I’ve been away…

I’m sorry I’ve been away. A lot has happened in the past few months. Life has been scary, exciting, and blissfully happy lately.

You may recall me saying that I wasn’t sure what to do with this little piece of me. One morning I woke up and didn’t feel like writing anymore. I didn’t see the point.

After I converted the blog back to a WordPress-hosted blog, I didn’t really see the point. Why was I putting myself out there? Why was I letting this stress me out? Why do I care? I didn’t want to do it anymore, so I stopped.

I feel like I’ve gotten away from what I wanted this to be. I want readers, but I don’t want to write about things just to gain them. I really don’t care about being “Pinterest perfect” because honestly, it’s too much work. My time is more valuable than that.

So I decided to take a break. I was unsure if I’d come back or if the blog would just one day disappear.

Then life happened.

I was unhappy in Texas. As much as I thought I would love it, I didn’t. Tony could tell I was unhappy. We discussed moving back to Florida. We decided that he would start looking for a job there and to put it in God’s hands.

Two weeks later, Tony was laid off. It was sudden and unexpected. He was anticipating a promotion, not to be let go. This horrible blow to our family was actually a blessing. We decided to sell everything (again) and drive back to Florida. We prayed, a lot.

We moved back to Florida just before Thanksgiving. It was so wonderful to spend Thanksgiving with my family. We all crammed into my sister’ college apartment where I cooked an amazing meal from scratch. It was amazing.

So here we are. I feel happy where we’re at and excited for our future. We are home. That is something you can never replace. We are home with our family, our church, and our friends.

I think I’m ready to pick this back up again, but maybe in a slightly different way. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Living in a Small Space

I’m in love with small (and tiny) houses.

My obsession began while living in Alaska.  Housing is very expensive in Alaska.  We definitely had sticker shock coming from Florida when we arrived in Anchorage.  It was definitely worth it though.

I haven’t shared much about our apartment in Alaska, but I will now.  The space was small for a family of three.  We lived in about 750 square feet.  This may not seem that tiny but it was a studio (sort of).  Let me diagram it for you.

The Scacchi House: Our Alaska Apartment

Our living, dining, and bedroom space were all shared.  We did have a separate kitchen and bathroom.  It was comfortable.  I didn’t have many complaints about our small living space.  Ava is still young, so she doesn’t take up much space.  I think my biggest complaint was that it was difficult to watch TV after Ava was asleep.

We talked about building or buying a house, which made the cost of living a little more reasonable.  After a lot of research, I found out that very small (under 600 sq ft) houses are fairly common in Alaska, especially once you get out of Anchorage.  Add a composting toilet and a wood stove and you’re a regular homesteader.  Okay, maybe not.

I researched all sorts of “alternative housing”.  You can check out a few of my Pinterest boards to see more inspiration.  We considered many forms of small housing.  Traditional stick built, conex (shipping containers), cob (earth), and even modular homes were discussed.  There are more options out there than you could ever believe.

Here’s a plan I sketched up (using floorplanner.com) for a house using two 40-foot shipping containers.  It has just enough space for our small family at 670 square feet.

The Scacchi House: Shipping Container House

But then we were transferred.  Here we are about to move into an 1,800 square foot townhouse.  I’m overwhelmed to say the least.  I’ve been so used to living in small spaces, this new house seems like too much.  Maybe everything really is bigger in Texas.  I’m sure we’ll get used to it too.

My dream would be to one day have a tiny cabin (under 500 sq ft) somewhere.  A place where our kids could play in the woods and catch fireflies.  Someday!  Who knows, may we will have a little vacation cabin in Alaska.

How do you feel about small houses?  Could you ever live small?

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Letting Go of Your Stuff

yard sale finds

Photo by Kim Piper Werker.

We gave up so much to move to Alaska. I’m not just talking about things. We sacrificed being near our family and our amazing church. I also lost some family members in the process. This move was about us, our family. This move helped define us as a married couple and as a family. We also gave up almost all of our stuff.

We sold all of our furniture, except for our sofa. I think I will send that off to college with my baby sister. We came to Alaska with 5 suitcases and I had 3 boxes shipped up. Essentially, we came with our clothing, Ava’s toys, my sewing machine, and my Pampered Chef stoneware (priorities, ya know!). We do have a few things in storage in Florida: Ava’s baby clothes, the bench I built as our guest book at our wedding, our Christmas decorations, my Kitchenaid stand mixer, and our cat. Okay, the cat isn’t exactly in storage. He’s at my brother’s house.

Take a moment and imagine selling everything you own. Some may see it as selling their memories. I’m not going to lie, it was extremely difficult.

I think the hardest thing to part with was Ava’s bedroom furniture. I spent so much time and energy setting up her nursery before she was born, I wanted it to be perfect. She was 10 months old when we sold it and she had never slept one night in that crib.

Now that we have moving to Texas, I know I’m going to have everyone saying “I told you so.” Everyone tried to tell me to put everything in storage “in case” we came back to Florida. Do I regret selling it all?  Not even for a second!

Selling all of our things was incredibly freeing. It made moving incredibly easy. It also allowed me to part with things that I didn’t love. You know, those things you feel obligated to keep for one reason or another. Everything except that stupid sofa. The one thing I couldn’t wait to get rid of is the only thing we haven’t sold.

Are you thinking about that room full of stuff yet? I’m giving you permission. Let it go! Don’t feel guilty. It will set you free. Lets break it down into a few simple steps.

  1. Survey you home. Take a look around, what do you see? Anything that you own that you do not love, or could repurpose and love, needs to go.
  2. Set up piles. When I was cleaning out our house, I set up my piles in different rooms. The guest room was the “storage” pile for anything that would be going into storage. Ava’s room was the “pack” and “has another home” pile. You would not believe how much stuff we had borrowed or was on long-term loan from someone. The rest of the house was the sell pile. If you’re not moving, you could do something on a slightly smaller scale.
  3. Touch everything!  Take the time to look at every item you own.  This may be very time-consuming, but oh so worth it.   You will probably find things you hadn’t seen in years.
  4. Make a decision!  As you are going through everything, make a decision whether to keep it, sell it, trash it, or return to its owner.  This will help move the process along while also keeping you from having an “undecided pile.”
  5. Sell, Sell, Sell!  Begin by listing any large or valuable items in your sell pile on Craigslist or EBay.  If you aren’t sure where to price your items, look up what others are selling similar items at.  You can also check completed listings on EBay.  Everything else will need to be sold at a yard sale.  You may be tempted to just donate everything, and you can, but you are missing out on possibly thousands of dollars.
  6. Set up your yard sale.  There is actually an art to having a successful yard sale and I could go on all day, but I will save that for another post.
  7. Set your limits.  For your larger and more valuable items, set your prices comparable to what others are selling for.  If you price your items too high, no one will call.  I had originally priced our bedroom set at $950 with my threshold at $600.  I didn’t get what I wanted immediately.  We put it in storage and I listed it on EBay with a Buy it Now or Best Offer.  I received a lot of lowball offers.  I eventually received a $650 offer that I was happy with.  It took me 4 months to sell it, but it was worth it.
  8. Don’t store the extras.  My mom is notorious for this one.  After your yard sale, don’t stack everything in your garage with the plans to have another sale in a few months.  Unless you’re going to have another sale the following weekend, it all needs to go.  You have two options: you can donate everything, or you can post for pick up on Craigslist.  After our sale, I piled everything that didn’t sell into the center of our garage floor, about a truck full.  I posted on Craigslist that I had yard sale leftovers.  Within 2 minutes I was bombarded with phone calls.  I had about 20 people willing to pick up everything right then.  One warning: only post this when you are ready for them to pick the stuff up.  A couple came and picked up everything and my garage was clean.  Success!
  9. Be a non-consumer.  You now have a clean and organized house, don’t ruin it!  Don’t buy things just to buy.  Try buying at thrift stores.  Not only will you save a ton of money, you will be more deliberate with your purchases.  I have a running list on my phone of things I am looking for (It’s an essential list for setting up a house).  I will share my list with you soon.

I hope this helps you clear your clutter and live a little simpler.  If you need more specific advice, I am more than happy to share.

Have you ever done a mass clean out?

We Made It

We made it to Houston! We’ve actually been here for over a week now, but things have been crazy. Tony has been transitioning to his new work location, we’ve been looking for a car (ugh), I’ve had a few orders come in, and Ava has been spending lots of time playing outside.

Our flight here was a very, very, verrrryyyy long 18 hours. I am going to take a second to brag on our daughter. Ava is a champ when it comes to flying. We had 3 flights with 2 layovers and this girl was AWESOME! For both of the first two flights, she didn’t say a word. She did flirt with the US Air Marshall that sat next to us on the second flight (Tony notices EVERYTHING). Ava loves to fly! Our last flight was a quick commuter flight from Dallas to Houston. The entire flight was only about 45 minutes long. Every time the plane dropped altitude, Ava would say, “Weeeeeeeee.” I love that girl!

Toddler at Airport

Ava in Airport

We normally fly Delta, but we took United this time because their tickets were less than half the price of Delta’s. The United flights were fine, but they almost saw the bad side of me when Ava’s car seat didn’t show up with the rest of our luggage. We had to send someone to look for it. They never took it off our last flight. It almost went to Pensacola.

We are thoroughly enjoying the weather in Houston! It has been very mild thanks to a few cold fronts. Ava loves running in the yard. It’s so nice to send her outside in sandals and shorts and not a snow suit and boots.

We are still getting settled. I have a lot of updating to do on the blog. I may have to take the computer outside. Who wants to be cooped up inside with beautiful weather like this!

 

 

 

Change of Plans

Sorry for the lack of posts since our announcement. Our computer got a virus and we haven’t taken it in to get it fixed yet. In the meantime, I’ll be posting from my phone (boo).

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Photo by: Kuster & Wildhaber Photography

So we’ve had a slight change in plans. We are still going to Houston, but we will not be driving. After thinking about it, Tony and I decided that it was a suicide mission trying to drive the 4300 miles from Alaska to Texas with a toddler. It’s also much less expensive to fly.

Although it’s much less expensive, it’s a little more complicated. Flying means that we have to sell our truck. This makes me sad. I love our truck. It’s a used (but well taken care of) Land Rover Freelander. I love this truck more than any other vehicle I’ve ever owned. I’m slightly heartbroken.

When we decided to sell it, we had just over two weeks before our take off date. I wasn’t sure we would find a buyer. Well, we had lots of interest and we have a buyer. It’s someone we know and they have been nice enough to wait until right before we leave to do the paperwork. Perfect timing! Now we have to go car shopping in Houston. I hate car shopping.

We are all set to fly out on the 15th. We are just a week out. I’m not going to lie, I’m totally dreaming of 80 degrees and lots of humidity. Poor Ava’s skin is so dry.

I was hoping to eliminate one of our suitcases, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. My uncle is coming to Anchorage the day before we leave and has volunteered to take one of our suitcases back to Florida for us. TSA may or may not wonder why my uncle has a child’s size grocery cart in his suitcase.

That leaves us with 4 suitcases. That’s not bad considering we came up here with 5, plus we shipped a few things, and the stuff we bought in the past 6 months. We’re actually going to Texas with less stuff than we came to Alaska with. That’s always nice.

Now I just have to keep the four suitcases under 50 pounds each. Do you have any tips for that?

We’re Moving!

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Photo by: jetalone

And not around the corner, I might add.  The Scacchi family is moving to Houston, Texas! I know, I know, we just got here. We have been in Alaska for 6 months now (Tony has been here for 7) and we were offered an opportunity that we just couldn’t turn down.

Tony was offered to be relocated. It wasn’t a “must go,” more like a “would you like to go?” I don’t know if we would have said “Yes!” to any other city, but Houston is special. Why, you ask?

  1. Tony’s mom lives in Houston!  What could be better than Ava getting to spend time with her MomMom (that’s her “grandma” name)!  I’m also extremely excited for one word (two actually): DATE NIGHT!  Being in a city where you know no one (other than a few of Tony’s guy friends) is very difficult.  I won’t leave Ava with a stranger, so we have had ZERO mommy and daddy time since we have been up here.  We will be in Houston just in time for our anniversary!  Thank you MomMom!
  2. Cost of living.  Houston is cheap!  For being such a big city, everything is very inexpensive there.  It’s even cheaper than where we came from in Florida.  Alaska is expensive in comparison to Houston, but not compared to a lot of other places in the US (California, New York, etc.).  Essentially it will be like Tony getting a nice raise!
  3. Proximity to family.  I will be less than 1000 miles away from my family in Florida, even closer to my little sis once she’s away at college!  Most of Tony’s family lives in Texas too.
  4. Climate.  Don’t get me wrong, we have thoroughly enjoyed the snow.  That being said, I’m a Florida girl.  I have never been more excited for a sweltering, humid summer before in my life!  Bring on the flip-flops, sundresses, and bikinis!  Also, my gardening season will longer than the 3 months I have in Alaska.

Logistics

We plan on leaving in the next 2-3 weeks.  We are driving. With a toddler.  We may or may not be crazy.  It will take us approximately 7 days to get there.  It’s definitely going to be an exciting road trip.  You can be sure that we will keep you updated along the way!

The Shortest Day of the Year

I made it! I made it to the shortest day of the year. The sun came up here in Anchorage, Alaska at around 10:15am and will set at approximately 3:45pm. Yes, that is correct. We will have 5 1/2 hours of daylight today. And starting tomorrow, the days will gradually get longer.

Before moving here, everyone told me that I would hate the short days. I was also told that the days would only be about 3-4 hours long and that they would be dark and dreary. Whatever picture you have in your mind about the Alaskan winter, throw it out!

Our backyard at noon today.

The winter days here in Anchorage are simply gorgeous! Yes the sun doesn’t start coming up until 9:30 or 10:00, but when it does, it’s shining bright. The days are clear and sunny, with no cloud in sight.

The few days that are cloudy (only 5 in the 2 months that I have been here), it snows! The snow is beautiful and fun to play in. I am hoping that it will snow on Christmas. Crossing my fingers!

If you think that our winters are dark and miserable, you are oh so wrong. Some days are colder than others, but people are out taking advantage of the gorgeous weather. My threshold for playing outside is around 10 degrees, anything colder than that is just too much for Ava. Anywhere you drive in the city you will find people ice fishing, ice skating, nordic skiing, or sledding.

Don’t be afraid to visit Alaska in the winter, you will be missing it at its best!

Have you ever been to Alaska? What time of year?

What Alaska Is REALLY Like

We had many people try to keep us from moving to Alaska.  Most were for selfish reasons (not wanting our precious baby to be so far away).  I had countless people tell me all kinds of crazy things about Alaska.  So here are my favorites, along with how things really are up here in the last frontier.

  1. “You know it’s dark all the time up there.” – I think I got this one the most.  It is not dark all the time up here.  I got up this morning at 9:30am and it definitely wasn’t dark out.
  2. “It’s dark and dreary all the time and everyone’s depressed.” – Ava and I have been here for almost a month.  It has only been overcast TWO days.  You should have seen the sun shining yesterday!
  3. “All construction stops in the winter.” – I originally believed this one to be true, until I got here.  They continue to build throughout the winter by covering the job site with giant plastic covers.  Construction crews work under toasty warm heated plastic all winter.
  4. “Everyone in Alaska drives a 4-wheel-drive truck or SUV.” – Again, laughable.  There are just as many cars on the road up here as there are trucks and SUVs.  All you need is a good set of snow or all-season tires.
  5. “Everything in Alaska is more expensive.” – The first week I was here, I went through the grocery store to see if this was true.  The only items that really stood out were 12-packs of Coke for $8.45 and a few produce items were 50 cents more than in Florida.  Bananas were 15 cents more per pound.  Alaska actually has quite a bit of agriculture.  There is a whole “Alaska Grown” movement up here.  Restaurants are also the same price.  Housing is comparable to a larger city like Tampa or Orlando.

I did learn something new!  I learned of the concept of an “Eskimo Fridge.”  Basically, you put your food in Tupperware or whatever like you normally would… then you put it out on your porch.  That’s it.  It’s perfect if you are just going to reheat leftovers the next day.

If you have any questions about our family, or just living in Alaska, please email us at scacchihouse@yahoo.com or you can post on our Facebook page!

Our Trip to Willow

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Ava and I went to work with Tony yesterday. I thought it would be nice to take a ride up to Willow. I was right! It was nice to see more of the state.

It snowed recently in Willow and it was still on the ground. Ava had her first experience with snow. She was truly mesmerized!

While Tony was working, Ava and I walked around. I think it’s absolutely wonderful that even in a rural place like Willow, they have gravel or paved paths along all of the roads. On our walk we saw some animal prints, possibly from a wolf. We also watched a lady pass by training her sled dogs in front of an ATV. The snow is so beautiful. It glistens in the sunshine.

I can’t wait for Ava to start walking so she can really experience the snow and explore.