Aug 16, 2017

Buying Our Mountain Cabin (With Before Pictures)


I've been sitting here trying to think back to what I've been doing all summer. It seems like just yesterday my daughter was getting married and I was busy entertaining out of town guests. But that was way back in early June, and here it is mid-August. A quick look at my calendar tells me I've been spending almost every weekend up at our new cabin in McCall, Idaho, and my in-between days have been spent back in Boise preparing for those weekends. So, since I seem to be living on mountain time these days, I'm thinking it would be fun to start sharing our cabin adventures before too many more of them fly by.



Last April I wrote a blog post about how we came to find and buy our little cabin in the fall of 2016, including a bit of our family's history with the little mountain town of McCall, Idaho. You can catch up on that post by clicking here if you missed it.



Today, I'll take you back to the first time we saw our little cabin, what it looked like then, and what it was like to buy a vacation home in a dream destination in the mountains on a small budget. You may wonder, as you look at these unedited pictures mostly from the real estate listing, what on earth we saw in our run down and neglected little cabin. I hope you'll trust me when I say that we loved our little cabin from the first time we set eyes on it. From that first moment we had a vision of what it could be, and I'm excited to take you with us on our renovation journey of this tiny cabin in the woods.




First, we had to buy it! 

Though our realtor is now a broker and partner in a very large Boise Real Estate Company, he lived and worked in the small central Idaho mountain town of McCall for many years and still spends summer weekends here. He is an expert on all things to do with mountain living and the local real estate scene, and I can't begin to tell you how important that expertise was for us when purchasing our McCall vacation home. From recommendations for local inspectors, surveyors, and building specialists, to what kind of roof is required for heavy mountain snow loads, to how to cope with "mountain time" during the high pressure stress of purchasing property, our realtor expertly and calmly guided us through it all.



We made the two hour drive to McCall and met our realtor at our cabin to see it for the first time on August 20, 2016, and our sale recorded on October 11, 2016, fifty-four days later. Our little cabin had already gone through two offers from other buyers, but both failed the inspection requirements for the financing that had been applied for. Specifically, our little cabin had a leaking roof, peeling paint, and needed a new electrical panel, none of which the seller would fix. FHA and VA financing requires a move-in ready home, so both of those offers fell through. We didn't realize it at the time, but we were extremely lucky to make our offer with conventional financing and have it be accepted almost immediately after the financing from the other buyers fell through and before anyone else could make another offer.



We've been told many times since, how lucky we were to find a cabin at a price we could even come close to affording anywhere in the McCall area, where lakefront homes sell for millions of dollars; especially one so close to the lake and state park. Cash sales of vacation homes are a large percentage of real estate sales in this area, and our 470 square foot cabin was perfect for a cash investor looking to flip it for a quick profit. My husband and I say it to each other every time we come up to our little cabin that we were so incredibly lucky to have found the only fixer upper cabin in all of McCall we could afford when we did, and that we were able to make our offer before someone else did. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! 



I think all real estate dealings are stressful, and ours was no different. In addition, we had some stressful issues (for us) that were unique to the purchase of a vacation home. First, we found out that second homes have different financing requirements than principal residences do. We hadn't figured on having to come up with a down payment of twenty percent of the purchase price. It could have been a deal breaker, but we decided to use all the money we were saving for our new car for the cabin instead. We would just have to start over saving for a new car, but it was worth it to us. 



After we figured out our financing, we worried that our old cabin might need more repairs than we could afford. We held our breath during the two hour inspection until our home inspector summarized our cabin as "needing a few repairs and updates due to neglect and age, but it's a pretty nice little cabin for seventy years old in McCall, Idaho."

Hmmmm...

We chose as positive an interpretation of that summary as we could. Later, after the written inspection report was emailed to us and we pored over all of it, we got an additional inspection of the electrical system by a licensed electrician and made an inspection contingency counter offer for the seller to cover part of the cost of the new roof. Then, we felt fairly confident of what repairs needed doing and that we would eventually be able to afford them; mostly because the cabin is just so tiny and we are experienced do it yourselfers.



The appraisal was our next hurdle and set us back when the appraiser just never bothered showing up at the cabin and the loan officer didn't know until the last day it was due. That left them scrambling to find a new appraiser who was willing to make the four hour round trip drive to McCall. 



With the appraisal finally done, our Title Insurance Company at the last minute made a survey of the land a requirement of the title policy we wanted. As so many small mountain town professionals do, our surveyor was out of town working on another job, so we just had to wait for his return. Luckily, our seller agreed to delay our closing date. Since the title company was located in the same county as the cabin, our realtor had set up a courtesy closing in our home county with another title company he uses here so we wouldn't all need to drive up to McCall. Unfortunately, we found out, again at the last minute, that their office was closing for Columbus Day! Who on earth closes for Columbus Day?! Luckily, he knew of another title company that would be open and, finally, it was closing day!



I was told at our closing meeting that I'm what they call a "reader." I read every single word of every single one of our closing documents. I was surprised to hear that's unusual, especially when I found that the description of our property had been transcribed wrong by the computer on the property deed, which is the most important legal document of ownership. And I was the only one who caught it! Happily, the title officer was able to type up an attachment to correct the description that allowed us to continue with our closing without delay. It was still two more days before we could pick up our keys and take occupancy of our little cabin because the documents had to be sent overnight by fed ex to the title company in the county of the cabin for recording the following day.



So, you can see, buying a vacation home that's in a different location from where you live can add a little stress to the already stressful real estate transaction, simply because it's out of town. Our realtor expected delays and was experienced with, and ready, to handle them. After the first few hurdles and problems were surmounted, we learned to trust him and his understanding of our small mountain town real estate transaction. 



We were so excited when we drove up to McCall on that first fall day and stopped by the seller's real estate office to pick up our keys. My husband's pickup was full of cleaning and painting supplies and an air mattress to sleep on. We kept pinching ourselves to see if it was all real. Were we really realizing our dream to become the owners of our own
vacation cabin?!
  


When we got to our little cabin that first day and walked around our property taking in all the dead and dying trees that needed to be cut down and the peeling, flaking paint on the cracked siding, then opened the front door into the living room and gazed up at the new water stains on the ceiling from the leaking roof and the seventy year-old electrical panel with glass knob fuses hanging in the living room, we slowly realized, oh yes, we're wide awake, and it's all very real... 



Stay tuned as we roll up our sleeves and get to work on our tiny cabin in the woods!


Jul 19, 2017

Annie's Wedding

Hello, friends! Summer is just whizzing by us here in Boise!  We had a fabulous 4th of July celebration with out of town family and are now settling in for a calm and quiet rest of the summer. 

Today, I'm sharing a few photographs from my daughter's wedding. Annie designed and put on her entire wedding herself, with help from her sister and me. She started planning twelve months before and even though it was our first experience putting on a large celebration, bringing it all together was fun and pretty stress-free. 

That is, until the epic winter of 2017 decided to drop record breaking snowfall that melted and swelled our local Boise river to flooding well into June. A week and a half before Annie's June 3 wedding, the parks department called us to say our beautiful riverside park venue was under water and we'd have to find another place for the wedding. They tried to relocate us to another park, but every single one was already reserved for that popular Spring day in June. People, like us, who had functions planned for our beautiful park system all up and down the river were desperately searching for new locations as the river rose higher and higher. 

We were so lucky that my other daughter and her husband live right next to their own small neighborhood park! We all met there to re-plan the ceremony and reception for the new location and simply decided to make the very best of it. Annie adjusted the vision she had for her wedding and we scrambled to rent what we needed to make the new park work. She was such a trooper in the face of disappointment, and I've never been more proud of her. Her sister and husband also stepped up and went the extra mile to get their park side yard ready for serving reception refreshments by planting flowers and even installing a gate between their yard and the park so guests could move freely back and forth. All of us got busy phoning, texting, and emailing the new address to the one hundred guests.

And it all turned out perfectly. We could not have asked for a more beautiful day or a more beautiful wedding. Here are some photos! (Photography by Verse & Venture.)























































My husband and I feel like the luckiest parents in the world with our two beautiful daughters now married to two such wonderful men. Having our children find their perfect soul mates has been one of life's highlights for us, and having these fine young men become part of our close family is truly a joy. 

I'm so glad you stopped by to share Annie's wedding with us today. Thank you for coming!


Jun 7, 2017

Annie's Bridal Shower

The past few months have been a whirlwind of activity for me and my family. It started with the preparations for my youngest daughter's bridal shower last April.

My oldest daughter, Jessica, and I planned and co-hostessed Annie's shower, sharing the shopping, preparations, and the making of decorations. 

I made lots of big tissue paper flowers for decorations.

Jessica chose a Kate Spade party theme, and our color palette was of shades of pink, glittery gold, black and white.  

I glittered some tiny wood clothes pins and used black and white striped bakers twine to make a photo banner of the bride and groom.

 I purchased a digital download of a pink background with gold glittered polka dots on Etsy and created my own signs and cards on Photoshop using the same font as the invitations we had ordered online. I spread out my work over a couple of months so I never felt rushed, and it was a lot of fun! 

We held the shower at my daughter's beautiful home. 

Decorating her home for the shower was a team effort. Caroline, my fabulous sister in-law, flew up from California for the shower and spent hours helping us shop, decorate, and prepare food. We couldn't have done it without her. Jessica's sweet husband, Brody, was also invaluable help, especially at figuring out how to hang everything on their walls. We were so thankful to have extra pairs of helping hands!

 Caroline put together our favors of nail polish tied with little "mani thanks" tags, emery boards, pink foam toenail pads, and chocolate kisses in black and white striped bags tied with hot pink ribbon. 

 There were little pink and gold cards for guests to fill out with shared advice for the bride for a happy marriage. After reading aloud what each card said, Annie took them home with her in a hot pink gift bag. 

And the guest who guessed the closest number of chocolate kisses in a big glass jar took the candy-filled jar home with her. 

I used my laptop screen shot app to gather photos of the bride and groom together from their Instagrams and Facebooks, then uploaded them to Costco to have printed. 

We hung them as a banner along the bookcase above the bride's chair.

 Our refreshments began with a Mimosa Bar in the kitchen (and I was so busy taking photos of the adorable guests, I forgot to take a photo of the Mimosa Bar!) We used galvanized buckets of ice to keep the champagne, orange juice, and peach juice chilled, and we had stemless wine glasses with gold stirrers and black and white striped straws.

 Our brunch fare was three different kinds of quiche, yogurt parfaits, bagels and cream cheese, cheese and cherry pastries, a vegetable platter, and fresh fruit.

Glittered heart-topped cupcakes and chocolates made a sweet dessert. 

No bridal shower is complete without some fun games! The favorite was pin the mustache on the groom.

 The large poster-size photo was also a digital upload/Costco print. We also played a match the romantic quote with its movie game - a real challenge for some of us, and a lot of fun!

Opening gifts is a highlight of any shower - so fun to watch!

And here are all our guests; friends and family who made Annie's shower so special. What a wonderful group!

 Me with my sweet daughter, creating a remembrance of a most special day.

Annie was married last Saturday, and I'm looking forward to sharing that beautiful day with you, too. Soon!

Sharing with





May 22, 2017

DIY Jewelry Frame

I've been doing some spring cleaning and organizing around the house lately, and I have a great DIY jewelry organizing project to share with you today.


I repurposed this wood picture frame into a jewelry frame for my bedroom in less than an hour. 


I have a large jewelry box sitting on my bedroom dresser, but not large enough to fit all of my necklaces. Some of the bigger necklaces ended up shoved underneath the jewelry box to keep them out of the way. 


Can you see them peeking out there? I would forget to wear them because they were pretty much hidden away under there. So I kept my eye out for a jewelry frame whenever I went to Home Goods. I saw cute ones there on past shopping trips, but when I needed one, there was not one in sight. 

Does that happen to you? 

If you snooze, you lose.


Lose?!?!  No way! 

When all else fails, make your own! 

I already had this big wood frame, but thrift stores are great places to find inexpensive frames if you don't have one at home to repurpose. My local Home Depot had small 10' x 2' x 1" rolls of chicken wire for around $6.50 (and as you can see I have some left over for other projects.) I flattened the chicken wire out on my work bench, set the frame over it and used my wire cutters to cut a piece to fit the frame. Chicken wire is stiff and sharp, so you can wear gloves to protect your fingers while working.   


After I had the chicken wire cut, I started in the middle of one side of the frame back and used my staple gun to attach the chicken wire to it. I stretched the wire to keep the lines straight as I rotated the frame around. I shot in a couple of staples, then rotated the frame, pulled the wire straight, and shot in a couple more staples on that side, and repeated rotating and stapling until it was all straight and attached.


 I covered the staples and sharp edges of chicken wire with a few layers of masking tape so it wouldn't scratch my wall.   


I used two picture hangers and hooked the chicken wire over them for attaching it to the wall. I bought some S-Hooks at the hardware store for hanging my necklaces on the chicken wire. I can take them off and move them where ever they're needed. 


Now I can easily reach up and remove the necklace I want. I'm wearing my necklaces more often because they're always in view as I get dressed. In fact, sometimes I pick out my necklace first before I pick my outfit! I chose to hang only necklaces on my jewelry frame, but you could also hang earrings and bracelets. 


I love the way the colors glow at night. My jewelry frame makes the perfect artwork for above my dresser. 

Need some jewelry organizing at your house? Make your own jewelry frame!

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day!



What a great day for a party!



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