never said my closet was ready for a close up or anything. Please remember this.

This is what we got instead of a cut out for a laundry tub. A straight closet all the way down to the end. Much more room for us to hang our things on the side butting up to the shower and on the back wall. 

     If you want to see anything different just tell me and I'll be glad to show you. Just remember, it's still not picture-perfect.

Did I Mention...

     Did I mention that my husband was in Singapore and Shanghai while we were moving into the new house? I didn't, because it's the internets, people. Only a handful of people knew. So yes, all the packing, loading, trudging, unloading, unpacking, putting away, etc. was done by me and the kids. Thank goodness they are big helpful kids and not little kids! I will be so glad when we are all done at the old house. I still have things to bring from there and cleaning to do.

     It seems like every time I cross off the last item on the 'to do' and 'to buy' list a whole new list crops up. Is it the same for everyone else? Has anyone managed to program the garage door opener with the built in garage door opener in their vehicle and the remotes and the touch pad on the outside of the garage? What a pain.

     My dishwasher seems like it doesn't really do anything about half the time. Anyone else notice this?

     Most of the things in the house work well. We use our fireplace and the blower a lot. The remote is very simple, especially for being a touch screen remote. I'm having a love affair with my bathroom. It's so dreamy.

     I have just been invaded by a small dog and a beautiful daughter. Have fun!

Monday, February 20, 2012

From Whirlpool Bathtubs To Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

     We are enjoying our new house. I have used my whirlpool tub a whole bunch. We finally got the icemaker line from the old house and now we are fully operational with ice and water through our freezer door. It really is the little things, isn't it? I also bought new hoses for the washer and we got to use it for the first time tonight.  Who knew you were supposed to replace the rubber hoses after six years of use? - not me. Until I read it on the hose as I was installing them.

     I have sheers on the windows, my favorite lamps in place, and my husband gently snoring by my side. Life is good.

     This week I need to get things squared away at the old house, get some shopping done (ugh) and I want to get started using my Annie Sloan chalk paint on a few items.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

We Are In - Sort Of.

     We got our keys on Friday! Since then we have been dragging loads of stuff over in the van and cars. It's been grueling, and I vow to never participate in this type of thing on this scale ever again. Tomorrow we have movers coming for the biggest, heaviest stuff. For now we are living like hobos:
Soon there will be a bed under my quilt and a dresser under the television. The house is great, and in a few days I will be enjoying it thoroughly.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dishwasher Question

     Do you use Cascade detergent? Did your project say the GE line is that you have to use Cascade because it foams differently than all other detergents? I could tell Ben felt a little funny saying it, but what do you say? I bought a Sam's Club canister of a different brand weeks ago in anticipation. Do I really need to return it and buy  Cascade?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Final Walk Through

Here, in whatever order Blogger decides, are pictures I took today during our final walk through with Ben. 

Ryan Homes Ravenna Kitchen & Family Room w/solid Oak Staircase
Cabinets: Rushmore Maple Butterscotch Glaze
Floors: Sugar Creek Maple, Color: Cinnamon
Countertops: Black Pearl/Brazil Black

Ryan Homes Ravenna Kitchen & Family Room w/solid Oak Staircase

Cabinets: Rushmore Maple Butterscotch Glaze
Floors: Sugar Creek Maple, Color: Cinnamon
Countertops: Black Pearl/Brazil Black/Black Uba Tuba (one granite, three names)

Ryan Homes Ravenna Kitchen & Family Room w/solid Oak Staircase

Cabinets: Rushmore Maple Butterscotch Glaze
Floors: Sugar Creek Maple, Color: Cinnamon
Countertops: Black Pearl/Brazil Black

Ryan Homes Ravenna Kitchen & Family Room w/solid Oak Staircase

Cabinets: Rushmore Maple Butterscotch Glaze
Floors: Sugar Creek Maple, Color: Cinnamon
Countertops: Black Pearl/Brazil Black

Ryan Homes Ravenna Kitchen & Family Room

Cabinets: Rushmore Maple Butterscotch Glaze
Floors: Sugar Creek Maple, Color: Cinnamon
Countertops: Black Pearl/Brazil Black

Ryan Homes Ravenna Kitchen

Cabinets: Rushmore Maple Butterscotch Glaze
Floors: Sugar Creek Maple, Color: Cinnamon
Countertops: Black Pearl/Brazil Black

Ryan Homes Ravenna solid Oak Staircase

Floors: Sugar Creek Maple, Color: Cinnamon

     Someone had asked for pictures the full length of the kitchen & family room, so here it is. I am too tired to go look up who it was, sorry.

     I am happy, happy, happy! I am ready to be in this house - waiting until tomorrow feels like waiting for Christmas. I am exhausted. And happy.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Calm, Cool, and Collected.

     This week is presenting a few challenges I was not expecting. I had all my days mapped out and I was so proud of myself. Reality is, the school wanted to change our meeting to days after I need to enroll my son, my final walk through with the project manager was changed to be a day later, and last, but certainly not least: This morning I called to confirm my movers were coming Saturday at 7am and we are not on their schedule. What!? I'm so glad I called.

     This morning, instead of doing the final walk through, I was finding a different moving company. It's squared away now,  but I might have felt a bit of anxiety until I had it all locked in for Monday. I took the whole mess as a sign from the universe to slow down. Monday it is!

     If I am going to have problems, I would rather have the finding movers at the last minute kind than most other kinds. Wish me luck with the rest of the week!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lots to do

     As if buying a house and moving isn't enough to do, there is a chain of things which go along with it. Like getting utilities, drivers licenses, and billing address changed,  post office, FedEx, UPS orders, changing schools, insurance, etc. Plus all the stuff you need when you go from a 4 bedroom 1 bath house to a 6 bedroom 3.5 bath house. Then add snazzy newfangled apparatus like dishwashers, garbage disposals, central vacuum, remote controlled fireplace, garage door openers, and the likes. I'm talkin' fannnnn-cyyyyy, baby!

     Add: Our Frigidaire started freezing everything in the fridge side. Now we (somehow?) got it to stop doing that yesterday, but now it sounds like it is snoring. Not cool, Frigidaire, not cool. Also, the thingy I put on the kitchen sink in the current house sort of came apart today and it was girls gone wild. Except instead of girls, it was water. Water under copious amounts of pressure. Day before yesterday the lone bathroom started to get messy with me - it started to leak, obviously in solidarity with some bathroom hardware which started leaking Friday in the new house. We discovered that Saturday. At least our PM is taking care of that one.

     So, how does your week look, in comparison?

Monday, February 6, 2012


     We went first thing this morning and did our closing. It was simple. We were in and out in a short time. The loan process was definitely the easiest part of building and buying. I think it had a lot to do with Kelly, who was helping us through the process. She was always professional, courteous, and kind.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tomorrow, Tomorrow...

     Tomorrow morning we go to sign the closing papers. Friday I pinch myself and find out if I'm dreaming or wake up and get keys to the house!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Slobproof Paint Pen

Slobproof  Pen
  I found something I think all of the new homeowners (and old) will love!
      From their website: No more dings, no more dents, no more marks on your walls! The Slobproof! Paint Pen is quick, convenient, and easy to use! Just remove the brush top and fill it with your paint. Then snap the brush top in place, twist the bottom of the pen and you are ready to start touching up your walls, trim, ceiling, or doors! Rinse the brush with water when finished, replace the cap, and then throw it in a kitchen drawer until you need it again!

   They sell a set of 2 for $19.99.

*I have not been compensated in any way for sharing this. I just saw it, thought it was a great idea, and ordered two for our new house.

Friday, February 3, 2012

House Beautiful

We are heading down the home stretch! Of course we stopped by the house today to see what's new. 
For Brooke, here is a picture of our stairs. Please excuse the dust. They were sanding them again. 
Ryan Homes Ravenna Oak Stairs
     We also had appliances in the house:
Ryan Homes Ravenna
Cabinets: Timberlake Maple Butterscotch Glaze
Hardware: Oil Rubbed Bronze/Antique Bronze
Counters: Black Pearl/Brazil Black
Floor: Sugar Creek Maple: Cinnamon

Then we went upstairs and saw the hardware for the master bathtub being moved to a better location:
Ryan Homes Ravenna

     I forgot to take a picture of the outside of the house with the giant dumpster gone.     

We are going Monday to do our closing and meeting the PM Wednesday morning for final walk through.

     When I finally get the keys to the house in my own little hand I am probably going to start crying.