Friday, July 31, 2015

How We Came to Buy Our House Part 1

As I mentioned in my previous post, God worked in some pretty interesting ways to bring us to this house.  There is no way that I can deny His involvement and I am very thankful for it!  The story of how we bought the house we are flipping actually starts almost 6 years ago.  I know, I know, you're wondering, "Ashley, how many parts are there going to be!?".  Don't worry, not that many!

So 6 years ago we were living in a historic one-room schoolhouse in Lowell:


As a newly married couple with no kids this place actually worked quite well for us. The main room functioned as a kitchen, living room, dining room, music room, and office with the bedroom and bathroom being more recent additions.  It was a small space but it was fine and some kind Christian missionaries were giving us a great deal on rent so we were thankful. 

In the fall of 2009 a friend from church tipped us off about a nice house for sale between Lowell and Ada and curiosity got the best of us.  Unfortunately that house sold before we actually ever saw it, but it helped us decide to start the process of purchasing our own home.  While it was definitely a buyers market at that time we were sad to realize that Lowell was still a bit too expensive for us.  We settled on Ionia, which was halfway between Grand Rapids, where I was working, and Lansing, where Will was working.  

After perusing houses for sale online we picked a few to see with our realtor.  And guess what? The very first house we looked at in Ionia happened to be right next door to the house we're flipping.  And here's the kicker!  As we drove away from looking at that first house we drove past this house and saw people eating dinner up on the rooftop patio.  There were tiki torches and twinkle lights and a canopy covering the trellis up there. And not only that, I was completely charmed by the Victorian exterior of the house.  I remember telling Will, "Oh man, I would LOVE to live there someday!!". He agreed that it was a pretty nice house but based on it's size, style, and age we assumed that, were it ever for sale, it would be significantly out of our price range.  

From time to time over the next year I would remember that house but as we began to settle in and remodel our first home, and then as we added children to it I forgot about it.  Until late last fall that is...  And as I have said all week long to the kids I taught at Neighborhood Bible Time (our church's version of Vacation Bible School), "If you want to hear the rest of the story you have to come back tomorrow" or whenever I have time to write up the next post.

Monday, July 27, 2015

I'm back again!

So it's been a loooong looooong time since I wrote a post on this blog.  In fact, the last time I posted Liam looked like this:

And now he looks like this:

And now we have this lovely little lady who will be one in a month:

We also moved from this house:

To this house (no it's not still snowing here, I just can't figure out where I saved the more current pictures): 

My husband also changed jobs twice so it's been a busy 18-ish months!  

So after such a ridiculously long hiatus why start my blog up again?   Well, we're flipping that beautiful old house and I have had a bunch of people ask why we're flipping it, how it's going, do we have pictures to show, etc.  This seemed like the easiest format to update people so over the next couple posts I'll be catching you up to speed on how we "happened upon" this house and what we've done since we moved in almost 2 months ago!  It's quite an amazing story!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Spending Freeze Adventure: Week 7 & 8 Shopping Trips

I know you're all dying to know how I did with the $1.61 I had left for two weeks so without further ado let me tell you. 

During week 7 (aka last week) Liam and I went to NO stores.  We spent $0 last week on groceries.  So yeah, I still had the $1.61 left for this week and I made it.  

Well sort of.  

Ok, I went over by $0.18.  But I really needed to buy some eggs so I could make cupcakes for Will's birthday.  Normally I buy them about 4 dozen at a time from McCord's because they sell them for $0.99/dozen every 4-6 weeks.  However they haven't had them on sale in a while and I ran out.  I was going to wait but birthday cupcakes for my man were practically an emergency so I stopped at Meijer and picked up a dozen for $1.79

Part of the reason we were able to make it work is because we spent several days with Will's parents and of course they fed us (quite well in fact!) so that was less food that we had to use from our pantry.  We also had someone drop off several bags of groceries while we were gone.  This was an amazing blessing that I'll go into a little more in another post!

So technically we didn't make it, but I'm good with how we did!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Spending Freeze Adventure: Week 6 Shopping Trip

Well, if you remember my last shopping trip post you'll recall that I changed my way of buying groceries for this month.  Previously I was only spending $10/week on groceries.  However when Meijer ran their "10 items for $10 and get the 11th item free" deal I decided to switch to $40/month (or 4 weeks to be precise) so I could spend a little more on that sale.  Last week was the first week of this endeavor and I spent $27.73 which left me with $12.27 for the rest of the month. So lets see how I did!

My first trip was to Sam's Club on Wednesday where I picked up 3 gallons of milk at $1.99 each.  I also had to purchase toilet paper because we're almost out and that's not something I want to run out of!  Thankfully Sam's toilet paper is always a good deal, often better than I can usually get even on Amazon.

My grocery total for this trip was $5.97

My "other" total for this trip was $17.47 (for the toilet paper)

Then on Friday Liam and I hit up McCord's for some bananas, eggs, raisins, and one avocado.  I forgot to take a picture of my purchases so you'll just have to imagine how artfully I could have arranged them for you *wink*.

My grocery total for this trip was $4.69

My grocery total for week 6 was $10.66 and my total other spending was $17.47

That leaves me $1.61 for the next two weeks.  This could get interesting folks so stay tuned to see if I can make it!

And just so this post isn't completely picture-less here's a picture of my ever present kitchen "helper"...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Spending Freeze Adventure: Week 5 Shopping Trip

I haven't had a chance to post about the Spending Freeze lately because I have been crazy busy!   Between potty training Liam, canning applesauce (my first canning experience ever!), and helping to plan and execute a fundraising banquet I haven't had much time to sit down, let alone compose a post.  Now that life has slowed down, with the exception of canning applesauce, I feel like I have time to give you guys an update!

I finally found time (and money) to go shopping last Friday morning.  So it had been 11 days since my previous trip.  Will gets paid on Thursdays so I wanted to wait until payday before I went again.  This was an "expensive" week for grocery shopping.  For those of you who are familiar with Meijer they had their "10 Items for $10 and get the 11th Free" deal going on.  And those of you who are familiar with me know that I have a hard time passing these deals up because they can be extremely good.

There were so many good deals in this round of "10 for $10" and I knew I could definitely spend more than $10.  Unfortunately I had a conundrum on my hands.  Should I spend more than $10 and stock up on some much needed items, or should I stick strictly to my $10/week?  It was a really hard decision but I think I came up with a good compromise.  I decided that this month, instead of having $10/week I would give myself $40 for the whole month.  That way I wouldn't have to scrimp on purchasing things we could really use in the near future that were part of the "10 for $10".

So on Friday I stopped at 3 stores with my newly potty trained little buddy!  Thankfully he lasted through all 3 stores without needing to make a stop.  I'm LOVING having him potty trained!

Anyway, here's a picture of the results from our shopping trips:

Our first trip was McCord's where we picked up a $0.99 clearance bag of plums, 2 bags of shredded cheese (cheddar and mozzarella) and a couple pounds of bananas.  The plums (there were 12) were in excellent condition, definitely not what you normally consider "clearanced".   Another reason why I love, love, love McCords!  My total for this trip: $5.38

After McCords we hustled on over to Meijer to cash in on the "10 for $10" deal.  We picked up the following:
  • 6 bags of pretzels (we use these for snacks and Will's lunch)
  • 4 bottles of salad dressing - 2 ranch and 2 ceasar (we use these for stromboli, pizza, quesadillas, and of course salads)
  • 4 jars of salsa (we use these in southwest chicken casserole and other Mexican themed dishes)
  • 2 cans of pumpkin (it was really hard to only buy 2 cans!)
  • 2 cans of refried beans (I know, I know, I could make them for less but with all the canning and other things I've been making from scratch this was a concession I was willing to make)
  • 2 bags of tortillas (ditto the above comment)
  • 1 bag of hot dog buns
  • apple juice
  • 2 packages of butter
My total for this trip was $22.35 

So the total for my Week 5 grocery shopping trip was: $27.73

I also purchased 40lbs of cat litter for $10.60 (a crazy good deal at Meijer and something I said we would continue to buy) and then Liam and I buzzed over to Walmart where I picked up a 21 quart canning pot for $21.17.  I really needed this pot in order to can  applesauce.  I purchased a pot a while ago that had been labeled "canning pot" but it didn't hold my quart jars.  Big problem!  Technically I'm not counting this as money spent because I used the money I make from teaching piano lessons which is not counted as part of our regular income.  We generally save this money to pay to have my piano tuned and for gifts throughout the year. 

Other spending: $31.77

By the way, if you're looking for a piano teacher for your beginner kiddos I've got openings!!