Printable Christmas Wall Art

When we moved into an apartment that was about half the size of our previous house, made for some creative decorating; especially Christmas decorating which is what I love to do!

We really had no place for a regular nativity set, but there was a blank wall over the TV that was ready for decor! Of course, I jumped onto Pinterest for inspiration and found some printables that were just the thing.

Here is what the final grouping looked like:

When I saw the Nativity silhouettes on Cami Struiksma's blog, You Seriously Made That?!, I knew it would take no effort to print them on cardstock, and frame them. Although they are a bit pixelated when enlarged to 8" x 10", just step back a bit, they seem perfectly fine.  I was fortunate to find the 3 frames in 8-1/2" x 11", so I didn't even need to trim!

I created this flag with a burlap background: (right click on it to save)

and these free printables from The Cottage Market:

All you do is layer the chalkboard-style letter over the flag, print, and then cut out!
Punch holes into the top corners and use twine to string all the letters together.  Tap nails into the wall where the banner will hang. It helps to take a step back to check positioning of the letters. 

I'm so pleased at how this simple, printable wall art turned out!
Do you have a blank wall that needs decking for the holy season?  Why not try this printable wall art? Head on over to Cami's blog for those nativity printables, and Andrea's blog for the banner letters.  As always, you can catch up with me on Instagram or Facebook!


Featured Oahu Favorite: Waimea Valley

After arriving on Oahu, and amid the hectic search for a place to live, Hubs and I were able to escape for a day to celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary by re-visiting a special place.

Driving along Oahu's famed North Shore along the Kamehameha Highway, you will come to the beautiful curved beach of Waimea Bay, where surfers and freedivers gather. But, turning South into the entrance to Waimea Valley you will find a spot where ancient Hawaiian kings and high priests lived!

After you've parked your car, you will enter near the gift shop and food concession stand. We decided to fortify ourselves with one of the tasty local offerings before hitting the path toward the waterfall.  Joining us for lunch was our favorite friend, "Mr. Peacock". He and several of his lady friends walk around looking for a handout (please, DON'T feed them), or can be found roosting on the stair rails near the ladies room. It's great to watch and photograph them, but please respect their space. When the male is guarding his hens, he might just give you a display of his beautiful plumage.
Now its time go get your tickets and begin the leisurely walk up the 3/4 mile trail to the waterfall. But, wait...there is a lot to see before you get to the ticket booth!  Don't hurry, this is what a tropical paradise is all about.  I can advise anyone able-bodied to climb the stone steps, and explore beyond the paved path. You will enter a world of Ancient Hawaiian Archaeological Sites and World Class Botanical Garden Collections, as well as wildlife and cultural activities.  If walking is difficult, or the day is too warm for vigorous exercise, you may wish to pay a small fee to take a ride up to the waterfall, and perhaps walk back.
Once at the Waihī Waterfall, there is an opportunity to swim in the pool and sit under the 45-foot falls. The friendly lifeguards are easily persuaded to take a photo for you, so that you may remember this beautiful day.

When planning your visit to Waimea Valley, I recommend comfortable walking shoes, bug spray and sunscreen. Although much of the walk is naturally shaded, there is plenty of opportunity for a sunburn to occur! If you want to swim at the waterfall, take a swimsuit and towel. There are changing booths at the falls; check with the lifeguard before entering the pool.  Lastly, don't forget your camera!  All of the photos you see I took with my phone. It's hard to take a bad picture in the lovely Waimea Valley!

On your way down, keep your eyes open for a fork in the leads to a hidden gem called Palm Meadow where you will find a treasure trove of Hibiscus Hybrids. (That's where I got almost all of the shots of the flowers.)

Mahalo for visiting my blog!  If you have any comments, please leave me a message below.

Jewelry Box Revival

Setting up a new household from scratch is no easy task. It seems like, just as I think my list has finally been filled, I add more items! It's amazing what you can do without, and what you find you'd really like to have to make life a little sweeter.

I located several thrift shops in my area, and set off to explore them.  One of the little treasures I found was a charming little jewelry box, that was just begging for some attention.

I was very excited about starting this project, but since I had few craft supplies to work with, I had to get creative.  I used just white and black craft paint, Mod Podge, and one of those green scrubbers (since I had no sandpaper).  When I packed up my craft room, I had slipped a few pieces of scrapbook paper into a box I was mailing to our new home in Hawaii, so I utilized those as well.
1. Before - just $4.99 from Goodwill.
2. Rub off the shine with a green scrub pad (or sandpaper).
3. Choose scrapbook paper embellishments.
4. Back the "window" with scrapbook paper, using clear glue tabs.
5. Paint on 2 coats of craft paint in desired color. I blended together a soft "dove gray".
When the second coat of paint is dry, brush on Mod Podge on the areas you wish to embellish with scrapbook paper. After applying, brush on a top coat of Mod Podge. (I used the gloss version.)
Once everything is very dry, use your scrubbie or sandpaper to lightly remove some of the paint for a shabby-chic look.
So that's my first little "revival" that I've created in our new Hawaii home. What do you think?
Don't worry, I'll still be bombarding you with photos of our island, and telling you about the fun we are having here!
Aloha and...

Our Hawaii Home

We landed on the beautiful island of Oahu just 2-1/2 weeks ago, and SO much has happened since then! We retrieved our car and motorcycle from the shipping port, house hunted for about 4 days, and finally leased an adorable apartment just North of Pearl Harbor.  Throw in our 31st wedding anniversary last week, (which we celebrated by going up to North Shore and Waimea Valley...such a GREAT day), registering our vehicles, and furnishing our new home - We have been BUSY!

The collage of photos above shows our little courtyard area, and a few photos of the inside of the apartment. We've shopped and shopped since getting our new place...remember that we came over here with just 16 boxes via Standard Post US Mail, and our 4 suitcases? Yes, it was kinda scary, but we budgeted carefully and put aside what we thought we would need to set up housekeeping from scratch.  So far, we've kept to our budget!

Our apartment is about 900 square feet. Our house in Idaho was over 1800 square feet...can we say "down-sizing"? However, since it's just Hubs and I, the space feels larger; I think that's partly due to the open-concept of the living room, dining room and kitchen. Our bedroom also feels spacious and we have a good amount of storage space. The spare room, which will eventually turn into a true Guest Room, is nice-sized and has closet organizers already built-in. There are also mirrored doors on the large closets.  We have 2 full bathrooms, one which also houses the stacked washer/dryer combo. It's not the tiny-sized one, it's full-size! (At just 5-feet tall, I'm almost too short for reaching into the dryer, but I purchased a step-stool, if needed!)

When searching for a home, we looked at a small, top-floor apartment on the 7th floor, which had a pool for the tenants (close to work, highest priced); a small condo on the 20th floor with a FABULOUS view directly overlooking Pearl Harbor including the USS Arizona Memorial (the view was the only thing going for it); a small, ground floor apartment in a Very, Very Large Complex (carpeted and small-feeling); an "Ohana"-style apartment which we loved, but the parking on the streets was bumper-to-bumper and difficult to maneuver through (longest commute for Hubs).
We actually saw 2 apartments in the building we now live in. The other one was on the second floor at the opposite end of the building, with clean, WHITE carpeting. It actually scared me to think of spilling something on that carpet!!
We fell in love with this place because of it's location on the ground level; the lanai-patio and courtyard (vs. a lanai-balcony only), and the vinyl wood-look flooring throughout. The flooring is easy care and because it's the same throughout the entire apartment, it gives a more spacious feel. The grounds outside are well-kept and very lush and green (no maintenance for us!). There are flowers everywhere! Hibiscus and Plumeria grow right outside our door.

Rose-Ringed Parakeet
And finally, there is this guy, and about 200 or so of his cousins. They live/ hang out in the trees outside our backyard area. Every dawn and every dusk, they fly around squawking and chirping. They swoop around from tree to tree, and occasionally come down to rest on a hibiscus shrub. My guess is that they are eating bugs...But they are very, very loud. Now, I have to say, I am NOT bothered by them. They "do their thing" for about 30 minutes, twice a day and I'm fine with it. It's all part of living on a tropical island in paradise!

Our Hawaiian Journey Begins!

All photos © jwj
The Hubs and I are on our way to the island of Oahu, in beautiful Hawaii...but not just for a vacation this time!  He will be working for an airline at Honolulu International Airport...we get to LIVE in PARADISE!
Okay, don't hate! I know all of you want to be put into my luggage so you can enjoy, the best I can do for you is to take you there in photos and words.

The house in Idaho is sold, and we made the decision to put the majority of our household goods into storage. We sold a lot of larger items on, and donated many, many items to a local charity thrift shop; we also gave several items of furniture, lamps and a microwave to a family that lost everything in a house fire. A total of sixteen boxes are taking the slow boat to Oahu via the US mail. (And believe it or not, it was not as expensive as we first budgeted for!)

So, this journey that we are's not just about living in paradise...that's only a perk. It's about living the life God has given us. We believe that He has directed our path to move to Hawaii.
We are not rich or in Hawaii will be a lesson in strict budgeting!

Things that make me smile about this move:

- Our favorite place, Bellows Air Force Station is there!! Many of the photos in the collage above were taken there.  The white, fine sand beaches, the gentle waves, and the relaxing "resort" feel are calling our names!  We have reservations for 4 nights when we arrive, so that'll be our "home base" while looking for housing.
- Thankfully, the Hubs military retirement pay supplements our income. Thank you, Sweetheart for serving our country for 26 years!
- There are LOTS of military bases for us to use our military benefits: to purchase food, gas, furniture, and other household goods for less money and tax-free.
- We've lived on Oahu for 5 months previously, so we kinda know our way around the island.
-The adventure of it all! Although we moved around with the military, this is our first "off the mainland" move all by ourselves. It's been kind of fun looking at apartments and other housing on

Things that will be a BIG adjustment for us:

- Housing: Monthly rent will be nearly double of what our mortgage in Idaho was.
- Living space will be about HALF the size we've had. (roughly 800-900 square feet for an apartment)
- Utilities are much higher.  We need to learn to shut the electronics off when they are not being used!
- Food, and gasoline are MUCH higher...can you say $8.00 for a box of cereal, and $4.00+ for a gallon of milk or a gallon of gas for the car?

What I'm personally looking forward to:
After having a "full house" of 3 adults, one little girl, and one dog, I think I'm looking forward to some quieter times. Helping our oldest daughter raise her daughter for 2-1/2 years was a blessing! Now, it's time for mom and dad to have some alone time, and learn to be empty-nesters.And of course, there's the beach!
Aloha and...

Forwarding Mail...without a New Home

Mail!  What do you do when you are moving to a new state and your mail needs to go with you?
Since we are not yet physically "on-island", we were starting to wonder about where to have our mail forwarded to. A search online at:, and a couple of phone calls later, I had found the solution!

The US Postal Service now has "PO Boxes Online" where you can apply for a Post Office Box, before you arrive.  We are currently in the process of getting our PO Box for Hawaii, while we are still in Idaho.

After filling out the online information, and printing out the application form 1093, we'll now take it to our local (Idaho) post office, along with 2 forms of identification.
To get a PO Box number and pick up our keys, we’ll each need to show one picture ID and one other form of ID, at the post office where our box is located in Hawaii. The ID must be current, contain sufficient information to confirm that we are who we claim to be, and be traceable to us. (Social Security cards, credit cards, and birth certificates are not acceptable IDs.) The Post Office will accept a…
  • Valid driver's license or state ID card.
  • Military, government, university, or recognized corporate ID.
  • Passport, alien registration card, or certificate of naturalization.
  • Current lease, mortgage, or deed of trust.
  • Voter or vehicle registration card.
  • Home or vehicle insurance policy

- Unfortunately, this was not "the solution" for us. I still think it's a great way to get a post office box, but you are only "reserving" it, and won't be able to obtain an actual box number (address) or (of course) the keys, until you actually go in to the post office where the box is located.  IF YOU ARE MILITARY MOVING OVERSEAS, YOUR SQUADRON OR UNIT {SPONSOR} WILL DO THIS FOR YOU! YAY!

- We mailed our 16 boxes to "General Delivery" to the post office nearest to Hubs work, and they all arrived safely! Two minor (plastic) items were broken, and everything else survived the boat trip (Standard Post, which was the least expensive rate!) very nicely.  We only mailed 2 of those boxes in the Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes, since they were filled with VERY heavy tools that my Hubs needs for work, and they were here when we arrived! It took only 2 weeks for the others to get here, instead of the predicted 4 to 6 weeks. We were SO blessed by Father God!

5 Tips to Getting a House SOLD

A month ago, Hubs and I found a wonderful Realtor, Karen, through the Dave Ramsey Endorsed Local Providers website. We listed our house and she gave us an additional week to get it completely ready for photos and showings.
This past Friday, Karen called me and said, "I have a four-letter word for you...S O L D!"

Three weeks on the market? Amazing!  So, what made it happen for us so quickly? (Well, in my opinion, prayer was a huge factor.)  Here are 5 tips to getting a house SOLD:

1. Purge and organize!

Getting rid of clutter and junk frees up space and gives the potential buyer an opportunity to picture themselves living there. Box up your collections so that the house itself can be the star of the show.  If the buyer sees neatly stacked boxes in your garage or shed, that tells them that you are serious about moving!

2. Clean, clean and clean a bit more

Buyers would like your home to look like a "model home". They want to imagine living there, without seeing dust bunnies and dog fur on the floors, or dirty dishes in the sink and soap scum in the bathtub.  You will probably need to vacuum and dust every other day at a minimum. Toilets, showers and tubs need to shine every day.
Pamper the heart of the home, the kitchen! Free up counter space and clear off the top of the fridge, and keep them clear.  (Personally, I believe that our hard work in getting our kitchen updated was a huge selling point.)

 3. Staging your house

You've heard it over and over. seems to be the real catch-word when it comes to selling your house. But, it goes back to what I said above, buyers want to see your house as they would a "model home".  Remember the "rule of 3" when it comes to decor on any surface...3 things only. Like on my fireplace mantle, shelves and counters.

4. Make your bed...every. single. day.

(Do I sound like your mom here?  Haha...yeah, I can hear my mom's voice as I type this.)

You know, there's a lot to be said for making your bed every day. It's actually something that I started doing daily about six years ago. It became a part of my morning routine, just like my shower and brushing my teeth. It's so nice to come down at any point of the day to see my bedroom looking pretty.

5. Curb Appeal: Making a good First Impr

When it comes to grabbing a potential buyer's attention as they pull up to your house, nothing does it better than neatly cut lawns, attractive flower beds, and walkways that are clear of debris and clutter. Freshen up those planting beds by pulling the weeds and grass out, and add in some new mulch or bark. Its a relatively small investment of your time and money, that can really help your bottom line!

So, now that we have accepted an offer, we're making the final push to pack up and begin our new life's journey, living in Hawaii.  You can be assured that I'll be blogging more about that in the months to come.

What tips would you add to this list? I love to hear from my readers about what has been successful for them, so leave me a comment below, or look me up on social media!

Basic Nutty Granola

My Ed and I just LOVE granola! But, since we have a few food sensitivities in our family, I came up with a recipe that can be easily modified to fit our needs. And yeah, it's good stuff.
·         3½ cups old-fashioned oatmeal (rolled oats)
·         1 cup chopped or sliced almonds
·         1 cup chopped pecans
·         2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
·         1½ teaspoons ground ginger
·         ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
·         6 tablespoons butter
·         ½  to ¾ cup honey --- adjust to your own sweetness level
·         2 teaspoons vanilla extract
·         ½ teaspoon salt
½ cup packed brown sugar --- optional
·         Also need – parchment paper

1.       Preheat the oven to 250°F.  Cover a rectangular baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.       Mix the dry oats, almonds, pecans, and spices together in a large mixing bowl.
3.       Heat the butter and honey together in a small saucepan over low heat. Once the butter melts stir in the vanilla and salt.
4.       Pour the hot liquids over the dry ingredients and stir together with a rubber spatula until evenly coated. Add the brown sugar, if using, and stir it in.
5.       Spread mixture onto prepared pan in one even layer. Bake for 75 minutes.

The granola will become crisp as it cools, at which point you can break it into pieces (if making bars) or break it up into small chunks with your fingers (if making cereal). Store in air tight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.  << It never lasts for 2 weeks in our house!

Tip: If you are opting to use the brown sugar, cut the honey down to 1/4 to 1/2 cup only.


Pros or DIY for a BIG Move? - Part 3 of 3

Professional moving companies offer a wide variety of services that can be beneficial when you have a large house full of furniture, or even if you just need help with a few boxes.

Our Weirdest Move

In 2003, we were being re-assigned to Germany, and we sold our home in New Mexico. The new owners needed to take possession in 30 days, but the Air Force could not schedule a moving company to pack us during that time-frame. SO, along with the help of many of our friends from church, we packed up all of the household goods ourselves, and moved it all into 3 rented storage units.  Then, a few weeks later, the moving company met us out at the units...However, they had to re-pack all our boxes to ensure that their company's insurance would cover any breakage that might occur. It was a HOT July day, and we provided 2 cases of water and plenty of ice to the guys. Thankfully, it all worked out well. About two-thirds of our belongings went to Germany by ship, and the rest remained in New Mexico in storage. Then, 2 years later, it was all delivered to our final Air Force assignment in Texas.

This time around, we didn't have the Air Force to rely on for the move to Oahu. We decided to try living a more simple and minimalistic life while we are in Hawaii. So, although we are packing most ALL of our items ourselves for storage, we  considered hiring professional movers to ship some things to our new "hale" (house).

Part Two: Hiring Professional Movers

One of the next things on my "to do" list is to call one or more moving companies to get estimates on packing and shipping the furniture and other items we want to take to Hawaii.  Most companies will give you an estimate over the phone, but knowing the approximate weight of your goods will be helpful.  They will usually ask how large the house is, ie: 3 bedrooms with 2 living areas, 1800 square foot house, etc.  In our case, we will get an estimate for just a few items of furniture, and boxes.

Packing Up

- Once you've hired a moving company, they will set a date for a team of people to come out and wrap and pack your belongings. You will probably need to have a hotel reservation! We have slept on inflatable mattresses to save money, but I wouldn't recommended it, especially if you have kids. Plus, even though the packers are doing all the work, you will still be exhausted!
- Watch your packers! If you can, have one adult with each person that they send to pack. Yes, we've had items stolen. It broke our hearts that people would treat us that way.
- Provide water and clean bathrooms for your packers, and maybe cookies or something, but DON'T give them beer and try to make friends with them. It doesn't work in your favor. We had friends that did that, and their boxes were not packed properly, and they incurred a LOT of breakage (possibly because the packers were "tipsy"?).
- If you need to separate your luggage or other hand-carry items, it's best to put them in an empty room or closet and put a sign on the door that says, "DO NOT PACK"  or a large sign like this:

** If you have anything that is rare or irreplaceable, try to hand carry it with you. If this is not feasible, then see if a family member or trusted friend can mail it to you (insured, of course) when you reach your new home.  Yes, I'm speaking from personal experience here. Our daughter's Princess Diana collectable doll was stolen by one of our movers; it had been a gift from her grandmother. We were able to replace the doll because we had all the paperwork and I did a ton of research online to make the claim. After that move, we always had it securely stored or mailed to us.
- Make sure that the packers use plenty of paper to wrap breakable items, and for padding inside the boxes.
Bubble wrap and plastic wrap should be used on your furniture items, even sofas and padded chairs. This will protect them from getting wet or being torn during shipping.  If you see them skimping on packaging materials, bring your concerns to the attention of the lead person; if you don't get a satisfactory answer, call the company right away.
- Take the trash out! Yes, they will pack your garbage can, and they won't empty it.
Color code your rooms. You can make simple signs on the doors, but you will probably have to mark the boxes yourselves.  When you are unloading boxes at your new home, the big red K will tell you at a glance that it goes into the kitchen, blue BA will indicate Bathroom, etc. Give each kid their own color, too, because little Johnny will love seeing his green J coming out of the truck!
- When your goods are being shipped by boat, your company will probably pack them into large wooden crates, and then seal the crates with a tamper-evident seal of some kind. You will also be provided with a copy  of inventory lists of the furniture, boxes, etc. that they have put into the crates. Not every individual item will be listed, but a general idea of what is in "box #306" will be listed, ie: "plates and flatware".  Be sure to carry this inventory list with you, and keep it safe. When your goods arrive at their destination, you need to check off the inventory list as everything is unloaded.
- Another Note about Unpacking: make sure you unfold EVERY single piece of wrapping paper! Small items have been known to be left in boxes or put into the recycling bin by accident.

Breakage, Damage and Missing Items

When your moving truck arrives at your new home, it's a joyous occasion to see your belongings again!
However, if "box #215" says it contains a collectable doll, and the box doesn't arrive, or the item is broken, you can claim the value of the item that is missing.  Check with your moving company for their policy, and CAREFULLY READ and FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS, otherwise they don't have to pay.  Don't sign anything just because the truck driver is in a hurry!

Now, I don't want you to come away with negative thoughts or worry about using professional movers. Our positive experiences FAR outnumber the bad ones! We've been thankful for having movers for six of our moves, which cut down on a lot of stress and back pain.
Today, I'm thankful that our home is not the little travel trailer that my parents lived in when I was born.  True, you didn't have to hire movers, you just hitched it up your house to a station wagon, and relocated!

"Oh, our trailer rolls along behind! We go wherever we've a mind...We travel far and wide, we're stickin' side by side, and we're leavin' all our troubles far behind!" - a little song written by my mom, back in the late 1950's.

Packing Up for a BIG Move - Part 2 of 3

During My Hubs' 26-year Air Force career, we moved just 6 times to new bases. However, we were growing our family, too so we also moved from on-base apartment to on-base house, to a larger on-base house, etc. We have a total of eleven moves under our belts! I know that there are a lot of military families that have moved a lot more than we did...but I think that move #12 will be our most challenging.
With many of our moves, the Air Force paid for professional movers to come and wrap, pack and move our household goods (up to a certain weight limit) to wherever our new duty station was located. A couple of times we did what is known as a DITY move, or Do IT Yourself.  While there were some advantages and disadvantages to either choice, we actually have had good "smooth moves" with both.
This time around, it's looking like we will be hiring movers AND packing & shipping things ourselves!


You might normally have an easy time when you are moving yourself within the same town or city, or even within the same state. Many people use boxes from the grocery store, or pick up a few at the local U Haul dealer or maybe Home Depot. ( has a free section to look for moving boxes, too!)
If you are making a bigger move, say more than one state away, or perhaps like us, over an ocean, you still might want to do some or all of it yourself.
- Plan ahead!  If you are using a rented moving truck that you drive yourself, it's best to estimate how large the truck (or trailer) that you will need to take it all in one trip. The rental place can help you with an estimate for renting the correct size truck or trailer. Ensure that you or someone else in the family is confident in driving those larger trucks, as they can tend to be a bit intimidating for the novice.
- Uniform sized boxes equal less stress when loading the truck or trailer. They will fit together like a puzzle when you load. We noticed that professional movers always put heavy items, like books, into smaller boxes and lighter items like pillows and lampshades into larger boxes. This reduces strain on your back!
- Pack your boxes like the pros: use newsprint wrapping paper. Pad the bottom of each box with paper before you fill it, and don't leave airspace. The tighter the box is packed, the less movement and hence the least likelihood of breakage. If you have airspace, wad up some wrapping paper and fill in the gaps. Sometimes towels work well for this. Tape your boxes well to avoid those embarrassing OOops! moments when the bottom opens up.
- Packing dinner plates and saucers on their sides will reduce the chance of breakage. When you stack plates, even if they are wrapped with paper, the entire stack could be crushed. Standing them on their edges, where they are the strongest, is best. Also, put them to the inside of the box, and put other items around the outside. (I do NOT recommend the method of putting paper plates or styrofoam plates between dinner plates and stacking them. I have had personal experience with this one, and ended up with ALL my Christmas dishes completely smashed. Irreplaceable collectables that Hubs mom gave to us over a period of years.) 
- Color code your rooms. When you are unloading boxes at your new home, the big red K will tell you at a glance that it goes into the kitchen, blue BA will indicate Bathroom, etc. Give each kid their own color, too, because little Johnny will love seeing his green J coming out of the truck!
- Just because the box is big, doesn't mean it should go on the bottom.  You might have small boxes of books that will stand up well when other lighter boxes are stacked on top.
- Stack to the highest point.  Load the heaviest furniture over the tire area and near the front of the truck, for stability. Take drawers out to load a furniture item, then put them back into place once it's on the truck.
- Use moving blankets (rent them by the dozen cheaply!) bubble wrap, and tie-down straps to help with stability.
- Pack the truck top-to-bottom, side-to-side to keep items from shifting around or falling. Again, this will minimize breakage. Use a hand truck or dolly to move larger furniture, appliances and heavy boxes. Renting one of those babies is cheaper than a trip to the chiropractor.

Since Hubs and I are storing many of our household goods, we are wrapping and packing quite a lot of boxes ourselves using U Haul products that are designed for do-it-yourselfers like us to pack like the pros!

Next time: I'll explain why and how we are hiring movers to help us get a few things to Oahu.

Preparing for A BIG Move - Part 1 of 3

My Hubs and I are getting very excited about our upcoming move to Honolulu, Hawaii. However, it doesn't come without some stresses and a lot of hard work, too!

Our house is for sale and this means we've already done a lot of de-cluttering, donating and dumping, not to mention selling items on  But, there is still a lot to do!

Because it's very expensive to ship household goods to Hawaii, we have been going through our house with a magnifying glass...that is to say, we are evaluating everything: does it get shipped, stored, donated, sold  or given away to our grown kids, or other family members?

Here is my advice to anyone faced with a big move, whether it's across town or across an ocean:

- Walk through your home and make a list of each major item or group of items in every room.  As you sell, give, or donate something, mark it off the list. (I made an Excel spreadsheet) See below:


- Ask yourself if you LOVE it, if it has monetary or sentimental value, if you can do without it, or easily replace it.  In our case, Great-great Grandma's rocking chair is not only an antique, but it has a great family history behind it, and it is going to now live at our youngest daughter's home, along with a couple of other items that tie into the chair's history and sentiment.
- On the other hand, my new desk and chair are going with us to Hawaii; and the brown recliner has already been sold since we were ready for a change anyway!


- You might have to be ruthless with yourself. My Hubs is a pack-rat when it comes to tools, lawn & garden equipment, etc. however, we probably won't have a need for most of it on Oahu. We will take some basic household tools, and of course his professional tools that Hubs will need for his job. The rest is being given away or stored.  I am donating four 30-year-old powered hand tools to the local thrift shop.
- I admit it: I hoard craft items. I literally tore through my craft room and donated several large tubs full of ribbons, paints, fabric scraps and miscellaneous stuff to a local church's thrift store.  I mailed a few Cricut and scrapbooking items to our daughter in Colorado, who will actually USE them.
- Trash: I realize that some things are just not in good enough shape even to donate. We have hauled FOUR pickup loads of junk to the dump. Don't put a burden on someone who will have to repair or mend broken items or clothing (or worse, haul it to the dump). Free yourself up, and dump it!
- Giving things away can unburden you during this process, however PLEASE make sure that the person you want to give to actually WANTS the items.  If it's important to you, but not to them, it might be best to put the item into storage, or sell it and make some money for your move.


- Storing Items in Short-or-Long Term storage can be a solution for things you just can't take with you, but you want to have at a later date.  In our case, we expect to be in Hawaii for a couple of years, but probably not forever, so it makes sense for us to rent a storage unit for some of our precious, irreplaceable items like our Grandfather Clock from our last Air Force tour in Germany, our German hand-blown Christmas ornaments, and our Polish Pottery collection.  Also, heavy items that we want to keep, but would be far too expensive to ship like our large oak bed.
- Trying to visualize what your next "abode" will be like is helpful when deciding what furniture, etc. to take with you.  We expect our living space to go from a 4 bedroom, 1824 square-foot home to an 800 to 1000 square-foot, 2 bedroom apartment or condo.  This gave us the insight to say to ourselves: "What can we live without for the next couple of years?"


- Selling large appliances, like our washer & dryer set and our refrigerator, will keep us from storing items that might become dry and brittle by having them in storage for a few years. Seals and hoses dry out when not in use.
- Set up a savings account to purchase furniture and appliances once you get a new place to live.  For us, we are selling items on craigslist and putting the money into an account earmarked "A Home In Hawaii".

Next time, I'll let you in on a few secrets from this former Air Force Wife about packing items for moving or storage, and also Staging Your Home for Sale.

Reader's Favorite Posts

Here in North Idaho, we are enjoying a rare extended Summer with temperatures still reaching into the 80's and even 90's! With these gorgeous days, and our upcoming move to Hawaii, I decided to re-share a couple of favorite recipes with you that are my most popular posts. Enjoy!
Refreshing Watermelon Drink
1 "personal-size" seedless watermelon
1 empty plastic pitcher with a lid (at least 40 oz.) 
1 32 oz. empty bottle (a clean Gatorade bottle works perfectly)
ice & water
Splenda or Truvia sweetener

Cut the watermelon up into chunks, discard the green rind. 
Put about 1/2 of the chunks into a blender and "liquefy" it for a few seconds.
Go ahead and add the rest of the chunks and "liquefy" it again.
Pour the pureed liquid into the pitcher.

Add ice to the empty Gatorade bottle, almost to the top.
Add cold water to that, about 3/4 full.
Add about 1/2 cup of the watermelon liquid, put the cap on and shake it up.
Sweeten to taste with your favorite no-calorie sweetener. Enjoy the refreshment!

   Hawaiian Wedding Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
2-1/4 cups skim milk
4 egg whites
1 whole egg
8 oz Fat Free cream cheese, softened
1 box (4 serving size) Fat Free, Sugar Free Vanilla Pudding Mix
1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple in pineapple juice, drained
8 oz Cool Whip Free

Heat oven to 350° F. Spray a 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray, like Pam.

In a mixing bowl, combine dry cake mix, 1-1/4 cups skim milk, egg whites and whole egg on low speed until moistened. Beat on high for 2 minutes.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes, or until cake tester or toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool cake, in pan, on wire rack.

In another mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in 1 cup skim milk. Gradually add in pudding mix; beat well.
Spread over cooled cake.  Spoon drained pineapple over the pudding mixture.
Cut into 12 pieces. Top each piece with a dollop of Cool Whip.  Store in refrigerator.

When I was first given the higher calorie version of this cake, it was called "Better Than Sex Cake".  I lowered the fat and calories, and named it after my favorite place, Hawaii.

Selling Our House in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho

Today the Realtor and her photographer came for the photo shoot of the house!  It's becoming REAL now! We are really going to move to Hawaii!  What a dream come true!

(And yes, I realize that's a lot of exclamation marks up there...)

Here are some of the photos of the house, to let you see what the past month of frantic activity around here has been like: finishing the kitchen cabinets; sorting, packing, organizing and cleaning; not to mention the yard work that Hubs and I hurried to finish before listing the house.
Front of the house (I blocked out the house number)
Great room with hardwood floors
and tons of natural light!
Kitchen and Eat-In Dining Area
Downstairs Master Bedroom (aka: Family Room)
Downstairs Bathroom with Laundry
Views of the Backyard
This morning, as we readied for the photographer, I took a bottle of anointing oil and prayed over the house, touching all the doorframes inside and out, and praying in each room.  I asked the Lord to bless another family with this house, and to fill it with love and happy memories. Just as we have had here.