Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Weekending: The MOVE


Hello from Michigan!  We made it!  The move wasn't pretty but we survived.  Praise the Lord it's over.  Moving is NOT fun even when it goes smoothly and this move was far from smooth.

It all started on Friday morning when we found out that our UHaul we had booked for 7am on Saturday wouldn't be available until 12pm due to overbooking and high demand.  Ugh.  Talk about throwing off our entire day, especially the movers we had booked for 9am!  I contacted the movers and luckily were able to switch them to 1pm.  I called my family since they were helping us move out of our apartment and told them to come later in the morning and Nick's parents planned on being at the new house at 1pm since we had scheduled AT&T to come set up our cable/internet that afternoon.  So we were all set... we had a new plan and while it wasn't the best, it was just going to have to work.

Our final day in Chicago (Friday) was spent packing, packing, packing.  We finished up around 6pm and Nick decided to go to his last hockey game and I went out to dinner with my girlfriends.  It was a night full of goodbye's for both of us!

Saturday... oh, Saturday.  It was a crazy day.  This is how it went....

8:30am -- Nick and I got up and started to get ready and pack up last minute items.


9:00am -- get a call from UHaul that our truck is available to be picked up early.  So great but so frustrating.  I quickly try and contact the movers and ask them to come around 11am instead of 1pm.  I can't get ahold of them but leave messages.

9:30am -- my family arrives.  We start loading up our cars and just wait to hear back from the movers.  There was no point in picking up the truck without the movers since there isn't much room to park a UHaul on the streets of downtown Chicago :)

11:45am -- still NO word from the movers.  Assume they are just going to come at 1pm like scheduled and head out to pick up the UHaul.

1:00pm -- arrive back to our apartment with the UHaul.  Wait on the movers.

1:15pm -- get call from moving company.  They are running behind and apologize.  They tell us that they are finishing up a job and will be heading our way in 30 minutes.  No problem we say. After all, we did change the time on them super last minute.

2:30pm -- still no movers.  Start to wonder what's going on.  We start calling/texting but cannot get a hold of them.  We decide to just start moving our stuff down into the apartment building lobby so the move will go super fast once they arrive.

3:30pm -- straight up PANIC.  Still no movers and still no word from them.  We really needed the movers because we have a huge couch that doesn't fit in the elevator and my dad and Nick can't carry it down 5 flights of stairs.  We start to realize that it looks like we might be doing this move on our own...

3:45pm -- FINALLY hear from the movers.  Say they will be there in a couple of minutes.

4:00pm -- they arrive.  Nothing like being 3 hours late.  We've already done 75% of the move ourselves, there wasn't even much left for them to do.

4:30pm -- our landlord arrives at the apartment so we can hand over our keys and get our security deposit back.  She gave us a few minutes alone to say goodbye... talk about emotional.


5:00pm -- the truck is finally packed up and we're ready to go.  Kind of frustrated that it's been the longest day and it's already 6pm in Michigan (different time zones)... and we still have a 2.5 hour drive ahead of us and all of the unloading...

5:30pm -- officially leave Chicago.  Cue the ugly tears :)  I think I cried all the way out of Illinois and into Indiana.  Until I saw this amazing rainbow... it just made me smile.  See Nick in the UHaul ahead of me?


8:30pm EST -- we're in Michigan and only 30 minutes from the new house when it starts downpouring.  Like the kind of rain that makes you go 20 MPH and cling to your steering wheel.

9:00pm -- finally make it to the house in one piece!  Still pouring (of course) so we have to unload the UHaul in the rain. How lovely.  At least it went super fast with 6 of us... Nick and I, my dad and Tammy and Nick's parents.

10:00pm -- everything is officially in the house so it is DINNER TIME.  We literally hadn't eaten all day but Nick's mom had stocked our fridge with a sub platter, fruit and chips.  It was the best meal I've ever had!  After dinner, my family headed out and the 4 of us left started unpacking and setting things up.

12:00am -- Nick's parents leave.  We wash our sheets, showered and literally fell into bed sometime after 1am.

It was such a long day but we survived!  The movers were beyond frustrating and I understand that we had changed our originally scheduled time and they did their best to accommodate us but ANSWER YOUR PHONES.  That was the worst part -- that we couldn't get a hold of them so we just had to wait without knowing if they were coming or if they had just taken our money and ran!

So, when we were moving in on Saturday night, we noticed a gas smell coming from the basement.  Nick and his dad were positive it wasn't gas and didn't think much of it that night.  However, we woke up Sunday morning and knew it was something that needed to be taken care of.  Nick's poor parents, they had to drive all the way back from Detroit on Sunday to help us fix it.  Turns out they couldn't do it out themselves and we had to have the gas company come out.  It took ALL day but it's fixed now and we are gas free :)

The rest of the weekend was spent unpacking, organizing, shopping... the usual that comes from moving.  Sunday night we were able to head up to our friends cottage on a nearby lake for the night.  It was really fun to see them because they got engaged on Saturday so celebrations were in order!

 The bride to be!

On Monday night, we made our first dinner in the house and went on our first bike ride!  I won't lie, we are really missing Chicago but I can already tell we are going to l-o-v-e it here.  The neighborhood is perfect and everyone is so friendly. Not to mention, the house is starting to come together and I can't wait to share pictures!  For now... my favorite view, looking out of our master bathroom :)

Don't mind the gas company truck!  Haha

I'll be back on Thursday for a full house tour :)  Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!
Linking up with LeeannCarly and Biana

Friday, August 29, 2014

Goodbye Chicago



Dear Chicago,

Where do I even start?  It's been an amazing four and a half years... so I guess I should start with thank you. Thank you for being a wonderful place to start my life.  I moved here as a 21 year old straight out of college that had no idea what I was doing or how I was going to live on my own.  All I knew is that I'd been talking about living in downtown Chicago since I was a kid and would beg my parents to let me stay up and watch ER on Thursday nights.  I had a Navy Pier picture hanging in my bedroom and would always say "one day I'll live there."  And I did it, I made that dream come true. Chicago, you've been everything my childhood self had hoped for and so much more.


This city has seen me through a lot over the last few years.  I met new people and deepened existing friendships, began my career, got engaged, married, started this blog, said goodbye to one of our best friends, played way too many seasons of volleyball, made tough life decisions and had an almost constant stream of visitors.  We made an endless amount of memories -- and have the pictures to prove it! -- that I'll always hold close to my heart.


I've also seen Chicago through quite a bit as well.  Two Stanley Cup wins (as a Red Wings fan, these weren't appreciated!), the "snowpocalypse" of 2011, summer Olympics city bidding, a NATO convention, the 2012 Chicago teachers strike, a new mayor, a Little League World Series win :) and soooo much more.  It's been four and a half years of new experiences and funny stories and crazy nights and lots of good shopping and eating.  It's been four and a half years of just plain fun.


Tomorrow is going to be hard and I know I'll be leaving a little piece of my heart in Chicago.  I wish I had the right words to fully express my love and gratitude to this city.  I'll forever cherish the time I spent here and I can confidently say it's been some of the best years of my life so far.  So goodbye Chicago, and thank you.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

City Living


Today I wanted to share the little spot Nick and I have called home for the past 4.5 years.  Actually, this apartment has been home to many people.  Nick and our friend Adam first rented it way back in spring 2009.  This was about the same time Adam was diagnosed with cancer so he stayed back in Michigan to begin treatments and Nick's friend Kyle moved in for a few months until Adam was healthy enough to come live here.  

My first year in Chicago, I lived on my own in a high rise in the Loop.  After my lease was up in spring 2010, I moved in with Nick... and with Adam.  What guy lets his roommates girlfriend move in with them?!  He was so cool about it and we lived happily together for a few months.  

At one point we even had another friend, Chad, live with us for a couple of weeks as he started a new job.  Four of us in a two bedroom apartment... you can imagine how fun that was!  Unfortunately, Adam's health started to decline and after a scary spell that put him in the hospital, he decided it was time to head back to Michigan.

As sad as we were to see Adam go, that left Nick and I... finally!  We were just getting comfortable living alone when Nick told me his friend Dave was moving here from Virginia and needed a place to crash for a month until he found a job.  Well, one month turned into quite a few months of course -- guy timing!  I will say that we had a lot of fun living together and it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.  Monday nights were the best... Dave and I would order pizza and watch the Bachelor!

A month after Dave moved out, Nick proposed right here in this apartment.  (Engagement story coming soon!)  The rest is history :)  

Now lets get to the pictures!  We're on the 5th floor in a condo that we rent from the owner.  We live in the West Loop neighborhood and seriously couldn't love it more.  It's a two bed/two bath condo and one garage parking spot (mine of course).  Since this place was Nick's initially, it's 75% of his furniture and decor.  Let's just say that I can't wait to switch that all out once we get into the new house!

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom -- my closet leading into our en suite bath

Master Bath

Master Bath

Kitchen

Guest Bath -- one of the only rooms I decorated... can you tell the difference?! :)

Guest Bath

Living Room

"Dining Room" -- that table is where all of the blogging magic happens since Nick is always taking over the office!

This was amaaazing to have -- in unit laundry!

Living Room

2nd Bedroom... an office/guest room/Nick's changing room... a little bit of everything!  I'd already started taking this room apart for the move so this isn't the best picture.

Nick's closet :)

It's been a wonderful place to call home and to be honest, I already sort of miss it!  We've made a lot of great memories here and I hate that we won't be able to come back and "visit" the apartment when we're in Chicago.  Is that strange?! Either way, I am looking forward to making lots of new memories in the new house :) Two days to go!

Linking up with Annie and Natalie

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

House Hunting Tips & Tricks


Ahhh, house hunting.  While I'm no expert -- this is our first house, after all -- we learned quite a few tricks of the trade over our three month search.  We had a really positive experience but what a difference there was in our first time out looking compared to our last.  If we had known what we do now, I think we could have found our house much quicker.  For anyone that is just starting the process, here are a few things to keep in mind that will hopefully speed up the process for you!

Get Pre-Approved
Before you do ANY sort of searching, contact the bank and find out exactly how much of a loan you are pre-approved for. Now, you don't *have* to spend that much.  Review your finances and decide what you feel comfortable spending.  If you have a partner, do this together so you're on the same page.  Don't forget to keep in mind additional costs such as down payments and closing costs. 

Find a Reputable Realtor
Going off a recommendation is always best.  The easiest way is to use friends or family that have purchased a house in the last couple of years.  Otherwise -- if you're searching out of town like we were -- consult Google!  I would suggest asking a few preview questions to make sure you "click" with the realtor before you go out hunting.  We knew we wanted someone close to our age that was laid back and we didn't settle until we found a realtor that fit our needs.

Know What You Want
Neighborhoods, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, single story or two story -- have a general idea of what you're looking for before you go out searching.  It will help your realtor come up with the best options for you so you won't waste time seeing things you aren't interested in and help prevent any disagreements between you and your partner during the hunt.

Keep An Open Mind
On the other hand, keep your mind open to different possibilities.  You may have your heart set on a ranch style home (like Nick did) but end up falling in love with a certain two story house :)  

Think Long Term
Is this house going to be a starter home or your forever home?  This decision will most likely dictate what type of house you buy and what type of mortgage you want.  Nick and I knew we wanted a 5 year home so we were looking at houses that were perfect for us right now... and not worried about looking for one that will fit a family with teenagers, 20 years down the road from now.

Be Realistic
It's alright to be picky -- this is a huge purchase -- but don't be unrealistic.  Your 100% dream straight out of Pinterest home most likely isn't out there.  If you're looking for that, you're probably going to have to build it yourself.  Make a list of what's important to you/what you won't settle on and try and find the house that best fits your top priorities.  But don't plan on buying that dream home because it's not out there!

Do Your Own Searching
Don't be afraid to do the work yourself.  Yes, your realtor is working for you but at the end of the day, you're the one buying the house and it matters the most to YOU.  Get yourself right in there -- search the MLS listings, make a list of places you want to see, etc. -- don't be afraid to speak up and be assertive.  

Insist On An Inspection
Do.An.Inspection!!!!  Don't even think about buying a house without one!  Most houses will turn up with some minor issues but just ask the sellers to fix them.  Worst they can say is "no."  We asked our sellers and they didn't want to fix anything but they did give us money for closing costs instead.  However, there are some things that could turn up in an inspection that should make you just back away from a house.  Here's a great list of house hunting deal breakers.

And most importantly, have fun!  This is such an exciting time and don't get too caught up in the seriousness of it all.  I know it can be hard to see the end goal sometimes -- we did put in offers on three houses before we got *our* home -- but hang in there.  Everything will work out as it should :)

Make sure to stop by tomorrow as I'll be sharing pictures of our Chicago apartment!  Happy hump day!
Linking up with Shanna and Liz

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

About Me + Why I Blog


I've been seeing this post float around blogland for the last couple of weeks so I thought I'd do it for myself! Hopefully this will help introduce myself to some of my newer readers and maybe share a few unknown things to you that have been reading for a while :)

Name/Age/Location
I go by Katie (obviously) but that actually isn't what my real given name is.  My name is actually Elizabeth Catherine... and since the day I was born, everyone has called me Katie.  I don't know why my parents didn't just make life much simpler for all of us and give me that name instead!  Anyway, I'm 26 years old and currently living in Chicago... for four more days :)  After this weekend, I will officially be a Kalamazoo, Michigan resident.

Family
I've been married to my husband, Nick, for 13 months tomorrow!  You can read about our wedding here and learn ALL about Nick here ;)  As for my "old family" as I jokingly call them, I have one younger brother.  My mom passed away when I was almost 15 years old and my dad got remarried last summer (it was the summer of weddings)... so I've now acquired a step mom and a younger step brother and sister -- they are all pretty great!


Work
As of right this second... unemployed/stay at home wife!  However, this is only due to the move.  I left my job at a country club on the North Shore of Chicago two weeks ago and will be looking for a new one once we get settled in Michigan!

Hobbies
I love spending time with my friends and family, traveling, playing volleyball, shopping, cooking (and eating), being a major beach bum and watching most sports.


Favorite Food
This is a hard one!  I'm going to have to go with fish.  Any kind of fish, I love it.  I'm a huge seafood fan.

Favorite Color
Pink!  What girl doesn't love pink?!

Standard Coffee Order
I can't handle very much caffeine so I usually stick with tea.  In the winter, it's a chai tea latte (add pumpkin in there if it's fall!) and in the summer, it's a peach green tea lemonade.  Starbucks obsessed.


Standard Bar Order
A mojito or moscow mule.  If I'm drinking beer, it's usually a Corona -- with lots of limes!

Places I Shop
Nordstrom, Gap, Forever 21, Target, J Crew... I don't discriminate, I'll shop anywhere ;)


Bedtime & Wake Up Time
Since I'm not working right now, I'm not on a "set" schedule.  I still tend to be up by 7am and we're usually in bed by 11pm. I'm definitely that person that needs my 8 hours.

Beauty Products I Can't Live Without
MASCARA.  Love it, need it, gotta have it.  Specifically either Benefit's They're Real or Bare Minerals Lash Domination. Also swear by Bare Minerals bronzer.


What I Blog About
I'm all over the place.  Everything from my life to my favorite beauty products to recipes.  I would consider myself a "lifestyle" blogger, though.

First Blog I Read
The Small Things Blog by Kate Bryan.  So many great hair and makeup tutorials... I still read it today!

How Did I Start Blogging
I just randomly decided to start one last September, I had no idea what I was doing or what I was going to write about.  The blog has come a long way in the past year -- it totally cracks me up that I first named my blog "Slice of Life."  We just started watching Dexter and that is the name of his boat!


Why I Blog
I didn't even have a reason to start blogging other than I thought it would be fun.  And fun it has been but it's also turned into SO much more than that.  It's been awesome having a place to document everything that is going on in our lives and not to mention all of the friendships I've developed... they've been such a blessing!

What about you?  Why did you start blogging?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekending: Home Owners!


Busy is the word to describe life right now.  So busy I couldn't even get today's post ready to go ahead of time!  We were on a packing roll last night and couldn't be stopped for anything.  I want to get a recap of this weekend up because it was a pretty awesome one -- we officially became home owners!

Friday morning the alarms went off bright and early as we got ready to head to Michigan.  We decided to both drive so we could bring as many boxes as possible and so we could leave my car at the new house... this way we don't have to worry about 3 cars (both of ours and the UHaul) on the actual moving day.

We arrived to Kalamazoo about an hour before our closing appointment.  We grabbed lunch and we were also still waiting for PNC Bank to get back to us with the final amount of money that we needed to bring to closing.  Well, the hour quickly past and 1pm rolled around and we still hadn't gotten that number from PNC.  We were literally sitting in the bank's lobby trying to get ahold of anyone that could tell us the amount we needed.  Nothing like waiting til the last minute, right?  (By the way, totally their fault.  They were supposed to get us this number two days ahead of time but didn't.  Story of the entire closing process.)  Finally we got a hold of someone, got our check and made it to the closing 45 minutes late.  Classy.

Everything at closing went well.  I so wish I would have gotten to take a picture of us there but we actually had scheduled for Stanley Steemer to come out and clean the carpets at the new house (gotta get rid of all that cat dander) and of course, since closing had started late, they called right in the middle of everything to say they were at the house.  I had to fly out of there to let them in and miss the rest of closing.  Bummer but such is life!

After I got to the house and got the Stanley Stemeer guys all set up, I went into the kitchen and found this from the sellers. Flowers, the keys, two copies of the neighborhood newsletter + phone directory and THE sweetest letter.  Seriously, so so so so sweet. They welcomed us to the house,  offered up their favorite coffee/breakfast/dinner spots in the area and mentioned other couples our age on our street.  It totally made me tear up.


About 45 minutes after I got to the house, Nick arrived after finishing closing.  We just kept saying "I can't believe this!"  It was so surreal that the place was all ours!  Of course we had to take the obligatory "officially homeowners" picture :)


The Stanley Steemer guys finished up pretty quickly (and did an awesome job) and once they were gone, we changed into our work clothes and started unloading boxes from our cars.  I had mentioned that I was going to get a cleaning service but I ended up not going that route.  Since the house is super clean to begin with, I was more focused on getting rid of the cat dander for my allergies.  Having Stanley Steemer come and deep clean/deodorize the carpets and clean out the vents and air ducts was the best decision.  What.a.difference.

What was left for Nick and I to do was dust and wash the walls in the house... that was pretty much it.  We got to work and managed to do the entire main floor that night.  We also made our first trip to Home Depot (lots of those in our future) and had our first dinner at the house -- Qdoba!  On the back porch of course :)  We had to head back to Chicago on Friday night so we finally dragged ourselves away from the house about 8pm -- we didn't want to leave!



Saturday we were up early to work on the apartment.  Lots of packing and cleaning were done (finally).  Our landlord also stopped by with her real estate agent to take pictures of the apartment.  That was a little nerve wracking... we had to get the apartment looking presentable and in it's best shape... in the middle of packing.  We also watched Chicago's Little League Team, Jackie Robinson West, win the LL World Series!  Such an awesome day for those kids.

Afterwards we took a trip to Costco and got a ton of great stuff for the house.  The two highlights were a Shark vacuum (IN LOVE) and these non slip black hangers (not online).  You will not believe the price of the hangers... $7.99 for a pack of 35! If you have a Costco, run don't walk to pick some of these up.  They were almost sold out but I managed to grab two boxes. Such a great deal... I haven't seen them this cheap anywhere.



Later that night we went for a long walk.  A little bit to contribute to my 100 Summer Miles and a lot to just avoid packing :) We got over 2 miles in and then had to stop and take a picture with the infamous Monster Door in our neighborhood.  After, Nick had hockey and I showered and managed to squeeze in some blogging and Real Housewives watching.. it was a perfect night!


We had planned to have a going away party Saturday night but literally none of our friends were in town this weekend. Everyone was gone so we went all out last weekend and we have a few things planned with our friends this coming week :) I'm kind of thankful it worked out that way because we got so much done that we wouldn't have if we'd had the party.

Sunday was our last morning spent at our favorite church and then it was the last trip to the grocery store.  Everything is "the last..." right now :)  We grilled up a huge lunch of cheeseburgers and veggies with pasta salad on the side and it was enough to put us into a food coma.



After much needed naps, it was go time.  We packed for hours straight and got soooo much done.  We only took one break for a quick walk to Target to pick up more packing tape.  Oh, and a Peach Green Tea Lemonade :)


It was a great weekend and one that we'll always remember!  I'm looking forward to this coming week as we have lots going on.  Going away dinners with friends, beach volleyball championship, one last shopping trip on Michigan Ave., Nick's hockey playoffs and then moving day on Saturday.  I can hardly believe this week is already here... but I'm ready! :)

Linking up with LeeannCarly and Biana