Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Guardian Selection Appointment: talking in code

We had our Guardian appointment last week. When you build with Ryan homes, you have 2 weeks to make your structural change requests and another 2 weeks to make your color/design selections. The goal is to have everything decided in 30 days to prevent delays and apply for permits. Ryan Homes uses Guardian for security and home audio, so you need to make a separate appointment for those selections. They were pretty backed up, so we actually couldn't make our appointment until 1 day after our 30 day window. No big deal, we made it work. But we definitely felt the pressure to decide what we needed and take care of business. 

Since we were on a tight schedule, we checked out Guardian's website in advance. Their website is pretty good at showing you the various options (security, audio, central vac) but they don't show you any pricing. Except, pricing is kind of important to me. I mean, whole house audio speakers are super fun but if they're $50,000 I'll just use my iPod. So it's hard to decide what you want until you know how much things cost. For example, we know we wanted granite counters. But granite counters come in various levels of costs. So before we picked a color, we asked about the levels. No reason to pick out something way over your budget. Same for hardwood floors, carpet, cabinets, even paint. 

Because of the timeline, we requested info from Guardian in advance. We asked for pricing options, packages they had, etc. so we could start budgeting out what we'd like to add. Instead we were given a pretty generic email with things already on their website, no pricing. We were told that the typical range is about $3,500-$4,500 per home but they can't price without knowing our specific needs. Hmmm.... okay. Liar, liar, pants on fire to that. We gave up and decided to just wait for our appointment to come.

Fast forward to our appointment. You sit down and give the Guardian rep your floor plans and talk about what you'd like to add. He gives a little presentation with his suggestions. We quickly said no to the intercom system and central vac so we could spend most of our time on home audio and security. We opted to go for a surround sound built into our family room (hubby's dream). Then here's where it started to get frustrating. You still aren't told pricing on anything. Even when you ask.

For example, they can put audio speakers in the ceiling and you buy them in sets. You can do 2 rooms, 4 rooms, etc. We had talked about putting ceiling speakers in our master bathroom because I keep an iPod in there and it would be convenient to just have a system in the wall. Same for my office where I spend a lot of time.  The rep mentioned that we could put a speaker on our back patio as one of the options, which was great because we plan to spend a lot of time outside. When we're entertaining, we can have stuff playing in the family room/kitchen and then right out on the patio too. But what does this cost? Because if it's pricey, we'll just go with 2 rooms (or none at all if it's that much). I flat out asked, "What does this cost per room? It's hard to decide how much we want without knowing what it costs." I was told to just wait until the end when he added it all up and we could always take stuff off if we were over budget. Fine, let's just stick with 2 rooms for now.

Seriously? Do you just go to the grocery store and fill your cart up with everything you want and then guess how much it will cost? It feels sketchy. The same thing happened with the security system. You buy motion detectors and glass break sensors one by one. He makes suggestions for where to put them, and some of the overlap. Do we need both? No. That's personal preference for how locked down I want our house to be. I'm a big scaredy cat so I tend to overkill it here, but again, how much does this cost? Oh wait, that's a secret. I forgot.

So we begrudgingly pick out what we think we want and he spends a few minutes putting it into his computer. He asks us how much we think it's all going to cost. Hubby says $2,000 (hahaha) and I guessed $5,000. Because that's exactly what it was, a guess. I had no idea what we had spent.

And then guess what?! He turns around and shows us an itemized spreadsheet. And everything has a price. It's magical. Except it's on the computer screen spread out over several pages instead of printed out. That's nice. But guess what, prices DO exist. Of course they do. That's the way the world works. We had spent almost $7,000

Remember that fancy in room audio? It's $1,000 per room (bought in sets of $2,000). That was an easy decision to make. Do I want 4 of those? Nope! We did go with the outdoor speaker and one in my master bath. For $1,000 per room, I'll use my iPod elsewhere. It just wasn't worth it. We also took off their smart wiring system (which I truly didn't understand anyway).

We marked the locations of our outlets and speakers on the floor plans and signed off on them. Our final contract just has the total cost, without anything itemized on it. So I'm still not sure exactly how much we spent where, because I could only see it on the computer screen for a few minutes. I should have started taking pictures. ;)

Bottom line-- if I wanted to play games, I'd go to the playground. Our final cost was $5,800. The final contract shows $2,100 under security and $3,700 under other upgrades. It makes me uncomfortable not to have a breakdown of the equipment we wanted, so we've asked for an itemized list. We also were given upgraded speakers that have been discontinued, so I want that in writing too. So far, it hasn't been given to us. We're not signing off on the change order until the equipment is listed somewhere though.

Not pleased with their selling tactics, but have heard good things about their service once installed so that's why we went ahead and moved forward. Hoping we don't regret that decision.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Day Gift Tags

Teacher appreciation day is coming and I have a cute printable freebie for you! Obviously I'm a Jamberry girl, and the sheets are so inexpensive that they make great teacher gifts. Each sheet of Jamberry does at least 2 manicures and 2 pedicures, so you can actually cut the sheet in half and use it for TWO gifts. That's right. Buy 1 sheet, cut it in half, and use it for two gifts. Don't worry, the sheet looks great when cut in half. ;) If you have several teachers to buy for, the sheets are buy 3/get the 4th free. That could be up to 8 gifts for less than fifty bucks. Super frugal, love that!

You could also tuck a little gift card down inside the envelope if you wanted too. Maybe a $10 gift card to the local coffee shop? Or an iTunes card? One piece of card stock and some washi tape, that's it. Tada! I left room above the text for you to write the teacher's name in there too if you'd like. 



Here's another option-- a sheet of sparkly wraps or Lovestruck lacquer to the teacher who helped you child sparkle all year.

Or how about a cute nail file pun? Taking five minutes to dress up the packaging makes a difference. What student wouldn't love giving this gift to her favorite teacher?

This is probably my favorite combo. Suede lacquer is such a great feminine neutral for the teacher who helped your child paint a bright future. ;)


I hope that gives you a few ideas for super easy and inexpensive gift idea at the end of the year. You can grab my printable teacher appreciation templates here, totally free.  For more teacher appreciation ideas, be sure to visit Ms. Fultz's Corner tomorrow!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

April Ipsy Review

I am loving my monthly Ipsy subscription! For $10 a month, I get a cute makeup bag with 5 products inside. It's totally affordable, and I've found lots of new beauty products I wouldn't have tried otherwise along the way. As I give feedback each month, the products inside continue to be tailored to my preferences. April was my favorite bag yet! Just check out how cute it is. 



I love the burlap look with the bright colors woven in. I'm also exited to find out what's inside though. Here's April's loot. 



First of all, I'm loving the bright pink polish but y'all know I'm totally loyal to Jamberry. I'd totally recommend our Kiss lacquer or Haute Pink wraps for the same look. I didn't try the sample and left feedback that I'd prefer not to receive polish again. Can you blame me, I mean... look how pretty Jamberry is!



Back to my Ipsy bag. I was drawn to the lip balm. It's Olive Natural Beauty formulated for dry, cracked lips. With winter on its way out and spring allergy season its way in {hello, mouth-breathing at night} it was perfect timing. I'm a pretty picky lip balm lady because I can't stand for anything to feel too waxy. This one is just the perfect mix and I've been using it under my lip stain. Love the way it feels and would definitely buy it again. It comes in different flavors. I have the Oats and Honey, but I definitely want to try to Lemon and Lavender. 



I love eyeshadow and tend to stick to my Sephora nudes by default, so I enjoy getting eyeshadow in my Ipsy bags to mix it up. This month's was Nude Dude by theBalm Cosmetics. Okay, seriously? The packaging was too cute. I really liked the shade too. I received Flirty, which was a nice bronze with a hint of shimmer in it. Whenever I'm reviewing products for the first time I use them on their own, but this shade can definitely be layered and even applied wet to make it more intense. On its own, it's great for a daytime look though. 




Then I tried Pandora's Makeup Box Pink Carnation blush. This shade was way too bright for me though. I had to tone it down with more foundation on top. I like the texture and would try it in a different shade though. I'd try it in a classic pink or maybe even passion fruit. 
Classic Pink-- a pink-toned beige

Finally, my last item was an oval concealer brush by Crown Brush. I really liked it! I'm new to all of these different brushes and love seeing how they all work. This one was a nice mix of firm and soft. The tapered tip is perfect for blending and the soft sides work well for shadows. I'd definitely buy other brushes from Crown Brush, nice quality. 

So, here's the final look with the lip balm base under my lip stain, toned down blush, and light bronze eye shadow. It's a nice, natural look for daytime. Looking forward to playing with that eyeshadow some more for a date night look. 




I've been racking up points each month by reviewing my products so I was just able to cash some of them in for this Elizabeth Mott All Over Shadown Brush, totally free. They'll just add it to my next bag, yay! 

That was fun! If you want to get your own Ipsy bag next month, you gotta subscribe!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Preliminary Plot Map and Options

I love, love, love our experience building with Ryan Homes so far. Everything is cruising along quickly and it feels like we're making real progress. We received our preliminary plot map to show how our house will sit on the lot. Our driveway will actually be straight to the street for all three garages instead of having the third one angled like it is here. Close enough though.



I knew our lot was big, but I didn't realize it was quite THAT big. Our house looks teeny tiny on that thing. The majority of our lot is wooded, with the back 140 feet or so in the woods. My husband has big plans of fire pits and kids stomping around back there. I see a lot of work to get it cleaned up, ha!

We got an estimate for a fence. Our goal was to fence in the yard so our dogs would have a place to run and play. I nearly fainted at the cost to fence in such a large lot! We've debated not fencing the entire thing in (like the woods), but I'm thinking if we're going to do it we might as well do it all the way.

We've also finalized and signed off on our options last week. For our exterior, we've chosen Allendale Hill brick, Dakota Ledgestone, Navajo Beige cement board (not shown), brown shutters, and a Sherwin Williams French Roast front door.



For the interior, we're going with dark maple expresso cabinets and Brown Bear hand scraped wood floor throughout the first level.



We chose light carpet for the basement and upstairs. Vellum (on the left) is sort of a crocheted texture for the basement and Quartz (on the right) is a loop texture for the second floor. I liked Quartz because it's solidly in the greige color family. ;) We're doing all of the extra bathrooms in the Serene White tile. I love the neutrals because they will go so well with a variety of decor throughout the house, but still tie everything together.



I think our granite kitchen counters are going to be a little bit of a wild card. It's a free upgrade so we can't complain, but we couldn't get approval to use the granite we really preferred. So this is Santa Cecelia. It varies a lot by the slab and can be a dark, streaky black or a lighter golden brown overall. If we get the darker variety, we'll most likely replace the counters down the road.


The only thing not pictured is our master bath tile. We had to go back to select that one because we received approval to do a kerdi mud pan instead of the standard white one. We picked daltile Florentine Argento. It's a creamy background with brown details. I'll update once I get a real picture of it.


Super excited to keep moving forward and can't wait until we have our hole in the ground!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Baby Foot Review

In the weeks leading up to our trip to Mexico on the free Jamberry Nails incentive trip, I had heard some buzz about this foot peel called Baby Foot. It was late February so my feet were definitely not beach-ready. I'm pretty good about keeping my toes painted, but that's as far as it goes so it was the perfect time to try something new.

If you have never heard of it, Baby Foot is a three step process. Apply it to your feet, let it soak in, wash away. That's it. You treat your feet one time and then the product works its magic over the course of a week. Warning: it will turn you into a skin-shedding snake in a gross, yet satisfying, way. I didn't get a picture of the box on its own, but here's what it looks like. I opted for the lavender scent.



It comes with two plastic booties that are already filled with the magical solution. You just slip them on over your feet, use the little included adhesive to close them around your ankles, slip on some comfy socks (optional), and then plant your booty on the couch with a good book so you don't go walking around for about an hour. For best results, you can soak your feet in water first to soften them up so you absorb the most product.



This is what's going on under the socks. It's a cute look for me, right?? For the most part, I couldn't really tell I was wearing them. The product was a little cool and I got a slight tingling sensation toward the end, but no burning or anything weird.



After an hour,  I washed away the gel and did notice that it had done a number on my Kiss colored lacquer. Other than that, my feet looked exactly the same. At this point, it's time to sit back and wait. There's no turning back now, so I just had to give the product time to work its magic. I was a little nervous I would wake up the next day without any skin left on my foot, but that definitely didn't happen.

It was all "no updates here" for the first several days. I was starting to think it wasn't going to work at all, but around day 5 my feet definitely started to peel. Sorry for the poor hotel lighting. My feet definitely aren't dirty, but instead covered with lots of dry, shedding skin.



On a scale of 1-10, that was probably a 2 or a 3. I was kind of impressed, but my results weren't anything like pictures I had seen online. Then day 6 hit. I am all kinds of snake at this point. It's coming up the sides of my foot, the pads of my toes, and doing a real number on my super dry areas. It took everything I had not to peel it off myself like an old sunburn, but I did step up the exfoliating in the shower.



I'm thinking that's surely the end of Baby Foot's magic, but day 7 was even better. Seriously?! It was oddly satisfying. This was pretty much the high point and most of it scrubbed off in the shower.


By day 9, I was no longer a snake. Baby Foot delivered on its promise to deliver soft, smooth, vacation-ready feet.

Would I do this again? Definitely. No pain and it definitely got rid of the top layer of dead skin. Will this replace a good old salon pedicure for me in the future? No. But it is a nice touch up, especially in the winter when I don't typically get pedicures anyway. If you want to give it a try, you can find Baby Foot on Amazon.



Thursday, April 16, 2015

Building with Ryan Homes: The Olsen Model

So I shared that we were building The Olsen with Ryan homes, but I wanted to give you a closer look of our floor plan. We are going from about 900 square feet to 5,000 so we're going to need LOTS of furniture to fill this baby up.




This is the entry level. I'm not quite sure how we'll do the living room/dining room transition yet. They are open to each other with just a little bit of a frame between them. But my absolute favorite part here is my new office in the back corner. No more sharing with my husband, this baby will be all mine. I also love the two-story foyer for a nice, open look as soon as you enter.


Then there's the second floor. Four bedrooms with lots of room for family and a bonus room that I'll use for crafting/sewing so it doesn't have to be crammed into my office like it is now. Ryan will also use the bonus room nook as his office. Down the road this will probably be a playroom for the kids. We also made a non-standard request to remove the wall between the master closets so we'll be putting in one large closet instead of two. Then I'll give Ryan a corner of it. ;) For $200, we thought it was definitely worth the price. Dream closet on the way!


Finally, the basement. This was just icing on the cake for us because it was something we planned to finish down the road instead of right away. Most of our existing furniture will go down here and we're going to turn it into a game room and man cave for my husband.


So far, working with Ryan Homes has been really easy. Our sales rep is amazingly on top of things and they had great options to choose from in their design center. The only request we've made that has been denied so far is the stairs. I want direct set/wood stairs. We're doing wood floor throughout the main level (hate carpet!) so I wanted the stairs to match, something like this.


Our sales rep was pretty sure that would be a no. They can do this on some models, but not others, but we still asked her to check. She was right, no go. Bummer, but we are so far ahead in this house that it isn't a deal breaker. They will do the iron (included as one of the incentives) and we'll most likely do the stairs ourselves down the road.

Cannot wait to get moving on this!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April Stitch Fix

For my April Stitch Fix, I asked for colorful spring/summer pieces with unique details. I tend to wear a lot of black and white, sometimes brown or gray. ha! So I was ready to pump it up with some color.

Before opening the box, I told my husband I hoped there was something coral inside. I hadn't asked for it specifically, but just had a whim the day the box arrived. I was definitely not disappointed to see 2 coral pieces.

I usually get a pair of jeans, and this time I received a pair of slightly whiskered trousers. Love at first sight! I've only kept one pair of jeans so far due to not finding the perfect cut/fit combo. Fingers were definitely crossed on those.

The cobalt lace top reminded me of one I kept from a previous fix, but a little softer.

Then there was the wild card leaf dress. It sort of reminded me of a kimono. I wasn't feeling the leaf pattern, but I always try everything on anyway.

First up was the coral shirt and trouser jeans. The jeans fit so perfectly! They are a tiny bit long with my flats, but could easily be worn with low heels or boots. I could always get them hemmed for flats too.

The coral shirt, on the other hand, was too tight across the chest so the buttons were bulging. Totally not flattering. It's a Hawthorne 41, which I've had several pieces from before. A medium is often too tight across the chest and a large is too big through the sides/stomach. It's going back.

Next up, I tried the crochet tank. This one is actually a two-piece. There's a nude cami that you wear under the sheer fabric. Sorry my strap is twisted, you can tell my husband is over my fashion shoots. I really debated keeping this one. I love the crochet back details, but wasn't really a fan of the cami strap showing. I also felt like it was a little too short in the front and hit me at a weird spot.


Then I tried the leaf dress. It has a belt and pockets, which are fun. I hate the print though. I actually didn't mind the cut as much as I thought I would. It buttons so I could have opened it up more to show more neckline. My husband loved it, what?! It went back.


Finally, the cobalt blue lace top. LOVE! It's a tiny bit clingy over my chest due to the material, but I'm going with it because the details are so pretty on this one. I can see myself wearing it with a dark pair of trousers or tucking it into a black skirt. Those shoulders, so pretty!

Are you ready to try out your own personal stylist? You'll fill out your style profile and let your stylist know if you're looking for something specific. Then for a $20 styling fee, you get a box with 5 pieces inside. The $20 goes toward anything you decide to keep from the box. If you buy all 5 pieces, you get a 25% discount! Whatever you decide not to keep goes right back in a pre-paid mailer they send inside your box. Just drop it in the mailbox. So easy! I can't wait to see what YOU get!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

It All Happens for a Reason

After our misadventures in home buying, I was convinced we were destined to live in our rental forever. After looking at countless homes for sale online and touring numerous open houses, we came to terms with trying to build again. We had seen one other model that we liked back in the fall, but were turned off by the sales rep and lack of wooded lots available. Ryan has his heart set on having mature trees at the back of our lot for privacy, so it was a deal breaker.

We begrudgingly went back to check them out again. We liked the house just as much as we had before and this time there was a new sales rep, yay! Plus they had opened a new section of homes and had wooded lots available. What?! Yes, please.

Then we find out that this is a new model/floor plan in our area. Uh-oh. Red flags. Been there before with our first build and a newer plan. BUT because it's a new plan {that they've built previously in other neighborhoods, relief!}, they were running an incentive for the first people to build it in this neighborhood so others could see what it looks like. We ended up getting a FREE finished basement (which the other house didn't have and we were going to add later), FREE zoned thermostat so each floor has its own unit, FREE granite counters and upgraded cabinets, FREE appliances, a FREE morning room, and a FREE upgraded stone/brick elevation (which we were paying tens of thousands of dollars for on our first contract), and several things like that I can't even remember. Oh, and the third car garage we added that caused so much trouble last time? INCLUDED.

We ended up getting $62,000 in incentives compared to $19,000 on our first contract. Is this seriously real life? Our out the door price came out over $20,000 less. We are on an acre instead of a half acre and have 5,000 finished square feet instead of 3,000. We are also on a semi cul-de-sac instead of the main road. And we'll only have a couple small things we want to do after moving in instead of ripping out all of the counters and fixtures in the previous house. I don't know about you, but my heart started to pound with joy as the deal was coming together. Things most definitely fell apart with our first build for a reason.

It's a no-brainer... we signed! We should start digging near the end of may and be in by September/October. My nails got a closeup on this one because they are paying for our house. I still pinch myself that this is even possible.




Here's our lot:


But are you ready for this? I feel like it's such a God-wink. Not only were BOTH lots #46, but you can literally see how close they are to each other. We were so close the first time, just got our wires crossed somehow. So we're still right in the area we wanted!


Here are a few shots from our lot. It's hard to imagine what this will look like with our house and greenery on the trees.


And then we hiked to the very back of our lot. See the hot pink stake in front of the tree, we had to hustle to uncover that bad boy. So this is the view looking up through the woods toward our new home. My husband has big plans for these woods.


So what are we building?! A Ryan Home called The Olsen. We picked Elevation C so we get stone on the front, but it will be a brick wrap on the sides. These aren't our exact colors, but a pretty good representation of how the front will look.


I cannot wait to share all of our choices and DIY projects along the way.

Follow Christi Fultz's board Making Our House a Home on Pinterest.

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Catching Up with Stitch Fix

In spite of making my husband take the pictures, I am hopelessly behind on sharing my Stitch Fixes. Forget about February, but here's what I received in March. 

I asked my stylist for business casual pieces that I could mix and match with things I already had. I specified that I liked fun details and wasn't afraid to play with a little color. 

Opening the box is always so fun! I usually let it sit on the kitchen counter and dream about what might be inside first. When I opened it, I was instantly in love with the black/nude sleeve top. Those are exactly the kind of details I love. 

The blazer with the rolled polka dot sleeve also caught my eye. I've pinned several blazers and love the way they look, but have had trouble finding one that fits correctly over my large chest. The struggle is real. 

I already have a black/white striped dress (or two), but the cut of this one was unique so I was excited to try it on too.

Okay, so time to dig into those clothes! The jeans were too low cut for me and felt a little like I was back in the high school days where you leaned over and showed the world your booty if you weren't wearing a stellar belt. The blue dress also was a no-go. The large chest strikes again. A higher-waisted dress always makes me feel like I have my boobs on a shelf. ;)

The nude shirt, however, was darling! I can easily wear this with dark jeans for date night or pair it with a skirt for events. Keeper!


I also loved the dress! Check out the back detail and slightly puffed shoulder. My others are all straight, but I love the flare in this skirt of this one. Keeping it!


Next up was the blazer. I actually liked the way the dress looked with a blazer, but this one wasn't the right fit.  I contemplated exchanging for a large instead of medium, but still felt like it would be too tight across the chest. I decided to send this one back.


Even though I only kept the two pieces this time, I was still really pleased with my overall fix. The pieces were definitely the right style and on point with what I like to spend. For my next box, I've requested colorful pieces for spring/summer with more of the unique details like the nude shirt.

Are you ready to try out your own personal stylist? You'll fill out your style profile and let your stylist know if you're looking for something specific. Then for a $20 styling fee, you get a box with 5 pieces inside. The $20 goes toward anything you decide to keep from the box. If you buy all 5 pieces, you get a 25% discount! Whatever you decide not to keep goes right back in a pre-paid mailer they send inside your box. Just drop it in the mailbox. So easy! I can't wait to see what YOU get!