Another alternative to living in a facility

Read this link found in Country Living! The cost of building one of these little houses—maybe to put on a family member’s property—in many cases costs less than a year’s payment in a senior facility.

Choosing a realtor and staging your home for a move

Living Room

Living Room

We have started interviewing realtors that come highly recommended by folks we know. We are finding it takes two visits from them, so plan accordingly. The first visit includes a tour of the house. They go back to their office and do a market analysis so they can suggest the best listing price, given all the facts and square footage of the house. Be sure to ask what percentage commission they get; I think between the listing and selling agents, the total cost is 5 to 6 percent of the selling price. It depends on the deal you make with the realtor. Ask what services are provided for their rate. The marketing tools each of them uses varies. I would also ask how many homes they’ve sold in the last couple years.  That may give you an idea about their track record, even in the current economy.  We’ve been told, that December was a great month for sales and that 2012 was a very good year.  There are not a lot of homes on the market—inventory is low—so it is a seller’s market right now. That’s good for us!

I’ve been “staging the house.” That means making it look like we live in a very large, perfectly designed, coordinated, home… Ha!

“Staging” means to put your home’s “best foot forward.” The idea is to keep things looking open; traffic flow should be clear and wide. You don’t want too much furniture in a room, either, because it makes the room looked cramped and crowded. The key word is edit. Once you’re finished editing, edit again.

Try to see each room the way a buyer might. Can they imagine their things in a room, or is there an extensive personal collection of something that distracts them? You don’t want to overdue the editing, either. It makes a difference if people can come into your home and get a warm, welcoming feeling. Clutter around, closets overflowing, and dishes in the sink? Folks can’t seem to see past it and quickly reject the house—even when it might be perfect for their needs.

I love to decorate and for me, this is FUN! The realtors have said they like what they see! Brag, brag, brag… I’ve done some touch-up painting, we’ve had the carpets cleaned, and the chimney sweep came. The pictures have been taken and the house measured by the professionals. Gotta type a list of the house’s amenities now.

Ready to list!




Still workin’ on It! An update!

Ah yes, the grand move to downsize…

We have 99 marked boxes so far. I know that sounds like a lot, but we are using small and medium-sized boxes that are uniform in size to make stacking easier. With less weight, they are easier on the back, too! In case you find yourself contemplating something similar in your future, here are my tips.

  1. Get boxes. Lots of boxes. These are not cheap if you must buy them—and you will. In the past, I’ve made use of homeless grocery store boxes that were being tossed—these usually come complete with a lingering odor of old produce. Buy some packing paper, too. You will like it better than old newspaper, (though it works, if you don’t mind getting black ink all over everything).
  2. Get a notebook and start counting. “1 – Mike’s jersey” (smelly, from high school), “Marilyn’s old love letters” (These, of course, were from countless boys who were always in love with me)…
  3. Don’t forget to write “1” on your box—makes a huge difference if you forget, and cuts down on confusion about where you packed the martini glasses once you’ve settled into the new place.
  4. Rent storage if you need to—we opted for the climate-controlled option as it wasn’t much more money per month. Keep your storage short time, or the cost will begin to resemble your cell phone bill.
  5. On your GPS, enter “Goodwill” and “The Salvation Army.” You’ll be making multiple trips. Just can’t let go? Take a picture! Now let it go. You can always shop resale later!

My packing system:

  1. Tier 1Stuff we absolutely won’t need until after the move—stuff from the now-empty attic, the bright-and- shiny cupboards, shelves, and drawers. Aside: you might want to wipe out all those bits and crumbs from each and every crevice of each and every aforementioned item, too.
  2. Tier 2The essentials only—things we will need in an apartment. Enough to get by. We’re guessing we’ll probably have to move to an apartment for a short time as we look for a new place. We won’t need twelve place settings of china and glassware.
  3. Tier 3 – Can’t get everything from the house into the small storage unit we’ve rented; anything in Tier 3 will go into the cross-town mover’s storage place. This is where all the remaining furniture and goods will go. When we move into our new place, everything will be delivered from the apartment and their storage.

I’ve been “staging the house.” I’ll tell you about that soon! Here’s the first room, though. Getting a little closer to being ready!


family room

family room



Happy New Year—I’m sure.

New beginnings, clean slates, fresh start. Those words come to mind, and for us, more new words.

The beginning...

The beginning…

In looking to the future, we have begun to implement “the plan.” I talk about it to anyone who is kind enough to listen, so I guess we’d better get a move on—literally. Our story isn’t unique; folks everywhere are doing it. The goal? To move to a smaller, one-level home. Or, at the very least, to a home with the main living areas and master bedroom on one level.

The house is too big. The kids are grown and gone; our dog has been really “gone” for a long time. The kitchen is downstairs and the bedrooms are up. Besides, the stairs give our geriatric cat trouble with her “knees.” Isn’t that reason enough?

It’s time to grab a paintbrush, do a few touch-ups here and there. The house, built in 1992, demanded a new, heart-seizingly expensive roof. We have now emptied the bank account and are proceeding to the next step.

If you haven’t buried yourself under a rock for the past few years, you’re probably already familiar with the word “downsizing.” This is no small feat.

After living here for almost 16 years, we’ve emptied the attic. I’m very proud of that fact, alone! We’ve rented a storage unit for what looks to be a focused, organized move. I can see you grinning. I hope we won’t need the storage for long, as that would defeat the purpose of our plan to downsize. Seeing into the future isn’t my particular talent, so I’m trying to think of various contingencies. The house might sell fast. The house might sell slowly. The house might not sell… See what I mean?

We’ve already made several trips to Goodwill, and I do see more trips there in our future. I’m sure you can’t imagine, but this takes an incredible amount of discipline. Should he keep the grease-stained, Chilton car repair manuals for cars long gone (yes, they’re packed), or what about my darling collection of cute little bottles? Wouldn’t they make great, tiny vases? I put them in recycle—that gives me a week—to be sure I’ve made the right choice before the trash folks come. We’ve put 75 boxes in storage so far. I’m trying hard not to tell Mike we’re going to have to rent more storage…

There’s the stuff I’m willing to part with—for a price… Craigslist? EBay? The consignment shops? I’m pooped trying to decide, not to mention the research required to come up with a price, the need to haul stuff around, etc.

Then we’ll need to store more stuff to prepare for “staging” the house to sell. Can’t have a potential buyer think this house looks anything but spacious with miles of—storage.

Whine, whimper, moan…

At least by the time we are finished with “the plan,” you will have some ideas of your own about whether it was a good plan and whether you could entertain such a plan for yourself. I’ll do my best to keep you informed and give you the gritty details about the effect on our relationship. I admit it; we’ve each been a little testy…

Stay tuned.

Still trying to think of a great gift for your parents this holiday season or for an upcoming birthday?

My sisters and I got our parents a flash drive that is dedicated to their health records. It fits into a “credit card”  for a wallet.  I set up some forms on my computer that included medical information that every doctor’s visit, every trip to the hospital, or any emergency situation requires.  I installed those forms onto their flash drive.

Of course, we could all use a flash drive with that kind of information.  You’ll save lots of time filling out forms!  Instead of always having to list the information repeatedly, type information once, download it onto a flash drive and have it ready for any medical personnel to upload.

When there are changes in medications or history, the flash drive would need to be updated, but that takes a few minutes versus completing forms every time someone requests information.

If there was an emergency and your parent wasn’t conscious or was unable to speak for themselves, having a medical flash drive connected to a key ring or a bracelet could be a lifesaver.

You can either do what I did by creating and completing forms and downloading them to a flash drive, or go online and order one. Here’s a link to one site I found. If you Google the words “medical flash drive images” you’ll be amazed at the variety and creativity for something that is so practical, there’s no reason we shouldn’t all have one.

By the way, if you’re interested in the blank forms I created for my folks, send me an email.

Wrap it for the holidays!

Civility: the act of being courteous and polite.

I’ll say it again—

Civility: the act of being courteous and polite.

Soon all the political rhetoric and chest-beating will be finished for another few years. I can’t wait.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost faith in our political system. It appears to be broken. What we need in this country is guidance and truth from our leaders. Not all of us are accountants, or economists, CEO’s of large corporations, or experts on foreign policy and military strategy. We count on our elected leaders for guidance. Do you feel you know what the issues are and who can deliver on the needs you wish to see addressed in this country? Instead of offering us solid information, we are forced to witness another session of blaming and finger pointing. Why do we accept and tolerate their actions?

Perhaps our political candidates are a reflection of the people they wish to govern. Is it too much to ask that we return to a time of civility? Before the next election, Americans should stand up, demand it of their politicians, and practice it themselves.

I’m astounded at the rudeness and disrespect afforded to the highest office in the land—no matter who is in the Oval Office. I’m tired of the lies, the stretching of the truth, the twisting of facts. The aura of distrust and the refusal to compromise needs to stop. The vindictiveness and rancor are over the top. It’s everywhere. In expressing political views, people even stoop to poking fun at candidate’s physical traits—I know a teacher who made a snide comment about one of the candidates physical features, and I’m sure wouldn’t tolerate it in her elementary classroom.

I want to believe it is still important to:

Treat others the way you wish to be treated.

Don’t make fun of the way someone looks.

Be polite.

Tell the truth; be trustworthy.


Solve your problems together.

Work together for the good of everyone.

Compromise can be a good option.

Good luck as you vote.You’ll need it.

Don’t you just love fall?

I chose three gorgeous pumpkins at a local farm stand the other day. I picked up peaches to make jam, and I wanted to do something different outside the front door this year. My topiary pumpkins have bay leaves from the backyard tucked between them. I love the fall wreath on my red door, too!

You can get inspired, too! Living well…

Pumpkin Topiary

The Red Door

Looking for more options regarding housing and retirement?

With the exorbitant cost of retirement and long-term care facilities, many folks wonder what other options there are for housing. Money needs to go farther as we live longer. With the likelihood of increased health care costs as we age, the concerns are real and loom large for boomers and beyond. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be forced to work after I retire because I can’t afford to stay in my home or pay for health care without a job.

Some families choose multi-generational living, but for others that is not the answer. Remember the television show Golden Girls? Let’s Share Housing has taken that concept to reality. Their site gives the reader several different scenarios where co-housing would make sense. Let’s Share Housing boasts they have housing options all across the country, in Hawaii and even Buenos Aires.

A roommate could help a large home, grown quiet, be filled with voices again and keep loneliness at bay. There would be someone to go to events with, someone to get your mail, water the plants, and keep an eye on things when you’re out of town. Who knows, your roomie may become a true friend and traveling companion.

Check out Let’s Share Housing even if you’re just curious. You may know someone for whom the option opens possibilities. Students room together in college to save money; why is it no one thinks about that option in their later years?