Tag: home

The move part 3-Tips for searching for your new home

July 20
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The move part 3-Tips for searching for your new home

Form a solid relationship with your realtor

We were very lucky with our first home purchase in that we were able to team up with a super awesome realtor who understood us, our needs, and our personality.  If you don’t mesh and the realtor does not understand your needs it will be very difficult them to help you find your home.  When building that relationship be sure that you both are able to communicate clearly and in a timely manner.

Know your price range

Before even starting the home search most realtors will require you to get a pre-approval from your lender to ensure you are ready and able to purchase a home in your price range.  Remember that just because you are approved for a loan of a certain amount does not mean that you can actually afford that home.  Keep in mind that as a homeowner you will incur many more expenses that you may have not needed to worry about as a renter. (Repairs, replacement appliances, maintenance, ect.) Purchasing a condo or townhouse? Don’t forget to factor the HOA fees.

Know your community

Once you’ve decided you want to buy a house the next thing you need to decide is where.  Use sites like Realtor.com or Truilla.com to get an idea of what houses go for in the areas you are interested in.  Be  very clear with your realtor about the areas

Know what you want

So you know what you have to spend and the area you are interested in; now its time to decide what you need.  Generally speaking, its not financially wise to purchase a home if you plan on moving in two or three years; so when you put together your requirements think about the future.  Decide how many bedrooms and living areas you need as well as if you need a garage, yard, pool, patio, ect.

Know what you can live without

Depending on your area of the county and your price range you may have to make some sacrifices.  Maybe to get the three bedroom home you want you may have to settle for only a one car garage or a house without a patio.  Sit down and discuss what items are very important and what is non-essential. This also means be realistic; you can’t get everything on a shoestring budget, but you can get something.

Once you start the search be diligent with reviewing homes regularly

Right now we are in a seller’s market. Homes are going fast (Mine sold in hours.) and you don’t want to fall in love with a home but wait too long to put in an offer and lose it. Keep up to date with new homes in the MLS that meet your needs and plan to see new homes regularly.  Once you start looking at homes be ready to put an offer in the moment you find one you love. Even after you’ve put in an offer (before it is accepted), keep an eye our for your next option.

Have a plan for your offer

When you find the perfect home and decide to make an offer, time is of the essence.  Have documents from your lender ready as well as easy access to however much you plan to put down as earnest money.  This is money towards closing costs that the buyer puts down when they sign the contact.  This money is generally held in escrow and most often can be returned to the buyer if the deal falls through. Know any contingencies you must place on the offer as well as how long of a closing period you need.

 

After that its a waiting game!  Check back next week for my post on sealing the deal and getting your next home under contract.   Follow up Facebook for updates on new posts!

 

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Spring DIY round up

February 26
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SIX Super Simple DIYs for Spring

Spring is in the air, or at least it feels like it here in Florida.  I love to get a little crafty in the spring and put together some simple decor for my home.  I am not the most skilled crafter, and really anything more that some glueing can be problematic so I am sharing super simple ideas in the hopes that I can make one of them myself successfully.  Click through to the creator to find the instructions.  Enjoy!

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Recycled Bunny Vase by Weekend Craft

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Five Minute Umbrella Wreath by One Good Thing

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Mini Frames Spring by  A Diamond in the Stuff

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Easter Chicks by Myrtle and Eunice

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Spring Mason Jars by I Heart Naptime

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DIY Printable letter banner by Shanty to Chic

 

Did you make one of these crafts?  Show me!  Comment below or tag me on Instagram  @_amberdowns.

 

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9 deals at Ikea you need to know about

February 20
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Like this post? Follow us on Facebook for updates!

The 9 deals at Ikea you need to know about. Hacks, products, and the best deals for your budget. AmberDowns.net
 
KOPPLA – 2 pack extension cord $5.99

I am always looking for another one of these.  2 for six bucks?  Great to grab just in case.

NACKTEN Bathmat $2.99

This simple mat is great to have as a spare. Grab two at that price


NACKTEN Shower Curtain $1.99

I know they sell shower curtains at the dollar tree, but have you used them?  They are too thin.  For two bucks you can get something decent that is totally disposable.  Perfect for a drop cloth, craft, or something you can toss if it gets dirty.

 

 ALKALISK Alkaline Batteries 10 pack  $1.99

Ten batteries for two dollars.  Do I need to say anything more?  Perfect for flashlights and toys.

 

 RAJTAN Spice Jar four pack $3.49

Although one of the more expensive items on my list, these jars are super cute and great for crafting, storage, gifting, and other uses.  Less than a buck each.

 

 PROPPMATT Chopping board $6.99

Again not the cheapest item on the list, but this is a great deal for a cutting board if you need one.  I doubt you’ll find a wooden board for less.

 

 TOKIG Salad Spinner $3.99

I love this supper simple, super cheap spinner.  When not spinning, this is great for popcorn bowl.

 


TRYGG Serving Bowl  $2.49

An Ikea staple, this large bowl is a must have item for entertaining.  A trifle would look great in this.


SMACKER Flatware Tray $.99

This lovely tray is a steal at a dollar.  An easy update for your kitchen that could also be used in a bathroom or office.

 

Want more Ikea info?  Check out my Ikea tips post here.

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The 8 best Ikea tips and tricks

February 11
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Don’t forget to like us on Facebook!  

 

The 8 BEST IKEA tips and tricks for a fun, quick trip.  Ikea hacks for the family, how to save money at Ikea.

Everyone, I mean everyone loves Ikea, and it’s not just the cheap furniture that we love. Its everything.  The food, the displays, the odds and ends, the new ideas, and of course how little we paid for it all. However, if there is one thing that everyone hates about Ikea, it is getting in and out without spending the entire day.  We’ve all done it, walked in for a pillowcase and ended up spending three hours and $250.  Today I want to share my secrets for getting in, out, and on with life.

exit1. Enter through the exit.

I know this agains the “rules,”  but entering through the exit means you can skip the displays out front and you will end up choosing a better parking spot for when you want to leave.

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2. Check out the As-Is room first.

The as-is section of Ikea really is a gold mine of opportunity. Last year, when the husband and I went to purchase new desks were were upset to find that what we had wanted was not in stock anymore. We had picked out alternate options but were a little disappointed.  Right as we were about to check out we stepped into the as-is are and found two even better desk tops for a fraction of the cost.  We ended up only spending $35 when we had gone in planning to spend at least $80 on them.

Think outside the box when you are in this room.  Although an item may not be in perfect shape for its intended use it still could be great for something else.  Also, a good cleaning and a coat of paint go a long way. Don’t forget to check again before you leave in case there are new items.

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3. Check for an as-is sale

Often times there will be an additional sale on the as-is items.  See which category is on sale and save even more in the as-is area.

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3. Skip the display area.

Know what you want when you go in and just skip the tempting  display room.  Chances are you’ve already seen the item in in action and know what you want.  Not sure where it’s located?  Look it up on your phone ahead of time.  The ikea website has all of the items and the furniture location information as well as the probability that it will be in stock.

4.  Know your measurements

Know the measurements of the areas that you are looking for furniture for.  Write these down or put them in your phone.  You may want to also take photos of the area or room so that you can try to visualize the piece in your home.

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5. Skip the weekend!

I know we love to go to Ikea on Saturday morning but you know the place is packed.  Consider working out a way to go in the week, even in the evening. (Preferably Monday- Thursday)  Of course, you may have to wait until the weekend to build your purchases but you will actually have all weekend.

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6. Bring the right vehicle.  Don’t suddenly decide to buy a new dresser when you’ve driven to Ikea in a Prius with two car seats.  Think you need a bigger vehicle?  Ask a friend to trade for a day or consider a quick Uhaul rental.  If your vehicle sports a hitch you could rent a trailer for a little as $20 a day.download7. Join IKEA Family before you go to the store.

Ikea Family is a free store membership that allows you to receive discounts on selected products, more free time in the kids area, a free cup of coffee, and other benefits throughout the year.  Register at home and have them text you your card number so you don’t have to waste time signing up at the kiosk.

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8. Kids eat free Tuesdays

Have to bring the kids with you?  They eat free every Tuesday at the restaurant.  (Up to two kids per paying adult meal.)  Also, there is alway free baby food with adult meal purchase. If you all have to be there you might as well eat.

 

I hope these tips have been helpful to you. Have another one?  Add it in the comments!   Also, don’t forget, a lot of Ikea items are on Amazon. Sometimes, especially if you have Amazon Prime, it may be quicker and easier to just order items there.  Keep in mind these are all sold via 3rd party resellers.

Enjoy your trip!

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Valentines DIY round-up

February 2
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Easy DIYs for a crafty Valentine's day. These crafts are a perfect way to spruce up your home for the holiday. Budget and kid friendly too!

Although I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, I do love me some DIY.  I went ahead and gathered up some of my favorite super simple Valentine’s Day DIY’s for the home.  If anything, it’s a great excuse to put up some pink and red around the house.

 

blue i style - ValentinesLoveScrabbleCoastersAre these coasters from Blue is Style not the coolest thing ever? I need a few coasters so I am going to use her idea for sure.

2321I love a good art print. These are perfect for any room or a gift. They are from A Night Owl.

candleI am in love with these candles from Artzy Creations. Also would make a great gift!

wrSeriously, why didn’t I think of this? I know I have a roll of burlap ribbon around here somewhere. Thanks Craftaholics Anonymous.

treeThis little recycled tree from Vicky Myers Creations is perfect for kids room.

 pillowThese pillows from Ribbons and Glue are awesome!

DIY-Book-Page-Flowers-3Not into pink? Try these book pare flowers from Busy Being Jennifer.

I hope some of these links inspired you to do a little holiday decorating.  Are you going to make one? Comment below or tag me in a photo on Instagram.  I’m @_amberdowns

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Office makeover part 1- DIY painted desk accessories

January 30
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DIY Spray Painted desk accessories

When we moved into this house three years ago I claimed what had been the formal dining room as my office and craft room. This was the only room in the house that was completely new. Yes, I had a desk but we had no additional furniture for the room. We’ve slowly been working on the room. We purchased awesome hutches and last year we got new desks and a storage cube. Now I am ready to take the final plunge and make this room awesome. I have decided I want to go with a simple gold theme. I am keeping the dark blue rug, but I want to be mostly neutral with the rest of the room. I had a pink trash can and pencil holder that just were not going to work with the new scheme but I was not ready to buy brand new ones, they were perfectly fine! So I grabbed a can of Krylon Metallic Gold spray paint and went to town.

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When you’re looking to paint items in your home take a second to consider how well the paint will stay.  I like to paint items that are accent pieces and not too large, and items that if I ruined them, would be ok.  I purchased these accessories on clearance and really could live without them if they don’t turn out well.  I also like to pick items that don’t get touched too much and don’t have moving parts. (That’s why I skipped the scissors and hole punch.)   These items were the perfect candidates.  Don’t have anything to paint? Check out a thrift store, yard sale, or other resale.  Ask your friend and family if they have old metal office accessories, chances are somebody, somewhere, is still holding on to the 70’s.   Not metal?  Plastic and wood are ok too. With wood make sure it’s sanded if its not finished or else it won’t look smooth.

This is after the first coat of paint.

This is after the first coat of paint.

As with any spray paint project find a nice spot outside out of the wind.  I like to lay paper down so that my grass isn’t colored for a week or two.  (If it’s too windy for paper it’s probably too windy to paint.)  Shake well and keep the tip at least a 8 inches from the object.  If you can see the paint puddle up on the object you’re too close.  You will be able to see it later and it will be likely to chip.  Instead of heavy close sprays do quick passes to give a light coat.  I like to do this process in three steps.  First I set the items up and do my first passes.

After the second coat.

After the second coat.

This is the longest step and where most of the painting happens.  I then go in  the house for 20 minutes and come out for another pass.  If the surface still needs more I go again, if not I will place it on its side or upside down and do another angle.  Depending on what you’re doing you may not need to do the bottom at all.  For these items I needed to do the curves of the bottom to ensure the pink was gone.  I then go back in and come back out one more time for a last coat.  Be sure to remove any grass that blows onto the items so that it does not get painted on.

Almost done!

 

So here we go. Not bad for $5.  Step one of my office makeover is complete!IMG_2097

 

This post was shared Costal Charm Show and Share #299.  Stop by and see what else bloggers are sharing!

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Upright freezer organization

January 20
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Organize your freezer with dollar tree baskets. DIY budget friendly deep upright freezer organization. Keep your freezer clutter free on the cheap. Perfect for couponers, buying in bulk, families, and anyone else.

I have to admit it, my upright freezer is one of my most prized possessions.  This is of the modern marvels that really makes my days easy.  I do a lot of couponing, so when I find a great deal I love to stock up.  This saves me money and time.  I love having a stockpile of items on hand to make whatever dishes I desire.  Because of my freezer, I can do this.

 

 

I keep items in my freezer organized in plastic bins from Dollar Tree.  Before you go out to buy your bins be sure to measure the size of your freezer to ensure that the bins you purchase will fit your shelves.  Also, check the width if you want two side by side.  I purchased these bins over the last year at my local Dollar Tree.  Check yours to see what they have but make sure they will fit.  Target, Walmart, and other discount stores will also have bins of varying sizes.  If you like, you can make labels for your bins.  I just keep them in the same spot so I don’t need them.

organize your freezer with dollar tree baskets (1)

 

I divide items in my freezer into five categories.

Meat
Veggies (these take up 2 bins)
Fruit and veggies for smoothies
Dairy (shredded cheese and butter freeze wonderfully)
Meals (frozen meatballs, ravioli, turkey burgers, ect.)

I keep the bottom shelf in my freezer bin free.  This is where I keep our frozen lunches.  When I cook a dish I freeze several servings in individual containers.  My husband and I then use these for lunches at work. I like to keep anywhere from 2-12 servings of meals on that shelf and on the door.  We also keep other random homemade frozen items on the shelf such as our meat and bean taco mix and our salsa. I also keep bulk meat purchases on this shelf.  As you can see, I recently ran into a sale on ground turkey.  I have rain checks to pick up more when I get more space.

I chose a chilly winter day to organize my freezer because I live in Florida and the food will start to melt any other day.  Anyways, go through your freezer and toss out anything you deep down you will never use or is just too old to be any good.  I recommend thoroughly going through your freezer every 6 months to toss anything that is too old or you no longer need. Also, this is a good time to check if it needs to be defrosted.  My freezer is a frost free model, but they all still should be unpacked and looked at.

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My last piece of advice for your freezer is to invest in a refrigerator/freezer thermometer.  I keep mine hanging right in front.  This way, you can open your freezer and feel safe knowing it is working properly.  If you ever see that mercury (or whatever they use these days) rise, then you know you might have a problem on your hands.  I keep my deep freezer at below 0 degrees fahrenheit as is recommended by the FDA.  As you can see my thermometer has a nice bold line to remind me of the temperature to keep. It really helps!

 

You may also want to consider investing in a freezer alarm to alert you if the temperature drops.

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Project Life Organization (on a budget)

November 3
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Project Life Card Organization on a budget with free printable! amberdowns.net

So as you may gather by my last post, I am a big Project Life fan. I love collecting the little cards and using them for my albums as well as other craft/personal uses. However, as soon as I purchased more than one pack, I knew I was going to have an mess. I wanted a simple, organized system to keep them, and I didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg. (Really, I didn’t want to spend anything, I’d already spent enough on the project.)

I saw the cutest stuff on Pinterest with little carts, clear containers, wooden containers, so much stuff, but they were way over my non-existent budget so I started looking around at home.

 

 

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These are the lovely boxes in question.

I have an obsession with these $2 photo boxes from Michaels. OK. Technically they are $3.99, but they are on sale all the time for $2 or less. I find them at $1.67 and then sack a 20% off coupon! Anyways, I found one that I haven’t even used yet and went to work. One of the boxes we purchased had these cool little dividers in it. They were fairly flimsy and kinda ugly, but it gave me an idea.

I took the divider and made my own in my computer and printed them on card stock. I then added the titles of the categories to them and put them in the box. I considered decorating them with washi tape, but I wanted the tabs to be easy to find among the cards so I kept them the plain gray color of the card stock. You could of course decorate them if you wish.

 

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These are the categories I am starting with:
Title Cards
Fall
Spring
Summer
Winter
Christmas
Pinkish
Black and White
Wedding
Love and Valentines
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My camera really didn’t want to focus on this correctly. Sorry.

These categories work well based on the kits I have, but your categories may be entirely different. In making my categories I sat down in my living room and divided them up and made my selections as I went. This way I could really get a feel for what I needed and what would work well for my personal Project Life style. FYI I have the Seasons core kit so that definitely made dividing everything up easy, it also makes making my spreads easy as I have a place to start theme-wise.

I have attached the PDF file of the dividers to the bottom of this page if you would like to make your own. Print them out full size and cut along the lines. Its that easy! Also, I am pretty sure the boxes are on sale at Michaels this week.

Now to figure out how to organize the rest of my scrapbooking supplies…

Here is the PDF file of the template:

Photo box dividers template
Enjoy!

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