Watching Winter Fade Away

As the sun makes a more regular appearance these days, it feels as if winter is long since behind us. But Spring is still two weeks away.

My wife and I went out for a walk in Fort Langley today in order to take advantage of the weather. The coffee shops and restaurants had people lined up- social distancing of course. It wasn’t as busy as we expected on the trails, which was nice. We walked for about 5km just talking and enjoying a day off from house hunting. However, a couple of trains went by, reminding me of work.

At home, the vegetation is starting to become green and budding. We will get to enjoy one last Spring Bloom in this house, which is what we wanted. We talked about the plants that we will take to our next home instead of talking about what we will miss about this one.

In a sense, we are already moved out as we separate our feelings from this home. Sure, there’s still yard work and cleaning to do over the next couple of months. We don’t want to leave the place in shambles for the new owners. Plus we get the joy of spring and the feeling of starting anew.

Attic Storage

Since we are moving, I need to get into the attic and start pulling stuff out. I sort of know what’s up there. But I still wanted to check it out.

Disney Recess Movie. I forgot I had this banner!

We actually have three attics for storage in this house. I have emptied two of them so far. One had a box of wires. The other had old movie banners and fans for the summer. The third- which is above our linen closet- should contain a few Rubbermaid containers of baby/toddler clothes. Not a ton of stuff, but stuff nonetheless.

We have been paring down on stuff for a few months now. We started by trying to get the kids on board in decluttering their rooms. It wasn’t until we staged the house that this was finally accomplished. We have a little over three months to go through our stuff and decide what to keep and what to donate/sell. The final process will happen once we know where we are moving to and what stuff will make our trek to the new place.

Of course, we will probably still bring junk in boxes that shall stay packed up for many more years. Just because we cannot part with it. Relocating boxes from home to home without ever throwing it away? Seems like it would be commonplace in everyone’s house- just like a junk drawer. That’s normal, right?

I think moving is a good opportunity to evaluate what we have.

And what we have is a ton of junk!

Magic Kingdom For Sale- SOLD!

We have officially sold Castle Havelka. The subjects were removed last night and the final contract was signed. Perhaps it was this write up about our house from our agent that helped us get an offer within a week and a sold sign in twelve days:

“Quiet, Peaceful and Park Like! 38,000 sq ft southern exposed lot situated on a small cul-de-sac street in one of the best locations in desirable Salmon River. In an area of brand new luxury small acreage homes. This sprawling 3,134 sq ft two storey home has a terrific layout, exquisite detail and tons of character throughout. Beautiful large rooms including inviting kitchen/eating area plus large media and dining room on main floor. Upstairs has 5 large bedrooms. Fall in love with your backyard including large deck space with “Nano Style” doors opening up to your manicured grounds . Walking distance to North Otter Elementary. Wrap around driveway with tons of parking. Room for Shop! RV Parking. First time on market! This one is a must see!”

Now it’s time to hunker down on the house search. We’ve only scratched the surface and barely dipped our toes into the pool of what homes are out there. It’s time to really push our imaginations and find the right place for us. Essentially we are planning to buy a home that our teens can become adults in if they so choose to still live with us. We are looking for more space inside of the house and closer to big city amenities.

We are giving up the “Country Living” hashtag and going for more “Suburban Living”. It also means that CASTLE HAVELKA will need a new moniker for our next place. I want to use Kingdom, Empire or Realm to describe our next place. Perhaps Chalet or Shanty will be the term. Only time will tell with how it turns out.

I’m glad that this step is behind us. One sigh of relief has occurred, now to take a deep breath and dive into our house hunting!

Living Like The Jetsons

Looking for a new house has me realizing that technology has come a long way. Especially when walking through brand new builds.

Many of us just accept the fact that TV’s have moved from a large cabinet piece on the floor to a picture frame on the wall. And that the image has grown exponentially in size and the sound is immersive. This is in every house.

But now we can buy a fridge with a touchscreen and camera built in. That way one can connect to see what groceries they may need while out shopping. Or there’s a stove you can turn on remotely as well. Plus a number of other small appliances with similar features.

We are one step closer to living like The Jetson’s. Essentially we are on the cusp- minus the flying cars and buildings in the sky. Everything else is becoming commonplace in a similar fashion.

Is it making life easier or making us lazier? I think it’s a bit of both. But it allows for us to find the free time to explore more about the world. We can enjoy the arts more, create more, and just live in the moment more often.

Technology has come a long way for how we live. At least we aren’t on the Oregon Trail dying from dysentery.

Inspection Preparation

On Monday, our prospective buyers are paying for a bunch of inspections on the property. This is completely normal and will lend to a peace of mind for what they can expect once they take possession of the house.

In doing so, we needed to help make everything more accessible. We don’t exactly have a “regular” house for sale. We are in a neighborhood of acreages and farm land. First thing we did was dig out the septic tank access points. It was a ton of fun getting my two youngest to dig. Hashtag sarcasm.

I then headed into the attic to take a quick gander. The roof and insulation look great- nothing out of the ordinary there. I did enjoy the escape from any other burdens while I was up there. If it wasn’t for the dust and insulation, I would have contemplated taking a nap.

Lastly, I went under the house and into the crawl space with the help of my son. I wanted to do a quick survey of the foundation and if there were any possible leaks or damage. Nope. It all looks well aged and sturdy.

The bones of this home are strong. Which makes it really hard to say farewell to it. However, it also means that the future owners (maybe this couple, if not perhaps someone else) will have some great building blocks to work with should they do choose to change things up.

Since they are putting up so much money for these inspections, I would hope that the seriousness of the purchase remains in tact for when the subjects get removed. Now to let the stress build up for a few more days and eat away at me from the inside out. But hey, at least our attic is full of cotton candy!

Offer Accepted

After only one week on the market, we accepted an offer on our house. There’s subjects to be removed within the next week, but if all goes well- that’s one hurdle down, about 1.9 million more to go.

This is a big step for us all. And now that the reality of moving and leaving this house has really stepped up its game- we need to find us a place to live. Lucky for us we put in a date of mid-June in order to allow the two youngest to finish school without much in the way of interruptions.

That’s almost four months of trying to find the perfect home to relocate to. I think it’s doable. What I’m really liking is that friends and coworkers from all over the area are trying to convince us to move to their neighborhoods. Everyone is proud of where they live, and it shows.

So if you know of a great location in the Lower Mainland of BC with five bedrooms and a suite to rent- let me know! We could be neighbors!

Now We Wait

Over the weekend we had nine viewings of our home. I have no idea if that is high or low or about average. But it does mean that people wanted to see our house. So that’s a good sign.

Now it’s a waiting game. We wait and see if there is a purchaser for this house. I’m positive that there is someone out there that would take great care of this home the same way we have over the years. Hopefully a family with little kids to enjoy the yard.

But waiting to hear anything sucks. A bazillion thoughts go through your mind. The kind of thoughts that keep you up at night causing you to feel unrested and agitated the next day.

Soon it will all be over. The waiting will end and the stress will dissolve. I just wish for that day to come quickly.

Showing The House

I completely forgot about the details involved in showing a house. Especially when you need to continue living in it. There’s the last minute cleaning, making sure the place is staged to show nothing of your personal life, plus we have dogs that need to be taken away.

The real estate agents make it sound so easy. Which in the long run, I suppose it is. The minor inconveniences we face this weekend could mean the difference between selling the house in a timely manner or waiting far longer for an offer. The thought of doing showings for months on end is not one I want to face.

Since we stayed away from our home for almost seven hours yesterday, the staging today went really easy. Yesterday we went for a walk through a park to kill some time followed by a picnic. Today will be more of the same. The doggos seemed to like it. However there is a sprinkling of rain that may occur. I’m not thrilled at the thought of the smell of wet dog in my car.

But wanting top dollar for our home means a few hours of doing our part. Fingers crossed that the showings go well. I just want to put a sign on the front door: “Buy this house!

Buying A New Home

Our house was put on the market late this week. Within the first 24 hours we booked half a dozen showings for today. We also noticed a lot of cars not from our neighborhood doing a slow drive-by of the home. Hopefully this is all a good sign and we will sell our home.

The thing is, my wife and I have not found a house to buy yet. We ourselves have been looking for the past two months and have gone to several viewings of potential places. Many of which are perfect- for someone else. Or we would need to change our lifestyle drastically to enjoy the home.

At some point our criteria for the perfect home will need to be trimmed. Especially since the market is so hot right now and places are generally selling within a week of listing. Good and bad for us. So we will need to act quickly on a place it seems.

Our biggest wish is for a place with a rental suite. This will allow us to help our adult children to live near Vancouver and save money towards their own place one day. The other “must have” is the the house should be fairly new, or at least be upgraded. A big kitchen is desired and a garage. Beyond that, most everything else is superficial extras.

We know that we are giving up yard space. But that also means that maintaining a smaller yard should be easier. We also know that we will finally have neighbors that we will see more often. And that’s cool,

I kind of miss the suburban lifestyle. Let’s see how long that lasts when we join it once more.

Castle Havelka

It has officially happened folks. After a couple of years of hemming and hawing we put our house on the market to sell. This has been an emotional and tough decision that didn’t happen easily.

First, some history on the house:

It was built by my wife’s father in the early 70’s. He was a bricklayer by trade and enjoyed woodworking as a hobby- and it shows throughout the home. We took possession of the house in May of 2007 when our son was only one year old. It has been a great home to grow in with our kids, with innumerable memories made and loads of personal touches added over the years. Putting the house on the market has a greater emotional connection with more members of this family than just my wife and I.

Here is a collection of pictures from the house after staging. It sure feels like a little oasis away from the hustle and bustle of life.

If you wish to check the listing while it is still active, head over to REW. This house has never been on the market, so the value we put on it is worth more in memories than it is in dollars.

We are excited to pass it on as we say goodbye to the beautiful nature that surrounded us. This is a truly unique home that we hope will be enjoyed by future families.

Weather or Not

The past week’s weather has been bonkers here in the Lower Mainland. We experienced a Polar Vortex just days ago. We even had to dig out the winter parkas just to get from the front door to the car.

This afternoon I was out in my yard with a hoodie and jeans playing with the dog.

The sun and mild weather is a welcomed change. The sunshine brought my spirits up. Even our yard was looking a bit more vibrant than usual. I watched the neighbors wandering around the streets- all of whom seemed to have a pep in their step.

I like that we received a brief taste of spring already. Some of our plants are starting to bud. Now if only the little bits of snow would vanish, I’d be really happy.

Haul It Away

This purging thing my family and I are doing is making me crazy. It has now reached the point where I had to get someone out to haul away the junk we have collected. Especially since we don’t have a truck or a trailer to take things away on our own.

We have stuff that just never found it’s way off our property. An old pool table, a fridge, a bbq, a lawnmower, scrap metal and wood, plus a variety of odds and ends. Some is absolute trash. Other things should find a new lease on life at a donation drop off.

After an hour, the truck was almost 3/4 full. A few hundred dollars later, and our yard is empty once more.

It’s a good feeling to be rid of all this junk.

Polar Vortex!

I thought the other day was cold. The universe proved me wrong.

Today the sun was out but so was the wind. I had a few things to do in the yard, so I threw on some gloves and a hat thinking that would be enough. Nope. I rushed around quickly and headed back into my abode. The wind was bringing with it a very cold Arctic air.

I know, I know… I should just be quiet as the rest of Canada and Russia are getting hit harder and colder. But that’s why I like living where we do. Our weather is far warmer. There’s a reason Vancouver is called Hollywood North- we are trying to be more like California than we are trying to be like the Yukon.

All I want to is stay warm. This winter stuff can go away any time now.

Carpet and Pets

Our home has very little in the way of carpets. Which is both good and bad.

It’s good because the wood floor is easy to keep clean especially with dog hair running rampant. We just need to sweep or vacuum regularly to remove the hairs and dirt. A light wash every so often and the floors look amazing. This type of flooring is so much better for my allergies.

For carpet- we have our media room and the main hallway upstairs. Over the weekend we finally bought a carpet cleaner… after living here for almost 14 years… I’ve borrowed carpet cleaners from friends and rented a Rug Doctor a few times in the past. But with Covid still around- it was time to just buy one for ourselves. Thank you Amazon and next day delivery!

Our hallway looks so much better and smells a ton better as well. The carpet cleaner really pulled out the pet smell from the floors. I don’t like carpet for the fact that it collects dust and allergens. But I like the softness under my feet. Maybe I can fall in love with carpet once more.

Which do you prefer hardwood, tile or carpet?

Shiver Me Timbers

As we were hanging out last night near our home at the local park, the temperature dropped quickly. The subzero temperatures carried on into the day today. We are finally feeling winter here folks. But that’s okay…

We are getting a look at that sunshine out there. I’m seeing a ton of my friends sharing pictures of walking bundled up outside, enjoying the vitamin D. Because of the sun, we are not experiencing the heavy rainfall which is nice. Next week shows a chance of snow. In all honesty that should not be too bad.

It seems everywhere else in Canada the temperatures are far lower and drop quickly as darkness falls. So I’ll enjoy the Lower Mainland and this beautiful weather.

Do you enjoy the sun even when it’s cold outside? I know I do.

Clean Sleep

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but it really bears repeating. There’s something wonderful about sleeping on clean bed sheets.

Washing bed sheets is something that kind of gets overlooked on a weekly basis at our home. Every week, my wife does laundry. In fact it’s almost daily it seems. But the beds? Each bed is practically a load on its own. So they get forgotten or ignored for a bit longer. But it’s awesome when those sheets are fresh and it’s time for bed.

I think that’s why I love hotels. They will change the sheets DAILY if you want them to. When traveling, if we are extremely active for the day, I’ll get the sheets changed. Honestly, that’s the beauty of vacations and traveling. Nightly sleeping in clean bed sheets.

Aw man, now I miss traveling. Maybe I should ask my wife to wash the bedding every day… That would go over well.

Junk It.

Over the past couple of weeks we have been actively donating and Giving away items that we no longer use. However it feels as though we’ve hardly made any headway in decluttering. Now that most of the “gently used” and “well loved” items are gone, it’s time for the big play.

Time to get ready and Junk It all.

That means gathering all the big items that are just too damn large to toss out or get recycled and have someone haul them off for us. It’s going to be a pretty arduous task to collect everything in order to get the best bang for my buck when collected.

We have an old pool table, a fridge, scrap wood, scrap metal, old electronics, broken power tools, and just stuff that we need to ditch. Some items are still in our possession because of the mindset “Maybe this will be useful one day.” Only that day never arrives.

Catchy radio jingle. That means I should call them.

So as I take advantage of the weather over the next day or two, the trash heap will grow. Until I finally have had enough and call a junk removal company to haul it all away.

Why do we keep so much crap? Is it laziness in throwing it all away? Or perhaps the frustration that you once owned something that is now rendered useless? Whatever it may be, I have a collection of junk to get rid off now.

Blanket Coverage

Ever since moving into this house, we have always had blankets in our living room. We find it makes life a little bit more cozy while enjoying movies. Having a blanket brings forth a sense of comfort.

A few years ago, my wife made some “Theater Blankets” for each of our kids. The material is made of a fun fleece print with images of popcorn and such. She gave each blanket a separate trim colour so the kids could tell them apart.

The blanket I use, and often fight with my family because they want it as well, is my ALF blanket. I was given this blanket about 20 years ago at a company baseball game. A coworker had brought it to lay in the field with and I asked if I could have it at the end of the day. He didn’t mind, so now I have a comforter that I wrap myself into to stay snug.

We have a box that we are now keeping these blankets in when not in use. Even though we use these blankets almost daily! But it will help to keep the room clean and tidy. For now at least…

Or do you sit on your couch in a blanket while watching movies or tv?Do you have a favorite blanket? Let me know in the comments.

Will Purging Ever End?

It feels like we’ve been tackling the clutter in our home for ages. With so much space comes so much stuff to fill it. It’s crazy to think we’ve been collecting items for years now. A combined 95 years if you add our ages together- not including kids. The collection of junk happened so slowly.

Yet after a couple of weeks it still feels like we haven’t made a dent in this “editing” thing. In fact it feels as if we’ve gone in the opposite direction. Our home seems messier than ever. We are stumbling over boxes and trinkets trying to rearrange our lives.

Our theater room for example has become a hoarding nightmare. For the longest time I would collect CDs followed by DVDs. I cannot tell you the last time I listened to a CD. Yet my wife and I have a collection of around 500 of them. If you were to do the math from back in the day at $15 average/cd we spent at least $7500 on music alone in that format. Seriously though, if we bought a cd every week for about ten years- that’s how we came to possessing such a large collection.

As well we have trinkets and things that we acquired over the years. All to just fill shelves and floor space. Some of it still “Sparks Joy” so those items need to be left out. Other things will be stored until a later date when we can decide what to do with them. And some things are just being given away.

This is just one room. We still have five bedrooms, a kitchen, bathrooms, dining room, and closets to get through. Maybe by 2022 we will be done the cycle of clearing out the house only to start in the first room once more.

Market Value

A year ago I wrote about our Property Value. The newest property assessment has come out once more. We have seen an increase of 11%. Basically back to what our property was two years ago.

The housing market is booming once more. Especially in our area. COVID has made people realize they want more space outside of the city. Having land and a large home is a blessing some days. Unless there is a major storm. Then we have days of cleaning up the debris and have also gone up to four days without power.

But we also have a natural beauty in our yard that people would drool over. Our summer evenings have been spent sitting In The Trees (quite literally) or just enjoying breakfast on our deck. We take the good with the bad.

I have actively watched the market for about twenty years now. Always searching to see what is out there when we do finally move. Moving is inevitable really. Majority of us have lives that change requiring a change in homesteads. Be it downsizing, upsizing, transferring jobs, or even financially- staying rooted doesn’t happen for many of us. My wife has lived in this home almost the entire time since 1972- minus about ten years here or there. That is a legacy if you ask me.

A love of this home and location are in our hearts. But what else is out there? Is the grass greener? (We have mostly moss- so it’s always green.) Tell me where you live. Would you recommend it to someone thinking of buying nearby? Or do you wish to sell and move someplace else?

Let me know in the comments.

Give It Away Now

It’s January! Just like everyone else- the start of the new year means time to get organized. Buying new totes for storage, drawer organizers, and packing up the stuff we hardly use. It also means donating and give aways.

Over the past two decades, my wife and I have collected items that we once thought we would use. Some we have even refinished and brought a new lease on life to. Other items fell by the wayside only to be a project that never happened. It’s those big items that we are about to list for someone else to give love towards.

None of these items belong in the trash. They’re just not suitable for our lives at this time. Hopefully this clears up some space in our house and make it feel more spacious.

Hours of house cleaning is behind us and hours more to come. Pretty sure our teenagers are getting frustrated, but they have stuff they’ve collected over the years that need to go as well.

Do you purge your home every January as well?

2021: Day 2

Yesterday was a washout to begin the year. So today my wife and I woke up early and began our journey into the New Year. There are plans in motion to fix all the little issues in our home. We started the day at my favorite place- The Home Depot.

Walking into the store for the stuff I need was exhilarating. Maybe it was not that enthusiastic. But we went in with a list and a plan to maximize our shopping and minimize the wandering. This trip was just for some basics to repair a few things around the house- not full renos. Since I had worked at this particular Home Depot many lifetimes ago, I knew exactly where to find everything I needed.

My wife was happy that we powered through the shopping. All that’s left now is to complete the repairs and get into the new year with fewer worries than before. I actually got everything done inside the home before dinner.

I feel more accomplished day 2 of 2021. I need more days like this. Hopefully it happens.

Brisket Leftovers

Instead of a turkey this year, we made a brisket on our new BBQ. Usually I cut the meat into two or three smaller meals, but this time I decided to make the whole thing. That meant there was a lot of leftovers for us.

The brisket was larger than a turkey and a much more solid piece of meat. After our initial dinner, we still had more than 3/4 of the meat remaining. Since then I have had a few slices on sandwiches as well as frying a couple of pieces to go with eggs and toast.

But my favorite leftover has to be the brisket soup my wife made in our slow cooker. It was a tasty beef and barley soup that infused the Smokey flavor of the meat into each spoonful.

Tomorrow night’s dinner will be beef dip and fries. Perhaps we will be closer to finishing the meat at that point. With so much beef in our diets in such a short time- that means we will likely move away from red meat for a few weeks. I also can’t wait until spring and summer to start enjoying fresh vegetables once more.

Salt / Weight

I’m always trying to live a good life. With lots of positivity- even when life doesn’t go according to plan. As much as it’s a mental state that I need to create- my physical well being is a part of it.

I’ll be the first to admit that I do not exercise. I do some kayaking in the summer which I enjoy. Any physical labor I do around the house is also the extent of my active lifestyle. I will be changing that soon. Maybe a New Year’s resolution?

But in the meantime, my wife has gotten a few other items to make our life better. One of which is a Himalayan Pink Salt lamp. I put it on my nightstand a couple days ago and have left it on since then. The orange/pink hue is very soothing, even though we usually have a dark room. I’m sure we will get used to it.

The other item that my wife wanted was a Luna Weighted Blanket. Besides requiring two of us to lift it onto the bed- yes it is heavy- this thing is great. After using it for only a couple of nights, our sleeps have been so restful and fulfilling. It’s like our bed is giving us a hug to fall asleep in.

I’ll be the first to say that I’m not always on board with alternative ideas for health. But once in a while, even the placebo effect can change one’s mood. In the end I enjoy the warm glow of the salt lamp and the weight of the blanket. Combined together make for a comfortable rest period.

Have you used either item? How do you like it? Let me know in the comments.

Quiet Country Christmas Eve

After everything that happens at the start of the week, yesterday and today is relaxing.

We had a full afternoon yesterday of preparation of upcoming meals. This was followed by our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. The meal was had by candlelight and consisted of liver ball soup (yes, it is actually very tasty!) followed by schnitzel and potato salad.

After dinner was my yearly viewing of “A Christmas Story”. This has been my Christmas Eve movie of choice for decades now. Probably my favorite way to end Christmas Eve with the family before laying out the gifts for Christmas Morning.

Once the kids were off to bed, it was time to spread out the Christmas loot. After weeks (more like months) of Amazon orders, supporting small businesses, and creating handmade gifts- under our tree looked full once more. My wife and I worked hard at wrapping for weeks leading up to tonight. It was more challenging than usual because of the days of “off-site learning” the kids had.

But after all that has happened, here we are, about to begin Christmas Day. Merry Christmas one and all. May you celebrate quietly and happily as we do.