Moving with Kids: Tips on Making a Smooth Transition

This post comes from the fabulous Alexis Hall of A single mom, she recently moved with her 3 kids to be closer to her parents. Here’s what Alexis had to say about her experience:

The homebuying process with three kids was challenging and fun. From a treehouse to a dance studio to an indoor slide, everyone had their request for what our new place should have. And, of course, I had a very strict budget to stick to!

Now a pro, Alexis has been kind enough to share some tips on making a move with kids as easy and stress-free as possible. Read on for her insights!

Photo via PixaBay by Vik Varga

Moving into a new home is often a time-consuming, stressful process that requires a lot of planning and careful thought. Not only is it difficult to navigate through the move itself, but when you’re done, you and your family are left with figuring out how to get comfortable and situated in a new, unfamiliar home. For some kids, this stage of the process can be tricky or even traumatic, so it’s important to find the best ways to help them feel safe and settled.

One of the best ways to do this is to involve your kids in every stage of the move, from looking at potential homes to choosing decor for their bedrooms. Allowing them a little control over what’s happening — even if it’s as small as picking out new bedding — will help tremendously when it’s time to call the new place home.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to make a move with your kiddos.

Do Some Research

Doing some research on the best homes and neighborhoods in your area will keep you informed and will give you a little space to include your children. Even if they don’t get a final say in which home you buy, they’ll enjoy the excitement of checking out different houses, so make it a family outing and talk about what everyone liked and disliked about each house afterward. Talk about a budget with your spouse or partner, and while you do so, keep in mind that the average sale price in Portland, Oregon, is $430,000, though prices vary by locale.

Downsize Thoughtfully

It’s a good idea to declutter and downsize a bit before you start packing; this way, you won’t be taking unwanted items with you to the new place. Just keep in mind that it’s never advisable to do this in your child’s room without him present. It may be tempting to finally have a chance to throw out that box of broken crayon pieces or to donate all those stuffed animals, but doing so could create anxiety for your little one at the worst possible time. Instead, go through his room with him and encourage him to make piles of things he would like to donate or throw away. If you’ll be having a garage sale before the move, let him know that he could earn some extra cash by selling his unwanted toys.

Make a Scrapbook

Especially if you’ve lived in the same home for a long time, your kids may be feeling sad about leaving their bedrooms and neighborhood friends behind. Help them create a scrapbook full of pictures and memories from your time in the house so they’ll always remember the good times they had.

Make a Quick Sale

One of the most difficult things about a move is waiting for your house to sell. It can be nerve-wracking, so it’s important to try to make a quick sale, especially since trying to sell a home with children means attempting to keep their bedrooms spotless for buyer walk-throughs and open houses. One of the best ways to do this is to boost your home’s curb appeal by adding a pop of color with some flowers, repainting the front door and/or mailbox, and replacing old light fixtures near the door.

Making your move with kids a smooth transition can seem like an overwhelming and stressful task, but it doesn’t have to be. With some good planning, smart packing, and a little patience, you and your family can turn a new house into a home in no time.

Posted on November 7, 2018 at 12:01 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized |

Time To Introduce Smart Showers

The Smart Shower

Hey there readers! So I’m going to be introducing something a little out there today that some people have never heard of, let alone even thought was possible.

So we already have smart TVs, smart phones, and smart watches….. But what about smart showers?? Well…. They’re real! Two brands already adapting to this trend but in different ways are Moen with their U, and Grohe with their SmartControl. Both in the form of rainfall showers.


Ok? And…

Well, now you may be asking “ok smart showers are a thing… but what do they actually do?” Let me open the flood gates of information for you. Are you ready to have your life changes? Well; smart showers, being more so the control interface than the actual shower head, greatly enhance your showering experience & allow you to interact with your shower in a myriad of new ways. Being fully touch capable – the interface allows you turn on, turn off, and adjust temperature – amongst other things – with the simple touch of a button or turn of an integrated nob system.


Smart Showers and Presets

Taking this otherworldly introduction a step further: the smart shower system also allows you to create and save custom presets of your favorite experience to be used over again every time you hop in and wash up. From flow speed, water temperature, water pressure, LED color, and even a timer to shut the water off at a certain point in case you like saving money or for those days you’re running late and need to get a quick shower in. Forcing you to get everything washed up within the time frame you allocated. Oh, and did we mention all of this doesn’t have to be done through the interface? Just like the interface communicates with the shower through Bluetooth – your phone can be used as an interface substitute by the means of an app to be able to control everything about your shower experience to the same degree the wall interface could have.

Long ago are the days where our showers had one simple hot and cold / on and off nob, button. Or for the lucky – a couple extra buttons to control water flow. Now is the time where we can control our entire bathroom experience. And aren’t forced to look at a mundane turn nob. The age of the showers of tomorrow; amazing right? Welcome to the future.


Posted on May 16, 2018 at 4:51 AM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized |

Creating a Pet Evacuation Plan

An evacuation plan is a necessity for every home. No matter where you live, you’ll have some natural disaster that you’ll need to be prepared for, whether it’s earthquakes, fires, or hurricanes. Many homeowners create evacuation plans for their homes and practice them with their kids (if you don’t have an evacuation plan yet, take some time to put one in place. has some great resources to help!), but far fewer have considered one for their pets. Take these steps to add your pets to your evacuation plan, and you’ll ensure that everyone stays safe, including the furrier family members!

(Like in some of my previous pet-related posts, I’ll use this opportunity to pepper in a bunch of pictures of Briggs!)

Assign Pet Evacuation to an Adult


In your evacuation plan, everyone should have defined responsibilities, and that includes assigning one parent or adult to the pets. This allows the other members of the household to focus on their parts of the evacuation plan, so there’s no confusion during a high-stress moment when time is of the essence. When everyone is on the same page about who will take care of what, there will be a lot less panic, and the entire evacuation will move more smoothly.


Keep Evacuation Maps and Pet Carriers Readily Accessible


When you need to evacuate, you should know exactly where every important item is. Many homes have a “go bag” with essentials that are readily accessible in the event of an emergency. You should have something similar for your pets. A spare leash, collapsible food and water bowls, and some treats or food in a bag near the door can save precious minutes while you’re getting out.  If you pets require carriers, keep them in a place that you can access easily.


Practice Your Plan

13394031_10153397680491525_7968616016004885247_n (1)

Include your pets in your home evacuation drills. It’ll help you see how they will respond and make changes to your plan if necessary. Getting your dog out of a window may not be as simple as you think! Just like anything else, the more you practice, the easier it will be when it comes time to act. And in an emergency situation, being able to react quickly is paramount.


Be Prepared in Case You Get Separated From Your Pets


No matter how much you drill your evacuation plan, it’s possible that a dog or cat will run off while you’re focusing on keeping your family safe. A microchip or a GPS-compatible tag can help you find your pets once it’s safe to return to the area. If you have your pet chipped, make sure the contact information is up to date. Otherwise, if someone does bring your pet to the vet, they won’t be able to get in touch with you to know that he has been found safe. While it may be difficult to get your pet on a leash during the evacuation, if you can get them leashed as soon as you are safely outside, it will go a long way into ensuring that they stay safe and by your side.


Do any of you have a pet evacuation plan? What other tips do you have?

Posted on March 22, 2018 at 12:39 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized |

5 Must-Have Tools for Homeowners

When you own your home, things are going to break and there’s no landlord to call. Unless you want to get to know your local handyman REALLY well, you’ll have to fix at least some of the basics on your own. Luckily, you don’t need an arsenal of tools to handle most home maintenance fixes. A simple toolbox with a few staples will go a long way, and may even release your inner DIY-er!  These five tools will cover most of your basic projects:

Cordless drill


A cordless drill is a must-have for installing cabinets, drawer pulls, hinges, picture frames, shelves and hooks, and more. You can get a small drill at any hardware store, and a good set of drill bits means you’ll always have the right size drill for the job. Whether it’s for do-it-yourself projects or repairs, you’ll use your cordless drill just about every month. My drill is a lifesaver when it comes time to clean out my Cadet heaters. With one in every room, taking them apart and putting them back together can be done in a snap!

Drain Cleaners


Shower and bathroom sink drains are susceptible to clogs because of the daily buildup of hair and whisker clippings. You can use chemical clog removers like Drano, but they can get expensive, and it’s more cost-effective to prevent clogged drains in the first place. Instead, you can pick up some drain hair catchers for your shower/tub. If you do get a clog, a plastic drain clog removal tool is great to have in your arsenal. It’s a little plastic stick that pulls up the hair and clog in one easy step. You can purchase them on Amazon or at a local hardware store for a low price.



No matter how careful you are, spills and accidents will happen and there are some tasks that just can’t be handled with paper towels or a standard vacuum. Shop vacs can be found at any home improvement store in a variety of sizes. A small one should suffice for most homes and can be purchased pretty cheaply.



Even the minimum amount of care for your landscaping will require some loppers to remove damaged branches, vines, thick weeds, and any other unruly plants in your yard. Any sort of clippers are good to have, but I find that a strong set of loppers can tackle a variety of jobs, and even decent quality ones will cut through branches much more easily. I have a huge yard to tackle, and having solid yard tools turns gardening from a chore into a nice afternoon outside!



You’re going to want something a little more powerful than your phone flashlight when you’re in the crawlspace! Aside from that, it’s a good idea to have a few bright flashlights around the house and even a lantern or two in case of a power outage. Make sure you’ve got some extra batteries as well!

What other tools have you found essential as a homeowner? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on February 21, 2018 at 2:03 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized |

Happy Valentine's Day!

Parmesan Cheese.png

Posted on February 14, 2018 at 11:03 AM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized |

5 Negotiation Tactics That Can Kill a Sale

Negotiations in a real estate transactions can be tricky. Here are some pitfalls to avoid that might kill your deal.

Posted on January 23, 2018 at 12:19 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized |

Hire a Concrete Contractor Instead of Going DIY

As a rule of thumb, whenever there’s a need for concrete construction, you should think twice about taking the matters into your own hands. Sure, turning it into a DIY project is always a possibility, but think about it; you don’t construct/reconstruct using concrete every day, and you probably don’t have the required experience anyway, so hiring a contractor is probably a good idea. Still thinking you can go DIY here? Well, read on, and after you’re done, if you still want to take matters into your own hands, by all means, do it!

Skills, knowledge and experience

Unless you’re an expert or experienced in concrete work, your knowledge and skills probably don’t meet the requirements. Concrete work is complicated: you need to possess solid knowledge of the best practices, all the necessary procedures, measurements, tools and techniques, which goes to say that this profession can’t be performed by just about anyone.

Okay, fine, so you’ll have to do some research; no biggie, right? Unfortunately, even though you can gain significant knowledge through research, it will not only take a lot of time, but it will also give you zero experience – a factor that is absolutely essential in concrete work. So, you need to ask yourself how much time you’re willing to spend on preparations, tools, and whether or not you’re okay with messing things up here and there, because it will inevitably happen.


Speaking of messing things up, you need to realize how much dedication lies in mixing concrete – much, much more than you might think. Even the most inexperienced concrete contractor has worked with concrete more than a couple of times, which means experience – something that you probably don’t have; and even if you do, it is probably incomparable to that of a pro.

So, what happens if the process of concrete mixing isn’t done correctly? Well, the concrete becomes susceptible to cracking, and cracking is not something that can be effectively patched up. So, unless you don’t mind potentially doing things over in a couple of years, make sure that you stick to experts in the concrete department.


Every true professional has all the necessary equipment by their side, or is perfectly fine with cashing out for a necessary piece if needed, because it’s probably going to come in handy for another job further down the line. The equipment in question isn’t something as mundane as a hammer or a paint roller. Essential and quality concrete tools include stuff like scouring machines, drill stands, drilling machines, magnetic drill rigs; stuff that you probably don’t have stored away in your garage.

This is another reason why contractors are a way better solution for concrete work than turning it into a DIY project!

Saving money

If none of the previous factors have deterred you from taking concrete matters into your own inexperienced hands, the financial factor just might. If you’ve ever taken on a DIY project, you know that learning along the way is unavoidable here, and this is exactly what will have you hemorrhaging money that you could’ve easily put in your pocket.

As mentioned, someone who goes DIY on their concrete project is bound to make mistakes, and fixing these up is another thing that will doubtlessly set you back. Add the cost of purchasing all the necessary tools and machinery, and you’ll see how much of a waste you’d be making by taking on this task by yourself.

If none of these factors have deterred you from turning your concrete renovations/construction into a DIY project, nothing will! Think about your lack of skills, knowledge, experience, precision and equipment and about how much money you’d be wasting, and hire a concrete contractor who will do an amazing job.


Posted on January 18, 2018 at 11:12 AM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged ,

4 Priority Tasks for Your New Home

You just bought a new house…congrats! Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and you’re probably daydreaming about decor and paint schemes and new furniture. But before you get into the fun stuff, there are some basics you should cover first. This will hopefully be the last time your home is totally empty until you sell, so it’ll be easier to get this stuff out of the way!

Change the Locks


Even if you’re promised that new locks have been installed in your home, you can never be too careful. It’s worth the money to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that no one else has the keys to your home. Plus, if you’re not thrilled about the hardware on your front door, now’s a great time to switch it out! We have a keypad lock that I’m a huge fan of. Changing the locks can be a DIY project, or you can call in a locksmith for a little extra money.

Steam Clean the Carpets

kaboompics_Black dog on a light blue carpet.jpg

It’s good to get a fresh start with your floors before you start decorating. The previous owners may have had pets, young children, or just some plain old clumsiness. Take the time to steam clean the carpets so that your floors are free of stains and allergens. It’s pretty easy and affordable to rent a steam cleaner—your local grocery store may have them available. For a little extra, you can hire a professional steam cleaner and really get them looking like new again!

Call an Exterminator


Prior to move-in, you probably haven’t spent enough time in the house to get a view of any pests that may be lurking. Call an exterminator to take care of any mice, insects, and other critters that may be hiding in your home. You don’t want to find out in 6 months that you have some furry tenants living in your crawlspace!

Clean Out the Kitchen


If the previous occupants wanted to skip on some of their cleaning duties when they moved out, the kitchen is where they probably cut corners. Wipe down the inside of cabinets, clean out the refrigerator, clean the oven, and clean in the nooks and crannies underneath the appliances. Again, this is probably the best time to get your home as clean as possible, as you can reach areas that will later be covered by small appliances, groceries, etc.

After you’ve taken care of these items, it’s time to make the space yours; you’ve earned it! Paint those walls (maybe an accent wall in Pantone’s color of the year?), buy an awesome new couch, and bask in the glory that is your new home! What’s the first thing you do when you move in to a new home? Let us know in the comments!

Posted on January 16, 2018 at 1:36 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized |

How to Create a Perfect Open Floor Area

Are you thinking of redecorating and modernizing your house but aren’t sure how you want to do it? While an open floor plan can be challenging it definitely doesn’t mean boring. As a matter of fact, making an open floor area can be the perfect opportunity to get creative and start working on an amazing arrangement of the interior of your home. This type of design is perfect for large families who love spending time together but also for those who love to entertain their friends in the comfort of their own homes.

image 7Create different areas

While having an open floor plan means you’ll have one large room, it should still be sectioned off in order to make clearly distinguished parts of the area. So, for example, if your kitchen, living room and dining room are all connected, it’s still important to decorate them in such a way that it’s clear which space is for what. This can be done by cleverly arranging the furniture. For example, put a sofa between the living and dining area. You can also use double-sided bookcases or cabinets to make a clear distinction between areas. However, be careful when arranging the furniture; too many pieces will make the area appear stuffy and crowded and the point of this type of design is to have plenty of open space.


Even though Australia is pretty sunny, it’s still very important to have good lighting in every room of your house (ed. note: In rainy Portland, good lighting is even more important!). You can clearly distinguish various areas of your open floor plan by installing different chandeliers in each designated area. After you install chandeliers, add some pendant lighting to the kitchen area, put in some additional soft lights in the living area and make sure that the chandelier in your dining area is directly above the center of the table. You can always add some additional smaller fixtures that will complete the design.

15134A07A3 (1)

Courtesy of StockSnap


As much as it’s important to make a clear distinction between areas, it’s also important to somehow tie them together and wall decoration is the perfect way you can achieve this. If you’ve decided to paint your walls, use the same shade everywhere, and then choose a separate accent wall color or design for each space. Each accent you choose should work with the overall color but also with other accent designs. Installing tiles in your kitchen is a great way to create an interesting backsplash while wallpapers as an accent design in the dining area can really make the space even more interesting.


Having plenty of natural light is really important for any room so make sure you have plenty of windows in your open floor area. You should use the same materials for all windows but you can go for different window treatments for each space. For a more eclectic yet matching look, you can use the same style and fabric window treatments in different colors. If you have a patio, make sure you use it to the max by connecting it with your interior. You can find high-quality sliding doors in Sydney and use them to gain easy access to the outside but also to let in as much light as possible.


The final, yet most important, touch when decorating are accessories. Not only can accessories tie the room together, but they make it look extra beautiful and interesting. You can arrange some same style accent pieces around your home like river stones, wooden décor and landscape art, water features or something similar. The pieces don’t have to match, but they should work well together.

You will definitely have to knock down a few walls if you want to create an open floor plan, but the end result will be truly amazing. Open floor plan adds a certain dose of coziness that every home needs; so think carefully and start planning.

Posted on December 20, 2017 at 12:27 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Winterization Projects: When to DIY or Hire a Pro

Winter is right around the corner, ready to wrap your home and property in a frosty embrace. The winter season means long, dark nights, ice and snow, and freezing temperatures, which means you must do all you can to properly winterize your home.

There are many winterization projects you may need to undertake. Do you have the time and expertise to do it yourself (DIY)? Or should you hire a pro? In evaluating whether or not you should hire a pro, you have to take your own particular circumstances into account. Are you living in a new home and don’t exactly feel confident on how to properly winterize? Are you getting up in years? Are you afraid you’ll strain your back even further? The following is some advice on how to judge for yourself when to DIY or hire a pro regarding certain home winterization projects.


When mulling whether to hire a pro to winterize your home, you should do as much research as possible on each winterization project you want to undertake. By reading up on how-to articles, checking out YouTube videos, and asking friends or neighbors any questions, you can figure out for yourself whether you can DIY the winterization project in question.

Judging Safety

Though you may be eager to save money, if you’re a bit wet under the ears regarding home winterization, you want to make sure you do the job right. Judge the risk of undertaking each project against your own safety and that of the long-term functioning of your home. For example, certain projects, such as checking whether your gas heater is working correctly, will require the eye and hand of a professional, since it’s never a good idea to have an amateur mess around with your home’s gas system.

The Pros of Hiring a Contractor

Hiring a pro has its perks. The job you assign him to do would take up minimal time, whereas it would take you much, much longer. Also the outcome of a pro’s work is likelier to be successful, which is the whole point of doing the job in the first place. If you’re still uncertain as to whether to hire a pro or not, call some professionals and ask a lot of good questions about the project. Getting in-depth answers to your questions, and later taking the time to digest the information, will help you recognize how big of a job you’re thinking about undertaking, and whether the quoted price seems reasonable.

Essential Winterization Projects to Undertake

Here are a few winterization projects you should definitely consider if you want your home to survive the winter in good shape.

Winterize Your Garden

Cover your garden with burlap to help protect your plants from the worst effects of the winter, such as wind damage. In addition, find a good winterizer. Winterizers are fertilizers that help your lawn deal with the stress of cold weather. Similar to lawn food, winterizers specifically help plants strengthen roots during the cold seasons of the year.

Winterize Exterior Faucets and Sprinkler Systems

Pipes can freeze and burst when the outdoor temperature drops to below freezing. Drain your exposed outdoor faucets and wrap these in insulating foam or towel covers held in place by a bungee cord. Do the same for your indoor faucets, allowing for a small trickle of water to come out of each faucet. The constant movement of water keeps the pipes from freezing. Also make sure to drain water from your garden hoses and sprinkler or irrigation systems to prevent cracking and freezing.

Add Insulation to Your Garage

Keep cold winter air out of your garage by adding a layer of insulation material to your garage walls. You can use traditional insulation or spring for the latest modern spray foam that serves as an effective barrier against the shivering-inducing temps.

The Takeaway

Getting your home ready for the winter may seem daunting but is necessary. Whether you end up DIYing most or all of your winterization projects, or end up hiring a pro to handle some of these, the point is you’re looking to avoid any costly accidents like burst pipes. By following our advice above, you should have a reasonably good idea as to how best to prepare your home for the long, cold winter.

Posted on November 23, 2017 at 12:40 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Uncategorized |