Living Room - Mood Board Design

Last week I shared the mood board for the girl's room, and while that project is the main focus right now, I couldn't help but put a design plan into motion for our living room. It is the space where we spend the most of our time as a family and I have been itching to have it feel a little more like home.

Moving into a new home, and in our case a rental, decorating a new space can be a challenge. As I stated in my last mood board share, in this home I am changing up my decor style and nearly starting from scratch. Because of this, I really want to pick pieces that I love and be intentional about what I am spending money on. Having a design plan/ mood board to work off of helps to keep all of that on track and allows me to see how each room will flow together in my home.
We sold nearly all of our big furniture before our move and started fresh upon arriving in California and one of the very first purchases we made was a new sofa. I have had my eye on the IKEA FARLOV SOFA and fell in love with its sleek modern lines but and slight curve in the arms. The biggest thing I look for in a sofa with young kids is washability, and while most shy away from a white sofa, I personally love it. You can use oxy-clean or bleach to get anything out!

Speaking of washability, I am excited to share a little more about the area rug I have added into our design plan for our living room... With kids, again, spills and dirt happen. Imagine if you could just throw your area rug in the washer? Well, with this one you can! Yes, you can wash it, literally. We decided to go with the SORAYA TRELLIS ASH GRAY RUG from RUGGABLE. I will go more in depth about the features of this rug in our room reveal, but you can bet the investment in a washable rug is worth it!

As well as the girl's room, I will be bringing you along with us as we start to put this room together and of course the full completed reveal. For now, I have linked all of the items included in this design for you to shop below. Disclaimer - some affiliate links used * A small comission from the purchase of these affiliate links goes to help support this little blog of mine and is greatly appreciated! No additional cost will be added to your transaction.

Source List:

How To Build A Faux Daybed

Today I am so excited to finally share our DIY daybed build that we created for our oldest daughter's room makeover in our previous home. We wanted to create a bed that fit well with the overall design of her rustic bohemian room, but also was an easy build and all done on a small budget.

Since we already had a metal bed frame for her bed, we chose to cut down on costs by only creating a faux daybed frame around her actual bed. This may sound a little unconventional, but it turned out to be a great solution to cutting wood cost and utilizing what we already had, plus with a bed skirt you can't even tell that the bed is sitting on a separate frame.

Let's dive into the build and the materials that we used:

*This post was sponsored in collaboration with Milton & King Wallpaper - wallpaper material gifted.

One other unique aspect to this build was that we used wallpaper instead of wood. Yes, you heard that right, wallpaper. Let me explain; Originally I had the idea of cutting reclaimed wood pieces into a chevron or a herringbone pattern then attaching those pieces to the plywood backing and sides of the bed. After pricing out materials, it was going to be both costly and time consuming. Not to mention the weight that the bed would actually come out to be when finished. That's a whole lot of wood. Here's where the light bulb went off in my head... why not use wallpaper that looks like actual wood!

Wallpaper is not what it used to be, there are so many realistic looking patterns out there now and many of the styles are easy to work with and apply, even for beginners. Milton & King has a great selection! From real looking shiplap, to reclaimed wood to patterned tile.
For our project, I decided to go with the Rustic French Chevron.

While you may look at the price and question spending that amount on a simple diy project, let me break down why we went with this option over actual reclaimed wood. As stated above, I did my research on the cost of actual reclaimed wood. Let me tell you friends, it is not cheap. They make you pay for that rustic goodness! When working with reclaimed wood, you will need to over-buy to over compensate for any cuts that may go wrong, along with the fact that many bundles of reclaimed wood are not all of the same lengths, therefore there is bound to be a lot of wasted material. Secondly, all of those cuts take time... a lot of time. Piecing them together like a puzzle. Maybe you are someone that enjoys the challenge, and kudos to you! I on the other hand am what you call a "lazy builder". Give me the fastest, easiest way to complete a project!

This project is for the fellow lazy builder or maybe someone that is just diving into their first build and may not have all of the tools or experience to make all of those angled cuts, but loves the look.

As for the plans that we used, we went with this one from Ana White.
This plan is just for the BACK and SIDES of the bed. Again, we assembled the 3 sides to fit around the existing twin metal frame and bed.

Wood & materials you will need:

2 - Sheets of sanded plywood, 4 feet x 8 feet
1 - 1x4 @ 6 feet long
3 - 1x2 @ 8 feet long
3 - 2x4 @ 8 feet long
2 - 1x3 @ 8 feet long
1 - 2x2 @ 8 feet long

Tools you will need:

After we had all of our main pieces cut to size, the first step was using our Kreg Jig to drill our pocket holes into the sanded plywood. *This is important to do before adding the wallpaper! Also, do not assemble any pieces together until you have wallpapered your plywood and have allowed it to dry overnight.

With any diy, there are always bound to be some trial and error mistakes involved, and with wallpapering raw wood, we just had to dive in and see what worked best. I started off by using regular wallpaper paste which was recommended to me by the Milton & King team. Unfortunately, because of the weight of the wallpaper (which is amazing quality I might add) and the fact that I was applying the paste to the absorbent wood, the paper wasn't sticking like it would to drywall. After brainstorming, my husband was the one to suggest a heavy duty spray adhesive. We tested it on a smaller leftover board first and it worked better than we had anticipated! It was a winner!

Follow the directions of the spray adhesive as stated on the packaging, and always remember to spray in a well ventilated area. 

This is important: 
You will want to ONLY apply wallpaper to the sides of the plywood that DO NOT have pocket holes on them FIRST. You will apply wallpaper to the other sides (with pocket holes) AFTER the legs are assembled to them.

Before spraying the adhesive on your plywood, cut all of your wallpaper roughly to the sizing of your plywood, leaving an extra inch or two hanging off of the edges that you will trim up later. The brand of adhesive that we used stated to spray 3 coats quickly, let stand for 1 min until tacky then apply paper. I highly suggest that you have 2 people when working on applying the paper. You will need to work quickly, and because you are papering a smaller surface than a full wall, the paper has a tendency to curl up and be difficult to lay flat without 2 sets of hands. Once your paper is placed down, smooth out with your hands, making sure to always work outwards all of the air bubbles and extra adhesive.

After your paper is glued and dried to the 3 sides of your project that DO NOT have the pocket holes, flip the pieces of wood over, place a mat underneath the wood then use an utility
 knife to trim up the extra wallpaper around the edges.

Next, you will attach the 2x4 legs to the sides of the bed using your Kreg bit and your 1-1/4" pocket hole screws. Once both legs are attached, you can then wallpaper over the sides with the pocket holes in them.

First cut your wallpaper approximately to size again. Before beginning to use the spray adhesive, use a piece of cardboard, a scraper tool or tape the legs off to block the spray adhesive from getting onto the legs. You then can begin spraying and laying down your sheets of wallpaper and trim up the excess after it has had ample time to dry.

Once your side pieces are wallpapered on both sides, you can assemble each side to the back headboard, creating a 3 sided frame when complete.

Once your 3 sides are assembled, you are ready to slide your twin bed (on it's metal frame) into the 3 sided frame you just completed for an easy DIY (faux) daybed!

Girl's Shared Bedroom - Mood Design Board

Hey there friends! It's been a long time since I have shared anything decor related on the blog... between preparing to move, actually moving across the country and getting settled here in California, decor projects have kind of been on the back burner. Later this week I plan to share more about where we are at currently in the decorating process with our new home and catch you all up on life after the move, but today I wanted to dive into sharing the very first project on our list to come: the kid's room.

In our previous house, the girl's each had their own rooms. After moving into this home, we had planned on having the kids each in their own room again, but our current home's floor plan has one bedroom being on the first floor and the other on the third floor with the master bedroom. Call me a paranoid parent, but I just couldn't sleep at night knowing one of them was so far away! Problem is, the bedroom on the third floor is small. We are talking tiny... and trying to fit two beds in there was going to be a challenge. But, you all know me, and know I am always game for a good design challenge.

Planning out not only how we would fit both kids, plus toys and their clothing all into a small space, but how to do it all on a tight budget, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I will let you into my process of how I begin to plan and design a room:

1. Set your budget - No matter if you have a small or large budget, planning out how much you actually want/ can spend total on your project(s) keeps you on track.

2. Plan your floor plan - For this I have always found the best process to be good old pen and paper. I begin by drawing out the floor plan (this does not need to be accurate) and then draw out each piece of furniture I need to fit into the room on a separate piece of paper. I then cut those pieces out and work different layouts within the floor plan and settle on a plan that works the best.

3. Find your style - Take to Pinterest or Instagram to search similar spaces to the one you are trying to design and narrow down your style for the space you are creating. Once you have a general idea of the style direction you want to head in, source items you would like to see in your space, screen shot or save them onto a designated Pinterest board.

4. Piece it together - Make a mood board. I never get started working on a project without completing this step first. It really find it a necessity for staying on course with my style, budget and layout. This allows me to get a final feel for how the room will turn out without going out and spending money blindly. Even if I cannot find a photo of the exact item that I want or I add in an image of a product that is far outside of my budget, I can use the image for reference to find what does fit within my budget and stay on track with exactly what items I need to purchase for the space. My favorite apps to use for creating mood boards are RHONNA COLLAGE and CANVA

Below I have linked everything in this mood board : Disclaimer - affiliate links used *A small commission from the purchase of these affiliate links goes to help support this little blog of mine and is greatly appreciated! No additional cost will be added to your transaction.

Source List:

*Sheets shown in image are no longer available but here are a few similar styles: MERMAID SHEET SET | SHARK SHEET SET | WHALE SHEET SET | SEA MONSTER SHEET SET

Transitioning Into Civilian Life & Life After The Military

*This is a sponsored post by Gillette SkinGuard
in partnership with Gillette's new SkinGuard razor available at Walmart

Meet Derrick. The other half of Simply Ciani. He is the man behind all of our DIY’s and builds, but we have yet to shine a spotlight on him... and while he may hate this, here we go...

Anytime I am explaining Derrick’s personality to someone new, I always say “He is a Marine through and through.” He’s rugged, serious most of the time, with the occasional sarcastic joke and doesn’t take anyone’s you know what. He finds his happiness in boots and jeans and being out in the middle of nowhere. He will lend a helping hand to anyone that needs it and always will have your back. He is a hero in every sense of the word, although he hates being called one. He will put his own life in danger for anyone at anytime and jumps into action. (I have seen this first hand at any accident scene we have witnessed).

Derrick started his 10 year service to the Marine Corps in 2006. He joined because he wanted to do something more with his life, he wanted to serve a purpose. He started his career at Perris Island, then joined the few and the proud at his first duty station in Kings Bay, Georgia as security forces. Two years later he was on his way to an infantry unit at Camp Pendleton, California where he served his next 5 years and where I fell into his life. Literally. (More on that story another time - it’s a funny one) After 3 years of marriage for us, the Marine Corps reassigned him to recruiting duty for 3 years and moved us back to Georgia just 40 miles from where he started his career.

Within his time as a Marine, his body took quite a beating and resulted in 2 full knee surgeries, left him with arthritis and an array of back issues. After 10 years, he felt it was time to put away the uniform, but it was far from an easy decision. Being a Marine was his identity. He was a rare breed and we both worried how life would look after the military.

The transition was difficult. And really, that word should be in all caps, because it was a doozy on both of us. Life in the military comes with its own set of challenges and hurdles to overcome both individually and as a couple, and they are hard as heck, but we made it through. Life after the military brought more than I ever imagined. We both had to get to know ourselves again, and each other. Being in the military, many times, your relationship is put completely on hold and as a spouse, you often get so used to being alone and doing everything alone. It was a huge transition to have a husband who was suddenly present but didn’t know how to be present. (Not by his own fault.)

In his case, he too was so used to being a provider, and gone because of that. When on the journey to find a civilian job, he lost his identity as a Marine and desperately tried to find a job, any job, that would accept his experience. That one proved more difficult than he thought it would be. And when a job didn’t fall into place, he began to spiral out of control with emotions.

I share all of this with his permission, because we both agree that there are so few resources out there for those transitioning out of the military. It can feel isolating, and no one else can relate unless they have gone through it too. That is why we have decided to share more of our story, both sides of it, and be completely open and transparent about the struggles we faced during D’s transition into civilian life.

For so long, I found an identity in “being a military wife”. There is a lot that comes with that title and a standard to uphold. I never agreed with “wearing your husband’s rank” but I do believe that you as a spouse to your military member need to uphold a level of dignity in his honor. You are the other face of the duo that you are and your actions reflect on him and his career. This may sound harsh, but it is the way it is.

My days as a military wife were mostly spent alone, taking care of our children, and doing everything else that needed to be done. I didn’t have a spouse to rely on for helping with bath time or anything for that matter. I don’t mean for any of this to sound negative, but this was our life. You just had to get used to being a solo spouse and parent, for days, weeks, months or even years on end. Their career came first and you knew that from day 1. The other side of military spouse life was filled with unit parties/ meetings/ get-togethers... the majority of your life was centered around your spouse’s career, information about deployments/ training and putting on a happy face when you felt at your limit some days. It was tough, but those were some of the best years I have to look back on. I was made stronger as a mother, a wife and a woman because of it. And I will always be proud of my Marine.

When D’s career came to an end, I also lost that identity. Suddenly all of my military wife friends, I emotionally felt disconnected from. The best way I can describe this is when you get kicked out of a club. Not that they stopped talking to me or anything along those lines (because they are all amazing and we still are all friends!) but because you suddenly are living a very different life and no longer can relate or support each other on certain levels like you did previously. I felt myself feeling very isolated and lost. I had a husband who was spiraling, for his own reasons, and I had no idea how to support him, or “fix it”.

It took a lot of soul searching and a lot of phone calls to those military wife friends of mine for support and advice in that first year of civilian life. But eventually both he and I found our own way to communicate with each other again and work our way back to a new “us”. I will dive more into all of this in another post, because I feel it is important to share the tools we used to help us, but my main piece of advice is to never give up on each other. Transitioning into civilian life is going to be tough on both partners for different reasons, but you need to both be willing to take a step back and understand you are in it TOGETHER.

(In Derrick’s words)
Ask any marine about their transition into civilian life and most won’t want to discuss it, or just skip over the negative stuff and go right to the “everything is great” talk. Myself included. Even writing this that my wife somehow convinced me to write, I don’t know where to even start.

Before getting out of the Marine Corps I saw life after as better, I thought I would be free to have any job that I wanted. I thought I would have my weekends and nights free again. Little did I know then, how different living as a civilian would be.

Fining one good paying job didn’t happen. I spent months searching for a yes but kept getting no’s. I eventually ended up working three lower paying jobs just to make ends meet because that is all I could get.

I am not a man who talks about feelings publicly, but I do agree with my wife when she says that there isn’t much out there for service members to find real life stories about others who have transitioned into civilian life. We want to be a small part in reaching someone who might be struggling.

Transitioning out was harder than I thought it would be, and I was met with the reality that I had a lot of personal issues to face. I was in denial about that for a long time but I knew that my wife wouldn’t be able to help me with that until I helped myself. It was on me to fix it.

I am still working on the things I need to, and most days I still shut down but the key is to learn to lean on your partner. They may not understand exactly what you are going through, but they are there to support you and you have to allow them to. I didn’t do a great job of that at first, and thought I could handle it all on my own. That is what we as men are told to do. But after getting to to edge of my wife at a loss of how to communicate with me and support me, I had to allow myself to let her in.

By doing so our marriage strengthened and we learned how to be partners. Something we had never had due to both living solo for so long.

The transition will likely be difficult but take one day at a time and accept that there are things that you cannot carry just on your own. Lean on your spouse. Lean on a brother. Find someone you can trust and work through it. Eventually all will fall into place, emotions and a job... but it will take time. Just know you are not alone in this journey.

Nearly 2 years have passed since Derrick’s last day in a Marine Corps uniform, but he didn’t fully hang up wearing a uniform for good. After working 3 jobs for about a year, he was hired on as a Police Officer in Georgia and served our community for over a year before we made the decision to chose where we wanted to live and really begin our new lives. Neither one of us felt like Georgia was “home”, it was where the military put us and made the most sense to stay after transitioning out. But it was always just temporary. A few months ago, we made the big decision to take the leap and move back to California to raise our children near family.

With that, came another career change for Derrick, but one thing has remained the same throughout his time in the Marine Corps and life after... and that is his classically shaved head and freshly shaved face daily. No matter what the job, shaving daily is a must for Derrick. Even after the Marine Corps, he attempted to grow out that “freedom beard” yet he only lasted 5 days before caving in and breaking out his Gillette razor. In his own words, “growing hair just didn’t feel right!”.

Gillette has always been D’s razor of choice and even while separated, Gillette products were always a staple in the care packages that I sent to him. Life after the military is no different and Gillette’s new skin guard razor is top of the line! As someone who saves his face and head daily, Derrick explained that this razor just glided over the skin and was surprised at what a close shave this razor gave with no skin irritation. This was top priority for him when searching for a razor since he has highly sensitive skin. Gillette’s new skin guard has unique skin guard bars positioned in between the blades to specifically reduce the “tug and pull” of the hairs and result in a close shave. The precision trimmer on the opposite side is great for hard to reach areas and styling facial hair.

And as a wife who doesn’t love the stubble kisses, I can officially say I give the closeness of this shave two thumbs up! You can find the new Gillette skin guard set or individual products at your local Walmart.

I want to finish up this post by saying that if you or someone you know is struggling with their own civilian life transition, don’t be fearful or hesitant to reach out to us, or anyone you might trust. We all need to be there for each other. Each journey is different, but we are all family in this unique way of life. And remember, you are NOT IN THIS ALONE.

To purchase the new Gillette SkinGuard - CLICK HERE

Moving For Love

* This post is sponsored by - all thoughts and ideas are my own

Being that it's Valentine's Day, and we are just getting settled into our new home in California, we feel that today is no better time than to share a little bit of our love story with you all... This will be our 8th Valentine's Day as husband and wife, and through the past 8 years we have jumped over a ton of hurdles and endured many changes. One of the biggest changes being moving across the country, twice. Since becoming newlyweds way back in 2011, we have called four houses "home". The military has moved us to a city we didn't know in a moments notice and we've recently taken the big leap to come back home to our roots with no job security. With each move, there has been a huge scary unknown facing us, but we have done it all together, and we have done it all for love.

When you enter a marriage, you repeat the vows "for better or for worse/ for richer or poorer". Let's just say that as it goes for our marriage in the past 8 years, 80% of it has been for worse and for poorer. I am not sharing any of this to gain sympathy or pity, it is actually quite the opposite. We as a couple have faced some big downfalls. To be honest, we have even at times been on the brink of giving up. But we never have.

These 8 years have been hard, on both of us. When you mix moving (one of life's biggest stresses) and financial issues (one of the leading causes of divorce), you end up with a brewing storm of emotions. And while we are far from being out of the wind and the rain, we have managed to weather the storm together and barely hold on. Our hopes in sharing our struggles and our journey, is to hopefully help another couple out there that may be weathering the same. It is far from easy, but there are a few things we have learned along the way and through it all, love has remained the rope that has held us together.

Moving for love (that new and exciting love)
Let's travel back in time to our first move into our first little home as newlyweds, back in 2011. That little 2 bedroom/1.5 bathroom base house was the reason I started this blog of mine. It was tiny, a mere 1,200 sq. ft. at most, but it was a place to call our own (for the time being). Back then, we were nothing but excited and ready to start our lives there. We brought home our first baby to that home, we hosted our first family holiday meal in that home, and we said goodbye to all of our family and friends in that home, before making our way across the country. That home held so many firsts and memories for us and will always be the home where our story began.

Moving for love (even when you don't want to)
Fast forward to 2014, we were approaching our 3rd wedding anniversary and awaiting orders from the Marine Corps of where next we would call home. How fitting, that on our anniversary, we received the news... we were going to be headed to Georgia. While I have always loved the idea of living in different places, when you have no choice in the matter and are a planner (and slight control freak) like myself, not being in control of where your life is headed an be testing to say the least! While I never desired to call the state of Georgia home, I tried my best to take it as a new beginning and a new adventure. To leave all of my family and friends behind and everything that I ever knew as comfort, was difficult. On top of that, it wasn't just myself I was taking away from my family, I was a mom, which meant this would change everything about my child's relationship with our family members as well. Driving away after watching our last California sunset, I bawled. So much was changing, so much was unknown. The only comfort we had was a home awaiting for us and my husband's new special duty assignment. Everything else was a blank space waiting to be filled in. I grabbed my husband's hand as we drove away, with tears streaming down my face, I whispered "I'm scared." He didn't say anything in return, but his hand squeezing mine back a little harder let me know that we were in this together.

Moving for love (even when the future is unknown)
After moving to Georgia, we decided to make the best of it and even started to enjoy our new home state. It never really felt like "home" to us, but we made a few new friends, I spent my days decorating our home and raising babies, while my husband worked 18 hour days - 7 days a week. We somehow made it through our 3 (long) years on marine corps recruiting duty. I won't go into details (in this post) but those 3 years were probably the hardest of our marriage. We went through a lot between 2014-2017 and after serving 10 years in the Marine Corps, my husband decided it was time for a change. He packed away his uniform and boots and we settled on trying out Georgia as our home, in civilian life. At the time, we were perfectly content living in our rental and were even talking about buying that home once Derrick was able to establish a stable civilian job income. But soon, all of those plans were derailed. Just a month after EASing from the military, we received news that the owners of our home were selling and we needed to be out asap. So add finding a new home on top of finding a new job/ jobs. We were hit with a ton of bricks. No money saved, no guaranteed job in sight, no idea where or how we would find a new home, at that point everything in the future was unknown. We had no idea what to do, but pray. We knew that no matter what we were facing, again, we would face it together.

Moving for love (even when it means taking a big financial leap)
Eventually, we did find a house, it was run down, in horrible condition and needed a whole lot of work just to move in, but it was a roof over our heads. We tried our best to clean that rental up as best we could, then made it into our own with paint and filled it with the things we loved. Soon, it felt like home. As for the job search, in 2017 Derrick worked three jobs just to make ends meet, until finally getting hired on with our county police department. We were still far from making it, but we were somehow making ends meet. We still knew that Georgia wasn't our forever home, but we started to become content in where we were. Until mid 2018... I started to feel the urge to want to be back home. To raise my children near family, to seek larger opportunities for my own career. We started talking about all of the many reasons that California felt like the right decision. The one big part though... we sure didn't have any money saved up and financially were not in the position to save any to make the move happen, and secondly California is extremely expensive and would require both of us to make triple our current income. There were so many pluses, but one huge financial obstacle in the way. It took months of talking and weighing options to come to our decision but Derrick was willing to move back to California for me, for our kid's sake and for our future. We sold most of our large furniture and tons of other things around the house just to fund our move. We took a huge leap of faith and trusted in each other that we could make this work.

At the end of January 2019, we loaded everything we owned into a 26 foot moving truck and drove across the country. Ironically, we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary on that road trip, stopping somewhere along the way for McDonalds with the kids and enjoying our "anniversary celebration".

Now, here we are, just 2 weeks (as of today) settled in our new home in southern California. We have been surviving on the last little bit of money we saved from selling nearly everything we owned and a bit of help from family. We took a huge risk to get here but still feel it was the right decision. Through it all, we have both made sacrifices. Were we both happy through all of it? Far from it...  We have had many many arguments over the years. But we made it through, together and relied on our love to guide us.

Tips to take away:

Lean on each other - Moving or any big life change is stressful enough. In times like these we can often try to find blame to put on the other person, to take out all of our fear and anger on our significant other. Try to understand what your significant other may be facing and if you do find your relationship in a downward spiral, take a moment and try to pinpoint where those hurtful words or actions may be coming from. Often it is much simpler. Realize you both are climbing the same mountain and help boost each other up until you reach the top.

Give each other space - Sometimes moving, wether before or after, can bring up a lot of emotions. You are either freaking out about the million things on your to-do list before move day or you have held it all together and are now settled into your new home and are emotionally and physically drained and all of those hid away feelings come bubbling to the surface. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself or your significant other is to get out and do something for yourself. Maybe it's a long walk, or 30 min just to sit in a local coffee shop by yourself or a long drive with music blasting. Allow yourself a moment to clear your head and reset.

Talk it out - I can't even count how many times one of us has blurted out something hurtful to the other. for example, just this week D yelled out of frustration, "Screw this, we will never get out of this hole we are in, moving here was a horrible mistake." I knew he didn't mean it, but I did understand where that frustration stemmed from. It stemmed from the stress of knowing we took a big financial risk to move here and now we have no option but to make it work. On top of that, my husband finds his identity in his work, with not working full time right now and with the fear of not being able to provide for his family, he takes all of this stress on his shoulders and many times we all can take out our frustrations in not so nice ways. I knew once this comment was made, we needed to talk. I needed to be there to reassure him why we made this move. I had to give him faith that this would all work out in the end, and in the meantime, we are on the same team. Talk out your frustrations, talk out your fears, talk out your plans. Be the pillar that the other one needs.

If you are facing a move in your future, or maybe just treading through some big changes in life right now, I hope that you know that you are not the only couple going through this. You are not alone in feeling like you just can't see the light at the end of the tunnel some days. Just remember you and your significant other/ spouse are in this together and you will get through it together. With a little grace, a little sacrifice, a little trust and a little love.

Visit to see the stats of moving for love....

Master A Stress Free Move In 30 Days

If you have been following our moving series, you might be a little confused based on last month's move update, we went over how we were approx. 3 months out from moving. Now here were are, announcing we are just 30 days (actually less) away from move day! So you might ask, what changed? 

*This post is sponsored by - all thoughts and ideas are my own.

Well... We have a house! While I had full intentions of taking you all along the final house search process with us, this specific home presented itself while doing just a quick browse on last week. We have had no plans to even begin contacting available rental homes until January, but this one seemed perfect so we went ahead and inquired. To our surprise, they got back to us nearly immediately and thus that is when this surprise whirlwind of finding our perfect home began. 

As stated in my last move update, I went over the challenges you can face when trying to find a home/ rental while living in another state along with how to set yourself apart from the many other (local) applicants. One of the biggest tips I have for securing a home from out of state or in a unique situation, is to find a home listed by the landlord/ homeowner. This allows you the chance to connect with the person owning the home and present your situation to them, and more often than not, they will be more open to holding a home for the right person/ family, accepting a not so excellent credit score or a new job change over a property management company who is just approving applicants based off of a checklist.

In this case, as well as when we moved to Georgia, both homes were listed by the homeowner. In both situations we were able to talk on the phone to the homeowners and explain our moving timeline and also let them know a little more about our family and who we are as renters.

So let's get back to our home search journey... After talking to the homeowner, we set up a time to do a video tour of the home via FaceTime. Being that we are moving back to California to be near family, we knew that we had people whom we trust to go view properties for us in person. But... My dad has been here visiting us for the holidays, and when this home presented itself, we were informed that there were already 2 other applications in that they were considering and they needed to make a decision soon. The homeowner graciously walked us through the entire home, then outside to show us the neighborhood, nearest playground and community pool to really get a feel for where we would be living. 

After the tour I think both my husband and I knew instantly that this home was for our family. We sent an email saying that we would like to apply. But, we knew there were still a few obstacles in the way. First off, those 2 other applicants were local and could move in immediately. We on the other hand, hadn't even prepared to start moving until mid Feb! Not to mention my husband starting a brand new job, and not knowing how our credit score would hold up against the other applicants. We decided to give them a call and explain everything up front before ever submitting the application. Being honest and transparent is key if there is anything you are concerned about when applying. Secondly, I sent the homeowner an email with links to my social media and blog, to show how we care for our current home and how we plan to love and care for their home as well. Even if you don't have a blog or social media account where you share your home, send an email with possibly a collage of a few photos of your current home and a photo of your family. This gives them an idea of who will be occupying the home that they cherish. Renting from a homeowner is so much more personal, so try to connect with them on a personal level.

After all was sent off, we received the news within 24 hours, on Christmas Eve of all days... that we were accepted! 

Then came hammering out the details. I won't go into financial detail here because of personal reasons, but the homeowners graciously discounted our deposit due to a long distance move, but we did have to pay to hold the home until we could move in. This has now pushed our move date up by quite a lot! We now will be moving across the country in less than 30 days!

So you might ask... What's next? We now have one massive to-do list...
Follow along as I share a few of the tips that I have learned through my past moves and how I plan to incorporate them into this one. There is so much information that I have actually split this post into 2 parts. Part 1 being everything you need to know to get your home packed up and ready to move. Everything from packing materials to how to pack each room and what you need upon moving into your new home. Part 2 being the logistics of moving. In that post I will take you through a breakdown of moving yourself vs. hiring a moving company, traveling long distance to your new home, and how to do it all on a small budget, along with a to-do list of what you need to do before moving out of your current home.

How to master a stress free move in 30 days (or less)

Packing materials you will need:
Depending on your size of home, this will vary, but when it comes to purchasing boxes and packing materials, you need to factor in the following,

8 boxes - Standard Size Bedroom
(2 large for clothing, 1 medium for shoes, 3 medium for decor, 2 large for bedding/ curtains/ misc.)

12 boxes - Master Bedroom
(4 large for clothing, 2 medium for shoes/ bags, 4 medium for decor, 2 large for bedding/ curtains)
3 boxes - Bathroom
(1 medium boxes for decor, 2 small boxes for liquids, lotions and misc. product)

20 boxes - Living Room/ Family Room
(8 large boxes for decor/ blankets/ curtains/ pillows, 3 large picture frame boxes for wall decor, 1 large TV box, 5 medium boxes for DVDs/ electronics/ decor, 3 small boxes for any small misc. items)

18 boxes - Kitchen
(10 medium boxes for dishes/ pots & pans/ bake ware/ non-perishable foods/ table linens, 8 small boxes for spices/ counter top items/ cooking utensils/ coffee mugs and glass drinking glasses, plastic cups (kid's dinnerware)/ dishtowels & cleaning supplies)

4 boxes - Hallway Closets
(4 large boxes for hallway closet linens such as towels, extra sheets, blankets and pillows)

25 Boxes - Garage, Laundry Room & Misc.
(Depending on the size of your garage and what you need to pack, allow yourself an over count of boxes needed in various sizes from large to small. It is also good to have extra boxes on hand for other products such as cleaning supplies, toys, and extra decor. Remember, you can always return what you do not use, but it's better to have more than enough rather than making run after run back to the store to buy more!)

The average 3 bedroom home usually accounts for 75-90 moving boxes

The quality of your moving materials also matters. Sturdy boxes and tape will insure that your items will arrive at their destination in perfect condition. And how you tape your boxes also is of importance. The last thing you need is the bottom of your box to fall open after you spent all that time wrapping up your belongings.

Begin by taping the box once, across both flaps. Then tape once down the center line, then again on either side of that, overlapping the sides of the tape to create a strong hold. Again, the tape you use will make a difference. I've done this same method of taping but with a dollar store brand before and I was sorry I did... My advice, splurge on the good tape.

Lastly, label each box so that it has a final destination and anyone picking up the box can figure out where it goes. Label the boxes not as where they came from in your current home, but where you want them to go in your new home. I label each box with the room, then number each box for that room, and label the main contents in that box. I also have a checklist that I have created of all of this info that I can relate back to and check off as I un-pack, just in case a box gets misplaced or I can't find what I am looking for.

One other tip - Because we don't have a craft room or a play room, but have lots of craft items and toys, I box all of those items up grouped with similar items. Such as: "Crafts - Paper", "Crafts - Painting", or "Crafts - Wood". And for toys that don't have a place in either of the kid's rooms, I label those, "Toys - Hotwheels" or "Toys - Dress Up". On move in day, I have these boxes placed in the main entry or in the garage until I find a place/ closet to organize them.

Lighten the load:
As I went over in my last update, one of the biggest things you can do before a big move to make moving as easy as possible, is to purge the "junk". I went through round 1 with you, which was the hard part. Round 1 consists of taking inventory of what you have, what you haven't used in years, what you can live without, and what is just plain trash.

(You can read more about the process HERE)

After getting rid of and selling everything you could do without, now it's time to really think about what else can go. If you have a home (which you should being 30 days out from a move) you know the layout. Which furniture that you currently own won't fit or work into your new space? Maybe you want a slight style style change, what can you possibly sell and use that money to buy something new that you love? Or take a hard look at your closet, can you let some of it go? I like to call round 2, the "make room for more" round. You have to let go what is weighing you down sometimes to make room for something even better. Moving into a new home, one you have worked hard for, this is a new chapter, a new beginning. Now is the perfect time to let go of the things you maybe have held onto for too long just because it is "stuff".

Want to know another great thing about letting go? Well, it sure lessens the cost of your move! The lighter the load = the less that you pay. 

For us, we have saved the big items to get rid of, for last. Now that we have the layout of our new home we know what we can take and what needs to be sold. A plus of our new rental is that it comes with a washer and a dryer so we will be selling ours, along with our large dining table and other furniture items we know will not fit into our new home. What is fun about the purging process is that we always use the money that we receive from selling the old to buy new after we move. We get to go shopping without really spending!

Once you have sold/ donated all of the big stuff it's time to take a look at all of those things you have been hoarding for much too long: When it comes to anything in your bathroom cabinets, lotions, hair product or makeup, if you haven't used it in 6 months - a year, its time for it to go. Same goes for clothing, if you haven't worn it in a year or if it doesn't fit, let it go. And as for kitchen items that we all know can gather up over time, if you haven't used it in a year - 2 years, its time to be used by someone else.

Downsizing can be hard and it can feel overwhelming when it comes to deciding what to keep and what to let go of. But with each one of my moves, I have never regretted letting go of any of the items I decided to part with. Just keep your new home in mind through the whole process. Think of how everything needs a place to go and if you don't have the space or room for it, let it go. If you don't absolutely love it and that item no longer brings you joy, let it go.

And if just even starting the purging process feels daunting, I suggest starting in the bathrooms. then closets, then dressers, then the main areas of your home. One bag/ box at a time, and you will get there, I promise. Just trust your gut.

Where to begin packing:
Again, another daunting task that many dread (myself included). After 9 times of doing this, I basically have a routine and a system. Before I ever begin packing to move our home, I set aside a suitcase (or multiple in our case - for our family) along with 2 large size boxes and 1 medium size box. The suitcases will be for your travels to your new home and the boxes will be your "first night boxes". Especially when moving long distance, there is no guarantee what time your belongings will arrive at your new house and if it happens to be pushing bed time, the kids are melting down and you are at the end of your rope, the last thing you will want to do is dig through tons of boxes to find the things you need. Here are the items that I pack as MUST HAVES for the first day/ night of moving into a new home:

The "First Night Box(es)":
1 set of sheets for each bed
2 rolls of paper towels
1 bottle of cleaning spray
1 container of disinfecting wipes
3 rolls of toilet paper
1 towel for each person
4 night lights
1 can of air freshener
1 candle
paper plates
plastic utensils
travel size laundry detergent
travel size shampoo/ conditioner/ hand soap
1 large blanket/ comforter per bed

clothes for each person for 1 week
personal care items
bedtime books for kids

Bring in the car:
favorite pillows
phone chargers
any valuable jewelry or items
memorabilia that cannot be replaced (baby books, photos, family items, etc.)

Packing with kids:
If you have children, especially young ones, moving can stir up a whole boat load of emotions. My biggest tip when facing a new change - get them involved with the packing. Let them choose which items they want to pack up and make a game out of it! Try to see who can pack their boxes faster or count how many items fit into a box, or sort toys by colors. The more you involve your children, the less anxiety they will have.

Packing room by room:
Bathroom - I always start in the bathroom because it is the smallest room in the home and usually has the least amount to pack. (Ziploc bags will be your best friend!) I first pack up all liquids and lotions, each in their own separate Ziploc bag. I always place those in a box by themselves, separate from everything else. 

Closets - I begin by packing clothes first, leaving the clothes on the hangers, placing a plastic trash bag over them and placing each group of clothing into a box. 

Dressers - As for clothing in dressers, we have never packed our clothing, we first take out the drawers of the dresser on moving day, load the dresser, then place the drawers back in them with the clothing still inside. As you fill up the truck, the other furniture and boxes will insure that your drawers will not open and it/s one less thing you don't have to worry about packing! 

Decor - I always wrap breakable decor up with quality packing paper. Each item gets wrapped individually.
Dishes - One of the easiest tips I have for packing dishes is to place a foam paper plate in between each plate, then wrap the whole set up in bubble wrap. For coffee mugs and breakable glasses, wrap with packing paper and pots and pans wrap up with extra bath towels. 

Bedding - When it comes to comforters, duvet covers, etc... I always pack each bedding set together. Including throw pillows. This way, once your beds are all set up, it is easy to put each one together again. 

Jewelry - For jewelry that I won't be taking with me in the car, I like to use scrap pieces of cardboard, then using 2 different sized hole punches, punch holes into the cardboard for where I would like my jewelry to be held in place. This makes it so that necklaces, earrings and bracelets won't get tangled up in the move. For additional packaging, you can wrap the entire piece of cardboard up with plastic cling wrap as an extra step to keep the jewelry in place.

Garage Items/ Tools - Packing plastic wrap is great for keeping rakes/ mops/ brooms together but when it comes to the tools, we have chosen to purchase large plastic totes to insure that none of our tools get damaged in the move. Plus it makes for easy organizing after moving into your new home.

These are just a few of  tips that I hope you find helpful. Ones I have learned after making things much harder on myself over the years, when moving and entire household on a short time frame. 
Stay tuned for part 2 of this series, coming soon! Thanks for stopping by!

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