Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Welcomed to Florida by Debby

We made it to The Villages, Florida! After 20 grueling hours - 13 hours last Friday and seven hours Saturday - and looking at this while I drove our car, we arrived safely at our new house. 

Our son, DIL and grandson Austin, were waiting for us in the driveway. It was wonderful to see this little man again. Juniper, their black lab came along too. 

With threatening, moisture-laden clouds overhead, we immediately set to unloading the truck. Within minutes, Dan pulled his back and was in a bad way - a combination of too many hours on a bumpy truck seat followed by lifting without having put on a back brace. The kids and I hustled to finish the unloading and managed to complete the task in about 90 minutes, before the rain started to fall.

And then, rain it did! Non-stop. All night. All day Sunday and into Sunday night. Tropical storm Debby's "welcome" was more than eight inches of rain that fell through Tuesday. Amazingly, the sandy ground here seems to handle water well. Well, except for some of the golf courses that are closed until it begins to dry up. Surely if that much rain had fallen in Des Moines, we would have seen flooding like 1993 when Des Moines' Water Works flooded and the city lost it's drinking supply.

I tackled unpacking boxes and by mid-day Monday, after shopping for groceries, we had the kitchen basically organized and stocked! This pile, in a corner of the living room, is what remains to be dealt with. We're pretty sure we need to buy some sort of shelving or cabinet.

On Monday we accepted delivery of a king-sized sleigh bed with footboard drawers. As much as I'd like to think I'm a princess, sleeping on this bed is just too much. While I don't mind a high pillow-top bed, the height is suitable for rotary cutting! 

The top of the bed is 37" from the floor! I had to use a stool to get into bed. Talk about feeling like the Princess and the Pea! While sleeping on the pillow-top mattress is luxurious, we're going to switch out the box springs to lower it.

On Tuesday, our master bedroom closet went from this... this

Isn't it marvelous!? I can't believe we get to use such a great space! 
This is his end.

This is my end, just inside the pocket door. I'm going to have fun putting everything away. And the tall chest of drawers for the master bedroom hasn't even arrived yet!

This is my sewing room. Not much progress here, though the computer armoire (on the right) is a functional place. That's where I'm sitting right now, to prepare this post.

In an email to friends I mentioned that we have a "Roman shower." It's a term used here to describe a walk-in - or even roll-in, as in wheelchair - shower. It's L-shaped. When you walk in, you can see the seat in the corner. 

Then, when you turn the corner to the left, there's a towel bar and shower head, with the temperature control (not seen) on the left side, just below glass blocks.

From outside the Roman shower.

The floor and drain.

It's so pretty! I'm not only enjoying my showers, but I marvel at the skill of the tiler. Look how he got these corners to match. It's like this on three other corners too. Maybe he's a quilter by night.

On Monday, the Today Show did a segment about the use of golf carts in The Villages and Lady Lake, the city next to The Villages where we do much of our shopping. The prevalence of carts is pretty amazing among the 95,000 residents. Watch the segment here, if you're interested.

During a pause from the rain, we worked in the garage. Hogan joined us outside and quickly found a spot.

In spite of the heat, I think he'll be happy here. Just like us. Linda

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Moving, for the Last Time

Life is tripping along. After becoming Villagers, last Saturday we went to the lobby of the sales office to be photographed next to the new resident "Welcome" board. For three days our name and home state were displayed alongside those of 41 other new residents. All of us purchased a home in The Villages on Thursday and Friday, June 14 and 15. That kind of growth, especially in these economic times, is amazing. At our closing we were welcomed as The Villages newest residents, and promptly told that we would hold that position for about a half hour!

Finally, we're close to wrapping up more than 50 days of being "homeless" - living in a place other than our own. We've slept in six different beds during those days!

So how do you like our new living room? Nice set-up huh? Since the furniture we've ordered may not arrive for several weeks, we're grateful that our sales agent gave us this thank-you gift of lime green bag chairs! Eventually, that little TV will be in my sewing room.

Only the breakfast nook table and chairs we selected were in stock. I love them! They look so fresh. Definitely need to buy a rug for under that table though.

Thinking of Hogan, I purchased this faux leather storage bench through the local Craigslist.

With a decorative slipcover over it - one I'll make to coordinate with the sewing room - it will serve the double purpose of being storage for quilting supplies, and a resting and neighborhood monitoring spot for Hogan.

After a too short couple of days spent going to admire our house a few times, this week we've been in Kansas City. We returned to retrieve our belongings from our daughter's garage where they've been stored since early May. We're also spending time with grandchildren, though we're missing Celina because she's is away at camp this whole week.

Tay (32 months) and Aesa (19 months)
While in Kansas City I made a point of shopping at Hy-Vee one more time. That's so I could stock up on - of all things - popcorn! When I discovered that the Florida grocery store stocked only one brand of old-fashioned popping corn, and that one-pound bag was $4.99, I knew it was imperative that I import some Hy-Vee popcorn to Florida! In a stroke of luck, Hy-Vee popcorn is on sale this week. I paid only $2 apiece for these six, four-pound bags. They should last until we have Midwest visitors who can bring me more. (Hint, hint.)

This week's fun ended today as we went to work on a hot afternoon. Yep. We rented another 16-foot moving truck, and spent a couple hours loading it. Everything fit just fine.

Early Friday morning we're taking off for The Villages again, but only after more tearful hugs for our dear Kansas City family. We don't anticipate seeing them again until October! 

Heading south, we'll be a mini caravan as he drives the truck followed by me driving the car with my front seat companion, Hogan. If all goes smoothly, by Saturday evening we'll arrive at our new house in The Village of Sanibel. 

Our Tampa family will meet us to help unload the truck and spend the rest of the weekend with us as we begin to get settled. Though I haven't moved for a long time, I remember these feelings of having much to do and wanting to get it all done as soon as possible!

Next week we're having our master bedroom closet custom-organized, and our water tested. I'll also be shopping for bathroom accessories, bedding and rugs. And I have some wood furniture to paint. We've brought with us a quilt rack, plant stand, storage bench and rocking chair that I'd like to change from wood stain to off-white paint. Oh, and do I ever want to sew! Guess you know pretty much everything that will be keeping me busy for a while! Linda

Thursday, June 14, 2012

We Did It!

Today's the day we bought our new house in The Villages! Oh my! We're uber-excited that this is our new permanent home! Honestly, off and on all day I've had goose bumps of amazement, and shed tears of happiness. This belongs to us and is where we'll live! It's a beautiful house, a wonderful city, an amazing lifestyle, and... everything is so awesome! Goodness! I continue to pinch myself to believe this is all really happening!

Here we are in front of our brand new house, just before our walk-around with the home-builder. During the walk-around we learned how the house functions with new-to-us features like: block and stucco construction; AC/heat vented from the ceiling; low-E windows; gutters only on the front of the house; fans vented to the outside; irrigation system using reclaimed water; convection oven; and a Zoysia grass lawn, among other great amenities.

It was suggested that we get a picture of him carrying me over the threshold! He said he'd rather not throw out his back.

 The entry, from the inside. So pretty!

Following the walk-around we went to the closing. The Villages bank makes buying a house so darned slick and effortless. Guess that happens when you sell a couple dozen houses every day. We received lots of helpful information about living here - like the proper way to drive through a roundabout - received our gate passes, and had our photos taken for permanent ID cards. That was another goose-bumps moment. It's official! We're Villagers!

We returned to our rental to get Hogan so he could see the new house we bought for him.

Like me, he already loves that front bedroom. Since that bay window might be his new favorite spot, I'd like to put a cushy bench there so he can have something to lay on and get a better view of the activities on the street.

I'm chomping at the bit to begin making this bedroom my sewing space. I've already purchased a couple pieces from Ikea in Tampa, and will be sharing how I set it up. I can't wait!

The entire past week has been one exciting thing after another - shopping for furniture, buying new things. When it came time to choose a golf cart, selecting colors was a struggle - we had more than 300 paint color options! We went with these beachy colors, but now it's gonna be hard to wait for the cart to arrive in early July.

Call me crazy, but when I learned that it's costly to purchase and have a palm tree planted, I did a Google search to find out how to germinate a palm tree seed. That's because I nearly stumbled on them while at one of the city squares, Sumter Landing. The seeds had fallen from a 25-foot tall Queen Palm, so I picked them up. Following online instructions for germinating Queen Palm seeds, I first soaked them in water.

Then, I removed the outer covering to release each seed (on the right). Now they are to be soaked for a week before putting them in perlite or peat moss. Though I'm skeptical that I can make them germinate, it will be fun trying. At the worst, nothing will happen. But at best, I might have a nice palm to put on our 9' X 26' lanai. My Grandma, the ultimate gardener, would be proud that I'm giving it a go.

Until we move into our new house, we've been doing what we can to make this our hometown. We've been looking for a church and have attended four different churches of different denominations. Everyone has been super-friendly. As much as I'd like to belong to a church that's near our house, the fact is that the area we're moving into is so new that not many churches or even retail businesses are in that area... yet! It's anticipated that in the next few years there will be much more growth as houses continue to be built and more people populate the area. Currently, The Villages population is 87,000.

Each of the two quilting chapters I've recently visited has been more than welcoming, and I sure appreciate that. I've already met some super-nice people - aren't all quilters? - and seen some very pretty quilts.

Twice I've attended Happy Stitchers, a group that meets every Wednesday afternoon to work on whatever anyone wants: counted cross-stitch, knitting, crocheting, English paper-piecing, hand-applique and the like. Look what was waiting for me when I attended yesterday. Yep, it's my official, you-belong-to-Happy-Stitchers-in-The-Villages name tag. Info on it tells which village I live in, and where I'm from. Eeks! Another exciting moment.

While stitching with Happy Stitchers, I completed another embroidered snowman in my on-going Snowmen A to Zzzz project. With "R" done, only four more blocks remain to be stitched.

Even though I'm stitching, boy am I missing a sewing machine! But the fact is, in a little more than a week I'll have all my quilting supplies and fabrics in my new house.

After we take delivery of some new furniture, we're heading back to Kansas City to retrieve our belongings from our daughter's garage, and hug and kiss the grandchildren one more time. In a week, we'll return to The Villages where our Tampa son and family will meet us at our new house to help us unload and begin to get settled. We very grateful for their willingness to help us move in and begin to get settled. What a blessing to have kids who have been helpful through our transition. Our daughter has been an amazing long distance designer, helping me make selections for master bedroom, living room, and breakfast nook furniture. Thank goodness for the Internet so we could shop through furniture options online, and Skype at the same time!

Though it's been nearly 23 years since we've bought/sold a house, or moved, these past six weeks have been incredibly wonderful. Overwhelming too. Throughout it, I'm extremely thankful to God for how He has safely led us through this big change. Praise Him! Linda

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Starting to Play

An interesting statistic: The Villages is the largest retirement community in the U.S.
As we're passing time until next week when we close on our new house in The Villages, in between bouts of shopping we're visiting some of the 1,900 activity groups and clubs available to residents.

I've attended two different quilting and needlework groups. Without doubt, everyone I've met has been super friendly and welcoming. When I'm asked where I live in The Villages, and I explain that we don't live here yet, I am usually met with a huge grin and a comment something to the effect, "You've got your priorities in order!" Doesn't everyone join a quilting group and a needlework group before moving into their new home?

Tuesday evening was the monthly meeting of the Quilting Guild of The Villages. The guild has 732 members that attend 13 different weekly quilting groups! Even though summertime attendance is lower, the turnout was a great. I was the only guest. But I was put at a table with seven other quilters who immediately felt like friends. Such nice women!

We played the dice game "Right, Left, Center." Everyone starts with five pieces of fabric. The last person to end up with fabric, after everyone else is out, wins the pile that has accumulated in the center "pot." 

Do I think these gals are nice because I happened to win these 30 strips of 2-1/2" wide fabric? I've promised I will use them in my WIP Picket Fence quilt, which will now be made king-size for the new bed that's been ordered.

For handwork, I've been embroidering these, and thinking of my Iowa friends in Hope Quilters.

Hope Quilters is making 115 altar cloths for the 115 new churches being build in Ghana by Lutheran Church of Hope. My embroideries, each about 8" X 8", are meant for two sides of an altar cloth. They're stitched with #5 DMC pearl cotton and then pencil-colored gray along the edge of each dove.

That little piece of fabric with the stitchery is what I used to give me cues for choosing thread colors. The fabric is a wonderfully vibrant, large-scale print that came from Ghana,  I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of this design worked into a finished altar cloth. Hope Quilters will let me know if the size is right before I embroider more of them to mail back to Iowa.

Wednesday was my hunk's 60th birthday. A real milestone birthday, I'd say. Pray tell me... what do you get for a fella who, on his birthday, ordered a Maytag "Centennial", High Efficiency, 3.6 cubic foot washer and 7 cubic foot dryer? And, he's getting all new furniture, picking out a 46" LED HGTV, and ordering a golf cart?! Right. I didn't get him anything.

Though, I sure felt bad that we weren't near family or longtime friends who would have helped him celebrate. They did remember him with phone calls and emails.

Happily, a very nice couple from Minneapolis, who we'd met in The Villages last December, suggested we meet for dinner. The four of us ate here, at the Cane Garden Country Club. Then, they invited us to their home for a glass of Florida wine. What a lovely way to spend an evening! Yay! We're making friends!

Tomorrow, we're picking colors and ordering our golf cart which will take three to four weeks to be built. We have to choose the car color, the seat and awning print, and a color for the drop-down canvas sides that zip close for driving in inclement weather. Just like picking out white furniture, this new-to-Florida gal wants Florida colors! The new-to-Florida guy agrees! We're thinking of colors along the lines of these.

You'd think I'd be having a fabulous time picking out all these things, but gosh, there's a lot of pressure when you know it's what you have to live with for at least the next ten years! I'm looking forward to the end of important decision-making, and the beginning of full time play. Linda

Friday, June 1, 2012


Even though we're in The Villages and it's going to be our new home, it still feels like we're on vacation. Perhaps that's because we won't be in our house until the end of the month, and because we've been playing a little bit. 

Over Memorial Day weekend our Tampa family came to visit. We hadn't seen them since last December when we were previously in The Villages.

For their visit, we rented a four seat golf cart to get around in together. Two year-old Austin absolutely loves the golf cart. 

Austin is very much a Bapa's boy.

From Sunday through Tuesday, we experienced the rain that came with our first tropical storm, Beryl (pronounced "barrel"). It was fun getting wet. 

When we got caught in a downpour while in the golf cart, we got drenched! Rental carts don't have drop-down canvas sides like most carts do, so the water blew in all over us. It was almost like a water park ride - with many shrieks and much laughter. Here we had taken cover in one of the many golf cart tunnels throughout The Villages.

The rest of our days have been spent furniture shopping and doing lots of looking for items such as a washer/dryer, TVs, bar stools, and such. Who knew it would be so difficult to decide whether to switch from an agitator-type machine to one of the new HE (high energy) types? With an HE, we've got some new methods to learn. We'll need to read the owner's manual, for sure. As for homeowner's insurance... how different it is to have coverage for hurricanes and sinkholes, instead of tornados! 

I've been carrying around all sorts of swatches for the house: cabinetry, carpeting (in the bedrooms only), and countertops. These fabric swatches and TV console wood sample (ivy color) will be our living room furniture.

I've been taking lots of photos like these as possibilities for area rugs...

...and conversation corner chairs.

At this landscape center I spent an hour or so appreciating the great variety of plants I'll be able to grow:  lavendar, split-leaf philodendron, schefflera, and gorgeous palms. A sweet woman named Linda drove me around in a golf cart so I could see and learn about all the palm varieties - both cold-hardy and non-cold hardy - that can be grown in this area. I'll have to say that palm trees are more expensive than I would have guessed. To start, a baby one might have to do.

I also experience my first self-serve frozen yogurt shop, called High Five. I'd heard about these places and how temptingly easy it is to overfill one's cup.

Orange cream and tart mango are yummy flavors, and low-cal too.

So we're happily, but impatiently, passing the time until we close on our new house (June 14), and finally move in (June 23) after driving back to Kansas City to get our belongings. While we wait, I'm planning my new sewing room.

A quarter-inch scale plan of our house, provided by the sales office, is great for considering room arranging options. The different colored pieces are index cards that represent cabinets, shelves and furniture. They're cut to scale. Quite a few of the items in the room need to be collapsible and/or moveable for occasions when the space becomes a second guest room. A double bed-sized air mattress will be for grandchildren.

The orange pieces represent storage, and I'm not sure this will be enough. I've also learned, after much Internet searching, that cabinets are going to be a big challenge. They need to be tall (to best utilize 96" high ceilings) the proper depth for different uses, have doors to protect fabrics from UV rays (the bay window looks west), and economical. No small order there!

I hope to keep and use the two large, varnished hollow core doors for a machine quilting surface. The only piece I'm certain I'll buy is a fold-up Gidget II sewing table for my new Bernina Aurora 440.

Even though I can play with the design, until the sewing and quilting supplies are actually in the room, I can't know for sure what will work. And I sure can't sew! Did I mention? I'm impatient for late June. Linda


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