The Final Countdown & Essentials

Just four days until the move… three actually if you count packing the truck. We are in a sea of boxes and totes, very exciting! Every move is unique and final packing is dependent upon next steps. Are you moving across town, across country, going into temporary housing, utilizing storage, you get the picture. For this move, we are moving across town but need to vacate our current home prior to moving into our new home. All of our household goods will be on a truck for approximately 48 hours. Bridging the gap requires just a bit of planning. If your not a list maker, this is the time to be one and set aside your essentials:

Tote 1: Cleaning supplies – you will want to thoughtfully clean your old home and prepare to scrub your new home (especially if you are buying a resale). You never know what you’ll find. A bucket, cleaning solution for a variety of surfaces, rags, paper towels, toilet brush/wand, mop, broom, and a small vacuum.

Tote 2: Essentials/First to unpack! – toilet paper, non-perishable healthy snacks, bottled water, utensils and paper plates, cups, medications, first aid kit, and in our house our coffee pot and all that is needed for a good, strong cup of coffee.

Tote 3: If you have pets, you will want to make sure you have their food, bowls, fresh water, treats, pet beds, and leashes handy.

Tote 4 (small file box or backpack): Important documents – passports, birth certificates, SSN cards, Will, banking documents, etc… these documents need to be handled with care and secured. Consider how these documents are transported, ideally with you at all times.

Tote (or bag) 5, 6, 7+: Each family member should have clothes and toiletries packed for the move. How much should they set aside? For our move, we are setting aside enough for three days. Comfortable, layers, and weather permitting…make sure you consider outdoor and indoor conditions. If you are moving across country or your household goods are going into storage, you will need to consider packing for the season(s) and setting aside enough luggage and valuables. Please note that if you are planning a large move and using a moving service, designate a room or closet in your current home as a staging area for these items, so that they do not end up on your moving truck. Truly this kind of move deserves it’s own blog or two.

Just like anything else, fail to plan, plan to fail. A successful move requires a good plan. Make your list, check it twice and get moving.

Dogs Day of Packing & Pantry Purge – Day 2

These two sure are good sports. It’s a lot of work trying to get mom to play fetch while she is packing! Keeping her company and our toys under foot made for some laughs and a few ouchies… she may have stepped on a ball while moving boxes.

These two did make the day fun, even the ball incident didn’t slow me down. Glassware and a chunk of fragile were safely wrapped and boxed up. Moving errands, laundry and time with sweet friends… thank you Lisa and Tanya for stirring the creative juices. Which leads me to tonight’s pantry purge creation. During my freezer purge, I pulled a 3-lb package of chicken breasts and thawed in the fridge overnight. To cook the chicken, I used my reliable crock-pot, enough chicken broth to cover, and cooked the chicken on high for 3 hours. Since I am not a crock-pot aficionado, I will not advise you on cooking times and temps, as I am sure these vary. I do recommend always using a meat thermometer to make sure your chicken gets to a safe 165º .

In an effort to use the chicken, I surveyed my pantry inventory and came up with two nights of chicken meals. Full disclosure…maybe not the healthiest, but still yummy, stick to your bones goodness. For tonight’s meal, half the cooked chicken, a box of Uncle Ben’s, can of Cream of Mushroom Soup, and a few staples still in the fridge… we have us a new recipe.

Chicken Wild Rice Pantry Casserole

What found it’s way in the pot?

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 box Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice (6oz box)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 can Campbells’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1.5 lbs cooked chicken, cut into bite size pieces
  • ¼ cup or so almond slices

Preheat oven to 350º. Finely dice onion and celery. Melt butter in a large skillet and saute the onions and celery until the onion is translucent and celery slightly softens. Mix in the rice mixture (set the season packet aside for a moment) and toast for 2-3 minutes. Add broth, Cream of Mushroom Soup and Uncle Ben’s Season mix. Stir and bring mixture to a boil for a minute or two. Lower the heat, add milk and chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle with almond slices. Bake 30 minutes until golden and bubbly.

How much does this serve?

This recipe should serve 4. Last night it served two with leftovers for my lunch. Either Jason was very hungry, really liked the casserole or both.

Pantry Purge – Day 1

Whether you are moving cross town or cross country, don’t leave your pantry, fridge and freezer to the last minute. Perishables and “non-perishables” need lots of attention. Even if your able to transport these items safely to your new home, a move is an ideal time to clean house.

Step 1 – the Pantry:

Start by taking a look at each item for expiration dates (even those spices don’t have a lifetime shelf-life). If this is not a part of your regular chores, you may find some relics. Remove and recycle. For those remaining items, consider why they are still remaining. If you come across an unopened box or can that your not sure why you ever bought, consider donating. Finally, take a quick inventory of all remaining items.

Step 2 – Clean the Fridge & Freezer

Spot check and make sure only fresh items remain. Recycle the dozen or so dated dressing bottles, condiments, pickle jars and ice cream buckets that were tucked away in the nooks and crannies. Wipe down every shelf, basket and drawer. Organize what remains.

Step 3 – Quick and Easy Meal Plan

There’s a good chance that you’ll find enough groceries leftover to make some simple and yummy recipes. You’ll save money and time! Fill in only with what’s needed to get you through move day. Our move is just 10 days away. Looks like I have enough fresh and pantry items for five or so simple and yummy dinners. Tonight’s pantry purge…

Easy Peasy Turkey Chili

What’s in it?

  • 1-lb ground turkey
  • 1 can (15.25oz) corn, drained
  • 1 can (10oz) Rotel w/ lime juice and cilantro
  • 1 can (15.5oz) Bush’s Best Mixed Chili Beans in Mild Sauce
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp cumin

How to make it?

Brown ground turkey and drain. Dump cooked turkey, corn (drained), Rotel (don’t drain), chili beans (don’t drain) and seasonings in crock pot. Mix well. Set crock pot on low and cook for four hours.

How much does this serve?

In my house this yields about 3-4 servings, enough for a full bowl for me, 2 bowls full for my husband, and a serving for lunch the next day. I double up when the kids are home.

My Favorite Fixins’

  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Oyster crackers
  • Diced Green Onions

Moved by Mashed Potatoes

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but my mashed potatoes are so delightful. Just two times a year (or three or so), I make mamma’s decadent mashed potatoes. Oh so rich, dreamy and creamy, these potatoes are not for the faint at heart. Why am I blogging about potatoes on my new decor site, well I am also moved by cooking up stick to your bones, homemade goodness and I am not decorating… not yet at least. With our move just 12 days a way, I made a heart-wrenching promise to my husband that I would wait to put up Christmas once we move. Some context on my drama-filled promise, I always put up Christmas the weekend after Halloween. Really, I do. At this point, those reading my blog may have chosen to disown me, please don’t because I am quite sure just family and a few friends are reading. Of course those of you who know me well, know that I love all things Christmas and my home is decorated for two full months. Christmas will go up the day we move and it may before a single dish is put away.

So back to my potatoes, I reserve this oh so yummy dish for the holidays because it is no friend to my waistline, backside, and OK really all my sides. In the spirit of giving, I am happy to share my recipe. Please note that I am not a chef, I don’t have beautiful pictures, and I rarely ever measure. If you are a seasoned cook, I am sure you can follow along…

What’s in them?

  • 5 lbs potatoes,
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Salt
  • White pepper

How to make them?

Peel, wash and cut up potatoes. Place potatoes in stock pot with enough water to cover. Boil potatoes until fork tender. Drain well. While potatoes are cooking, cut up butter and cream cheese, and place in a large mixing bowl. Add hot, drained potatoes on top of butter and cream cheese. Either mash with potato masher or use a hand held mixer to blend. Drizzle in heavy whipping cream while mixing and mashing until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, quadrupled… you get the picture. Simple, yummy goodness.

With just 12 days to go, I will soon be back to packing and will share pics of my room by room, play by play pack-up. Hoping everyone had a blessed, joyous and yummy Thanksgiving!

A Prelude to a Move

More like a holiday interlude… a week with no packing. The week has been filled with quality time with my girl home from college, lots of calls to my son in D.C. cooking his very first Thanksgiving, and a celebration. During our annual Thanksgiving feast with my husband’s family, we also took time to celebrate my husband’s 49th birthday. While every year is a reason to celebrate, this one was incredibly special. We almost lost this amazing man just 4 months ago. Having him here with us to celebrate another birthday was nothing short of a gift from God, and for that we are abundantly thankful!

Things that make you go hmm…

Things that make you go hmm, hmm, hmm! As promised, I am highlighting my number one packing pitfall, should that item stay or go now! Ok, no more musical metaphors… it’s a good thing this blog is not a live video. All kidding aside, the declutter can become quickly stifled when we are just not sure whether to keep or let go.

There are numerous articles written on this topic chock full of tried and true methods, some of which I have implemented over the years. More often then not, the writer implores the reader to consider the following: Do I still use the item or when was the last time I used the item? Is it still in good condition? Will the item work in my next home? Does the item have sentimental value? For example, let’s consider my kitchen table. Will this table fit into my next home and does the table work well with the overall plan for decor in the next home? Yes (well with a few tweaks) Is the table still in good condition? Yes. Does the item have sentimental value? Yes… most definitely! So my kitchen table survived my round of questions and will make the cut for the move. In this example, the sage advice works well.

Now let’s examine an item that made me go hmm… my CD collection. When was the last time I played a CD? I don’t remember. Will I play a CD in my next house? Probably not… I don’t own a CD player. Do my CD’s have sentimental value? Not really. I still enjoy Peter Frampton, but if I want to listen to Frampton Comes Alive, I can stream on my AmazonMusic account. So according to all the articles I’ve read, surely my CD collection would not make the cut. Why the hesitation? A little voice in my head says just like vinyls, CD’s will make their way back around and be sell-worthy.

The solution and my tried and true Hmm advice… rather then spending valuable declutter/packing time making a decision or engaging in an unecessary debate with a family member on whether or not the CD’s should move, I complete the following. I box these “future valuables up” and label the box, “CD’s, Fragile and ?. The ? symbolizes my Hmm and it will be noted on all sides of the box (along with fragile of course). The ? is the critical indicator that this box does not need to be unpacked right away. It can and should be stored for another day. I will not need my CD’s to function nor decorate. My CD’s will not consume another moment of precious packing time, the box is clearly labeled, and I successfully managed to avoid the thing that made me go hmm, hmm, hmm!

And so it began…

Yesterday was National Prepare to Move Day in the Long home! Not a national holiday and certainly not a day of rest. Suffice it to say, we got started, stayed the course and with the exception of a Gopher football game, we stayed on task.

Perhaps I should provide more context, this process started a couple of months ago. Our original plan was to prep our townhouse for sale in the Spring. Our home had never been updated (it’s just shy of 20 years old) and we’ve owned it for three years. We bought the townhouse with the intention to renovate and buy a second home on a lake north of the cities. Fast forward three years, countless discussions and a few big curve balls, we decided to sell our townhouse and buy a lake home nearby.

Did I mention we planned to move in the Spring? Let’s just say we adjusted our timeline. A beautiful property just 30 miles South of our current home was for sale. The property had been on the market all summer long. The home is quite the fixer upper, but the land and lake shore is exactly what we want. On a fated September Sunday, we took a drive and popped into their open house, called our realtor on our way home and submitted an offer, contingent on selling our current property. Just like that, we went from a 6 month renovation schedule to one month. Two full time jobs and a tight budget, we needed to thoughtfully consider our plans, call in the troops (our amazing friends), and we pushed forward. A quick declutter, fresh paint, flooring, trim, light fixtures a deep clean, and we were on the market by the first of October.

Back to National Prepare to Move Day, my first task was to re-visit the quick September declutter. The key to a successful move… successful preparation. So everything that was binned, boxed, and set aside during the September sprint, would need to be addressed. Taking comfort in my strategy, I designated my spaces… Keep It, Donate, Sell and Hmm.
All categories are self explanatory, accept the Hmm. This is that important category that can often stifle productivity. The Hmm will be the subject of another blog… .stay tuned.

Since our next home is a fixer upper and we will be living through the renovation and utilizing a storage unit, a simple bin and label approach will work best. If you are planning a move in the near future and can wait till the new year, bins are often featured and on-sale in January. For labels, I picked up this great find on Amazon:

Love these! Label your cards and slip them into the sleeve. The label sleeve adheres to the bin and you can swap out the cards when it is time to re-purpose the bins. I prefer clear bins to easily identify content and I keep the label simple. If the bin contains my daughter’s belongings, the label will simply say “Amanda” and a short phrase to notate room or storage. In addition to bins, I am using card board boxes and cartons for books, fragile items, and artwork.

Time to wrap up and get back at it. Excited to share the fruits of my labor with pics and commentary.

Welcome to Moved By Design!

First and foremost… what took me so long! This concept has been on the back burner for quite some time, well four years this month. The first iteration was intended to be a side business… help homeowners declutter, define and design their homes in preparation for sale. Inspired by my numerous moves, 6 states and 10 homes in the last 23 years, my experiences and love for organization and home decor, I was sure this was my calling. The realities of taking care and providing for my family quickly dampened my plans, and I chose to set my side-gig aside. I also love my profession as a human resources professional. Only so much time in a day!

So why now? What changed? I became an empty-nester this year, I no longer run kids to sports and activities and I decided to share what I love most, decor, food and more. If that wasn’t enough… we have decided to move. Our move will be the headliner for future blogs for months to come with the my sincere intention to apply all of my advice to my own efforts… an incredible opportunity to hone my craft!

Finally, the universe gave me a great big nudge… more like a shove this August. A story for another day, but my world changed, my heart is full, and I hope to never take a day for granted. If that wasn’t enough, I am quite sure that people and moments are put on our path. Thank you Denise and Jill… your words and example were just what I needed!